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Friday 25th May 2012

Aqueduct Marina to Beeston Castle

After a rather warm night on the boat, (as the winter duvet was still on & arriving in the marina at 30mins past midnight I did not have the energy to find the summer one & change them over, so it was on top of the quilt & all windows open) we awoke to a beautiful clear warm Friday morning.

I was still cursing about Lochabers packing of the car on Thursday night resulting in the case of Guinness we had brought with us falling out when I opened the tailgate on arrival at the marina! Hissing cans of Guinness in a silent slumbering marina at midnight!

I emptied the rest of the bags from the car, it was really warm even at 7am, it was going to be a hot one! I popped some bacon in the oven & unpacked the bags. Lochaber decided to check the engine room just to make sure that we had no more exploding batteries before we set off instead he found a fan belt that needed replacing! This is a new boat with 174 running hours is it really time for a new fan belt? Anyway luckily we had spares so in half an hour a new one was fitted.

It was still really calm & getting warmer, so at 8.30am we decided to get going planning to stop around 11ish for a bite to eat & some” tweeting”.

The new marina entrance is making life so much easier getting in & out, so this trip we were off! Hang on, Lochaber is shouting frantically from the front of the boat “we have to go back, we have to go back!”  Why? ……Caley the mad Spaniel was NOT aboard, she has a very unfunny habit of sneaking off when you have your back turned for a split second. Oh great, that’s a good start this weekend, dropped Guinness, new fan belt, now the dogs gone awol!  We reversed back towards the marina, pulled in by the entrance & I MARCHED to where I knew she would be, yep there she was sitting by the car! I MARCHED back to the boat put the stupid animal on & we set off again.

Earlier I had just thrown some of the clothes on the bed to put away later, I started doing this whilst Lochaber had a turn on the tiller, the complete rail in the wardrobe decided to collapse dropping everything in the wardrobe to the floor, I shut the door & walked away, it was only 9.30am & we hadn’t even reached Barbridge yet!

It was quite busy at Barbridge alot of boats passing, for the first time we turned right at the junction, we had decided that due to missing the trip to Chester last time after the battery explosion we would do that trip this time instead.

Calveley was quite a busy spot on the way, cafe, water etc.

I had been worried about the double locks especially the staircase at Bunbury, only two locks together but quite daunting when it is the first time, as we pulled up behind another boat waiting for the locks I heard a load banging noise from the rudder area, a big tree branch! We got that out-of-the-way, now for the lock. The boat that was in the lock already had apparently grounded as the crew had not used the correct procedure with the paddles & had not got the water levels correct for moving from one lock to the next, eventually they got it sorted. As they had raised the water right back to the top & noticed a queue forming they opened one gate & we joined them hoping that with Lochabers help they would get it right this time.

We conquered our first double staircase! we accompanied them through the next lock at Tilstone too then went ahead to find a mooring, we wanted a relaxing weekend but after the events earlier we felt quite stressed so decided the sun was really hot & we needed some food & one of the remaining Guinness each. I made lunch & poured the Guinness whilst Lochaber went delving into the weed hatch to see if any more of the earlier tree debris had got entangled further, instead, on lifting the engine covers we were met by an overpowering smell of paint, paint? how can this be? On closer inspection the large tin of blue paint for our bodywork that had been left for us by the builder & always been stored here has had the bottom of the tin completely dissolved by the battery acid from the explosion even though all items in the engine room including the paint tins were washed down during the clean up. It was a 2.5litre tin & over half full, the paint had seeped out but luckily stayed on the upper shelf, however it is the type of paint that needs a hardener & of course that hadn’t leaked so the blue paint was still wet & would stay that way. The 5litre tin of blacking next to it was going through the same process although the bottom was still in tact but leaking, numerous swear words, hands full of black bags & wads of blue roll later we had it under control. I was so incensed I didn’t think about taking a photo but Lochaber looked like a “blue & white minstrel” by the time we had finished. He had gloves on to start with but due to the paint being so sticky & wet he couldn’t work with them on, some thirty minutes later, one knackered scrubbing-brush, half a bottle of Fairy Liquid his hands were very sore but clean!

The lunch was still waiting to be eaten & another Guinness each poured, I stepped off the side of the boat lunch in hand missed judged the corrugated style canal edge & oops, lunch in the air, leg in the water, dignity bruised!

How much more can we take today, all we wanted was a quiet weekend.

After remaking & eating lunch, we both felt so hot, bothered & stressed that we decided to have a siesta & carry on a bit further in the cool of the evening, about 20mins into my sleep…..bang!….Oh, Sorry about that! a passing boat trying to go between us & an oncoming boat rather than wait or slow down, hit us! Enough, I’m going back to sleep, can’t take anymore.

After a couple of hours rest & a nice cup we decided to do another hour to get a bit closer to Beeston Castle, the wind that had started around lunchtime had died down a bit so we headed off, it was quieter now so we did Beeston Stone Lock & Beeston Iron Lock on our own without any problems, quite happy getting the hang of these double locks now! all the mooring spaces had been taken so we headed on to Whartons lock & decided to stop after that one for the night. Went in with another smaller boat which had around 6 passengers so all paddles & gates were manned, all was going smoothly until our boat started to tilt to starboard……more &.more……something is wrong……things flying off worktops inside, cupboard doors flying open, I shouted up to those at the top “put water back in”……water back in quickly”…she was still tipping, a mad flurry of people above then suddenly she levelled out, I couldn’t see anything on the side of the lock that had snagged us, was it something in the bottom? we still have no idea as she stayed level on the second attempt.

Beeston Castle, nice reward for a rather tiring day.

This is just too much stress for one day, I’m mooring up for some supper & another Guinness. Lovely mozzarella & cherry tomato pizza in the oven, Guinness poured, a few tweets done……..Oh no! the pizza is burned!

Today 8 miles, 6.5hrs, 7 locks & a bucket load of stress!

Saturday 26th May 2012

Beeston Castle to Tattenhall Marina

Well, I am managing to sit & type this blog post a bit more calmly than yesterday!

After a good nights sleep with the winter duvet removed & the very light summer duvet on we awoke around 8am to a glorious day already started & warmed up without us. We decided to take a deep breath gather the thoughts on yesterday & have a relaxing day.

As I opened the side window the fabulous site of a young family of swans greeted me.

This was a better start, we had a good bacon sarnie & a cup of tea, did a few odd jobs, took Caley for a walk. It was quite breezy today but would have been too hot without it & the wind was behind us on the short run to Tattenhall Marina where there is a winding hole to turn.

As we started to leave the mooring at Beeston some canoeists appeared on the canal, battling a bit against the wind, especially the lady in the inflatable style canoe.

It was easy going with the wind behind us no locks on this short journey today, need a rest from locks after yesterday! We could see Beeston fading in the background. The Shroppie was quite busy today, must be the glorious weather.

We turned at Tattenhall & made our way back into the wind this time. It was only about lunch time but we said we wanted a relaxing day will be a longer day tomorrow with these double jeopardy locks again!

We got back to Beeston & stopped just before The Shady Oak pub on a quiet mooring & decided to go for some lunch. The pub garden was packed & right on canalside. The Black Sheep real ale was good, the cajun chicken in pitta bread with spicy fries was fabulous.

These two expensive toys were parked in the carpark, when they left the roar of the quads engine was impressive.

Suitably chilled today we made our way back to the boat for a few G & T’s  & some more canalside sun, plenty of passers by wanting to chat, one old fella telling us he had just been on holiday to Lochaber in Scotland! Moored just down from us is a Caraboat, Lochaber wants one!

 The family of swans we had seen earlier were on the way back to the nest after an outing, bless!

As I am sitting here typing the blog Lochaber is watching Eurovision, I have to say the evening bird song I can hear from the side window is far more beautiful than anything on the TV!

A picturesque end to a chilled out day, thank goodness.

Beeston Castle to Tattenhall, 1hr 20 mins, 2.5 miles, 0 locks, zero stress

Sunday 27th May 2012

I awoke around 7am feeling a lot more rested after a relaxing day yesterday.  We have decided to make our way south towards Barbridge today & leave our idyllic mooring just north of Bates Mill Bridge & the Shady oak Pub.  I was still a bit apprehensive about returning through the dreaded double locks, but when I pulled the blinds the sight that faced me put a smile on my face, what a perfect start to any day.

Egg rolls for a change today. a quick engine, fuel & battery check done we set off around 8am, it was far less windy today & therefore felt warmer.

We reached the dreaded Whartons Lock where we had tipped on the way north, but all was well locking up going south. She sighs with relief as we rise to the top.

We carried on at a leisurely pace towards Beeston Iron Lock, the gates, & sides are all made from iron panels, I don’t think it is as nice as the traditional locks.

Between BeestonIron Lock & Beeston Stone Lock is  a section of canal that is very close to the railway line, you can see the signal box  & just pass that is an area which looks like a stock/goods yard but we noticed it has alot of pill boxes……I think it may be something to do with a german Prisoner of war camp or transprtation of prisoners but i will try to do some more research & find out more detailed facts.

Beeston Stone Lock has a row of lock cottages alongside screened by some small trees, we noticed that one was for sale.

Rising up in Beeston Stone lock as a fibreglass boat waits to come in.  We headed onward to Tilstone  Lock. This is looking back northwards from Beeston Stone Lock.

The canal meanders along towards Tilstone lock, we noticed some very pretty looking side pond along this stretch.

It was very hot by now about 9.30am, but the canal was still fairly quiet, just how we like it, so we just cruised along very slowly enjoying the day.

We approached Tilstone lock, which was set in our favour, this morning had been kind to us either the locks were set in our favour or another boat was just coming out.

Tilstone Locks was set ready for the boat waiting to come in. One of the paddles is a bit sticky at this lock.

We carried on & decided to get Bunbury staircase locks out of the way before a lunchtime stop.

We arrived just north of bridge 104 at Calveley the mooring we almost empty & looked really peaceful, so we moored up for lunch…Reggae Reggae Spicy pasties & a cold Guinness….tasty!  Within half an hour three more boats arrived, you can see that’s D’riculous facing the camera second in the line. I walked across the bridge to the sanitary station to off load some rubbish. The view from the bridge looking north along The Shroppie was fabulous in the sunshine, happy holiday makers!

The other side of the bridge at Calveley was a different story & much busier.

As I wandered back after disposing of the rubbish, I decided that we could easily make it back to aqueduct tomorrow morning so we could stay here tonight, it was such a lovely spot.

By the time I got back Lochaber had come to the same conclusion & was pouring another Guinness.

Caley the spaniel has got a taste for it this weekend as well! So we let her have a few sips before sending her in for a swim, she had been very good after her initial disappearing act this weekend & not attempted to jump in at all, well maybe once but we tie her on whilst we are travelling now.

So that was us, we feasted on pork pies,  Chicken & pineapple freshly baked baguettes with chilli mayo enjoyed the sun, made friends with our neighbours from March in Cambridgeshire who had a recently repainted Black Prince boat that they are over the moon with. They have not renamed her yet & have travelled from the Middle Level & will be returning in September.

We managed to get some reflective mirror film on the front windows in the bedroom so we can have the sun streaming in at daybreak but without eyes peering in. I’ll let you know how it is when I wake up tomorrow.

Another beautiful sunset ends another lovely day on the Shroppie.

Bates Mill Bridge 109 to Calveley bridge 104 3.5 miles,  3.75hrs,  5 locks,

 

The next day the weather was glorious again & it was just a few hours back to the marina, through Barbridge an area we had got to know so well,

 

 passing Blue Meon on the way, I love this paintwork it is so clear & bright.

 

then on to, through & looking back at Minshull Lock,

It is 2012 the year of the Queens Diamond Jubilee & the London Olympic Games & the whole country seems to be celebrating despite the weather!

 

 

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Thursday 3rd May 2012

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!” Yes today is my birthday & this weekend we are off to  the boat for my birthday weekend treat & hoping to go to Chester & back, long weekend, off till Tuesday, great, the new gear box has been fitted with the required new gear cable going on today, so we can have a good run out hopefully problem free!

That was a very short lived “Happy Birthday” I have just received a phone call from Aqueduct Marina, the guys have just been to fit the new gear cable for us arriving tomorrow & they have found an exploded leisure battery! They have stressed the utmost urgency of getting the engine room steam cleaned & washed down with a neutralising detergent immediately & checking all the other four leisure & one starter batteries. OMG! I’ve never heard of this before, but I know how damaging battery acid can be & this has exploded spraying acid all over the engine room.  Obviously I gave them the go ahead to do whatever needs doing immediately. I phoned Lochaber at work & he was as surprised as me at the situation, but at least we are going down tomorrow & can see for ourselves & sort things out. “HAPPY  EXPENSIVE BIRTHDAY TO ME!”

Friday 4th May 2012

Over the shock of yesterdays news, still looking forward to the planned run out to Chester. Lovely to have the light evenings back to drive down to Cheshire, car packed left the house at 5.50pm, ten minutes away from home & my mobile rang, it was Aqueduct Marina……………….Clean up had been done, new battery installed, gear cable fitted but she won’t start! They think acid could have got into starter motor, bank holiday weekend & no qualified person to deal with this until TUESDAY!!!! We are on our way, we are not going home but looks like our planned weekend is not to be.

We are both absolutely deflated, how many more times are we going to have trips ruined? is our boat cursed? are we cursed? how much more bad luck can we cope with?

We arrived at the marina around 11.30pm, found our boat as she was near the slipway not on her normal mooring as they had moved her to get the engine room cleaned down but could not mover her to get her back to her mooring, now there’s a thought, if she started to get her to the slipway after the explosion why would she not start after the clean up, maybe it’s not the starter!  In the dark at 11.30pm after a 5hr drive was not the time to be raising our hopes, a good nights sleep & a positive approach is what is required.

We made sure the shore line was plugged in & that the charger was off just in case this was faulty & fell into bed hoping Saturday would bring hopeful news.

Saturday 5th May 2012

We woke up this morning after a cold night to the sound of “electrical” beeping! Oh, no what now! could this be another battery about to explode? could it be the inverter or the charger malfunctioning? Quickly switch everything off….its still “beeping” outside & unplug the shoreline! Once outside the hatch we discovered the reason for the “beeping”….Paul from the marina had decided to come over with the spare keys we always leave on site & have a tinker around to see if he could get her started for us or at least confirm the problem, we took a deep breath & stopped panicking!

Paul tried numerous things but nothing seemed to work, as it was a Bank holiday no suppliers were open now until Tuesday & he still suspected the starter. This was our first opportunity to survey the damage in the engine room.

The weather was not brilliant so we decided to go into Crewe & get some paint for the engine room & a couple of relay switches as they seemed like they had acid penetration & that could be the simple answer to the problem,  wishful thinking!

Paint & brushes purchased, relay switches tracked down at Nantwich Basin Chandlery along with new fender which we had been meaning to replace for a while we made our way back to the marina. When we got back Paul was still around & asked if we had seen the exploded battery at the side of the workshop, this was what we saw…………

So, now you can imagine the amount of acid that had been sprayed all over the engine room, these pictures are quite frightening as if someone had been working in the engine room when this happened the outcome would have been far worse. We have established that Albion Batteries are the own brand of Midland Chandlers. I have contacted them & sent these photos to them but to date have not had a reply!

On a lighter note, we had a lot of concern & well wishes from #boatsthattweet on Twitter, thanks everybody. One of my twitter contacts @narrowboatruth had let me know they might be in our area over the weekend on the start of a 2 week break aboard. When we got back from looking at the battery they tweeted to say they were moored just outside the marina, it was lovely to meet Johnny & his family & see their nb, she was so homely & comfortable compared to the sparse newness of ours. We had a cuppa & a good laugh for a while, I don’t know if they realised how much we needed a laugh that day, but thanks to them our spirits were somewhat lifted when we said goodbye.  They stayed the night there & tweeted as they left early on Sunday morning heading for Chester where we were supposed to be!

So Saturday had been quite emotional, seeing the exploded battery, seeing the damage left in the engine room & still not being able to get her started. The new relay switches made no difference, but can at least be kept as spares. we felt that we had not achieved a lot today so a few glasses of Guinness were consumed along with a very spicy curry, tomorrow I think we will open the paint weather permitting!

Sunday 6th May 2012

We awoke this morning to clear skies, beautiful sunshine & with a more positive attitude, we were not going to get away this weekend so we would make the most of the time to do all the odd jobs & get the engine room repainted & enjoy the marina as the spot near the slipway had a better outlook than our usual mooring, so it was rather pleasant. More people passed here as some of the boats on Brokerage were moored just along from us.

The weather forecast for today was good, we took all the deck boards off, made sure the mad boat dog, Caley the spaniel was securely tied up on the grass next to the mooring so that she didn’t jump on board & into the hole of the engine room! it was a beautiful warm sunny day & it was a pleasure to  be working on our boat, Lochaber wire brushed & repainted the metal surfaces of the engine room & the metal supports for the decking boards, I did all the blue touch ups that were needed around the boat & completely emptied & tidied the hold at the bow. Cleaned all the windows on the starboard side as we can only get to the port side when she is back on her usual mooring.

Wow! what a difference, this is the newly painted engine room, job well done now lets hope it stays dry into the evening so it can all dry before the forecasted rain comes on later tonight!

A large hot air  balloon came across the sky as we enjoyed the afternoon sunshine, it was very low & looked as if they were admiring the mass of colourful narrowboats in the marina maybe not realising that we were admiring them, every time the burner lit up we could hear it they were that close.

We  relaxed with a few more Guinness for the rest of the day whilst doing a bit of internet research into the makers of Albion batteries & exactly how our Victron charger should be set up, so to ensure that it is not overcharging the batteries, as this could cause an explosion.

A beautiful evening in the marina.

Monday 7th May 2012

The heavy rain had woken us a couple of times during the night & we knew that there would be a certain amount of water in the newly painted engine room, we just hope that the paint had enough time & sun on Saturday to be completely dry before the water got in. It was still raining when we got up but because we had actually managed to have a productive Saturday we decided to go to Bunbury locks by car as we could not get there by boat.

It was rainy & very cold all day but we still enjoyed getting by the cut even if we had to do it in the car this time. Bunbury is a staircase of two double locks.

We watched a couple of boats make their way through the locks, then decided to take a walk along the towpath towards the winding hole south of Bunbury locks.

If anyone can tell me what these holes on the canal bank are I would be very grateful, they seem to resemble tunnels or overflows of some sort.

We turned around & despite the biting cold & the drizzly rain decided to walk back towards the Anglo Welsh Hire base at the locks & a bit further along the towpath northward. The canal was very quiet probably due to the seasonally cold weather!

It was now mid afternoon & we were freezing so we decided that as I had not yet had a birthday treat due to all of the chaos of the weekend we would drive back & stop in the newly refurbished Badger Public House at Church Minshull, I can highly recommend it the food was lovely & the Real Ale was good!

On that note we made our way back to the marina just as the sun decided to appear.

Tuesday 8th May 2012

We awoke to sunny skies again & warmer temperatures, the wash out May Day Monday seemed to have passed, we were a bit down today as we had to leave for home later & we still did not have an answer to the non starting problem. At around 9am, Joe Aqueduct’s electrics genius appeared at the boat, still convinced that it was the starter he embarked on some electrical testing. Would you believe that after all our worrying & not being able to start her all weekend a 20 minute job revealed that this was the offending object…..

……..the insulator switch for the starter battery had been corroded inside by the acid spillage! New switch fitted & she started first time, however this was no good as we were now due to start thinking about packing up & going back up to Scotland, oh, what the hell, the sun is shining, the boat is running we need to test the new gear box lets take her out for a few hours!

We went a few miles along the canal towards Middlewich & turned at the first winding hole just past bridge 16. She seemed to have more power now & just needed a light touch the move the throttle unlike before when I needed two hands to make any adjustments or change gear. How nice it was to get moving if only for a few hours, sausage sandwiches & jam scones on the move, the wind in our hair & a quiet drive plate beneath our feet.

We arrived back at the marina around 3pm, this is the first time we had used & appreciated the benefits of the new widened marina entrance, last time I was more concerned with no reverse gear than the width of the entrance, this time it was a pleasure to take her in with ease not having to take such a tight turn into the mooring.

Now she is back on her own mooring repaired, repainted & ready for a less eventful time at the end of May when we return for another long weekend.

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Sunday 15th April 2012

Chuch Minshull viewpoint to Aqueduct Marina.

This is the last day of our very mixed Easter holiday week.  The weather has been mixed, rain, heavy rain, really heavy rain, ice balls, hail stones, sunshine but not much wind apart from after Lochaber had the chilli con carnie!  The wildlife has given us glimpses of baby ducklings, nesting swans, numerous seemingly unafraid herons & the highlight of the week our first sighting of a kingfisher!

It flew alongside the boat for a few hundred yards darting in & out of the canal bank, beautiful shimmering colours, finally it posed just for us! Here he/she is…..

Emotionally our week has given us some respite from work but has challenged our boating skills with the near failure of the 2nd drive plate & the loss of reverse gear on the home straight. I thought that a  narrowboaters life was supposed to be relaxed & unstressed! I think the stress was actually caused not so much by the mechanical components failures but by the fact that we thought last year this problem had been resolved. I will detail things a bit more on the page dealing specifically with the drive plate issues once the promised replacement gear box  has been fitted & everything is working correctly.

I’ve had a hearty boaters breakfast. The sun is shining, the wind is minimal, the canal is relatively still, it is 10am & I have one shot at getting this 57ft of steel with no reverse gear into her mooring BN3 at Aqueduct Marina, here we go…….

We pulled her around & in through the entrance, then a small amount of forward power so I had some steering, hold your breath & hope the wind doesn’t gust, so far so good, one of the lads from the marina was at the end of our jetty waiting for Lochaber to throw the rope once I had the bow close enough & turning, at times like this never listen to anyone who says you don’t need a Bow Thruster, it has been a life saver for us the past two days & I say that unashamedly!! Power is right off & we are gliding in bow turned just enough, throw that rope, shes’ in, now guys just stop her completely before the bow reaches the opposite jetty, Yes! we made it. Sighs of relief.

I need a few minutes to get my nerves sorted, the heron on one of the boats opposite our stern who had been watching the carry on certainly helped me calm down.

So, I hope you have enjoyed my first proper boating week blog & the journey we have shared with you.

Today 1.5miles 3 bridges, o locks, 30 minutes, 1 marina

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Saturday 14th April 2012

Middlewich to Church Minshull Viewpoint

After a somewhat dissapointing end to yesterday when reverse gear was completely lost coming under bridge 168 between Kings Lock & Wardle Lock at Middlewich, we awoke with a sense of trepidation. Although we only have a couple of miles with one lock to go to reach the safety of Aqueduct Marina, we have a considerable amount of bridges some without much of a view through to the other side to see oncoming traffic.

It was dull today but at least it was dry for now. We set off around 12 midday & Lochaber walked ahead for the first couple of bridges as they were close together to warn me of any oncoming boats. Although I was only cruising very slowly it still takes considerable time to come to a stop & a breeze was starting to build up so I couldn’t keep the forward speed as slow as I would have liked.

Approaching Stanthorne lock we passed a boat whose owner told us that another boat was coming through the lock in the same direction, I slowed down to the absolute minimum that I could & just basically let That’s D’riculous go with the flow of the canal until we saw the second boat emerge from the lock, they left the gates open as they spotted us so we just glided in very slowly & I threw a centre rope up just so that Lochaber could bring her to a total stop.

So far, so good! we carried on towards Church Minshull honking the horn loudly as we approached every bridge that we could not see through, only once did we meet another boat when it was too late & frantic hand jestures & more horn blasts got him to realise that he was the only one with the option of going backwards. No contact was made & apologies for all the noise & frantic jestures were accepted on a quick explanation as we passed!

In the midst of all our tense concentration we suddenly noticed a swan following an oncoming boat very closely in its wake, as our two boats passed he immediately turned around & positioned him/herself in our wake very close to the rudder, we had never seen this behaviour before, he was that close he was pecking at the rear fender almost as if he/she was trying to hang on to it. We realised that he/she was in fact catching a free ride, using our wake to pull him/her along, this carried on for around half a mile then he just backed off.

The swan had brightened our otherwise stressful short trip back to Church Minshull. Shortly we arrived at the veiwpoint which is one of our favorite stops before entering the Marina, as once back in the marina our trips seem over, but we weren’t going home until tomorrow afternoon, so reverse gear or not we still had another night aboard & we were not going to waste it in the marina. I checked the weather for Sunday & it was supposed to be bright & sunny with very little wind, this was what we needed as Aqueduct Marina is incredibly open & even a slight breeeze can pull boats to the far end of the marina & our particular mooring takes quite a tight trun to get in & with no revorse we will only have one shot at this tomorrow!

We enjoyed the veiw & watching a couple of guys messing around in thier flying machines, they had parachute type canopies but with small engines of some sort. we are told this is power paragliding!  A nice relaxing end to a stressful day!

Now the nerves need steadying with a few glasses of white & some good food, Gammon steak & all the trimmings should hit the mark!

Today 5 miles, 1 lock, 16 bridges, 2hrs 35 mins 

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Friday 13th April 2012 (Easter Week)

Trent & Mersey, Rode Heath to Middlewich

The next morning @coalboat posted a tweet of us still sleeping whilst he was setting off! Nice one Brian.

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Brian McGuigan@Coalboat

@nbcornish That’s D’riculous on this frosty morn at Rode Heath. Have a good trip. http://yfrog.com/g03eazuj

What a nice way to start the day, the weather was warmer & brighter, the sun was shining.

We had taken it really easy yesterday as we had been contacted by the suppliers with regard to our drive plate problems & it seems that the particular gear boxes fitted a couple of years ago are faulty but an ongoing court case over the matter last year prevented them from telling us this when our first one failed. only on the second failure we have been told of this & have been offered a full replacement without charge. That is the good news, the bad is that we still have to get back to Aqueduct Marina with the existing one that takes its toll on the drive plate, I tried to use the gears a little as possible yesterday & decided on the same plan of action today as we had 20 locks to do. This is good practice however for handling your boat.

So, we left Rode Heath back along the Trent & Mersey, coming round to Thurlwood lock.

On to Lock 58 & watching the traffic rushing past on the M6.

A bit further on near lock 60 a horse from the stables was grazing near the lock gate.

At lock 63 I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful colour of the towels on the washing line, wonder how many washes before they fade to pale pink!

Isn’t it strange the things you notice when the sun is shining! we carried on & I was being extra careful with the amount of gear usage, The wind was minimal so it was easy to go very slow & just glide between the locks, so far so good. At lock 64 near Malkin’s Bank Golf Club BW are doing some work on one of the pair of locks.

Just before bridge 160 there was substantial ground works going on behind the boatyard, it looked like it may be the start of an extension to an existing industrial estate, but the heavy machines reminded me of  dinosaurs with the buckets waving around like giant heads & the engines roaring, yeah, I know some imagination!

We made a lunch stop at Wheelock & emptied the rubbish & wine bottles! lunch was Smoked haddock Chowder & hot baguette, lovely!

Just before bridge 65 there is a Dutch Barge style narrowboat moored, she is beautiful.

A bit further on towards Middlewich & all seemed well with the drive plate however reverse gear was getting harder to engage & disengage it literally took two hands, hmm worrying ,

however this heron looking liked he belonged to the ministry of silly walks took my mind off things for a while!

We passed the salt working getting closer to Middlewich, The lamentation of swans that we saw on the way out were still there we counted 30 in total.

We were approaching Kings lock  nice & slowly as we saw a boat coming up in the lock & as with everybody else today thought they would just come out leaving the gate open a we were only about 100yds away, again saving us gear usage, but no, they shut the gate & left the paddles up. when we past them it was obvious they didn’t have much care for others or themselves! One of the young children was poking at a manky dead duck with her fingers by the lock, then ate chips from chipper, parents unphased!

At this point I knew we would need to use reverse as this junction is very tight if you are turning onto the Middlewich Branch & into Wardle lock, as i was trying to carry on doing things slowly Lochaber decided that a blast of reverse was need to get round & under the bridge into the lock…..big mistake, she came out of reverse but no way was she going to engage reverse again!

So a sad end in the ongoing drive plate saga to a rather pleasant day. Tomorrow we will have to make it back to Aqueduct marina with NO REVERSE GEAR!  Somebody has a lot of stress & two spoilt holidays to answer for!

Today 11 miles, 20 locks, 6hrs & NO reverse gear now!

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Friday 16th March 2012

Woke up surprisingly early considering that we didn’t arrive at Aqueduct Marina until around midnight on Thursday, but we always travel down from Scotland in the evening so as not to waste a minute of our time on nbThat’s D’riculous. It was around 8.30am the sun was shinning in through the cream linen blinds in the bedroom & the marina was calm.

We got the rest of our stuff from the car, this time we brought down some favorite pictures that will be coming with us onto the boat with appropriate fixings to put pictures onto sloping walls! These will get put up over the weekend, meantime some breakfast & out of the Marina, heading towards Barrbridge.

Even though we arrived last night the boat still had a bit of a chill in her so we lit the stove as we were travelling getting inside aired & toastie. (that is smoke you can just see above the roof not mist!) As we went on the sky clouded over a bit but still very pleasant travelling. Caley our spaniel is now accompanying us on our trips so she can get used to boat life…….now, this is not going to be easy! In the canal twice today so we have decided that she must wear a harness (easier to fish out!) & be tied on deck until she realises that jumping in at EVERY available opportunity is not wise!

We moored up just before the aqueduct at Nantwich & decided to take Caley for a walk along the towpath, then back for a well deserved cuppa & a piece of rhubarb & custard cake. Hmmm lovely!

The sun was out again & the skies blue Lochaber sat at the dinette but unfortunately the sun got him!

Some 2hrs later we made dinner, watched a bit of TV had a few glasses of vino then to bed, won’t need that super new electric blanket tonight the boat is sooooo cosy!

Saturday 17th March 2012  

Caley woke us around 8.30am as she heard a couple of joggers running past chatting to each other, so we peaked out of the blinds to see more blue skies although patchy it was dry with intermittent sunshine, good enough for me!

Saturday is market day in Nantwich & as we have never been moored here on market day we decided to wander into town, I needed some batteries anyway as both clocks had stopped! The market was bustling had a Town Crier, not something you see every day.

It was a market worth visiting again, got my batteries & a great wee Bone China combined salt & pepper pot for the boat with a duck on it for only £4.50. Lochaber has to have coffee & cake every time we go somewhere so we chose McCormicks ther are numerous great coffee shops in Nantwich along with many bookshops & an abundance of independent shops all in a compact walking area, lovely way to waste an afternoon.

McCormicks was busy, coffee & cake very good. The walls of the coffee house are covered in a montage of black & white photos, you would need to refill your coffee numerous times to have a good look at them all.

Refreshed after our coffee stop. we wandered back to the market for a further look around & a meander around the narrow streets gazing in the designer shops! On the way back to the boat we stopped for a beer at The Oddfellows pub. We have been there before & will return every time we visit Nantwich, it is a great example of an old-fashioned independent pub, with great Real Ale, a good pint of Guiness & a very welcoming landlord, who know his trade well.

It was now around 3pm & we decided to move the boat across the aqueduct to the winding hole & head back towards Barrbridge for the night, a bit rainy but only a shower, dry by the time we reached a mooring just under the bridge at Barrbridge, just as we were pulling in to moor Caley decided to take the leap of almost death even though tethered & was therefore dangling over the side of the boat, the problem with a Spaniel with NO brains is that they NEVER learn! Moored safely, Spaniel hoisted from water all is now calm & a cuppa is well necessary!

Unfortunately back to marina tomorrow.

Sunday 18th March 2012

We heard very heavy rain on the roof throughout the night & wondered if we would be having a wet return to the marina on Sunday, but we were determined not to complain as the canals desperately need extra rainfall this spring, although the Cheshire area is not as bad as further down south & the Midlands.  When we awoke to the sound of the ducks  this was what awaited us outside.

The most beautiful sunday morning. So we decided to have some breakfast & make a move towards the marina, this is always the hardest time when we are only onboard for a short period of time, but the unexpected sunshine meant that we could take our time along the Middlewich Branch with only two locks to negotiate.

It is quite a busy stretch just out site Barrbridge, a couple of super boats for sale at Midway Boats. Very popular mooring spot along this stretch.

 

We cruised along slowly enjoying the spring sunshine towards Cholmondeston Lock.

 

 

Caley the spaniel was by now tethered on the deck with me, she had driven us mad all weekend with her continual diving into the cut, so she was not happy when we descended into the lock, water gushing all around her!

Next was Minshull Lock, last one before the marina. The nb coming through was flying the Cornish Flag! Good man!

 

 

So, here we are again back at Aqueduct, very light wind today, so getting into the mooring was unusually easy today. Just as we were about to leave after cleaning the boat & packing the car & of course the obligatory cappuccino in The Galley we saw an airship  above the marina.

 

A picturesque end to a lovely weekend.

 

 

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Aqueduct Marina

Friday 17th February 2012

Well, we made it this weekend, arrived at Aqueduct marina around 2.30pm, after stopping at Uplands Marina in Northwich to pick up a very handy piece of steel work Nick Bancroft of NB Marine Services had made for us. As you can see from the inside pics of That’s D’riculous on the Buying a narrowboat page nothing really divides the kitchen area off from the main area of the boat, that seems fine but when in use we found that any splashes from the cooker top were settling on the woodburner! Not great, so Nick had a simple stainless steel angled plate made for us to stop this & it actually masks any cooking pots as well, we like it & think it was well worth having it made to measure.

The weather was overcast when we arrived but dry so we set about storing the logs & coal away, making up the fire & plugged in the new heated blanket to air the bed. Now, that blanket was money WELL spent the bed was toastie & completely aired by 10pm & seemed to hold much of that warmth all night. That all done we put sausages in the oven & opened the wine! So glad just to be afloat again!

Saturday 18th February 2012

Awoke to the boat rocking gently in the strengthening wind & rain tapping on the roof, tea & toast & back to bed with that great new blanket switched on & a catch up with fellow #boatsthattweet. Blue skies above the low clouds, maybe it will break soon.we had an unexpected visitor as a good boatie brunch was being made.

This Aqueduct Marina’s dog in residence Jack & he belongs to marina owner Robert Parton. I got a paw shake in return for half a sausage….bless!  A few more cups of tea downed the rain has stopped & the sun was out, time to take our other dog (Caley the Spaniel) for a walk. Half way along the towpath  the sky darkened & the hailstones rained down on us! a couple of all-weather boaters on the move, by the time we got back to the marina it had passed & the sun was out again, time for a piece of delicious cake & a cappuccino in The Galley coffee shop.

“A dogs life”, this boating lark!

View of the marina from The Galley Coffee shop

So, this is my first blog entry from the boat on the new laptop which will accompany us when we move aboard. I think it is as good as previous blogs from the home computer, but need more practice to find my way around this one & get competent without a mouse!

Sunday 19th February 2012

The weather was pretty awful most of Sunday, we had heard the hail stones during the night & awoke to a very icy walkway & brrrrrr it was cold, nothing for it but to make tea & toast & return to the all-encompassing warmth of the wonderful new blanket!! This is becoming a habit! A quick catch up with #boatsthattweet & the chance for me to tell you a little story.

Charlies’ Story

Charlie is Aqueducts’ resident swan, he was made known to us when we first arrived last year by Robert’s young son who was very sad because Charlie didn’t have a friend! Apparently Charlie was always on his own, he is  very friendly it’s almost as if he gets to know his boaters & always comes to greet you when you arrive even if it is, like us, sometimes 11.30pm & in the dark….Charlie still appears to say “hello”. Now, you might say, that could be any old swan, No! we know its Charlies cos’ he has a broken beak!

We wondered if it was because of Charlies broken beak he didn’t have a mate, but I don’t suppose swans are that vain really!

During the summer of 2011 Charlie appeared to have a lady friend but she had cygnets in tow & although he tolerated her he wasn’t keen on the young ones, however she stuck around, the youngsters have gone their own way & Charlie seems to be “all loved up” We are all so pleased this “swan song” has a happy ending!

The Marina was so still after the storm on Saturday night the water was like glass. It was beautiful & unusually peaceful.

Time for the usual coffee & scones in The Gally before we start the long trek back to Scotland.

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