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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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Friday 10th February 2012

Well I am one mad cookie…..did the met office get it wrong or what, we could have driven down to our nb, snow didn’t materialise as they said, temperatures didn’t drop as much as they said….GUTTED!” May go to Falkirk Wheel instead just to see some nb’s.

I bought an electric overblanket today for That’s D’riculous well for us really for when we go down during the cold winter months, because we are not on board continually she it very, very, very cold when we turn up at about 11pm on a Friday night & without waking the whole marina there is not much we can do to warm her or the bed up apart from pop the central heating on for a while but we are always well tired from the journey so sitting around too long isn’t an option. a hot water bottle doesn’t seem to have much effect in the bed either. The box says the blanket cost 1p per night to run (Hmm….) & even without a shoreline we should be ok with our 3kw inverter.

I have been thinking today about the sad story I have been reading on Tom & Jans blog site for nbWaiouru, the supposed boat builder concerned Ben Harp should have his head hung in shame for what he has done to these people. They wanted to leave New Zealand & come to retire here and continue after numerous trips exploring our canal system permanently. There is a link to their blog on the right hand side of this page, it is well worth a read. I wish them the very best of luck in moving things forward & eventually getting the boat sorted out.

The damaged nb Waiouru

Saturday 11th February 2012 

We have decided that because we hadn’t managed to get down to Aqueduct Marina to join in the 3rd anniversary celebrations that we would go to have a look at the Falkirk Wheel, nr Stirling. As boaters now we should have already been due to the fact that until we become liveaboard we are still based in Scotland. The weather was not as good as I would have liked but it was 4c & I think most of the boaters in England are still in sub zero temperatures. Although we did find ice on the Union canal although it looks as if it is cracked & broken it was actually really thick & solid. The ice was very clear rather than opaque as the english canal photos seem to show.

There were not many narrowboats moored in the basin, mainly the hire fleet tucked away for the winter.

The locks on the Union canal above the Falkirk Wheel are so new looking compared to some we have seen down south, they look to new & unused & the mechanism for operating the lock gates was new to us, has anybody seen this type of operation on the english canals? We are assuming that you use your BW key & turn a knob & “hey presto” job done rather than all that winding of stiff cogs with a windlass.

We noticed a nice Scottish touch for mooring at the top of the Wheel, the mooring cleats had a Celtic design on them!

There are lots more photos on the PAGE headed Scotland’s’ Canals (plus the skating swans!)

Thursday 16th February 2012

I haven’t posted much since last weekend as it has just been the monotonous daily grind, this year is going to be really hard waiting to start getting ready to liveaboard our nb.  A couple of people on Twitter have said “why wait?”, “why don’t you do it now?” well the reason is pictured below,  his name is Wally & he is a 9 1/2 year old Newfoundland. He has been my close companion for all that time & has been with me through some very rough & tough times. He was the inspiration for me to get back on my feet after breaking my leg & hip at the same time! No, I wasn’t drunk! surgeon said if I had been I probably wouldn’t have broken them just badly bruised myself! Anyway, this beautiful boy is in the autumn of his life & currently has an ulcerated corn on one of his large pads which apparently will never heal & is too big to be operated on as he would loose 40% of the pad & healing may not occur properly with 385kg pushing down on it .  If it was at all viable we would make the move & take him with us but the style of our nb makes it impossible for him to get in & out of the cabin easily, plus the fact he’s not keen on narrow spaces! So as much as his loss will be one of the hardest days of my life, I feel that knowing my life will completely change is the only way I will be able to get over it.  I have already asked our vet about having his ashes so at least he come on our travels with us!!

Wally is off the see his favorite friend Jeremy this weekend at the local Kennels as we really, really need to get down to the boat & chill out, the weather has broken, the ice is melting & we have nb withdrawal.

So my next blog post will be done for the first time from That’s D’riculous. See you then. 

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Please let me give you some history to bring things up to date.  January 2012

We have spent the past year & a half falling in love with the canals & its people, most of that time has been learning how to handle a narrowboat properly & courteously, making the most of limited space & learning the etiquette of the canal world. During the next 12 months we are preparing to pack up our rented home, we have already sold our house & move on board fulltime. Since joining the boating community on Twitter we feel closer & more a part of the life style will be embarking on, therefore we think it is time to start our own boaters blog!

Our first nb was a 30yr old 42ft Cruiser style Minden boat called Tin Lizzie. We purchased her in August 2010, explored quite a bit of the Trent & Mersey & we loved her! Now we were hooked!

Moored just south of Rugeley on T & M by Lochaber & Cornish

We both bought & sold Tin Lizzie via New & Used Boat Sales based at Mercia Marina. They were very helpful when we first looked at Tin Lizzie & although we were doubtful of an older boat as a first investment we were assured by Doug, who is not a salesman as such more of a mine of information & recognised face within the boating community (who does all the practical & important things at New & Used), that she was a good solid nb from a sought after builder, Minden & that when we came to resell her we would not have a problem. Every time we visited Mercia Marina Doug was always around with friendly help & advice for the novices! He taught us a lot & we won’t forget that easily. I hope when we become liveaboard & start moving around more that we can go back & say hello.

As you can see she is alot more traditional inside than the new investment, traditional seems a lot cosier somehow.

 

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doug was right when we decided to put Tin Lizzie back on the market in May 2011 they hadn’t even got the photo in the ad before we had a buyer!! I hope we pass her & her new owners sometime as I would love to see how she is fairing, although we now have a new build the older nb’s have far more character & soundness about them, although the tech side is not so good.

We explored a fair bit of the Trent & Mersey with Tin Lizzie & I have put some of our favorite photos on this page.

Below are a couple of pictures of Mercia Marina which I believe is one of the biggest in the country now. It is also the base for the Shakespeare Hire Fleet.

 

 

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