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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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Easter Saturday 7th April 2012

Trent & Mersey, Wheelock to Rode Heath

We awoke to the sound of rain pitter pattering on the roof of the boat, but it looked as if it was going to brighten up so we took time having a good breakfast before we set off. By about 10.30am the rain had stopped, the wind was light & the temperature seemed warmer than yesterday.

So we said cheerio to Wheelock, the place where last year we had to call out boat engineer Niel Coventry to replace an absolutely shattered drive plate. The story of this is on the post headed…Hooked! Now we start following the dream.

I had the incident from last year on my mind & at times thought the same problem was re-occurring due to the noisy knocking from the engine compartment, then on the other hand was it just my imagination? I decided to just carry on & see how things evolved, at least this time we know what it is, last year we didn’t have a clue what the problem was & had visions of engines blowing up, gear boxes crunching etc.

At locks 62 & 63 we came across Spey & Chance 2. This is Spey leaving lock 63.

This is the butty following, coming out of lock 62, we had to wait a while as she got stuck & needed some pushing to get her through.

At lock 60 we came across another fisherman with all his gear right on the lock moorings! We like the double locks on this stretch, it makes things much quicker when they are both working.

The rain was still holding off & only a fleece was needed today even the gloves came off! This is the view looking back from Pierpoint Locks

This is lock 54 on the Trent & Mersey still heading for Hardings Wood Junction, inside that huge willow tree is a super tree house! Have a look next time you are there.

We carried on towards Rode Heath as we have stopped there before & it is quite pretty nestled in amongst the village houses, the pub The Broughton Arms does a decent meal & a good pint of real ale & there is a small village shop.

There was a swan on its nest directly opposite our mooring & a large wild meadow towpath side which sloped down quite sharply as it used to be old salt workings & was then turned over to natural wild meadow when the salt mining stopped.

Lochaber is worn out today as he has done 14 locks, not bad for a man with a heart condition! Even Caley the mad spaniel is settling in to boat life this trip. The drive plate was not sounding great when we stopped, but tomorrow’s another day & we’ll take it as it comes.

So, off to The Broughton Arms it is!

Today 5.25hrs, 14 locks, 4 miles, dinner in the pub! 

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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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Here are some of our favorite pictures of 2011 on our trip around the Four Counties Ring

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Autumn 2011

We had a few more weekends down on That’s D’riculous during the autumn just taking short trips to Nantwich. We love the chandlers at Nantwich Basin & the coffee shop is good too.

Nantwich Basin

You can also take an easy walk into the historic town which is full of independent & unusual shops rather than the everyday group/chain shops. A lot of the buildings are very old & look as if they are leaning towards the street but are also very pretty with the old oak beams & leaded windows, we like having a wander & a couple of the pubs do very good real ale & lunch.

The Millenium Clock in the centre of town is worth a look.

Millenium Clock

Some history on Nantwich, Cheshire

SALT – THE `OLD BIOT` – brine pit

Walking down High Street we come to the bridge over the river. A few yards to the right along the new road (?Fairfax Way) just off the pavement on the riverside is the `Old Biot` or the site of the brine pit, centuries old.
There is a plaque on a stone which tells how this area was laid out in the 1990s as a gesture to recognise the significance of salt in the history of the town. We could say that Nantwich exists because of the discovery and exploitation of salt.

Some time in the distant past we think that a person – Roman or earlier man – must have noticed that a spring on the bank of the river was running salt water. How to get the salt from the brine by evaporation must have been known as common knowledge. Likewise the uses of salt for preservation, for taste and other purposes must also have been understood

The discovery attracted a few people to settle near the banks of the river and before long a business or trade evolved into the exchange, barter or sale of salt for other commodities which the people needed. As may be learned at Middlewich, the Romans were in barracks and they also produced salt. A Roman road extended from Northwich, another salt town, to Whitchurch, passing near to Nantwich at Reaseheath.

According to experts in the origins of names, the Roman word for a place which had some special significance, not necessarily salt but other activities, was vicus. We see at once how this suffix became vic, wic and wick found in the names of very many places. Popular misunderstanding has thought that wich must mean `salt`

In 2002 and 2003 first time excavations in land behind houses on the north side of Welsh Row have revealed a great many artefacts and evidence of extensive salt making activities. The full report is awaited but it would seem to suggest that there was much more Roman presence in the town than had been thought.

The brine pit on Snow Hill was about 6m.deep. Leather buckets were used to carry the brine to the places – salthouses – where it could be stored in barrels until required. The salthouse was a simple construction of a roof on six or more poles with lengths of wickerwork for low walls or other division of the workplace.

A lead pan, almost a metre square, was placed on stones. Wood was fed into the space below and lit. In this simple way the heat turned the water to steam and left the salt crystals behind. The moist salt was put into wicker `baskets` to drain. Strict rules on how and when `boilings` could take place, inspection and control of sale were enforced.

Such was the importance of salt that it is easy to forecast the growth of a hamlet, a village and a small town as the beginning of today`s Nantwich. The industry grew and grew, until there was a time when there were 216 salthouses on both sides of the river, mostly in the area of First, Second and Cross Wood Streets off Welsh Row.

West Row Nantwich

THE GREAT FIRE 1583

Leaving the brine pit, returning to the crossroads and then crossing over, we can keep alongside the river. In a few yards there is a place to stand, or sit, and look at the river more closely. There may be a fisherman or boy, with a huge umbrella against the rain or wind.

Here is a plinth with a large plaque attached. In brief it summarises the events of the night of December 1583 and after. The wording reads “near this spot…” So we must start by imagining that the road(Water Lode), the traffic and the people nearby, do not exist. Instead we are looking back towards the crossroads and can see the righthand traffic light. This, roughly, is where the fire began. In place of the tall buildings we must imagine a row of single storey cottages, timber-framed and thatched.

Since there exist first hand accounts of what happened we can find them: “Nicholas Brown was brewing ale” (the common drink then) and somehow set his kitchen on fire. With so much wood in the building: furniture, kindling, utensils, beams, walls and roof, plus thatch, the fire soon spread. It was pushed by a strong westerly wind, taking the flames up High Street, through Oat and Swine Markets to Beam Street and along Pepper Street. The other way, it travelled along all of High Street, into Pillory Street, a bit, and along Hospital Street until it reached fields near to Sweet Briar Hall. The parish register recorded:

“…fire consumed in 15 hours, 600 bays of buildings” A bay was the common width of one house among its neighbours.

The people were helpless in trying to put the fire out. Women fetched pitiful quantities of water from the river in little leather buckets, until they heard that the landlord of the Bear Inn, nearby, had released the four bears which he kept for bear-baiting. The women were obviously afraid and refused to get any more water unless they were protected from the bears. Bear baiting was a form of entertainment in which huge brown or black bears, on a chain, were either teased by dogs or otherwise made to stand up on their hind legs.

The Wilbraham diary account says 150 buildings were destroyed, 30 shops, 2 barns,etc. Seven inns disappeared.

The riverside plaque says “almost all buildings were destroyed” This is an exaggeration. Nobody or building on the other side of the river was harmed. Others in Hospital Street and Beam Street were also unaffected.

To see impressions of the fire, go into the post office in Pepper Street and at the far end is a fine mural of many of the major buildings in the town. You will find the four bears, the women and their buckets and their protectors with muskets!

Upstairs in the Museum is a fine woven tapestry. This tells some of the history in symbolic form. The central feature is the Great Fire. In the Library and in the Museum can be found a full description in J.J.Lake`s Great Fire 1583 (1983) or in James Hall`s History of Nantwich (1883).

In 1983 a week`s events took place to mark, as does the plaque by the river, the 400th anniversary of the Great Fire of 1583.

High Street, Nantwich

THE BATTLE OF NANTWICH AND THE WICKSTED FAMILY

In Mill Street is the Wicksted Arms public house. Recently it has acquired a new inn sign, The scene on it is an artist`s impression of what the Battle of Nantwich on January 25th 1644 may have looked like. There is much colourful costume and banners and prancing horses!

Like the Wilbrahams, the Wicksted family were also landowners and interested in the activities in the town. Some of them lived at Townwell House, Welsh Row. This is the three-storeyed house, next but one to the timber-framed cottage which projects on to the pavement at the widest part of Welsh Row. Townwell also reminds us that here was one of the town`s five public wells.

Richard Wicksted(1543-1623)was a churchwarden and a member of the leet or court. He was one of the salt Rulers who determined when the boilings of brine should take place and who set the strict rules governing the salt-making processes and the sale of salt. He helped to make or amend the `Town Rules`(like bye-laws).

John was a mercer(trader in silks and fabrics)and a constable(one of the three main officials in the town at that time). Thus he was involved in the notorious case of Roger Crockett of the Crown Hotel,who was murdered in 1572.

Richard the younger(?1613-52)was a Royalist and had some of his property confiscated, only to be forgiven later. Thomas a freeholder in 1666 was a treasurer for the town and a royalist. A later Thomas was a lawyer and,in 1732, appointed as one of the trustees to manage the Wright almshouses, once in London Road, but moved stone by stone to a position at the rear of the Crewe almshouses in Beam Street.

John Wicksted gave some money for a south gallery in the church in 1730. The principal families then sat in this gallery until the 1850s. He helped to amend the Town Rules in 1834. He and a successor, Thomas, tried to get an act passed in Parliament relating to the town but were unsuccessful.

A Richard Wicksted(1750-1810) was a doctor and in 1779, a shareholder in the new Workhouse off Barony Road.

A burial stone can be seen in St George`s chapel in the North Transept of St Mary`s church.

Going back to the 1640s when England was up in arms regarding who should rule – King or Parliament. The dispute led to skirmishes and battles in many parts of the country. One small battle took place in fields between Nantwich and Acton, approximately where the canal passes today. Nantwich decided to support the Parliamentarian cause and set up local headquarters in The Lamb Hotel in Hospital Street.

For three weeks the town was under siege but in January 1644 a movement towards oncoming Royalists near Dorfold Hall resulted in the Battle of Nantwich. It started in the afternoon of January 25th, a cold wintry day and early dark. The Royalists.sought to capture Nantwich by a pincer movement and met much frustration in crossing the river Weaver at a point near today`s Beam Bridge. The Parliamentarians advanced towards Acton, defeated the Royalists and set them to flight.

The leader General Thomas Fairfax is now recalled in the name of the new bridge over the river near to the swimming baths. And again in the re-enactment of the battle which takes place on the last Saturday in January each year. This is presented by 300 or 400 Sealed Knot actors, dressed in the costumes of the time together with their very long pikes, muskets and canon, but no horses. The event is a great attraction. Many people watch the men and women march from the Square, down Mill Street to the Mill Island where there will be seen much preparation, advances, great pushing at close quarters, several `dead` , and earth-shaking sounds from canon fire!

The Museum has a detailed account with maps, diagrams, and a copy of the Fairfax letter. Upstairs is a woven tapestry of a scene from the battle – snow on the ground and a church in the background. Although the battle is often omitted in full written accounts of the Civil Wars, a long account is reprinted in James Hall`s History of Nantwich,1883, and the full story in R.N.Dore and John Lowe`s Battle of Nantwich 25th January 1644 in Nantwich Library.

Thomas Fairfax Bridge, named after the English Civil War Parliamentarian Army hero who lifted the siege of Nantwich in 1644. Erected in 2003, it carries the Waterlode over the River Weaver near to the Swimming Baths.

Sir Thomas Fairfax Bridge

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New nb day 27th May 2011

This was the day we had waited for MD boat (that was the builder, we hadn’t named her yet) was put in the canal at Northwich & we went to transfer belongings from Tin Lizzie, a large estate car full already & we were only novice casual cruisers at this point! She looked so odd compared to older traditional nb’s, she was ultra shiny, very plain & no personal touches yet.

MD Boat at Harral Brokerage by Lochaber & Cornish

Our first days on MD boat were spent taking her from Northwich to Nantwich then back to Aqueduct Marina which was to be her new home. Anyone who says that 57ft is easier to steer than 42ft is kidding you! She is a reverse layout cruiser style with quite modern lines & equipped with a bow thruster, but I vowed we would not use it unless there was no other alternative! It was a pleasure to have a proper shower, washing machine, central heating plus stove & most of all decent lighting. We kept the idea of a pump out toilet as that is our preference, although I was a bit anxious when I realised that the tank was located beneath our bed. On the technical side she has lots of batteries & 3kw inverter.

Anyone who says that 57ft is easier to steer than 42ft is kidding! Our first attempt at getting into our new designated mooring on a slightly windy day…..an embarrassing disaster! Great lads at Marina lent a helping hand, now that looked easy, why couldn’t we have done that? (a year on we still don’t always get it right!)

Much discussion & deliberation was done during this week over a name for MD boat.

Cornish, that’s me Sue & Lochaber, that’s him Colin are represented by the Cornish flag & a Celtic symbol, that’s the personal bit decided.  A common phrase during the tribulations of the previous year in our house had been “that’s bloody ridiculous” in frustration one day Lochaber twisted the phrase & it was a “ping” moment for a boat name less the swear word obviously, so That’s D’riculous was born. (The D is in remembrance of my mum who had recently passed away).  Lochaber also has an affection for crows, I don’t know why anyway we decided to give our signwriter free license to put crows on the bows mixed with traditional diamonds….we like it!

DSC01751 by Lochaber & Cornish

DSC01752 by Lochaber & Cornish

DSC01753 by Lochaber & Cornish

Now she is all kitted out & painted up & ready to go, I’m so nervous at having to manoeuvre 57ft without scratching the paintwork. Well, forget all that has been said after several summer trips on the Shroppie & the Four Counties Ring she is now scratched, slightly bumped & the bow thruster has been well used! The hold & all the cupboards are filling up with stuff, we have added  some traditional touches to take the bland newness away. Oh & changed the chimney as I destroyed the original one going through the bridge before the lock at Middlewich!

The next step for us is a helmsman’s course, which we both passed with flying colours, now all we need is adventures & experience.

During 2011 we took her out as much as we could grabbing every spare weekend & using all holiday entitlements to be aboard, we made it round the Four Counties Ring, a little way along the Macclesfield canal & numerous short trips to Barrbridge, Nantwich etc. So, her bottom is wet & she is all dressed up and waiting for adventure.

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