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Posts Tagged ‘Heron’

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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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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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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