Sunday, 19 November 2017

Speeding To The Locks. 18th November

Martin’s Bridge 3 to Wrenbury Church Lift Bridge 19

Last night I transposed the winter stoppages into our Nicholsons guide. From Monday we will be cut off from the rest of the network until mid December, then there will be a gap over Christmas and new year before a lot of work is carried out on the Llangollen Canal. The stoppages don’t start at one end of the canal and work their way along, this would make it easy for us to pass them, they are all higgledy piggledy here and there. We could get ourselves blocked in, which may happen if it gets really cold anyway, but if we can we’d rather keep moving albeit at a slow pace. Having the dates written in our guide meant it was a lot easier to see a route through.

Mick worked out our average traveling each day so that we could reach Llangollen a bit before Christmas. 40 minutes a day! We are going to be worn out!

P1170860smAwaiting the kettle to boil this morning Oleanna suddenly tipped around violently as a boat steamed past aiming to break through the stratosphere. At that speed he’ll make it to Saturn in no time! A few carefully chosen words were said loudly by both of us, but fell on deaf ears, the engine was making quite a lot of noise, straining to churn up the bottom of the canal in an attempt to gain more speed! Once he had passed we could resume our peaceful Saturday morning.

With a paper to buy and no shops within a bike ride we weren’t allowed to be tardy this morning, we had to get to Wrenbury before our choice of paper was sold out.

P1170865smP1170872smAs we made ready to leave a boat came past meaning that we’d be following them up the locks. We pushed out behind and pootled along through wonderful low autumn sunlight. The trees have been holding onto their leaves giving us golden views everywhere. The orange and yellow against the bright green fields is beautiful.

P1170887smThe boat ahead had pulled up at Swanley Bridge Marina for a loaf of bread, but as it was plastic sliced we didn’t bother to stop ourselves and carried on to the locks. This however didn’t mean that the locks would be in our favour as we had caught up with another boat, just finishing ascending. Once emptied for us Mick brought Oleanna into the lock with quite a bit of speed. This is needed as the flowing bywashes are quite strong and you need a strong line so as not to get pushed over to the towpath.

P1170913smWe travelled the Llangollen on NB Winding Down some six years ago, we of course have memories of that cruise but not in much detail. I also had my first boating holiday here when I was sixteen with my boyfriend at the time  and his family, I definitely have memories of that trip! Today it felt like we were discovering the canal for the first time. Our agenda is different than when we were on Winding Down, we don’t have to be back at base in two weeks, we’ve got six weeks to get to the end and be back through the first stoppage.

P1170918smThe boat ahead of us was taking it’s time and pulled over after the second lock. Another mile and a half and we were at the Baddiley Locks. Here we met boats coming down, a share boat that had been worried about Hurleston possibly closing early on Sunday and another returning to their base at Swanley Bridge.

We pulled up between bridges 18 and 19 where there was a stretch of 48hour moorings. Boats were pulled up either side of the mooring rings, this usually means they can moor for fourteen days, which is still the case. But for the last couple of years all visitor moorings revert to fourteen days during winter unless otherwise stated on the signs. Are we the only people who know this on the Llangollen?

Mick walked to the Spar shop whilst Tilly went out to explore the surroundings. There was a gap in the newspapers, possibly where our chosen paper should have been, so we’ll have to make do with a substitute this week.

P1170922smWe later had a walk up to the big lift bridge to see if we could see anywhere for a supermarket delivery. There is a stretch of winter moorings and past the bridge the visitor moorings are filled with hire boats. So nowhere here. We’ll make do with what the Spar shop has to offer and find somewhere else for a delivery, hopefully before Ellesmere.

DSCF7121sm5 locks, 4.86 miles, 6 mph, Voyager 1 into the stratosphere, 3 boats rushing to Hurleston, 2nd, 1st, 2nd in line, 0 proper bread, 1 substitute, 0 delivery options, 1 red beard, 3 hours of dodge the woofer, 20 snowflakes, 10 minutes of pink fireworks.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Man Cannot Live By Ice Cream Alone… But One Can Try! 17th November

Hurleston Junction to Martin’s Bridge 3, Llangollen Canal

P1170699smBoats were moving early, NB Halsall and NB Seyella passed as we were having our morning cuppa in bed. But once we were up it was time to turn right for Christmas which is only 44.5 miles away.

P1170774smP1170778smAs Oleanna rose carefully in the bottom lock of the Hurleston flight we were glad that we’d insisted on our boiler flue being moved from the gunnel side. Today it would definitely have been broken as the lock is so narrow, just a couple of inches spare for us. Old boats that have got a bit of old age spread have difficulty with this lock which can be seen on some of the stonework low down in the chamber.

P1170787smWe worked our way up to the top of the four locks where there is still no sign of preparations for the stoppage next week. Normally equipment, barriers etc. are piled up at the sides of locks ready and waiting to be put in place. But no sign here, maybe as there is road access things will turn up on Monday. A chap walked down the flight to see if we knew anything about the stoppage, so I told him what we knew that the flight would be closed for about a month.

Pulling up at the water point we popped the washing machine on so that the tank could refill as it cleaned our clothes. Now was also an opportunity to clean the towpath side of the roof and see how much soot I could remove from the chimney. Whilst in Garstang we’d bought ourselves an expanding hose, for those times when you are moored near a water point, but the normal hose doesn’t reach. This came out for the first time today as it had come with a spray gun attachment which made rinsing down the roof very easy. There was no need to shoot my window whilst I sat in it though! Cruelty!!

P1170802smP1170810smWe pootled on a short distance and decided to stop for some lunch. With milk and bread about to run out Mick was hoping to push on today to Wrenbury Mill where there is a shop, whereas I was hoping to follow the signs and posts across the fields to Snugburys Chilled Medication shop. As ice cream is made from milk we wondered if they might just have a pint or two spare and I would use up the out of date bread flour in the drawer and make a loaf. Mick gave them a call. Yes they could spare some semi skimmed, Hooray!!!!

P1170811smSix years ago we didn’t know of Snugburys existence until we were on our way back to base on NB Winding Down, so we’ve never been. Some hoodlum has handily broken the maps on the stiles that lead across the fields, so we had to follow the white posts and hope that we weren’t going the long way around the circular walk! The paths lead us across boggy fields with no sign of the special farm that lay ahead. But then towering over trees we could see a blue jacket on the back of a giant bunny. Luckily he couldn’t see us as we approached from behind, then sneaking off to the farm kept us out of harms way.

P1170826smP1170841smThe rather pretty farmhouse sits amongst golden orange trees and through the falling leaves we could see a blue canopy on the front of a barn. This was it.

P1170822smP1170819smFirst things first, the milk. They only had four pint bottles, would that be okay? It was. Then as we were stood right in front of the chillers it would have been exceptionally rude not to have partaken in some chilled medication! They boast on their website of forty flavours, well today I could only count 36, what choices were we missing out on?! This didn’t really matter as I would have liked to have tried at least fifteen.

With one flavour each in a single sugar cone we sat and watched as a steady stream of customers came in to sample the wares on a chilly November afternoon. The Hot Chocolate made with Death by Chocolate  ice cream looked very good, but we stuck with the pure medication.

P1170836smA goat and three very hairy pigs snuffled around in a field, quite happily chomping at the grass right next to the fence. Then we had to have a look at the killer rabbit. Last year it was Beatrix Potters 100th birthday so they built a straw sculpture of Peter Rabbit. He stands at 38ft high, his ears are 10ft and so is his carrot! Sadly in February this year arsonists set light to him destroying the 1000 man hours that it had taken to create him. Locals rallied round and a new Peter was built. From some angles he really is quite scary, his carrot resembling a jagged knife!


DSCF7114sm4 locks, 0.96 miles, 0.5 clean roof, 1 full water tank, 1 load of pants and socks, 4 pints a good excuse for a fix, 2 chilled medications, 1 amaretto, 1 toffee crumble, 38ft of marauding bunny, 10ft carrot, 1 sachet yeast too old, 1 brick of a loaf.

Friday, 17 November 2017

At The Bottom Of The Garden. 16th November

Barbridge Junction to Harleston Junction

P1170736smMartin on NB Halsall was heading towards Nantwich today so we texted him our order and stayed put waiting for him to come through, sometime between mid morning and mid afternoon. Whilst waiting and ignoring the Open Sesame meows from Tilly, Mick cooked us a big breakfast. Possibly the biggest we’ve had in a long time. Have to say it was nearly healthy, turkey sausages, nothing fried all cooked in the oven and at least two portions of veg, there was a glass of juice too. We’re just hoping somewhere up the Llangollen does pick n mix hash browns soon.

Breakfast whiled away some time and then we got on with chores around the boat. Mick renewed the bucket in the toilet whilst I gave the floors a good sweep and wash. A load of washing was made ready, but this won’t go on until we are near to a water point. I then got on with sewing ends into wrist warmers and the sontag I’ve been knitting. Mick had a good tidy up in the engine bay as we were close to bins. The new/old filter and connections seem to be fine still, so that problem has gone away.

P1170738smP1170745smNB Halsall came through at around 2pm. He filled the diesel tank, a bottle of gas and four bags of coal. This should see us through until we see NB Mountbatten up on the Llangollen. Last winter we relied on NB Alton coming past every fortnight, this year we’ll be looking out for the red and yellow bow of Mountbatten.

P1170751smP1170755smFully stocked up and no-one else to wait for we pushed off. Back to Hurleston Junction. At the bottom of one very large lawn we were lucky in spotting some toadstools and a blue fairy. Later on, looking at my slightly blurred photos, I spotted another shy fairy hiding in the foliage. As we approached the large bank that holds the reservoir in there was a flash of blue as todays Kingfisher darted past and skimmed it’s way up the bank to lift at the last minute over the fence. All too quick for a photo.

P1170772smWith four locks ahead of us we decided to pull in and let Tilly out for the remainder of the daylight and go up the locks tomorrow. A boat was tied up at the end where the Shroppie Shelf is at it’s narrowest, so we deployed the tyres and let the cat out. The chap was about to set off to go up the locks, so we waited and then pulled back to where we’d been yesterday morning. At it again! Moving the outside with me inside it! I saw them doing it from my good vantage point up a Christmas tree. I did have to make a dash for it just in case they were going to go any further!

0 locks, 1.19 miles, 2 much breakfast to want lunch, 1 card posted, 4  bags coal, 80 litres, 1 gas bottle, 1 clean bucket, 1 empty yellow tank, 2 pairs wrist warmers finished, 2 hats finished, 1 sontag finished, 1 batch blocking waiting, 2 pompoms made, 1 skipping and jumping me, 1 white pawed looney on the towpath.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Preloved Filter. 15th November

Hurleston Junction to Barbridge Junction

After breakfast Mick gave the chap at Midway a call, just in case he hadn’t got round to ringing us. A filter had arrived, but it wasn’t the same as the one we already have. However if we turned up after lunch they would have a look and see what could be done. We already had a back up plan, if they couldn’t replace the filter then they should be able to mend the bypass leak and we would own up to Finesse and see if they could get us a new one to replace it when they next come to visit.

P1170708smSo we decided to nudge up nearer to Barbridge ready to pull round the corner at the right time. It didn’t take long to reach a mooring with the junction in view, only about a mile. I’d left my camera inside so missed an opportunity with a Kingfisher, he was tucked away in a very bushy tree, so wasn’t really worth the effort. Trying to convince Tilly that we hadn’t stopped for the day gets quite hard at the moment. Some days this is as far as we go at this time of year and she becomes so lovey dovey trying to pursued me to open a door for her. She now has a habit of making me stroke her, directing my hand with her paw.

Mick decided to head off to see if he could buy some milk from the garage further towards Bunbury on the A51 whilst I had a go at defurring the curtains and sofa. Tilly uses the curtains as a kind of hammock so that she can be up close to the outside, this means all our curtains get a good covering of black fur. Mick returned having given up as there was no footpath along the busy road and he would rather not have milk than get squashed. So we had a quick lunch, pushed off, turned back onto the Middlewich Branch and breasted up to a boat moored at Midway. Whilst Mick went off to see what could be done I carried on with a bit of a clean, this proved to be a mistake.

P1170730smThe other day I bought some wood wipes with the hope that giving our oak a polish every now and again would keep it looking good and protect it from condensation and Tilly. So I had a go at a length by the sofa. I fairly soon stopped as the smell was quite strong. We are not fans of aromas, tending to choose products that are fragrance free. I also have a big problem with the smell of honey and these wipes contained beeswax, not the same but similar and, to me, horrendous. The packet was sealed back up never to be opened again! The rest of the day I’ve had to put up with the smell and I really hope it wares off very soon.

Meanwhile Mick was sent to the workshop to ask for Nigel. The filter they’d been sent was designed to be fitted to rubber hosing, we have copper pipes so no good for us. However on their diesel tank they had a wasp fuel filter just like ours, but still in one piece. If we were happy with this preloved (second hand) filter then they would clean it up for us and install it. The pipe leading from our diesel tank was found to be the cause of the new leak as it was slightly crushed, so this needed replacing too. Nigel was a quiet worker, stepping off Oleanna after an hour and saying we should run the engine for an hour to check for any leaks. So we pootled along to the next winding hole and back.


The sky was filled with birds gathering and sweeping about, grabbing a rest in trees and chattering away bout their journeys. They seemed to be leapfrogging each other as we passed rows of orange trees. On our way back there was a streak of blue, another Kingfisher who didn’t seem too bothered by boats. He flitted from one to the next until he got sick of the sight of us and headed back along the cut behind.

P1170727smAt the junction we turned left, NB Seyella in view just to the north. We moored up where we’d had lunch, Mick pulled the engine boards up to check if all was dry and to our relief it was. The diesel will be left turned on overnight and checked for any problems before we move off tomorrow. Mick went back to Midway to settle up. The workings out on a piece of paper quite different to what Canal Contracting had quoted. Even though the filter was second hand they need to replace it so we didn’t get much off for that (still cheaper), an hour not two and a piece of pipe to replace the squashed one. Less than half the quote from CC, we’ve let them know.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 3.75 miles, 1 right, 1 left, 1 wind, 0 footpath, 0 milk, 0 fur (for now), 1 wipe more than enough!! 1 big fat headache, 0 birds on sticks, 0 stuffed birds, just nature and luck, 2nd hand filter, 1 new pipe, 0 leak so far, 0 shore leave again! 6 snowflakes, 1 cat wishing 1 woofer better legs Sad smile

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Putting The Cat Out Didn’t Even Work. 14th November

Hurleston Junction

P1170666smA day of waiting. To while away an hour or so we had a walk up the Hurleston flight to have a look at the troublesome narrow chamber of the bottom lock. However it was full, so we couldn’t see much. Below there are signs saying to lift your fenders, they have been there for a long time. Just the width of a pipe fender down the side of your boat can make the difference between travelling through the lock with no problem and getting stuck! We don’t travel with fenders down as you tend to loose them and someone else inevitably finds them wrapped around their prop. When we moved onto Oleanna we left Lillian with a full set and gave away another set that we have gradually picked up through the years.

P1170672smA gushing bywash passes the locks to their south side, sometimes audible as you walk up the towpath and sometimes underground. Other bywashes join the intermediate pounds all flowing quite freely today. At the top there is a service block which unfortunately is closed at the moment, so no toilets or pump out, but the water taps are still usable.

P1170682smP1170693smP1170696smTo the north of the four locks is Hurleston Reservoir. The water flowing down the canal from the Horseshoe Falls at Llantysilio fills the reservoir and is used for drinking water. It holds 85 million gallons of water and around 12 million gallons flows along the canal each day to keep it topped up. You can walk around the edge of the reservoir and today we had a great view eastwards towards Mow Cop and the Pennines. You also get a good view of the locks from here too.


Back at the junction there are some twisted garden railings intertwined with the undergrowth. This is all that is left of a two story house which was most probably a toll house as seen at many other canal junctions. The demolition of this building in the 60’s was the catalyst that helped start the Landmark Trust. Sir John Smith was so outraged at the buildings destruction that he was determined to prevent the loss of other small historic buildings that the National Trust and it’s likes were not interested in. The buildings that the Landmark Trust saves do not become museums, but are places people can inhabit, staying for short periods of time and enjoying the history that surrounds them. The wonderful Gate House at Tixall is one of these as is Lengthsman’s Cottage on the Stratford Canal.

P1170703smBack at Oleanna we pottered away the day, an episode of Inspector Morse ‘The Wench is Dead’ kept us occupied.  Morse solves a murder on the Oxford Canal back in the 1850’s. We tried to work out where it had been filmed as the Oxford is a narrow canal, but it seemed to have broad locks, electricity and TV well in advance of most places! We did our best not to ring the chap at Midway Boats. We’d kept Tilly indoors for the morning just in case. But with no word we relented and let her out, thinking that this would surely mean he’d call. Luckily for me there was no call and I got to find friends and play for hours.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 locks, 85 million gallons, 1 big bath, 9 waiting gulls, 2 waiting boaters, 1 murdering cat, 3 lemsips, 1 pair wrist warmers, 0.5 hat, 1 mackerel bake, episode 2 series 2.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

No More Pie! 13th November

Nantwich Basin to Hurelston Junction

Waiting for a phone call from Midway Boats we decided that we should move on a little so as to be nearer Barbridge for when the filter housing arrives. But first we wanted to pop back into town for a couple of bits. Our five litre bottle of Rapeseed Oil is just about empty and it will be a few weeks before we can call in at our friends farm on the Yorkshire Wolds for a top up. This bottle has lasted us just over a year and calling in gives us a good excuse for a catch up with Jennie, Adam and their kids. But if we want a roast dinner between now and then we need more oil.

P1170622smP1170619sm.A trip back into town also meant that we could spot the last two clocks from our walk yesterday. The first one had been underneath our feet at one point and the other we’d missed by about 20ft when we turned a corner.

P1170625smToday I realised that we’d been walking past a shop that a few years ago I’d have taken more notice of. Bratts. When I was about 16 for some reason I started to call my Dad, Fatso (Mum fed him well so he had some padding, but not too much). This was an affectionate name for him and he soon returned the complement and called me Brat. He remained Fatso to me for the rest of his life. So I had to have a photo taken outside my shop, I should have struck a pose to match the ladies behind.

P1170629smP1170634smAs we were at the end of Pepper Street there was only one thing for it. A visit to Clewlows as there was no pie left on Oleanna. Another Pound Pie for Mick and as I’d been alright with the pastry the other day I tried a Steak Pie. This turned out to be better than the chicken, the steak was plentiful and very tender with a tasty gravy. We did our best to support the local shops and buy the rest of our bits from them, but as the only rapeseed oil we could find was at the grocers and was well over priced we relented and had to go to Morrisons for a bottle.

P1170635smA quick lunch and then we pushed off aiming for Hurelston Junction in time for Tilly to have an explore. Coming round a bushy bend I could see a little bit of turquoise and darker blue, so I reached for my camera for todays Kingfisher photo. However as we got closer it turned out to be two fishermen and their rucksacks!

P1170638smFurther on though another bit of blue caught my eye, it was a Kingfisher. He kept zooming along to strike another pose for me on the next tree and then the next before swooping back behind us skimming the water surface out of view.

P1170647smP1170654smP1170659smJust before the junction we pulled over to join other boats at the 48hr moorings. As usual we checked what was about before deciding on letting Tilly out, who by now was SHOUTING out of the bathroom window! There was a dog up the way, but it seemed far more interested in what was going on on the boats. So the front door was opened up and Tilly let loose. She wondered into the sideways trees only to have to dash the last bit as the dog came charging along the towpath towards her. I called out for her to keep going, but she just arched her back and puffed herself up facing the dog. Not sure if it was her or me who scared the dog off, but it soon turned round and sauntered back up the towpath. Tilly might have been alright with this, but we weren’t. She had a wonder around and then returned to the boat at which point the doors were closed and we pushed off again, cruising to the next stretch of moorings on the other side of the junction where we could be on our own. The trees here were far better anyway, don’t know why they didn’t come to this outside first of all!

P1170660smThe chap at Midway was still waiting for the filter and he would call us ‘as soon as it arrives’, translated as stop ringing me, I’ll ring you. So here’s hoping it arrives tomorrow.

DSCF7121sm0 locks, 1.93 miles, 1 straight, 2 moorings, 1 shelf, 2 more pies, 500ml oil, 2 clocks, 2 courgettes, 1 pepper, 1 pesky woofer, 2 imposters, 1 kingfisher.