Beeston Stone Lock to The Cheshire Cat
Being in a Black Hole meant not being able to log onto the internet this morning. Over breakfast I usually catch up with boaters blogs that I follow, but not today, no checking facebook either! We had been taken back to pre mobile phone days. We’ve often wondered how life would have been cruising the canal network with no means of contact other than the phone boxes marked in Nicholsons. Maybe we’d have talked to our family more, ringing in every couple of weeks so that they knew we were still alive and roughly where we were. Of course then we knew no different. Would we have felt isolated? I wonder if we’d still be cruising or have headed home to the comforts of regular post and the telephone. Trying to get hold of my Mum, 30 odd years ago, with news that one of her best friends had passed away when she and Dad were on a holiday touring Scotland proved impossible even though we knew their vague itinerary. Yet today in 2018 I heard of the passing of Mick Hughes the day after. I know what friends are up to all across the world and how wintery showers and gusts of wind have inhibited boaters moves all whilst eating my cereal.
However today, well over breakfast, I read the inside of the label from my yoghurt pot! Quite a nice recipe for Chicken Tikka Kebabs, might check their website out too, when we get the internet back. Along with keeping in touch we also rely on the internet for information, maps for shops, good pubs, history and the weather. We usually watch the news and weather on TV every evening, but with no signal this meant we had to rely on our memory for the days forecast. No knowing whether we should wait till 11.30am for the big cold front to have gone over before pushing off, what we did know was that it would be cold and we had a pub to reach four hours cruise away.
So with breakfast finished, much quicker than normal, we pushed off. The boat ahead of us had beaten us to the locks this morning (maybe they didn’t have a yoghurt pot to read!) so they all needed filling. The sun was out but the wind was biting.
First was Beeston Stone Lock made from, Stone. Large blocks form the chamber. Next was Beeston Iron Lock made from, Iron. Around this lock there are signs warning boaters not to share the lock as the chamber walls are contorted and your boat can easily get caught. NB Blackbird and others we know have shared the lock but taken care, keeping an eye open for any problems before they become serious. Today we couldn’t share as there was nobody about. As Oleanna descended Mick’s phone sprang into life, emails, texts, the rest of the world was back at our finger tips.
Through the next bridge is Chas Hardens Boat Hire. The brightly painted boats two abreast with a third boat tied up waiting for some attention, it’s owner sat at the stern. At first it looked like the chicane was going to be too tight for Oleanna to pass through, but she managed it, if she’d have been any longer it would have been really tight.
The hills surrounding the canal now open up, the nearby railway line elevated along the flat valley and Beeston Castle looking down from it’s craggy perch. On our way back we’ll hopefully stop near here and walk up to admire the views.
I left Mick at the helm and retired indoors just as the first wintery shower hit. First a chilli was put on the stove top to slowly cook. Now we had done all the locks for the day there was no danger of it being dislodged and covering the cabin floor. Next computers were updated, yesterdays blog uploaded and the label from the yoghurt pot (having now served it’s purpose) put in with the recycling. I arrived back up on deck with hot drinks just as we started to pass the long long line of boats moored at Golden Nook.
Our last trip up to Chester, back in October 2011 we didn’t recognise any of the boats here. But now several were familiar, some more than others. NB Bergen Fjord was the boat we hired to do the Cheshire Ring for Mick’s 50th ten years ago. It now has a stove and is most probably quite cosy on an evening, back then we sat in coats on the high dinette, my legs dangling, whilst we enjoyed our holiday with snowy showers and used three bottles of gas for the central heating. A few gaps in the moorings brought the total number down a little to 117, yes we did count. The blog post I wrote back in 2011 I believe was the first to include my list of numbers rounding up the day.
The wind was quite strong so we had to pass a little bit quicker than we normally would. Meaning that we couldn’t pull up alongside the most familiar boat and leave a little present under the pram hood for it’s owners. Wintery showers and dark dark skies ahead kept us forging on to our destination The Cheshire Cat.
This should be an ideal mooring for me, but NO! An ivy clad wall with loads of cars behind it. Some trees to climb, but too many woofers about to be able to reach them. I did manage to scale the wall and popped out when the hatch was opened, having to make a very swift dash across the towpath as a stupid big pompom woofer charged after me. The pub needs renaming, The Cheshire Woofer!
During the afternoon we did a big online shop to be delivered to us tomorrow. Our stocks are low of just about everything as we’ve had to carry food distances or not had much choice in what to buy for a while. Having been able to refer to a weather forecast we shall stay put tomorrow avoiding the strong winds, just hope they aren’t too strong as our mooring has a big old tree hanging right over us!
This evening we met up with Bridget and Storm for a drink at The Cheshire Cat, which is a nice pub despite what Tilly thinks. A lovely evening with a few pints and lots of conversation as ever.
3 locks, 8.7 miles, 0 emails, 25 emails, 1 chicane, 1 vat of chilli, 5365754 turns of a windlass (I still hate those very low geared paddles), 117 boats, 29 mins 32 seconds, 107, 4 boxes only, 1 fed up cat, 0 to hunt, 2.5 pints each, 3.5 days for Blackbird, 135 days for Oleanna, 1 party invite, 100% phone, 100% TV, 100% internet, 100% caught up, 1 black guiding light delivered.