Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Saturday, 30 July 2016

30th July '16

i couldn't do a blog over the last two nights because there was no internet, so now I'm racking my brains to think about what we've done since then.

We went into Penkridge in the morning and bought a few basics. It's a nice little place, we haven't been in there before although I know we moored there once. The butcher said something about boaters and I said is it that obvious (us in shorts despite the rain starting outside) and he said he could usually spot a boater but he liked them because they usually supported the small independent businesses. I thought that was rather nice.

Anyway we got back to the boat and decided to set off (much to Paddy's delight, he's getting more and more impatient of us sitting in the boat and is always running to the back with an expectant look in his eye), we took the back down, started out and almost immediately the rain started in earnest. We got down the first lock. stopped for water and went down the next and then moored up again.. Poor Paddy was beside himself. This was about 11ish in the morning, by 3 it had started to look better so we made a run for it and got as far as Baswich. Don't worry if you've never heard of it, I don't think it really exists apart from on the canal map. There were moorings of a sort there and we'd half toyed with the idea of catching a bus into Stafford for an explore the next day but changed our minds.

This was where we moored in the sunlight of the next day. It actually looks OK here, but it wasn't the best, although there WERE pilings to moor against so not all bad.

After we set off we didn't have long on the Staffs and Worcs and went past Tixall Wide.

The grand building you can see it actually the gatehouse to the house that is no longer there. You can only imagine how grand THAT must have been. They agreed to have the canal going through their land as long as it looked like a lake from the windows. So the poor navvies had to dig out a wide section that looked more pleasing to the eye. 

We got around Great Hayward junction intact and were able to moor just a bit past the lock, looking out at the fields and parkland of Shugborough Hall. Because we hadn't had to travel too far we had time to walk Paddy around to the farm shop and then drop him off at the boat so we could go to the Hall and have lunch. Very nice. Then the rain started so we were pleased that we'd decided to stay there for the rest of the day.

Today we set off in the dry and I have to say it has slowly improved, We are now at Frandley, overlooking the cafe again (and NO Norwyn, I haven't fallen in)

We travelled down either just in front or just behind an old working boat (they went aground quite a bit because of the huge 3;10" draught they have). They were a nice couple of lads on it and we discovered quite a bit about the history of the boat - it had originally been built to transport crude oil so was a bit different from the typical working boats. with hatches in the deck rather than canvas covers.

There was one funny incident, we had to stop at a bridge behind another boat because a boat was coming through from the other direction. For some reason I turned around and put my hand up in a typical 'stop' sign. The next thing we knew was that their bow was coming past John..I SO wish I'd had the camera there to record his expression! It was priceless! Apparently they don't have reverse gears, if they want to go backwards, they have to stop the engine and re-start it with the fly wheel going the other way, not something you can do in a hurry. Anyway it all worked out OK.

I've been busy as I've said doing some knitting and crochet and this is what I've been up to,

These are the animals I've made and I've also knitted some mittens and a couple of Christmas stockings, but they are commissions for Christmas so I can't show them yet.

We are likely to be home tomorrow or the day after, depending on whether we stop or not, so that's another years journey over, just about.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

27th July '16

What a strange day. We started off in boat-coats, hats, jeans just after a shower of rain and ended in sandals, shorts and t-shirts in quite intense heat.

We got to Autherley junction without much drama and found a boat in front of us, in fact it's a boat that we've been in front of or behind for the last few days but they were up before us (probably most are) and beat us to it. Strangely after the first horrible scraping sounds from the first boat that went past yesterday, nothing else seemed to affect us.

John was told a boat was coming but by the time it arrived we could have got through at least twice! The lock is only 6" so it's not as if we'd be using much water!

After the junction it's a sharp left hand turn to go up the Staffs and Worcs and luckily there was nothing coming either way so it was easy. Shortly after the turn you come to something called the Pendeford Rockin' which is a magic name I think. What it actually is, is a length of very narrow canal with stone up the side. It's actually the same rock that we saw on the Shroppie because they are actually pretty close to each other just going in a slightly different direction. I took a photo of John bringing the boat through but the light was wrong and even I struggled to work out what it was meant to be. Paddy and I had got off the boat to run ahead and check for on-coming boats.

Now I'm not saying that this canal is a bit winding and convoluted but this chimney was at one point behind us, but I didn't get a photo of that, the first picture is on our left, the second is on our right and the third is directly ahead. These are the same chimney over the course of about half an hour! Definitely not a Telford canal!

The view ahead of us at Gailey Wharf, always a bit of a busy place what with hire boats a winding hole a lock and water points all in about the same place. There's also a lovely Canal Shop in the round tower you can see, but I didn't have time to get in this time as I was busy trying to fend off the boat behind. It was about 2' long (ok it was a bit longer than that, but you get the idea) and the man holding the rope was making a big deal about it despite the fact that I was coping with a boat 3 times the length and probably the weight as well. He seemed to think it was OK to allow his boat to nudge up to mine to the point of pushing the stern out so I had to get on at the front and walk along the gunnels to get it into the lock. By the third lock I asked him to get back, politely, but the language I was using inside was very colourful. His wife was totally ineffectual and walked their Pomeranian up to do the locks with her on a short lead that she couldn't manage. She was also trying to open the gate by pushing it in the wrong direction. John said they must be hirers and told me to be patient.  At one of the locks he discovered that it was their own boat by which time I was probably several shades of rage darker and the language I was thinking must have left a blue cloud above me. I'm really not a very nice person. I know I'm not. Sometimes I don't even care.

Anyway, enough of my shortcomings (there's not room to go through them all) this is the view from the lock! It's 8' 6" deep and goes under the road, but it has to be about the closest lock to a road that we've used.

We are now moored at Penkridge, The weather sounds as if it's going to be horrible tomorrow but then who could tell today would turn out the way it did.

On the craft front I've made a rabbits body and half a head today. The number of locks has an obvious effect on the amount of crochet I can do while we're travelling, as does the weather but I'd like to get the rabbit finished before we get back which will be some time next week we expect.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

26th July '16

As you may have guessed, there was no internet last night, barely a phone signal actually, so here we are today.

We've travelled quite a way since the previous post. Last night we stayed at Norbury Junction. We got there in time for lunch at the pub. We both had the pies but this time asked for the 'light bite' version. It was still more than enough, but we didn't shirk our duties and both had deserts. Well I ask you, how often do you see fruit suet pudding and custard on a menu? They also had prosecco so I was a very happy bunny.

We stopped on our way and got our cratch cover mended. Tony works under the name of Bethesda Covers and is really good as well as very reasonable. He got us sorted in next to no time, so all we have to do now is to try to avoid knocking the front edges against moorings, bridges or locks. We don't do it a lot to be honest but when we do the cratch fittings are quite badly placed and they are the first casualty.

I'm sure that I've put a photo of this on the blog years ago but it still fascinates me. This bridge has a road going over the top level, but has a telegraph pole half way down it. Once again this is at the end of a cutting with plenty of trees overhead and rocks alongside. Also lots of horse flies but so far neither of us has been bitten.


As we were coming past the long term moorings before Norbury Junction we spotted this little beauty sat happily on a boat! It was entirely unperturbed by everything going on around it. Absolutely beautiful creature. (Ian if you're reading this, I'm pretty pleased with the balance of the photo, what do you think?)

This little family came to call at the hatch last night! I gave them some porridge oats which they enjoyed until Paddy realised something was happening and started barking so here they are making a retreat. We saw them again this morning, mum making sure that they get plenty of walking exercise!
As you can see it was a lovely mooring, with a decent towpath and well placed rings. How lovely!

Today we came through a short tunnel. You could see where the navvies had cut through the rock for quite a distance and then obviously this chunk of rock was just too much, so they went through it rather than try to take it all out. We spend a lot of time marvelling at the amount of work that went into creating the environment that we spend our lives on, The embankments along this stretch are huge and when you remember that this was all done before mechanical diggers or anything else were around, you just have to admire them. Telford obviously let nothing stand in his way, if the ground was too low, raise it and if it was too high, dig it out. Amazing.

They seem to have quite a problem here with Himalayan Balsam here. Although it's very pretty, it's pervasive and is like Japanese Knotweed in as much as it's removed when it can be, but it's a pretty hard war to win.

I spotted this dog clamouring along the top of the boat and at first I thought it was a goat! Seemed perfectly happy.

How's this for cute? I don't think I've ever seen such a tiny boat, it was in really good condition as well which is nice.

This is our somewhat uninspiring view from the hatch tonight. We are moored about a foot out from land as there is a rock cill just under the water but the good moorings a couple of miles back were full and there were no more moorings shown this side of Autherley Junction and we didn't want to start on the Staffs. and Worcs. until tomorrow really, so here we are. It was quite annoying really because there was a boat moored in a large space and if it had been about 5' further forward or back we could have got in either side of it. There was no-one obvious onboard to ask so we just had to continue on, I have walked Paddy up to the bridge in front of us and it reliably informs me that the buildings that can just be seen are Bilbrook. I'm none the wiser either. We've just had a boat go by and there was a horrible graunching noise as we were pushed against the side. As John says at least we'll get up early in the morning as the first boat going by will get us up and moving pretty quickly!

Anyway we now only have the stop lock in a couple of miles time and then we are heading north again strangely enough before we get to Great Haywood and turn back south for a bit until we get to Rugeley when we go north, all of it in a generally eastwards direction. Well I know what I mean anyway.

I've got some washing drying at the back, undercover as it doesn't look nice enough to get the washing line out this time. We've only had a couple of drops of rain today but the sky looks heavy.

I've been getting on well with my knitting and crocheting. Mittens are finished, a hippo was completed today and I've also done a highland cow. I've just cast on the final Christmas stocking for this year (I hope) and am contemplating what animal to do next!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

24th July '16

A slightly longer day than I'd expected!

We left our mooring and John went on as usual to the lock while I pootled along, coming around the corner I was delighted to see a boat coming out of the lock, slightly less delighted when I spotted that there was a boat ahead of us and even less delighted when I realised that the boat coming out was an old working boat and that it was bringing a butty through. In case you don't know (and if you're not a boater, why would you?) a boat towing a butty has to come through the lock and then wait at the gates for the lock to be re-set to allow the butty to come through and then eventually move off towing said butty. A butty hasn't got an independent engine. Unfortunately I was holding on to the rope, keeping the boat in the side and hadn't got my camera, although I could see it through the window on the table. It's a lovely sight seeing an old boat towing a butty.

The top and final lock of the Audlem flight!

Market Drayton Wharf. We stopped shortly after this to fill the water and get rid of some rubbish. There was a hire boat there and the way they'd tied the boat up was basically wrapping the rope around the bollard as many times as they could so I offered a quick rope tying session and three of the ladies on board had goes at tying the boat up and they took a video of one of them doing it so that they could remember. I like to spread a little happiness wherever I go!!!!!!

Spotted in Market Drayton. We both did a boat handling course on this boat with Terry Robertson. It was excellent and I'd thoroughly recommend him. The boat looks shinier than I remember. Maybe he's polished it in the five and a half years since we were on it! I'd thought that we were going to moor there today but John felt that while things were going well we'd move on a bit further. Shame as there were loads of moorings there.

The Shroppie is a good place to see kingfishers usually, but we didn't see any today. We did see a lot of herons though, so this is as good as it gets! Sorry.

We came up the 5 Adderley locks without incident, apart from buying a pork pie, some eggs and some pork scratchings at the top from a little kiosk with an honest box. The 5 Tyrley locks were another matter though. Lots of by-wash again. You can see it across the pound here, it actually pushed this boat into the other side amongst the trees as it came out of the lock. Lovely.

These are the lovely old buildings at the top of the Tyrley locks, very historic but now as you can see renovated. At this lock, while I was waiting for the boat inside to come down, I suddenly heard a loud and obviously distressed yell. I knew that John was up there and would be able to help if it was needed and there was nothing I could do from where I was so I waited and apparently one of the dogs on the boat had fallen off the lock and went down the side of the boat, Luckily it was a skinny dog and the boat wasn't moving and all was well. It highlights the fact that these are dangerous places and need to be respected. When the boat came out the guy smiled at me and told me that he and John had both nearly had heart attacks! John later told me that when it happened they were having a discussion about how silly some people were to get stressed about things on boats, and how much better it was to let things pass......quite amusing in retrospect as he was anything but calm for a few minutes.

How Tolkienesque is this? The Shroppie means several things to me. Dark narrow cuttings with overhanging trees, horseflies, kingfishers, rocky sides, few moorings and .........

.....muddy towpaths.

Well we've seen them all today apart from kingfishers.

We got to Shebdon Wharf where we'd hoped to moor and there were no spaces so we tried to pull in just after the moorings but we could either get the back in or the front, not both. There are stone sides but just under the water line there are jutting out rocks and apparently these happen along the length of this section. We tried again a mile or so further on but that was even worse, Did I mention that it was raining by now?

Finally just after bridge 48 I spotted a short length of pilings (possibly the only ones of this canal) and we pulled in, managing to tie the stern and centre to the pilings and the bow is on pins. There's a bit of a jump to get out but not as bad as some and so here we are for the night. It's only a mile and a half to get to Tony tomorrow and I'm just hoping he's not on holiday, then we can get to Norbury Junction for John to get oil and filters because apparently the oil change is due. There's a nice pub at the Junction that does magic pies so I'm hoping for a good meal tomorrow. Mind you, I've done us a roast with lamb chops tonight so we're not exactly starving,

As you can tell I had a good internet connection tonight. Every day brings a different story! Oh yes and by the way we did 12 locks and over 10 miles today - and most of it was dry!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

23rd July '16

Well here we are with just the two top locks of the Audlem flight to go. The second longest day we've done this trip.

We left just after 9. I'd have been happy to stay in bed a bit longer but John was up and about so it seemed easier to go along with it. The weather has been really good for cruising today, nice and warm but with some breeze making it pleasant.

We got to Audlem and found that it was even more busy than expected, there were signs everywhere saying not to moor as there was going to be the working boats show next weekend. What we ended up doing was mooring up quickly, running up to the Co-op and getting supplies then getting back and moving on up the locks.

This is the well known view of Audlem with the Shroppie Fly in the foreground and the Mill beyond it.

We had a good system going for the first few locks as there were as many coming down as us going up. About a third of the way up (there are 15 locks altogether) the ones coming down seemed to thin out somewhat and we found quite a few locks that needed emptying. My main problem was the fact that there was a lot of water in the canal and the by-wash was really strong. Memories of Llangollan came to mind, but at least I was able to get in all the locks, although I'll admit to quite a few knocks. John will be out with the black paint when we get back.

I tried to get a shot of the locks spreading out in front of us, but it doesn't really express that. Anyway for those who aren't boaters, it might give you an idea.

Along the way the boat behind us was waiting for us to come out and the lady who was doing the locks came up and was getting instructions from John as to how to work the locks. A few locks later she came up and said her other half was shouting at her and saying she was doing it wrong (they were on a hire boat) She smiled and said "Four hours, seventeen years......mmm I wonder which is right?" She went on doing it as John had told her and I felt very proud of both of them. Much later they came past where we were moored and she was doing the locks like an old hand and the chap on the boat wasn't moaning any more!

This was the last lock we did today so I took the shot as a good luck token, hoping against hope that there'd be a mooring when we came out of it.

You can get an idea of the by-wash here, the white water in front of the lock is in fact a strong current rushing across the front of the lock gates caused by water coming around the lock to keep the canal at the correct level. There was a LOT of it. This one was particularly difficult but we lived to tell the tale.

We have lost some of the fasteners from the base of the cratch cover, and we know that Tony Saunders,  who does really good repairs is just along the canal, so we are hoping to see him on Monday so that he can do a repair for us.

When we were moored safely I took Paddy for a walk up to the next lock and discovered some young cattle who were on the other side had broken part of their fence. One of them had got through and was enjoying the grass (obviously greener) on the other side and I was a bit worried that it wouldn't be able to get back, because the bank was narrow and it was right above the by-wash so if it fell in it wouldn't be able to find it's feet for a good while and there was no-where for it to climb us. I couldn't find any number to ring but a boat that came down later on said that there was a man there and the cow had got itself back.

We were sat outside a bit later and the sun was shining brightly and then it started raining, quite gently, but there was hardly a cloud in the sky and it was definitely rain, we could see it falling in the canal! There was no rainbow to be seen either. No lovely evening sky today and I've got no idea what tomorrow holds, but we don't want to go far so it shouldn't matter too much.

Last night when I finished writing my blog I approved the proof for my book to be available on Print on Demand from Amazon. So for anyone who wants to read it in 'real' form rather than as an e-book. It's called 'Persi and the Dream Necklace' and is written for 10+ year olds but my friends who've written it so far seem to have enjoyed it. I loved writing it in any case, and am now writing the sequel.

Friday, 22 July 2016

22nd July '16

Another hot day, but with a pleasant breeze on occasion,

We moved our mooring in Nantwich up to near the aqueduct where there's a path down into town, It's a much nicer mooring and we're staying here until the morning,

Paddy is back to being a proper boat dog and as soon as we've finished breakfast he's raring to go, waiting at the back for us to open the doors and get ready, The poor little thing was totally under-impressed when we moved a few hundred yards up the canal and moored again, He was even more put out when we left him to go into town.

If you haven't been to Nantwich, then I would sincerely suggest you visit when you can, It's a lovely little town which still has many local independent shops and lots of little alleys to explore. There are also lots of beautiful buildings, many of them timbered, but also a lot of attractive Georgian buildings especially on the walk into town.

Just one example, The whole town is getting ready for the Nantwich festival, There's a big show here next week and it all looks very exciting,

We went into town as I said and looked around the outside of the church which had holes in some of the walls where spies were shot during the civil war, Judging by the size of the musket holes I can't imagine there was much left of the poor devils! We couldn't get to see the inside as there was a big funeral on so we left them to it,

We had a look around the museum, which had some interesting exhibits dating from Roman times showing that the production of salt in the area was a thriving business even then,

We had lunch in the Crown which was one of the buildings looking like the one above and I have to say I had an excellent burger, Luckily they had small bottles of Prosecco so I was able to have a couple of those as well.

We had a bit of a walk around the rest of the town and then came back to the boat to be welcomed by a little dog who thought that we were NOW at last going to be off, Poor little chap is very disappointed in us today,

This is the aqueduct from the road and we are moored a bit behind the tree that you can see next to the traffic light so it was very handy! We'd done this before and knew what to do,

This was the sunset tonight from the hatch. Hopefully that means it will be a nice day tomorrow. We live in hope. The internet is pretty slow but I'm persevering because we are hoping to moor at the bottom of the Audlem locks tomorrow and I've a feeling that the reception there is going to be non-existent, I may be wrong and then I'll be able to blog but just in case, I'm sorry.

Before I finish I have to add one last photo. It's very rare to get John smiling but yesterday I got  him while I was inside (it was raining a bit) and this was the outcome,

Just had a brief (10 second) shower of rain. What will tomorrow bring?

Thursday, 21 July 2016

21st July '16

At last some internet. not sure about downloading photos but we shall see.

Not the fastest but I'll live with it! This is a deer perched atop a hill we went past a few days ago. Believe me it's a deer! I just liked the balance of the photo, hope that Ian approves.

This is what remains of Beeston Castle. It's on an amazing rocky outcrop and was all but impregnable. However the Parliamentarians managed to starve the Royalists out after a year or so, dirty tactics, but then what can you expect from the nasty Roundheads (I'm very much a Royalist by the way!).

Paddy had a bath as he was so hot. You can see he was really happy and grateful for it. The weather became really hot as we went down the big double locks but broke somewhat while we were moored outside Chester,

We had a lovely couple of days there. We went in on the bus and walked around the walls one day and then went back on the bus the next day and did the cathedral. We met a lovely couple going in who were also on a boat, John and Gwen on Nonsuch. We ended up coming back up the locks with them and having a lovely evening on the boat with a glass or two.

Saying goodbye to John and Gwen as they were heading up the Wardle to their mooring and we are continuing down the Shroppie. We've moored at the base of Hurleston Junction but the mooring had a stone step too low for our fenders and we have decided to continue down the canal a bit to Nantwich or wherever we can see a half decent mooring.

The highlight of the day was one of my shoes falling off when I was at the bow and John managing to save it as it floated past him at the stern!

Right, we're off to a better mooring.

Monday, 18 July 2016

18th July '16

Well we are moored outside the Cheshire Cat at the top of the locks leading down to Chester. We have decided not to go further this journey as either a. it stays hot and John doesn't fancy the locks in the heat or b. it starts raining and John doesn't fancy the locks in the wet. General feeling is that if we come up either spring or autumn another time we'll go the whole way to Ellesmere Port, but not this time.

We're planning on catching a bus into Chester tomorrow to have a wander around and get some bits and pieces, including some sun cream and after sun. Let us say that I hadn't appreciated quite how hot it was yesterday and I'm suffering somewhat from it today. Once we'd come down the locks I came below and did some crochet in the relative cool of the boat rather than have the sun shining on my back despite a t-shirt and John's sun cream.

We went into the pub and had a lovely lunch and have just returned from a good evening meal, so no food preparation at all for me today, a really lazy day.

The internet connection is even worse tonight, I can't even get the pictures up to choose so I'll have to do a photo blog once we're back with a better line.

We'll be here tomorrow evening so I probably won't try to post anything until Wednesday. In the meantime Tom Harman, if you should be reading this had a wonderful birthday tomorrow!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

17th July '16

No blog yesterday because it was so miserable that we only did about 2 hours cruising and most of that was getting down Kings Lock, turning into Wardle canal and going up Wardle lock! When the mist became drizzle then turned to rain we gave up and moored. It turned out to be a lovely evening but by that time we'd had enough.

We LOVED the Wardle canal otherwise known as the Middlewich arm of the Shropshire Union. There were good moorings along almost all of it, only 4 locks that caused us no problems and despite being part of the Four Counties Ring, was remarkably quiet while we were there. We'd definitely do it again if for nothing else than the lovely moorings. All with rings, many with picnic tables, really nice views from some of them across the Weaver Valley.

This morning, shock horror, we got up early and were away just after 8. Not like us at all but we were determined to get some miles under our belt. We completed the Wardle and came onto the Shroppie. Up here the Shropshire Canal is far less tunnel like than the southern part that we've done before and there are open views rather than culverts overgrown with trees.

We are now in double lock country and did a staircase with just two chambers. Such a waste of water and no volunteers despite it being Sunday.

The weather has finally broken and before we had our elevenses it was sunny and just improved throughout the day, It makes such a difference. We even had a barbecue this evening.

This is me waiting after coming out of Kings Lock as there's a boat coming down the Wardle Lock that is going to turn this way. I managed to do all the turn, despite having a boat moored on the right of me and then totally messed up getting in the lock! Can't win them all I suppose.

It's not a very good internet connection here and the photos are taking ages to upload so I won't be putting many on tonight.

The Shroppie ahead of us, very disconcerting to see traffic driving across but there's a road parallel to the canal. John got us out very easily and we continued our journey northwards. As you can see it's much sunnier today than it was yesterday. Long may it last.

Barbecue going but John is interested in the 4 buzzards calling overhead. Paddy is enjoying a bit of shade. It's a lovely mooring here, just above Beeston Stone Lock. I've had a walk to the next lock which is Beeston Iron Lock and there are signs there saying that it's distorted and for only one boat to use it at a time and for boats to beware of protruding parts, sounds delightful.

This small hill is opposite our mooring and is covered with rabbit warrens. I keep seeing rabbits and dashing to the hatch with my camera only to find them gone. I'm going to keep trying though. The evening sun shining on it is glorious and the shadows are probably where all the wretched rabbits are hiding!

I've finished crocheting the panda, and knitted one mitten (Christmas commission) and have started crocheting a highland cow! I tend to knit inside in the evening and crochet as we're moving since I can drop it at a moments notice to do locks etc.

We're both shattered after our early morning and whether we manage to do it again (or indeed want to) remains to be seen, but hopefully tomorrow we will reach the Cheshire Cat pub, which is where we've been recommended to moor. We are thinking about going down to Chester and on to Ellesmere Port, since we're here, but we haven't made up our minds about that as yet. See what tomorrow brings.

Friday, 15 July 2016

15th July '16

St. Swithuns Day.....oh dear!

We overslept so got up hurriedly as we had a bit of a way to go. I popped out to get the canopy down while John was getting his cereal and a boat came up the lock and moored at our rear. The lady was very friendly and said that they'd been going since 7.15 and after 10 locks they wanted to stop before the rain. Trying not to look as if I'd only got up 10 minutes earlier I asked what the forecast was, and apparently rain was on the way for the next couple of hours. At that I felt the first spots so put the sides back on the canopy and went down to tell John. We checked several forecasts and the majority of them didn't mention rain. After 30 minutes it was dry so we thought we'd might as well get going. Once more the sides came off the canopy and we got ready to go.

The third  lock we went down was next to the M6 and I felt so grateful to be moving slowly along the canals rather than speeding along the motorway. Shortly after this it started to drizzle.

The lady at the lock had warned us that the water was quite low in some of the pounds, one in particular, this seemed strange since there was no shortage of water starting to come from the heavens.

We came to the pound with a definite shortage of water, typically there was a boat coming up so rather than being able to stay in the centre of the pound, we had to move across to let each other by, and I was scraping along the bottom at one point, but luckily didn't get stuck. When I got to the lock this was the view back. It doesn't look too bad in this picture but that 8"-10" makes a lot of difference to the boat. By now it was getting heavier. Unfortunately we were both in 'longs' and sandals but had anoraks on. We got wet....very wet. There was no choice really, we just had to keep going.

We needed to stop at Wheelock for some water and just as we arrived the rain stopped and so once we'd filled up we took turns to go below and dry off and change. Luckily it stayed dry until more or less arriving at Middlewich where the drizzle started again.

I can remember saying a day or so ago about spurts of water that you sometimes get in locks, if there are holes in the brickwork that water can get into. Here was a lovely example. One reason I never keep my hatch open when we're travelling, no matter how hot it is.

The final lock going down to Middlewich. I've just worked out that in the last two days we've come down 262' 1" in 16 miles and 30 locks. Impressive engineering isn't it? A mixture of Brindley and Telford, raise your glasses folks to two amazing men.

We got the canopy up just before the rains came again but now at 8.00pm the sun is shining and we're off for a walk to see the junction and the first section of the canal we'll be turning onto tomorrow. New territory for us, always fun.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

14th July '16

Hallelujah. It's been sunny today, enough for me to finally get into shorts and strappy t-shirt. Well once we got to the mooring at least.

We've done 16 locks, 8 miles and Harecastle Tunnel today in a bit over 5 hours. Pretty good going we thought.

A quick view of Westport Lake as we were pulling away this morning. We both planned to take pictures on our evening walk yesterday, but it came over really dark and we'd hardly got out when it started raining so that was that. We were the last but one boat to get away, and it was only 10.00. John reckons that everyone was on a schedule to get around the ring and were having to get an early start. That's why it's just so nice to be retired and not have a time scale to keep to. Boating for us is a leisurely thing that we can both enjoy. Even when we used to do the time shares on a boat, we never went too wild to try to get miles behind us.

We arrived at Harecastle Tunnel and were the last boat through so had no waiting time at all! Paddy got frantic as usual, he's not keen on tunnels at the best of times and I think the fans going on and the doors shutting were a bit much for him. We've done it before with him but he just doesn't like them. I discovered one of his claws is growing in the wrong direction and can't believe that I hadn't spotted it before. It's not worrying him so we'll get it sorted when we get back.

Most of the locks we've done today have been duplicate ones, meaning that two were built alongside each other, which can save time. Luckily many of them were set for us but were on the 'wrong' side. With the strong winds that made life interesting at times.

I was somewhat amused to spot this sign saying that the other lock was shut. The undergrowth and reeds growing across the entrance gave me a sort of a hint to be honest. You can also see the colour of the water here. This is the colour you get on the north side of Harecastle, that comes from the minerals that are in the water that feeds the canal from there.

Paddy was exhausted by the 14th lock, poor lad, pulling the boat is obviously too much for him!

The canal winds gently through some really lovely countryside on this stretch. It's very quiet as well, we didn't see many boats in either direction. There were also more rings for mooring along the way than the Pearson guide book had indicated. Talking of which, we are moored at Hassall Green which according to Pearson's has a pub, a brasserie, a shop and a pottery. It doesn't. We went off looking for an ice cream after we'd moored but there was nothing, There's a sort of green with a phone box, notice board and post-box which is about the sum of the facilities here. Luckily we didn't want a pub or a brasserie or a pottery, but an ice cream would have been welcome!

The highlight of the day for me was getting the bed linen washed and then hanging it out when we moored for it to blow dry in the sun. It smells lovely. That's what I miss being in the marina, the ability to hang the washing out on a nice day. I haven't heard the forecast for tomorrow but more locks are on the agenda, so it had better be dry. We hope to get to Middlewich, and then we'll be turning off onto new waters! Exciting!