Monday, 31 March 2014

Down the Shroppie and onto the Staff and Worster Canal

Hi There

Well about that time to put pen to paper or more like finger to keyboard I suppose and put another post together.

Before I get onto the travel bits I've got to mention our 'some friends' that I mentioned in my last post who we are meeting up for a boating holiday with in July. Seem to have upset 'some friends' by calling them 'some friends' so to clarify 'some friends' are actually Steve and Angela.

Now Steve is my second best mate as I upset him many years back by not asking him to be my best man at my wedding. But what goes around comes around, so when he got married he made a point of not asking his best mate (me) to be his best man to get me back, but soon came running back when 'The Chosen One' (bit of a Man Utd comparability here, but I won't dwell on it other than to explain that we're just in a period of transition) said he didn't want to be his best man so I got the job in the end anyway. So here's a photo of Steve and Ang with no doubt more to follow from our holiday with them in July/August.

Anyway, back onto life afloat.

The weather has been pretty good the last few weeks and I've always got Nicky to rely on for sunset photos.

We haven't really bothered much about markets for our shopping, but the few times we have gone to one our money does seem to go a long way for what you get. You also get the odd very good bargain as well and at Market Drayton it came in the shape of a box of mushrooms. You'll see by the picture, with a mug to put the box into some sort of size context, that it was a sizable beast. Oh and the box only cost £2 :-)

Needless to say that our menu was a bit mushroom based for the next ten days with the first being garlic mushrooms, Nicky found an excellent recipe for mushroom soup that we ended up doing twice and one we'd certainly recommend  a mushroom risotto as well as being a part of a few cooked breakfasts and added to in other recipes.

Came across this little chap in the cut south of Market Drayton. For non boaties a cut is simply where the canal has been cut into the landscape where I assume it was the easier option than around, through as in tunnel or locks to raise the canal up and over the obstacle in question. The following pictures show the cut better where you can see the height of the land on either side.

Locks usually have overflows from the pound above that enter the canal or next pound below, some of which are pretty strong that you can see by the above photo.

So from being nicely lined up for a lock,

It all goes horribly wrong,

And adjustments need to be made to rectify. For a change on this one I didn't actually do an imitation of a bowling ball with the side rails up, but managed to get it perfect for once. Have to be honest though and point out that whilst it was a single lock, if wasn't as tight a fit as some so had a few more inches to play with. (no dirty thoughts please)

A few more pictures to

show a bit more of the cut.

Even managed to pick up a few hitch hikers on the way that'll pay their way in the shape of fire wood next winter, although . . . . . .

Binks wants another one on the fire now. Note the Ecofan merrily doing its stuff and the never far from boiling kettle of water.

Travelling through Gnosall

and coming up to Cowley Tunnel that was originally intended to be 690 yards long, but only ended up being 81 yards as they came across faults in the rock and ended up . . .

opening it up into a cut instead.

We saw this road shown in our Nicholsons guide as being a 'Roman Road' so thought great, that'll be a good walk for The Boys, but someone before us obviously had others thoughts about what it could be used for! Actually, talking about a walk for the Boys, there is a disused railway that you can get onto from bridge 36 just north of Gnosall. Walked through the countryside for about four or five miles west and it didn't seem anywhere near coming to an end, but having in the back of the mind that what we walk west will have to be repeated east, we gave up and doubled back.

So that's just about us for now. Currently moored a few miles south of Penkridge where there is a market day on a Wednesday so we'll be there hunting out the bargains, although I hope they don't come in the shape of mushrooms again as I could do with a week without.

Oh, and remember the hitch hikers, well here they are now.

Although some of this that's coming up to having been seasoned for about eighteen months now will need to go into the cratch for burning to make some room.

And so in signing off,
Day 478 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 971 miles and 410 locks further on from when we started.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Back to where it all started

Hi There

Our last post found us caught up on the Bridewater Canal for a few weeks by a stoppage, well stoppages actually, as they were working on the Barton Aqueduct at the same time as they were doing some piling work a bit further down the canal. The piling work actually run over schedule by a few days, but it didn’t effect us as some good friends of ours were in the UK from Australia and came to stay with us for a few days.

So here are Bod and Shaz (aka Keith and Sharon) and Bod doesn't realise that he's a millisecond away from getting a wet doggy kiss.

The girls full of smiles, but note the empty glasses and we'll say no more.

Filling up with water before we double back to drop them off, two nights just went tooooo quick.

God help us, the girls are control, could it get any worse.

Yes it could, now it's just Shaz with two minutes of narrow boat experience behind her.

We still haven't been able to wrestle Shaz off the tiller and she's clearly enjoying having her hands on 5.75", sorry misprint, should have been 57.5' of narrowboat.

Bods turn now and it can't be too cold today as even though he's over from Oz he hasn't even got his coat done up.

As our alcohol consumption has really plummeted since we started living aboard due in part to the budget we live to and of course to improve our health (!), we undo all the good when anyone comes to stay with us and end up binge drinking from midday till bedtime. After two days of this and after waving them off in the car park I was in my bed for a snooze. Really good to catch up with them although it'll be a few years before our paths cross again.

We’ve started heading south now to 1) meet up with our youngest son and his girlfriend who are flying into East Midlands airport for a holiday with us at the beginning of May and possibly our eldest with his girlfriend as well the week before and 2) to meet up with some friends who are hiring a boat for three weeks towards the end of July. We've decided to head back to where this all started for us, Audlem in Cheshire, as we’d only ever travelled north from there so are going to travel down the rest of the Shroppie (Shropshire Union Canal) and then head east towards the airport. As we’re just backtracking over canals we’ve done over the last year, we’ve done some really long days (well long days by our standards that is considering we only normally travel an average of thirty hours a month) and have covered 67.5 miles in 24 hours over 7 days. Had we travelled by car, we could have done it in 1 hour and 2 minutes! Just planning to moor up now for a few days and then get back into our routine of travelling for an hour or two and then just moor up for a few days.

Here are a few photo’s from our trip down from Leigh on the Bridgewater Canal and finishing over looking a meadow near Audlem on the Shroppie where we’ve moored quite a few times as the marina where Badger Sett lived (Overwater Marina) is just around the corner.

We didn't want to go any further than Worsley on the first day as it starts getting built up after this and once we start we'd prefer to get through to the other side of the outskirts of Manchester.

 Could almost be the summer couldn't it, not the beginning of March.

The next morning and coming up on the Barton Aqueduct.

Looking down on the Manchester Ship Canal.

And that is us across.

What started out a cold, windy, grey day finished in style with us mooring near Lymm on the Bridgewater Canal watching the sun go down.

Moored up after our second day of travel at the site of the canal breach at Dutton on the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Just on the centre point of the breach itself that is marked by the plaque in the picture.

The main reason for stopping here though was the view.


Next morning and passing a picnic place a few miles north of Middlewich, where we've stopped a few times, that's on the opposite side to the tow path and great for The Boys as they can just roam about with no worry about dog walkers or cyclists on the tow path side.

No pictures of our mooring place in Middlewich for the night as it was more for convenience than outlook, convenience being in the shape of a Tesco about ten minutes walk away.

Having got used to the wide canals with their wide bridges and double locks since last summer, it's a bit of a shock to the system getting back onto the narrow canal network and having to think and take a little bit more care in narrower times. Forth lock of the day, but the first on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie and The Boys wondering why mum's not onboard with them.

Another old favourite mooring place of ours on the Middlewich Branch that overlooks Church Minshull.

With a nice wide towpath and very little passing trade (walkers) where we can have a read in the sun and The Boys can have a sniff about.

The Boys having a hard earned rest after a hard days work. Luckily Binks had got Nicky's arm to rest on for comfort and Benji's okay as his got his brothers head!

Getting to the end of the day and a going,


gone sequence of photo's.

Our final mooring place at Audlem before we set off up the fifteen locks and onto new and unexplored canals canals.

And a final night treat at about as close to what we could call our 'local pub', The Shroppie Fly' at Audlem. We hadn't been impressed by the food the last few times we'd been in, but saw that it had been refurbished and had been told that the food and prices were good and I think we'd agree to both from what we had.

Well that is us for this post and about to head off into the unknown so it's TTFN (ta ta for now) from us.

And so in signing off,

Day 461 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 929 miles and 386 locks further on from when we started.

(Actually, this is a bit strange this one, as we are actually where we started out 461 days ago!)