Thursday 31 October 2013

Back to where it all began

Nantwich to Church Minshull : 8 miles, 2 locks
To date : 898 miles, 617 locks

We had a quiet day yesterday.  I had work to catch up on and I went for a walk to check out the market with Carol.

Today we headed off at 9am... first to buy some coal... then to top up the water... and finally to be on our way.  We passed plenty of moored boats today.  One caught our attention with their clothes and other washing hanging from the trees!  Not a good look.  Another boat had a spaniel rushing up and down along the roof.  He looked quite at home.

We had only a short section from Nantwich to Hursleston Junction what was new to us.  We were going to be cruising the stretch where we first started out.  Passing the junction into the Llangollen Canal felt strange.  We so vividly remembered how stressful it was when we turned and realized there was a boat already in the lock.  It seemed so difficult then to get the boat over to the side of the canal to wait.  Now we don't even have to think about it!  We passed our mooring from our very first night out on the boat.  We were in trouble from the start.  Recalling someone telling us off for leaving a space between our hire boat and their boat... back in 2007... we shared a mooring ring with a boat already moored near the Barbridge Inn.  The woman came charging out of the boat saying "could you get any closer?!".  Oh dear.  We quickly untied and moved back a ring.

Then it was onto the Middlewich Branch, through the first couple of locks we negotiated in nb Parisien Star back in October last year.  At Minshull Lock I got chatting to a lovely lady who said they'd bought their boat in December and just loved her.  Her husband was down in the lock on the boat.  We chatted on and it wasn't until he was steering the boat out of the lock that I spied the crown on the stern.  She was right chuffed when I told her our boats were both by Crown.  Theirs was nb Peony.  On our first day out we stopped for lunch at the pretty 48hr moorings that have picnic tables.  Nobody there today either.

The countryside along the Middlewich Branch is so lovely.  There's quite an elevated stretch with far-reaching views.  We also noticed plenty of neatly plowed fields with fresh crops appearing.

When we first arrived at the boat it was in Aqueduct Marina.  We spent a couple of weeks lurking around the area before we headed out.  The nearest village, Church Minshull, had a lovely pub where we had dinner with Lynne and Marie one night.  Seeing the canal went close by we planned to moor on the visitor moorings and have dinner at the pub.  It turned out to not be a good plan.  The road leading into the village from the canal turned out to be a very busy one and too narrow to safely walk.  Another boat moored up too and came to ask if there was another way into the village as they didn't want to walk on that road either.  They moved their boat back to the previous bridge and took the walking track instead.  We just gave it a miss.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Missing the storm

I had an email from Tracey, the lovely lady who bought our house.  She sent these photos of the garden.  I just can't wait to get a garden going again!

The news yesterday was full of talk of the huge storm coming in overnight.  It was being billed as the worst storm in 5 years.  A couple of days ago the forecast suggested the first half of today in Nantwich would be extremely windy with heavy rain.  By last night the wind warning had disappeared and the storm was expected to clear earlier in the day.  As it turned out we really didn't get a storm.  It did rain a fair bit overnight but there was no wind at all and by about 11am the sun was peeking out.

It was a different story "down South" where they were lashed by ferocious winds.  There's four people dead!

We made the most of the clear weather and had a good walk around Nantwich.  We checked out the Aga Store, a lovely little kitchenware shop, we had some spare keys cut and I found a new waterproof jacket (the previous one having a torn zip).

Shortly after lunch Howard from nb Jasmine Weyr peered through the window to beckon us out for coffee and to check out their boat.  It was the first boat I've seen with a coffee machine!  There was a nice lemon drizzle cake to go with the coffee.  Great boat Lesley and Howard got for their money. 

I also had an email from Anthony to tell me they'd travelled 1216 miles in their hire car in the just under 2 weeks they had the car.  He thought it was a bit funny when they'd almost reached our total mileage of 880 miles a few days before they left.  They well exceeded that by the time they finished!

Monday 28 October 2013

A quiet day in Nantwich

The weather forecast said there would be rain today from about mid-morning.  We decided to have a good walk around Nantwich before the rain set in.  As we left to head off on our walk we noticed a couple of boats had moved off the visitor moorings just beyond the aqueduct.  We hurried back to the boat to move.  Barry and Carol were rubbing their eyes while they made their first cup of tea for the day (in their pj's!) when we'd walked past initially but Barry was dressed by the time we began untying the boat so he followed suit and we both moved along. 

Then we walked into town.  England doesn't seem to get started until late on Sunday mornings.  There doesn't seem to be the numbers of people out walking or jogging or shopping like there is back home.  The town was dead quiet but there was a coffee shop open so we sat and had a coffee before heading off again.  Last on our walk was a visit to Morrisons for some dinners.  We're trying not to buy pre-prepared meals all the time.  It's so lazy!  So tonight it will be one of our Jamie Oliver favourites - a chicken tray bake. 

We love the town of Nantwich.  It's so pretty with one lovely house after another.  The centre of town is just gorgeous too. 

It was lunchtime by the time we returned... having been rained on for only about 5 minutes before going into the supermarket.  The walk back was dry so that was a bonus.  While we prepared lunch I received a text from Carol saying to come over and play cards this afternoon.  A great way to pass a rainy afternoon.  The entire afternoon disappeared in the blink of an eye and by the time we got back it was time to start preparing our dinner!  Lesley and Howard... we haven't forgotten you... we'll visit tomorrow.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Fireworks in Nantwich

Overwater Marina to Nantwich : 5 miles, 2 locks
To date : 890 miles, 615 locks

There was a last minute water top up this morning, and then we were off.  We collected nb Winton's Folly as we passed by bridge 80 just around from the marina entrance.  It was a bit overcast and although we didn't get rained on today we felt the clouds were chasing us along the way.  A chatty lady at the first lock said that those big black clouds were empty and on their way back from Wales.  Local saying perhaps?

Speaking of the locks... there were two of them today.  At the first lock I opened the gate for Mick to bring the boat out and walked down to the second lock.  A boat was just coming out of that lock towards us and I could see a fellow turn his back to me and close the gate behind the boat.  I called out twice but he ignored me and began winding the paddles to empty the lock.  The boat that had come out was now beside me and he said "Don't waste your breath.  He knows you're there, and I told him I could see you coming!".  The fellow at the lock very deliberately kept his back towards me and tried to act surprised when I appeared behind him.  I said to him that we'd have been in that lock in about 90 seconds if he'd just waited but he pretended he didn't know we were coming down.  No apology and there's absolutely no way he didn't see us.  Mick was already coming out of the lock above when he was closing that lock gate.  The locks aren't far apart.  He went back to bring his boat in and left me to close the gate and wind paddles for him.  Mick was livid and also made a comment to the fellow who still pleaded ignorance.  It was only then we noticed his wife was inside hanging washing.  The cheek of the fellow!  He walked on to the next lock and his wife came out to steer the boat.  She said to me as she passed that her husband hadn't seen us but when I told her the fellow on the boat ahead of them said he had told her husband we were right there she looked a little embarrassed and apologized.  Mick buzzed Barry on the two-way and said not to help them at the lock!

We went on our merry way and forgot all about the silly fellow.  Very pretty countryside again and the sun even forced its way out giving the autumn foliage a glow.  Gorgeous!

We moored up near the aqueduct at Nantwich.  It appeared there was a Halloween shindig going to happen in a park across the trees from the canal.  A huge bonfire was waiting to be lit and there was a carnival.  We were hoping for some fireworks.  The canal is quite elevated as it skirt its way around Nantwich.  A great vantage point for viewing fireworks.  Mick went off for a walk and I stayed back to work.

I happened to glance out the dinette side hatch at a passing boat and saw a familiar name.  It was nb Jasmine Weyr with Lesley at the stern peering in our windows to see if we were in.  I called out to her and she and Howard came across for a coffee after they'd moored up.  We had a good boaty chat and Mick returned joining in.  We'll see them again tomorrow to check out their boat.

The bonfire beyond the trees was lit at dusk and we could see the twinkle of the carnival ride lights through the trees.  At 8pm we heard the first crack of fireworks and rushed to the side hatch to watch.  It was a fabulous display and I got a few nice pics.