Thursday, 30 June 2011

Dutton locks seen from the T&M canal
The canal clings to the side of the Weaver valley

Thursday 30th June
Another day of changeable weather. When the sun shines it is very hot, but all too quickly the cloud cover hides it and it goes off quite cold.
Yesterday we motored on as far as Stockton Heath where there is good shopping and after stocking up at Morrisons we headed back and once again stopped at Moore over night.
This morning we set off back through the 3 tunnels to Barnton, where hopefully Caths prescription will be ready to collect.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tuesday 28th June
Yesterday we moved only about 1/2 a mile to get to Barnton village where there is a local health centre so Cath can order some more medicines.
The day had started bright and soon got boiling hot, but by the afternoon the clouds were building and later on it rained quite heavily.
Today we took a walk up into the village and did a bit of shopping as well as ordering Cath's medicine which we'll pick up when we return in a few days time.
We then set off on the journey to the end of The Trent & Mersey Canal at Preston Brook. The trip took us through 3 tunnels, all of them single track, and we got to each of them with perfect timing. In order to stop boats from meeting in the tunnels there are set times for journeys to start from either end. We managed to reach each one at the right time so that we didn't have to wait.
The canal here clings to hillside of the Weaver Valley, there are some lovely views over the countryside when the trees allow.
Once again the day had dawned bright and clear, but by late morning a breeze blew up and cloud cover cooled things off considerably.
We reached Preston Brook and continued along the Bridgewater Canal as far as the village of Moore, where we have stopped on a pleasant mooring right opposite the local shop. The weather has improved a bit and we may not get any rain tonight.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday 26th June
This morning the sun showed itself in its June glory. After breakfast a little cloud was showing but this soon dissipated and we plodded along in boiling conditions. I love it, but Cath had to retire for a while to the cool of the front deck where there was some shade.
Just after leaving the mooring we passed through Middlewich Big Lock. This is a double width lock which can no longer be used by wide boats because some years ago a wide aqueduct between here and Preston Brook, the end of the canal, was replaced with a narrow one, so all this lock serves to do is to allow two boats to use it at a time. This is handy at busy times, like this.
We continued north, heading for The Anderton Boat Lift. Anderton services is nearest service block to Middlewich so we had to move today as our 'cans' were nearly all full after a few days moored up.
We've now got a nice spot just outside the boat lift and we'll have to decide our next move tonight.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Liz, Cath & Daniel
Friday & Saturday 24th/25th June
On Friday morning I took a walk along the towpath to the junction to visit the chandlers there. They didn't have what I wanted, a couple of fairleads to handle the centre ropes, but said they could have them on Saturday.
The other piece of info I found out wasn't good news, there is no elsan point here in Middlewich. The next one is Northwich, a day away.
With this in mind we decided to move down onto the Trent & Mersey and start down the flight, mooring on the other side of town. It is actually closer to the town centre, and knocks about an hour of the journey to Northwich on Sunday.
On Saturday we went into town to do some shopping, and I walked back to the chandlers and obtained the fairleads. While in town the rain started, but it wasn't up to much. Back at the boat I started fitting the first of the fairleads, luckily I have a limited set of taps which included the 6mm needed to fix them to the top rail. I got the first one done just as it started to rain again and while I was putting the tools away Liz turned up with Daniel.
After the obligatory cup of tea and chat we went out for a walk to the nearest lock to show Daniel a boat going through.
The weather wasn't good enough to have the picnic we had hoped for, so lunch was taken on the boat. Later we had a bit of a picture taking session and all too soon it was time for them to go home. It was wonderful to see them again and hope to entertain him on the boat for a few days in the future when he is old enough to appreciate what's going on.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thursday 23rd. June
Another cloudy start to the day as we set off towards Middlewich. The showers soon came, but none were very heavy and when the slackened there were some lovely views over the Weaver Valley. This is a fine canal, joining two of the major routes, The Shroppie which is north/south and The Trent & Mersey, east/west.
Approaching Middlewich the housing starts suddenly and we were quickly in among some lovely suburban gardens with lots of visitor mooring available. We've found a good spot and may well wait here for Liz and Daniel to visit on Saturday.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Rising out of Chester in Goole Lane Lock
Tuesday 21st, Wednesday 22nd June
We started our climb out of Chester this morning, first the 3 rise staircase, then a last bit of provisioning in town, and we were on our way.
You may have noticed the term climb, and it is that. The Shropshire Union canal doesn't have a'summit' level as most others do. Instead it climbs all the way from Ellesmere Port on the Manchester Ship Canal to its southern end, the junction with the Staffs & Worcs near Birmingham.
The weather report told us that the day should be not too bad with the possibility of a light shower early on but clearing up around midday. I should have known better! The day started reasonably fine, but by about 11.30 the rain started and didn't cease until about 2.30 when we decided to moor up for the night.

Today, Wednesday, we set off again with the intention of making it Barbridge Junction where the Middlewich Branch 'T's off. Although the weather man was saying it would rain lightly early and then clear away, his stock wasn't high with us so we prepared our wet gear. The first lock we encountered was Beeston Iron Lock which, because the iron sides are warping will only take one boat at a time. The boat ahead of us had waited for us because they didn't know of the problem and the signage could be a bit more visible. They used it and then said they would wait for at the next one. This gave a good pair to complete the rest of the days locks.
Our preparation for rain was right as once again at about 11.30 the rain started and continued almost all of the time 'till we reached the junction. Here the heavens opened, and I wouldn't have been surprised to hear thunder. I had intended to moor up around here, but felt that keeping going was a better option until it abated. After about 15 minuets it slackened off and we found somewhere to tie our ropes for the night.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Monday 20th June
YIPEE! At last we have real amounts of power again. The man delivered our exchange Travel Power unit this afternoon and it only took me about 30 mins. to fit it. Oh the joy when it kicked in on start up.
The downside is of course the parting with nearly £750.00, but at least it's guaranteed for a year.
We'll be on our way again tomorrow, not a moment too soon.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Saturday 18th June
We're still enjoying our forced stay in Chester. The weather could be better, but hasn't been really bad and we haven't been caught out badly by the rain yet. However I did lose our brolly, I left it in one of the stores in town, so I'll have to replace it some time.
I've used some of this time to do a bit of maintenance, oil change, and main fuel filter. Another thing I've looked into once again is the possibility of enlarging the pulley which drives the alternator and water pump to try to get the 12 volt alternator charging more at low RPM. A local boat yard agreed that it should be possible but they couldn't source a suitable pulley to modify for the purpose. It looks as if the next thing is to find an engineering company who would make the pulley from solid, but the cost will probably be prohibitive.
I've also done another bottom pump of the fuel tank and found that it isn't too bad.
Looking forward now to Monday and hope that the new part for the Travel Power turns up as promised.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tuesday 14th June
Yesterday, with the rain finally stopped I got into the 'oily bits' to see if there was anything simple wrong with our Travel Power unit. After carrying out the tests recommended in the instruction sheet it seems like the stator windings have failed. I then tried to get some sense out of Dometic, the company which makes it. I did find them hard to deal with at first. After a lot of button pushing (another on of those multiple choice automated systems) I finally got to the right department who gave me numbers for two local dealers. The first said "What's Travel Power?" which gives one a lot of confidence. The second wasn't answering his phone. After trying all day, and half of this morning I got back to Domitec and made a nuisance of myself until they chased up someone who would help. Finally I found a company who will provide a complete service exchange unit, but not until next Monday. At least it will be the genuine article, complete with guarantee.
It looks like we'll be here in Chester a lot longer than we had planned, but I can think of worse places to be stuck.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

'Jabula' Restaurant
Oggi, the travel bug
Now I wonder how this works
Sunday 12th June
We've had a lovely weekend. Paul and Jacqui turned up on Thursday afternoon and as soon as their gear was on board we moved off down the Chester staircase locks, a flight of three which drop the canal 33 ft. We then moored for the night in the basin at the bottom. Here we set up the BBQ and had a fine evening demolishing burgers and ribs.
On Friday we set off for Ellesmere Port, picking up Geocaches on the way. Despite the weatherman telling us different it remained dry and warm throughout the morning and we arrived at the Waterways Museum in the early afternoon. Free visitor mooring here is sparse and after asking in the museum we paid for a mooring in one of the locks, next to a small tugboat. Much happier there anyway as the last time we were here some scroat tried to nick my bike from the roof.
Not long after tying up the heavens opened and the promised thunder storm appeared. This cleared through in about an hour so we set out to explore the museum.
Friday night we took ourselves off to Jabula, an excellent South African themed restaurant. This place is located well off the beaten track, and survives by providing great food and a vibrant atmosphere.
Saturday we started back for Chester because Paul had to be at work on Sunday morning, oh the curse of the working class!
It's now Sunday, and the rain started at about 9.00 and hasn't stopped since. To cap it all our Travel Power unit has decided to give up, when it stops raining I'll have a look to see if it's anything simple and if it isn't we could be in for some expensive repairs.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Thursday 9th June
Yesterday we completed the final 4 miles and 5 locks, dropping about 35 ft. into Chester. We managed to pair up with a hire boat for the locks making life easier, however the Danish crew didn't have much of clue and spent a lot of time standing around looking lost.
Our mooring in Chester is just below the city walls and close to the centre. However we have discovered that this place seems to be a hang out for drinkers and vagrants. Last night someone got into the cratch area and obviously used it as shelter while they smoked and drank (their own stuff). They also had a good look around the storage in that area but found nothing of use to them so took nothing and did no damage apart from the mess. I reckon that some boaters must keep their booze in that area and these people know that.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Beeston Stone Lock
Tuesday 7th June
Woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the roof. by the time breakfast was finished it had stopped and there was even a hint of sunshine.
We soon passed the junction where the Middlewich Branch goes off to link with the Trent and Mersey Canal, we'll be taking that when we come back this way.
It's very noticeable that we're on a main line canal again, it's wide and our speed has increased even though I don't rev the engine any more because the bottom isn't dragging us back.
First work of the day came when we arrived at Bunbury Staircase Locks. These are the first double locks we have encountered since leaving the River Thames, and it's a shock to the system moving the heavy gates. Luckily we had company and two crews really make life easier. The canal is broad from here to Ellesmere Port, the end of the line.
The weather was very changeable today, sunshine and showers so the brolly was up and down like.... I''ll leave that to the imagination.
We saw our first cygnets of the year today, 7 little cuties, shepherded by mum and dad.

Monday, 6 June 2011

A much better day today, the sun is even trying to show its face.
We travelled the last 5 miles of the Llangollen canal dropping about 65 feet through 9 locks before turning north on the Shopshire Union once again. We've done about a mile of it and are moored up at Barbridge for the night.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Frankton Staircase Locks, Montgomery Canal
Cruising the Montgomery Canal
Evening on the Montgomery Canal
Cath at Povey's Lock, Llangollen Canal
Sunday 5th June
At last! Despite a very slow connection (over and hour to get this lot uploaded) here are some recent pics.
Today was a complete contrast to Saturday, it's rained all day, so we stayed moored up and did some cleaning instead.
Cath's in heaven, her two tennis heroes are playing in the French Open final, you should hear the shrieking!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Saturday 4th June
On Thursday we cruised as far as Whitchurch where there is a lovely little branch off the main line giving wonderful mooring to visit the town.
I decided to take the bike and have a look around. Importantly I found that this small town has a Thornton's, and they do superb ice-cream so it just had to be done.
Friday the weather was just perfect. We took a wander into town, it's about 1/2 a mile. Cath wanted to register at the local doctor to renew her prescription. This was one of the most efficient surgery we've come across. She didn't have to actually see the doctor, the repeat prescription form was sufficient to get a signature. Never had that before!
Later on we wandered around the town before doing a provisioning at Tesco. We then retired to the boat where I did a bit of maintenance and cleaning while Cath watched the French Open tennis.
On a sporting note, it is I.O.M. TT week coming up and ITV4 has good coverage so I'll be hogging the tele.
Today we chugged off in glorious sunshine heading to find a quiet towpath mooring for the night. We're moored up about a mile outside of Wrenbury and just relaxing in the sunshine.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Wednesday 1st June
We're back travelling again after spending Monday and Tuesday moored up in Ellesmere. We had stopped so that we could get a hire car to go back to Cannock hospital where I had a final check up from the bout of pleurisy I had last winter. It seems I'm still vertical and breathing so life goes on. the thing about hiring is you get very new cars and this one had a feature I've never come across before, electric hand brake?! I'm just old fashioned!
We left Ellesmere this afternoon after I had returned the car to Shrewsbury, and travelled just a few miles to find open country where we've tied up and are enjoying the sunshine. The peace is only disturbed by the vast number of boats rushing past.
Still no decent internet connection so no pics.