Monday, 1 December 2014

Middlewich Branch.

Hi all,

That’s it,my other fan has finally persuaded me to start Blogging again now that we are on the move and on our way to pastures new so,here goes.The Shroppie mainline is now behind us and we’re on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie, heading North East towards Middlewich itself and then the T&M.We finally cast off this morning,having said farewell to some of the lovely people that we’ve met on our adventures in and around the Nantwich area,and,after a couple of hours cruising,we’re now moored about a third of a mile below Cholmondeston Lock in the middle of nowhere.Our companions for the winter,Rob and Suzie,off NB Swamp Frogs,are not too far behind us,they’ve just to tidy up their affairs in Nantwich before coming to meet us here and then we’ll all be off again.Since I last put finger to keyboard to type a blog some seven weeks ago,I still only type with one finger you know,we have had some very enjoyable experiences and I’ll do my best not to bore you with too many details today.

Over the last seven weeks we’ve moored at various places on the Shroppie between Market Drayton and Hurleston Junction,that’s where the Llangollen Canal leaves the Shropshire Union Canal and heads west into Wales.

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A couple of the moorings we stayed at on the Shroppie, the first below the Adderley Flight and the second at Coole Pilate which is one of our favourite Shroppie moorings,sadly we’ve not enjoyed a great deal of sunshine over recent weeks so the pictures don’t do them justice.While we’ve been shuffling backwards and forwards we’ve also met some very nice people,there was Richard and Sharon off NB Oakapple who we met while we were moored above the pair of locks at Hack Green,the site of the not so secret Nuclear Bunker that I’ve mentioned before.Then there’s been Archie and Tracey off NB Greenfinch and their cat,Harry,who we’ve bumped into a number of times,not literally I must add.Above all though,I just have to mention Dennis and Ann who were introduced to us by Rob and Suzie,they’re the proud owners of NB Emily,which won the best in show at Crick in 2013 and who,amongst other things,invited all of us to their home for a meal on our last night in Nantwich,where a good night was had by all.The things that Dennis and Ann have commissioned from wood,both in their home and on their boat,are nothing less than works of art ,each piece exudes craftsmanship and attention to detail.Thanks to Dennis,Lisa has been able to rediscover her Bellringing while Ann introduced us to Line Dancing at the Civic Centre in Nantwich.Both activities proved far more complicated than I ever imagined and we both look forward to participating again in the future.We need something other than Ukelele playing you see.   

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Overlooking Hurleston Junction,Chyandour is the half a boat on the extreme right of the pic’ which was taken from the reservoir at Hurleston.The Reservoir itself that we finally got the chance to walk around.

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Two volunteers,Emma and Nick,from the Small Tasks Team Volunteers putting a new mooring bollard above the Hurleston Flight.Just one of the many jobs they undertake on the North Wales and Borders waterways.You can see who does all the hard work.We’ve known Emma and Nick since we hired Kingfisher from Bettisfield Boats on the Llangollen back in May 2012 when we came prepared for the tail end of winter and almost got fried in a heatwave.We had to get a bus to Oswestry to get Suncream.

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Lisa and I being shown the ropes so to speak in the Belfry of St.Mary’s Church,Nantwich.Lisa used to ring when she lived in Cornwall 50 years or so ago and thanks to a couple of new found friends,Ann and Dennis,she got the chance to have a try during the Thursday night practice session and it came back to her like riding a bike.I was,shall we say,not so good,though it was my first time.Lisa got the opportunity to have a go again the following week when we were invited back for Fish & chips in the Belfry,now that has got to be something few people can say they’ve enjoyed.

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Some of the very friendly Bellringers in Nantwich and then there’s Lisa having a go in the nearby St.Mary’s Church in Acton, we were again invited to their practice session by Dennis and they also proved to be very welcoming and encouraging.

Among the many facilities that we were able to enjoy while moored near Nantwich has been the railway.On the train we’ve been to Liverpool and to see our Daughters and Grandchildren  near Burton on Trent on a couple of occasions.On the buses that pass under the Aqueduct carrying the Shroppie over the A534 Chester Road,we’ve been to Crew and Chester.

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The Royal Liver Building,Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building at the Pier Head in Liverpool that we visited by train for the day.We walked to the Pier Head to take a look at Albert Dock where we hope to moor when we visit Liverpool next year.The other pic’ is the statue of Billy Fury near Albert Dock,a Rock and Roll star of our generation,who was born in Liverpool and is famous for singing Halfway to Paradise amongst other achievements.

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Part of the Christmas decorations in Liverpool and the famous clock on the city walls of Chester where we went for the day,this time by bus though.

During our stay near Nantwich we’ve had the chance to enjoy the services of Renaissance Canal Carrying Company,better known as Brian and Ann Marie McGuigan on NB Alton.They deliver coal,gas and diesel on a number of canals in this area,between Ellesmere Port on the Shroppie and Whaley Bridge on the Peak Forest Canal.The service they provide is excellent and they deliver in all weathers from early morning till well past sunset.It’s not unusual to hear his horn attracting his regulars well after dark and we’ll be heading nearer to his base so we should be assured of a supply of fuels over winter.

Well that’s it for this time folks.Since our last blog we have gone through 70 Locks and cruised 58 Miles,most of both the locks and miles at least twice.That gives us a Grand Total of 1056 Locks and 1681 Miles since we set off back in October 2012.

Monday, 13 October 2014



This week our blog,once again,comes to you all the way from the Shropshire Union Canal,this time,from just below the Adderley Locks near the village of,guess what?, Adderley,in Cheshire.A tiny village about a third of a mile from the canal with no pubs or shops that I’m aware of.We’re still here because,after all the weeks of lovely weather,the weather forecast on last nights Countryfile said it would chuck it down with rain.Our intention was to get to Audlem but,hay ho,we’ll get there another day and make the most of where we are for a bit longer.

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Yesterday morning at our mooring here at Adderley,looked like a good day was on the cards.Yesterday evening.What do they say about “Red sky at Night”?

Since our last blog we have covered a lot of old ground,or water,to be precise.We blogged from a number of places on the Shroppie last year and,as we’ve been taking things very slowly,there hasn’t really seemed to have been a lot to blog about these last couple of weeks or so.Our last blog came to you from Oxley on the S&W and we left there three weeks ago,in the company of Mick and Marianne on NB Doormouse,and made our way back up the Shroppie to Brewood where we parted company the next day.They were heading home and we were on our way to meet friends at Norbury,as we waited at Wheaton Aston Lock for a boat coming up,we had another surprise.The boat in the lock was that of some more friends that we haven’t seen for well over a year,Wixie and Kate,who’s boat name I can never remember,it’s something Welsh,I think.After swapping stories with them we parted company and continued on our respective journeys only to bump,not literally,into another boat and crew at the next bridge.It was someone else we haven’t seen for a while,but who’s names and boat name we just can’t remember for sure (It’s got to be an age thing).They came to the rescue of Lisa’s fairy ornament that got blown of the bows into the T&M at Shobnall Fields nearly two years ago.Anyway,after a brief chat,we set off once again,arriving at Norbury on the Thursday.

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A dinky little narrowboat moored above Countrywide Cruisers near Brewood,not quite the smallest we’ve seen but getting close to it.At last,I managed to get one of the little monsters to stand still for long enough for me to get the camera,find it in the viewfinder and then snap.It’s in there somewhere,I hope you can see it.

Our first night in Norbury was with some more friends and we all piled into the Junction Inn for a meal & only the odd glass or two to wash the food down.Norbury has a lot of good memories for us as we used to hire from there quite frequently and as a result we got to know some of the people who moor and work there.There’s Ange and Mark on NB Merry Pippin and Peter and Sandra on NB Miss Molly who we ate with in the pub,and then there are others who moor nearby or work on the wharf and in the tearooms.Friday was the day that we were waiting for though,The Cats Whiskers was coming to Norbury to go into the drydock and have a new prop fitted,having done some minor damage on her travels.We hadn’t seen Pat and Rodger,her crew,since they paid us a visit while we were moored in Birmingham for last years Christmas Market,and it was good to see them again.The Cats Whiskers is the sister to Chyandour,having been built by Kingfisher Narrowboats at Trent Lock in 2012,just before they started our boat.

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David manoeuvring The Cats Whiskers in the basin and threading her way backwards down the old Newport Canal to the drydock at the end,which was the former Lock 1.

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The Cats Whiskers gently entering the dry dock at Norbury and Pat and Roger holding the Stop Planks down while the lock was drained.

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Me and Lisa with Roger and Pat just before they set off on their travels South and us to prepare to head North.Another job done,Chyandour loaded with coal and nicely sheeted down.Reminds me of when I first started driving trucks,no Tautliners then.

Our time at Norbury was well spent,we got all the little jobs done that build up over the year and that keep getting put off till there’s a more suitable time,a time that somehow hardly ever seems to arrive when you want.Over the following few days we had a few meals and even more drinks in The Junction and on the last day we were taken by Peter,Sandra and Carolyn to the Stone Food and Drink Festival where we had a great time sampling some of the food and drink there.We rounded our whole stay off with a last meal in The Junction on Friday night.

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A couple of the little jobs I’ve been meaning to do on Chyandour.I’ve been looking at these LED Tunnel Lamps for a while ‘cos the old lamp was the only light on our boat that wasn’t LED.This was one of ebay’s finest & I think it looks good,just looking for a long dark tunnel now.Our other new addition,a Tiller Tassel,hand made by Dave Edwards off NB Louisa,see the connection?

We finally tore ourselves away from Norbury a week ago Saturday with the intention of taking our time heading North and stopping at a few places that we hadn’t stopped at on our previous travels up and down the Shroppie.There was The Anchor at High Offley,an unspoilt canalside pub,built in the 1830s and where the beer can still be served from a jug from the cellar on request.Then there was The Wharf Tavern,a more up to date hostelry at Goldstone,both of which came highly recommended for their own unique characteristics.Needless to say we enjoyed a drink in them both and the WiFi in the Wharf was good,on the mooring nearby there was nothing at all.

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The old “Factory in the Fields” at Knighton,built by Cadbury’s in 1911 to make Chocolate Crumb for their factory at Bournville which is also alongside a canal,the W&B.Approaching one of the few places on our canals that Lisa isn’t fond of,Woodseaves Cutting.Thomas Telford was the engineer and it was dug in 1832.Overall it’s just under 2 miles long,up to about 65 feet deep and it’s sides can be steep and vertical which occasionally result in landslips. In the deepest part of the cutting the waterway narrows to about half its normal width and it was all dug by hand,no JCB’s then.

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Inside the cutting,surprisingly,it’s possible to get a phone signal in there.

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One of the high bridges that span the cutting give an idea of it’s depth,nearly 40 feet at this point to the top of the bridge.A happy face to great you as you emerge from the North end of the cutting.

Shortly after we left the cutting we came across the 5 Tyreley Locks,which are close together and have one particular characteristic,you can’t moor in the bottom pound to work locks 4 or 5,it’s too shallow at the edges and you can’t get off the boat.Instead you wait in either lock till the other is set in your favour,many crews have been caught out by this,two while we were there.Anyway,this time,there was a problem with number 5,it emptied as fast as it filled because of some obstruction on the bottom gates.It was intermittent,which never helps,we could close the gates and get a boat through ok then the next boat would struggle.CRT and ourselves groped around to try and remove the obstruction but,having helped the last of the boats through,Lisa and I left Steve and Dave from CRT still busy.I guess they cleared whatever it was ‘cos boats were moving in both directions later in the day.

From there,our next stop was Market Drayton,where we wanted to stock up on supplies as well as visit the Wednesday market that we had always seemed to miss when we had visited before.We weren’t disappointed,managing to get a nice fresh rabbit for the pot,the first one for over a year.We also treated ourselves to Fish and Chips,which have become a bit of a delicacy on the boat.Hot cooking oil and boats don’t mix so we don’t make our own you see.The Tudor Fish & Chip shop on Stafford Street in Market Drayton serves good food with friendly service and we thoroughly enjoyed our takeaway.

After a couple of days in Market Drayton we decided to head up to Audlem for the weekend but that plan went out of the window,as is often the case,and we decided to stay here.This weekend we celebrated our second anniversary of living on Chyandour and my 66th birthday with our home brewed Cider and very good it was too.

That’s all again for this blog folks.Since our last one we have done 12 Locks and cruised 30 Miles,not a lot for three weeks.That gives us a Grand Total of 990 Locks and 1,624 Miles since we set off two years ago.Take care everyone.

Monday, 22 September 2014



This week we are moored on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal at Oxley,between Autherley Junction,where the Shropshire Union starts on it’s way through Cheshire to Chester and Ellesmere Port,and Aldersley Junction,where the Birmingham Mainline ends,after it descends the 21 locks from Wolverhampton.It’s a good safe mooring here opposite Oxley Marine and there’s the added bonus of a friendly club house if you walk over Oxley Moor bridge.We’ve been here for a couple of days while we’ve waited for some friends to make their way down the 21,assisted by us of course.We walked up the flight,trusted Windlasses and Anti-vandal keys in hand,to meet them and help them through the locks.The four of us brought NB Doormouse down the flight in one hour fifty minutes.

Having left our mooring South of Brewood a week last Wednesday,we moved a couple of miles up the Shroppie to a mooring spot just a bit to the North of Brewood.Brewood is one of those places that we enjoy so much,there isn’t a lot there,just a Co-op/Post Office,a Bakers and a Greengrocers,a couple of pubs,various other interesting shops and a superb Butchers who’s meat is second to none.The Butcher will gladly deliver to boats on the canal if you’re only passing through and don’t have the time to walk into the village.After another day or two there we moved on further Northwards to Wheaton Aston for the weekend.Having winded at Wheaton Aston we left last Monday and made our way back down the Shroppie and stopped again for a couple of days at both of the moorings above and below Brewood.The reason there was no blog last week was because,as you can now no doubt work out,I really didn’t have a great deal to tell you,we just haven’t done much.In fact,we are still going to be taking things easy for another few weeks as we just gently make our way North for the end of November.We’ve got about ten weeks or so to do about 45 miles and 30 locks,that is,if we don’t decide to go off somewhere for a few days.

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Just a little something I caught while we were moored above Brewood.The village of Brewood,viewed from the canal,with the Parish Church in the background.

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Deans Hall Bridge to the South of Brewood,notice how the rope from the horse drawn boats has worn grooves into the cast iron plates on the bridge abutments.

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The ornate balustraded Avenue Bridge on the Shroppie looks a bit narrow as we approach.It was designed by Thomas Telford but what it was built for I’ve been unable to discover.

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A rare sight here at Oxley,two boats called Chyandour and as far as we know they are the only two with that name.The other is usually moored a few miles down the Staffs & Worcs from here at Dimmingsdale Wharf and we have met the crew on a few occasions now.

While we’ve been here at Oxley we got the bus on Saturday and went first into Wolverhampton,which is only a couple of miles away,and then from there to Tipton.The friends we were waiting to meet on the 21 were at the Canal Festival in Tipton and we thought we would just turn up and surprise them.We haven’t seen them since the end of November last year when they came to see us while we were moored at Merry Hill.Marianne and Mick are Canal traders on the Lollypop boat,and go to many of the festivals selling sweets while Marianne also reads Tarot Cards.Sadly,Saturday wasn’t a great day weather wise,it drizzled for most of the time we were at the festival,but there was still quite a good crowd of people brave enough to endure the typical UK weather and there was a good turnout of old working boats and entertainment for those that visited.

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Just a few of the photo’s I took at the Tipton Canal Festival.As you can see there was a good turn out of old working boats.

Well that’s the lot again for this blog.Since our last post we have done 3 Locks,the one at Wheaton Aston twice,and 13 Miles,that’s up and down the same bit of the Shroppie.That gives us a Grand Total of 978 Locks and 1,594 Miles since we set off in October 2012.It’ll soon be two years.Take care everyone.

Monday, 8 September 2014



There’s not much been happening over the last couple of weeks but I’ll do me best.At the moment we’re moored on the Shropshire Union Canal on the SUCS moorings to the South of the village of Brewood,pronounced Brood.We left Tixall Wide a week ago last Tuesday and made our way towards Stone on the T&M in the company of Tadpole 2,stopping overnight at Weston where we enjoyed a few beers in the Saracens Head and the Woolpack.Then from Weston we moved 6 miles and 2 locks up the T&M to Stone,a place we have passed through on a few occasions but never stopped.This time we stayed for 4 nights and got to know the place quite well,especially,though not exclusively,the Swan.We did enjoy a couple in the Star,which is right next to the canal,at,guess what,Star Lock.It’s a good pub for Gongoozeling,that’s a canal word for non boaters who watch boats.Star Lock is often the first lock that some hire boaters encounter and it can provide a bit of entertainment on a sunny day.Don’t get me wrong,when we first hired we were just the same and even now a momentary lapse of concentration can result in some funny manoeuvring,believe me,we can all make mistakes.

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The two sides of Salt Bridge No.82 on the T&M near,of all places,Salt in Staffordshire.The brickwork is far more intricate on the South side.

Last Sunday we said our farewells to Val and Pete,the crew of Tadpole 2,and to Stone and made our way back South on the T&M heading towards Great Haywood and the Staffs & Worcs.Our plans were for us to head back down the S&W and then turn right up the Shropshire Union taking the rest of this month and part of October to get up to the Middlewich Branch.On our way here to Brewood we stopped off at a few places,Stafford Boat Club again,was one.Here we could get the bus into Stafford for Lisa’s eye test,which I’m glad to say went well.We then took four days to do the fifteen miles to Autherley Junction and the Shroppie.Spending a night in Penkridge again and a night at Hatherton Junction,where the old Hatherton Canal joined the S&W,before mooring opposite Oxley Marine,near Autherley junction on Friday.

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This Balloon past over our mooring bright and early last Tuesday morning while we were at Stafford Boat Club.

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The paintwork on “The Black Pearl” moored at Penkridge.Approaching Gailey Lock on the S&W with its round Lock Keepers cottage.The cottage was built around the early 1770’s and gave an all round view along the canal for the Lockie,who lived with his family on the top two floors.

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Yes,we got through there with Chyandour,and without touching the sides.The Roundhouse,the former Lock Keepers cottage,now a souvenir shop.

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The old Hatherton Canal,this bit opened in 1841 and went for three and a half miles and through eight locks to Churchbridge where it connected to a Tramway from the Great Wyrley Coal Mines.It was a bit misty when we left but on a clear day it’s possible to see the first lock through the bridge arch,Calf Heath Bottom Lock,which is still in water.In 1863 the canal at Churchbridge was connected to the Cannock extension Canal but sadly in 1949 it was closed and most of it was destroyed by opencast mining after 1955.There are plans to restore it and Lisa,Chyandour and I have now been to both ends of the proposed restoration.The second pic’ is us going under Hatherton Junction Bridge on the S&W mainline.

Our first stop on the Shroppie was at Wolverhampton Boat Club.We’ve passed there loads of times and often wondered what it was like ‘cos you can see the clubhouse alongside the canal.Well now we know.Lisa and I are members of the Residential Boat Owners Association and they had a Council Meeting at the club on Saturday afternoon which was open to members.We wanted to go out of curiosity to see what the people who represented us were like and I must say we were made very welcome by every one of the Council members,they were genuinely pleased to see us.the meeting lasted about four hours and it’s nice to know that your representatives are as enthusiastic about our waterways as we are.We stayed moored for the night at the club because as we were leaving we were invited to an evenings Pig Racing in the bar which looked interesting to say the least.

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A couple of Pic’s of the Pig Racing.Lisa won on the last race and got her money back,me,I lost.

We moved a mile up the Shroppie on Sunday morning to where we are now and,having walked into Brewood today to send a parcel,we will probably stay tomorrow too,especially if the weather is good.Our solar panels give us all the electric’ we need when it’s as sunny as the last two days have been.

Well that’s all again for this week folks.Since our last blog we have done 21 Locks and 43 Miles,that gives us a Grand Total of 975 Locks and 1,581 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.