Saturday, August 17, 2013

Time Management ???

Not that we really have to worry to much about it but we could possibly have planned things better :D  But then actual planning of the year has not been top of the list either and we have gone where we want and made decisions based on where we were at the time :D

So now we are on the Llangollen Canal, st a time when the schools are still on holiday and therefore the hire boaters and school holiday tribes are out in force.  We first really noticed this once we were passed Anderton and Middlewich.  The canal is becoming much more of a highway than a quiet back road.

At the last blog I did not add in this lovely view of our mooring on the 'flash' as the sun dropped quickly below the horizon so here it is

I have been very lazy about taking photos of all the buildings and views on the canals lately so there are not many 'boring' bits now :D

Middlewich was busy, with the top lock having only one working paddle top and bottom and taking forever to fill.  Caused our first real queue in 10 months of cruising.  It did not help that those of us going up the flight were not aware of the problem until the pound between locks 2 and 3 dropped dramatically while we were coming up, resulting in a boat being stranded in the mud :(
Well everyone had their own opinion on the matter but basically all that was required was patience from all those queueing to come up the flight and letting the odd boat going down go past.  As expected we finally made it through the top lock and left those behind to sort themselves out, as you do :D

We made a sharp right hand turn into the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

Turning right

Ooh, no, not the Middlewich Branch but it does go that way :)

Wardle Lock
Now back in 2006, when we did the 4 counties ring, we literally zipped through here in less than a day.  This time we made our way along in 3 days and discovered that it really is a very nice section of canal well worth the stopping.  Especially at our first stop, where we were within a few miles from where we winded at the top of the navigation on the River Weaver, but it had taken us 5 days to get here :)  Lovely views and Andrew managed to purchase a number of bottles of home brewed (or should that be boat brewed) wine and cider from another boat moored up. 'Narrowboat Wines' seem to have themselves very well set up for the producing, bottling and selling of wine.  They even have their own printed labels. As we both like to support boat based businesses, we just HAD to purchase some.  As yet we have not tasted the wine, but Andrew is more than happy with the Dry Gin and Whiskey that he added to the order :)

Next day we moved on up to Aqueduct Marina and moored at the visitor moorings on the towpath side.  The engine was in need of a service (it has been a while since December !!) and Andrew needed to purchase the necessary filters and oil to achieve this :)  Needless to say finding the right filters for the engine was a bit of a job and the following day Andrew had to return the oil and fuel filters as they were not the right ones !!  The air filter though was installed successfully, so job part done.

Canal cottage on Middlewich Branch

2006 comparison

Old horse stables on Middlewich Branch

2006 comparison

Next it was on to Nantwich.  The cupboards were looking bare and we know from past experience that restocking the larder along the Llangollen Canal was not an easy thing, especially as we are planning on spending a good few weeks on here.  Moorings though are not easy to come by at Nantwich, even though we did get here at late morning.  All the visitor moorings are 48 hours closest to town, which is still a 20minute walk !!  and those furthest away, but closer to the marina and laundrette are 24.  Naturally the 24 hour moorings were empty and the 48 hour ones all full.  Although as per usual if there was not the miles of empty spaces between boats there would have been enough space for at least another 2 boats to moor.  As far as I am concerned, if you moor up in town, you should try and bunch up to allow other boaters the opportunity of mooring for the essentials.  If you want space, then go out into the country and moor there !!  Well that is my moan over and at least it was not about the weather for a change :)   Anyway after a slow chug past all the moorings, turning around and coming back (still no empty spots) we moored up at the 24hrs after topping up the water tank.  It turned out to be a bit of a bonus, the chandlery here is a Barrus spares retailer and that was just what Andrew needed for the right filters.  Once the filters were purchased we hummed and hahed about doing the groceries in the late afternoon rather than waiting until morning. Initially I had decided not to do the long walk into town as there were some very dark grey clouds hanging around, but as they had moved off we picked up the 'nana' trolleys and ventured in to town.  It was actually very pleasant as it was now early evening and although all the high street shops were closed (possibly a good thing :) ) there were also virtually no people in town and even the Morrisons was relatively quiet.  Central Nantwich has not changed much in the last 7 years, except possibly the tenants of the various shops.  I did not take any photos of all the lovely tilting buildings as I can just as easily substitute the ones from 2006 :D

The next morning then saw us venturing off to Hurleston Junction and back to the start of the Llangollen Canal.  And the start of many queues for the locks and the enjoyment of watching the newbie's negotiating locks, bridges and corners, especially with oncoming boats.  It really can be quite entertaining.  Even more so when you know that you were once one of them.  Oh how people must have giggled when they saw us the first time around :D

Swanley Bridge Marina now - was still being built in 2006

Swanley Bridge Marina
Lock queueing, the joys thereof :D
Moving the boat up - in the wind !
We moored up before the next flight of locks and I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon while Andrew got all dirty down in the engine 'closet'  (or at least that is what it looks like !)  But he did well and 2 days later the engine is till running well with no hiccups :)

Thursday saw us tackle the Grindley Brooke flight along with it's 3 lock staircase.  Another place that has not changed in 7 years.  Only this time it took us 2 1/2 hours to get through the flight rather than the no stopping trip up in 2006.  It really does help to negotiate the Llangollen out of the summer holiday cruising season.  But it was still fun. I read my book while Andrew did his share of locking the down trip boaters through the top of the single locks.

Queueing at Grindley Brooke

Andrew helping with the lock
While going through Grindley Brooke, the clouds which looked to have been brewing earlier in the day had passed and the sun came out for quite a while.

Cloudy skies

More Cloudy Skies
As it was now 4:30pm by the time we had got through the locks and not wanting to stay on the mooring above the locks, we decided to carry on for a while longer.  The weather though started clouding over again but was still warm.  As we neared our destination point for the day though, the heavens opened with absolutely no warning.  One minute it was warm and humid but still pleasant, the next it was teeming down.  Luckily Andrew was able to don the necessary wet weather gear before he got too drenched.  With one last lift bridge to go through before we moored up, as luck would have it, the rain slowed down to a steady drizzle for me to lift the bridge.  Then we were through and mooring up.  We did not get much sleep that night as the rain was heavy and the drops dripping off the tree were like little bombs hitting the roof.  At least we were warm and dry.  No tv, but 'Mr Bond, James Bond' kept us entertained once more.

Our next exploration, leaving later in the morning, was the Prees Branch.  Very short, 2 lift bridges, a marina and no decent mooring at the end.  Andrew moored us up as best he could and we took a walk down the disused arm to bridge 4.  It is now a nature reserve and I was hoping for more nature but at least I was able to get this photo
Southern Hawker Dragonfly
His wings are amazingly translucent but if you are able to look close you can see all the veins.  Really pretty.  I also saw more of the copper coloured ones but they just never seem to stop and rest !!

Prees Arm looking up from bridge 4
and a Speckled Wood butterfly
On the way back to join the main Llangollen Canal, Andrew also spied this buzzard.  I had to stand on the seat to be able to get this picture.

Lucky for me that Andrew has such good long distance vision as I am sure that there would be a lot of photos that I would miss out on
Like this one for example, where he said 'be quick, hopefully it won't fly away before we get closer'
Well he wasn't going anywhere in a hurry :D
We are currently moored up by Blake Mere with a lovely view out the hatch over the mere. Pictures to follow next time as the light is not so good. Yesterday evening Andrew saw a woodpecker in one of the trees nearby and there were also 2 squirrels doing what they do best, denuding a tree of all its nuts.  I just need to figure out what nuts they were as they are not hazelnuts.  Whatever they were, the squirrels were having a great time for well over an hour.  We decided not to move today, the cupboard and fridge do not need restocking until tomorrow, when we shall venture into Ellesmere.  And once more we hope that we might be able to get a mooring in this very busy center.  As usual I was also hoping for some dragonflies and such but the weather has not cleared and as I write this, it is drizzling again.

Well you have caught us up once more, so cheerio for now and I promise to try and be more diligent both with the photos and the blog :D

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