Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Up Bosley and on to Lyme Green

We actually slept in a little this morning and didn't get boating until nearly half seven. Nonetheless, we were still the first boat into the bottom of the flight. It was Sheila’s turn to steer, so I did the first six locks. 12 was empty, 11 full, 10 empty, nine full – it just depends on whether the bottom gates are leaking faster than the top ones in these circumstances. The person who does the first half actually gets the tougher job as they are all close enough together to justify double walking to set the next lock whilst the one below is filling.

This was particularly true today as, not long after we’d swapped over, we were joined by a volockie, it now being just before nine, who stayed with us all the way up the flight. As a result, we made good time and were on the water point at the top by ten. Whilst the tank was filling we dumped rubbish and recycling, started a wash load, made and drank a cup of coffee and did the breakfast washing up.

Once on our way again, I was look out for most of the way. There were now a few boats in the opposite direction including Derwent 6 with Del and Al. We only seem to see them passing in opposite directions these days, haven't had a chance of a proper natter for years.

I opened the Royal Oak swing bridge and then waited whilst a boat came through in the opposite direction after Sanity Again had passed. There was yet another boat behind that one but I now had a traffic queue building up so closed the bridge. Fortunately, a passing dog walker offered to reopen it as he had a BWB key and was clearly either a boater himself or made a habit of this. This was especially good as the boat in question was single handed.

We were surprised to see that there was only one other boat in the whole length of the Lyme Green towpath when we got here, so we had plenty of choice about where to moor. We’ve stopped by the footpath into the retail park and had a wander round there this afternoon. I got a pair of plastic clogs to replace my boat slippers which were wearing out and we found a Turtle mat clone to try in the front of the saloon. At £8, it’s a bit cheaper than the Turtles, too.

Tomorrow, we plan to stay put for the day and maybe do a bit more retail therapy.

Location:Lyme Green

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Another slight change of plan

As I said yesterday, the plan today was just to potter through to the aqueduct to use up another of our spare days – we want to arrive at Poynton a week tomorrow and could have been there today if we’d pressed on hard. But like they say, if you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans. We hung about until half nine before setting off, expecting to take maybe 30 minutes to get there.

No, it’s not going to be a bad luck story… it was such a nice day for boating, we’ve come right on to the foot of Bosley, running a wash load on the way and getting here by half eleven. There hadn't actually been time for the washing machine to finish, but the boat we tied next to was still running its engine too, so no problem in leaving ours on for a bit.

We were even able to deploy the whirligig when it had finished, getting it all done in nice time to eat lunch. It’s very busy here this week. In previous years, when we’ve been just a week or so later heading this way, it’s been very quiet. We’ve normally avoided overnighting here ourselves as the phone signals used to be terrible, but both the Vodafone and 3 phones have reasonable connections now.

After lunch, we took a walk up the flight to see how it’s looking this year. It’s not bad, but there were a fair few boats coming down – we did the odd bit of huffling as we went, opening and closing gates for boats and dropping the occasional paddle. We got back to Sanity Again in time to take the now largely dry washing in and have a cup of tea.

We’re still a bit ahead of ourselves, so tomorrow we’ll work up the locks and carry on to Lyme Green, from where we can catch a bus into Macclesfield. We’ll spend a couple of days there before ambling on to Bollington or Riley Green.


Monday, 14 August 2017

Spending a day in Congleton

We've had a pretty laid back day but reasonably successful. After a very relaxed start, we waited for the rain to stop and then walked down into town again. Sheila had done some Googling for butchers and we found one tucked away round the back of the high street. Sheila was also looking for a hairdresser to get a trim, but most were closed on Mondays. However, she spotted one in the High Street and was able to get an appointment for later in the morning.

Next stop was Morrisons where we finished our restocking shopping, including some white fish and prawns so that I can make a fish curry tonight, one I found on-line from Kerala called mappas. I then headed back to the boat on my own, carrying the perishable stuff whilst Sheila killed a bit of time before her hair appointment.

I put the last bit of morning to good use by cancelling the T-mobile contract we’ve had since 2011. It was good value at the time, using a Huawei modem that takes an external aerial, but these days we usually manage to find either a 3 or a Vodafone signal wherever we are. If we can’t, there’s usually no EE signal either. It means that we’ve been paying £10 per month for a Gb of data we’re not using. I had to ring customer services to cancel it, but it didn't prove too much of a hassle to persuade the nice guy on the other end (in the North East of England from his accent) that he couldn't sell me anything else.

I still have the all-you-can-eat deal from 3, including tethering, so that’s the default option. If I need to, Vodafone costs £6 for an extra Gb, so still cheaper than the T-mobile deal. We have both the 3 and Vodafone SIMs in iPhones with the Personal Hotspot option, meaning you can move the phone around to find the best signal.

Sheila got back just in time for lunch and we’ve had a quiet afternoon. The only other excitement was going on-line to rearrange my Eye Clinic appointment for September as we won’t be back in time for me to keep it.

Tomorrow, we’ll just move on to the Aqueduct as this is a 48 hour mooring.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

A pleasant but slow run to Congleton

We’d estimated ninety minutes from Hall Green to Congleton Wharf today and expected the wharf to be pretty busy at this time of year, being as it is the most pleasant place to stop to visit the town. So we wanted to time our arrival at around half ten and therefore set off at nine. I ran the Webasto for an hour before that and started the engine 15 minutes before. It was thus possible to get a wash load on the way as soon as we set off.

It being Sheila’s turn to steer, I largely let her get on with it, though I did spend quite a bit of time out on the bow anyway, it being a very pleasant morning. Despite the lack of locks, it’s quite hard work for the steerer. There are a lot of moored boats, both on long term moorings and casually on the towpath and the bridge holes, though reasonably wide, tend to be very shallow – chucking back to clear muck off the prop is needed quite often.

In addition, one of the reasons for coming onto the Macc (apart from the splendid scenery) is to remind you how deep the Trent and Mersey is. All these things come together to make for a slow trip and it was nearly eleven before the wharf was in sight. There was a boat just leaving our preferred end of the visitor moorings, the less shaded end by the access to the road, so it worked out just fine.

Having tied and had a belated mid-morning coffee, Sheila sorted the washing and was able for the first time in ages to put the whirligig up in very calm weather.

After lunch and a bit of a break, we took a walk down into town. It’s a trek but well worth it. Today’s main destination was Morrisons where we started the restocking process. If we get it right between today and tomorrow, this will be the last big burst of shopping we need to do before getting to Poynton, where we’ll organise an Ocado delivery. You need to be a bit restrained in how much heavy stuff you buy as it’s quite a slog back up the hill to the canal.

So we’ll stay put tomorrow, revisit Morrisons and take a look at some other shops, including the butcher’s. On Tuesday, we’ll probably just go on to Congleton Aqueduct, thus reducing the run to the foot of Bosley on Wednesday.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Onto the Macc

The plan today was to work up the first three locks to the service wharf at Red Bull, fill the water tank and start a wash load, then carry on to Hall Green. It’s not a long haul up those locks and it was a bit cool first thing, so I started the Webasto for once, thus warming the boat a bit and heating the calorifier to provide hot water for the wash.

We set off just before eight and were on the water point a bit after half past. Rubbish was dumped whilst the tank filled. When we were ready to set off we had to hang about a bit for a share boat to come down the single chamber that’s the first of the last three up to the junction. Immediately after working up, the canal passes beneath the aqueduct that carries the Macc over the Trent and Mersey.

I hovered again below the top lock whilst a boat came down the left hand chamber – the turn onto the Macc is very difficult for a 70 footer from the left hand lock but nearly impossible from the right hand one. Finally we were round and on the last canal of this year’s boating – the return will only involve the T&M, of course, once we’re back off the Macc.

The difference in depth between the two canals makes itself felt at once, coming to a nadir on the approach to Hall Green stop. Sanity Again slowed almost to stop of her own in the narrows which are all that’s left of the disused second stop lock. When the Macc was first built, the Trent and Mersey company insisted on not only there being a foot difference in levels between the new canal and the old, but on two stop locks, one controlled by each company, to ensure that no precious water found its way off the T&M onto the Macc.

Such can be the consequences of private operations…

We’d been a bit concerned that the visitor moorings here would be busy, given that it’s still peak holiday season, but in the event there was plenty of room at 10.45 and there are still spaces just now in late afternoon. When we arrived, there was a chap sitting on a bench on the towpath chatting to someone in a GRP cruiser moored alongside. He seemed to be carrying something on his left arm, but it wasn't until he got up to go that it became apparent that there was a live barn owl on his wrist.

We’ve made an expedition to the former Co-op, now a McColls, and got immediately necessary supplies. We’ve still got five days in hand before we’re due to arrive in Poynton, so tomorrow we’ll make the short run to Congleton Wharf and spend a couple of days there, renewing our acquaintance with that pleasant town and having a bit of retail therapy.

Location:Scholar Green

Friday, 11 August 2017

Easily up the next few locks

Checking the log from the last time we came this way, about this time last year, indeed, showed that we should allow a bit under two hours for today’s run. We didn't want to get here too soon, so set off at 8.15. Following the law according to Sod, we then had an excellent run, taking just ninety minutes.

We were followed by another boat using the alternate lock chambers where these are still available, so I took to setting their lock for them and in return, they closed up after Sheila, saving a lot of walking to and fro.

The locks are all quite close together, so it was a case of riding to the start, the foot of the Lawton Treble, then walking the rest of the way. The weather was quite pleasant as we went along but has rather deteriorated now, becoming very windy. Hopefully it will improve by the morning when we have the last half dozen locks to do up to Harding’s Wood Junction, round onto the Macc and on to Hall Green.

There’s plenty of room here at the top of Church Locks with just a few boats in sight tied on the towpath ahead of us. We’ve put the rest of the day to some use, washing and oiling the bathroom floor. The plan is to do one compartment at a time as we carry on towards Poynton.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Virtuosity at Rode Heath

We’ve had a good day with a relaxed start on a sunny morning. We washed the starboard side of the boat and did some pottering inside before going over to the Broughton Arms for lunch. It’s a Marston’s chain pub but both the food and beer are excellent.

After a bit of a recovery time, we then turned to and polished the side and rear bulkhead, so we are feeling very virtuous. The only downside in our pleasure is that the boat which we remoored yesterday broke free again. She’d drifted into the bridge arch and bent her chimney before we could recover her again .

We’ve remoored her once more and I’ve emailed CRT North West to suggest that they contact the owner and get him or her to take her to where she can be tied on rings or piling chains.

Tomorrow, we’ll head on up the cut a bit further, another six locks to the top of Church Locks.

Location:Rode Heath