Sunday 31 August 2014

Too-wit-too- woo.

Normally we go to bed listening to wood Pidgeon's cooing or ducks arguing, but last night was unique.
A Tawny Owl took up residence near the boat and entertained ( ? ) us for an hour or two before deciding he/ she had sufficiently dessimated Phoebe's local mouse supply before moving on or sleeping. Interesting.
A dry breeze less morning and not too cold. Our choices were to visit a local restored flour mill nearby or Beeston castle about a mile away. We chose the former as Lynne needed flour and the castle was outside her normal walking regime.
We set off for the mill, which the canal guide stated was open Saturday and Sunday afternoons,arriving somewhat exhausted just after midday. It opens at one ! Thinking things through we decided to walk  to the Anglo-Welsh hire-boat base, half way back to our boat and boasting a cafe, which was also closed and no hint of opening. With my need to eat and nowhere to do it we opted to return to Tardis.
I guess it was a round trip of at least 4 miles, which both of us found exhausting. So much for my improved fitness. My old welsh rugby player PE instructor at school would have said "fitness - improving".   Stamina - needs further work".
After a respectful period of rest and soup for lunch we opted to move on through two sets of locks in the hope of reconnecting with the outside world via TV, Internet and phone. The double locks on the "Shroppie" are particularly hard to operate, acknowledged by all boaters.
No particular problem with the first or second, apart from being exhausting, until I was due to re-board the boat, which started routinely. However, routine went out of the window as my foot touched the stern. They always reckon your life flashes before you at times of danger, the only thing that flashed before me as I surfaced above the water was " you Pratt".  Lynne shouted "swim", something that had already crossed my mind, but in all fairness she did manage to get the boat ( and the propeller ) out of the way and the life-saver ring over my head. The self - inflating life jacket then leapt into action,adding yet more drama to the situation, and as usual not a soul is around to help when you most need them.
Lynne got the ladder from the boat roof and I was able, like a drowned rat, to climb ashore. A quick, hot shower revealed I had scraped my previously troublesome leg. Having no phone connection we were unable to contact, in order of preference, a taxi (we thought the damage was insufficient to waste an ambulance crew's time),the family or a vet. We managed to get to the nearest pub, where else? They called a taxi, gave us cups of tea and coffee while we waited, and off we went to Chester hospital A & E, who discharged me within minutes of my arrival, advising a dry dressing and to drink lots of liquid to "flush my system."
I have taken a decision for Lynne's sake, to terminate this ludicrous adventure at the earliest convenience. The constant threats to my health, even if you discount the brain tumour, cancer, old age and diabetes already present , are not worth the pressure I put on her and the cat(s)
We need to fill with diesel and replenish gas supplies in the morning so blogging will continue whilst plans for the rest of my life are agreed and instigated.

Saturday 30 August 2014

Llangollen / Shropshire Union swop

An overcast, cool, breezy morning. We aim to be off the Llangollen today, not that we set ourselves targets in these more relaxed times. The Llangollen is much longer than we remembered, but non the worse for that. To us it still remains the jewel in the crown of the British canal system and is well maintained ( with the exception of the locks ), equally well used and, dare I say it, greatly undervalued and distinctly understated.
I would hate to see it turned into the Blackpool of the canals, but it could be far better marketed and presented at very little or no cost, using the assets it already has and better signage. This applies similarly to the village.
Lynne operated the electric lift bridge where I got abused with no obscene comments whilst letting three boats through. Moral of the story ; wear drag when operating lift bridges.
We cruised leisurely through  Baddily locks (3), descending nearly 20 ft, before tackling Swanley locks (2) and another 12 ft descent. So far so good. Then we hit Hurleston staircase locks !!! (4). Down a further 34 ft. Staircase locks have to be used in unison or not at all. When we were half way down someone managed to get his boat stuck in the bottom lock, thus fowling up the whole system. It took ages for him to be pulled out whilst being abused by his wife in front of loads of gongoozlers. Poor chap.
We passed the reservoir providing water to Crewe and fed by the Llangollen canal. Now on the Shropshire Union canal, we moored near Beeston Castle in heavy rain with no TV ,phone or Internet connections, thus this blog may reach you a day late. Sorry.

Friday 29 August 2014

Sandstone trail

The canal this end contrasts considerably with the Welsh end, only wheat and sweet corn offering anything of particular interest.
Four lift bridges and an equal number of single locks, together with two sharp bends takes us to Wrenbury hall, a popular wedding venue.
After yesterday's adventures Lynne had vowed not to take Tardis Two through any more locks, but she fortunately had a re-think overnight and normal service was resumed today.
Marbury is one of the quietest places under the sun and quite picturesque. Last time I visited I got chatting to an old chap and asked him if he had lived there all his life, to which he quickly replied, " not yet". 
The sandstone trail is  a 55 kilometre walkers path offering outstanding views of Cheshire and Shropshire. Needless to say we did not sample it but, despite some dodgy locks, made it to Swanley Marina where we moored on the canal opposite the entrance. 
The day remained dry with sunny spells and a stiff, cool breeze, which got chillier and chillier as time passed.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Dusty Miller

The Dusty Miller is a famous pub/restaurant on the Llangollin canal right next to an electric lift bridge on a fairly busy through-route for traffic, where I got severely abused on the outward journey by a very smart middle-aged lady for letting more than one boat through, obviously further delaying her beautician treatment. Whilst her accent was up-market her language was certainly not ( or have I lost track of how posh people speak these days ? ) Her vehicle was at the back of a queue and I was pre-occupied at the time, but I would put money on it being a highly polished Range Rover Evoque.
Weather wise; overcast with a hint of sun and early autumn temperatures.  Health wise; no problems.
We filled with water and joined the queue for Grindley Brook locks, the infamous staircase ones it took us 4 hours to get through previously. The middle lock is still faulty but scheduled for repair in the winter.
Overall there are 6 locks in the set and we got through them all in less than 2 hours in full sunshine.
However, as she was leaving the last lock Lynne announced a distinct lack of steering ( on the boat ) so we managed to pull Tardis Two onto some moorings near the lock, to which the resident of the old lock cottage informed us we  could not stay there without causing minor havoc. When informed of our plight he offered to help pull us through a railway bridge to some public moorings the other side, which we did. A quick call to Canal and River Rescue ( a sort of boat AA ) with location details and they dispatched an engineer to assist us. The rudder had dislodged itself from it's "cup" but was refitted within an hour, by which time we had "lost" an afternoon so we opted to stay for the night .
The stove was allowed to burn itself out as outside temperatures had returned to normal.
We had a very lively night in the local pub with fellow boaters and resolved to always take a torch with us for future night forays into unknown territory.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Blake mere

Early morning steam rising from the mere.
My confidence in having overcome my body temperature control problems took a knock today when I woke with freezing feet and hands. A hot coffee, breakfast and return to bed failed to improve the situation until halfway through the morning, when I got up again and further investigated, narrowing it down to probably a low blood sugar reading, quickly rectified. Having done so we moved on and had lunch opposite a camping and caravan site, still  strangely empty, as it was on the outward journey.
Today has had the best weather for some considerable time, at least closer to average for mid-August.
We moored for the evening between 2 lift bridges, one hand and one electric near the Dusty Miller pub, although we're eating aboard tonight.


Heavy rain throughout the night and morning. We made a decision to move only if there was a break in the weather, which there was just before midday. However, the break was very short and we only managed a "dash" for Ellesmere and lunch, where we met old friends from Stensen marina and exchanged items of news, tea and coffee. We later moored after the Ellesmere tunnel and near the end of the Llangollen canal adjacent to Blake mere ( lake ) and a golf course.

Monday 25 August 2014


Moored outside Chirk marina last night and inevitably it rained. A Bank holiday and being in Wales  both compounding the situation.
The stove ensured life was comfortable and all the washing was dry !!! Lynne feels a little better, perhaps boosted by the success of her stove endeavours.
We continued cruising in sub - arctic temperatures with the highlight of the morning being the sight of a mink on the bank and in the water. We are easily pleased at our age.
After stopping for lunch the weather worsened so we opted to only cruise during gaps in the showers until after the New Marton locks, which we did and moored at 3.15pm.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Multi fuel stove/ Plas Newydd

Lynne lit the stove for only the second time since buying Tardis Two, which says all we need to about outside temperatures. There is an art to keeping these things alight and operating overnight which we have yet to perfect, but it remained alight this morning and the boat was "comfortable".
It is decision time regarding what we do today. By 5.00pm we have used our permitted time here in the basin and,to be honest, the decision could well be made for us by CRT staff, who may
 tell us we have to leave. Rules are rules and it is a Bank Holiday weekend, but either way we are not fussed. Our Welsh friends return from Italy today so meeting them somewhere convenient should not be a problem once they contact us. We're making best use of the electric and water supply by washing everything in sight, need it or not. Washing cannot be hung out to dry here but that we can do that back on the cut.
Our new Australian friends have already chugged off into the distance, but no doubt our canals will cross again sometime in the future. A neighbour at the basin recommended we look at a house in the town. We were going into town anyway to get a coal bucket and a newspaper, so why not? The house is called Plas Newydd and little publicised, which is a pity as it is a real treat with a colourful history
We had a lunch appointment with our neighbours so did not have time to tour the interior, but the exterior  more than compensated for this omission. We had a good Sunday lunch at the Bridge hotel (again), filled with water and emptied the oblutions before tackling the one-way canal system and aqueduct again (wind free this time, so no problem). We moored for the night next to Chirk marina. As you will have guessed our plea's to extend our stay fell on deaf ears, which greatly disappointed us. There is so much we have yet to see.
The horse drawn narrowboat "bus" and the steam train, both serving horseshoe falls.
The stove kept alight all day and the boat resembled a sauna, particularly as most of our washing was finished drying in there.
Lynne suffered a stomach upset but soldiered-on regardless, bless her.

Sunshine Wales

Awoke to freezing temperatures and sunshine, which makes a change. We went out to dinner last night with Hazel and Mark from Tasmania, but now moored next door in a dinky little Sea Otter. A small narrowboat made of aluminium. A pleasant evening overall. 
For some reason I had a disturbed night. The reason came to light this morning when I realised I had failed to have my pre-dinner insulin injection in the pub/restaurant as planned and I've only been doing it for 62 years !!! Stupid or what?  No harm done other than ruining my blood sugar records.
By mid morning the sun was inevitably replaced by showers but the air was slightly warmer. We are off into town and then horseshoe falls.
The town is really quaint and quite beautiful, but very hilly.
Mark and I set off for Horseshoe falls, a four mile round trip. All was well until halfway there when the heavens opened and we dived into Llangollen motor Museum, which proved interesting. The old lady on the desk took our money while the old man on the seat behind was either dead or asleep. It was the latter as his eyes were open when we left an hour or so later . The museum looks naff from the outside and is a little dusty inside, but houses lots of interesting old motorbikes,                                         Bentley's, Standard's,  
Triumph's, Aston Martin's and many more, but nothing flashy. I was tempted to rush back to the boat for a duster.
Our "plan" to avoid the rain worked as we emerged into bright sunshine and completed our walk to Horseshoe Falls ( see below )

A group of excited youngsters were preparing for white water rafting further downstream on the river
The canal starts as a small feed off the river Dee, via a tiny valve house (above ) which meters the flow of water into the canal. For the first mile or so of its journey the canal is accompanied by the Llangollen steam railway. Note how clear the canal water is at this point. However, the clear water continues for several miles.

Friday 22 August 2014

Wet Wales

Within 5minutes of leaving our overnight mooring spot the heavens opened so we moored again, but not before getting dripping wet. A towelling -off, change of clothes and shoes and off we set again, ignoring a few light showers   Through the one way sections ( of which their are two ) with me acting as shotgun on the towpath. It was not half as daunting as it sounds and we were directed to the Llangollen  basin for mooring with water and electric hook- up where we booked in for 2 days                                                                        

Thursday 21 August 2014


A cold,windy day.  So cold I was grateful for leaving the brass monkeys at home - no room on board. At the end of the Chirk aqueduct ( 70 feet high )- is a sign proclaiming "welcome to Wales", so we finally made it.
Immediately after the sign we disappeared into the darkness of Chirk tunnel, a link to the welsh history of coal mining perhaps ?
Before long we were on the infamous Pontcysyllte aqueduct, 1000 ft long,127 ft high and completed in1805, the year of Nelson's death at Trafalgar. It is awesome. Halfway across our boat, and the boat behind, stopped,despite having increased throttles applied. In the end we worked out the high ( in both senses ) wind was pinning us against the wooden canal edge. Lynne pushed the front against the wind while I steered the back which,with maximum throttle, eventually enabled us to complete the crossing, exhausted and freezing. We finally moored before a one-way canal section ready for our final approach on Llangollen in the morning.
This autumn is very early, trees changing colour and losing leaves, fruit forming and ripening at least a month before normal and corn ready for harvest already. A good argument for global warming if you are that way inclined. Whilst I acknowledge the climate is changing I do not buy all this human induced palaver and point back to known major climate changes which occurred before our species arrived on earth.  Admittedly we do  little or nothing to help the situation but why bother when what's happening is inevitable ? Just get on with your own life to make it better and leave the rest alone. 
1).    View into Chirk tunnel prior to turning on boat headlight. !!!  Welcome to Wales
3)     View out of Chirk tunnel
2. 4 to 8) Views from and on the Pontcysyllte aqueduct

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Llangollen. Ellesmere.

Sunny but cold this morning. We put our winter quilt on the bed last night, which improved things thermally for us.
Opposite where we moored is a caravan and camping club site, strangely deserted. Ahead is the short Ellesmere tunnel and Ellesmere itself, complete with shops and even a supermarket. Supplies are low so it will be a welcome sight.
My first visit to Tesco by boat and thus we hope to survive for a few more days. No pay and display here and no trolley's in the canal.
 Ellesmere looks a nice place and I recommend Vermeulen's delicatessen, selling warm pork pies, bread and delicious cold cream cakes. Avoid if you have an expanding,or non-shrinking, waistline.
We finally moored between bridge numbers 1W and 2W ,the first and second bridges in Wales on this canal, so we've arrived. Yippee.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Whitchurch 2

Sunshine with fluffy clouds greeted us this morning. Trees are sparse so no dawn chorus, but the distant drone of the A525 can be heard. Shorts,tee shirts and sandals have been returned to storage as  temperatures are distinctly autumnal, necessitating the central heating boiler being used in the mornings, and it is still only mid-August.
In the sunshine it is very warm, but stray into the shade and the temperature drops considerably. The shop described in our guide as perfect for all our lunchtime food needs has disappeared without trace or explanation so we raided the fridge again.
The afternoon turned warm and sunny so we took the opportunity to explore a short offshoot of the Llangollen canal, built to transport clay for lining canals and burnt lime for agriculture. The Prees canal is a mile long and ends at the new Whixall marina, and very impressive it is too. The canal is very unspoilt, little used and consequently quiet. Lynne and I loved it.
We moored before the EllesmereTunnel ( 87 yards) and frustratingly remain in England, at least for today.
I feel much better today but still have no idea regarding the reason for yesterday's hiccup. 
Due to wi-fi gremlins this should have been yesterday's blog. Apologies if you got it twice.

Monday 18 August 2014

Grindly Brook

We woke to heavy rain so opted to tackle Grindly Locks as and when the weather improved. Everyone else had the same idea so some congestion resulted. Normally in these situations tempers get frayed but today everyone accepted the long delays, laughed and joked a bit and got on with it. The 6 locks took most of the afternoon. 3 "normal" followed by 3 "staircase", the latter in front of a gongoozler pub.
In hindsight we quite enjoyed the experience and made new friends into the bargain. By the time we moored for a late dinner it had started raining again.
A lock-keeper informed us where the Welsh border is (in fact the canal is the border for some distance). All will be revealed tomorrow, weather permitting.
Today was not a good one personally, but nothing  I could put my finger on or blame. Tomorrow is a new day.


Last night we managed to moor in heavy rain and high wind near a place called Grindly Brook. Our intention was not to moor under a large oak tree as, in the conditions, I considered it unsafe. However, the conditions had other ideas! And there we stayed. Nothing adverse occurred, other than it rained heavily overnight which was amplified by the drips from the aforementioned oak tree. We will need to find food supplies today as stocks are perilous  ( I almost said currently perilous but we have ample currants - sorry ). We also need to identify the whereabouts of the Welsh border, having ascertained we are still in Shropshire.

Sunday 17 August 2014

Where is border?

It appears my impression of the English/Wales canal border was slightly misguided. The barmaid in the "Dusty Miller" was not sure either, but confirmed we are still in England. The border I have still to discover, maybe tomorrow ?
The Dusty Miller was recommended to us for lunch and thoroughly deserved it.  Alongside the pub is an electric road lift bridge, at which I got thoroughly abused whilst operating it. I let three boats through rather than one at a time which upset a woman motorist at the back of the queue sufficiently for her to approach and accuse me of being a f****ing c###. Lovely lady.
Today was very windy and very cold. At one stage I was wearing gloves and a wooly hat.

Saturday 16 August 2014

Grumpy sods. England v Wales

Morning weather in England, cool and calm. Evening weather in Wales, very cool and windy. We had to queue to change countries as the Llangollen starts with 4 locks, with very small pounds between them. Having waited in the queue for some considerable time the mood of some boaters was not so good, whether Welsh or English. The boater in lock one swops places with the boater in lock two in the pound between locks. Given a very windy day and the overall mood of the day inevitably a few disputes erupted in the pounds, mainly concerning on which side to pass. Luckily (?) a canal and river trust employee was on hand to play referee so we made it through unscathed. I can report Welsh canals are identical to English ones, but colder.

Friday 15 August 2014


Our "quiet" mooring spot in the middle of nowhere was no such thing, as the other side of a hedge and thick scrub must have been a transport depot or warehouse where lorries were loaded, seemingly throughout the night, recalling memories on a previous trip when we moored a respectable distance from a Sleepezee warehouse where overnight lorry loading took place. Needless to say we have since been adverse to buying one of the bloody things. No sun today so far, but no rain either. I have yet to ascertain the temperature but the trees are already showing signs of an early autumn.
Healthwise, my body temperature control has returned to normal so no wooly hats and gloves yet, which saves embarrassment. I am feeling pretty good overall, although my dream all-over-hairstyle seems to be reverting to my pre-treatment bald patch. Can't have all the luck I suppose ?
Middlewich was busy. One of our bow thrusters gave up the ghost so we needed our excellent friends at Top Lock chandlery to advise us. Worn bushes were diagnosed and fitted in next to no time, and at a very acceptable price.
Lynne backed the boat in a very congested environment and off we went through the  Middlewich canal towards the Shropshire Union and the Llangollen. We moored in the middle of nowhere half way along the Middlewich canal with beautiful scenery and did a spot of sunbathing on the bank until dinner al-fresco with Pimms and wine. By the time we retired to bed our "middle of nowhere" site had attracted 5 more boats.
On the Bridgewater we managed to collect a weaved plastic post office bag around the propeller. In Manchester we collected 3mtrs of boat mooring rope and today on the Trent and Mersey we retrieved a metre of computer/printer wire. It is not a major hassle to remove and causes no long-term damage, but affects boat performance and handling while there. The Tardis propeller is quite near the surface so is easy see and to get to via the hatch in the engine compartment. Adds a bit of interest to the day.

Thursday 14 August 2014


A showery morning greeted us for our trip through the last two bendy tunnels. We were the lead boat in a convoy of 4 . The longer tunnel has three distinct bends. Apart from clipping the tunnel entrance with the boat cabin front all progressed well. My first ever boat "accident", but luckily a dosh of paint should suffice, given a dry day. The tunnel suffered more damage than the boat, judging by the cement on the roof.
The shorter tunnel has two bends of quite substantial proportions ( for a tunnel ), but caused no problem. I have vowed to replace our puny headlight with something bigger and brighter. With more showers threatened we opted to moor overnight at Anderton and met all our contacts for any news on Sadie, but sadly there was none. Even so we opted for an evening search in the area, but again with no success, but then reluctantly moved on to a mooring in the middle of nowhere between Higher Shurlach and Middlewich, ready for our assault on the Llangollen canal.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Dutton Breach

We have returned down the Bridgewater to the Trent and Mersey without  incident and have moored on the centre point of the Dutton Breach, responsible for closing the canal from September 2012 until May 2013. Pushing our luck? 
The view from Duttons Breach, Trent& Mersey canal
It is a bit of a shock to the system as The Bridgewater is mostly straight ( apart from the tunnels )and averages 60 feet wide, whereas the T & M is of normal canal proportions and bendier. The former has no locks whilst the latter has lots. If you wish to learn how to handle a narrowboat I would suggest the Bridgewater. 
The day started with showers but finished with sunshine and a very cold wind. We are an hour or two from Sadie's disappearance spot so should arrive tomorrow morning,but still no news.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

OldfieldBrow. Bridgewater

We had a food stock-up at Asda next to the Trafford centre and waited for our laundry delivery which arrived, neatly folded,around 1.30 pm. To begin our trip to where Sadie disappeared we needed to turn the boat round, which our laundry-son helped with before commencing work. We set off late afternoon and filled with water at Stretford marine services, where the facilities and staff are excellent. From there we made Oldfield Brow where we moored for the night. Oldfield brow is the very edge of Manchester suburbia and nothing to write home about, but it will do for us tonight.
Views from Barton aqueduct , Manchester

Trafford centre

Early afternoon yesterday I received a surprise phone call from my friend ( who had apparently just bought a British SIM card ) and we arranged to meet later next to the Levi shop on the third floor.
Luckily by the time of the arranged meeting my youngest son had arrived. He works in the Trafford Centre and knows his way around,finding the Levi shop quickly. The next surprise was that, unknown to me, my friend had brought his wife. ( a very pleasant surprise, so not a problem ). We showed them the boat and caught up on many years news, before going out for a lovely Italian meal. A brilliant evening and well worth the difficult arranging. Moral of the story; never give up on a good friend.

Monday 11 August 2014

Manchester extremes

Cool night, warm sunny morning. It must be the UK. Lynne has organised boat cleaning ( again ) in readiness for our visitors. The Queen could come aboard this minute ( pre-clean ) and would remark how immaculate the boat looks, whilst rolling on her industrial rubber gloves. I am on window cleaning duties having been given very clear instructions.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Jacque Cousteau

 True to Manchester's reputation for rain we sit in Salford in very heavy precipitation, having cruised through the stuff for 2 hours getting thoroughly soaked, thanks to my New Zealand friend, who by definition is as tight as a duck's backside. Thus we can currently only communicate by text as his cell phone contract is Thailand based ( ? ) and calls apparently cost a fortune for both parties. Have you tried making arrangements to meet by text in a city neither of you know and one party is on a narrowboat? I thought not.
Anyway, via a series of misunderstandings on both sides I spent the morning getting soaked unnecessesarily. If I die of pneumonia Lynne has promised to sue on my behalf.
We got very wet once again when we moved mooring in Manchester for the last time ( hopefully ) to our present spot right next to the Trafford centre, one of the first and probably the largest shopping arcade in the country. I'll text my friend to tell him where we are and arrange a meeting point ( ? ) for later.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Bridgewater/ Manchester/ Leeds& liverpool

Our mooring spot
A quiet night and a sunny morning with very cool breeze . We carried on with the Bridgewater canal until it mysteriously merged with the Leeds & Liverpool. In Manchester, canal bridges miss being named or numbered, unlike all others in Britain. We passed Astley Green Colliery with the old winch wheel still intact and Pennington Flash Country park lake created when old coal mines collapsed,and turned at Plank Lane lift bridge, where, inevitably  a huge housing estate is being built. We hope to meet my friend in Manchester tomorrow so intend mooring somewhere closer to our liaison point, yet to be arranged.

The above recycled lock gates I think must commemorate the 75 miners who perished in the 1908 disaster at Maypole pit. There is no sign or label to clarify.

Friday 8 August 2014


The usual weather story of cool, overcast in the morning and sunny/warm in the afternoon which coincided with our arrival in Manchester.  The Bridgewater canal remains vastly wide and very straight through the city, passing within metres of the Trafford shopping centre. Having accidentally found a place to fill with water, empty cassettes and dump rubbish we progressed to our meeting place with our youngest son - a canal-side pub/restaurant of course. We moored overnight there.
Our first impression of Manchester is favourable. They seem to have perfected the knack of keeping old warehouses and industrial units in use and good condition, whilst replacing obsolete ones sympathetically and maintaining the overall ambience of the canal area. Top marks to those responsible.
Stoke take note.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Bridgewater two

Tardis two on the weaver before joining the Bridgewater.
Despite the weather forecast of sunshine it was raining when we woke this morning, diminishing the beauty of the surroundings somewhat. We'll sit it out and await improvements, although it is not cold, fortunately. Nothing worse than cold rain, apart from hailstones I suppose.
However, the day brightened up and we made considerable progress along the Bridgewater canal, the highlight of which is Lymm, a truly beautiful village with cobbled streets and cute shops. The whole canal is very wide and scenic with lots of mooring places and not much traffic. Certainly one of my highly recommended canals.

Wednesday 6 August 2014


A warm and sunny "cruising" day. We spent the night moored on the spot where Sadie disappeared several days ago and walked around the adjacent nature park, evening and morning, looking for her, with no luck. Lots of people are looking out for her,all have my mobile number 
We could give guided tours of the nature park having spent lots of time there. It comes highly recommended. We filled with water and left for Manchester via the remainder of the Trent and Mersey, then the Bridgewater canal, involving 3 tunnels , none of which were straight. They were the first ever dug and digging them straight had yet to be perfected. The big plus points were that they were all "tall", none leaked and generally they were in good condition .  
The Bridgewater goes through some stunning scenery. We are moored in the midst of this scenery near Lymm
Which reminds me I've omitted to keep you up to date with how the captive bred gorilla family transferred from Port lympne to The wild in Africa is managing. djala and his family are doing very well, even though their island was accidentally invaded by another wild silverback gorilla following a storm and a fallen tree connecting the island with the mainland, which could have proved very dangerous for the youngsters. Remarkably, after a lot of screaming, banging and commotion Djala fought-off the wild interloper. Calm and Djala's dominance was quickly restored.  
You can keep up to date with the gorilla breeding and return to the wild programme via the  Howletts and Port Lympne web site. ( Aspinal foundation).

Tuesday 5 August 2014


The Weaver countryside is truly stunning, the river extremely wide and easy to navigate with manned locks. Mooring unfortunately is a problem as the river edges are shallow and suitable places are unmarked on the map or on riverbanks. There is an element of good fortune if you find mooring and your presence attracts others very quickly. Luckily very few craft appear to be on the river at any given time so overcrowded moorings are a rarity. Phoebe was unimpressed with our very quiet mooring spot, mainly due to the herd of cows and their inevitable droppings, both proving difficult for her to avoid. She has already assumed a "queen of the boat" attitude which lightens the inevitable gloom occasionally, but given past Sadie history we retain positive attitudes.
The weather changed from sunny/warm to windy/cold so we opted to seek shelter back on the canals and moored on the lift holding bays for the upward journey. On the weaver we have seen kingfishers, cormorants and lots of herons, plus evidence of water voles, but no actual voles. One of these days?
An old friend of mine from New Zealand has made contact and is currently in Chester, which is not on our want-list this year, so we have made tentative arrangements to meet at my son's house in Manchester, which is on the Bridgewater canal and one of our intended visiting spots anyway. We stayed overnight at the spot Sadie disappeared and checked with the locals before doing our rounds of the area calling and searching, but all results negative.
A short history of the Anderton lift;  opened in 1875 and designed by Edward Leader Williams , it is of iron construction and originally hydraulically powered by steam, later by electricity and then by water when it recommenced non-commercial use in 2002.

Monday 4 August 2014

And then there was one,again

So now I can reveal one more reason for not making the Anderton lift yesterday. I kept it quiet to prevent it going global (as they say ) before members of my family were told personally .  Sadie, for the third time in 3 years has done a runner. Last year she went missing for four weeks near Wolverhampton, the year before it was two days in Stensen Marina. Each time we have retrieved her via extensive and time consuming searches or via her digital chip. This time she showed extreme cunning and a real element of surprise and adventure.we approached Anderton services for water and to empty cassettes, but had to double moor as all the places were in use, which required Lynne to get to our bow filler cap via the front escape hatch. We finished our tasks before the boat we moored against and set out for the boat lift a short way down the canal, only for a panicky Lynne to rush through the boat shouting "we've lost Sadie", which we apparently had. Our only theory is that somehow she got onto the front of our boat and across our neighbours without being spotted, thereafter disappearing into thin air. Several hours of searching and calling followed without success. By the time we collapsed into bed exhausted the whole marina and moorers on the cut knew of our plight and relevant phone numbers.    
From the last few years experience we are confident she will be found and we will be reunited, but just for good measure we moored the boat overnight closest to where she vanished and cruised back along the canal this morning together with more calling ( which she has always ignored if it suited her ), before queuing for the lift and a cruise down the Weaver Navigation (river), again in brilliant sunshine . Tonight we are moored on the edge of a cow-pat filled field. The weaver is extremely wide with great scenery, but lacks the intimacy of canals , so we will probably go back up the lift tomorrow.

Sunday 3 August 2014

Mixed bag

More of the same weather wise , sun and showers, plus the need to top up with water and empty the cassettes, which all hampered our progress to the Anderton lift for which we are now in pole position for the morning. We had the opportunity of looking round two nature  parks in the meantime, both excellent. My biggest struggle of the day was keeping my blood sugar levels about right, for some unfathomable reason, but all worked out ok in the end.
I'm excited about the lift adventure and will attempt to describe it to the best of my ability plus a photo or two in due course.

Saturday 2 August 2014

Middlewich rain, shopping and cats

Still raining so we opted to go shopping as both Morrisons and Lidl are both nearby. Thanks to directions from the waitress last night we avoided getting too wet but decided on a taxi back. The original one booked suddenly became "too busy" for an hour or so but the back-up arrived within minutes and help load the mountain of shopping bags and the inevitable whiskey bottle into the cab and delivered us as close to the boat as possible. In fact the boat had been pulled free of the pins but re secured by some unknown kindly soul. Lynne had forgotten tea bags, amazingly, and volunteered to return to the shops after assisting me ensure the pins/ropes were as secure as we could make them. I remained aboard keeping an eye on things as a hire boat zoomed by, I guess because of the heavy rain and the grand-Prix style broad corner on the Trent and Mersey, but the pins remained secure.
Having given a glowing cat reference very recently they both decided to blot their copy-books yesterday by making a joint escape bid in very heavy rain, necessitating a search and rescue operation, which pleased us no-end. All four of us resembled drowned rats when we were eventually back on board.  I can't blame them as they had been confined to quarters all day and have got used to daily exciting forays into unsuspecting mouse territories, but unfortunately not permitted in torrential rain.
Talking of torrential rain, it gave way to brilliant, hot sunshine soon after lunch so we set off for the Anderton lift, mooring within easy reach but out of sight, just in time for a thunder storm to settle in, with very heavy rain. A neighbour boat owner helped us to bash in our pins and moor, lessening the risk of us disappearing downstream during the night. He recommended longer pins and where to get them within the vicinity, which we intend to do.
I've said before how much I like the north end of the Trent and Mersey. Today re confirmed this. The countryside here is stunning whilst the canal continually changes in width, mostly very wide, making cruising easy and enjoyable. Apart from the rain and scarcity of mooring ( other than with pins) I can thoroughly recommend it.

Friday 1 August 2014

T&M Big lock burger

A rainy day which we used to fill up with diesel,water, calor gas.........and us.  We moored in pouring rain just after the big lock and pub of the same name . The big lock is the first double one faced by Tardis Two and  we learned to only open one gate at a time, thus saving time and energy. Pleased with our fresh skills we popped into the Big Lock pub for dinner. The dinners are mega-sized and absolutely delicious. I had the big lock burger, which beat me by a mile, so no sweet and a bloated struggle to get back to the boat followed. Considering we had a quiet day we were both extremely knackered and collapsed into bed relatively early. I am well aware my fitness and strength still fall short of ideal, but I'm getting there, and fast.
The Trent and Mersey at this point assumes the might of the Amazon, wide and daunting but with less exotic wildlife.  This part of the canal will be the furthest north we have ventured on it, so should prove interesting.