Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Audlem festival 2014...

Back home now after an excellent few days trip to this years Audlem's historic transport festival but this years was more special than previously,  it was the first time we'd gone with Dee O Ghee.

Setting off last Wednesday evening after work we untied after seven and had moored up an hour later near Beeston for the night.

Thursday morning setting off in brilliant sunshine was very nice but we know what lay ahead of us, the dreaded five broad locks that take so long to do on your own, is time we were fortunate and a work boat heading for Tilstone emergency lock repairs on Friday was heading our way, at least for one of the locks. Three and a half hours later we had completed all the locks, Barbridge junction next and onto Hurleston junction that was deserted when we past by.  We continued ahead and past a long line of boats, we had hoped to moor in the heart of Nantwich tonight but instead we had to settle for a mooring just past the aqueduct.

Again Friday was very hot as we set off. The damn horse flies were bugging us something terrible and I'm still blaming one of theses flies for making me hit some bushes, Corinne was down getting a drink when we hit and she came rushing out thinking id either fallen off the boat or had a heart attack. After a quick check over Dee O Ghee and a thumbs up from the bow, no serious damage done just another war wound on the paintwork. A bit further along as we approached Hack Green lock Nr2. You know the one with that Secret bunker location that nobody knows about.

 Guess who was coming out of the lock in front of us, it looked very much like someone we know, the sailing boats on the bow gave it away. As they pulled over to the towpath and we entered the lock Steve and Chris from Nb Amyjo walked back up the lock to meet us, it was great to see them at long last after following the blog for so long and knowing we were going to be neighbours in the same marina when they finally brought Amyjo home, it was a shame we met where we did and couldn't stop for a longer chat.

We soon reached Audlem and checked for a space as we passed along all the boats, turning around at the winding hole just before bridge 79, and finding a mooring closer than we had expected to the festival, the day was still very hot and we know Charlie would struggle in the heat if we went walking too far, in the end we took a nice slow stroll up to Audlem Mill and picked up a souvenir of our trip, a big red pot teddybear.

On the way back to the boat we sat outside The Shroppie Fly for a drink and a cool down under an umbrella bench.

Later that evening once the suns heat had dropped we headed back for another look around the boats before the crowds arrive tomorrow.

Cheese Boat

Saturday and the official first day of the festival it was a scorcher, we went out earlier to miss the heat and called in at the Mill again and bought a foxy door stop we'd seen yesterday,

Foxy door stop
Charlie flaked out with the heat

had another quick look around the boats and headed back to take shelter from the weather, as the day came to a end we repainted the towpath side of the blacking to hide some of the knocks we had acquired since last November.

Sunday. Today was Corinne's and Charlies birthdays,

Birthday girl
we all lounged about till around ten thirty and then headed for the procession of vintage and some not so vintage vehicles that pass through the village at 11:15. The hot weather had eased slightly. We watched all three hundred vehicles pass by then headed up to the green where they had parked up for people to look at them more closely.

We slipped away slightly early to get lunch before the rush started, Thinking we'd give the Shroppie fly another chance after last years disgracefully attempt at food, only to find they are no longer a dog frendly pub, their loss not ours. We took a walk up to the Bridge Inn just a 100 yards up the towpath and found dogs are more than welcome, the drinks are better too.

Wanting to get back the the boat before the Dakota fly past we headed back after lunch. Its been a great day and the fly past topped it off.

Monday was our day to be heading off home, we set off around 9:30. the narrow locks we came to were a dream compaired the doubles we had ahead of us.
Aqueduct at Nantwich
Coming into Nantwich we needed the get water and empty the unwanted waste and rubbish, two boats were aready on the services but it didn't take them long to move off, all full and clean again we were off, today was yet another very warm day, we were making good progress too. As we approached Barbridge Inn a space just big enough for us to squeeze into was avalible at the front of the pub, inches to spare and we were in. Everyone was sat in the garden to the side but the tables at the canal front looked better and in the shade, We had seafood salad and banoffee mess, both lovely and on our to visit again list.

It was then we made the decision to go on and get the five broad locks out of the way today, leaving lock free cruising tomorrow. It was a good choice too because as we waited at Bunbury Staircase a boat came up behind, and joined us for all five locks, we both moored for the night at The Shady Oak Beeston.

Tuesday and a slow get away, no need to rush as all the work was done yesterday, it was a nice trip back to the marina, the weather had gone a lot colder but it was fine.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Follow-up on Moonraker TV Aerial...

We finally got a chance to try out our new TV receiver away from the marina. Following Tom & Jans comment, we were interested to see how it performed.
I suspect the Moonraker is directional. We usually have to point ours inline with the transmitter. We also have it mounted at the top of a pole to get over those towpath hedges.
 As it happened the aerial picked up a signal without any adjustment required, maybe just luck. We did notice that in the marina we picked up English TV and when out on the cut for the night Dee O Ghee, pointing in the opposite direction could only get Welsh TV, suggesting it is directional. The picture quality was excellent and its still easier and quicker to set up than Free-sat. Still liking it.

Moonraker fixed to rear of cratch

Friday, 13 June 2014

Moonraker digital aerial...

Its always been a bit of a hit and miss whether we got a decent signal from our satellite receiver so we've invested in a digital aerial from Maplin. A Moonraker pro lite, £44.99. Last weekend we installed it in the cratch on a trial run, it received a load of channels straight away. Its only been used in the marina but I've no reason to doubt it performing any different wherever we go.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Manchester Diaries...

Diaries of our latest trip to and from Manchester.

Day 1 Tattenhall to Shady Oak Pub...

We set off for Dee O Ghee after work, the journey that usually takes fifty minutes this evening took us an extra hour due to delays on the M6 and M56. Finally arrived at the marina, quickly doing checks and switching everything on for the short one hour trip to get us a head start in the morning, we cast off around 7pm and moored up at Beeston just after the Shady Oak Pub for the night, timing couldn't have been any better as it just started to rain very heavily as we got inside.

Morning just we're ready to leave.

Day 2 Shady Oak to Church Minshull... 

Out with Charlie this morning at 8.30am, before heading back for breakfast and a sit down before setting off.
Made good progress today even though it was only us going through the double locks in our direction. Anglo Welsh taking up the whole canal again at Bunbury wharf, right up to the lock gates also lots of diesel in the water. Two CRT lock keepers helping boaters through the staircase and one paddle not working making through passage very slow. Rain started just before Barbridge junction and didn't stop, called it a day just passed Church Minshull and moored for the night at 2 pm.
Fed the swans after we'd packed away, when the bread ran out they decided to terrorise Charlie.
Friends on narrowboat Niamh moored up unexpectedly in front of us this afternoon, they invited us on board for drinks and a catch up on what's been happening. Lovely to see them again.
The Church Minshull 48 hour moorings are on our list of favourite stopping places.

Approach to Beeston Stone locks
Charlie coming to check we're doing it to his liking
You forgot me!

Anglo Welsh

Bunbury Staircase locks

Raining again

Charlie getting harassed by the locals

Day 3. Church Minshull to Anderton... 

 Left our mooring at Church Minshull around 9am, heading for Middlewich. Wardle lock was very slow with paddles not working at their best and fairly busy too. Moored near Anderson boat hire for lunch and to pick up some supplies from Tesco direct, came away without very much, limited stocks here. Lets hope Sainsburys at Lymn have more choice. Started raining during lunch but stopped before we set off again.

Passed nb Yarwood moored up at the Billinge flash beeped our horn and got a wave from Lesley.
Got stuck behind a hire boat at Broken Cross all the way nearly into Anderton, they seem to find it impossible to keep on a straight course, finally got passed them when they ran aground. Made it to Anderton after eight and half hours cruising, filled up with water, emptied the elsan and got rid of the rubbish. Planned to moor just before the boat lift but everything was full so just managed to squeeze on the last mooring beyond lift.

Wardle lock keepers cottage

Day 4. Anderton to Dunham. Sunshine at last... 

 The sunshine brought everyone out nice and early today, us being no exception. Setting off around eight thirty, finally T shirt weather had arrived. A bit of excitement not far into our cruise when a boat in front of us ran aground and blocked the canal, took two of the boats in front and some walkers to pull them free. We did three tunnels today, just missing the permitted passage times for Preston Brook and a thirty minute wait, so we had some lunch and sat out in the sunshine. The second to last boat coming the other way through the tunnel was blogger Nb Seyella, a quick hello as they passed by in a convoy of boats.
We stopped a Midland Chandlers for some coal and some new Canal Companion Guides as the ones we have are getting quite worn and falling apart.
Met up with Emily and Adam, daughter and her partner at Stockton Heath, they joined us on board into Lymm, we stayed a few hours had dinner picked up some shopping from Sainsburys. Had decided because of the lovely weather we would move a bit further, finally stopping at Dunham.
Sunshine first thing at Anderton
The best weather so far

Barnton Tunnel

Inside Barnton Tunnel

Saltersford Tunnel

Inside Saltersford Tunnel

Blockage on canal

New Marina
Coming up to Daresbury Labs
Enjoying the weather
Bollin House. Mill Adjacent to Dunham Massey
Waiting for our turn through Preston Book Tunnel

Preston Brook

Day 5 Dunham to Manchester... 

 Left Dunham at 9.20am for a steady trip into Manchester's Castlefields. Weather was overcast and threatened to rain but held off. Passed (Twitter follower) Skylark as they headed the opposite direction near Sale. Our approach through Stretford into Manchester was like graffiti city most of it in some unreadable Eastern European language or something similar, looked awful, don't remember it looking this bad when we did the same trip in 2009. Castlefield was as we expected, busy. Managed to find a spot right at the end of the arm and had moored up by 13.15.
Took a walk around the wharf in the afternoon and got some photos, we don't seem to have taken as many photos on this trip so far.
Out again in the evening for a stroll, needed to find a Sainsbury's and use some of the Nectar points we'd been collecting on a coffee machine for the boat, lots of local outlets but they don't stock coffee makers.
Back on board and the TV satellite wasn't picking up much, the only signal was for Britain's Got Talent so opted to watch three episodes of Auf Wiedersehen Pet on dvd.
The evening was nice out so I took some day and night photos of Dee O Ghee.
Container park at Trafford


It was worse under the metro link

Lots of nice bridges


Early Afternoon

Early Evening
Day 6. Manchester to Lymm... 

Woke to rain this morning, finally got around to getting up at 8.30, Charlie refused to go out in the rain for his toilet. Had breakfast by 9.00, the rain had stopped so we set off for an explore around Manchester. Started raining again so called in to Java bar on Oxford Road for a coffee and sit down under their canopy outside with Charlie watching people pass by in the rain. When the rain stopped we finished our coffee's and headed off to look for Chinatown, we wanted a photo of the Chinese arch, just my luck it was completely covered with sheeting for renovation work. Not had a meal in Chinatown for years so next time we visit we shall definately be coming here for a meal.
Headed back to the boat via Portland Street and Gmex to the basin, arrived back just before twelve, sat down for a while before setting off on the return journey. Stopped just past Potato wharf and emptied the elsan.
Started to rain as we were casting off but soon stopped, we had a rain free trip for the rest of the day. Stopped for diesel at Stretford Marina £0.87 per litre. Made Dunham Massey early so decided a Chinese takeaway was more important than an early stop, continued on into Lymm, very busy again and had to moor south of the village.
Weather waited until we had packed away before rain set in again, lit the stove as it was beginning to feel a bit chilly, phoned the takeaway order through and left ten minutes later to pick it up. Meal was good but we went way over the top with quantity as usual.

Rochdale Canal


Some of the many bridge supports
Arch to Chinatown


Beetham Tower

Day 7. Lymm to Anderton... 

 Out with Charlie at 8.30 for his walk. Ground was wet so must have rained last night, no rain this morning so far.
Watched the market stall holders setting up for the day, didn't go back to have a look around.
Just as we we're ready to cast of two other boats came around the corner and one in front of the next boat to us set off in a hurry to be in front causing everyone in line to stop, the boat that rushed to get off before everyone else was so slow and it was Stockton Heath when they finally pulled over to let everyone by.
Another good run today. Just made the entry times for Preston Brook, three tunnels done today, Barnton was very fumey but a lot less boats out and about.
Didn't rain again but did feel cold.
Fewer boats moored at Anderton so managed to get in just after the lift. Walked down to the river Weaver with Charlie to see the lift from that angle
The Old Broken Cross

Someone working on the new marina today

Day 8, Anderton to Church Minshull... 

 Up early again today and we were ready to set off at 9.30am. Called in at Anderton services to fill up with water, empty the elsan and rubbish. Saw our first Kingfisher of the year at Croxton on the way to Middlewich, shopping once again at Tesco, we cut a piece of rubber matting for the sliding hatch to place drinks on when travelling. The locks at Middlewich were busy and it took a long time to get through, we wanted to make Church Minshull so kept going till 5.40pm. Another dry day. Stove on again tonight, toasty!
Mooring at Anderton

Anderton boat lift

A hungry swan decided to try and eat the door

Day 9. Church Minshull to Tattenhall... 

 Went to bed early last night a had a good sleep for a change. Up this morning woken by passing boats. Did the usual, breakfast, walk Charlie. Cast off at 9.00. Today looks like it may turn out nice. Stopped off at Venetian Marina for diesel £0.89 a litre, slightly dearer. Spotted a lovely bright yellow wagtail at venetian locks sat on the lock mechanism right behind me, did a runner when the camera came out. Reached Barbridge Junction by 11.00. Paired up with another boat to do the double locks towards Chester, very little delay today hardly any hire boaters about. Reached our marina at 15.00. Nearly made the marina turn without touching the sides. Moored at the pontoon perfectly but as usual no one was about to see that! Tattenhall has the cheapest place for diesel at £0.85.

Church Minshull

Iron Lock

Venetian Marina

Time for a rest

This Trip.
Miles: 117. Broad locks: 12. Narrow locks: 18. Tunnels: 6. Tunnel Yrds: 4470