Friday, April 30, 2010

Meeting friends

We wanted to catch up with No Problem before going our separate ways in the summer months.  We got going early and two days later we found them at Wheaton Aston with flags up on St. George’s day.  Sue n Vic invited us on board for one of those famed Sunday roasts and Ann provided the apple crumble.
The Shropshire Union is a bit of a boating motorway heading north south so it was not long before we got to its southern end at Autherly junction near Wolverhampton.  An early morning walk with Ann and Molly found Addersley junction and the Wolverhampton flight of locks heading up to Birmingham.
A government supported scheme is employing young people to cleanup and paint all the locks which are now looking smart and inviting.  We plan to explore the Birmingham Canal Navigations next year.
We moved off heading for Great Haywood and waved goodbye to Sue n Vic as they set off for Stourport.  We managed to get to Penkridge, got our post and went to the market.  Got some plants for our roof boxes and met Rose n Ray from Maddy Rose.  Back on our boat and approaching the lock we were surprised to see Les on Valerie coming up.  He was with family and had also been to the market!
We stopped at Teddesley boat yard where we found Maddy Rose having an engine replaced.  The boat yard owner was being very helpful in trying to sort out major problems with the old engine but finally decided it was terminal.  Both Ray and Rose had been quite stressed about the situation.  It had been a threat to their way of life on board after so many good years.  The new engine was installed and running while we offered tea and sympathy.  Next day we continued on our journey leaving our friends feeling better.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Going up to Market

Once back on the boat and Mr Tesco had delivered the goodies we were off.  The Audlem flight of locks are a pain, testing our resolve at boating which can be a challenge at times.  What with something rattling the prop, muddy edges and rocks at lock landings we found them all.  Then there are those by weirs chucking water across the canal completely destroying the careful aim getting into the lock.  So it was crash bang wallop as the boat went in.  Then there were many boaters coming down two at a time taking locks from those going up.  Really should be one up and one down at each lock and helping each other which is far more enjoyable.  Boaters coming up behind us were helping but getting the same treatment.
We stopped for lunch before tackling the Adderley flight.  On the way up we met Mike Edwards on a boat called Sarah Kate known to our friends Terry n Myra.  Other friends known to us are John n Sue who live in Market Drayton and we went to see them when we got there.

Next day we got water opposite the Betton Mill.  That building and wharf is now empty and unused.  Several boating companies have come and gone but it seems British Waterways wants too much for the lease and annual rent.  So much for British Waterways making money from property.

It was a calm sunny day as we proceeded up the Tyrley locks on our own, most empty and in our favour.  Such a contrast from the previous day.

Ann’s special birthday

We left the boat at Venetian Marina on the Shropshire Union canal near Crewe.  A taxi took us to the station and two trains got us down to Southampton.  We stayed a few days with Chris, Tracy and the boys.  Then it was off to the party where friends and family representing a lifetime all met us at a hotel in the New Forest at Lyndhurst.  Our thanks go to Chris who organised the music and Tracy who baked a tasty cake and did the decorations.  It was great to have our guests in one place so we could chat to them all.  We even managed a few dances with some of them.  Even Sue n Vic were there from No Problem.  So I got to dance with Sue as well!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunny warm days

We spent a few days painting bits of boat, patching up the roof with undercoat and red top coat on the hand rail. Even after the second coat it looked patchy but at least it is brighter and glossy.
We moved on to Wrenbury for bread n milk at the store in the village. A boat was following close behind itching to pass but with a lock ahead we would be first! The bottom gates had been left open and paddles up by some lazy boater ahead of us. So it just took us a bit longer to get through, no help from the boater behind as they had stopped for lunch.
Arrived at the automatic lift bridge to discover it was being repaired. A loose key switch we were told. The boat behind caught us up. “When the bridge is fixed we will let you through” I said. Before the bridge was up they were alongside going by first! Then another boater was backing out of the boat yard as I was passing through the bridge. He was on the phone and nearly hit our back end. As it was he went forwards in a rush and his propeller chucked water all over our stern so I had to shout at him. I guess he was trying to take advantage of the bridge being up. Tough, Ann lowered it to let the build up of traffic go over. So yes, attitudes have changed over the years especially during the spring and summer months.
This is a spring mooring on the Llangollen

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Busy Easter

We had stopped below Grindley Brook locks during the Easter weekend as many high speed boaters rushed to join the queue at the locks. They do not seem to realise that the large wash they make not only rocks moored boats but also damages the bank and kills the poor little ducklings. “Not that we have seen any yet.” Not really surprising that there have been so many breaches of the bank on this popular canal. So it was three boats up and three down as we watched on the sunny Saturday under the control of two lock keepers.
When we went up on Tuesday we were on our own with the lock keeper thankful for something to do. Once at the top we filled with water, used the facilities and dumped rubbish. Then set off for Whitchurch. Once past the swing bridge it was a sharp turn left so was easier to turn further on and then back down the short canal towards town. There was plenty of space here for us visitors. Plans to extend the canal further into town seem to have been scrapped.
Then it was off to rediscover the shops in town some way up the hill towards the church. We found a good butcher and hardware shops willing to take our money for their goodies.
Back at the boat we saw that the moorings were now full. During the evening there was some disturbance and we discovered that our flag had been removed from the roof. We suspect a couple of boys off the boat behind.
Next day Ann went off through the park to Tesco, thankfully not so far up the hill. I went later after the many visiting boats had left and helped bring the food back. We then moved out and headed back to Grindley Brook stopping at the top for the night. In the morning the lock keepers were well busy as we joined the queue to go down.
This time more boats going down than up and managed to do 12 lock miles in sunshine to stop just short of Wrenbury.

Friday, April 02, 2010

We move again

Now that Ann has returned to me we move on to the Ellesmere Canal for that is what it was known when first built before going on to Llangollen. We got our water at Barbridge Junction after turning left on to the Shropshire Union. Then it was only a few miles to the junction with the Llangollen. The facilities at the top of Hurlseton locks were not available due to major works beefing up the canal edges.
The canal is unique because it transports water from the river Dee in Wales all 45 miles to the reservoir at Hurleston. The flow is quite noticeable especially at the narrow bridge holes where it slows the boat down. The byways at the locks allow the flow to pass when the locks are not in use. By the time we had gone up a few locks dark clouds were threatening so we moored near bridge 12 only 3 miles in, set up the satellite dish and got in before it rained.
The next day was a wash out so we stayed in. Watching TV, reading books and listening to the radio or music on CD’s. It got cold and the rain turned to snow for a while and the wind blew.
What a difference a day makes. We woke to some sunshine and moved on to Wrenbury where we walked across a field past the Church and found the shop and Post Office still going strong. Posted our letters, got bread n milk and returned to the boat. Ever since getting on this canal our internet connection with TMobile was failing us. Only now that we have got nearer to Whitchurch has the signal returned. For those first few days we felt quite out of touch.
The canal is still being enhanced by the Shropshire Union Canal Society for the benefit of all users. This includes the provision of seats and picnic tables as well as rings to tie to at visitor moorings making it one of the most user friendly canals within the inland waterways. Should British Waterways tap into the volunteers of Canal Trusts to help improve the system and provide local knowledge and support?