Sunday, 25 June

With only a week to go to the wedding, Storm and I took Sunday 11 June off and headed to Llandudno for a spot of sightseeing.  We’d never been before and we were pleasantly surprised and have promised ourselves  a long weekend there before too long.  It helped that it was a nice sunny day and we felt we were abroad – well we were in Wales!

Since the last blog back in May, we’ve been working hard to finish all the works to the house that Laura envisaged would be completed in time for her wedding and I’m happy to say this was achieved at lunch-time last Friday when the plumber returned to make the final connection to the oven.

Laura and Marc’s wedding last Saturday was a wonderful, fairytale day, enjoyed by everyone and I can’t wait to see all  the photographs.

                       

The sun shone and the pretty village of Eccleston, was seen at its best against the clear blue sky.

At the reception in the village hall, James and his band had everyone up dancing despite the blistering heat.

Storm took Marc and Laura to Manchester airport on Sunday afternoon ready for them to catch a flight to Majorca early on Monday morning.    Summer and Joseph were looking forward to us looking after them for a week!  On Sunday night we began the countdown from eight sleeps.

Summer attends nursery three days a week and we’ve been woken gently at 7am each morning by a little voice telling us that Joseph’s awake.  This has been my cue to get up and to get her ready and into the car and into Chester before 8am while Storm takes care of giving Joseph his breakfast.

Monday was spent trying to get put the house back together after  all the wedding preparations and to put everything away that had come back to the house afterwards.  We managed a quick trip to the supermarket in the afternoon before picking Summer up .

In the soaring temperatures at the beginning of the week, we struggled to keep cool and on Monday afternoon I finally found the paddling pool. Summer agreed that if Mummy and Daddy can have their own pool, and if you can’t beat them, then join them.

On Tuesday morning, we moved the boat back to its permanent mooring whilst Joseph had his morning nap.  The works to our mooring have now been completed.  We admit it’s a while since we’ve moved her anywhere but this is because  the CRT’s contractors had overrun. They were aware of why  we’d overstayed our stay on a mooring in Christleton and had not moved us on.   The crows, pigeons, ducks and sycamore trees had done their worst though and the boat is now in need of a really good wash.

On Wednesday afternoon I took Summer to look round the grounds of the village nursery school but in the afternoon heat it was all a bit overwhelming and chilled medication was called for on our way home.

By Thursday morning the heatwave had gone.  With no nursery today, we were in no hurry to go anywhere, and like most people, we started the day with a game of musical statues while still in our pyjamas.  Joseph was keen to operate the CD player’s pause button but kept on dancing and so he didn’t win first prize.

While Joseph had his morning nap, Summer and I drove into Wrexham for a bit of retail therapy.  She needed some new wellies and while we shopping we decided to buy Joseph a pair too.  We also bought some chocolate so Summer could make chocolate crispy buns for lunch.  On the journey home she talked through all the equipment that she would need me to get out for her – also I mustn’t forget she’d need an apron!

After lunch, we all headed off to the ice-cream farm at Tattenhall and spent a few hours climbing over everything in the adventure park, visiting the animals and enjoying some real chilled medication before finally heading into the soft play area so Joseph could run free.

Friday we did jobs at home, one of which involved Summer getting very wet washing cars.

Yesterday afternoon we had to pop to the boat to measure our draught as we couldn’t recall the precise measurement.  Along with NB Oleanna we’re planning to do the Ribble Link in August. The maximum draught is 2ft 3”, according to the skippers guide.  We’ve booked to go when the tide is at its highest so we think we’ll both be ok.

On our way back home, we drove through the village of Holt and stopped to look at the scarecrows.  Summer’s favourite was the lion.

We finished the afternoon off with more chilled medication, having an ice-cream picnic in the boot of the car.

Today, we’ve stayed at home and been busy doing welcome home cards, painting and mask making.

Our intention has been to wear them out to guarantee we get an undisturbed night’s sleep.  It’s worked and they’ve both been brilliant.  One  more sleep to go!

 

 

 

Wednesday 10 May

The weeks are hurtling by at an alarming rate and we’re finding it difficult to find time to keep up with this blog and our waterway travels.

In the last three weeks we’ve managed two short canal journeys,  a two-way trans-Pennine car journey, as well as doing building work both at Laura’s and at home.   With less than six weeks to Laura and Marc’s wedding, the pressure is on to make sure everything is ready in time, while also progressing our own house renovation and making sure we don’t exceed mooring restrictions.

On Saturday 22 April we moved the boat back to the Shady Oak from Barbridge Junction.   Storm steered the boat and I drove ahead by car to prepare the locks.  It was another beautiful sunny day.   We met up at  Calveley as this is the only spot along this stretch of canal where we can get the car beside the boat and I wanted to put some heavy boxes back on board.

Under the canopy of the warehouse we spotted our first swallow of the year.

After unloading the car I headed off to Bunbury to start preparing the staircase.  There was a volunteer lock keeper on hand today to help me.   Today Storm shared these two locks, with Paul from our mooring.

At Tilstone Lock a queue was forming and here Storm doubled up with a couple who were out for the first time on a shared ownership boat.  They were quite nervous and took things very slowly.   We also shared Beeston Stone Lock with them but at Iron Lock they preferred to enter alone as the board warns that boats should pass through singly so they don’t catch on the irregular sides.    (We have shared this lock in the past with willing parties whilst keeping a close eye on both boats and have not encountered any problem).

Storm stopped at Chas Harden’s boatyard to top up with diesel which gave me time to drive to the Shady Oak and walk back to Wharton’s Lock and have this ready for Storm when he appeared.  I needn’t have rushed though because there was a boat coming up in the lock and their crew were kindly operating the paddles by the time they were ready to leave, Storm had arrived and was waiting patiently for his turn to enter.

The moorings at The Shady Oak were very quiet when we arrived but by late afternoon there wasn’t a space to be had and boats were moored along the full length from the lock to the other side of the bridge beyond the pub.

As we walked down the line of boats to the pub we recognised quite a few boats from our home mooring, who’d also moved off to allow the CRT to carry out works to the mooring.   The news was disappointing as they told us that the CRT hadn’t arrived on site as expected at the end of March and had only just delivered materials to the site the previous day.

On Sunday we left the boat and drove to Laura’s for our usual three days of child-minding/house renovating.   On Wednesday evening we drove over to Yorkshire for the bank holiday weekend and spent five nights at home before heading back across the Pennines ready for another three days of childminding.   Joseph is now walking which makes life a bit easier as he only gets dusty feet, rather than dusty hands and knees!  He just can’t keep his trousers up though.

Last Wednesday evening, 3rd May, we returned to the boat and as we’d not had time to shop we went to the Shady Oak looking for something to eat.  The landlord said that unfortunately he’d decided not to serve meals that night as he’d had such a hectic Bank holiday weekend.  Anyway, after a few minutes, he came over to us and said he could cook us Cod & Chips.  We must have looked like we needed looking after!  We were very impressed that he was willing to put himself out and we must say they were the best fish and chips we’ve had in a very long time.  It is nice to be able to recommend this pub as somewhere good to go now.

On Thursday morning, Storm went off in the car with a supermarket shopping list and Max and I moved the boat towards Chester.  We passed our home mooring where there was evidence of piling works which appeared to have started immediately north of our mooring and although there were no men on site it looked as though they were working away from our mooring.   One of our neighbours was using our mooring so I continued on to the Cheshire Cat and moored up just outside the 48 hour mooring limit.

We’ve since had clarification that our mooring is actually unaffected by the works, despite the fact that the bank beside the boat has eroded and is now forming quite a sizeable sand bank over which we have to manoeuvre  every time we come and go.

After three quiet nights on board it was back to Laura’s.   With the deadline for the completion of the building work looming, the pressure is on to make sure Laura has a dust free house for her and her bridesmaids to get ready in.  So far everything is going to plan.

Friday 21 April

On Wednesday night, after childminding duties ended, we headed back to the boat which James & Ali had returned to its temporary mooring at the top of the Hurleston flight.  They’d had a lovely week away and were reluctantly returning home to face preparation for the Summer school term.

We spent a fairly quiet day yesterday, doing a spot of baking; a quiche, some scones and some bread cakes were requested – not bad as our invited guests said they were on a low carb diet.  Storm said he thought they’d be easily dissuaded and he was right!

Today we picked up two Shropshire lasses, who we’d not seen for six months.   I used to work with Nicki and Sarah at Hull Truck Theatre and we’ve been trying to catch up with them for a while and as they’d posted a message on Facebook this week saying they were in Shropshire, we got in touch to see if we could meet up and if they fancied a pootle along the Shropshire Union Canal.

We took them on a cruise down the four locks and out along the Shropshire Union Canal to Nantwich before winding, and mooring for lunch.   We had a healthy lunch, with only a few carbs!

Storm paused at the bottom of the locks so we could pick up cars and they headed back to Wem and I drove on to Barbridge to rendezvous with Storm.  I think we might visit the pub this evening.

After a few days of warmth, today was overcast with a chilly breeze but we had a lovely day out.

Sunday, 16 April

A week ago we celebrated Joseph’s 5th April birthday with a family party.    The weather in the morning was wonderfully hot so we set out tables and chairs on the newly mown lawn ready for the afternoon.  Unfortunately not long after all the family arrived, the wind got up and the temperature dropped and we soon sought shelter back indoors in the newly decorated playroom.

Summer enjoyed helping Joseph open his presents and cousin Jacob helped blow the candle out on the lion cake – a good time was had by all.

While we did our usual three days of childminding this week James and Ali were on board heading for Trevor.   They rang a couple of times on Tuesday morning to ask about an alarm.  Initially we thought it was the reoccurrence of a sensor fault but later discovered that, when we’d carried out our maintenance checks prior to them taking the boat, we’d failed to secure the lid on the water filler.  Once James had refilled the tank with water, they had no further problems.  They did bounce over something submerged as they came out of Chirk tunnel which had un-nerved them slightly but otherwise they’ve had a lovely, relaxing trip.

Once Laura and Marc returned from work, our evenings were spent helping them demolish a wall in what is to become the kitchen/dayroom.   By Wednesday evening, we were ready to escape and we set off to Yorkshire for the Easter holiday and a rest.

When we arrived at the house we couldn’t get the lights to work but thankfully I’d bought a torch and a quick look at the fuse board showed we just needed to flick the switch.  We had a quick look round to see what progress had been made since our last visit before we headed over to the pub for a drink before calling it a night

The plumber has started installing the central heating as promised but still has quite a bit to do.   Stuart, our electrician, has been back in and done a bit more but otherwise things were pretty much as we’d left them.

Despite intending to rest, I’ve done quite a lot of gardening. I’ve cleared a huge mass of tangled brambles and mowed the lawn. Storm has steamed the last of the wallpaper off the staircase which I’d been reluctant to do off the top of the ladder, reversed the swing of the sitting room door, and attended to various bits of admin.

We’ve spent more time seeing friends and family and have spent quite a bit of time socialising during the day this time.

On Friday afternoon we set off to Keadby to meet up with Pip and Mick before they left Yorkshire to head down the Trent to Nottingham.  We wanted to see their lovely new boat NB Oleanna which they moved onto last week in Sheffield.  Pip and Mick have spent seven years dreaming and planning for this moment and they were proud to show her off to us.

They will be looking for new owners for NB Lillyanne and there will be no more WASP journeys but we are planning to visit the Lancaster Canal with them in the Summer.

 

Friday, 7 April

Since our last blogpost we’ve travelled back to Yorkshire for another four nights, and have also spent six days babysitting .

We spent the days in Yorkshire knocking down walls, burning paint off the front door and checking on the progress of the various contractors we have working in the house.  We’re in demand in the evenings too when we try to see as many friends as possible before we collapse exhausted into bed.

On Sunday we drove back via Ikea.  I was wanting to buy curtaining and matching bedding for our new house.  The Leeds store didn’t have what we wanted. We’d strolled through the whole store pretty much before we discovered that Leeds is a ‘small store’ and only has a limited fabric supply.  I persuaded Storm to stay on the M62 another junction so we could call in at the Warrington store. Storm opted to take Max for a walk instead of battling his way round another store.  I was in and out like the SAS having achieved my objective of buying 12m of lining and 12m of main fabric.  I must learn to check the website before I go shopping next time!!

While I’m babysitting, Storm is kept busy working on Laura’s house.  He’s now on to his second room.   Laura had been finishing off the playroom while we’d been in Yorkshire and on Tuesday we were there to let in the carpet fitter and to take delivery of some new furniture.  One room down,  three to go before the wedding in June!

It was Joseph’s first birthday on Wednesday and we’re going to be celebrating this this weekend.

We both took a day off on Thursday this week, when we moved the boat from The Shady Oak to the top of Hurleston Locks ready for James and Ali to take to Trevor.  The Shady Oak has changed hands in recent times and we’re happy to say that the atmosphere is much improved, as is the beer.   They apparently do a roaring trade at weekends with their roast lunches.

Storm steered the boat and Max and I walked to Wharton’s Lock and made it ready.  Afterwards we walked back to the pub before heading back to pick up the car and we drove from lock to lock.  We caught up with Storm as he stopped for diesel at Chas Harden’s boatyard.   We knew our tank was nearly empty. We only have the one diesel tank which also fuels our central heating system.  The central heating failed to come on on Wednesday night which is the first sign we have that we’re getting low (that is unless we dip the tank).  The price of diesel has gone up by 10p per litre since we last filled up – ouch!

Driving from lock to lock was quite fun as we had to work out how to get to each lock by car.   A guy from CRT kept appearing at locks just after me, but didn’t seem to notice that he’d seen me three times already when he kept asking me if I was alright!

We met up at Calveley where Storm stopped to use the facilities and while moored up we had lunch and loaded the car with a few boxes from our cupboards to give James & Ali some space for their belongings.

We then went our separate ways again and met up again at the bottom of Hurleston Locks.  There was a volunteer lock keeper on and he’d seen me approaching from the top with windlass in hand and wondered where my boat was.  He didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Today, Storm & Max headed back off to Laura’s to finish installing some steelwork and I finished off the spring clean I’d started two weeks ago.   I took some time off this afternoon to walk round part of Hurleston Reservoir.   It was glorious in the sunshine.   The reservoir is high up above the junction with the Llangollen and Shropshire Union Canals and from the top you get terrific views of Cheshire.  Jodrell Bank Observatory is just visible in the distance.

The reservoir has a capacity of 85million gallons and gets its water from the Llangollen canal which in turn gets its water from the River Dee.  The water is used for both drinking water and to supply water to the Shropshire Union Canal.

Saturday 25 March

We crossed back across the Pennines, westwards, last Sunday afternoon ready for another three days of childminding.

Laura moved into her new house last month and we now have slightly further to travel as her house is just a mile beyond the Cheshire/Wales border.  The house is a beautiful detached Edwardian house, which like all houses of that age requires some work.  While I look after Joseph, Storm now spends time doing DIY.

Yesterday we needed to move the boat as we’d stayed our 14 days at The Cheshire Cat.   Storm wanted to finish a job he’d started at the house, so Max and I moved the boat south to Bates Mill Bridge; a distance of 7 miles and no locks.

Max coming to warn of overhanging branches!

Max checking proximity to the bank!

It was a beautiful sunny Spring morning for a relaxing cruise.  We passed by our  permanent mooring and were informed by various neighbours that CRT are coming to start work on repairing the moorings next week, so we can’t return for a while.  That isn’t a hardship to us as James & Ali are taking the boat for a cruise over Easter and we’ll nudge  our way in the meantime towards their rendezvous.

Max and I arrived at our destination by mid-day and while Max basked in the sunshine and enjoyed the view of Beeston Castle on top of the hill, I began to spring clean the boat.

By the time Storm got back I’d sorted through and cleaned all the bedroom cupboards, had a good clear out of things that are no longer beautiful or useful, and made spaghetti bolognese for supper, as well as a pan of onion soup.

The evening sunset was quite spectacular suggesting another fine day tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 March

I’m now childminding three days a week and we’ve been spending fewer nights on board as it’s easier to stay with Laura than get up at silly o’clock to look after Joseph from 6.45am each  morning.

We’ve been very busy recently though and seem to have spent no time at all on board. However, on Thursday 8 March we returned to the boat, filled up with water, took some bags of coal on board and travelled south from our mooring to Tattenhall Marina, winded before heading back north to the Cheshire Cat.  As we haven’t moved the boat since New Year we thought we might need to refer to our Nicholson’s Canal guide to remind ourselves of the route!!

We had friends stay on board with us on Friday night and on Saturday morning we got up early, winded again and headed back to Tattenhall so that our friends could regain confidence in their steering skills as they’re looking to have a narrowboat holiday later this year.   Having successfully winded again we headed back to the Cheshire Cat, all before lunch, before heading out into Chester to sample a few pubs.

The Albion, just inside the City Walls near the River Dee, is one of our favourites; the landlord doesn’t welcome many people as he displays a board suggesting that hen parties, stag parties, race goers etc are not welcome, and suggests that pensioners need to turn up with their parents.   He serves food at lunch time and in the evening, serving simple fare with few adjectives e.g. kedgeree, on plates, not slates.   He closes at 3pm each day and re-opens at six.  The interior of the pub has remained unchanged for years and has some fine examples of William Morris wallpaper on the walls.    We got served so that was lucky.

The CRT are programmed to come and do some repairs to our mooring this month so we’re hoping that they arrive soon so we can shuffle from mooring to mooring for two weeks at a time before the 1st of April when the winter mooring rules end.

This weekend we’ve been to Yorkshire to work on the house which is really starting to take shape now.  The roof has been re-felted and re-pantiled, the windows have all been replaced with double glazed Everest ones and the house is now fully weatherproof.  The electrician has started the re-wire and we’re hoping that we’ve finally found a plumber.   We’ve knocked down a few internal walls to create more space.