Tuesday 17 February

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show at the NEC, via bus and train today and met up with other family outdoor-living enthusiasts.  Thank you Mr Branson – your trains were all running to time, but there weren’t enough seats at rush hour!

This show provides us with an opportunity to compare motor home versus narrowboat design and it is nice to see that leaps in design are being made, but sadly the prices are making the same leap.  There are still too many though that assume you only go away on holiday for a weekend with no clothes, no bedding, and no food and that you always change your footwear into slippers before walking on beige carpets and take off damp clothing before touching the pale velour seating.   Robust is what we want!

At the show we managed to avoid being wooed by a miraculous Dead Sea Salt concoction that alleges to leave your hands smooth and moisturised at all times – all for the amazing show price of £35!  Personally I think Neutrogena’s deep moisture body lotion works just as well at a fraction of the price.  If it’s good enough for Norwegian fishermen then its good enough for me!  We nearly fell for ‘a dog hair removal from fabric’ comb that was impressive but with few fabrics on the boat we decided we could live without it.  We did however treat ourselves to a new tent which is sufficiently tall that you can stand up in it to get dressed – we’ve had enough of struggling to put  trousers on while lying down.

A good day was had by all.

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Saturday 14 February

The towpath in Wrenbury seems to be an internet and mobile black spot and only if you wander through the village can you get a strong signal.

It is very quiet here at this time of year with lots of room to moor. We’re used to struggling to find somewhere to tie up and apparently it will be a very different story next month when the clocks go back and the weather improves.

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We’re going to be heading back to Hurleston tomorrow to meet up with Mark again (the battery man) as he lives in the house beside Lock No 4. There are 14 day moorings there with easy access to the road and a regular bus service to both Chester and Crewe.

Yesterday we walked down to look at Wrenbury Railway Station where trains stop by request only.  When the overhead electronic time-table asked passengers to make their intentions clear to the driver, I had a mental image from the Railway Children of needing to wave red knickerbockers! From here you can catch trains to Crewe, Shewsbury or Camarthan at roughly two hourly intervals.

Today has been the warmest day of the year thus far at 8 deg C.   This prompted us to wash the outside of the boat as this has been much neglected over the winter.

[I hope you can now see the blog postings that were missing from last week] .

Thursday 12 February

We were awake early and by 9.30am we were on our way to Morrisons for some groceries.   With the cupboards restocked, we set off and winded a mile south of Nantwich and retraced our steps, pausing at the service station to deal with waste and fill up with water. So we don’t offend sensitive ears we refer to these stations as the “4 ‘w’s”.

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  Our first Daffodil sighting of 2015

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Lock 3 of 4 at Hurleston, Llangollen Canal

 

We went back as far as Hurleston Junction and there we turned into the Llangollen Canal.   It is four years since we were last here when we had a mooring in Wrenbury for six months in 2011.   It was nice to retrace our way along familiar territory and we reached Wrenbury before mooring for the night. (9 miles, 9 locks and 1 lift bridge).

A trip to the Cotton Arms may be on the agenda for this evening.

Beef stew for dinner tonight. (This has been sitting on the stove for two days now so should be really tender.)

 

Wednesday 11 February

We’re still in Nantwich so we can better explore this town. We’ve visited previously by road, rail, bus and boat, but have never explored the area and so this is the first time that we’ve covered so much of the town on foot.

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Nantwich is a market town that sits beside the River Weaver, once the centre of the salt industry, and still has many fine examples of tudor buildings, despite suffering a major fire in the 1500’s that destroyed much of the town centre. Nantwich is not to be confused with Northwich which also sits beside the River Weaver, and which is also famous for salt – Nantwich is much prettier and appears much wealthier.

 

Storm wanted a couple of parts for the Moulton and had heard that Nantwich had a couple of proper bike shops (run by guys who know what they’re talking about and who know what a ‘cotter pin’ is and who have racks of spare parts and not just an array of very expensive racing bikes!).

 

The first bike shop was closed for the day and so we went in search of ‘Steve’s Cycles’. This was hidden away, out of the town centre, and which we found thanks to Google Maps on our smart phone. It transpired that Steve also lives on a narrowboat and has plans to move out onto the canal and continually cruise in the near future as he dislikes marina living.   He was also a motorbike enthusiast and I thought I would never extract Storm from the shop as they were having such a good time chatting.   Anyway eventually Storm came away with more than he’d wanted – Steve just happened to have a pair of 14” bike tyres which are, apparently, a very rare commodity! (just the right size for a Moulton).

 

Spaghetti Bolognese for tea plus a couple of G&T’s whilst we played scrabble and read.

Tuesday 10 February

After a quiet night with both limited phone signal and internet access we had a fairly early start this morning.   The CRT boat from yesterday set off at the same time, but with a different crew on board.   We shared Wharton’s Lock with them and we were asked whether we’d noticed any downturn in service since CRT took over the responsibility for the canals from British Waterways. We had to say that personally we’d always received good service from both and that we’d seen more evidence of ground level works in the last three years.

 

We stopped off at Chas Harden’s boat yard to fill up with diesel and to stock up with coal, leaving the CRT boat to continue on without us. Chas is a charming guy and is always keen to chat and his dog, Darcy, was equally friendly. After telling us about his detached retina and signing the praises of the Countess of Chester Hospital, and bemoaning the lack of a regular bus service past his boatyard (Tuesdays and Thursdays only), and the resulting cost of taxi fares, we moved off and were cheered to say that the CRT guys had raised the bottom paddles after they’d finished with the lock ahead, leaving it ready for us to move straight in.   They’d moored above the lock to visit the village shop and so we overtook them and continued on the next lock and with no sign of them following us, we returned the favour and left the lock ready for them to follow. They caught us up at the Bunbury staircase locks and so after sharing these two locks we carried on to Nantwich while they turned off at Hurleston Junction onto the Llangollen Canal.

Nantwich is well provided for with ‘24 hour only’ moorings but we’ve never been fortunate enough to arrive in time to take advantage of these and we’ve noticed that the same boats seem to moor up for 24 hours day after day!

We pulled in at the sanitary station where we’d arranged to meet Mark (battery expert) and Max and I went off into the Nantwich to look for groceries, leaving Storm to chat with Mark.

Storm and Mark were still chatting when we got back. It was obvious that the science of batteries is not clear cut and that there isn’t one solution. Storm discovered that there are some easy changes he can make to our 12 volt system to assist future battery management.

Eventually Mark left, promising to provide us with a list of costed options with the next few days, after which we will make a decision. The new batteries are to be fitted within the next two weeks.   The good news is that we only need to replace our five leisure batteries as our two starter batteries still have some life left in them.

Feeling that another worthwhile meeting had been held, we treated ourselves to a visit to the Oddfellows Pub, a real ale pub, just south of the Nantwich Aqueduct; a hostelry we can recommend with a good selection of beers and worthy of its ‘casque mark’.

(9 miles and 6 locks)

Monday 9 February

(We’re still not sure why some of our entries from last week appear to have disappeared from the blog site.  However, it appears that things are working again.)

We left Tower Wharf with mixed emotions.   It was nice to be underway again after being in one place for a month although we will miss being so close to family. Our first task was to work out way through the staircase of three locks at Northgate. It isn’t quite to scary going up in these locks as it is going down as there are fewer hazards and mistakes to be made.

At Hoole Lane Lock we met up with a CRT working boat that was starting its journey back to Llangollen and we shared the next five locks with them. The helmsman was quite chatty but the young lad working the locks was more interested in his mobile phone and so conversation was limited.

Once clear of the locks we followed them to Bates Mill Bridge near Beeston Castle where we moored up for the day.

 

(10.5 miles and 8 locks)

Monday 9 February

We’ve got a slight technical problem at the moment in that only people who have elected to ‘follow us’ and receive an email from the blog site are able to read our entries.   We have posted more than one entry since 21 January and  these are not visible on the blog site itself even though it is telling me that all have been published.   Please bear with me while we try to resolve why these entries are not visible on the blog site itself.