Thursday 17 December

This evening we joined a huge throng to witness Chester return to its Roman roots and celebrate the pagan festival of Saturnalia with a parade through the streets.  The Romans thought the god Saturn would bring back light and summer after the winter solstice.  The original festival was a 7 day feast where the normal rules of society were reversed; slaves became masters and masters slaves.

The parade was a very colourful and rowdy event and people had gone to a lot of trouble making costumes and symbols of fertility that were carried and which towered above the crowd.   Sadly, we didn’t get any decent photos.

Afterwards we called in at The Bouverie on Garden Lane where we bumped into Pete and Yvette from Taylors Boat Yard who invited us to join them and follow them to the Chichester Arms where we got a lock in.   It’s many years since our last one!  A good night.

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Wednesday 16 December

We had a drive out to Wrexham today as it was such a warm and sunny day.   Over the years we’ve head lots about the town but never been before.

We left Chester via the B5130 which runs south parallel to the River Dee. We crossed the river at Farndon (this village marks the navigable limit of the River Dee) and stopped first in the Welsh village of Holt.  Holt has played a prominent role in history.  We followed the footpath market to The Castle, and from the ruins we got a good view of the course of the River Dee through the flooded fields.

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After that we moved on to Wrexham and picked up a copy of its heritage trail leaflet at St Giles Church.  This was quite informative and led us to explore the town more.   There were some confused daffodils in the churchyard!

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Before we left we bought a praline cheesecake to take to Laura’s as she’d invited us for super.

I was able to give Laura her Christmas wreath and she hung it up in her kitchen window where everyone would be able to enjoy it.

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Saturday 12 December

Thank goodness we moved the boat in yesterday’s sunshine rather than today’s wet and windy weather.  When the phone rang this morning we had no hesitation in saying we were free to babysit, while Laura and Marc headed out to the shops.

You can't dance unless you've got matching glasses!

You can’t dance unless you’ve got matching glasses!

After lunch, I took Max for a longer walk than the toilet dash he’d had first thing this morning,while there was a pause in the rain (excuse the pun!)

Then it was back to the boat to put the finishing touches to our home-made tree and find another use for our baubles.

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Friday 11 December

I’d set my alarm to make sure I was up early to go to Summer’s Christmas party at Rhythm Time this morning.  My Rudolf jumper got its first outing of the season.  After a good Christmas sing song we dropped my car off near Taylor’s boatyard and then Laura drove us all to Aldi where we did a booze run before dropping me back at the boat behind the Cheshire Cat.

While I was away Storm had dealt with emails and phone calls, taken Max for a walk and had  collected some holly and ivy ready for my Christmas wreath making.  As it was such a nice morning, and Storm still had things to do, I went off again and scoured the neighbourhood for yet more greenery.   I looked a bit furtive at times but nobody stopped me and I came back with a bag full!

Due to our extended stay at home we’d also overstayed the limit on our mooring.  We’ve noticed that others seem to be overstaying too but this afternoon we moved the boat the seven locks and two and a half miles into to Telford’s Basin where we’ll stay until after Christmas.  We were amazed to find the basin empty.

We arrived in time to get some coal from Taylors.  Unfortunately we’d missed the coal boat when it came through on Monday.

Once moored up, I started making up the wreath.  Whenever I’ve spotted windfall fir cones on our travels I’ve gathered them up.

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I still have enough greenery left to make another wreath for Laura  tomorrow.  [Now I promise this is just a co-incidence that Pip on NB Lilyanne has also been making a wreath today.  I can’t believe how many of these co-incidences there are – they just keep happening!]

Thursday 10 December

Max had an appointment at the vets this morning to remove his stitches.  He was very brave.   We discovered he was ticklish as it took two of us to hold him down while the vet worked with his quick unpick.   The scar has healed beautifully and Max can now resume all normal activities.

Waiting to see the vet after us was a small black terrier who had come in with a cone of shame hanging off his collar and its owner tried twice to put it back on but the terrier was clearly having none of it. Max took pity on it and was happy to donate his inflatable blue ruff as he didn’t need it any more.

After that we called round to see Summer who was so excited to see Dandad that her Mummy and Nanny didn’t get a look in for the rest of the day.

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Late afternoon we all went to the local garden centre where there are some fantastic Christmas displays.   Summer led the way round with Dandad in hot pursuit and when she suggested we go for  ‘cake’, we reluctantly followed her into the cafe.

Wednesday 9 December

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We arrived back on the boat today after extending our visit home by two extra days so that we could see Hull Truck’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty last night.  [Richard Sutherland’s review sums it up beautifully] http://www.heytoday.co.uk/culture/sleeping-beauty-hull-truck/

We thoroughly enjoyed the show and can recommend it to children young and old.  An army of volunteers have been busy knitting and crocheting items that adorned the beautifully built set.   Last night was Press Night and it was good to see the auditorium  full and buzzing. We had front row seats and at one point I was a little anxious that we might have to stand up and join in with the dancing. I ended up holding the baby for a while in the second half – a proper Nana!

Before we embarked on this waterways journey I worked at Hull Truck for a number of years and it was nice to catch up with so many friends in the bar afterwards.

The boat felt quite chilly when we got back today and it is taking a while for the stove to get up to temperature but it’s getting there.

Having lit the fire I popped to Sainsburys for supplies and we’ve had a liver and bacon casserole for tea with creamy mash and vegetables!