Sunday 21 February

Frank has rugby training on a Sunday morning so Steve went off with him after breakfast and Jo, Storm and I took Charlie & Max for a long walk through bluebell wood and then back into Morpeth following the river for much of the way.   The bluebells were just pushing up shoots and we could only imagine what a spectacular sight they will be in the Spring.

Jo told us that she regularly sees deer in the woods, and otters and kingfishers beside the river, but today they were all hiding.


She pointed out high the river Wansbeck had risen during the recent floods where the river had risen about 8ft above the level we saw today, and said that you couldn’t see the weir.

We met up with Steve and Frank on the Rugby field and we all followed a muddy Frank back home.

Frank was keen that we watched his Lego movie before he headed off for his swimming lesson later in the afternoon.

After all his activities Frank was in bed quite early after which we  had a lovely leisurely meal.   We weren’t too late to bed as Steve has work in the morning.


Saturday 20 February

We started the day with a cooked breakfast and then donned warm clothing and sensible footwear before heading off to the nearby coast for a bracing walk along the beach.  The Northumberland sandy white beaches are stunning and we enjoyed looking for shells and interesting pebbles as we strolled.   Max enjoyed his walk with Steve & Jo’s dog Charlie.

IMG_3070 IMG_3077

After a couple of hours with the tide turning we were ready to head back home to thaw out.   A delicious bowl of home made carrot soup and bread was just what the doctor ordered.

We spent the afternoon reading the Saturday papers and snoozing and then headed out to the pub for a quick drink and then on to the local Indian restaurant for a meal in the evening.   A lovely day – enjoyed by all.


Friday 19 February

We were up early to put the finishing touches to our packing and walk Max before setting off on our journey.

We’re heading first to stay with friends in Morpeth for the weekend.   We planned a route north along the M6 as far as Carlisle and then across the country.

Storm drove to  just south of Lancaster.  We were looking for somewhere to stop for a coffee when I spotted the line of the Lancaster Canal on our map.  This is a canal we have yet to cruise and one we want to visit before long.   To each the Lancaster Canal by boat we would  need to cross the River Ribble and, if other people’s stories are to be believed, this can be a little hairy apparently.

We pulled off the motorway and after a mile we spotted a canal side craft centre with cafe and pulled in.

After a warming bowl of lunchtime vegetable soup and a coffee we donned our coats and took Max for a quick stroll along the towpath.    We followed signs for the Glasson Branch, and we soon reached the junction.   We both agreed that the area was very scenic and would be well worth exploring.   Boats are encouraged to cross the River Ribble in convoy and it would be nice if we had company through the broad locks of the Lancaster Canal.

Glasson Branch Glasson Bridge Glasson Lock

I took over the driving then and we continued northwards.   Rain had been forecast for most of the day but it had held off until I took over the driving.   The motorway driving wasn’t much fun in all the spray although the countryside past the Lake District was still spectacular.

By the time we reached Carlisle the rain had stopped and we carried on to Haltwhistle where we stopped again for a leg stretch.   Here we came across Tim Foxall’s spatula works and couldn’t resist making a purchase as they were such fun.  We’d assumed he had a laser cutter but all spatula’s are cut out by hand.

From Haltwhistle we turned onto the B6318 and drove through the Northumberland countryside following the line of Hadrian’s Wall along what is known locally as the ‘military road’.   We then travelled along ‘B’ roads to Morpeth, avoiding all the traffic around Newcastle.   It was a beautiful drive through stunning countryside.

We arrived into Morpeth just after 4pm and spent a lovely evening chatting with Steve, Jo and their son Frank, and catching up on each others news as we’ve not seen each other for about 18 months.

Wednesday 17 February

Monday was spent at the mooring, dog walking, sewing, making bread, more dog walking, cooking and then relaxing to watch a DVD before bed.

Yesterday was bright and sunny with no wind so the morning was spent in Laura’s garage putting a second coat of undercoat on the soon to be shelving unit.   The afternoon was spent quietly and the evening was spent at the Institute supping beer and chatting with the locals.

Today was wet and windy so we had a drive out to Whitchurch, crossing the border into Shropshire for a change of scenery, and to shop before coming home to make more bread, and a cake and to keep warm in front of the fire.

We had a cup of coffee in the Sainsburys store in Whitchurch where a mural on the wall announced that Whitchurch was the tower clock capital of the world.  Having googled this on our return we discovered that:

Whitchurch was once the home of the JB Joyce tower clocks company, established in 1690, the oldest tower clock-making company in the world. Joyce’s timepieces can be found as far afield as Singapore and Kabul; and helped to build Big Ben in London.  JB Joyce no longer exist in Whitchurch.

Those of you who have followed our blog for a while will know that we visited Whitchurch by boat about a year ago when we called in while touring the Llangollen canal.

Sunday 14 February

This Valentine weekend marked the start of the half-term holiday and the date for  Ali & James’ Hen and Stag parties, ahead of their wedding in April.

James had arranged a full weekend of alcohol fuelled games and paint balling in the countryside with 17 of his mates near Derby and Ali was having a more genteel celebration at a bar in Leeds on Saturday with both Mums, both sisters and some good friends.

Laura had asked if Storm and I would stay with her, while Marc was away with James, to help her with Summer.   I’d offered to take Summer to Rhythm Time on Friday morning and so we were up quite early.

Summer and I headed off together and spent a lovely half an hour singing and playing with instruments.   This allowed Laura to go with Storm to do her weekly shop without struggling with a toddler who thinks that its really good fun to escape and charge up and down the aisles  with Mum in hot pursuit.

Dandad was pestered all afternoon to play with her and at one point she was demanding he ‘Come Upstairs!’ whereas Dandad just wanted to sit quietly.  At this point the harsh tone of command changed to a softer one of concern ‘Are you alright Dandad?’.  ‘Hold my hand Dandad’.   Once she had hold of his hand, the harsh tone returned as she pulled on his hand ‘Upstairs Now!’

Saturday morning, Laura and  I headed off by train to Leeds leaving Summer in charge of ‘Dandad’.    As we left she was ordering him to ‘pout’ so that she could apply some lipstick!  Poor Dandad.

We had a lovely afternoon celebrating with Ali and her friends and family before heading back home.


Our journey home though was a disaster!  All was well for the first ten minutes of our journey until just west of Mirfield when the train ground to a halt.  The overhead announcement informed us that due to signalling problems ahead we would have to return to Mirfield.   The train reversed and stopped.  The overhead announcement suggested that those travelling locally would be best served heading for a bus in Mirfield as it was likely to take some time to repair the problem.  The doors then opened and about three quarters of passengers got off and disappeared down the station steps.

The announcer then said that all those remaining on the train should get off and wait on the platform and await further instructions.   Now this seemed a slightly ridiculous idea.  The train was warm, had padded seats, was well lit, whereas the platform lacked any shelter, had a couple of steel benches and was dimly lit, no facilities whatsoever, no human to ask for assistance, and it was freezing.

When challenged the guard said that it was a Health & Safety requirement that all passengers wait on the platform.   There were about 50 passengers, amongst which was my pregnant daughter, several elderly people, and a high percentage of women travelling alone.  No-one was dressed to cope with freezing temperatures and soon teeth were chattering and passengers were getting quite anxious as train after train was shown as ‘cancelled’ on the electronic announcement board and people began to talk about whether we would need to find somewhere to stay for the night.  Several trains passed by on another parallel line heading west which baffled us.

After about half an hour the original guard, stepped off the train that had been idling beside us, and advised that we could get back on the train to keep warm.  Some sense at last!

15 minutes later,he asked that those travelling to Manchester get off the train again and make their way to the other platform where a Manchester bound train would stop and pick us up.  Apparently the other line followed a different route to Manchester Piccadilly along the Calder Valley and via Victoria and Salford Crescent stations.

Passengers struggled with cases down the steps and through the underpass and then up steps at the other side to again stand out in the cold to wait for a train that would be along shortly whereupon this train made its way very slowly to Manchester.

When we arrived into Manchester we were at least an hour and a half late and had missed our connection to Chester and had another thirty minutes to wait. Again the waiting area was draughty and unheated and all shops closed so no chance of a hot drink or a snack.

Finally a lovely warm train took us home.  We’d thawed out by the time we arrived into Chester some two hours later than planned at 11pm.   We were very  relieved to be home and not holed up in some strange hotel for the night.

After a good night’s sleep Sunday morning was spent doing housework, dog walking, painting, and playing.  Storm and I left early afternoon to return to the boat for some peace and quiet.

Thursday 11 February

A trip to B&Q to buy some undercoat, paint brushes, turps and sandpaper preceded a morning of painting at Laura’s.   We undercoated all the various timber components of the bookcase before Storm puts it all together.   Today was an excellent day for painting in the garage as it was warm and sunny and there was no wind.  Summer and Laura were out when we got there so there were no distractions.

They arrived home at lunch-time and once we’d cleaned up we spent the afternoon with them. Grandad spent quite a lot of time being dragged around in circles until both he and Summer were dizzy. Later we took Summer off to run around the park to try and wear her out a bit before bedtime!


Wednesday 10 February

The morning was spent doing various bits of maintenance on the boat that took a bit longer than anticipated.

As it was such a nice sunny day we treated ourselves to a drive out in the afternoon and first we went to the “50p shop” near Hoofield which sells all manner of things you didn’t know you needed until you tgot there.   We spent the princely sum of £8 on two rolls of  double sided tape, some freezer bag clips, a pack of four loo rolls, two scrubbing brushes, and two pairs of gloves.   Whilst the name suggests that everything should cost 50p, we found that most things cost either £1 or £2 but it was still amazing value!

After that we visited the village of Tattenhall.   Their Parish Council website describes it  as:

During the 15th and 16th Centuries Tattenhall was a quiet self-sustained village, growing its own food and weaving its own cloth. Social life was centred on the church, which was the source of official information. The only holidays celebrated were church festivals. The building of the Chester Canal (now the Shropshire Union Canal) during the 1770s affected the lives of people in Tattenhall. The poverty of many prior to this development was alleviated firstly, by providing work in canal construction and then, secondly, by providing an improved form of transport for cheese and other dairy products from South Cheshire to all parts of the country. With the canal development, Tattenhall was no longer an isolated settlement and as a result small industries started to locate in the area. These developments were to result in the doubling of the population by the middle of the 19th century.

Church BankDuring this time, Tattenhall sustained its prosperity, developing its economy and infrastructure, thus achieving a degree of affluence and respectability. Agricultural holdings had become larger and the first commuters journeyed to Chester and beyond via the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) which had reached the parish by the middle of the century.

The railway, like the canal before it, opened up new and more distant markets for the farming community and attracted light industries to the village and other parts of the parish. The railway line between Chester and Crewe was opened in 1840, and when the line to Whitchurch was opened in 1872, Tattenhall became a station of local importance with transport from the village sent to meet each train.

Tattenhall became an attractive place in which to live and work, evidenced today by the number of substantial Victorian buildings both in the village and on the surrounding farmsteads.

ButchersBy the mid 19th century the improved transport facilities saw the development of a thriving industrial centre adjacent to the canal and railway at Newton. A slaughterhouse was established in 1857 and became known as the Tattenhall Road Boneworks. Bones, hooves and horns were delivered by rail and were processed into glues, gelatine, fats and bone meal fertiliser by a workforce of some eighty employees.

In 1860 extensive works on the opposite side of the road from the boneworks saw the manufacture of bricks and field drainpipes, a practice that continued until 1975 when the site was sold. Such industries relied heavily on the canal and the railway for both the import of raw materials and for the export of finished products throughout North West England and North Wales.

The second half of the 20th century was marked by successful periods of housing development, as new estates (Greenlands, Covert Rise) were built between the 1960s and the 1980s to the north and west of the village centre. More recent, but smaller developments have occurred within the heart of the village mainly onpreviously developed sites since the 1990s, as and when land has become available.

Rock CottageWhilst agriculture remains a feature of the local economy, new office building has occurred in the centre of the village, together with refurbishment of farm buildings throughout the Parish to meet new uses.These developments, promoted by the Bolesworth Estate, have contributed to a dynamic economy in which over 300 businesses operate within a three mile radius of the village.

Recent years have seen the development of tourism related activity in Newton-by-Tattenhall with the growth of the Ice Cream Farm and the opening in 2009 of the 300 berth Tattenhall Marina adjacent to the Shropshire Union Canal.