Tuesday 31 May – Postscript

We’ve just had a text to say that our river crossing has been postponed until Friday when the weather is forecast to be better.  We can have a lie in now tomorrow and because its been postponed, we won’t leave until 7am on Friday!

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Tuesday 31 May

We woke early with the boat knocking against the quayside and we started the day with a cooked breakfast.

“Wind” is not something we want this week and all skippers were checking on-line weather forecasts which seemed to vary somewhat.

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Laura came to visit us mid morning with Joseph and he managed half a smile before he fell asleep in the nest of pillows we’d created on our bed.   Laura and I then left Grandad babysitting for an hour while we went off to do an errand.

After lunch Laura left us and Storm and I went over to the museum for our skippers’ briefing.  We expected to hear that the trip was postponed but the pilot was still hopeful.

After we’d covered all the legal points, the H&S issues with what-if scenarios, and the planned route, we were assured we’d have fun!

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To enter this basin, known as THE GUT, we need to lock down through the barge lock  and come out beside the union jack flag visible in the photograph above. We then need to hover here until all eight boats have locked through before before entering the Ship Canal together. This has to be done in the morning.

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The mouth of THE GUT and if we meet anything like this on the Ship Canal then we need to give them plenty of space!

The final go/no go decision will be taken at 5am tomorrow morning and will depend on the strength of the wind at that time.

The lead and back boats were chosen from those boats who’d made the crossing before.  The pilot  will be on the lead boat and he is expecting to be served bacon butties!  The event organiser will be on the back boat to ensure everyone gets across and to chivvy up any slow boats.

The rest of us were asked to buddy up with another boat and to travel within hailing distance of each other.  NB Brankie asked us if we’d like to be their buddy, which was nice.   We’d shared locks with them last week after we left Barbridge.

We returned to the boat after that, pausing at the museum gift shop for some chilled medication, and the quayside was busy with skippers making final engine checks, preparing anchors, chain and ensuring they had fore and aft ropes measuring 15m.    The rest of the crew were advised to check the inside of the boat and place anything on the floor that might fall from shelves and cause damage.

An early night is called for although I’m not sure how much sleep we’ll get with all the excitement.

Monday, 30 May

We drove out to Calverley on Saturday morning to collect our stove glass and now the weather has warmed up again thankfully!

Four nights back on our mooring,  yesterday we set off again, this time towards Ellesmere Port.

Another of our Golden Nook neighbours pulled out behind us and shared the first five locks into Chester with us.

We discovered they were new to boating and that this was only their second ever trip on the canals.  It was only at the second lock that we realised they really didn’t know what they were doing.  However, by Lock 5 they knew a lot more!  We hope they make it back to their mooring in one piece.  (They were stopping in Chester for a bite of lunch before heading back.)

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Lock 2 of 3

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Going Down in Lock 2

We carried on down the 3 lock staircase and moored up opposite Telfords.  The view here has changed in the five months since we were last here with the construction of another block of flats and the loss of more mooring spaces here.

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After a quiet night I rode the bike to Tescos this morning to get a few items and to take advantage of my “spend £40 and get 10% off voucher”.  I loaded the shopping bags onto the handlebars and pushed the bike back to the boat.

Once the shopping was stowed away, we filled up with water and headed off towards Ellesmere Port.

Two days of glorious sunshine showcasing the hedgerows covered in blossom, and water irises in full bloom.

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We’ve been playing leapfrog with the 15 boats heading to Ellesmere Port ready for the skippers’ briefing at 3pm tomorrow and have had various conversations with them as we’ve passed.

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After a leisurely cruise we arrived at Ellesmere Port just after 3pm today.   The two narrow locks in front of the Boat Museum were manned by volunteers and we were helped through the locks and directed to our mooring in front of the Holiday Inn Hotel.

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At tomorrow’s briefing we hope to get the green light that the weather will be OK for us to cross the Mersey at 5am on Wednesday morning.  Fingers crossed!!

Wednesday 25 May

We woke early because we weren’t snug in bed.  A peak outside confirmed that the sun had disappeared and the temperature had dipped again.

Of the flotilla of 15 boats planning to cross the Mersey next week, 12 of us had gathered at Barbridge for the surveyor who arrived promptly and quickly worked his way along the line.  His inspection was thorough and we passed with a suggestion that we consider changing one of the shackles in our anchor for something slightly larger and stronger and think of keeping a knife on the foredeck capable of cutting the anchor rope in an emergency.  He also advised that our navigation lights, which were on the boat when she was first commissioned, have never complied with any legislation and are purely decorative.  It’s a good job we’ve never used them as such, nor are we likely to, as we never travel at night.

We discovered this morning that our neighbour has a composting toilet and so we naturally compared notes.  They too are happy they made the change from a pump out system and the fact it doesn’t compost doesn’t worry them.  It’s easier and cheaper than any other system.

NB Brankie accompanied us back to our mooring as they were heading to Chester for a few days before making the crossing so we got chance to chat a bit more as we worked our way through the six locks.

We paused at Calverley to see if our stove glass had arrived but we’ll have to pop back by car later this week as it hadn’t.  While we were stopped we popped into  the recently opened Calverley Mill cheese shop.   We selected some Cheshire cheese with onion and chive.

We stopped at Chas Harden’s yard at Beeston to fill up with diesel at 60p/litre before carrying on to our mooring.  It started to drizzle shortly afterwards and we carried on cruising under our large golfing umbrella.

This evening we’re glad we’ve got a secondary heating system on the boat as we’ve switched our central heating on.

Tuesday 24 May

After a good night’s sleep we woke to a cloudless sky.  We intended having a lazy time today and started the day with a cooked breakfast.

Lined up waiting for tomorrow's surveyor

Lined up waiting for tomorrow’s surveyor

Three other boats, who are booked in with the surveyor tomorrow, arrived this morning and moored in front of us.  As we’d each received a full list of boat names planning to make the crossing, we introduced ourselves and stood chatting in the sunshine for a while.

Afterwards I got out our deckchairs and settled down to read my book while Storm headed off to the chandlers and came back with all he needed but commented that it had been an expensive shop.  He then set about removing the old glass from our stove door ready for inserting the fresh pane we hope to pick up tomorrow.  The old glass is very scratched and none of our household chemicals can get it clean – not even our pot of Pink Stuff.  In fact, you can’t even tell which side of the glass is scratched as it is completely smooth to the touch.

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Our scratched and stained stove glass

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Meanwhile Max played happily with “Poppy” the Springer spaniel who lives aboard the boat in front of us.  Poppy kept leaping into the canal for a swim leaving Max on the bank.  I hope she doesn’t persuade Max that swimming is fun!

Monday 23 May

We’re under way again.

Dandad might be in bother though as he discovered this stowaway in his coat pocket!

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We have an appointment with a Manchester Ship Canal surveyor at Barbridge on Wednesday morning and with sunshine forecast today we decided to make an early start and arrive in good time.

With a full water tank and our boat roof refitted with plank, pole and boat hook etc we left our mooring at 9.15am.

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It was so nice to be on the move again with ever changing views. The ducklings and cygnets were out enjoying the sun too.

At Beeston Lock one of our fellow Golden Nook neighbours came up behind us and we shared six double locks with them.  We’d only ever waved at them before as we drove past their mooring.  Today we introduced ourselves and Gail and I soon discovered that it really is a small world.  She had been to the same school as me until age 11, had then left to go to school in Beverley before returning to my school as a student teacher.  Our ages differ slightly but seven years is a different generation apart at school.   I happened to have a whole school photo on the boat which we unravelled and she recognised quite a few faces that we could put names to – not bad when the photo’s dated 1971.

 

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At Calverley we bid them a safe journey as we pulled in and they continued on towards Audlem.  We stopped to order some new stove glass from the local coal merchant and also to take advantage of the services there before we continued on to Barbridge, arriving at 4pm, where we sat out in the sunshine with a cup of coffee.

We were surprised to see that the unexciting roadside pub ‘The Jolly Tar’ has been demolished and the site cleared.  I don’t think it will be missed!

 

Sunday 22 May

After six weeks of post natal babysitting we are now making preparations for our Mersey trip in ten days time.

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The boating highlight this week has been getting two coats of Epifanes Multiforte paint on our roof, when the weather permitted, which has tidied up our external appearance somewhat.

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Laura and I also managed our first girls night out  in six weeks when we went to the pictures to see  Our Kind of Traitor, leaving the guys babysitting while watching the Liverpool football match on Wednesday evening.