After our 14 mile and six broad locks of yesterday, today we’ve only cruised 10 miles and three narrow locks to Middlewich. The showers held off until noon and we moored up just in time to catch the lunch-time edition of the Archers.
Starting out along the Middlewich Branch
The Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal is a popular route and the wildlife must be more familiar with boats as this little chap stayed put as we motored past!
By 6.30 this morning we were awake and drinking coffee in bed so we decided to make an early start and were underway by 8am.
The boat was facing the wrong way and so the first two hours was spent heading to the winding hole at Christleton before passing our mooring as we headed south towards Barbridge Junction.
Max was glad to be back on the move and he immediately resumed his usual position on the roof. (He can’t get there when we’re moored as our hood obstructs his path).
We shared the six locks (even risking two up in iron lock with everyone staying alert to make sure we had water around us and weren’t in danger of getting caught on the distorted cast iron sides of the lock). This helped alleviate the queue of boats waiting to use the lock as only one gate paddle was working on the top gate and the bottom gate was leaking quite a bit, meaning that it was taking an age to fill the lock. We spotted three kingfishers but they evaded the camera lens as usual.
We put the washing machine on when the clouds disappeared leaving us to cruise in the sunshine and we had a load ready to hang out when we reached Barbridge. It feels good to be self-sufficient again and having run the engine for six hours after the washing machine finished we hope our batteries are charged.
By 5.30pm this afternoon it was raining and Storm suggested we treat ourselves to a meal out at The Olde Barbridge Inn. I didn’t disagree!
After a glorious week of sunshine, the forecast for today’s party was for showers and Laura had planned for such a contingency by erecting an enormous eight berth tent kitted out with chairs for adults, and a ball pool for babies at the bottom of her garden.
Miraculously the rain held off and two and a half hours of fun was had on the Peppa Pig bouncy castle by Summer and her friends.
The big tent provided the perfect place for enjoying the party buffet. It was lovely to see them all having such fun and Summer fully appreciated what a lovely day she’d had when she said to her Mum ‘the best birthday party ever’!
After the party we went shopping to Morrisons to stock up with food before we head off on a month’s cruise tomorrow. Birmingham, by a circuitous route – here we come!!
Last week we had a four days at home when, in between socialising and showers, we managed to tame the garden and carry out some home maintenance.
On Saturday we headed down to Bristol for a surprise 70th birthday party. We’d spent the week monitoring NB Lilyanne’s progress north to see if we might manage to meet them at Thorne on Saturday morning as we passed by on the M18. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite synchronise timings as we were on a bit of a mission. Hopefully we’ll get chance to catch up with Pip and Mick again before too long.
Terry’s surprise party was good fun and it was nice to catch up with mutual friends over the weekend. It was quite a coincidence that we’d booked into the same hotel. The weather was kind to us too and meant we could sit outside for much of the party. We were back on the boat by Monday lunchtime and Laura and I met up in the evening for what is now becoming our ‘regular’ weekly swim.
On Tuesday we BBQ’d on the towpath and while I was cooking, Storm decided to repair one of our mooring spikes that had pulled loose. John, one of our neighbours, kindly donated two bags of ‘post mix’ concrete so once Storm had dug a hole deep enough, this was a simple fix. It would be nice if passing boats would slow down a bit more so they don’t cause our spikes to loosen.
Chocolate crispie buns if someone can stop eating the crispies!
The rest of this week we’ll be making preparations for Summer’s third birthday party on Saturday. She’s offered to help with the baking. We’re just hoping the weather holds out so all her friends can play out in the garden.
Another red sunset
On Friday night we had an overnight guest for a special adventure. Summer came for tea and ate a good helping of spaghetti bolognese and a yoghurt pudding.
After an explore off the boat to visit the cows, pick some flowers, feed the ducks and the swans and a game of hide and seek, she eventually went to bed.
Can you see where she is yet?
Sleeping in Nanny’s bed for the first time on the boat, while Grandad opted for the camp bed, was so exciting and it took a while to drop off.
On Saturday we were awake quite early and after breakfast we got a special request to visit the ice-cream farm. Having visited before on foot and by car, we decided to travel there by boat today. This helped kill some time until the farm opened at 10am. Wearing our new life-jacket, we looked very cool in our sun-glasses.
After nearly two hours of fun in the sunshine, visiting the animals, playing on all the equipment and showing who was No 1 we had a cone of chilled medication each before seeking some shade back at the boat.
We had to physically pick her up and run to make our escape. She got a shoulder ride for the short walk back to the boat.
After some quiet time, Summer was happy to put her life jacket back on and after a little panic that Dandad wasn’t on the boat when he untied the front rope, we cruised slowly back to our mooring.
After all the excitement of the day, she and Grandad fell asleep in our sleep inducing chair.
After tea we returned her home and I had an early night
After our surprise night away and our five nights in a hotel room in Berlin it is nice to return to the familiar comfort of the boat. Our trips away are not yet over though as we’re popping home next week to tame the garden.
Happy Anniversary Afternoon Tea
Since our return Storm has been busy this week building a 1:12 scale dolls house from off-cuts of timber he’s found in Laura’s garage. It is now ready for Laura to paint, decorate and furnish. She has four weeks before Summer’s third birthday to finish this and with prying eyes I’m sure we’ll be called in to assist and keep Summer busy as not much gets past her.