Wednesday 10 May

The weeks are hurtling by at an alarming rate and we’re finding it difficult to find time to keep up with this blog and our waterway travels.

In the last three weeks we’ve managed two short canal journeys,  a two-way trans-Pennine car journey, as well as doing building work both at Laura’s and at home.   With less than six weeks to Laura and Marc’s wedding, the pressure is on to make sure everything is ready in time, while also progressing our own house renovation and making sure we don’t exceed mooring restrictions.

On Saturday 22 April we moved the boat back to the Shady Oak from Barbridge Junction.   Storm steered the boat and I drove ahead by car to prepare the locks.  It was another beautiful sunny day.   We met up at  Calveley as this is the only spot along this stretch of canal where we can get the car beside the boat and I wanted to put some heavy boxes back on board.

Under the canopy of the warehouse we spotted our first swallow of the year.

After unloading the car I headed off to Bunbury to start preparing the staircase.  There was a volunteer lock keeper on hand today to help me.   Today Storm shared these two locks, with Paul from our mooring.

At Tilstone Lock a queue was forming and here Storm doubled up with a couple who were out for the first time on a shared ownership boat.  They were quite nervous and took things very slowly.   We also shared Beeston Stone Lock with them but at Iron Lock they preferred to enter alone as the board warns that boats should pass through singly so they don’t catch on the irregular sides.    (We have shared this lock in the past with willing parties whilst keeping a close eye on both boats and have not encountered any problem).

Storm stopped at Chas Harden’s boatyard to top up with diesel which gave me time to drive to the Shady Oak and walk back to Wharton’s Lock and have this ready for Storm when he appeared.  I needn’t have rushed though because there was a boat coming up in the lock and their crew were kindly operating the paddles by the time they were ready to leave, Storm had arrived and was waiting patiently for his turn to enter.

The moorings at The Shady Oak were very quiet when we arrived but by late afternoon there wasn’t a space to be had and boats were moored along the full length from the lock to the other side of the bridge beyond the pub.

As we walked down the line of boats to the pub we recognised quite a few boats from our home mooring, who’d also moved off to allow the CRT to carry out works to the mooring.   The news was disappointing as they told us that the CRT hadn’t arrived on site as expected at the end of March and had only just delivered materials to the site the previous day.

On Sunday we left the boat and drove to Laura’s for our usual three days of child-minding/house renovating.   On Wednesday evening we drove over to Yorkshire for the bank holiday weekend and spent five nights at home before heading back across the Pennines ready for another three days of childminding.   Joseph is now walking which makes life a bit easier as he only gets dusty feet, rather than dusty hands and knees!  He just can’t keep his trousers up though.

Last Wednesday evening, 3rd May, we returned to the boat and as we’d not had time to shop we went to the Shady Oak looking for something to eat.  The landlord said that unfortunately he’d decided not to serve meals that night as he’d had such a hectic Bank holiday weekend.  Anyway, after a few minutes, he came over to us and said he could cook us Cod & Chips.  We must have looked like we needed looking after!  We were very impressed that he was willing to put himself out and we must say they were the best fish and chips we’ve had in a very long time.  It is nice to be able to recommend this pub as somewhere good to go now.

On Thursday morning, Storm went off in the car with a supermarket shopping list and Max and I moved the boat towards Chester.  We passed our home mooring where there was evidence of piling works which appeared to have started immediately north of our mooring and although there were no men on site it looked as though they were working away from our mooring.   One of our neighbours was using our mooring so I continued on to the Cheshire Cat and moored up just outside the 48 hour mooring limit.

We’ve since had clarification that our mooring is actually unaffected by the works, despite the fact that the bank beside the boat has eroded and is now forming quite a sizeable sand bank over which we have to manoeuvre  every time we come and go.

After three quiet nights on board it was back to Laura’s.   With the deadline for the completion of the building work looming, the pressure is on to make sure Laura has a dust free house for her and her bridesmaids to get ready in.  So far everything is going to plan.