Monday, 28 November 2011

Back to Tattenhall

We both have dental appointments tomorrow so we cruised back to Tattenhall so that we can collect the car from the marina in the morning. It was a lovely day to be cruising as it's been quite sunny, but with a bitter twist to the wind at times.

donkeys at Chemistry Lock 

The only draw back to the section of canal between Chester and Tattenhall is the extremely long line of moored boats.  At slow tick-over speed it took us over 3/4 of an hour to get past them and by the time we arrived at the 48hour moorings outside Tattenhall Marina it was just getting dark, so no mooring photo tonight.

moored boats as far as the eye can see

Saturday, 26 November 2011


Chester has to be one off my favourite cities. The moorings aren’t particularly quiet as there are lots of passers-by, and we even had a couple of eastern European lads sit on the back deck late last evening to take photographs of themselves. Roger went out to see what was going on, but the lads apologised for disturbing us and complimented us on having a nice boat so we weren’t too bothered.

Chester Cathedral

Today we’ve been into town for a wander around. I’d forgotten it’s Saturday and the place was rammed with Christmas shoppers. The Christmas market has started so we had a quick look round before going to the indoor market which was much more my style. I stocked up on knitting wool and buttons and, as usual, bought more meat than I’d intended at one of the many excellent butchers stalls.

We had lunch in Bistro Chez Jules which had been recommended to us.  The meal was very good and the place was packed with people queuing to get a table.

There was plenty of street entertainment on offer with many different sets of buskers all around the city. Not all of them were good however, but this young band was pretty exceptional.

We’re settled in for a cosy night in front of the fire as it’s blowing a gale outside.  It’s Roger’s turn to cook tonight, while I watch “Strictly” so I will have had a full day off cooking (and hopefully washing up as well) - Bliss!

Friday, 25 November 2011


Today we moved on to Chester and moored opposite the Bingo Hall.

I thought this was a really good name for the restaurant boat which was moored outside the Mill Hotel.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


We left Tattenhall Marina this afternoon after nipping to Morrisons to refill the fridge and cupboards. The marina is only half full and, apart from the noise from passing trains, is VERY quiet, too quiet for us to want to stay any longer.

We’ve moved on towards Chester and are now moored at Christleton outside The Old Trooper which is a Harvester pub/restaurant and is where we’re going for dinner tonight.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


We've had a wonderful few days up in Newcastle visiting our daughter and future son-in-law. I thought you might like to see a few photos of some of the places we visited.

On Friday we took a walk down by the River Tyne, along Quayside.

This is the Sage Gateshead conference/concert centre with the Royal Navy Reserves training centre in the foreground.

This is the view looking down the river, showing four of the bridges across the Tyne.

Looking the other way is the Gateshead Millennium Bridge which was built in 2001 and cost £22 million

 This is Blacksmith’s Needle, a 7.6m high conical steel sculpture with a maritime theme, represented by mermaids, shells, bells and sea creatures.

This is Swirle Pavillion, which takes its name from a hidden stream which flows into the Tyne at this point

In the centre of the city is Earl Grey's Monument.

and the Chinese Gate

We had lunch in China Town, which is much smaller than the China Towns in either Manchester or Liverpool and then in the afternoon we spent a while looking round Grainger Market, which is huge and full of wonderful green grocers, butchers and fishmongers as well as clothes and other stalls. It must be wonderful to have this as your local market, unfortunately I was so busy browsing and shopping I forgot to take any photos.

On Saturday we went out to the coast, calling at Warkworth Castle on the way.

This is the view of the town of Amble, taken from one of the arrow-slit windows in the castle

and this is Coquet Island, which is a bird sanctuary

After an excellent pub lunch in Warkworth village we went to the beach at Alnmouth. This is just how I like my beaches, practically deserted, a bit windy but with perfect sand and some sunshine too.

This was the sign hanging outside the Schooner Inn at Alnmouth. I don't think I'll be staying there any time soon!

On the way home today, we stopped off at the Angel of the North sculpture which looks down on the A1.
It was very busy as a coach-load of Japanese tourists had just arrived before us and I had problems getting a clear shot without being crowded out by them.

Even though we'd had such a good time, it was lovely to get back home to the boat. We have a device installed whereby we "phone home" and a remote control switches on the central heating so by the time we got in it was toasty and warm.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bunbury, Beeston & Tattenhall

Yesterday we moved on to Tattenhall. We had a good journey and passed a few other moving boats.  It’s about 6 years since we last came this way but little has changed.

At Bunbury Staircase Lock we met a boat coming up, so as we were going down we passed in the middle. That certainly speeded things up and I was glad of the help with the lock gates which are heavy on all the locks on this section.

At Tilstone Lock there’s a memorial under the holly tree. What a beautiful spot to bury a beloved pet.

The land at Beeston is very soft sand so when the canal was built in 1787 the banks kept collapsing. To solve this problem, one lock was built from stone slabs and the other built from iron plates.

double click on the photo to read the details

The lock cottage beside Beeston Stone Lock used to sell wonderful home-made pies, cakes and preserves but closed down a few years ago.

 Behind the cottage there’s a large rabbit warren in the sandy hill.  There were lots of bunnies scampering about.

We moored outside Tattenhall Marina on the 48 hr moorings ready to move in tomorrow morning. Like the moorings at Calveley, these are also dedicated winter moorings and there are already a couple of boats here paying BW for the privilege.

I won't be posting a blog  for a few days as we're going to visit our daughter. Hopefully I'll be able to give you a photographic tour of Newcastle when we get back. Have a good weekend everyone.

Monday, 14 November 2011


After the Grand Prix yesterday we carried on for about an hour to moor just past Calveley.  These 48 hour moorings are available to rent from BW as designated winter moorings but they’re not very nice. The towpath is a quagmire and full of dog poo and it’s about 500 yards to the nearest water and pump-out which would be too far if we got iced in.

the view's not bad, field full of cows

field full of Alpacas

Today we took the car to Tattenhall Marina and arranged to leave the boat there for a week while we go to stay with our daughter.  They were very welcoming and didn’t mind us leaving the car there until we arrive with the boat later this week. In fact, the guy in the office was so friendly he took us via a short-cut out the back of the marina to the nearest bus stop, which saved us a mile walk to the bus stop in the village. It took us 2 hours to get back as we had to get a bus into Chester and then another one back to Calveley but at least we got to see some of the pretty local villages on the route home.

Chico isn't too impressed with these early dark evenings. He objects to having the light on over his bed so has started pulling his blanket over his eyes so he can get to sleep!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Blue skies and sunshine

The meal in the Jolly Tar last night was OK.  The menu is basic to say the least and everything is either nuked or fried but I didn’t have to cook it or wash up afterwards so I was happy. We're going back tonight with a couple of friends from Macc. Marina but we're eating here before we go as it wasn't good enough for 2 nights in a row.

Deepsnake, the group we’d gone to see, were AWSOME!  They were loud, as you’d expect from a Deep Purple/Whitesnake tribute band, and played for 2 hours, rocking the house. If you like that type of music and ever get the chance, then I’d definitely recommend you go and see them.

After the past few dismal days, today has been beautiful.  We’ve had clear blue skies and full sunshine and it’s been warm enough to let the fire go out and have the side doors open for a bit of fresh air.  I even managed to dry the washing outside.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Barbridge Junction

After a very quiet night at Sykes Hollow we carried on again today, stopping en-route for lunch. It's been another typical November day, overcast and dull, but it was nice to be cruising and we actually saw 4 other moving boats which is the most we've seen in one day for the past couple of weeks.

After dumping the rubbish and filling with water, we moored just past Barbridge Junction on the main line of the Shropshire Union Canal.

The main A51 Nantwich Road runs alongside our mooring and it's pretty noisy but we're here for a reason.

The pub opposite us is the Jolly Tar and tonight they have a tribute band playing. It's called "Deepsnake" and play all the classics by Deep Purple and White Snake so it should be good. We're having dinner there too so I'll let you know what it was like tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sykes Hollow

It’s been a really dismal day today, grey skies with fine drizzle at times. After a quick trip to Tesco to stock up, we moved about 8 miles and 2 locks to moor at Sykes Hollow picnic and BBQ area.

It’s beautiful here with all the trees in their autumn foliage and I'm watching a squirrel sitting on a branch, eating a nut, just opposite my window. We thought we’d be alone as the canal’s been very quiet all day, but just as it was going dark another boat turned up.

Just as we were leaving Middlewich we passed this 4ft tall tree laden with red fruit. They are about the size of a cherry, but are hard and shiny.

Does anyone have any idea what they are as they look edible to me but I haven’t seen them before so I didn’t pick them. Could they be a variety of crab apple?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

More from Middlewich

We walked down to take a look at how works are progressing on Lock 72.  They seem to be making good progress as you can see from these photos.

can you see the mussels growing on the lock side?

this is the ground paddle which is raised using a windlass

the new gate in position

Here's another of our favourite recipes

Fish Pie
Most supermarkets now sell packets of frozen mixed fish-pie mix. I like the one from Morrisons as it has a good mix of salmon, cod & smoked haddock and is only £3.

Butter an ovenproof dish and tip the still frozen fish mix in.
Add 2 portions of frozen peas and distribute evenly over the fish.

Mix 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard and some salt and pepper into half a tub of reduced fat crème fraiche and spread over the fish and peas. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like there’s enough to cover it all as you will get juice out of the fish as it cooks and this will mix in to make a nice creamy sauce.

Cover with foil and bake in the oven Gas 5 for 30 mins.
Take out of the oven, remove the foil and stir gently so you don’t break up the fish.
Cover the fish mix with creamy mashed potatoes and bake uncovered for another 30 mins. till golden brown.  If it isn’t brown enough you can flash it under the grill for a couple of minutes.

This is nice served with green beans.