Sunday, 29 September 2013


Yesterday we continued our journey down Measham Locks and moored up at the top of Stone.

Our friends Martin & Maggie came to stay and we had a really good night out in town. The Swan Inn has excellent real ales and we had to drag ourselves away to go across the road to the newly opened Italian restaurant, La Bella Napoli, beside Star Lock. The meal was good and we returned to the Swan again afterwards for a nightcap.

We're stopping here in Stone for a few days until we move onto the Visitor Moorings in Aston Marina next week.

Friday, 27 September 2013


Autumn is really coming into it's own now. The trees are starting to change colour and drop their leaves and there are fungi popping up all over the place. I forage fruits from the hedgerows but I won't touch the mushrooms as I have quite a serious allergy.

This was the view of Westport Lake from our mooring this morning. As you can see it's been another glorious sunny day.

Before we left we took Chico for a walk round the lake. This was the view from the other side.

Part of the bank had collapsed but instead of using that horrid orange plastic netting to keep people away from the edge they'd used this lovely woven willow screen.

This is the "eco-friendly" visitor centre and cafe. It was built with straw bale walls and is covered with solar panels.

The paths around the lake are very well maintained and consequently very well used. We saw a couple of these twin seat bikes being used by disabled people and their carers. They were having a great time and the lady on the right of the picture just couldn't stop laughing. We could hear her coming from quite a distance; she certainly didn't need a bell!

It was about 11.00 by the time we finally set off. I like the Stafford area. It's very built up with all the pottery factories but the intricate brickwork of the kilns always amazes me.

We did a quick detour at Etruria to top up the water tank and dump the rubbish and buy some plums from a moored boat. They were 20p a bag and were the tastiest, juiciest plums we've ever had.

The second lock is leaking quite badly as you can see from these "pissers". I do hope C&RT are planning to do some maintenance soon before it gets much worse.

This is Etruria Flint & Bone Mill which is right in front of you as you come out of the second lock. It used to be part of the Etruria museum but I'm not sure if it's still open. We didn't really have time to stop and find out.

Cockshutts Lock takes you right under the railway bridge. While we were going down 2 trains wizzed past. The standard of graffiti has dropped since we were last here. It's just a mess now.

I wasn't sure whether to pull over for a bit of recreation here. Fishing, shooting or line dancing?  Just too much choice!

We're now moored just outside Barlaston. It's nice and quiet despite being fairly close to the railway line and since I took the photo a few more boats have arrived and moored up behind us.

We walked into the village as Roger wanted to visit the Big Boy's Toys shop. They had some lovely models and remote control toys but he managed to resist buying anything. I was so pleased I took him to the Plume of Feathers for a pint. They had 3 real ales on but the food didn't sound very exciting. It was all burgers & curries.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Through Harecastle Tunnel

When we got back from Morrisons in Congleton yesterday, one of the boats we built had moored up behind us. We haven't seen Mick and Jayne on Dawn Owl since the spring so we spent a very pleasant evening with them catching up. It was lovely to see you both, thanks for your company.

As I made up the bed last night this monster spider appeared from below it.  You can get some idea of how large it was as originally I thought it was a daddy long-legs. The circle is the flush ball in our toilet and is about 3" in diameter. I quite like spiders - outside the boat - but the thought of this crawling over my face in the night unfortunately meant it had to meet it's maker.

Today we carried on down the Macc and arrived at Harecestle Tunnel with 5 minutes to spare before it closed for the day.  We made it through in a record time for us and even the tunnel man was amazed that we did it in 31 minutes.  It's been another glorious afternoon and we're now moored at Westport Lake.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Lyme Green to Congleton

We needed to be in Congleton today for a long standing appointment so that meant we had to make up the time spent on our detour to Bugsworth Basin.

On Monday we had a long day cruising, setting off at 9am with the intention of mooring, yet again, at Gurnett Aqueduct. Unfortunately by the time we'd filled with water at Macclesfield all the moorings at Gurnett were full so we had to carry on to Lyme Green.

Yesterday we continued our journey and arrived at Bosley Locks after lunch.

The service block beside the top lock was being fitted with solar panels. The normal position on buildings is on the south face but for some strange reason these were being installed on 2 sides of the roof, east and west.

Maybe C&RT would have been better off spending the money repairing the approach to the pump-out as the bank has fallen in. You can see from the post in the water just how big the obstruction is.

The sun shone all afternoon and we had a good trip down the locks. All bar one were set against us and we didn't meet any boats coming up.

Less than 2 hours later we moored on the visitor moorings which were very busy and I went off to pick damsons from the trees beside lock 11.

There were lots of elderberries about as well as a few blackberries so I picked an assortment and made mixed fruit jelly.

I haven't used elderberries before but they're really easy to strip from their stalks and gave a lot of juice when simmered with the damsons and blackberries.

Damsons are full of pectin so the final jelly set really quickly and the 3 fruits went well together. It's inspired me to experiment with other fruit mixtures. I'm now on the look-out for a decent crab apple tree as I want to make some apple and chilli jelly next.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Bugsworth for a beer festival

Last week we bumped into old friends Phil and Pat who have n.b.Arcturus and after spending a very pleasant evening with them in the Kings Head at Sutton we decided to meet up again this weekend at Bugsworth Basin for the beer festival at Chinley.

Friday night had seen us at the Mikron Theatre in Bollington so on Saturday we put in a long 5 hour day and arrived at Bugsworth late afternoon. We had a meal on the boat and then headed for the Old Hall at Chinley which is a mile walk away up the old tram-way which lonks Chinley to Bugsworth. By the time we got there it was dark and the pub was absolutely heaving. It was also a very warm evening so we found a spot outside and started working our way through the beer menu. They had over 130 beers and ciders available and even restricting ourselves to half pints there was no way we could sample more than 8-10 so we went back again this lunchtime and tried a few more. The weather has been amazingly warm and sunny and I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than sitting in a sunny beer garden with good friends and good beer.

Friday, 20 September 2013

On to Bollington

We've had a few days away visiting our 16 month old grand-daughter. She's gorgeous but absolutely wore me out! 

Today we set off for Bollington as we're going to the theatre this evening. We're going to see the Mikron Theatre Company who are performing at the Arts Centre.

We stopped on the way at Macclesfield water point. This has been moved from near the Puss in Boots pub as the guy who owns the house beside the water point kept calling the police complaining about boats running their engines while filling up. He'd had CCTV installed and was a real nuisance screaming and shouting at boaters.  Unfortunately C&RT have installed a really flimsy new water point on the wharf at their maintenance depot. It's not been there very long but is already showing signs of wear and is quite wobbly.

Herons must have had a very successful breeding season this year as we've seen several today, more than usual.

We've also started seeing some of the "mutant" ducks that inhabit this section of the Macclesfield Canal. This one was huge and had 2 pom-poms on its head.

Bollington Aqueduct was almost full when we arrived but we managed to squeeze on the end.

It's a long way down!

Friday, 6 September 2013

A Mooring Scam

When we were coming up Marple locks the other day we found 2 of these laminated signs discarded beside one of the locks. You can imagine our comments....W T F ????

Moorings around Marple are always hard to find and if this were legitimate that would just be ridiculous. There are enough over-stayers there as it is!

Just before we popped off to the pub a C&RT man came round asking if we'd found the signs as he'd been despatched from the local office to investigate following complaints from boaters.  It seems someone had removed the 48hrs restriction notices and gone to a lot of trouble to produce these laminated signs which they had then stuck up on the moorings post.  The boater who had reported them had pulled them off in disgust. The C&RT man said he had to take them back to his manager for further investigation as whoever made them had used the C&RT logo illegally. He also had to order new 48hr restriction signs....God knows how much that will cost. I just hope whoever came up with this scam is happy. C&RT can waste enough money on their own without boaters forcing them to waste even more!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Marple Locks

We started up Marple locks at 11.00 this morning - we don't do early starts.........

A single hander had passed us about half an hour before we set off so most of the locks were set against us and Roger had to empty them before we could go in.

The majority of lock sides are covered with hanging slimy greenery

 it clings to the stone boulders that line the lock, but doesn't stick to brickwork

Marple is a very pretty flight of locks and many of the pounds are over-run by these wild orchids

They may be very pretty but they smell dreadful and always make me a bit asthmatic. I'm just glad their flowering season is relatively short.

One of the locks, I think it was no.3, was totally devoid of any growth which was a bit strange

but meant we could see the mason's marks

 and other interesting features which were totally covered by the slime in the other locks

Roger did most of the work as Marple locks are quite heavy and the bottom beams are at an awkward height and I'm still supposed to be taking it easy. He did give in though and let me wind the top paddles down and open the top gate.

 This beautiful Westie came to watch us in one of the locks. He reminded us of our old dog Charlie and if it weren't for Chico, we may have been tempted to dog-nap him.............

I really enjoyed steering up the locks and managed to get into every one without touching the sides.  We were both happy to see the last one though.  It took us 3 and a half hours to get up to the top and I was really pleased that I managed the 90' turn onto the Macclesfield Canal in one go, without using the bow thruster!

We managed to get a mooring just after the junction and adjourned to the Ring o'Bells pub, supposedly for a late lunch but unfortunately they weren't serving food due to a large funeral party so we just had a drink and carried on.

At Higher Poynton we dumped the rubbish and had a quick chat with Bruce and Sheila from n.b.Sanity Again.  We couldn't get moored though as Braidbar have commandeered all the mooring spots for their open day on Saturday, so we carried on and moored at Lyme View.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Freedom Here We Come!

After a few days hard work clearing out the house, taking crap to the tip and better quality crap to the local hospice charity shop,  we FINALLY managed to set off on our travels again.

At 4.45 we did a quick self pump-out and headed off into the glorious sunshine.

Roger worked the lift bridge

and I drove

and we celebrated with pints of Speckled Hen and Lancaster Black. You can keep your champagne, I'd much rather have a beer...........

The wildlife was out in abundance to watch us leave Duckinfield

I hate these feral pigeons, dirty disease ridden wood pigeon is a different matter all together, especially lightly pan fried in a salad........YUM !!

We eventually moored up for the night just after 7.30. We're at Hyde Bank, ready to go up Marple locks in the morning. The sheep are bleating, the trains are whizzing past and the electricity pylons are's sheer heaven!