Friday, 30 September 2016

Where do I start?

From where I left off I guess over a week ago!  The lack of news has been due to being busy and bad or more often than not, no internet connection.

Friday 23 September 2016
Chester to Ellesmere Port
8.5 miles, 2 locks

The journey from Chester to the Chester Zoo moorings is pleasant, but after that I found it thoroughly depressing.  One does expect industrial areas around canals, but many of them have some aspect of interest, but I found nothing to commend this stretch of waterway.  There was a lot of floating weed and the rubbish along the towpath just got worse and worse.  There is a long fenced off part to the side of the towpath that has been cut several times and the remains of fires along with piles of bottles and cans was just appalling.  A real skid row alley I am afraid. The highlight (and not that exciting) was this one splash of autumn colour.

This typifies the rest of the trip to the Boat Musuem at Ellesmere Port

But make it we did

So we have 66.5 miles to go to get off the Shropshire Union heading for home.

We went down the two locks into the Boat Museum basin and moored up at the end of the wall

Sadly there was no traffic on the Manchester Ship Canal or the Mersey

We explored the Boat Museum and were particularly taken by this old working boat

It is only when you go inside the living space that you realise just how little room there was for one person, never mind a whole family!  Chris is demonstrating that a Cross Bed is far from a new invention.  It is just a whole lot smaller than what we are blessed with today.

The cupboard front becomes the dining table

There are a lot of very old boats waiting to be restored - many years of work in progress I am afraid.

The row of cottages built in 1833 have been homes over the years to shipwrights, railway workers, blacksmiths and porters and their families.  They now recreate homes from the 1830s, 1900s, 1930s and the 1950s, so many things to recognise from our childhoods in the last one.

We were glad we went, but it is not somewhere we would want to go back to, at least, not by boat.  The mooring is safe enough, it is just the getting there and back we would not want to do again.

Saturday 24th September 2016
Ellesmere Port to Chester Zoo Moorings
4.5 miles, 2 locks

It was a journey that had to be done is about all I can say about it.  The weather was good which helped ease our passage.

We spotted quite a few of these 'Beluga' aircraft overhead in our time in this area.  They really are a very odd shape.

We went up the two locks out of the museum before getting our heads down and going for the return trip.

This boat

has appropriate decor above his 'garden gate'!

Sunday 25th November 2016
Chester Zoo

What a wonderful day we had.  Our son, his wife and three children drove over from Derby, picked me up and we headed for the zoo.  Chris was left on the boat to walk the dogs and read the Sunday Times!  I am afraid his arthritic knee is probably not up to a day of walking round a zoo.  The weather was perfect - dry, mostly sunny and fairly warm.  We had about 2 minutes of spotty rain - not bad for the end of September.

Seeing our 13 year old granddaughter, Molly, walking arm in arm with her Mum I realised she is nearly as tall as Jo!  It was only yesterday that she was a bundle in our arms.

 I am glad to say that she is more than happy joining in family fun - long may that continue.

Noah, 9, and Evelyn, 8 in December, were able to both get into the model of an orang utang nest for Mum and baby

but Molly - well she is just too long!

So to the zoo.  It is by far and away the best zoo I have ever visited.  The enclosures are very large and well thought out.  The animals have enough space to be invisible if they want to be (we only saw the tummy of one tiger and the rump of the another!)

They try to re-create the animals natural habitat.

These chimps look really under stress don't they?!

Who can resist an 'ah' for a baby elephant

And just a few more of my favourites

My personal favourites are the orang utangs - the larger of the two babies seemed to be teaching the younger one how to climb
 Whilst the adults just 'hung about'

The inside areas are no less well thought out - large, airy with many twisting pathways around the myriad of plants

As you wander through a world of many different coloured butterflies

 and birds

 The above is only a very small selection of what there is to see.  It is a place we will go back to and get the rest of the family along to join the fun.  The one creatures we had to see were the sloths. We found two who were both being entirely slothful curled up, fast asleep high above our heads.  So why was seeing them so important - young Evelyn is fascinated by them and I think it would have ruined her day if she had not found them.  I asked her what is was about sloths that fascinates her.  The answer 'well Grandma, I think I was born to love sloths'!

They took me back to the boat where we all had supper together before they headed home.  I am afraid the postscript to the day was not a good one for Noah who was having a tug of war with Molly when she let go, he fell backwards and has unfortunately broken his coccyx.  No horse riding for a while I am afraid.

Monday 26th September 2016
Chester Zoo Moorings to Chester 
4 miles, 0 locks

Just a short trip this morning, but it was a full waterproof day including gaiters.  The dogs and I walked the first 2 miles as they were going to be left whilst we went to Telford's Warehouse for lunch to meet up with Kiera's owners, Jane and Chris, back from their holiday in Majorca.  The food was excellent and it was good to catch up with their holiday news.  Kiera was, needless to say, delighted to see them back and happily trotted off home whilst they staggered off with her 'luggage' - bed, food boxes, towels etc.  Monty was very subdued for a couple of days as he really misses the company.

The weather cheered up and we set off to walk the rest of the wall we missed last week.  First we headed to Northgate to find the Cheese Shop again to stock up prior to hosting dinner when we meet up with Sue and Ken on nb Cleddau on Tuesday.

With our purchases safely in the bag we headed off from Northgate - clockwise this time

I thought 23 City Walls was a good address, but this beats it hands down

As we went past the Cathedral garden there was a Gyr falcon being exercised.  After an impressive flying display he/she landed on the lure

to claim his/her reward

We walked across Eastgate with this impressive clock

Passage across the bridge was quite a struggle as this party of tourists were all up there taking photos of each other and the clock.  We waited and waited and then had to weave!

And so ended our visit to Chester - a place we both loved and will come back again.

Friday, 23 September 2016

We got it right again - the timing that is

Wednesday 21st September 2016
Shady Oak Pub, Beeston to Chester
10 miles, 8 locks

We woke to yet another glorious day - chilly to start with, but it soon warmed up.  We set off early (well early for us!) - the dogs and I left just before 8am and Chris followed 10 minutes later.  My walk was idyllic once past this field of young cattle on the other side of the canal.  As they saw us come under the bridge they rushed across the field and set up the most unearthly racket. I think they might have thought we were arriving with food!

For the rest of the couple of miles it was peaceful - we only saw one man with his dog

Our only other companions were these serene and graceful swans

Then once back on board we came across this very, very long line of moored boats.  For non boaters - you have to slow down to idle going past moored boats.  The line is over a mile long and by the end you are losing the will to live!

 But it does end eventually and normal speed can be resumed.  The worst part is we know what is coming on the way back!

I do love to see properties where the owners make the most of their enviable canal locations.

As we approached Chester there are five locks to negotiate and our timing was perfect.  As we approached a boat (nb Spadger) was just entering the top lock, so by the time we arrived the gate on the far side was open and ready for us to sail in.  We shared all five locks and even better the first four were full and ready for us.

The approach to Chester is a bit industrial, but there are points of interest - this is the Lead Shot Tower - it used to be used to making musket shot during Napoleonic Wars.

Right opposite this is a new Waitrose - at least we assume it is fairly new as it does not appear in either of our guide books.  We stopped to get some 'goodies', but moved on to moor again to get our basics from Tesco.

As you creep forward you become aware of the city walls

This definitely has the feeling of being a moat

Our final hurdle - the three staircase locks at Northgate.

Again we were lucky and arrived to find a boat in the top lock and the gate on this side open and waiting for us to enter.  The paddle gear on the first two locks is on the towpath side, so I did not even have to do any winding!

As you emerge at the bottom under this low bridge it is a sharp turn to the right to

Tower Wharf where we moored up opposite the Warehouse built by Thomas Telford which is now a very pleasant pub

Just before Taylor's Boatyard which is the oldest working boatyard in the country.

We were also opposite this tribute to LTC Rolt

We wandered along the towpath with the dogs - someone has a sense of humour

Well it made us smile.

Thursday 22nd September 2016

A leisurely start today before we headed out with both dogs to walk the walls of Chester

It is a fascinating walk that takes quite a while as there is a lot of reading material as you go.  There are views of wonderful buildings

hills in the distance

nb Tentatrice!

The Roodee Racecourse

Chester Castle

The Old Dee Bridge over the River Dee and leading to Wales

How is this for an address?

And the view of the River Dee from that balcony must be amazing

We diverted off the wall to walk through the Roman Gardens

Where we found a Roman soldier educating a class of school children - he was demonstrating how much protection his head got as he tried to chop the volunteer's head off!

Next stop was The Albion for lunch

We met the criteria and were made very welcome.  They do not allow children, but dogs are welcome and are given a large bowl of water.

It is a WWI theme inside.  The landlord has been there for 43 years.  A place we would recommend.  Chris had a good sandwich and I opted for a Staffordshire oatcake and it was a particularly good one.

Outside again we passed by the Roman Amphitheatre and another Roman soldier instructing a school party.

These were being shown how to form a 'wedge' which had to shuffle forward to break up the line of teachers and parents!  They were having a whale of a time.

Grosvenor Park gave Monty and Kiera a chance to let off steam and have a good run.

 There were a lot of these which kept both dogs very busy.

We took the open top bus tour which was very empty, so we were able to spread out all along the back seats.

I always find these tours the best way to find out about new places.  There are so many wonderful buildings in Chester it is hard to know what to leave out (but I will!)

This is called Noah's Ark - the HQ of Chester Scouts

There is that boat again!

What an amazing Town Hall

 Once off the bus we decided to walk back to the boat via the shops and the famous 'Chester Rows' - a unique double-tier shopping street.

We still have about a third of the wall walk to complete the circle, but maybe on our way back next week.  We found a fabulous green grocer and an even more amazing cheese shop on the way back to the boat.  Their Stilton and Walnut paté is to die for.

It was after 5pm when we got back to the boat - it was a long day, but one we both really enjoyed. Chester is a wonderful city - somewhere we would like to come back to one day.