Sunday, 18 September 2016

Fun and games in Kiera heaven

Another catch up due to internet desert I am afraid.

Thursday 15th September 2016
Ellesmere to Blakes Mere
1 mile, 0 locks

We awoke to murk, so much so that I spotted a couple of boats travelling with their tunnel lights on. 

On my morning walk with the dogs I spotted this at the junction

In words and braille

After stocking up at Tesco we moved off after lunch for a very short trip to Blake Mere. 
The two dogs have very different ways of travel - One curls up and sleeps

And the other is always on duty

Sue had kindly supplied a better glasses holder than the emergency string used yesterday - in fact we have now attached a float to the back of the cord, so hopefully these will be retrievable if the worst happens again.

And so to Blake Mere – what a perfect mooring with the sun dappling through the trees

Picnic tables, peace and seclusion - what else could anyone want.

Well Kiera did need a little extra something - permission to take advantage of all that water!  It really is heaven to her

but not to Monty who just stands and barks at her to get out!

Mind you since spending 5 weeks living with them this summer he does now get in up to his chest, but there is still a lot of shouting at Kiera.

but he still spends most of the time trying to get her out

He would never consider a swim however hot the day

This would never have happened a few months ago, so he is making progress

There was one episode of high humour for all but Monty – he rushed after Kiera at a jetty, but forgot to put the brakes on.  She stopped, but in he went.  All we could see was two front paws on the jetty and his head with wild staring eyes waiting to be rescued.  I had not the heart to make him wait until I had taken a photo before I rescued him!  It was a great afternoon with a lot of rushing about and high jinks. 

It ended with them lying out by the picnic table to dry off a bit before being allowed on board

Friday 16th September 2016
Blake Mere to Grindley Brook below the locks
12.5 miles, 6 locks

Today was a funny sort of day in so many ways.  The weather was so different from the heat of yesterday.  There was a lot of rain in the night, but it was dry when we set off, but chilly.  The sun was in one moment and out the next, the clouds were always around, the wind was ever present and we even had the odd spot of rain. 

Monty, Kiera and I started off in our usual manner and headed off on foot.  Our first encounter was with this hedge cutter.  The man on the towpath was issuing orders ‘up a bit, down a bit, go left’ etc.  It was such a short length of hedge you would have thought it would have been easier and require less manpower to use a pair of shears!  Still they were making a good job of it.

 It was after this that the fun and games really started and set the scene for the rest of the day.  Two boats heading towards us were stationary as there was a boat right across the canal.  The pin attaching the stern to the Armco had come adrift.  The first people on the scene were in a hire boat and were not at all sure what to do.  I climbed aboard and made my way to the stern to try and untangle the rope and get it to shore – no chance as it was too short.

I suggested that they very gently nudge the boat towards the bank with their bow.  Unfortunately he had got himself too far over and just could not get back, so the boat behind him came along to do the nudging.  Once all was secure we were all able to move on.

Our next entertainment came at Bettisfield water point which for us was just after a bridge.  There was a boat coming through which we held back for and we then crept forward to access the water point only to find that the boat on the left ahead of us and four others coming towards us were waiting to take on water.  Five boats to water could take a very long time, so we went through without stopping.

 It was fun weaving through the crowd,

But both boats made it safely.

The real ‘fun’ occurred as we came through a bridge by a boat yard which meant boats moored on the non-tow path side of the canal.  To add to the mix there was a boat moored on the tow path side just past the bridge – we found out that they were there because her husband had had to go away by train to deal with an emergency of some sort.  There was a boat coming towards us which both boats waited and let through the bridge.  We then edged forward – we were in the lead only to find yet another boat heading our way.  I was walking and told the helmsman that there were two boats coming through, but he just kept going!  There was a head on collision at slow speed, but he left some of his blue paint on our rubbing strake.  The boatyard suggested that the moored boat move across and breasted up on one of their boats as where she was really made life very difficult for everyone. We left feeling sorry for her predicament and were glad the boatyard had offered to help her.

Today was a day of lift bridges (5) all negotiated safely and fairly smoothly.  
 We had intended mooring before the 6 locks at Grindley Brook, however, having filled up with water we discovered there was no queue at all for the locks, so we decided to go for it and go down.  There can be queues several hours long, so it was a wise move. I did comment to the lock keeper that we were surprised that it was so quiet.  His reply was 'well you should have been here a few hours ago'!

We moored up just after the locks which means we have just one lock and one mile to travel tomorrow as we have a table booked at the Willeymoor Lock Tavern for tomorrow evening.  Our time together is coming to an end, so a meal out as a late birthday celebration for Sue and I and an early one for Ken seemed to be essential!  I cannot see anything much happening tomorrow, so there is unlikely to be a blog.

Seen en route today:  a small wooden child’s oven/sink/kitchen neatly left in the middle of nowhere on the tow path.  Unfortunately I did not have my camera.

A tree full of bright red berries – will it be a hard winter?

This long very straight line of cloud struck us as rather odd.  Not something we can recall seeing before. 

Does anyone know what this cupboard is/was for?

And finally two rather lovely Shetland ponies on the non-towpath side of the canal just below the staircase locks at Grindley Brook.

 Saturday 17th September 2016
Grindley Brook to Willeymoor Lock Tavern
1.25 miles, 1 lock

Well I wrote the above last night and that will teach me not to say 'nothing much is likely to happen tomorrow'!  Having walked the dogs the pub last night to check out the moorings I was aware that 200 yards or so to my right was a wasps' nest.  Having run the gauntlet twice yesterday I had no intention of doing so again, so fully expected to turn left when heading out to do what all good dogs need to do in the morning, but what was that on the towpath?

A young calf

Who came closer and closer

And eventually went past us

 and then headed along the canal

I think she should have been behind the hedge with her friends, but she was certainly tucking in to tow path grass and bushes!  Ken did phone C&RT, but whether anything was done we will never know.  It certainly restricted our walking area for a while!

After the chill of yesterday we were back to blue skies and lots of warm sun today. The dogs have very different attitudes to sun - Monty always finds the shade

Whilst Kiera - well she just luxuriates and soaks up the rays.

Our very short journey was without incident and we were safely moored below the pub where we enjoyed a meal in the evening.

Sunday 18th September 2016
Willeymoor Lock to Swanley Marina
10 miles, 9 locks, 2 lift bridges

We needed to get to Swanley Bridge marina before 4pm as we are booked in for a service at 09:00 tomorrow.  A fairly lengthy journey that should have taken around 5.5 hours.  We set off before 09:00 thinking we had plenty of time, however it all took a lot longer than expected.

The dogs and I set off walking  and had to face yet another wasps nest.  Kiera had one sat on her rump, but it was so sleepy I was able to brush it off without trouble, but it appeared later in the day that Monty had been stung.  There are more nests around than I have ever come across before.

The first three locks went without any delays.  As we approached the open lift bridge before Wrenbury I was on helm concentrating hard on the bridge ahead when Chris popped out and wondered why the boat we had just passed was reversing.  Were they stuck?  No they were trying to tell us that Kiera had jumped ship!  We went back and collected her!  She must have made a huge leap, so something to watch for the future.

We made it through the two lift bridges at Wrenbury to moor up to go to the Spar and Farm shops in less time than had been expected.  We were lulled into a false sense of security!  Chris and I set off as soon as I got back from the shops deciding to have lunch on the run.  As the day went on the weather just got better and better as can be seen by the sky behind the church in Wrenbury.

The fun began when we got to the first of the three locks at Baddiley - we were number 5 in the queue and Sue and Ken had ended up another two boats behind us.  It was an hour before we were able to enter the first lock.  There were boats coming up as we were going down, so there were plenty of people to help with the work.  We were following nb Scowling Pig owned by a lovely young couple. I just had to ask the husband about the name.  His reply 'It is named after the wife'!  I took an intake of breath and he said 'no it really is, for some reason she was called Pig at school and she does a lot of scowling.'  They had thought they might get a pub one day and were going to call it The Scowling Pig, so when they got the boat there was no other choice to be made, especially as the previous owners had called her Barney after their pet pig!

The dogs and I must have walked a lot of miles today and in the end Kiera just had to give in and have a nap.

We made it to the marina with about 5 minutes to spare, so checked in, found out where we need to be tomorrow morning and then pulled over to the towpath side to wait for Cleddau.  The day was rounded off with a much needed and well deserved cup of tea and then a Pimms.

It has been a wonderful trip with Cleddau again - not as long or as momentous as our previous cruises - certainly no 'extreme narrow boating' this year, but it has been good.  The Llangollen might be busy with many queues and parts that are narrow and shallow, but it is a joy.  We have loved it all.


Les Biggs said...

The cupboard in the bridge wall is for stop planks storage.
Quite common across the system.
Happy boating my friends.

Jennie said...

Thanks Les - if I had waited until today (it will appear in a blog tonight, I hope!) I would not have needed to ask the question! Jennie x