Sunday, 24 July 2016

Oh no - the computer has died

Two minor hiccups and two Good Things today. First the Good Things. A little online research yesterday led us to Christ Church for the service this morning. It was very good. We were interviewed about the Boaters' Christian Fellowship during the service, something we've done in other churches before, so we were used to it. The other Good Thing was the Brook Street Cafe nearby, to which we and several others who'd been in church went for lunch. We had a good roast lamb with excellent roast potatoes. (The veg wasn't quite so good but perfectly acceptable.) And only £5.50 including a drink.

The not so good things were that our laptop PC has died. This is a bit of a problem as it is the main repository for all my photos; it's also where we download documents etc. from e-mails and websites. Fortunately I have a "smart" phone, but I'm not very smart with it. For instance, my camera has a button labelled "WiFi", but I don't know how to proceed. (I've tried switching it on and connecting this phone to it but it wants me to launch the image app which I can't find.) We will need to find some way of transferring the data from the broken machine to its replacement when we get it. Anyone know a good computer shop in Chester?

The other not so good thing was something that happened as we were tying up at Tower Wharf this afternoon. I can't write about that yet - it's something which I shall return to at the right time. Sorry to be so mysterious. Yes, after lunch we met up with Jan's friend Jane and descended the Northgate Staircase Locks.

Sorry I cannot illustrate this post with photos. I hope that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

A few minutes at the races

We have always liked Chester. Today the city was - still is - buzzing. The main event was the horse racing at the Roodee, which was drawing in the dressed-up crowds in their thousands. We had never witnessed a horse race before, and found that an excellent view could be had from the city wall alongside the track.

We completed our circuit of the wall, returned to the boat for lunch, and got into position by the racetrack (is that the right word?) in good time to see the 2.50 contended by just four horses. We were surprised that the start was on the other side of the course and that the horses raced only half a lap.

This was the scene with about 15 minutes to go.

The race started on time and was over in no more than two minutes.

I was reasonably pleased with my action shot, especially as it was hand held on full zoom (30X).

It seemed that the real point of the occasion - for those who had paid £15 or more to access the ground - was to dress up and drink to excess. Or should that be dress to excess and drink up? And lose money gambling, of course. We stayed for the next race, half an hour after the first one, and saw that the horses this time had to cover very nearly a whole lap. Perhaps these early races are merely warm-ups for the proper racing where - who knows? - maybe ten laps would be covered. No, maybe not.

Those two races were enough for us and we went for a cup of tea.

Jan spotted something about the red phone box.

It now doubles as a cash machine.

Has that happened everywhere and I just haven't noticed? Or is it just here in Chester?

We had hoped to be able to go down the Northgate staircase locks this evening, but there was no space on the visitor moorings at Tower Wharf. We've stayed where we are, by King Charles Tower, hoping that the Saturday night revellers will quieten down soon.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Down the (weed) hatch

We made good progress down all the remaining locks to Chester today. All were either in our favour or with a boat already coming up. Below Beeston Iron Lock we shared with another narrowboat.

We picked up the first prop rubbish since the beginning of this trip in April. A plastic coal bag which obviously hadn't been in the water long. I even caught a glimpse of it under the surface in the split second before it wrapped itself round the prop.

Below the water tower we met the hotel restaurant boat L'eau-T Cuisine.

We are now by the city wall; we'll go down the Northgate Staircase locks tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


Before leaving Nantwich today we nipped into the town for some provisions. At the church we saw that we were in time for a lunchtime concert, so we went in and enjoyed an astonishing piano recital.

It was given by Leo Bailey-Yang, an eight-year old pupil of Chetham's School of Music in Manchester. Yes, that's right, eight years old. Here he is, standing next to his raised piano stool and introducing his first piece, a Scarlatti sonata.

He performed two Scarlatti sonatas, one by Haydn, the Fantasie-Impromptu op. 66 by Chopin, Ravel's Sonatine and √Čtincelles op.36 no.6 by Moszkovski. All from memory, and all played with incredible accuracy and musicality.

The programme notes give a few details about Leo: he started learning the piano at six years old; the next year he got a distinction at Grade 8, being the world's fastest and youngest to do so - and with a score of 144 out of 150. He has, the notes go on to say, appeared on the TV show "Britain's got Talent" and has won many piano competitions; in May this year he played at the Carnegie Hall in New York. Oh - he's a swimmer too. He's won medals in his first UK swimming competition.

Take a bow, Leo Bailey-Yang.

He received a standing ovation after his recital; for his last of two encores he played Rimsky-Korsakov's The Flight of the Bumblebee.


If he plays like a prodigy aged 8, which he does, what will he be like at 18? I think we'll hear more of him, and we were privileged to be at his first Nantwich gig.

Onto more mundane matters, albeit canal-related. We reversed to the junction with the arm to Nantwich Basin where we winded in order to proceed northwards. In the arm was this boat. It took me ages to work out the name; Jan got it straight away. (Answer at the bottom).

Approaching Bunbury I was surprised to see a boat with its stove going. Perhaps that's its only means of cooking. It has been slightly cooler today, but not that cool!

We tied up shortly after the Bunbury staircase pair of locks. Tomorrow we'll push on to Chester.

The boat's name is James.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Crewe railway station promotes canals

The pair of Bywater Hotel Boats temporarily blocked the canal this morning as they pushed the butty across to let their guests off.

Then they moved a few boat lengths along to tie up not far in front of us.

Ally and Josiah were getting the train to Crewe to see us today, so we made the short (one stop) journey to Crewe from Nantwich Station in order to meet them off their train.

I was interested to see the railway company recognising the importance of canals.

The poster reads "90 minutes to London, 15 minutes to countryside, canals and traditional market towns."

We walked into the town centre, had lunch at the Wetherspoon's and walked to Queen's Park. On the way was a metal "treatment" facility with an unusually good viewing point from the pavement. It was the end of the road for this poor Renault Scenic.

After it had been squashed into a rather less aerodynamic form by the crusher it managed to retain its number plate and its "Scenic" badge.

But the main point of today was to spend time with Ally and Josiah. Here he's having his first ride on a swing.

It has been slightly cooler today; but without the threatened thunderstorms. Tonight looks like being more comfortable too.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Is this a pile of rubbish?

We descended the four Hurleston Locks and thus left the Llangollen Canal after three lovely weeks. We turned right onto the Shropshire Union main line and stopped at Nantwich just past the services.

On the way we passed a boat using an umbrella for its original purpose, i.e. providing a little shade.

There was a boat being rebuilt.

And can you see what this is?

There's a clue bottom left.


It's a boat.

After lunch we talked to neighbours Tony and Pat on Paws for Thought and had some very good cakes Pat had baked. Then we went into the town and restocked in Aldi. It was nice to get into the air-conditioned store; coming out was like stepping into an oven. Today has been hot. The hottest day of the year so far. And tomorrow they say it's going to rain. Is that it for summer, then? Three days? We'll see.

As we sat chatting with Tony and Pat this evening the sun set behind the trees.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Moral support

As we were entering Baddiley No 3 Lock I recognised the steerer of the boat we passed which had just come up. I couldn't place him, but Jan remembered it was the chap who had helped us down the Crow, aka Oldbury Locks on the Titford Canal last year. She even remembered his name, Phil!

As soon as we had descended the lock we tied up and I cycled back to help Phil - single handing - up the other two Baddiley Locks. It was good to be able to repay his kindness in kind, as it were.

A little further on this corvid was perched with its beak open.

We stopped in the heat about half a mile before Hurleston Locks; tomorrow we'll go round the corner to Nantwich. By the way, my 1986 OS map 118 spells Hurlestone Junction thus, i.e. with an "e".

We had a successful barbecue, using a folding BBQ I had on board but which I had forgotten about until I saw it while moving some boxes. As we were sitting outside afterwards a man came striding past heading for the lock carrying, in one hand, a new-looking Sea Searcher magnet on a new-looking blue line and, in the other, a rake. I was intrigued and followed on my bike. It turned out that he had lost his fishing rod in the pound above the bottom lock the previous day and was hoping to recover it. I joined in the search with my own Sea Searcher until, after 20 minutes or so, he found it. Martin was grateful for my support; he came back for a cup of tea and a long chat. His boat is Gypsy which he moors at Swanley Bridge Marina. I was interested in his former life as a train driver; he used to drive freight trains from Shrewsbury. We talked quite a bit about the Boaters' Christian Fellowship too.

I was moving boxes to get at the jerry can of diesel. I had dipped the tank and found it was down to about ten litres so now was my chance to try out the jiggler siphon. It worked a treat, and hardly a drop was spilled (just a tiny splash by the filler - nothing in the canal). The 30 litres now in the tank should get us down to Ellesmere Port and up to Wheaton Aston where I shall refill.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Steaming alongside the Llangollen Canal

It looks like summer. It feels like summer. Hey - it even smells like summer! It's official: Summer has arrived to north Shropshire. I have declared it so. Today I have not worn my fleece; I think this is the first time since possibly one day last year.

We went to St. Alkmund's Church in Whitchurch this morning - a traditional sung communion with a (small) robed choir. As we have now discovered Tesco we bought our (my) favourite pizza, Dr. Oetker's (promo price of £1.50), had lunch and set off towards Wrenbury.

On the way, beyond Grindley Brook where the A49 comes alongside the canal, we were treated to the sight of a steam traction engine pulling two trailers.

We exchanged greetings, first with a wave ...

... then with a steam whistle and a klaxon.

We tied up for the night just below Marbury Lock. We walked across the fields to the quiet village, had a drink in the even quieter pub and returned along the road.

Edit to add: What is the column visible hereabouts? Thanks to Wikipedia I can tell you. It's the Combermere Obelisk, erected in 1890 to commemorate Field Marshal Stapleton Cotton, the first Viscount Combermere.