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Monday, 1 October 2012

From Loughborough back to Debdale

Monday 24th September The rain that started falling during Sunday afternoon carried on all night and all through the day. The river Soar was obviously going to go into flood and we preferred to be tied up in Loughborough rather than being stuck at a lock. We did various things including catching the new Sweeny film using Orange Wednesdays, we enjoyed it, but it didn’t need a lot of brain power! I also saw another Spitfire fly over! We contacted Mike & Jo on Sarah Kate to find they were shut in at Zouch cut with the flood gates closed.

Thursday 27th and we reversed into Loughborough basin to use the services and to top up with fresh fruit from an excellent fruit shop on ?Church Gate. As we got back to Lily, Mike & Jo arrived and we arranged to set off after lunch, though Mike added that Jo needed to do a quick (?) shop.
It was 2.15 when we set off, reasonable weather but some showers as we made our way to Mountsorrel where we stopped for the night and arranged for Beryl from Wasp to come over for a wine fuelled natter after we had eaten. The five of us had a really good chat and realised how much had passed since last we did so.
Above Mountsorrel Lock, Lily & Sarah Kate on towpath
Beryl's Wasp moored offside on her land

Friday 28th we set off just past 9 as there was slight drizzle, and by the time we had travelled the short distance to Sileby Mill it was very wet! We stopped there to add 100 litres of fuel at 92p and then carried on to Leicester. We didn’t share any locks and only met a few on our way to mooring at Castle Gardens in Leicester. Our daughter joined us for the run from Thurmaston into Leicester, the rain having stopped by the time we arrived to pick her up.
Above Junction Lock a super quality towpath being built as part of
a Sustrans route, just further along work has started on a new bridge
at the river Wreake junction that is being built to a navigable height.

Saturday 29th and a wonderful day forecast, with poor weather on Sunday, so we set off after a Costa by 10 and made our way up the locks. We found that the first 4 locks were against us and that the towpath gate was open......someone wasn’t shutting them! We caught them up at Kings Lock, before which we had crossed 3 boats, and another came down as we went in, but the other boat said they’d stop at Blue Bank for us to join them.
At Freemans Lock new landscaping replaces old brambles etc

The other boat crew were lucky they did catch them up as they had just collected the boat from Pillings Marina near Loughborough and were taking it to Bath. One of the men had a boat already and he had forgotten to bring a BW key and the locks from Kings Lock through to Kilby Bridge have many paddles locked, so they were not going to progress far. They said they had been shutting gates as the gates behind they hadn’t, and they were clearly going to be yet other “Continuous Moorers” near Bath. The incredible thing was the one helming the boat was moaning to Carol about lack of maintenance, so she said it was significantly because so many people were not paying mooring fees or boat licences. For good measure she pointed out that they might have difficulty getting up Foxton Locks as their licence had expired 2 months before!
Big locks, big wash but the bow rope holds Lily from banging around.

In Top half mile Lock, lovely sunny late afternoon

We worked steadily with them to Kilby Bridge where they stopped to get milk & cigarettes, we carried on to Wistow where after 12 miles and 22 wide locks, and after walking I suppose 5 miles, we were very tired.
These cows greeted us as we reached our mooring

Sunday 30th the last day of our annual cruise dawned overcast but far better than the forecast rain and wind! I was casting off as a Canal Time boat came past so I told them we’d catch up with them at the next lock. I don’t think they understood why I said what I did, they were three very pleasant members of an Afrikaner family and had not realised two boats could share a lock. We had a very pleasant time working with them, father was 70 he said, looked under 60, mother was petite and daughter a charming woman who had left her husband at home whilst she came to spend 3 weeks in the UK with her parents.

At Kibworth Top Lock we bade them farewell as they set off before us, it had been a pleasant way of working through the 5 locks. Sadly as we exited Saddington Tunnel, having just passed a day boat, I noticed a warning light on. I expected that we had again thrown a belt off our domestic alternator but investigations later show it is more serious & is going off for checking....thank heavens we got back and are able to stay plugged into mains power.
We execute a 180 degree turn into our home base at Debdale Wharf

So our trip ends, we covered 596 miles, worked through 463 locks and around 20 swing bridges. The engine ran for something near 700 hours, but when the engine alternator didn’t run the clock didn’t either so it is an estimate. We were away for 22 weeks

Finally I don't normally blog whilst at base but we intend to head out for short trips and also I've got quite a few photos I meant to put in during the cruise but managed to forget to do so. Look in every now and then. Next cruise proper should start in April 2013, thanks for looking.

Monday, 24 September 2012

From Fradley to Loughborough

Monday 17th September Bright at first but not warm and showers by 5. We pushed across to the water point at first and had a pretty awful cup of coffee before we set off around 10.30, joining a line of boats descending and meeting boats coming up. Between Fradley & Alrewas we met Mo & Vanessa on Balmaha, moored up alongside and had a good natter with them & Mo’s cousin and wife who were moored with them. Mo’s coffee was much better.
Lily leaves Balmaha

It was a great chat but we had to get on, we had an appointment to meet Mike & Jo on Sarah Kate that evening in Burton on Trent. We had a bit of queuing at locks and it clouded over and the breeze got up but we made it to tie up with Sarah Kate just before the footbridge to the park in Burton.
Alrewas weir was not so well protected when we first went past it.

After we had eaten they joined us in Lily for a good old chat. There are two significant coincidences we have with them, the first is how we became aware of is their boat. Sarah Kate was launched, fully fitted, at Thurmaston boatyard on the day the shell of our second boat was also launched. In Mike & Jo’s care she has been much improved as well as growing quite significantly longer and she shows the love they have for her.

The second, and much stranger coincidence came to our mutual knowledge about two years ago. A schoolfriend of Carol right from the early years of her education joined the nurse training scheme at Leicester Royal Infirmary with Carol. Sadly through illness she did not achieve her State Registration until a year after Carol, having dropped into the following set of trainees. During a communication around two years ago she mentioned she had another old nursing friend with a boat called Sarah Kate! Yes Jo was in her set, what a coincidence.
Mike approaches his mooring spot.

I regret I forgot to take photos of both meetings, but Mo & Jo provided images, thanks both.

Tuesday 18th Mike & Jo moved away quietly whilst I was doing my morning exercises, heading towards Nottingham to where they have never been by boat.
I've not seen one of these old Morris cars for I guess 40 years

The trouble with Burton on Trent as far as Carol is concerned is the smell of the brewing, but I of course love it, and we were moored near to Marston’s brewery. The other big problem is that it is a very long way from the canal to the major stores. In the past we have walked there and struggled back, but regrettably Carol’s back problems mean a walk like this is completely out of the question. However, just east of our mooring the number 3 bus runs every quarter hour down to the supermarkets & coffee houses. We have visitors coming on Thursday and Carol had another feast to prepare. We did some of the purchasing in the morning and after lunch I left Carol resting whilst I caught the bus to go to the National Museum of Brewing. 
The "brewery visit lets you see a sort of reconstruction of a brewery. I went on a
tour of Marstons during an IWA Festival, there we were in the actual brew house

It was very interesting, I spent well over 2 hours there and finished in their bar for my 4 samples of beer. I tried Worthingto E, Red Label, White Label and one from Rock in Cornwall. It was very interesting trying them as a tasting, the Cornish beer was not in the same league as the Worthingtons, the E was a drink I used to enjoy when much younger, but the White Label was by far the best of the four, if only you can find it!
The brewery a justly proud of their horse drawn vehicles

Wednesday 19th and after getting fresh soft fruit we moved on to Willington, mooring just before the road bridge in a lovely spot and much further from the rail lines than where most people moor. Weather was reasonable but wet overnight, Carol prepared some of the dishes in advance for our guests on Thursday.
The old stone bridge over the river Dove

Thursday 20th and it was damp at first but brightened so that I was able to polish the brasses before our friends arrived. We cruised down to Stenson and back before mooring up for a typically magnificent meal made by Carol. During the cruise the weather stayed dry but cool and overcast, during lunch it lightened, and as we chatted and played cards out came the sun! It was a most enjoyable way to spend a day.
Friends after they had eaten very well!

Friday 21st A very wet day, but we had arranged to have some of our family for lunch on Sunday in Loughborough and we had to move on. We reversed back to the winding hole and went about, used the services and got cruising about 10.15. It rained with differing intensities all day and it was breezy and cool, even I had fingerless mitts on! Our first large lock since the few we did up the Rochdale on August 5th was that delicate little one at Stenson! We met boats at most locks but only shared one and one of the top gates at Swarkestone was horribly jammed but fortunately in the closed position and the other gate did open. I reported it to C&RT, hopefully they soon got it sorted.

We carried on till we got to Red Hill when we’d had enough and we moored just before the flood lock at 5. Quite a big day for us, 9 miles and 9 wide locks, but 15 years ago I reckoned that on a long summer’s day we could get from Thurmaston to nearly Alrewas, but we never actually did quite that much! No pictures in the awful weather!

Saturday 22nd and a lovely day after a cold night with big condensation inside Lily. We were away by 9.20 meeting with a fibreglass cruiser at Ratcliffe Lock and shared this and Kegworth with them. They had sold the boat after renovating it and were delivering it to Thurmaston. 
Carol passes Ratcliff Power Station

By the time were at Zouch sweater & jacket were off. 
The river past Normanton on Soar is lovely

At Bishops Meadow we shared with another narrowboat and then we stopped to watch qualifying for the Singapore GP, before moving on to moor just through Chainbridge. We had intended to moor in Loughborough Basin but two long broad beam boats and about 3 others had pretty well filled it, in fact if we had ventured up there I’m sure we’d never have been able to turn.

Sunday 23rd started dry but overcast but it was raining by mid day and carried on doing so through till we went to bed and there were heavy showers after this. The forecast for Sun night/ Monday is awful with heavy rainfall and strong winds, perhaps we should have pushed on through to Kings Lock to get off the river. We didn’t as we had organised for our oldest daughter and family to come for lunch in late afternoon. It was off for a coffee first, quick shop to make sure this week’s chicken was totally fresh!
Very tasty & chocolaty!!

We had a lovely afternoon and evening, great food and several board games. It had been Hannah’s 15th birthday the day before so we had some girly pink fizz at first and a very yummy cake Sally had bought for her later. Now if the Soar can just avoid going into flood!!!!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Slowly homewards, eating well

Monday 10th September The weather was overcast most of the day and we were in sweaters. Intermittent rain and a downpour in the evening, not great weather. We set off to Leek tunnel but decided not to pass through it as it doesn’t really get you to Leek, so we winded and battled our way back around the twisty canal, rubbing on the bottom in many places, pretty but it would be better on  warm sunny day. We returned to Hazelhurst junction to find it crowded with boats, so we decided the defer our trip to Froghall until the spring and made our way back to Etruria. We stopped to pick up or water filter, noting that the cycle Tour of Britain was to pass on that road the following Thursday. 13 miles and 8 locks
This wonky horned beast was along the Caldon canal

Tuesday 11th Very wet overnight, starting cloudy with a cold wind in the morning and we saw friends Mike & Jo on Sarah Kate filling with water at the water point in front of us. They being ready to set off & we having other things to do, we arranged to meet in Stone in the evening to talk over the 2 years or so since we last met.
By the time we were ready to set off there were boats everywhere. A boat had just gone down the top lock, I reset it, but a boat coming down from Stoke blocked us from turning in to use it, so we followed that boat down, and before we had left the lock 4 more boats had arrived! 
This structure alongside the canal in Stoke is a refuse incinerator,
 unlike those in Leicestershire it is still working

We met and followed boats all the way through to Stone, and started to hear Stone mooring were full!! Then Jo rang to say they had not found anywhere to moor in Stone and we would have to defer our chat! We stopped as soon as we reached the outskirts of the town in a lovely quiet mooring. 8 miles 10 locks
The problem with Carol's garden this year!

On the last three nights Carol has really excelled in the galley with excellent Singapore Noodles, brilliant Lamb Dhansac and a very good Chicken Tikka Marsala. All in wonderfully low fat format, giving Carol great pleasure in the cooking and both of us in the eating.
We saw many kingfishers this week

Wednesday 12th A bright start with little wind and warming as the day went on. We shopped & coffee’d in Stone before getting away, but turning into Aston Marina to collect a porthole glass that had been delivered there, and topping up with fuel at 81.8p. We carried on for about half a mile before finding a lovely spot to stop. 3 miles and 5 locks.
Carol and her garden on a sunny day

Thursday 13th A surprisingly pleasant day after a really cold night, shorts were on again! Away at 9.20, we caught up with 2 boats at the first lock, and 3 others arrived before we left, and boats came up too. We made steady progress, surprisingly the water point at Gt Heywood was free, so we topped up before we queued at the next lock before passing through easily to Rugeley where we stopped at 3.15 just before bridge 67. We then headed into Costa & booked a table at the Royal Harris, a Chinese restaurant as I though Carol deserved a break.
A home owner has a great idea for slowing down boats

The coffee was good, the meal pretty good, it operated on a buffet system, but where you order what you want & it is cooked fresh for you. The Shoulder of Mutton in Foxton does the same, and in our opinion is better, but we both ate well.  11 miles 3 locks

Friday 14th Mostly bright with a cool strong wind. We stocked up for friends visiting for Sunday lunch, and collected repeat prescriptions. We didn’t rush as we only wanted to get towards Fradley but we had a pleasant cruise stopping for the night above Woodsend Lock. The heating was put on!  6 ½ miles.
Above Woodsend lock

Saturday 15th A glorious day, and all we did was cruise down 3 locks and moored opposite the services block in Fradley. A volunteer was marshalling boats going down into the junction, and warning people about fresh paint on the lock gates. Volunteers from Coors Brewery had repainted them a few days before but sadly the paint was only dry on the surface but sticky and wet underneath!

After stopping we sample the cafes coffee (pretty good) and then Carol set to preparing food for Sunday lunch whilst I cleaned & polished. We enjoyed a walk around the nature reserve, picking some blackberries, and then a pint in The Swan. 1 mile, 3 locks

Sunday Disaster, the chicken had gone off!! It was in date but with this much pong we were not going to eat it!! Fortunately Carol had some chicken pieces she could interpret into a great meal. Our friends dined royally and we had a great day.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Spitfire Week

ASpitfire Week

Mon-Wed We were away from Lily, having left her in Aston Marina near Stone. It was an impressive place with a very good, but expensive farm shop. We had concerns that our power supply had dropped out as we tried to poll our alarm system but though it responded on Saturday, it didn’t on Monday. To our relief all was well when we got back, the alarm just doesn’t seem to want to react to text messages any more, another job to sort out when we get home!
Aston Marina entry, don't try to get in by turning right and over the bridge
as the sign above Aston Lock tells you!

On our way home we stopped in London to meet Rowan & Suzanne from Wellington NZ whom we met while descending Hatton Locks 4 years ago. We had a lovely natter but neither the coffee nor the meal we shared was up to much, I intend to write and complain over both.
With Rowan & Suzanne in a pub nr Trafalgar Square

Why a Spitfire week? Well on the train from London I looked out the window of the train and saw a Spitfire flying over. Then on Friday I heard that distinctive sound of a Merlin engine, but trees obstructed my view, but on Saturday as we moved away from the Etruria Staircase Locks I heard the sound of two of these engines and saw a pair of Spitfires flying over. I suppose it was around this date 72 years ago that they were battling away over Southern England.

Thursday 6th September was a bright day, warmish but with a cool wind. We used the mains power we had paid for to clean the boat and polish around before setting off for Stone. We cruised there and moored above lock 29 and re-provisioned at Morrissons, enjoyed a coffee and a Thursday curry. We were surprised when Mick from Aligator, (and we’re sorry we can’t remember his wife’s name), sat down at the table next to us! Earlier this year they were moored alongside us in Debdale whilst they completed work on their new home, living aboard, and with her having her ankle in plaster! What a coincidence!                         2miles & 4 locks

Friday 7th and the weather was lovely with much less wind. Aligator passed us at 7.30, it was much later that we joined a busy set of boats climbing and descending. It was steady work and we met boats at most locks halving the work. After the late start it was 5 by the time we moored at the end of the Caldon. 81/2 miles and 11 locks.
The end of the Caldon

Saturday 8th a fabulous day of weather. Overnight one of our gas bottles became empty and just past the end of the Caldon towards Etruria Marina, on the towpath side there is a firm selling gas at £17.50 inc VAT!!! I wandered along to replenish our stock, then we walked to the Costa at Festival Park before returning to view the Etruria Museum. It was a Steaming Day, but not till 1pm and having enjoyed steam in many places, we made do with viewing the preserved works. Quite interesting but not very photogenic, though whilst I was finishing off my viewing, Carol was sitting on some steps alongside the canal arm and watched a kingfisher flying to and fro.
Water pours between the gates within the staircase locks

We enjoyed our lunch then reversed to the junction and turned into the Caldon Canal and up through the staircase pair, after using the services to top up our water. Two Spitfires flying over gave an emotional sense to this bit of the cruise. We stopped at Ivy House lift bridge so I could walk to Screwfix to replace our water filter cartridge. I had bought 2 cartridges around Xmas as they need changing every 6 months and had no idea whether I’d be able to buy one at replacement time. When I fitted the new one, it leaked!!! I have not previously checked closely for leaks after replacing them, thank heavens I did so this time. Fortunately when I refitted the one I had removed, it was water tight, and fortunately too Screwfix has centralised computer records that showed when I bought the faulty one.......except they had none in stock, I need to call by on our return cruise. I also bought some oil from the motor spares shop next to Screwfix, an oil change is due.
Bottle Kilns near the Caldon

Fantastic plants by some apartments

This bit of the Caldon far from attractive and is narrow. Old pottery works have largely been demolished, though some of the grander office buildings have been converted to other uses, but several of the typical bottle kilns have been preserved to retain some of the old character. We carried on to bridge 15 and moored up with several other boats in a near rural setting. The fine dry weather had resulted in Lily becoming very dusty so I washed off the towpath side in the evening after watching the qualifying for the Italian GP.   Just 3 1/2 miles. 3 locks and one lift bridge.
This old level crossing was alongside our mooring
I can't remember how long ago it was since I saw gates like these.
The mighty river Trent flowed near our mooring

Sunday 9th another lovely day, warm and mostly sunny with little breeze. I walked to the nearby village to get my Sunday Times fix, Google Maps showing a shop nearby, but I asked a local just where it was & he was guiding me far away, so I returned & we set off around 10.15. We stopped at br 18 in Milton & I got the papers on a short stop, during which I saw a very old car, I’d guess from around 1915 but couldn’t spot its badge, driving through the village. Away again we caught up with a boat at Engine lock, in the country now. I could hear water flowing under the grass along the off-side edge of the lock, is this a problem for the future for C&RT?
This lock side sculpture shows images reflecting the history of the area
It mention the Spitfire.

The other boat opened the first lift bridge, I did the second then we had the 5 locks at Stockton Brook near where R.J.Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire was born with iInteresting sculptures at lockside. We stopped for lunch just past and then after using the services we moved onto the Leek branch, but it was incredibly shallow. 
Turning right towards Leek

We met Alligator just after the junction, were discussing as to whether to bother going along it with it so shallow, but stopped just past the Hazlehurst Aqueduct to watch the GP.
Mooring at Hazelhurst Aqueduct

6 locks, 2 lift bridges & 6 miles.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Up Heartbreak Hill and down to Stone

Monday 27th August Only a short blog this week as we are leaving Lily on Saturday for a trip to Chichester with a stop in London on our way back to see our friends from New Zealand who are coming over for a week’s stay after visiting the boatyard in China where their new Off-Shore cruiser is being built. It looks very impressive and getting it from China gets them a lot more boat for their money. I must say it hardly seems a direct connection going from NZ to China to UK, back through Bali to see their son & family & then home, but we are glad we are going to see them again.
Nothing particular to do with Monday, just a pretty!!

Anyway, onto boating, and on Monday it was Bank Holiday, lousy weather and lots of boats moving, so we stayed put in Wheelock, and took the bus into Sandbach. We also ate at San Marco restaurant at the wharf, which was OK, not cheap & we will not stop again. Shame as it is a lovely setting and has made over the old wharf building in a pleasant way.
Sandbach really worked hard
naming its streets

I noticed signs mounted on the side of the Aldi store in Sandbach. It and the adjacent stores have been built on the site of the original ERF lorry factory and the signs give a potted history 

Tuesday 28th and a fine day and quite warm. After early morning chores in Costa & topping up the water tank it was 12 before we were away hitting the locks. 

This mooring spike was bent by passing boats, some load!

We crossed several boats at locks and seeing surveyors at work for a possible new marina not far from the M6 crossing. We stopped for the night just past lock 49 after 5 hours of cruising covering 5 miles and 18 locks.
Wrapped around the prop shaft this was hard to remove

Once stopped I had a look, or rather a feel, of the prop as we had a “tinkling” though drive seemed OK. I pulled off some fishing net and poly bag with much heaving and a bit of cutting, but there was a metal rod wrapped around the shaft with a length sticking out past the blades. The chrome plated bar was about 4mm diameter, not in a spring steel but in a fairly robust metal and I heaved and strained for a long time without success. Eventually I got out a mooring spike, in fact the one that cleared the bow thrusters last week, and I eventually managed to pry it off the shaft, with a little bit of fine nylon net through the hole in it. Rotten really as we always are very kind and polite to fishermen yet they get back at us like this!

Wednesday 29th The forecast was that the overnight & morning rain would clear around 12, but it had stopped by 10.30 so we were away, only for drizzle to start a short while later. We were following an ex-Challenger boat, all smartly repainted, on its way from being shown at Nantwich, with 6 shares to sell! The rain stopped and started several times before we got to Red Bull services where we got rid of our rubbish when as we entered the lock it threw it down. I told Carol to say below, I drew a paddle just a bit to let Lily rise slowly, and stopped under the road bridge, but I got wet. When the lock was full I opened the gate but stopped on board to eat my sandwich......and a boat came!!! The deluge eased somewhat so we moved on to the next lock and repeated the procedure, as did the rain. It had eased by the time the lock was full, but I don’t think  have ever been so wet, my shorts needed wringing out and my boots with their waterproof sock were squelching!
Carol's spiky plants brushed the tunnel roof

We had a short wait for Harecastle tunnel and discussed what we should do with the flowers on the roof which were clearly going to hit the roof. We shuffled them around and went in following the Challenger boat, which had a horribly noisy exhaust. About 50 minutes later we were out, the plants survived but the roof of the boat was covered in debris, the Cordilines had acted as a good brush for the lowest parts of the roof!
We carried on for about an hour longer before mooring near Etruria Marina and going to the adjacent cinema on a 2 for 1 deal to see a not great film. 6.5 miles and 8 locks.

Thursday 30th started dry and bright but with a cool breeze, I reckoned it was more an October temperature, not August. Costa before starting and then away at 10.15. We met several boats at the locks and the breeze eased and it warmed up a bit. We stopped by Stoke railway station for me to get the tickets for our trip. I had done quite a bit of research on-line to get the best price, but the booking clerk came up with a new wheeze that has saved us £20+ on the return ticket, I just hope there is not going to be a problem!
After lunch we were away in a pleasant afternoon, again meeting boats, and as we were near Stone where we wanted to stop, we were told the moorings looked full top and bottom of the bottom lock. I looked at the Google map for Stone & decided if we stopped above lock 30 we would be probably nearer to our target than in the other spots. We stopped and there were mooring rings set up for us to use and a quiet spot. It was Thursday, our target was a Wetherspoons curry. Excellent and Ruddles was only £1.69!!!  9 miles and 10 locks.
The old Joules Brewery's incredible cast iron lintel on Newcastle Rd

Friday 31st It had been cold overnight, some places had experienced an overnight frost!! It dawned bright, but again the breeze was cool. Coffee & paper plus buying an extra birthday present to give to granddaughter Emily who is 10 today meant it was around 11 when we set off. 
This old brewery also has another use now

Seen in Stone, I don't ever recall seeing a violin maker before

Volunteers were helping at lock 29 and again at the bottom lock which was pleasant. We followed an incredibly smart boat, still owned by its original family after 35 years, beautifully repainted, only the basic style and registration number hinted at its age. Still on its original Lister engine, oil changed every 250 hours, blacked every 3 years and not re-plated, amazing.
Below the bottom lock we stopped for lunch and then pootled onto Aston Marina where Lily is to stay whilst we travel away. Very impressive place and it has a wonderful deli and butchers. The Bistro looked OK but seemed expensive, we resisted the temptation to book for Xmas day at £79.95 a head!! We used the on-site laundry to finish off our washing. Just 2 miles and 5 locks.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

In Manchester, away and on way home

August 12th to 21st
Sam & Hannah came to stay for 3 nights and we showed them things, firstly at the Trafford Centre where we caught a film before moving into Castlefields. We enjoyed having the kids to stay and they enjoyed Manchester.
Carol happy with our grandchildren

Bottom lock of Rochdale canal at dusk
the Beetham Tower behind

We decided that the moorings by the YHA in Castlefields had been very quiet during our stays & seemed OK for a stay for our trip to Forfar for Carol’s aunt’s funeral. I rang Bridgewater Canal Co & told them of our problem and they sanctioned our stay. Leaving on Thursday morning we returned on Monday, getting off the train at Deansgate Station just a couple of hundred yards from Lily. All was well, but we need to sort out wiring to let us keep the alarm switched on whilst the rest is off, a job for the winter. The amazing thing for me on our visit was seeing a red squirrel from cousin Isobel's kitchen window, the first one I ever recall seeing.
The mooring outside the YHA, Lily was moored on left.
Note fantastic Museum of Science & Industry dead ahead.

Wednesday 22nd  Carol was knocked up by the train journeys etc so we did little on Tuesday except leave Castlefields, using the services and noting that some boaters can’t read the sign I made about rubbish disposal and had again started dumping it near the Sanitary Station! We cruised to Sale and stopped there till Thursday, with me polishing the starboard side and Carol resting, though we did replenish our stores.

Thursday 23rd and after a coffee and lunch we set off on a reasonable day. We filled with water past Hyde at Ye Olde no 3 and then stopped at Heyford Marine and asked if we could try getting Lily far enough up the slip to expose the bow thruster tube. Second attempt worked after we had pumped all the water out of the newly filled tank and had filled with fuel at 87p. My feet & knees got wet but my cossie stayed dry. The blades were jammed but I could feel something trapped and with a few judicious pushes with a mooring spike I got them to move a bit and then I got out the bits of plastic that were jamming it and after 5 minutes work all was well. 
Preparing to poke about

Trying to see what is jamming it

And this was all that jammed it, a thin plastic moulding!!!

We couldn’t get Lily back out from the slip so despite Stuart having knocked off for the day he started up an incredible machine, built to haul Vulcan bombers, and gave Lily a slight push down the slope and she was afloat. We filled with water and moved on about a mile to stop for the night just past 6 having covered 7 miles but having sorted the bow thruster.

Friday 24th Surprisingly good weather despite the forecast though we needed a jumper much of the day. Away by 9 we had a steady cruise to Stockton Heath where we took refreshment & got fresh fruit before moving on to Claymore to pick up the glass, except it had not arrived. I called Worcester & got the impression it possibly had not been sent. I’m getting him to send it to the marina in Stone where we are stopping on Sept 1st to 6th.
The shop & P.O. at Moore is useful and the bin by the canal has recycling.

We arrived at Preston Brook tunnel with 15 minutes to wait for our passage time, so I tethered Lily with the centre rope.....bad idea. Just as we were about to cast off 2 boats arrived & I waved them past. Sadly the canal was shallow and as the first boat passed a bit fast Lily moved and with the rope attached to the roof she moved and rolled badly, throwing open many doors in the galley! I’ll not do it again!
One large area of Floating Pennywort,
there were many clumps between Dutton Lock & Anderton

At the lock past the tunnel there was quite a lot of Pennywort, I’ll moan at CRT & contact the local IWA about it. We carried on a bit from there to tie up at night with enough time to touch up a bit of paint before the rain came, just past br 213.

Saturday 25th and a pleasant day with just one heavy shower whilst cruising. The first boat past was at 6.30 and many more had done so by the time we cast off at 9.15. We met several boats and arrived at Saltisford tunnel for a 15 minute wait for our passage with 4 other boats. We arrived at Anderton around 12, found a mooring and visited the cafe.....but the coffee was poor. We met and chatted with several other boaters before moving to the sanitary station and then on through Northwich to Middlewich. We met far fewer boats after we had left Anderton, though one decided to hit us and another gave us a very near miss, both at bridge holes where they were travelling too fast. We arrived at Middlewich at 4 and moored up alongside the children’s park. A wander into town showed a newly reopened pub, the White Bear, which was very pleasant. 15 miles and 1 lock.

Sunday 26th It had poured with rain overnight but the forecast for the day was good, though it didn't look too good at first. We bought papers and set off around 10.30 and at each of the locks through Middlewich we crossed with boats descending and this was the case for much of the day with only about one lock having to be emptied by me. We arrived at Wheelock and tied up around 3.15 and we set off up to see Sandbach, a town we have never visited before. 
The cobbled square in Sandbach with several really old pubs in it.

These old Saxon crosses were reassembled in the square after
being recovered, having been broken by Cromwell's men

The walk totally upset Carol's back, even the Costa couldn't sort it, so I left her reading papers whilst I took a wander around the town. I had meant to take my camera, but I had forgotten it, so I took some using Carol's phone to use its camera. Suffice to say it is well worth a visit if you can manage the walk, a cab brought us home. 
With an atrocious day forecast tomorrow we may well stay put and if we do will go to the Italian restaurant by the services block which comes recommended. 6 miles and 8locks.