Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Tucked up

Himself and I woke this morning at 6am.  I rolled out of my warm bed to put the kettle on before retreating back to bed with cups of tea and biscuits. By 7am we were up and dressed and on our way slipping under the railway bridges mentioned afore.




We started off in clear weather but by the time we reached Tixal Wide the rain had started.


As we reached Great Haywood the rain eased a little. We turned left on to the Trent and Mersey canal heading north towards the entrance to Great Haywood marina. We have never moored in the marina though I recall using the laundry facilities when we were iced in at the junction over one Christmas period.  We were on NB Caxton but being unable to fill the water tank meant the onboard facilities were redundant.


Joe threaded Steadfast through the marina to our allotted berth at the rear and backed in to our slot.  Web breakfasted and showered before stripping our bed and packing for the journey home. We will be back in three weeks to resume the trip to Tamworth...ice permitting.




Return to boat

Half six Monday morning saw Joe and I strapped into the car and en route to Penkridge from Peterborough.  We arrived to find Steadfast all in order, got the kettle and the fire on and awaited the arrival of engineer Richard Milligan who was going to fit the new starter motor.



Richard arrived at 10am as promised, encumbered with tools and soon in the possession of a cuppa he set to work to switch out the starter.  An hour later all was done and Steadfast fired up.  I then drove to Great Haywood to hopefully arrange a temporary mooring.. the breakdown had thwarted our attempt to get to Tamworth so we have a three week wait before our road is clear of CRT repairs.

We were lucky, one space left in the marina.

Richard had followed me and gave me a lift back to Penkridge and the boat.

We set off at 3pm after visitors David and Amanda left us to head off to visit a boat builder they had an appointment with.



We made it to Radford Bank before the light failed. Mooring up we were asked by a fellow boater where we were headed. Great Haywood we replied, "You won't get through, they have scaffolded the railway bridge today and it is too low to get through."  Heart sinking I tramped on to have a look at the railway bridge followed by an extremely grumpy husband.  Torches in hand, pitch black by now, we arrived at the railway bridges to find...NO SCAFFOLDING!!
Thank you God. We tramped back to the boat and went to the pub for supper.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Thank you Mr Bixter

Joe had spoken to Dave Bixter of Grantham Bridge Boating Services at Hillmorton, the Russell Newberry spares specialist and learnt that their was a suitable starter motor in stock. I called Saturday am to ask whether we could pick it up Saturday morning.  Dave Bixter was a star, he went the extra mile collecting the part and locating it discreetly at the Hillmorton site for us to collect.  We picked it up and headed home, dropping our crew, Amanda back in Norfolk.  Monday morning we head back to Steadfast to meet Richard Milligan who will fit the starter for us.  Hopefully, hopefully we then continue our cruise to Tamworth.


Friday, 1 November 2019

Captain we have a problem

So here we are again, back at the boat to take Steadfast to Glascote basin before the winter stoppages kick in. We travelled over Thursday evening so that we could have an early start Friday morning. Extra crew had been press ganged to assist with locks and try out a rudimentary guest bed. Amanda (of boat sharers fame with NB. What a Lark) has been persuaded to  join the Steadfast crew.
We were up an at em this morning at 6am and the boat slipped her berth at 7.30.
 We whizzed through the locks until we were out of Penkridge and had three hours under our belt and stopped for breakfast and a break. Cups of tea and eggs on toast saw us vitaled and ready for the off.  Amanda went to set the next lock as Joe and I untied...

A small problem had crept in, the boat wouldn't start.

Amanda was recalled, Joe took the engine room to bits to discover that the starter motor had failed.
We called Richard Milligan, (Black hands) who had rebuilt the engine. This will not be an off the peg starter so we will have to source a new one or have ours refurbished.  Given that we were now moored in the proverbial middle of nowhere we decided to bow haul the boat to somewhere it can be accessed.

Off we went, a mile to go and one lock to do.

So now hauling the boat was a new experience and perfectly okay until we encountered a moored boat.  How were we going to get around that?  The solution was Joe on the gas locker with a boat pole steering, a long line on the centre to haul until we got to the boat and then the person on the line carefully flipped the line over the chimneys, wood piles, solar panels and exhausts until we were passed.  We are now moored where a rescuer can access us so tomorrow we see how to resolve our problem.



U



Friday, 25 October 2019

Middlewich to Hatherton

My apologies for the lack of posts but a combination of poor signal and the inability of my phone to link effectively with my laptop meant that frustration stopped play!  All is well now so in the words of the song I will 'finish what I started'...

Wednesday dawned overcast and by the time we had made our way into Middlewich it was raining cats and dogs. Mooring up above Kings Lock Joe went into the Kings Lock Chandlery to get some diesel for the Refleks stove, there was already a  boat on the service mooring hence Joe walking down with a five litre can instead.  I had also requested another key for the water/diesel tanks while he was there.   As I was tidying lines etc.  the chap in the adjacent boat came out to warn me that two boats, one of which was his, had had their windows broken the previous night by local youths. Nice..

When Himself arrived back with the diesel and key we set off again and I contemplated whether I was going to use the plastic key he brought back or frame it... £5 for a plastic key seemed a tad exhorbitant!
Kings Lock Middlewich

 Watering at Wheelock

We were aiming to moor at Wheelock overnight and tackle the Cheshire locks the next day. Having got ourselves moored we took ourselves off to The Cheshire Cheese for a late lunch cum dinner and a pint of ale.
After a quiet night we set off before 8am and started the long haul up heart break hill.  All but two locks were against me so I was turning locks all the way but we were joined after a couple of locks by a crew of four experienced boating Aussies in a Black Prince hire boat. With me leading and cracking locks for them and they closing the gates behind Steadfast allowing me to prepare the next lock or locks we made excellent progress.

 A bright start to the day on Heart break Hill


Arriving at the last locks before Red Bull services I spotted a boat that looked both distinctive and rather familiar. As we approached looking to moor behind this boat we spotted a chap on the towpath. Joe tooted the horn and I waved as I walked along the towpath towards him. Of course said chap didn't recognise the 'new' boat and was obviously befuddled by the scruffy old biddy waving at him... I saw the light bulb go on we he recognised us and was greeted by a most welcome bear hug.

NB Seyella, Geoff and Margaret's boat

The kettle went on and we joined Geoff and Mags and old dog Meg for a welcome cuppa and a catch up on all the news.  We all crossed the Wash together in a convoy of Narrowboats back in 2015.

 Taking our leave the following morning, Geoff and Mags and below Meg the dog


We got off just before 10.00 on the Friday and made our way to tunnel where we were waved through. We took on water at the south portal and worked our way through Stoke stopping for a break above Etruria.

 The must have photo of a bottle kiln

 Middleport Potteries

 Etruria flint and bone Mill

 The overnight stop on Friday night was Barlaston

Next morning we were woken by the distinct engine note of a Lister and peering out of the porthole saw tunnel lights approaching in the pitch dark and lashing rain. Historic boats, The King, Ilford and Thea heading north. We headed back to bed.
On Saturday we made our way into Stone, stopping at Stone Boat Building for diesel before mooring up above Star lock. Sadly Stone Boat Building will be closing this winter, another chandler bites the dust. 
  
We did some shopping and had lunch in town.

Next morning we were away before 8am on a lovely sunny day. We made our way to Great Haywood and turned onto the Staffs and Worcs for the last leg of our Autumn cruise.   We moored on Tixal Wide and I cooked a roast dinner and then we just took it easy for the rest of Sunday.







Our final night out was spent moored on the service point at Otherton Marina. The staff had gone home and we were invited to moor up by resident boaters to await the services of the marina pump-out the next morning.  I washed the side of the boat down and made friends with Monty a Wheaton Terrier.  The next morning the boat was serviced and we got on our way for the last stretch to Hatherton.

Gailey round house, the last picture of our cruise.

We will be back in a couple of weeks to move Steadfast to Glascote Basin Tamworth more of which later..

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Visitors and perfect cruising

We woke on Monday to a dreary dank day following Sunday's persistent rain. Setting off shortly after 7.30 we headed north towards Nantwich where we moored close to the aqueduct so we could go into town.  We needed to buy diesel for the Refleks stove in the saloon and a few bits and pieces.  We found Morrison's, got diesel and odds and ends then went looking for a traditional Cafe for a traditional breakfast.
Once breakfasted we headed back to Steadfast and moved off to the Nantwich arrive point.

Filling with water


Once serviced we moved on a couple of miles to Barbridge where we moored up outside the pub. We were going to meet Pip and Rog Haynes of NB Windsong the next day for a catch up. They now live in this part of the world though they no longer boat. We met this morning over a coffee in the pub after a quick tour of Steadfast.


We turned on to the Middlewich Arm after we parted with our guests and headed towards Middlewich.   After three and a half hours with our batteries re-charged we moored up for the day just short of our planned destination.  A lovely sunny day, perfect for cruising.

Our overnight mooring

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Chilling at Coole Pilate

We woke at about 5am, I was hussled out of my pit to make tea for Himself....and me of course.
We were on the move at 7.45 on a clear autumn morning heading for the fifteen locks of the Audlem flight.

We moored up after completing eleven locks, only passing two boats on the way up, and toddled into Audlem village to look at the artwork in the Audlem Mill and then a quick raid of the local Co'op for a few bits. Back at the boat we had a belated breakfast before resuming our journey.

Joe 'shooting the rapids' as he leaves lock 12.

 The viscious side stream as you leave lock 12

 Shroppie Fly looking just a bit tired and uninviting.


Moored at Coole Pilate for tomorrow's
G1 Grand Prix. 

Friday, 11 October 2019

Destination...Market Drayton

We left Norbury Junction as the ground aired, plans to stop on the water point abandoned as it was already occupied by someone up and about before us..
The first bridge after Norbury was the much photographed High Bridge so I also snapped away.

Approaching High Bridge


The Anchor  at High Offley, probably not much changed since the 1930’s but characterful for all that.



Approaching the ex chocolate factory with its loading dock for Narrowboats where chocolate product was transported to Cadbury's at Bournville.  That cargo must have been better than coal, apart pilfered chocolate isn't going to heat the back cabin...



                                               Deep cuttings require big bridges

                                                 The first of the Tyrley locks.  No water pointthere any longer but we were able to get rid of the accumulated rubbish.




Overnight mooring in Market Drayton. Joe went off into town to buy a hack saw, loads at home but none on the boat when he needs one.  The folding exhaust stack is going to be beheaded.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Another hectic day

A lazy start to the day we had read the papers, done the crosswords and  drunk tea before thinking about getting up and dressed and on our way.  The joggers had been passed at seven am and a buzz saw was busy at the top of the Brewood embankment from just after seven and as we set off at 8.40 the offspring of Brewood were squealing and shouting enmasse ahead of being caged for lessons.
Our first stop was going to be Wheaton Aston for diesel.



Fuel here is still very reasonable and maybe the cheapest on the cut.  As we were almost finished fueling another Narrowboat was pulling in.  We moved across to the towpath side and moored up to have some late breakfast or early lunch resuming our journey after a couple of hours but we did cram a hot shower into that break.

 Sunlit Shroppie with hardly any boats moving.

Moored Norbury Junction after four and bit hours moving.  Time to rest ahead of another hectic day. Supper was on board, homemade turkey burgers, spinach and cheesy mash...oh, and vino.
Mm