Thursday, January 14, 2021

Just pottering along

We’ll not be doing much while this lockdown is in place. We moved down to Ellesmere last Saturday (the 9th).

Amber and I enjoyed some fabulous early walks while we had that spell of fine weather.

We were planning to go on Friday, but the wintry showers were a bit offputting so we postponed the short trip for a day. A good move as it turned out, it was a beautiful day. Chilly but it is January…

One of the best buzzard pictures I’ve taken…

Richard and Ruth delivered solid fuel and diesel on the Sunday, they do a sterling job keeping us supplied with fortnightly runs to Fron and back. Mountbatten draws too much water for the shallow stretch from Trevor to Llangollen, so boats upstream of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct are serviced by road.

Shopping done and water tank filled we left the town on Tuesday, still heading downstream.

Into Ellesmere Tunnel

The weather was a bit mixed, gloomy at first but brighter later.

Passing Cole Mere

It was quiet, we only passed one boat all day.

We pulled in on the mooring rings near Hampton Bank but only stayed the one night, moving around the corner onto the embankment yesterday. The towpath is drier here, although there’s not a lot to choose between them.

Hampton Bank official moorings







I rate towpaths on a scale of 1 to 4. Category 1 is trainer towpath, clean and dry.

Cat 2 is boot towpath, fairly good with muddy patches, Cat 3 brings us to welly towpath, generally muddy, and Cat 4 is almost bog snorkling, standing or running water sitting on deep squishy mud. 

Cat 3 towpath near Ellesmere




When we’re not cruising much I get bored and start looking around for things to do. Of course there’s the day to day maintenance, but when that’s done it’s time for a project or two.



Before Christmas I removed the small, homemade bathroom cabinet and replaced it with almost a full bulkhead sized glazed unit. With LED spotlights in the corners the bathroom is much lighter and appears bigger. And there’s a lot more shelf space!








Another idea we’ve been toying with a while is moving the TV from on the front bulkhead alongside the door to a spot under the gunwale, completing the change by putting both chairs on the opposite side with a small table in between.

There was a possibility of replacing the chairs with a small sofa, but with a centre passage in the adjacent galley the width would be a problem without extensive changes to bookshelves and a radiator. So I think we’ll just replace the knackered chairs with new ones.

So that’s it for the time being, in a couple of days we’ll head on to Whitchurch but it’s unlikely that we’ll drop down Grindley Brook Locks. Instead we’ll turn around and head back upstream.

Locks 0, miles 8¾

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Another year, another lockdown.

Who’d have thought, this time last year, that we’d be fighting a major pandemic that’s killed nearly 2 million people globally, 76,000 in the UK. And still rising…

So here we are in another lockdown, but maybe, just maybe, there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Mags had her inoculation last Thursday, and it looks as though the roll-out of the vaccine is proceeding moderately well. We’re just waiting to hear when she’s to go back for the second, it seems it may be some time.

Anyway, I hope you all had socially distanced fun over the festered season. We had Christmas Day with Val and Johnny, but limited outside contact apart from GP’s surgery for a blood test and The Jab. And it’ll stay that way for the next few weeks. Mags will be staying aboard and I‘ll do the shopping at quiet times.

My favourite picture of Amber to date...




We’d stayed outside The Poachers for the duration, but on Saturday we decided to head back downstream to Ellesmere. We were planning to go up to Wales, but with their lockdown in place, and now ours this side of the border, it didn’t seem such a good idea. We had to sneak over the border though to turn around just below Chirk Tunnel.

Back across Chirk Aqueduct after turning around

We didn’t go so far, pulling in near St Martins to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.

Sunday was another short trip, we were getting very short of water so had to fill above New Marton Locks, then we dropped down and moored below.

New Marton Bottom Lock, we moored a couple of hundred yards further on.

Yesterday was a fine sunny day, but cold with a brisk north-easterly keeping the temperature in the low single figures.

We pulled in just past Bridge 4W, a regular stop for us with open views and plenty of sun. The panels went up to capture any passing photons…

…and they did quite well for an hour or so.

We stayed put today, and probably will tomorrow too. We’re well stocked at the moment so don’t need to be in Ellesmere till the weekend.

Locks 2, miles 7½

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Changing weather as we head towards Wales

We set off from Ellesmere yesterday morning under damp, gloomy skies, dropping rubbish and recycling at the wharf before heading upstream.

Amber having a cuddle with Mags before we set off.

.

The gloomy skies got gloomier and damper and the breeze picked up too towards lunchtime, but we’d planned to be moored by then. We only just made it; I finished tying up near Bridge 7W just as a heavy shower blew over.

Looking out over a grey Shropshire.

The rain cleared later in the night, the clouds cleared too and the temperature dropped to near zero. Thankfully the wind dropped by this morning, becoming a stiff breeze. Cold though, from the north.

Under a blue sky we headed to New Marton Locks, ascending the two and filling the water tank above the top one.

New Marton Bottom Lock

Across St. Martins Moor above the locks.

The clouds started to build again as we headed on, and it felt a lot colder without the sunshine. But we didn’t  have far to go, pulling in outside The Poachers next to Bridge 19W.

The old chap in the garden near Belmont Bridge has had a make-over…

…and has been joined by his missus!

Moored outside The Poachers.

We’ve kindly been invited out for the day tomorrow, taking advantage of the one-day reprieve from the Covid restrictions. Looking forward to that. Not sure what we’re doing after that though.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who take the time to read my ramblings, and for the kind comments and good wishes. And of course to wish you all a very

 

Locks 2, miles 10

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Hi all!

It’s been a while, I know. But we’re all fine here on Seyella, weathering the storm. I had a few technical issues with my laptop, all resolved now but I sort of lost my mojo for a while. Well, for 10 weeks…

So where were we? Ahh yes, in Nantwich in early October.

We pottered around the town for a week or so then headed north down the Shroppie to Hurleston Junction, ascending the locks up onto the Llangollen Canal on the 17th.

Looking for lunch…

We checked in to Swanley Bridge Marina for three nights so we could take a car north for Mags to have a routine blood test (all OK at that time), then toddled on again up the cut to Wrenbury and beyond.

Grindley Brook Locks and Whitchurch were our next pauses, going up the locks on the 28th.

From there we headed on, spending a bit of time on the Mosses and meeting a Tesco delivery at Roundthorn Bridge, before pushing on to Ellesmere.

Autumn…

We hung around Ellesmere for a couple of weeks, waiting for Ebay and Amazon deliveries at the Collect+ shop for a couple of projects, up to Frankton Junction and back, and then back downstream to the Mosses again. Amber and I enjoy the wide open country and the long walks across the old peat bogs.

Graham Palmer Lock, just down the Montgomery from Frankton Junction

Just over a week ago we set off upstream, arriving at The Poachers at Weston Rhyn on Tuesday 15th December to get a car for another run up north to drop off pressies and cards and for yet another blood test. We were able to see friends Val and Johnny at the same time.

Rainbow over St. Martins

December 18th saw us crossing Chirk Aqueduct twice, sneaking discreetly into Wales to turn around and head back to Ellesmere again. We needed a big shop to last us a while, and Amber was booked in at the vets today for a routine visit and boosters.

Back across the border over Chirk Aqueduct

So that’s it. We’re leaving Ellesmere tomorrow, heading back upstream to moor outside The Poachers again. It’s only just this side of the border, and the one-day relaxation of the rules allows us to spend Christmas Day with Val and Johhny. Looking forward to that… 

We’ll be off north again by car on New Years Eve, Mags has her first Covid jab scheduled at the surgery at Kirby Lonsdale, on the Yorkshire/ Cumbria boundary. That’s in the afternoon, in the morning she’s having another blood sample taken as the last one showed some abnormalities in her liver function. It’s likely to be blockages in her bile ducts again, we were expecting to go into the Royal Shrewsbury for the day in February for her tubes to be cleared out and stents replaced, so it’s not too much of a surprise. She feels fine at the moment, but it’s a problem that won’t fix itself…

I mentioned earlier a couple of projects…

As most boaters will know, the HMRC, after 12 years of dithering, have finally succumbed to EU pressure and will stop us using Red Diesel (gas oil) next year. Funny that, I thought we’d left…

Anyhow, with this in mind, I’ve been looking at ways to reduce our use of electricity and the running hours of the engine to generate it.

So the first strategy involved me installing more solar capacity, there’s now 350 watts of panels on the roof supplying an Epever MPPT controller. This time of year the sun is too low to make flat-mounted panels efficient, so they’re mounted on loose-pin hinges and can be raised to 45°.

That should help with the engine running. Not a full solution, but with a bright day at this time of year we were generating 8 amps at the panels, 11 at the batteries.

The other strategy was to reduce the amount of electricity used per day. There’s not a lot I could do with this if we want to have a decent lifestyle. But a bit of research led me to Cello TVs, some models of which have rechargeable lithium batteries which can charge via a mains adaptor or from the supplied solar panel. Solar TV – Cello Solar TV.

I went for the 22” model, the 32” would have been better but too wide for the position it occupies.

In principle the idea is sound, it takes about 2½ hours to charge the battery on mains, and it’ll run for six hours on a full charge. So it can charge while we’re cruising, and the invertor can be off in the evening.

Unfortunately the spec on the 22” isn’t particularly impressive. l though it has built Freeview and satellite decoders, it only has one HDMI port and one USB for recording to a memory stick. No headphone socket or Scart connection, not even component. So connecting external equipment is limited. There are however two somewhat superfluous sockets for the supplied low voltage lamps. We’ve an Amazon Firestick using the HDMI and USB sockets.

The sound is appalling. Two tiny 1 Watt speakers are not loud enough, and if turned right up sound terrible. So I voided the warranty, took the back off and the amp now runs a small 2 x 5watt soundbar. Much, much better! Happy with it now.

So there you go. I’ll endeavour to be more consistent with posts going forward although I can’t promise much of interest. There’ll not be much happening for a month or two I expect.

Since the last post – Locks 23, miles 80¾    

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Back to Nantwich–again!

We spent a few days moored not far above Bunbury Locks before turning around and heading back south.

One of the jobs that needed doing but that I’d been putting off was to deal with the decidedly forlorn looking dinette cushions. Fourteen years of use had left their mark – literally! They were made by Wilsons of Kinver so are of good quality material and are zipped, but I was still worried how they’d turn out, especially redoing the buttoning! I needn’t have been concerned, a trip through the washer left them looking like new and the buttoning wasn’t a huge problem…

Turning around above Bunbury Locks on Tuesday.

We stopped at Calveley to top up the water tank but held on to the rubbish for when we got to Nantwich today. The bin compound was already ankle deep in rubbish strewn from ripped open bags…

Then another short stop was made as I trotted across the road to grab bread and milk from the shop at the Texaco garage near Bridge 103a. We carried on, now in the rain, to moor just shy of Barbridge Junction.

We took a day off yesterday then headed off to Nantwich this morning.

Chris and Leslie on Rosie II were moored a little further on…

Just beyond the junction the channel narrows where a gauging lock was once installed. This is where craft would be checked for draught and the resulting tonnage calculation used to determine tolls due. Different cargos attracted different rates per ton.

Between here and Junction Bridge old maps show a building straddling the canal, a photo from the 1950s, found on Midway Boats’ website shows it was a transhipment warehouse.

The roof of the toll-keeper’s house can be seen to the right in both pictures. The small hut to the right was once attached to the warehouse.

The temporary Meccano bridge was erected the other day to replace Goodwin’s, Bridge 101, which was closed for resurfacing work on the main road.

Giving way to the high bow of Tench, built in 1936 at Yarwoods in Northwich for Fellows, Morton and Clayton. I wasn’t arguing…

 

Autumn is on the doorstep!

We topped off the water tank again, got rid of rubbish and recycling and slotted handily on the end on the moorings on Nantwich Embankment. We’ll have a couple of days in town to top up the cupboards and pick up some items I’ve ordered online, then we’ll toddle off again.

Locks 0, miles 5½ 

Friday, October 02, 2020

Another week, another update.

The highlight of the last week was a visit by George and Carol, during which we went for a day’s cruise up to this side of Audlem and back. Their boat, the highly specified and well maintained wide-beam Still Rockin’ is up for sale and they’re temporarily renting a property. Tuesday was a chance for them to get a boat fix… 

But before that we headed further along the Middlewich Branch last Saturday, pulling in above Cholmondeston Lock for the rest of the weekend.

Bridge 18, currently under repair.

Looking down across the Weaver valley to Church Minshull.

Venetian Marina, just below Cholmondeston Lock.

We took a day off on Sunday, then Monday we cruised the last 1¼ miles to Barbridge Junction and turned left up to Nantwich.

Barbridge Junction Bridge 1, with a couple of boats heading our way after turning in off the main line.

The offside bank below Hurleston Reservoir has become a popular mooring spot in recent weeks, and I can see why. But the landowner, presumably the water authority, disagrees.

 

But not everyone is taking notice…

So on to Tuesday and George and Carol arrived mid-morning, and after a brew and something to eat we headed off southwards.

Going up Hack Green Locks.

Must be a good view from up there!

We arrived back in the town late afternoon and said farewell to our guests after a really enjoyable day. Thanks guys!

We seem to be alternating between dry, sunny days and wet windy ones. We stayed put on Wednesday watching the rain come down, then yesterday, after topping up the food cupboards, we left Nantwich, this time heading north.

Over Nantwich Aqueduct

A stop at the wharf saw the rubbish and recycling disposed of and the water tank topped up, then we got going again, pulling in for the afternoon and night just up from Henhull Bridge.

A fine evening walk with Amber.

This elusive little chap tried to avoid the camera but I got him just as he took off…

That cycle of good days and bad is coming to an end, rain forecast later today so we got going soon after nine, past Hurleston and Barbridge Junctions and on towards Chester.

A few boats on the Hurleston lock flight.

All being well we’ll be heading up there ourselves next week.

Barbridge Junction.

It’s some time since we went north from Barbridge, usually we head across the branch to Middlewich. But we thought we’d have a change.

It’s an awkward, blind S bend under the A51 at Wardle Farm Bridge and I remember thinking that it’s not a good place to meet another boat…

…so of course we did!

Calveley Wharf and moorings.

There’s a waterways depot here now, but the area was once sidings used for transhipping goods to and from the canal and the adjacent railway.

Just around the corner and under Bridge 104 are mooring rings and we pulled on here to wait out the stormy weekend weather.

Since the last post – Locks 6, miles 25½