Friday, February 26, 2021

It’s all going swimmingly!

As planned we used the moorings outside The Poachers as a base for visits last week. Tuesday was a run down to Shrewsbury for Mags’ Covid test. Then Thursday it was Shrewsbury again for her pre-admission check up and blood tests, and Friday back again for her procedure.

All went well, old stents in her bile ducts replaced. No stones to remove this time, so that’s a good sign. Can’t praise the Endoscopy team at the Royal Shrewsbury enough, caring, professional and sympathetic. Lovely people. We’ll see them again in 6 months…

We stayed put on Saturday, we were both a bit tired after a stressful week. Then Sunday we headed up towards Chirk, turned around in front of the tunnel then back past The Poachers to moor above New Marton Locks.

We waited out the wet and windy weather there, meeting Richard and Ruth on the fuel boat Mountbatten on their regular run to supply us boaters with diesel, solid fuel and gas.

Mountbatten coming up New Marton Top Lock.

We left it till yesterday before carrying on towards Ellesmere, but we’ve taken a day out near Bridge 4W. We had intended to be in the town today but the weather was too good to spend it on the busy towpath there. Much more peasant here.

Fine cruising in the sunshine yesterday.

We’ll be there tomorrow though, as coal bags have been emptied they’ve been repurposed to hold rubbish and recycling and we’ve now several on the roof. The problem with this stretch is there’s no rubbish and recycling facilities.

I spent a couple of hours doing a full service on the engine and gearbox this morning, and swapped the nappies used to collect the inevitable condensation that collects on the bare steel of the engine bay in the winter. Apart from that we’ve just been chilling. Good walks with Amber and reading.

With Boris’ “roadmap” to get us out of these lockdowns we’re in a position to make plans for the summer and autumn, but they’ll not be set in stone. We’d like to get to around Loughborough on The Soar to see my folks, then up to Gargrave on the L&L to see Mags’ family. We’ve got a wedding up there in October all being well.

And with me getting my first Covid jab next Wednesday we’re both feeling more positive for the future. Hope it’s not misplaced optimism…

Locks 2, miles 7¾ 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Ice, Ice, Baby!

We’re heading back to The Poachers now, to enable us to get Mags’ Covid test and for her pre-admission review and ERCP procedure on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully this week won’t be postponed again.

We turned around yesterday, heading down to Frankton Junction then back to moor opposite Whittington Wharf. A dry day, but that biting easterly made it feel so much colder than the temperature indicated.

More lambs, I feel sorry for them in this weather.

And today was the same as we carried on and up New Marton Locks. Apart from it being cold there were no problems… until we reached the bottom lock. It was full, set against us, and contained a thick layer of ice.

I lifted the paddles then had to break the ice holding the top gate partially open before the lock would empty.

With the lock empty I still had to clear the ice clinging to the bottom gates before they would open.


There was lots of crunching and cracking as I pushed into the lock and as it refilled.

The top lock wasn’t anything like as bad, just a thin film of ice in the chamber. This one is sheltered from the Siberian wind…

We moored just past the water point, we’ll stay here tomorrow then head on to The Poachers on Monday after topping up the water tank.

Locks 2, miles 4¾

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Best Laid Schemes…

…oft Gang aft agley…

As the Scottish poet once wrote. Well our plans went agley!

We left Whixall Moss last Thursday, heading for Ellesmere.

A last romp on the moss before we left.

Back through Ellesmere Tunnel

We were able to get a mooring on the arm, making it easy to get the shopping to top up the cupboards.

Signs of Spring on our morning walk…

Cupboards, freezer and fridge replenished we set off on a blustery Saturday morning, heading up towards Chirk.

Empty moorings above Frankton Locks.

With the forecast looking grim for Sunday we pushed on, past Frankton Junction and Maestermyn, up New Marton Locks and moored above looking out across St Martins Moor. That left us just 3 miles to cover to get to the moorings outside The Poachers next to Bridge 19W.

It actually wasn’t as bad as predicted, at least over here in the west. They had it worse on the opposite coast. Arriving at the moorings we settled in for what was intended to be several days.

Everything was organised. A car was booked from Enterprise to get us to Shrewsbury for Mag’s Covid test, with taxis to take me to and pick me up from the Wrexham branch. They’re not doing the pick-up and drop-off service during lock-down.

Then on Wednesday Mags’ son Howard, who has been isolating, was coming down to take us for the pre-med in the afternoon, and the actual ERCP on Thursday.

That all went out of the window when we got a phone call yesterday lunchtime, postponing the procedure to next Friday. We don’t know the outcome of the Covid test but it’s irrelevant now as we’ve got to do it again on Tuesday.

So rather than hang around the Poachers for over a week we decided to turn around and head out into the sticks for a bit.

Nature’s ice sculptures at New Marton Locks.

Anyone speak Mandarin?

We’re now moored near Maestermyn, a sunny spot that we use often. I’ve a few jobs to do while we’re killing time, the engine and gearbox need oil and filter changes and I’m modifying one of the kitchen cabinets to fit drawers inside, keeping the door though. Should improve the storage. We’ll probably head back to the Poachers on Sunday. Mobile reception is poor here and we’ve a family Zoom meeting in the afternoon. It’s Mags’ first great-great grand-daughter’s first birthday!

Locks 4, miles 15½

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

And then there were four…

Well, six actually. But four are paired up so there’s only four in the array really.

I ordered two 80 watt panels from Sunshine Solar on Friday, and they were delivered by courier to us at Roundthorn Bridge on Tuesday. We pushed on down to Tilstock Park on Monday, turned at the winding hole then returned to moor at Roundthorn to wait for the delivery.

I spent today mounting and connecting the new ones up, the installation is a little bitty, with elements mounted on the storage boxes and directly onto the roof, but it will give us up to 520W. That should be enough to power the boat for the day, so long as we get a decent amount of sun…


All of them can tilt up to 45° along the axis of the boat so that helps to get the best possible angle for the low winter sun. So in the winter we need to be moored facing East or West, in the summer North or South. Ideally!

Mags is due into Royal Shrewsbury Hospital next Thursday for her twice yearly ERCP to clear out her bile ducts and replace the stents that keep her from getting jaundiced. It’s a little more complicated this time though. She’s got to have a negative Covid test prior to admission. But we’re working on that. Drive-through testing stations are great, so long as you’ve got a car!

Sunbeams from the setting sun this evening.

Anyway, we’re heading back towards the border for that, intending to moor at the Poachers. Lots of options there.

Locks 0, miles 5