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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Journey South Begins

Today we finally set off at 9:45am, leaving Stone and our friends behind us. We stopped at Weston for lunch, and then carried on and arrived at Great Haywood at 3:30pm and moored up for the night above the lock. It is so good to be finally heading south at long last! It is 3 years and 1 day since we first arrived at Stone on Misty Lady.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Week Three of our time away.

Monday 11th February.

It was a very cold and frosty morning with temps down to -3C over night, so it gave for a breath taking start to our day. As we were heading back to Wheelock.
The canal always looks too beautiful on a frosty morning with a gentle mist rolling along the cut.
We stopped off at Middlewich to do some food shopping, before heading off again.
At Rumps Lock I was shocked to see a large amount of dead fish, so we called BW to alert them to the pollution. It seems that someone dumped something in the Trent and Mersey and BW are trying to do something about it.
We had a fabulous days cruising, and moored up just below Wheelock. We sat out on the boat drinking coffee as we watched the sun go down.

Tuesday 12th February.

We were awake early so got up and enjoyed a beautiful frosty morning yet again.
The sun was coming up and having had temps down to -3C last night it was a hard frost. Paddy as always enjoys a good walk when the weather is crisp, especially as we were near his wood. Yes there is a wood named Paddy’s Wood
We were heading for Hassel Green and a mooring if there were any to be had.
We always see interesting things on our travels, and today we saw one of the best duck houses we have ever seen. I actually wonder if any ducks use this designer home.

We were followed all the way by Honeystreet, so we set the locks for them as we left them, it is always something we have done, and it’s a polite thing to do for a fellow boater.
When we reached Hassel Green at lunch time we moored up opposite the Romping Donkey, and thought we would have a meal there later.
Having had lunch we took a walk to the local pottery to see what was new there, as we have bought mugs from there in the past, we then went to the shop at Hassel green at Lock 57 and bought our first ice cream of the year mmmmmm. We also learnt that due to government cuts their post office is closing in a couple of weeks. Village life will never be the same again.
We paid a visit to the local "pink" church.

Yes this is a church and it is in use and it is pink.
The weather has been so calm that the water has been like a mirror.

For February it has been a really warm day, so warm that Keith and I have been in our shirt sleeves, long may it last.
Marmite took another step closer to freedom from the boat, and loved every minute, she still has to wear her harness though.

We spent some of the afternoon cleaning the brass; we were then treated to a fantastic display by the starlings, who gathered for roosting over night.

They are so majestic in flight and the noise was quite amazing, there were hundreds of birds flying in formation.

The last sunshine of the evening was then seen setting over the M6. We had planned to eat at the Romping Donkey, so we got poshed up and walked round to the pub, only to find it was being revamped and they had a new Chef, so they were only doing cold food grrrrrrrrrr, not what we wanted on a cold night. This is the second time this has happened to us at this pub, so there will not be a third time. So we thought ok never mind we will go to the restaurant lock 57 for an evening meal, you guessed it. It was shut for the winter season, only opening in the mornings for coffee etc. Not our lucky evening. I ended up cooking a chicken curry with cous cous and naan bread. Oh well never mind.

Wednesday 13th February.

We did not have to rush up this morning as we did not have far to travel. Our plan was to head for Rode Heath, which meant I only had 4 locks to operate. It was a bright morning; we had been blessed with another hard frost as the temps dropped to -3C last night. With the boat icy at the bow care had to be taken when untying the boat, but we set off at 8.55am for our short cruise in lovely sunshine.
The water on the canal was so still this morning as there was no wind about. We had a trip which had no real highlights, so as we moored up at 10.25 opposite the Broughton Arms, coffee was first on the agenda. Our day was filled with boat chores, looking around the village, which has a fantastic little shop, full to the brim with all your grocery needs, it also has a post office. Once again we ended up chatting to people passing who showed a big interest in our boat and her engine. We decided that the evening meal would be had at the Broughton Arms, as last nights meal attempt had been so disappointing.

Through out the day the pub had been very busy with people eating and drinking outside in the sunshine, so we thought it boded well for our evening meal, so we set off at 6.30pm feeling very hungry and looking forward to a good pub meal. Mmmmm well we had the meal but it was not as good as we expected. Keith and I both had cottage pie with seasonal veg. The cottage pie arrived in a small dish and the potato I am pretty sure was not real, it tasted like smash if you have ever tried it, not only that it was a very small portion, as for the veg it was not cooked very well and came in another small dish on the plate with the cottage pie.
What ever happened to just putting the food on the plate?
It left both of us wanting something else as the portions were very small. So not the best meal we have ever had. We went back to the boat and ate cheese and biscuits as we were still hungry. I begrudge paying £3.75 for cheese and biscuits in the pub LOL. We settled in to watch the TV for the evening before another early night no doubt.

Friday 14th February.

We were awake at 7am, but we had gone to bed at 9.30pm, too shattered to sit and watch the TV, not that there was much on anyway, so being awake early meant we got up and had a cuppa with breakfast, before I took Paddy out across Rode Heath Rise for his run. In the spring and summer the meadow is full of wild flowers apparently; the only thing it was full of at this time was grass and mud. Once back at the boat I made up the fires and did a few chores before we set off at 8.25am to do 6 locks close together for us to stop at Church Lawton. The locks are not really too bad and there is some wonderful views. We met up with Ivor on his boats Mountbatten and Jellicoe; they are both from the Admiral Class boats built between 1957 and 1960.
There were only a few of this class actually built; it is lovely to see them still working hard. Ivor and Mel sell diesel, coal, wood and painted canal ware.
On the whole I am the one who does the lock work, winding up the paddles, opening and shutting the gates, whilst Keith moves the boat. I enjoy the exercise, as it can be quite physical, you also get to do plenty of walking between locks.
Keith with his boating face on hahaha, as he waits for me to close the gates behind him and the boat. I could not resist this photo.
Having negotiated the 6 locks for the day we moored up again at Church Lawton, which is below the Redbull flight, we have that to do tomorrow before the tunnel.
So we moored up at 9.50am, the kettle was already boiling on the back cabin stove so coffee was first up. We then took a walk into Church Lawton such as it is. It has a church and an elderly people’s home, plus Lawton Hall which seems to have been turned into apartments.
What interested me at the church were the surrounding grave stones. I think you can learn a lot about a places history from its church yard. For instance it seems that between 1848 and 1860 a lot of very young children were dying, one as young as 4 months to a family who lost 4 children between 1848 and 1865, even the parents died young in their 40’s. Through the church yard there were graves of very young children from that time frame.
So what happened in those years to cause so many deaths? Because it seemed that there were many older adults who were living into their 70’s and 80’s?
Also a young man died on the railway at Red Bull Wharf, having been involved in a collision back in the 1800’s. It was all very fascinating. Church Lawton does not have a shop or pub, but the walk was nice and I felt I had some things to look up to learn a little more about the places history.
Having got back to the boat I then took a walk back to the Lawton Locks to take some photos of the disused locks.
All the way up this morning the locks are in pairs until you get to the last remaining locks and one of the pair has become disused for some reason. It is such a shame in this day and age that these locks are left like this. It is a little depressing that these have been left to rot. The only things using them now are the birds and other wildlife. I can imagine in the summer there is somewhat of a bottle neck here, because both locks are not in use. Hopefully one day one of the canal groups will find the funds to replace the gates and give these locks a new lease of life.
So lunch has been done and we have also cleaned the boat brass. I like to give it a wipe over every other day to keep it shiny looking. Mog and Dog are out on the back of the boat enjoying a somewhat fresher day. Tomorrow we have the Redbull flight to do in order to make it to Harecastle tunnel for 11am. We want to do an early dash before the bandits get up, this being half-term, so see you tomorrow.

Friday 15th February.

Up early for the cruise to Harecastle Tunnel for 11am. It was a cold morning with no frost, but the wind chill made it raw. Paddy had his walk whilst keith moved the boat to the first lock. It gave me the chance to set it for him. Because it was only 8am no one else was about, so quiet and peaceful. As we assended the Redbull flight, BW (British Waterways) were hard at work on their veg pledge, trimming back the bushes and trees on the flight. It does look lovely and tidy. We stopped at the Redbull sanitary station to empty the loo before tackling the next lock by the Redbull Pub. Moored just above the lock were the owners of Narrowboat Sam, who had become stranded due to the loss of their prop the night before in the pound below the lock. Apparently they had emptied the pound over night to see if they could find their prop, but it would have been like looking for a needle in a haystack. So their only hope was to either get a tow or bow haul Sam to the boat yard on the Macc. We would of offered them a tow if we had been going that way, but we had to be at the tunnel. It shows not everything goes according to plan when cruising. They both seemed calm about the whole thing, enjoying a breakfast before getting down to some hard boat pulling up through the next lock.
We carried on our way to Harecastle Tunnel and arrived at 9.50am, so plenty of time for coffee and a chat with the owners of Narrowboat Talisman who moored up behind us. We passed the time until the BW guy came and checked us in.
We were supposed to be going into the tunnel at 11am, but a change to the plan as boats from the south end were coming through, so we did not actually get through until 12 noon. On exiting the other end we moored up to take on water and eat lunch, some 20 minutes later we were on our way again.
We arrived at the Etruria locks and had come down in the first lock, only to find boaters emptying the already full 2nd lock which was in our favour grrrrrrrrrrrrr. They seemed totally oblivious at the fact that they should of left the lock for us first. I won’t name the boat, but it was a shared ownership boat. It always pays to check who is either going up or down in the next lock if you can physically see the lock, don’t take the lock if it is in the other boaters favour.
For all the football fans reading this we passed by the Britannia Stadium, where Stoke City Play.

The rest of the cruise was pleasant and quiet. The only thing moving was the Canada Geese, who always panic when they see a Narrowboat coming.

Normally they all climb out of the canal, but these had to fly up to escape LOL.
We passed our friends place, but there seemed to be no one at home, so we headed for the last lock of the day Trentham Lock, where I had a couple of young lads willing to help with the gates. We moored up at Wedgewood bridge at 5.20pm so it had been a long day. We settled down for a sausage and dumpling casserole for dinner which was well earned.
The following day we were back in Stone, where we have been ever since. We have got some shopping done, picked up a list of supplies we will need on our trip down South, so if you see us give us a wave. I am sure you wil hear Hadar long before you see her.
What I have found wonderful is the amount of people interested not just in our boat and engine, but in life on the canal. Some people want to know how difficult it is to live on the boat and others just want to know all about how we cope. Keith has really enjoyed talking to people about the engine. We have received some wonderful comments on the sound of our engine, even other boaters have popped their heads out of their boats, and said how wonderful it sounds. So the credit for that has to go to Roger and Keith for doing such a great job in rebuilding the engine.
I will sign off now and will be back on when we start heading south. Do not worry if you do not hear from me straight away, I will post when I can. Thank you to everyone who reads our travels, we look forward to meeting you for real maybe sometime.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Week Two of our time away.

Monday 4th February.

The morning got off to a frosty start, but with the sun out and the wind dropped it was an ideal day to head off again, so at 8.50am Paddy and I set off to the first lock to set it for the boat, this would end up being the first of 20 locks for the day until we reached Wheelock. Because of the frosty start, everything was icy so it was a matter of being careful where you put your feet, especially on the bow of the boat we saw Mountbatten and Jellicoe owned by Ivor and Mel Batchelor, and neither was on boat as far as we could see. Having done the first 10 locks we had thought of stopping at Hassell Green but it was only 11.30am, so we made the choice of moving onto Wheelock, as we got into Hassell Green lock the skies blackened and the sleet began to fall, along with the sleet the winds picked up. But we had decided to continue so it was a matter of battling against the wind and sleet. To be honest it does not really bother me much, once you’re wet you’re wet. We saw three other boats, 2 were hire boats from Anderton and the third was a Challenger share ownership boat. As we left the last lock for the day a mooring was insight yayyyy. I knew I had done 20 locks; I was so out of practice having not been out at all last year. We moored up at 1.35pm and first thing on the list of things to do was have some well earned lunch. Dinner was going to be at the pub later I announced, I reckon we have earnt it. It had been a good day.

Tuesday 5th February.

The weather this morning was looking good, so we were going to make a move towards Middlewich. Having walked Paddy through the mud on the towpath, he was only to glad to get back on the boat. We took on water, emptied the loo etc before heading off at 9.35am. There was a breeze but nothing which bothered Hadar to much. I had a total of 7 locks to do today and at Rumps Lock we meet up with an Anderton Hire boat. They seemed very lost as to what to do at a lock. The lock was empty they coming up so it was their lock, but they had no idea about this, so I spent 10 minutes explaining to them how locks work, and what the do’s and don’ts are at a lock. I do sometimes wonder if any of this is every really explained by the hire companies. Having reached King’s Lock at Middlewich we turned onto the Shroppy and through Wardle Lock where we were hoping to see Maureen at the Lock Cottage, but she was no where to be seen, so we moored up further along the towpath at 1pm and had lunch. Keith wanted to go to Kings Lock Chandlery, but the rain began to fall so it was a wet walk to and from the chandlery. We had thought we may do a shop in Middlewich, but with the weather looking like it was set for the rest of the day we decided not to bother. Half an hour later the rain had gone and the sun was out. We untied the boat and headed for the flashes and a winding hole to turn Hadar around. We found the winding hole, but it did appear that although the hole was large enough to wind a 70ft boat, it needed dredging a little to make the boat actually wind. Keith was up for the task and with a little persuasion Hadar did her own dredging. We moored up for the day at 5pm over looking the flashes. It has been a long day but a nice one.

Wednesday 6th February.

It was a truly beautiful morning, cold but the sun was rising as I opened the galley window.

I could hear the geese and swans on the flashes calling to each other. We treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast, before setting off back to Middlewich. The railway crosses the canal; it gives you a view of life in the fast lane.

I am always talking about the wildlife, because we are so very lucky with what we see each day and today began with a Kestrel looking for her breakfast. We saw the usual ducks, swans, moorhens and squirrels. You do see some funny sights and this morning we spotted these wellies upside down on sticks at a mooring.

After reaching Wardle Lock Keith had to turn Hadar at the junction, but the wind got hold of her bow and she was not a woman for turning, it took a lot of effort on Keith’s behalf to get her around the turn. We were lucky enough to see Maureen from Wardle Lock Cottage on our way down the locks and she was delighted in our new boat. Narrowboat Alice Rose was coming down behind us, so I set the locks for her owners as we descended the flight. We moored up before Big Lock in order to do some food shopping at a Tesco express store and had lunch before heading off again for Anderton Lift moorings. We passed by Croxton Flash and Billinge Green Flash, which even at this time of the year look amazing. The weather today despite being cold has been lovely. We arrived at the moorings at 4.50pm.

Thursday 7th February.

It was a cloudy start to our day and because we were awake at 7am we got up for an early start.
We set off at 8.15 am for Preston Brook and Midland Chandlery, where we wanted to stock up on light bulbs, bought a couple of new chimneys and other odds and sods. We had 3 tunnels to do.
Balterford Tunnel, Salterford Tunnel and Preston Brook Tunnel.
We have armed ourselves with ear plugs, which are needed in our case as our engine is a thumper, so through a tunnel we need protection.
One beautiful thing we saw today was a rainbow, but thankfully the rain stayed away. We did meet a couple of other boaters out and about. We also saw some old working boats on our trip to and from Preston Brook.
Having been to the chandlery and bought our bits and bobs, we made the return journey through Preston Brook Tunnel and Dutton Stop Lock. It has to be said that there is some fantastic scenery, which includes the river Weaver. Which you can get onto by going down through the Anderton Lift, which is where we moored up again, this time for the weekend. We will do the river Weaver at some point but not this year. It was a lovely days cruising with fantastic views, with the wildlife thrown in for good measure.

Friday 8th February.

We were woken up at 5.30am by two men talking outside of our boat grrrrrrrrrrrrr. They were chatting about how boats get down onto the river. I really cannot see why they were there at that time as it was still dark, but neither Keith nor I got up. Instead we made a cup of tea and drank it in bed before nodding off to sleep again. We then got up at 8.30 to a grey morning but mild. We decided having had breakfast and walked Paddy that we would move the boat to the other side of the Anderton Lift footbridge, where we moored up infront of Lindsay and old working boat still used by BW.

Having done so we got chatting to the owner of Florence E, he was waiting to go down in the Anderton Lift. He told me about the local village store, where I wanted to get some bacon from so I headed off to the shop whilst Keith did engine maintenance and odd jobs. The village shop is poorly stocked, many of the shelves and fridges were empty, however you can buy your paper and milk there. The gentleman off of Florence E also told me of a fresh fruit and veg shop just down the canal, so having had lunch I took Paddy for a walk there to see what they had on offer. It was brilliant. They have as I said fruit and veg; they also do pet foods, and all groceries. I would totally recommend it if you are short of supplies. I bought some fruit, veg, organic eggs and other bits. To get there you walk down the towpath after the Anderton lift going North past the Stanley Pub on the right, to the concrete bridge where you walk left. A short distance down the road is an industrial estate, which you enter. A short distance into the estate you come to Dave’s Fruit and Veg Shop, it is also a garden centre. We spent the day doing jobs on the boat and chatting to walkers passing the boat who wanted to know about the history of the engine and boat. It is always nice to chat to others, especially as they show such an interest. One gentleman was a fisherman on his own trawler down in Cornwall and has a love of engines, he was really interesting. All in all we have had a fab day.

Saturday 9th February.

The weather today was beautiful after a slight frost, everything was fresh. There was no breeze at all and as the sun came up it soon warmed the air. Having taken Paddy for his walk, we settled down to a cooked breakfast cooked by Keith, and planned our day which began with a walk to Marbury Park and around the Anderton Nature Park, if you have been moored up by the Anderton Lift but never taken the Nature walk I recommend you do so as it is really fantastic.
One of the walks takes you along the River Weaver, and even though there is industry right beside the river it does not detract from the rivers beauty.

Through out the park there are boards telling you about what wildlife can be seen. It is a well laid out nature haven for many species of wildlife, although today there was very little to be seen.Towards the end of our walk we approached the Anderton Lift in all its magnificent glory. You cannot visit the centre lift until March as they are doing maintenance, but it still looks fantastic and boats have been using it now that it is open to boats again.
After we got back to the boat, the chores needed doing, and on the list for today was a boat wash, polish and brass cleaning, never a dull moment. I did the cleaning of the brass and the boat, whilst Keith was doing all things electrical. We also spent time chatting to the passers-by who were interested in our boat and her history, it has been interesting that many think she is an old boat revamped, we of course tell them she is new. Having had another lovely day we settled down for an evening on the boat with dinner, when there was a knock on the window, and who should be standing there but Andrew Denny off of Granny Buttons, he had come from Preston Brook where we had seen the boat a couple of days previous and moored up for the night up in front of us. So having had dinner we paid Andrew a visit for a couple of hours, we enjoyed a pleasant glass of red wine and conversation. It is always nice to catch up with Andrew. So a great day.

Sunday 10th February.

Last night was a heavy frost with a river mist as well, so the morning was amazing. I took Paddy for his walk with my camera to hand for any good shots of this beautiful morning, with the sun coming up.
We walked past Granny Buttons; Andrew would have still been in bed as it was early. I then set off into the park.
There is something very mystical about mist on the water.
It is a photographers dream. I am not a professional but enjoyed taking these photos.

It was breath taking just to be out on a wonderful morning. The rest of the day was spent again doing boat chores and chatting to people including our good friend Andrew from Granny Buttons. Week 3 to follow.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week One of our time away.

As anyone reading this diary of Hadar knows were were off North for a few weeks until Yard Lock in Stone was open.
This is an account and photographs of our adventures. We were away 3 weeks so I will give you a week at a time, before adding another week in a day or two.
Many thanks for all the messages left for us, it is lovely to know people have been in and read our diary.

Monday 28th January.

The day finally arrived when we would be starting the first day of the rest of our lives aboard Hadar, continuously cruising the waterways of the UK. Neither of us could not wait, as more recently we have had the urge to get moving, but as you all know we have had engine problems and it has taken time to repair being a 1945 engine, you cannot go and buy the parts off of the shelf like with the newer engines in boats today. But as our boat is a working boat based on a boat my husband used to work on, we needed the engine to look the part and now it does. So today I had a visit to the vets with Marmite for her check up after she had been spayed, thankfully all was well, she was given the all clear. So having done a few things, including ringing the BW people to book a passage through the Harecastle Tunnel, we set off at 10.30am heading for Wedgwood bridge. The weather was lovely, there was not a breath of wind and the sun was out for most of the journey. We did not encounter any other boats on the move it was all quiet. We did the Meaford Locks and past through Barlaston, before mooring up at 12.50pm the north side of Wedgwood Bridge. We were greeted by the Canada Geese, who were pairing up ready for breeding. I heated up the homemade Vegetable soup I had made the night before and we had that with chocolate cake for afters. Keith and I then decided to have a walk around the Wedgwood factory.

We last went for a visit some 3 years ago, so it was nice to see that it is all change at the site. They have built a brand new Museum which will be open later on this year. They now also take you by mini bus to the production line at the factory, where you can walk around a set route and see how the china is made. It is truly amazing to see the process and the paintwork that goes into the final product. I spoke to one gentleman who has worked their since leaving school. He was painting Pegasus with a warrior onboard. He was telling me that it takes 50 hours to paint and £12,000 to buy, but it is a limited edition. We both found the place wonderful and will go back again sometime once the new state of the art museum is open. I reckon it is well worth the £8.25 entrance fee.
The day ended with us watching a little TV before having and early night.

Tuesday 29th January.

We had no plans as to what time we would leave our mooring at Wedgewood Bridge, but having woken up early we had breakfast and set off at 9am. I walked Paddy to Trentham Lock so he could do what all doggies do. I then set the lock for our boat. On through Trentham our friends Sheila & Chris were out in their garden as we passed by so we had a quick natter before heading on towards Stoke, we passed by the Britannia Stadium the home of Stoke City Football Club. Although it was a dull morning again there was no wind and it felt very mild. We arrived at Stoke Locks with a cruiser named Pickled Egg following us and a surprise awaited us at the lock as there was a scaffold plank wedged across the lock entrance, so unless Keith had taken a run at the lock there was no way of removing it or breaking it, the only way to remove it was to tie the bow rope around the plank and reverse the boat, this pulled the plank free and allowed us into the lock. As the cruiser was heading the same way we were, I set the locks for him as we exited them, he was on his own so it was the right thing to do. We had a pleasant cruise through the locks up to Etruria and on towards Harecastle Tunnel where we moored up for the night. We are booked to go through the tunnel in the morning. It turned out that we moored up just in time as the rain began to fall.

Here was my rant for the day. The one thing that was evident on our trip today was the amount of rubbish in the canal; some of this rubbish was from a couple of building sites close to the canal. I seriously think that something needs to be done about building contractors who allow their rubbish to pollute the canals. There should be fines in place for such disregard for the environment and wildlife. We came across, large plastic sheets, timber pallets, insulation and much more. It really seriously annoys me that they get away with this, not only that, coming through Stoke there are some warehouses, and they have allowed plastic and wooden pallets to fall into the canal. Surely someone out there should be making sure this does not happen again and that they are made to pull them out of the water. Ok rant over for today.

Wednesday 30th January.

Both Keith and I were awake early but did not get up until 8am; we could hear the rain pounding on the cabin roof, so we knew we were probably in for a wet trip once out of the tunnel. At 8.45am came a “Hello anyone on board” it was the tunnel guy, who had come over to check us in, give us a leaflet on tunnel safety, which we already knew from previous trips through Harecastle Tunnel, but it never hurts to re-educate ones self on the do’s and don’ts. He wanted us ready to go through the tunnel for 9am and was going to set the fans going to blow out the cobwebs, his words not mine. Paddy had a quick walk to relieve himself, whilst Keith did the boat checks, putting on the rear light, headlight and lights inside the boat, before starting the engine. As asked we were at the tunnel entrance for 9am, the rain was now pouring down.

Behind us was the little cruiser Pickled Egg who had followed us the day before. He was asked to go behind us as he had a petrol engine. Keith put in his ear plugs (yes you read right) because we knew that our engine would be very loud through the tunnel. We should have supplied the guy on the cruiser with some hahaha. So off we went, I stayed inside taking photos from the engine room. I was also watching the cruiser who at times was right up our stern. The problem with that was he was getting our wash, constantly he kept hitting the sides of the tunnel, his boat was weaving from side to side, at one point I heard a loud crack as his bike which was on the bow of the boat hit the tunnel wall, maybe next time he will stay further back as told by the tunnel keeper. Keith was more than happy with the way Hadar went through the tunnel, he said “she handled like a dream”. This was more than could be said for the cruiser behind us. As we exited at the North end of the tunnel the sun was out, it was like a different world, we moored up to put the chimneys back on allowing the cruiser to pass. He had an awful lot of damage to his cabin top corners, I could not see if his bike had suffered as well, but it would not have surprised me.

So the tunnel was behind us as we headed for Harding’s Wood Junction onto the Macclesfield Canal,

The cruiser was heading on down the Trent & Mersey canal thankfully. Moored up on its permanent mooring was our old boat Misty Lady, which we had sold last year. Andrew her owner was no where to be seen.

The Macclesfield is such a beautiful canal, lots of fields and trees, plenty of beautiful scenery including a distant view of Mow Cop. It looked as though BW had been busy over the winter as there was a new towpath along the canal; they had certainly made a lovely job of it. Our destination was Congleton to see friends, who live there but also have their own boat Pavo. I only had one lock to do at Hall Green and that is only about a foot deep so it was no hardship, before we cruised onto Congleton. We had our first sighting this year of a Kingfisher.

With no leaves on trees and bushes they are so much easier to see. With their vibrant plumage it was easy to spot. Throughout the journey we only met one other moving boat Willow an Elton Moss boat heading in the other direction, it was so peaceful. There were a few fishermen on the towpath who commented on how wonderful our engine sounded. It is so nice that the thump, thump of this 1945 engine is enjoyed, by others and not just us.

We reached Congleton at 12.50 pm and a mooring at the Wharf, there was no other boat there so we had the place to ourselves. The only noise we could hear once we turned off the engine was someone practicing on their drum kit. They probably got it for Christmas LOL. Whoever was playing the drums was actually pretty good. After some lunch I rang Win and she came and collected us to take us down to Morrison’s to get some provisions, we also had a look around the town, which has quite a few charity shops, our favourite shops LOL. We spent the evening at Ian & Win’s, Win cooked a lovely meal, whilst we caught up on all the news. It really felt quite odd being in a house for any length of time; we are so used to visiting friends on their boats. I know for sure I could not live in a house again, but one should never say never. It was a wonderful evening and we know we will see them on the cut when they take their boat Pavo out during the warmer months

Thursday 31st January.

Omg it was blowing a hooley outside. The forecaster said it would be bad that day and they were not kidding. I was woken up in the early hours by the waves on the canal lapping against the stern of the boat. The rain was lashing down, so I dressed for a wet walk with Paddy. Just as we were about to exit the boat the heavens opened with rain, hale and gusts of wind which would have knocked me off my feet, so we waited for it to blow over. Some 10 minutes later the sun appeared and Paddy and I made our way out of the back cabin. On the back counter the hale stone had piled up against the door, brrrrrrrrrrr it sent a shiver through me. Paddy looked very unhappy with the fact that he would have to walk in all of this, but a dog has to do what a dog has to do, so with a huge leap he jumped off of the stern. Walking in new places is always lovely and even Paddy gets to enjoy new smells. After his 30 minute walk we were back on the boat in the dry and warm, with breakfast ready and waiting for me.
Due to the wind we were not planning on moving, so it was a good time to get some chores done. Keith was busy in the engine room checking pipe work for any leaks and making sure joints were all done up. I on the other hand, made a stewing steak casserole, plus a bread and butter pudding for afters. I then had some washing to do, so we ran the generator for half an hour. It also gave us the chance to charge up our laptops and torch. We have been listening to the local radio and on the news it told of the death of Jeremy Beadle at the age of 59, geesh that sure puts life into perspective. I used to love watching him on his TV programs. They also gave out the weather forecast for tomorrow it is not great, they are forecasting snow yipppppeeeeee. We have already had a heavy snow shower.
I was so looking forward to having some snow on Hadar, for those wintry photographs. I want to get together enough photos for my next poetry book, which will have Hadar in it and on the front cover. But these things take time as I want the photos to be right. So bring on the snow yayyyyyyyyyyy. The washing finished so I had it hanging in the back cabin which was very hot, as I was cooking the casserole in the oven, as for the rest of the washing it was in the engine room, and would dry in a day or two depending on whether we have the engine running or not. Lunchtime consisted of Cheese on toast and a cup of coffee, the remaining bread went to a pair of swans who seem to know if they tap on your window they will get fed.

The cob actually had his head in through my galley window, making noises at me as if to say "feed us, come on, we know you have bread over". They even took the bread out of my hand, so it is fair to say they are used to this sort of thing from other boaters. .

Friday 1st February.

It may have been the beginning of February, but that did not improve the weather prospects. Constantly throughout the night I was woken up by the howling wind. My biggest fear was that if someone cut our ropes or untied us we would be blown into the wharf building on the other side of the canal. Stupid I know but one never knows these days. Anyway we were awake at 7am, so I got up and made us a cup of tea to have back in bed. We sat drinking tea and listening to the wind. It was certain we would not be moving again as the forecast was for strong winds and snow showers. Paddy however needed his walk, so it was waterproofs on and off we wet with the wind in our faces. To my surprise whilst walking back to the boat, I saw in the water a Koi Carp.
It was swimming close to the surface, on its merry way. It had to be at least one and half feet long, and goodness knows how much it would have weighed. It looked well fed hahahaha. Paddy found it very interesting. Back on the boat Keith and I decided that we would take a walk down to Congleton town centre for a change. So we donned our coats and hats for the short walk. As always when we are out it was the charity shops that we were interested in more than anything else. So I was pleased to pick up a white cotton tablecloth with around 4 metres of lace around the edge. Just what I was looking for to go in the back cabin, and at £3.50 it was cheap, as lace can be expensive at times. Keith bought brass cooking utensils and a rack that you hang them on, which is now hung in our galley looking very smart. We went to the Bread and Basil deli for a coffee and hot sausage roll. It is all very relaxing now that we do not have to be anywhere at a certain time, which is how canal life should be. Having been out for a couple of hours we walked back to the boat just as it began sleeting. The wind was definitely picking up so we were glad to be back in the warmth of the back cabin.

Keith had to run the generator for an hour to charge the batteries, and we will not be moving far for the afternoon as it has turned foul and Hadar is being thrown about a bit in the strong wind and hail falling.
Saturday 2nd February.

The forecasters got it right yet again, we had snow overnight, so as I opened the back cabin doors and saw a blanket of white yayyyyyyyy. Hadar has her snow blanket. It looked really beautiful when I left the boat with Paddy for his walk.
Paddy loves the snow. He loves to run around getting his nose covered in the white stuff. He has little thought of what maybe under the snow. When it snows everything always looks clean and fresh and brand new.

We were going to head back this morning as the strong winds had calmed down thankfully. So Keith got the boat ready for an about turn.

The plan was to head back to Harding’s Wood junction and head north down through the Red Bull flight. The canal had ice on it in patches. Hadar bow ploughed through quite happily.

We stopped for lunch at 12.25pm on the aqueduct, before heading to the junction at 1.00pm, where little blighters were waiting on the bridge with snowballs. I was armed with my camera as always. But they thought it funny ducking down on the bridge. We then left them behind as we went down through the first lock, we stopped at the Red Bull sanitary station to empty the loo and get rid of a bag of rubbish, before heading to the next lock, in the distance we could see another boat coming up so I left the gates ready for them. As they approached we could see it was Satellite a small Woolwich, built in 1935, she was then a butty, and these days she has a new top and is no longer a butty. We cruised on watching Mow Cop disappear into the distance. At 2.40pm we decided to call it a day as the wind was getting up. We moored at a designated mooring place just below the Red Bull flight at Church Lawton. I got a few boat chores done we then settled in for the evening. Come 6.30pm the church bells began to ring out, we thought it must be bell ringing practice for tomorrow’s service. The weather forecast was not promising for Sunday.

Sunday 3rd February.

There seems to be no let up in the weather, with yet more strong winds this morning. We decided not to move down through the locks at Church Lawton. Paddy enjoyed a good run in a field alongside the boat; it gave him a chance to stretch his legs.
Back at the boat we had breakfast and then did a few boat jobs. Keith was sorting the thermostat; he ran the engine for a couple of hours to see if he could get it to work properly but to no avail. The engine was running way to hot, so it meant stripping it down again and we will run her cold without the thermostat until we get back to Stone. I on the other hand did some baking, making a lemon cake and some chocolate crunchies. I also managed to make a few cards for birthdays and next Christmas. I love to recycle old cards and bits and bobs, to make brand new homemade cards. After that it was time for lunch and then an afternoon of movies. I was going to take a walk up to Church Lawton Church, but the weather is so cold and foul, I had second thoughts. Later we ran the generator for a while so I could have a shower, whilst I showered we did a bedding wash, the bedding will dry in the engine room. Because we are running the engine cold we have no hot water to hand so I have the kettles on both the back stove and the saloon stove to use for washing up and making drinks. It actually works well because if the kettle is already hot it takes less time to boil on the gas, so that helps us to save gas. I brought some logs in from the hold to burn on the salon stove, although to begin with the wind was blowing so much, it was blowing the smoke back down the chimney and out into the saloon (cough, cough). Burning logs saves on coal, even though we have a hold full, the more we can save the better. Logs are easy to find because when BW cut back trees and bushes they usually leave the logs for boaters to pick up along the way. We have a chain saw and an axe for anything to big.
Our first week out over and it had been fantastic. Stay tuned for week two.