Jan 26th 2010 - above Church Minshull Lock
I am now just slightly stressed and harrassed! I have just spent the best part of two hours typing out the blog for the last couple of days and at some point in the middle of it the website must have bombed out and I just lost the whole lot and now have to start again - I am not a happy bunny!
So! We did manage to see a few episodes of NCIS the other night without losing power then it was off to bed. The following morning we were up bright and early and after a quick breakfast we were off. It wasn't long before we were approaching Middlewich and because the canal book had notifed us that there was a rather famous landmark up ahead I got the camera poised and ready. Finally we reached the spot and were very disappointed to find that the Bisto factory had been pulled down and all that was left was a footbridge over the canal attached to the facade of the old reception area, the rest was a demolition site! Oh dear - I wonder where Bisto is made now?
Immediately after the remains of the Bisto factory there was a huge plant which I did take a photograph of. I may have mentioned this before but any town with the suffix "wich" denotes a place with connections to salt manufacturing and as I said we were on the outskirts of Middle"wich"!
You could be forgiven for thinking that the roof of this place must have caved in under the weight of all that snow but in actual fact it is salt! This place was evidently the main supplier of the salt that the gritting lorries have been distributing on our roads up and down the country. There certainly looks to be plenty left, this is just one of several buildings containing vast quantities of salt!
We continued on our way and it wasn't long before we arrived at Middlewich where the canal was flanked by a really busy road. It was a bit bizarre pootling along at almost 4 mph whilst the cars were hurtling past us!
The cars were whizzing past us on the left!
Finally after one more lock we arrived at Kings Lock boatyard - our destination! It didn't take us long to get moored up and plug our electric cable into the hook-up on the bank. Clive nipped into the shop and had a word with the young man who was serving and he informed us that Steve, the guy who would be working on our engine, would be in at 10.00am on Sunday morning. He also asked if we would be wanting to go out in the evening as they lock the gates at 4.00pm - we told him we would be staying put.
Sunday morning dawned rather miserably - it was raining! Clive nipped into the shop around 10.30am to see if Steve had arrived. He had but informed Clive that he was the only person in today and therefore couldn't do the engine as he had to man the shop. However he promised he would start first thing in the morning and get it all done and dusted so that we could be on our way. So we phoned Heather and Les and told them what was happening and it was decided that they would come and pick us up after lunch and take us shopping. They duly arrived after a slight detour - they went to the wrong lock! We were at Kings Lock they had gone to Big Lock but after a quick chat with Clive on the phone they soon realised their mistake and were with us a short time later. They took us to Morrison's first do do some shopping then we all went back to their house for a coffee. After much deliberating about what to do in the evening we finally decided to have a Thai takeaway and watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - the DVD we were intending to watch on New Year's Eve and never got around to! We had a wonderful evening with them, the food was absolutely delicious, so was the wine(!) and the film was great. Finally they drove back to the boat around midnight. Hopefully, if all goes to plan, we are going to reciprocate with a meal on board Lady Arwen when we finally arrive in Nantwich!
Clive got up on Monday morning and made us both a cuppa then he wandered over to see if Steve was around. I stayed in bed! A short while later Steve arrived and got started on the engine whilst Clive watched the proceedings with interest. I stayed in bed! In fact I remained in bed, reading my book, all morning - sheer decadence! Clive, bless him, wasn't really feeling very well at all, he has come down with a rotten cold! He is the one that should have been tucked up in bed not me but he wanted to watch what was going on in the engine room so that he could perhaps do the majority of the work himself next time. It took quite a while to get the fuel tank pumped out and cleaned then refilled with 347 litres of pristine red diesel. Then Steve repacked the stern gland, which had begun to leak, then he did a complete engine service with new filters, oil etc etc but eventually Lady Arwen's engine was back in full working order and ready for anything - hooray! By this time however it was too late for us to go anywhere and as Steve was quite happy for us to stay another night on the hook-up we did just that.
We were up in reasonable time this morning and after a cuppa and a nice bowl of porridge we set off. First of all we pulled the boat over to the opposite bank and filled up with water at the waterpoint. Then we turned left under the bridge and onto the Wardle Canal, which has the reputation of the being the shortest canal in Britain at 154 feet (47m!) and joins the Trent and Mersey Canal to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. It was built in 1829 so that the navigation authority of the Trent and Mersey Canal could maintain control over the junction. It ends at a lock, the first of three we were to negotiate today.
After cruising for a couple of hours we arrived at Aqueduct Marina at Church Minshull. This is the marina that we had booked the boat into twice, once for a week at Christmas and the second time from the 11th to the 18th January and never made it on either occasion due to the adverse weather conditions. We were determined to have a look around this brand new marina which we had actually seen during its construction period, before they let the water in! It is just about to celebrate its first anniversary. So we moored up just outside and went in to explore.
Aqueduct Marina, Church Minshull
There is a cafe called The Galley which we decided to sample as it was lunchtime - I had a bowl of the most scrumptious home-made celery soup and Clive had a poached egg on toast. We also had a look around the shop, called Total Boats and we bought some kindling for the stove. I checked out the loos, showers and laundry facilities and they were absolutely lovely. Shame we never got to stay there really!
Soon after we left the marina we arrived at Church Minshull Lock, which is a really big, deep lock. After that we decided to call it a day and moor up at the next available mooring, which turned out to be just after the next bridge. By now the sun was beginning to set and it was getting rather chilly.
The going down of the sun!
So here we are, once more moored out in the wilderness. It is so nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and busy roads. Its beautifully peaceful and quiet!