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March 3rd 2010 - Market Drayton

Peter and Katie arrived at the Shroppie Fly at lunchtime on Thursday.  They came on board for the guided tour then we headed into the pub for lunch.  It was absolutely great to see them both again, its been ages since the last time, that was when we visited them in Scotland in 2008 before we embarked on our adventure. 

We spent a wonderful afternoon with them back on the boat going through the family tree and chatting then we went to the Lord Combermere in Audlem itself for dinner.  Then sadly it was time for them to say goodbye and drive back to Chester where they had left their caravan.  However they are going to try and do a bit of family tree research for me up in Edinburgh at the family records centre there - I am keeping my fingers crossed that they can shed some light on the Weir forebears!

On Friday morning we headed off back to Nantwich again.  Although we now know we can get out at the bottom of the Shroppie I wasn't going to miss the opportunity of meeting up with Heather and Les again and also use the laundry facilities at Nantwich Canal Centre again.  It isn't very far from Audlem and only took a couple of hours to get there.  We quickly got moored up and got the TV aeriel up and checked the signal - Six Nations Rugby, Wales v France!!! 

On Saturday I headed off to the launderette with our winter coats and all our dark washing.  I had spoken to Heather in the morning and as Clive was going to be watching rugby all afternoon till 6pm she suggested that the two of us have a girlie afternoon in Nantwich - great idea!  It was lovely sauntering around town chatting to my pal - we really do go back a long way - we were only five when we first met!  We browsed around the farmer's market and I bought some gorgeous bread and some lovely crumbly Cheshire cheese.  Then we had a coffee and a wee snack (well I hadn't had lunch!) then headed back to the marina.  As the rugby would still be on we sat in the car nattering for an hour and a half!

That evening Heather and Les came and collected us and drove into Crewe to a wonderful Thai restaurant.  We were shown to our table and ordered our meal.  Whilst we were sipping our drinks waiting for the food to arrive other people's meals were being delivered to their tables and every now and again we would see huge flames shooting up to the ceiling!  Our meal finally arrived and one of the dishes - a sizzling chicken dish got the same treatment!  They tip the food onto a sizzling hot dish then pour half a cupful of whisky over it, the whisky immediately vapourises and is quickly lit with a lighter and this is the result:

Flaming Thai!

The flames actually shot up about four feet into the air, by the time I took this photo with my phone they were already subsiding!  However regardless of the spectacle the food was delicious and we all enjoyed it immensely.   Heather and Les then drove us back to the boat and we said goodbye and trudged down the towpath back to the boat.

We had a very relaxing day on Sunday.  At some point in the afternoon I sauntered across to the launderette again to do the whites but when I got there it had just shut - it was 3pm, early closing on Sunday!   I checked the opening times and saw that they open at 9.00am on Monday morning so I planned to get there first thing.

Well, best layed plans and all that, I overslept!  I finally got to the launderette about 10.00am!!!   Whilst I was in the launderette I saw Clive cruising past on the boat!  Has he left me I thought!  No, he was only going up to the nearest winding hole to turn the boat around so that we were heading back down the Shroppie!  I finished the laundry and headed back to the boat about half an hour later and he had just pulled in by the bridge on his way back - perfect timing!  I jumped on board and whilst I was putting away the clean laundry Clive headed off back towards Audlem.

Just on the outskirts of Audlem there is a new marina being built.  When we cruised past here on our way down to Market Drayton a couple of weeks ago there was no water in it however now there is!  It is due to open very soon, it says Spring 2010 on the notice boards.  It looks fantastic and I am sure it will be absolutely gorgeous when its finished.  These new marinas are springing up all over the country and are very much in demand.  There are now so many boats on the canal and their numbers are increasing every year so marina moorings are greatly in demand.

Overwater Marina, Audlem

We continued our cruise and I have to say it was a really beautiful day.  The sun was shining and actually quite warm.  I had dispensed with my coat and was just wearing a light fleece and no hat!  At one of the locks I spotted something and just had to take a photograph - the first catkins of Spring - lovely!

First catkins!

It wasn't long before we arrived at Audlem and moored up below the Shroppie Fly.  We were back here for a reason - it was Monday, Folk Club night!  So after dinner we tarted ourselves up and headed up to the pub with the guitar and music bag.  We walked into the pub and there were Heather and Les!  Heather had mentioned that they might try and join us this time so it was great to see they had made it.  We had a lovely evening.  There were more people there than last time and amazingly there were three hurdy gurdy players there!  However all too soon it was time for Heather and Les to head home (they both had to go to work in the morning - shame!) and this was our final goodbye, don't know when we will be back up this way again,  but we will one day!  Maybe next time we could come in the summertime for a change!

On Tuesday we had a very lazy morning - finally we got ourselves moving and the first thing we did was get the boat up to the waterpoint so that we could fill the tank again.  Once full I headed up to the lock to open the gates so that Clive could bring the boat in.  Something very strange happened next - whilst we were in the lock we bought a toilet!!!!!  

During the first weeks of January when we were marooned up at Kidsgrove things got pretty difficult in the loo department!  We couldn't get a pump-out because the BW pump-out facility was frozen up and wouldn't work.  When it finally thawed out the sewer pipes got blocked so the facility still couldn't be used, nor the BW loos and we had to go to the pub to use their facilities!!!  We said at the time that we could do with a cassette toilet as a standby in case of emergencies like this, however we never did anything about it.  Well, whilst I was setting the lock in Audlem I noticed a sign outside the lock cottage: "PORTAPOTTY FOR SALE - £20"!  The lady from the cottage came out into her garden whilst the lock was filling so I asked her about it.  It turns out she had bought it because her husband had recently had both knees replaced and she thought it would be easier for him to have the Portapotty downstairs so he didn't have to keep going upstairs.  "Would he use it?" she said "No he bloody wouldn't"!  She brought it out for us to look at and we decided it would store in the engine room when not required but would always be there in an emergency so we bought it!  So there you are, some bizarre things happen on the cut but I think buying a loo in a lock takes the biscuit!

We moored up again and nipped to the Co-op in Audlem to stock up then we headed up the lock flight.  We moored up just before the last two locks as there is a really pretty mooring here where we have moored before.  It was just after four o'clock, perfect time to stop.  Once we were tied up Clive decided it was an ideal opportunity to swab the decks (well the sides anyway!).  The boat has got pretty grubby during the winter and he likes to keep her ship-shape and Bristol fashion wot!

Swabbing the decks!

This morning we set off again on the last leg to Market Drayton.  We stopped off at Victoria Wharf again for another six bags of smokeless fuel and a pump-out then ten minutes later we were moored up once again below the pill box in Market Drayton.  Vicki and Ben are driving up from Cambridge tomorrow to stay with us till Friday.  It will be lovely to see them again, its been seven weeks since we last saw them!

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