Thursday November 29th – Oakgrove to Macclesfield
We are in no rush to get anywhere now so the order of the day is get up when we feel like it, potter about a bit, watch a bit of TV, check the emails etc then set off when we are ready! What a life!
Right in front of our moorings at Oakgrove is an electrically operated swing bridge. We have bad memories of this bridge!
Last year when Vicki, Gareth and Indy came to visit us the plan for their last day was to cruise from Oakgrove to Macclesfield where the kids were going to catch the train back to Congleton where the car was parked. However, best laid plans and all that….! There was a boat moored behind us and as Vicki and I were heading off up the towpath to address said bridge, the lady from the other boat came up behind us and asked if we had ever done one of these bridges before – we had to confess that this was our first. “They are quite easy really", she said, "I have done this one loads of times, I’ll do it for you if you like” – sneakily a bit disappointed as we had been looking forward to the challenge – we thanked her and said yes. We stood behind her as she inserted the BW key into the lock, hoping to learn the intricacies of electric bridge operation. There was a thunk, then a flashing light and a sign saying – ERROR! Oh dear! Anyway the long and the short of this was that the BW guys had to be called to sort out the errant bridge and we couldn’t go anywhere! By the time the bridge was functioning again a couple of hours later there was no time for the kids to come with us to Macclesfield so we had to call a taxi to take them back to Congleton!
This time there was just little old me to operate the bridge, so with some trepidation and all my fingers and toes crossed I headed off to do the necessaries whilst Clive started untying the boat. First thing to do is check that there are no vehicles or pedestrians on the bridge! All clear, so I put my key in, turned it and put my thumb on the OPEN button, lights started flashing, a siren blared and the red and white barriers dropped smartly across the road at both ends of the bridge but nothing else happened! Well at least I couldn’t see or hear anything happening but the digital sign on the control pad said it was "releasing wedges 1 and 2"! Sure enough a short time later the bridge lifted slightly and then started to swing open –brilliant! Once Clive had brought the boat through I pressed the CLOSE button and it all happened in reverse – pieceof cake, why did I worry!
Soon the bridge was a long way behind us and we were cruising through lovely open countryside. You know you are almost in the North when you reach this stretch of canal because there are hills around you!
Rolling countryside - almost hills!
There are some lovely stone bridges along the Macc and one of them in particular caught my eye and I had to photograph it. This type of bridge is unique to canals and they were designed back in the days of the horse-drawn boat. At this point along the canal the tow path swaps from the left side to the right – so how did the horses get across the canal whilst still towing the boat? The answer is a bridge that crosses over the water then curves around itself so that the horse could walk across the bridge, still attached to the boat, round the curve and back onto the towpath and Bob’s your uncle! How clever is that.
A bridge for horses to cross without being untethered from the boat
A short while later a boat passed us going the other way – it caught our eye straight away as it was called Lady Galadriel and there was a beautiful picture of Cait Blanchett as Galdriel in the Lord of the Rings films. As it went passed I waved to the guy at the helm and pointed at our name, Lady Arwen. Unfortunately he couldn’t hear what I was saying and hadn’t noticed the name so looked utterly bemused! Oh well never mind.
It wasn’t long before we arrived on the outskirts of Macclesfield and the plan was to moor up and pop over to the Canal Centre to see if we could purchase some BW cards to use at pump-outs and laundry facilities provided by BW at various spots along the Macc. Just as we had tied up, about a foot from the bank (it was very shallow here!) another boat pulled up behind us. Then a voice behind me said “what were you trying to tell me as we passed you?” – it was the guy from Lady Galadriel! They had only gone to a winding hole so they could turn round and head back to Macclesfield! I explained and then he saw the name of our boat – “ah, now I understand!”. We complemented him on the beautiful picture and he explained that a guy in Bollington (just beyond Macclesfield) where they live had done it for them. He had scanned a poster from the film then transferred it onto magnetic material which simply sticks to the hull of the boat.
It transpired that he and his mother had stopped to fill up with water but as we were in front of them their hose wouldn’t reach the tap! We offered to swap places but they decided to go shopping first, evidently there is a large Tesco’s in Macclesfield and they gave us directions to it. We went over to the chandler’s first but unfortunately they didn’t have any BW cards left and were waiting for more to be delivered. However they do have a pump-out and laundry facilities too which they said we could use if necessary – we may well just do that at some point.
We decided to walk to Tesco’s and it took us about fifteen minutes and we didn’t fancy walking all the way back with heavy shopping bags so planned to order a taxi. We had just unloaded all our stuff from the trolley at the checkout when a voice behind me said “you found it then?” – once again, the guy from Lady Galadriel! They had already booked a taxi back to the boat so I cheekily asked if we could share it with them and they said yes. Well, if you don’t ask….! Once back on the boat with all our bags I set to unpacking whilst Clive quickly got the boat untied ready to head off so that our friends could get to the water point. Just as he was about to pull out another boat came chugging past, very slowly! We recognised the boat and her captain, we had followed them all the way up the Bosley Lock flight yesterday! In fact we didn’t go very far at all – a couple of bridges further on and we came out into beautiful open countryside with a perfect mooring so without more ado we got Lady Arwen tied up safely. It wasn’t till the following day that I realised we weren’t actually on the towpath side of the canal, we hadn’t paid much attention as we were so entranced by the lovely view!
This mooring is perfect in every way. It’s quiet and peaceful; we have a 3G dongle signal and a very good TV signal too – what more could we ask for!
I forgot to mention something about our trip up the Bosley Lock flight yesterday. As I said in the previous blog, we met lots of boats coming down the flight as we were going up. One of these boats had a Canadian couple on board and we got chatting at the lock – as you do! It turned out that they had set out on their narrowboat adventure back in May. I asked what they had done before – it turned out that they were lighthouse keepers in British Columbia! Wow – that makes being a Medical Secretary seem quite mundane!
Friday October 30th – Macclesfield
This mooring is so lovely and as we really don’t need to move at all, we decided to stay put over the weekend. Well, it is a Grand Prix weekend and the very last one of the season too! So we spent a very leisurely day doing not much of anything. In fact I stayed in bed most of the morning reading my book, being plied with cups of tea and coffee by my darling husband who was enjoying the peace and quiet without me! I finally emerged from my pit to make lunch and the rest of the day passed in rest and relaxation - bliss!
Looking out of our windows at the view it is hard to believe that we are so close to Macclesfield town centre. However at night when all the house and street lights come on it becomes a little more obvious. But you have to admit, it’s very pretty.
Saturday October 31st – Macclesfield
Once again I had a leisurely morning in bed with my book! By the way, the book I am currently reading is “Narrow Margins” by Marie Browne (ISBNNo.978-1907016004). We actually met the author back in Ely and she signed the book for us – her husband Geoff came and drilled some holes for Clive when he was installing the solar panels). I am really enjoying the book, which tells the story of their life-changing experiences of a few years ago which resulted in them losing their house and they ended up buying an old and decrepit 70’ narrowboat and moving on board with a 6 year old son and an ancient dog and then renovating the boat whilst living on it! It is a really good read and I can highly recommend it.
I finally forced myself to put the book down and get up and as Clive had put the engine on earlier it meant there was lots of hot water so I decided to have a shower. Now most people take having a shower for granted, however when you live on board a narrowboat there are a few things to consider. Firstly we run on battery power and our water reaches the taps, shower and loo via an electric pump. Secondly, we do not have mains water, we have a 240 litre water tank, which of course needs refilling every few days. Thirdly,as the shower tray is below the water level outside the water won’t run away on its own, it has to be pumped out – more electricity! So you can’t just turn the shower on and leave it running for half an hour or more. Clive doesn’t have to worry as much as I do, he is a man for a start and secondly he has virtually no hair so it takes him less than 10 minutes! I on the other hand am a woman and have quite long hair! So the format for me is: turn on the shower, wet hair, turn off shower, apply shampoo and wash hair. Turn on shower, get wet, turn off shower, apply shower gel and scrub well, turn on shower and rinse off, then rinse hair. I used to use separate shampoo and conditioner but that was just too much faffing about and I now use a combined one! So you see, things are not always as straightforward on a narrowboat! Still, it’s all part of the charm.
After my shower I set to and made a big pot of Minestrone soup from memory. Then realised I could look up a recipe on the internet, only to discover that I had made it exactly to the recipe – amazing! I was really chuffed. Haven’t tried it yet though, we are having it for dinner this evening - it looks pretty good though!
Clive spotted this little fellow haring up and down and doing acrobatics in the branches of a small Hawthorne just adjacent to the boat. He is back again and I am watching his antics through the window as I am typing! I know we shouldn’t encourage them but they really are cute creatures and such fun to watch.
Clive watched the qualifying for the Grand Prix and is avidly looking forward to tomorrow and the actual race. Hope he doesn’t get withdrawal symptoms over the coming months till the next season starts!
Tomorrow we are due for heavy rain so won’t be going anywhere at all. I wonder what Monday will bring?