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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Harecastle Tunnel

A misty mystical morning today at Barlaston on the Trent & Mersey Canal, we’re well and truly on our southward journey. Once the mist lifted it was one of best days we can remember in a long time. This evening we’re moored in the middle of nowhere, just north of Weston with the west coast main line train way over the field.

There were 4 boats travelling through the Harecastle Tunnel yesterday, we were second in the line. The fourth boat was Freespirit, we met Ian and Irene last year and travelled a bit with them.  The tunnel is about 1.5 miles long and nowhere as leaky as I thought it’d be. For a change it was a lovely sunny day. We had to queue to get down the 5 Stoke locks, however, the hire boat behind us full of Aussies were very keen to assist us. In the interest of water conservation we ended up waiting at most locks for boats going up the locks. With all the amount of water that’s fallen out of the skies I’m not sure we need to be fussed about the water levels, but it’s polite and considerate on the ascending boat.

Harecastle Tunnel heading south

Leaving the tunnel


Yarn bombing in Barlaston

We had a lovely circular walk up through the Wedgwood estate. It was quite sad to see Wedgwood & Barlaston stations are both closed. We use trains fairly frequently since moving aboard and some of the small towns and villages we've been to actually have TWO stations eg New Mills, Derbyshire and Burscough, Lancashire. In addition the huge Wedgwood College, a complex of buildings and large amount of land are for sale, I guess they aren’t training up the specialist potters. We had been back a few minutes from our walk and the heavens opened again.



Sunday, 17 September 2017

Heading south for the winter.

So we’re heading south for the winter, it’ll take us about 15 days to get to Leighton Buzzard as we’ll be just pootling along. We’re planning to spend winter between Northampton and Uxbridge, possibly, as plans do rather change. It’s a good job we don’t need to go via Manchester as there’s major subsidence on one of the locks on Marple flight, so it’s closed indefinitely.

Congleton Wharf

 We spent last couple of nights in Congleton, one of the nicest little towns we’ve moored at. This morning John went for a stroll to take some pics and I wiped the port side of the boat down and cleaned the portholes. Yesterday I polished the brass. We moved just a couple of miles today, it was a lovely warm and sunny morning, however, we’d not gone far before the heavens opened. So, the fire’s on.

Dog Lane Aquaduct Congleton
Congleton Wharf

Last weekend we were at the Braidbar Owners Group annual gathering (5 days of socialising, eating & drinking….perfect), which incorporates the boat yard’s open day. It was the third time we’ve attended, but the first time on our own boat and for the whole 5 days. The year before last our boat was a bare shell with just the insulation foam on the walls. Our boat was the third youngest there and we had lots of visitors view the boat on the open day. The weather was atrocious with just short breaks in the torrential rain, the tow path was a canal too. 

Higher Poynton

My sister Samantha, Paul & boxer Blue came for the day while we were at Poynton. They were holidaying in a cottage just 26 miles from where we were. We actually managed a nice walk along the Middlewood Way without getting rained on.

I’ve had my fold up ‘Joy’ spinning wheel for 4 years now and have only just started to use it. It’s much more versatile and user friendly than my previous ‘Ashford’ wheel. I’m having a plying frenzy at the moment and using the large bag of drop spindle singles I’ve accumulated. I’ve now got 14 hanks of yarn which add up to 1.4kg. 

Tomorrow we’re entering unfamiliar territory and the Harecastle Tunnel. This year we’ve only covered 56 'new' miles that we've not travelled before, as we spent our first winter on the Macclesfield & Peak Forest Canals. Once we get to Norton Junction on the Grand Union Canal we’ll be on familiar ground (or water) as we holidayed between there and Limehouse Basin when hiring.

Someone's pet hawks
Thirsty cows

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Keeping cool?

Lots of friends and family in the south have asked how we’ve kept cool over summer, well, put the fire on frequently is my answer. I’ve only sat out late to watch the bats just twice this year and we’ve needed all our blankets on the bed with the summer quilt.


We are having an amazing time relaxing and walking up the nice big hills of the Peak District and mooring in familiar places. John’s done a bit of routine maintenance and painted the bow locker.

I have knitted a hand spun blanket for Nikita’s first Brownie pack holiday at the end of the month. I’d planned to sew all of Heather’s and my Brownie & Guide badges onto it for her, but the wool’s so springy I think the stitching would pull, so I brought a synthetic fleece blanket and sewed the badges onto it instead, so she’ll be very cosy with two blankets. I’ve completed 3 rag rugs and now have no old clothes left to shred!!

We had our second trip up to the ‘White Nancy’ in Bollington. A very steep climb up, which is an excellent work out and the views are breath taking over the Cheshire Plain and Manchester. It was built as a Victorian summer house which now has it’s door bricked up. Last time we were there it was painted to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, now it’s been redone since the Manchester terrorist attack. 


We were disappointed with our walk up to Bollinhurst Reservoirs, on the edge of the Lyme Hall estate in Disley, as you aren’t able to walk along the shore. It was a tremendous climb up the hill to get there and the views were excellent. 


 We just had to go and see the ‘pee stones’, that we’d heard about, where the lads from Oldknow’s Mill relieved themselves after the long walk up before going to church.


Someone had left the ground paddle up over night and drained the pound, so John called CRT to inform them a hire boat full of Norwegians were stuck on Marple flight of locks.

Heather made us some sun catchers which we gave to ‘New Horizons’ the charity boat in Marple for them to sell for their funds.


Lance had his 2nd birthday and we caught the train and bus over to them for the day. As it was the bank holiday weekend Ada & Dale were there too. We had an excellent day celebrating together.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Nikita came to stay last week and had to go home a little earlier than planned as she had a dental check up. Our initial plan was to travel to Bugsworth Basin with her, however, we spotted a sign for sheep dog trials at Sutton Hall Farm right by the visitor moorings at Gurnett Aqueduct and decided to go there instead. Ada & Dale had been to stay with Heather & Jason so dropped Nikita off at Macclesfield on their way home, which was a lovely way to spend our 35th wedding anniversary.


We had a lovely day watching the sheep dog trials. Nikita had a go at metal detecting and found a 3d coin (that the lads had hidden). There was a lovely craft marquee where I got a good few Christmas presents and they had local beer in polypins for us to try. We picked 6kg of cherry plums & a some blackberries on the Middlewood Way and made jam with Nikita’s help. Nikita did a bit more recorder playing and mastered the lower notes and can play ‘London’s Burning’ off by heart. Plus, we had to have her pre-bed time ritual of several games of dominoes. We went blackberrying again when Heather came to pick Nikita up, this time on Dane Moss & along the tow path. That 3kg is now fermenting away quite nicely.

While we were at home we picked the rhubarb and brought it back with us. I used the leaves to mordant two hanks of Shetland wool I’d spun. I then dyed the wool with onion leaves which gave a lovely orange.

I have FINALLY knitted up my first couple of hand spun hanks of yarn, only 27 years old!!!! I knitted two huge bags which I felted in our washing machine and they shrank to less than half their original size. I’ll be using the bags for bow & stern cruising projects. I’ve just completed my 3rd big bag and need to put it though the machine when we’re near a water tap.

Nikita is going on her first Brownie pack holiday next month, so I got out just about all my ‘old’ chunky hand spun and wound it into balls on the bow in the sun. I need to get a shift on now and get knitting.

We attended our second ‘Treacle Market’ in Macclesfield and brought some excellent local produce and this weekend we’re going to another local market in Bollington.

Our boat with the White Nancy on hill

The weather’s been pretty miserable these last few weeks with rain most days, but this is why the cotton spinning industry developed here due to the dampness setting the twist in the thread. We had an almighty hail storm while Nikita was here, luckily we’d just moored up. I think yesterday was the first really warm day in about 6 weeks.