Thursday, 25 August 2016

A Green canal

Since joining the Macc, we've cruised from Hall Green and Scholar Green to Riley Green via Lyme Green, a very pleasant run indeed. Unfortunately, as last year, the canal is green in other ways too, with massive amounts of vegetation projecting from the offside, from the towpath in many places and from both sides of the bridge holes, making steering through them quite problematic. If only Manchester and Pennine were as successful as the old Central Shires was at recruiting volunteer support, things might be a lot better.

All it needs is some regular working parties with basic tools to slash it all back and keep the cut looking spruce and trim. We've seen volockies on the Bosley flight, and very helpful they were, but no sign of other volunteer input. I can't believe that the citizens of Cheshire East are less supportive than those of East Staffs or South Derbyshire.

Hey ho, we set off just on eight, as planned, and I steered us through Macc itself and on to Bollington. There was actually space on the new pontoon at Macc, though of course there might have been a boat there overnight which set off early like ourselves. Gurnett Aqueduct, on the other hand, was pretty well rammed.

We encountered a couple of boats going through the narrows behind Hurdsfield (where else?) but had no problem getting by. As expected, it took a smidgen over two and a half hours to get to Riley Green, where we found just one space, fortunately about 80' long.

We've been peacefully recovering here, sitting out the rain which arrived over lunchtime. It had pretty well cleared by three, so we walked into Bollington along the Middlewood Way, an excellent route to get to the shops. I mainly wanted to restock on meat, so we went to the far end of the stretch through Bollington, debouching onto Grimshaw Lane and walking down the hill to the butcher, one of two just there.

I wanted some more fresh veg, so we walked back along the Way to the exit for the Co-op, just before the viaduct going north, and popped down to use the nice new store down there. It's a bit of a test of determination to get back up the steps to the viaduct, but we did it and were soon strolling along with filled day sacks.

It's less than 90 minutes from here to the Deeps at Poynton, so we'll have a lazy start in the morning – no use turning up there before 10, we'd never find a space near the far end where we want to be. I'm thinking of the Ocado delivery here...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Long day to Lyme Green

By our standards, we did a lot of boating today, especially as Sheila's bruised ribs, though recovering, still limit her ability to work locks. We set out just after seven and boated the half hour or so to the water point at Buglawton. It didn't take long to top up the tank and we were soon on our way again.

Sheila was steering, so it fell to me to get the washload going as soon as most of the battery charging was done and the water was hot. This was all sorted well before we got to the foot of Bosley, where we found the first few locks against us but the next few empty. The mystery was explained when we met a volocky half way up. Apparently, someone had gone down the flight overnight (no problem with that) and had left some paddles up (idiot!).

As a result, three of the pounds were dry this morning and the volockies had had to run water down to refill them. No doubt they had also emptied some of the locks in the process. We started meeting boats coming down at lock 5. Things were that bit easier as a result, most of the boats being hirers and therefore keen to do things the right way.

The only exception was a shiny privateer with all the trimmings, trad engine in engine 'ole, the whole bit, who turned a lock in front of us even though there was a hire boat already waiting to go into the lock we were coming up. As a result, Mr Dimble Brain had to squeeze himself onto the towpath in a very short pound instead of waiting in comfort in the long pound above.

It's not as if it gained him any time, he still had to wait for the lock below to be worked and turned again.

No matter, it was too nice a day to stay irritated for long, it's just the bad manners and bad example set by a boater who really should know better.

Despite us not trying to set any records, we only took two hours for the whole flight and then had a pleasant chug, albeit through some shallow bridgeholes, to the Royal Oak swing bridge. Once through that, I managed to get the breakfast washing up done before we got to the manual swing bridge just before the Lyme Green moorings. That one, bridge 47, is still very heavy to work, I'm sorry to say, especially after working a dozen locks first...

There was a load of room here on arrival and it's not filled up very much since. We've done a bit of shopping and otherwise have been loafing about recovering from our exertions. Tomorrow, a couple of hours should see us to Riley Green beyond Bollington.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Two hours, no locks

It has indeed been a golden day, cool at the start but soon warming up and not a trace of rain, for once. As planned, we set off at around eight with myself steering the familiar run, past the Heritage boatyard, the Little Morton Hall moorings and the golf club. The only downside was the discovery that we didn't have a reserve of instant coffee, so we stopped on the Congleton Wharf moorings for a quick trip to the shop up the hill.

I'd forgotten quite how far up a steep hill it was, but my determination was rewarded with a jar of the missing granules. Back at the boat, I made coffee and we had a peaceful sit out on the bow to drink it. Just as we were getting ready to go, the couple off the boat behind stopped to chat.

The chat turned into a ventilation session for them with tales of their recent trip up the Ashton Canal, which had been characterised by low rubbish-filled pounds, getting stuck in a lock, stroppy fellow boaters and tardy attendance of CRT staff. In fact, by the time CRT turned up, they'd managed to get moving, just about, so the team went away again, not bothering to sort the still unbalanced flight. After about twenty minutes of these tales, our new friends seemingly felt a lot better and went off to do their shopping.

We had a quick run through to the aqueduct mooring just to the north of Congleton and before Buglawton. It's really very pleasant here in calm weather. We've had a walk along the Biddulph Valley Way again and spent the rest of the afternoon in systematic loafing.

Tomorrow, a stop for water in Buglawton, then up Bosley and on to Lyme Green.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Back on the Macc

The weather's not been anything to write home about today (oh, hang on...) but perfectly manageable and a lot better than last weekend. We set off at eight and worked up the three locks to the service point, with the aid of a volocky on the middle lock.

Before he turned up, I witnessed one curiosity: a woman from what we later discovered to be a community boatload of members of the Trefoil Guild (what Girl Guides turn into when they ripen) wandered down to this lock as I was setting it. She had an armful of knitted stuffed toys, whom she arranged on one of the bottom balance beams. She then stepped back, got her phone out and took a picture, then gathered them all up again and walked back to her boat, which was tied above the lock.

Once we were sorted on the water point, Sheila was able to start a washload whilst I disposed of our rubbish and recycling. An Andersen boat crewed by three generations of a very pleasant family worked up behind us and tied on the other water point. We ended up following them up the rest of the flight, stopping to natter and exchange info as we went. The father had been to school near the tunnel and had known the Red Bull as his local.

"What was it like?" I asked.

"Rough," he said.

They carried on to the tunnel at the top whilst we made the turn onto the Macc. Sheila got us round with only one burst of reverse – it's a much trickier turn coming from the North than the South. We carried merrily on to Hall Green Stop, worked up it and tied on the visitor moorings above with a little difficulty. They were quite full, but most of the boats have gone now, with the exception of one of the local lurkers.

We've made an expedition to the local Co-op and restocked a bit. Tomorrow, a straightforward cruise to Congleton Aqueduct on what's promised to be a decent day, weatherwise.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Onward and upward

The problem with not stirring out of the boat all day is that you don't sleep very well that night, but we got through it somehow and got going only a bit late this morning. By quarter past eight we were on our way towards the Lawton Treble locks in quite reasonable weather. These locks are in good condition, unlike the ones near Wheelock, and we worked up them without too much hassle.

We crossed with a boat coming down the middle lock, which lacks its pair, and I bought an apron there from an old dear selling craft goods, cakes and chutneys in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. We don't actually need another pinny, but it can go into the charity auction at the Owners' Weekend, thereby benefitting three charities in all, assuming we donate our proceeds to Anthony Nolan and Bloodwise as usual.

Hall and the two Church Locks followed. There was plenty of room to moor above, just a shade under the two hours we'd expected to take. After relaxing for the rest of the morning, we had lunch and then took a walk up tomorrow's locks. There was a fair bit of traffic about, including Sceptre, one of the two OwnerShips boats we used to have shares in. Since the collapse of the OwnerShips scheme, she's become self managed and was looking very good with a new coat of paint.

On another topic altogether, some readers will be interested to know that Elanor has had Sally's DNA analysed. It seems that she is most probably 1/2 Doberman, 3/8ths German Shepherd and 1/8th Akita, the last being a bit unexpected. So her houndy characteristics are down to the greyhound element in her Dobie inheritance.

I just wonder who thought of crossing a GSD with an Akita...

Tomorrow, up the Red Bull locks, stop to fill the water tank and then round onto the Macc at last.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Sitting tight

As planned, we've stayed put today, feeling sorry for the few boats we have seen moving. It was just very windy this morning, but has been chucking it down from time to time this afternoon. I ran the engine this morning to recharge the batteries, heat the water and run a washload. I had to nip out first thing, still in dressing gown and PJs, to rescue the plant troughs from the roof.

I made a trip to the shop to get stuff like fresh bread and tomatoes, but apart from that we've not stirred out.

Things look a lot better tomorrow, when we plan to chug up to the top of Church locks, just a couple of miles and six locks away.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Quiet wet Friday

After yesterday's exertions, having an excuse to stay put for the day was quite welcome, though the wet weather is a bit depressing after the glorious sun earlier in the week. We loafed in bed for quite a while, then got up and pottered about all morning.

It wasn't a completely idle session. For one thing, I revised the entries for the Big Lock and the Broughton Arms in the pub guide. We'd had a very good meal in the latter establishment last night, with remarkably prompt service considering that the garden was packed solid with folk enjoying the sun. They had on a range of golden ales, just the thing for the conditions.

Sheila had some financial stuff to do and continues to work on the attendance list for the Owners' Weekend. After a slow start, it looks like we shall have about the same number of owners there as last year, though not quite so many boats, just 12 of them plus the boats in build in the yard.

Interestingly, there are a couple of shorter boats and a couple of semi-trad style, so we shall have a good selection for prospective customers to see.

After lunch, the rain stopped long enough for us to take a bit of a walk, along the towpath and round some woodland, part of Rode Heath Rise. This is an area developed from the site of a saltworks that used to adjoin the canal.

It became cool and damp enough indoors to justify running the Webasto just now, warming the boat up a bit and giving enough hot water for washing up and showers. If the forecast is correct, we have the prospect of strong winds tomorrow, in which case we shall spend another day here before setting off again on Sunday, probably.