Monday 14th July
Market Drayton to Audlem
We sorted out rubbish and loo but didn’t need water. We left two boats at the water point pointing in our direction.
At Adderley Locks we met BCF boats Rutland Rose (Anna and Tim Lacey), and Le Timbou (Roger and Patricia Wannell).
We phoned Roger and Mirjana Garland in Ellesmere to arrange for them to receive some post for us. It is a joy to have friends in all sorts of places. It is also very useful.
At Audlem Locks we met Fruit of the Vine (BCF Keith and Diane Yeandl) for the third time this year! There are 15 locks at Audlem. We moored between locks 11 and 12, and saw two more BCF boats going past: Constance Alice (Roger and Mary Folley and The Lady Margaret (John and Margaret English and Roger Evans). The next boat had two cats: a black one and a ginger one.
Hugo makes friends in Audlem
In the evening we went along to the Bridge Inn for a folk session. As we arrived, a car pulled up, and Roger and Mirjana got out! It took us quite by surprise, although they had sent us a text, but we hadn’t seen it. The session was mainly tunes, with several fiddles, a recorder, a bowed psaltery (lovely sound), a mandolin, two bodhrans, two melodeons and a guitar (ours). The only singing came from Roger and Mirjana, and us two, plus one other song from one of the fiddle payers. We sang Long Way Down; Sally Free and Easy; Well, Well, Well; Miles and Miles of Poly. It was very casually organised and totally informal. Good fun.
Roger and Mirjana at the Bridge Inn, Audlem
We found some remains of a mouse when we returned, and Hugo caught another later.
16 locks, 2 miles, 2 mice, 4hr05
Tuesday 15th July
Audlem to Bridge 83/84 Coole Pilate picnic site
We had a look round Audlem especially the church, where we signed the visitors book. The village was full of flowers and had won prizes in the best-kept village competition. We then collected a few items from the Co-op, and returned to the boat.
The lock flight was busy, so when we left we had a boat in front and another behind. After the first lock we stopped by the Shroppie Fly for water, rubbish and cassette duties.
There was some manoeuvring about when we left the water point, as the boat coming up in the lock wanted to go where we were. The boat behind us was due to use the lock next, but they let us go first as it was simpler. Further down the flight, we saw that a boat was coming up so we left the gates open. Then we realised that he was coming up in reverse. He took ages to reverse back up to the previous lock.
We were surprised to see an oystercatcher in a field as we passed. There didn’t even seem to be any water there.
We moored near the Coole Pilate picnic site provided by the Shropshire Union Canal Society. We remembered this from before (in 2000), but it has been extended with more picnic tables, and stands for instant barbecues.
Coole Pilate Picnic area
There is enough space for quite a few boats and there is a wide towpath area. There were only three boats when we arrived, but by the end of the day there were at least a dozen. Several of them had dogs, but they were well behaved. The boat behind us had a dog and a cat, which were playing together, and the cat seemed to take orders like stay, and come, now!
We heard a whistle and looked out of the window to see President and Kildare coming past, heading south. We guessed they had been at the Chester rally.
President and Kildare
We had a barbecue – our first of the season. There was also a beautiful sunset.
Sunset at Coole Pilate
4 locks, 2 miles, 1 hr45.
Wednesday 16th July
Coole Pilate 48 hour moorings
A day to get some things done. First of all, a barbecue breakfast. Then Hazel used her new sewing machine to adjust some trousers. James washed the boat, trying out some new wax polish.
Some blog updates and zzzzzzz.
A very light rain shower later, so the hood went up.
Then Byfleet Boat Club member Ray came past on Stronghold. It was good to catch up with him. Apparently he won the boat handling this year at Little Venice Cavalcade. Well done Ray! He is aiming for Chester and Ellesmere Port. He told us that Mick and Suzanne (Cranley) and Terry and Chris (Barley Twist) were a few hours behind, heading for the Llangollen. It is going to be a sociable time, as we already know that other friends of ours are up there – Gospel Belle, Trinity, Amy Em and Maranatha.
Ray on Stronghold
James went for a walk a little later and met the chap from Waiouru, who is ex-military, and going in our direction, and the man from Wea-ry-tired, an ex-cop who is heading for Stourport. Apparently the dog wasn’t his, just the cat, who has only been boating for six weeks, after living confined to a flat. The dog was the first one the cat had met!
One of the steps into the cabin from the stern came adrift – the glue had unstuck. James fixed two blocks underneath to stop it sliding forward, but it needs something more permanent.
Another good sunset this evening.
No boating today
Thursday 17th July
Coole Pilate to Nantwich
A few boats went past early, and we followed at a leisurely pace, knowing there were the two Hack Green locks up ahead. There was a short queue when we got there, mainly because the second lock was very slow. There were big signs to the secret bunker, which is not very secret any more. It is even marked on all the maps.
Secret bunker sign
A little further along we were pleased to spot a water vole moving slowly along the water’s edge.
At Nantwich we wanted to moor as near as possible to the shops. The canal is on a high embankment above the town, and as we passed under Marsh Lane Bridge, there were plenty of spaces. As we approached the aqueduct, we noticed all the moorings were taken, and after the aqueduct it was the same thing. We passed Stronghold and then we found there was just one space at the end of the line.
We saw Malcolm and Stephanie Grey-Smart across the canal at the Nantwich Canal Centre, and had a chat across the water. We went to the laundrette there later, to wash the carpets, and we missed them going past on Elisha. We also missed Cranley, with Mick and Suzanne, from Byfleet Boat Club. We heard they had passed from Ray later.
Hazel took the trolley and caught a bus into town to get provisions from Morrisons, and post Jasmin’s card. She is 16 tomorrow.
It was very hot, and there was no shade. We put up the pram hood, and sat in the shade of that on the towpath, with wine and dips.
Rain was forecast for early morning so we put up the hood sides. We also rolled up the newly washed carpets and put them on the chairs so they wouldn’t get stained when Hugo brings in a mouse.
Sunset at Nantwich