Thursday, 12 September 2013

It's only been and taken 6 months..........

As the title says.......
......We only really had one plan this year and that was to get as close to my Dad and his wife Diane as possible. Dad and Diane live in Lancashire not far from the Leeds and Liverpool and last year they took us to The Boatyard Inn at Riley Green and we did want to get there in Swamp Frogs. Sadly we didn't quite make that and after the hard work of the Wigan flight we decided to moor up at White Bear Marina in Adlington. As we were mooring up a woman who we had never met was frantically waving to us like we were her long lost cousins....."your here, your here" she, Heather has been following our toilet wall blog since the start and could not believe that here we were mooring up next to her and Mike, her Husband! So all moored up and we sit and have a drink with Heather and her hubby Mike, lovely couple and can't wait to meet up again in the New Year when they have their new boat.
Next morning after resting up Dad and Diane arrive for the grand tour

.....we love showing off our boat and are so proud of her and the job that Milburns did for us......(changes thread briefly) What about this then for service....I phone Milburns to say I have a leaky window, Andy tells me what to do to sort it and then goes on to say that if it still leaks they would drive up to us to sort it! Great service from a great bunch of people (I know they have a build slot in Jan 2014, if you are looking to have a boat built, look them up, you will not be disappointed)......Anyways back to Dad and Diane.....We give them the tour and they, like all others before them love Swamp Frogs and are so pleased for us and that we are following our dream.
With Swamp Frogs safely in the Marina we pack a couple of bags and go and stay with Dad and Diane for a few days coming back the following day to take them on a cruise.

This is the funny bit......we leave around 10am and cruise to The Malthouse Farm have lunch and cruise back. The Malthouse is like 10mins drive from their house but we take nearly 6 hours to get there and back plus a 2 hour lunch in the sunshine giving us a full 8 hour day!!!.....hehe such is the pace of life on the canal!
They loved it, both Dad and Diane reluctantly agreed to take a turn on the tiller and both did very well. They both couldn't believe the pace, peace and tranquillity we experience on a daily basis......This, my friends, is what our life is......Yes it's taken us 6 months to do what most people would do in a day (138miles by road) but what a great time we've had......
Sadly we leave Dad and Diane and have to make our way back down south. We moor up at the top of the Wigan flight knowing the horror of 23 locks in the one day face us in the morning when we get a knock on the door......"hi, are you doing the flight tomorrow? if so can we pair up" a couple asked......"yes we are" I reply "and yes it would be great to pair up". The couple, Tony and Doreen owners of NB Sarah Olive turn up at 7am the next morning and we have a wonderful time doing the flight. Tony and Doreen, like us, believes that narrow-boating does not have to be a contact sport as many will tell you it is but if you take things slow, all will be fine. We do the flight with a minor hiccup of a dry pound and work being done in a lock half way down by CaRT workers with no banging or scraping of either boat.
Sadly we miss my Dad and Diane who were waiting for us 4-5 locks down but they thought after an hour we must have passed.....sorry dad, Diane....such is the life on the canal, things can and do move slowly.

Tony and Doreen have become the latest in a long line of new friends and they too are making their way south and we have had many pleasant evenings together on the way, They have also taught us how to play canasta.....a great card game to play.

We've been in touch with Cheryl at Stockton Top Marina, home to Kate Boats and we will moor there for the winter, Milburns (we hope) will do a few little jobs at the same time while we jet off to Cyprus for 3 months!

We are currently moored at Church Lawton ready to do the Harecastle Tunnel tomorrow!

Since our last blog we have done 74 miles, 54 locks and Preston Brook Tunnel (1239 yards long)

This gives a grand total of 403 miles 100 yards, 262 locks and 9 tunnels (tunnels over a 1000 yards only).

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Family visit......The Anderton Lift and a game of Narrowboat pinball!

So, My son David, fiancée Anna, Grandson's Ruben and George arrived after a 4 hour journey from Southampton we all pitched (haha....joke....geddit....pitched...tents go on a pitch.....oh, ok never mind!) in and quickly got the trailer tent up and sorted.
Strict supervision required when George has a hammer!

Nice and easy Ruben.....

Trailer tent all sorted, we kitted the boys out and then we're off to  our home to go and wind (turn the boat around) Swamp Frogs ready for the next
days cruising.
2 yr old and a 4 yr old holding 16 tons!

Hmmm.....2 captains? that won't work!

The next day we were up and ready for our days cruising and a visit to The Cheshire Ice Cream Farm. If you are anywhere near and have a couple of kiddies then go, well worth a visit, free to go in, lots to see and do and a million different flavoured ice creams to try.


Next day we spent at the camp site trying to run the boys out of energy as being on the boat they ended up with tons of energy at the end of the day, not sure if it worked tho......

Suzie worked very very hard and kept them entertained but then became knackered herself! so the next day we just cruised to Tattenhall Marina to fill up with Fuel and water ready for our departure. On Sunday morning we all packed the Trailer tent up had a Sunday lunch in The Shady Oak and that was that. 5 days of great fun, a little bit of rain, a few tears and a wonderful time catching up....It's the hardest part of living on the boat is being away from all the family and we were both very sad to see them leave.

Onwards with our journey tho and we made tracks the next morning to continue northwards to Adlington on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. on the way we came across the Anderton boat lift which drops boats from the Trent and Mersey Canal down onto the River Weaver and is now a scheduled ancient monument.....we just had to do it!

......and us on our first river! (albeit for 40mins)

With the Anderton Lift done we then moved on to Preston Brook Tunnel which is 1239 yards long and opened in 1776. it's only about 10ft wide so your passage is on a timer so you don't meet another boat coming the other way!
Southern end

....and our exit at the northern end. Suzie took this picture
AND it's upside down!

We pushed on and spent a couple of days in Lymm and experienced our first game of Narrowboat pinball. Basically, there is moorings both sides of the cut in Lymm with about 18ft gap left inbetween so not bad but we were alongside a boat that was just leaving so I pushed Swamp Frogs out into the middle of the cut (normal practice) to allow the moored boat to leave. Ahead of us was a boater coming through the bridge, I signalled for him to stop as did Suzie who was on the bow. This boat took no notice and  just kept coming....."he's gonna hit" I shout to Suzie, talk about stating the obvious! so, straight into a Widebeam moored on the other side of the cut! he bounced of that and his stern then came in and hit a fibreglass cruiser then his bow came straight at us and BINGO he hit all 3 off us in the space of 10 the guy passed me he failed to acknowledge me and it fell to his wife to say sorry.....round the bend they go leaving 3 very "peed off" boaters only to smack straight into some trees ripping off his pram hood (justice).....if that wasn't enough he then ploughed straight into NB Artu, smashing crockery in their galley!!! The couple were in there 70's I guess, they belong to Lymm Cruising Club and there boat is called Hide Away which is pretty apt as there is a lot of people looking for them! have been warned! Having left Lymm we turned the corner and were greeted by a couple of Kingfishers, Suzie just managed to capture them (she is getting quite an expert now with the camera)

On the way to Horrocks flash Suzie was on the Tiller and a chappie walking the Towpath said "Hi" she turned and said hello back only to see it was Alan Hansall (Tyrone, from Corrie.....I was gutted not to see him as I am a big Corrie fan too!) We stayed at Horrocks flash for 2 nights (don't ask me why it's got the name flash? it's a man made lake created when they built the M6) we stayed here for 2 nights to get some rest as  it is just a mile away from the Wigan Flight which is a mind boggling 23 locks in the space of 2-3 miles..... Up early the next day we moved on towards the Wigan flight. we shared the locks with NB Orchid which is a shared ownership boat built by Milburns (they get everywhere) who built Swamp Frogs 3-4 hours later and 23 locks we were at the top. Suzie did all the hard work in getting us at the top.....Well done darling.

Since our last blog we have done 83 miles, 38 locks and Preston Brook Tunnel (1239 yards long)

This gives a grand total of 329 miles 100yards, 208 locks and 8 tunnels (tunnels over a 1000 yards only).