Arrived back at our mooring in The Fron last night. Yesterday on the journey back up, Mum cycled from Chirk and met us near Maestermyn - yes mum, I did warn you the tow path was bumpy! Had a quick pit stop at Mad Jack's & up the last two locks.
Picture below crossing Chirk Aqueduct with Chirk tunnel in front and the viaduct to the left:
We reluctantly set off from Hack Green on Monday morning and made the poignant left turn up Hurleston onto the Llangollen, which signifies that our travels are almost over until after the holiday season in September/October. Although it's nice to come home and see friends and family, we will miss the cruising. However, the weather has been fantastic over the last week, and great for cruising.
One of the canalside sculptures at Nantwich:
Bumped into Gary, the lock-keeper at Grindley Brook. He was just visiting the locks, as he doesn't start the season until Monday 22nd, thereafter the locks will be manned until the end of October. Nice to catch up with him and glad he'll be back for another season.
This bridge just after Grindley Brook is going to need a bit of work:
We cheered up the further we went, as people we knew, both boaters and locals, shouted their hello's and we kept stopping the boat to chat. Eventually got to Ellesmere & caught up with (Steam Boat) Bill in the White Hart. En route, someone said the nicest thing "Ah, so glad your back we look forward to seeing you - now we know spring is here, as you bring it with you when you come back each year".
Picture below is of a carved owl on top of the post at bridge 44: (the farm has homing pigeons i assume)
Wonderful to see the welcoming committee of geese at Chirk Bank. It's a new flock, as a local resident took it upon himself to "dispense" of the last lot of geese last year, as he (allegedly) said "they were dangerous". The locals of Chirk Bank were outraged, and shortly after, these new geese "appeared", though no one is claiming responsibility for their arrival!
View across the valley into Chirk, with Kronospan belching out the smoke.
Had a short day today, and have bunkered down to watch rugby, grand prix, and football. Can't tell you where that is tho ........ it's a secret! Very quiet between watching the sporting events as Dave has discovered sodoku.
Dot & Dave (NB Lace Lady) came to visit for a few hours, by car though, not by boat at Wheaton Aston for Dave's birthday. Nice to catch up with them, not seen them since we travelled together October/November last year. Couldn't get into Turners garage for diesel as contractors were installing piling to the canalside - at last! Pit stop at Norbury Junction, which was extremely busy with walkers, and seemed to be ownership change-over day. Familiar sights as we travelled, including the same boats moored in the same spots that they were last year. Some with licences, some not.
Next day saw us bump into Dave's pal - another Dave - with his new (to him) boat 70ft Little Woolwich ex working boat Hyperion. Hope he keeps this one, as he changes his boat every couple of years! It's got an Armstrong Siddley twin engine and sounds fantastic, we have a AS single cylinder on Sans Souci, so the boys were comparing notes.
Up bright and early on Sunday morning, ready for the cruise into Birmingham. Looked outside to find yet more ice, so got the thermals out again. Chickened out of setting off, and had another cuppa. Horah!! An Anglo Welsh boat crunched its way passed us and carved a path through the ice, so we gave him a 20 min start and followed. Not far after Hockley Heath is a huge development which sprouts up right in the middle of the countryside with nothing else around it in either direction, quite bizzare.
Lavish central water feature, water cascading down steps:
A minute later, you're passed it. View looking back:
View looking forward:
Nearer Birmingham we hit the chicane, glad we already knew about it from other people's blogs, so we knew you could get through it.
Glad to see that someone's found a good use for old tyres. And onwards into the big city.
The Cube's not finished yet:
Sampled the delights of The Wellington - 16 real ales, unfortunately we didn't have the stamina to sample them all. Caught up with NB Armadillo and had a nice chat about boaty adventures and being frozen in up the Ashby, they were at Market Bosworth and us at Snarestone. http://www.nbarmadillo.blogspot.com/
We thought we'd moor in different stops between Warwick and Birmingham this time, we seem to moor in the same spots as we pass through twice a year, so this time we would try out the pubs that we don't ususally stop at . We cracked ice from the top of Hatton until Rowington, when a boat had carved a path through before us. This isn't funny any more, it's March - no more ice please. We moored at Tom O' The Wood (as we had never stopped there before). Very disappointing. The extended bar staff family played the (new) juke box so loud we couldn't hear ourselves talk, until we asked them to turn it down. The "selection of cask conditioned real ales" turned out to be Bombadier - or - Bombadier. I can see now that we tend to stick to our favourite mooring points for a reason, gleaned over the years!
Woke up with a start this morning, I thought we were back on the Llangollen when a boat went passed us at 6.55am, am!!! Ropes creaking, boat jolting, why oh why at 6.55am can't they go past at tickover without their waves catching them up. Had a lovely ascent up the Lapworth flight, stopping for some wonderful home cooked samosas from The Village Shop. Tonight we stopped at the Blue Bell Cider House on Graham's recommendation (http://www.contentedsouls.blogspot.com/). Real ale, "proper" cider, good mooring for the cat, what could possibly go wrong - ha - nothing! Great proper pub, with friendly bar staff, diversity of customers, and good moorings. They even had the Spurs Vs Fulham FA Cup match on the telly in the bar. 0-0 draw though, sorry Dave, Spurs didn't win, so you can't have it all. I haven't posted any photographs, as NB Armadillo (http://www.nbarmadillo.blogspot.com/) is travelling the same route, a day in front of us, and Graham has got much better photos than me.
What a fantastic day for boating. Had a quick visit to Rachel's in Kenilworth while we were in Warwick. Set off this morning after a visit to Kate Boats for the essentials, and UP Hatton flight we went. Unfortunately all the locks were against us - but hey - we had all day, so no rush, plus I needed the excersise after being on the Ashby and Coventry without doing locks for so long, got arms like Arnie's now. Makes you feel good now that "March" is in the date and knowing spring is on it's way. Lots of people out walking, all happy, smiley and chatty. We even saw a butterfly (a real one) and a dragonfly (not so real but very beautiful). Captain Cat very pleased to be back in the countryside after a couple of days in a town. She won't be impressed when we get to Birmingham.