It gets very tempting to go slightly insane and stock up on spares of everything when you’re constantly on the move. This morning the chandlery at Wrenbury proved a huge temptation – could have easily walked out with a macerator, an eberspacher unit and a new button but stopped ourselves and made do with two bottles of much sought after non-chemically holding tank chemicals…our toilet is green – oh yeah, mmm hm.
Two pairs of socks, trousers, vest top, fleece, zipper, salopettes, body warmer, gloves, hat, boots and it hardly felt cold at all. Made our way through the last lock before Swanley Bridge marina and had a diesel check as it looked the most user friendly/uncrashable services we’ve seen yet. Diesel usage up a fair bit due to the cold, so pulled in and ended up getting water and pump out too. The world started to close in on us while we were there, it wasn’t long before freezing fog had surrounded us and we couldn’t see more than two boats away. Lights on, set off, steering round the odd boat here and there. Quite disorientating, loved it.
Nick flounced into bedroom this morning complaining he was ‘so cold’ he ‘might DIE’…10 degrees and he had a point, it did feel flipping chilly. By about 10.30 everything had warmed up and we had a beautiful day with calm water and sunshine.
Did a bit of lockside shopping where eggs work out cheaper than Tesco and they are real. Made it to Wrenbury before the sun went down, so quiet compared to a few weeks ago when we had to squeeze into a mooring.
Way better weather today, so lovely not to be rained on. Pulled into Whitchurch about lunchtime and walked into the town to buy the much anticipated dehumidifier. Up and running within seconds of being onboard followed by lots of impatient yanking out of the water tray to find the impressive 2L it’s supposedly capable of producing per hour. Not a drop. Eventually opened the instruction manual to find it should be stored upright for atleast 24 hrs after buying and kept completely still for one hour before turning on. Hmmm. But then things began to happen, tiny trickles collected in the dish. And the windows are (at the moment) condensation free…will give it a full on test with an open door shower and rice boiling later.
The carpet show rolls on. It’s slowly making it’s way past the bathroom door – never to venture into the bathroom….ew no. Almost bought another offcut big enough to do the rest of the boat today, the guy in the shop even offered to drive it to the nearest bridge! Beginning to accept I have a husband with a carpet fetish, although I’d rather that then EVER seeing him in SLIPPERS.
So tonight we’re at the bottom of Grindley Brook locks, just one boat behind us and the moon is amazing, been out to take a pic but it’s just two yellow fuzz balls.
Quick trip to post box first thing this morning, passed carpet shop so called in to see if they’d sell some gripper rods, got talking and came out with with rods and underlay off cuts – almost enough for the entire boat. Shop next door sold contact adhesive…delighted. Saw sign for a laundrette on way back to boat and decided I could sneak The Murkster’s stinking bed cover in there as there was no way that was going in our machine. Nick headed into the bedroom ripping up the carpet on his walk through and turfing it out the back, while I headed off to a laundrette…how exciting, never done THAT before. Oh wow, how much could you stuff in those machines? Maybe 16 towels and there’s nobody to tell you off.
Got back and heard no swearing/saw no flying tools. Took Murk for a walk (raining), revisited laundrette (with inside of bed), went to Tescos, took trolley to marina for coal (they’re CREAM U.Mick!) back to boat…still work in progress. A little later and carpet was done. Not sure about the hourly rate but finished it looks fab and hey the only tool for fitting it was a paint scraper. Our homes are getting smaller and smaller but still reckon it’s the way to go – carpeting with offcuts costs £19 a room! Now Nick wants to do the whole boat, but then he doesn’t clean it and you can’t do carpet in five minutes with detol wipes.
So we’re STILL in Ellesmere. Defintiely on the move tomorrow. Rain still raining down hard and the boat is kind of groaning a little tonight – checked the ropes and they’re fine; is a bit windy so maybe that’s it or else the water could be on the rise.
Seemed to have quite a few jobs to do, Ellemere is the prefect place to stop and get them done with water on tap and shops just a hop away. Nick spent quite a while down with the engine, then out on the bow fitting a battery and also clunking around on the roof. Meanwhile I stuck a ‘FIRST’ sticker on the pullman’s cabin window, looks beuuuutiful! Also did a bit of cupboard clearing.
Can’t believe all the floods everywhere, we’re getting the rain but because this canal has an outlet, the water level is staying the same.
Walked Murk round to the marina as we needed coal…sorry U.Mick more yellow bags – 50p cheaper than the white and we don’t have asthma so can suffer the fumes!
Lay in with ipad TV as we didn’t have to get to Frankton Locks until 12 and were only 20 minutes away. Had the misfortune of booking both of our Frankton Lock passes the same time as a boring boater now named Mr Hare. He has the ability to lull you into a coma with his montone self indulgent tales; then just when he’s got you there…he nips away, in behind his tiller and he’s off. Very entertaining to watch Nick losing the will to live when Mr Hare recited seven years worth of narrowboating stories:) Each time we’ve passed him down the Montgomery, it has literally driven him so crazy his aerial would be down and he’d zoom past in minutes. Well, he was moored next to us this morning, so we let him go. Most likely made his day/year.
Mr and Mrs Hare managed to leave the top gate open on the first lock and I didn’t notice…until I’d let a fair amount of the water straight through the lock. It then seemed to take forever to fill, proper boaty dog walker soon walked past and called that I’d left the bottom paddle up too. ‘You’ll most probably struggle to get out of there,’ he added. Once he was on his way Nick and me gave each other the ‘drama queen’ look. Oh, but, boaty dog walker was right. Pool was so shallow we almost ground out. Had always thought of them as a bottomless water pit before today. Lock keeper later helped us on final lock and explained only 20 boats are ever allowed down each day as the water source is so precious…funnily enough I forgot to tell him about draining the lock pool.
Salopettes made it out of the wardrobe, it was so freezing cold and wet this afternoon. No crunchy leaves anymore, just bare branches and dead sky. Winter has arrived on the canal. Lots of yells from passing boats along the lines of ‘What the hell are we all doing out here?’ Rounded the final corner to Ellesmere services, shivering and soaking wet…only to see Mr Hare already moored, aeriel up and off to Tescos with his trolley. We’re tied up just infront of him.
Calm waters this morning with some sunshine too. Pushed off and made our way down to the end of the Mongomery, where we were held up by Dick Turpin aka Canal Junction; a block of butter £4 really??? Anyhow, Nick reassured me it’s ‘really nice’ butter, brilliant. Fairly straight and bland for the most part but the final section of the Montgomery got really pretty, under a lift bridge then a reverse turn and back up. Getting quite into reverse turning now…still loving that bow thruster.
Pulled clump upon clump of weed from the hatch midway through the day. There’s already a bit of maintenace going on down here and roaming chunks of weed are lurking.
Slowed up by the Queens Head. Loaded on: 1x 110amp battery, 2x 25kg sacks of Murk’s food (he can eat until March now), a roll of carpet and unloaded Mick -in the nicest possible way! Took shelter from a torrential downpour then headed off again. Back to the straight lines of the canal with no moorings for what seemed like miles in the fading light. Emerged from a lock in almost total darkness, finally saw a perfect place to tie up complete with rings. Raining hard again now and more gales forecast for tomorrow.
Oh almost forgot, The Murkster hasn’t let a day pass without adding that ‘other dimension’, by firing projectile vomit all over the rug, making an interesting addition to the Harvey wine stain.
Despite the vents being shut right down, the fire was glowing fiercely and the fan was flying round when we woke up; all to do with the gale force winds whirling round the boat. The temperature reached 30 degrees + in the cabin! We’d managed to moor in one of the most open areas possible, then having booked into Frankton locks at 12 and arranged to meet Nick’s dad four miles down the Montgomery canal at two, we weren’t left with much choice other than to move…or at least try. Two other boats moored near us were going nowhere, which meant not only did we have to get some forward momentum, we also had to get away from the bank quickly- if we weren’t going to plough into the boat infront. Took fenders up…only part remaining in some cases. First few attempts just resulted in us being rammed back into the bank. Finally got away with the help of two poles pushing the front of the boat. Slammed the throttle forward and headed off SIDEWAYS. Passed blown down branches and lots of cherry pickers making cable repairs. Made it to Frankton locks, which were a nightmare as without any speed on, the boat got blown in a flash. Held boat between two bridges to pick Mick up. Pointed the nose into the wind for a total of 10 miles and 10 locks – hardcore narrowboating (if there is such a thing?!) Only saw two other boats moving all day. Raining so hard when we moored it actually hurt our faces. Spending toinight in Maesbury Marsh, forgetting with the help of wine!
Although it was bound to happen at some point, it wasn’t a sight or sound we looked forward to. A high water level in the toilet and a whirring macerator. Oh dear. A bit of hopeful repeat flushing and some half hearted plunging lead to the inevitable – the toilet getting a trip out onto the tow path. We didn’t see Bradbury pass any of those on her tow path walk last night. A couple of hours, lots of kitchen roll and latex gloves later (ew ew ew!); it was back in place and plumbed. Pressed the button, held our breath and it sort of worked…just to check…pressed again, held our breath – nope, that menacing water rose. Aaaaaaaarghhhh! Silver lining, we only had to reverse 50 metres into Chirk marina. Fifteen minutes later and all was flowing, yippeee. So lucky that all the Chirk hire boats have exactly the same macerator, so they knew exactly what to do. Without too much sado toilet info, Nick had almost fixed it, but a pencil thin pipe that regulates the air flow and prevents a vacuum was still blocked. Apparently it took Chirk two seasons to totally figure it out. Nick really enjoyed getting to know how it worked and once I’d stoppped being totally grossed out it was kind of facinating.
Sunshine towards the end of the afternoon and the temperatures really plummeted. Flew through the tunnels and the over the aqueduct. Moored at the top of two locks ready for the morning as we’re booked into the Montgomery canal for 12 ‘o’ clock, that’s four miles, two locks and the forecast says 50mph wind – joy.
Tipping down first thing this morning and our 48 hours were up. so we drank our coffee hoping not to get ordered out by the life jacket wearing mooring marshal. The rain cleared, then we said a heavy hearted farwell to the water and electric hook up, headed upstream before reaching the most Western point of the linked canal network. Turned round and then began travelling with the flow – yikes…such a big difference, even had to hit reverse, good to feel like you’re not killing the engine. Back to the Aqueduct in record time and over. Walked down to look up at the aqueduct, passed what should have been a canal all the way upto Chester but was never completed and also some tourists who didn’t think much to the Welsh air.
We hadn’t filled the diesel since leaving Aston and still had over 1/4 of a tank but needed pump out so pulled in for both at Chirk marina. Having read the sign saying to take care on the floating pontoon, I stepped off cautiously and got a few eye rolls and ‘boring old git’ looks from the boat. Picture of the day was almost in the bag when, having not read the sign, Fat Boy leapt from behind the tiller and almost wobbled into the water like a weeble.
Moored for the night just down from the marina. Full tank of water, full tank of diesel, two gas bottle and empty waste tank…life doesn’t get much better than that.