Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Wheelock, Sandbach & Kidsgrove

We decided to head off on the Monday after the Festival. Big mistake really because everyone else did too!!  It took us 3 hours to go up 3 locks and when we arrived at the junction for the Shroppie, we were 4th in line for the lock, in a small crowded pound. 

I used to mock boaters with 2 Way Radios.  I had an 'Eww get them' attitude, till I got some cheap ones from Aldi for us.  I was so fed up with us shouting at each other over the engine noise, running back and forth with info, it really was a no brainer.  They prove invaluable when you are up at a lock behind a bridge with a boat coming through, you just squeeze and speak.  Which for me is much less stressful. Well most of the time it is, at the Shroppie junction Yogis stress was starting to come through though......  

I am at the lock, with all the other 'lock wheelers', behind a bridge helping boater number 1 of 4 through the first lock.  We were all chatting about how busy it's been, long day etc etc..when the peace was disturbed by my radio, on full volume....
"Fuck this babe, it's a fucking nightmare, I'm on the fucking bottom, there's no fucking room and nowhere to fucking go.  Fuck the Shroppie, let's go back up the Trent & Mersey". 

I looked around the sea of shocked middle aged, sunburned faces, some with chins on the floor, others looking at me with very concerned expressions.  Who was this sweary man on the end of my radio? Lol. Would I be safe to return to my boat?  I knew he was just venting, but they didn't lol. I just smiled and made my way back to the boat laughing to myself, imagining the conversations that were going on behind me.   We went through Kings Lock moored up and simultaneously suggested a pint in the pub. Great minds eh :0). After some refreshments we carried on and headed back towards Wheelock. 

Pictured above is the river Wheelock which runs  through Wheelock. ( Wheelock is derived from an Old Welsh source meaning "winding river" ). There's not much there, there's a big pet food place (overpriced), small local shop for bread, milk & chocolate and a rather good fish and chip shop!  The Cheshire Cheese Pub has a good basic menu and a very friendly welcome also.   

We also did well there trade wise because it's 26 locks to Kidsgrove one way and 8 locks to Middlewich the other. There is a service point with water, elson and rubbish and a good turnover of boaters stopping for lunch or the night before heading on up or down 'heartbreak hill'. 
Pictured above, the Cheshire Cheese pub and what used to be the Nags Head, now an Indian restaurant. 

I was secretly pleased we had decided to come back this way as I had wanted to go into Sandbach and hadn't had time on our way to Middlewich so I knew what I would be doing whilst Yogi was tending shop. :0)

Sandbach is a lovely little market town, very oldy worldly and EASILY accessable by bus or alternatively apx 1 mile walk from Wheelock. 

There are two massive Saxon stone crosses, elaborately carved with animals and Biblical scenes including the Nativity of Christ and the Crucifixion which dominate the cobbled market square. Aparentley dating from the 9th century, and originally painted as well as carved, they are said to be the finest surviving examples of Anglo-Saxon high crosses.  There is little known why they are in Sandbach or where they came from, or why they were made even, but they are pretty impressive even now. 

The Stone Crosses in the Market Square

Shopping purchased, charity shops scoured and high street well and truly checked out. We were ready for the track back up Heartbreak Hill to Kidsgrove. 

I've just found this fab time lapse video of the journey from Wheelock to Kidsgrove.  This was made by another boater in 2011. Excellent stuff!! Really gives you a feel for it :0) and saves me telling you about it again :0)

Some photos of our journey ............

 Finally arrived at Kidsgrove :0)

Monday, 23 June 2014

Middlewich FAB making New friends and swearing at others

Forgive me diary for I have sinned!! It's been two weeks since my last blog!!
In my defence, I have been busy at the Middlewich FAB Festival but I didn't realise it had been that long!!  I have a lot to tell so may have to split it over a couple of days to get it all down. 
 CRT ASSET? Shame, am sure it was beautiful once :0(

The festival was brill, we met some old friends and made some new ones :0). Had a couple of very late nights!!  Thankfully no hangovers though and the only casualty of the weekend was one of my plant pots which a very talented, banjo playing boater fell/sat on at 1am. 

 Old Canalside property, boarded up and looking sorry for itself :0(
 'The Bad Shepherds'

This was the week that Rik Mayall unfortunately passed away :0(. There was some concern that Ade Edmondsons band 'The Bad Shephers' wouldn't be playing due to this, understandably so. But, the show did go on and some friends who were there said it was made all the better because inbetween songs, Ade would tell the audience anecdotes from his and Riks past making the whole evening an unofficial tribute to the man. I wish I had been there to see it. RIP Rik, you will be missed. Xxx

I have to recommend 'The Big Lock Public House' in Middlewich. They do pots of tea and you can sit outside on the veranda and watch the world go by below you. Which we did, a couple of times. Well, you have to support local businesses don't you :0). We also went to their weekly quiz night, there were a few of us in our team, Sheila & Smiffy from the Vapes Boat, Sandra & Barry from The Brew Boat, Simon the Harbour Master for the festival, the Sue & Dave from the Baked Potato Boat, chainsaw Artist Jezz and Michelle who does fantastic portraits and pictures. We only came 7th though :0( but we did get a box of choc cites for our efforts :0)

Middlewich itself is not a bad place to be, the High Street leaves a bit to be desired bit there is a largish Tesco, a Lydl and 3 overpriced charity shops which were disappointing.  The bus's run every half hour to Crewe so as my post had finally arrived at Kidsgrove on the Friday, I decided to take the 1hr bus/train journey to go collect it. 

I checked my timetables, and left to catch the 10am bus to Crewe, this would get me to the station in time for the 11.07 train to Kidsgrove. So should arrive apx 11.20, do a bit of shopping, collect post and catch train back. Simples...............

No, not simples, 11.07 train has been cancelled and the next one isn't till 12.07!  Bugger. I walked back to the bus stop to see if I could get a bus to Kidsgrove from there, Yes, the number 20, due at 11.15.  So I stood and waited for that instead. 

11.25, still no bus :0(. Must've been cancelled, I definitely hadn't missed it, next one due at 11.45. 11.45 comes and goes and I start to make my way back to the train station to get the train instead. Hoorah, bus appears over the hill. Arrive in Kidsgrove 12.45. Did not take into account bus goes the ziggy zaggy spaghetti route. Hey ho, only 1.5 hours behind schedule. 

 Boathorse Road on way to sorting office. 

Queue in Post Office collect card for underpaid postage (the reason for delay) get directions to sorting office in the aptly named Butt Hill. Get sympathetic look from post office worker when I tell them I'm walking there. I know why now.  It was 2 miles, uphill all the way!!  

Collected a nutter enroute, just after I took the picture of the Boat Horse Road sign, I should never have stopped to take it!!  She was very nice actually,  but I do attract them don't I!!  She told me she was on her way to photograph the fire station as that was her hobby. She liked fire stations. I told her I preferred firemen, but I think the comment was lost on her :0(

By this time it's 1.30pm. It occurred to me that most Post Offices close for lunch between 1 and 2 so I would probably get there when it was closed for lunch, let's face it the day wasn't going well so it was bound to happen. I decided to check and was horrified to find out that it closed at 1.45 and didn't reopen till 3.45!!  Then followed a 15 minute power stomp up the rest of the hill thinking to my self all the way 'Please still be open, PLEASE STILL BE OPEN !'  I imagined myself banging on a locked safety glass door begging to be given my post while the men inside ate their egg sandwiches and ignored me and my nightmare of a day.  

Out of breath, sweaty and probably quite red faced I arrived with seconds to spare!!  I had my envelope!! Hoorah!!  All I had to do now was get back to the boat...........

Long story short, I proceeded to get on a bus that went round in circles for an hour then took me back to where I had started.  Managed to get to Congleton and then had 1.5 hours to wait for the next bus to Middlewich. 5.30pm I got back to the boat. True to form a 2 hour round trip had taken me ......7.5 hours with an hour route march thrown in for good measure!! 

  Bunting Flying High :0)

The next day the question on every boaters lips appeared to be 'How did your journey go yesterday Ron?'  I relayed my tale, much to the amusement of all and sundry many times and by the afternoon it was wearing a bit thin lol. 6am that morning someone had managed to sink a boat in the lock above us and cause a fatality scare by leaving their windlass on the grass and their hat floating in the water. The lock was closed most of the day and the pound was double and treble moored due to the traffic build up. We had agreed to double moor with Trisha & Nick but they were stuck above the sunken boat. It was late afternoon before they managed to get through. Yog had to 'remove' a hire boat from our side to make room lol

 Tony Hales CBE and Chairman of CART

I can't remember if it was the same day or a different one, but I had also been 'surrounded' by born again Christians who set about trying to save me from myself I think.

The broomstick on the back of Rae and the fact I trade as The Witchcrafter probably prompted their question 'What is a Pagan then?' But the subsequent Spanish Inquisition and basically intimidating and sexist behaviour was totally uncalled for, I honestly think, if they thought they could get away with it they would have dragged me off and burnt me at the stake!!  After that experience, Trisha appearing out of no where and asking 'How did your trip go yesterday?' Went down like a ton of bricks lol 'Fuck Off' was my knee jerk reaction by this time, but unfortunately it went square in the face of a rather shocked, grey haired man who happened to be walking past at the time!!  'I am SO sorry!!' I apologised profusely for my profanity, I was highly embarrassed and had to then explain my 7.5 hour nightmare the day before which had caused the outburst. 

He was very understanding and went onto introduce himself. It was Tony Hales, the chairman of CART. 
I had to sit down.............

To make matters worse, Richard Parry searched me out the next day, on Mr Hales instruction to ask me how my initial meeting with said Chairman went!!!

I am not sure how I feel abou this........... Lol