Free Range. 19th March

Wheaton Aston

Tilly looks the other way as the birdies peck away

By this morning most of the snow had melted, the birds were busy at the fat balls, when Tilly wasn’t near! The local Sparrows had her sussed and sat high above her in the sideways trees watching until she moved elsewhere then they would take it in turns to peck away until she returned. We ended up with quite a crowd, Robin, Mr and Mrs Blackbird and getting on for 14 Sparrows.

Wheaton Aston services

The sun was out, but the wind was still quite biting. We’d already made the decision to stay put today long before we had a notice about a tree being down ahead of us. Being beside a road leading to the service block we’ve also taken the opportunity to place an online food order. Originally it was due to arrive today, however the website had got confused about a couple of vouchers it said were out of date and we had to remove them from our order. All fine, except they were nowhere to be seen to be able to remove them! We tried and tried but had no luck in finding them, so Mick raised it with their online help desk. Sunday afternoon we received a call from them, they would process our order for us which they did straight away, shame they didn’t pay for it. But by now all the delivery slots for today had gone off the website, so it was arranged for Tuesday instead.

Sitting about we decided to open up our wallet and pay for Oleanna’s new C&RT license. Making use of the 10% early payment discount (this will be reduced in the next few years to 5%) we handed over almost £1000. Next will be her insurance and hopefully new batteries (fingers crossed), the next few weeks are going to be expensive ones.

Hope the tree has been moved

With Tilly back indoors we headed out to buy some broccoli for our dinner. A walk into the village isn’t far, but we decided to go the long way round.

Along the towpath heading south, passing the lock and through the first bridge. A boat was just pulling away, we hoped that the fallen tree had been cleared ahead of them. At the second bridge we crossed over the canal and walked along a track which then took us into a narrow wooded area between fields. The sun low in the sky cast shadows and gave an ethereal feel to the spinney.

Lovely path through the treesTwisted trees

Staight furrowsMudier than muddyAt the other end we joined a path that led right across a field busy growing green shoots. We started to be glad that we’d bothered to pull out our walking boots as under foot was somewhat sticky, but nothing compared to Stockings Lane which was to lead us back to the village. Here we could have used waders to get through the thick sticky mud. Walking through the puddles in the end proved to be the safest route.

As we came into the village up ahead was what at first looked like a very trendy barn conversion. The old frame seemed to have different coloured smoked glazing in it’s wonky gaps which caught the light in different ways, all melding with the darkened oak frame. But as we got closer I wondered how good the prescription in my new glasses was. There was no glazing, just holes in a very old barn that stored various bits of farm machinery!

A trendy barnJust a dilapidated barn

The village has two shops, our route brought us out by the Spar shop opposite the church. Here a good selection of fruit and veg greets you as you enter. They also seem to stock quite an array of non standard things. Local meat in various marinades, asparagus (not popular with the locals), brioche of every shape you could think of. They sold us our broccoli and we were on our way.

Passing Bridge Farm we decided to purchase some of their free range eggs from the farm house. We’ve been moored opposite these cluckers for a few days, so had to sample their produce. Considering there are a lot of chickens on the other side of the winding hole, they are all very quiet.

BirdiesDue to the breach NB Halsall has had to change their normal route. This is usually the Four Counties ring with added bits once a month, down onto the Weaver and up to Chester. Now their route will be the Four Counties U which they will cover once a month. They had been part way up Heartbreak Hill when the breach happened and our bows were set to cross early this week. With their new schedule they have turned back to cover the north east side of the U first, so won’t be with us for another week, by which time we need to be further south. So having seen that Turners Garage had just had a delivery of Calor Gas, he also sells coal, we will stock up here tomorrow before moving off.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2.6 mile walk, 12 birdies taunting  me! 12 month licence, 1 head of broccoli, 6 free range eggs, 4 boxes on order.