Category Archives: Narrowboat Life

A Faltering Starter. 6th April

Lockdown Mooring 3

Trying to give my sourdough starter a boost means that I’ve been creating quite a bit of discard. You need to empty out some of the starter before you feed it again, so that the ratios remain good and the existing starter is getting enough food. So I’ve been storing the discard in a jar in the fridge. Today the jar was getting quite full so it was time to use some, we also have quite a bit of milk for which the use by date is bordering on terminal. Time to make pancakes!

Bubbly yumness

Sourdough pancakes are not as quick to make as normal, mostly because I need to make oat flour, for this I use my stick blender which has a very sharp blade. I also add some ground almonds to make then a touch finer, but this makes it quite sticky, so you have to scrape it off the blades. Maybe I should just make my whole bag of oats into flour and save it for recipes.

Ready for toppings

Once mixed and left to rest for a short while they were cooked in batches of three and added to a plate in the oven to keep warm. Then enjoyed with various toppings. One nice breakfast.

Pushed out

Another load of washing was put through the machine making us very low on water again. So once Tilly had returned from her morning check of the estate we pushed off and headed backwards for water. The wind pushed us away from the side, then we reversed back through the bridge behind us and past all the moored boats.

Backwards for water

Outside the service block were three C&RT vans, a meeting or tea break going on inside. We disinfected the water point and attached our hose. The three chaps came out in turn from the building, they may have a van each, but one chap had no idea what 2 meters looked like with his colleagues. We kept our distance anyway.

Back at our mooring we settled back in. The view to our off side clearer now as I’d managed to remove Tilly’s artwork at last. Tilly headed off to find friends and I caught up with some work emails whilst Mick tried unsuccessfully to find the handle from the riddler on the stove that had fallen off the other day.

Our nearest neighbour

The Garden is changing due to the current state of the nations health. Live shows sadly will no longer be happening in July. But the play will go on, just in a different form. I’ll find out more tomorrow about my new involvement. I’ll still have work to do, but no need to go shopping or paint the set and everything will be done from home on Oleanna.

Reading up about my failing sourdough starter I decided that I needed to do something other than just feeding it. One person suggested that at the next feed I should have one third starter, one third flour and the third third water. So I would need to reduce the amount of starter I already had. It was a bit bubbly so I decided to risk making a loaf of bread.

A Buckwheat loaf was mixed and put on the shelf to rise and what bottled water I had left was mixed in with the remaining starter and fresh flour. With no more water I would have to put the starter in the fridge until I can replenish my stocks.

Across the bridge

An explore was needed to stretch my legs. A kissing gate from the towpath seems to be a popular route across the nearby fields. A quick look at the OS map and I set off to see what I could see.

Three kissing gates and a bridge later I had no idea which way the path went. We’ve never got round to downloading them onto my phone so Google earth was all I had. Sadly it wasn’t that much use. I knew which way I was supposed to be heading, but just couldn’t find a way there. I walked perimeters of fields looking for gates or stiles, but none showed themselves. In the end I gave up and retraced my steps over the dry ploughed fields, back around the kissing gates to the boat.

Late afternoon sun

After two hours, the oddly short time my recipe suggested, my loaf of bread looked no different. I left it high up on the proving shelf to see if things would improve after a few more hours. After seven hours up there there was some rising happening, but it was now too late to get the oven and cast iron pot up to temperature and bake it. So I risked leaving it overnight, it was just an experiment anyway.

What a texture

0 locks, 0.38 miles, half backwards, 7 pancakes each, 1 full water tank, 5 clean windows, 2 meters please! 3 shows cancelled, 1 change of tack, 1 show that will go on, 3 woodpeckers, 1 failing starter, 1 lumbering loaf, 2 friends, 1 failed walk, 1 PM in intensive care.

Cover Up. 5th April.

Lockdown Mooring 3

The forecast for today was for sun, warmth and maybe a bit of cloud, but no rain. Would our towpath here in Calveley fill with dog walkers and others out for their daily exercise? Or would we be able to take over a strip alongside Oleanna?

Tilly out for a prowl

As we had breakfast Tilly was allowed an hour of shore leave, as soon as she returned all the doors would be closed for her own safety. The disinfectant spray bottle today would be needed for a different job. The contents were rinsed out very well and then the days chore started.

It’s a year since we last had a go at our boat covers. In that year they have turned quite green in parts and because they get folded down whenever we cruise muddy ropes get laid on top of them. So they were in serious need of some attention. Last year we took over some benches at Pollington Lock on the Aire and Calder right beside a water point to give them a soapy scrub. This worked but was serious hard work.

Pram cover turned green
The cratch not quite as bad

Naughty Cal had suggested we tried Wet and Forget a product that you mix with water and spray onto your covers, then once dry the elements do the job for you. Sun, wind and rain gradually clean off the muck and green. I thought this a wonderful idea and ordered a bottle to give it a try. I picked it up from my brothers a year ago and it has sat gathering dust since then. Today it was time to dust it off!

As recommended by Naughty Cal

The towpath here is reasonably wide so I wouldn’t be blocking it. The cratch cover was first to be laid out. 1 part wet and forget to 5 parts water mixed and I started. A good soaking spray was required , so this took quite some time. Decision made soon after starting, if this works I’ll be buying a pump spray bottle for next time, my poor hands can only take so much of a spray trigger.

Marked up for ease of mixing

I was being so interesting that Tilly came to have a look. Not a good idea! Wet and Forget isn’t so good on paws that will get washed. She was very quickly whisked up and handed to Mick through the hatch. Lockdown time for Tilly. I also kept an eye out for dogs and made sure people knew to keep their woofers away.

The spray lingered in the air a touch so I decided to see if I had a dust mask anywhere. A good look in amongst the boat painty things and I found one. It had been in there so long that the elastic had stopped being stretchy and was just long, too long! This now necessitated a knot being tied to keep it in place. So for an hour or so of spraying the rest of the covers I joined the mask brigade. Have to say it did help to keep walkers away from me.

Laid out getting sprayed

My faithful assistant passed me a bucket of soapy water so that the cratch board could have a good wash down before the covers went back on. There was a lot of soapy suds so I couldn’t see them go to waste. Oleanna’s horns had a scrub. Then I got a touch carried away!

She’s still smiling even under the suds

I was meant to be pacing myself doing boat jobs, they usually make my back ache and lets face it there will be plenty of time this year to get them done. But here I was with a bucket of soapy water and a very muddy boat bow and well deck. It would have been daft to leave them for another time.

A quick soap down

The well deck was emptied and there around the anchor in amongst the torn off tops of coal bags I found autumn! Autumn had moved into our well deck and concealed itself for a few months. A good sweep, the bow thruster locker lid was lifted (repainting of this added to the list as it’s got a touch rusty), washed around, down below was still nice and dry just how it should be.

The bow got a wash, round to the sides, then all that is the well deck, rinsed off, windows cleaned. Job done.

All rinsed down and drying

By now the covers were just about dry, so the pram cover went back on whilst the bow dried off nicely for the cratch cover to go back.

The look of the covers is exactly the same as before, so it looks like I’ve done nothing, we just have to wait now and let nature and what ever I’ve sprayed on them do their magic.

Identical to before it was sprayed. The roof will be a job for a few days time

More loads of washing passed through the machine today and the whirligig was kept full until the breeze grew too strong and the sail effect of duvet cover and sheet was too much, so they had to come down and wait till later.

A shoulder of lamb headed for the oven late afternoon and was ready for just after the Queens speech. An actor friend of mine found himself just by chance eating a Christmas pudding as the Queen asked us all to be good and follow the guidelines to Stay at Home during this challenging time.

So not fair

0 locks, 0 miles, 1.5 hours shore leave, 1 cat in lockdown, 4 covers well and truly sprayed, 3 loads washing, 1 well deck lovely and clean, 1 well deck in need of a repaint, 1 dust mask, 16 paws still safe to lick, 1 paint list growing, size 10 socks on the go, 1 Queens speech, 1 shoulder lamb, 1 bottle crabbies, 1 sunnyday.

Empty. 4th April

Lockdown Mooring 2 to Lockdown Mooring 3, Calveley Bridge 104

The water gauge wasn’t showing anything this morning, possibly the lowest it’s been since we moved on board. So only one thing for it, an essential journey to the services. No shore leave was allowed for Tilly and she soon decided to spend the morning on the bed with her eyes closed instead.

Our ash can still hot from ashes added last night. This is normally kept on the towpath, only put here to cruise, with all the covers open

What now seems to be the weekly Geraghty Zoom conference call took place. Just about everyone had been to the National Theatre in the last couple of days. Next week it’s Jane Eyre, Kath said it is quite long, but we’ll give it a go at some point. Everyone looked well and with them we travelled to outerspace, various sound control rooms, the Starship Enterprise and a tour of Frans front room. Tilly also made a large appearance as we attempted to change our background too, but we both just about disappeared so gave up.

About to reveal our second lot of holes

At just gone 11am we untied Oleanna and pushed off. I wonder how many times we’ll moor in this spot over the coming weeks and months, just how many holes will be before we are allowed to move further afield?

Down to the winding hole where we turned to face north. A short distance on we passed our nearest neighbours, Barry was chatting to the chap onboard NB Plum. NB AreandAre would soon be following us to Calveley to fill their water tank also

Morning Barry

Out of the three water points on this pound, Calveley is the furthest from Lockdown Mooring 2, but this was chosen on purpose so as to give Oleanna a bit of a run and to top up the batteries. So we were definitely on an essential journey.

Passing one boat enroute

At Barbridge Junction a boat was just turning onto the branch, we pootled straight on and passed no other moving boats. The service moorings were free so we pulled in away from the pump out end should anyone else turn up.

The water point had a disinfect, so did our filler cap. The plants got the first minute of running water through the hose pipe and then the tank could fill up. Blimey it sounded empty as the tank started to fill. A washing load was put in the machine and turned on as soon as we reckoned we had enough water.

A bear hunt boat

It’s been a week since I cleaned Tilly’s pooh box and until this morning she’d only used it once. Despite her attempt to stare us into opening the door, she wasn’t allowed out. Her four paws had been crossed for much of the morning, she finally had to give up and climbed into the box, I could almost hear her relief as I gave the shower a good clean.

GET ON WITH IT!!!!!

NB AreandAre pulled in behind us and started to fill too. There was time and enough space for us all to have a bit of a chat, comparing notes on shopping etc. It’s nice to get chance to chat with people face to face rather than on the computer.

With our tank full we waved goodbye and pushed off, the washing machine still going. On route we’d decided to moor up by bridge 106 and do our best to empty the washing drawer so that we can make the most of Sundays fine weather for drying. There was plenty of space, so we pulled in leaving good gaps between us and the other inhabited boats.

Pretty flowers

I took a stroll back along the towpath to the garage in the afternoon in the hope of being able to get our Saturday newspaper. I was a touch surprised that the shop was actually open so you could walk in. The shop looked like it is usually reasonably well stocked with none perishable items. if you want porridge oats here is definitely the place to come. One large bag £1.99 isn’t such a bargain, but a box of ten would only be £10. I refrained from such a purchase as I’d not be able to get it back to the boat and if I did we’d have to adjust our ballast!

Oleanna with the whirligig up

Sadly their milk had a similar use by date to the 2 pinter we’d got from Sainsburys yesterday. That’s a downfall with online shopping at the moment, you can’t return things once you’ve checked them over. But we’ll try at the garage again when we pass in a few days time.

Think the towpath will be a touch busier here

0 locks, 3.97 miles, 2 straights, 9 Geraghtys, 4 moving boats plus us, 1 full water tank, 1 boat free of rubbish, 4 crossed paws, 1 load washing, 1 newspaper, 1 whirligig, 1 starter still a bit flat, 5 hours, 1 year since sentencing day.

Self Catering. 3rd April

Lockdown Mooring 2

Time to wake my sourdough starter up this morning. I let it warm up when out of the fridge and then gave it a feed popping it on the proving shelf, high up to do it’s stuff. It bubbled up, but not as far as it has done in the past, so I may need to keep feeding it for a couple of days before it’s really good for baking again. A shame really as I was keen to get a loaf baked so that a hefty hint could be put in for a cooked breakfast one morning soon, poached eggs so need to be on a slice of toast! At least it will give me time to work out which recipe to try next as I now have no sorghum flour.

Mid morning an email I’d been hoping for popped into my Inbox. Will, the producer at Chipping Norton was getting in touch regarding this years panto, Rapunzel. If the health of the world improves over the next few months they will be forging ahead with panto. Would I be interested in designing it? A different contract to normal due to the virus and uncertainty as to whether the show will be able to go ahead which is totally understandable. They are hoping that by August they will be able to make a decision, if they give it a green light then it will be full steam ahead.

Rapunzel at Chippy

I have said that as soon as a script is ready I’d like to make a start, even if it doesn’t go ahead. Something creative to keep my mind busy would be appreciated. Anyway I’d only be able to get so far with it before needing model making materials, cereal boxes are just a bit too flimsy.

Heading to pick up the shopping

Mid afternoon it was time for Mick to head off and pick up our shopping, blimey I’d forgotten how bright his cycling coat was! Off he headed down the towpath to join the A51 towards Sainsburys. I took advantage of having an empty table and stuck the model for The Garden together and took photos.

Just the right amount

It looked like we’d got the amount of shopping just about right for the Brompton bag and a rucksack. All our shopping had been put in plastic bags, I think this is standard practice at the moment due to coronavirus. A shame that whilst other pollutants decrease in use that plastic bags are making a come back.

I was ready to disinfect things that needed to come inside. Other items were left in a bag on the stern under the pram cover, they’ll stay there for three days before being brought in. Having the pram cover is great at the moment, we can leave anything out there for long enough should anything have been picked up on coats or shopping.

Tilly Tumbles on the towpath

My sister-in-law Jac called and we had a long catch up about her escape from Australia last weekend. Getting a flight home had been one problem, but because she has an Australian passport she also needed a form to be filled in by the equivalent of our Home Office for her to be allowed to board the plane to come back to England. This took quite a bit of doing and it was just as well it arrived back just in time as her passport was double checked at the airport.

Cute cat

She’s settled back at home now. There were no guidelines for quarantine from the government on her return, so she’s not being kept in the garden room for two weeks. Instead she’s been thrown into the mass of extra accountancy needed by the company she works for to claim things from the government. She’s not sure how long her work will continue for but at the moment there is plenty to keep her busy.

with Murder in her eyes

The London Leckenbys were looking forward to an Indian take away this evening. That is the downside of being out in the sticks on a boat, no take aways and no chips. This of course is good for us, but boy would I like some nice chips! Tilly on the other hand doesn’t need to have her food delivered, as she’s moved into catering for herself. Today I have witnessed the devouring of two small friends who’d been invited home for dingding! They were just an appetiser as she still insisted on us feeding her!

Courgette and Greens pilaff

This evening after we’d eaten, we headed to the National Theatre to enjoy One Man Two Guvnors via YouTube. A very funny adaptation by Richard Bean of The Servant of Two Masters by Goldoni, set in the 60’s. James Corden certainly earns his keep. It is still available to view until next Thursday. The only down side was an interval of only 30 seconds, far too short to get a glass of wine and some chilled medication, never mind a dash to the loo! However there is always the pause button.

Our view this evening

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 miles by bike, 4 plastic bags, 0 boxes of wine this time, 1 model totally finished, 6 moving boats, 1 returning boat, 1 new panto, 4 fingers crossed, 0 chicken left, 2 self catered meals, 1 play, 2 sides split.

Was That A …. !? 2nd April

Lockdown Mooring 2

As we sat in bed with our cuppas this morning, the curtains of our large picture window (36″ by 18″ is large on a narrowboat) drawn open above our toes, a large furry shape dashed past. ‘Was that….. was that a horse?’ We tried peering out of the window at an acute angle, nothing could be seen. Then a few minutes later there it was again going in the opposite direction. If it wasn’t a horse the first time it certainly was now. My camera sat on the dinette table so my phone had to suffice as the horse/pony trotted on down the towpath on it’s own.

A Horse trotting on the towpath

Just where had it come from? On our walk the other day we’d seen a donkey in a field, but no horses. So it must have got onto the towpath quite a distance away. Hope it found it’s way home, we certainly didn’t see it again.

That was only the start of the days excitement.

Mick every now and then has a look to see if there are any delivery slots available at the supermarkets. This morning he spotted one with Morrisons in three weeks time. He grabbed it and checked our delivery details. Thanks to Jaq Biggs we have pin pointed a couple of places around Nantwich where deliveries worked for her in the past when she lived onboard NB Valerie. Normally with deliveries we book them and arrive the day before hoping there is space for us, there always has been up till now. Fingers crossed that there will be space on the embankment in three weeks time.

The fields around us have been turned over, what next

So our cuppas lasted longer in bed than usual as we put things into our basket. Some items not in stock, but we got enough to hold our delivery. Hopefully when we revisit in 19 days time milk will be back in stock! They were excited, but taking far too long over it! Where was my game of PEN!!! At least they added food for me. Plenty of wood pellets for the pooh box and some new odour control to add to it that we’re going to try, She said. We? Well I use shore based facilities now so have no need for such things, maybe they’ll add it into their pooh bucket.

Over breakfast there was even more excitement. Mick had been able to log into Sainsbury’s website and there was a Click and Collect slot available in Nantwich for tomorrow! Sainsbury’s have reserved all their delivery slots for the over 70s and high risk people, so we’d not been expecting one of those, but this would happily do us for the next week.

The Llangollen canal feeding the reservoir

We thought about what we would need to keep us going along with what would fit into our Brompton bag and a rucksack. Our Sunday chicken is still feeding us from last Sunday so it would be nice to have a change. A joint of lamb maybe, some fresh veg along with milk and bread. Mick will cycle the two miles to collect it tomorrow, so we are limited to what we can get. When we’d checked out we noticed that if we spent another few pounds then we wouldn’t be charged £4. So another few items fell into our basket.

What an exciting morning.

I had a read of a new script I’ve been sent. #Unit 21 will hopefully be the next Dark Horse show to tour this time next year. Not your average show, plenty of animated projections required, so someone who works in computer gaming has been part of the team for a while. Next week after my virtual production meeting for The Garden is over Amy and I will have a chat about the new show. I think I’m going to have to read it through a couple more times before then as it’s a little bit hard to get my head round in one sitting.

Late afternoon we walked up to Hurleston Locks. A route back via the A51 had been rejected as the road still looks like it is quite busy and without a footpath a risk to life so we headed for the reservoir instead.

Going up

A narrowboat had just gone up the first lock of the flight and was waiting for the second chamber to be opened up. Blimey it was windy! Even if the journey was essential, I don’t think we would have been doing so today! With wind and tooing and froing the chap kept forgetting to close paddles, but others managed to close them or pointed them out to him.

Blue and blustery

At the top lock we crossed over the wide plank on the top gate, no need to hold onto anything, we then climbed over the stile to join the path around the reservoir.

Views

The views from up there are fantastic, Oleanna just out of shot. We considered walking all the way round the water, but the wind was so blustery that it was doing it’s best to knock us off our feet. So instead we returned, pausing to wait for the narrowboat to finish at the locks. Here we met Barry who had succeeded in the full route round the reservoir, we managed to chat keeping our distance as we made our way back to our respective boats.

Still going up

Back on board we waited for the daily press conference on the BBC. We like to stay informed so watch them, but at times they are more party political broadcast than anything else. Look how good we are. 3 million lots of PPE (or whatever they quoted today) may sound a lot, but are they enough!!

The seed drill is out now

The last lot of my gluten free puff pastry had been defrosted during the day and was used to top a chicken and mushroom pie. This had to wait to be eaten until after 8pm as we wanted to join in with the round of applause. Oleanna beeped her horn and we applauded the masses who are working so hard. A distant boat horn could be heard in reply and the busy farmers in the fields tooted their horns too. We may be out in the middle of nowhere but we can still be heard.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 horse, twice, 1 delivery slot, 1 click and collect slot, 9 hours actually equates to 15 cat hours, 5 left, unit 21, 4 boats, 1 going up the locks, 1 very blowy day, 9 hellos to Lucy’s readers, 1/3 pastry, 1 chicken pie, just the stock to use now, 1 tractor, 1 seed drill, 8pm horn blowing, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Lap Wing. 1st April

Lockdown Mooring 2

She would like me to thank you all for suggestions on the mystery birdie. Jennie came in first, followed by Anne, then Sue. The sausage roll really goes to Jennie’s son, but apparently if we keep quiet about it we’ll be able to eat it ourselves, so Shhh!

The birdie in question was apparently a Lap Wing. A strange name. A Lap is where I lie on an evening in front of the warm stove, then a Wing is what I leave, far too feathery for my liking! Although they are quite good for flossing between your teeth.

Grey and chilly Lockdown Mooring 2

Life has suddenly become very busy for me and not so busy for others. There is so much exploring to do, trees to climb, digging, woofer avoidance, I’ve even sorted out my own shore based facilities.

My day starts off with extra snoozing, as I need to conserve my energy for the rest of the day. She and Tom sit in bed that bit longer than normal so I do my best to keep toes warm. But should a boat come by they both crane their necks round to see who it might be. This morning it was a boat that has come all the way from furthest Wales in the last few days, our friend Geoff Tom saw him and now we have, he’s not tied up the outside like everyone else has!

Then there is the game of pen. It is such a good way to wake up, the sound of a pen lid being clicked back into position ready for me to pounce. Some days this goes on for a while, but others She cries out in pain so the game is stopped. She seems to think I don’t clean my nails enough anymore. But it’s their fault for not moving the outside as much as they used to.

Sunny and plenty of friendly cover

Lockdown Mooring 1 was great. A couple of trees, friends, side ways trees, a bank to watch from and a field to run around in. It was sunny and warm, lovely.

Then last Friday they let it go, untied it and let it drift away. She said I needed a break so to put my paws up and let them be busy instead. I kept an eye on them though, they weren’t that busy. I’d have been busier!!

Look at that tree!

The outside was then moved to Lockdown Mooring 2. Lockdown Mooring 2 had potential, blue skies, trees but not enough time to check it out fully before it was Dingding time.

Newspaper day came. They let Lockdown Mooring 2 outside go and headed to Nantwich outside. It’s not so good there so I wasn’t too disappointed not to be let out. She said I wouldn’t be going out there anymore, too many people who might have the lurgy durgy. So I sat in my window on the other side of the glass from the lurgy durgy people, they could admire me, but not touch, I was safe.

Having a break from my admiring public

She and Tom went off to do the shopping. I normally get closed into the bedroom for a few minutes when they come back, but that day I was in there for ages and ages and then another age. When She let me out again everything smelt funny, a bit like when she cleans out my pooh box. Luckily it didn’t smell for too long.

This outside was cast aside wizzed round, briefly tied up again so they could top up on water. I got a clean pooh box too. Back we went out of Nantwich outside, wizzed round again, only to tie up Lockdown Mooring 2 outside again. Well what was that all about? They wasted a hole day just because it was newspaper day. I could have kept myself busy all day and when they tied this outside up again I’d have still been in it! They are so selfish at times.

You said to the bench, we’ve not got there yet!

Lockdown Mooring 2 outside is okay. It’s not as sunny as Lockdown Mooring 1 outside was, it’s colder too. There are fewer woofers and walkers, most probably due to the lower temperature. But the farmer has been preparing a great big pooh field for me, lots of fresh earth to dig up and use as cover, so I’ve only once had to step foot in my pooh box.

Summer in The Garden

Some days, like today She does some work. I couldn’t help today as it was all tiny writing and then lots of numbers, I’m not so good at writing freepaw. But then she came for a walk with me along the towpath. We’d nearly got back when a man appeared with a woofer. The woofer didn’t see me but the man did. He made his woofer wait whilst I went down the bank into some friendly cover, no way was I going back onto the boat yet, there was still another two hours of shore leave left!

NB Tench with Brian on board

I’ve been told that I shouldn’t use the outside up too quickly as we might be here sometime. Tom wouldn’t let me out after dingding time, even though I can see in the dark! I’m pacing myself though and reckon I’ve about another twenty hours before it will all be used up, that’ll be fine won’t it?!

This lockdown business is so tiring

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 outside walks, 1 pooh field, 1 diddy poem, 2 outsides, 7 identifiable woofers, 2 Lap Wings, 2 tractors, 9 hours a day, 1 oak, 1 daily pen game, 2 stone games, 19 friends, 3 boats, 1 Tench, 1 busy cat, 1 very tired falling asleep sitting up cat.

Boaters Covid Support. 31st March

Lockdown Mooring 2

Oleanna seen from lour walk today

A couple of weeks ago Kate Saffin and a few other people started a facebook group with the aim of connecting small local boating groups on the network in relation to Covid-19, circulating information and supporting where help was needed.

We started as a group for boaters running local waterways based COVID support groups. That is still important – creating a network of small, local, responsive groups across the waterways with this group as an umbrella group to support anyone running a group. As things have developed we’ve been asked for help by more isolated boaters, so this also a network for any boater to connect to other boaters – for some practical help or just to know that there are others around your area.

Boaters Covid Support-National Network, Facebook

Existing groups contacted them and then there were people like me who wanted to connect to a local group if there was one around. This part of the Shropie didn’t have a group, yes I could have set one up with the guidance from the Boaters Covid Support, but as we’ll be moving on when we can it seemed daft to become an admin for an area we are (hopefully) only visitors in.

Tilly watching the mystery bird

I’ve been checking back to see if a group had been set up and today I found a growing list of such groups. Hopefully this link Covid Suppport Groups Listing will take you to the relevant page where you can download the list. A small group had been set up for the Northwich/Middlewich/Nantwich area, so we both joined.

So far there are ten members in our group, but I hope it will grow. These groups are intended so that people can offer help locally or ask for help should they need it through these challenging times.

On our side

Today we’ve been watching the farmers ploughing the fields around us on both sides of the canal. This is exciting as I may soon have a whole field to dig and run around in. Having my own pooh field as shore based facilities will keep Them happy.

And across the way

Our mystery bird returned and I tried to film it to capture it’s call. Here it is right at the beginning, before the White Tipped Tailed Tilly starts with her whingeing! Thank you for the suggestions so far. I think however it is possible that it might be a Turn of some sort and only calls when in flight.

This afternoon we set out on a walk. The Ordnance Survey map was checked to see if we could do a circular route and one was found that would keep us on this side of the canal.

Good chimnys behind the modern houses

We walked up towards Hurleston, stopping for a chat with Barry who’d been very industrious painting his plank and pole. Then we continued on along the towpath past the junction and on to where the fairies live at the bottom of the garden. Behind the canalside properties lies a rather nice looking house with great tall chimneys. Maybe we’ll head that way another day.

Along hedges, across fields, we were quite glad Mick had the map on his phone because other than at the occasional gate post there was no obvious footpath to follow.

Down that way

What until recently must have been thick mud now has a dried out top crust all cracked and in parts deceiving as you foot squelches through into the underlying softer layers. Then tractor tracks hard baked make the going hard, we did our best not to twist any ankles.

Tractor tracks

Grassy fields, old maize fields with the remaining husks long since devoured by wildlife.

Maize
Red Dead-nettle

Past a very large new barn being built, alongside the farm track and across more fields.

New barn

Down into the corner where a wrong footed style gave us a conundrum along with getting spiked by the holly tree that had grown round it.

Wrong footed

Here we could see our route across a small wooden bridge a style at both ends.

The bridge into someone’s garden

This then led us into a very well maintained garden! Hang on, we thought, we can’t go tramping up their garden. We checked the map. It suggested the path went up the left of the buildings, except these buildings didn’t look like they were L shaped.

A very inviting route up the garden

We tried round the other side of the hedge, no. Then up the side of the garden apologising as we went. In the corner by an area where chicken were fenced in there was a style, phew we could get out of someone’s garden.

Hello Mrs

We soon joined the track away from the houses and on a telegraph pole saw a notice saying that the footpath was closed until June, due to damage sustained by the bridge during the recent floods. The footpath on this map suggested that we should have walked right up through the garden! Glad we didn’t.

There’s some lovely looking houses about with their two tone bricks. A 4 bedroomed barn conversion is for sale, a mere snip at £570,000. Link

The one in the middle for sale

The road led us back towards the canal and our nearest southernly neighbours. from here it was back onto the towpath and back to the boat. A good three mile walk, slightly challenging under foot.

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 boats, 1 after dark, 2 fields ploughed, 1 flock of seagulls, 1 mystery bird, 1 poem ready to add, 3 miles walk, 2 kissing gates, 2 styles, 1 tennis court in use, 2 coats left outside, 1 big pan of chicken and sweet potato hash, yum.