Category Archives: Shops

Geraghty Zoom. 28th March

Lockdown Mooring 2 to Nantwich to Hurleston to Lockdown Mooring 2

An Alarm! An Alarm!!! Well we had a LOT to do today. Tilly soon gave up thinking there would be any shore leave this morning when we only had a cuppa before pushing off, breakfast was on hold until we reached Nantwich.

Moody skies today

Last night I’d been in touch with Sandra on NB AreandAre, they were moored on the embankment and the news was that there was plenty of room. So under grey skies we pootled our way in towards town, we weren’t the first to move today, two boats had already come past, the first before the alarm had gone off.

Slotting in behind AreandAre

We pulled into a space, quickly had breakfast and then settled down with our cuppas for the weekly Geraghty Zoom. Richard was otherwise engaged in Dhaka but this week we were joined by Christine and Paul in London. Everyone waved, chatted away, caught up with the last weeks news and wondered who was being stored in Kaths old fridge freezer, no sign of Sean today!

Geraghty Zoom

A text came through from my brother saying that Jac had managed to get an earlier flight, it had already been delayed once but should be leaving Melbourne in four hours. Everyone crossed their fingers.

I wrote a shopping list worked out a menu for the next week/ten days not knowing what we’d find in the shops today. The two of us headed into town with the bike should we need it.

The streets were as expected almost empty, no school kids having their last sneaky fag outside the school gates today. I wonder how many of them will now have to give up as unless they volunteer to do the shopping, come clean with their parents or exercise on their own, they will run out.

Couples walked from shop to shop in town, we headed to Clewlows first, the butchers. Here a large white table had been positioned in front of the door and posters were hung in the window. Advance orders. Damn! A young chap came to the door and said that if they had what people were after then they’d be able to serve us. A family asked if they had chicken breasts, not till Tuesday came the reply. They settled for a couple of pounds of beef and two packs of bacon. Whole chickens they could do, but no pies without them being pre ordered. We’ll think about that for next time.

Preorder only

Two market stalls stood opposite St Mary’s church the market hall firmly closed. One sold cheese and eggs, the other a very good fruit and veg stall. As most of our shopping was for fresh veg I handed over a big bag and the chap started to fill it. 6 apples, bunch bananas, 2 baking potatoes, okay 3, as I walked round I kept seeing things and he kept up with me, his steps for the day increasing as he walked too and fro from my bag. Everything I wanted apart from Blueberries.

Only part of our veg haul

Next Holland and Barrett. Two customers in the shop at any one time. I waited and then went to see what was in stock. Last week the Free from isle in Morrisons had more or less been bare so I picked up various things including some expensive pasta and a bag of short grain brown rice. I scanned the items myself and paid contactless, better than the lady infront who only had a £50 note! Is now the time for those who print their own cash to get them into circulation?

Standing in line

At Morrisons an orderly 2m gapped queue wrapped around one side of the building. It took nearly as long to snake our way around the barriers as it did for the queue to reach the door. Here a security guard said we couldn’t go in together, we had to remain 2m apart. We obviously hadn’t got the memo about this. Mick headed in with the trolley, we’d already discussed that I’d do the shopping and I had the list.

The store was a surprise. Plenty of fruit and veg. The meat isle was pretty well stocked. Infact in some areas there was simply too much stock and items had been reduced. A small loaf of bread for 8p, we’d just got one from the bakers in town for £1.90!

The atmosphere was calm, the supermarket musac unnerving in the back ground. There was even toilet roll, not much of it mind. The occasional shopper with phone in hand chatted away to someone at home conferring on what to buy.

Sad git bargains

We walked round trying to pretend we weren’t together, gradually ticking everything off our list. In the corner of the meat isle there was a reduced, ‘sad gits’ section. Cheap fish. That was our dinner sorted for tonight.

Outside we realised we’d forgotten something! Chocolate!

Mick loaded the bike as I walked over to Aldi to join their queue. Another orderly affair, being invited into the store as the first isle cleared. A large sign on the chocolate said that I’d be limited to four of one item. Now did that mean I could get four dark chocolate bars and four milk with almonds, or four bars of chocolate. I did the later otherwise I’d have been panic buying. The lady in front of me suggested I went first with my few purchases, very kind of her.

Too many words to bother reading

Signs at the bottom of the ramp up to the embankment politely ask walkers, runners etc to avoid lengths of the towpath where boaters are moored. The C&RT sign is too wordy to read so has had little effect it was still quite busy. This morning we’d seen a Policeman on a bike on the towpath, out checking on people who might be isolated. Later on social media there were photos of the tacks that had found themselves in his tyres! We already knew we wouldn’t be staying.

Back at Oleanna Tilly was locked in the bedroom as each shopping bag was unloaded slowly, items disinfected as they came inside, others left in a bag on the stern for a few days along with our coats.

Lunch and a shower before we headed to the winding hole, passing a boater saying it wasn’t safe here, ‘Get out to the countryside!’ People are so frightened.

We pulled up at the water point, topped up the tank, disposed of rubbish. All good for about a week. We pushed off and continued back towards Hurleston.

Where narrow meets broad

Shortly after we’d passed where we wanted to be we came across NB AreandAre moored with a couple of other boats. The horn was bipped, we jestured that we’d be turning and be back in a few minutes.

The moorings before bridge 97 were completely empty now. Everyone must have been waiting for the locks to open and then sprinted up onto the Llangollen last night.

Now there’s a film to watch, Bugsy Malone

We winded and returned, pausing mid stream alongside NB AreandAre. We’ve not met Sandra and Barry before although our paths did cross many years ago now. I’ve just been having a look through their blog for July 2014 and sadly NB Lillyanne (our yellow boat) is just out of shot in Hebden Bridge for the Tour de France. At the time they were The Homebrew Boat, who wouldn’t stop to have a look! It was very nice to finally get chance to chat today, they are our nearest neighbours so I suspect we’ll see them again in the next week or so.

Lillian with her bikes

0 locks, 5.68 essential miles, 2 winds, 2 straights, 1 screen of Geraghtys, 1 chicken, £17 of fresh veg, 2 boxes of wine, £2.69 bag of pasta, 60p half price macaroni!, £1.90 bread, 8p bread, 4 bars chocolate, 1 bag gf self raising, 1 disinfected shop, 1 full water tank, 1 new pooh bucket, 2 mackerel with roast potatoes and onions, 0 shore leave, 1 very long chilly day, 3 years since we test drove Oleanna, 1 Jac on her way home!!!!

Our test drive in 2017
Muddy battered and warn 2020

Fusilli. 20th March

Nantwich

A shopping list was drawn up over breakfast with what we’d like to get from the shops. A Brompton bike and bags at the ready we walked into Nantwich to see what we’d find.

The arms houses are so pretty on a sunny day

Up on the embankment people kept their distance from each other. With less traffic on the road than normal it wasn’t necessary to press buttons at crossings. It being the last day of school, teenagers stood outside Malbank High School puffing away on cigarettes, we kept a wide berth as they enjoyed their nicotine.

Cafes open today, but not tomorrow

Town wasn’t as quiet as we thought it would be, mostly older people doing their shopping. Each bench around the war memorial had only one person sat on them.

Butchers

We headed for Pepper Street. Here an older lady jokingly warned friends she had the lurgy and to keep away! Then proceeded to stand close and have a good natter, this Social Distancing is going to take some people a while to get the hang of!

Now which one?

H. Clewlow Butchers had their display of pies in the window as usual. Mick made his choice then went inside, returning with a pie, a chicken and some frozen gluten free sausages.

Bread shopping

Next it was Chatwins for a loaf of bread. All these items a touch more expensive than if we’d got them at Morrisons, but at least we were supporting local shops.

Now a self scan shop

Holland and Barrett next to see what gluten free flours they had. Sorghum flour is out of stock everywhere I look on the internet, I knew they wouldn’t have any but I did manage to get some brown rice flour which should keep my sourdough starter happy, that’s if it can cope with a change of food. Here I was invited by the shop assistant to scan my own items, he just had to press buttons on the till.

Then to Morrisons. Fruit and veg seemed fairly well stocked the potatoes a touch depleted, but round in the next isle was a different story. Booze, only sweet or expensive wine left. We’re fine for now.

Down every isle the shelves were being restocked, the sound of boxes and plastic wrapping being cut away. Anti-bac handwash was going out on the shelves so we picked one of them up, we use this normally. Shampoo, meat and mustard were the new isles to be empty.

I’m glad I was brought up cooking and able to look at what was left on shelves and know we’d be eating tasty things for the next few days. Most things on our list were covered now just a few exemptions, so whilst Mick sorted the bike out I headed to Aldi.

The view from bridge 92

A shop assistant was astounded at the amount of frozen ham and pineapple pizzas they were getting through. Then a chap asked why the booze isle was empty. The manager explained that until there are more drivers they are restricted to one delivery to the store a day and she was ordering nappies and pasta rather than booze. Next week things would be restocked, but for now Nantwich would be a sober place to be.

Heading back towards the boat we stopped at B&M where Tilly’s cat food filled the shelves. £2.99 each of 3 for £10! I got one, she now has supplies for a month. I have to say I never thought I’d be buying free range eggs at Home Bargains.

Strange place to hide your pasta stash

After lunch we walked over to the bins at the services. Mick spotted in the skip a new unopened bag of Fusilli pasta with a date on it. What was this doing here? The only pasta in Nantwich. If I wasn’t gluten free we’d have had it, but left it for someone else to find.

NB Halsall had been due in Nantwich over the next few days and Mick had sent in an order. However they have had to change their schedule due to deliveries to them being altered. We tried working out where we might meet them, considered getting a bag of coal from the chandlers here. In the end we checked if they would still have enough stock for us if we met them at Calverley tomorrow, rendez vous arranged.

As Mick had a towpath haircut Tilly tried her paw at catching squirrels at the bottom of the embankment. It really isn’t fare! They jump from tree to tree without doing any calculations, its as if Isaac Newton never existed!

 

Us

Then we sat down to watch todays press conference. Life is different and will stay this way for sometime. Our summer plans of catching up with people in Yorkshire will not happen, we’ll still venture north as C&RT say they have no plans on closing the navigation. Emails full of photos will be sent to those we’ll no longer be able to see. The camera and microphone are now working on the laptop and tomorrow there is a planned get together of Mick’s family on Zoom. I suspect we’ll end up seeing more of each other over the next few months than normal.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1st chiffchaffs, 4 shopping bags, 1 laden bike, 0 porridge, 0 wine, 1 coal boat rendez vous, 1 bag of pasta, 1 shaved head, 1 speedy squirrel.

Three Types Of Each. 4th March

The Black Country Living Museum

The back gate

With our entrance tickets bought from the Dudley Canal Trust we walked up through the buildings towards the bus stop in the museum. Despite the time tabel suggesting there would be a bus every 15 minutes we decided to walk up the hill to the main entrance. We soon saw the bus and an old car bipping it’s horn at everyone it saw, both were heading to where we’d come from.

Beep beep!

First thing was to change our paper receipt for an annual pass. We can now visit as many times as we like for no extra cost. This may only end up being once more, but you never know.

Quick catch that bus!

It was a touch damp now outside so we caught the double decker back down the hill to have a walk round. We first visited the museum about eight years ago when we were moving our shareboat NB Winding Down down the country. We had a very good day, but wished we’d had longer. This time we’d go down the mine and have fish and chips!

Hobbs and Sons or the Chippy

Once the chippy opened we checked out the claims from the website. The claims were correct and we could place an order for later, but we were expecting company and had no idea what time we’d like our lunch, so we would risk there being a long queue.

Still fills up with petrol on the main road once a week

As midday got closer we caught the bus back up the hill to meet up with Marion (Mick’s sister) and John who were coming for a day trip from Eastbourne. As they had train tickets they could do the Days out two for one.

One of the houses

With winter hours being a little bit tight we chose to head back down the hill again, by bus to the thick of the buildings. There is a large area being redeveloped, if that’s what you can call it when the buildings will all be 1940’s to 60’s that already exist. Sadly this means the mine and funfair are closed at the moment.

Fires blazing away in kitchens

Lines of school kids zigzagged through the streets following their period dressed guides. Huddles of them stood in dimly lit shops listening to the proprietors talking about what they sold and what it would have been like there in the 20’s and 30’s, some even earlier.

The radio workshop kept John busy for a while and ladies sat in their kitchens kept warm by their ranges, no cooking going on today. A school mistress taught a class speaking very slowly and awarding two pupils a certificate.

The Gentleman’s Outfitters

The tailor didn’t have quite what John was after but was very well stocked with Peeky Blinder caps and waistcoats.

Mum’s chosen
brands

The tobacconists would have kept my Mum stocked up with her favourite brands and I’m sure my Dad would have found suitable tobacco to make his own mix from.

1920’s living room with fantastic wallpaper

A 1920’s living room with very smart fan wallpaper had a rug on the floor. I was asked why I thought there were two round marks on it. Was it because something had been placed there and the pile had flattened. No it was a fashion to have rugs which had a pattern, not in colour but in the texture, shag pile and short pile. I’d once aimed to shave one from some carpet for a show, but had run out of time.

Frying full time

By now we were a little bit peckish so joined the queue in Hobbs. Luckily it wasn’t too long, there’s a sign outside where you can sit to while away the half hour before getting served! Our orders were placed. 2 vegetarian, cooked in sunflower oil. 1 gluten free. 1 standard, everything cooked in beef dripping. We found a space to sit and wait, jumping whenever any of the ladies said anything. It didn’t take long, lashings of salt and vinegar were poured into the cones of paper. I have to say it’s the first time I’ve not noticed a difference with gluten free fish. The batter was wonderful and crisp with chunky cod inside. We all wolfed them up whilst inhaling the vinegar fumes.

They were very very good

Lower down on the site a chap demonstrated a beetle Demon and talked about the wallpaper trimming machine in the hardware shop.

Wallpaper was sold with edges that needed trimming, either with scissors or on one of these, at a cost!!

The greengrocers was manned by a lady who told us the history of the shop and the lady who’d run it whilst her husband was away in the 1st world war, he had to retrain when he got home as she wasn’t going to hand it back over to him.

Hardware shop front

The cinema sat silent awaiting the next showing. A chap hammered away in the dark of his workshop whilst it rained outside, presumably making nails.

Nail maker working away in the dark

We timed a visit to the more industrial end very well with a chain making demonstration about to happen. The metal was heated up to white hot, bent round and then bent further with a hammer. Linked to the previous link the ends were flattened and reheated. We were asked to move back, he them gave the two ends a very big whack to weld them together showering sparks. The link was then reshaped with the help of a hammer operated by his foot. The chain makers had to make so many links a day, 200 and something before they would get paid. For some it took six hours others a lot longer.

Chain making

We then took a walk up to the Workers Institute where a guided tour was due. The lady we’d seen in the schoolhouse was ready and waiting. Due to the rain we started off indoors. We were on a bit of a tight time frame due to return trains to the south coast, the lady imparted her knowledge, pointed out important people in the photographs, handed round photographs of chain makers, more photos of people, they just kept coming, was she going to give us the life history on everyone in the group photos?

So of it’s time

Time was ticking, there was still the tat in the shop to look at and still more photos were handed round. We made our excuses , did a quick flit up the stairs and back down as the tour were about to go that way. I’m sure the tour would have been very interesting, but we simply didn’t have the time.

They managed to get a better rate of pay through the unions

Up the hill in the rain for a purchase or two before heading back down to be through the bottom gates before they closed at 3:45pm. Time for a quick cuppa and warm up back at the boat before Marion and John headed off to return southwards. A very good day.

The Chemist waiting for customers

0 locks, 0 miles, 12 month passes, 40’s 50’s 60’s coming soon, 2 day trippers, 2 veggie of each, 1 gluten free of each, 1 full everything of each please, 1 school, 1 institute life time, 3 bus rides, 1 link, 0 horses, 17 radios, 1 rug, 1 cinema, 2 visitors, 1 living and breathing museum, 0 shore leave yet again!

Day 6, Morning

It’s been bubbling overnight and then deflated.

Day 6 Night

About three hours after feeding. There is hope of sour dough bread this weekend

Hole In The Wall. 27th February

Walsall Town Basin

The nearest building to us was the first to be built in the basin regeneration. At first it looks like a Costa, well it is, but if you walk just a little bit round the building you find that it is a whole lot more. The New Art Gallery Walsall with it’s four floors of artworks and activities.

Designed by Peter St John and Adam Caruso the building opened it’s doors in February 2000. Built from concrete with exposed joists, clad with pale terracotta tiles and blocks of stainless steel. Douglas Fir clads many walls inside and leather wraps itself around handrails, a reference to the leather trade of the area, all leads to a very warm welcoming building.

Garman Ryan Collection

It was built to house the Garman Ryan Collection which takes up the first and second floors in small rooms replicating a house. The feel of these rooms reminded me very much of my family home in York, designed and built by my Dad. Wood and large windows, exposed brick and render. I felt at home here. The other exhibition spaces tower above the viewer with much larger rooms in every direction.

Garman and Ryan both by Epstein

The Garman Ryan Collection was put together by Lady Kathleen Epstein (nee Garman), widow of sculptor Jacob Epstein, and her very close friend Sally Ryan a sculpture in her own right. After Epsteins death in 1959 the two ladies collected 365 works of art. Some by friends and family (Lucian Freud, Epstein, Theo Garman) others in the collection by renowned artists such as Constable, Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Monet, which all sit alongside artefacts from around the world. The collection, donated in 1973 to the Borough of Walsall, is laid out thematically in rooms.

Children, Trees, Occupations, each room a selection through art history.

Nathaniel

Many of Epstein’s sculptures sit on wooden plinths and watch you as you peruse the art works, but I have to say I preferred Sally Ryan’s pieces, my favourite of a young lad Nathaniel with his head slightly bowed.

Men with Mice and Birds

Epstein’s Men with Mice and Birds had a somewhat comic feel to it.

Renoir

Elaborate frames twice the size of a Renoir landscape was just as interesting as the painting.

Theo Garman

Thoedore Garman’s flower paintings reminded me somewhat of a certain boater, Kath from NB Herbie, and her watercolours and embroidery.

Guides were on hand to talk to you about the collection and the family connections that hung around the rooms. They were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

Epstein Archiev gallery

One room was being a touch noisy in the calm of the collection. This was Bob and Roberta Smith‘s Epstein Archive Gallery. Between 2009 and 2011 the two artists worked their way through the Epstein archive which had laid hidden away in the basement and they breathed new life into it. It holds papers of Epstein’s life, about his two wives and three children, two (Theo and Ester) who both died in their 20’s in 1954. Short films have been made about the stories uncovered in the archive which shout out across the gallery along with visual shouts of painted quotes. A fun room to spend sometime in ad I think Epstein was partial to jam.

On the top floor is an exhibition, Too Rich a Soil bringing three photographers together exploring cultural identity.

Top floor gallery

The other exhibition marks the twentieth anniversary of the gallery with a collection of works from the last two decades. Those that stood out were drawings by Andrew Tift who’s detailed drawings astound in their detail.

Andrew Tift

Jungle Queen II by Hew Locke, made from toys, feather marabou, all sorts.

A fluffy Queen

Then my particular favourite Hole in the Wall by Mark Power. This photograph of a Walsall urban landscape has texture, painting, human interest, nature, decay and a mural which blurs into the building it was painted on. The mural is now hidden behind a new building.

My favourite

Back at the boat for lunch I was looking out charity shops in the area. on the map I came across Hole in the Wall a haberdashery fabric shop. So on my way round town I made a beeline to see what they might have to offer.

What colour would you like?

Walking in through the door there were ribbons, yarn, buttons all sorts, then a room of dress fabrics. Nothing hugely exciting but I did find some fabric that might be useful in my costume for a Jay, as in the bird.

Perfect for a Jay costume

An arrow pointed upstairs to Upholstery fabric. A long corridor of a room where you coud select fabric and have made to measure curtains led to another room. Here plain upholstery fabric rolls stood by the walls along with about 30 different types of leatherette. Another doorway led through to a room filled with tassles and tie backs. Now hang on what was in the next room? Hundreds of rolls all in colour order!

I was asked if I needed any help. Maybe a chair to sit down, I hadn’t expected so much fabric in one place, it’s a long time since I’ve seen so much all in one building, or should I say buildings as it seems to me that they’ve knocked shops together and created a block of a shop.

Blues

The Garden set could most probably do with some of this fabric, but right now without having coloured my model up I’m not sure what I would want.

How much braid?

Linings and braid filled two more rooms and another lady asked if she could help. All she did was add to my astoundedness and point me in the direction of their bargain basement! Here the walls were lined with racks full of fabric. Piles four, five, six foot high filled the floor. Just what did I need? I walked round in a textile daze.

Blimey!

The lady upstairs gave me a card and their website address so that I could look on line. But it may well be worth a return visit when I know what I’m after. All this from going to the art gallery and looking at one photograph, I like it even more now.

One major fabric shop

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 art gallery, 0 time for the museum, 1 homely house, 1 giant fluffy queen, 1 dribbling tattoo, 1 jolly lift, 1 bored cat, 1 photograph, 1 block of textiles, 245673543 fabrics, 1 charity shop visited, 0 costumes as yet.