Category Archives: Theatre

And STOP. 23rd March

This morning we could feel something in the water around us. A few boats were moving, most coming past us to wind and then head back towards Venetian Marina. We walked down the towpath to check out if there was space at the barbeque mooring as we’re wanting to clean our boat covers. One boat was pulling away leaving one, there would be space for us.

Celendine

Back at the boat I was receiving emails about my Dark Horse show, they were wanting my opinion on how the show might be realised with current restrictions. Obviously the play can only be performed once restrictions are lifted. I sent an honest reply back. Some elements won’t be affected much if on-line orders don’t get affected. Costumes, another matter. With social distancing I wouldn’t be able to do fittings with the actors, worst case scenario the actors would have to wear their own clothes, should the show go ahead. But my strong belief is that when restrictions are lifted, theatres and theatre companies will need to have a show up their sleeve, one that can be built and rehearsed quickly. So I can finish the design, we’ll have our meeting in a couple of weeks over the internet and then time and restrictions will guide us as to how much will be possible. My next payment will be on completion of the design, due in two weeks, this will go straight out to renew our boat licence.

The feeling we’d woken with was growing inside. If a lock down of the country was imminent then we wanted to be somewhere we’d be able to get water, shopping, diesel etc. We had lunch, headed to the winding hole in front of us, turned the boat and headed back to Cholmondeston Lock.

Back past our mooring

Here a boat was waiting below to go up, they were emptying the lock, we nudged in behind them. The chap opened up the gates and came to move his boat, I walked up and closed the gates for them and then operated the towpath side paddle whilst the chap did the off side.

We chatted from opposite sides of the lock. He was moving his freshly painted and spray foamed boat towards Birmingham. Tomorrow he’d pick up timber in Nantwich so that he could start to fit the boat out and then a friend was coming to help him up the rest of the way. When asked where we were going I explained that we felt movements would be restricted soon, so we wanted to be above the lock.

Venetian Marina

Once we’d ascended the lock ourselves, gloves were removed, hands washed, windlasses disinfected, we pootled along to the next winding hole. Here we winded again then reversed to some Armco. Hatch to the towpath. Here will do, it has a farmyard smell to it, we may get used to it.

Whilst we’d been moving we’d had emails from other boaters who’d been feeling the same vibe. An email from C&RT had come through asking boaters to limit themselves to an area. We would now be staying on this pound.

Approaching the lock

During the afternoon we turned the BBC on, the usual press conference at 5pm wasn’t going to happen, a COBRA meeting was taking place. All Brits who were abroad were being urged to return home as soon as possible. There would be a broadcast at 8:30pm.

Mr Johnson with fists clenched announced the new measures from No 10. We knew this was coming and to a certain extent it was a relief to finally hear it.

At 11:00 this email from C&RT dropped into Mick’s inbox.

Following the most recent announcement from the Prime Minister regarding the UK’s response to the coronavirus crisis, we are asking leisure boaters to stop all non-essential travel. As a result, and to help those who live-aboard (along with those who would need to travel to their boat in order to move it) we are suspending the requirement to move every 14 days. The suspension will be kept under review in line with revised government guidance, applying initially until 14 April.
 
We ask everyone to be considerate and make sure at least a minimal amount of essential movement is maintained to keep vital boater facilities and services accessible to those that need them. We will continue to maintain boater facilities and pump out cards are available from our online shop. (We will be urgently reviewing the implications for face-to-face sale of pump out cards and facilities keys from our public offices). 
  
Please click here for the latest updates to our Frequently Asked Questions and up to date advice on where to get support.
 
Colleagues whose roles are critical to the safe management of the waterways, for example those managing water levels, those carrying out statutory inspections of canal structures, ensuring essential facilities for boaters are available etc will continue their day to day work. 
 
We will be doing whatever we can to support our customers and protect the waterways so we can return to enjoying them fully when the crisis is over. We will keep the situation under active review and update you in line with changing circumstances and guidance.
 
Thank you for your patience and forbearance and please stay safe during these unprecedented times.
 
Richard Parry
Chief Executive
Canal & River Trust

So from now until further notice we will only move for water and shopping. We’ll try to combine the two. Tilly will have to adapt too, rationing of the outside may have to be brought in.

Tilly trying not to use this outside up

Stay safe, stay well, stay at home my friends.

1 lock, 0.83 miles, 2 winds, 1 determined theatre company, 2 unnerved boaters, 1 set of covers that can wait, 1 pound, 3 water points to choose from, 1 town for shops, 2 Dreamies not 4, 1 pongy mooring, 1 country on lock down.

Pigs Not Ponytails. 19th March

Coole Pilote to Nantwich Aqueduct

Over the last couple of days we’ve been discussing whether we should wear gloves whilst working locks now. Apart from when we venture to the shops this is when we might be in contact with the virus. So far I haven’t bothered, making a mental note of what I touch when back on the boat and giving those places and my windlass a wipe down.

Shhhh!

Mick however today decided that he’d wear gloves to protect others as well as himself. Doing so makes you a touch more aware of what you touch. He wore his rubber coated gloves and I pulled out a disposable pair for working our way down Hack Green Locks.

Bstruction

I’ve also changed how I tie my hair up. A ponytail doesn’t quite keep it all away from my face when working locks and this gets quite annoying when you are trying to avoid touching your face! So today I decided to revert to pigtails. All good so far, except my hat doesn’t quite sit on top of them.

A few boats had come past this morning and the lady from the boat behind us had been out for a walk with her dog and cat. We pushed off at nearly midday, well Tilly had been out finishing off her friends!

Tilly’s work of art from yesterday!

The communications mast from the Secret Bunker hid behind the trees for much of the mile to the locks. We wondered how much toilet roll was stashed away down there in the cold war and if it still might be there.

There’s the mast

Our new modus operandi for working the locks seemed to work well. That was until I spotted bedoingee lambs in the field alongside the locks and had to take a photo!

Baa!

My camera would now need a wipe down. One little lamb obliged when a bedoing was requested and both Mick and I bounced up and down to keep it company.

Over kill maybe, or better safe than sorry

The locks were easy work, followed by wiping things down and disposing of gloves. I think the top of the cabin sides of Oleanna will end up being very clean at this rate.

A zoom in to the hill tops just in view confirmed that we could see Mow Cop on the horizon a familiar sight from the Trent and Mersey and Macclesfield Canals.

Mow Cop

Then a dart of blue, quickly followed by another! Two Kingfishers sprinted ahead of us. We kept our eyes glued to where we thought they might have landed. The camera worked overtime pointing in their general direction and I was lucky to get one reasonable shot with the two of them. I wonder if they were by their nest as it’s now breeding season.

Two in one photo!

We pootled along soon reaching the outskirts of Nantwich. A long line of boats greeted us, did this mean the embankment was full? No it meant the usual boats that stay in one place for a fortnight were doing just that, close to a bridge and away from visitor moorings.

Jellicoe

Along the first stretch of 2 day moorings we spotted Jellicoe the butty for NB Mountbatten. Here is a possible mooring for a supermarket delivery, but as none are available we decided to continue on towards the aqueduct. Last time we passed here NB Valerie was moored along the embankment. Today another green boat sat on the same mooring.

Nantwich Aqueduct

As we rounded the bend of the embankment we could see that there was plenty of space up ahead near the service block and the ramp down to the roads below. We crossed the aqueduct and found ourselves a place, furthest away from the road as possible.

Not so sure, it’s a bit dry round here!

Our shopping trip was put on hold until tomorrow when we’ll face others in the queues at the tills. So Tilly got to reacquaint herself with the hill we’re sat on. Too much footfall for her liking, but better than BUMingham.

Just need to stay on my toes here

During the afternoon I received an email that I really hadn’t expected. Dark Horse have decided to continue with The Garden. They don’t know when or if it will get to be seen by an audience, but want to continue as if it will be. So this afternoon I have scanned my drawings and emailed them off to my friend Graham for a quote. I will colour up the model and in April we’ll have a virtual production meeting via Zoom. Depending on when the show goes ahead will depend on how much I can achieve of my design as I’m not sure charity shops will be open for me to start collecting costumes.

Pink sky

Late afternoon the laptop was handed over to the IT department. It’s all very well arranging for meetings to take place over the internet, but you really need to have a working microphone and camera for such things. After an hour or so, both were working. Mick is now going to see if he can connect my camera up to the laptop at the same time so that I can walk people through the model more easily than with the laptop.

2 locks, 3.93 miles, 2 outsides, 0 friends, 4 muddy paws, again! 1 job to continue, 2 Kingfishers, 2 pairs gloves, 2 antibac wipes, 2 pigtails, 1 last of everything fresh stew, 1 sister-in-law in Australia, 6 weeks lock down in China starting to lift, 0 new measures here.

Paw Hygiene. 18th March

Cool Pilots, not that I’ve seen any!

Paw Hygiene

Tom cut into the bread She made yesterday.

Nice looking loaf

She seemed to be quite pleased with it, it looked a touch boring to me, no good crunchy bits at body temperature. She and Tom decided to have a cooked breakfast and with that I was told I had 8 and a half hours. Woo Hoo!! Brilliant!

Not enough meat for my liking

Blimey it’s squelchy this outside! Last night it had rained and it kept trying to today, but that didn’t matter I was too busy to notice. I decided I’d have a treat dingding too, so went off to see who was around in the sideways trees.

Look at that squelchyness

It took a while but I managed to have a first and second course for morning dingding, a snack late morning too. She wouldn’t let me stock pile though, I’m not allowed to bring friends home and not allowed to leave them on the roof for later, Pah! What happens if we tie up BUMingham again!?

This stretch was particularly good

Tom spent sometime trying to find the lady up our chimney. He took everything out of the stove. Cleaned the glass so much that it disappeared!

Look it’s gone!

Put the in/outy bit back together with the hope that he’d be able to tickle the lady out. He then prodded the big brush down from outside. That didn’t work either, so he tried the vacuum cleaner!

Will she come out of there?
No sign of her yet

Still nothing, he eventually lit the fire again. Either she’d vanished over night or Tom would smoke her out. At least she’s stopped whistling.

How did that happen?

She is very unhappy with my paw hygiene. I was told I had to come home every now and then to show myself, so I did, several times. I get some Dreamies too, which I just managed to squeeze into my tummy. Lets face it there’s always room for Dreamies.

I didn’t do that!

She blamed me for the table getting all dirty. She blamed me for making the cushions all muddy. She blamed me for a filthy floor.

Paw hygiene included between your toes apparently

Then when I sit down to have a good wash I’m instructed to make sure I wash between my toes and to sing a song whilst doing it. I’d rather recite poetry. The first verse is all you need though!

There are lots of things people are doing to try to keep busy. You can watch the stars now during the day. Listen to radio programmes from around the globe. Watch plays. Listen to folk music (you may have to join the group). Have a walk around art galleries whilst sitting down!

All my own work

I decided to create a painting. She wasn’t happy with that either! Little does she know I did one on the bathroom window too!

An hour before my curfew we all settled down in front of the stove to see what was to be said today on the TV. More about social distancing and kids not having to go to school anymore. Have to say I’m not doing too well on the social distancing bit, it is so hard as my friends are just far too tasty!

It’s dry under here

Having exhausted my friends and myself, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. She finished making a lasagne for their dingding. She was quite proud of it, all made from scratch. She says she doesn’t need pasta from the shops anymore. What she does need is flour that isn’t flour and that apparently is in short supply too.

Totally homemade

As much as my dingding smelt nice I was just a touch too full to enjoy it.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 aviator shades, 2 boats gone, 3 friends, shhh it was 5 really, 1 long sideways tree, 1 squelchy outside, 0 lady up the chimney, 1 loaf bread, 1 lasagne, 15,000 and something in Ocado queue, 1 well deserved Mrs Tilly Stamp of Approval.

Whistling Away. 17th March

Audlem between locks 11 and 12 to Coole Pilate Visitor Moorings

A sliced loaf of bread was found at the Co-op whilst Tilly stretched her legs outside. I finished off making a ball of gluten free pasta which will get turned into Lasagna tomorrow and fed my sourdough starter to get it all bubbly and frothy ready to make bread. Then a load of washing was put on.

Homemade buckwheat pasta

There was a chap in the engine bay of the boat ahead, the one that had broken down yesterday. The oil Mick had given them had ended up in the bilges, an O ring needed replacing and with that done the engine was fixed.

This morning we conferred with other boaters about what we should do with coronavirus escalating. It was good to hear someone else’s measured opinion, we were in agreement to continue cruising. Out if interest Mick checked for any available slots for online shopping at places along the Shropie. No slots available in the next three weeks from all the supermarkets and Ocado we were 7889th in the queue! We’ll be walking to get shopping.

I sent an email to Dark Horse to see if any decisions had been made regarding the show I’m working on for them. Most of their actors are likely to be in the high risk category so rehearsals will be cancelled. Later in the day I got a reply, the actors would be finishing tomorrow, then on Thursday a plan would be formulated, the outcome of this would be relayed to me on Monday, totally understandable. The model can stay safe and sound in a cupboard until then.

Just below the lock

It was approaching midday when we pushed off. Just as I walked up to the next lock I could see a lady with a windlass in hand coming up to the lock which was empty. We opened the gates and chatted away. They were on a Chas Harden hire boat and doing the four counties ring in two weeks. The bywash below the lock was a touch of a surprise to the chap at the helm.

Enjoy your holiday

Once we were down I was left to close the lock whilst Mick pulled Oleanna onto a mooring on the offside. It’s so much easier to empty the yellow water tank moored up on the port side. Once the tank was empty we pushed over to the water point outside The Shropie Fly.

A few enjoying the sun and a drink at safe distance

It was good to see people sat drinking up the sun and pints, not many but a few were spaced out at the tables. Tilly kept them amused by sitting in a window and keeping an eye on them.

Only one high lighted pooh on the whole flight

We were just beaten to the lock by a shareboat and then waited for another boat to come up from the next lock down. We swapped with then and then swapped with another boat in the next pound. It’s always busy along here, but we are always the last boat through so there’s nobody around to help us.

What a lovely view

Once down the bottom lock we toyed with mooring with the great view but decided to carry on to Coole Pilate. The wind got up, it got chilly, but then despite it’s strength straight across the canal Oleanna resisted the push, so some engine had to be used to get us into the side.

The visitor mooring here is long, currently there are four boats all spaced out with plenty of room for others to join. Should we need to we’ll happily nudge up to the nosy neighbours in front.

Our nosy neighbours

Tilly headed off to explore after claiming several of the picnic benches as hers. I mixed up my loaf and set it to rise for six hours on the proving shelf, it wasn’t as sticky as last time.

Outside the wind picked up and for the first time our chimney started to whistle! Maybe the height of the flue and angle of the wind were just perfect for it. All evening it continued, only one note mind. Mick tried adjusting things, he even lowered the flue to the short length, this altered the note by a semitone. The only way to stop it was by opening the stove door! Needless to say we put up with the noise instead.

4 locks, 2.37 miles, 1 plastic loaf, 1 sourdough loaf, 1 batch cookies, 1 ball of pasta, 7889th, 3 uphill boats, 1 downhill, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 1 cat with crossed paws, 1 orange pooh, 1 windy blowy afternoon, 1 nosy woofer, 2 hours shore leave, 4 muddy paws, 1 whistling chimney, 1971 Mrs Didcock on Blue Peter, enjoy.

The Downward Trend. 16th March

Coxbank Moorings to Audlem between locks 11 and 12.

Mick had just put his dressing gown on this morning and walked through to put the kettle on when a chap stopped for a conversation. Were there any shops? Yes down in Audlem. Their boat had broken down, their gear box didn’t have any oil in it. Mick got dressed and went out to see if he could help, taking with him the bottle of left over oil from engine services. They topped up the gear box and they continued on their way. The boat is an old one, but new to them.

Morning!

Over breakfast another three boats headed down hill, no point rushing we’d be resetting the locks anyway.

Straight into the flight, the boat ahead of us was only one lock down with another boat in front of them. No point in walking on to set the next lock as it was already full with a boat sat in it.

Having a rest before helping at the lock

A local old fella walked up and had a chat. He walks the flight every morning, sits on the bench at the top for five minutes before returning back down the flight in time for the pub to open. We did our best to keep our distance, but he insisted on helping with the bottom gates. A lovely fellow.

The boat ahead lifted paddles for us on just about all the locks once they’d closed the bottom gates. A cheery wave back and forth for acknowledgment.

Waiting our turn above

Progress was slow, then even slower. The downhill pack had met an uphill boat, a hire boat. We joined the boat ahead of us in the next pound to wait and I loitered to help close the bottom gates with the lady from the hire boat coming up.

Joining the downward trend

Then we’d just manged to space ourselves out again when another boat was coming up. I zoomed in on my camera. Down the flight I could hear a ‘putput’ engine. As the boat rose in a lock the chap stepped off, climbed in the hold and reappeared with a bag of coal on his shoulder. A coal boat. But which one?

Working our way down

Not in need of diesel, a gas bottle still with a few days left and the sunny day making us wonder if we would be needing any more coal this year (I know I’ve tempted fate now) we decided to wait until we hopefully see NB Halsall and not in the middle of a flight of locks.

Good to see Mountbatten

The boat rose in another chamber and it was obvious that it was NB Mountbatten. We’d met Richard and Ruth whilst on the Llangollen a couple of winters ago. Soon afterwards NB Mountbatten had come down Hurleston Locks and so far has not been able to return. The bottom lock has for years been getting narrower and narrower, excluding older boats with a touch of spread. Richard has continued doing deliveries up the canal by van, but had to trade by boat along the Shropie main line.

Looking back up the flight

However this winter Hurleston Bottom Lock has been rebuilt by C&RT. A few days ago we saw on facebook that NB Mountbatten had been invited to give the newly built lock a go. They ascended the lock about half way and fitted. They are now looking forward to getting back onto the Llangollen to trade by boat again, still a little while before the Hurleston flight reopens, but I’m sure they will be the first up the locks.

Gradually getting closer

Back at Audlem we finished descending the main thick of the flight and pulled in in the sunshine. The side hatch was opened to let fresh air in, the back doors left open and Tilly came and went. The bank by the towpath is really quite good in this outside, I can be busy without too many woofers causing me concern. What a lovely spring day.

No Chilled Medication for cats though!

A walk to the bins, a look around the book shop and then up to the shops for a few bits. We managed to support the local butcher by buying a red pepper and the co-op provided us with milk, potatoes but no bread.

In the craft section of the book shop

Mick tuned in the TV and the afternoons news came on. Boris Johnson giving us the news regarding new measures concerning Coronavirus. Measures that will see our older friends stuck at home for their safety. Then ‘Social Distancing’, avoid going to pubs, theatres, large gatherings. All measures we understand to help contain the curve of the virus. But within an hour a large proportion of my friends in the theatre world were out of jobs, theatres closing across the country.

What a face

During the evening we have thought about our plans. We will continue to cruise so long as nothing stops us from doing so. If restrictions come in that stop us moving then we will find a section of canal where we have services and access to shops, Tilly will just have to cope with the same outside for some time. Various facebook groups are being set up along stretches of canals so that local communities of boaters can look out for each other. We’ll be looking for them as we travel and seeing if we can help.

9 locks, 0.84 miles, 1 boat rescued, 1 boat broken down again, 2 ahead, 2 passed, 4 hours! 2 friends, 1 pepper, 1 bag potatoes, 2 pints milk, 2 lego models, 1 step further, 1 loaf started, 1 batch of pasta started, wonder if my sourdough will produce toilet paper? 1 crazy world.

Magnet Fishing. 11th March

Shushions Bridge to High Meadow Aqueduct, Norbury Junction

Look what Mick caught this morning!

He’s caught something!

Our ash pan. Last night when he was emptying it into our ash can it slipped off the handle thingy and dived into the depths of the Shropshire Union. It apparently made a very good noise as it hit the water, instantly cooling down in a sizzle. Luckily our Sea Magnet did the job of retrieving it from the not too deep depths.

Careful
Yay! Our ash pan

A sea magnet is a very useful thing, when we were at Sandford Lock on the Thames, a shareboat moored nearby somehow dropped a side hatch door into the cut. Our magnet managed to hold it’s weight for it to be pulled out. You hope never to use it, but when the time comes they are very handy.

Tilly was allowed shore leave before we set off, she found her own breakfast and then returned for a snooze.

Stocking up for next winter

Whilst still in bed the first boat went past, then as we had breakfast several more. Has the boating season just suddenly started? We’ve seen more moving boats today than in the last few months! Just as we were pushing off one appeared through the bridge hole behind us, Mick pulled us back in quickly to let them go first.

Our route took us through more wooded cuttings, one boat had stopped to fill his hold with large chunks of tree, suspect he’ll keep warm for quite some time.

Magical yet scary

Looking back the arch made by the trees and ivy were a fairytale, sadly waiting for the next windy day to topple a few more of them.

A day boat came towards us, pulled too far over to the side and got stuck. Mick suggested going into reverse to help pull the stern away from the bank, they were soon free again.

Caution whilst cruising the Shropie

The approach to Cowley Tunnel, all 80 yards of it was a haze of branches just starting to turn green at their tips. Through the tunnel cut from stone with trees clinging on for dear life above.

A magical twiggy haze

We considered stopping here, but first checked out the two canalside pubs menus. With plans on meeting friends tomorrow I wanted to see if I could have anything other than steak or gammon. Sadly neither The Boat or Navigation menus on line gave many options, so we stuck to our original plan and continued.

Cowley Tunnel
Clinging on

Just through the bridge a dog ran back and forth, checking either end of it’s boat. We knew who this was, the plant boat. A couple of years ago we bought a Thyme plant from them which is still going strong, we told the chap, he was happy but it did mean no sale. I’m considering trying to grow strawberries this year, wonder when I should plant them? Have to look that up.

Mandarin Spring Roll Duck

Now on embankments we got views, views stretching to the Wrekin.

The Wrekin

Then we could see the end of moored boats, we pulled in behind one leaving no git gap. But then looked around. The wind was strong and we were under a large tree, at least we knew the size of gap to leave for a 58ft boat, we pulled back to avoid trees should they fall.

From one tree to the next

Tilly spent the afternoon up the trees. One route up, across three tops to a suitable route down again. Mick climbed into the engine bay again to finish off the engine service, this time the smelly fuel filters.

The Garden drawings finished

I got the drawing board out and spent the afternoon measuring and drawing up my design for The Garden. Three sheets of drawings, 1 for a carpenter, 2 for me. The whole show drawn up in a couple of hours.

I’ve not been in here before

0 locks, 6.06 miles, 80 yards of tunnel, 0 mysterons, 1 tasty friend, 1 mandarin spring roll, 1 very fit dog, 2 noninclusive menus, 1 changed fuel filter, 1 cleaned fuel filter, 2 outsides, 1 ground plan, 3 sheets working drawings, 2 much sewing to do, I’d best buy some fabric soon and start.

The Verdict. 9th March

Hunting Bridge 7 to Wheaton Aston

Tilly headed out this morning and managed a whole half hour before returning home. We’d decided she would dictate when we moved on today, we needn’t have worried as she was home long before we’d finished breakfast. Despite there being very little footfall here it was deemed too unsafe to go to the toilet, so she came back to use her box instead! This mooring doesn’t seem to have floated her boat quite as much as last time so no Mrs Tilly stamp. It’s the lack of trees! Anyway I used it all up last time.

A little bit dense at the bottom

After cereal my loaf of bread was sliced open. Maybe a little bit too dense at the bottom. Once sliced we toasted some each. Gluten free bread always takes an age to toast, especially homemade. Hope we have sufficient gas to last this one loaf! Verdict, well a little bit heavy but maybe that was because I think my starter is a touch too liquid and I had to add some extra flour to the mix to help clean the dough off my hand. I’ll have another go at this recipe and see what happens.

Is this an orchard? Or vines near Chillington Bridge

Nature seems to be conspiring against our trip north, along with the canal system not playing ball. Our original plan, Trent and Mersey, Macclesfield, Huddersfield Narrow, work, then Huddersfield Broad, Calder and Hebble, Aire and Calder, River Ouse to York has been out of the window for a while due to the destruction of The Figure of Three Locks in the storms.

No they’re not, but neither are we!

We’re in no rush so had planned another route. Shropshire Union, across the Middlewich Branch, up the Trent and Mersey to the Anderton Boat lift and onto the Weaver. Back onto the Trent and Mersey, up to the Macclesfield, Peak Forest Canal onto the Ashton Canal. Then the Bridegwater to Leigh and the Leeds Liverpool, at Wigan we would turn right and head over the top to Leeds. I’d go to work then we could carry on to York.

I’ll be needing my walking boots back out! No urban towpaths anymore

However there is a new stoppage on the Macclesfield near Marple, an unstable embankment. We were really looking forward to cruising the Macc again, but this may no longer be possible.

Bet that made a good noise

The winter stoppages on the Shroppie are due to finish soon, but the storms have brought down numerous trees. Most have been cleared quickly, but at Woodseaves Cutting above Tyrley Locks trees have come down along with some of the cutting. Reports were that there were trees stood upright in the middle of the canal! Woodseaves is a magical place, a steep damp cutting. We’ve been waiting for a couple of weeks now for news that the way ahead is clear. A notice on Friday said

Engineers have inspected the affected area and are advising contractors the best way forward, to safely remove the trees that are blocking the navigation. A further update will be provided next week.

Crabbing along against the wind

Then Filance Lock on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal has been closed for much of this week due to concerns from boaters. So even if we changed our minds, there would be no point in retracing our steps and heading that way, well not until the end of the week and we’d rather carry on up the Shropie if possible.

Plans are having to remain fluid, but at the moment we can’t go far, so we’re taking it slowly.

Avenue Bridge

Not far today. Just to Wheaton Aston where we hoped to get a mooring on the services side of the bridge to get a delivery.

First Shropie Kingfisher

The Shroppie for the most part is made up of embankments and cuttings, it’s course quite straight with flights of locks. Today we saw plenty of the destruction that the storms had wrought. Every cutting we came through had evidence of trees having given up and fallen across the cut.

I so hated cross country runs, think the chap with orange arms hates them too!

Most trees along here are covered in ivy, some creating a waterfall from branches all very atmospheric but adding to the weight of branches in stormy winds, no wonder so many gave up the fight.

Ow!

Others simply snapped with the strain. Several boats sadly had been moored in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up with trees on their roofs. Have to say we’d have moved Oleanna onto an embankment rather than hope for shelter around these trees!

A couple of hours after pushing off we arrived at Wheaton Aston Lock the wind was quite strong, so it took quite a bit of effort to get Oleanna away from the side to enter the lock. A lady came up to help with the offside gate as her boat was just winding to come back up, I loitered to close the gate for her.

Wheaton Aston Lock

The water tank was topped up and I walked to see where we might be able to moor. A space just after the winding hole had our name on it.

Just by the water point and service block there is this in the ground. Was it the base to a crane? Fixings for some mechanism of water control? Or the base for a gun in WW2?

What was this?

As we were tying up rain started, by the time the covers were all poppered back into place it was heaving it down. Once the online shopping was complete we watched another Morse story, Service of the Dead. We’d seen this one not too long ago, so I knew Morse shouldn’t have been getting too attached to that woman!

They’ve found us!

1 lock, 4.82 miles, 1 solid loaf of bread, 4 crossed legs, 1 cloud given the go ahead, 1 Joe understudy, 8 trees down at least, 2 routes north blocked, 1 way open back through Birmingham! 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 handy mooring, 1st helicopter, 4 murders, 1 suicide, 1 stumble, 8 Jag review, 1 very wet afternoon.

Apologies if you got this post yesterday and are getting it again. The internet on the Shropie can be patchy and play tricks on you, as it has done. So sorry if you get this post a second time. Due to uncertain internet I may not be able to post every day.