Category Archives: walks

Laying The Ground. 18th May

Lockdown Mooring 4A

Tilly obliged in coming home this morning so we could have a walk up the locks together. We don’t like leaving her out with no-one home, just in case!

Moving things around in the compound

We’d been able to hear and see things going on at the top of the flight, a digger/crane in the compound that had been used whilst the bottom lock was being rebuilt. At the locks there was activity too. A couple of chaps seemed to be moving earth around, tidying up the edges of the towpath with a digger . Mick made sure they were aware of the leak at the lock. We suspect the brief for the lock may not have actually included repointing behind the gates, just rebuilding the chamber wall and making it wide enough for boat passage. We feel we’ve mentioned our concerns to enough people now, as I’m sure others have too.

Cleaning up the edges

The red van still has eggs for sale, but no duck eggs sadly. We looped back round onto the towpath, crossed over the lock and did a circuit round the reservoir. The work men at the bottom lock were raking finer stones around the lock, finishing off what has been left for a couple of months. Wonder if any of it will need to be dug up to sort the leak out?

Raking in finer material

An afternoon of painting again. The garden fence went on forever! Will I actually get them finished this week?

Nearly at the point of finer detail

Mick attracted my attention at one moment, ‘It’s them!’.

The Wheelie Shoppers were on the towpath, not the field, walking towards the junction. They didn’t dip down into the field but carried on. I grabbed my camera and followed at a distance.

It’s them!

Of course Tilly had to come and help, in fact her meowing arrival at my ankles may well help me in laying down the ground for my back story. The two of them, minus wheelie shopper, walked up the hump to the bridge. Each gave a glance over their shoulder towards me. My sight line was obstructed for a few moments during which time they vanished! But where to!?

I’m up here you numpty!

I walked up the mound, as if to cross the bridge whilst Tilly continued straight along on the level. Tilly confirmed that they weren’t hiding below, in fact she got quite upset about the whole thing and started shouting very loudly mimicking a duckling who gets stuck on the wrong side of a passing narrowboat from it’s mum. Panic had set in, so my attention had to turn to her, calling her up to the higher level to see where I was. This all helping very much with my back story, should I ever need one.

Where did they go?

The Wheelie Shoppers hadn’t actually vanished into thin air, I had a very good idea where they had gone. Opposite the end of the bridge there is a narrow path that leads through the sideways trees, I’d spotted this months ago. Straight ahead is what looks like a small branch blocking the way. They had either lifted this to pass, or the pathway takes a 90 degree turn which isn’t visible from the towpath. As I glanced through the sideways trees I could see them quietly moving away from the canal.

In There!

This morning whilst looking down to the boats below the reservoir, I got thinking. With the normal mooring rules coming back in next week, boats will start moving off. We are on a 48hr mooring, so will need to move on Monday whether we want to or not. Each boat will go in a different direction, at different speeds, with different aims and different destinations in mind. We’ve spent a couple of months in each others company, yet not been able to get to know each other, keeping our distance.

Visitors this morning

Some we just nod our heads, others we deliver veg boxes to, others we have little chats when we come across each other on the towpath or when passing. Social distancing will not be lifted for quite some time yet, so sadly we can’t get together to celebrate being able to move again, or celebrate the lifting of lockdown when it comes. We will all just drift off in our own directions after sharing the last two months together apart. I hope that our bows will cross again in the near future when we can take the opportunity to stop, stand closer have a drink and conversation together. These boats will always be our Lockdown Buddies.

So fluffy, no wonder Mum and Dad are so proud

0 locks, 0 miles, 1ce more round the reservoir, 2 to tidy, 1 to watch, 1 full lock, 1 leak leaking badly, 2 speeding boats, 8 feathery fluff balls, 14 fences, 0.5 fee, 0 shopper, 2 rucksacks, 2 secret pathways, 1 button webcam required, 1 back up story well and truly laid.

Tom’s Cat. 17th May

Lockdown Mooring 4A

For the last couple of nights I’ve preferred to sleep on my bed on the sofa. She is comfortable, mostly, but I thought I’d try a change. It also means I don’t get moved around quite so much during the night.

Then this morning I thought I’d try another change. Instead of warming one set of toes I decided to warm knees instead, Tom’s knees. She wasn’t too happy about this and said I’d become Tom’s cat. Because of all the changes I totally forgot about my morning game of pen and headed straight for the back door instead. She was even less happy about this.

Tom’s girl

Maybe I should reconsider. Tom gives good chin rubs, but his head nudges aren’t as good. He also tends to just push me off the bed in the middle of the night where as She slides the duvet around with me on it when She wants to turn over. I’ll think it over.

Birdie by the locks

Today she went for the usual walk trying to avoid other people going round the reservoir, so she went in the same direction only to find that the family turned round and came back! I’d have run through their legs in this situation, but She says that wouldn’t be 2 meters away and more to the point She’s too old to be running around on all fours! I don’t see a problem with it myself.

The weir into the reservoir all clear now

The reservoir had lots of fishermen round it. All with their masses of equipment. One chap stood in the middle of the path as I approached, but moved out the way for me. His mate down the bank said to just push him out of the way! I didn’t have a long enough stick to keep the social distance, he’d moved enough out of the way anyway.

Oleanna, a visiting boat and then the flag bubble to the right

Back on board I made myself some hummus as I’d run out. With no tahini on board I tried zuzzing some sesame seeds with my stick blender to make some before adding chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, a touch of cumin and some sumac. This will keep me going for a while even with putting half of it in the freezer for the next time I run out, although I think it will need thinning a touch with some more oil.

Sadly they don’t make pizzas I can eat

I also set about browning some pork that we’d bought back in November in Oxford. To this I added a parsnip, carrots still left from a couple of weeks ago, the turnip from this weeks box and several tomatoes. A little glug of wine a stock cube some sage and seasoning, then left it to bubble away at the lowest setting in the top oven. This cooked over several hours and smelt exceedingly yummy.


Mick gave the chimney a sweep, removed the baffle plate inside the stove and cleaned it out. I made sure he stayed well away from my illustrations when he came past with sooty hands. Sadly the stove wasn’t lit until the evening, so the pork stew stayed in the oven to gently cook.

Filthy boy!

Skies were painted in and a few backgrounds for fireworks and blowy days. There is still a lot of work to do on my illustrations. I need to get a few more hours done in a day, but I am limited as my right hand isn’t too keen on holding thin brushes for too long.

Yummerty yum yum

The pork stew was very tasty, we had it with some salad and rice. There is enough left over for a couple more meals. Trying to keep up with the veg boxes keeps me on my toes, so I think we’ll have to freeze the remains of the stew, just so that we can get the greens, aubergine and broccoli eaten before the next box arrives!

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 fishermen, 1 Tom cat! 1 pizza boat, 2 lots of hummus, 3 meals of pork stew, 16 illustrations, 14 skies, 1 whirl wind, 0 wheelie shoppers today, 1 clean chimney, 2 filthy hands.

Yummo! 3rd May

Lockdown Mooring 4A

With some gluten free bread on board, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes etc and it being Sunday, there was only one thing for it…. a cooked breakfast!

Because of us having a potato mountain on board I decided to have a go at making some hash browns. This turned out to be a very good idea. I grated up a few small potatoes and a half onion left over from a few days ago into a t-towel, then I squeezed out as much water as I possibly could, a surprising amount. Then in a bowl I added a good amount of salt and pepper and about half an egg, enough so that I knew it would help bind everything together without becoming a potato omelette. This was then handed over to the breakfast chef for cooking. Cooked in rapeseed oil for about 3 minutes on each side until golden.

Lockdown Breakfast.

They were certainly worth the grating. As Rick Stein says, ‘Yummo!’

I decided to stretch my legs in the late morning sunshine and see how the fields up towards Stoke Manor were doing. I walked this route a while ago when the footpaths were hard to make out across recently sewn fields. Today I set out to do the route in reverse.

Walking along the towpath up to Stokehall Bridge you could see the effect of the recent rainfall. The towpath plants have shot up, cow parsley reaching for the sky. The well trodden path a curved dip between the green edge of the canal and the trees. Normally this would have been mowed by now, but C&RT are only mowing near locks and moorings, places where you need to be able to see what you are doing. I wonder what they’d look like if there wasn’t quite so much footfall?

A Speckled Wood

I crossed over the canal at the bridge and climbed over the stile. From here the green field had a very well marked footpath straight across towards the manor. The crop now sprouted by around 8 inches in little tufts above the earth.

A well marked path

Where the two paths meet I could see which was the more popular route, the other route ending with a 12 ft quagmire. But the path was marked, was the yellow colour from feet brushing through the crop, or has the farmer sprayed or rolled the line to mark the way?

Follow the yellow grass path

Approaching the manor the trees now in leaf framed the building well.

Stoke Manor

The footpath becomes a narrow channel through the friendly cover of cow parsley and grasses brought me to the farm yard and back onto the road. I was glad to see the footpath sign has been revealed again, shame the one at the top of the road still had it’s black bin bag wrapped around it!

The whole sign visible today

Returning by the reservoir the cocky cockerel had escaped again and was strutting his stuff around the garden. A couple of boxes of eggs his good ladies had laid sat waiting to be bought. I’m still holding out for some duck eggs.


Tilly spent much of the day out in the fields, we don’t get to see much of her at the moment. She returns for a few biscuits and the occasional drink during the day. An odd restorative kip and then she is back out hunting for friends. We have turned into a B&B for her. At least with the stove out this evening she curled up on my knee for some warmth. I wonder what she’ll make of it when we get to cruise properly again?

£1 a box

The ability to draw had returned this afternoon, so I worked my way back through my sketches, removing gurning chins, improving hands. Sadly I was missing a good photograph of the movement director to add to the portraits on the last sheet. Hopefully Dark Horse will be able to provide me with a better image of him, then the pencil stage will be done, unless I get notes from Amy.

500500Bonfire night

Thank you Ann for the link to the National Trust bird song. Sadly the PPe bird doesn’t feature. Mick has down loaded an app BirdNET to see if we can identify it with that. He’s tried several times to catch it’s call , but when he does get it it is upstaged by other bird song. We’ll continue and hopefully managed to identify it.

This evening we have worked our way through a few more potatoes and enjoyed a large roast chicken and fresh veg to accompany them. We didn’t eat the whole bird, the left overs will last us most of the week. With still half of our veg box left to consume I’d better look at buying some new jeans the next size up!

Time ticking away

0 locks, 0 miles, 12 tomatoes, 4 rashers bacon, 4 hash browns, 8 mushrooms, 3 slices toast, 3 eggs scrambled, 4 slices black pudding 1 hours walk, 2 bridges, 1 field, 2 paths, 12 eggs, 1 cocky ‘un, 15 sketches complete, 9 portraits, 1 still to go, 1 cat B&B, 1 elusive bird, 2.1kg of chicken, 1 bag of potatoes completely eaten!

Remote Control. 23rd April

Lockdown Mooring 4

An alteration to my routine was called for. I tend to get into work in the afternoons and because of that and wanting to listen to what is being said at the daily press conference from London I keep missing out on a walk. So I decided to rearrange my day a touch, heading out for a walk returning for lunch, then I could get on with work.

Thursday Photo

Today I plotted a route to walk, around three miles with the aim of seeing a house I’ve not noticed from the canal before, Wardle Old Hall which sits at Bridge 101 of the Shropshire Union Canal. Most of the route I’d be covering I’ve done a few times now but that can’t be helped, so I chose to cross over the canal and return across the fields to Stoke Manor.

Recently people have been saying how clear the water has been looking with the lack of boat movements. Sadly that is not the case here. Boats still move for shopping, water etc, but there is far far less movement than there normally would be on the Four Counties Ring. Instead of the canal clearing so we can see the fish and what lies below our hulls the canal is growing murkier and thicker. Last night we’d noticed a layer of scum which was starting to collect trapped by the bridge hole behind us. Today the start of weed was very evident along my route up towards Barbridge.

Weedy scummy

There was lots of activity on the side of the reservoir. At least eight Fountains employees were cutting the grass and trimming the nettles working their way round the two boats now moored there. I did a double take as one lawnmower was moving around by remote control. I’ve seen the little robot mowers before in peoples gardens, but this was a fully grown up big cutting machine a chap walking alongside directing it with a joy stick. At least he was getting his excersise without having to man handle the big mower along the slopes. I was then surprised to see another chap walking his way round the steeper sections of the bank with a mower, maybe the big one is too heavy to get to the top.

Onwards towards Barbridge I walked, the earlier time of day meaning there were fewer people about. I got just past Stokehall Bridge when a muscle in my left calf went ping! Damn!! This has happened before, several times, normally during the colder months. I took a few steps further, not as bad as it’s been before, but I shouldn’t antagonise it more than I had to. I’d managed a mile and was turning round before I’d reached my goal, a hobble back to Oleanna.

Wild Garlic. I’d like to find a patch of it away from the towpath and make some pesto

Another four sketches were achieved, some closer images which require better faces. Some looked good, others not so. The play works it’s way through all four seasons and I was a little bit unsure as to when we went into Autumn, a quick text to Amy and that was sorted.

Coming along

My sourdough starter was fed and returned to the proving shelf whilst the excess was mixed with several different flours, milk, cocoa and chocolate.

Baked in the oven for 25 minutes, then left a short while to cool just enough. The result was good, but could have been a touch better. I’d had to substitute the main flour for rice flour which tends to be a touch thirstier, so this may have dried the mixture out a touch too much. Next time, if I’m allowed to use so much chocolate again, I’ll reduce the amount of arrowroot and add a touch more milk to see if that improves things.


Listening to the press conference we both commented on how badly Matt Hancock was delivering his spiel today, he had no idea of what he was saying, he can’t have read it before hand. We listen to what is being said at these conferences and find ourselves commenting at the TV, our comments are getting louder and LOUDER each day!

We’d not seen Tilly for most of the day, she’d returned home for a drink and a short snooze mid afternoon, but now cat curfew time was getting close. A quick call along the towpath didn’t work, so I hobbled down through the gap into the field. More calls. She wasn’t along the left perimeter where she’s popped out from the last few times. I called and called.

Maybe she had gone to climb the trees in the centre of the field?

Is that her?

Was that a Crow over there? On the other side of the field? It was too big for a crow. It moved so it wasn’t an inanimate object.

Yep that’s Tilly

I got Mick to pass me the camera and zoomed in on the black shape walking away. That black shape had four white paws and holey tights!


All the

NO acknowledgement what so ever, just a swifter walk away from me. At least we knew where she was. Should we leave her to come home on her own? No, we knew she would now be tiered, tired like a little kid who won’t go to bed giving you all the excuses that you can see straight through. Oh for a remote control cat! We could turn her round and bring her back straight across the field!


Instead Mick put his shoes on, decided that going to the right would be the shortest route around the boundary to get to Tilly. Off he set. Ten or so minutes later I phoned him. Tilly was on the other side of a hedge from him doing the toddler thing and meowing about being busy! No point in trying to pick her up because she’d find enough energy to wriggle herself free and then be far FAR too busy to come home. Words of encouragement were the only way forward.


A while later I hobbled back to the gap to see what progress had been made. They were on the opposite side of the field now, Tilly was leading the way home following her scent, the longer way round the field. I tried shouting, but neither Tilly or Mick could hear me. Back to chopping veg up for a stir fry.


Then half an hour after Mick had set off I could hear his no quite so encouraging words just on the other side of the hedge. Time for me to take over.

As she popped her head out from the sideways trees I could see just how exhausted she was. Luckily she knew the best thing to do was come inside and have some food and a drink. Then she took herself away into the bedroom where she curled up for the night only to be disturbed once by us making the bed up.

Arrow points to Oleanna, pin to Tilly!

I wonder where she’ll get to tomorrow!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 remote control lawnmower, 1 miles there, 1 ping, 1 hobbling mile back, 1tsp maple syrup, 4 sketches, ? more figures just to impress, 12 brownies, 2 shouting boaters, 1 shouting cat lady, 1 cat just visible, 0.75 miles walk for Mick, 1 totally exhausted cat, 0 lap sitting tonight.

A Touch Further. 15th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

Today Mick had extra errands to do on his bike other than just the click and collect from Sainsburys. I’d managed to track down a local timber merchants that is open in the mornings Richard Potter Ltd. A quick phone call this morning and bingo they had dust masks! I go the chap to put a pack aside for me. I’ve been wanting to get on with some painting of Oleanna, which of course requires the existing paintwork to be rubbed back. When doing small areas I haven’t bothered with a mask in the past, but in the current climate I’d rather not be adding any dust to my lungs.

Cowslips on the branch

Just about any suitable masks on the internet were being snapped up by those wanting to wear them day to day when outside, so I was relieved to be able to get hold of some locally which are suitable for the job in hand.

As Mick cycled away I checked on my stock of sandpaper, nothing, well it wasn’t where it should be. I knew I was running low anyway so that and some masking tape were added to Mick’s list.

Whilst he was away shopping I continued to reread Communicating Doors by Alan Ayckbourn. The theatre in Vienna were interested in putting on the show next year, but had been told by previous designers that it wouldn’t fit on their stage. A month or so ago I’d come up with a possible layout that might work, the other day I read Act 1 and today Act 2. If the director can live without having a bath I think I have a solution. Who knows whether the show will be mounted, but at least I can say that they could do it. Austria this week are lifting a few of their restrictions, allowing smaller shops to reopen. It will be sometime before theatres open their doors again. Here they were the first things to close, so in my mind will be the last to reopen. But there is no harm in having a show up your sleeve.

Successful shopping trip

Mick returned with the shopping, walking along the towpath. Only one thing was missing from our Sainsburys order and that was hand wash. We’ve just opened our last bottles and in normal times we’d buy more to have in reserve.

This afternoon I decided to extend my walk a touch and head off on footpaths to see what Stoke Hall looked like in comparison to the Manor. I walked northwards along the towpath to Stokehall Bridge 99 where I headed north east across fields.

Pooh sticks bridge

A bridge over a stream meant I just had to have a game of Pooh Sticks. I both won and lost, the longer stick being faster than the shorter thicker one.

Stoke Hall

The hall soon showed itself through the trees. A Grade 2 listed building from the 17th Century it has been extended through the centuries, mostly during the 19th Century. Three storeys red brick in Flemish Bond it doesn’t look quite as imposing as the Manor does. But I hunted down the details from when it was last on the market and their photos are far better than mine. The interior has wonderful panelling and a small blue swimming pool adds to the seven bedrooms and similar number of reception rooms.


I crossed the freshly ploughed field aiming straight for the stile on the far side, few foot prints to follow on this field. Then a short distance along the road before climbing into a field with a couple of horses.

Stiles a bridge and a hedge to negotiate

The footpath took me across grazing land, over small planked bridges and over stiles in hedges. A farmer plough his field heading uphill whilst the path I followed took me past last years cut off stumps of maize.

Last years crop

My OS map showed a trig point, so I veered off the marked footpath to spot it. Not much good for it’s purpose now as it’s surrounded by trees, but it’s still there.

I then continued straight along the footpath to where a stile brought me onto the road that leads either to Cholmondeston or Nantwich.

Onto the road

Next I had a choice to walk to Venetian Marina and Cholmondeston Lock, returning along the canal and past Lockdown Mooring 1, or to follow a road to the west which would see me passing Stoke Hall again. The former won, the road was a touch busier than I’d expected.

Cholmondeston Lock

Walking up to the lock and standing on the bridge above the bottom gates I sighed. On the 23rd of March we’d known what was coming and headed up the lock for the last time. This is starting to feel like another life, another time.

Hello Blossom

I now followed the canal back to Barbridge Junction. Many of the boats that had been there three weeks ago are still moored in the same places. I spotted a couple of boats that we’ve seen moving, now back on their home moorings and got to say hello to a lady who is a member of the local Covid boaters group.

Below Hurleston Reservoir

Back on the main Shropie a lady paused whilst gardening to have a chat. Her and her husband have been busy tidying their mooring and we’ve said hello each time we’ve passed when going for water. She said I must have been a long way, which I had, a touch further than I’d imagined, but it was making up for not working our way up the Cheshire Locks on the Trent and Mersey today. We chatted away across the cut, their boat was being painted when lockdown happened. Luckily the painter has been able to continue work, but all they’ve seen so far is photographs. I suspect we’ll have another chat the next time I pass.

Shouty boat lifting his fenders

0 locks, 1 walked over, 0 miles, 5.7 miles walked, Act 2 read, 1 solution, 3 masks, 2 boxes wine, 7 black plastic bags, 2 grades sandpaper, 2 rolls masking tape, 3 days quarantine, 3 on the offside, 1 Hall, 2 horses, 6 kissing gates, 4 small bridges, 2 sticks, 2 gardeners, 15 minutes chat, 2 concerned home owners, 3rd chicken left over meal, hash with an Indian influence, 1 shouty boat up the locks, 1 shouty boat down the locks.

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.

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.

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.