Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Shooting Stars

The Shroppie Fly in Audlem

Morning All

Did you see the shooting stars last week? We were in the perfect place to see them – a rural mooring at the bottom of Adderley Locks surrounded by fields in all directions. We waited for darkness to fall and sat out on the tow-path staring up at the sky, waiting for the show to begin. Tricky sat with us, but she wasn't happy to be up so late and every so often we could hear her growling quietly at the shadows. After a while, a chill wind got up and I huddled under a blanket to keep warm. I tracked the blinking lights of jet planes high above and caught a flash of light out of the corner of my eye – 'Was that one' I asked Carl. 'I didn't see it' was the reply. After the third 'Star' we gave up and went to bed. Did anyone see a shooting star?

This week we've travelled from Norbury Junction through Market Drayton, Audlem and Nantwich to this rural mooring near bridge four on the Middlewich Arm. Each day we've had a few locks to do and, with so many boats moving, it's been a lesson in lock etiquette. On a good day, as each lock empties then another boat rises up in the next lock and the two boats cross over in the the pound and everyone's happy. The steerer lifts a hand in greeting and the boats swish by each other in a well rehearsed sidle. The locking crews lean on the gates, chatting about this and that, enjoying their holidays on a sunny summer morning – what finer way to see the English countryside than from a narrow-boat on the Shropshire Canal. It all went according to plan as we went down the Tyreley flight – we flew down without a hitch and just had room to squeeze onto the moorings in Market Drayton. We set off into town via the '40 Steps' which, as the name implies, is a steep set of stone steps leading from the aqueduct down to the lane far below. This is the back way into town and I've never attempted it before as I'm usually trundling the shopping trolley to Morrisons or Lidls. It would be alright going down but I'd need a block and tackle to get me and the trolley back up to the boat.

We set off next morning for the Adderley flight and caught a flash of brilliant turquoise which can only belong to the kingfisher and I smiled as we chugged along, thinking it was a good sign for the day ahead. There was one boat in front of us at the Top Lock and I wandered off to assist, chatting to a family with several teenage children, who all seemed to know what to do with a windlass – so far so good. The local farmer has set up a Farm Shop right by the lock, selling fresh home-made bread and pies and the crew all cleared off to check out the produce without lifting the paddles. Tricky came racing up from our boat to see what was happening and we both waited patiently for the holiday makers to do their shopping before jumping aboard and easing ever so slowly out of the lock. Am I sounding a wee bit impatient? Well, I do try not to but I was looking forward to getting down the flight and finding a nice mooring so I could get on with the blanket that I'm making – it's growing so big I could use it as a sail! Everyone we met coming up the flight was grumpy and in a tearing hurry to get through the locks. As we got further down the flight, there was a queue of boats waiting to come up and not everyone was happy to wait patiently for their turn. I gathered from one lady that 'words' had been exchanged and it had 'spoiled their day'. I tried to cheer her up with tales of the tempting fare to be had in the Farm Shop at the top but I don' think it really helped.

On Thursday, we hurried down the locks into Audlem, heavy rain was forecast but it didn't come to much in the end. We tied up by the Craft Mill and it wasn't long before I was wandering inside to chat to the lovely couple who run it and get a quick lesson in rag rugging. It looks pretty straight forward – you cut up your old clothes into small 'snips' of material and poke them through a piece of hessian with a prodder. Apparently, it can be very addictive and people have been known to cut up their husband's clothes without first checking that they are 'old'. I can see that would cause arguments in some households!

We did have some rain through the night on Thursday, the tow-paths had turned into a running stream by Friday morning. I de-spidered my wellies for my walk with Tricky and we splashed happily through the puddles to the Co-Op and back. My thoughts turned to autumn and the darker nights looming ahead, I do like autumn but I'm not quite ready for it yet. No need to get out your winter woollies just yet - the sun came out again and we've had the most glorious weekend here. I've chucked the wellies back in the box and I've been sitting out in my deck chair today, polishing the brass and watching the antics of the hoards of hire boats that are racing past. Everyone looks happy today and so am I. Fingers crossed that this settled weather stays for a little bit longer. We're on our way to the River Weaver again and I'm looking forward to another trip on the Anderton Boat Lift.

Have a lovely week everyone.

Love as always
The Floating Chandlers