Sunday 6th September 2015
It's a lovely sunny day here in Nantwich and I'm tapping away on the laptop in a cabin flooded with sunshine. Tricky is snoozing away in her basket - she's had a few long walks since we moored up in Nantwich on Friday and is enjoying a little nap to recover. Did I mention that I'd given her a trim the other week? I got a bit carried away with the clippers and decided to remove the guard to get a closer clip on her legs. I'm sure the bald spots will fur up again before the winter!
Did you get caught in the rain on Bank Holiday Monday? I think it rained off and on for most of the day as we made our way through Royal Vale Lock and Hunters Lock to get back to Northwich. We took a late passage on the Anderton Boat Lift and were soon dragging our bottom (if you'll pardon the expression) along the Trent and Mersey Canal. Is it my imagination, or didthe level drop while we were away? It was a miserable, dank evening and the weather matched our mood as we moored up under the dripping trees and Carl fiddled about with the TV aerial trying to find something to cheer us up. In the end we settled for a DVD of 'The Vicar of Dibley' and had just settled down to enjoy the episode where Geraldine jumps into a puddle, when there was a tap on the roof. An apologetic face appeared at the window and I popped down to the hatch to see what he wanted. We don't get many unexpected visitors as a rule and I wanted to check him out for 'strangeness' first. He must have had the same thought because he stood well back as I peered up at him and waited for him to explain why he was interrupting our viewing. It took me a while to get the drift of things as I didn't at first understand why he was hauling a canoe up the canal instead of paddling it. Eventually, I unpicked the full story and gathered he was doing a sponsored canoe paddle around the Cheshire Ring and after a day of paddling in the rain, him and his mate had found the Boaters Facilities at Anderton and dived in for a hot shower and some clean, dry clothes. Rather than climb back into the wet boat, they decided to walk to the next pub, pulling the canoe along after them. All he wanted was permission to pass the rope over our roof. Finally, I cottoned on - what a nice young man, such courtesy is rare these days. I watched as he and his paddling partner went off to repeat their request at the next two boats and thought it would take them a while to get to the pub if they encountered many moored boats along the way.
The weather has been kind to us this week, we've had sun most days and have been happily dawdling along without meeting a rush of boats at every bridge. The hedges are tinged with autumn berries and the fields are a patchwork of freshly furrowed earth and lush green pastures. A kingfisher escorted us along the canal, through his 'patch' – sitting on a low branch waiting for us to get tantalisingly close before streaking off to the next perch. We tiptoed down the canal trying to get close enough for a photo but he was too shy and all I captured was a blur on a grey background. That won't get me in the 'Countryfile Calendar'! I never tire of the views from this canal – in some places you can look out over the River Weaver as it meanders through the valley below – we're still under the spell of Weaver World.
As we approached the end of the Middlewich Arm, I was sent to the front to check if the way was clear to turn left towards Nantwich. The canal builders always put a bridge in the way so you can't see if there's anything coming and then, to add to the confusion, the steerer is 57feet from the bows trying to negotiate a blind 90 degree bend. By the time I can see if there's anything coming, we're already under the bridge and starting the turn. I think Carl sends me down there to get me out of the way! I get a bird's eye view into the cabin of a boat that has carelessly moored right opposite the junction – I'm surprised that anyone would moor there as not everyone knows there are no brakes on a narrow boat until the first time they try to stop. Luckily for him, Carl is on form today and we slide past with hardly a ripple – whatever was I worried about!
We arrived in Nantwich just in time to get the last spot on the embankment overlooking the town – it was still quite early and we were surprised to find it was so busy until we saw the signs for the annual 'Food Festival'. We set off into town, hoping to find rabbit pies on the menu (remember the 'warm bunnies' from the Gloucester Food Festival?) They are obviously more refined in this part of the world as it was all goats cheese and hummus. The marquee in the park was buzzing with people and there were stalls offering Pimms and Prosecco, Strawberries and Cream, locally brewed beers, German, English and Polish sausage, pork pies and the prettiest cup cakes you ever did see. It was very hard to resist the delicious smells floating from the grill although I don't eat burgers, the smell of fried onions always makes me wish I did.
I almost never wish I was a child again but I saw a little girl carrying a huge balloon that was shaped like a merry-go-round horse. It was a thing of beauty and just for that moment I wanted to be 5 years old again. Then I remembered that I had pigtails when I was five and thought better of it.
That's all from me for now - have a lovely week everyone, I'll write again soon with more Hedgerow Jottings
The Floating Chandlers