Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Mooring Fairy

Hello again,
Sunny morning on the Manchester Ship Canal
I can't believe it's Sunday already – where did that week go. Our week started with some surprise visitors on Monday morning – I did warn them that they would have a bit of a walk to find us but my daughter Claire and Reece (21 year old grandson – yes, I know I don't look old enough – why are you all laughing????) came anyway. We love our boating life but I really do miss my friends and family when we're away so if you're reading this, and we haven't spoken for a while, then send me a message so I know you miss me too.

We've been dodging the showers this week, not always successfully – we set off late on Monday afternoon for a short hop to Cool Pilate and when we woke on Tuesday, the rain was tapping on the roof and we were cold and gloomy so we lit the stove, which cheered us up. It brightened up after our usual cheese sandwich so we togged up ready to face the elements and followed the armada of boats going down towards Nantwich. I was a little worried that all the moorings would be taken but I should have had more faith in the mooring fairy which seems to accompany Pat and Malc wherever they go. We found space for both boats right by the pathway leading to town - it's such a treat to have them moored next door, especially for us ladies, who like to pop along for a natter about the days doings. Tricky likes nothing better than to go visiting too and if I don't watch her she'll be trotting off up the tow path and begging for leftovers.

We've had some longish days to get here from Nantwich and I have to confess that I was still in bed when Pat came knocking to say they were just setting off. I was still in my dressing gown and had to throw my clothes on and look sharpish while Carl threw off the lines and we set off under grey gloomy skies towards Chester. The rain started at the first lock and it rained steadily all the way down and didn't stop until we got through the staircase locks at the bottom. My lovely purple raincoat has lost all its waterproofing, it looks like it's had a really bad case of sunburn and the backing is peeling away from the material. Of course, I was soon soaking wet and we chugged through Chester without stopping. We took so long to get through the staircase locks that the gongoozlers got bored waiting for our pair of boats to come out and wandered of to watch paint dry. Carl and Pat got impatient and kept us entertained by singing 'why are we waiting' and tooting a hooter just to remind us that they were still down there. Meanwhile, several of us where heaving on the lock gates which were stubbornly refusing to open and the poor Volunteer, who was supposed to be in charge, was struggling to find a solution. Eventually, we got out of those locks and I was glad to get aboard and finally get into some dry clothes and make us both a hot cup of tea.

Fantastic Wall hanging made by Volunteers at the Ellesmere Boat Museum
This week we have travelled from the Moss Hall Aqueduct near Audlem to Ellesmere Port Museum and we're moored in the Lower basin bathed in the last rays of a setting sun– at last, the sun is here!Our arrival into Ellesmere Port didn't go smoothly - Pat had called ahead to make sure they could fit us in and they told us they had plenty of room. When we chugged into the top basin, it was raining and the entrance to the locks was blocked by the trip boat so we had to hang around in the rain until someone could shift it. Malc and Pat went in first and then it was our turn, except I couldn't open the gates as there was an island of weed blocking the entrance. I was so intent on clearing the weed that I left the top paddle up and flooded the lower levels - Malc was paddling around in soggy sandals wondering where all the flipping water was coming from. Once inside the lock, Carl immediately picked up a mass of weed on his prop and had to go down into the weed hatch to clear it and then the same thing happened in the next lock – I think that must be some kind of weedy record. 

Mooring on the car park
By now we're looking a bit bedraggled and we chugged around the basin looking for a space to moor and of course, we're out of luck. That's why we're hanging onto the edge of this car park and the Naga Queen is squatting on a private mooring in the shade of the Holiday Inn – on this occasion, the mooring fairy almost deserted us. It's not the most romantic place to moor – the Manchester Ship Canal is just beyond the Holiday Inn and we're surrounded by apartments. It's a far cry from the rural moorings that we have enjoyed all the way down the Shroppie but, in the end, it turned out that it could have been a lot worse. We slept soundly but our friends on Naga Queen were boarded by wedding party revellers from the hotel who thought it was great fun to jump up on their roof. Malc had other ideas and told them to be good chaps and clear 'orf or words to that effect and, thankfully, they did. Boaters have some strange implements in their lockers and some of them could easily be deployed to 'repel boarders' should the need arise. We have a particularly fierce implement called a 'Bargee Bill' which is essentially a meat cleaver on a long handle – it's used for clearing the prop, but it could clear roof revellers too, if the need arose.

Press Button B
We visited the Museum today and loved it, I'm glad we finally made the journey. If you're interested in working boats and their histories then put it on your list of 'things to do this summer'. OK Malc – where are we going now?

More next week

Love as Always
The Floating Chandlers

PS The Volunteers have been busy today clearing the weed from the locks – someone must have told them about Carl!