We took a little side trip along the Middlewich Branch the other day. This east-west canal usually connects two major north south canals, the Shropshire Union and the Trent and Mersey. Months ago, there was a major breach near Middlewich, draining the canal. It’s going to take a lot of time and funds to fix it and is causing a lot of problems to boaters, the businesses situated on the canal, and hire boat companies who promote the Four Counties and Cheshire cruising rings.
You can go along the canal as far as the temporary dams. You can only get to the the last winding hole before the problem, unless you like going in reverse. So that is what we did! We met up with some friends at an excellent pub walking distance from the canal. The canal was noticeably lifeless. Apart from regularly moored boats, there were just a couple of visiting boats in the whole length that we traveled. The water, not moving much now, had become distinctly scummy and the two marinas, normally bustling, were ominously quiet.
We then returned back to the mainline Shropshire Union and continued on up towards Chester. Here we devised a plan to get John’s mum to the boat so she could spend a day with us. Deciding that a tour of all the locks in Chester would be ideal, we cruised through the 8 locks. These are big and heavy and it was hot work. After going down the 3 step staircase lock, we turned around and went up again, returning back to where the hire car had been left. We had time for a drink at the pub, dinner on the boat, and then John took his mum back home!
Yesterday marked Day 70 on Ali’s Dream. We had an early start, completing 25 locks before lunch. The flight was fairly busy and we had a good number of locks. This was very easy, as an uphill boat would exit the lock as we left each downhill one. Going downhill in narrow locks, after entering and stopping the boat, the helm can close the back gate and wind up one of the two paddles, and then hop back on the boat before it gets too low. The half-width gates can be opened, first the towpath side, then hop across the lock and open the far side, boat exits, whilst the far side paddle is lowered, far side gate closed, hop back and repeat and on to the next one. It appears that some 700 locks have honed us into a slick team!
Things are starting to wind down. We are beginning to whittle down our supplies. However, the cans of soup purchased for a quick warm lunch on a cold day, will remain in the cupboards for Ali’s next journey.
This week’s half-price pattern:
Socks are a fun, portable project!
Lucy’s charming bead-topped Double Diamond Socks feature a choice of two different diamond patterns. The Diamond Lace gives a traditional lacy effect, while the Waffle pattern gives a denser, more textured look. A lovely treat for your feet!
The Double Diamond Socks pattern is half-price ($4.50CAD) until July 19,