Thursday, 27 November 2014

Blogging from the Irish sea.

The journey to the IOM was smooth and uneventful all elements of the journey were on time even the bus from the airport into Douglas.. we usually get in a cab for the last leg of the journey but seeing as I was alone and without luggage I didn't mind the short trek from the bus stop at the National Sports Centre to home....Saved more than £20 into the bargain.

Nikita was home from work to greet me before having to dash off again to her evening job. The two Labradors were  excited to see me....I wondered if they remembered me.. as they are excited to see any human that they meet. I took the two dogs out to the wood for a couple of hours  of ball throwing and fetching. As luck would have it one of Nikita's mates was in the wood with his two Labs. and another dog he was looking after .. this saved my arm from getting sore as he did most of the throwing. The five dogs can be identified by the different lights attached to their collars as they charge around in the blackness of the woods. Sylar has a single red light Rocky has a collar studded with red lights Molly has gold halo and Bobby a blue halo.
Being a narrow boater you would think I would of had a torch in my pocket after sunset but I didn't....Sue wasn't there to remind me, I always have to be reminded about that sort of thing, along with "Have you got your wallet? keys?" when ever I leave the boat.

Nikita and her house guest Jen brought a takeaway curry home after their shift finished which we devoured between us.

Friday and Nikita was up dogs walked and back at work  before I arose an hour later, those early start working days are a fading memory which I haven't missed one bit... tell a lie the pay cheque is missed.

The car started first time not bad for a 10 year old banger that has been stood for 5 months, took it down to the post office to get a new tax disc then gave it a run along the coast road to Laxey and back via the mountain road at Creg Ny Ba. Did a couple of jobs around the house before walking the dogs down to and along the promenade and back home.

Nikita met me in town for a pizza while I waited for the ferry. Once aboard I managed to get the last available cabin for the 3.5 hour crossing to Heysham, thought I might relax, write this drivel and watch the Spurs game before the two hour drive to Stone.
Ferry cabin.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Oil, a leak and a ferry

Today I set about changing the oil and filter on our Vetus engine. The Vetus engine doesn't have a sump pump fitted and using the small brass type hand pump via the dip stick tube has always been a messy job so I have invested in one of these syphon pumps, a few pumps on the handle and leave it to cleanly suck all the oil from the sump, it has a pouring spout to empty it in to an empty can.

The syphon pump.

While checking around the engine I found a leak from the bottom of the heat exchanger unit, I will have to remove it, clean and check it to see if it needs replacing.

Tomorrow I'm off to the Isle of Man to collect the car, a bus to Stafford, train to Liverpool Parkway, bus to John Lennon airport and Easy Jet to IOM. Returning Thursday via the Ferry into Heysham at midnight.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Marina visitors

We have had visitors, two from the Isle of Man and two from Wisconsin USA.

First up was Angus on Thursday, after a catch up over tea and cake we adjourned to the Holly Bush at Salt for lunch. Next up was our daughter who arrived at 2am straight from the IOM ferry into Heysham, a two hour drive away. Saturday we all met up with Dot and Gordon at the Anchor in Burton to watch England fail to defeat South Africa at rugby, on the way back to Stone we stopped in the Three Crowns for tea.

Sunday, while the girls went to Trentham for some retail therapy I got on with putting on a second coat of primer on some rusty bits on FL's roof/rail I had rubbed down and primed last week.
Monday more shopping in Stafford this time, I went along as the official bag carrier.

Sue and Nikita in Weatherspoons

Last up was our nephew Alex and his wife Leigh-Anne over from the States for a week, we also had lunch at the Holly Bush, Leigh-Anne (being a born American] raised an eyebrow when I ordered faggots off the menu. After lunch we had a walk along the tow path to show our guests the workings of Stone locks.

Leigh-Anne Sue Nikita and Alex
Other than that it's very quiet here in the marina but should liven up at the end of the month when a lot of winter moorers head into their chosen havens.

I won't be blogging as often as usual unless there is something meaningful to write.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Chester's moorings were too busy to stop when we passed through on the canal, so today we visited by road. It has been a lovely sunny day so a good time to circumnavigate the city wall.

Chester city's wall, started by the Romans, was added to and developed over the centuries until the English Civil War rendered the defences obsolete, since then they have been maintained as a tourist attraction.

King Charles Tower

Chester Castle

Good view of the racecourse from the wall.

A spur wall to the Water Tower built to protect Chester port.

Shropshire Union canal.

Sunday, 9 November 2014


It's been a quiet sort of week, weather wise we have had a mixture of sunny days and cloudy ones, the temperature has dropped noticeably. Monday while Sue was ensconced in the laundry room with washing powder and book I walked along the tow path to Stone Boat Builders chandlers and returned with a new light fitting to replace the faulty one in the cratch.

Building beside Aston Lock.

During the week we have had a couple of trips out; to Mercia Marina to see their new shopping Boardwalk, it's very swish, (you can now get your nails cleaned and polished after using the elsan or changing engine oil).

There is a also new Bar & Restaurant...the prankster in me wonders what would happen if I bought a brand new loo cassette from Midland Chandlers, unboxed it and took it into the restaurant with me (perhaps half filled with fresh water for that slopping motion effect) and sat it on the table while I eat ....what would the other diners think/say?

My dinner date!

To Derby, a city we haven't visited before, it is considered to be the birth place of the industrial revolution as the first fully mechanised factory in the world was built here. Derby has some fine architecture, large square and huge shopping mall. It was tipping it down when we were there so exploration was limited and I couldn't get the camera out, below are a couple of pictures from the web.

Mercia's boardwalk shops.

Derby Cathedral Tower
Derby Cathedral

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Speakers corner, if you scan the QR codes underneath the faces with a smart phone you get a short video of the person speaking on a subject that interest to them, the caricatures are of real people. The one on the left talks about buses!

Friday we met up with Dot & Gordon of Nb Ewn ha Cul for a £4.39 carvery at the Radford Bank Inn, excellent value. They also do an all you can eat morning breakfast for £3.99.

Saturday we teamed up with D&G again in the hunt for a pub that would be showing the England V New Zealand rugby match. Our preferred location Weatherspoons didn't have Sky TV but The Yard did so we settled in there and watched a good game with NZ narrowly beating an injury depleted England.

In the evening we watched an excellent performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstien's monster at the Stafford Theatre.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Sunday we had lunch at The Holly Bush in Sieghford while Sue and Dot opted for the roast Gordon and I had Steak and Titanic ale pie, a good choice. The bread & Butter pudding with custard ensured I stayed with my feet up in front of the fire the rest of the day.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sandon Lock Maintenance

Maintenance at Sandon Lock which started Monday is progressing well.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Total's & Pogoing along to Toyah Willcox

We had a quiet weekend, being the first Saturday of the month the busy Stone farmers market was in full swing. We made a few purchases on various stalls before pushing a trolley around Morrisons for a few staples. Sunday saw FL back in Aston Marina, after Nicky had brimmed the fuel tank (100%) I reversed FL back towards her berth, with the slight wind blowing we ended up across the bows of the moored boats opposite, a second attempt worked much better and FL was tied up and attached to the orange wire... the battery bank sighed with relief.

Sunday Sue ensconced herself in the laundry room while I walked down the towpath to the Boat Building Chandlers to buy a cratch light fitting to replace the faulty one, it's about a four mile trip but the sun was out and the tow path wasn't too soggy. Lot's of boats were moving probably to get to the right side of the Trent & Mersey lock closures which start on the 3rd of November.

So here we are back where we started seven months later, the 2014 cruise started with a trip to the Caldon Canal then the  Macclesfield Canal to the Peak Forest from there we winded our way south through the  centre of Birmingham down on to the Thames and as far south as Godalming in Surrey via the River Wey. West as far as we could go on the Thames that started a trip to Ellesmere Port via Wales and the LLangollen Canal.

2014 Waterways Cruised:

  • Trent & Mersey Canal
  • Macclesfield Canal
  • Peak Forest Canal
  • Middlewich Branch of Shropshire Union Canal.
  • Shropshire Union Canal
  • Birmingham Main Line Canal
  • Birmingham & Fazeley Canal
  • Coventry Canal 
  • North Oxford Canal
  • Grand Union Canal
  • South Oxford Canal
  • Thames River
  • Wey River
  • Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
  • Llangollen Canal.

865 miles  520 locks

Basically every time I'm at the tiller is a highlight for me but  the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct, National Waterway Museum at Ellesmere Port and of course, the Royal River were a few of my favorites, one of Sue's was Pogoing along to Toyah Willcox at the Crick boat show in May!