Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Canal Crew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canal Crew. Show all posts

Monday, 24 June 2019

Saturday 22 June 2019 (and Sunday) - The Canal Crew Visit Stratford

After the excitement of the family picnic, Sue and I moved on to track down 'The Canal Crew', who this year were pootling about on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, which seems to stray into the River Avon.
We found them near some locks at Bishopton, just north of Stratford. Sue embarked on the difficult choice between Pimms, beer or both, while I tried to identify an orchid. I settled for an Early Purple - that's the orchid, not the drink.
Lurking in his bedroom (aka the galley) we finally managed to locate one of the invisible trio who had successfully evaded us during the recent TGO Challenge walk. Roger was rather coy about his invisibility, which he hoped would continue on this trip when breakfast took place whilst he sleeps off the previous night's excesses.

I left him watching Louise concoct an experimental meal, and returned to the back of the boat, which was moored next to a house that had recently spent £1.5 million on redecoration (there must be a rich decorator nearby!) and was warming up for a party.
As usual, Robert was complaining about the lack of headroom, but at least there was a hatch that allowed him to stand up, albeit in just one position.

It was a lovely evening, and we were sad to have to return to Sue's parents' house whilst the Canal Crew tested Louise's culinary experiment. The barge didn't move much while we were there, but I think they floated it away from the noisy party a bit later.
Next day we parked at a convenient spot in Stratford and wandered beside the River Avon to the point on the canal where the Canal Crew were engaged in relieving themselves.
There are lots of swans, Canada geese, mallards, greylag geese and Aylesbury ducks in the Stratford Basin.

We found the Canal Crew near the lock shown below. The toilets had got blocked and a machine was being used to evacuate them. It was a smelly operation. Sue and I wondered whether the culprit was Louise's experimental meal.
After taking on yet more water - they had spent ages doing that last night - the barge was at last on the move, down a series of locks to join the River Avon in Stratford Basin.

Being near the centre of Stratford, there were lots of people around, including many tourists who, one assumes from their conduct, had never seen a barge before.
Gerry and Stuart were on their best behaviour and failed to lasso any tourists, most of whom were very small, with slitty eyes.

Here, a moment of relaxation before the final descent to the river.

The entry lock to the basin took two boats - there was a very smart 25 year old privately owned barge just behind us.

Once on the river, there was loads of space for everyone and the fleshpots of Stratford soon disappeared in our wake as Robert and Chris steered us towards some rapids.

Robert suffered a wardrobe mishap. I made more coffee. We all ate Stuart's millionaire's shortbread. Large pieces of it.

Suddenly the boat swerved to the left, sending kitchenware flying, as we took evasive action to avoid  getting stuck on a weir. Chris had spotted a convenient lock, and luckily the boat was low enough to fit into the steel cage provided, though Robert had to take care not to bash his head again.

Senior Management looked up with relief.

Very Senior Management played with one of the lassos that seemed to be strewn around the boat.

Gerry confirmed that she is bidding for promotion from Senior Management, to Official Photographer and Lassoist.

Sue and I could see that being a Contentious Issue, so we decided to abandon ship.
A group photo was taken, the success or failure of which could have a bearing on Gerry's promotion. I'll add that to this posting if the current Official Photographer decides to place it on general release.
Here it is - thanks, Chris.
And so, we left the seven mariners to float on in the peaceful surroundings of the River Avon, then I dropped Sue off at a Spa for a couple of days and returned home to sunny Timperley.

The map below shows our movements on Sunday, which tot up to over 10 km, and the boat icon shows where we joined the Canal Crew at Bishopton on Saturday.

Thanks go to the Canal Crew for having us along, and I hope the poetic licence taken in the above narrative doesn't cause any untoward upset - we wouldn't want any more toilet blockages...

Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Trent and Mersey Canal

The missing image at the top of the last post is intrinsic to that post, but I don't like to see that at the head of my blog.

Some of the images in the 'Cruising' trip that I've adjusted here by clicking on 'HTML' and changing the pixel size are now showing at a horribly low resolution, so I've tried to provide an improved version of one of them above.

The lower image has been added at the pixel size of 550 width and 410 height that I use when composing in WLW - I had to adjust it in HTML in Blogger to get this, and it's after 'Save for Web' using Photoshop.

The upper image has not been 'saved for web', simply saved into the folder I use for posting to the web, at a size of 1.3Mb. When inserted into this posting using Blogger's 'X-large' setting, it was too big for this page, so I found the size by clicking on 'HTML' and I reduced the width from 1600 to 1400 and the height from 640 to 560. This seems to have worked well.

At least viewers now see images rather than a black cross, and I hope my efforts may be useful to someone - probably you are already loading images in the manner I have just discovered! I suppose I ought to go back to the 'Cruising' images and reload them by the method that has produced the upper image, but I have other priorities just now...

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Sunday 24 May 2015 – Cruising on the Trent and Mersey Canal

On the Trent and Mersey Canal
This is a short entry to report back on our ‘wind-down’ from the TGO Challenge, by way of a barge trip. We joined the usual gang – Robert, Lyn, Louise, Gerry, Chris and Stuart (minus Roger who was attempting the LDWA ‘100’ event, he did 89 miles) for the last full day of their three day trip from Etruria. 

There’s an annotated slideshow . Click on the first image then click on ‘slideshow. 

Here’s the area we were in – the Professionals (Sue and I were just visitors) sailed from Weston to the centre of Stoke during the day.

Stuart had produced a huge slab of shortbread. We ate it all. There was lots more food.

Louise spent some time trying to drive the vehicle – you can just spot her head – and Robert obtained photographic evidence of a rare occasion when she managed to get the boat straight. 

(Just joking!)

Buttercups and daisies lined the towpath. Typical English countryside.


We passed this home that used to be owned by our family and which brings back happy childhood memories. I remember spending time here one Christmas, sleeping top to toe in a bed with my cousins. The living room was home to a pianola on which we played music by way of perforated tapes.

Chris (‘Photographer’) produced a microscopic tripod that was used to capture the ambience of the occasion by way of a self-timed photo!
As the day progressed, the sun came out and the late afternoon light was lovely.
Robert and I finished up by running 5 km as part of the process of getting our respective cars into the correct places, and whilst it was a leisurely day, my Garmin gadget did clock up over 17 km of walk/run activity during its course! 

The slideshow is . Click on the first image then click on ‘slideshow’.
That’s it for now. I’m returning to trying to catalogue our TGO Challenge pictures, to which I’m putting links from the daily postings that I made during the course of the Challenge. I’m currently up to so there’s lots more to do!

Note: I’ve battled for hours on Windows Live Writer (WLW) to send this posting. It seems that Google may have done something that affects the ability to post using WLW, but they will probably blame Microsoft. In the meantime my playing with the settings, uninstalling and re-installing etc may have upset things as well. The Blogger interface is truly awful, which is why this posting may look like a mess when it eventually gets through as a result of lots of cutting and pasting and indeterminate sizing of images and the failure of the software to left-align or produce a consistent type size. Moreover, there seem to be issues with images not appearing on some of my postings; if that happens to you try to refresh the screen and they may appear. Ho-hum.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


A great way to wind down after the excesses of the TGO Challenge....

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Sunday 6 May 2012 – Tales from a Towpath

On the towpath at Middlewich

So, the day finally had to arrive…

“Time for some TGO Challenge training” declared Sue, suddenly becoming aware of the imminence of our forthcoming 250 mile walk across Scotland.

“Let’s take a leaf out of the Fenlanders’ book”, I suggested.  “Some of them have managed to do it quite a few times, and I think the secret of their success lies with their training regime.  That means the training must take place somewhere flat, and beer and food need to be involved.”

We duly selected Middlewich, in the flattish plains of Cheshire, as a suitable venue.  It’s not far away from home, and the short drive soon found Sue and me admiring the anciency of Halfpenny Hill, as this spot was apparently known until 1309.

Middlewich Church

“Halfpenny Hill!” Sue exclaimed.  “You told me it would be flat.”

My solution was to guide her down to the towpath of the Trent & Mersey Canal.  “It doesn’t get much flatter than this” I suggested.

“What if I fall down a hole?” she jested.

Anyway the day was ideal for a stroll along the grassy towpath.  We noted some lovely old signs along this 92 mile stretch of waterway. They date from different periods – the first we passed was dated 1813, the next one, very similar in design, was from 1977, perhaps a replacement when the waterway was refurbished.

The canalside forget-me-nots were a vibrant blue on this sunny day.

Canalside forgetmenots

Posh new signposts eliminate the need for the mental stress of metric conversions for the good people of Middlewich.

Middlewich - home of posh new signposts

The stroll north along the towpath was exceedingly pleasant.

Beside the Trent & Mersey Canal north of Middlewich

"Hello!" exclaimed Gerry, as we chanced upon what could only be described as a Motley Crew.

Who are these people?

By now, Sue was feeling quite tired from the 4 km she had managed to cover, so she blagged a lift back to Middlewich.  I felt obliged to stow away with her.

We passed quite close to this heron....

A nonchalant heron

Lovely reflections were admired as we glided along, though the water was a little on the brown side due to lots of barge propellers churning up the mud.

We had arrived just in time for 'elevenses'.  Sue’s voracious appetite had perhaps been anticipated?


A short queue was encountered at Middlewich's 'Big Lock', and with Robert being assisted by Roger, the boat was always going to look a little 'misdirected'.

Roger assists Robert

...but it slowly wandered into the Big Lock.

In the 'Big Lock'

It was a slick operation. Everyone had a role, especially Stewart…

We were impressed by this pristine bench in Middlewich.

A Middlewich bench

Louise took on the role of 'Water Diviner' - it seems the boat required regular drinks of ballast to prevent it rising up and flying away.

”Look what a mess you’ve got us into now, Robert!”  Louise was angry.  “It’s all that ballast you put in” retorted Robert, “it’s made us go down.  I think we’re trapped!”

"Where do we go from here?"

Eventually, Gerry found a gadget that would release the boat from its trap, albeit she slipped a disc in her desperate attempt to ‘un-lock’ her friends.

Gerry slips a disc

It was indeed a Motley Crew that was trying to manoeuvre the good ship Phoebe through this set of locks at Middlewich.

After a while Robert guided the old boat gently into the bank, and Phoebe took a break for a while.

You may recall that ‘food and beer’ were a prerequisite of this training walk.  I’d been a little apprehensive as I’d forgotten to bring either of the said items, but luckily this bunch of naval cadets had their priorities quite well sussed.  Lunch was quite a lavish affair…

A pauper's lunch

After lunch, at last, Robert got the boat straight, pointing it neatly towards the bridge ahead. "But our route is under the bridge to the right" shrieked Lyn, having finally managed to locate our position on the map.

The turn down the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union Canal took us under a rather low bridge and through a series of challenges that readers will have to visit the slideshow to discover.

Eventually, clear water was reached.  "Hey up there...where are we?"

All that's missing is the white stick!

"I'm down here, having a shower" came a weak voice from the business end of the ship, which seemed to have entered another culvert.

Roger takes a shower

This branch of the Shropshire Union Canal comprises a lovely rural section of waterway.  Our passage caused havoc with a family of ducks - mum and 12 chicks.

Soon, with Stewart at the helm, Robert knew the safest course of action for the safety of the whole crew.  He abandoned ship… did Roger, who had nearly drowned in his bid to escape when Stewart grabbed the tiller.

Phoebe - a survivor of much abuse

“We are getting a long way from Middlewich” moaned Sue “I want to go home.”  So we did.

Here’s today’s  training ground.  We walked from Middlewich to somewhere near Bostock Green, then after cadging the lift, we walked back from half way between Middlewich and Clive Green.  About 6 km in total.  “Excellent preparation” Sue agreed, adding “I trust you’ve planned a TGO Challenge route beside a canal, and no more than 6 km a day…”

Oops!  I’m half way there – that’ll have to do.


Our sincere thanks go to the entire crew of Phoebe for putting up with us for so long!  And for catering for Sue’s voracious appetite. 

There’s a slideshow (53 images) here.

Robert’s alternative (fictional?) account of the entire trip can be found here.