Tuesday, 19 June 2012

South on the "Shroppie"

I tried to work out today how much rain has fallen on TCW since we took possession of her at the end of March. I reckon it’s enough to supply Manchester with drinking water for a week at least judging by the amount of water I am removing from the bilge on a regular basis.
We continue to get rained on most days and, as far as I know, there is no real respite coming our way soon, though to be fair yesterday (Monday) was warm and today is shaping up OK as well.
If I was taking a boating holiday and hiring a narrowboat this would well and truly give me the hump, but Pat and I are made of sterner stuff. Our friends and family seem more concerned about the elements beating down on us than we are. We just moor up if it buckets down and set off again when it passes over.
That being the case, we have chugged south from Chester in short bursts, two hours here, three hours there, as we made our way to pick up the paint and other boating supplies we had ordered at a chandlery in Barbridge, and it has been a pleasant journey. The Shropshire Union Canal is very tranquil and very straight in places. I read that in its heyday it was the motorway of its time. A huge difference to the meandering Llangollen Canal.
Breakfast on TCW
We have moored mainly in rural locations, but did enjoy our time mooring above Nantwich, which is rapidly becoming one of our favourite towns on the network. We are now in East Shropshire and entertained our pals David and Caroline in Audlem at the weekend. We met at “The Shroppie Fly”, a well-known boozer on this part of the network, adjacent to lock three of the flight, and I was, frankly disappointed with the pub - with both the beer and the atmosphere.
Dave outside "The Shroppie Fly"
(What's that sticking out of his trousers)

The canal at Audlem is dominated by the 15-lock flight that climbs relentlessly as you head south to Market Drayton. Then, just when you think that is it, there is another flight of five locks to negotiate as well.
Opposite The Shroppie Fly sat a soggy Rob Pointon, a young artist, who is spending a year travelling the UK canals and painting waterway scenes on his way round. We bumped into him at Wrenbury on the Llangollen and here he was again. Check out his journey and his work at www.yearoftheboat.blogspot.co.uk

Rob Pointon, paints by The Shroppie Fly

We had a pretty wet day on Saturday on the Audlem flight, but Dave and Caroline threw themselves into the task at hand and we made it into Market Drayton by late afternoon.
We liked Market Drayton so much we are still here and our mooring is charming. Our neighbours on the other bank are “Bill and Ben”, still doing their bit for the Jubilee celebrations. See picture.
Bill & Ben, our neighbours in Market Drayton
Also seen at “The Talbot”, a pub a bridge down from our mooring, is this sign, which I couldn’t resist taking a photo of. We had a drink there, but no sign of any ladies.
Sign at The Talbot"

I am having my eyes tested again while we are here. My right eye still aches when I am at the tiller and scanning the horizon, so it will be interesting to see if Specsavers agree with Boots in Chester. If so, I think I will need to order a new pair of specs and pick them up in Wolverhampton, when we get there in a week or so time.
Might have to check out the gingerbread connection here as well. Evidently, Market Drayton is where gingerbread was first made and our guidebooks tell us it’s a big thing in these parts, but I have seen little to suggest this.
so our next blog will be from the (BCN) Birmingham Canal Network as we should either be in Wolverhampton or those parts by then.
I have never cruised on the BCN, and am not sure what demands it will make on us. Pat seems a little nervous about us getting lost. There are so many turns, junctions and branches, and the claim that Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice, looks very genuine to me. Looking at our guides there are more than enough locks to keep Pat’s arm muscles in peak condition, though.
I am sure we will have a “bosting” time. (Apologies to my pals from the West Midlands).

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