Friday, 26 September 2014

"Wich" country

Hello friends. This week’s scintillating blog sees the First Mate and myself in Shropshire, after navigating the “Wich’s”. And there are a lot of them around here. We visited Middlewich and Nantwich during the last week and ticked off Northwich earlier in the year, when we visited via the Anderton Boat Lift. And I’m sure we've missed a few along the way as well.
My belligerent crew
So we have swapped Cheshire for Shropshire, and looking outside a light breeze is gently blowing through the oak tree opposite, sending a slow cascade of leaves into the water. So the season of mists, etc... is almost upon us, and with “Strictly” starting in earnest this weekend, I think we can say that autumn has arrived, though Pat has just informed me that the press are reporting another mini heat wave to hit us early next week. Well, twenty degrees or so. That’s pretty hot in these here parts.

Pat plants out the front garden for the autumn
I’m still limping around, though have hung up my walking stick. I list to port a bit, and go anywhere quite slowly, but I am adapting OK. I thought I would be over it by now, but it looks like my “Gout Attack”, is not going to go away quietly. At least I can cycle, so have been getting a bit of exercise from pedaling to the local supermarkets for the daily essentials, as we have made our way slowly south. I’m not getting much sleep though.

A possible cause of this condition is too much beer. I went nine days without having an “onboard beer” or visiting any of the lovely pubs we passed. Something of a personal best for me, but I am determined to get rid of this complaint, even if it means I have to give up beer all together. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Let’s just say I am planning a few non-drinking days each week. This was quite difficult on Monday, as we arrived at Audlem, a very attractive canal village that features a very famous canal pub “The Shroppie Fly”. The pub was awful last time we came through, very run-down and unwelcoming, but it’s been completely renovated, and I just had a peek through the window. Honest. Oh, and it’s called “The Shroppie Fly” after the fast “Fly” boats that used to ply from London to Cheshire in four days in the early years of the 19th century. For the canal we are on, The Shrophire Union, was very much the motorway of its day, with huge long stretches. It’s very remote, and is a lot of boaters favourite.
The Shroppie Fly, right on the canal at Audlem
It’s been a quietish week on TCW. My old school pal, Vic, in New Zealand, asked us if we could have a look at a boat he was interested in purchasing when he returns to the UK next spring. It was at a marina we were passing and it was a nice diversion. This we duly did, and reported back. On Sunday we met Vic’s Partner Liz, in Nantwich for lunch. Liz and especially Vic flit back and forth to NZ more than we do. Good to see Liz though, who has now retired and has rented out her house near Crewe. It’s made her strictly homeless but she has no regrets and looked really well. We’ll see both of them in Wellington when we arrive there next January.
Pat and Liz
So we had the weekend in Nantwich, which is a very attractive town and then another couple of days in Market Drayton. When we visited two years ago, the town centre looked pretty run down, but things looked a whole lot better now. Good moorings and as it is now the home of “Joules” Brewery, I broke my nine-day beer abstinence with a pint of their “Gold” at the Brewery tap.
These long straights on the Shropshire Union are a feature of the canal
Tomorrow we will be at Norbury Junction, where we are staying, at least until Monday. The boat goes into dry dock there at the Wharf on Sunday to have its propeller inspected and probably changed. It will the first chance we have had to see TCW out of the water since we started this boating lark.

Our boating pals Fred and Lisa are meeting us, coming up from the opposite direction. If all goes to plan we should be in the centre of Birmingham the following weekend. We both like Birmingham, though getting out of the city takes a good day, with loads and loads of locks to look forward to.


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