Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Can't Catch 22

For some time now I have had 21 followers to this blog: a number which has remained resolutely unchanged. Except that on a two occasions recently I have noticed a 22nd follower.  On each occasion I have returned to the list of followers after completing the task in hand to see who this new member is and on both occasions follower number 22 has disappeared. There are no perks to being a follower; no special services or privileges so perhaps that accounts for the very exclusive nature of this little club.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Church on Sunday

The last census of churches in England identified 37,501 active(?) establishments. How many more redundant buildings there are I  do not know.  As we potter around the canals  of England we often visit the local church.  After a while the architecture, stained glass and wood carving begins to look very similar and we are more impressed by the efforts made by the congregation to enhance their particular place of worship.
Back in June we were admiring the tapestry in Wolverly church.
St. Mary's in Nantwich also produced a wall hanging for the Queen's Silver Jubilee.
 This is very much larger and uses 3D applique.

The left had curtain represents  Christ in history with the Virgin Mary and the shepherds and wise men.
 The right hand curtain shows Christ in Glory with the people of today walking in the light of life.
What makes this so attractive is the ordinary nature of the people pictured:  so often in church the images are of saints and angels - the extraordinary.

Here we see a young courting couple.
(I know that expression dates me: but I didn't say they are walking out together)

The pleated skirts and a child on reigns are so redolent of the 1970s

Sometimes, but more rarely, this illustration of ordinary life is reflected in stained glass alongside the glorious  religious scenes and characters.

On the north side of St. Mary's is this window given by Mrs. Betty Bourne in memory of her husband Albert, a local farmer and church benefactor.

The subject of the window is the Creation.


The lower third shows the creatures of the Cheshire countryside including cattle, sheep, pigs, geese, fox, rabbits, hare and hedgehog. In the centre is Baddington Grange Farm where they lived. Above there is a collection of foreign animals.

Then come thirteen fish and above these are 25 birds.  Pheasant, curlew, swift, swallow, martin, magpie, crow, gull, tern and wild duck have all been identified.

The upper lights show stars and planets and Halley's Comet and the hand of the Creator is at the apex.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Great Fire of Nantwich

In this area of Cheshire there are several towns with the suffix -wich.. As Nothwich, Middlewich and Nantwich  were all involved in the salt industry I had assumed that suffix was in some way derived from that activity.  Having found no evidence to support my assumption I did a little digging and traced the origin to the  Latin word Vicus.  This was a civilian settlement outside a Roman fort.  The experts tell us that the letter V was pronounced W in Roman times so it is a small step to the suffix -wich. ThieRomans often used the term to refer to a mining operation too, so the later application of it to a salt mine is credible.
On 10th December 1583 one Nicolas Brown of Nantwich was brewing beer and somehow set his kitchen alight.  The fire spread rapidly through the timber-framed and thatched houses and in 15 hours destroying 150 builidngs, including 30 shops, two barns and seven pubs.  Women of the town attempted to control the fire by filling small buckets from the river but soon gave up when the landlord of The Bear Inn released his four bears to save them from the fire.


Queen Elizabeth I was so touched by this tradegy that she donated timber and levied a national tax to help pay for the rebuilding of Nantwich as is commemorated by this plaque.


It looks as though they might be finished soon.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Where Fat Meets Thin

We are spending the weekend in Nantwich where the broad (14ft) canal from Ellesmere Port to Nantwich meets the narrow (7ft) stretch to Wolverhampton. These are now called the Shropshire Union Canal but this disguises the complicated history of the various independent canals which, more through accident than design, ended up connected to each other in this configuration.
Half a dozen architectural styles living together
This is a town we like a lot.  It is often called a hidden gem and a short visit here will show you why.  The most attractive towns in England are those which have grown up organically embracing the character of each era as they pass through it.

The old Police Station is now flats
Nantwich seems reluctant to demolish old buildings, preferring to find new uses for them.  The result is a wonderful eclectic architecture which the council has managed to keep enjoyable by pedestrianising some of the central streets and diverting through traffic away from this area.


 By contrast Middlewich has large lorries thundering through it all day long and Crewe is just a very sad,  depressed city. I had to go over to Crewe to collect some train tickets and spent two hours walking around the empty shops and dismal buildings: it felt like a week. This was once a great and prosperous city but the only spark of life I found were these trees with knitted socks.

No Apologies

I make no apology for returning to the Diamond Jubilee Royal Pageant on June 3.
The follwoing YouTube film was made by Andrew Dyke on board nb Lord Toulouse  as he participated in the Pageant 

Friday, 20 July 2012

Cutting Grass-Cutting Costs

As British Waterways (BW) has morphed into the Canal and Rivers Trust (CaRT) it is good to see that they have started to cut costs by employing cows and sheep to keep the grass down.

This trial is taking place on the Shropshire Union Canal between Audlem and Nantwich.

 It is believed that beavers will be introduced shortly to manage the canalside trees.

UNITE - the trade union is embarking on a membership drive amongst the new workforce.

Does this mean the end of Strimmers splattteing boats with grass clippings?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

How Coole Is This?

My wish has been fulfilled- The Sun has appeared again today. Yippee!

Even the gazanias have opened to have a look.

We set off around 8.30 this morning to takle the fifteen locks at Audlem. These all have a fierce outfall just below the lock which can make manoeuvring  the boat difficult. As we were descending the flight the problem is less severe.

Alongside one lock is this barrel-topped stable block. The roof is corrugated iron but may have originally been another material.

A couple of miles beyond the Audlem flight is the Coole Pilate Leisure Area where we moored for the night and had our first BBQ of the year.  Although we were first to stop there were seven boats by nightfall.

But what a nightfall!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What's That Up There?

During my sojourn in the engine bay a hot shiny thing appeared above me which the gentleman on nb Tadpole who was moored behind me was able to identify.  Apparently it is called The Sun.  It is a wondrous thing and kept hiding and reappearing all day.  What fun.  I do hope it comes back another day soon. Market Drayton seems to be suffering from the economic downturn as many other towns we have visited this year.
However we did our best to revitalise it by spending a fortune in Morrisons.As we left this morning for Adderley we passed this new residential development which we were pleased to see had not banned boats from mooring outside as so many such sites do nowadays.

We moored mid afternoon soon after descending the five locks at Adderley and walked up into the village.
There were sandbags outside the farmhouse at the bottom of the hill and the fields at the top were still sodden. 
As we walked up Rectory Lane we passed this old rectory and something stirred in my memory..........Yes, friends of ours had lodged in the top floor when they  were first married 39 years ago.  The house was then called Cobscot Hay but now there is no visible name.
According to The First Mates' Guide there should have been a post office,  village shop and a service station but everything has shut down. Even the pets can't be bothered to cross the road properly.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Always Read the Small Print

Whilst I carried out an oil change She Who Must Be Obeyed went into Market Drayton for victuals.
On her return she took this photograph of the mooring restrictions.

We are still trying to understand the definition of overnight.

But at least we remembered to address the moorers opposite as Sir and Madam.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Woodweaves and Beyond

Last week we were blessed with fine weather whenever we decided to take our Grandson out on a bus. With him on Sunday went this regime. After the usual ablutions - empty the toilet and fill the water tank - we set off this morning towards Market Drayton.  In the rain.  A Famous Author was in the area and we arranged to meet up with him and refresh our supply of books for libraries. The rendezvous we agreed on was Knighton near the old Cadbury's chocolate factory.  When we arrived (still raining) we discovered no access from the canal to the road and so the fact that we could not get Gecko into the bank was irrelevant.  A hasty revision was made to meet at the next bridge.  When we arrived (now raining harder)  we managed to pull the bows in but had to leave the stern about 3ft from the bank.  I squidged my way up to the road which turned out to be a farm track.  Our third attempt at meeting was more successful and we arrived simultaneously with the Famous Author.
Whilst we were moored the rain eased and we decided to resume our journey.
As we approached Woodseaves Cutting the rain came down in earnest. There is not always sufficient room to pass an oncomming boat but there were not too many other fools driving in the rain.

The passage through Woodseaves was not improved by a landslip which restricted the channel even more. 
Once we were clear of the cutting the rain eased up again and we were encouraged to continue. By the time we arrived at the top of Tyrely Locks the rain had decided it could not beat us and we had a dry run down into Market Drayton.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Normal Service will be Resumed

We have had our grandson (4) with us on Gecko for the past eight days: hence no posts  We are now relaxing for the first time in over a week and ope to resume normal life tomorrow.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Is It Legal?

Sometime when I was at Primary school, I would guess at around aged nine, I leaned the meaning of a.m. and p.m.  In Staffordshire, apparently they do not learn this until they are much older. Certainly if you work for the highways department they actually discourage it.
An important question arises from this sign: as it makes no sense, can it have any legal standing whatsoever?

Friday, 6 July 2012

Down the Drain

The accuracy of weather forecasts are a constant element of any conversation in Britain; sometimes they are the only element. Yesterday, despite a forecast of a dull day we had a scorcher: I put my shorts on for the second time this year. Last night we were promised a month of rain in the next 24 hours, ie: four inches.  I think this time the forecast might be correct. What is more, BW seem to believe it too.  This morning a man arrived to open a drain from the canal. Unfortunately when he wound the paddle up no water came through as the outlet in the bed of the canal was blocked. (Lack of maintenance?)

In the torrential rain this guy tried to clear the drain.

After about 30 minutes he changed technique and brought in the pushtug  Stork.

By holding the bows on the bank and engaging full ahead he hoped the turbulence would dislodge the blockage.

Finally it was back to the trusty rake.

Success !

One casualty of this operation was a duckling who ventured too close to the vortex and disappeared.

We think the poor fellow survived but the mother has been unable to retrieve him/her.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Wheaton Aston

The prime reason for boaters to stop in Wheaton Aston is the cheap diesel - always seems to be about 10p/litre cheaper than anywhere else. We ventured beyond the fuel pump and discovered a pleasant village with a working farm in the main street, three places of worship, two pubs and a Bangladeshi restaurant.


The Momtaj Spice is upstairs next to the Coach & Horses pub and accessed via the stable entrance.To celebrate not having a swimming pool in our bilge anymore we ate here.

There were a number of dishes which were unfamiliar to us and those we selected were very tasty.  Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

There is a wide variety of domestic architecture in the village ranging from this old cottage......

.....to this  atrociously extended thing

Key to the bin-man's schedule
An appreciation of aesthetics may not be necessary to live here but a certain level of mental acuity is required to follow the schedule for collection of wast and recycling.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


When we are travelling, rather than loitering, we often pass the same boats every day only to be passed by them when we moor up as we tend to start and finish early.  Two years ago on the Leeds & Liverpool  Canal we played leapfrog with a single-handier - Trevor - on nb Beau.  When we arrived in Kinver last week he was there and we resumed the game for a few days until he stopped to await some post.  Meanwhile other participants have more stamina. Since Stourport we  have been leapfrogging Finistere and Chimera  and they are still with us on the Shropshire Union. Last night as the new calorifier was just being installed we were hailed by a passing boat - nb Dragon Lady - who used to winter with us in Aylesbury. Terry and Sal are also on the SU now so I guess we'll end up in a pub sometime soon.
And finally, as we approached some moored boats this morning there was some arm-waving from one of them: Keith, the electrician who maintains our generator was carrying out a full wiring job on a boat there. What a social life we have!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

More about internet banking

I received this from my friend today.....
There is another bit that I hadn’t found out when I wrote to you before – at 10:10am, 34 mins before they barred my mobile, they called my landline provider and asked for a divert on my home phone number as they were engineers about to move the line termination box inside my house. The divert went to a Lyca mobile phone number which now transfers to an answer service. our son rang my work mobile to find out why he couldn’t ‘phone home’

我是 太 太

Since my experience with ducks on the roof in Cosgrove three years ago.
I have been diligently learning my duck language and on Monday it paid off.
Whilst walking beside the River Thames in Henley we met this charming creature.
Unsure whether this was a Teal or some other species we stood and debated the issue.  Meanwhile said bird was quaking away and suddenly i realised what she was saying:
Wo she tiatai. - this is the Pinyin representation for humans.

我是   太 太 = I am a female Mandarin

In case you are not as well versed as me this is Mandarin for:

I am a wife

 And so the message clicked - she is a female Mandarin Duck

All those hours of study were well worth it.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Product Failures

The last four days have not been good ones for us.
On Friday we had new cratch cover and tonneau fitted at Wilsons of Kinver. They made up the template two weeks ago on our previous visit to the town.  We were glad that we had replaced them before the heavy rains and thunderstorms.  That is, before we found three leaks!  The day we arrived in Kinver we also found a water leak in the domestic system: rather, we found the waer but not the leak.  Several attempts at  doing so eventually seemed to point to a failure of the calorifier (hot water tank).  This was new only 15 months ago and should not have failed so soon.
The result is that we are sitting (in the rain) at Authley Junction waiting for a new calorifier to arrive for fitting and someone from Wilsons to rectify the canvaswork.

And it is still raining.

Attention Internet Bankers

Security warnings about banks/credit cards./mobile phones/phishing/and other scams seem to arrive in my inbox every other day. Some of them are  alarmist and some are common sense.
I am passing on the following story verbatim because it happened to  a friend who is particularly aware of the risks and still got caught.
If your mobile phone suddenly stops working with the error "Sim registration
failure" or similar and it is the number associated with your internet
banking account check what's happening on your bank account. My mobile was
barred last Friday at 10:44 am after someone phoned Vodafone to report it
missing. By 11:09 some lowlife ba$tard had extracted almost £3k from my
current account. (it was an unusually high balance due to having imminent
bills for a boiler and some double glazing) It appears that said lowlife
reports your mobile stolen, hoping to get calls diverted to a number of
their choice in case the bank rings about the unusual transaction activity
on your account. Luckily Vodafone will only apply a divert if the caller can
prove they are the mobile account holder. In this case, Halifax spotted the
unusual account activity by the 4th transaction and locked the bank account.
They then assured me that the missing money will be replaced by tomorrow now
that I have scanned my IT equipment for nasties and the account has been
re-activated with new security information. So, the moral of the story is,
don't be complacent when your phone stops working - I was originally going
to wait until I could get to a Voda-shop to get the SIM checked but after
not being able to access my bank account, I rang them to sort the phone out
and discovered the link. 
As they used to say on Crimewatch - 
Be careful but don't have nightmares.