Friday, 10 June 2016


Weather forecast!

We chose to make Wheaton Aston to Nantwich a slow four day journey. We had stopped for a long 48 hours that took 3 days, in Wheaton Aston waiting for our mate, from Hawaii, to meet and join us for a slow cruise passing beautiful green countryside with trees burgeoning with blossoms. 
Have Selfie!

We arranged for him to meet us at DB and we would drive to Brewood (pronounced ‘Brood’ of course) and go to a dog friendly canal side pub there. The canal side pub in Wheaton Aston is more a food pub and dogs indoors were vermin and had to be kept outdoors on the edge of the carpark. So we were not feeling encouraged to give them our custom. The Brewood Pub was dog friendly but noisy with children and pokie machines. Our best place, in hindsight, would be drinks on DB.

Next morning we were out of Wheaton Aston passing the end of field mooring that had been ours for 5 mins in 2013 when we had plans to moor DB there. 
Almost once was home mooring-to-be

I thought about the enxada, our hoe-shovel from Portugal, we had left there with thoughts of getting involved with planting! Now it’s a memory archived in my life’s laundry. The late morning sun was working at burning through the hazy cloud layer and soon the water point, just past Gnosall, beckoned. 

The start of the big walk with Della

Tempted by the warm sun to leave the blokes on DB I walked the pretty towpath with Della to Norbury Junction. Della was a little perturbed that the ‘Team’ were being left behind but she soon got over it and followed along in her happy way. I stopped, occasionally, to talk with ‘random’ gongoozlers and Della got the customary pats from them. 

DB in the distance

We walked nearly 2 miles until the first ring moorings before the Junction and waited for DB to arrive. As soon as DB was moored Della and I stepped aboard. I gave Della one of her customised biscuits as a 3 second treat and I disappeared to the bathroom. I noticed DB was underway again and a minute or two later I went onto the stern deck to watch Norbury Junction pass by. There were a lot of moored boats and it was only when we got to the end of them that
Passing Norton Junction

“Where’s Della?” asked Cptn.

“Indoors probably, she must be tired from her walk and having a sleep.” I said.

“I’ll go and have a look.” Said Hawaii Tony. He returned “I can’t see her.”

Cptn does Della’s ‘Pavlov’s’ dog whistle that she always responds to. No Della appeared onboard and no sign of her running along the towpath. Exclamatory remarks, with sound, passed our lips and our faces wore looks of concern. We knew she would be all right but we knew we had to find her pronto. I got on land holding her lead and walked speedily back towards the Junction calling her name with a loud voice. Once under the bridge and over the footbridge I was passing The Junction Inn, listed in The Nicholson’s Waterway Guide 4 as a superbly situated canal pub. Guess who was on a lead lapping up the attention from a handful of people? Miss Della!!! Her olfactory centre must have got a whiff of my unique smell along with the familiar sound of my voice and she took a moment to leave her adoring crowd. So she wasn’t pining, yet, for us! Such a well adjusted little doggy. I listened briefly, to her ‘finder’ outline the events and thanked her profusely. Lead on, Della and I walked off as Cptn appeared from under the Bridge and we went back together as the ‘Team’ to DB.
Is that a wink?
Doggone, happy ending but fingers crossed, not to be repeated.

Still the same day we carried on to moorings at Anchor Bridge, Bridge 42. I had highlighted the mooring in Nicholson’s so that means we had stayed there before on Nb Avalon Mist. I think I remember it but the picture in my memory bank is different. Does that make sense? It does to me! But then my wanderlust lifestyle makes daily life a challenge sometimes. A rural setting with a Pub that would open at 7pm. What better than to sit on the stern deck, play Ukulele and Guitar and enjoy being bathed under the warm afternoon sun?
Anchor Bridge
Boats went by and some moored up then moved on. Late afternoon I heard a squeal then a splash then a squeal, a giggle and I put 2 and 3 together and realised a woman or a man with a high voice had fallen into the Canal. My character borders on being ‘over- helpful’ or is it the ‘big-Nose’ Pinnochio, anyway I stepped on to land with my rubber-neck and saw that a woman was in the water and her friend, another woman, was on land making moves to help get the laughing one out of the water.
Navigator is supervising.

So between us, that is the 2 women on land, we managed to assist the ‘faller-inner’ rise or was it roll, let’s say her R and R to land. No Rocks were involved! Della supervised the rescue at her chosen safe distance. Turns out that the ‘victim’ had untied what she thought was the Bow rope to her boat but was actually the Stern rope to the boat in front, and as situation confusion took over she must have fallen in. Needless to say the stern rope on her boat was untied and during the mayhem her boat started drifting off! No damage to boat or victim. Thoughtfulness to affect a tricky lift meant no injury to us ‘The Helpful’. Another happy ending.

All I can say is that‘ll teach us not to fall off a boat! Some people wear life jackets, on the Canal. That would only be good to reduce stress levels but may give something for a helper to grab hold of. The water is around my thigh height or shallower (I’m 1.7m or 5’6 ¾ in the morning!) The tricky part is being able to push up off a muck filled soggy underwater floor to get out of the water onto the bank of the towpath. Getting out of the Canal onto a steel surfaced Narrowboat is another story. We carry a rubber step rope ladder just in case!

Here are some photos of the next couple of days which involved some Locks, some 24/7 fall-out but all-in-all the beautiful scenery was the winner and now we have C&RT empathising our use of 48hr moorings in Nantwich giving us time to get our Canopies repaired.
Stop it's narrow in Wonderland, says Alice, and we've already let 2 boats go through.

I've been told not to jump but Cptn is allowed to step onto DB to cross to the other side!

Look there's a tree growing out of the paddle!

It's an eye-level view when you're looking back on the Helm!

Loving the Salopian feel of the ‘Shroppy’Canal.

 'From here until tomorrow
  It might take a year
  How long it takes to get there
  I don’t really care.’  

 S. Abbott 8/06/2016

 The term "Salopian", derived from "Salop", is still used to mean "from Shropshire"

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A brief history

This is a blog set up by Chris and Sarah so family and friends can catch up with their travels on the British waterways in the summer of 2011. In 2010, I went to England with the idea of getting a narrow boat built. I had specific requirements so I thought that a new build may be the way to go. I e mailed to numerous boat builders, a great percentage of whom ignored me. The problem of having a family name of Laycock is that hotmail and a few others think that I am a porn star. At an early age you learn not to put C Laycock on your school books. But I guess that my nephew Paul did worse. Anyway I spent a very pleasant few weeks driving around the beautiful English countryside visiting boatyards, marinas, boat builders and just a few pubs. I had narrowed it down to two builders and in the last week I was in Devizes Wiltshire when I came across "Avalon Mist" 54 feet of throbbing neglected narrow boat. The past owner had lost interest, hadn’t maintained her and to add insult to injury had been made redundant. After a very short negotiation I was able to buy her for a pretty fair price. On the day the sale took place I had to beg her to take her trainers and a few rather suspect items of clothing, in other words she left everything. Lock stock and barrel.

Soon after the purchase I flew to California to meet Sarah and have a short holiday. Once back in NZ I started to try and organize works. The first thing that I learnt was that the marina does not allow any contractor on site, only their chosen ones, the excuse given is a concern about insurance, the suspicion is, graft, pay back, baksheesh, call it what you like. It is possible to take the boat off the marina to have the work done, but not really practical.

The first job to be tackled was to “winterize” the boat, i.e. drain off all the water, check the anti freeze in the engine and central heating and fit an automatic bilge pump.

No real problem there except communication, the mechanic just didn’t answer e mails. Difficult to do business like that.

The nice marina lady had a quiet word with him, and things did improve, thanks Debs you have been a star through out . He later confided in me the reason for this was that he was dyslexic, apparently a malady [he] claims affects a lot of mechanics.[It turns out that he is a great mechanic and a nice guy to boot].

That goes pretty high on my list of lame excuses, the top one being a really nice Irish guy Pat, who I had employed as a carpenter years ago when I lived in London. He was always a bit late for work, when I finally collared him about it; he said he could never decide what to wear to work.

Nice one Pat.

I digress, the boat was winterized, which was just as well as it was a cold one and the whole marina froze over.

Next job was to have her taken out of the water, have the hull stripped back to bare metal and have a bit of over plating done. There were a couple of areas where there was pitting, and I though if she’s out of the water, may as well do the job right, so a small amount of over plating and then the hull was blacked, and the engine bay partially de-rusted and then back in the water.

Seems like a good job was done, I had the marine surveyor who had done the original survey, check out all the major works and give me written reports and photos, so all good except once again communications.

I then came across a great guy, the partner of the woman who runs the marina and a carpenter/narrow boat fitter outer .He replaced the stern deck and did a great job, also did a great job on de-greasing, de-rusting and painting the engine compartment. A job I should have done myself, but I just didn’t fancy it, not only that be was great with communications and chasing other people up

So that takes us up to present.

There needs to be a bit of electrical work, not much. The outside is badly in need of paint, Sarah and I can do that and a bit of a tidy up inside, and then she will be a really nice boat.