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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cruising to Chester

"In the end, she became more than what she expected. She became the journey, and like all journeys, she did not end, she just simply changed directions and kept going." ~R. M. Drake

   A few weeks ago it was quite busy in Nantwich. The annual Jazz Festival in was on, it was a four day weekend with Easter, which seems to mark the official beginning of spring and summer cruising on the cut. Time to move. I rose early, walked to the chop for a Saturday paper, said goodbye to Judith and John on NB Serena, turned the boat around, cruised back past the necklace of moored boats on the embankment, stopped at the service point to check my mail while the water tank filled, dumped my rubbish and cruised north to moor up at Hurleston Junction, waiting for friends Angela and Steve (NB Tumbleweed) who kindly invited me to cruise down towards Chester with them on 3rd.
     Hurleston is a great place to chill. There are boats coming and going on and off the Llangollen canal, cruising past on the Shroppie down to Chester or heading southward towards Nantwich and parts beyond. As I  pulled in I could see the 48 hour moorings with rings were all full. Nothing for it but to disembark and bang in some mooring pins. This is a bit tricky for a single handed boater (especially one with vestigial limbs) with a a near continual flow of boats passing and the Shroppie shelf which means one cannot pull the boat in directly to the side of the towpath but rather there will be a gap of eight to twelve inches requiring me to make a running jump on and off the boat with the mid-line in hand, go to the stern or the bow and grab a mooring pin and hammer, pound in a pin to tie the mid-line to while I hammer in pins fore and aft to tie up the bow and stern of the boat, all the while making sure the passing boats don't carry NBV off from my grip or pull out the mid-line pin which is only for a temporary anchor while I am busy hammering in pins for the stern and bow ropes. I don't mind doing it where necessary but it does take some tactical thinking and action and I work up a good sweat. the other issue lately is water saturated ground. We've had so much rain the water table is quite high and the ground just doesn't want to allow the pins to grip. I unpinned the mid-line and hammered in second pins fore and aft like Les taught me, to ensure the pins were not pulled out of the soft mud by passing boats.
     Now all the while I was doing this, a gaggle of older, rather grizzled looking men moored up on the rings were watching me, pointing and laughing. No doubt it was entertaining to see a short, round woman leaping on and off the boat repeatedly, grabbing pins, lines, hammering in pins, leaping back on the boat with the mooring lines to tie up and again to set my side fenders. No sooner had I finished all of this happiness then the men untied their mooring ropes and in two old,dilapidated boats, cruised past me in pairs, smirking gleefully. Bastards! At the very least they could have given me a holler to let me know they were moving off instead of watching me struggle on my own and then leaving. No wonder there were no women on their boats. They reminded me of the Alaskan men who place adverts for "a woman to chop wood, fish, cook, and clean..." as if it is the highest privilege in a woman's life to be some lazy man's fish camp momma. Never mind...
     Now there was plenty of space on the mooring rings where the boat is less tugged about by passing craft, so I un-hammered the cross pins, pulled the main pins out, tossed everything on the boat and bow-hauled NBV 178 feet forward to tie her up on the rings right behind a lovely craft which was at the front of the section looking directly at the bridge. I cleaned up the pins and hammer, and put it all away, put up the TV antenna, brought in some coal, hung the load of laundry I had washing while I cruised out of Nantwich, made a pot of coffee and sat down to read my Saturday paper.
     Later in the afternoon as I was turning the solar panels, the folks on the boat in front returned. We said hi as boaters do and had a quick chat. They live in the Hurleston lock cottage, built in the 1870's and it is undergoing a complete renovation. While the work is underway to replace the plumbing, electrical, roof and other systems, bringing them all up to modern standards, the owners are living on their narrow boat near the bridge so they can keep an eye on their house and check in with the builders each day. I mentioned the issues with Hurleston bottom lock. Subsidence was causing it to slowly cave inward over the years and it is now difficult for some narrow boats to fit in the lock and go up the flight. A bore hole drilled adjacent to the lock several weeks ago resulted in a near continual geyser of water which does not bode well. The Hurleston locks are scheduled for winter maintenance this next winter but I would be surprised it if lasted until then. Linda and Mark said they could no longer get their narrow boat in the bottom lock although they had been able to and in fact used  to moor their boat at the bottom of their garden. It turns out they also own Cheshire Cat Narrow Boats--a local hire boat outfit based at Overwater Marina. As Les always said, "You never know who is on a narrow boat." Mark and Linda confirmed for me that CRT has permanently closed the Elsan point at the top of Hurleston locks. The septic tank needs replacing and CRT doesn't want to spend the money on it. Apparently instead a new Elsan point is being built at Whitchurch--which makes no sense when CRT have space available at Burland just up the cut from Hurleston. There will still be rubbish and water available at Hurleston so this was good news for me. With a composting loo I don't need an Elsan but I do need water points and rubbish disposal. Linda and Mark mentioned that the road across the farmer's field which is the only access to their lock cottage or the rubbish bins is supposed to be maintained by CRT with the farmer's permission for use, but CRT had not maintained it so they have had to do it. They don't mind if walkers use the road for access but they don't want boaters with cars using it.
An old working boat towing its butty passes me at Hurleston Junction.
     Sunday morning April 8th brought forty six boats past NB Valerie! A fair few were working boats on their way back from the annual Easter gathering of working boats at Ellesmere Port. This year, with the massive canal breach on the Middlewich, boats on the Trent & Mersey side of the Cheshire cruising ring had to continue northward and down to the river Weaver on the Anderton Boat Lift, then cruise up to Weston Marsh Lock and onto the Manchester Ship Canal, and down to Ellesmere Port. The Middlewich Branch connects the Shropshire Union with the Trent & Mersey canal which is connected back at Great Haywood with the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, The southern end of the Shroppie connects with the Staff & Worcs at Autherely Junction, making a large cruising ring. It is always lovely to see the old working boats moving even if they do suck the water out from under NBV as they pass. The old boats are so deep drafted that even passing me on tick over the water displacement still occurs.
     The other passing traffic were hire boats and leisure boaters come out of the marinas after a long winter. Now these are a curious mix of folks. Most of the hire boaters slowed down in passing with a smile and a wave. A very small percentage of the leisure boaters refused to look, wave, or smile. I suppose it's damn hard as well as thirsty work keeping track of the miles between pubs!
     Mid-morning I heard an awful kerfuffle occurring up through the bridge hole. Engines were being gunned repeatedly, and someone was hollering. It sounded like someone was in a spot of trouble so I popped out of NBV to see a Chas Harden hire boat with its bow out in the middle of the junction and its tunnel light on. I walked up and caught the boater's attention to let him know about his tunnel light while I sussed out the situation. His was one of two hire boats traveling together. His friend had moored up on the bollards at the bottom of the Hurleston flight on the left while waiting for the wives to set the lock and open the gates. There is a fierce by-wash (a race of water diverted around a lock from the top,  boiling out at the bottom and creating a strong current) on the bottom lock and it pours straight out towards the bollards where the hire boat was moored. It will push a boat backwards but an experienced boater will let it have its way. Once the boat is back far enough it is easy to put her in forward gear and bring the nose over to the right, line the boat up and cruise into the lock. Inexperienced boaters think the best way to deal with the by-wash flow pushing them back wards is to throw the boat in forward gear, gun the living daylights out of the engine, and race all twenty five feet for the lock entrance. 
     As I stood and watched in dismay this is exactly what happened, but of course the bloke steering overshot the lock entrance and slammed into the brickwork at the right side, bounced off while still gunning it and hit the brickwork on the left side and finally managed to get the bow in the lock. Both wives and myself stood with hands over our astonished mouths, eyes like saucers. This is yet another reason why I suspect the bottom lock will not hold out until winter. The engine revving carried on the next three days as boat after boat went up the lock flight on the Llangollen canal.
Aft and fore views of Halsall refueling NB Val mid cut!
     Tuesday arrived and I pulled my pins and cruised to Calvely to fill up with water and dump my rubbish. I moored up through the bridge beyond the service point and about forty minutes later Steve gave a gentle beep of his horn as NB Tumbleweed hove into view. I followed him to the top of the Bunbury staircase lock where Angela waited for us. CRT had a lock keeper on duty for which I was grateful so down we went through the three locks which spit us out adjacent to the Anglo Welsh hire boat services and a line of breasted up hire boats being serviced or waiting for boaters to take them. We passed by on tick over and through the next bridge we stretched out with a bit of water between us and cruised on towards Chester.
     As we came around a bend NB Halsall appeared with her crew Roberta and Lee. Steve and Angela carried on towards Tilestone Lock while I stopped NB Valerie mid-canal where Lee brought Halsall alongside, tied up to NBV and refueled the boat mid-cut! I have always been moored up when getting fuel but Lee assured me they have done this many times. It went off without a hitch of course and we parted ways with a wave and a thank you.
My view moored at the top of Beeston Stone Lock on the way down to Chester.
     After Tilestone lock we came to Beeston stone lock and moored up at the top for a couple of days. Angela had to work (she drove the car to Beeston lock earlier) so we chilled for a day or two--then I checked the weather and saw rain and wind coming our way on Saturday, April 14th when we had planned to continue on down to Chester. I decided to move on Thursday instead because I don't like trying to handle an 80 ton boat in crap weather with high winds. Thursday morning was lovely and clear. Steve had to work so Angela was kind enough to help lock me down the next three locks. Beeston Iron lock has metal sides and is another old lock slowly subsiding inwards. It also has metal protuberances that can catch a boat and cause it to hang up and tilt which could result in sinking, so even though it is a large double lock, it is dangerous for inexperienced boaters to attempt going in the lock two at a time as s usually done with wide locks. Just as we arrived at this lock Angela and I were treated to the sight of Ruth and Robert Chamberlain
Robert Chamberlain carefully brings his breasted up fuel boats up Beeston Iron lock while his partner Roberta works the lock.
bringing their old working fuel boats in breasted up! Slowly and gently Ruth worked the lock while Robert kept the boats away from the lock sides and they rose to the top. It was a thing of beauty to watch. Needless to say I went down on my own; I know my limits, although Les and I went down in this lock back in 2012 with our friends Rita and Scooby Talbot. Both men were very experienced boaters and we had no problems. The mud on the towpath and around the lock gates was up past my instep and deadly slippery. Apparently not enough bicyclists use the towpath between the Beeston locks to make it worth CRT's (often times called Cyclists and Runners Trust for their efforts to make the towpaths neat and tidy for the aforementioned groups, especially around London and Birmingham) time and effort to make the towpath neat and tidy. After all its just us boaters using it so never mind then...(the sarcasm for those who don't boat has to do with the issue that bicyclists and runners use the towpath for no fee while boaters pay a license for the privilege).
     At Wharton Lock the by-wash was fierce. Angela and I waited for another boat coming from Beeston Iron lock so we didn't waste water. A lovely hire boat couple was waiting to come up and we offered to lock them up but they were happy to wait for us--in absolutely no hurry and they didn't want to waste water either. Finally the other boat cruised in and down we went. Now unknown to me, while we were going down inside the lock, another boat cruised up below--a boat whose owner for some reason didn't come along side the towpath behind the hire boat couple, step off and wait for the lock to empty. Instead he decided to hover mid-cut but the by-wash shoved him to the off side where he was a bit white eyed and panicky. The lock gates opened and I was greeted by the nose of this man's boat almost nudging the lock gate opposite me! The patient hire boater waited for the lock gates to open, stepped on his boat and its nose had swung out towards the middle of the cut because of the strong current and the fact the other boater who had become an bit of an obstacle. We were soon going to have a melee under way. I took one look at the face of the white knuckled boater who realized too late he was in our way and he would be lucky if his boat wasn't hit by one of ours as the by-wash was shoving us towards him, put NBV in gear, gave her some serious welly, shot out past the boiling by-wash and the consternated boater on my right, gave the tiller a quick yank to make a sharp right turn around the bow of the hire boater whose wife piped up, "That is some excellent steering you've done!" Disaster narrowly avoided, I grinned at her as I shot past and slowed right down, out of the way of all three boats behind me. I could hear Les' saying, "It's all good fun, Jaq!" There was a time not so many years ago when I would have panicked and handed the tiller to Les to sort it out while I covered my eyes. Panic is no longer an option for a widow on her own.
     Angela and I parted ways with a wave. I was on new water basically as Les and I had only cruised to Chester once in 2012. I had very little memory of the actual details of this part of the canal, just flashes of memories so this trip was an opportunity for me to do a recce and make note of where the good 14 day moorings were located near enough for me to walk up and catch a bus to Chester, where the water and service points were located, and the like. The trip was good in that I knew I couldn't do any of the locks down into Chester on my own. The blinkin' footbridges across the bottom gates on the locks impede me from bow hauling my boat in and out of the lock. The fierce by-wash current also hampers me in this so I will have to wait for boaters with which to go up and down, and try to set the locks before they appear so I can do my part, and of course I am happy to tie up after leaving a lock to go back and shut the gates or help lock others up and down. While I might require help I don't sit on my boat and pull the Princess card. I do what I can and I am happy to do anything except climb up and down lock ladders.
     I will let my pictures tell the story now and pick up the narrative later on.
Looking ahead to this loooooong line of boats which is the start of the on-line farm moorings that begin at Golden Nook.
And looking back at all the boats I have passed thus far. Steve counted them. Bear in mind that one passes moored up boats at tick over which is just above idle and you get the idea of how long it can take to pass 115 boats!
Snail's Pace--an appropriate name for a narrow boat in general and certainly one moored among the endless line of boats at Golden Nook. 
Wide beams are even found up here on the Northern Shropshire Union! It must have been craned in because with the exception of the eight locks from Bunbury into Chester, all of the locks on the canals in this part of the system are narrow ones.
      It takes a good hour and a quarter or more to make it beyond the Golden Nook necklace of boats where the term "no end in sight" takes on a trenchant meaning, before one can finally speed up to two MPH again! I was trying to keep an eye out for the 14 day moorings near the caravan sight just before bridge 120 but I was in a near coma after 115 boats, and by the time I regained consciousness I had passed the spot where I had agreed to moor up and wait for Angela and Steve to join me. I thought to moor up just through the bridge but NB Valerie has a draft of 2'6" and I couldn't get her into the side--at all! Onward I cruised and through the next bridge where I spotted a very familiar boat...
It was Tracey and Ray Arbon on Billy Whizz! Lovely boaters both of them and so I stopped to try and moor up only to find...I couldn't get in! You notice they were able to moor right next to the towpath even with the Shroppie shelf! Ray kindly helped me by pounding in some pins and I moored up with a gap requiring me to make a big running jump!
Tracey is one of the most talented and creative people I know. it is always a pleasure to spend time with her and Ray. Pretty soon the afternoon was getting on and just as I was thinking I needed to move on, NB Hobo No. 7 cruised up and moored behind Billy Whizz. It was Archie and Anne whose acquaintance I made back in December when I towed their boat part way to Aqueduct marina after they broke down. I said my hello's and then pulled pins to set off again, Chester bound. 
Goodbye! Goodbye!! Two lovely boat folks.
     Actually I was getting tired as I had been on the move since early morning, so I moored up just past the Cheshire Cat Pub. Right next to the road, it was noisy and not particularly pretty but I could actually moor up properly right next to the towpath so I banged in the pins, cleaned up and decided to treat myself at the pub to a burger and chips. I am pleased to report the food was good.
     Friday, April 13th dawned with low, scudding dark clouds and pissing down rain. High winds rocked the boat and I was glad to have moved when I did. Saturday morning arrived and the rain had not let up though the winds died down a bit. I knew Steve and Angela were cruising down to moor up at bridge 120 and I hoped it went without mishap in the cruddy weather. Needs must when one is working. There was a gap in the hedge near me and it led right out to the street and the bus stop into Chester. Trolley in hand, I stood in the rain for thirty minutes waiting for the bus which finally made an appearance. I drip-dried during the trip and arrived at Foregate Street in Chester's old town to pick up a Saturday paper and top up my groceries at Tesco. While I waited for my bus I was bemused to see a duck fly in and land on the sidewalk nearby. It stood there for some time while passers by stopped to remark in astonishment and take pictures with their phones.
Have you heard the one about the chicken who crossed the road?  Can anyone tell me why the duck waits at the bus stop!
 Sunday dawned mild and dry. Steve and Angela gave me a honk and off we cruised down the final locks into Chester. Working as a team, although Angela did most of the closing of the gates, we slowly cruised into the town center, turned our boats and moored up across the cut from a small park. Les and I moored in the same spot back in 2012. After cleaning up we went our separate directions. Angela and Steve went for a walk on the old Roman walls and I walked down to look at the staircase lock, sussed out the rubbish and water points and walked along the cut as far as Chester University to identify 14 day moorings. On my way back up I reached the base of the King Charles I Tower on a corner of the walls and a voice hailed me. It was Angela and Steve. I hadn't asked to walk with them because I am keenly aware of how slowly I walk compared to almost everyone else. I didn't want to slow them down so I headed off on my own. Having hailed me, I joined them both and we meandered along, down to the Race track called the Roodee and around to the Dee-side Ice cream vendor. We sat on a bench people-and-river watching while we ate our ice cream.
     At 7:30 Monday morning as the mist burned away from the canal, we set out to travel back up the cut out of Chester. Angela had a course she had to attend for work and they called her in for it at the last moment. I was heading back to help boating friends up the Audlem flight on Tuesday morning so off we set. The weather was marvelous! The sun warm on our faces, and the sky a bright and optimistic blue. Originally we planned to go as far as Calvely and moor up but I decided to cruise on to Nantwich and meet up with friends Sue and Ken Deveson on NB Cleddau. Their boat has been at Aqueduct marina for months and finally underwent blacking and a new paint job with new colors. I was excited to see it and them.
     Our journey back up to Calvely was fairly uneventful. We stopped above Wharton's Lock for an hour lunch. During the hour we rested, the weather took a very quick turn. The wind came up and thin clouds covered the sun occasionally. As we carried on, grey clouds began piling up, threatening rain. As we reached the Bunbury staircase locks there was room for one boat to go in with one already waiting. Since I was continuing on to Nantwich I said goodbye to Steve and Angela. I thoroughly enjoyed cruising with them and so appreciate their friendship. Thank you Angela for making me a good luck dragonfly! It is resting its wings on the door of the fridge.
     As I waited in the bottom lock of the staircase, a boat was coming down ahead of us meaning we were were going to do the Bunbury shuffle! As the bottom lock rose and the middle lock filled from the top lock, the three boats were now on the same level. The gates opened, and the boat coming down waited on the right. I slowly cruised into the middle lock, past the boat on the right and continued on into the top lock where I moved over to the right side and came to a halt. Behind me, the boat that had come up with me was shoved over to the left to fill the space I had exited. As he then cruised gently our of the bottom lock into the middle lock and finally into the top lock to my left, the boat going down slid into the empty bottom lock. Bunbury shuffle down and dusted!! The top gates of the bottom lock and the bottom gates of the top lock closed and one boat continued down while the two of us rose to the top!
     As we were rising up the rain began. I had removed my outer wear at Wharton lock as I was hot form the sun. Now I was cold and getting wetter by the minute. I stopped at Calvely services at 4:30 PM to fill with water, dump my rubbish and change clothes for something warmer and drier before setting off to make the final six miles to Nantwich and hopefully find a mooring space near NB Cleddau.
     The temperature continued to drop and the rain poured down. It took me an hour and a half and it was just going dark when I found Ken and Sue. For some reason Nantwich was rammed with boats so I breasted up next to them and amazed I was that they were happy for me to do so when she had just come out of the paint dock a couple of days ago! Now that is trust. After a quick, hot shower and clean, dry clothes I joined Ken and Sue on their boat for a delicious dinner and a wonderful evening of chatting and catching up. Due to delays in the boat blacking and painting and the Middlewich breach causing them to cruise the long way around to get back to the Trent & Mersey canal, they were a bit behind on their cruising schedule and a family member's wedding looming on the close horizon meant they needed to make good time and get underway as soon as possible. This was going to allow me the opportunity to do a recce in the opposite direction out of Nantwich towards Audlem.
     Despite the heavens opening up with torrential rain, we started off at 8:30 AM. I backed up NBV one boat length, Ken moved NB Cleddau out to the middle of the cut, I slipped into their mooring spot and after pinning my boat, Sue and I hitched a ride and off we cruised! It took us five hours to cruise nine miles and up seventeen locks--most in the pouring rain. We stopped about half way through for a tea and Welsh cake break and the rain finally stopped. When we reached the top of the Audlem flight and moored up, Ken and Sue fixed a tasty lunch of soup and sandwiches and let me make myself at home despite looking and feeling like Peanuts comic strip character Pigpen, waterproof leggings coated in mud nearly up to my thigh on the inside, which is a mystery to a woman like myself whose thighs are so close together they whisper to one another constantly. I was so pleased to be able to help my dear friends start off on their spring/summer cruise and it felt fabulous to spend several days with different friends, cruising, working locks, and doing actual boating!! I am happiest when I am on the back of the boat moving or when I am setting a lock on the way to somewhere. This is when I feel Les close to me. I slogged through the mud back down the Audlem flight knackered but happy. In the village I caught the 71 bus back to Nantwich, walked the twenty minutes from the bus station back to the boat and nearly fell into NBV. After twelve hours and eight locks on Monday and nine miles and seventeen locks on Tuesday I was shattered! It sure felt good in an achy way though. Sometimes it is a good thing to challenge our bodies and appreciate what we can still do, especially as we age.
Image result for Eco egg     I will close this post with two product reviews which I think other boaters might find useful. The first one is the Eco Egg. Developed here in Britain, it is a plastic egg shaped cage filled with mineral and ceramic pellets. Tossed into the washing machine, the Eco egg cleans clothes without using any detergent or additives, is environmentally friendly and lasts for 173 washes. I have one (thank you Jennie) and I have to say it works amazingly well, even removing towpath mud from my clothes and leaving them free of artificial scents and synthetic chemicals. I find my clothes don't require so much spinning to get the water out of them either.
Image result for Lush shampoo bar in metal tin     My youngest daughter Sparky (aka Shiery) posted a video on her FaceBook page about Lush shampoo bars. As a trained and experienced hair stylist I have a lot of experience with hair products and I have tried shampoo bars before with no good result. My hair was stringy and never felt clean. Of course this was over twenty five years ago. Times and products change. While I was in Chester I spotted a Lush store down the street from the bus stop so I popped in and bought one. I was impressed by the fact that Lush products are environmentally friendly, the shampoo bars come without any packaging which means no more plastic bottles, and one can purchase a metal tin to keep it in so it doesn't sit and grow soggy. I chose Lullaby for its mild scent and washed my hair with it as soon as I arrived home. I have to say I am tremendously impressed. For the first time in decades my hair is soft and clean with absolutely no coating of any kind. I have fine, oily hair which I have to wash every other day. After using the Lush shampoo bar my hair stayed clean for two days longer than usual. I am sold on it and I will never purchase another bottle of shampoo again. 


Pip and Mick said...

We'd been wondering what you'd been up to and if you'd made it to Chester. Glad you teamed up with NB Tumbleweed, a wise move.
All that wetter than wet muddy weather now feels so long ago, it's now a rarity to put on a coat even on an evening. I'll now have gone and blown it and it'll rain for the next week making our life on the rivers hard.
Love Pip, Mick and Tilly xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Pip,

Steve and Angela are lovely folks and great to spend time with. My fingers crossed as well for the continuance of lovely weather. We are SO overdue for this!!!

Love Jaq xxx

Catherine VK4GH said...

Just wondered if you are still jib hunting? As an over 60 also job hunting, I know your predicament.

Jennie said...

I am so pleased that you like the egg, Jaq. I have been using ours for some years now. Wet weather seems a distant memory at present. Long may that continue along with no wind for our Wash crossing next week. Jennie xx

Tom and Jan said...


Mark (Cheshire Cats)is a marine engineer whom we have used on a number of occasions and would recommend should you require one.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Catharine,

Yes indeed, still job hunting. I've applied to over twenty places in the last six months, had one interview and no joy. Still one must keep turning over ever rock in the effort to find a job, pay the bills, and be as financially independent as possible. I know my difficulties come from being a woman aged 60 and I also know being a foreigner with foreign references doesn't help.

I wish you good luck in your search,


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Jennie,

My fingers are crossed dear friend, for fabulous weather for your crossing.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi tom and Jan,

Thanks for that. It is always good to know the name of a reliable and trustworthy ME.

Love Jaq xxx

Unknown said...

Hi Jaq,
Chester is lovely isn't it?
I couldn't read it all in one go without running the battery down!!
Only once have we gone as far as Ellesmere Port - have you?
It was interesting, with a stop to visit the zoo with my little sister on the way out there
Currently still in Wheelton where I have overstayed on the 48 hour mooring (with agreement by CRT) while Andy went to see his dad
It's lovely here; I could live here and there are a few small houses for sale...
Envious of the couple preparing for the Wash - we chickened out of the Ribble link again recently
Did you watch the wedding???

Carol said...

Gosh Jaq you have been busy! It's so good to hear of so many friends able to help each other out when cruising, doing locks and mooring up especially in the rain and mud. You're doing soooo well. Many, many kind regards to you from both of us. xxx

nb Bonjour said...

Hi Jaq, I've been using Lush shampoo bars for a while now - I made a drawstring bag out of some old net from a 'fairy' costume that's been in the odds-and-ends material bag for years. So I hang it on the tap in the shower and it works very well, stops it sitting in a little puddle too. I have one for home and one for the boat.
Thanks for the info about the laudry egg - I have heard of them but not seen anyone's personal experience of it.
Debby xx
We are on the Avon at Stratford tonight, going home next week x

Nike & Phill Muir, nb GARNET said...

Glad to see you are keeping active. I am trying to make mental notes on the moorings you find, but I suspect unless the new meds work wonders we may never get off the Oxford!
Restless legs syndrome, the man said, restless entire carcass is what it feels like. Oh well, summer is a kumin in, loud sing cuckoo.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Chris,

Les and I cruised down to Ellesmere Port in May 2012. We didn't stay overnight as there was no room down in the basin and a boat was actually moored up in the lock going down to the basin. We did tour the museum which was terrific and well worth the visit. There is a full service point there at the top by the winding hole so we made use of it, turned and cruised back to moor up by the bridge near Chester Zoo. Those moorings are lovely.

Wheelton eh? Well that is one advantage to traveling by narrow boat--it gives you great access to other places and the opportunity to moor up and check things out!

Les and I have never done the Wash. I suspect now I never will do but hey-ho.

I did watch the wedding. It certainly was low key and informal by the usual Royal/State standards. I cannot imagine choosing such a life. It is almost as though Meghan has been absorbed into some large State machine or perhaps the Royal Seraglio! I think the interesting times are ahead for them.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol,

I am truly blessed in the many lovely friends who grace my life, including you and George. Les said that was amazing thing about being married to me; he suddenly had many, many wonderful friends on both sides of the world and I of course felt the same about being married to him.

I have been keeping a low profile and I will email you more about it soon, but I am reading your blog posts and keeping up with all that is going on down 'saff as Sue likes to say!

Love and hugs,

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Debby!

Lovely to hear from you. Les and I never made it to Avon. We had hoped to try for it in October of 2015 but his stoma blocked up and my knees gave out so we headed back from Birmingham down to Warwick. so close--and yet so far!!

That is a very good idea you've had, to make a net bag to store your shampoo bar in and hang it in the shower. I may have to do that.

Enjoy your trip home.

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Mike and Phill,

Lovely to hear from you. I've been meaning to send you an email and life just keeps getting away from me. Should you ever want to know about the good mooring spots from the N. Oxford on up to here, just ask and I will be happy to send you an email with details.

I am sorry to hear your chronic illness continues to impede you from cruising far but I know you have a lovely floating home and a good community of boaters around you. Still better than being stuck in a house over here methinks!

Spring is here with all its flowering glory. I am hoping to finish painting the boat this summer. Time as they will tell.

Take care.

Love and hugs,

Jaq xxx

Cuddlesceridwen said...

Hi Jaq,
I have done that cruise from Nantwich to Chester on quite a few occasions with Cheshire Cat narrow boat hire. They used to be at Venetian marina when I first used them and not owned by the present couple. That long line of boats used to do my brain in!! Once we cruised past Chester and watched in amazement as a huge airbus landed in what looked like a distant field, turned out airbus were situated there and had their own runway, it frightened my friend and I as we thought it was crashing. Nantwich was close to where I used to live, and it was there that I met Les for the first time, bringing cake of course. You sound like you are making a great job of single handing and your blog is making me feel a bit of yearning for a narrowboat holiday!! It’s very hot here in Turkey at the moment and is only due to get hotter. I really must update my blog soon. Sending lots of love. X

Lisa said...

Hi Jaq,
Where do I look for a laundry ball from? Very keen to try one now!
Lisa x

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol!

Lovely to hear from you. Your story made me laugh out loud. I can just hear your voice in my head telling it!!! I love it up here in Cheshire. I do handle the boat on my own just fine in spite of the Shroppie Shelf, springtime mud knee deep, and grumpy old gits. I miss Les deeply, every single day. He would be so happy living a up this way as a base area and cruising the system in summer, to arrive back here in autumn and winter in this area. It hasn't been easy and I've seriously considered selling the boat and moving back to the states. The problem is I dearly love living on this boat and on the cut. Tough problem to have yeah???!!!

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Lisa,

You can click on the link on my post "eco egg" to go to the main website but a search indicates the ecoegg is also available through Lakeland, Tesco and ebay. I do love mine and cannot imagine going back to detergent. The company also makes dryer eggs for those you have a dryer and who want stop using dryer sheets.

Love Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs