Sunday 23 October
Friday saw us cruising for most of the day in order to reach our destination of Willeymoor Lock. This stretch of the canal is very pretty and pretty quiet. The countryside is open and particularly colourful with the turning of the leaves right now. Leigh had a couple of lift bridges to work and a couple of locks before encountering six locks at Grindley Brook; these consist of three staircase and then three normal locks.
You have to be supervigilant when you enter staircase locks in case a boat has entered from the opposite direction. There is nowhere to stop once you have entered a flight of staircase locks. A permanent lock-keeper is employed at Grindley Brook; on Friday there were also two lock volunteers working. Not only are lock-keepers (volunteer or employed) a great help to ‘locklabourers’ (like Leigh), but they ensure a safe passage. With staircase locks if – for whatever reason (for example you might be a solo boater) – you didn’t go ahead and check all the locks were empty, you could end up with a boat in both the top and bottom lock. I’m not sure how to explain this but…the boat at the top is cruising ‘down’ and the boat at the bottom is cruising ‘up’; when you both reach the middle lock there is no way two boats can enter a single lock together, so… It’s all a bit mind-boggling unless you are actually experiencing it. I am just glad that Leigh does the locks and not me. Yelp!
A highlight of the day was the sighting of a kingfisher; only the third one we have seen this year. I can’t put into words how wonderful it is to spot a kingfisher. You literally just have a few seconds to watch as they soar up and down – from the water to a tree to the water. A dash of the brightest, dazzling, turquoise-blue gives me a real thrill.
Leigh and Tom ate out Friday evening. They both recommend the Willeymoor Lock Tavern which virtually sits at the side of a lock; a bit scary if you come out of the pub a bit worseforwear Leigh tells me.
On Saturday we cruised the short distance from Willeymoor to Wrenbury. Although we have been here before – well just a few weeks back actually – we do like this village where Tom has discovered a nice little circular walk. My humans enjoy looking at different styles of buildings when we explore villages and towns; these cosy cottages took Leigh back a few years to when we lived in our pretty cottage in Astwood Bank.
As we passed the Church, Leigh decided she would go inside and she was very glad she did. It’s a pretty little church with some fabulous stained glass windows and superb red Cheshire sandstone architectural features.
Leigh noticed that there is a ‘Dog Whippers Pew’ in the Church; she can’t remember coming across one of these before. Apparently the ‘dog whipper’s’ job was to throw out unruly dogs and to keep any snoozing parishioners awake during sermons. I find this quite bizarre as (from past experience) I was positive that dogs were not allowed in Churches. Yelp!
Today we had some human friends visit for the day. I wish they could have brought their dog with them but Tom thinks Rosie wouldn’t be very ‘hospitable’; she is a grump. So, instead of bringing George, they bore gifts of Prosecco and ‘Flowers in a Pail’, which is very thoughtful…and a bit of a coincidence as Leigh had only said to Tom yesterday, ‘I want to get some winter pansies for the boat’ – as if like magic Sara had chosen Pansies.
Sara and Ray are as crazy as Leigh and Tom. The four of them have loads in common and have known each other for about seventeen years. I am not kidding they do not come up for breath – the men are as vocal as the women. Yapyapyapyap. Rosie and I were quite happy when they all went to the pub for lunch. We chilled out for a couple of hours while the humans enjoyed a fabulous Sunday lunch at the Dusty Miller pub. Leigh and Sara admired the decor. Tom and Ray admired the beers.
We had a little hiccup with V.P. today. About to embark on a little cruise with Ray and Sara, Tom steered her to the adjacent boatyard to turn around (Leigh and Sara were operating the lift bridge), as we cruised back under the bridge Leigh and Sara jumped onboard, Tom accelerated and…the gearbox cable snapped. Hence, the cruise ended abruptly and Tom will be off to the boatyard tomorrow to replace the cable. Just imagine if this had happened when we were in the middle of nowhere? At least we are next to a boatyard (and two pubs)! Leigh simply said, ‘Worse things happen at sea’. Wise words.