Thursday, 31 March 2011

Two days in Chester

 Caxton moored in Telford Basin Chester. L-R Caxton, Critical Point, Enchantress and Matilda Rose, dry dock on the right of the photo.

Yesterday morning Jill and myself managed to get the dogs walked before the heavens opened late morning.  I stayed closeted aboard Caxton tending a fire and reading my book, the last of the 'books awaiting to be read store' before I start using my Kindle reader. In the afternoon the clouds cleared and I ventured back into the City to have another look around.
 The Library but look below at what the building originally was built for......

 I remember BMC, British Motorcar Corporation, later British Leyland, using the name Westminster on their 'badge motors'.
 Typical, colonnaded shopping streets in Chester

 Northgate, this is a Georgian replacement for the old medieval gate that had also been the City gaol, where prisoners were housed in dungeon cells cut out of the sandstone.
 and where they crossed this bridge that crosses the canal below, the Bridge of Sighs, directly from the gaol to visit the chapel of the Blue Coat Hospital for their last rites before execution..........apparently.
Blue Coat Hospital, built as a school.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

One day in Chester

Our first night in the Telford basin at Chester was fine and quiet and after walking the dogs three boat crews set off for a bit of a tour of the City of Chester.  We heading into town by returning to the Northgate locks - clue in the name of the locks- and entering the City through the North gate and then walking clockwise around the City wall. 
 L-R David and Linda of NB Critical point, Joe, Jill and Graham of Nb Matilda Rose.
 Glimpsed from the City wall, The Blue Coat Hospital 
 Chester Cathedral formerly a Benedictine Abbey until the reformation in 1540 when the occupants were evicted and the Abbey seized by Crown Officers - the following year the site was 'relaunched, in modern parlance' as a Cathedral with a new Bishop towing the Tudor line...
The Millennium Bell Tower, sandstone and slate, very indigenous.. but rather striking, ho, ho
And yet another famous time piece, the Jubilee clock tower overlooking the center of Chester. Erected to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
A City of bustling shopping streets, a wide variety of small shops and lots of Cheshire 'black and white' buildings.  A real eclectic mix but with little evidence of 1960's concrete thank goodness.
This chap was so good that Joe put his hand in his pocket and donated a coin - almost unheard of and from the look on Joe's face as he looks back, he might be regretting his impetuosity...
Look at the detail in that, a work of art rather than just a building
The three couples had split up to tour the City and after lunch Joe and I wandered down towards the R. Dee and walked along the City wall towards the Chester racecourse and back to the Telford Basin and Caxton.
A free view on race day?
The infirmary, another elegant building that someone of money and note had bequeathed to the City before the days of the NHS circa 1761 I think.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Morning mist to evening sun

Starting the day in misty conditions - all four boats preparing to leave
 At nine am yesterday morning we pulled pins and started our cruise into the city of Chester. There was a convoy of four boats, Matilda Rose, Critical Point, Caxton and Enchantress, so we would be locking two boats through each lock on this journey as we were now in the land of double locks again.
 The first lock of the day, Wharton's Lock, prepared and ready for the first two boats.  Matilda Rose and Critical lead off and Caxton and Entrantess followed.
 Entrantess and Caxton 'hovering' while we 'turn' the lock after the first two boats have gone through and get it ready for them. Notice the different bow shapes, Enchantress is a Dave Thomas hull and Caxton is a Reeves.
 The new Tattenhall marina with over 300 berths and now only 81 vacancies according to a sign by the entrance.
 This tree, fully adorned in its spring blossom, was quite stunning.
 More dredging activity
 As we entered Waverton, where we planned to stop for lunch before tackling the rest of the locks into Chester, there was a terrific display of daffodils planted on the banking opposite a new housing development.
 Caxton coming in to mmor up for our lunch break.  The sun has put his hat on now and the day is simply glorious.
Here they have used the canal dredgings to recreate the canal bank.
 This weeping willow is 'dressed to kill'

 We had stopped to water Caxton at Christleton Bridge when up pops this duck with a fish
 and she proceeds to tear it up and eat it.  I didn't realise that ducks were omnivores?
 Watered and away again alone this very attractive part of the canal.
 These donkeys were enjoying a late lunch of hay in the garden of one of the old lock cottages.
 My first sighting of ducklings this year.  The were an abundance of them as we worked our way down into Chester.
 Victorian water tower

 More industrial heritage

 We have now arrived at the ancient city walls of Chester which are built this bedrock. 

 Passing below the City walls we arrive at the Northgate staircase locks.  A set of three locks that are interconnected and very deep.  Jill had walked back up from the Telford basin where MR was moored to assist me work Caxton through.
 This moorhen and her mate had created a nest on the bottom beam of the bottom gate of the three locks.
Cheers, finally a well earned pint at the Telford Warehouse across from where the boats are moored up.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

To Beeston Castle

We left Aqueduct Marina, Church Minshull on the Middlewich branch yesterday morning but not before we had had a visit from Jack..
A relaxed Jack
Jack is the owner's dog and is very 'at home' around narrowboats and their crews...
Bye, bye Middlewich branch as we turn back on to the Shroppie proper at Barbridge junction.  Another glorious day, short sleeved T-shirt, sandals and three quarter trousers to make the most of the warm sunny weather.
Beyond the services at Calveley and just before the staircase locks at Bunbury I came across a chap with a chain saw layer who was layering the hedge because the 'digger' further along the bank was emptying canal spoil from a dredging activity into a prepared site on the other side of the hedge.

A lake of canal silt
Here comes another laden float/barge for emptying in the disposal site.

The remains of lime kilns on the far bank

Floyd enjoying a roll in the sunshine while I work my socks off opening and closing lockgates - next time around the life of a pampered Labrador is rather appealing...
Beeston IRON lock.   The entire lock is made of cast iron riveted plates instead of the usual stone or brick.
Built in 1828 after its predecessor collapsed because the ground structure undermining a conventional lock.