Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th August 2010

Four children, three cats, six kittens, two dogs and a terrapin live on the boat behind us.
No wonder he’s outside sitting on the river bank.

A friendly guy, very interesting to talk to ‘though I didn’t have the courage to ask about the arrangements between the two boats strapped together and the cruiser in tow. The children were laughing, playing, making up their own games and so well behaved that they were a joy to have around. I hope we bump into them again.

We set off downstream Monday morning through Saltersford and Dutton Locks and under Dutton viaduct towards Frodsham Cut.
dutton viaduct

It would have been nice to moor in the Cut but some bright spark has ‘boomed’ the entrance to stop boats going down there. It will silt up in time and make one less task for the dredger (what dredger?).

A bit short on service blocks down this way means you have to hold onto it or scarper back up to Northwich to do a dump. If we needed to linger longer I could always break out Mike B’s fold up spade to get us out of trouble.

As it happens we were outdone by the farmer who sprayed his field upwind of us with something particularly horrible, a dark grey when held up to the light, with a touch of ‘chemical’ on the nose. A blended concoction that hung in the air for days.
frodsham cut

The weather was horrible so we shut the windows and did inside jobs until it was time to leave.

Sutton Swing Bridge presented perfect moorings for our visit to downtown Frodsham on Thursday. The market was in full swing when we arrived on the bus and it lived up to the lock keeper’s reports including a butcher with “the best pies in Cheshire”.

I almost got a cheap tin of floor varnish from the paint wagon but I misheard the man’s patter, not difficult for me as I’m well outside my accent zone. I think he wanted me to go to Widnes on Saturday where he’d meet me with 5 litres for 15 quid but, tempting as it was, he used words I couldn’t grasp and my confidence was gone.

It was a good day out, made even better by a 30 minute cruise to Marsh Lock. A quick scan of the ship canal revealed no ships and a peep at the Marine Traffic website told me there were only three tankers and a cargo boat moored between Runcorn and Ellesmere Port with nothing on the move.
That’s a handy little website if you’re curious about ships, its worth having a look at the Dover Straits to see just how busy it is, and they give ship names and cargo types for free. To see what I mean why not go there and click “Go to Port” and then click on “(UK) Dover” and shrink the map (-) to show the coast of England and France.

Back at Frodsham Cut we battened down while the clouds dropped nasties all around. The wind changed and the dreaded ‘smell’ drifted our way so we decided to quit and go upstream where we could open the windows again.

We stopped at the Devil’s Garden and found no sign of Adam and Eve, just curious cows that wanted to lick everything.

curious cow

I was down the engine room laying in spare control cables when a shout came from the crew’s quarters telling me the cows were back and licking all the deck boards I’d put on the grass. It was bad enough having slobber on the woodwork but when a hungry looking cow puckered its lips and reached for the TV aerial I knew it was time to withdraw.

We weren’t the only ones at the Garden, the place was heaving by the afternoon and who should appear round the corner but Ivy-May.

We bumped into Bob and Jenny last year on the Aire & Calder and before that it was the Fens. There was plenty to catch up on so we bravely sat out on a typical grey summer’s day to tea, cake and flap-jacks. Keep cooking like that Jenny and you can moor next to us any time you like.

As is my usual practise the whip aerial was placed on the roof Saturday night and as is their practise the local bats played tunes on it for an hour or so at dusk. They swoop low and clout the thin steel rod which rings out in the key of C. There were no thud sounds on the roof and no bodies on the deck in the morning so it can’t bother them too much.

Apart from the bat pinging and the cow munching, the night was very quiet.
Not so the morning, it’s like the M6 here with rowers and paddlers hammering both ways, sending waves the size of office blocks towards the river bank.

Shouldn’t complain really, could be a lot worse or a lot better depending on how you look at it. There are some lovely photos on the web that tell us how things used to be when ships came through here [LINK].

We’ve heard reports that the rest of the country is bathing in wall to wall sunshine while we endure an arctic winter below a mattress of grey that is so thick that even Ryan Air can’t deal with it, which must be why they fly through the trees on their way to Speke.