This holiday has been very different from our last weekend jaunt up to the Lake District in the Spring. Then, we took any and every opportunity to eat in pubs and teahouses along the way, but this trip has been very self-sufficient. We began the day with eggs and bacon cooked in shifts in the boat's galley kitchen, even though there was a perfectly serviceable Full English breakfast waiting for us just two miles up the canal!
After a leisurely breakfast and a pot of tea or two we did eventually make it into nearby Ellesmere, where my boatmates restocked the kitchen while I lazed in the sun, after wandering into the town to sample the pork pies, which definitely didn't disappoint. Pork Pies are one of the few British recipes that I intend to add to my repertoire. I was so excited munching away that I forgot to take a photo.
Setting off from Ellesmere again after a hearty chicken soup, we negotiated the traffic and the tunnel and drifted down the canal amongst the meres (so called because they are fed only by rainwater and have no overt in or out-flowing water. Despite having less than a hour we decided to moor ourselves by bridge 42 and go for a wander around Cole Mere, which is large enough to have its own sailing club. This path was extremely popular with the dogwalkers, we must have run into at least 20 dogs of various breeds on the short walk. Dogs are pretty common on the canal, many a boat has one, but I think most of these were just locals out enjoying the sunshine before the projected days of heavy rain to come.
Life on a boat has a particular rhythm to it. Left to our own devices we'd happily have stopped there for the day, but the boat has to be run for five hours each day in order to provide enough power to run the electrics all night, and we had to reach a water point in order to make our daily resupply, so we continued East, passing back into Wales again for a little bit before returning to Shropshire in the point on the canal known as 'the Quob' after the noise the mud makes as you sink into it! Along the way, we managed to spray right along the side of a parked canalboat with the greywater being pumped out the side of the boat from the shower as we went along, which is really the worst some of canal faux-pas that one can commit.
As this point we reached the intended furthest extent of our canal journey, but before we found a private enough place to turn around (we expected to make a fool of ourselves trying such a tricky manoeuvre and were hoping for a secluded winding hole) we had to negotiate a swing bridge that needed to be lifted out of the path. When we eventually did find a turning point by another lift bridge (number 42), I managed to fulfil expectations by dramatically overshooting on the first attempt before successfully completing the turn on the second attempt (yes, believe it or not, you really are supposed to just poke your nose into the bank and then spin on that!).
That little spurt of excitement over with, we stopped just out of sight of the bridge, ready for starting our return journey tomorrow, and we've all gone to bed hoping that the locals that we've met along the way have been wrong about their weather predictions for tomorrow, as there's not a lot of shelter at the tiller.