You’d be amazed at how much mud an average sized fluffy
puppy can acquire in the course of one walk. Paddy, during the two weeks we
were looking after him and through no fault of his own, managed to transport a
sizable volume of it from the towpath and the adjacent playing field into the
He also brought in a whole load of good times and taught us a great deal
about dog ownership. Before Paddy, our walks would be planned; we’d have a rucksack
with a packed lunch and flasks of coffee and a route and a map and our pockets
would be full of hats and gloves. With Paddy, there would be a helter-skelter
to get all three of us out of the boat with wellies and a lead and dog-walking attire
(i.e. muddy-from-last-time) with not the slightest idea of where we were going
apart from out, and our pockets would be full of doggy treats and poo bags. By
the time Chloe came to collect him we knew our way around Poynton like natives
and we were dab hands at cleaning furry feet in the well deck. We did love
having him, he’s absolutely adorable and so well behaved, but it did make us
realise that we are far too set in our ways to have a dog of our own. Not that
we didn’t know that already.
Jono and Nicole came over for the day while we were at
Poynton. They walked past Braidbar Boats,
whose boatyard at Lord Vernon’s Wharf
was just behind us, and were very impressed with one of their newly built boats
that was just being completed. We agree, they are gorgeous looking craft with
beautiful lines and a very high quality fit-out. They’re also eye-wateringly
expensive and deservedly so. Never mind Jono, just keep doing the lottery.
The morning that Chloe came to pick him up we took Paddy for
a last run round the playing field. There were a bunch of other dogs down there
and he got happily worn out chasing them around. Chloe had a quick bite to eat
then we packed Paddy and all his paraphernalia into the back of her car and off
they went home. In the afternoon we drove over to Chesterfield to say Happy
Birthday to Anne and cook dinner for her.
Without a fluffy puppy in it, the boat seemed a bit empty
when we got back, but by the time we’d put all the stuff back that we’d stashed
in the car boot and moved down to bridge 20 it was like he’d never been there.
Bridge 20 on Greenbank Lane was a lovely spot;
just enough room for one boat, a
place to park the car and, best of all, an established bird table right outside
the window. Instead of having to wait two or three days for them to get used to
it, our own bird feeder was inundated as soon as we put it up.
Within an hour,
along with blue tits, great tits and a robin we’d been honoured with visits
from a chaffinch, a coal tit, two beautiful nut hatches and a squadron of half
a dozen long-tailed tits.
A scan of our OS Explorer revealed a hill not too far away
called Andrew’s Knob. Well, there was no way we weren’t going up that was
there? Despite a steep climb to get there,
it turned out not to be quite as big
a tumulus as we were expecting, but we took a photo of it anyway.
The thing in Ann-Marie's hand is a banana. The thing behind her is Andrew's Knob.
On the way
back we yet again found ourselves on a section of the lovely Gritstone Trail.
We often use this long distance footpath, along with the Middlewood Way which
runs parallel to the canal, as part of a circular walk, with the towpath making
up the return part. We’d known that Ann-Marie’s boots were worn out for a
while, but we’d been putting off the inevitable search, purchase and wearing-in
period of a new pair in the hope that they’d perhaps get better, or something….
Anyway, we can’t really blame the rain or the steep hillside or the wet grass
for what happened next. Her lug-free soles unfortunately reached their limit
and disappeared from beneath her. She managed to turn round so that,
thankfully, she didn’t toboggan to the bottom on her backside, but, with an
audible splat, she still did a spectacular belly flop onto the muddy hill.
The next day John and Gill came to see us, which was lovely.
They live at Woodlesford on the Aire and Calder and we hadn’t seen them since
we boated to Stanley Ferry with them on board. We had a little walk in the
afternoon then all went out for a meal in the evening. This life has blessed us
with such wonderful friends.
We woke up the next morning with a mission. New Boots for
Ann-Marie. Stockport has two or three small independent outdoor clothing shops
and a couple of big retailers so we bit the bullet and went round them all.
Twice. To cut a long story short she ended up with these.
They’re leather and
they’re going to take a bit of breaking in, so since Ann-Marie got them we’ve
been going for short-ish hikes and she’s either been taking wellies or her old
boots with her as back up.
We left Bridge 20 and moved a little way down to Whiteley
Green just before Bollington.
The view from here is terrific; the pimple on the
hill in the background is called White Nancy. It’s a monument built to
celebrate Nelson’s victory at Waterloo, though why it’s on a hill in Cheshire,
God only knows. One of our short-ish hikes included yet another bit of the
Gritstone Trail and a climb to the top to see what all the fuss was about.
views from up there out over the Cheshire Plains, Stockport and Manchester are
as good as it gets,
but as an edifice we found it somewhat lacking. There’s no
plaque or sign or even a bench to sit on. The walk along the aptly named Saddle
of Kerridge was good, and Ann-Marie’s new boots got put to the test on the very
muddy and slippery path back down to canal-level.
Another place we’ve been to on foot while we’ve been moored
close enough is Lyme Park
. The House itself was used as Pemberley in the BBC
version of Pride & Prejudice. Here is what will now and forever be known as
Darcey’s Pond with a stern and brooding Darcey look-a-like, who’s just about to
go for a swim, methinks.
Here’s Miss Elisabeth Bennett having a rest from all
the excitement. Lawks-a-mercy.
It’s a great place to visit, apart from the magnificent
house itself there are plenty of signed walks around the estate, a children’s
play area, a café and a vast deer park. It lies mid-way between the
Macclesfield and the Upper Peak Forest canals so over the last couple of months
we’ve come at it from all angles, as it were.
For a while now, when we run short, Dave has been making
bread. Doing that and using powdered, rather than fresh milk has reduced our
supermarket visits considerably. The other day Ann-Marie found a “No Knead”
recipe on the web which starts off as a bowl of goop like this
you’ve left it overnight, ends up as a delicious crusty loaf like this with
hardly any effort.
To make it all perfect, it was a beautiful, sunny day in the
middle of January and we had lunch out in the well-deck.
On the table were
home-made rustic bread, home-made chutney and chicken that we’d cooked on the
log burner. It’s a hard life.