Feasting, not floating…

Cleddau is still ashore, at Aqueduct Marina,  near Nantwich.

In the absence of any floating there’s been the occasional feasting…

“Since you’re still without your boat,” announced the Tentatrice First Mate, “how about coming over to us? We could take the boat out, go down into Droitwich, have lunch at the pub – and then go back…” What a tempting plan – time on a boat, time on a towpath, some paddle-gear operating, some gate-pushing… The Gardeners Arms, the pub referred to, has a wide-reaching reputation, not that either The Captain or Boatwif had ever set foot in the place.        A Saturday lunch there sounded a grand idea. Staffordshire friends (honorary boaters Chris and Jane) were in on the plan too.

As March raged on dire warnings emerged from the Met Office. The Beast from the East was due a return visit. Beware harsh winds. Prepare for icy temperatures. Rain may fall as snow…

It was not to be, that arrival at The Gardeners Arms by boat, but a satisfactory compromise was reached. Travel to the pub could be made by car. And so it was. On 17th March, St Patrick’s Day, green, black  and white leprechaun hats clung to the ceiling,     the atmosphere was congenial and the food good.

Yet it was not to be an entirely boat-free day. Modifications over the winter on nb Tentatrice deserved inspection. 

Open water attracts wind; marinas can be mighty blustery places.     On that day sleet swirled round the boats, but the boat inspection crews were not to be deterred. There were the Massey steps (a Jane-inspired idea),    an obvious major improvement. As temperatures plummeted the inspection continued: the porthole bungs, the side hatch repair, the TV unit upgrade and the table edging (See here for photos).

There may have been only 15 minutes or so floating during that bitter weekend, but back ashore there was plenty of feasting at the Tentatrice shore establishment as six old friends recalled their 1970s days…

Then there was feasting of two different sorts in Macclesfield this week. First, there was a positive feast of music, when The Cheshire One sang and played at her school Spring concert.


The energy of the Concert Band’s The Lion King Medley, the  catchy rhythms from the two drum groups and the exuberance and panache displayed by the Jazz Band will remain as very special memories.

In recent months Techno Son-in-Law has talked of breakfast feasts. Long a fan and frequent customer of Flour Water Salt, he has provided technical support on various installations in the new Market Square premises. On Wednesday the aged in-laws were urged to have a Breakfast Out. The smell of fresh bread and pastries drifted along the street before the shop frontage was even in sight.     A light and airy space, informal café style tables and stools, electric sockets for those who must be connected, books on the topic of bakery,


a plant pot positioned on a weighing scale     – what a very pleasant environment it is where good coffee can be enjoyed and the eyes (and the stomach perhaps) can feast upon the tempting array of breads  and pastries. 

From Macclesfield to Nantwich is about 35 miles. There on board nb Valerie was Jaq, in fine form, a delicious lunch simmering on the stove top. (Another feast!) Then, afloat on Valerie, came the  first surprise Monkton Moment* of the season. Aboard too were Judith and John from nb Serena.      The conversation turned to boats, of course. “Why Cleddau,” exclaimed one. “We know where the Cleddau is – we have a house in Pembrokeshire!” Joy! Pleasure! Hours whizzed by with boating anecdotes, trains to Wales, schools and hospitals, future plans – an excellent time.

And what of the future plans? Cleddau is undergoing her transformation. She is in the paint shop, about to receive her second coat of gloss paint.



There is a lot still to do but, fingers crossed, she should be ready for launch back into the water the week after Easter. Then, there are 315 miles and 153 locks to the Bedford River Festival (via the Nene and the Middle Levels) or 309 miles, 96 locks via Nottingham, the Trent, Boston and the Wash**…

Those who listen out for waterway related news may have heard of the serious breach on the Middlewich Arm at Middlewich so there’ll be a southbound trip along the Shropshire Union Canal to begin with. Mouths are beginning to salivate at the prospect soon of a first night feast aboard the good ship  Cleddau…


Monkton Moment* (in recognition of a Pembrokeshire connection): 1 (Narbeth)

** (If time allows there may be additional cruises along the Rivers Wissey, Little Ouse, Lark and Cam, which could add another 130 miles and 6 locks).

Bedford River Festival – Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th July, 2018

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2 Responses

  1. Jaqueline Biggs says:

    It was lovely as always to spend time with you and Ken, and such a lovely surprise in the Welsh connection with Judith and John. I amalways amazed at how much you and Ken pack into a weekend or a few days. You both obviously are eating your Wheaties!!! Thank you for the delicious pastry from one of the very best bakeries in the country.

    Love Jaq xxx

  2. Hi Jaq,
    Glad you enjoyed the pastry – it certainly looked yummy!
    Hopefully when next we see you we’ll have arrived by boat and not by car…
    Take care,
    Sue /Boatwif

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