And the blessings keep coming!!!!
We moved Celtic Maid to Gurnett, about 2 miles back from Macclesfield, to take advantage of the short warm and dry spell to undertake some much needed maintenance. Celtic Maid purred as we tubbed and scrubbed her and then touched up all the chips and scratches that a few months of tunnels, bridges, locks and minor run-ins with other boats incur. It was a big job but once done we were ready for the next adventure – this time with our friends Max and Jenny (previously of Dubai, now back in Youlgreave – just over the hills!).
After relocating back to Macclesfield on Friday 2nd October and catching up with washing and shopping we prepared for Max and Jenny to arrive on Sunday morning. After a quick catch up and refreshments we set off back towards Kidsgrove along one of our favourite canal sections. The day was absolutely stunning – clear blue skies and bright shining sun horizon to horizon. A little nip in the air but they all soon warmed up once we got through the two swing bridges and onto Bosley Locks – 12 in all. With both Bob and Max on the windlasses and Jenny helping out on the lock gates we were soon at the bottom and set up on the towpath to celebrate with a bottle of bubbles and a few beers before the cool evening sent us indoors.
We started Monday with a big breakfast and thought we only had about a 3-4 hour journey so left late. Unfortunately the water levels were very low and despite making allowances we progressed very slowly. It took closer to 6 hours to go 8 miles and one little stop lock!!!! Max took a turn on the tiller and enjoyed every second – despite trawling through low water and mud!!! We finally made it to moorings near the aqueduct at Red Bull where she waited patiently for us while we embarked on the next fun side trip.
On Tuesday morning we walked to the train station in Kidsgrove to make the 15 minute journey back to Macclesfield to pick up the car (it took us two days by boat!!) and travel across the Derbyshire Dales to Max and Jenny’s home in Youlgreave. As soon as we hit the dales the weather changed from beautiful sunshine to rain and stayed that way for the rest of the day. We went for a lovely dinner at the Packhorse Inn in Little Longstone where we met up with Max’s brother Richard. Lots of laughs and reminiscing about the bad old days and altogether too much lovely food, wine and beers.
Wednesday dawned a little overcast but looked good for our exploration of Chatsworth House – an absolutely gorgeous and much visited stately home in Derbyshire where Max works as a tour guide. The whole day was wow, wow, wow and despite the 50 photos in the gallery (of the over 300 that we took) nothing does this place justice except a first hand experience. From one jaw-dropping room to the next and one stunning vista to the next we were gobsmacked by how tastefully this home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire has been restored and presented to the public. The array of old and new is tastefully melded in paintings, art installations and gardens. Altogether far too much to see in one afternoon which was capped late in the day by a ride around the gardens in the golf cart to see all the amazing treasures that the gardens hold. Bron was struck with how much her mother would have loved to visit this place and now in its autumnal coat what a spectacular example of idealistic English countryside this estate is. There were a few tears shed in appreciation of the beauty….
We do so hope that we can return sometime and explore the parts we had to gloss over this time and maybe see it in a different season. We were so fortunate to have such a brilliant guide in Max and it is easy to see why he loves his job. Not to mention the patience he demonstrated when we all got a bit ratty when in need of a tea break at about 4.00pm.
But all fantastic things come to an end leaving memories much cherished. We bid our hosts an appreciative farewell on Thursday morning and caught the train from Chesterfield to London to attend yet another eye appointment. Things are still going well in that department thankfully and after a very quick visit with Chris and Sue, picking up our new vacuum cleaner in the process, we made our way back to Kidsgrove by train.
We seem to attract delays on our journeys and this was no exception. All went well until Stafford when the points failed and we were stranded for a while before recommencing the journey – firstly bypassing our stop at Kidsgrove and then at the eleventh hour the points were repaired and we made our original stop – about 45 minutes late!!! Very tired we arrived back at Celtic Maid at about 10.15 pm and went straight to bed.
Friday and Saturday were spent again on domestic tasks – washing, cleaning, shopping – but the highlight was swinging our new AEG Ergorapido 2 in 1 18V cleaner into action. How good was that! No more hands and knees with a dustpan and brush – heaven.
Tomorrow its the Harecastle tunnel and points south along the Trent and Mersey Canal again. There are many new photos in the gallery which give but a glimpse of how fantastic the last week or so has been.