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Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Boats, Beers and Boozers, 2018. No. 22

As I write this we are sitting on the boat at Aston Marina, for a few days visit before the madness of the run up to Christmas etc.

We left Stoak and continued down the Shropshire Union. We saw the Air Beluga overhead on the way to and from Hawarden airport. The shuttle around the European factories collecting the parts to put together at Toulouse. In the UK we make the wings and undercarriage. There are 5 of them going round. The wings for the new Airbus A380 are too big for this plane and a new type, an A340 will be seen in the skies in 2019. (Unless BREXIT gets in the way that is).

We stopped in Chester for a few days and actually visited a few pubs, but for some reason I made no notes about them. Most of the 'black and white' buildings are actually not original but they do make a nice setting for a shopping street scene. Chester is a very nice place for a stop over but the 'high street' is suffering like most places.

We had an extra half day in Chester as the Queen and Meghan were visiting the city to re-open the theatre. There were plenty of folk wanting to see them and we got a spot where we could just about glimpse a part of them, before we repaired to the boat and set off up the staircase locks and out of the city

It really looks like this lock is allowing access into the estate of Broughton Road Water works, that were built between 1851 and 1853. The buildings are Listed and have undergone a £12mil. refurbishment. Not bad for a place that started in Roman Times.

We left the boat in Tattenhall Marina for a week before resuming our trip south. Here we are passing Beeston Castle that has a great view of the countryside

Beeston and Tarporley is an interesting place and after getting fuel from Chas. Harden's we had a walk around. These deer are farmed and look good on the hill. Underneath are the old oil storage tanks from the War.

Our objective was to 'do' the Llangollen Canal before the height of the season and were pleased to see no queue at the foot of Hurleston Locks that take you up from the 'Shropie' unto the Llangollen.

We moored up near Marbury and walked into the village to visit the Swan there, and have a look round the village. The Swan has been there since the 1700's but by 2106 was very run down and needed a lot of money spending on it. When it reopened in 2018 it is a lovely pub with plenty of different spaces, nothing too precious and all very comfortable. Obviously to make their money they have to attract people from far and wide and the 'Build it and they will come' seems to have worked, with a steady stream of cars pulling up. The food looked nice and there were 5 hand pulls to choose from.

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Slater's Ales was set up in 1995 at the back of the George Hotel in Eccleshall by a husband and wife team. It was then called Eccleshall Brewery. By 2004 they had grown their trade so much that they had outgrown the original premises. They started a brand new brewery in Stafford using their experience to set it up how they wanted. They changed their name to Slater's Ales at the same time. They have continued to grown and have doubled their staff since the move.

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I tried a blonde beer at 4% called Top Totty. It was a good choice on such a warm day as the pint had a lovely mouth, nice and thick, a good head and smelt fruity and flowery and that is just how it tasted. It slipped down a treat. It was £3-65 which is high end for us, especially so when we found out it was 'happy hour' too.

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The brewery was set up by a young lad straight out of University with a little experimental kit. It the time the american revolution of keg beer was running and he was inspired by it. He wanted a big kit to be able to experiment and from around 2011 he managed to set himself up. He is from the village of Mobberley and was used to drinking cask beers but was inspired by the new beers. They are still expanding and have opened two of their own bars, one is Knutsford and one in Stockport.

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I tried the Whirly Bird at 4% and a pale bitter. It was nice and fruity with a nice after taste of bitter. £3-50 at happy hour prices.

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The surroundings were so pleasant and the evening was so wonderful it was hard to drag ourselves away, so we didn't and I had another from the Warrington brewery Coach House. They were set up in 1991, the same year that the large Greenall's Brewery closed. Coach House can say they are the largest brewery in Cheshire.

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I had another lighter beer the blonde at 4.1%. It was nice an fruity and the hint of grapefruit was definitely there. A great beer to finish on. We will certainly head back next time we pass, and stop for a bite to eat as a special treat. Lovely price but a little expensive, but well worth the walk up from the canal. Take care on the road back to the lock.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Boats, Beers and Boozers, 2018. No. 21

The night before we left we had some excitement as we had to leave our boat after being knocked up by the police about 8 o'clock at night. It seesm that that the couple on the boat astern of us had been rowing (I had heard them at one stage!) and it had resulted in the lady dousing the cabin of the boat with fuel and threatening to set it alight. It was about two hours before they talked her out of it and we could get back aboard!

The only way for us to get onto the Shropshire Union, without having to head down to Birmingham, was now to return down the Ship Canal to Ellesmere Port. The Middlewich Branch was closed and our original plan had been to go down the Anderton Boat Lift to the Weaver and then out of Marsh Lock for the short little leg round from there to Ellesmers. It meant another early start to be  at the Pomona Lock for eight again. This time we were accompanied by NB. Meander. As we cleared the lock there were three boats heading up onto the system, caught out by the same problem. I like this sculpture/installation that is right by Traford Bridge.

The weather was lovely as we wended our way back down the Manchester Ship Canal. Even the ships on Stanlow Jetty was happy.

We were making our turn into Ellesmere Basin at around 5 o'clock and we weren't sure whether the bridge man from the council would be there to open it for us as it was out of his hours. But he was and we penned through to the bottom basin of the Canal Museum.

The Holiday in is on one side of us, and on the other is some of the collection of craft. The waterways here had a covered warehouse over them until it was lost in a fire. If it had survived I wonder what the museum would have filled it with?

We had a day in the museum before heading off into the wide blue yonder of the canal system. Here we are heading up the Whitby Locks. There is the pair of narrow locks and wide locks next door. They are not a staircase as there is a little pound between them. They are named after the little village that was here when the canal arrived, but is now a suburb of Ellesmere.

We didn't go too far and stopped in the country to enjoy the sunshine. We wandered up a footpath from the canal to the village of  Stoak and found the Banbury Arms. It is a little off the beaten track but handy for the canal, and the Cheshire Oaks Retail Park. In the lovely weather there is a nice large garden to sit out and enjoy the sun in. They seemed to be very busy with food, but we weren't eating today. I had been polishing the boat so needed a drink.

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I tried a Weetwood Bear. They are named after Weetwood Common, near Tarporley, Cheshire, where the brewery was set up in 1992. A brewer had the skills and the farmer the barn and off they went. It soon picked up and they needed to extend in 2011. They moved just round the corner and started up in 2012. In 2014 the business was sold but the original team are still involved.

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I chose  a pint of Eastgate at 4.2%. It had a nice rich aroma and the taste wasn't disappointing. It had a refreshing taste, just what I needed, and a nice amber colour. It was thick in the mouth with a nice sweet taste, a lot like Batham's (my favourite beer, so far!), but not quite.

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Due to the weather I felt obliged to try another beer, research purposes only you understand, and I tried the Joseph Holts beer. Joseph Holts has been going a long time, since 1849, and since 1860 at the same brewery! It seems amazing that it hasn't been gobbled up in the past, but now is a large brewery compared with the microbreweries. It is still run by the Holt family, The great, great grandson. It can be found at Cheetham, Manchester.

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I went for the Bitter at 4.0%. It had a nice cooper tinge to the beer and a lovely head on it. This is not a flowery IPA but there is a little fruit there. It was a great session beer with a nice bitterness to it. Not bad at all. It was a pub we will return to when passing this way next time.