Neither of them, or their wives had experienced narrowboating, although, of course, we could by now reach Wrenbury blindfolded. Everything was planned to the finest detail. After the cruise, we would moor right outside the Dusty Miller, (which recently re-opened after a 6 week refurbishment). They expressed a desire to have the evening out in a "proper" restaurant, rather than the (excellent and substantial) bar snack type meals that are on offer all day across the road at The Cotton Arms, so that is what we arranged for them. Afterwards, they would all make the short walk for an overnight stay at the Sproston Hill Farmhouse bed and breakfast, and the following day two of them would cruise back with us.
The self operated electric bridge at Wrenbury.
Everything went like clockwork except for one thing - the weather! After weeks of warm sunshine and blue skies, this weekend saw heavy thundery showers, and high wind on Sunday, which made the journey back "interesting"! Nevertheless, I think everybody enjoyed their weekend, we certainly did. The journey to Wrenbury fulfils the need for interest for anybody who hasn't experienced boating on canals before, with a few narrow locks, and the two lift bridges, one being electrically operated, with traffic lights and a barrier to stop road traffic while the boat passes through. All good stuff with which to get the novice involved. The Cotton Arms provided us with real ale on our arrival, (Dragon Slayer, wow, and a wobbly route back down the canal bank)!
The Dusty Miller is on the right, a converted canal warehouse.
The Dusty Miller provided us with good food for the evening. Recently re-opened after additional covers have been added in a full refurbishment, I had made an early advance booking, which was just as well as the place was packed all evening. If you book early enough you may be lucky enough to be seated on a table overlooking the canal, which is great on a summer evening. The menu offers more expensive options for main courses at around £12-£15, with less expensive "boater's fayre" mains at £9-£11. We all opted to take a starter and one of the cheaper mains, so we could easily split the bill, which came to £120 for the 6 of us including drinks. I chose soup of the day, which was served piping hot, with chunks of both wholemeal and white crusty bread and butter, and was home made. I had roasted gammon, eggs and hand cut chips for my main course. The gammon was served cold, in thick tender slices, which was quite an unexpected change from the usual fried gammon steak I have had elsewhere, nevertheless, beautifully done. The restaurant is by no means silver service, and is very "country casual", but if you want to indulge in drinks, I would suggest a visit to the excellent Cotton Arms, just across the road, who serve beautiful informal food and real ale at a more "informal" price. All in all, an enjoyable evening. Our guests had a lovely farmhouse full English breakfast on Sunday morning at their B&B, (must try that myself one day)!
The weather picked up a little on Sunday, when I took these photographs, although it was very windy. I thought I would never get the boat around in the winding 'ole, thinking I might have to resort to securing the bow to a mooring pin to prevent the wind catching the boat and stopping it coming around. But, patience prevailed, and we managed in the normal way in the end.
There are good 48 hour moorings at Wrenbury, but I still can't understand why the hire fleet that is based there is allowed to moor their boats, in a continuous line, on the offside right opposite designated BW moorings and on a bend! There were several of their boats moored awaiting pick up on various days of the weekend from here back to the bridge, making it awkward for passing traffic. (Winge)!After another buffet lunch on the boat when we arrived back at our own mooring, our guests left for home, and we tidied the boat after its busy weekend. A wedding in Hampshire is next weekend's agenda. I did actually plan that trip by boat, as the venue is close to the Basingstoke Canal <Click> but it didn't come to fruition due to Deepcut Locks still being out of action, and also Margaret couldn't make the required 6 weeks travel plan due to temporary work commitments.