Sunday, 3 June 2012

From Emergency to Cremation

Monday 21st May to Sunday 27th May 2012

44 Miles, 7 Locks, 1 Tunnel, 1 Swing Bridge for this week

Totals:  1134 Miles,  915 Locks, 32 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 21 Swing Bridges

Our continuing journey north was now accompanied by warm sunshine – the first obstacles were the Dutton Stop Lock and the Preston Brook Tunnel, after that it was simply pure cruising.

Once again Banjo has amazed us with the desperation to get to Diane – off the boat he was despatched when we reached the lock for a natural break, but with the lock gate opened and the boat entering the lock (Diane steering) he decided that he wanted to get to her before the boat was fully in the lock – so onto the lock gate platform he stepped and front paws on the top of the gate was eagerly looking to be able to clamber aboard.

Not looking at what exactly was happening I commenced to closed the gate and amidst the confusion he decided to make a back flip with pike to the ground (degree of difficulty 4.5) and miserably failed – into the canal but managed to get himself out this time – miserable drowned water rat of a dog.

Clear of the tunnel we presumed that we might be able to top up the diesel at Claymore navigations – alas an air blockage in the diesel pump and lines meant that they were not able to complete the task.

Not to worry at all, we continued cruising onto Lymm in the pleasant sunshine and with a light cooling breeze – we moored up on the offside (moorings available on each side). Lymm is one of our favourite small towns and we had a short and brief reacquaintance – just like being home again.

We had decided that we would stay here for a couple of days – 48 hour moorings available – fine weather and a chance to slow down again.

On the second day we were once again in the company of nb Valentine and drinks on board that evening were both very enjoyable and much later than we had planned – but a very good night was had by all.

Off-again the following day and only a short trip was planned to Dunham Town with a water stop on the way – all achieved with no fuss at all.

We planned a walk to the Axe and Cleaver for a drink and who did we find again but Lyn and Phil (nb Valentine) – I think they may be stalking us – but the 6 of us (2 dogs included) headed off in the afternoon and had a very nice time in the garden setting of the pub in the back area.

The next morning we were off again – this time with the intention of getting past Waters Meeting and after a brief stop at The Trafford Centre (hopefully) head off further.

Well we got through the junction at Waters Meeting and moored up at The Trafford Centre in very good time – two nice men conducting a towpath survey kindly kept an eye on the boat whilst “she who must be obeyed” dragged me to the shopping centre on the pretence of lunch.

I have to say the place is massive – but very Americanised – everything way too big – I cannot see that there is enough foot traffic through the centre to allow for all of the shops to be profitable – anyway lunch was duly provided by “she” and we left after another top-up for the mobile and a raid on the M&S free chocolate give-away.

We were pleased to see upon our return another familiar face – John from nb Triskaideka – chatting away to the two towpath survey men – he was waiting for Ali to return; so a bit of a chat together and then he invoked the time-honoured means of ensuring return of whom you are waiting – he put the kettle on – sure enough as soon as it was done, Ali appeared – I do believe that John’s wallet is considerably lighter as a result of letting Ali out of his sight.

The Manchester Ship canal from the aqueduct

The Barton Swing Aqueduct
We travelled a bit further up the canal to Worsley where we decided to settle for the evening – very pleasant – but like all unfamiliar places we weren’t quite sure. There was really no need to be concerned – no problems at all and very peaceful.

Night cruising is the thing around here and of course one musn't
be without a convenient lighthouse to help guide you away from danger
In the morning we took a walk around the canal and the town centre to get a feel or it all – after all this was the birthplace of the canal system – all thanks to the Duke of Bridgewater and the coal that was almost readily available.

One of the most photographed buildings at Worsley - but it
doesn't date from Tudor times - just the 1800's

Diane liked the colours of the underside of this bridge -
the colours of the steerer remain just grey
Whilst we were walking we continued to notice that Banjo was not his normal self – he had been having trouble walking and moving for a couple of days now – we had decided that we needed to find a vet for him – there were a couple around Worsley but a bit too far to get him there. We found a vet in Wigan and being that they were open on Saturday mornings as well we knew that we had to get there for him – it was going to be one of those very long days – mostly cruising but a few locks at the end.

The patient - now feeling considerably better and happier

The minehead of the disused colliery

The old mill at Leigh

Locks like these we had not seen before – these were in fact Diane’s first experience taking the boat into and controlling it in double locks – so naturally with being on your own and the movement there was a bit of concern – something which I did not pick up on at first.

One of the flashes on our way into Wigan - now a very popular
water sports and recreation area
We turned at the junction onto the Leeds and Liverpool proper and after another three locks we were just about at the place to walk to see the Vet – she left with Banjo leaving me to resume my experiences as a single-hander through yet another very tough lock – 30 minutes for one lock – this is going to have to be a team effort for the rest of them.

We love the fact that someone has taken the time to measure these
distances for cyclists - but I cannot remember the conversion from
bike minutes to boat hours
The little fellow is now on the improve – he has imitated his mistress – a slipped disc in his back – an anti-inflammatory needle and a course of anti-inflammatory tablets now being undertaken – but at least he has movement and no pain and certainly far happier – we just need to carry him on and off the boat – yes your majesty!!

The junction of the Leigh branch with the main Leeds and
Liverpool canal - we swung around to the left from here
A couple of non-cruising days now at Crooke and a revisit to the vet on Monday are the order of the day.

All this time we have been having extremely wonderful weather.

We had our first BBQ adventure since being on the boat – a bit of a difference to the fully gas-controlled one back home, so the first cooking it was a bit burnt (almost cremated) but later efforts met with management approval.

Plans for the next week or so are now advanced – our booking to go into Liverpool is now less than two weeks away, so very much looking forward to that.

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