Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sunshine, sea and sand in holiday-time Scotland

Thursday 12th July to Thursday 19th July 2012

With the boat in good hands we were off northwards to see a bit more of Scotland than just Gretna Green (although we did spend 3 days in Edinburgh). It's holiday time for a week

We had made no plans whatsoever and changed our minds even whilst we were driving - Diane made a booking for a B&B in Dumfries so we were off to there - ended up being a couple of nights

A lot of water flowing along the River Nith.
One of our favourites - the fountain in the middle of the town

The statue of Robert Burns dwarfed by the cathedral
but not overshadoed in Dumfries

We did the town trail which dealt a lot with Robert Burns - the great poet - he lived, worked and died here - alas they couldn't claim his birth - that was for Ayr

The Sweetheart Abbey at New Abbey

We did a fair amount of sightseeing around the area as well as the towns in which we stayed and managed to get a very good look at parts of Scotland that we feel might not be visited as much as they deserve - including down to Carsethorn where the American John Paul Jones was born and from where his seafaring career was launched.

Just a few miles from Stranraer is the lovely little port of Portpatrick
with this harbour.

Right around the south-west the country is magnificent and we certainly enjoyed driving as well as doing the tourist things - the drive from Stranraer to Ayr along the coast is almost as spectacular as the Great Ocean Road back in Victoria.

The citadel in Ayr - built by Oliver Cromwell
and from where he arranged for soldiers to depart
the colony of Virginia for defense against Royalists

Sun, sea and sand - all here in Ayr - yes it is real sand, not any
of this stony stuff. We would have been in for a swim
but the swimmers were back in the car

As we had not been to Glasgow before and there were a number of areas we wanted to see we decided to make a base in Glasgow and reduce the travelling - again Diane was on the web whilst we were travelling and made the necessary booking.

Number one for us was the Falkirk Wheel - we couldn't come this far and not see it

One boat up and one coming down - a total rotation uses
something like 1.5kW in power
Nearing the caisson for the trip down

The tourist trip on the wheel and this view as you come back
ready for the rotation back down

Looking down onto the Forth & Clyde Canal

In the other direction was Loch Lomond and all i got in the car was Diane singing the song - by the end there was some resemblance of the tune and most of the words were in the right order - only joking - her singing was wonderful (can you release my arm now dear)

It was not so sunny this day, but the area was so peaceful

and just the same a bit further around

The small heritage village of Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond

The mountains started to make their presence felt a bit further north
of the loch and the scenery was stunning

down as well as up the hills

One of the steamers out on Loch Fyne

 After not anywhere near tiring of the Scottish landscape it was time to start the return journey and with the slight detour through the Lake District the scenery changed but it was just as beautiful

Looking back down the valley

There has been a lot of rain in the area and it is still
rushing down the mountain-side

We spent one night in the small town of Settle - all of it was very pretty but perhaps best epitomised by the railway station

The station at Settle
 Of course we found out that this is steam-train country and that Wednesdays mean the 5:47pm train through the station - so we joined a group of afficiandos (i.e. train people) at the station to eagerly await it's arrival - I am sure that it will go into the books that on this day the train was indeed late - by some minutes

but it was worth the extra wait for "The Fellsman"

the River Ribble
Also rushing through the town is the River Ribble - the longest river in Britain (or was it just England) to run from right to left ( I mean east to west) - yes it is the same one that exits past Preston to the estuary at Lytham St.Anne's.

We arrived back to the boat - all intact - in time to bid farewell to Richard, Kirsty, Emily and Jacob farewell for their journey back to Australia and we were back home.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Drifting along slowly and quietly, until all of a sudden ….

Thursday 5th July to Wednesday 11th July 2012
12 Miles, 7 Locks, 3 Swing Bridges for this week

Totals: 1227 Miles, 936 Locks, 38 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 54 Swing Bridges

We have spent this time very much in slow motion mode – in fact you would need to put the fast forward on the replay to see us moving at even anything approaching normal speed.

We have had only two concerns with us for this week – the continuing ensurance that Phil maintains a less than no physical exertion and to make sure that we were in Wigan on Tuesday 10th.

Why the need to be in Wigan on that date? – I can hear you saying this.

But first things first – we left Parbold and made our way down through the locks either side of Aspley Bridge – a lovely little place it is – during our passage through the swing bridge there, who should be going the other way and very happy to have the work done for them but Wintons Folly with Barry and Carol aboard – we know them from Aston Marina and lovely people they are – you only ever see and talk to lovely people.

Through to the village of Crooke – a vet’s visit for Freddie on the Saturday morning and one for Banjo on the Monday afternoon. They are both a lot better but we need to keep an eye on each of them. For us it is Banjo’s continuing back issues which are better but could flare up at any time.

So we made it through to Wigan on time – mooring up just near to the BW (oops CaRT) offices – Valentine behind us – we had been up through the lock to do a manual pumpout at the sanitary station – wish we had a longer hose to reach the receptacle – has to use a 25 litre container to transfer it – not pleasant at all but better than the alternative.

After that we can now cross off another first – we came down through the lock backwards – Diane completing the passage and then reversing the 100 metres back to our mooring place – fine woman that – her reversing skills were not including in the resume when she applied for the job 30 years ago – might have got her sooner if they had been written down.

So why Wigan and why Tuesday?

An ex-colleague of mine, Richard, and his wife Kirsty and the kids, Emily and Jacob are over here on holiday and asked if the boat might be available for them to take up through the Wigan flight for us and we agreed, based on the additional information of their considerable boating experience.

So they have the responsibility of looking after the boat for a week and we are taking a break and touring the south-west of Scotland.

So if you have read this blog and happen to come across Ferndale in this week, it will not be Diane and I at the back, but Richard and Kirsty, so give them a wave and say hello.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Thanks to BW and probing the canal the hard way

Monday 25th June 2012 to Wednesday 4th July 2012
40 Miles, 6 Locks, 3 Tunnels, 15 Swing Bridges for this period

Totals: 1215 Miles,  929 Locks, 38 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 51 Swing Bridges

 Let’s not beat around the bush – like our trip into Liverpool, the best part about the trip out was the great work and friendliness of the BW staff

We have such respect for these guys – so helpful, so friendly and ready to provide extra if needed – thanks again guys – same time next year.

We have to also acknowledge the task ahead for the army of volunteers who are trying to clean up the canal into Liverpool, but it has to be said that there has to be a massive mindset change to clear away the level of rubbish already there and the amount that comes after.

We were glad to be able to help them in a small way and the three bags full of rubbish removed from the prop are an indictment on the people who see the canal as a rubbish tip – but it won’t stop us from coming back next year – Liverpool deserves better than to not go there.

But to the mindless idiot who decided that he would have a pot shot with half a brick at our travelling companions on nb Valentine – think yourself lucky that you weren’t caught or worse that it didn’t hit anything other than the water. What sort of person acts like that??

Another big thanks to the office staff for being able to help with allowing us to extend our stay in order to help Lyn and Phil out of Liverpool after Phil had done the Grand Tour of Liverpool hospital with medical problems
duelling camers - Phil taking it easy

In the time since this we have been slowly moving and exploring the pubs that have until now escaped our patronage – at least 5 more on the list of pubs to revisit next year. We have spent at least 2 nights in each location where we have moored – Melling; Haskayne; Burscough; Parbold
part of the fracking operation under licence PEDL165 - just
near Burscough. Fracking is the extraction of oil from shale

This is the speed at which we want to be moving.

Phil has improved tremendously – the hardest part of the journey is making sure that he doesn’t do anything – he is very willing to help, but not so quick in understanding that he can’t do it all (or really anything).

Both Phil and Lyn are great people and we have enjoyed their company and hope to be with them for a few more days yet.
Just enjoying the cruising

The basis of selection of mooring spots has been doubly important this week – clear signal for the television – it is after all Wimbledon time – and Euro 2012 – Diane is in her element – and with days of not moving the boat, she has been able to see plenty of the action (tennis-wise) as well as the end of the football season.
Boats heading down the Rufford arm - bound for Tarleton
and the Ribble Link

a lovely row of cottages at the junction - dating from 1797

Lyn performs a perfect turn at the junction ready for a return
back to Burscough

During our stay at Haskayne, Diane decided to use the new cleaning system that was purchased at Crick – wash the boat with ease and only on a bucket of water – unfortunately the extension section was only connected by a friction join and not a screw handle – a bit of vigorous brushing and whoops, off it came and straight into the canal – sunk like a rock despite being plastic and of course it is not magnetic.
Taking on water at Dean Locks

Sitting outside and enjoying a brief spell of sunshine and a couple of glasses of red and eventually reached the conclusion that there was just one way to find it again. It took just a couple of minutes of searching the mud and slime with the feet and it was found!!
Strange creatures in these canals - retrieval of
the lost brush

We are looking forward to our trip this week towards Wigan and a change in the outlook for some of the time to come – more on that to come next week.
Sunshine and slow cruising - what can be better