Monday, 29 April 2013

The weather was the easiest thing to predict

Sunday 28th April to Monday 29th April 2013

To go or not to go – that was the decision we had to make on both days – they were pretty much identical days for us – both started off cloudy and windy; the sun made brief appearances and we cruised for slightly longer than we normally would have done.

Our intention when we headed off from Burscough was to moor up at Crooke (just out of Wigan) for the night and then perhaps make it to just before Leigh on Monday.

We encountered two separate episodes on Sunday which helped to change our minds – at least to sow the seed for Diane and then she suggested it to me.

The first of these was at Appley Lock – we were approaching it and I was already on the towpath and could see a boat sideways at the lock – we had known there was a boat there from a couple of cyclists who had mentioned it minutes earlier – why were they sideways? – it looked very much like they had decided to wind and go back up the lock.

As I got closer (still some distance away though), I saw the lock gates open; saw the boat under control and enter the lock – I was  closer by now – then saw the gates to the double lock close (with just the one boat inside) – by then I was upon the lock; striding up to the lock level – the guy operating the paddle gear turned around and realised I was there; looked up further and saw our boat and queried “I can lower the paddles if you like?” – Lower the bloody paddles if I like – you idiot, couldn’t you see us coming – I would have liked to have said that to him, but I very calmly replied “It would be good to save some water”

So we entered the lock; it appears that he usually is a single hander, but had his mother aboard who, in his words was “useless on the boat” and had become a little panicked when she had pushed the tiller the wrong way as they were getting closer to the lock – this explained the picture that I had seen; still not an excuse for not checking on any boats coming along to share the lock.

At the same lock in the disused arm were about 5 boats with a number of people around them obviously having a bit to drink, playing some music and generally enjoying themselves – no problems there.

We got through the lock and Diane headed out first, I was walking to the swing bridge at Appley Bridge; our “single-hander” friend came out next and nearly headed into the trees – (now I was sure that he could not blame his mother for that one).

I walked ahead of the two boats – passed the line of fishermen lining the canal – a match in progress – this would be interesting I thought.

Arriving at the swing bridge, I was looking back to check on the progress – even though it is a pedestrian bridge there is no point in opening it too soon; boat no.1 into view; Ferndale into view; the there were two fibreglass cruisers immediately behind her and it very much looked like they were trying to pass her as they were all pasing moored boats and with a fast approaching bridge hole which wasn’t wide enough for two abreast.

I wasn’t impressed with the sight.

Diane pulled over immediately past the bridge hole to pick me up; I duly closed the bridge once all boats were through and we then followed the two cruisers – the latter of these was getting his bonus travel points by zig-zagging from one side of the canal to the other.

Diane told me these were two of the boats moored back at Appley Lock (disused arm) and she thought that they might have had a bit to drink – mmm don’t really want to be near these guys too much.

The next lock is Dean Lock and with a water point we duly moored up to fill up.
confusion at the top of the lock

four others waiting to go up - we were glad to be filling the
water tank (on the left)

In what seemed like an instant the two cruisers were joined by 3 narrowboats – all planning to go up through the lock.

With a slow water tap we were glad that we didn’t have to share a lock with them, as in helping them anyway it became clear that not all of them operating some of the gear were completely sober or completely conversant with the way to operate it.

I will give them my due in saying that they were all very very friendly indeed and there was no trouble; they did also say that they were mooring up at Crooke for the last day of the Beer Festival –with all of this in mind, Diane suggested that for the sake of a couple of miles and a few locks we head for Wigan and moor up outside the CaRT offices – nice secure moorings – and this is where we headed for and moored for the night – very glad to be on our own.
Wigan Pier

Our erstwhile “single-hander” had gone up before we had arrived and we were clear of him; these 5 craft plus another unrelated boat had all gone up before we needed to follow.

The additional locks were all found with paddle gear left unlocked and one of the top gates left open – not blown open in the wind that was around, but just left open – we can only presume by our friend with his mother.

Sorry Maffi, if you read this – he wasn’t a great advertisement for how to do it on your own (his mother wasn’t doing much to help him from what we saw).

Monday was a bit more leisurely by virtue of the extra distance that we had travelled the previous day, but we had now revised where we would head to; it turned out to be completely uneventful – just a pleasant day of cruising once we had negotiated Henshurst Lock and the two locks on the Leigh branch.
the new-style stop planks - 7 in one go

this holday boat calmly through the bridge hole - enjoying
their break and without any of the fuss from the day before

Diane was at the helm and suggested that I might get a couple of hours work whilst she cruised to Leigh – I always agree with her suggestions!

We moored in Leigh for shopping and then off again with Worsley in mind to moor up.

approaching Worsley

Again she had a suggestion that I should take her out for dinner when we arrived – again I obeyed her suggestion – such a dutiful husband that I am.

I will await our cruising instructions in the morning and any suggestions that may be directed to me so that I know what I need to be doing!

23 miles, 8 locks, 1 lift bridge, 3 swing bridges for this period

Totals: 1601 Miles, 1269 Locks, 56 Tunnels, 27 Lift Bridges, 122 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Silent Sunday 6

Thrills Galore - i don't think so.

Saturday 27th April 2013

This has been a pretty slack sort of a day - we had a bit of a lie in - well it was late for me.

Off to get the paper and croissants; Diane had her coffee in bed.

It was the weekly maintenance day - so the engine was checked; batteries checked; prop checked and armouralled the front and back covers.

Yep, you guessed it - pretty b____y boring.

Then we just sort of collapsed in the lounge chairs, watched Final Score; Diane watched Dr Who; and then we caught up on some of our recorded shows and time for bed.

Not what you would call a mind boggling; thrill-a-minute; action-packed day - but what the heck, we enjoyed just doing nothing.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Happy Birthday Mitchell

To our baby boy - have a happy 24th birthday

Mitch and Sara

It as sunny alright, but the wind was s**te !!

Friday 26th April 2013

After the colder weather yesterday afternoon – wet and a bit windy – there was a bit of an expectation that we might be in for some of the same, but the sun was out with a bit of cloud and a breeze (from the north-west) – with a hint of a pirate accent he says “aye, there be a gale from the north and the glass it be rising and somebody be moving them bridges today”.

We wanted to make for Burscough, so that someone would have her paper in bed for the morning with her coffee – mmm! Wonder who that might be?

So we headed off early and at the first of the many swing bridges this morning, Diane felt the power – she held up the traffic headed towards work, or dropping the kids at school – but she held them all up just the same – the power at work.

little did they suspect that there was an unexpected delay about to occur
I just pootled through not really caring about it all.

Ducklings by the baker's dozen

3 wise ducks
Three more swing bridges – one was a pedestrian only and one was not used much but  at the other one she showed her mettle again – well after she let through about 20 cars whilst I was trying bobble around in the “gale from the north (aye!)”.

this bridge wasn't used by much local traffic - just a hold-up
getting around this lot
It was pleasant cruising along – even the wind didn’t concern me too much –the sun was mainly out from behind the few clouds and it had a very warming effect – someone else had to resort to her thermally heated gloves (batteries included) to take the frost off her hands.

a local statue in dedication to the mining in the area

another sad story

We came up behind another boat – there was one other boat we had passed this morning and this was the second boat moving we had seen – and were fast approaching the New Lane Swing Bridge – one of the guys on the boat in front was off and trying to operate the bridge, but it had a problem – oh no – not these two again – but we managed to reset it; open it; and close it, and then the same with the next one (our nemesis) and through without any drama – then moored up by lunchtime.

No more problems for the rest of the day and time to relax – as I write this, she is relaxing in the cratch whilst reading and I am also doing a bit of work.

13 miles, 7 swing bridges for today

Totals: 1578 Miles, 1261 Locks, 56 Tunnels, 26 Lift Bridges, 119 Swing Bridges

Friday, 26 April 2013

A farewell to Liverpool

Thursday 25th April 2013 – Anzac Day

For Australians and New Zealanders alike this is a day of great respect and remembrance for the thousands of service personnel who lost their lives in wars all over the world.

For both countries, we have not known the terrors of war on our doorstep in the way that the rest of the world has experienced and at this time of the year we remember all of those who left their country never to return.

Lest we forget.

On a different note we needed to be up and have all of the usual things done a bit earlier today as we were off out of the docks and leaving the environs of Liverpool – i.e out through Hancock’s Bridge.

Salthouse Dock - for the last time?
There seemed to be a few sleepy eyes greeting us as we were ready to go – it was a bit unusual to see Paul and Elaine quite this early in the morning and Leonie and Ray had been wandering around taking in the city sights quite late last night (even after we had returned to the boats), but their presence and send off were very much appreciated.

Diane had been talking to the guy on nb Sally who said he was also leaving with us, so it was a bit of a surprise that when we arrived at Canning Lock we were on our own and the lockies said that they only had knowledge of us leaving – so it appeared to be us on our own.

Princes Lock

a good example of some of the regeneration of the old dock areas

farewell Liverpool

some crazy woman on board

readying to enter Stanley Dock and locks beyond

Through the locks and tunnels of the city centre; through the dock areas and onto the Stanley Locks – they had all been set for us; the two lockies needed to be in two places at the same time so they said we could either wait for them to come and get us through the locks or we could start – we chose the latter – these guys do such a great job anyway.

We had made it through the first two – the gates are unbelievably heavy – and it was within about 45 minutes with a little help we were exiting from the top lock and waving a short adieu to Tom (the lockie) – we would see him further along at the swing bridges.

He did let us know that nb Sally was also down to leave, but the office hadn’t told them about it, so the other guy was back helping them through the two city locks and they were about 45 minutes behind us – we carried on.

the scenes at the top of the locks really do Liverpool proud

On the way in we seemed to collect rubbish at the bow end – the large amount of cut reeds in the water collected at the front and attracted other rubbish – and so it was on the way out – on a couple of occasions we needed to stop and I cleared the muck away and we carried on.

most of this rubbish has come from the normal cut back of reeds
but other rubbish has not found it's way here by natural means

We were just past Litherland and the surface of the water showed the tell-tale signs that there was some precipitation around – it gradually grew in strength, but enough to be of any concern.

Spring is here - the usual signs are there - one female duck being
hotly pursued by three males

a nice end to someone's back garden
We made it to the first of the assisted swing bridges (Bridge 6) and we needed to moor up anyway as the two CaRT guys we not there just yet (no problems) as we had lunch ready – delicious home made sausage rolls (vegetarian) – by the time we had finished they had arrived and the rain had abated – we were off for the final stage – onwards to Bridge 9.

This last section takes us past Aintree race course and the rain had returned and was a little bit more intense; the CaRT guys were ready for us at Bridge 9, so we were straight through – apparently nb Sally was about 30 minutes behind us.

By this point, with the rain getting stronger again we had decided that we would moor up after Bridge 10 – a favourite spot – and stay the night there – it was also a good deal colder now with a breeze coming up.

And so we settled in for the night; the strange things being the appearance of the sun in some intensity later in the afternoon (early evening) and the non-appearance of nb Sally – not sure where he has got to.

12 miles, 6 locks, 3 tunnels, 2 swing bridges for today

Totals: 1565 Miles, 1261 Locks, 56 Tunnels, 26 Lift Bridges, 112 Swing Bridge

Almost time to go

Wednesday 24th April 2013

Our last full day in the docks so we made the most of still being on power – more washing, cleaning and everything such like; arranged for another mobile pumpout; a last Tesco shop and a few other things that we needed were purchased.

Along with Elaine, Leonie, Paul and Ray we went out for a lovely dinner at Bistro Franc and very reasonable in price it was. After that it was onto McCartneys Bar where it was not too busy and we were able to occupy a fairly large separate room.

It was not an early night for us – 11:30 is very late for us early risers, but the others must have thought this was still quite early.

We had to be up in time to be at Caning Lock for 9am in the morning.

Thanks for a great time in a great city

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Going up in the world

Tuesday 23rd April 2013 (St.George’s Day)

It isn’t like St.Patrick’s Day at all – in fact if it wasn’t for the many flags of St.George that start to appear a few days beforehand you would not even know.

As a national day for England it does appear a bit flat.

Today was tower day – not the off with their heads tower – but the radio city tower that hovers above the central area.

Just a fiver to go for views of the city that you really can’t get anywhere else.

We were escorted by a nice young man who gave us the rundown on the brief history of the tower – originally it was going to be the ventilation shaft for an underground garage and then after that didn’t proceed it was changed mid-build to incorporate a revolving restaurant, which did eventuate but closed down due to health and safety concerns.

if you are queasy about heights - look away now

St. Georges' Hall - an appropriate day to be looking down on this

Lime Street railway station (on the right)

Now it has been transformed into radio studios, but the views of the city always remained.
a new career beckons

We also visited the superlambanana again - this time for Paul

and one or Mitch - an Irish pub all on it's own - in the middle of Liverpool

We had had an email from Richard (nb Pendle Warter) whom we know from Aston Marina -  he would be in Liverpool today and were we available to catch up for a drink - always Richard and very happy indeed we were to see you

We have to report that there was an escape attempt from Ferndale, but pleased tobe able to say that it was thwarted and the culprit is back under boat detention

we suspected something was up when kangaroo wanted to go
outside for some sun - completely out of character for him

but he made a break for it - he has been practising his swimming
in private - we didn't even know he could do this

the wind took him away from his intended escape route and we
were there to close in

closer and closer he got - not at all happy about
the impending capture, he turned his back on
it all.
Kangaroo is safely back in the boat and will be closely watched in future!!