6 miles, 18 locks, and 1 swing bridge during this period
Totals: 1495 Miles, 1232 Locks, 50 Tunnels, 25
Market day in Ashton – well everyday in Ashton is market day – at least from our visits to there.
Dot, Gordon, Peter, Meagan, Diane and I were off to Ikea and to the markets; Elaine and Paul were off to Staleybridge to see a pub with a lot of railway memorabilia – the penchant of Paul with Elaine to drag him away at some stage before the whole day was lost.
Ikea found – first it was time for morning tea (or for some it was second breakfast time – a likely bunch of hobbits).
We found plenty in there to help us waste some time but also managed to not leave with empty hands.
Ashton is very much a lower socio-economic area but it does not stop them having a very good market – both outdoor and indoor – and again we always find it hard not to be drawn to items – some of which seem to miraculously find their way onto the boat.
We stopped for a quick drink and bite to eat at ‘Spoons and then we wanted to visit Spec Savers to see about a repair to glasses – we weren’t pleased with the pricing or policy – especially after the store in Stoke had a different and more friendly policy – we will wait and get a full check-up and see about new prescriptions at Stoke.
Outside again – found D&G wandering down the street with E&P accompanying them – as Elaine would say “the gang was back together again”.
P&M had broken away earlier for some other adventures around town.
We arrived back at the boats – still all intact – no problems with mooring up here – just short of the junction – a bit of a chat (again); tea (again) – this time outside – it really is getting milder.
|Bombo and Sammy|
Ever notice how easy it is to get knackered doing seemingly nothing at all – well we were.
There was some little cautious apprehension about what could lay ahead for tomorrow as we tackled the Ashton flight – none of had been through before – and stories abound about all of these areas.
Wednesday was one out of the box – bright sunshine but still with some cold air – we were all ready for the off by 7:30 and it came to pass that we were indeed off.
Top of the locks, which we had been expecting to be double locks but we found them to be single locks only; two boats needing Elsan emptying and so it was that we were away first – unlocking all of the anti-vandal locks on the paddles.
Diane at the helm and a long walk ahead for the windlass guy – the lazy dog was onboard.
Very quickly we got into a routine and through the locks – able to leave a paddle up on the top gate for the boat following – who it was we did not know.
It all came to a thundering halt when approaching and getting into Lock 7 the prop was showing it’s usual signs of wanting to be cleared – so without any other boats around we did just that – in the lock – 20 minutes to clear the rubbish which included a meter length of thickish wire wrapped around very well, and the usual accomplishment of plastic bags.
By this stage P&M had caught us up and as is the case good and handy advise comes from the people who don’t have their hands in the freezing water – special thanks to Peter and Diane for their comments and sideline help.
With prop cleared again we were off down the flight – by this stage the sky had clouded a little; the breeze had come up; and boats were coming up the flight – making it a little easier.
It took about 4 hours to complete the run down (including the stop to clear the rubbish); most of the 4 and ½ miles were walked – but with the back and forth between locks and gates it was probably closer to about 6.
|the last one at last|
Mooring at the bottom was a bit more difficult as we did not know what to expect – in the process of looking for the water point, Diane decided enough was enough and moored up on what seemed like private moorings – at least it was behind a security gate – her on one side and me on the other.
In the space of a few days another act of kindness (Gordon was the first), a young man (well young in our age terms) came out from his flat and gave Diane the access codes for the gates – such niceness.
All four boats were able to moor up either on line or in the small basin behind these apartments.
Later on this man came out and we got chatting – his name was Don and was working here in Manchester away from his native Barbados – very tall (6’6”) and I am sure that Dot and Diane both thought him quite good looking (on a comparative basis standing nest to me it would be easy to make that conclusion) and with a very good physique (again on the same comparison) – they both acted a little like schoolgirls and poor Elaine was not at all sure of what she should say to him.
These women – what is it about a tall, dark, handsome stranger?
Don’t they know what they have? – perhaps they may have a point.
We knew that this was likely to be the last night that we woud be together and for 6 of us (D&G; E&P; D&me) – after 5 months in a marina together, it would be au revoir for how long we did not know.
So off to dinner at a local eatery – very nice food, good service – (cannot remember the name of it however).
|and we were sober|
|the group together for dinner|
|we picked up these two drunks somewhere|