Monday, 28 September 2009

Long Weekend on Tixall Wide

Monday 28th September
Friday was another longish day for us but after a week of long days we reached Tixall Wide and managed to find a space. There were quite a few boats there but we were lucky.
It has been a mixture of a relaxing and working weekend.
I have nagged all summer about touching up little bits of paintwork to no avail, but Geoff has now, very reluctantly, got out the paint brushes!!!
I was frustrated as I wanted to do the black along the sides but have run out of paint. Tried in a big chandlers in Stone but they had never heard of International "Interlac". So have phoned Rose Narrowboats just before Rugby who hope to have it in for me by Saturday when we go past. However in between relaxing I have entertained myself with cleaning the venetian blinds.....what a thankless task! I don't regret our decision to have the narrow slat blinds, except when they need cleaning. None of the cleaning solution that have been purchased work...the only answer is to manhandle each slat...takes forever!!!

Tixall Wide
Rural scene on the River adjacent to Shugborough Hall

Unusual Tower on Catholic Church, Great Haywood.
It is a 20 min walk to Great Haywood but sufficient shops there, a good Farm Shop, pub and church.
The visit to the church was unsuccessful however. I checked the time of service online and on the notice board outside the church which read "Service here this Sunday Holy Communion 10am" We were somewhat peeved having walked up specially to find there was not a service there after all, it was in a neighbouring church at 10.30. Since we hadn't a clue where the other church was and being on shank's pony, we abandoned the mission. Later we met our friend Father Colin for lunch in the pub. We had last seen him in the same place two years ago.
All in all a good weekend, no rain and some sunshine but not all the time.
Tomorrow we are on the water again aiming to be back in Rugby and Petroc's winter home by next the summer has flown.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Long Days

Wednesday/Thursday 23/24 Sept

We have really been putting in the hours locks and miles for the last 2 days...where has my leisurely life gone??
Wednesday we did 15 miles and 22 locks from West of Middlewich to Rode Heath and Thursday Rode heath to Barlaston was 14 miles, 18 locks, AND ONE pet hate. Harecastle tunnel is a LONG ONE......35 minutes. We reached it 10 mins to late for our direction so had well over an hour to wait but I put this time to good use as there is a nearby Tesco......
However although long days they have been enjoyable and interesting. From Middlewich as far as Kidsgrove at the junction with the Macclesfield Canal, it was virgin territory for us.
Although we did have some rain on Wednesday, the weather has been much kinder to us of late........and it wasn't very wet rain!!
When we set off on Wednesday morning to Big Lock at Middlewich we waited for another boat to catch us up to join us in the lock....we thought this was good timing as double locks are so much easier, especially going up, when two boats are in. When we reached the next lock both Geoff and I were so surprised.....we had completely forgotten that Big Lock was the last of the double locks and it is back to narrow ones!!!!
The physical work of all these locks is undertaken by Geoff mainly because my back would revolt but also he enjoys doing them. He is of course ably assisted by Barnaby who follows him everywhere. This makes for a very tired dog in the evening so as you can see below, a little nap is called for!!

We do like our comfort

Today's trip took us through Stoke on Trent which cannot be said to have the most beautiful canalside, however once through the urban area there are much nicer stretches as can be seen above.

A lot of the locks are twinned which could theoretically cut down waiting time, but since the second lock in a lot of cases is either out of action or just grown over, it doesn't achieve very much! Our early start in the mornings has stood us in good stead, and it wasn't until the last few locks that we had to wait for any length of time

Twinned locks

A very rural scene by one of the locks
The only bad part of the last two days was a hire boat ramming us!!!! An Anglo Welsh boat came round a blind corner far too fast, couldn't turn and we ended up with him on the wrong side of us and giving us a hefty whack. The air was blue for a while. There was a certain amount of shouting from both Geoff and myself and a lady on the other boat. She was not the helmsman who kept notably quiet!!!
So another early start tomorrow making for Great Haywood and the Tixall wide, where I have been promised a relaxing weekend off!!!!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Going Home.......

Tuesday 23rd September
Another early start but not quite so cold today. We are putting the miles on now as we are in the last two weeks of our trip. It was somewhat slow in places today as there were quite a lot of boats around in both directions. We managed to hit Preston Brook Tunnel dead on 0830 and since you can enter southwards from 30-40 minutes past the hour, we though we had been exceptionally clever. However when we reached Saltersford Tunnel there was a queue of 4 waiting and we made the 5th. It was slow going after that. A couple of them stopped at the sani station at Anderton so we moved up a couple of places!!!
We had wanted to go down the Anderton Lift on this return trip but we have lingered too long further north so it will have to be saved for another year.
Eventually moored just before Bridge 80A by one of the flashes. Lovely open mooring and Geoff has even managed to get a satellite picture on the TV.
Another early start planned for tomorrow.....can I stand the pace.........we will be back to locks again after a long stretch with only the one small one just after Preston Brook

Peaceful Mooring

Does this evening sky bode well for tomorrow?

Monday, 21 September 2009


Saturday 19th September

Short hop into Manchester today. We were last here 2 years ago so we know the way in now!

Throstle Nest Bridge

Getting closer
Just before the turn into Castlefield Basin

Not sure who was watching! But we didn't have any trouble

Last time we were here we turned left and moored by the YMCA but this time we thought we would try the other side. We hadn't seen many boats so did not expect it to be full.......wrong!!!

It looked very full right down the arm so we stopped short whilst I went on foot to explore. There were two spaces further up but not so much sunshine so we decided to stay put.
There are restaurants and bars all around the basin

Hilton Hotel is quite a landmark as you approach

Our Mooring Spot
After we moored about 10 boats came past and we couldn't work out where they would go. When we investigates they were doubled and trebled up at the end making it very difficult if you wanted to go up and turn. Luckily we were far enough out to reverse if necessary. We did watch (aren't we rotten!) several boats reversing's always great to watch other people.

We had a good weekend here sampling a couple of the restaurants whilst Emma was with us. It has been a great week with her, she has even cooked supper a couple of nights, although she has led us astray on the drinking side!

She departed by train on Sunday afternoon and shortly afterwards we had Bill & Hilary to visit. They had driven down from Walsden near Todmorden where they live in a converted barn with fantastic views over the Rochdale Canal just before the Summit. We took Petroc up there two years ago for their 60th Wedding Anniversary. We spent the rest of the afternoon pleasantly catching up. They had previously visited us at Tarleton before we did the Ribble crossing in early August.
Monday 21st September
Early start today as we now have to have some longer days to try and reach Petroc's winter home in Rugby by the first week of October. After yesterdays beautiful sunshine when Emma and I sat out in our chairs on the quayside, the temperature this morning was a bit of a shock. It was hat and glove and even scarf weather for a few hours. It is also back to more towpath walking now so I did the first couple of miles with Barnaby and a little later Geoff did considerably more! he walked all the way into Lymm where we stopped to do some shopping.
We carried on for a couple more hours and passed this sight below........wonder what caused it?

Eventually moored in the open just short of Higher Walton beyond Stockton Heath.
After a suitable siesta Geoff decided he had to investigate the weed hatch yet again. We have spent the first 4 months plus with no problem at all but recently he has had to go down several times......I steer clear because his language is not good!! Today's haul was yet more wire and as a bonus part of a discarded bra! At least I hope it was discarded.......

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Leaving of Liverpool

Friday 18th September
The trip out Wednesday went well once we were on our way. There were 6 boats in and just 3 out. The other two paired up so we had to climb the locks alone but BW did most of the work with some assistance from Geoff and it was all very smooth

Our Mooring complete with electricity and eventually water when it is connected
Approaching Canning Lock

In Canning Lock
This lock has a very small rise and fall and is only there because they can raise and lower the water in Canning Dock to allow the passage of bigger vessels
Approaching one of three short tunnels. New Pierhead Building left and Liver Building right
One of the new channels linking docks
Approaching bottom of Stanley Locks
Once we reached the top we turned left to position ourselves at Litherland so that we only had an hours trip the next morning before meeting the BW staff at Bridge 6. Litherland is not the most salubrious of moorings but seemed safe enough and had a sani station.
We set off about 6.45 on Thursday morning and were soon through Bridge 6. The next meeting point was Hancocks bridge but we reached here about 0840 and BW said they had to wait to open it until all the cars with school children had gone through as they feared for their life if they held up any of the mums(or dads!)
Once through there we just had lots of swing bridges to negotiate. We soon lost the third boat as he was ultra slow and it all worked very well with the two of us alternating the opening of the bridges.
Part way along one of the other boats had to give a tow to this unusual boat which had broken down..... it seemed to be an upside down car body!
Eventually reached Parbold just after 3pm.........long day for us!
Friday was just a moderately early start for us at 0810, but Emma thought it was very anti-social! Since we had several locks to do Geoff had told her he would appreciate her help....... After the first two we caught up with another boat and life became easier for us all. Geoff and Emma don't have so much energetic work and two in a double lock is much easier for me.
We met quite a few boats today which is a novelty, we have become used to seeing very few. I think a large number from a boating club are descending on Liverpool.
Passed the famour WIGAN PIER which did not impress Emma!
Eventually moored in Worseley where we watered. Geoff had thought of a pre dinner pint at the pub by the mooring but he was disappointed as it is another hostelry which has shut down.
Just 8 miles to go tomorrow for the run into Manchester. We are going in there as Emma will catch her train home on Sunday. We will depart there on Monday for the trip back to Rugby....where has the summer gone...or should I say the summer months. We have had some better days recently but quite chilly at times, autumn is certainly around.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Sojourn In Liverpool

Wednesday 16th September
A good time was had by all...a very successful visit to the 2008 City of Culture.
Geoff and I visited both the Anglican and the Catholic Cathedral on Monday morning. On entering both of them it was a great WOW factor but in a completely different way.
They are at opposite end of Hope Street and this is the Anglican viewed from the Catholic(locally known we gather as Paddy's Wigwam.!)

These two interior views of the Anglican do not really give a true impression of the vastness, it is truly majestic. See for more pictures and info

High Altar Anglican Cathedral
The Catholic Cathredral is of a very different style but we thought extremely well done, although I was not too sure about the outside as we approached it......I thought the top looked a bit like a gasometer!! The very modern interior sits on top (or part of it does) of the original Crypt designed by Edward Lutyens who had originally been commissioned to build the whole Cathedral. You can see more at the following link and much better pictures than mine.

Entrance to China Town

Gill between two great men!
David Shepherd and Derek Warlock

Unusual Street Sculpture
Apparently suitcases of various stars.
Emma arrived by train on Monday afternoon, we explored the Albert Dock with a brief pause for a cocktail and later found a good Thai & Chinese Restaurant for an "Eat all you want" meal......
Tuesday Emma and I left Geoff to visit more museums and, together with Barnaby, we took the Ferry across the Mersey. We alighted at Seacombe and walked into New Brighton and eventually caught the bus back to Liverpool (Don't these bus passes come in handy). In the afternoon at Emma's insistence we visited the "Beatles Experience" but did not think much of it.
Emma treated us to an excellent meal in a Tapas Bar later on. We have been living the high life here, it will be back to the more normal tomorrow.
This morning we were told to be ready by 11.30 to depart, but were delayed an hour. We found out later that a huge crane was towering over one of the locks on the way up and BW had deemed it inadvisable to let the boats who were coming down, into the lock until it had deposited its load.......very wise. 3 of us going up and we drew the short straw and were the single. However it was relatively painless through the locks and we then pressed on to Litherfield for the night. Tomorrow we have to meet BW at 8am at Swing Bridge 6 so it will be an early start, at least it will be for Geoff and me, I doubt we shall get Emma up that early.......

Monday, 14 September 2009

Into the Heart of Liverpool

Sunday 13th September
Geoff had taken Barnaby for a long walk along the towpath early this morning as we anticipated that the one thing Liverpool would not be was dog walk friendly.

We were ready and waiting for our rendezvous with BW at for the run down starting at The Stanley Locks. A phone call from BW announced that they would be late as the 3 of the 4 boats departing through Swing Bridge 6 had been 1 hour late for their rendezvous!!!!

They eventually arrived and we donned our life jackets as we had read that they were compulsory. Better safe than sorry.

At the bottom of the locks in the first basin we wondered what these warehouses would eventually be turned into, they were certainly vast.
What a view

Looking into sun at the Liver Building

Although they will take 6 boats in and 6 out per day, we were the only one going in today. It was a wonderful experience slowly traversing all these huge basins which once has been full of ships.

Tunnels are not really my thing so I reluctantly handed the tiller to Geoff as we approached the first of the 3 new tunnels going under some of the vast buildings. These are all part of the new Millennium Link into Liverpool. In fact although they were very low they were also quite short (compared to some we have been through!)...I might even have managed

New tunnel looks very different from all the older ones on the system

A couple more locks also manned by BW brought us to the vast Albert Dock which has been redeveloped and is now surrounded by cafes restaurants and smaller shops etc.

The last bridge takes us into Salthouse Dock where new pontoons have been but in for the likes of us. There are about 40 pontoons and we are the 6th boat in so plenty of choice we thought.
However our designated berth was over in an area we had been told by another boatie to avoid so with a vast choice before us I turned round and reversed into a more appealing space......the intention was to find the harbour master and ask if it was OK to stay here. However no sign on anyone so we have settled at 0830 waiting to see if he (or she) comes around and asks us to move..........with so much space that would be a little galling...........
We did some sightseeing yesterday(have gone into tourist mode) Geoff visited the Maritime Museum and I went to the Anglican Cathedral for the 4pm Communion. When I eventually managed to enter the building it was an awesome sight. I nearly gave up getting in as my map did not indicate the entrance and I navigated myself to the wrong end and it is a very roundabout route to reach the other end..........
We plan a longer visit today amongst other things. Daughter Emma is joining us this afternoon for a week so we thought Cathedrals would be visited prior to her arrival as they are probably not her cup of tea.
We only have two days to fit everything in and if it was not so late in the season we would probably ask to extend our stay. As it is we need to have Emma in Manchester to catch her return train next Sunday

Sunset from our mooring

Night sky from our mooring
So here we sit in this vast expanse of water, makes us feel quite small. We are surrounded by all the new regenerated part of Liverpool. Nobody is even asking us for a mooring fee!! Electricity and water are at the end of every pontoon. Electricity is via card and the water is not yet flowing but can be obtained by a short trip out to the next dock.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

En Route to Liverpool

Saturday 12th September
First day of out 2 day booked trip to Liverpool. BW opened Bridge 9 at the start for us and then met us to open Bridge 6 and that was all they had to do. From what we can gather it is something to do with the locals complaining that they get held up when all these thousands of narrow boats keep opening the bridges!!! We were the only boat going on this stretch today

and there were just 4 coming out who were all together. So that would have stopped traffic for not very long....still there may be another reason that we are unaware of...anybody reading this may be able to enlighten me......

We stopped at the reported last place to empty loos and water at Litherland. Petroc had a bath which was long overdue. This was partly due to the weather and also trying to find a water point where we were not holding anyone else up whilst we had a mini spring clean.

I did do my fair share but Geoff decided to take a picture during coffee break.

Further along we spotted this strange edifice on some waste looking land that said it was a marina. There were people sitting on blue striped deck chairs having coffee so maybe it was!!
Reached Eldonian Basin which is where we night stop. As advised we reversed into the basin to make life easier in the morning. Geoff got off ready to take lines as is our normal practice but then I discovered that the mooring was on the other side so I went across and Geoff said he would walk around. I continued to skilfully reverse (with only a tad of bow thruster!) and lost Geoff. Moored up and discovered he was marooned on the other side with no way of getting across as my side was completely fenced in. Eventually discovered a small gate which our handcuff key opened and I could let him in.......
There were two narrow boats there when we arrived but surprisingly for narrowboaters were not very chatty. They left soon afterwards so we were not able to glean any good gen from them for the day ahead.
Geoff left to explore Liverpool and I sat on the stern in the sun. My afternoon was livened up by a police chase at the end of the basin. A car roared up hotly pursued by a police car. Both stopped and a man got out of the first car and ran off swiftly followed by one of the policeman. A helicopter then appeared overhead and appeared to be co-ordinating the chase. It remained there for at least half an hour but we shall never know if they caught their prey or not.......I hope so because the helicopter must have used a lot of fuel!!!
Now ready for the next step tomorrow which is the run down through all the docks.