Thursday, 28 April 2016

May Bank Holiday in Manchester.

May Bank Holiday in Manchester.

Our solar panels were replaced last week and had some final adjustments this morning to ensure they don't come unstuck. While at Higher Poynton we enjoyed a walk to Lyme Park and saw a mystical morning mist over the canal.

 Edmund went home yesterday after spending three nights with us. We met him at Marple Station and
the following day headed down the Marple flight of 16 locks in a mile. This is an amazingly beautiful flight going past pretty little cottages & converted warehouses and at the same time having views of the Peaks. Then over the stunning Marple Aqueduct and through the Woodley Tunnel (obviously named after my cousins).

His second day with us we went down 18 locks from Ashton-under-Lyne towards Manchester. Some of the pounds were very low and we had to let water into them to be able to get to the next lock. It's such a shame I didn't capture John's antics trying to coax mummy mallard & her brood of 6 out of a lock I was just about to steer into. He ended up pretending to be a dog, which worked!!!

As we ventured nearer to the Manchester suburbs we could see lots of disused factories & mills as well as derelict sites. In the past we saw on the news how industries had closed down but it never really felt real as it was so far up north.
The cycling veladrome and Manchester City Football ground looked huge. As we passed by the City ground there was a hive of activity getting ready for the big Real Madrid match that evening. The quickest way to the ground from the station is along the towpath, so we had streams of people all in good spirits (thank goodness) going by our mooring.

We are moored in Manchester City centre and plan to stay here over the bank holiday weekend. We'll be going for a ride on the trams as they look and sound so nice. We are surrounded by new flats & some converted from warehouses. However, a little further into the city it's not quite so pretty. We have been shocked by the amount of homeless people living in tents under bridges in the street and in railway arches along the canal. As you walk along the tow path it's very evident many use any little nook or cranny for all their toilet needs!!!!!

We spent our second St. George's Day on a narrow boat. The first was a couple of years ago when we were moored at Cassiobury Park, Watford, the last time we hired a Wyvern boat. We had our flags and bunting out again this year.

Next week we'll be heading down the infamous Rochdale 9 locks. The first three are under the buildings where the aforementioned homeless hang out and use as their public convenience. So we're planning to be up & off early. The next leg of the journey will be along the Bridgwater Canal going past Manchester United's ground and the Trafford Centre. We'll be on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal before we know it, which means we'll soon and be at Tarleton to visit Heather, Jason and the children.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Back on the Macc

Today we're heading back to the boatyard at Higher Poynton. Our solar panels have got water under their plastic covers and need replacing, however, they are picking up the rays beautifully which means we don't have to run the engine so often when we moored to charge the batteries. It's still & very frosty this morning, we didn't get the snow promised on the forecast yesterday.

We have been at Macclesfield the last three days on their lovely pontoon moorings. I needed to get some cotton knitting yarn from the market as there are a few babies on the way. Also stock up with provisions.

We are noticing a lot more boats out now, especially hire boats over the Easter period. We passed loads of marinas and hire companies on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Nikita came to stay last week and we only played dominoes twice, mainly as we were so busy and it's staying light later. We picked her up at Congleton, which was one of the nicest little towns we've
stopped at. From there we had to go up Bosley flight of 12 locks. Nikita was such an amazing help as she was able to open and close the tiny lock gates all by her self. She's grown so much since she helped grandad at Soulbury a couple of years ago push the huge
gates on the Grand Union. She really enjoyed helping to clean the
boat and her own boots when she declined our advice to watch were she walked and trooped through the middle of a puddle in Dane Moss, a peat bog on our way to the Co-op.

The boat moored in front of us at Congleton had a bird feeder on the tow path next to their boat and I 'just had to have one too'. We got a nice one at Poundstretchers and it's being used by mainly robins and several varieties of tits.

I'm glad I'm keeping a diary as I just can't recall everywhere we've stayed. Since I last blogged we've moored at:- Beeston Castle, Middlewich, Wheelock, Church Lawton and Kidsgrove. We've been to some lovely pubs and some very sad ones too. Our favourite pubs have been The Wharf & Waters Green Tavern in Macclesfield, The Beartown Tap and The Counting House an excellent Wetherspoons pub where we sat in the old safe in Congleton.

We're looking forward to Edmund visiting next week to give us a hand to go down the Marple flight of 16 locks. Hopefully we'll be finally on our way to Tarleton, the village where Nikita goes to school.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Easter at Ellesmere Port

We had an excellent Easter at Ellesmere Port Boat Museum where there was an historic boat gathering and a sea shanty festival. It was mainly bright with heavy rain at night, however, the sea breeze made it feel quite cool. We stayed there for a week and offered to help. There's a huge bunch of volunteers at the museum many of whom were in the working party to get it started 40 years ago. The museum is over a large site, which includes warehouses and dock buildings that have exhibits in them in addition to many historic narrow boats. It is at the end of the Shropshire Union Canal and there are two locks to get into the lower basin where the ships docked and then a sea lock that leads to the Manchester Ship Canal. We moored in the lower basin along side two old ships awaiting funding for restoration. We were hemmed in when all the historic boats arrived Good Friday.
John did lock keeping Good Friday and Easter Monday as there were lots of boats arriving and then
leaving. Saturday he spent on car park duty I helped in reception checking everyone had admission arm bands on and spent a lot of time clearing tables & washing up in the café. My favourite job was accompanying one of the museum staff at 'Porters Row', four 1830's restored terraced houses that have been decorated in 1830's, 1900, 1930 & 1950's style. I stood outside the cottages & spun with my drop spindle and chatted to the visitors, some who remember the row when it was complete with 12 houses.
I had a last minute knitting frenzy to make some bunting to decorate the boat and had 8 triangles at each end as well as fairy lights. Sadly we didn't get around to taking many photos at 'The Port'.

The Shropshire Union Canal between Chester and Ellesmere Port is incredibly dirty, literally thousands of plastic bottles, cans and rubbish. We think it's the dirtiest bit of canal we've ever seen.
Chester on a still night
The canal was so still in Chester which meant John could get some lovely
reflection photos. We had a lovely long visit to 'Abakhan' haberdashery shop right near where we were moored. I got some yarn to make John a jumper.
We're now moored next to the 'Shady Oak' pub and very near Beeston Castle this evening.


As I was getting the dinner there was a knocking sound and there were two swans looking in the
hatch. They enjoyed nibbling my fingers and some lettuce.