Monday, 23 May 2016

Moored at Tarleton

So we had planned to get to Tarleton on the Rufford Arm of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal where Heather lives for Christmas. So what, if we're 5 months late. This part of the canal leads onto the River Douglas which leads to the River Ribble through a sea lock, which looks pretty scary as the boats have to go against the tide. Maybe when we got a good bit of boating under our belts we may give it a go. This part of Lancashire is similar to East Anglia, as it's reclaimed land, very flat with drainage dykes. Heather actually lives in Hesketh Bank and the 'bank' is a short walk from her house. Over the last couple of years that Heather, Jason and their family have lived here we've walked along this stretch of the canal many a time and are able to direct all the boaters unfamiliar to the area where the amities are. It seems pretty weird walking home from Heather's house with no sense of dread of having to negotiate the glorious M6.

We are able to moor here for a maximum of 14 days and we're now up to day
12 over which time we've seen a brood of ducklings grow tremendously, however, there were 10 chicks originally and 8 now. Today we had a visit from Mr & Mrs swan showing off their 7 cygnets. We are following the CRT advice and not feeding our floating friends junk food (bread) and have gone through many kilos of porridge oats which the ducks like and lettuce for the swans. We spied Mrs moorhen with what looked like 7 hatchlings in the reeds opposite this afternoon.

There have just been three days of boats crossing the River Douglas and River Ribble to access the Lancaster Canal. The crossings are only possible when the tides are at a certain height and the weather is favourable. You need to book the passage with CRT who operate the lock for you. In addition you need an anchor, which we've not got yet. However, we've both just had rather handsome tax rebates, so I guess the top of our spend list is an anchor, 4 metres of chain and at least 18 metres of rope. If you should break down on the River Ribble and the anchor fails next stop is north America or if you're lucky Ireland or the Isle of Man!!!! The mooring here was full when the boats were arriving for the second departure day, so we invited a boat to double moor with us and then we realised it was one of our boat's elder sisters 'Destiny' '151'.
We took the three grandchildren out to 'their' bank and watched the boats heading up the river. Now for the next 3 days there are boats heading back here.

It's been so lovely to see the family every day and meet Nikita from school. Magnus is having his first sleepover on Wednesday. Luckily, we have a larger than usual water tank which still has >1/4 in it. That's thanks to Heather letting us use her washing machine as there aren't any water taps on this stretch.

We are booked to go to the IWA festival mid June so have another couple of weeks to kill before we head to Liverpool. As the canal goes under some major roads with swing bridges on it's way to Liverpool the CRT operate them and only allow passage twice a day so we are booked in for Wednesday 8th June at 13.00. It's all a short drive from Heather & Jason's. The festival is to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal opening. So I'm planning to make some black and white bunting to represent the two main commodities transported on the canal, coal and cotton. I need to sort out the material before we get too far from Tarleton as I've given Jason my sewing machine, which I'll need to borrow.

As we left Appley Deep Lock we saw President, the heritage steam narrow boat & it's butty Kildare. They had been to an event at Liverpool

We had hoped to moor at Parbold on our journey to Tarleton, however, there wasn't any spaces so we carried on and moored beside The Ring'o Bells pub, Lathom. There's a big slip way there which is where the 'night soil' from Liverpool was unloaded as manure for the fields. A little muck spreading is pretty awful, but several barges each night of this must've left quite an odour haze over the area. The soil does look amazing though. We found an excellent farm shop which sells all local meet and vegetables. They sell unusual cuts of beef and steak, needless to say, we probably could have done a fortnight's shopping with what we spent in there, but it really was worth it.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Good-bye Manchester

We stayed in Manchester city centre for 10 days at two different moorings. th April. We'd run out of coal so took a walk to the nearest petrol station a mile away to get some more. As we left the petrol station's forecourt with 4 bags of coal on our wheely barrow a chap ran after us, “are you on a boat? Let me give you a lift”, which was wonderful as the snow had changed to very heavy rain by that point. He lives on a narrow boat in a permanent moorings in the city. He recommended a pub to us, The Jolly Angler, a stones throw from our boat, so we met him there in the evening to buy him a pint.
The first was at Paradise Wharf on the Ashton Canal, sandwiched between new flats but had views to old warehouses that had been converted into flats. It was a busy tow path as we were near Piccadilly Station. It was good to see the massive stream of people going to the Manchester City football ground when they played Real Madrid and they were all in good spirits. The weather changed rapidly and we had snow on 28

We caught the Metrolink tram to Ashton-under-Lyme as we hadn't had enough time when Edmund was with us to look at Portland Museum. An excellent museum of local history. Previously we'd strolled through the town centre in the evening & it was like a ghost town, however, on a Saturday lunch time it's very busy.

We visited Abakhan's as it's the only yarn shop in Manchester now. It happened to be 'yarn shop day', with 15% off and I won a pair of knitting needles too. So that trip sorted out gifts for people's birthdays.

Manchester's 'People's Museum' was interesting to visit, mainly showing how politics had affected the area over the millennia. Sadly we didn't get to the Science Museum, which looked excellent through the window, it was absolutely heaving with families, probably because the weather was SO wet, windy and cold.

Our second moorings in the city was at the newly developed New Islington Basin (where John felt at home having been born in the 'other' Islington). There was a lot of construction still going on, a school and an 8 story block of apartments. It was very entertaining watching 3 cranes working in close proximity to each other. There were excellent facilities here for visiting and permanently moored boats, I got lots of washing done in their big machines at £2/wash. The weather really perked up while we were there and allowed us to sit out in the sun. We had a delivery of coal, gas and logs from Brian from who has coalboat nb Alton, he delivers by road to Manchester.

We left New Islington last Thursday and headed down the infamous Rochdale 9 locks (where we'd walked the week before!!!!).
We unexpectedly ran aground in the pound between the locks just outside the marina and managed to pole ourselves off of the underwater obstruction. We had been prior warned the Rochdale canal has a lot of water which can make opening the top gates difficult, this was very true. We had to tie the bow rope onto the gate and put the boat into full reverse while the one of us pushed the gate with all their might. In the first lock we watched as a chap evacuate his bowels and then went onto prepare his drugs with another chap and inject them. It seemed as if we were in that lock for ages as neither of us wanted to venture over to the other side to work the paddle gear where the chaps were. Thank goodness they were oblivious to us working the lock. The rest of the flight was entertaining in a much more pleasant way.

We'd planned to moor at Castlefield, an area steeped in history and the beginning of the Bridgewater Canal (the first canal dug). Sadly, there were no mooring spaces so we headed off and went passed Manchester United football ground.

We found a mooring space right beside The Trafford Centre, what an amazing place with it's marble pillars, statues and murals. We spent a whole day there gazing at the architecture and didn't spend a single penny!!! We decided to move on on Saturday as there was a lot of music and shouting over some loud speakers. We had to investigate the commotion early in the morning.
There was a car park full of people queueing at the events centre to enter the X-Factor!!!
View from Barton swing bridge

We then moored at Astley Green on the Bridgewater Canal in view of the pit head gear at the mining museum. We took a stroll into Leigh the next town along, where the Bridgewater ends and the Leeds & Liverpool begins. This whole area has a mining & cotton mill history.

Today we met up with a hire boat which had a large and knowledgeable crew which made for an easy transit through Wigan.
We stopped for lunch in Wigan before going past Wigan Pier and through the next two locks without our helpers. We are now moored at Crooke and almost at Heather and Jason's. What an amazing day with the sun out all day and temperatures over 25c.

Tomorrow we'll head towards Parbold, Burscough and onto Tarleton where we'll have a couple of weeks car-booting (all our things that Heather & Jason have stored in their garage for us),before heading off to Liverpool.