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.

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