Follow by Email

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Where were we?

SO - ignoring my left foot for a moment, I'll update you on where we've been of late.

AS already said, we had a few days break and took the opportunity get a cab back to Appley Bridge to rescue the car we'd abandoned there the other week and take it back home - using the "open return" train tickets to get back to Wigan... WHAT a pa lava that was - Northern rail STILL experiencing delays, cancellations and resultant missed connections.  The journey back from Wakefield was a nightmare - Still, it's done now and the car is where it should be back at base.

Having bobbed around at Addlington for a few days in the sunshine, we had to return to Wigan Top lock to collect our next guests - our FIRST Aussies. Having filled with water, we spent a night on the 24 hour moorings right on the entrance to the lock.

Not long after we got there, a boat pulled in where we had trouble the other day and I could see the chap having trying to pole it off.  Being a nosy so and so  all round good egg, I went over to see if I could help.  Whilst trying to push them off the shelf by rocking and leaning, the gap got ever wider until such time as I had no choice other than to "jump on board" to avoiding going in.  This left the chaps wife and I on his boat under our own steam.  She wasn't comfortable at steering so I took the tiller and executed a perfect turn and then reversed it into a mooring on the other side of the lock.

We got chatting as they tied up and as we had a few hours spare the following morning, I offered our help to work them as far down the flight as we could until about 10am.  They were very grateful and the following morning we did just that. - it just about killed me lol.

We managed to get them about 3/4 down by 10am when we decided it was time for us head back up to prepare for the Aussies... along with a nice bottle of wine as a "thank you" from the boaters.

Once loaded up with guests, we set off planning to get up Johnson's Hillocks before mooring for the day.  The original plan was to catch up with Eddie and Wendy on their boat (Memory Maker) and we'd work up the locks together... somewhere along the line a certain ginger idiot I'd got muddled and thought they'd already gone up the locks.. SO, when asked by a single hander if we'd share the locks I'd agreed - much to the annoyance of Wendy...  it all worked out in the end as our crew went back and helped Eddie up anyway... however, because I was jumping on and off the boat quite a lot to close gates and padddles whilst Andy went back and forth setting the locks, I slipped on one occasion - dunking my left foot into the water and banging both it and my right knee on the boat - I hoped no one had seen but of course there were a group of gongooozlers that clocked me - oh well... I STILL don't count it as falling in because I only got wet up my knee!

By the time we'd moored at the top (we had to double breast as there was only one space available) we decided we all go out for tea - alas the pub there had other ideas and had stopped serving at 7pm.... WHAT is it with pubs over here having rubbish serving hours.

Next day, we chugged on, stopping for a look around Withnell Fold

It turned out to be quite an attractive gathering of houses - built for workers in the paper mill on the canal side.  Not a lot to it but a pleasant walk along with old set of "stocks" and a Methodist church.  

Chugging on, we ended the day around Norden  as far away as we could get from the motoroways... not the widest of tow paths but enough to set up camp and chat to passers by.

Marnie and Wayne (the Aussies) settling themselves into boating life VERY easily...  especially the alcoholic "convivial side"...

Next day, we headed off towards Burnley and spent another night doubled up on the 24 hour moorings at Rose Grove - we'd stayed there on the way out and noted 2 boats STILL there... taking the proverbial out of CRT... Thing is, they have an office and depot yard there yet STILL don't do anything about it... Continuous mooring IS a problem and needs to be tackled.  It's a debate I won't get into  here - suffice to say, there ARE guidelines and if they were enforced, it would be a lot fairer for everyone.

After a quiet night at the services, we filled up with water, did some washing and I nipped to the post office to see if they'd kept the countersunk screws I'd had delivered via the Post Restante service at the beginning of May - I expected them to have binned them by now but no, the lady smiled and handed the envelope to me as soon as I went in.  That's a good (free) service.

Setting off the rudder was feeling a bit wobbly so I pulled in before the Gannow Tunnel and went down the weed hatch - to be fair that's only the 2nd time since we GOT the boat...  as predicted however, this lot was well and truly clogging the prop/rudder..

On route to our current mooring, we stopped off briefly at the only canal-side "oil disposal point" we've seen so far to empty the oil containers from my last service.  

The final night with the Aussies was spent eating, drinking AND of course playing the (now ubiquitous ) Rummikub - Marnie took  a while to get the hang of it... she has the same approach to it as I do - ie, I don't care if I lose.  Wendy and Eddie came after dinner so Andy palled up with Marnie and Eddie gave me a bit of help.

The Aussies left us this morning so today has been a day of laundry and cleaning the boat as tomorrow, we have a new guest - this time from New-Zealand.

Even though we've been busy, the boat does feel quiet and rather empty today - it appears I DO like people after all lol.

Until next time...

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated....

More later but I'm still here... just like Mark Twain was.  I''m hobbling a bit but being a brave ginger person  super hero, none the less.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Who stole the water?

'morning/evening/afternoon - *delete as appropriate.

Well, sitting on the towpath sunbathing whilst umpteen thousand women dressing in pink go shuffling Running passed is not as relaxing as you'd hope...To give them credit, they were all in good spirits, managed to avoid our chairs, whirlie gig and dog bowls AND more importantly they were raising money - fair play to them.

Once normality had returned, we took a walk right around the flash - in the midday sun.  Of course I hadn't received the memo that we were going ALL the way around and into Morrisons on the other side before setting of - ergo, I'd not put any sun cream on... suffice to say on return (some 6 miles later carry shopping!) I was a little bit pinker than is good for a ginger person.

No sulking took place - honest.

We'd arranged with the boat behind to share the Wigan flight on Tuesday, (incidentally that was my birthday and I'm pleased to say that FINALLY it was one with no cards) so we agreed to leave our moorings Monday afternoon, fill with water at Plank lane bridge and then get as close to the bottom lock on the Leigh branch to ensure we'd get to the bottom of Wigan by 8am when they unlock the gates.

The water point at Plank lane lift bridge is RIGHT on the 24 hour visitor moorings!!! bonkers.  It's OK though as we've 3 long hoses so were able to get attached - right after a woman moored on there did a very good bit of reversing off and turned into the marina.

Once full, we chugged on as far as Scottsmans flash (I think) and tied up for what we'd hoped would be a quiet night... 

Alas, a short while later, a large group of neanderthals young people having fun, decided to begin jumping into the water ahead of us... which in itself wasn't a problem until one of them came asking for a light for "his dad's cigarette" - Andy is not very good at keeping the peace in that type of situation...  and made an enemy - admittedly he was pre-pubescent but he walked and talked like someone with gonads bigger than Andy's former poorly one (which btw, is now resolved)...

We decided that rather than sit on the towpath and aggravate things, we'd watch a film and leave them to it.   I must admit, that when we came out early doors to set off the following morning, I was amazed to still have ropes/pins lol.  

ANYWAY - Tuesday morning, off we set, having read on the CRT notices that lock 1 is LOCKED to save water until 8 and aware we'd still have to get to the bottom of the Wigan flight as soon before 9 as possible in order to get in.

AS we chugged in to the chamber at lock 2, I could see Andy ahead gesticulating we had a problem...

Upon inspection, we came across this:

Some bugger had nicked all the water in the pound above.  Andy went on ahead to see if there was a CRT chap at lock 1 about to "unlock it" and then refil, whilst I phoned the CRT emergency number... which btw, makes it clear they don't want to hear from you unless life or property is in danger... pondering whether wanting to kill someone would count, I STAYED on the line and spoke with a chap who promised to get back to me once he had someone on the way.  To give him credit, a few minutes later he DID call call back and said a chap was coming to help balance the levels.

By the time he'd arrived we'd got enough water in pound to gingerly chug up the middle and into lock 1 - it was my old friend (the chap I had an altercation with a month back at the broken, battery powered swing bridge)... he WAS pleased to see me I could tell.  ANYWAY - we entered the Wigan flight as the 2nd pair of boats at 8.50 and exited 13.10.... not bad timing given we din't rush.  We did have some help along the way too by the lockie and members of the facebook flight crew.  If any or you read this drivvle, THANK YOU... your help is much appreciated.

We HAD planned to spend a few nights at the top but upon arrival there were already too many boats around - and more importantly, too many boats around the bit you can get in without being stuck on the shelf ... ergo, we chugged on for a while to just outside Adlington where we'll use as  base to get the car back from Appley Bridge and take back to Wakefield before the weekend when our next guests arrive.

We've tied up in quite a nice place with nothing obstructing the solar panels and only a short walk into town.

Until next time...

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Change of Scenery and a trip on the Leigh Arm to the Bridgewater

The trouble with liking somewhere is that you can linger a little too long sometimes - on THIS occasion, we sat out the bank holiday to avoid the hoards speeding around and explored the local area a bit more.

I can't recall HOW we found out about it ... probably from chatting with another boater, but apparently there is a circular walk that would take in a place called "Fairy Glen" - off we set, following trusty Google maps on our phones.

It's actually quite a nice little woodland... obviously special to the locals as the floor was scattered with 'Fairy Dust'...

The rumors of a spectacular waterfall however clearly had been exaggerated

I'm sure if it rained for 40 days/nights it might look spectacular... but on a lovely sunny day after a dry spell, 'nice' just about covered it.

On route back to the boat we also spotted a terrapin sunbathing on a log by the canal... you'll have to squint to see it as I only had my phone with the digital zoom ...  it IS there, honest!

Back on the boat, a new plan was forming to deviate from our planned route (straight back to Wigan) and take a detour on the Leigh arm for a few days.  This turned out to be a good idea as the following morning when we set off, the sun was shining yet again.  

On route back through Wigan, I noticed a very handily (not) located mooring bollard at a lock landing...

That could cause problems if someone actually used it... 

Once through Wigan, we made the turn onto the Arm and set off on new waters again.

We chugged along for an hour or so and then came across our first electric lift bridge at Plank Lane

It has restricted hours of operation - ie, can't be used during the morning and evening rush hours... we'd timed it just right mid afteroon and before long, we'd moored up for the day overlooking Pennington Flash on the outskirts of Leigh.

A bit later on, we walked along the towpath into Leigh for a nosy around... I even had a (long overdue) haircut.  Next morning, in need of water, we chugged on through Leigh and to where the Leeds & Liverpool joins the Bridgewater canal...

I can't recall exactly WHEN it happened but the water soon became "ginger" in colour ... a definite improvement of course ;-) 

We chugged on in the sunshine for a while.

Once over the Barton aqueduct over the ship canal, there was just time to go passed the entrance to the Trafford centre before we turned and headed back to Boothstown for the night.

We've decided we quite like the place.  The marina there sells diesel at 74p  pumpouts are also good value...AND there's a Green King pub (newly refurbished) with reasonably priced meals and rings to moor right outside should you wish to... we opted for the towpath on the other side a little farther away from the rowdy potential of a busy summers evening.

Today, (Sunday) were back on Pennington Flash awaiting the arrival of the race for life runners planning to run down the towpath about 11am which we'll cheer on as they pass the boat.

Until next time....

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Travel by Train (s)... call to prayer and a family visit.

On Thursday, I got a call from mother who rather excitedly said "I've someone here to speak with you"... the next voice I heard was my fathers - he'd been allowed home.  It was such a relief to speak to him after all this time...  he's a man of few words anyway but to know he was home - al be it in a much reduced capacity, was such good news.

Having thought about it overnight, we decided NOW would be the time to pay a visit - to be able to do something practical perhaps AND to see for myself how he is.

SO - First thing Friday morning we set off to the station having worked out a route involving 3 trains, a taxi and a drive.  In theory, we'd catch a train from Appley Bridge to Manchester, Manchester to Leeds and then Leeds to Wakefield.... We KNEW it was going to be one of those days when on arrival at the station to pick up the tickets, some men in hi-vis appeared and began dismantling the machine - to replace it with a newer one...  luckily, they allowed us to print ours out first.

RMT had other plans for us though and what with one thing and another (and by that I mean announcements we couldn't hear on the train apologizing for something or other) we missed connections and had a bit of a scramble.  I can only presume drivers weren't in the right place due to the previous days strike.

When we eventually got to Wakefield (to collect my old banger) it turned out we'd arrived at JUST the wrong time to get a taxi - none of the firms could send one to the station and Uber kept going in loops trying to locate one.  

After about 20 mins of trying, we gave up and set off on the 2 mile hike in the rain...  neither of us wearing coats because we're stupid when we'd left, it was a nice sunny day.  On route back to the mooring (where the car was) we walked passed Wakefield's central mosque and then it clicked WHY we couldn't get a taxi - they were all parked in there doing their thing.  *note to self PREBOOK in future*. No matter, half an hour later we had the car started and were setting off on the 75 mile drive.

We'd planned to check into the hotel after visiting parents but as time was getting on, we called in on route to dump our bags.  If you can imagine Faulty towers meets crossroads motel you'd have an idea of how that was - suffice to say, we'll not rush to stay there again.

Anyway, some 7 and half hours after we'd left the boat, we arrived at my folks .  It was a relief to finally see dad  - He's still very poorly and has a long way to go but he's proven he can just about manage personal care - including carrying around an electronic pump, about the size of an AED which is removing (for want of nicer word) "gunge" from the cavity in his stomach - 24/7 and the district nurse is calling daily to change the filter/dressing on an open wound about the size of a grapefruit.

He's made of strong stuff but I could see how exhausted he was.  Still adamant he can manage but whilst on his own he probably can, mother also needs help as I think she's also suffered another mini stroke recently which has worsened her balance problems...  DAD is under strict instructions NOT to even try to help her up if she falls, and instead press the red button to summon assistance. 

We had a bit of a tidy up for them as whilst he'd been away, mum has been on auto-pilot with laundry and clutter building .   After a couple of hours, we departed and promised to return the following morning with some shopping .

Saturday morning we went back and continued with a bit of tidying/decluttering and whilst we were there, a friend of theirs appeared and went in to house-keeping mode too.  After a fish and chip lunch, we left  and began the return leg to the boat.   The plan had been to dump the car back on the mooring and get the train back to the boat...  however, as this day was a "proper" strike day, that journey was going to involve 4 changes of trains.  We abandoned that plan and drove instead but it being bank holiday weekend, even that took over 3 hours.

On arrival, we met Wendy and Eddies daughter, husband and two kids who'd come to stay with them for a couple of days.   An impromptu (well for us) BBQ was organised and we ended the day watching the sun going down, being bitten by midges AND of course playing that ruddy board game again.

Until next time...

Sunday, 27 May 2018

An aborted Trip to Aintree, pubs running out of food and we're in Tow-Path Talk!

I admit - that's a poor post title... it'll have to do as my brain is a bit busy at the moment.

OK - it's been 7 days I updated this... a busy week.  We said goodbye to guests ( actually I don't like referring to them as that cause after a day or 2 on board, they become friends I suppose)... hmm - 'will have to give some thought for future referral... 

We'd deviated from the planned cruising schedule and decided to go as far as Aintree then return to 'safer' lands...  unfortunately for us, the black water tank decided to create a problem that necessitated an earlier than planned pump out.  This meant a long days chug to the only place we could empty the tank without going back down the Rufford arm 7 heavy locks) and not much time to do it before the marina closed.

Scarisbrick marina was our only hope and we got there with about 15 mins to spare.   The old bloke who came to do it was a smashing chap... and unlike a lot of marinas, this one has SO much room in to maneuver in - that didn't mean a text book turn btw... in fact, what with the wind AND an large audience enjoying the sunshine, it went totally wrong.  Enough said about that I feel.  NO MATTER, we got pumped and rinsed out AND filled up with water for only £15 - bargain... that's less than the self pump out cards sold by CRT.

If we ever think about going into a marina, this will certainly be on our list.

We'd expected to be able to get back to where we'd been moored so had left the reclining chairs AND a line of washing out...  it dawned on us that was we half intended coming this way the day after, we'd phone Wendy and Eddie and ask them to rescue the chairs and laundry - secretly hoping the latter would come back ironed lol..   They did so and decided to head the same direction.  They arrived where we'd tied up early evening and a mutual decisions was made to go to the Saracens  Head pub, Halsall (about 100 yards away) for tea.... It transpired the'y just about ran out of food (this was 7pm ish) and only serving people already seated.  Fate was obviously on our side when we checked the prices however so we dodged a bullet there and Just Eat to the rescue with a local Indian takeaway delivering to the boat 40 mins later.  

Next morning, bright and early (for Wendy) we set off towards Aintree...  it's actually quite a nice bit of canal - all be it a bit full of reeds in places and we had a lovely chug in the sunshine... 

This bungalow (well it was once) tickled our fancy with the frog band on the roof...  

HOWEVER, a short while late, we came across a hopped floating lose in the centre of the canal - Wendy and Eddie were ahead of us and it didn't move when they went passed... we were not so lucky and it then ended up diagonally across the cut.   We COULD have left it but being idiots community spirited , we felt we needed to secure it...SO - nothing else for it but to back up, climb on board and try to move it...  suffice to say, it was blooming heavy and given the depth of the water, it took some shifting to the side... by which time 3 other boats had turned up behind it to watch
... no pressure then!  Half an hour of hard pushing and pulling later, it was finally tied up safely out of harms way.

We continued on through Lydiate and Magull
and decided to wind just after Melling to save waiting for CRT to unlock bridge 9... this being as close as we've gotten to Liverpool for this trip and therefore Aintree was aborted .

Once tuned, we retraced out steps (chugs) and then up in Lydiate for a few days.  It's actually quite a nice place where most homes have embraced the canal with loevly gardens... which of course we get to have a good nosey in as we chug passed lol.

A quick pint (or 2) in the Running Horses pub later, revealed  knowledge of a classic car meet, taking place at another pub about a miles walk away - which we went along to later on.

Can't for the life of me rememner the pubs name but it had a thatched roof and was I believe the oldest pub in the country... outside toilets and all.

The "cig box" being out of use due to birds nesting in it which I quite approved

We spent a couple of nights here (not the pub) and then set off back - the plan being to get back to Appley Bridge for the bank holiday weekend.  ON route, we broke off for a night near a no longer used swing bridge and not long after we'd tied up, a kid road his bike straight into the canal in front of us - his dad leaping in after him on auto pilot... complete with phone in pocket.  It was quite deep as the kid disappeared with his bike and the poor father had a heck of a job getting the bike back.  I thought poor taste to photo this - instead rushing to their air with towels and a bag of rice for him to try  save his phone with... no idea if it worked but they did appreciate the towels.

Andy got it into his head we should have some more plants on the roof to obscure the captains line of vision even further give the boat some colour .  SO, with that in mind, we got up VERY early and made a 6.5 mile round trip to a Home-Bargains he'd seen on google maps to buy planters, compost and plants...  The walk took us passed this old tin church and through rush hour traffic !

Once back on board, we chugged on to Burscough to fill up with water and supplies before returning to Appley lock where we moored again, the washing came out, planters got done and that bloody Rummikub came out again!

Oh - I nearly forgot... 

We're in June's Towpath talk... I'd forgotten all about the interview I had with a journalist a while back... luckily I'd not said anything TOO stupid.  You can see the article here:

or pick up a copy canalside somewhere..

Until next time...