Monday, 31 July 2017

Deja Vu. 30th July

Salthouse Dock

P1090651smAs the sun went down last night it cast a wonderful light across Salthouse Dock turning everything golden in it’s path. Mike on NB Lady Baltimore had also picked up his camera, a far superior one to mine with huge lenses.

P1090654smP1090660smA slow morning and a cooked breakfast. Since the 16th of June when we left Hanwell we have moved everyday but three (interview check on the house and hand Lillian over) so we deserved to sit around for most of the morning. We’d missed the boats leaving to do the link at 8am, as our eyes had still been firmly shut, we’d drifted off to sleep last night as music still blared out from the pubs and clubs on the other side of the dock.

More washing was done, got to make use of being hooked up especially as it’s free! By the end of the day our water tank was only a quarter full!

During the morning we got news of a sighting of Lillian. I think everytime Tim and Elizabeth take her out past Crick Lizzie will be waving at them from NB Panda like a loony woman. She says she’d have introduced herself if she hadn’t still been in pyjamas. The report was that Lillian respected Panda and was the slowest passing boat all morning.

P1090702smBy the time we got our act together to go and get some culture it was most definitely afternoon. I’d had a quick look at The Tate’s website and noticed something to do with the mural we’d seen yesterday on our way in which finishes tomorrow. So we headed over to Albert Dock to see some art.

P1090672smP1090674smOn the ground floor was part of an epic wall hanging by Aleksandra Mir Space Tapestry, inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry depicting Halley’s Comet in 1066. Large sections of paper hung on the walls asking questions relating to our home and space, is there anybody out there? In the room there is getting on for 40m of the work, but in total there is 200m. The work took two years to make with the aid of 25 collaborators all using black marker pens. It was strange standing in a room in Liverpool looking at images of where we have travelled from in the last two months in East London.

P1090679smP1090687smP1090689smFurther up the gallery are rooms showing various art works from the collection which all have links to each other. A constellation map connects the artworks to a trigger piece. The works stretch from Grayson Perry to Lowry,  Duchamp to Paul McCarthy and his Artist video. Some of this we found interesting, other parts not so. Certainly Paul McCarthy’s video was strange, slightly amusing yet very disturbing (we didn’t watch it all the way through it’s 50 minutes). The Felt Suit by Joseph Beuys was a calm moment after the video and had connections with Michelangelo Pistolettos Venus of the Rags. My favourite piece was in the Lowry room by Ghisha Koenig, The Machine Minders (seen above).


Up another floor and an exhibition that was co curated by Tracey Emin and the gallery. Tracey’s controversial work My Bed 1998 sits in a red room, surrounded by drawings by William Blake, at the far end of the gallery are drawings by Tracey. My Bed is a self portrait where the artist is absent, her bed after four days of inner turmoil laid out for all to see. We timed our viewing with a talk by a chap from the gallery, which was interesting and informative if a little bit meandering. Blakes drawings at first glimpse are detailed drawings easy on the eye compared to the detritus around Tracey’s bed, yet the subject matter is more disgusting, boils, torture, lust in a form that we now would tend to pass over without looking at in detail.

Still no sign of an exhibition about the mural. That was because we had already seen it yesterday at Stanley Dock.

P1090719smP1090727smFull of art and the views from the galleries windows, two narrowboats coming into the dock, we decided to spend an hour in the Museum of Liverpool. When we were here five years ago we had quick visits to the museums and galleries that surround the docks as we had constant visitors all weekend. On one day we’d come into the museum and started to look around, within fifteen minutes there was an announcement that they would be closing soon. Today we walked up the spiral staircase to the first floor, thinking that we could have a look around there and come back another day to do more. We had just walked to the beginning of the time line for the history of Liverpool when there was an announcement, yes they would be closing in quarter of an hour! Deja Vu! So instead of working our way through centuries we spent what minutes we had looking at the display on Liverpool's Overhead Railway.

P1090733smP1090735smOpened in 1893 the Liverpool Overhead Railway was the first elevated electric railway. Running along the docks, originally five miles long, it was extended to stretch from Litherland to Dingle. It became known as the Dockers Umbrella giving shade on rainy days. A popular tourist trip and at it’s height almost 20 million people used it in a year. In 1955 a survey showed that a lot of repair work was needed on the viaducts which the company could not afford. Despite public protest the railway closed at the end of 1956. We just had chance to watch a small section of a film made looking out of the carriages at the docks before another announcement pushed us closer to the doors. We will be back, one morning so that our visit doesn’t get stopped before it starts again!

P1090745smFor a treat we headed over to Pizza Express for a meal tonight. We had a voucher for free dough balls and another for 25% off food. So we made the most of it with three courses. Next door is the Liverpool Wheel which was still turning as the sun was heading down over the horizon. We may come back to go round it one evening ourselves.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 lazy morning, 1 tiller tied up tight, 0 squeaking now, 3 exhibitions, 40m of felt tip art, 1 bed, 1 split pillow, 2 dumpy chaps, 15 minutes of history, 1 carriage, 0 spitting, 2 narrowboats, 2 loads washing, 2 pizzas, 2 glasses of wine, 2 puddings, 1 portion dough balls, 45ish cat naps to go!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

A Pootle Through Bootle. 29th July

Holmes Swing Bridge to Salthouse Dock, Liverpool
P1090328smBy the time we went to bed last night we were surrounded by boats. All six boats going into Liverpool today had chosen to moor at bridge 10 along with one that had stopped on it’s way out. With Bridge 9 Hancock’s Swing Bridge only being able to be operated by C&RT staff we felt no need to rush to be at the front of the queue so had tea and breakfast as normal, well a little bit earlier than normal! The first boat moved off at 7.20am and by the time we stepped outside the bridge in front of us was being swung for the last two boats, leaving us on our own. We soon moved off, opened the bridge and cruised just over a mile to reach the rendez vous point with C&RT. There was enough time to chat with the two boats ahead before the chaps in blue arrived to give everyone the low down for the first part of our journey.
P1090338smP1090342smThe link passage is manned by bridge keepers and a second team of lock keepers. Bridges 9 and 6 are only operable by C&RT staff and they are opened twice a day, once at 9.30am for those heading in to Liverpool and at 1pm for those coming out. You can do this stretch without going into Liverpool and stay at Eldonian Basin or Litherland, but then you’d miss out on the fantastic journey through the docks.
P1090359smWhen the bridge opened we all filed through in line, a flotilla of six boats with us bringing up the rear. It was slow going at first, so tickover or neutral was needed until spaces appeared between us. The yellow lilies still gave us a channel to follow even though the flowers hadn’t opened up to view the sun yet. After about 40 minutes we approached Netherton Swing Bridge which opened as we got close, the others had had to wait for us stragglers. 
P1090377smThrough housing estates the canal wound. One lady seemed to be tending her garden as we passed, but she stopped, sat down and opened a large book to make a note of our number and name. We wondered if she has a spread sheet so she can see if people have been before and how long their stay had been. In the last half mile or so to the Litherland services boats started to come towards us. Two had ladies who were ever so enthusiastic about the experience.
We pulled in so that we could dispose of our rubbish and give our wee tank an empty. Our tank gets emptied every three days and we have a large black container that we can use to store our yellow water in. So we hope that we will be able to stretch to our full stay without having to pay the elsan price at the marina. By the time we’d finished we were still at the back, the other boats all having disappeared into the distance a few minutes before. The bridge team had said that we should aim to leave Litherland at midday to make the locks in time for 1pm, we had five minutes in hand.
P1090411smParks and houses now get replaced with disused warehouses and waste land and so many plastic bottles, Lucozade have a lot to answer for! As you pootle through Bootle the bridge numbers end at 1 and get replaced by letters. After bridge C we turned right to meet the other boats waiting at the top of Stanley Dock Locks and breasted up with NB Lady Baltimore. Mike and Lesley are from the States and this year bought an ex-Black Prince hire boat to cruise the canals for 8 months of the year, returning to the States for winter. They were to become our locking buddies down to the docks.
P1090432smP1090447smThis is where the Lock Keepers take over. The first two boats to arrive had entered the top lock, but could go no further as the paddles to empty it are different. The paddle gear has a long tube attached to it and the lockies windlass has a longer handle to compensate for this and a socket on the end. When the chaps in blue arrived they started to lock the boats down two at a time, us being in the last pair. There was no rush, we all had a designated mooring for our stay and everyone would have to wait for us before being let down the last lock of the link.
P1090449smStanley Dock Locks were built some 70 years after the Leeds Liverpool Canal opened, prior to them being built any cargo heading to or from the Mersey docks would have to be moved by horse and cart. The locks were built wider 14ft 9in so that Mersey flats could access the canal level some 44 ft higher than the docks.
P1090469smP1090474smP1090478smWe made our way down with one lockie following and locking up after us. Then at the bottom lock Lesley and I got back on board to be let down by the men in blue. Five years ago we did the trip, we still listened to the chaps with their directions and were told that they would meet us at Princes Dock Lock, which the other boats would have worked themselves. We were also told to look back at the grain silo as we passed into Stanley Dock as there was a mural celebrating a track from the Sergeant Peppers album, but which track?
P1090458smIn the last five years some things have changed, the buildings on the north side of Stanley Dock have been changed into  The Titanic Hotel and pontoons sit waiting to be filled with boats. At first look the giant Tobacco Warehouse still looks as dilapidated as it did in 2012, every window broken. Well that is until you get to the far end where new windows are going in starting on the lower floors and working outwards. The building was built for storing tobacco and the floor levels far too low for an easy conversion. So some major work must be going on inside to make reasonable head room. It is a stunning building.
P1090487smP1090491smP1090504smP1090507smP1090545smUnder the Regent Road bascule bridge and past the blue shipping container where you turn left and into Sid’s Ditch. This area still smells of the activity that used to once go on here along with dust, but now is a desolate  prelude of the sights to come. Buoys to the right and then buoys to the left. Then the Liver Building comes ever closer with it’s birds over looking the Mersey from high. What a sight. A large cruise ship was billowing out black smoke on the Mersey  as we pootled our way under the modern footbridge.
P1090568smP1090571smP1090578smP1090587smThe lock was waiting for us to enter and once the gates closed behind us we were instructed to turn our tunnel lights on as ahead there are three sections of tunnel. Low flat roofed like a letter box. We’d bob back up for air to see the Three Graces up close (The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building)  before the next section of tunnel and then the final one which pops you out into the modern world. Here we joined the rest of the boats waiting for the Lockies. Gongoozlers everywhere, Mick even had a request for a photo stood on the back of Oleanna, photo yes but not on our boat!
P1090596smP1090601smP1090612smP1090613smThe jolly Lockies checked we were having a good time and were enjoying the views as they locked us down into Canning Dock. Once we were given directions and horn instructions we did the big u turn through the dock, past several tall ships and turned into Albert Dock, then through the bridge into Salthouse Dock. Here there was a bit of a hold up. Our mooring was almost straight ahead and being a reverse layout boat we wanted to head straight in, but those with saloon at the bow were winding to reverse in. Lucky for them the wind wasn’t a problem, just getting turned  seemed to take forever. Once our mooring was clear we slid in and tied up, hose out to replenish our almost empty tank, hook up plugged in for free electric and the washing machine on before a very late lunch.
P1090628smP1090636smThe rest of the day we have done more washing, drying, dishwashing and tried to keep Tilly amused. The proximity of a three lane road, admittedly up a high wall (although that’s not stopped her before!) and being on pontoons with no way out of the water for a cat, may mean she has a bad week in Liverpool. I shall just have to dream of Bridge 10 and the rain instead. Hang on, a week! A WEEK!!!
P1090649smDSCF7114sm6 locks, 12.57 miles, 4 swing bridges, 100’s held up, 6th boat in line, 4 men in blue, 2 fire extinguishers, 624 lucozade bottles, 1 Laura, 1 empty wee tank, 3 rights, 3 lefts, 3 tunnels, 1 mural, 300+ photos, 20ft overhang, 2 loads washing, 30 pairs pants dried, 60 socks dried, 1 week without trees, 1 week without friends, 49 ish cat naps to go!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

A Path Of Yellow. 28th July

Saracens Head to Holmes Swing Bridge 10.

P1090264smAs we were about to push off this morning a boat appeared through the bridge behind us, so we clung onto our ropes and waited for them to pass. We had a boat to leapfrog the swing bridges with.

P1090274smP1090280smNB Tranquillity being ahead worked the first bridge which was all electric. We leapfrogged them and got to the next. I let a cyclist cross who was obviously being followed by another, they were together so I waited for them both to cross. It was a good job the wind had calmed down as I was making the boats wait. This panel slightly flummoxed me. I pressed the button to open it, lights barriers. It then suggested letting go of the button, but not until a bulb had light informing you that the bridge had unlocked, you then had to push the bridge into the open position. Mental note made, make sure whilst you wait for a cyclist to read the instructions before you start!

The next bridge had manual barriers, but was electric. The next for me was the old push and pull, no electricity in sight and a handcuff key to unlock it. I seemed to have picked the short straw as the final bridge of the day was electric too. I only got to stop one car, NB Tranquillity nine! Mental note for the way back, get the posher bridges.

P1090305smP1090319smComing out of Maghull the canal turned yellow with masses of water lilies. A channel through them has been kept clear by the passing boats. Above the blue sky had been combed with cloud, suggesting a front was coming our way. Yellow trains crossed the railway bridge, we should have brought Lillian as she would have completed the picture.

P1090292smP1090302smAs we approached Bridge 10 the gap in the lilies broadened so we pulled in to moor. This would leave us with the bridge to do in the morning and a miles cruise to reach bridge 9 which is operated by C&RT between 9.30 and 10.30. When we came into Liverpool on NB Winding Down we waited the night at bridge 9, but there wouldn’t have been so good for Tilly due to a busy road.

P1090294smNB Tranquility pulled in too and after we’d both tied up we chatted away until the heavens opened with very large rain drops, so we retired to our boats leaving the rain for Tilly to enjoy for the rest of the afternoon.

During the afternoon, boats exiting Liverpool have come past, one stopping and so far another three boats have arrived presumably going into the docks tomorrow too.

P1090323smWe have both read the skippers guide to the link and I have found our paper copy from 2012 to have at hand tomorrow. Only one thing appears to have changed since then and that is the operation of Prince’s Dock Lock. Back in 2012 it says that this can only be operated by staff, now it doesn’t mention this, so maybe we get to do it ourselves. We’ll find out tomorrow.

DSCF7114sm0 Locks, 7.75 miles, 5 swing bridges, 3 done for us holding up 9, 1 held up by me! 1 yellow lined route, 2 yellow trains, 2 cathedrals, 1 soggy moggy, 1 boat waiting for the morning, 1 camera on charge, 1 loaf of bread rising on the bread shelf.