Monday, 25 September 2017

Bye Manchester. 24th September

Castlefield to Dunham Massey

P1140365smWith our cinema tickets we got vouchers for 50% off our next visit if it was within the next couple of weeks. Dunkirk took our fancy, but with only one showing today at 6.30pm we decided not to bother. We could stay another day but just for the sake of saving £5 and spending £5! So after a slow start we pushed off and made our way out of Manchester.

P1140368smAs we turned out of the basin a Waxi (Water Taxi) was just setting off from it’s mooring at the bottom of Lock 92. He waited for us to pass the trip boats and a boat heading into the basin before we waved him past. Suspect he would have passed us anyway seeing the size of his outboard. Within a minute he was out of sight and heading to the Trafford Centre. They run a service seven days a week between Castlefield, Trafford Centre and Sale along with a service to Media City in Salford across the quays. At £8 a single it’s not cheap.

P1140377smP1140376smP1140388smAt Waters Meeting we turned left continuing our journey southwards. This is familiar water to us. At the Linotype Works the development is starting to grow. I wonder what it’ll look like the next time we pass, will it be similar to the W N Nicholson facades in Newark that stand supported by modern buildings behind? Not sure when we’ll be passing this way next, maybe not till late next year, so the site will have changed a lot by then.

P1140401smWe stopped on the embankment overlooking Dunham Massey to let Tilly have free reign for the afternoon. As soon as green was visible from the cabin windows she was chomping  to be out, at least it would save her chomping the curtains! This is now the third time we’ve moored here and on Sundays there are a lot of walkers and cyclists. As we pulled up a young lady asked if Oleanna was like a house, only with very small doors. She then went on to say that here was very isolated. With the amount of footfall here it certainly doesn’t feel like it, although by late afternoon they had all headed back home and left the views to us and the embankment to Tilly.

P1140396smDSCF7114sm0 locks, 10.5 miles, 2 lefts, 1 waxi, 1 parcel ready to send, 1 London Leckenby catch up, 1st knitted sock, 1st heel turned, 4 hours of pouncing on a slope, 8 cumberland sausages from Glasson, 3 2 full tummies.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Saturday Flicks. 23rd September

Castelfield Basin
P1140298smI got to watch the Manconion world go by this morning from the pram cover. They didn’t open the back doors, they said that I didn’t like it here anyway! They got on with chores whilst I watched the Canadians drift by. This got boring though so I came back inside for an extended morning nap and a go on the climbing frame.
P1140314smBeing in the centre of Manchester is very handy. If you can’t walk somewhere then free buses circle round the centre, eventually getting you to where you want to be. We hopped on one at Deansgate which took us to the Northern Quarter. Here is the arty side of Manchester. The streets were full, shops interesting, numerous bars and quality graffiti decorates the streets.
I was wanting some more fabric and wool as I’m about to send my first creations off to my friend in Hebden Bridge. So first port of call was another Abakhan for a few bits.
P1140332smP1140319smP1140323smP1140327smNext was Fred Aldous, I’d been looking for wool shops around Manchester and this shop popped up in the google search. How have I never been here before? This is the sort of shop I could live in, they sell all sorts. Papers, sketch books, plasticine, model making styrene, wool, paints, clay, models to make (including a narrowboat with bike on it’s roof), string, glue, all sorts. They also seem to collect old photo booths. Even though they had soo much stuff I wanted, including paints with my name on them, I managed to walk out of the door having spent no money what so ever, however feeling slightly drunk from the experience.
P1140311smThe Arndale was next to hunt for a mop and some more door mats. We like the mats that we bought from Wilko in Sheffield and I want another couple so that I can tailor them to our steps. On wet days at the moment we have newspapers on each tread to help protect the wood. A mat cut to size would look so much better and with a rubber backing wouldn’t move about. Sadly we couldn’t find any or a suitable new mop either.
P1140336smWalking back towards Deansgate we cut under the Royal Exchange into St Ann’s Square, this is where people left flowers after the Arena Bombing in May. The doors to St Ann’s Church invited us in, I’ve walked past many times but never had a look inside. Consecrated in 1712 the church was built with funds from Lady Ann Bland and it was Manchester's second church. In the 1880’s the interior was remodelled by Alfred Waterhouse the architect for the Town Hall. A very fine looking building it is with it’s circling balcony and organ up high. The church survived the bombing raids of WW2, but in 1996 the IRA bomb caused the upstairs windows to be blown in on one side and out on the other. The organ was off site at the time being rebuilt otherwise this would have sustained damage too.
P1140355smIt now being late afternoon we headed to the Great Northern Railway Companys Goods Warehouse to go to the flicks. We’d considered booking tickets on line, but this would have cost extra, so chanced it and luckily there was plenty of space for us, a hole row. We’d come to see Victoria and Abdul. Judy Dench playing Queen Victoria for the second time (Mrs Brown was the first). The octogenarian queen lonely, bored, exhausted, the only highlight in her life profiteroles at banquets, is presented with a coin from India. Abdul breaks with royal etiquette, smiles at the queen and kisses her feet. From then on a friendship blooms and he becomes part of the royal household, brightening up the Queens days. Mick didn’t realise that Prince Bertie was played by Eddie Izzard, he must have stopped running his marathons and taken to eating doughnuts to gain the weight for the part.
0 locks, 0 miles, 2 lots of drying, 1 bus, 2nd wrist warmers complete, 1.8kg fabric, 3 balls wool, 1 snog, 0 mop, 0 mats, 1 peg container, 1 crane to build a crane, 44 hours to build it, £5 each, screen 16, 42 doughnuts a day, 3 counts of self defence, 2 blinds in the way, 1 cat saving her paw money for fabric!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

HOME 22nd September

Boothstown Basin to Castlefield

P1140180smJust as we were about to push off this morning a boat appeared around the bend behind us, that dilemma should we give Oleanna a big shove and get moving or cling onto the ropes and wait for them to pass. They were quite a distance behind so I urged us to get a move on. It turned out to be the right decision as they were much slower than us. We’d got the hose out and were starting to fill the water tank long before they passed us at Worsley. It was a hire boat having some training before they were sent off on their own.


P1140228smAs we approached Parrin Lane Bridge I messaged ahead to an old work friend who lives right by the M602 fly over. Today she and her husband were suffering with lurgies so we wouldn’t get chance to meet up. Last year when we passed they had just bought their house and it was moving day, on our way to Liverpool a couple of months ago Cat was on a hen weekend. Today we got a wave from Kevin, but Cat had had to pop out, so we even missed a wave from her this time. We now know where we can stop, so next time hopefully we’ll get to see each other.

Another mile on and spotting some rings we pulled in. This was close to a fishing tackle shop, no Mick hasn’t taken up a new hobby after seeing yesterdays catch, but he wanted a pair of waders. Wearing these he hopes to be able to unblock the bow thruster and save us the cost of lifting Oleanna out of the water. Photos will be taken.

P1140231smP1140266smThe skies were starting to get darker, so we decided to have a late lunch and press on to Castlefield. Barton Swing Aqueduct was open for passage so we followed another boat across and made our way gradually to Waters Meeting where the canal branches off towards the centre of Manchester and the bottom of the Rochdale Nine. It was a damp three mile cruise. After all the containers at the Freight Terminal there is Old Trafford Football ground. Behind the dark glazing of the new Hotel Football people waved to us from the dry. Past Pomona Tram Station, the flyover that we’d seen being painted is now covered in graffiti. Then the final approach to the basin with it’s criss crossing rail bridges and red brick buildings.

P1140277smIt looked like the arm would be full as there were so many boats moored by the bottom of the locks. But as we rounded the bend we could see gaps. The first one is now a permanent mooring, but on the car park side there was plenty of space. So we winded and found ourselves suitable rings to moor up without leaving git gaps.

Being in the centre of the city we decided that we’d go to the theatre. After checking to see what was on where, we opted to go to HOME and see  People, Places & Things.


HOME opened a couple of years ago and we’d never been. A warm inviting building tucked away behind the railway only a few minutes walk from Castlefield. Their ushers could do with a bit more training, knowing where seats are (as most of their audience does) might help. Our seats were on the end of a row in the circle, however this was a problem with a lady who followed us into the theatre, well it would be to her husband! It turned out that when they booked their tickets the end three seats were not being sold, he always wants to sit at the end of a row. But as the theatre filled up it looks like the end seats were released for sale, why not if people want to see the show. As far as I’m aware no Box Office will be aware of why you chose particular seats in the first place, so they don’t automatically move you.

Mick offered to swap seats, no problem to us, we’d end up with better sight lines. This took a bit of convincing, but eventually she got the hang of it. Then her husband came in and we waited to be accused of sitting in his seat. Instead of saying Thank you, sitting down and enjoying the play, he complained to the usher that he’d been told the end seats were not going to be sold. One of those moments were you just want to say, “Well they have been, someone has kindly swapped so you are sitting where you originally wanted to. Sit down, shut up and I hope you enjoy the play, Sir!” Instead the usher kept pointing along the row not taking any note of what was being said.


But what of the play? Written by Duncan Macmillan, Designed by Bunny Christie, a Headlong and National Theatre production we were in for a treat. It turned out that we were seeing it on it’s first preview before a tour (cheap tickets). Two years ago the play got five star reviews, played at the National Theatre and in the West End. The reviews were well deserved and Lisa Dwyer Hogg must be exhausted after giving such a performance. She plays the part of Emma, an actress, who to get her through modern life has taken to drink and drugs, she has ended up in rehab. First she has to admit that she has a problem, but to her she is not the problem, everything else is! Emma ends up practising/rehearsing for real life. As an actor you always know where the play will take you, yet Emma has no idea what consequences telling the truth will bring.

A great production and reassuring that even a NT production can still have that actor who pulls scenery into position until it will go no further! I could feel the designers wince as a bathroom sink wobbled away. He’ll manage to put the truck on it’s mark without hitting it, one day.

DSCF7121sm0 locks, 8.54 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 waving Kevin, 0 Cat, 1 aqueduct crossed, size 10 waders, 1 puncture repair kit, £110 saved, 1 left, 1 wind, 3 raining miles, £10 tickets a bargain, 13 strong cast, 2 nearly free chilled medication tubs, 1 cracking show, 5 doubles, 1 wobbly bathroom sink, 1 outside not worth sniffing!

Friday, 22 September 2017

The Bridgewater Goldfish. 21st September

Plank Lane to after Boothstown Basin, Bridgewater Canal

P1140129smA very wet start to the day, glad we weren’t on a mission. We woke early in case Gary returned with our cratch cover, however he arrived in a lull in the rain shortly before 10am. The straps to hold the rolled openings up have been shortened and moved higher, which means that they will now sit as high as they can giving us the maximum opening to get in and out. The press studs that had been squashed in the lock have been replaced and the slight hole has been mended and reinforced. This has been done to both sides of the cover so that they match. We just need to remember to have the cover rolled up when entering locks so as to avoid it getting damaged in future. Gary left us with a pocket full of fixings and rivets should we manage to damage any of them. Thank you Gary, a speedy repair and alteration all done within 24hrs, it helped being on their doorstep.

IMAG0052smAnother hour before Mick decided to brave the rain. We pushed off and pootled along in the drizzle, Mick with brolli in hand, me down below knitting. When the towpath appeared on both sides Mick pulled over and tied the centre rope. Here we could empty our yellow water tank without having to balance on wet gunnels. Once empty we carried on to Leigh where normally there is a line of moored boats just before bridge 11 where the Leeds Liverpool turns into the Bridgewater Canal. But there was only one boat, so we pulled up to pay a visit to Tescos for some fresh fruit and veg. The above building caught my eye. It was canteen/waiting room/office for the Lancashire United Tramways and used to be twice as big, designed to resemble a tram in the 1930s.

The day was drying up now, a few more miles before we wanted to stop for the day.

P1140146smP1140147smPassing under the East Lancs Road Bridge a couple of workmen pointed out a fisherman up ahead who’d just landed a big fish. Sure enough the chap was wrestling with it in his landing net and removing the hook. What was it? It was big, almost orange, a Koi Carp possibly? As we passed the chap he held it up, weighing it in his hands. As you can see it really was that big! Sadly he has no record of it and I can assure you that he did put it back in.

P1140159smP1140165smOn we pootled, waiting to see if work was now complete on Vicars Hall Bridge. It was and wouldn’t look out of place in a lego set. One local has already tried to improve it by adding their tag.

P1140174smWe pulled in roughly where we’d moored when we came out this way a couple of months ago. Trees on both sides, the M60 only just audible and a great place for Tilly for a few hours before dark.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 6.6 miles, 4 straps higher up, 1 pocket full of rivets, £0, 1 empty yellow tank, 1 half full cellar, 1 very big gold fish, 1 quiet mooring, 7.5 miles to Manchester.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

De-cap-itated. 20th September

Fishers Swing Bridge to Plank Lane Bridge 8, Leigh Branch

P1140067smAnother early start for us. Below the next lock, Dean Lock, there is a water point that we wanted to make use off. We were moored up, filling the tank and having breakfast by 8.30. With filled tank and tummies we worked our way up the lock on our own, no Blackbird to keep us company now, so the use of the centre rope and a lot of walking round to work the paddles.

At 9.45 we were pulling up and banging spikes in opposite Crooke Hall Inn. There were fisher men starting to congregate in the pub car park and we were asked if we’d be staying. Yes, but maybe not for long, was our reply. Our stay did turn out to be short as our towpath meeting with Gary happened almost straight away. Cruising close to All Seasons Covers for a couple of days is handy, I’d messaged Gary yesterday and arranged to meet him on his way back from a job this morning. We chatted through the alteration we wanted, undid the cover and off he went, all in 20 minutes of mooring up.

Just as the kettle was about to be put on a boat came past heading towards Wigan, our morning cuppa put on hold so that we could catch them up to partner through the locks, good timing. NB Zelda was the boat that had arrived at the Deep Lock yesterday just as we were going up. They were heading in the same direction as us at Wigan so we could share the four locks up and the two down the other side.

P1140084smThankfully the water levels at Pagefield Lock were good today. The last time we came in this direction the pound above was almost empty, but today the water was flowing over the bywash. This meant that Mick didn’t have to get the polishing cloth out and clean Oleanna’s mushroom vents as there wouldn’t be several hours of waiting for the level to rise.


The lady stood by the pier just looks more bored everytime we pass and the little chap over looking the bridge always has to have his photo taken, he’s one of my favourite canal side sculptures. I snapped his photo from a distance only later this evening did I realise that someone has de-cap-itated him! He used to wear a flat cap, but this has now gone. Poor poor fellow, he’s going to have a very chilly head this winter, maybe I should knit him a bobble hat and send it to the council.

P1140108smAround the bend there is a new pontoon near to where C&RT have moved. Handy to get on and off your boat before the next lock. Except my key wouldn’t work in one of the padlocks and Mr Zelda had difficulty at the other gate but succeeded in the end. There was a group sat here with a couple of dogs that liked the sound of their own barking. It’s a good job I’m not scared of dogs as one bounded up to say hello and then gave my arm a nip. ‘Sorry love, he’s just saying hello’, And checking out that I tasted good!

P1140127smBoth boats turned right onto the Leigh Branch and worked our way down through the last two locks for some miles. At last we could now have that cuppa. The branch and the Bridgewater are wide and deep so it felt like we were zooming along. The low hanging foliage we’d cut our way through on our way up was now gone. By 1.30pm I turned the key of power on the panel to work Plank Lane bridge. At this time of day there isn’t masses of traffic and I even found a gap with not one vehicle visible to set the operation going, I still held up a few. Mick pulled Oleanna into the side and we moored up for the day. Here we will meet with Gary again in the morning.

P1140120smIt’s the third time we’ve stopped here. It’s good, plenty of friends to play with, just have to watch out for the woofers. Nowadays she always says that I’m ‘not to bring friends home, dead or alive’. She has never mentioned anything about the roof though, although Tom didn’t seem too pleased. It wasn’t going to be much of a party, I’d only got one friend up there before I was closed in again.

DSCF7114sm7 locks, 9.69 miles, 1 right. 1 lift holding up 18, 1 solo lock, 6 shared, –1 cap, –1 cratch cover, 1 afternoon of showers, 1 very wet cat, 1 roof party thwarted, 3rd bag completed.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bye-bye Blackbird. 19th September

Glovers Swing Bridge to Fishers Swing Bridge 45

The canal was steaming and mist rising from the fields this morning. Extra layers were needed. Mick did a milk dash into Burscough for both boats before we pushed off. A brief stop for us to dispose of our rubbish at Bridge 35 before we entered the long binless stretch ahead. Bridget had walked on and was ready to press the buttons on the next swing bridge to let us through.


In Parbold the chilled medication dispensary already had it’s menu outside, but sadly it was far too early to stop. Next time.

Bridget and Storm were now on a mission to get Blackbird back to her mooring before the weekend so that they could spend it with their grandkids. Originally we’d planned to accompany them through the locks up to Wigan and then down Poolstock Locks before we parted company. But we are wanting to catch up with Gary from All Seasons Covers to do a couple of alterations for us, so slowing down would be better for us. So Appley Deep Lock would be our last together as we wanted to stop early and let Tilly have an afternoon hunting for friends.

P1130998smP1140003smP1130996smAppley Deep Lock is 12ft deep and as one of the ground paddles is out of operation it takes sometime to fill. A boat appeared behind us, so there was a chance that Blackbird would have a locking partner to do Wigan with, but sadly they were going to stop before Crooke for the day. Once the boats  had reached the top, paddles wound back down and the gates closed, we waved our goodbyes to each other. Blackbird took the lead and set off to cruise until they stopped wanting to make the most of the sunny day that was now burning through the mist.

P1140006smOf course we’d all forgotten about the next swing bridge! Here we overtook them and wound our way back to the meadow we’d stopped at back at the end of July. Our final farewells were said as we moored up for the day.

P1140016smIt’s been a lovely six weeks with Bridget, Storm and Max. Exploring the Lancaster with them has been a very nice way to spend the summer, good company, similar interests, appetites for chilled medication and beer. We definitely now have an end of holiday feeling that has been creeping up on us for the last couple of weeks. Just one mention on their blog last year when they walked down the Glasson Branch and saw the big locks and we ended up offering to share them. We now head our separate ways, which will cross again. We may even get to see them before Christmas if we end up going up to the Llangollen for the end of the year.

P1140022smP1140027smThe doors were opened and I was given five hours! A stipulation was to show my face every hour. I did for the first four, but they didn’t seem too bothered so I went off for another four hours to play with my friends.

There were jobs to do, stow things away like the anchor, redistribute mooring equipment that seems to all end up at the bow. The sunny afternoon nearly got me in the mood to give the port side and roof a wash, but this soon disappeared and I ended up just washing all the windows.

P1140037smP1140045smA flash of blue darted past us and then doubled back. A kingfisher had come to have a nosy at us, uncharacteristically he sat on a branch in full view for about ten minutes. Enough time to get the camera and some photos! As the evening darkened the meadow below filled with convection fog and the canal started to steam again. The stove was lit and we settled down to watch TV, yes there was an occasional train that passed, but it didn’t spoil our countryside mooring.

DSCF7121sm1 lock, 5.87 miles, 4 pints milk, 0 medication, 2 swing bridges, 0 held up, 2 Goodbyes, 1 Hello, 6 weeks holiday, 3 again, 8 hours, 7 friends, 2 rather tasty friends, 12 clean windows, 1 tidy cratch, 1 stripped chicken, 5 more inches of bag, 1 nosy bird.