Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Bridgewater Grand Prix

Despite the weather doing its best to spoil our plans we managed to get the boat blacked and back into the water a day ahead of schedule.  It was particularly good  as when on the hard, the boat sits level but in the water she slopes down towards the stern. The net result was that the shower wouldn't drain properly and half the doors kept coming open.  Still a good chuck up to the marina who did an excellent job at short notice.  We've now moved down the canal and are in the little village of Parbold for the weekend along with quite a few other boats who are all heading in the same direction and who all want to go through the Bridgewater canal when it is due to open.  When we were talking about this we thought it might be a good idea to hang back a few days to let the rush die down.  However, every boat we have spoken to seems to have had the same idea.  It wouldn't surprise me that no one goes through when it actually opens and the rush is several days later.
A reasonable Sunday lunch in the Windmill pub but it seems that, although they are good at Yorkshire puds up here, they are not so good at roast potatoes so only an 8 was scored. We were hoping for more because we stopped here on the way up and Lindsay my daughter and her fiance joined us for the night and we had a really excellent supper there.
So fingers, toes and everything else crossed that the canal opens as advertised. Then hopefully a dash through to the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Anderton Boat Lift which is on our narrow boat bucket list.

The start of the Grand Prix with many boats moored and all heading in the same direction.  We are still miles away from the stoppage and its only going to get busier.

As we came through a swing bridge the skipper of the boat coming the other way said that there were lots of Kingfishers on the next section and there was one in this tree.  I've even bought a camera with a special high speed bird feature just so I can get a photo of one of the elusive little sods.  So here is a photo of a Kingfisher hiding in a tree.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

High and dry

One of the problems of being in Liverpwewl was that the water was clear and I could see the underwater sides of the boat and realised that it really needed repainting.  Now, its normally quite a pain to book the boat in to get it 'blacked' and there is only one marina that can do it between here and the stoppage on the Bridgewater canal.  So it was with some surprise that when I rang them, not only were they able to fit us in but we are the only boat they have out of the water.  It may be that as no boats can get up here at the moment that demand is low.  So good luck for us, the only problem is that they have no cover for the boats and so rain becomes an issue and of course we are now at the end of the long dry period and rain is forecast on and off for the next week.  Although we can live on the boat whilst its out of the water we've managed to scrounge a bed for the weekend at our kids/grankids place.  All good fun - including our 4 year old grandaughter's birthday party tomorrow (should be fun......).   Hopefully back in the water at the end of the week and then the Bridgewater might be open and we can be on our way again.

A skanky bottom.  

So with not a lot to do we spent a day at Southport.  The pier is so long we needed a train to get back from the end.  Its an interesting place but don't think we'll go back.  I have a happy week ahead touching up all the paint that I can't normally get at while the yard is painting the hull.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The good, the bad and the peculiar.

So here we are in Liverpwewl (seems that's how it should be pronounced) and its actually pretty damned good.  We are in a large basin in the old dock area with free electricity and waste disposal and  in the heart of the city with bars, restuarants and shopping right by us.  There's even a steam fair going on on the dock which will keep the grandkids entertained tomorrow when they descend on us. Mind you, the trip in was eventful.  For some weird reason only 6 boats are allowed in and out daily and we all had to meet up before the first swing bridge 9 miles out.  There are two of these and they are operated by the River Trust staff.  A little further on is a pedestrian swing bridge and just past it a disused railway bridge.  As we approached it, there was a young kid of about 14 standing on it and as we got closer, he and his little scrofulous chums, who were hiding, started throwing stones at us.  No damage done but if they try it on the way out I will have my camera at the ready.  Apparently you are no longer allowed to stop and beat the S**t out of the little buggers these days. 
When we arrived, I thought I'd better just check the propeller and found half a ton of plastic wrapped around it.  I thought it was vibrating just a bit.
Although we have free shore power I'm using it sparingly as I don't have a galvanic isolator (it stops boats acting like batteries to each other).  The water in this basin is salty and its the first time I've actually seen bubbles fizzing off a sacrifical anode.
The real oddity here is that there is room for 56 boats and currently there are only 15 berthed.  With a policy of 6 in and out a day it will never be full.  Sometimes I wonder what the Canal and River Trust management are smoking because they are really missing a trick.  Still not our problem and its a fantastic place.  Someone has spent some serious money on the city since I was last here in 1999.  People may say we've just come out of a major recession - I don't think anyone has told Liverpool that.
Off on Monday back to the quiet life and as we will be going back down a canal we now know, we will be able to plan our stops in a more informed way - not the least by having seen the vast number of canalside pubs on this stretch.  We, like about 1000 other boaters, want to get through the next canal, the Bridgewater that joins up the system around Manchester but as it's shut until 24 May we are going to have to go really slowly for the next few weeks.

Jacaranda snuggled into an almost empty basin, mind you the size of the swans is enough to put anyone off!
The first of probably many cream teas. Mind you, the landlord of the Globe Inn at Fowey would not be happy but it is Liverpool and so its not surprising that these softy northerners don't really know how to make proper clotted cream or decent scones.  And just to prove it really is Liverpwewl - that's the Liver building in the backgound with the two large 'Liver Ducks' on the top.
A busy dock in  busy city.

I thought the prop was vibrating a bit.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

0530 and the Duck chorus

A busy week, the 'highlight' being the descent of the Wigan flight of 21 locks.  Luckily we teamed up with 'Perriwinkle' the cheese boat to do the descent.  By 'cheese boat' I mean they sell cheese |(they're not actually made of it).  This was their 35th transit of the locks and so we had good local knowlege.  Its quite pretty for most of the flight, only the bit in the middle, near the town being rather decrepit.  After that we slowed down again stopping various spots away from habitation if possible.  That said, we have just somehow managed to moor near one building now - strangely, its a pub and it does Sunday lunch - hoorah!!!  Liverpool on Wednesday which should be fun if all the accounts we've had so far are true.

Us and Perriwinkle the Cheese Boat half way down Wigan

Now on to Ducks.  Most people think they are rather cute and are only there so we can take the grandkids along to throw mouldy bread at them. 
The are the Devil's spawn, creatures from the black pit, monsters of the deep, foul creatures of the night, sadistic torturers of honest boating folk.  How do I know this? - read on.
They regularly peck the waterline of the boat at any time of the day or night and even jump on the roof and stomp along wearing what seems like size ten, hob nail boots.
In Riley Green we saw four males trying to shag one poor girl duck, she wasn't interested but it didn't stop them fighting her and each other.
In Adlington, we saw four males (not the same ones) having a fight just for the sake of it and then doing the same again right by our bedroom at four in the morning.
But in Burscough at five thirty in the morning or thereabouts, one started quacking.  So what? I hear you ask. IT WOULDN'T BLOODY STOP.  No that's not true it would and then just as I was dozing off it started again.  It was a calm night and the sodding animal was right by the boat.  What to do?  How do you get a Duck to shut up?  So at 0530 there I was at the back of the boat in my dressing gown trying to spot the offending little feathered bugger and wondering what to do.  An air rifle would have been good but I don't have one (yet).  Then a brainwave.  I scuttled back in the boat and returned armed with the only thing to hand that I could throw.  No, not the dog but several lumps of coal.  My aim was crap, after all I was still half asleep but I got the sadistic swine to swim away and quack at one of the other boats.  I must have looked pretty silly chucking coal into the canal at dawn but at least I managed to get back to sleep.
I just wonder what they have in store next.............................................

Cute and friendly - don't you believe it.

See - they even train their children to peck boats from an early age!!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Tragedy in Lancashire

We bravely fought our way through the Foulridge tunnel at the start of the week and into Lancashire at some point.  We headed for Burnely and then Blakcburn, two old industrial towns with most of the detritus of the Industrial Revolution plus most of Mc Donald's stock of plastic wrappers chucked in the canal.  I've never seen such a filthy stretch of water. We even managed to get some stuck around the prop on two occasions.  I now know how to get at the weed hatch and clear the prop quite quickly.  Its a shame really as the bits in between the towns are really quite pretty.  We also had several flights of 6 and 7 lock s to descend but its much easier going down as you can open the paddles fully straight away.  If you did that going up these types of lock - you'd sink the boat.  We've also buddied up with another boat and its much easier with two crews.  Hopefully we'll meet them again on Tuesday as we have the Wigan flight to descend which is a mere 21 locks.  After that we have a week to get to Liverpool where I've managed to book in from the 3rd to the 8th of May.  Everyone says its a really great trip and place to stay.
Now for the reason for the title.  One of the best pubs on this stretch burnt down last week, a few months after a million pound rebuild.  A photo is below but that's not the real tragedy.  Here we are in the little village of Adlington which has at least 5 pubs - and not one of them does Sunday Lunch!!!!!

The crispy pub - bet they did Sunday Lunch!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Jon Hunt number 9 now underway

I've finally got my head around a plot for the next Jon Hunt novel.  Like all the others its pretty damned vague but I know where it starts as I written the first few thousand words now.  I know how I want it to finish and I've got several plot lines in mind for the 'tricky bit' in the middle.  Once again it'll be interesting to see how it writes itself.  A few hints - its the end of the 21st century and for anyone who's remembers the prologue to 'Sea Skimmer' Jon's career doesn't have much time left (or does it??).  Oh and its working title is 'WMD'

And these two delightful, intelligent, caring and loving people will be getting a mention.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

All down hill from here

An intersting week of pootling.  Some nice locks, some not so nice swing bridges.  The wind caught us out several times and we managed to run aground quite comprehensively yesterday but what's life without a little excitement?  We're in Foulridge today, a little village apparently named after Vikings who used the ridge above us to spot rape and pillaging opportunities. The word 'Foul' is a mispronouncement of some Viking word it would seem.  The good thing is that there is a cafe just by the canal that does Sunday lunch, has beer and likes dogs. Then I can fall asleep in front of the Bahrain GP this afternoon.
This stretch of the canal is the highets point and from now on we will descending, which with these locks will be a little easier.  They all have very awkward ground and gate paddles to fill them up but emptying is much more straightforward.  First we have to go through the Fouldridge tunnel, of about 1600 yards and then there only two small flights of locks for miles until we get to Wigan when there is a flight of 21 which should be fun.  Once we are there I should have a better idea of how long it will then take to get to Liverpool because we have to book in as numbers are limited.

The entrance to the Foulridge tunnel, dark and gloomy but better than going over the top with all those Spam eating Vikings waiting to pounce.