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Monday, 25 June 2012

Via Manchester to Wigan

Monday 18th June A pleasant day but not warm. We were recommended whilst taking coffee (!!) to visit Grappenhall which was just 2 miles further on from Stockton Heath. The old part of the village around the church is on the south of the canal and includes a length of cobbled street, two recommended pubs (by others, too early for us) and some pleasant houses.
Fantastic carving in this reredos

The church was heavily altered by the Victorians but had an incredibly beautifully carved pulpit and had a magnificently carved reredos depicting the Last Supper. It was carved by men working at nearby Dunham Massey (NT) that we visited last year.
This lead lined Saxon font was found buried when the church was extended.

One of the customers sitting outside one of the pubs asked if we had seen “The Cheshire Cat”, and as we hadn’t, pointed it out to us. Why on earth would a stone carver incorporate this in his stone shaping?
The Cheshire cat on the church tower

We moved on, stopping for water at a remote, but popular, water point before stopping near Dunham Massey. It was a lovely evening so I polished the brasses and of course it then rained overnight! A lazy 8 miles in the day.

Tuesday was a lovely day, lots of sun and not too much breeze, though it was cool. We moved into Sale to re-provision before reversing about a mile to moor close to the house of two friends we were seeing that night. Had a good meal and a wonderful evening after a hard 6 mile cruise!
We could not see the Linotype offices last year until other buildings were demolished

It has been many years since we saw one of these fuel brand signs
When we started driving there were very many brands around

Wednesday & Thursday we moved into Castlefields in Manchester and did city centre things. I had noticed that my feet got damp when I wore one pair of shoes, yet they looked sound, until I bent the soles and saw large cracks in the soles! New shoes were bought from a firm that has its UK head office in Lubbenham and we pass it each time we travel into Market Harborough from Debdale. On Wednesday we entertained friends who were old customers of our business years and whom we re-met when up here last year.

We also went to see “Lady Windermere’s Fan” at The Exchange Theatre having been recommended to go by Tuesday’s friends. We didn’t know what this strange structure was when we entered the Exchange building, it held a theatre for around 400 people, we sat in low “banquette” seats at stage level, and had to keep our feet in so the actors didn’t trip over them. A very enjoyable evening, but the weather whilst we were in the city was wet and windy.
The stage taken from my seat. We didn't need opera glasses!

This weird structure, a bit like Tardis, is the theatre inside the fabulous Exchange.

Friday 22nd and a foul day, but we had to move after filling and emptying. Carol stayed below whilst I suffered the heavy rain and gusting winds, but not for too long as we had decided to visit the Trafford Centre. We had never been before and both were jaw struck by the place. It immediately reminded us of Planet Hollywood resort hotel in Las Vegas, incredibly tacky but an incredible amount of money poured into its building, great fun. The best thing about the place was The Pen Shop and was able to get some propelling pencil leads I have failed to find in Leicester or on-line. The weather lifted a bit but we had more heavy rain over night, we decided not to cruise on as the weather was bad.
I found out later I was not supposed to take photos, but the main food court area is
designed to look like an ocean liner and Katie Price was due on stage to sign books

The statues are of marble, the columns of polished granite, the trees are false....of course!!

Saturday Stayed at Trafford and watched qualifying for the European GP before moving off. It was breezy but brightening and we cruised to Leigh in about 2 hours, we cruise fairly fast on this deep, wide, lock free canal. On this occasion the Barton Swing Aqueduct was not closed, as it was both ways last year. Over the two days we have managed 0 locks and 13 miles.

Sunday 24th was a GP day with the broadcast to start at 12.15. We had a coffee and bought some fresh salad and were going to stop until after the GP until I noticed that the Plank Lane swing bridge a mile along the cut was BW controlled and only operated between 10 and 2, with a half hour lunch break so we set off, only to arrive and find it had changed to being boater operated so we passed through under our own control and tied up to watch the race. Normally the GP in Valencia is a boring procession, but not so this year.
The gate opening mechanism at lock 86

I walked part of the way up the Wigan flight & saw all these Giant Hogweed plants
I also paced out the lock length, Nicholson says they are 60 ft, I reckon they are
near 70 ft & on our return I'm going to measure them with my tape & we might go up!

Race over we pushed on to Wigan arriving about 5.30 mooring outside the BW offices after 6 miles and 3 locks, a week’s total of just 33 miles and 3 locks.

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