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Friday, 31 August 2012

Up Heartbreak Hill and down to Stone

Monday 27th August Only a short blog this week as we are leaving Lily on Saturday for a trip to Chichester with a stop in London on our way back to see our friends from New Zealand who are coming over for a week’s stay after visiting the boatyard in China where their new Off-Shore cruiser is being built. It looks very impressive and getting it from China gets them a lot more boat for their money. I must say it hardly seems a direct connection going from NZ to China to UK, back through Bali to see their son & family & then home, but we are glad we are going to see them again.
Nothing particular to do with Monday, just a pretty!!

Anyway, onto boating, and on Monday it was Bank Holiday, lousy weather and lots of boats moving, so we stayed put in Wheelock, and took the bus into Sandbach. We also ate at San Marco restaurant at the wharf, which was OK, not cheap & we will not stop again. Shame as it is a lovely setting and has made over the old wharf building in a pleasant way.
Sandbach really worked hard
naming its streets

I noticed signs mounted on the side of the Aldi store in Sandbach. It and the adjacent stores have been built on the site of the original ERF lorry factory and the signs give a potted history 

Tuesday 28th and a fine day and quite warm. After early morning chores in Costa & topping up the water tank it was 12 before we were away hitting the locks. 

This mooring spike was bent by passing boats, some load!

We crossed several boats at locks and seeing surveyors at work for a possible new marina not far from the M6 crossing. We stopped for the night just past lock 49 after 5 hours of cruising covering 5 miles and 18 locks.
Wrapped around the prop shaft this was hard to remove

Once stopped I had a look, or rather a feel, of the prop as we had a “tinkling” though drive seemed OK. I pulled off some fishing net and poly bag with much heaving and a bit of cutting, but there was a metal rod wrapped around the shaft with a length sticking out past the blades. The chrome plated bar was about 4mm diameter, not in a spring steel but in a fairly robust metal and I heaved and strained for a long time without success. Eventually I got out a mooring spike, in fact the one that cleared the bow thrusters last week, and I eventually managed to pry it off the shaft, with a little bit of fine nylon net through the hole in it. Rotten really as we always are very kind and polite to fishermen yet they get back at us like this!

Wednesday 29th The forecast was that the overnight & morning rain would clear around 12, but it had stopped by 10.30 so we were away, only for drizzle to start a short while later. We were following an ex-Challenger boat, all smartly repainted, on its way from being shown at Nantwich, with 6 shares to sell! The rain stopped and started several times before we got to Red Bull services where we got rid of our rubbish when as we entered the lock it threw it down. I told Carol to say below, I drew a paddle just a bit to let Lily rise slowly, and stopped under the road bridge, but I got wet. When the lock was full I opened the gate but stopped on board to eat my sandwich......and a boat came!!! The deluge eased somewhat so we moved on to the next lock and repeated the procedure, as did the rain. It had eased by the time the lock was full, but I don’t think  have ever been so wet, my shorts needed wringing out and my boots with their waterproof sock were squelching!
Carol's spiky plants brushed the tunnel roof

We had a short wait for Harecastle tunnel and discussed what we should do with the flowers on the roof which were clearly going to hit the roof. We shuffled them around and went in following the Challenger boat, which had a horribly noisy exhaust. About 50 minutes later we were out, the plants survived but the roof of the boat was covered in debris, the Cordilines had acted as a good brush for the lowest parts of the roof!
We carried on for about an hour longer before mooring near Etruria Marina and going to the adjacent cinema on a 2 for 1 deal to see a not great film. 6.5 miles and 8 locks.

Thursday 30th started dry and bright but with a cool breeze, I reckoned it was more an October temperature, not August. Costa before starting and then away at 10.15. We met several boats at the locks and the breeze eased and it warmed up a bit. We stopped by Stoke railway station for me to get the tickets for our trip. I had done quite a bit of research on-line to get the best price, but the booking clerk came up with a new wheeze that has saved us £20+ on the return ticket, I just hope there is not going to be a problem!
After lunch we were away in a pleasant afternoon, again meeting boats, and as we were near Stone where we wanted to stop, we were told the moorings looked full top and bottom of the bottom lock. I looked at the Google map for Stone & decided if we stopped above lock 30 we would be probably nearer to our target than in the other spots. We stopped and there were mooring rings set up for us to use and a quiet spot. It was Thursday, our target was a Wetherspoons curry. Excellent and Ruddles was only £1.69!!!  9 miles and 10 locks.
The old Joules Brewery's incredible cast iron lintel on Newcastle Rd

Friday 31st It had been cold overnight, some places had experienced an overnight frost!! It dawned bright, but again the breeze was cool. Coffee & paper plus buying an extra birthday present to give to granddaughter Emily who is 10 today meant it was around 11 when we set off. 
This old brewery also has another use now

Seen in Stone, I don't ever recall seeing a violin maker before

Volunteers were helping at lock 29 and again at the bottom lock which was pleasant. We followed an incredibly smart boat, still owned by its original family after 35 years, beautifully repainted, only the basic style and registration number hinted at its age. Still on its original Lister engine, oil changed every 250 hours, blacked every 3 years and not re-plated, amazing.
Below the bottom lock we stopped for lunch and then pootled onto Aston Marina where Lily is to stay whilst we travel away. Very impressive place and it has a wonderful deli and butchers. The Bistro looked OK but seemed expensive, we resisted the temptation to book for Xmas day at £79.95 a head!! We used the on-site laundry to finish off our washing. Just 2 miles and 5 locks.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

In Manchester, away and on way home

August 12th to 21st
Sam & Hannah came to stay for 3 nights and we showed them things, firstly at the Trafford Centre where we caught a film before moving into Castlefields. We enjoyed having the kids to stay and they enjoyed Manchester.
Carol happy with our grandchildren

Bottom lock of Rochdale canal at dusk
the Beetham Tower behind

We decided that the moorings by the YHA in Castlefields had been very quiet during our stays & seemed OK for a stay for our trip to Forfar for Carol’s aunt’s funeral. I rang Bridgewater Canal Co & told them of our problem and they sanctioned our stay. Leaving on Thursday morning we returned on Monday, getting off the train at Deansgate Station just a couple of hundred yards from Lily. All was well, but we need to sort out wiring to let us keep the alarm switched on whilst the rest is off, a job for the winter. The amazing thing for me on our visit was seeing a red squirrel from cousin Isobel's kitchen window, the first one I ever recall seeing.
The mooring outside the YHA, Lily was moored on left.
Note fantastic Museum of Science & Industry dead ahead.

Wednesday 22nd  Carol was knocked up by the train journeys etc so we did little on Tuesday except leave Castlefields, using the services and noting that some boaters can’t read the sign I made about rubbish disposal and had again started dumping it near the Sanitary Station! We cruised to Sale and stopped there till Thursday, with me polishing the starboard side and Carol resting, though we did replenish our stores.

Thursday 23rd and after a coffee and lunch we set off on a reasonable day. We filled with water past Hyde at Ye Olde no 3 and then stopped at Heyford Marine and asked if we could try getting Lily far enough up the slip to expose the bow thruster tube. Second attempt worked after we had pumped all the water out of the newly filled tank and had filled with fuel at 87p. My feet & knees got wet but my cossie stayed dry. The blades were jammed but I could feel something trapped and with a few judicious pushes with a mooring spike I got them to move a bit and then I got out the bits of plastic that were jamming it and after 5 minutes work all was well. 
Preparing to poke about

Trying to see what is jamming it

And this was all that jammed it, a thin plastic moulding!!!

We couldn’t get Lily back out from the slip so despite Stuart having knocked off for the day he started up an incredible machine, built to haul Vulcan bombers, and gave Lily a slight push down the slope and she was afloat. We filled with water and moved on about a mile to stop for the night just past 6 having covered 7 miles but having sorted the bow thruster.

Friday 24th Surprisingly good weather despite the forecast though we needed a jumper much of the day. Away by 9 we had a steady cruise to Stockton Heath where we took refreshment & got fresh fruit before moving on to Claymore to pick up the glass, except it had not arrived. I called Worcester & got the impression it possibly had not been sent. I’m getting him to send it to the marina in Stone where we are stopping on Sept 1st to 6th.
The shop & P.O. at Moore is useful and the bin by the canal has recycling.

We arrived at Preston Brook tunnel with 15 minutes to wait for our passage time, so I tethered Lily with the centre rope.....bad idea. Just as we were about to cast off 2 boats arrived & I waved them past. Sadly the canal was shallow and as the first boat passed a bit fast Lily moved and with the rope attached to the roof she moved and rolled badly, throwing open many doors in the galley! I’ll not do it again!
One large area of Floating Pennywort,
there were many clumps between Dutton Lock & Anderton

At the lock past the tunnel there was quite a lot of Pennywort, I’ll moan at CRT & contact the local IWA about it. We carried on a bit from there to tie up at night with enough time to touch up a bit of paint before the rain came, just past br 213.

Saturday 25th and a pleasant day with just one heavy shower whilst cruising. The first boat past was at 6.30 and many more had done so by the time we cast off at 9.15. We met several boats and arrived at Saltisford tunnel for a 15 minute wait for our passage with 4 other boats. We arrived at Anderton around 12, found a mooring and visited the cafe.....but the coffee was poor. We met and chatted with several other boaters before moving to the sanitary station and then on through Northwich to Middlewich. We met far fewer boats after we had left Anderton, though one decided to hit us and another gave us a very near miss, both at bridge holes where they were travelling too fast. We arrived at Middlewich at 4 and moored up alongside the children’s park. A wander into town showed a newly reopened pub, the White Bear, which was very pleasant. 15 miles and 1 lock.

Sunday 26th It had poured with rain overnight but the forecast for the day was good, though it didn't look too good at first. We bought papers and set off around 10.30 and at each of the locks through Middlewich we crossed with boats descending and this was the case for much of the day with only about one lock having to be emptied by me. We arrived at Wheelock and tied up around 3.15 and we set off up to see Sandbach, a town we have never visited before. 
The cobbled square in Sandbach with several really old pubs in it.

These old Saxon crosses were reassembled in the square after
being recovered, having been broken by Cromwell's men

The walk totally upset Carol's back, even the Costa couldn't sort it, so I left her reading papers whilst I took a wander around the town. I had meant to take my camera, but I had forgotten it, so I took some using Carol's phone to use its camera. Suffice to say it is well worth a visit if you can manage the walk, a cab brought us home. 
With an atrocious day forecast tomorrow we may well stay put and if we do will go to the Italian restaurant by the services block which comes recommended. 6 miles and 8locks.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Little cruising and hosting guests

Monday 6th August and we spend some time in Manchester before heading off to Sale for overnight mooring. Little that was exciting except that whilst winding at Castlefields something got stuck in the bow thrusters and would not come out with the usual left then right blowing. In fact the motor sounds horribly jammed and I’ll have a look and poke about at Sale.

Tuesday and we cruised the half mile from the town centre to tie up just before the rowing club, and it pours! Carol’s sister, Annette, and husband Mike, arrived around 11.30 with it still raining & whilst they get sorted down below I cruised Lily to Dunham Massey. It had cleared by the time we arrived and we had a pleasant visit, when they saw it they realised they had paid it a short visit previously when they stopped to have lunch in the restaurant as they drove north. We stopped overnight.
Annette and Mike, happy faces at prospect
of delicious ice creams at Dunham Massey

A lovely sunset by Dunham Massey

Wednesday and a lovely day. I winded Lily whilst they got ready for breakfast and then we headed into Sale first to visit Nero for coffee and then to Castlefields, topping up with water as we entered. After lunch we took the tram to Media City and all enjoyed our visit to the Lowry Centre, for us it was a re-visit but there was still plenty to see that was new. We took a pleasant amble over the Ship Canal and between the BBC buildings.
This incredible building is probably over 15 years old, it looks brand new and
the lift bridge is reflected in its glass. Much of it it occupied by a council whilst
their offices are repaired.

This is the lift bridge that wouldn't
and spoilt our Ship Canal cruise

As with the night before, Carol fed us royally and I tweaked their mattress so that it was a bit softer, they had not slept too well the night before. Very odd as previous visitors have found it very comfy, Jenny wanted to take it home with her!!

Thursday the weather is great & we headed into Manchester on the free bus, stopping to view the City Art Gallery, St Anne’s  church and the Royal Exchange. They treated us to a “light lunch” at Patisserie Valerie, so light we only had a sandwich at night! We then split, the girls looked at a shop or two whilst Mike & I spent a shortish time in MOSI.
At MOSI the engines were in live steam
cosy on a winter's day, hot when we visited.

Around 4 we reassembled refilled and dashed to Sale to send them on their way. They enjoyed their stop in Manchester, Annette had never been, Mike had only done stopovers as an airline pilot. They vowed to return.

Friday and Saturday  and more great weather. I tried to get my hand into the bow thruster tube but the gap between bars welded across it to stop logs getting in did not give enough space for my arm. I had intended to get into the water, by the bank it was about 4 feet deep, on the far side of the boat it was around 6 feet. I had a fish around with a pruning saw plus tried a mooring spike to turn the prop, but it was no good so we set off to the nearest winding hole, shown as being just the other side of Altrincham bridge but if it was there we couldn’t see anything we could use. Another half mile or so there was a small mooring basin where Lily managed to turn. Back at the rowing club I tried to clear the bow thrusters from the port side but without success, we need to get the tube out of the water to see what is wrong.
Having failed we moved on to the centre of Sale and stayed until Sunday afternoon. Sadly we heard that Carol’s sole surviving aunt had died after a slight fall. Now we have to organise where to leave Lily whilst we go up to near Arbroath, but not until we have had our oldest grandchildren stay. Olympic action kept us happy, plus I walked along to Sale Cruising Club to see if there is a possibility of us getting a visitor mooring there.

Sale Cruising Club seems to be a thriving place and on Saturday night they held a social evening, hosting visitors from just along the cut at Lymm Cruising Club. Their club house on the off-side was a very cosy place and it was good to see many members joining in. I managed to get the phone number for the moorings officer and am trying to get through. Good club it may be but don’t bother looking at their web site as it doesn’t appear to have been up-dated since 2002!!

Sunday and the weather breaks, a heavy shower by 13.30, still waiting for the kids but Sam had been out clubbing til 4 am this morning. When they arrive we are taking them to see the Trafford Centre plus the swing aqueduct.
Gelert moors at Burscough and has been out for her summer cruise, all the
way to Preston Brook. It takes up a lot of canal and they keep their stove
burning all year round, even on days when we have all windows wide!!
Contact from the kids and they set off about 2.15, when they arrive we'll head off to the Trafford Centre to show them it tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

From Burscough to.......where????

Monday 30th July Our plan after returning from our rail trip is to go through Manchester, up the Ashton Canal and onto the Peak Forest Canal and on Tuesday 7th to have Carol’s sister Annette & husband Mike (otherwise known as Gadget) join us at Marple Junction. Then over two days lock free cruising to Bugsworth and along the Macclesfield Canal. He’s organised car parking at Marple and were all set BUT suddenly notification came from CRT to say they had got a significant water leak on the Marple Flight, had closed it, but were working hard to resolve the problem.

We started up the freezer and fridge after our trip and got the garden watered.

Tuesday and we re-provisioned and had a farewell All Day Breakfast at Infusions Cafe, boy it was good as was the coffee. 
The happy team at Infusions

Then it was farewell to all as we filled and emptied and set off on a reasonable afternoon, but it got worse.
Leaving Burscough Wharf note horse boat

We joined up with two other boats at our second swing bridge where they were having problems getting it open, though when it eventually opened they had no idea what caused the problem. The other boats stopped at Parbold & we carried on but it started to rain hard. We went up Appley Lock, reversed back into the old lock pass and tied up soaked! We dried off enjoying Olympic competitions.

Wednesday was cool and cloudy most of the day with rain showers and drizzle, what a summer! We cruised through Wigan though lock 88, Pagetfield, was undergoing work by CRT and they told us we would need all paddles up to fill it as there was a big leak and they were going to fetch a boat to try to sort it out.
As we passed the CRT office in Wigan nb Lady had been recovered by the lads, but the front door glass had been smashed, it looked as if it had been broken into. Three locks on as we reached lock 2 on the Leigh Branch I was approached by a gentleman who had found a load of documents and a document case that had been smashed open. I looked at the papers which were very damp from the overnight rain. They were clearly from Lady with drawings for a re-paint, invoices from insurers and Sileby Mill, one of the owners was from Melton Mowbray, not far from our winter base. I gather all the papers and set off back to the offices, leaving Carol on Lily, in the lock, letting it leak empty whilst I hoofed it back. The owner was grateful, his rudder had broken so he had left the boat moored at the lock.....perhaps he should join RCR?

Good deed done we set off to Leigh, arriving in improving weather, except it threw it down as I walked about a mile to get two new domestic alternator belts....yes we had shredded one again, I really thought and hoped we were over that problem. Not only that but there is a small blue wire disconnected from the alternator and we are having trouble getting sensible charge levels. So far this week a meagre 17 miles, 8 locks and 4 swing bridges.

Thursday 2nd August we took coffee in Costa and set off after 11, and after I had polished the starboard side of Lily.
Leaving Leigh Wharf

Bridgewater Canal Weedcutting at Leigh

We stopped to fill with diesel at Bridgewater Marina where I moaned at their 93p price to be moaned back at because they said they barely cover their costs. They also moaned that the diesel boats effectively cheat by not paying a commercial licence costing £2000 pa. I think a lot of this ties in with items I have read in the press about heating fuel supplies being effectively mostly controlled by one company, though they trade under many names.
Rusty water between Worsley & Baron Swing Aqueduct

We cruised on to Sale, but winded above br 36 and reversed the last half mile to Sale and moored up. It was of course Thursday so we treated ourselves to a Wetherspoons Curry at the J.P.Joule, named after the founder of Physics who lived nearby. Peak Forest still closed, alternatives being considered. 13 miles.

Friday and a pretty good day and I polished the port side as well as the brasses. I spoke to Debdale and was advised where the wire needed fixing and as I unbolted the terminal I found the broken link, let’s hope it works. There seems to be an improvement in charge rates but I think there is going to be a big investigation over the winter. Then the news about the peak Forest was they had found the leak at 8pm the night before, done a temporary repair and boats were to be allowed through over limited hours next week with permanent repair work being done outside these hours.
So we bought all the food for our visitors and enjoyed a day of Olympics.

Saturday 4th a bright day with slight showers. Lovely fish shop in Sale sold Carol a tasty dressed crab, I decided on the healthy option of a pizza from Aldi! After coffee in Nero we were away at 11.30, only to be stopped by the Police as we approached Old Trafford. 
Carol charms her bobby

An Olympic football match meant we had to be checked out for bombs. The search officers plus the man on point were all great, and the other officer point man on the city side will have plenty of pictures of Lily to look at!

At Castlefields we filled and emptied and then moved to the bottom of the Rochdale 9, a flight many have told us is hard work.
Rubbish at Sanitary station smelled to high heaven. Why would
you add yours to it when it is obviously not being cleared?
Just round the corner opposite the YHA is this
City Council rubbish and recycling facility!

Well the first lock took 20 minutes to fill it, I didn’t time how long it took to empty it first. 
Burgers etc being cooked canalside,
Carol tried to blag one but failed.
Fortunately there were helpers around to get the gates open

Several locks had water cascading over the top gates but they generally were not too bad, except that many of the ground paddles had no catch piece to hold the paddle post up. I found an empty soft drink bottle and used this to jam it up so I could open the paddle on the other side.

Then we reached the lock after Oxford Road, lock 88 and the bywash was coming out of a 12” pipe at a torrent, water was 2” over the top gates. I got the bottom gate open and the bywash stuck Lily to the wall, so hard so Carol needed full power to get into the lock. Once in I was standing in 2” of water as I lifted to ground paddles but at least the lock filled quickly.
As Lily rose up the next lock we saw the reason for the water torrents as two boats were coming towards us, then we met another one at the next lock, so that explained it all! We cleared the last two locks and turned right into the Ashton, intending to stop for the night in the basin close by where there was supposed to be no access to the outside, except two youths walked across the parapet of the next bridge and dropped down into the moorings. Accordingly we moved on about 100yards further to moor at Paradise Basin with two other boats, one of which looks to be a permanent moorer.

Then I opened my emails to find that “due to a safety issue Marple Locks are closed ufn!!!!”  

Sunday 5th August we turned around and descended to Castlefields, quite an easy trip with several locks set for us, passing 3 boats as we went. Several locks had water flowing over the gates and quite a number have no catch pieces for pawls on the paddle racks for the ground paddles, I improvised. A pleasant day and we enjoyed the Olympics.
Leaving Rochdale bottom lock, water cascades over the top gates.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A week away from Lily

Monday July 25th Forgot to mention last week Ann & David whom we travelled the MSC with came for tea last Sunday. We were supposed to give them a call before we left the dock in Liverpool but couldn't find where I had put the piece of paper with their phone number on it. Carol found I had put it in her glasses case....I don't think! It was good to see them again, especially as it meant extra cakes!!

On Monday we caught our first train from Burscough Bridge Station at 9.36 and because of our route via Leicester didn't arrive near Chichester until 16.30 after using 3 trains and the tube. They worked pretty well to time though we only caught one train by the skin of our teeth, a wait of 11 minutes disappeared. When at St Pancras we saw a hoard of photographers waiting at the Eurostar exit, Carol enquired who was coming, but we were not interested enough to wait for to see the Brazilian Basketball team.

We had a lovely few days with Clare & girls including 2 days when we saw not a cloud & spent one of them on the beach building sand & shingle castles plus splashing in the sea.

We returned home via Leicester where friend Jenny put us up, returning our hospitality of 2 weeks before. Our trip was delayed by shuffling the train through different tracks, including tube lines, with us passing right alongside The Shard which was pretty impressive. On the Saturday we all went to our friend Stan's 70th party. He had hoped for a dry day and got it but it was far from warm, but we had a great time catching up with friends again. We had of course watched the Olympic opening ceremony the night before and from then on it has been hard work watching, having the Hungarian GP to watch too. When we got home I found we could retune our satellite dish to pick up 24 Olympic channels...but we only have 2 eyes each!!

Lily was fine when we got home, but our return trip was upset by trains breaking down in Sheffield leading to a much delayed train that was full to bursting. Friend Ralf had watered Carol's garden and all looked fine. No pics, they are all of family & friends.