Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Returning home and saying goodbye

Returning to Debdale for the last time

My apologies for typing this at the end of March, I thought I'd finished off my blog on Lily but found to my horror the other day the last few days were missing. Fortunately I kept a daily report.

Sunday 13th July So this morning we were on The Shroppie and heading south, past Mkt Drayton & I started the engine to be greeted by an awful racket from the alternator belts. Lifting the rear deck I expected to find bits of belt all around, but both were in position, it was the alternator that wasn't! The weld to the bottom pivot tube had failed and the alternator was hanging loose from the top pivot bolt. I walked back into Mkt Drayton but looked at the boatyard & decided that were it to open on this Sunday they would almost certainly not be able to fix it. So I removed the protesting belts, minimised 240volt usage & we set off on a dull morning. Up 5 locks following others but meeting a couple of boats, it brightened by lunch to a glorious afternoon, made even better by the reception we got at Norbury.

We explained to the boatyard our problem and reversed Lily down the very restricted water to the dry dock & fastened Lily tight and wizards arrived to weld it back in place, then to adjust the straining bracket. By 4.30 and for £47 we were fixed, I stress this was on a Sunday, we can't speak highly enough of the work they did. We cruised on a little longer before mooring just past bridge 32 on a lovely evening, I kept myself busy repairing the boat hook I'd broken earlier in the day. With all the trouble we'd covered 12 miles and 5 locks.

Lovely mooring after a rather traumatic day

Monday 14th a lovely morning & belts were fine and we were away by 8.30, we need to get Lily back to base. We stopped at Wheaton Aston to fill up totally at 71.9p, though Norbury were similarly reasonably priced, at this price they are always busy & we had to wait for 2 other boats to fill and there were others queuing behind us. Moving on to the services we were then fairly smartly up the lock and cruised on past Autherley turning towards Gt Haywood. We stopped at 5 by bridge 73, it was overcast by then, though we had stopped just before Autherley to do a fairly major shop at Morrisons plus we had spent quite some time working with another boat to free Florence (from Chesterfield). They had moved a bit too far away from the towpath shortly after bridge 9 about 1 1/2 miles before Autherley and had got hopelessly stranded on a very large slab of rock. The boat was pivoting on it but would not come free, we tried towing it one way, then the other and all sorts with no joy then as I recall we set off with the bow rope being pulled and snagged the stern off, but it was nearly a case of calling CRT.

Florence very firmly stuck on rock

16 miles and 2 locks, and we heard from our buyers, Alan & Chris, that exchange on their house had been fixed for 25th July.

Tuesday 15th July and another fine day, except our water bed had sprung a leak & I couldn't find the repair kit! I phoned a supplier and arranged for a kit to be sent to Rugeley PO. We moved on to Stafford & stopped before bridge 98. We went & took coffee & my notes say I'm sure I did something else but couldn't remember what & 9 months later I certainly can't!  12miles & 9 locks.
Draining water from the mattress

Wed 16th early coffee and away at 9.30 (this early coffee involved wandering to a trading estate to a Costa). At Gt Haywood we tipped the loo and then went on into Rugeley arriving at about 2, collected the repair kit & bought a few bits. I mended the bed & polished the port side of the boat. Another lovely day but rain in evening. 10 miles & 3 locks
Fuff & Jessie & plants cruise south

Attractive moorings again, in Rugeley

Thursday 17th early coffee and away, filling with water at the waterpoint before Hansacre "tunnel" and completed refilling the bed. It was a steady cruise on a very hot day but with a lovely breeze. There was a bit of a queue at Fradley locks but we turned right into the Coventry half way down, I ran down to the services to tip the loo. We carried on to stop just past Tamhorn House bridge and my notes say "Hot hot hot" 14 miles and 3 locks.

Friday 18th we were up & away early stopping at Tamworth to shop for the visit of friends on Saturday. Shop included coffee. It was misty at start but heated up quickly. We had an easy run to Fazeley apart from a visit to the weed hatch. At Fazeley we stopped at the services and bumped into friend Beryl, but not on Wasp, she was there on CRT duties. She took a photo unbeknown to us until we saw the front cover of the Jan 2015 Soundings, there Lily was with Carol heading for the mooring, a lovely surprise.

Away around 1 we had an easy run to Polesworth including the Glascote locks where I had to shout at the boat in front of us as he was trying to fill the lock with a bottom paddle open!! We arrived at Polesworth at 3 and wandered around a bit before we had a curry out.....not good! 9 miles 2 locks.

Saturday 19th and we stayed put. Polesworth is an easy place to guide visitors to when they come from Leicester. We had a lovely friends from Leicester join us for a great lunch & chat. They love cruising but it is often all the way round the world, we even bumped into them in New Zealand in 2010! It poured down at times and several ex working boats passed us on their way to...?

Sunday 20th and we were away at 7 (!!!!) having toast whilst cruising. We used the services before Atherstone flight and were into the first lock at 8.15. All the locks were for us, we crossed with 3 boats and were out the top by 10.30. We then had to recuperate by wandering into Costa and a few bits of fruit leaving at 12.30 and on to Hawkesbury. The weather was overcast at first but as soon as the mist had cleared it was a lovely day again. We stopped about 1/2 mile before Hawkesbury junction. 14 miles 11 locks
What is this valve for on the Atherstone flight?

Carol enjoying a warm day cruising

Monday 21st and we were into our last week of boat ownership.. Another bright day but a bit cooler. We were off fairly early and had an easy journey to Rugby stopping just past Tesco for shopping & C  !! 13 miles only
Leaving Hawkesbury for the last time.

Tuesday 22nd was a lovely day but we didn't move as another friend came and joined us for the day.

Wed 23rd early coffee and away about 8.30. Filled at Hillmorton and emptied at Braunston. We were retracing our first ever boating trip on Lily 1 when we brought her from Stoke Golding to Foxton in one weekend, never having worked a lock before, such tales we have from that first trip.
Filling with water & trimming flowers at Hillmorton

At Braunston we met Trish Smith undergoing training to single handedly use her new boat. Husband Richard has become completely disabled from his waist down so it is all up to her now. It was a lovely day for her training.

Boating through Braunston on a lovely day

Someone has to work the locks. Note the life preserver!!

We worked up the flight with another boat and crossed with several and met 2 boats in the tunnel, neither of them being an empty pair like the boats we met on our first boating weekend! As a final display I did a perfect turn into the Leicester Line at Norton Junction, my best ever, and my last! We moved on about a mile to moor in another favourite mooring spot.
What is this?? We have seen it close to Braunston the last 3 years!! Interesting Continuous Cruising??

Thursday 24th and with another hot day forecast we were again away early to get most done before it got too hot. We crossed with 3 in the Watford flight, newly refreshed by our Costa from Watford Gap services. Crick tunnel was empty and pretty dry and we stopped at the services by Edwards (can't remember new name). Went to have a quick chat with Barry @ ABNB only to find he'd retired, so that's why he never rang me back about selling Lily!! We bashed on and moored just before the Welford Arm on the Avon embankment to repaint the gunwales and back deck. 7 locks 14 miles.
Avon embankment and painting gunwales & deck

Friday 25th Another lovely day and away fairly early, slowly into Husbands Bosworth tunnel...our last and on to moor above Br 60 at Foxton to paint the other side. I walked to Debdale & collected a car, went to pick up keys to our house & turn on the freezer before getting Carol's car from its storage place and then back to Lily and polishing. 7 miles.

Leaving Husbands Bosworth tunnel

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Leaving Liverpool going south

Thursday 3rd July We had filled the tank from the fuel barge on Wednesday and topped up our water tank and ensured the flowers were watered too. We cast off at 8.30 with a group of & other narrowboats and one wide beam boat and made a fairly slow departure from the Canning Half Tide Lock into the Liverpool Link canal. Barbara & John on Aethelburg were right behind us
waiting in the Half Tide Lock to rejoin the canal network

and John & Diana from New Zealand followed them through.

Eric & Debbie from Georgina were waving farewell from the lock side & photographing as we waited for the first lock. It was overcast with a light breeze and we had drizzle for much of the morning, brightening through the afternoon.

We managed the trip without collecting anything on our prop and we carried on to Maghull and stopped for a late coffee at 4, having covered 16 miles, 6 locks and 3 swing bridges.
Sign on Top Lock gate at Stanley. If you obey this how do you use the lock?

Friday started dryish turning wetter as we cruised through to Burscough where we arrived wet and chilled and ready for our visit to Infusions for a coffee! We had covered 10 miles and 4 swing bridges before we stopped, and we re-provisioned.
Carol doing her gardening with the great Blue Mallard behind her

Saturday was a bright day but we stopped at Burscough, seeing Diana there and also Sokai at a mooring, Pete & Sue were away as he had a singing engagement in France, stopping until we had watched qualifying for the British GP and then set off on a lovely afternoon to get just past Apley Bridge in a really lovely mooring on a fabulous evening. Pushing ourselves we covered 6 miles & 2 swing bridges. I should point out that since we first cruised into Liverpool the swing bridges have been much improved, many more are automated totally, just one or two footbridges have to be swung by hand.
Our lovely outlook from our Apley Bridge mooring

Sunday 6th another wonderful day and we set off at about 9. We were about to leave our first lock when another boat arrived and we arranged we would wait for them so we could share locks into Wigan. They were not the speediest of "lockers" but it helped a bit & we saved some water, plus we crossed with a boat at one lock. The secure moorings outside the CRT offices were occupied so we joined several others on the towpath whilst we enjoyed a Costa. Sadly the large mill engine was not steamed up but we watched the Grand Prix which finished an hour late because H&S required a damaged crash barrier to be repaired........not a fantastic race but at least the leading drivers were shaken up a bit. Race over and we went through 3 locks to moor alongside the beautiful Scotsmans Flash we stopped alongside on the way into Liverpool. Just 6 miles and 6 locks today.
Our mooring just east of Wigan on Scotsmans Flash

Monday We were away at 8 on a fine day to get to Leigh to meet an engineer from RCR. Each time we have come through this section I have wanted to stop at the Museum of Mining, failing again this time, it will have to be by road. We arrived at the Plank Lane lift bridge at just past 9.30 which was fortunate as had we been earlier we would have had to wait! The engineer had come over from Hebden Bridge & the Tour de France rode past his house over the weekend, he said it was a fabulous sight. Away after lunch to Trafford Centre after a stop at Bridgewater marina to tip. Had a Thai buffet meal which seemed pretty good to me but it seems that Carol's body has now decided that something in Thai/Chinese food does not agree with her now! Just 13 miles.
Carol in her large sun hat and lifejacket

Tuesday started with lovely weather but we had really heavy storms in early evening. We stopped at the Stretford Marina just after the turn to Castlefields. Really pleasant chap, topped up & tipped plus filled with diesel
This lovely view was not in Sale or Stretford!!

Stopping at Sale to get food for our friends visiting tonight Carol was delighted that Sale now has a Costa! Judy & Stephen arrived in a deluge and were entertained to a Greek meal featuring several dishes Carol had never made before. It was a triumph, even if she forgot the Pittas! It was a lovely evening, Judy had been a long time customer of our knitwear business and it is good to keep in touch, we knew her before she had her son, he has just finished his accountancy final qualifications!! Rain carried on through the evening and quite a bit of the night. 4 miles only. 

Wednesday another lovely day and on the wide, deep, lock and lift/swing bridge free Bridgewater Canal we made good progress, even managing to fluke arriving at Preston Brook tunnel as we joined the T&M canal right in the middle of the 10 minute passage time, had we been 5 minutes later we'd have had a 50 minute wait, though the boat that was following us clearly had faulty watches as they entered 5 minutes late and crawled through so slowly that I suspect the boats waiting to travel north had to miss a turn! We stopped just after 4 at a pretty spot just before bridge 213 after covering 17 miles and 1 lock, our first lock since Sunday, and even this only had a 6" rise.
Near Preston Brook this interesting adaptation of an old warehouse

Thursday 10th and a fabulous day, sun hats on & Carol roasted her thighs whilst sitting on the back deck. Away at 8.30 we had a steady/fast cruise and arrived at Saltersford tunnel right on time (not that we knew what the passage times were!) to go though it and its mate the Barnton tunnel, both incredibly bendy. 
The repaired canal where it breached in 2012

And all along the length new stop planks and plank holders

At the Anderton services we dropped onto the free water point alongside another boat with an equally well silenced engine as has Lily. We had a steady cruise into Middlewich where we had 6 locks and managed to cross with 2 boats, turning onto the Middlewich Branch and stopping just past bridge 25 opposite a field with several very young calves and their mothers having covered 17 miles and 6 locks before stopping at about 4. 
A very unusual canopy seen on the Middlewich!!

After leaving the engine to cool for several hours I did an oil change.               

Friday and about 6 a boat raced past, another more slowly around 7. A fabulous morning and we were away around 8.30 and carried along to Barbridge juction at the end of the Branch, with queues at both of the locks on the way. Turning onto the Shroppie and heading south we had a good cruise to Nantwich where we used the services, then moored up and walked into the town for refreshment and shopping for fruit etc. Returning to Lily we cast off after 4 & with the afternoon cooling cruised through the Hack Green locks and on to Audlem where we moored below the bottom lock at 6.30.

After a long hot day we consulted Trip Adviser and selected to go the the Lord Combermere pub, what a good choice. I don't like my beer cold generally but the Timothy Taylor Landlord was just perfect and it slipped down wonderfully. We both had their home-made burgers after garlic bread topped with mozzarella. Both were absolutely wonderful, we couldn't fault them and the pub was at a very pleasant temperature, well worth a visit.   17 miles and 4 locks

The Shroppie Fly early morning, will we pass it again?

Saturday 12th and the forecast another hot day so we set off at 6!!! It was misty and mild and about half the locks were set for us, or rather they had leaked empty over night! We stopped to top up with water on the way & get rid of rubbish and came out the 15th lock just over 3 hours later. Another 5 followed at Adderley, by which time the sun was full on, and we cruised on to Market Drayton where we stopped for lunch before wandering in to town for coffee. Back home Carol collapsed into a chair and we waited till 4 before setting off again, intending to go up the next 5 locks and on a bit further but it started to drizzle so we stopped at the bottom, thankful the washing had dried whilst we were having coffee. 20 locks and 7 miles.
The misty morning as a prelude to a lovely day


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Into and in Liverpool

Sunday 15th June A lovely day and we celebrated Fathers’ Day by going out for a Sunday lunch. We rarely eat a roast on a Sunday but sometimes we fancy it so we found that The Blue Mallard in part of the old canal warehouse in Burscough Bridge was offering one. Trip Adviser gave the place good reviews and our experience was very much in agreement with these. Otherwise day was spent preparing for the arrival of Carol’s sister and husband on Monday.

The Blue Mallard is on the first floor of the old wharf building

Monday and Annette and Mike arrived at around 1pm after a journey slowed by traffic near Stoke. After lunch we went with them to see Rufford Old Hall, a National Trust house only about 3 miles from Burscough, but alongside the Rufford Arm of the L&L canal, but only if your boat is under 62 ft long! We had been before but our second visit was most enjoyable, more so because the weather was lovely.
Rufford Old Hall. I'm sure there are more pictures in our 2011 blog

Carol & Annette enjoying the gardens at Rufford Old Hall

We followed this by a drive along the coast south through Southport to let them see this rather lovely old Victorian seaside resort and onwards down to Crosby to see Gormley’s statues, “Another Place”. We had enjoyed our visit the last time we were in the area when the tide was retreating and more and more statues appeared, this time the tide had gone off pretty well to Wales so all were visible. This place is well worth a vis
Carol & Annette found the Gormleys interesting

Our drive continued southwards, passing an old airfield to let Mike get his “fix” of bagging as many as possible before we got home for a lovely meal. All in all a great day. They decided they would stop in a nearby B&B so at least we didn’t have the upheaval of making the dinette into a bed, though they were most welcome to stay.

Tuesday 17th and they arrived for coffee at Infusions before we set off for the Wetland & Wildlife Trust’s Martin Mere Reserve. I had seen notices pointing the way for the reserve on the station in Burscough on previous visits but we hadn’t been as it was too far for Carol to walk. Prior to this visit I had looked up bits about the place and found that it used to be England’s largest area of inland water until the mid 1700’s when Lord Scarisbrick, of Scarisbrick Hall close by the L&L canal, had drained it to create additional farmland.
Carol feeds one of the Swan Geese at Martin Mere
To say the place exceeded our expectations is to put it mildly! All the staff were so enthusiastic and knowledgeable and the weather was ideal, warm but not oppressively sunny. One of the highlights for us was a small silent cruise on part of the waters guided by Paul who had incredible knowledge as well as possibly the most relaxing voice we had ever heard.
Carol listens intently as Paul describes some feature of the reserve
Having spent the day there pretending we knew something about birds, we headed back to The Blue Mallard where we all had wonderful food, even better as we caught the early bird menu at lower prices. The place is deservedly popular but not open on Mondays.

Wednesday and Annette and Mike were with us until after lunch and we tooltled along to Southport again to experience the “Prom”. Another fine day though breezy and after getting to the end of the ¾ mile long pier, the sea was still another 2 miles away!! We could see Blackpool through the haze and wondered just how fast the water flowed over the exposed rather muddy sand when it decided to come in, it must be frightening and probably faster than you could walk.
It was a fairly safe bet the sea was over there, but they couldn't see it!!

Carol looks over the sand, Blackpool could just be seen in this view!

Carol fed us again and we said farewell to them as they returned to Cossington and we set off along the canal at about 3 making our way easily to just past bridge 26 covering 5 miles and just 2 swing bridges. Bright sun and a good breeze so washing on the line & I decided to polish the starboard side, making my shoulder ache like mad in the process but the effort was well worth it.

Thursday and yet another lovely day for our easy cruise to finish just above bridge 10 ready for our 9am start at bridge 9 in convoy in the morning. I found that in Maghull on our way they had a Costa so, not being pushed for time we stopped there where close to the canal there is a good range of shops, including a rather odd situation. In the main square, redeveloped I suppose in the 1970’s, there were two butchers, but not a greengrocers, so both butchers offered fruit and veg as well as meat!

After we moored up we were joined by The Cat’s Whiskers who we met at Harecastle & in Burscough, and another boat with owners from Ripon. 5 swing bridges today in the 7½ miles covered.
Our mooring above bridge 10

Friday 20th June and we set off through the last manual swing bridge with the others to join 3 more at bridge 9 but more importantly to meet up with friends David & Lesley who we met on the Macc and who helped us up the Boseley Locks. They had never managed to cruise into Liverpool on their shared owner boat and had jumped at the option of cruising in with us and fortunately we were blessed with another lovely day.
David holds Lily steady at the top of the Stanley locks

Lesley winds the top paddle

A bit of a conundrum, how do you work a lock this way????
At 9 the CRT chaps closed the road and swung the bridge and let us through for our cruise. The water seemed clearer than before and though Lily picked up some debris at one point a quick run in reverse seemed to clear it. After our stop at Litherland at the facilities we were on to the Stanley locks and the most impressive bit of our cruise. All the CRT bods, employed and volunteers were so incredibly keen that everyone should enjoy experiencing their city, it was fantastic.
The newly renovated Rum warehouse now an hotel

The wonderful Tobacco Warehouse awaits a solution but I understand the concrete grain silo is to be demolished

It was also lovely to hear that the old Tobacco warehouse is to get a facelift initially while people decide what to do with it as the floor to ceiling height is only 6’6” and too low to be lived in being designed to best and economically accommodate bales of tobacco, not people. Initial plans were to remove alternate floors till a structural engineer pointed out that this would ruin the structural integrity of the building. It was lovely to see that the building opposite to the Tobacco warehouse had been renovated from a rum warehouse into a new hotel and conference centre, as it was to see that a new watersports centre had been established just a bit further on our journey of 12 miles in total.

On our last visit I moaned at the under utilisation f the tremendous Salthouse Dock facility because BW only allowed 6 boats at a time to enter and leave but this trip there were 9 of us as 3 boats had arrived at bridge 9 early the day before & they had been let through, I assume when the outgoing boats passed through, on the day before and had spent the night on the secure moorings at Litherland. When we entered Salthouse Dock I was flabbergasted to see nearly all the moorings were full!! Last time only perhaps a third were being used, it was great to see many enjoying this destination. I also espied our old friends Sokai moored up and found that the main reason the dock was full was because two flotillas had come across The Mersey from Ellesmere Port a few days earlier.

Arriving at around 2.30 and having enjoyed great sandwiches on the way we retreated to Albert Dock where we found a second Costa had been created! We all had to go in!

All in all a lovely day and a great 2 week stay planned with grandson Sam due to join us on Monday for a week with his sister Hannah coming on Thursday.

Saturday and Sunday and with lovely weather the place was heaving with all sorts of people several boats left on Saturday & I didn’t count how many arrived on Sunday but Eric &  on Georgina was one and we had a good old natter with Pete & Sue on Sokai, catching up on the past 2 years, we had first met at Wigan on our way into Liverpool on our first trip & then down in The Secret Nuclear Bunker near Nantwich the following year.

Visitors enlivened our stay with Sam joining us on the first Monday and reveling (as we knew he would) in the architecture, both old and new. He and I walked back to Stanley Dock on the first evening and wandered into the frontage of the old rum warehouse, only to be quickly ushered out as it wasn't open officially and only being used for part of a major conference within the city. It was lovely to look at bits we had not seen from the water.
Princess Dock, a new lock and the wonderfully shaped bridge

Sam views the bridge closely

Wonderful mix of old and new looking towards the new docks past Jessie Hartley's tower

I took the train back to Leicester on the Tuesday for a hospital appointment and to do some work on our little house that had been recently vacated, returning on Thursday evening with Sam's sister Hannah who was with us until their parents arrived on Sunday morning for a day with us before taking everyone home.
Family gathering on the back deck, garden flowering well.

During our stay the weather was pretty good and got a lot warmer. We took the kids (!) to see the Lion King touring production at The Empire and all raved about it. We also went to The Royal Court to see Lennon, which we though OK though other boaters thought was good.
Walking back from the Tunnels I came upon this, a memorial to the 15 Liverpudlians awarded a VC during WW1 and especially Captain Chavasse who was awarded 2 VCs!!

We discovered two new places to visit, one being the Williamson Tunnels, about 300yds further out than the Wigwam, the other was the Western Approaches bunker between the Liver Building & the old Town Hall. Both interesting, the approaches more so but I was staggered by the size of the tunnels. Grayson Perry tapestries were being displayed in the Walker Gallery. We all thought we'd hate them but they were tremendous.
I happened upon this statue of Eleanor Rigby scuplted by Tommy Steel

Before our return I had another trip to Leicester as the hospital had moved my appointment on a week but neglected to contact me in the manner I said they needed to. When I rang Nicky back at Debdale after I tried to check in on the first visit she found the letter when I told her to open any post. Grrrrrrrr! Second visit was good, eye problem improving!

At various times during our stay flotillas departed, one numbering 15, and lesser numbers arrived, so that after our group of 7 narrowboats and one widebeam left on the 3rd there were probably only around a dozen moored with well over 20 spaces, yet an incoming boat we met said they were not allowed to stay long as the dock was fully booked. I find this very hard to believe.

Amongst the incomers were Eric & Debbie on Georgina from Debdale, and our group on the northern wall included a lovely couple from my favorite city in New Zealand, Napier, enjoying their first summer cruising the canals on Molly Rose, and they were part of our outward group as well as John & Barbara on Aethelburgh from Somerset.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

From Macclesfield through Manchester and onto Burscough

Tuesday 3rd June We had returned on Monday afternoon and having experienced the uncrushed surroundings of our First Class journeys sincerely hope we can do so again at a bargain price. I hadn't realised that the lovely mill I included in a photo last time was the original Hovis Mill. Carol reckoned it was a pretty uphill traipse up from the station but definitely not the same as the one that featured in that old Hovis advert!

Aren't these fence "stones" incredible, they will not rot off!

We re-provisioned and coffeed before climbing up the hill again and refuelling and settling our bill and away about 12.30. It was dry but overcast and we cruised slowly through Bollington past two large mills and moored past bridge 21 at 3 (hard working again!!)

Passing through Bollington, note mill chimney
Wed 4th was another good day and we moved on to Marple where we filled with water at what must be the slowest tap on the system, fortunately we were not too empty, I spoke to someone at the tap on our return and he had been filling for 90 minutes! We turned into the Peak Forest Canal and went gently to Whaley Bridge where we moored just past the turn to Bugsworth and moored outside the Tesco store. Grandson Sam and his girlfriend Linde arrive on Thursday and this seemed a good place to direct them to, except there was absolutely no signal!! I found one at the end of the arm, but it came and went in very few yards! Anyway all sorted before we had a very wet night!
Amazing stonework on skew bridge

Thursday 5th and I spoke to Tesco & got permission for him to park his car on their car park. We stocked up with additional food as he has hollow legs. A wet morning so Carol thought a good home made soup would be good as well as freshly home baked was & we all loved it. We then set off back to Marple and got a pretty poor mooring with stern well out but we got the bows fairly close in and we left Carol at home and walked down the Marple flight as I wanted to get a view of the aqueduct and railway viaduct. A lovely flight and some absolutely staggering stonework on the locks, but no view of the aqueduct! A rather dull day spoiling the views but a lovely evening.
Sunset from rear deck in Marple

Friday 6th and to Carol's delight when I walked into Marple to get her newspaper I saw a Costa shop so we all decamped and had a drink of choice, Carol particularly enjoying it. A really lovely day and it was wonderful to be up in the Peak District, the only trouble was trees alongside the towpath got in the way of photos. Also the Peak Forest & the Macclesfield are both shallow and Lily is deep draughted so progress is slow and she is brought to an almost complete stop in bridge holes.

Horse pass under road

By horse pass dives to lock tail

End of the dive!

We turned into Bugsworth Basin to moor and how beautiful it is! A lovely mooring and a lot to spook round, except when we turned the ignition switch off nothing happened so I had to get down to the engine to stop it, I had a quick look but couldn't see anything wrong.

After a lovely early supper Sam and I walked to Tesco to collect his car but I forgot to look at the map to check the route back by road. We covered quite a few miles and used some very narrow roads but got back safely! After the meal we chatted some more before they headed home, it was great to see him again  and to meet Linde who is reading Architecture with him at Oxford.
A bridge in Bugsworth

The model of the basin when working

Our mooring

Another lovely sunset

We stayed put on Saturday and I remembered we are in RCR so I called and was told they would be with us by 4. Mark was a bit late but he soon spotted a loose wire and a bit of funny wiring.....wiring that was last touched by other RCR mechanics! Earlier in the day I had done an absolute for us. Never in 25 years of boating have we ever run out of gas, but this morning we did! I will never understand how we did as I always replace a bottle as soon as it is empty but this day as we operated the changeover switch between cylinders nothing happened. I seriously wonder if the spare bottle had leaked empty because I hadn't tightened up the union. Anyway Carol had the presence of mind to ask Mark if he knew where we could get some, he rang the lovely couple on diesel boat Alton and they were about to arrive in Whaley Bridge! It was about 9 when we got our two bottles and a top up with diesel, as did the boats near us!
Relief, and for the boat behind, a pump out!

Sunday dawned a glorious day and we tootled back into Marple, and whilst doing so were contacted by a couple who wanted to look over Lily as I had put an advert for her on Apollo Duck. Though Lily is always pretty spotless we gave her an additional clean and met Alan and Chris who seemed very impressed. We also fitted in watching the Canadian GP and a Costa.

We had lingered around on the Peak Forest so that we didn't descend from Marple and into Manchester over a weekend. The reports I read say it is much better than of yore but discretion seems better than valor! Monday 9th June after emptying and enjoying a coffee we set off down the flight just as it started drizzling, before it turned into a deluge! The locks were pretty easy to use and I was amazed that each lock had a footbridge over the tail and these were made of stone and the king stones actually had some carving on them. Such workmanship and I'm pretty sure it was in Millstone Grit stone which must have been very hard to work.
One of the carved king stones on a footbridge

We were following a boat on the way down and crossed with two in the flight of 18, exiting the bottom lock as the sun came out for a lovely afternoon. I was fortunately wearing shorts so my legs dried quickly and the material of the shorts dried quickly too, my soaking sandals were another matter, I put them on top of the rocker cover of the engine.

Sadly part way down our bow thruster got totally jammed & we couldn't clear it. I made a couple of calls and we are into the Ashton Packet Co at 9 on Tuesday. We moored just past the lift bridge before Duckinfield Jn in a wonderfully quiet and picturesque spot, who would have thought it looking at the map?

Tuesday 10th and we were away not long after 8 on a lovely bright warm morning. I was very proud of how Carol took Lily round the junction, especially with a moored boat restriction space for our turn. We were at the boatyard just after 8.30 and watched and waited as one boat after another was moved to let us access the cradles. It must have been just about 9 when we eased Lily in and located her bows onto the trolley for her to be partially winched up the slope until the bow thruster tube was clear of the water. I then got onto the most wobbly boat I've ever been on to work at the blades with a mooring pin. Eventually I got things turning, there was a piece of stick about 15cm long and the diameter of my thumb wedging the two sets of blades onto the drive column. It
took a lot more poking around before this offending stick popped out!! Can you see it? It is that little blob just above the staging by the thruster outlet!

Lily was lowered back into the water and job done.....EXCEPT
Goose chat & cuddle

By Lily's stern the lady on the boat was cradling a half grown white gosling, so Carol got talking and got her cuddle and found out that she had noticed each year that the clutch of eggs was eaten by the males in the gaggle. This year she and her husband bought an incubator to hatch the eggs and have now raised the brood.

This winch motor was high tech once, but it works today too.

I calmly said Lily was winched out, which was true, except that I looked at the motor for the winch and saw it was a twin cylinder motor that looked to be attached to a steam boiler. It was until about 10 years ago but a compressor does the work now, boiler inspections are too costly. The whole dock and yard is owned and run by steam engine nuts and there are narrow gauge tracks around it that were used to move the spoil as they excavated it in the '70's. They were a lovely bunch, do consider them for slipping and blacking, it is an eye opener!

Away about 10 we made steady cruise to Fairefield Junction after we had reversed to collect my jumper and life jacket carelessly left behind. My old Nicholson said there was an Elsan point & water there, but we were only able to fill and work our way down behind a boat that seemed to be making slow progress. When we were about 6 locks down we caught them up & Sharon asked if she could borrow my anti vandal key. They had bought 2 from a Black Prince depot and they were of too great an outside diameter to fit into the holes, despite Duncan filing them down. We had to stop as our prop was horribly fouled and it took a good half hour to work off the polypropylene bag and straps.

Away and onwards but as we got to about lock 6 the wind got up and very black clouds were around, and at lock 4 I was nearly blown off my feet by a gust! Out of this lock and swing right and hard astern!!! The bridge was incredibly low. We had moved the flower troughs to the edge of the roof previously but now Carol had to thread them through the lowest points, but it was touch and go.

As we reached the bottom of the flight I recalled there was a Costa nearby and we were a bit cold so I picked up a takeaway to revive us before we moved onto secure moorings at Picadilli Village at about 5.30 on a by now lovely late afternoon!

Wednesday 11th and a lovely morning and Sharon knocked to see if we wanted to work down the Rochdale 9 together......can a duck swim!

We actually had a pretty good run down, some gates were hard to move because of the water pouring over them and I'm certain Sharon would not have managed a lot of them on her own, but together we made a good team. The only lock that nearly defeated us was the bottom lock as the winch mechanism to open one of the bottom gates had failed and I really thought I was going to break the chain on the other one as I struggled to open it. I reported it to CRT forthwith!
This wild garden was lockside about half way down the '9'
Lily approaches Deansgate Station near the bottom of the '9'

Duncan and Sharon went on to the sanitary station whilst we reversed into a mooring so I could go and buy tickets for a train journey from Liverpool to Leicester on 24th for a hospital visit before we moved to the san station and on the the Trafford Centre. We have heard from Alan & Chris that they want to see Lily again and mooring here will give a pleasant bit to cruise along and is easy to find. Fingers crossed for Thursday!

Thursday 12th June Alan & Chris arrived at 2 and we set off for a cruise over the Barton Swing Aqueduct and on a bit, about turn and then back past our mooring to wind and moor. Carol told me I had talked too much on Sunday, so I tried not to do so but there were so many things to describe and show. It must have been past 6 when we all sat down, they said they wanted her, we agreed the price but then they said the buyer for their house had done this and that etc and that they would be moving out mid July, assuming this and that happened, but there was a very strong probability that it would happen. They knew we had a cruise planned, but could we complete it by end July? Deep swallowing as we had our daughter and her girls booked in for the last 2 weeks in August. Even deeper swallowing as we had told our letting agents to let our house for another 6 months from July 1st.

A big day and lots of questions but they are a lovely couple who we know will look after Lily as we do and who is to know where we'll find other suitable buyers?

Well on Friday morning I rang the agents to find the owner of the franchise whom we had generally dealt with had sold it, and the other chap we know had just gone out & would be doing viewings all day. We tried to get him to call us but without success.

So we set off and got to Leigh were we did a bit of shopping before moving on the stop alongside Scotsmans Flash near Wigan in a lovely mooring, mooring with Eric & Debbie on Georgina from Debdale. Apart from our homelessness concerns it was a lovely day.

Saturday 14th and another lovely day, the sun has got to Carol's shoulders. We moved off about 9 & up 2 locks to turn left onto the main line and at the next lock meet up with ab Australian couple who we shared several locks with before they stopped to meet family. We then carried on through the remaining 2 locks and swing bridges to moor at Burscough Bridge at 4.

We will stay here until Wednesday morning as Carol's sister and her husband are joining us on Monday morning.

Total distance so far this year 218miles, 133 locks and 10 swing/lift bridges.