Thursday, 31 May 2012

Thursday 31st May 2012
All good things come to an end. The weather man has been predicting rain today for some time now, but it wasn't until I looked at their website this morning that I saw they changed it from a 40-60% chance to 95-100% chance. And boy did it rain? If we hadn't had to move today we wouldn't have. 
Donning my raincoat and boots we cast off heading for a facilities point near Lymm where the guide book says there is a full service block. Not true! When we got there it turns out there is an elsan point, but nothing else. Well, it was that service we really needed so it was off again looking for shopping. We had planned to stop at Stockton Heath to shop and then continue on to Preston Brook to get some stuff at Midland Chandlers. When we got to Stockton I found that Thorne Marine carried all the things we needed, so no need to continue on through the rain.
I took a wet walk into town to do the shopping and then settled down to dry out. 
Just outside our window is a pair of swans with 8 little cygnets paddling around in the rain looking fully at home.
This weekend it's The Crick Show, I'd love to be there but it isn't going to happen this year. I do hope that for the sake of those lucky souls who can make it that the weather plays ball for them.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wednesday 30th May 2012
This morning we took the walk to Dunham Massey Hall. It's only about 1/2 a mile.
If you have NT membership and haven't been there yet I can thoroughly recommend a visit. It's a wonderful place, one of the largest bequeaths to the NT ever. the buildings are in very good condition and the gardens are just fabulous at this time of year, and in parts deer roam free.The family history is interesting as well, boasting, in addition to others, Lady Jane Grey in their lineage.
As we walked back to the boat it started to rain, but really came to nothing, just a few light drops and it was all over.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Tuesday 29th May 2012
On the move again today, we headed off towards waters meeting, where the Bridgewater splits. The canal here is bounded by mostly modern looking business units. At the junction, to the left it heads for Manchester centre and the Rochdale Canal, turn right for Lymm, Preston Brook and The Trent & Mersey. Taking the latter course our surroundings quickly change to housing and the canal passes through Stretford, Ashton upon Mersey, and Sale. At Ashton there looks to be good mooring with access to shopping, but we don't need that after yesterday.
Our goal today was Little Bollington, where there is walking access to Dunham Massey Hall, a NT property with some interesting features, including a water powered saw mill. We'll take a look tomorrow.

Monday, 28 May 2012

 Monday 28th May 2012
Fine time at The Trafford Centre today. We wandered in there at about 10.30 for a nose around. First port of call was, of course, John Lewis, Cath feels deprived if any place we go doesn't have one. We were both looking for hats for sunny days, we lost our last ones to the wind.
After a mooch around we decided to have a look at M&S for comparison, here Cath found one to her liking, but not I.
After a bit more window shopping we reached The Odeon where MIB 3 was showing and decided to have a go at 3D. Daring, what? It's a bit of a hoot, but the original is still the best, maybe just because it was first.
After the film we had a snack at Costa, a bit more shopping, where I found a hat in Blacks, Cath isn't keen on it but it works and won't blow off so easily as the last one.
This evening we went back into the centre for a meal at Zizzis. Very nice!
The Trafford Centre is great shopping. Huge, with lots of choice. The eating areas are wonderful, with a wide variety of cuisines available. The newly added Barton Square is something else. The only words I can come up with are OTT or perhaps pretentious. Check out the pics.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sunday 27th May 2012
After rubbing in some sun screen, because I decided to wear shorts in celebration of that big orb in the sky, we continued along the Leigh Branch to the town of Leigh, the canal then seamlessly becomes The Bridgewater Canal. Unusual on the system, where the norm was to put in a "stop lock" to prevent one company's canal stealing water from another.
A cool breeze kept the heat to a comfortable level as we chugged past Astley, Boothstown, Worsley and Patricroft. Just after that we crossed the Barton Aqueduct and started to to look for somewhere to moor up. Our hope was to find a place where we could access The Trafford Centre. We soon found that there are rings available right by a gate from the towparth into the shopping area. A quick recce by yours truly to see what it's like. Well, at first sight it's different. More on that tomorrow when I get some pics.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Saturday 26th May 2012
Under wide blue sky we set off from The Wigan BW office mooring and entered the nearby lock. Just above the lock there is the local service area where we filled with water and chucked our can. Well, we nearly filled with water. The tap is so badly placed, probably trying to keep it safe from local vandals, that even our long hose wouldn't reach. Luckily a boat using the lock to go down offered us their hose to add to ours which made it long enough.
After filling we continued our travels, turning right at the junction onto The Leigh Branch. Two more locks up and we were on the Bridgewater level. No more locks now until we reach Preston Brook and The Trent & Mersey Canal.
This stretch of canal is bordered frequently by flashes, small lakes formed by mining subsidence, and some are now used for leisure activities such as sailing. The dancing sails look lovely in the sunshine.
We've now moored up in countryside, and I can hear the distant chimes of an ice cream van, but unfortunately I don't think he'll come here.
Sailing boats on Scotman's Flash

Friday, 25 May 2012

Friday 25th May 2012
And it gets even hotter! We've had a fairly long day again. At the first lock we caught up with a pair, and once again we were on our own. The difference from yesterday was that they were a bit on the clueless side. At the next lock we found that one of the pair had dropped out, but the other had gone through alone. A few minutes later while we waited for the lock to cycle for us the other boat came along saying that they had stopped just to get rid of the boat in front because they were so fed up with their d***ing around. Jolly good, it looks like we have a pair. We went through the lock together and headed for the next. When we got there, there was no sign of our 'partner' so we waited, as is the fashion, and no one turned up so we went through. With my "grumpy old man hat on" I think they could have let us know they were stopping for lunch before the next lock.
Just before we entered Wigan we stopped on the side near a big Asda and did a shop for salad style foods. We then carried on into Wigan itself, where we've moored up near the BW offices again. We can't actually get on the secure mooring because it's full but we've pegged out next door.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Wednesday 23rd May 2012
We took a walk to Rufford Old Hall today. A Tudor building with lovely grounds, it was the home of the Heskeths and is now a National Trust property. After starting a little cool and cloudy the day soon warmed up as we wandered in the garden which features lots of rhododendron. It's a shame that such a lovely plant is a deadly alien invader of our forests.
The cafe on site was offering cream teas so I couldn't resist.
All of today's pics are of course from the hall, some may say too many views of the building, but heck it's very nice.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Tuesday 22nd May 2012
Red letter day today. Well red T shirt anyway. This has been the first day since we set out that I've managed to live in a T shirt all day, no putting woolly pullover on half way through when the wind or clouds appear.
As you can guess it's been a glorious day. We set off from Burscough Bridge this morning and turned on to the Rufford Branch. Immediately after the junction bridge there is a lock and swing bridge as we start the descent down to the level of the river Douglas.
The countryside around here is still quite flat and most of the farming seems to be vegetables. We've seen several gangs of workers out picking leeks and broccoli.
The canal sides around here are a haven for wildlife as they are lined with reeds providing great cover.
It's that time of year again, I love it when the blackthorn (may) blossom is out. it's a bit late this year I reckon, but now in full flush, beautiful.

Monday 21st May 2012
What a change! We awoke to brilliant sunshine this morning. As we glided along the cut a few puffy little clouds appeared, and a chill breeze came up but only for a short time. By 11.00 o'clock both the clouds and breeze disappeared and it's been a wonderful day.
We motored as far as Burscough where we used the facilities on the wharf and then moored up opposite in a lovely spot that we used last time we were here, very lucky to get it. 
The last time we were here we eat out at The Blue Mallard and were impressed with the standard of food and service sp thought we might do it again. Someone else recommended that we have a look at The Hop Vine. This we did, and it looks great. they have a small brewery on site and after a light lunch and a glimpse of their menu I think we may do that tonight.
Finally we've seen our first cygnets of this year. The proud parents showing off 7 little balls of fluff.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday 20th May 2012
A lovely quiet night was had. Liverpool was great, but being out in the country again is wonderful. Dark nights and lots of silence until the birds wake up. The view from our windows this morning was of a paddock full of horses, some lying out flat on the grass, the epitome of laziness.
A quick glance at the map and we decide that making it to Burscough today isn't a runner so we chugged off gently (another side effect of not being in a convoy is that you can go at your own pace, ours is slow). The trip was pretty uneventful, only broken by having to open several swing bridges.
We've chosen another nice open country spot again, once tied in  I settled down to watch the moto GP while the engine cooled enough to do the long overdue oil change. I'm very disappointed in the electric pump I bought last winter to do oil changes, it's failed and that's the second one I've tried so I'm back to the manual pump.
That's now done and we've settled down for the evening. I'm looking forward to a lovely Thai curry.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Friday 18th May 2012
Not much happening today. We were expecting the service boat this morning at about 10.00 o'clock to empty our loo cans and fill us with fuel. We ended up waiting an age. Before he reached us the other boats he'd serviced had not only filled up his waste container, but had taken most of his fuel store so I took all the fuel he could give me and he promised to return in about an hour.
Just over an hour later he chugged into the dock and first of all went to the hotel boat pair to pump out their loo tank, when he got to me he wasn't sure if if he could get our two small cans in and  may have to wait another hour. As luck would have it he did manage to get ours in, and finally fill up our remaining fuel cans. The wait for fuel is well worth it here because the domestic price is only 78p/ltr., which less than we have paid anywhere since leaving Bristol 2 years ago! Some of the rob dog marinas out there are up around the 95p to £1.00 mark!
The rest of the day has been taken up with provisioning. We're leaving here tomorrow morning and thought it would be a good idea to stock up as much as we could.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Thursday 17th May 2012
The weather wasn't as bad as forecast today. The Queen was due to take a tour of this dock today and I was heartened to see that although security was present it wasn't a stupid lock-down and we were able to move freely.
We didn't stay around to wave but carried on with our site seeing. Today it was the Anglican Cathedral and The Museum of Liverpool Life. The Cathedral is stunning, and the pics may give a clue. The views from the tower are wonderful, access isn't too bad either, it does involve quite a few steps, but most of the climb is done in two lifts.
Lion, star of The Titfield Thunderbolt

Model of what the new RC cathedral should have looked like

Top of the tower

The RC Cathedral seen from the tower of the Anglican Cathedral

A view of the docks on Birkenhead

Looking across the Mersey

The bell chamber

A view from the balcony

A closer look at the vaulting

Looking down from the balcony

A beautiful Chinese arch in China town

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Wednesday 16th May 2012
This morning we boarded a tour bus for a look around some of the sites of the city. Our first stop was at Liverpool's World Museum, where among other exhibits we took in a planetarium show.
After lunching at their cafe we caught another bus to the RC Cathederal. This is a modern design building. Very striking, and some of the locals have rather cruelly dubbed it "Paddy's Wigwam" for obvious reasons when you see the shape.
Tomorrow we'll continue our tour, probably taking in the Anglican Cathedral, another striking building. It boasts the highest and heaviest peal of bells in the world.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

There's a better quality version of this video on Google+
Lovely day today. This morning Cath went to The Tate and I visited The Maritime Museum, Later Cath joined me as The Tate wasn't as good as she had hoped. 
Lots to see, as expected, presently the museum is jumping on the Titanic centenary bandwagon with an exhibition of its connection to the city. There is also a gallery devoted to the slave trade, something it shares with Bristol.
There were several lovely models of marine steam engines on show and I've included pictures for anyone interested. I also got a video of the DUKW tour bus taking a plunge. We may take a ride in it sometime this week.