Friday, 30 September 2011


I haven’t posted anything this week while we were at Boothstown as I didn’t want to bore you with details of our family visits and shopping trips.

The weather has been amazingly hot this week and this morning was no exception. We got up early, took the car back to the garage and walked the 3.3 miles back to the boat in glorious sunshine. After filling up with water and emptying the toilet tank we set off towards Manchester.

The trip was pretty uneventful but we are really starting to notice the change of season as trees change colour and drop their leaves.

Autumn in Worsley 
It’s about 5 years since we came to Manchester by canal and there have been lots of changes.
The Container Base has moved canal-side and towers above the water.

We passed Manchester United F.C. No doubt it’ll be busy here tomorrow as there’s a match on.

This is Throstle Nest Bridge at White City. It’s quite a busy bridge but the artwork is only visible from the canal.

We were followed into Manchester by a Zeppelin.

At Pomona the canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal and follows the Metro for a while.

Manchester Ship Canal seen beneath the
Metro elevated section

Pomona Metro Station
Pomona Lock - down onto the Manchester Ship Canal

For 2 years we launched all our boats here at Potato Wharf. It used to be a thriving residential boat community but the surrounding area has now been developed and mooring is no longer allowed there.

All along the canal coming into Manchester they've built high rise flats. Some are quite nice but since the property slump the majority are inhabited by Polish and other migrant workers.

There were 2 of these disabled access lifts alongside the canal, within 100 yards of each other and both giving access to the same stretch of tow-path. What a waste of money!  One would have been sufficient and there was also a wheelchair ramp too.

Another  ‘des-res’ - duck style!

We're now moored in Castslefield Basin in the centre of Manchester. It’s lovely here and very busy. Having lived in Manchester all my life it'll be quite different to be here on a boat and to view the city as a tourist, not a resident.

view from our boat of the Hilton Hotel

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Back to Boothstown

We came back through Wigan yesterday. The pounds were very low but this time it was due to a broken paddle on one of the locks letting water flow through, rather than vandalism, and we didn’t have any delays.

We moored last night beside Scotsman’s Flash in the same spot as 3 weeks ago and then this morning we set of fairly early (for us) and arrived back at Boothstown Marina just in time to watch the Grand Prix Qualifying.  We haven’t booked into the marina as there's only one other boat here outside the pub. The Probation Service boat has gone so we won’t have the problem of them running their engine from 8am till 11pm. We aim to be in Manchester for next weekend but for the next few days we have things to do and friends to see.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Thanks a lot B.W.

At 9.00 this morning a couple of guys on lawn mowers went past the boat, cutting the verges on the towpath. They were followed by a guy with a petrol strimmer who cut the bits missed by the mowers, right along the edge of the towpath alongside our boat.  If he’d asked we’d have been more than willing to move the boat , but he didn’t and the boat was splattered with grass cuttings, dog poo and other shredded detritus.

It was a warm sunny morning and by the time we’d got dressed and gone out to clear up, everything had baked onto the paintwork.  It took us 2 hours to wash it off and as we were drying the boat we noticed several chips in the paintwork as stones had been flung up by the strimmer!

By this time we’d decided to stay put so Roger got the “Finesse” out and went over the whole side of the boat ready for waxing later and so that he could touch up the paint chips.  Needless to say he wasn’t in a good mood and it’s a good job the B.W. men didn’t come back our way.  I did a load of washing while the engine was running charging the batteries and hung it out to dry on the whirly gig.

Later on Roger took Chico for a walk along the canal and came across another moored boat covered in grass etc. By the time it’s owners come back it’ll be so dried on it’ll be a real pain to clean off.


Surprisingly we’ve actually seen 4 moving boats today! We haven’t seen anyone for days but I expect as they were all going towards Liverpool they plan on being there for the weekend.

Roger checked and topped up the batteries this morning and then we carried on to moor at Crooke village for the night.

The towpaths along this stretch are really geared up for cyclists, even the signposts  are measured in cycling minutes rather than miles.

Crooke is a small village with a marina in the centre. We took Chico for a walk around and came across the Crooke Hall Inn. Looking in the window we noticed several hand pumps and a dart board so after taking him back to the boat we returned for a pint and a game.

The pub has just been refurbished and is really smart inside.  It’s tied to the All Gates Brewery which is one we haven’t come across before and had 8 different beers on. I had the All Black which was a really nice chocolate mild. The dart board was brand new and we had a few games, I even won one!!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Tomato harvest

After last years disaster with tomato blight, this year has seen us having a bumper crop of beautiful, sweet cherry tomatoes. This is about a quarter of the crop.

We’ve already eaten the same amount, there’s another quarter in the drawer ripening nicely and the same again still on the plants.

I decided to have a go at roasting them with garlic and herbes de provence, so after halving them and drizzling with olive oil I left them in a very low oven for 3 hours.  They can out all sweet and tasty and I’ve bottled them in more olive oil to be nibbled at over the coming few weeks. They should also be good on my home-made pizzas.

We continued our journey today, cruising back the way we came 2 weeks ago. This time it was nowhere near as windy so the many swing bridges weren’t quite the battle as before.  As we stopped for Maghull swing bridge I spotted a Morrison’s through the trees so we moored up and I did a quick dash to stock up. We’ve had a few showers this afternoon but it’s now quite sunny again and we’ve moored for the night just before Burscough.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Just chilling

We had the fish I told you about yesterday, for dinner last night. It was one I haven’t come across before called Fluke and I think it would probably have previously been discarded if caught along with other more popular species, but since fishermen are now allowed to keep these more uncommon fish they’re finding their way into the fishmongers shops. I gutted and de-headed them and cooked them very simply in the oven for 20 mins at gas 7 with just a splash of white wine and a knob of butter. While they were cooking I did some braised leeks and peas and we had them with a few McCain Crispy French Frites on the side.  The fish is very similar to plaice but has a much more delicate flavour and given that they cost £1 each as against about £5 each for plaice of a similar size I’d definitely buy them again.


not much left

At 2.45 this morning we were woken by the rain. Not just any old rain but stair-rods!  It was so loud and heavy on the roof I got up to have a look and it was bouncing 6ins off the canal!  It didn’t last long but boy was it noisy.  Today has been a total contrast and has been bright and sunny and lovely and warm.  We decided to stay put and catch up on a few jobs while it was so nice.  Roger refurbished the two chimneys (tall one for when we're moored and short one for cruising) so we're now ready to light the fire, although I hope we can hold off until October otherwise it’s going to be a long winter. I made bread and banana cake and did the housework. It sounds a bit mundane but after the hustle and bustle of Liverpool it’s been nice to get back to normality and to be just the two of us again.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

On the move again

Yesterday we took the ferry across the Mersey to Birkenhead and went to the market. The only problem I’ve had with Liverpool is that there is a distinct lack of butchers and fish mongers but I suppose that's the same in most cities these days. There are plenty of Tesco's but I only shop there when I absolutely have to as I don’t like their meat, or the prices they charge.

looking back at Liverpool from the ferry
Birkenhead is a VERY depressed town, full of charity shops and “cheque converter” shops and the people all look downtrodden and grey, as if they never eat fruit or veg.  The food market had 4 butchers and 3 fish stalls so I took the opportunity to stock up. One fish stall was selling Fluke, which is a member of the plaice family and huge 1lb fish were £1 each. That’s what we’re having tonight. I’ll let you know what they were like tomorrow.

It was very windy and the river was rough so we decided to get the train back to Liverpool. The rail system here is brilliant. The trains are frequent, clean and cheap but the buses aren’t. One we went on was dirty, expensive, £1.90 each for a trip which took less than 5 minutes, (simply because we got lost) and the driver was really stroppy that we didn’t have the correct change.

We were due to leave Liverpool this morning and thankfully it was a lot calmer than when we arrived. We were the last in a convoy of 7 boats and were met at the first lock by the same 2 guys from B.W. who had helped us coming down.

I have to say that these 2 guys put up with a lot of stick from other boaters.  The other boats in the convoy were from one of the local boat clubs who are apparently notorious for their arrogance and rudeness; needless to say I made sure we weren’t associated with them in any way. 2 men on a plastic boat in front of us were muttering and moaning when we caught up with them at the first of the 4 locks out of Stanley Dock. They didn’t think it was right that they had to work the paddles and open the gates, that’s what the B.W. guys were there for!!! And they couldn't be bothered closing gates behind them either. Enough said.

The weather this morning was pretty bad and it rained for most of the journey.  We’re now moored up just past Bridge 10 and the sun’s come out and it’s lovely again. We're in the middle of nowhere and all we can hear is the roar of the motor bikes at Aintree Race Course. We caught a glimpse of them through the fence as we passed but unfortunately we couldn't moor up and go for a closer look as we were still part of the convoy at that stage.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Another Place

After the gales we’ve had for the past few days, the weather today has been glorious; hardly any wind with full blue sky and warm sunshine.  We decided to make the most of it and took the train to Waterloo (£3.15 each return from Central Station) then down through Crosby Coastal Park to the beach and a 3km walk along the sands following the iron statues that form “Another Place” by Anthony Gormley.

Although these statues started life by all being identical, the sun, sea and sand have weathered each one differently and they now have individual characteristics. Some are hardly touched and still smooth whereas others are more rusty and appear to have scaly skins.

the 'basic' model

Others have been “interfered with” and sport a bikini or swimming trunks

One was carrying an oar

One was wearing a charm bracelet and another was wearing a hat!

They are mounted on 3m deep pilings buried in the sand although a few can be seen standing proudly on their mounts others are being buried by the sand.

They're all facing out to see, some are 1km from the promenade.

This was definitely one of the better things we've seen whilst we've been in Liverpool, more interesting to me than a couple of the museums that's for sure.

Monday, 12 September 2011


We’ve had a fantastically busy weekend, with visits by both our children. Our daughter and her partner came on Thursday and gave us the wonderful news that they are getting married and I’m going to be a granny!!! Then on Saturday our son and his partner came and we had a really good time with them too.  A couple of friends also popped in for a visit.

Today it’s been just the two of us again and now that the festival is over we’ve started visiting some of the tourist destinations.

We started off by having an excellent lunch at the famous Philharmonic Dining Rooms in Hope Street. It’s supposedly one of the most lavish and ornate pubs in the country and is most noted for its marble urinals which are still original from when the pub was first built.

stained glass ceiling lights

carved mahogany, ornate plasterwork
& brass friezes everywhere

one part of the bar
After lunch we went to see the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral which was opened in 1967. It’s a very modern design and is beautiful inside with a huge stained glass tower.

looking up inside the tower
The more imposing Anglican Cathedral was next.  It’s a huge building and cavernous inside.

traditional stained glass window

Of the two I preferred the Catholic Cathedral which is known locally as “Paddy’s Wigwam”.

On the way back we passed the street sculpture known as “A Case History”.  It looks like a pile of left luggage and each one has a luggage label with the name of someone famous.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

River Mersey Festival

So far the River Festival has been fantastic!  We’ve been really lucky with the weather because although it’s incredibly windy we’ve only had one shower (and we were in a restaurant at the time) and it’s actually been quite sunny.

We saw the Isle of Man catamaran ferry the "Manannan". It’s very impressive and you can see right through it between the hulls. We were told that someone had once jet-ski’d  through it - and been jailed for the privilege.

We took a tourist trip on the Yellow Duck and although I was sceptical at first thinking it would be the usual rip-off I can’t recommend it enough!  We started with a road trip around all the sights of Liverpool and the guide was entertaining as well as a mine of information.

The ‘bus’ then took a dive into Salthouse Dock, right by our boat, and we had a tour of the docks.  It lasted an hour, cost just under a tenner and was worth every penny.

Yesterday saw lots of things going on all round the waterfront.  There were jet skis in Albert Dock, although the practice sessions were in Salthouse Dock right beside our boat. There was P1 power boat
super stock racing out on the River Mersey and wakeboarding, also in Salthouse Dock.

There were a few street theatre acts performing throughout the day, mainly around Albert Dock, and then in the afternoon there was an aerial display by the Russian Yakovlevs display team over the River Mersey.

we came through this tunnel on our way into the docks
(minus the fish of course)
The main stage over by the Pier Head had live entertainment on all afternoon with a concert by soul singer Beverley Knight rounding off the evening. By that time it was getting quite cold and was still very windy but I was surprised how few people were there, especially as it’s all free.

Most of the narrowboats in Salthouse Dock have put up bunting and quite a few, including us, also have fairy lights so it all looks quite spectacular.