Sunday, 28 July 2013

Just Pottering about

As most of my hospital appointments are early in the morning we can still go cruising for the rest of the day. On Thursday we needed to fill up with water and food so we headed off to Leigh. We filled the water tank at Plank Lane and then turned round and moored in Leigh town centre and walked to the market. It was a beautiful day but unfortunately even the sunshine couldn't make Leigh shopping centre look any better than it is. Basically the place is just one road full of take-aways and charity shops. I counted 8 charity shops and another large Oxfam shop was just in the process of being fitted out.

It's two years since we cruised on the Bridgewater Canal and in the meantime there have been quite a lot of changes. This is one of them. Four disused lock gates now being used as "art" The inscription reads "UNLOCKED".

We're just about to install solar panels on the boat. I hope Roger doesn't get as carried away as this house owner!  He needs to leave me plenty of room for my plants.

We decided against mooring back in the marina and stayed the night out on the main line instead.

Early the next morning this swan brought her cygnets round for breakfast. I need to stock up on floating duck and swan food. I usually buy a bag in the spring, it's so much healthier than bread and one 4kg bag lasts me all year. Needless to say, I NEVER feed the Canada Geese. They are just vermin and carry salmonella and e-coli which can make dogs very ill. There are too many of them on the canals and in my opinion they should be culled in spring, similar to what happens in other countries like New Zealand.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

On to Boothstown

After another late start yesterday, we continued on our way to Boothstown on the Bridgewater Canal.

Here's a photo for all you football fans. There are mooring rings a bit further on but these are restricted to water taxis which operate from Manchester city centre on match days. It's certainly not anywhere we'd like to moor as neither of us like football!

At Waters Meeting we turned right onto the Leigh Branch, cruised through Trafford Park, past the Trafford Centre and arrived at Barton Aqueduct to find a boat half way across. It's the first time we've ever met anyone here but was unsurprising as there were a lot of boats on the move yesterday.

Barton Aqueduct carries the Bridgewater Canal over the Manchester Ship Canal. This is the view looking towards Salford.

and this is the other way, looking towards Irlam, with the road swing bridge and M60 Barton Bridge (which is always on the traffic news as it's a major accident black spot) in the background.

Once you get across the aqueduct the water becomes crystal clear and there are water lilies everywhere. We watched hundreds of fish swimming about and even saw a 2 foot long pike basking in the shade. I would have taken a photo of it but I was too busy eating an ice-cream.

The majority of boats moored along this stretch at Patricroft have window guards. It's not the most salubrious of areas.

It's also not a good idea to use twin wall polycarbonate for home-made window guards as they just fill up with mould which grows on the condensation......YUK!

This was the first swan's nest I've seen this year, which is hardly surprising really as we haven't done any cruising. The cygnets seemed extremely young for the time of year.

Further on we arrived at Monton which is where we lived when we were first married. This was our house. Back then there was a huge mill on the opposite bank which used to get regular deliveries by canal on the Cowburn & Cowpar boats. The mill was demolished 20 years ago and has now been replaced by a housing estate.

This is the Monton Turn Lighthouse. It was built by a local eccentric and the light actually used to work. The building on the right is the local health centre.

This is Worsley Village, probably one of the most photographed villages on the system.  The opera singer Russell Watson is reported to have lived in one of the units in the building on the right.

So this is our home for the next 4 weeks while I have my radiotherapy at the local hospital. We're hoping to get some cruising done but as treatment is every day, 5 days on 2 days off, that may prove to be a bit optimistic.

It's typical of the Bridgewater Canal that boats NEVER slow down for moored craft. They seem to think that because the canal is deep and wide their wash won't have any effect......wrong! One boat went passed so fast this morning it snagged the lines of a couple of the local fishermen who weren't best pleased. The woman steering gave them such a mouthful it made me ashamed to be a boater!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Down the Rochdale Nine

Yesterday (Sunday) we carried on into Manchester. We don't do early starts so it was 11.00 when we got to the top lock which takes you down underneath Dale Street and the Malmaison Hotel.

Usually it's very smelly down there as it's a very popular sleeping place for the tramps and alky's but this time it wasn't too bad. Presumably they're all sleeping outside at the moment as the weather is so nice.

It was very quiet through Canal Street and even though it was almost midday the bars were only just setting up their tables and chairs overlooking the canal.

A bit further down the canal we found some of the tramps camped beside the lock. The one sat up in the middle was totally out of his head on some dubious substance and actually keeled over while we were waiting for the lock to empty. I felt sorry for their two dogs and left a pile of dried dog food on the lock side. Yes, I know, I'm just a big softie.

There are some lovely city centre apartments and bars along this stretch of canal.

This is our son James helping with the locks.

Roger doesn't let me work the locks at the moment, but when he wasn't looking I snuck off the boat and closed one of the gates.

This was one of the bars along Deansgate Locks, beside lock 91.

The last lock of the day is right beside Dukes 92 bar and restaurant and as it was a sunny Sunday they had 2 huge BBQ's going. The smell of chargrilled steak drove Chico wild.

This was Katie pretending to drive the boat while I nipped off to take the photo.

It's one of the heaviest locks on the canal and it took both of them to shift the gate.

Beetham Tower in the background. The water levels were lower than we've seen before but still high enough to pour over the top gates.

Chico's such a poser! He was a bit put out that he had to stay on the boat while we went to The Wharf for lunch. It's a dog friendly pub but it was too busy to take him and expect him to behave with so many other dogs there.

One meat platter and one seafood platter......between four of us....perfect after a 3 hour trip. The beer was pretty good too!

If you're in the area next weekend the Wharf are celebrating their 1st birthday with live music and BBQ's all afternoon.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Freedom At Last!

My chemotherapy has been done at The Christie Hospital in Didsbury which is why we stayed in Portland Basin Marina at Duckinfield for so long. I've now completed that part of my treatment and the next stage is radiotherapy at Salford Royal Hospital so we're moving.... finally....YAY!!!!

We set off yesterday (Saturday) accompanied by our son and his girlfriend who were helping us down the 27 locks into Manchester. The sun beat down and we had a really good trip, only seeing two other moving boats all day.

After about 4 or 5 locks we met these 3 kids swimming in the lock. They were no problem, getting out of the water to help open the gates. I gave them the usual lecture about Weil's Disease and the general dangers of swimming in the canal and especially locks but they couldn't care less. They were young and having a ball and one of them was doing a great job of fishing debris out of the water and bye-wash.

Those of you who know me probably wouldn't recognise me away from the boat. In weather like this I'd usually be in shorts and strappy tops rather than all covered up and hiding under a hat, but needs must......

I was surprised how many tiny ducklings were bobbing about. We must have seen half a dozen separate broods. It must be the good weather stimulating second or even third matings.

The Ashton Canal goes right past both the Velodrome and Manchester City Football Club. Football fans will recognise these old signs. The roads don't exist any longer, due to major redevelopment in the area.

I was going to take photos of the new metro station and football stadium beside this lock, but we had a "major incident" which took almost half an hour to sort out. Three boys were messing in the bye-wash and when we pulled into the lock it was obvious they were in a bit of a state. Two of them had fallen and badly cut themselves and had decided to clean up in the canal water!  So out came the antiseptic and plasters and I cleaned them up. It took almost a full packet of plaster to sort them out. One had a broken toe but there wasn't much I could do about that. They were extremely polite and grateful and we sent them off home to tell their parents what had happened, again with a warning about the dirty water and possible infections. It seemed a bit strange how grateful they were for the first aid but I understood why when one of the kids said his mother wouldn't care and he was in for a battering!

Just after this lock is the lowest bridge on the Ashton Canal.

We crept slowly through it with a couple of inches to spare.

You can tell when you reach the end of the Ashton Canal when the high rise flats start springing up. You can see the balconies in the centre of the tower.

Most were occupied so we had plenty of spectators as we went down the last lock.

As on previous trips, we moored in Piccadilly Basin. This is good secure moorings in a gated community but as we know the gate entry combination we went out into Manchester for a few beers to cool down.

Friday, 5 July 2013

We're out of dry dock

We spent two weeks in the dry dock. Roger applied three coats of blacking which had plenty of time to cure before the boat went back in the water. It never ceases to amaze me how many boaters spend lots of time and money blacking their boats and then launch them too soon. It clearly states on the tin that you should leave it to cure for a minimum of 2 days before it goes back in the water. And then they wonder why it doesn't seem to last very long..........

He also did some modifications to the stern gear to make the steering lighter and more responsive, which will make it easier for me to manage until I get my strength back. We haven't had chance to test it out much yet but first impressions are good. By the time we get down to Manchester in a couple of weeks I'll be able to tell you if it worked and go into more details about the alterations he made.

While I did very little apart from reading and playing hundreds of games of Solitaire Roger did lots of painting,  making good the battle scars we accumulated over the winter and the boat looks almost new again. Shame it won't last, especially with me driving through the locks.

It only takes 15 minutes to re-fill the dock and then we were pulled out.  Well actually we got stuck! The canal water level was about 6 inches lower than normal and we had a devil of a job getting out over the cill.

We're still here at Portland Basin Marina and will be staying for another week or so. There are hundreds of fish here, some are really quite big. It doesn't seem right to try and catch them so Roger is waiting till we get back out on the mainline before he does any fishing.

Yesterday we were invited out to lunch with some old friends. We met Sue and Vinnie who live in Macclesfield Marina along with Helga who used to live there a couple of years ago. It was Sue's birthday and we had a great time, finally being asked to leave at closing time. I hadn't realised the Boar's Head at Higher Poynton still closed in the afternoon, but it was probably a good job it does as otherwise we would still have been there at tea time as we had so much catching up to do.