Sunday, 31 August 2014

Two for the Price of One.

We’re  making our way back along the same route (for a while at least) as we used on our journey into Manchester, so we’re pretty familiar with everything around us at the moment.


The duplicate locks at “Heartbreak Hill” are a God send as it’s often the case that one will be empty for you.  The six we did when we left our mooring yesterday morning near Church Lawton were very easy.


We took on water at Red Bull services and, while waiting, there’s a very nice ‘themed’ garden house (and garden) opposite to enjoy.

P1060238`The officially named Pool Lock aqueduct takes the Macclesfield Canal over the top of Trent and Mersey Canal.  It’s been standing for 150 years or so and  there wasn’t a drop of water leaking through as we passed under!


We always like to take a picture of our blue boat floating on the most orange water you’ll find as it’s around here.  The iron oxide leaches into the canal from the surrounding underground springs.   The north portal of the Harecastle Tunnel waits for just us to enter.  Being “Billy No Mates” with no other boats to join us we had a pleasant trip through the tunnel, taking 32 minutes.


The now disused original tunnel was opened in 1777 and was one and three quarter miles long. Teams of “leggers” had to lie on their backs and walk the boats through.


This is what happens in long tunnels – Doug takes to vacuuming or ironing.


Travelling back through Stoke, what’s left of the old potteries at Longport and Middleport provide an iconic view into the past.


At Etruria our paths crossed (for the first time) with fellow blogger Jennie on nb “Tentatrice”.  It was good to meet up and chat. 


Not all is well with the locks around these parts!  One of the original wooden construction beams is still visible beneath this hole in the lock wall.


Quite by chance (pun intended) we caught up with Barry and Sandra on nb “Areandare” and pitched up with them at Stone for for the night.  We were treated to their generous hospitality and sampled their home brewed wine.  They are licenced canal traders and sell the wine kits from the boat.


This morning dawned onto an auspicious day for us.  It’s James’ birthday (21 again!) and also the 2nd anniversary of our Civil Partnership.  Our thanks to everyone for their best wishes and kind words for both occasions.  James was treated to the best gift ever this morning – he woke up and still had a pulse!

We said our farewells to Barry and Sandra as they waved us on our way, hope we meet up again soon.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Friends, laughter, locks and “heartbreak”.


On Wednesday evening friends Neil and Pauline (nb “Waterlily”) invited us to their home for dinner.  It was laughter all the way of course and after a lovely meal and a fab time with them they drove us back to “Chance”.  Thank you so much both – we hope to see you soon.


Heading out on Thursday, we came across this little gem – “Ventura”, based on a 1905 ice breaker hull.  The bow is curved under the waterline to ride up onto the ice and men would stand on either side of the boat and rock it to break the ice as it was pulled along.  A fairly rare beast these days. 


A crane and stop planks is a regular feature on the Bridgewater canal.


Having said farewell (for the time being) to Rich and Andy on “Carpe Diem” we caught up with them again today!  As we left the Bridgewater and got onto the Trent and Mersey, our first challenge was the Preston Brook tunnel.  Being a timed tunnel there were six boats waiting for a short while to go through.   Following Rich and Andy in ……..

photo 5

…….  they took this really great shot of  “Chance”.  It’s not often you get to see this sort of angle.


‘Old England’ – cows, sheep, a village, blue sky and fluffy clouds.  We boaters shouldn’t  take this wonderful scene for granted.


Can boats get much smaller?


The old Lion Salt Works at Marston was derelict for years and at the point of collapse.   After a huge restoration effort  it’s now as good as new.  In fact, it does look a bit too new at the moment!


It was a long, eight hour day for us and after twenty one miles we ended up mooring above King’s Lock at Middlewich.


Soon after tying up friends Eileen and Bill arrived for the evening.  We enjoyed both their company and the fish and chip supper from the chip shop which was only 100 yards away.  It was very nice to see you both again.


Leaving Middlewich this morning at 9:30 we were soon at Wheelock and negotiating “Heartbreak Hill” - a rise in altitude of 250 feet.  In the short time since we came down this section we were glad to see that all the broken paddles had been fixed and these brand new gates up and working on the first lock. 


At the bottom of “Heartbreak Hill”, and with some twenty locks ahead of us, Doug took to his ‘wheels’ to make life easier …..


……. although there was still time to snaffle some cooking apples (30p / lb)  from behind someone’s garden gate.


With twelve locks behind us we got to the pretty setting of Rode Heath ……


…….. and, climbing the final few locks at Church Lawton, it felt very much as if we were in the middle of nowhere.


“Mrs Mop” used the last lock of the day to wash off the orange slime which covers the lock walls in this area.  We can’t have it all over the boat now, can we?

Just round the bend we found good moorings with rings and have now bedded down for a quiet evening and only the strong wind, which has dogged us all day, for company.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Good Bye Manchester

The last few days have been a complete whirl of fun and laughter.  The next three pics (courtesy of Chris and his amazing camera) are of Saturday:
The long and short of it!
Rich and Andy with their ever growing collection of stickers.
All of us on Saturday evening in Canal Street.
On Sunday the arena was packed and in eager anticipation of Conchita Wurst and All Saints.
As is perfectly normal at Pride everyone talks to everyone else and who should we start talking to in the arena but Ian, the owner of “Gaydio” radio station.  A very friendly, interesting and successful guy.
And then, what we’d all been waiting for - the amazing Conchita.
A sensational performance! ………..
As darkness fell and the bands finished, Doug was about to lose his voice because of all the ‘whooping’ (well, it’s no bad thing!)
On Monday the crowds were less due to people needing to return to work after the Bank Holiday.  Nevertheless, there was plenty for us to enjoy.  Age does not weary some people!
On Monday evening, after the last stage performances were finished, we had the candlelit vigil.  This year’s host was Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley from Coronation Street).
As the candles were lit, and during a minute’s silence, we remembered all those who have died due to HIV and Aids and of course those who still live with the condition.
The vigil also attempts to dispel ignorance, fear and prejudice surrounding HIV and Aids and there were some moving moments as we heard people tell “their story”.
After the vigil was the firework display which ends the weekend …
…… and we then laid our candles around the statue of Alan Turing.
On Tuesday Les, James (behind the camera),Chris, Rich, Andy and Doug enjoyed a ‘last breakfast’ at the Lost Dean in Deansgate …
…. and after breakfast we prepared to leave Manchester.  However, before we left Doug managed to fall into the canal (only up to his knees!) while jumping from the boat.  The wonderful sunshine, which we’ve experienced for most of our stay, continued through Tuesday just to dry his boots!
All three boats (“Eleventh Heaven”, “Carpe Diem” and “Chance”) travelled out of the city and met up again later in the evening – firstly for Champagne and nibbles on “Carpe Diem” ……
…. and then afterwards in the Axe and Cleaver at Dunham Massey for a lovely meal, where we were also joined by Simon.
This morning it was a very sad farewell to Andy, Les (and Chris) and Rich.  A weekend to remember without a doubt and thanks all of you for your wonderful company.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Proud at Manchester Pride


On Thursday we had a pre-Pride celebration at G-A-Y in Canal Street with friends Rich and Andy, who are moored close to us on their boat “Carpe Diem” ……….


……. before returning back to “Chance” to meet up with friend Stephen who was in town.  It’s always a treat to catch up with him when we’re in this neck of the woods.  Chris and Les, returning from shopping, also joined us for a drink.

Now, the main reason for us being in the great city is, of course, its annual Pride event.  We’ll try to give our usual over-used superlatives a rest and let the pictures tell the story of Saturday’s march.




The police, fire and ambulance attendance gets great support from the crowds. The Police contingent this year was huge –bravo guys!


Guess non of us worry too much about the colour of a fire engine if we really need one (God forbid) but this one is just right for the occasion.


The Salford Ladies United Temperance Society (SLUTS) always try to temper the mood of the day by their “moral code”.  They’re a real scream!


So much effort …..


…… so much colour ………


……. but not so much material some times!



Les was busy enjoying her first Pride – being overawed by the colour, sounds, love and the sheer scale of male flesh on view! while ………


…husband Chris was doing a sterling job as our “official” photographer.  These are all our pics by the way, his first class contribution will come later.



Entries, both big and small, made up one of the longest parades we’ve had the pleasure to be at.


The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are always welcome.


The quality of presentation, and the sheer hard work involved on some floats is terrific.




The Fire Service brought their mini ‘appliance’ (it’s real!) …….


……. followed closely behind by a bigger version ejecting vast quantities of snow and fog, making our official photographer’s job that much more difficult!



Always pleased to pose!!!!


“Double-helping” Doug showing his ambidextrous abilities.


The parade lasted an hour and a half and, while a lot of the world is at war and squabbling, this ‘other’ world embraces diversity with love and joy.  The end of the parade is just the beginning of a remarkable few days.


Giving ourselves a break from all the fun we settle down on the back of “Carpe Diem” and partake in Rich and Andy’s generous hospitality.


We shouldn’t forget that this event requires masses of support and hard work from all sorts of services.  Following straight behind the parade are cleaning machines and barrier dismantling so the city can return to normal.


The fun continues in the Canal Street area and people go to great lengths to add some style to the occasion.


This is someone James doesn’t know but, who cares, we’re all friends (although not everyone can be at the front of the queue when things are ‘dished’ out!)


More style! ………


…… and Black Angels are nothing to be scared of!


The “six degrees of separation” is alive and kicking – a quick chat to these guys and we discover they are from James’ home town of Swindon.


The Terrible Twins quenching their thirst on what, miraculously, was a hot and sunny day in Manchester.


In the arena we met up with Justin again ……


……. and again!


We have no idea who this is but it seems to tell the whole story.


At the end of the afternoon (before the beginning of the evening!) – a final ‘groupie’.  Being photo-bombed by the lovely girl on the left we have Justin, Doug, James, Rich, Chris, Andy and Les.  After this it was home for a wash and brush up and then back (for some) to party the night away.  Don’t know about the others but we had a ball and didn’t quite see 4 o’ clock in the morning.