Saturday, 31 August 2013

Last day in Manchester.

Our journey up the first nine locks on the Rochdale Canal started from Castlefield Basin today at 1 o’ clock after taking on much needed water.


The first lock of the flight has an almost rural feel to it as ‘Chance’ waits patiently for it to empty.


‘Rural’ quickly changes to ‘Industrial’ after the first lock (which took an absolute age to fill).  The huge spans of the iron railway bridges over the canal look stunning now they have been given new liveries – a glorious architectural feast of iron, brick and stone.


Although we’ve passed this way many times before, it’s still an awesome feeling to travel through these canyons of tall brick warehouses and to pass right underneath these lovely buildings.  The locks, however, are very heavy to operate with winches needed to open a few of the gates.


After an hour we were almost half way up when we heard from friends Mark and Olly that they were on their way to help us.  We’d reached the start of Canal Street by this time so we stopped in the lock, had a glass of wine and waited for them!


We were soon on our way again after Mark and Olly’s arrival.  Supplied by drinks and nibbles they became willing helpers, although James and Mark opted for the easy ride.


Olly is no stranger to lock operation so he and Doug soon formed an admirable team to tackle the rest of this heavy flight of locks.


Having got the ninth, and final, lock of the day under our belts we could relax for the final 500 yards to the moorings at Piccadilly Village.  Olly, Mark and James look pleased with themselves after a two and half hour journey up the flight.


Safely, and snugly ensconced, on the moorings in Piccadilly Village we enjoyed more drinks and nibbles in the sunshine before retiring into ‘Chance’ for cheese and biscuits,cake and coffee.

Thanks so much Mark and Olly for going beyond the call of duty to help us, as we know today was a bit busy for you both. 


‘Chance’ looks very comfortable in these very pleasant moorings.  This evening we’re popping out to celebrate on our last night in Manchester but, firstly, we must extend our thanks to everyone who’ve sent messages to James, and for our anniversary, today.

Manchester has been another brilliant and vibrant experience for us again this year and, although sad to be leaving, we’re looking forward to moving on and doing a bit of canal cruising.

Happy Birthday James! and Happy 1st Anniversary

Yesterday Doug went shopping and James visited the Manchester Art Gallery.


The Gallery is housed in yet another lovely building.  James was evicted at 5 o’ clock when it closed!


The city is full of wonderful architecture, old and new……….


…….. but it seem that more effort and thought was put into the older stuff.


In the evening we had an Italian meal – food was good but the service was poor.


After eating we went to Oscar’s Bar to meet up with Olly and Mark for a great evening.  To everyone’s surprise, it was nearly 2 o’ clock in the morning before we  left!  Thanks for a great evening guys.

Today, it’s James’ birthday and our first anniversary (where’s it gone!!!).  We’re moving ‘Chance’ up the “Rochdale 9” so it’s a sad goodbye to Castlefield for this year.


‘Chance’ in Castlefield in the shadow of the massive Beetham Tower today before moving to the water point to fill up.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Blackpool day out.

On Wednesday evening we had a very nice meal with friends George and Jan (nb ‘Lady Patricia’) who drove from their home nearby to meet up with us.


George, Jan, James and Doug at The Wharf in Castlefield having a good time catching up, having not been together for over a year.

Yesterday we decided to have a trip up to Blackpool, having not been there for 3 years.  Cancellations due to a lack of drivers meant that our train was packed to the gunwales (or whatever trains have instead of gunwales) and we groaned and lurched our way towards Blackpool like one of those in India, packed with people and chickens on the roof!    


After spilling from the train we found Blackpool seafront windy and deserted.  We walked the Golden Mile down to the Pleasure Beach, noticing that all the old trams had now been replaced by spanking new ones.


The lovely building at the base of the tower has been fronted by a shiny plastic hoarding advertising the various attractions inside.  Hopefully, at sometime in the future, it will be removed by a more discerning town council.  


The multi million pound regeneration of the seafront has created a very clinical looking beach (especially on a day when the weather’s not good enough to sit on it) ………


……… and an equally clinical, and vast area, of concrete with no seating and no shelters to sit in when it’s windy.  However, the place was surprisingly clean and tidy, even in the town centre and when the sun came out even the many empty hotels and seafront businesses looked a little better.


We walked around some of the backstreets where the small B & Bs are (a lot are still looking clean and tidy and doing well) and we found a very nice cafe where we had a delicious “all day breakfast” at 1 o’ clock.


Walking through the shopping centre (where we couldn’t resist a quick look in the TK Maxx) we came up to the Winter Gardens which are well worth a walk through – the building is a gem.  Blackpool Tower and the wonderful Ballroom is now an expensive experience to get into and the prices of everything left us wondering just how families can even afford a day, let alone a weeks’ holiday.   How can you justify spending £1.85 for one scoop of ice cream and £2.50 for five little doughnuts?


Anyway, we spend a pleasant day wandering and watching and enjoying some of the architecture still left standing.  The town hall is not as grand as Manchester but very nice nonetheless.

Catching a late train back to Manchester we had a conversation with 2 young black youths who’d had a rum deal over an intensive driving course they’d just had over the previous few days.  They took the whole thing in good humour and their enthusiastic approach to life was very refreshing to hear.  We got back to ‘Chance’ at 10 o’ clock after a good day out, although we probably won’t be visiting Blackpool again for a while.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

All quiet now.

After Manchester’s four days of partying,  all seems terribly quiet for those of us still left and the city gets back to normal.  However, it wasn’t dull by any means as we were able to catch up with Ian and Karen from nb ‘Tacet who’ve been our neighbours for the last few days’.


Yesterday Ian and Karen came on board ‘Chance’ for a bit of a catch up chat before we met them later for lunch in the city - where there was much catching up done.  By good fortune we had a chat about cameras and after lunch we went straight out and bought a Lumix TZ40, the same as theirs.  Our Cannon has never been the same since James dropped it in Malta – even though it has been repaired.  So better pics from this point on we hope.


In the  evening we went to Via in Canal Street for a quiet drink.


The atmosphere was decidedly less frenetic after the weekend!

Today we went aboard ‘Tacet’ where we enjoyed coffee and cake with Ian and Karen before their departure today.  Later, while Doug went to the nearby YHA to take advantage of their washing and drying facilities, James went to Museum of Science and Industry (also nearby) to see the very good exhibition on the Human Brain. (No photos allowed!)


Photos were allowed in the Transport Hall of MOSI.  This is only the twelfth Rolls Royce produced ………….


……….. and this is the fastest milk float (in the west!). Recorded at 70.1 mph.


There are some fascinating exhibits to be seen here and worth a visit (in term time not school holidays!).


James got back to ‘Chance’ just in time to wave goodbye to Ian and Karen.  Have a safe and happy voyage both of you and it was really good to catch up again.


An afternoon walk into the city had us passing some of Manchester’s fabulous architecture.  Who can resist taking a picture of the awesome Town Hall.


More Victorian architectural gems await around every corner.



After a bit of shopping we made our way back towards the canal where the stunning iron bridges carrying the railway over the canal are having a striking new coat of paint.  The lock in the distance is the last on the Rochdale Canal before entering Castlefield and the Bridgewater Canal.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fun, friends and memories at Manchester Pride

The Pride celebrations have continued unabated over the weekend – the weather has been a major factor in everyone’s enjoyment.   We had a good old wander around on Sunday and chatted to so many interesting and ‘alternative’ people.


Even babies were sporting their rainbow colours.


Difficult to tell one Gordon from another!


Happily the police had little to do but enjoy the occasion as well.


We ate too much fudge.


A Purple Heart if ever there was one.




“Diva Fever” helped to entertain us in the arena during the afternoon.  They were very good indeed.


Two guys who were thoroughly enjoying themselves!


BGT’s “Bosom Buddies” were a hoot (and they could sing!).


Love and equality is the order of Pride – Dorothea pulls again!


Margaret still thought her son was overdressed for the occasion.


Our favourite steward. Wonder why!


On Monday evening the arena was filled to capacity, it was a great atmosphere.


Yes, that is a row of pink toilets over there in the corner.


Rylan was given a brilliant welcome – he’s a real showman.


The last act of the evening was Shayne Ward who was great ……..


…… even coming down into the crowd to sing.


The last event of the weekend was the regular Candlelit Vigil in Sackville Gardens.  This year lead by Charlie Condou (Marcus from Coronation Street).


It was an emotional time for so many people as the candles were lit and we had a minute silence when we could remember friends and loved ones who are no longer with us.


Candles were placed at the statue of Alan Turing, the World War II code breaker, in memory of his life and work.


The evening, and the whole Pride event, was finished in style by the usual impressive firework display on the edge of Sackville Gardens.

Well, we’ve had the most terrific fun at Manchester Pride this year.  We’ve made new friends and met up with old ones and there’s only one thing more we can say:-  WE’VE BOUGHT OUR TICKETS FOR NEXT YEAR!