Friday, 29 April 2016

Thoughts of Spain

Something happened today which reminded me of the young Australian backpacker exploring Spain during his European OE.  He had reached a smallish rural town and seen the town attractions along with attending a local bullfight.  Eventually he found accommodation in one of the town’s small hostel’s before heading out for a late evening meal.  He came upon a small cafe/restaurant with a vacant table in one corner.  With almost no knowledge of Spanish he randomly pointed to one item on the menu.  The waiter duly returned with his selected dish which consisted of a selection of boiled and roast vegetables along with two large meatballs covered in a dark sauce.  He was pleasantly surprised to discover his selected meal was both tasty and filling.

He spent the following day exploring the local countryside on a hired bike returning to his hostel on dusk.  Because he had enjoyed the previous dinner he returned to the same small restaurant and pointed to the same dish on the menu.  The waiter delivered his meal and it was exactly the same except he noticed was the meatballs were considerably smaller.  He wondered if he had offended the staff or given too small a tip the previous evening.  Nevertheless it was a very tasty meal.  When the waiter returned to take his empty plate he asked the young Aussie in very poor English if the meal had been satisfactory?   The young Aussie confirmed it had been good but mentioned the meatballs were smaller.  The waiter paused and then in broken English explained “Ah senor; the bull…… sometimes he wins!” 

Now my reason for mentioning this is because the following is on tonight’s dinner menu.


No…. I’m not singing with the sopranos and the bull didn’t donate them!

Our youngest has returned from a day trip to Scotland with some Haggis for us to try Smile

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A mixed day

Today’s weather has been very unpredictable.  If you look the the following two photos taken from the side hatch early this morning you will notice the blue sky and bright sunlight.


We completed a few small jobs; including booking our passage through Standedge Tunnel on 6 May; before going out for a better look at our surroundings.  NB Burnt Oak (Braidbar No158) is moored behind us.  Her fit out was completed last December and the owner told us he had a miserable winter on the Macclesfield Canal waiting for spring.  Note the dirty brass…. he has now been reported to the owners club and disciplinary action is pending! Smile


Note the cloudy sky.

There are just enough mooring rings here for three boats and we have the centre spot.  It appears to be a ‘safe’ mooring, although the high volume of pedestrian traffic does make it slightly noisy.

I had planned to moor in the basin on the right a couple of hundred yards further up the canal.  This is where NB Firefly NZ moored when we were last this way in 2014.


Entrance to the basin is just beyond the bridge to the right


I reversed into the basin only to discover it’s too shallow.  This meant I then had to reverse back down the canal to our current mooring.

Today we’ve had bright sunshine, rain, hail, snow and more sunshine.  Not that we’re complaining after such a mild winter.

The area around here is a warren of former canal arms suggesting it was once a hive of industry.  In 2014 this canal side property was undergoing renovation.  Now it’s completed and looks rather good.


Note the remains of a former arm immediately in front of it.

Just beyond the lock and to the left is pedestrian access to New Islington Marina.  The OSM seems to indicate there is boat access to the marina from both the Rochdale and Ashton Canals.  However this isn’t correct as the water access is divided by Old Mill Street.


Old Mill Street at the end of the arm.

This area is Ancoats and until the late 18th century it was mostly rural on the eastern outskirts of Manchester.  The transformation of the area began in 1775 when much of the land was sold off for development.  Within a decade the area was a grid pattern of densely packed factories and terraced houses for the workers. 

The Ashton Canal opened in 1796 pre-dating the Rochdale by 8 years.  The arrival of the canals attracted large scale development to the area and the construction of numerous canal arms.  Many factories were built along the banks.  The arm in the above photo served as a coal wharf and also supplied water to the adjacent cotton mills.  it was expanded in 1820 to service a new dye and glass works.

By 1851 Ancoats had a population of 53,737.  Sanitation was very poor and overcrowding common.  In many cases entire families lived on one room of tiny multi storey terraced houses. 

All the worker housing and most of the factories were demolished in the 20th century.  I did notice one former factory had been converted to apartments.  It’s rather interesting that the developer retained some character by keeping the chimney.

IMG_9716-1 New Islington Marina has had a bit of a mixed reputation.  The area had been frequented by “yobs” and last time we passed through there were two sunk and burned out boats.  However I think that is going to change.  The area surrounding the marina is currently undergoing major redevelopment as a modern residential area.


It wouldn’t surprise me that in 5-10 years time instead of residential boaters complaining about the unsavoury locals, the ‘new’ locals will be complain about the unsavoury looking boats spoiling their picturesque vista. Smile

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Rochdale Nine

The weather forecast for today was rather grim, but despite that we decideed to move.  At Waters Meeting we turned right instead of left and cruised the short distance to Stretford Marine Services where we winded (turned) Waiouru and took on 182 litres of diesel. Only 50 litres into the engine tank in the stern with the rest going into the bow tank for the stove.  We didn’t fill the engine tank as I want to keep the stern as high as possible when we go over the Huddersfield.  We’ll also do a pump out immediately prior to entering the Huddersfield.

It was then a case of cruising into Manchester and commencing our ascent of the Rochdale flight of nine locks.  I managed to wangle the locking job today leaving our son to do the steering.


Dukes Lock at the bottom


The recent renovations to the Dukes Lock pub appear to have been completed.  It was my lucky day as one of the grey haired elderly locals assisted me with the locking duties.


Canadian illegal immigrants squatting beside the canal.


The predicted poor weather put in an appearance and it started to snow at the third lock.  However it wasn’t all bad news as we also met a Black Prince hire boat coming down the flight.  That meant all but one lock was now empty and in our favour.  The buildings around the flight are a mixture of urban regeneration and “grotty”.



We reached Chorlton Street Lock adjacent to Canal Street.  This is definitely a “grotty” lock.  Our first trip up the flight was in 2005 and Jan was doing lock duty on that occasion.  A male leaned over the fence and looked down at Jan working the lock before exclaiming “Ooooh…. you’ve got a big one!”  Followed by “Push harder!”  Jan replied “Would you like to come down and give a demonstration?”


Two CRT employees were working above the lock and called out a warning to avoid the “undesirables” at the next lock.  Piccadilly Lock is almost subterranean and people have been living ‘rough’ on the off-side beside the lock.  Today it was deserted, however there was a strong urinal smell.  The top gates were also a bugger to open.


We turned right at Ducie Street Junction and moored just before Store Street Aqueduct.  Shortly thereafter a near new Braidbar boat arrived from the opposite direction taking the last vacant mooring.  It then started to snow once again.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Leigh to the Trafford Centre

It was a relatively late start this morning with a stop at the Leigh water point to top up the tank.  We didn’t start any serious cruising until after 10am and reached The Trafford Centre by 12.30.  With no locks or swing bridges it was an easy day.

Just west of Worsley I noticed a working boat coming from the opposite end of the straight.  It had a bright blue and red colour scheme which suggested it had to be Jo & Keith on Hadar.  I guessed they wouldn’t be able to identify us in the distance, which gave me time to warn the rest of the crew.  Our photographer managed to record the event.


I think Jo might have recognised us Smile


A lovely couple and it’s great to see them back happily cruising.  We hope they enjoy Liverpool as much as we did.

Worsley is an attractive spot on the canal so our photo opportunity was repeated.



I still believe this is the most unusual “man shed” I’ve ever seen!

We moored outside the Trafford Centre and then I walked to B&Q to buy a length of 3x2.  We’re planning to go over the Huddersfield and if my memory is correct we will need a handspike to work the lock paddles on the far side.  The handspike replaces the usual windlass and can be purchased for approximately £10.  My plan is to make one.  Well I couldn’t buy a 1.2 metre length of 3x2 but for £2 I managed to buy a 2.4 metre length.


Back at Waiouru I had Jan extract my Aldi 3 way saw from deep storage and cut the length in half.  We now have a spare handspike.  This involved a little blood, sweat and tears.  My sweat and Jan managed to cut herself on the saw blade.  To both our surprise her blood wasn’t blue.

Monday, 25 April 2016


A very brief post today as much of the day was spent entertaining and being entertained by Peter & Margaret.  We first met them in 2011 and have considered them great friends ever since.  It was Peter & Margaret who kindly let us live on their boat Kelly-Louise when we were attempting to sort out our own boat problems.

Today we had a very convivial time over Sunday lunch at the nearby Robin Hood pub.


poor phone photo Sad smile

They have only recently returned from Spain having avoided much of winter, hence the cheerful disposition and suntanned faces.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Back in Leigh

It’s just over a month since we last arrived in Leigh where the Bridgewater joins the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. There are no notices but apparently CRT licensed boats are only allowed to spend 7 days on the Bridgewater and may not return until 28 days have elapsed.  We are moored just short of the Bridgewater.

My musing over the junction at Parbold has resulted in yet more useful information from readers.  Don informed me the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was supposed to turn north at Parbold for Leyland with a branch to Wigan.  Then Jim sent me an extract from a leaflet published by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society as far as the Parbold - Leyland route is concerned:

The canal between Parbold and Dean was originally known as Leigh’s Cut after the main owner of the old Douglas Navigation, which was in operation from 1741 to 1781. The canal opened from Liverpool to Parbold in 1774, when Parbold was intended to be a canal junction, with the main line of the canal from Liverpool continuing to Leyland on a line through the dry dock. From Leyland, the canal was to follow the Ribble Valley, crossing the Calder by a large aqueduct at Whalley, and reaching the canal’s summit level at Foulridge through Padiham. At Parbold, a branch canal — Leigh’s Cut — gave access to the Douglas Navigation at Dean. The canal’s route was changed in 1794, and today the branch canal is the main line, providing a route to Wigan and the ‘new’ 1794 route. It is the reason for the sharp bend at Parbold, as this was designed as the junction between the two canals.

I’ve attempted to show the very rough route of the proposed canal on the following map extract.


The red arrow points to Wigan.

I’m grateful to Don and Jim for the additional information.

This afternoon I went exploring around the northern fringes of Leigh.  The route took me through Lilford Park which is a large expanse of grass and woodlands.  The park was gifted to Leigh by Lord Lilford. In the Victorian era it had a crescent-shaped lake, about a kilometre in length spanned by a three-arch stone bridge constructed in 1724, It was popular with visitors. The bridge was known as Lions Bridge from the carved stone lions on pedestals at intervals on its length. The lake dried up in the 19th century and the bridge collapsed in 1905.  Whilst there were no obvious signs of the lake or bridge it was the following that came as a surprise.


This looks very similar to the O-Bahn in Adelaide, South Australia and it looks new!   When I returned to Waiouru I examined the map in an effort to identify what was going on.


The bottom right arrow points to where the above photos were taken and the map does show an almost straight track.  The two other arrows also point to straight tracks.  My guess is these are former railway lines.  Things became clearer when I did some internet searching.  Wikipedia was very useful.

Leigh is one of the largest towns in Britain without a railway station since the closure of the Tyldesley Loopline in 1969 and suffers from poor connections to neighbouring towns. The Leigh-Salford-Manchester guided busway was proposed to improve access to Manchester city centre from Leigh, Tyldesley and Ellenbrook and regenerate areas of the former Lancashire Coalfield

The Leigh-Salford-Manchester Bus Rapid Transit scheme is a guided busway and bus rapid transit (BRT) scheme promoted by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) opened on 3 April 2016. From Leigh, a limited-stop bus service joins 7 km of guided busway to Ellenbrook, 6 km of bus lanes on the East Lancashire Road and sections of reserved bus lanes through Salford and Manchester city centres.

So the BRT commenced operation only 20 days ago. 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Wigan to Plank Lane

An interesting (and slightly surprising) comment from reader Laurie Williams regarding my query regarding yesterday’s post and the possibility about a canal junction once existing at Parbold.  Laurie suggested I research “Parbold Graving Dock”.  It appears this was originally planned as a canal junction with a canal heading towards Leyland.  Well I didn’t know where Leyland was on the map and had to look.  The canal was never built and the start at Parbold was converted into a large graving dock and wharf.


So Leyland is more than a model of truck Smile  Would I be correct in assuming the plan was for the canal to Leyland to connect to the Lancaster Canal?

Oh… my surprise about the comment from Laurie is that he is in far west New South Wales.  I might have expected a comment from a local, but a comment from almost outback Australia!

This morning Jan and I walked into Wigan to collect the last of our mail.  Whilst she did the important task I took photos in the hope one might be reasonable.


We had a late departure and by 1pm I was feeling hungry.  We’d made a large quantity of piklets two days ago so I decided to eat a few before they went mouldy. Unfortunately we are currently carrying a large male rodent and when I opened the home baking tin I found……


I should have drowned him at birth.

It was an uneventful cruise to Plank Lane where there is a small boating community.  No doubt due to the services, proximity of shops and the car park.

IMG_9680There is a new housing sub-division under construction here.  It looks like every home will have solar panels.

IMG_9679There’s a large open area of water beside the lift bridge which looks like it might be a marina someday.  I went for a walk after dinner and that day may be getting closer as this banner was tied to the boundary fence.

IMG_9681There is a plan of the marina here.

I do wonder how long it will be before this boat is sunk.  I’ve gone from being sad to annoyed about sunken boats.  So many of them seem to be abandoned yoghurt pots.  This one isn’t displaying a licence or boat number.  I guess it will be CRT who eventually pays to cost of removing it.


Friday, 22 April 2016

Burscough to Wigan

The long walks appear to have resulted in me discarding my ‘man cold’ but poor Jan has now come down with bronchitis and is coughing like a tiger with a hernia.  The poor girl had a very restless night.

Sunset looked good (red sky at night, shepherd’s delight) so I took a quick snap before heading to bed.

IMG_9661After a quick trip to Tesco for lemons and honey (Jan’s medication) we pulled the pins and headed east passing Burscough Junction and the Rufford Branch.

IMG_9663That way to the Ribble Link and the Lancaster Canal.  But we are heading back to Wigan.  Three swing bridges today.  We were fortunate at the first as another boater opened it for us.  I repaid the favour at the second bridge.  The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is known (notorious?) for swing bridges.

IMG_9658We’ve been playing leap-frog with the Blacksmith Boat since leaving Liverpool.  Today we passed him before Parbold.

IMG_9659Parbold is an attractive looking location when viewed from the canal.  There’s a hard right turn here which suggests at some time there might have been an arm going into the town.

IMG_9666IMG_9668Dean’s Lock used to be paired but the northern lock has been abandoned and the former local approach was being used as temporary moorings by two boats.  A wide beam trip boat was moored below the lock.

IMG_9670It was here we paired up with another boat completing the remaining locks into Wigan together.  They were in a hurry to get to Manchester whilst we need to stop in Wigan and collect some items from the Post Office.

This is likely to be our final look at Wigan Pier.


Not that there is much of a pier to look at!

With mills regularly seen all along the route of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal it doesn’t take much effort to realise the canal was integral to their success.  Even as a lad in NZ I’d heard of Lancashire Cotton.  This is Trencherfield Mill in Wigan.  Opened in 1907, it had a steam engine that produced 2500hp to provide power to the adjacent cotton mill.  The primary purpose of the canal was to deliver coal to the mill .By 1912 it was producing 8 million yards of cotton annually.  However WW1 disrupted the supply of raw cotton and then the government encouraged the colonies to build mills and produce their own cotton.  This was the beginning of the end for the Lancashire cotton industry.