Friday, 26 July 2013

Nothing if not Eventful ….

It’s a well known thing that you can be waiting, waiting, waiting for a bus and then ………… three come along together!  Well, events have been like that over the last 24 hours:-

  • Yesterday afternoon I sort-of fell in.  Well, 1/2 of 1/2 of me fell in at any rate.  Usually pretty sure-footed, my foot slipped between the bank and the gunnel and down I tumbled.  Not fully IN you understand because my bum was not able to follow the rest of me down the available space but ……… I hurt myself all the same.  I am now sporting some magnificent bruises – some to my thigh and others to my ego!!  Yes, there was an audience!more on the weaver 005 (768x1024)


  • Lunchtime today – we arrived at the lovely little town of Northwich – bustling with shops and shoppers.  John has been having withdrawal symptoms for a Big Mac and ……. there was a MacDonalds!  So, he was a happy bunny.  I know, noses tend to get turned up when MacDonalds is mentioned but he likes them, OK?  And my treat?  WELL!  “Blow me down”, “knock me over with a feather” – I was presented with a beautiful bunch of flowers because it’s our 39th wedding anniversary tomorrow.  I’ve not had any for numbers 1-38 so???????  Now, Derek, I know you will be as gob-smacked as me but these have not been foraged from the hedgerows – they really have been bought and paid for and they are simply gorgeous.    I even had to get my one-and-only good vase out of hibernation!


  • After lunch we headed on upstream.  Hunt’s Lock – no problem.  I’ll have to put my flower pots under close guard on the way back tomorrow, however, as the Lock Keeper has threatened to nab them!!

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Getting into Vale Royal Locks was a bit of a Magical Mystery Tour – not this way, not that way, not that lock, this lock ……  Age-related memory problems have clearly kicked in already because neither of us could remember anything about this lock.  In actual fact, neither of us have remembered much at all about the entire river!!

Just upstream from the locks is the mooring spot we were heading for.  As we approached, one boat was already there and two others were just coming from further upstream and started to pull in.  John pulled over closer to the right bank and …………… there we stayed!!  It’s a common occurrence for us to get stuck on the canals but not on a river!!  Closely observed by the audience, (!) we struggled and struggled but to no avail.  Then, help came in the form of Adrian & Carol, the crew of one of the boats which had just tied up.  They very kindly pulled us off backwards!  Thank you so much, Adrian and Carol – we would probably still be there had you not come to the rescue!  It turned out that they were travelling with the boat behind – both being members of The Wolverhampton Boat Club.  And, we know the crew of the other boat – Elaine and Geoff – we met them at the last Les Allen Gathering we went to at Tardebigge.  What a small world!

  • All it needs now to round off these events is for me to see that otter that Rob Pickard reckoned he saw five years ago from this very spot!  Trust me -he doesn’t ever touch a drop!!  Darkness can clearly play strange tricks on the eye sight!  I’ll still watch carefully though!                                                                               xxoo

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cattle Country

I didn’t used to be scared of cows – that is until we had some ‘buttock clenching moments’ whilst out and about with Maggie and Maisie.  Now, I’m simply a yellow belly!

We have been exploring the lower region of The Weaver Valley.  It’s very rural  and very lovely and full of crops and …….. cows!

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Yes, there he was right by the entrance to the stile!

Along with all the members of his family ………    

“Let’s go on to the next marked footpath then …….”

AND ………..



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there they all were!

Where does the footpath go?  Right through the middle of them all!  

Lola found the trough – fortunately it was empty!  So often these are full of scanky water!



So, another detour then!  We went down the side of the adjoining field, clambered over a bit of a fence (where others before us had obviously gone too!), skirted along the top edge of the field (avoiding eye contact at all times!) and scrambled to the gate where only a couple of youngsters had gathered.  Phew!  Discard long stick which had been foraged ……. just in case!

We ended up doing a lovely five mile walk with only one other field of cattle to negotiate.

Here we are moored up for the night at the bottom of Dutton Locks:-

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We had some heavy rain over night but now the sun is out again and there’s lots of blue sky. 

Whilst being downstream from Anderton we’ve seen a steady trickle of boats but most don’t seem to linger for long – we’ve seen some go down to the end of navigation and back again on the same day.  As with most rivers mooring spots are limited.  It’s a shame because the countryside is beautiful and, certainly as far as Sutton Swing Bridge, seems to be the haunt of herons.  What it needs are a couple of strategically placed floating pontoons like there are on The Witham!  Dream On!!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Case of Neglect?

What’s happened?

It used to be all about me!

Humans are just SO fickle!  I have, therefore, hijacked the computer to put things right!

Now that I’m 6 months old I’m such a good girl!  Well, that is if you don’t count the fact that I still pull like fury on the lead and still go absolutely bonkers when I meet other people and other dogs!!  Apart from that ………… I’m definitely close to being perfect!!

Life continues to present me with new experiences and challenges:-

I love playing ‘the rope game’!  I do like to try and help.  Dad has very kindly just bought all new ropes too!

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I adored my first trip to a lovely sandy beach:-

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And, I don’t  know where this is leading but I did quite enjoy it:-


Anyway, as you can see I’m having a lovely time being ‘a boat dog’.

Lots of love,    Lola xxoo

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Re-Union with The River Weaver

We are on The River Weaver!  We have been here once before but that was five years ago.  To my amazement, all our details were still on record!

The River Weaver is 50 miles in length rising in the Peckforton Hills through the heart of Cheshire to join the Mersey Estuary.  It was made navigable in the 18th century to allow salt to be carried along it from various points downstream to Runcorn.  The Anderton Boat Lift links the river with The Trent & Mersey Canal.  The Lift was constructed back in 1875!  In 1983 it was found to be badly corroded and closed down.  After a long and tireless campaign to raise funds and support for its restoration, it was finally re-opened in 2002.  It has been nicknamed ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’ and has become an enormously popular tourist attraction.  Boaters with a valid licence can travel on it free of charge.

So, today, down on The Anderton Lift we went, this time with our friends on n/b Kesandra.  We are now moored up just before the official visitor moorings leading up to Saltersford Lock and it’s lovely.  We have already had two sightings of a kingfisher – probably the same one going there and back but who cares!

here come the Allebones

Wait for us!  Here we come!

ready to go down

Going down.

these are coming up

Coming up!

leaving the lift

Leaving the Lift and what an amazing structure it is.

Mr Cool

Heading downstream and how cool is that steering!!!!!!!!


Friday, 19 July 2013

The Curse of the Demon Electric …..

Here we go again but let’s look on the bright side!  It was on our last day in Liverpool that our electrical shoreline went ‘Kaput’!  Every time we plugged it in, it tripped out.  If this had happened on our 1st day in Liverpool ……… well, let’s not even think about that one coz it didn’t!  Another thing needing to get fixed, however.  We spent last weekend moored near the haunting remains of the shaft headgear of the Astley Green Colliery.  At one time there were dozens of collieries in this area – this one was the last to close in 1970.  It is now a small mining museum.

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Dave, the manager of Bridgewater Marina, had a look at our electrics on the Monday morning and put us in touch with a liveaboard electrician who arranged to meet up with us outside The Trafford Centre!  Result!!  OMG!  What a place!  So posh!  So huge!  So easy to spend your money!!  Sandra and I had a good helping on Monday afternoon and then went back for seconds on Tuesday!  Not wanting to be too over-whelmed by temptation, John and Ken didn’t even get as far as the entrance!
As promised, Roger the electrician arrived and it didn’t take him long to assess the situation.  As is usual ……… a new part is needed.  However, the necessary replacement part was soon sitting on a back shelf in Midland Chandlers at Preston Brook awaiting collection by us.  We have now done that and the plan is for Roger to meet us when we are down on The Weaver to get things back in order.
Yesterday we spent all day having a good wander around the nature reserve at Moore.  What a lovely little reserve.  Not so little actually – there are 12 hides in total all over-looking different types of habitat.  Throughout the year a programme of free events is organised – birds, bats, insects, fungi, trees, wild flowers and grasses – nothing is forsaken.  What a lovely resource to have on your doorstep. 

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In order to reach the reserve we had to cross The Manchester Ship Canal at Moore Swing Bridge.  When we went to see this on the journey up we decided that, as there is nowIn the heatwave 041 - Copy so little freight movement on the canal, it would be highly unlikely to see the bridge in operation.  WELL!  At 10am on our way to the reserve a large ship from Ireland had to pass through.
AND ……..

On our way back at 3pm’ish a very large ship from The Isle of Man was heading south.

How amazing was that!

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Today, this is the view from our galley window:-

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Heatwave 014 (1024x768)It’s where the breach happened last year.

“Ellen” and “Kesandra” are snuggling up to each other!

On a personal note – no 75 is no longer in the Blake family.  It was sold today.  Almost 60 years of personal memories and another 14 of inherited memories will, for me, always be there.  I’m sad and emotional today because, I suppose, not only is it the end of an era but yet another tie with my mum, dad and brother has been broken.  It just has to be.  Sad smile

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Out & About in West Lancashire

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Sunset over The Douglas valley.

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Somewhere up there …………. is this – Ashurst’s Beacon.  On what has probably been the hottest day of the year so far, we decided to walk up there!  Yes, the views are panoramic.  If there hadn’t been a heat haze they would have been even better!  Apparently, at times, you can see Blackpool Tower, the Welsh hills, the Lake District, good views of the Pennines +++++++ (can’t remember what else was on the pointer).

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If you can’t afford Boat Builders’ prices – improvise and build your own!  After thought -I wonder if it had a licence?

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You just never know what’s going to come along next.  This was by far the best ‘traffic’ I let across the bridge before opening it.

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Some years ago I praised Leicestershire County Council for the management of their public footpaths.  We have now done three substantial walks in Lancashire and, sorry, but I have to say that whoever is supposed to be maintaining them in this part of Lancashire is not doing a good job at all.  For the most part, we have found the paths themselves to be heavily overgrown, too many stiles in a state of poor repair and signs either badly placed or missing altogether.
Booby Prize! 

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On the way back from The Beacon we were very pleased to find a pub!  These guys were refreshing the hanging baskets with ………… PLASTIC FLOWERS!  This seems to be a growing trend amongst pubs.  Noooooooooooo!  It’s ghastly!  This pub was charging £19.49 for an 8oz sirloin steak so surely they can afford to bedeck the pub in summer with real flowers rather than plastic ones?!  Actually, I think they were silk so they probably cost more than real flowers but, of course, they’re low maintenance in as much as you don’t have to water them.  STILL GHASTLY!  John says, in his infinite wisdom, that he doesn’t go to a pub to look at the flowers; he goes for a decent pint!  OK, OK but plastic flowers?  Tacky and horrible!  Come on publicans, get a grip!

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Wigan Pier is not a pier!  Not like Southport Pier at all!  It was actually a coal staithe – a landing stage for coal waggons.  In its heyday, 50,000 tons of coal a year was loaded from wagons onto barges, much of it being exported to Ireland via the docks at Liverpool.  Today it has all been renovated and decorated outside with hanging baskets containing ………………..  PLASTIC FLOWERS!!

What superb architecture and skilled masonry work on the tower of this church by Poolstock Locks on the outskirts of Wigan.

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       “For most part, it’s a grand life on’t boats.  It's thee slow pace and fresh air that does it fa’ me.”
(Genuine quote from a bargee – circa 1880.)

Some things don’t change and, yes, they’ve had lots of comments about that white rose!!

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Every boat should have one?

Whether it be rather large ………………………

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or somewhat  smaller ……………………………..


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or very creatively home-made …………………………….


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they do keep the skipper warm and dry!

We had a trip into Ormskirk yesterday – an interesting, traditional market town.  The street market was in full-flow.  There are still lots of individual shops too.  Just wish I, like the ‘old fella’, had a bus pass!!


Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Leaving of Liverpool …..


Fare thee well good city of Liverpool …….                                                                                                                                         

    River Mersey fare thee well ……

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Liverpool’s largest regular visiting cruise liner made her first call of the season at the Cruise Terminal yesterday.  The Caribbean Princess arrived on a 12 night round-Britain cruise from Southampton. Interestingly, only Liverpool can offer the liner the facility of being able to berth in the heart of the city.  Other stops around the UK are all out-ports.  What a brilliant thing for the city.  I thought there were more people milling around – with 3,080 berths on board, yes, lots of tourists visiting the sites and spending money in the shops.  The passengers we spoke to returning to the ship wanted to fuss Lola and Maisie.  They were from America.  Ken & Sandra went down to wave the ship off and said it was a brilliant thing to witness.

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Megan, J & Maisie had to leave Liverpool yesterday too.

We had a lovely few days with them staying on board with us.  They came on the train – easier and cheaper than road travel!  They are just as impressed with the city as us.

                        And then, today …………….. it was our turn to leave……….

So, Farewell and adieu to the City of Liverpool, Farewell and adieu to you Liverpool folk …..

We were one of eight boats leaving Salthouse Dock, making their way back onto tFarewell Liverpool 027 (1024x768)he canal system.  Yet again, the C&RT chaps were really proficient getting all the boats up the locks and through the swing bridges.  Sandra, that kind, cheerful and truly skilled swinger-of-bridges operated the last one of the day, single handed and kept it open for all nine boats.  What a star!!!

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                  We have really enjoyed our stay and thoroughly recommend other boaters to visit Liverpool for a floating City Break.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

When in Liverpool …………….

Boaters are able to moor in Salthouse Dock for up to 14 days …… free of charge.  How good is that?  Right in the centre of Liverpool 1!  It’s all there for the taking – it just depends upon personal motivation and energy levels!  There’s so much to do and see.

For the weekend our friends, Mick & Lynn came to find us.  Lynn was born here in Liverpool and spent the first 14 years of her life here AND Saturday was her **th birthday so it just had to happen didn’t it?!

We went off to find Anthony Gormley’s 100 cast iron figures which are spread out along Crosby beach.  When the tide comes in some of them are submerged.  I had lots of questions: – Why were they put there?  What is the point of them?  Why modelled on himself?  How long have they been there?  Why naked?  What does it all mean????????  Fellow party members knew none of the answers!  To the information board then …..

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There you go then!  Obvious!!

We had some fun anyway and, at one point, there were 102 men!!

Crosby Beach            102 men looking out to sea!!

From Crosby we went on to Formby Point where the National Trust own a large area of beach, sand dunes and pine woods.  It really is a most beautiful section of wild coastline.  It boasts rare residential red squirrels, natterjack toads and tiger beetles!  They, all very sensibly, kept well away from the human intruders of the day.

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Inevitably, after all that walking, we found ourselves in a pub which had LOTS of real ales on tap.  How to choose ………………

Make your mind up time!!

On Sunday we did ‘the tourist thing’ – we went on the City Explorer bus tour – and it was really good.  The guide was good, the route was good and the sights we saw around the city were good:-Time in Liverpool 079 (1024x768)

Satreaky Bacon Building - the headquarters of the White Star Line

I had wondered what this building was.  Well …………….. it was the headquarters of The White Star Line Shipping Company (of Titanic fame) affectionately called by Liverpuddlians as ‘ the streaky bacon building’!

                         Canine passenger            

There was just so much to see.  We stayed on the bus all the way round and then set off again with a plan in mind where to ‘hop on’ and ‘hop off’ in order to see things in more detail ………………………

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The impressive arch at the entrance to the Chinese area of the city.      





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The two cathedrals are well worth a visit. 

The Roman Catholic Cathedral nicknamed “Paddy’s Wigwam”(!) is very modern and circular in design.  The top represents Christ’s crown of thorns.  I thought it was a stunning building and the stained glass windows inside were beautiful.  You definitely need to go inside to appreciate the full beauty of the design.

The Anglican Cathedral is the largest in Europe and the fifth largest in the world.  The architecture is definitely impressive and the altar area incredibly beautiful.

Other sights:- there are so many but:-

Lynn informed me that John Lennon had a highly decorated and famous Rolls-Royce  – I can’t ‘imagine’ (!!) that this is THE one but ……?

and a display of concrete cases of famous people who have a connection with the city just piled up on the corner of a street ……Time in Liverpool 081 (768x1024).

                    and the famous Philharmonic Dining Rooms – a spectacular pub – and a peep inside at the bar ……… 

John Lenon's rolls??           Time in Liverpool 092 (1024x768)         Mandy!

and ………….. Superlambananas!!  These ‘animalesque’ sculptures, decorated in all sorts of different ways, are dotted about all over the city.  They were commissioned in 2008 as part of the celebrations for Liverpool being crowned as European Capital of Culture.  This one, “Mandy” is now safely ensconced in the Museum of Liverpool.   Different tour guides seem to have diverse explanations for their very existence!

There are LOTS of museums and galleries containing fantastic displays.  I really enjoyed ‘Liverpool Doors’ in The Museum of Liverpool.   An assortment of 34 doors are displaying humorous poems written by Roger McGough (a Liverpool man and a member of ‘Scaffold’) and have been topically decorated by Liverpool Uni Art students.

The city also bulges with shops and restaurants and, coming here and not frequenting at least some of them would be tantamount to disrespect would it not?  Megan (who also came to visit with J & Maisie) and I couldn’t do that now could we?!!

The waterfront – all of it – is absolutely fantastic.  The buildings, the canal link area, all the statues and memorials, looking across the Mersey to Birkenhead, the riverside walk ……………………… just fantastic.

AND FINALLY ……… information I hope might be of some use to anyone coming/thinking of coming with a dog.  We were guided by other boaters to walk down to and past the Liverpool Open Eye where there’s an area of grass and a dog poo bin!  We think this is the only one in L1!  From there you can walk both ways with a dog along the Riverside walk.  One day we walked all the way following The Mersey upstream to Otterspool Park and caught the bus back.  On another occasion we got the bus to Sefton Park which is a lovely area for dogs and people alike.

Our visit?  I  Red heart  Liverpool!   I’m so pleased to have come.