Monday 14th to Sunday 20th June 2010
It’s a gorgeous day here, the sun is out and my inclination is to get out there and enjoy it rather than struggle with words for the Blog.
We’ve had a great cruise these past few weeks, and having been to Manchester I must say it exceeded all expectations. Moorings were plentiful, many shops were within 15 minutes walk and the museum is as close as it could be with enough to keep a guy busy for a whole day.

Today is Sunday, Father’s Day (Hello kids) and we’re not that far from Liverpool. Wednesday is our day for the official escort into the city’s old docks. Can’t wait.

Meanwhile, in brief, here’s a selection of things we’ve seen this week.

Nothing to do with the places we’ve been but we’re seeing more and more of these pesky things.

There are very few signs of yesteryear’s buildings on the way up to Manchester.
old offices

Fancy, modern buildings are popping up everywhere along the canal.
new offices

Manchester’s Castlefield moorings in the centre of the city are quiet and overlooked from a distance by the Hilton Hotel.

The Oyster Bar in town was about as far as I could manage in half an hour of pounding pavements. It was buzzing with people and we didn’t intrude. My reason for walking was to find a compact camera for THE best pictures. Does anyone know which one to buy?
oyster bar

The MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) is a must and completely free.
This cut-away view of a steam engine did it for me, I’ve never been able to get my head around all those pipes and internal compartments but this explained it perfectly.

And whoever stuck labels on the controls in the engine cab should get a medal. If they could only do the same inside a 747 then even I could fly.
engine controls

The Avro Shackleton AEW2 ‘WR960’ has to be the best exhibit but only because there weren’t any full sized merchant ships on display.

Built at Woodford, near Stockport, first flown in 1954 and dismantled at Cosford she was stitched back together inside the railway sheds at Manchester as their largest aircraft exhibit.
I ought not to broadcast this but I went inside, sat in all the seats and waggled the bits that made things move on the outside. I am very grateful to Geoff Overend and his companion for the privilege and a copy of his notes on Early Experiments in Radar.

It has to be said that Manchester is extremely clean. The lack of litter in town is reflected in the lack of weed and jetsam on the canal. Apart from the ‘Water Womble’ workboat tied up at the side (operated by Lorenz Canal Services) we saw no one picking up rubbish but it is obviously being done frequently and effectively. Full marks to Manchester; Ellesmere shame on you.

Heading west from Manchester the Barton Swing Bridge gave us a view of the ship canal below.
barton sw bridge

Don’t know who owns the Tudor building now ( V thinks the Duke lived here) but the dentist lives next door, behind the bricks. To the right of the picture is the hole in the hill where the Duke of Bridgewater (Francis Egerton) extracted coal in the 1700s and 1800s.

If you had just placed three skip-fulls of broken brick onto a boat and it listed so badly that it rested on the canal bed would you then load another one? If memory serves me well there’s a law here connecting the centres of gravity and buoyancy.
loading problems

When they were small and tired of walking our children used to say “Carry Mummy”.
carry mummy

Want to know why your licence is so expensive? Disposable work boats. This is ‘Cornwall’ and it lives on the canal bed not far from British Waterways’ office at Wigan, and yes, that is the menace Floating Pennywort growing around it.

If you asked me where the filthiest bit of canal was on our journey this week I’d have to say downstream of BW’s headquarters at Wigan. It rivals the Limekiln Lock to Belgrave Lock section of the GU through Leicester. When white and clear plastic containers turn black then you know they’ve been there a long, long time. We might have excused it had it not been right under the noses of the authorities.

At last, I’ve spotted my first new boat on a 519nnn number. This is Lily Rose outside the Slipway Pub, Burscough and she’s a widebeam like so many of the craft on this bit of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. We saw the earlier registration plate 519011 on ‘Book Ends’ at Castlefields but she’s a re-registered boat, fresh on BW waters from somewhere up the River Humber.

As its Father’s Day I’m including a hint to our kids for my present.
want one

The project this week was to fix a clock to the water pump. Several MSC sensors have failed over the last 3 years so we have gone for a simpler solution – time the water pump’s ‘on-time’ and draw a graph linking the clock’s elapsed time to the water level in the tank. Simple to make – wind a heavy duty wire coil around a reed relay and place the coil in the 12 volt circuit to the pump. Then wire the reed relay into the clock’s battery circuit. We bought the clock for 99p from a ‘pound shop’. Maplins sell reed relays for a few pence.

If anyone is thinking about cruising this neck of the woods we’d recommend it, the countryside is great now that they’ve replaced the coal tips with grass, the canals are clean, deep and wide, the boat traffic is light and T-Mobile’s 3G is generally very good.

Our cruising with Mike and Jo on Sarah-Kate has been a delight, their knowledge of these canals has removed all concern about where to moor, shop or access the services. On the social side we have been totally spoilt with cold evenings inside at the table and warm evenings outside around the BBQ. If you’re hoping to book them for next year then you’ll have to get in the queue.

Next week – Liverpool.