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Archive for November, 2015

Dog Blog: Charity Calendar 2016

Posted by indigodream on 29 November, 2015

Deer me Pals

Iz dun a calinder wif fings wot a greyhound wud neva say – Iz the star coz I gotz free photos; Archie Beanz is sulkin coz he only gots two – heee heee heee! If you duz buyin’ me calinder, lottsaย  sad houndies in rescoo kennels gets hextra treets and if they haz happi faces then they mite gets a foreva home….

If youz hinterested, gets in tuch wif me staff, sorri, Mummy Sue.

Fanks

xxxx Henry B Beanz

 

calendar flyer JPG

 

 

 

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Dog Blog: Henry Beanz Holidaze (10)….

Posted by indigodream on 15 November, 2015

Deer me pals…

Born to look gorgeous.....

Born to look gorgeous…..

“huff puff huff pant pant huff puff”……

“Is that your new song Henry Beanz?”

“No, mumi Sue, huff puff, we’ bin doin’ zoomies, cantz sing, huff puff, straight after zoomies, huff puff….”

“Aaw that’s a shame, how about an instrumental then, I like that bit of music about the olympic runners, you know, bam baaaaam, dee dee dee dee deeee di….”

Born to snooze and cruise - on sheepies...

Born to snooze and cruise – on sheepies…

“No, mumi Sue, a instrumental wud be a waste of ower vocal talents an’ besides, wot wud we do wif our our lead singer, Archie, he has to be at the frunt. Instrumental? You iz so funi mumi! We’z will do propa zoomie song, huff puff”

“But you can’t do a zoomie song, you’re not fit enough to zoom and sing”

“Rood! But mumi Sue, you is kwite rite, you can’t sing an’ do zoomies at the same time, wot is himportant it to know wot it iz to do zoomies in orda to sing a gud zoomie song. Iz sad, but you will neva sing a zoomie song coz you haz neva done zoomies…”

“Now who’s being rood, I mean, rude! But fair enough, Henry Beanz, when you’ve got your breath back we’ll hear you zoomie song”

“Spot on mumi, huff puff, I’z just off for snoozies…..”

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….

Born to rummage...

Born to rummage…

 

“wake up mumi Sue – ower new song is reddi….”

“Brilliant! Let’s hear it then…”

“O’ course, becoz we’z missin Ollie on bass an’ percushon, itz more of a rock solo wif a skeliton backin’….”

Coff Coff, Iz just clearin’ me froat….

“In the day we snoozes on ower sofas on da Indigo Dreem

At night, we snoozes on our sheepies down the pub

Born to do 'lympic lookin'

Born to do ‘lympic lookin’

We eets hot chikkin’ an’ sosijes an looks reel meen

At chihuahas and collies and a pug….

Ower bote iz cumfy an’ iz made of steel,

Iz well heavy an’ it goes so slo…

We’s luvin’ ower snoozes, sosijes, sofas an’ sheepies

But houndz like us,

mumi, we woz born to ruuuuuuun….

“Genius, Henry Beanz, you were born to run, quite literally, is that what you’d like to be doing now?”

Born to run - yay!

Born to run – yay!

“Don’t be silly mumi Sue, we’z also born to rummij, eat sosijes, snooze, do lookin’ off the bote, an, wotz that Herbie? Oh, an rip skweeky toys to shreds, ok. We’z talinted multi-taskers….”

“So you song really should be “We woz born to run and rummage, eat big dinners, cruise on a narrowboat, play with toys, and snooze on sheepies….”

“hmmm, it’s got potential, maybe you cuds have a teeny credit for lyrics on ower “dogs on tour” album…”

Photoblog:

Wot is picshures that we cud pawtograph for ower fans….

 

Archie Beanz....

Archie Beanz….

 

Youz own corrispondent...

Youz own corrispondent…

 

Owers luverly bottoms in a luverly landscape...

Owers luverly bottoms in a luverly landscape…

 

Is the new fab four, 'cept we'z free coz Ollie's in hospital...

Is the new fab four, ‘cept we’z free coz Ollie’s in hospital…

 

A nice pichewer of us an the bote but rood, we woz photobombed by tht lift fing!

A nice pichewer of us an the bote but rood, we woz photobombed by that lift fing!

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 35: Part 3

Posted by indigodream on 14 November, 2015

Rewind to Tuesday 6th September

Weston March Lock to Anderton

You can never tire of this view...

You can never tire of this view…

Even though we’d had the excitement of the Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, the Weaver didn’t disappoint. It’s a beautiful river and, at last, the hounds could get off for the necessary – though they weren’t in any distress.

Amazingly, despite our epic day, it was still only lunchtime when we pulled in at Sutton Weaver swingbridge for hot food and a cream tea. The dogs got off and were soon tethered to a mooring pin (the road was too close to let them off) – they didn’t seem to mind and were soon snoozing on their sheepies. They perked up when lunch was served – the boat’s deck chairs are at a very convenient height for snaffling food.

We were all quite reflective – the weather was warm and sunny – time to sit on the shore and mull over our wonderful morning. But we couldn’t stop yet – we we needed to move up to Anderton so that Doug and James could rejoin nb Chance; Ian and Cheryl would get a train back to nb Winedown in Liverpool. But first we had to bid a fond farewell to Stuart, who, as well as guiding us wisely, had entertained us with tales from his long life as a Mersey pilot.

We set off early afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed the passage upstream – all too soon we were at the Anderton Boat Lift. We scouted the moorings and found a perfect spot just beyond the boat lift moorings. The mooring was fenced and rural, with a long gap between us and the boats moored upstream. The bank was absolutely teeming with rabbits, so Archie and Henry could finally enjoy a bit of freedom (no rabbits were harmed in the making of this post!).

A perfect place for some unrestricted rummaging :-)

A perfect place for some unrestricted rummaging ๐Ÿ™‚

Now we had to say a fond farewell to the rest of the crew. It was a little sad, we were so glad that they had joined us and the vagaries of life on the cut mean that we may not meet again, in person, for years – c’est la vie.

It had been an epic day, and we were just preparing for a quiet evening in front of the TV when disaster struck. It started off innocuously enough with Richard coming in from a walk with the hounds to tell me that Ollie’s poo was black. This is very bad news as poo becomes black and tarry because of partly digested blood, indicating of a haemorrhage somewhere in the intestines. I kept Ollie under observation and got some phone advice from his regular vet in Surrey. If it was a minor bleed then it might settle, though when Lou had the same thing (more than once) she was always admitted to hospital for fluids and supportive therapy. But we weren’t so lucky, after drinking a major amount of water, Ollie was spectacularly sick, was in obvious abdominal pain and now had tarry diarrhoea, think old engine oil and a hosepipeย  – definitely signs of a major bleed. There was nothing for it, we’d have to get him to an emergency vet.

There is a veterinary hospital offering 24-hour emergency cover in Northwich, but it might as well have been on the moon – my car was sitting in a garage in Wigan and I had absolutely no means of getting it back until daylight. We arranged for Ollie to be admitted to the vets, but how were we to get him there? It was way too far away for him to walk, even without this most recent crisis. We scrambled to the top of the bank and found ourselves in the Anderton Visitor Centre car park, which was deserted and gated at night. We wended our way to the road and found an identifiable junction. The vets had suggested a few pet-friendly cab firms, but they were all supremely unhelpful – either they had never been pet-friendly or they would only carry small dogs. Even when we explained our desperate situation (not the bit about the dire rear!), none would contemplate helping us. In the end, the vet came out to collect us – he found a sad little tableau of me and Richard sitting on a bench under a single street lamp with Ollie flat out on his blanket in front of us. I went to hospital with Ollie and Richard went back to look after the Beanz.

I cannot speak highly enough of Alan Redpath, the vet at Willows Veterinary Hospital – not only a capable vet, he was kind and possessed of a rare courtesy – I felt reassured that Ollie was in good hands. As expected, Ollie needed to be admitted for treatment, though Alan was grave about his propects. I was going to get a taxi back to Anderton, but Alan insisted on driving me back, and on waiting until Richard came to meet me.

With no sense of the tension or occasion, Archie and Henry had a whale of a time running round the deserted and rabbit-infested woods. Herbie was kept on lead until we were within sight of the boat – it’s the only place where he can be reliably let off lead as experience has taught us that he will just run back to his sofa!

It was a morose and exhausting end to what had been a red letter cruising day – what a shame ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 35: Part 2

Posted by indigodream on 12 November, 2015

Rewind to Tuesday 6th September

Manchester Ship Canal: Eastham Lock – to the River Weaver

Waiting above Eastham Lock - there was plenty to look at, once the fog cleared!

Waiting above Eastham Lock – there was plenty to look at, once the fog cleared!

I finished the last post with Indigo Dream lounging above Eastham Lock waiting for clearance to travel up the Manchester Ship Canal. Control were very reluctant to let us go, even though we had booked our passage, passed the survey, had a pilot on board, cruised the ship canal before and paid the fees!!!

With an enforced stop of an hour or more, what were we to do? It was a bit early to open the beers so it must be bacon sarnie time (veggie option also available!). But once that was done we started to fret – passage from Liverpool to Weston Marsh relies on a series of carefully timed arrangements. The delay at Eastham put us at risk of being late for CRT, who operate Weston Marsh Lock on 48 hours notice – we really needed to move.

We started to harass MSC control, who eventually agreed to let us move once the fog lifted a bit and super-yacht Lady Sandals had come off the Mersey – she’d be allowed onto the MSC before us. We rang CRT to re-arrange our locking time at Weston Marsh – luckily they were very obliging.

By the time Lady Sandals had locked onto the MSC, the fog had disappeared and the sky was a brilliant blue.

Lady Sandals is a sleek vessel...

Lady Sandals is a sleek vessel…

We set off in good spirits. Lady Sandals had tentatively asked whether there was a speed limit on the MSC – I don’t recall control’s answer, but Lady Sandals set off gently till she got out of sight of the lock and then blipped her throttles. Indigo Dream tried her very best to keep up, but the super-yacht was soon a dot in the distance ๐Ÿ™‚

The trip from Eastham to Ellesmere Port was new to us, and, in perfect conditions, it was a revelation. The canal feels very much like a river here, very much like the River Severn in fact, wide and lush. Once I knew that everyone had sufficient sustenance I did a rare thing – I sat on the front deck and watched the world go by. I’m normally on the helm, but we had crew to spare – what a luxury!

We soon reached Ellesmere Port, where we spotted some photographers on shore. They got in touch later with a link to an album of photos that they’d taken – thanks guys. The link to their photos is here.

I stayed on the front, where I was joined by Doug then Archie – a girl couldn’t ask for better company ๐Ÿ™‚

How about a short stay mooring pontoon on the central reservation on the left? A place for the hounds t have a wee break and for visitors to take photos of the Mersey and appreciate the relationship between these two great waterways...

How about a short stay mooring pontoon on the central reservation on the left? A place for the hounds to have a wee break and for visitors to take photos of the Mersey and appreciate the relationship between these two great waterways…

As we cruised the tranquil canal under a crystal blue sky, I kept having flashbacks to our turbulent passage back in 2009, when the squalls were gusting to force four/five (absolutely fine in between) and I was on the helm so that I could use Richard and old friend Ken as movable ballast to maintain our trim in the wind. Back then, Weston lock wasn’t ready for us and we have vivid memories of desperately tying to bolts on the moth-eaten timbers outside the lock and watching waves wash the side of the boat up to window level.

But today couldn’t have been more different – the canal has a fascinating charm with a strange mix of huge industry, flocking birds and grazing sheep on the thin strip of land that separates the canal from the mighty Mersey.

As we turned at Weston Point, the lock was open and ready for us and our passage was smooth. In addition to the extra-long mooring ropes that you need for these locks, we’d added rubber rings to weigh the end of the ropes and make them easier to throw. This worked well, though in hindsight we could have anticipated that using rubber dog chew toys would results in Herbie having a good munch before they ever got near the ropes!

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect passage of the MSC and our only regret was that we couldn’t carry on right up to Manchester. The main barrier to our cruise was the fact that there is absolutely no stopping on the MSC and if they are serious about wanting to attract more leisure boats onto the canal then this is something that they need to remedy. We only needed a 30 minute lay-by somewhere for the dogs to have a break, but that simply wasn’t possible. Of course, the River Weaver is one of our favourite waterways, so it wasn’t such a hardship to turn off the MSC….

Photoblog:

We took a lot of photos – the light was just perfect and the MSC is full of interest. I’ve put my favourites here but the full album is available on this link.

Bye then! That's one race we can't win :-)

Bye then! That’s one race we can’t win ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Our gallant crew - they deserve a big thanks for keeping us companye despite the early start and the unseen perils of the fog-bound river :-)

Our gallant crew – they deserve a big thanks for keeping us company despite the early start and the unseen perils of the fog-bound river ๐Ÿ™‚

 

The unexpected face of the ship canal...

The unexpected face of the ship canal…

 

But you're never far from reminders of the MSC's industrial purpose..

But you’re never far from reminders of the MSC’s industrial purpose..

 

The entrance to Ellesmere Port - but we're moving on today...

The entrance to Ellesmere Port – but we’re moving on today…

 

Transformer! Richard does a lot of work on housings for these beasts...

Transformer! Richard does a lot of work on buildings and bases for these beasts. Is that one of Rawcliffe’s trailers behind?

 

I love a bit of living industery - when I was n school I was a proper geek and really enjyed the factory/refinery tours organised by the "young sceientists club" - I wonder if there's an equivalent for adults??

I love a bit of living industry – when I was in school I was a proper geek and really enjoyed the factory/refinery tours organised by the “young scientists club” – I wonder if there’s an equivalent for adults??

 

Fascinating when moored up, more terrifying if they'd been bearing down on us in the channel :-)

Fascinating when moored up, more terrifying if they’d been bearing down on us in the channel ๐Ÿ™‚

 

We met "Buffalo" on our last trip on the MSC :-)

We met “Buffalo” on our last trip on the MSC ๐Ÿ™‚

 

You can't beat a happy helm :-)

You can’t beat a happy helm ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Lock gates - wonder where they're bound...

Lock gates – wonder where they’re bound…

 

Flocking birds - the ship canal has something to suit everyone

Flocking birds – the ship canal has something to suit everyone

 

There's work to be done before narrowboats can fuel up here!

There’s work to be done before narrowboats can fuel up here!

 

The huge factory and sudden widening that marks the junction between the MSC and the Weaver

The huge factory and sudden widening that marks the junction between the MSC and the Weaver

 

The MSC guidance makes a point of warning small craft to avoid the giant sluices on the left, but we're turning off way before we get there...

The MSC guidance makes a point of warning small craft to avoid the giant sluices on the left, but we’re turning off way before we get there…

Weston Marsh Lock - all ready for us...

Weston Marsh Lock – all ready for us…

So we didn't need to tie up here...

So we didn’t need to tie up here… PS This is the “good” side.

 

 

 

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Dog Blog: Henry Beanz Holidaze (9)

Posted by indigodream on 10 November, 2015

Deer me Pals
Tyne? Mersey? s'all the same in fis...

Tyne? Mersey? s’all the same in fis…

We likes to leeve citees on a high, so we’z actooally left Liverpool before all the gurls cud kiss us – we wills be back gurls – tarraa for now…

“deeee di di di di di di hmm hmm grrr……”
“What’s that Henry Beanz”?
“Iz out new song, mummy Sue”
“Really, can I hear it?”
“Iz a cuver version, coz we finks the ‘riginal is kwite gud….”
All teh deck's a stage - Archie Beanz showin' off agen...

All the deck’s a stage – Archie Beanz showin’ off agen…

coff coff, Iz just cleerin’ me froat….

“The fog on the Tyne is all mine, all mine……”
“Ahem,ย  Henry Beanz….”
“Wot?”
“Your new song is lovely, of course, and you’re right, it IS very foggy and there is no-one else on the river so I guess it’s all ours, or yours, but we’re on the River Mersey….”
“Are you sayin’ me lyrics is rong, Mummy Sue”
“Not wrong as such, just geographically misplaced”
“Reely, Mummy Sue? So tells me, how duz you kno we’z on the Mersey?”
“What? We’ve just left Liverpool, which is on the Mersey, and we have a Mersey pilot on board – QED”
Bein' in a badn is zorstin - youz gotta use your down-time for snoozin....

Bein’ in a band is zorstin – youz gotta use your down-time for snoozin. beside, we’z wearin’ stoopid orinj coats, but we looks best in black!

“Phooey, circumstantial hevidence, we is croozin in pee soup, you duzn’t kno, like for reel, duz you? Anyhoo, iz abowt artistic veracitee not geographical, so there”

“ok, ok, the fog on the Tyne it is, but it’s not a song by THE fab four…”
“oh Mumi Sue, you is so funi, the fab four is so “yesterday”, geddit!”
“Sigh, you win, what about about the rest of the song?”
“Sittin’ in a swanky caf, wif sosijes an coffee, we’z cumfy on our sheepies, on ower sheepies lyin’ down, think we’ll have a snooze”
“Perfect Henry Beanz, that’s definitely your life in Liverpool, not Newcastle”
“Stop interruptin’ mummy Sue, there’s more…”
“We can swing together, we can have a wee wee, we can have a wet on the wall…”
“Steady on Henry Beanz, you can’t sing about wee-ing, it’s not nice, even though you and the band are experts…”
“Ha ha, gotcha! Them words woz sung by ‘riginal band,ย  they woz talking about hoomans weeing, they iz our heroes…”
Plus also we had to get up at 5ay em, wot is the middel of the night - disrgrayce!

Plus also we had to get up at 5ay em, wot is the middel of the night – disrgrayce!

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 35: Part 1

Posted by indigodream on 10 November, 2015

Rewind to Tuesday 6th September

Approaching Brunswick Lock...

Approaching Brunswick Lock…

Liverpool to the Manchester Ship Canal

Note: We’ve already photoblogged our passage across the Mersey!

We had a huge day’s cruising covering three very distinctive waterways, so I’ve split the blog into three parts. We will blog about the technical aspects of booking the Liverpool Link, Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal at the end of the Odyssey posts.

The day started for us at 5am – everyone was congregating for coffee and a briefing at 6am, but we needed to be up a bit earlier to do the last minute preparations for the trip, contact the Coastguard (we had filled in a CG66 a few days earlier) and walk the hounds. The latter was essential as there would be no wee breaks for the hounds until we reached the River Weaver. The hounds, especially Ollie, were deeply unimpressed by the early start. The Coastguard, on the other hand, was amazingly cheerful!

Having enjoyed three very fine days in Liverpool, we were shocked to see that the docks were shrouded in thick fog. It was a shame, as conditions were otherwise perfect – we’d planned to traverse the river on a neap tide, when the high tide level was expected to be 3 METRES below its maximum; there wasn’t a breath of wind and the river was flat calm.

Waiting in Brunswick Lock...

Waiting in Brunswick Lock…

The crew was assembled and suitably coffee’d and pastried by 6am. It was strange to have a pilot on board – we would normally do the crew safety briefing ourselves, but Stuart Wood was very much in charge, though Richard took the helm for a large part of our passage along the mighty Mersey.

We weren’t sure we’d be allowed on the tideway in such poor visibility, but I think that we all expected the fog to lift as the sun rose. We therefore set off just after 6am with great anticipation. We enjoyed our cruise through the dock system and the busy Brunswick Marina before entering Brunswick Lock. Thankfully Stuart knew where it was, there was no way would we have found it in the fog as you have to wend your way to the far right of the dock!

Top tip: when entering Brunswick Lock, aim for the floating pontoon on the left hand side when going out, not the right hand one as it is way off line.

The control for the river transit is Mersey Radio, not to be confused with the “Mersey Radio” that broadcasts classics like “Bob’s love songs”. Our transit onto the Mersey was booked for 6.15am, though they seemed quite relaxed other than a little bit of a moan over the radio from the lock keeper! They were less bothered about our booked time as much as our timing in relation to the passage a giant fuel ship called “Maingas” . At this point, the benefits of having an experienced pilot really showed – control instantly recognised Stuart on the radio, knew we were in safe hands and just kept us informed.

We had a little wait in the lock, which gave Richard time to muse on the lock gates as a metaphor for Liverpool’s fall and rise – in the 1960, when the docks were closed, the Brunswick gates were left open and the docks filled with silt and sewage right up to Albert Dock. There was a real danger that the dock buildings would be demolished and replace with a car park. But instead, new lock gates were installed and the accumulation of crap (literally!) could be dug out, allowing Albert Dock to be developed into the vibrant waterfront we now know and love. The lock is now busy with traffic to/from the estuary and Liverpool is buzzing – a lesson for politicians – keep your lock gates intact!

The wait also gave us time to look around and compare it with some of the other big locks that we’ve visted – particularly Limehouse…

Brunswick versus Limehouse: Brunswick Lock has sector gates similar to those at Limehouse (possibly narrower i.e. 7m versus 9m); we think that the Brunswick gates were built before Limehouse. If you don’t know what sector gates are then there is a nice animated graphic here and a write up of their repair here. As at Limehouse, the Brunswick gates were built inside a wider dock entrance, but unlike Limehouse, the lock chamber itself is the original width – around 80′ – the gate is not central to the chamber, this explains the offset of the right hand pontoon. The draw and turbulence when sector gates open is considerable – it’s arguable whether Brunswick is more turbulent than Limehouse (which has its moments!) but we were glad that we’d taken Stuart’s advice to moor well back on the pontoon (around 3 metres from the front) as there were many strange eddies as the water settled.

We felt a thrill the lock gates opened and we got our first sight of….well, nothing very much. Contrary to our hopes, the fog was as dense as ever and that’s all we could see! Our pilot estimated that the visibility was around 50 metres – it felt a lot less as we entered the wide water of the estuary and started our crossing. Our first move was to get straight across the river before turning upstream towards the Manchester Ship Canal.

Our first view of the Mersey - at least it was flat calm...

Our first view of the Mersey – at least it was flat calm…

Richard took the helm and, at first, it was difficult to heed the pilot’s instructions of “steer across the river in a straight line” as there were no landmarks – just the fog. The pilot gave the useful tip to “watch your wake”, as long as the wake was straight we were on course. Indigo Dream’s engine enjoys a good burn, so there was a plentiful wake to guide us. We missed a trick here, Richard’s tablet has marine charts and can be set to display which way you are heading; it’s not perfectly accurate but far more precise than trying to follow a wisp of mist or trying to judge if the wake is straight as it vanishes into theย  murk. . .

I was a bit nervous about the lack of visibility, we were very tiny indeed on this tideway, even though we’re equipped with the requisite navigation lights. However, there was no big traffic on the river – I hadn’t realised that huge tankers like Maingas are not allowed to move unless they have around half a mile of visibility. Stuart’s view was simple, it was a great time to cross as there would be no-one else out there!

There was not a breath of wind, and the fog formed a chilly blanket – the hounds wanted none of it. Archie was persuaded to pose briefly, but even he was soon tucked up inside with the central heating. I joined them – the deck was quite full and I got as good a view of the fog from the warmth inside as from the deck outside! Every now and then we had a bit of excitement as the ghost of the shore came into view, and one interesting discussion about the urgency of moving to port as a sailing ship moored on a buoy suddenly emerged from the murk.

Concentration :-)

Concentration ๐Ÿ™‚

With nothing big on the move and absolutely flat calm waters, we had an uneventful trip – the only thing that was missing was the view of the grand estuary that we had just traversed. Such a shame, as Richard had exactly the same experience when he travelled down the mighty Severn back in 2008!

We were soon outside Eastham Lock; Stuart recognised the navigation buoys so he knew exactly where we were (which is more than we did!); he’d also been talking to Eastham Port Control to ensure that they would let us into the lock while tanker Maingas deliberated on whether they would join us. A pilot was essential for this trip – not only for his knowledge of how navigate a fog-bound estuary but also for his status in negotiations with the various controls – being the ex-Chief Pilot, Stuart had considerable influence in getting us on and off the river/ship canal.

There are two locks at Eastham – we came in via the 80′ wide and 600′ long chamber, we think that is the biggest lock in the country! The lock is so big that we could not see the far lock gate through the fog. There are many reasons why you have to carefully inch a narrowboat into a lock – at Salterhebble it was because the lock chamber was shorter than the boat; at Eastham, in the fog, it was because it was so long we couldn’t see the far end!

We had a bit of a wait, as there was still some discussion about whether Maingas would join us. But the fog didn’t clear and we locked up by ourselves in very grand fashion – needless to say, it takes a long time – the lock takes a lot of water!

Once the top gates had opened, we expected to be on our way – it was still very foggy, but we’d just crossed the Mersey, so the Manchester Ship Canal held few terrors by comparison. But Ship Canal control wouldn’t let us proceed – they thought they had a ship coming down the canal, but it was 10 miles away, and had, in fact moored up! We had to wait an hour or more, moored on the high wall just outside Eastham Lock. We could have hoisted the hounds onto the shore for the necessary but they seemed quite relaxed. Although it felt as if we’d just completed a days cruise, the passage from Liverpool to Eastham is less than 10 miles and we’d only been on the water for a couple of hours!

Photoblog:

Ghosts in the mist...

Ghosts in the mist…

 

The river was eerily empty - we were the only boat on the move in the murk..

The river was eerily empty – we were the only boat on the move in the murk..

 

Turn to port skipper, now, to port, NOW....

Turn to port skipper, now, to port, NOW….

 

Stuart at the helm...

Stuart at the helm…

 

Cormorants...

Cormorants…

 

I'm sure Eastham Lock is around here somewhere...

I’m sure Eastham Lock is around here somewhere…

 

Ok, we found the entrance to Eastham Lock, now where are the top gates??

Ok, we found the entrance to Eastham Lock, now where are the top gates??

 

Paddles open - we're on our way to the second waterway of the day...

Paddles open – we’re on our way to the second waterway of the day or the third, if you count our transit of the docks…..

 

 

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Days 32, 33 and 34

Posted by indigodream on 8 November, 2015

Rewind to September – Saturday 5th to Monday 7th

Enjoying Liverpool…

Albert Dock by night - what a lovely spot...

Albert Dock by night – what a lovely spot…

The tide times meant that we had three days to enjoy Liverpool – it’s very rare for us to moor up for that long and we really enjoyed it. Salthouse Docks is a wonderful place to just sit and watch the sun on the water – you can sense the busyness of the city all around, but the Docks are very peaceful – so unlike their heyday when Liverpool was one of the biggest ports in the world. More narrowboats moved in over the weekend and we had a sociable time just passing the time of day with our neighbours. The hundreds of jellyfish were a fascination, and it wasn’t unusual to see me, and other boaters, kneeling on the pontoons, watching their beautiful drifting.

We got into the habit ofย  going out for brunch every day at Cafe Rouge – the hounds had a magnificent welcome there and one waitress was completely besotted. The weather was fine enough to sit outside and we got used to the susuration as people expressed their amazement and admiration of the new fab four enjoying Liverpool One’s cafe culture.

City life is very stimulating for the hounds, soย  in the afternoons, they were happy to stay on board for a nap while we explored a few museums and had a wander around Liverpool’s vibrant city centre. As well as a full range of shops and restaurants, the city was alive with music – from classical pianists to charity karaoke. We admired the city’s drive and thoroughly enjoyed our time here.

The Docks by night - quite magical...

The Docks by night – quite magical…

Our pilot called in again with his lady, Sue, who hadn’t been inside a narrowboat before. We gave her the tour and she was suitably appreciative; we sat on deck with our coffees and Archie schmoozed all and sundry. On the Monday we had a delightful gathering as Doug and James, old friends from nb Chance, came up to Liverpool; we joined their friends Ian and Cheryl on nb WineDown, whom we’d met on the way to Liverpool. We had a merry gathering on nb WineDown’s deck and a plan was hatched. We’d been a little sad that we wouldn’t have any company for our crossing of the Mersey on Tuesday – then Doug and James became available (hence their trip to Liverpool), then Ian and Cheryl said they’d like to come too which was great (Doug invited them and then asked us!) – despite the brutally early start on Tuesday morning! With our crew set for Tuesday, we spent Monday afternoon and evening getting the boat ready for the Mersey crossing.

The only blip in an otherwise perfect weekend was the news that the Ford garage in Wigan had not fixed my car, in fact, they hadn’t even looked at it. They said they might get a chance to look at it later on today, so I left it with them rather than spending my last day in Liverpool doing a car shuffle. This proved to be a huge mistake, but I wasn’t to know what lay ahead…

 

 

 

 

 

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Dog Blog: Henry Beanz Holidaze (8)

Posted by indigodream on 3 November, 2015

Yay, wez the new fab four, iz you reddi Liverpool?

Yay, wez the new fab four, iz you reddi Liverpool?

Deer me Pals

Mummy Sue woz doin’ singin’….

“All you need is love, lah lah lah lah laaah…”

“Ahem” I sed “Mummy Sue?”

“Oh, don’t you like my singing Henry Beanz?”

“well, it duz hurt me eers, specially on the top notes, but THAT iz not the problem…”

“oh?”

“no mummy Sue, you iz singing’ the rong words coz luv is oviusly NOT all you needs….”

Archie, I'm trying to get a photo of the famous Liver Building...D'h mummy Sue, Iz way more famus than sum old buildin'...

Archie, I’m trying to get a photo of the famous Liver Building…D’h mummy Sue, Iz way more famus than sum old buildin’…

“But that’s how the song goes, the fab four sang it and we’re in Liverpool…”

“oh phooey, we’z the new fab four, Archie McCartney, Henry Lennon, Ollie Harrison an’ Herbie Starr – coz Herbie’s bonkers….”

“Ok, so what are the right words then….”

Coff Coff, Iz jus’ clearin me froat….

“All you needz is luv an’ sosijes…..”

“an cuddles….” sang Archie…..

“skweek skweek skweek” sang Ollie

“an’ quacky ducks with stuffin’ you can rips out, grrrrr…” sang Herbie

“woof woof woof woof woof…..”

That's better Henry Beanz, now I can get the famous building and your famous head!

That’s better Henry Beanz, now I can get the famous building and your famous head!

“all you needz is luv and pig’s eers….”

“…an the adoration of the masses….” sang Archie

“skweek skweek skweek” sang Ollie

“an’ a cumfy sofa….” sang Herbie

“All you needz is luv an’ big dinnas…”

“an’ beddy cuddles…..” sang Archie

“skweek skweek skweek” sang Ollie

“an’ a cumfy bed wif a radiator….” sang Herbie

We'z our favrit cafe in Liverpool 1 - they woz eva so pleezed to see us - we had lots of kisses and girls goin' "ooooooh youre so lovely"...

We’z our favrit cafe in Liverpool 1 – they woz eva so pleezed to see us – we had lots of kisses and girls goin’ “ooooooh you’re so lovely”…

“woof woof woof woof wooof……”

“all you needz is…..”

“Stop, STOP”

“Wotz that mummy Sue, duzn’t you like our song?”

“uh, I’m sure it’s lovely but don’t you think your band is in danger of splitting up over your “artistic differences”, I mean you can’t even decide on what you all need….”

“Oh Mummy Sue you iz so funi, we duzn’t have “artistic diffrences” we just has diverse needs, wot iz right up to the minit. But don’t wurri mummy, wez will still share the muni we makes from our big hit – you can’t help bein’ the wun wot stopped singin’ before we woz famus…”

Is hard work bein' the front hounds of da band, but we is the most hansum...

Is hard work bein’ the front hounds of da band, but we is the most hansum…

 

Anuva day, anuva gig, bein' on tour iz qwite tirin'...

Anuva day, anuva gig, bein’ on tour iz qwite tirin’…

 

But we duz it for our fans...

But we duz it for our fans…

 

See, the laydeez luvs us....

See, the laydeez luvs us….

 

We luvs the nite life...

We luvs the nite life…

 

 

 

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015: Day 31

Posted by indigodream on 2 November, 2015

Rewind to Friday 4th September

Aintree (Hancock’s Swingbridge) to Salthouse Dock, Liverpool

And we're off - through Hancock's swingbridge and on our way to Liverpool...

And we’re off – through Hancock’s swingbridge and on our way to Liverpool…

It was a fine morning and we were up early to walk the hounds and get ready for the arrival of the CRT team at 9am. They arrived around 9.15am and we made them coffees “to go”. The CRT had sent two genial young men to swing the bridge – I think you need a sunny disposition when you’re about to stop the traffic on a busy road – at least it wouldn’t take long for just two boats to get through!

There is a lengthy stretch of suburban canal before the next swingbridge, which was also attended by CRT. We enjoyed the cruise, not least because it goes past the race course at Aintree, site of the Grand National – whether you love or hate the race, it’s an iconic site.

I should note that CRT only swing the road bridges, there is one footbridge which boaters do themselves. However, ifย  you’ve crossed the Leeds and Liverpool canal to get here, you’ve had plenty of experience of swinging bridges ๐Ÿ™‚

We said goodbye to our cheerful CRT helpers at Netherton swingbridge, there would be a different crew at

Rummaging at Stanley Locks...

Rummaging at Stanley Locks…

Stanley Locks.ย  We had plenty of time to spare before our booked passage time, so we stopped at the Litherland service point and visitor moorings to get rid of rubbish, fill with water and give the hounds a bimble. There is a mega-Tesco next to the moorings so this is a very useful place to take on supplies if you need them. There were two boats on the visitor mooring with space for more; it’s a useful secure mooring for those not wanting to do the passage into Liverpool in one day.

Once we were ready, we headed off to the Stanley Locks – I was excited – I’ve been here before, I couldn’t wait to see it again and was anticipating Richard’s reaction as a first-timer.

We joined another boat at Stanley locks, nb Ascot, who had spent a quiet night on the Litherland visitor moorings. Our overnight companion had vanished – I suspect that their quick run into Tesco’s at Litherland too longer than anticipated. Although we were an hour early for our booked passage down the locks, the locking crew allowed us to join nb Ascot instead. I was pleased not to be delayed because I was so excited about cruising the Liverpool Link again. The Beanz took it in their stride, they’ve wee’d here before and were soon begging to come back on board ๐Ÿ™‚

This is where the trip gets really interesting...

This is where the trip gets really interesting…

The trip didn’t disappoint, if anything, it was even more thrilling the second time around as our passage down to sea level (well almost!) had been preceded by the heights of the Rochdale summit – marvellous!

I’ll let the photos tell the story of the link, but as we came into Liverpool, the waterfront was alive with the story of the sunken pirate ship in Albert Dock. Apparently it started to take on water overnight and sank in the early hours of the morning before the owner could save her. Luckily no-one was hurt, though there may be some disappointed visitors who had expected to visit the ship during “pirate weekend”.

There were quite a few narrowboats moored in Salthouse Docks – we felt we belonged there – though the docks are not quite as frantic now that the ill-fated duck tours aren’t whizzing up and down the slipway. But I barely noticed the boats because as we moored I spotted that the water was chock of jellyfish! Watching jellyfish became part of the dock’s entertainment – I’ve never seen so many of quite so close. I found out that they were “moon jellyfish” – there’s an interesting article about them here, and a little knowledge increased my fascination.

The Liver Building - now we know we're in Liverpool :-)

The Liver Building – now we know we’re in Liverpool ๐Ÿ™‚

The hounds were not interested in the jellyfish, but they were interested in the news that the boat moored two pontoons up had two cats which they apparently walked on lead every evening! We hadn’t intended to let the hounds off lead anyway, but having three hounds (Ollie’s not bothered) in a frenzy on a narrow pontoon surrounded by deep, jellyfish infested water was an adventure too far. We went to see the boat with the cats and found out when/where they walked them – luckily they only left the boat rarely and only on the finger pontoon, which was out of sight of Indigo Dream. Having established that, we didn’t have any cat encounters – phew.

We settled down to enjoy a few days in the city – our unusual lay-over was enforced by the tide, but it was good to relax for a bit and Salthouse Dock is a superb spot for just watching the world go by. It was a sociable mooring – we chatted to other boaters, waved to passers-by on the dock wall above us and, later on, we had some visitors – a lady from Richard’s business insurers and our Mersey pilot and his lady. We also had time to have a bimble around with the hounds – our first view of the mighty Mersey was of a river moody and troubled as wind and tide whipped up an ugly swell. There are few green spaces in the city for hounds, but there is a little green on the river side of the Maritime Museum; another around the back of the museum. But the best green of all is across the main road and leads up the hill to Liverpool One, which became our favourite place for breakfast/brunch/lunch with the hounds. We topped up with supplies at the local Tesco superstore – there are benefits to mooring in the big city ๐Ÿ™‚

Albert Dock - completee with sunken ship to the right...

Albert Dock – complete with sunken ship to the right…

But I’m ahead of myself – our pilot had recommended the Salthouse Tapas bar for our evening meal – it was an interesting place but the way the food was served was a little unusual, with dishes coming out in random order – a delay in the serving of the last dish meant that we’d finished all the other dishes long before it arrived.

It had been a long but extremely satisfying day’s cruising and we were all tired after the excitement of the Liverpool Link – even the hounds were quiet and we were soon settled into our respective beds.

The mooring pontoons at Salthouse are gated but not locked, yet we found that random passers-by did not come down to the pontoons, which made the moorings feel quiet and secure – reminiscent of the floating harbour in Bristol.

 

 

Photoblog:

The Liverpool Link and the Docks are very photogenic waterways. I’ve put some favourites on the blog (more to come in Henry’s Postcards!) but I’ve put the rest in a Facebook album – the link should work!

 

The approach to Liverpool is surprisingly rural...

The approach to Liverpool is surprisingly rural…

 

It seems rural, but the glimpses of the dockyard cranes reminded us that we were about to enter an iconic port city...

It seems rural, but the glimpses of the dockyard cranes reminded us that we were about to enter an iconic port city…

 

Useful moorings at Litherland - right next to the service pint and handy Tesco megastore...

Useful moorings at Litherland – right next to the service point and handy Tesco megastore…

 

This made me sad and cross - a very effetive arson attack on a beehive - why???

This made me sad and cross – a very effective arson attack on a beehive – why???

 

This mural of tools had the name of tool etched in welsh above each one - I wonder why?

This mural of tools had the name of tool etched in Welsh above each one – I wonder why?

 

The blue sign reads "canal bus stop" - I think you'd be waiting a long time!

The blue sign reads “canal bus stop” – I think you’d be waiting a long time!

 

Signs of industry - a huge trans-shipment warehouse.

Signs of industry – a huge trans-shipment warehouse.

 

Attractive staircase - shame about the heap of bin bags at the bottom...

Attractive staircase – shame about the heap of bin bags at the bottom…

 

Boundary Bridge - built in 1861 and now a Grade 2 listed structure.

Boundary Bridge – built in 1861 and now a Grade 2 listed structure.

 

Leigh Bridge - erected by the Health Committee in 1861 - another grade 2 listed structure...

Leigh Bridge – erected by the Health Committee in 1861 – also a grade 2 listed structure…

 

Looking back up the Stanley Locks..

Looking back up the Stanley Locks..

 

The vast and derelict tobacco warehouse - it's an awesome sight :-)

The vast and derelict tobacco warehouse – it’s an awesome sight ๐Ÿ™‚

 

The Tobaccoe Warehouse dominates the old docks here...

The Tobacco Warehouse really dominates the old docks here… roll on the refurb!

 

Impressive lifting mechanism n this bridge- but just look the the diminutive arch to nowhere on the left - interesting juxtaposition...

Impressive lifting mechanism on this bridge- but just look at the diminutive arch to nowhere on the left – interesting juxtaposition…

 

There are some great landmarks..

There are some great landmarks..

 

We decide to fly our flags into Liverpool....

We decide to fly our flags into Liverpool….

 

But we soon took the flags down as we went through the LiverpoolLink tunnels - the headroom is a bit tight!

But we soon took the flags down as we went through the Liverpool Link tunnels – the headroom is a bit tight!

 

Traditional Style....

Traditional Style….

 

Modern style...

Modern style…

 

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