Saturday, 12 August 2017

Goodness – We Haven’t Blogged for Ages!!

It’s been over two months since we took over our apartment in Manchester and some of our first visitors were Lake District friends Pam and Geoff.

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After a bottle or two of bubbly at home (something which has, in a short time, become a bit of a tradition!) we took a walk across the city centre (stopping for some shopping and a pit stop) ………

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…….. to Albert’s Shed in Castlefield for a splendid late lunch. It’s always a hoot with Pam and Geoff and we look forward to seeing them again soon.

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After the initial few weeks of decorating and furnishing the Manchester ‘pad’ we travelled south for a couple of weeks in Selsey. During our absence the dear old Lifeboat station building had been removed – leaving us with a full panoramic view across the bay and the brand new lifeboat in it’s brand new, land based, lifeboat station.

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We soon managed to catch up with Kim and Alan (from just along the coast) who popped over to join us enjoying the sunshine. First we had bubbly on the beach (which was terribly crowded as usual) and then ………….

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………. a BBQ in the back garden. A splendid day we all had and thanks Alan and Kim for popping over to brighten an already very sunny day.

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Next it was off to Southsea and Portsmouth with a friend who’d “popped” down from Manchester to see us. As always, James has to get a photo of the Isle of Wight hovercraft!

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It’s always a treat to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere of Old Portsmouth ………

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…… here’s Sammy and Doug in front of one of the old battlements and the massive round tower which held the winch gear for the huge chain which was pulled across the entrance to the dockyards to protect it from enemy ships.

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A classy sight on Southsea Common – a wedding carriage with two magnificent horses.

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In Selsey, a few days later, we experienced a tremendous thunder storm with continuous lightening from 11:00 until 2:30 in the morning. The lightening was so intense that James was able to take numerous photos from the bedroom window ……..

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……. but he managed to time one of them to exactly coincide with one massive lightening flash. This is 1 o’clock in the morning!

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James decided to take Doug’s new ‘toy’ on a little outing to nearby Arundel on one gorgeously sunny evening ……..

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….. and, deviating slightly from the usual route out of the town, passed the awesomely handsome Roman Catholic Cathedral.

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We got back up to Manchester again just in time to meet up with with our very close friends Pete and Rose who had travelled up to see Pete’s niece Ferne. Here’s Doug, James, Pete, Fern and Rose enjoying lunch at Zizzi.

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We had a marvellous day out at Tatton Park with friend Cris where we enjoyed a Segway adventure. This looks very clever but these machines do all the balancing of course!

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Two very familiar narrow boats came into town a short while back. Del and Al on “Derwent6” and Sian and Mark on “Mochin Du”. We had a few catch-ups with them over the few days they were around. This first one, of course, was to celebrate our meeting up (at BarPop in Canal Street). Al, James, Del, Mark, Sian and Doug.

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We all took a day out to Blackpool for a visit to the Pleasure Beach (which was much better than we’d expected having not been for many years!) ……….

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….. this is a very skilful selfie by Doug on one of the Roller Coasters! Del and Al are in the carriage behind.

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(Doug, Al, Mark, Sian and Del). It wouldn’t be Blackpool for us if we didn’t visit Funny Girls Show Bar in the evening where Betty “Legs” Diamond leads all seven cabarets during the evening plus a stunning finale …….

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….. and DJ “Zoe” holds the evening together with her own brand of humour (and mickey-taking if you don’t watch out!)

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Back in Manchester again, after a great few days with Del, Al, Sian and Mark, James occasionally takes himself off around the city for a bit of (what he calls) culture. The John Rylands library is a regular haunt. This stunning mock Gothic architectural masterpiece is even better inside than out.

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Enriqueter Rylands had the building constructed in memory of her very wealthy Manchester textile merchant husband John.

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Started in 1889, a year after John’s death, it took ten years to finish at a cost of  £224,000.

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The architectural detail is magnificent wherever you look.

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The main Reading Room is like the nave of a cathedral. All the lights are designed to look like cotton flowers and ……..

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….. down both side of the Reading Room are eight exquisitely carved statues of the good and the great. There is always an exhibition taken from the millions of treasures which are housed in the building and it’s always worth a visit – even if it’s just to see the building itself (and the oldest working gents toilets in the country!)

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Leaving the John Rylands library you can glimpse a view of another of Manchester’s great buildings – the Town Hall and Clock Tower.

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Many other things interest James on his walkabouts – this gold Hummer was one! Look at the size of it next to the Mercedes!

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Looking up is much better than looking down. All sorts of treasures and information await the eye when you look around. Who knew that Charlotte Bronte started writing “Jane Eyre” in Manchester?

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On another walkabout (this time down Oxford Road) James visited the city’s Museum. Housed in a fabulous building, the fa├žade being a bit reminiscent of London’s Natural History Museum.

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Further down Oxford Road is the stupendous Catholic Church …….

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…… and, across the road and part of the University complex, is the wonderful Whitworth Building.

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A quick look inside the main hall just takes your breath away!

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As we started this blog with friends, we will end with them also. We had a visit from the lovely Bill and Eileen. Again the day started with bubbly at home followed by a delightful discovery of a Chinese restaurant in the city’s China Town district (obviously!). A laugh a minute was the order of the day and we look forward, as always, to seeing them again.

Life at both ends of the country is beginning to settle down and hopefully we’ll start to explore some of Northern England in addition to parts further afield. That reminds me – I need to pack that suit case!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Farewell “Chance” and THANK YOU!

The keys to “Chance” were handed over to the new owners a couple of days ago and we are to meet up with them shortly to familiarise them with all the various workings. We sincerely wish them the very same pleasure that we’ve had over the last six years on this very special boat.
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We love this photo of “Chance”, taken by Carol and George from their boat “Still Rockin’” on the River Thames in May this year - and we happen to be waving goodbye as well!
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We haven’t really left the canal environment as our recently purchased apartment in Manchester overlooks the first lock on the Ashton Canal. We can spy on the comings and goings below us and there was one boat recently that was familiar to us – nb “Ketura” with Chris and Christine on board.
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We’d bumped into them quite by chance the previous evening on the towpath of the Rochdale canal but their very early morning start up the Ashton flight of locks rather stymied our chances of grabbing our windlasses from the cupboard (yes we’ve kept a set!) and giving them a hand.
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Doug has acquired a uni-cycle (as you do!) and he had his first attempt to ride it just outside our apartment – in a quiet spot where some maintenance work was being carried out. The whole event was rather precarious and took place within yards of the canal! James stood by with the camera just in case there was a chance of winning £250 from “You’ve Been Framed”! 
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Our friend Cris was on hand to help Doug before it was his turn to try his luck. He should have adjusted the seat height from Doug’s position though!
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With the decorating and home-making all but finished we soon got down to one of our favourite pleasures - meeting up with friends. On this occasion cruise friends Margaret and Peter came to see us for the day and, after imbibing three bottles of Prosecco between us in our ‘pad’ (thank you M and P for bringing two of them!) we walked down to G-A-Y in Canal Street where, for £1.60 a drink, it was the perfect pit stop on our way to ………
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…….. Albert’s Shed in Castlefield for a rather late lunch. The company was even better than the superb food and a splendid time we all had. After lunch it was a walk back to the ‘pad’ for coffee and cake before Peter and Margaret took their leave and headed home. As always, every hour was filled with laughter and we look forward to seeing them again soon.
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Around most corners there’s something happening in Manchester and, here in Dale Street close to where we are, a new TV series called “Age Before Beauty” is being filmed.
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There are various props and period vehicles around the place and occasionally ……..
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…….. even some action! Here’s one of the stars – Robson Green, standing behind the truck.
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Stars of the human variety are missing from this set but the superb 1967 E-Type Jaguar makes up for it a bit.
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Manchester gets more than it’s fair share of rain but sometimes the sun shines and the city comes alive even more than usual. Here’s Doug looking rather suave and sophisticated on one of the first sunny weekends we had recently …….
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….. and it doesn’t take long before we meet up with a few friends like Cris and ……..
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….. Sammy who happened to be around when the camera was thought about!
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The gay village surrounding Canal Street buzzes with activity well into the evening on such sunny weekends.
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Canals and ‘boatie’ friends are never far from our thoughts and, in this case, not far from us full stop. We drove out to find this rather motley crew on their way to Liverpool! Here’s Mark and Sian (nb "Mochyn Du") and Del and Al (nb “Derwent6”) playing catch-up with us beside the Bridgewater Canal. Soooo good to meet up with these lovely people again!
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Yet another canal fix – this time very close to home. We’d tracked friends Chris and Tim in their boat “Elusive” coming down the Ashton flight of locks and met them at “our” lock at the bottom.
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It was a short distance to Piccadilly Village where they intended to moor up so Doug cadged a lift with Chris on “Elusive” while Tim and James walked beside.
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It was a tight turn into the little basin but Tim managed it very well.
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This last weekend turned out to be beautifully sunny again and perfect for Manchester’s annual celebration of the national transgender charity event – “Sparkle”. As usual, Canal Street was heaving with people enjoying each other’s company and promoting diversity in society.
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Here are three happy people who’s company we enjoyed out of the thousand or so who attended the weekend’s celebration. 
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And it was good to meet up with Chris and Tim (and their pretty little dog Peggy) again in the afternoon after we’d helped moor up their boat and enjoyed a cup of coffee with them afloat earlier. Great to meet up again guys.
Life has been rather hectic recently (what changes?!) but we seem to have settled into our “northern crash pad” rather well. We’re looking forward to spending time at both ends of the country, meeting up with friends, making new ones and exploring the north of the country in the future.