Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Its James’s birthday today so we are staying put here in Manchester for another couple of days and plan to go out for a meal later.  We have managed to get most of his birthday cards up here from home!
James received this morning a beautiful bouquet of flowers and chocolates from daughter Vicki, Tom and grandpuppy Ernie.
Yesterday we spent a quiet day -  using the YHA here in Castlefield to get the washing, drying and ironing done.  A very useful amenity considering there is only a water point in the canal basin.  The Bridgewater Canal, in general, is not good for boating facilities.
A few of the views of the Castlefield basin and moorings:-
The Beetham Tower dominates the city over the Rochdale Canal.  This is the first lock in the Rochdale flight.
The Castlefield area around by the YHA.  This area is where the Bridgewater canal finishes and was the ‘port’ of Manchester in the early days of the industrial revolution.  The old wharf buildings and massive cast iron structures around here are very impressive.
Our mooring in the Castlefield basin -  not so busy here now.
Some of  the wonderful flower displays all around the city. The picture doesn’t do it justice - they are all of the same colour scheme (a limited palate as they say in artistic circles) and they look fantastic everywhere.  These are outside the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) at Castlefield and well worth a visit.
Last night we ate at the The Lost Dean half way along Deansgate. We just had to recommend it as the staff couldn’t be more helpful, and the food was incredible for the price, We paid £4.95 for a bottle of excellent red wine,  2 main courses for £6.95 (for both not each!) and 2 desserts at buy one get one free at £3.95.  Amazing value and really good pub food -  I had Scampi and James had a vege lasagne both were excellent so we highly recommend it if you are this way.  Certainly wouldn’t find prices like this down South!
We have eaten out every day since we’ve been here and we’re amazed at the low prices of food and drink.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

An amazing finale to Manchester Pride!

Monday 29th August

We had a fantastic day yesterday in Manchester.  In the morning we watched Jenson Button race up Deansgate in his Formula 1 car -  there were huge crowds. 

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The stretch of Deansgate where he reached 70 mph!

We took a walk round to find a place to have lunch and taking in the endless supply of beautiful buildings.

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The iconic Midland Hotel – the back entrance!

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We came across this tiny pub -  fully tiled on the outside with the striking detail around the windows and doors!

In the afternoon we headed back to the Gay Village for another day of entertainment during this Manchester Pride weekend.  Today, being the last day,  produced the big names on stage.  Pride 015

We saw Hazel Dean…..

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Toyah! …….

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Four Poofs and a Piano -  who got everyone rocking!

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Then Bucks Fizz, with Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston and Mike Nolan. By now the atmosphere was amazing!!

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We were really pleased to be so close to the stage.  Looking behind us this was the scene……..!

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Huge crowds in the “arena”….it was actually a car park with 4000 of us inside plus more outside the fence.

And finally the best of all  “Blue” came on stage,

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The Boys from Blue, Simon, Duncan, Anthony and Lee….

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Such a great evening and what a great weekend Manchester Pride has been again for everyone! 

The final event of Pride is the Candlelit Vigil -  a special moment at the weekend to remember those people who have been, and are still being, affected by HIV and Aids.  The moment was hosted by Anthony Cotton (Shaun from Corrie) .

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The sea of the lighted candles was very moving.

We have had an amazing weekend up here at the Manchester Pride weekend and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  Manchester is a  city with a very special identity.  The people love the place they live in and there is an enormous respect for the city and the people.  Manchester has responded very quickly and positively to the recent riots which have affected so many communities.  We are staying for a couple more days and then will head out for a short while – but will return to meet up with some German friends flying over in early September.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Having a great time in Manchester!

Since arriving in Manchester on Tuesday, we have been very busy around the city enjoying all the architecture, shopping, eating and drinking. 
We also have finally met up with Paul and Kath on nb Lola who moored overnight in Castlefield.   Sorry we didn’t have more time to catch up guys but good luck with your mammoth trip of the Cheshire ring!  See you again.
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It seems remarkable that Manchester planners and architects have managed to achieve such a pleasing contrast between old and new buildings (when other towns and cities have made such a hash!).  There is so much wonderful architecture showing the power and wealth of the city at it’s industrial peak – all in such a relatively small area.  The recent developments have achieved a spectacular and vibrant atmosphere.
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The photo doesn’t really give the full impact of this new building next to the John Ryland Library…
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The front of the Ryland Library.
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Manchester Cathedral.
On Thursday we were joined on board by friends Mike and Brian who came up from Worthing for a few days.  Together we visited the Town Hall (considered to be one of the finest buildings in the country).  It was completed in 1879 at a cost of £1 million and contains 4500 yards of marble flooring.  The hour bell in the clock tower weighs 8 tons and is the largest perfect clock bell in England (Big Ben is cracked!) – it’s worth standing in front at mid day and listening to it.  We can also highly recommend the coffee and wonderful cheese and chive scones they serve inside.
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Front view of the Town Hall – didn’t have a wide enough lens on the camera!
On Saturday it was Manchester Pride and the parade through the city was led by the comedienne Pam Ann who we had seen on stage the night before!
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Pam Ann!
The parade started a 1pm from Deansgate and went all around the city.
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The next 2 shots are of some of the cast of Coronation Street on their float.
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Even the (a) Queen got out and did a walkabout!
We finished up at Canal Street in the afternoon and evening, enjoying the bands and entertainment -  a great atmosphere!
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Mike, Doug and Ian enjoying a beer or two!
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Brian (who thinks he’s a fireman) in the spirit of Pride.
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The very busy Canal Street.
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On Sunday we took another wander around the city to enjoy more of the architecture.   Brian, Doug and Mike in front of the Mulberry window display..  which was art itself.
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The new national football museum building due to open in 2012.
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Our mooring in Castlefield Basin.
Mike and Brian left us on Sunday evening – we will be staying on for a few days more.  More photos of this super city to follow.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Retracing our steps and into Manchester

We have spent the last few days cruising back along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal stopping off at Burscough for water and stopping for the night at Parbold (again).  The day had been very warm and sunny to start with but after we’d moored up the heavens opened, and stayed open, thus putting paid to our plans for drying the washing!

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Watering up at Burscough Wharf.


A typical bridge scene on the stretch of canal which follows the River Douglas valley towards Wigan.


Dean Lock overshadowed by the M6 – not always so tranquil.


A hole in the bottom gates of Hall Meadow Lock, which lets almost as much water out as is coming in when trying to fill the lock!   This was the site of our lack of water problem last week but we were relieved to find water in the canal above the lock this time and were able to happily make our way into Wigan for Sunday night outside the British Waterways office (again).

Monday morning (22nd) saw us leave our mooring at 9 o’clock  to work through the last three locks before our “lock free” voyage all the way to Manchester.  Problem!  The junction pound above the first lock had no water – what a surprise!  As with the last water shortage there was much rushing around and shouting but this time we couldn’t take the matter into our hands and have the job done quickly we had to wait for BW to sort it out.  We finally got going at 3’ o clock! – accompanied by the very nice owners of nb ‘Lilypad’.  We reached our booked mooring at Bridgewater Marina (again) at 7 'o’ clock.


A typical stretch of the mind-numbingly boring canal from Wigan to Worsley!


Approaching the very exciting Barton Swing Bridge (again).


A glimpse of the Trafford Centre from the canal.


A shot of the absolutely massive Kellogg factory as promised.


Old Trafford towering alongside the canal going into Manchester.


Entering Manchester with the lovely old wharf buildings next to the not so lovely newer stuff.  The Beetham Tower – the tallest building in the city can be seen in the distance.


Deansgate towards the city centre.

We are now moored in Castlefield Basin, below Deansgate.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A day in Southport, and bloggers everywhere!

Wednesday 17th August

We spent a quiet night in the village of Rufford.  Lovely mooring and well worth the  short trip down the Rufford Arm – very rural with the smell of potatoes, cabbages and leeks all around as the soil here is very good for vegetables.


‘Chance’ moored in Rufford Village.

In the morning Doug took the bus into Southport (1/2 hour) and spent the day wandering around while James stayed on the boat to look after Oscar and carry out some maintenance (again!).


Southport War memorial in the Town Centre.


Southport Pier and the lovely gardens in the distance.  Just as Doug arrived back ‘Heth’ ( fellow blogger from nb ‘Takey Tezey’) was paying us a visit.  We only realised that morning that they are moored in St Mary’s marina just over the bridge from where we are moored.  Great to meet you at last and hope it’s a longer chat next time as Heth and Dave were only three hours away from catching a plane to visit their son in Germany (thanks for walking round to see us Heth – we understand we’re privileged that you did so (walk that is!)).


Heth and Doug - meet up at last!

Thursday 18th August


On Thursday we headed back up the Rufford Arm with nb Unique (Lyn and Roger).  We had a pleasant journey sharing the 7 locks with them in lovely weather.  We stopped off at Burscough  to stock up at Tesco’s then moored up just outside the town for the evening.  It’s a bit strange at present as we don’t have a map of this part of the canal system from Burscough onwards to Liverpool so the swing bridges are always a surprise.

Friday 19th August.

We continued on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to Lydiate as we knew that fellow blogger Debbie on nb Tickety Boo moored here. Sadly Debbie wasn’t at home but we hope to meet up when we are this way next time.  We winded (turned round) at Lydiate and started our return journey.


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James operating one of the many swing bridges (they are not such a surprise on the way back!)

Tonight we are moored up in the countryside again and just as we hammered in the pins Doug noticed the trees were full of Mirabelle Plums so guess what  we will be having for pudding tonight!