Wednesday, 11 March 2015

If I Could Choose the Life I Please
Then I Would Be A Boatman
On the Canals and the River Free
No Hasty Words are Spoken...

Well a little late in reporting thanks to being in a bit of an internet black hole (aka Parbold) but here are some photos from last weekend when we moved from Crooke. The day started a bit earlier than expected when Mr F woke up around 6am to find that the water level had dropped by over a foot and that we were sat on a ledge, so he got dressed and went to investigate while I had the important job of keeping the bed warm. To be fair I have a stinking cold so I wasn't really in a fit state to be of any use! A walk down the canal to the lock at Gathurst revealed the reason - someone had maliciously opened all the gate paddles and the water had been draining out of our pound for probably some hours. On his way back (after shutting the paddles obviously) he saw a fellow boater who was adjusting his ropes who suggested they hop in his car to go up to the locks heading towards Wigan to let some water through. 

After an hour or so we were floating again so we had breakfast and at this point, after a sunny early morning, it started to rain. The forecast was for it to brighten up later so we decided to set off in the afternoon instead. We needed to take one of our cars to Parbold so that we could come back for the other one before setting off on the boat, so we executed this task in the drizzle and crossed our fingers that the sun would put in an appearance as promised. It did brighten up in the end and turned into a lovely afternoon cruise which was thankfully uneventful. We chatted to a nice couple at the water point who were liveaboards for the past nine years and were planning to travel down to Aylesbury over the sext few weeks. Ah, the life of a retired boater....

Well, our journey may be limited to being within travelling distance of work but we can still cover a good few miles so this weekend marked the start of our nomadic movements for this year. 

Goodbye Crooke for now. As this is now our permanent home we will probably spend more time there this year as we pass through than we did last year. We are planning to go onto the Llangollen canal and be at Middlewich for the Folk and Boat Festival in June but the rest of the time we will be pottering between Scarisbrick and Stockton Heath with a possible trip up the Wigan Flight later in the year if we go to the Burnley Canal Festival.

First stop the water point after going down the lock and Mr F's second visit to it that day! The water tank was quite empty so it took a while, plus we had to hang about in the lock until another boat had finished so it took quite a bit longer than expected. However, it was turning into a nice afternoon and we weren't in any hurry...

 Although the motorway bridge might seem an ugly blot on the landscape, I find it really quite an impressive structure that is strangely photogenic. The boat you can see to the left in the photo below is in the dead arm of the disused lock and belongs to the owners of the cottage. Whilst we were filling with water they came out and started to carry things across to the boat, so I took the opportunity to ask what their plans were as the boat has obviously bee a trip or cafe boat in the past. They confirmed that they were going to be opening a tea room that would be available for hire and had applied for a mooring near their cottage. I wish them all success as although there are a couple of trip boats that hire out of Burscough, there isn't a cafe boat in this area.

Finally on our way on one of the nicest stretches of canal around here. The colours looked beautiful in the early spring sunshine and it was great to be out in the fresh air, although we did have the stove lit in the back cabin as it was still a tad cold.

Between the two locks there is a swing bridge to navigate and a line of moored boats before arriving at Appley deep lock.

The bright sunlight reflecting off the cabin sides of the moored boats onto the water, I really enjoying taking photos and having this blog has inspired me even more to document our travels 

Waiting for the lock to fill, unfortunately while we were filling with water another boat passed us and when ahead so the lock was empty as they had gone down. We knew it had been full as we had passed a boat at the first lock who had just come up through it but that's boating. We couldn't have shared with them either as it was a wide beam. It gave me chance to have another chat with the boaters who we first spoke to at the water point. They were mooring in the dead arm of Appley locks for another week while family living nearby visited, before heading down south. The lady helped with the paddles and soon we were down and on the home stretch.

Approaching early evening, the sun was getting low in the sky as we headed towards our destination.

Sitting on the roof, camera in hand, watching the world go by. At 4mph.

Just in time, we arrived and moored up before heading back to collect the other car. On returning we abandoned the idea of showers and cooking and hotfooted it to the pub for a well earned pint and fish and chips. That's what life is all about. Oh, and if you're wondering about the strange title for today's blog entry, it is a line from a song by the Levellers that was looping around my head as we weaved our way through England's beautiful countryside and it seemed to sum up perfectly how we feel about this life we have chosen.

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