Wednesday, 11 May 2016

We've Moved!

Living on a 62′ narrowboat, we are no strangers to moving our home around. This time it is our blog that has relocated. To make it quicker and easier to blog about our life on the Leeds Liverpool canal I have decided to make the change to WordPress. Please click on the links below that will take you to our new home.

I love to take photos and keeping a liveaboard life diary. We love this life and love to share how beautiful and amazing it is. Enjoy...

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Ellesmere Port 

Easter Gathering 2016

The magnificent 90 year old Gifford

This year, the Easter Gathering celebrated two anniversaries. Firstly the 40th anniversary of the museum being open to the public and secondly the 90th birthday of Gifford.

Designed by Thomas Telford, the docks at Ellesmere Port were in use as recently as the fifties. The museum was started in the 1970's by a group of enthusiasts who brought together a collection of boats (including Gifford), tools and canalware to preserve the history of a vanishing way of life. Lottery funding and management by The Waterways Trust improved facilities and although visitor numbers declined in the early 2000's it has seen a rise in the last few years with the renewed interest in canals. The Waterways Archive is housed here, including photographs, plans and letters and has recently digitised over twenty thousand photos including the one below of the Port in the 1920's and Gifford c1964 at Swan Village on the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

Ellesmere Port Docks

Gifford being towed by horse 

Gifford was built as a tank boat to carry liquids for the Thomas Clayton canal carrying company, carrting tar during the 1930' and 1940's and fuel from Stanlow Refinery in the 1940's and 1950's until Claytons ceased carrying in the mid sixties.

Decorated boats welcome visitors at the entrance

The buildings have all been renovated at the museum

Good to see boats still working on the canal network

Gifford in pride of place

Traditional painted cabin

Thomas Clayton livery

1960's British Waterways carrying livery


Saturn above right is last horse-drawn Shropshire Union Canal Fly-Boat in the World – originally built to travel non-stop, day and night, carrying perishable goods (mainly cheese - yum). Over 100 years old, she has been fully restored to her former glory and is run by volunteers.

Decorated Cabin block and planks on Saturn 

Hazel and Gifford bright in the sunshine

Hazel getting a mop by 'Ashton Boatman'

Hazel is an interesting boat, owned by the Wooden Boat Society and recently renovated to become a 'wellbeing boat'. Built in 1914 she carried coal until becoming a pleasure boat for scout groups in the late forties and was donated to the society in the late eighties. The project to transform the boat has recently been completed by volunteers and now offers a chance for people suffering from anxiety or depression to benefit from spending time in peaceful, relaxing environment. Along with volunteers who do a regular 'run' to collect recyling and donations, they have a charity shop. Mutually beneficial, volunteers can help with maintenance, repairs, as crew and the society can preserve the boats for the future whilst helping the most vulnerable in our society. Hats off to them!

Decorated 'elum' or tiller on Ilkeston

Inside the back cabin of Ilkeston - cosy to say the least

Boats top and tail in the locks and pounds

Some more seaworthy vessels in the basin

Regulus built in 1935

Boats awaiting possible restoration, funds allowing....

The once brightly painted is now faded

Historic boats line the basin

Always time for a chat and a brew

Patterns are everywhere

Mirror image

Lovely faded lettering

Not exactly a boat graveyard but who knows when or if these will ever be back in action

Fuel boat Halsall trading at the event - it really is good to see new traders succeeding

Friendship in the museum

The Friendship Panel created by the The Coffee and Crochet Group at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port

Inside the pump house

Made in Manchester

I think this Gardner might be a bit too big for a narrowboat!

Montage of logos

The engines are all maintained by volunteers

Strange to see a ship in the background, dwarfing the narrowboats. The Manchester Ship Canal runs parallel to the Waterways Museum for a short stretch.

Manchester chemical company Cowburn & Cowpar boat Swan, one of a fleet of eight

The lines of a wooden boat are particularly pleasing

The faint outline of Rivington and Winter Hill in the distance

Ship being towed by tug on the ship canal

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Doing much this weekend?

When still working the nine to five (or the five to nine!) or after doing my gym class at the end of the week, I inevitably get asked this question or a variation of it. Any plans? Doing anything nice? Well, no plans really but yes, something nice as a matter of fact! When I tell people I live on a narrowboat, their reactions are (almost) always the same. Wow, they will say. Do you travel around? It must be really great to have such freedom. (Is it cold? - you knew that one was coming). I have to admit that it is with some satisfaction and not a little relish that I admit that yes it is wow, yes we move about and yes I feel free like I never have before (but no, it isn't cold!). I never stop appreciating the life I live, the beauty that surrounds me and the pure pleasure of travelling for no other reason than because it is enjoyable to do so.

The flatlands of Rufford

Neatly coiled ropes

Over the last few months (otherwise known as winter!) we have moved around more than in previous years. It seems a natural progression for us. As we have fully embraced the liveaboard life, we have also embraced travelling and mooring in different places through more inclement weather. After leaving the confines of a marina on our first boat (with water on tap and plug in electricity) for the call of the cut, we were lucky to get a private online mooring, affording us the 'security' of somewhere to be based for longer periods in the winter. The first winter we didn't really move around much except to empty our waste tank or fill with water, these tasks being completed in a morning or a weekend. The next winter we were later in returning to the mooring and earlier in leaving. This year we have abandoned the idea that you need to bed down for winter altogether and pretty much moved around the whole time. We are loving it. Below are a selection of photos taken of our travels over the last month.

Gongoozlers at a lock

Cormorant between dives

Nesting swans

The splendid artwork on the back cabin doors by the esteemed Dave Moore

Gliding off through the still waters...hey wait for me!

Waiting patiently for the lock to fill

More gongoozlers - this is a favorite spot for them, next to a pub

The Tim Tyler hull moving beautifully through the water, creating very little wash as seen by the still water at the front of the boat. Hull shape makes a huge difference to how a boat cuts through the water

Fuel boat Ambush towing dumb boat Viktoria to Burscough Wharf, where she normally resides, after extensive repairs in Wigan dry dock

Hardly any wash on this beast of a boat!

Newly welded and painted

Derek Bent doing what he does best

A great sight, three Liverpool boats all together - Mersey on the left

It was popular to put fresh flowers on the roof in days gone by, usually wild flowers collected from the hedgerows. Sadly these are less common these days. At this time of year there isn't much growing  anyway so I made do with shop bought!

This stretch of canal between Parbold and Appley Bridge is beautiful in all seasons. We have had a very mild winter albeit a wet one with the terrible flooding all around the country over the Christmas holidays. It is four years since we had any really thick frost or snow. The canal can get frozen over preventing movement but this happens less frequently. Years ago, ice breaker boats would be put to work to keep the canals open, to keep goods being transported. Think of it like the gritting wagons going out to keep the road network open. Simple but effective, they were horse drawn (the thicker the ice, the more horses were used) with pointed hulls and a flat, open deck upon which a bar was mounted along the length at chest height. Men would line the bar each side and rock the tug to smash the ice.

I love this tree. It is like a tree goddess. Unfortunately it is dead as I have photographed it in summer, bare of any leaves.

Emptying Appley Deep lock, you can see the power of the water flowing out of the lock

A glimpse of the back cabin through the lock gates

Outside the lock keepers cottage filling with water