Tuesday 27 January

After another trip to Tesco to get in supplies ahead of the forecasted snow, we spent the afternoon visiting the cathedral and went on their “Cathedral at Height” tour which took us up 216 steps and down again via tight spiral staircases, narrow passageways, through very small doorways to very high walkways to see a unique blend of medieval and modern history.   We got to explore the bell-ringing chamber, peer down on 14th century quire stalls and the Victorian organ, and to take in the panoramic view of the city from the cathedral roof.

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View from Chester Cathedral with the racecourse in the background

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Very narrow spiral staircases that took us all   the way to the roof

One of only two bells remaining in the belfry

One of only two bells remaining in the belfry

All but two of the bells, were relocated to a newly built bell tower that sits in the cathedral grounds.

The new bell tower in the grounds of the Cathedral

The new bell tower in the grounds of the Cathedral

We learnt that the building that is known as Chester Cathedral today was once a great monastery and it escaped the ravages of Henry VIII. While the monks surrendered the monastery to him in 1540, Henry VIII handed the monastery back as the Cathedral of the newly created Diocese of Chester, so the building was preserved. The last Abbot became the first Dean of the Cathedral while the senior monks became the first Canons.   Chester was considered to be a prominent city politically at that time, having links to the sea, to Wales and mid-way between Lichfield and Carlisle, the other major Cathedral cities of the day. The cities of Manchester and Liverpool didn’t exist then.

We went back to the boat and after tea we got ready to spend the night at Laura’s as we’re on babysitting duties from dawn tomorrow.

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Sunday 25 January

For the last three days we’ve been making ourselves useful at Laura’s doing some DIY, gardening and sewing, oh and some babysitting.   It’s tough but someone’s got to do it!   We’ve been going back to the boat each evening and, despite the outside temperatures, we’ve been warm and cosy.

Time at Laura’s also means we can do our laundry, charge the phones and computer, have relaxing baths, and have lots of fun playing and reading Summer’s favourite book over and over again.   We have been asked for “Jeece” and if you look blank, the tommy tippy gets thrust at you.  We are so close to understanding what she is saying to us now  as there are some quite lengthy sentences that we’re supposed to recognise.  The only problem is that “Jeece”,  also sounds similar to her words for ‘stairs, cheese and biscuits’ but the nods when you guess right are quite emphatic.

 

Thursday 22 January

We were up early and had breakfasted, walked the dog and made it to Chester station in time to catch the 09.30 train to Liverpool.

We met our friend Margaret in the Liverpool Tate Cafe.   We can’t remember how many years it is since we’d last seen each other but we chatted away without pausing for breath until we looked at a watch and realised we’d been there two hours.

We left the gallery without seeing a single painting and instead headed towards Liverpool One for a mooch around, asking Margaret to show us some of her favourite places nearby.   We visited the old Blue Coat School which is now home to various art and craft shops and the attention to architectural detail from the renovation of the building was well considered. http://www.thebluecoat.org.uk

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In the courtyard of Bluecoat Chambers

We walked around the streets close to Bluecoat Chambers admiring other fine examples of old and new architecture in the area and hearing about the efforts of the Liverpool people to safeguard some of those threatened with demolition.

Buddlia bushes are taking over this building

Buddlia bushes are taking over this building

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Herbert’s Hair Salon. (My Grandfather was called Herbert – it’s not a name you hear much these days!)

 

At 2pm Margaret left us to go and collect her grandson from school and we promised we wouldn’t leave it too long before we see her again.

We then had a stroll around the John Lewis store in Liverpool One and found some leather needles and some ‘extra strong’ thread as Storm is hoping to repair the Moulton bike saddle which is now the only thing left to refurbish.   The saddle is going to take quite a lot of work to put it back together though as it has literally fallen apart, but the rest of the bike now looks like new.

We returned to James Street station and didn’t have many minutes to wait for our train back to Chester.  Having been on a warm train for half an hour, the cold air hit us as we got off the train and we walked briskly back to the boat.  Max greeted us enthusiastically and I took him for a walk round the block to stretch his legs before returning to the boat to get warm.

 

 

 

Wednesday 21 January

We’ve been trying to save our battery power for essential use only as being moored for long periods without running the engine means we drain the batteries quite quickly, hence the irregular blog postings. On Monday morning I met up with Laura in Chester and we went to look at posh frocks, leaving Storm on board working on his bike. In the afternoon Storm and I took Max for a walk and Storm showed me his new route over the River Dee. This route must be quite a well kept secret as even the locals didn’t know it existed when we told them about it and it cuts about 15 minutes off our walk to Laura’s.   The view of Chester and the race course from the bridge …

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We’ve been trying to arrange to meet a good friend on Thursday who is visiting family in Liverpool this week and we’d planned to meet her in Ellesmere Port. The freezing temperatures over the last couple of days has meant that we’ve seen patches of thin ice on the canal in sheltered places. However, the temperature stayed above freezing and the patches of ice had disappeared so we set off for Ellesmere Port this morning. For the first two miles all was well but as we approached Backford Bridge, (No 133), we suddenly ground to a halt and our bow lurched towards the bank. We’d hit a patch of thick ice. The bow will break ice of up to about 1cm thick but the broken edge of ice here was nearer 2 – 4 cm. We’d not noticed the ice ahead of us as it was masked by a thin covering of melted water. Fortunately for us there was a winding hole just the other side of the bridge and so we tried again to break through the ice ahead of us, turned the boat and headed back to Chester.   We treated ourselves to a luxurious hot shower at the Tower Wharf facilities, filled our tanks with water, before mooring up exactly where we were five hours earlier.

Sunday 18 January

We had a quiet and uneventful day yesterday until Marc picked us up at 5pm to babysit for Summer and to stay over at theirs. Before we left we banked up the fire with coal in the hope that it would keep burning overnight and protect the boat from the freezing temperatures and snow that Radio 4 was predicting for the area.

At Laura’s we bathed and got Summer ready for bed and were rewarded with the best cuddle and kiss yet in her sixteen months, before she snuggled down!

She slept right through until 7 this morning and she greeted us with a lovely smile as her Mum carried her into the bedroom and sang Happy Birthday to me.

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There had been a light dusting of snow overnight, not quite the heavy fall we were expecting, and so this morning we went for a walk, crossing from Handbridge via the pedestrian suspension bridge over the Dee and into the picturesque Grosvenor Park.

On our drive back home we took a slight detour via the boat to load more coal onto the fire and were amazed that it was still glowing, some eighteen hours later.

I have been thoroughly spoilt today with some lovely presents, cards, a cake and a roast beef dinner.

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After all the excitement of the day we returned to a warm boat just as it was getting dark.

Friday 16 January

Why does the wind seem to get so much stronger once it gets dark? Last night’s strong gusts began about 5pm and to avoid the worst of the gusts and boat swaying, we treated ourselves to a bar meal at The Bouverie.   We were delighted to find they’d slashed their food prices by 50% for the evening.

Thankfully the wind had blown itself out by bed-time.

We set our alarm for 7.30am and Storm took Max for a quick walk as we’d been invited to observe Summer at Rhythm Time. This is held in a church hall not far from the boat and comprises about 15 – 20 tots meeting with their carers to sing songs and play a variety of percussion instruments.   Great fun was had by all.

After kisses, cuddles and a wave, we went back to the boat for a coffee and then managed to dodge the rain showers to shop for food for the weekend.

We spent a quiet afternoon on the boat keeping warm; listening to the radio, one of us cooking while the other uploaded and downloaded stuff to the computer.

We now have a liver and sausage casserole, and some pork ribs, cooking separately and slowly on top of the solid fuel stove.

Thursday 15 January

The nights are still very windy and we nearly got up to watch Perfect Storm last night as we felt we were all at sea! Time this week has been spent doing lots of land based activities. We went to look at the two locks that are currently stopping us from leaving Chester.  They have been dewatered and an army of men are working to install new lock gates.  We got there just as they were heading off for their tea break so we got a good luck beyond the safety fencing.  We were surprised at just how deep the locks are when dewatered as this is a sight you don’t normally see.   It was also amazing at just how much junk there was in the bottom – lots of bent bicycles and shopping trollies.  We’re not sure that they are going to clean all this out.

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Chemistry Lock, Chester

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Hoole Lane Lock, Chester

We tried out the new shower block at Tower Wharf which was luxurious – lots of hot water in a nice clean and warm room. We have spent some nice times with Laura and Summer. I managed to download two episodes of Last Tango in Halifax using Laura’s WIFI and had just enough battery power to watch them both last night.  The computer has been back on charge today providing sufficient energy to write this blog.