Monday 12 January

Another windy and wet night. Our DIY fender is still working well.   After a lazy start we spent the morning busy with hobbies. I did some knitting and Storm put a bit more of his Moulton bike together. It is now starting to look like a bike rather than a pile of spare parts. Storm isn’t sure yet where he is going to store it though once its finished!

This afternoon I took myself off to the Greyhound Retail Park. I managed to find a fitted sheet in John Lewis for our 4ft bed.   They are the only company I know of that supply these.   I also popped into Hobbycraft, and was tempted into buying a few things there before heading into Aldi to shop for tea.

When I got back we ran the engine for an hour to charge the batteries to ensure we had enough power for all our electrical items.

The evening was spent listening to music, while reading and doing crosswords.

 

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Sunday 11 January

After breakfast we had a visitor as Tom popped in with Darcy for a cuppa. Tom is a long term friend of Laura’s and by osmosis a friend of the family.   Darcy is his little dog.   Max got a bit over enthusiastic and so we had to separate him and put him in the bedroom.   After Tom and Darcy left we did a few chores and then set off to walk to Laura’s, taking the bakewell tart that had been requested.

We had a lovely lunch and Storm helped Marc and Laura with some DIY while I played with Summer, before we got a lift back to the boat with our clean washing.

I cooked spaghetti Bolognese for tea and we had a quiet night in reading.

Saturday 10 January

We moved back into Chester yesterday, and were lucky with our timing as we missed the worst of the windy gusts and the rain showers.

Last night’s temperature was in double figures despite gusting winds, and we were sitting in the late evening with the windows open to let some of the heat from the stove escape.

The gusts got stronger after we’d gone to bed and we were woken with the boat slamming, banging and scraping against the stone quayside.   Storm got up and  made a wonderful buffer/fender from an empty coal bag, stuffed with some old rags, and tied up with string.   I think we’ll patent this design as we’ve tried all kinds of fenders that don’t deaden the noise when hitting the bank – but this worked really well and completely deadened the noise.

This morning Marc & Laura dropped Summer off with us and we took her in her pram to see the ducks on the River Dee, while they went off to do a few errands in town.   It was still quite windy and the temperature has dropped since last night so we didn’t hang around too long in the cold before heading back to the boat for some lunch and a warm.

Laura has kindly taken our laundry and I’ve promised to do some baking to take to hers for lunch tomorrow.

Thursday 8 January

The grey clouds have gone and we’re enjoying clear bright blue skies again.  We left Ellesmere Port after filling our water tanks and watching another boat travel along the Ship Canal.

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To fill with water,  involved moving the boat forward beyond the security fencing to the museum.  One would expect the Museum to showcase its facilities, but this is not the case.  They are not accessible on foot and there is a distinct lack of mooring rings on a very slippery quayside which is home to the  ducks – so much for Health & Safety.

We winded and motored three miles before mooring up in open countryside beside Bridge No 138 (Densions Bridge) which carries the footpath into Stoak village.  The nearest mooring to Stoak village lies under Junction 15 of the M53/M56 so mooring where we did ensures a quieter night’s sleep.  We hope to visit the Bunbury Arms later as it keeps a nice range of Real Ales.

 

 

Wednesday 7 January

No lie in this morning as we were up bright and early. By 9.15 we’d walked the dog, had breakfast, and were at the station ready to buy our Rail Ranger ticket, to try and make the most of the day. We left Max on the boat to keep guard.

Trains from Ellesmere Port either head to Chester or to Liverpool and we headed towards Liverpool.   We wanted to visit New Brighton. Normally we could have swapped lines at Hamilton Square on the Wirral side of the Mersey, but this station is closed until the end of March for refurbishment so we crossed under the Mersey to James Street Station, swapped lines to the (New) Brighton Line and headed back under the Mersey.

Our ticket allows us to hop on and off the trains whenever we fancy, so our first stop of the day was at Birkenhead Park Station. We headed to the Park via its ‘Grand Entrance’.

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This elaborate park was the first public park in the World when it opened in 1847 (designed by Joseph Paxton of Crystal Palace fame) and it inspired the design for New York’s Central Park.

We strolled around the park, past the lakes, with tame squirrels watching us pass, and we called in at the Visitor Centre for a coffee and a Danish before returning to the station and continuing our journey.

New Brighton on the northern tip of the Wirral Peninsula (and at the mouth of the Mersey) was once a popular holiday destination for the workers of Lancashire & Liverpool.

New Brighton has lost its pier, its tower (that was taller than Blackpool’s) and its ballroom but today it still makes for an enjoyable visit.   We strolled along the prom from ‘Bubbles” around the peninsular past Fort Perch Rock to the Black Pearl from where we could see the Liverpool skyline across the river.

 

Perch Rock Lighthouse

Perch Rock Lighthouse

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The Black Pearl – a community arts project

 

 

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Liverpool Skyline

 

By mid afternoon we were getting foot sore and so we headed back to Ellesmere Port.   We’d climbed back on board and unlocked the doors before Max even stirred – so much for thinking he’d guard the boat for us.

Although the skies had been incredibly grey and moody all day it only started to rain just as we arrived back at the boat – what perfect timing.

Tuesday 6 January

We were quite lazy this morning and with the sound of rain on the roof, we had a lie in, as we’d stayed up late watching a DVD last night – The Bucket List, which is a hilarious and deeply touching tale about friendship starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

By late morning the sun was shining again and so went to explore the town of Ellesmere Port and visited the ‘once fine Victorian railway station’. This quote, from our canal guide, amuses me.

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At the station we enquired about ways of seeing more of the Wirral Peninsula. A £5 rover style ticket can be purchased that allows us to travel by train, bus or boat within the Merseyside Rail region. We returned to the boat to plan a journey of sightseeing for later in the week.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the boat. I set about preparing our accounts ready to send to the accountant, an annual job that is always daunting but which is not too bad once started, and Storm put up a couple of shelves, one in a kitchen cupboard and one in the bathroom.

On the Manchester Ship Canal, another ship arrived and this was the view of it from our window this afternoon…

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Monday 5 January

The forecast was right – no frost and a sunny morning with almost balmy temperatures of 6 deg C.

We were just about to move onto the water point but were just pipped to the post by another boat.   We waited patiently for our turn and after an age I went to see why it was taking him so long.   He’d already finished filling his tanks but apparently was waiting for his mate who was in another boat moored opposite to wind and accompany him on a short trip down the canal.   As he realised we wished to fill up with water he offered to move.

I’d envisaged a fairly early departure from Chester today but it was closer to noon before we finally left.

We travelled the 8 miles to Ellesmere Port and this allowed us to recharge our batteries and also to switch on the inverter to charge up our non 12 volt appliances, (mainly our MacBook). We still need to investigate what we need to charge safely using the 12v system. (Having said that, getting a signal on the WIFI takes a little longer!)

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The sky was so clear, crisscrossed by many vapour trails from the planes heading to and from both John Lennon & Manchester airports.

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The National Waterways Museum is situated at Ellesmere Port and provides an attractive backdrop to the moorings and the junction with the Manchester Ship Canal with the River Mersey beyond.   With the right licences it is possible to travel from here via the Manchester Ship Canal to the River Weaver; to Manchester; and to Liverpool via the River Mersey.   The museum is only open at weekends during the winter months.

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It was nice to see three ships moored nearby on the Ship Canal as for much of its length into Manchester it appears unused and neglected.

The town of Ellesmere Port however is unremarkable and our Nicholson’s Canal guide describes it as ‘an industrial town of little interest apart from its once fine Victoria railway station’.