Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Here, There And Everywhere

Salthouse Dock, our mooring for the last few days
We have visited Liverpool a few times over the last ten years so knew what to expect as we dropped down the short flight of locks that connects the canal to the superbly renovated and bustling central dockland area of this famous city.
It was a long crawl, to get there though, through several suburbs, offering plenty of opportunities to foul your propeller. You can often see abandoned shopping trollies, but there are probably bikes, prams, and discarded furniture submerged down there and as the canal is probably only four-five feet deep in the middle you need to choose your line.  Several times I felt TCW scaping over metal and on arrival a check down the weed hatch, revealed the usual mix of plastic and string wrapped around the propeller. The irony being that the water is crystal clear around here.
One of the hazards of cruising through a large city
Two of my old work pals, Sue and Brenda, joined us for the passage into the city and we joined up with several other boats several miles from our final destination, all making the same  journey in last Friday at 9am. Four local Canal & River Trust employees (CRT) were there to operate the two swing bridges we had to negotiate and to help us down the locks.
The flotilla assembles to commence our passage into the city
Emerging through a short tunnel you are thrust into Stanley Dock and the huge tobacco warehouse that dominates it. It’s still the biggest brick-built building ever built anywhere in the world, but now, sadly,  derelict. A left turn and the Liver building with its famous birds comes into view. The docks, all empty up this end of the city, interconnect, and you are soon through them, and passing through two new tunnels under the Pier Head and the Three Graces, emerging at Albert Dock. Arriving narrowboats are moored immediately behind in Salthouse Dock and it’s a marvellous location, and surprisingly quiet at night, considering just a few feet above is a major road. We are five minutes from the Pier Head and the ferries, and the same distance from the main shopping area and the “Cavern” quarter.
The old tobacco warehouse in Stanley Dock
Liver Building and city centre straight ahead
Emerging from one of the new tunnels under the Pier Head

Brenda & Sue, our guests for the weekend
On arrival it was straight off the boat and on The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” bus. We’ve done this trip twice before, but think it is an absolute must if you are in Liverpool and like the Beatles. It takes you all over the city and includes dozens of Beatle-related sites, including a drive down Penny Lane to see the barbers shop, bank and roundabout, and the gates of Strawberry Fields.
Roll Up, Roll Up, for the Magical Mystery Tour. Step this way.
Strawberry Fields Forever
On leaving the bus we popped into The Cavern and then walked back up through the city centre to The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, another of our favourites. It is one of the most beautiful pubs in the country and the only one to have a Grade II listing for its gentlemen’s loos!
There was just time, the following morning, to do the Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey to Birkenhead and back, before we said goodbye to the girls at Lime Street Station.
Real Ale in The Cavern. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
The ladies prepare themselves for the ferry 'cross the Mersey
Yesterday morning we hopped on a train and went up to Crosby beach to see the Gormley “Iron Men”. I don’t know how many of these statues are located in the surf, but they stretch, at random, for as far as the eye can see. A spectacular site.
From there we caught a train under the Mersey to visit Port Sunlight village and the Lady Lever Art Gallery on The Wirral. Coming from a Garden City, I am always interested in the genesis of town planning in the UK and this is a real gem. Planned as a workers’ village for the Lever soap factory, it is a real eye-opener, beautifully kept, with wide boulevards and formal gardens, separating the rows of mainly terrace-housing.  
One of the many "Iron Men" on Crosby Beach
Port Sunlight Village with the Lady Lever Art Gallery in the distance
On our arrival, at Salthouse Dock, the bilge pump in the engine bay, was making a strange noise. It pumps OK, but will not switch off, and sits gurgling. Now, anybody that knows me will vouch for the fact that I am barely confident or competent, when it comes to anything mechanical. Having a long rod in my back holding my spine in place, does not help either when it comes to workimg in the confined space around a boat engine. After a lot of huffing and puffing, I dismantled and cleaned out the filter but it’s still making the same noise. Hopefully it will right itself, but I am not looking forward to having to replace it, which may be sooner, rather than later.
We leave first thing tomorrow. Rain is threatened. Just hope there are no mattresses out there lying in wait for us.


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