Sunday 30 June 2019

The Leaving of Liverpool

Today's Canal - Leeds and Liverpool

We were up early (not as early as some however) as the official window for leaving Salthouse Dock is between 8 and 9.30 am. Our Leaving of Liverpool was, alas, not either as musical nor as successful as the famous sea shanty popularised by the Pogues, Clancy Brothers, Spinners and others.

We thought we were doing quite well as we were under way just a couple of minutes after the start but we learnt later that others were off even earlier! They must have been lucky that the first lock, Man Island, had been unchained ahead of time. Another boat, nb Narrow Minded II, that was getting ready, saw us leave and quickly followed - it is generally expected that boats share the locks as far as practicable.

One last look around the dock which is rightly so well regarded by everyone we have talked to who has come here.

Almost straight ahead from our pontoon, we headed to the bridge that divides Salthouse and Albert Docks - constructed as part of the re-development of the area in 1985.

As we passed underneath we could the huge gates which originally protected each lock from the other.

We then headed across Albert Dock to the exit bridge, over the protective gate that is raised when navigation is not required. We assume that this helps maintain the level in Salthouse and the other locks to its south if the half tide gates are used in Canning Dock - as can be seen, there are still some movements of large vessels in and out of this dock where the gates are still maintained.

After passing through the shallow Mann Island Lock we headed through the tunnels and cuttings - out in the open we could see the various impressive buildings, many of which were made possible by the regeneration of the area.

This is the` Mersey Ferries terminal building.

After the third and longest tunnel, which also snakes around so that it is not possible to see straight through, we arrived at Prince's Lock.

Above this lock comes Princes Dock - an amazing vista looking from the lock landing pontoon.

At the far end we passed through a narrow entrance into Waterloo Dock which once also had access to the river - these huge gates we assume no longer function but they do give some idea of the scale of ships that came in and out.

Looking back from the middle of Waterloo Dock we could see Alexandra Tower. When completed in 2008 it was the sixth tallest building in the city. It provides 201 apartments over 27 floors. The views from the top must be amazing.

At  the start of Sid's Ditch we passed under this bridge. Six years ago it looked newly completed but it would seem that the plan for the development  of the waterside, land that was formed when one of the docks was filled in - with rubbish! It looks as if much more substantial footing are being created on the river side of the bridge.

And so we came round to the three docks that are in line up to Stanley Dock. To one side is thje new Titanic Hotel.

Crossing between Collingwood and Stanley Docks is the unusual bascule bridge. It dates from 1932 but gradually fell into disuse - as far as lifting was concerned. In 2008 special arrangements were made to raise the bridge to allow a tall ship to pass as part of a film shoot. As they did so, the extent to which the bridge had corroded was discovered. Rather than demolish and replace with something more conventional - and boring - it was decided to refurbish it, which was completed in 2010. When Mike collected the car from Maghull earlier in the week, the satnav brought him over this bridge.

A slightly better view of the Tobacco Factory this time - still not brilliant.

We then arrived at the bottom the the Stanley Dock Locks - the bottom one is only a fraction of the height of the other three.

For  some reason, the bottom gates of just this lock are fitted with a rack and pinion mechanism. As the gates are relatively small we are not sure why - usually they are to be found on locks where bridge widening has truncated the balance beams.

As we emerged from the top of the flight, Christine's attention was attracted by a man on a balcony of an adjacent house. After some confusion, it turned out that he had been on a stag weekend with friends. The rest had just left and locked the house, not realising that this one person was still inside and had no way of opening the door. However, he knew that it had a keysafe so he was wanting someone to let him out! Christine manged to unlock but needed further help from another neighbour to persuade the cover to open!

The landscape alongside the canal is gradually becoming less industrial and more and more residential. This is about the only example near here of a transshipment warehouse where the goods cold loaded or unloaded sheltered from rain.

We continued to the visitor moorings at Litherland where we were lucky to find a space (almost the last available) so that we could go shopping at Tesco, which right be the canal. After shopping we had lunch. As Mike made a start on preparing tonight's roast dinner, Christine returned to Tesco for a few forgotten items. He then moved down to the service point, just as Christine was returning.

When we had finished the emptying and filling we set off, immediately having to operate the new swing footbridges (when we were here six years ago, the old swing bridge had been replaced by a stepped bridge but we are now back to a more heritage- authentic structure. It moves  very easily and it is a great bridge to involved small children. Watching the bridge were a very small girl being looked after by her grandmother. Mike asked the latter if she thought the girl would like to help and both jumped at the chance. The girl was able to do all of the opening and closing on her own (with just a little helping nudge to get it going) Both could not wait to get home and tell Mum!

We continued until we were alongside the Rimrose Valley Country Park aka Froggy Meadow. We found a spot that looked as if it were quiet,. safe and with a tv signal! Unfortunately, we forgot to plan for enough depth to come alongside so, for the first time for ages, we had to deploy the plank!

A little later, Christine went to explore some of the wild area. She found much of it grassy (or related plants), criss crossed with numerous paths, some ok for cycles and others barely discernible. The valley contains Rimrose Brook and has always been kept free from development, even as the surrounding towns have expanded extensively over the last century. One feature on the 1850 map was Seaforth House, with an accompanying street of what seem to be substantial houses. By the next map, 50 years later there is no sign of the mansion and its grounds. It seems that Seaforth House was built in 1813 by the father of the future prime Minister, Gladstone. The house was demolished in 1881 but we have not found anything about the reasons. However, the 1894 map shows an estate of compact housing. By 1930 most of the other houses had gone and at some stage even the remainder have been replaced by 1960's / 1970's looking semi detached properties.

This was a group of six magpies - what do they signify, traditionally? Ah, gold! Never believed the rhyme anyway . . .

7.3 Miles - 6 Locks

Saturday 29 June 2019

Arrival into Liverpool

We left the hotel just after nine having had a good breakfast, just in case we missed out on lunch! Again, the journey was uneventful - until we arrived at Salthouse, that is.

When we left we had seen a notice that meant that we were not surprised that the car park very close to the entrance to the Salthouse moorings, which we used to park for an hour whilst off loading from the boat, was closed and we had to park at the other end of the dock. We later discovered that this was Armed Forces Day and the car park had been allocated for small exhibition area for various organisations associated with the army. Not long after we arrived we could see a military band giving a musical marching display on the opposite side of the dock.

However, this all meant that we had to carry everything we had brought with us for some distance and then down steps at the far end of the moorings. In the photo, the car park was in the far right and the pontoon still had some way to go, behind the camera, to our boat mooring!

Car parking around the docks is very expensive - £3 and hour - so as soon as we had unloaded, whilst Christine stowed everything away, Mike drove the car up to to Maghull to park it there, convenient fro when we pass by. It was a short walk to the station with an even shorter wait for the next train to Liverpool Central. Just over ten minutes back to Salthouse - at least pedestrians could use the gate and steps from the northern end even if the road was still closed.

After recovery - with a mug of tea - Mike opted to walk around some more of the docks to the south. In all, Liverpool docks stretch over some considerable distance. Next to Salthouse comes Wapping Dock, alongside which was once Kings Dock. The latter was abandoned and filled in. Today, that area is now home to extensive developments including the M & S Bank Arena.

Mike then crossed over the bridge between Wapping and the very much larger Queens Dock, home to a watersports centre. (It was named after Queen Charlotte, consort of George III)

Quite a number of people were taking advantage of the expanse of water - including paddle boarders, canoeists and so on. It is part of a route through to a lock out onto the Mersey where Liverpool Marina is. The only powered boats we saw were sightseeing, restaurant and service boats, together with one widebeam cruiser belonging to a charity that has two boats kept outside the Titanic Hotel alongside Stanley Dock.

Mike then turned around and walked alongside the dock where he could see two interesting buildings although at the time he could not see any information about either. The first, alongside the eastern end of the bridge has a date 1856. It seems that this was one of several similar towers that housed the machinery to operate the very large gates that originally separated each dock from its neighbour.

Alongside Wapping Dock is a large former warehouse, built in 1856 in a style very similar to Albert Dock. It was extensively damaged by bombs in the 1941 and was converted into residential apartments in 1988.

Mike's walk then diverted from the dock side to the riverside, along the road adjacent to the arena and exhibition centre development on what was originally Kings Dock.

At the far end were the first of a large number of aerial photos on display forming a collection of over 100 photos Britain from the Air. Each was particularly spectacular and very different from each other.

In Dukes Dock, just to the south west of Salthouse is the latest visitor attraction - a large group of inflatables on the water, just ready for exploration. As Mike walked passed, a large group of youngsters made a rapid and collective dash down the slope from the changing rooms, spreading out over the many different shapes.

Called The Adventure Dock Co, it provides for anyone over the age of six - although these two may have been the supervising adults, they clearly enjoyed the challenge every bit as much as the youngsters, although they did feel the need to tackle one of the harder sections! An hour's session is £20, slightly less in groups. They even sell a swimsuit and towel to those arriving unprepared, for another £10. The wetsuit and buoyancy aid are included in the basic price.

Falling in, deliberately or accidentally, seems to be part of the attraction - but does show how the cleanliness of the dock water has been improved.

Friday 28 June 2019

Back to Salthouse

We originally planned to return to the boat on Saturday, leaving as early as possible. However, soon after we returned home we decided to treat ourselves to an overnight break. On Friday we both had dental check ups just after lunch but we were able to get away before 3, having found a good price for a night at the Holiday Inn Express Droitwich.

The journey was much easier than the one earlier in the week and although there were several delays due to roadworks - and one lengthy slow section for no obvious reason at all - we arrived at Droitwich around half past six. The hotel is just a couple of minutes from the motorway junction.

After checking in, Mike popped to the rail station to pick up tickets for later in the week when he plans to travel to York from Burscough Bridge. For some strange reason, the online system would not let him collect tickets at that station.

Monday 24 June 2019

Day in Liverpool

We have just the day in Liverpool before we return home tomorrow. The morning disappeared . . . 

Mid morning we could hear different sounds outside - this group of young people were trying to discover how to coordinate a team of up to a dozen so that they progressed more or less in the set direction. Some never managed to get it right whilst others shot off at some speed.

After lunch we walked across to the Tate Modern, albeit with only a short time to visit. Along the way we noticed that the numerous food outlets, predominantly ice cream and, were all based on vintage vehicles.

The ground floor does not have much exhibition space which was filled with this installation work by Sol Calero who was born in Venezuela but works mainly in Europe. The brightly decorated 'bus' was a framework for a video work - alas we really did not make much of it!

Up then ti the next floor where the main display, Constellations, comprised two groups of works selected to illustrate  the interconnections between various artists.

We will let your, dear reader, work out which is which!

The Machine Minders, by Ghisha Koenig, made us smile especially reading the accompanying note which said that "the factory's information manager stated that is unlikely that they would have gotten away with standing idly by" as they minded vats at in ink factory in Kent.

Another part of this floor is a collection that is regularly changed and aimed at encouraging local schools, especially primary, to bring groups to visit. Each item is accompanied by, not only a description, but also a question to consider.

The Grain Weevil asks "Can unpleasant things be beautiful if we look at them differently?"

After Lunch which plays with representation - the picture of the outside world looks more real than the inside - then asks "Which parts of this picture do you like best? Would they work as well without the different styles?"

The last exhibit we looked at was a video installation items called Blindly 2010 by a Polish artist. It shows a group of visually impaired people (they all seemed to have no sight or lost it, some though accidents) as they seek to depict the world as they see it. They way in which they talked about what they were doing proved to make a very moving video.

As we failed to find a church for yesterday morning we decided to go to Choral Evensong today at the cathedral. At the top of the hill we had enough time to succumb first to the temptation of an iced treat from the van outside!

We were sat in the quire and the service was sung by the choir girls, who were joined by some of the boys.

As we walked back down the long Duke Street (now downhill!) we had more energy to look at the buildings, many of which were typically large and imposing in the style of many Northern cities.

This one indicated that it was the city's first public library.

A mural painted on the end gable wall of one property caught our eye - not that we knew what it was at the time. Later we discovered that it was one item created by a Chinese write Lu Pingyaun as part of the Liverpool Biennial in 2016. The web site says that he "writes stories as a way to express his artistic points of view. These stories are enigmatic and spiritual, sometimes accompanied by fear. "

The following morning Mike was off to Liverpool Central station rather early, catching a train just after 7 back to Maghull. The car was parked about five minutes walk away. The journey back was rush hour but he was back at Salthouse not long after 8! We did not have much to load into the car as it is but a short visit home, although by this time rain began to arrive.

Escaping the car park was a little tricky as the pay station was broken but at least the barrier could be operated remotely and we were asked to pay at another parking area at the other end of the dock. Eventually we were able to be honest even though the next machine was also broken! In the end Christine enlisted the help of a parking attendant to find a means of paying . . . The rest of the journey back was uneventful although tedious as light drizzle persisted until we were nearly home, with plenty of spray thrown up by vehicles. Speed was reduced for most of the time.