Sunday, 31 August 2014

Just In Time

Our cruising season was cut short this year but for good reason! It was always going to be a race against time as our youngest daughter was due to give birth to granddaughter number three the same day we were to arrive home.

We took the long way home flying from London to Los Angeles on Air New Zealand then transiting across to the 11:40 pm flight to Melbourne. Our daughter had booked us 'space available' on the this flight, when you do this you are always 'rolling the dice' with a chance of missing out on a seat, but Rachael does like a bed to sleep in for the last leg home. Things went like clockwork! US Customs was nice and quick, less than an hour, we had allowed around two. Straight across to check-in and the bags were checked-in straight away, a very good sign! Phone call home and our daughter was still at home with no sign of the baby coming. We had to wait until 11pm for our boarding passes but that was at the gate lounge so we were pretty confident by then. On the jet, Rachael and I had seats a row apart but we did have seats and that's what really mattered besides we had been awake nearly 24 hours so I was looking forward to sleeping. We did meet after about 5 hours sleep at the bar for a drink and a snack, we were already suffering jet lag and we were still on the jet!

We arrived in Melbourne on time to be met by a still pregnant daughter, her husband Will and Hollie our three and half year old granddaughter. Turns out we had a day to spare as she went in to hospital on Monday and Summer Rose Turnbull was born on Tuesday morning weighing 8.01 lb. or 3910g.

Me, Hollie and Summer
Work starts for me on Monday and we only have seven months to prepare for our trip back to the UK.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Our Cruising Season Over

Yesterday we moved Serafina into the marina to get her ready for the English winter, our cruising season over.

Once in the marina, we moored Serafina and connected up to shore power so we could get the batteries fully charged and have plenty of power to run appliances for clean up. Of course, the highest priority appliances needed, according to the crew of Serafina, the hairdryer, hair straightener and the water heater for copious quantities of hot water. We cleaned Serafina inside and out ready for winterising in a month or so.

Serafina is now moored with lots of other boats, just one of the crowd, waiting for the onset of winter and the harsh elements it brings with it.

Serafina, just one of the fleet

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Last Fling - Almost Half of the Cheshire Ring and Back

Back in Stoke on Trent tonight and preparing to go home for the Australian summer.
We had about two weeks to go before we had to head home a little early this year. Initially we thought we would complete the Cheshire Ring which is said can be completed in a week. Once I completed my planning and taking into consideration that we only had two weeks remaining , we were going to be cruising for five hours a day, everyday and that wasn't the point of buying a boat. Meanwhile, our friends Kevin and Carole were looking at options for their next trip and volunteered to help with the planning and come along with us. We chose to cruise along the Macclesfield Canal to Marple Junction then on to the Peak Forest Canal, going as far as Romiley where we would moor for a few days and take a train into Manchester each day. We would then return via the same route instead of completing the ring. The two days of 'training it' into Manchester saved us at least a week!

The canals have become very busy now that it is the UK school long summer break which meant a lot queuing for locks and bridges, slowing our trip considerably. It also meant that it's more competitive for popular mooring spots particularly since the Macclesfield canal seems to suffer from a genuine lack of moorings, in addition to requiring dredging and a lot of tree and bush pruning and removal. As we cruised we regularly moved over from the centre of the canal to pass by oncoming boats only to both be grounded in mud and the propeller full of weeds. I had to check and clear the weed hatch most days of our trip.

The locks on this trip were mainly in two groups, Bosley Locks which totals twelve in just over one mile and Marple Locks which number sixteen over the same distance, so a total of twenty eight major locks, a stop lock which is approximately one foot deep, an assortment of electric and manual swing bridges and several tunnels ranging in length from 176 yards up to 2926 yards.

Cruising from Stoke on Trent it didn't take all that long to get into the countryside. I often think how long it would take to cruise at 4mph from the centre of Melbourne, Australian cities are so sprawling compared to the compactness of English cities. Even getting close to Manchester, mooring in Romiley, it was not until we walked the 10 minutes to the train station that we noticed all the rushing and busy roads.
A feature of our trip back was a visit to a National Trust property called Little Moreton Hall. On our way back we set off early from our overnight mooring in Macclesfield to arrive in Congleton around lunch-time. We had a couple of jobs to do in Congleton, stock up the cupboards, buy a clothes hoist at Argos and take a bus to Little Moreton Hall. Argos is an interesting store that we are not used to seeing in Australia. It is basically a large warehouse with a small shopfront where you choose items from a catalogue, pass the catalogue number to the attendant, pay for the item, take a seat until your number is called when your item arrives about 4 - 5 minutes later. Little Morton Hall was interesting, built around five hundred years ago, this Tudor Manor House has very few straight lines left about it. Other interesting points of this building are the moat that surrounds the building and the number of toilets it contained, this is where the moat was most handy!
Our last day of cruising towards Stoke, the ladies had booked a stop at the Royal Doulton Outlet for a quick look around. It never works out that way and now we have more 'stuff' we have to find a place for in our limited baggage allowance.
We didn't break any speed or distance records getting as far as Romiley since we stopped at each major stop along the way. Our stops were not always overnight, some were just for a look around and to grab a coffee or a bite to eat for lunch. Some of our cruising days only lasted a couple of hours, a few lasted much longer.



Canal-side near Congleton

Heading out of Congleton

Heading out of Macclesfield

Working a lock heading out of Romiley

The Marple Locks are woven through suburbia or is it the other way around?

Old warehouse between locks at Marple

All the locks are nice and close so it's work one then walk to the next.
Traffic jam at Marple Junction Services as we take on water and throw out the garbage.

Taxi Rank in Manchester city

Manchester big wheel

Midland Hotel - beautiful old building in the city centre

Canal Street - Manchester city centre

Tramway in Manchester city centre

Little Morton Hall

Great Hall on the Third Floor

Little Morton Hall Courtyard