A lot can change in a week can’t it!? Here it is Sunday afternoon and Bob and Malcolm are in the pub – well that hasn’t changed!!! But our immediate plans certainly have. But first a starting point.
We were based in White Bear Marina all of last weekend to enable easy access to the train station for our regular/frequent trips to Moorfield’s Eye Hospital Outreach to address Bob’s longstanding issue. All started well Monday morning when we found the station to catch the train to Preston where we would change to one for London Euston. We arrived in Preston in plenty of time and were chatting to a New Zealand couple who were also in the marina while they went to Glasgow to visit a daughter. And then our train was cancelled. No problems we will get on the next one. We did but found it was not an express and we would be late – probably very late – for our 2pm appointment. All good – we can change at Crewe for a faster one. So we did and made the appointment with 10 minutes to spare!!!
The appointment went well and we now have a date for the cataract operation which was an unexpected positive. No guarantee regarding level of vision but optimism certainly expressed by our dear specialist, Nick. We then met up with our very supportive friends Chris and Sue and spent a few hours catching up and exchanging good news in nearby Harrow, before catching the underground back to Euston station for our journey home. We already knew that the trip from Preston back to Adlington was going to be by replacement coach making our arrival time after 11pm but…. The train was delayed in Rugby due to communication problems (a familiar theme in life!!) and then again in Wigan (oh so close to home!!) due to a runaway child saga, meaning we missed the coach and had to wait another hour!!
All Ok as we arrived back on Celtic Maid soon after midnight. And awoke at about 6 am to prepare for our Boat Safety Survey which is mandatory every 4 years. We arranged it for here because we only have another month until the current one was void and this was a convenient location to get it done. That all went very well (we are now compliant!) and then we awaited the arrival of friends from Australia, Juliet and Keith, who were catching up with us briefly as they travelled between York and the Lakes District with their travelling companions, Rosslyn and Trevor. It was a whirlwind catch up but we are so pleased they made the effort and we had a jam packed hour of chatting before they needed to leave. So great to meet their friends and I’m very sure they are enjoying their trip around England and Scotland.
Once we had done all the things we could to take advantage of the marina amenities we left our new friends – Mick, Heather, Ian and liz – and headed on toward the rendezvous point with Figment who had enjoyed watching the British Open golf on TV and walking around the countryside around the Haigh Hall Country Club. And a break from our company!!!!
After a happy hour catch up we got some much needed rest as on Wednesday we arose early to tackle the 21 lock Wigan flight. Despite being “chased’ down by another boat (to whom our very articulate lockhands took pains to explain as to why they needed to stay a little behind us); managing fast side water flows forcing us to take evasive action (read very high revs and full rudder control) to avoid being thrown into a rock wall with great force (life’s like that sometimes!); avoiding being capsized by leaking lock walls, partially opened paddles and leaking gates; and all this while attempting not to crush a family of ducks between our two 20 tonne steel boat, we made it to the bottom, through one last lock to moor outside the CRT building in Wigan.
Before we left Bron had seen a quick email update from CRT about a leak found on the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal along which we had to traverse before attempting the Ribble Link to get to the Lancaster Canal. Now we had been planning this trip since February and had been travelling in rain, wind, hail and sunshine (though rarely the latter to be fair!) to get ready for the crossing of the Ribble Link on 30th July. Once we checked into the CRT office on Thursday morning and they showed us photos of the leak they had discovered we knew that this particular goal of exploring the Lancaster Canal this year was not going to be achieved. So a change of plan, some very helpful advice and organisation by the wonderful staff in the Wigan CRT office and we are now going into Liverpool for 2 weeks on Wednesday this week!!!!
We took our time to venture into the shopping area of Wigan and to pick up a few supplies to tide us over until we arrive in Liverpool and then left on Friday morning to cruise to Hoscar (mooring yet again in the pouring rain), and travelling through Burscough on Saturday morning to find our current mooring very close to the Heaton’s Bridge Pub (where our boys are currently sampling the best Real Ales that the establishment has on offer!!)
Very good job that one of the narrowboater’s attributes is flexibility!!!!!