…and they’re off!

HELLOOOOO! It’s me, Tony, your unreliable blogger. Today is day two of a new travel chapter on the good ship Golden Girl and I am inspired to put keyboard to screen and start out as I almost certainly won’t continue with a new blogging phase.

I can’t remember exactly when my creative juices dried up last year but let’s not go back over old failings eh? It’s a new journey, the Covid-19 lock down is temporarily over and I am feeling positive despite the rain and the dog poo I have just scraped off my shoe. We are hoping to be allowed stay out and play for the next three months but like blogs and boozers, boating is about as predictable as our good old British summer this year. Needless to say there isn’t much news from the last three months so let’s pretend that the world began again last Monday and take it from there.

We made a tentative plan to leave the marina on the 6th of July, weather and any other unforeseen circumstance permitting and when the day finally arrived it was windy. Very windy. If you are a regular (ha, ha) reader here you will know that the coming together of narrow boats and strong winds usually ends in tears so we delayed our departure until 4pm when the weather forecast laughably predicted a steady calming trend. Let’s just say, the forecast was a little inaccurate and we left the marina ably resisted by the wind. It’s a well known fact amongst marina dwellers that if a boat engine fires up every man, woman and dog within earshot will come out to see who is moving and they will all be hoping, at the very least, to see a fine example of how not to handle a boat and at best a sinking.

Is that a boat?

At precisely 4pm I turned the ignition key and as if by magic my audience appeared. I didn’t disappoint. I don’t mean that we sunk, but let’s just say I departed in a round about way and leave it there.

Don’t let that sky fool you. Those clouds were racing I tell you, racing. (Photo by Deb Woodward)

The stretch of the Rufford Arm which links our home berth to the historic Leeds and Liverpool canal is a beast. It is a modest three miles long but boasts seven badly maintained double width locks, two swing bridges and so much aquatic vegetation that at times it is more like ploughing than sailing. It traverses the richly fertile arable farmland of West Lancashire which is notable for two things. Firstly, it is rich and fertile because for many years in the days before the introduction of sewage systems the kind people of Liverpool solved their waste problem by simply dumping the stuff on the fields around here. Secondly, it’s flat. Pan flat. The fertility simply means that we have an abundance of very nice vegetables grown locally but the flatness is a problem for narrow boats when it’s windy. The west wind blowing off the Irish sea is given free passage all across the land. It is totally uninterrupted as it rushes inland in its quest to reach some mystical eastern destination. It seems to be unstoppable, that is until it finds a boat to play with. Then it amuses itself by tossing the boat around as if it were made of balsa wood and laughs at the helmsman or woman who tries hopelessly to keep it going in the right direction. Despite the wind having so much fun that it didn’t know which way or how severely to blow next, we finally made it through the last lock and onto the L&L. One more swing bridge and we threw in the towel and moored up for the night. Enough of this watching the world drift slowly by in a haze of tranquil relaxation. Time for a beer or two on the tow path before sleep and dreams of being becalmed on the Rufford Arm.

Sheltering from the wind in a lock

The second day dawned bright and calm but it couldn’t even wait for us to have breakfast before it decided wet and calm would be much nicer. It was a short damp plod to Parbold with just one swing bridge to break the monotony and to add a little zest to the morning commute for the drivers we held up. They love it when they see those red lights start flashing and the barriers descend indicating that some time in the distant future a narrow boat will appear and make it’s ponderous progress through the bridge while they contemplate that important meeting they should have been at. Sorry drivers. By the time we moored up in Parbold the light rain had got all professional and determined and it was a case of settling down to a day of reading, dreaming and maybe a little writing. Let’s hope it’s sunny for a few days now or you could end up with a very detailed and boring blog about our three months of lock down.

Maybe it will be sunny tomorrow
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2 thoughts on “…and they’re off!

  1. Lovely to read your adventures again. It very occasionally makes me want to sell up and buy a boat myself 🙂 Safe travels and let me know if you make it to Norfolk, or East Anglia in any case!

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