Saturday, 29 December 2012

Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Crooke to Appley Bridge

After two weeks at Crooke we thought it would be polite to clear off. The canal is very much overlooked by the local houses so it seemed prudent to keep to the rules and not upset the natives. Just before we left, several of the other boats that had been moored there when we arrived received patrol notices; the waterways equivalent of parking tickets, so someone is obviously quite vigilant. It sort of proves what we said in the last post; in the winter, away from popular spots you’ll get left alone, but you still have to behave at visitor moorings.

So we’re now at Appley Bridge. Yes, back the way we came, although we were at the locks last time and now we’re next to the bridge. We’d have gone back to the locks except for a chemical spill which closed the canal for a week or two. There were blue absorbent barrages across the cut under the bridge and at all the spill weirs after it. When it first happened the whole area smelled of tar, but as the days passed and it continued to rain it seems to have mostly dispersed. Whether the emergency measures have been effective or whether it all got washed into the River Douglas is debatable, but the upshot is that by the 28th of December it was open to navigation again. Or, to put it more accurately; if any navigation had been occurring, its progress would have been unhindered.

We spent the Christmas holidays at Chloe & Shandy’s house, starting with a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner for all the family. In the morning Chloe & Shandy opened Santa's offerings, had breakfast and headed off to Jon & Jo's while we had a very pleasant Christmas day with Frankie & Harry. We resisted the temptation to walk out and leave all the clearing up, indeed C&S got the best deal; when they left there was a mountain of food and Package-Fest was in full swing, on the 29th they’ll come home to a clean house.

On Boxing Day we came back to the boat, lit a fire, hung up the washing, and then went to join Sue & Steve for a lovely evening at Emma & Bill’s at Hesketh Bank.

The following day we drove down to Wrexham to Rob & Tracey’s where we were later joined by Dave’s Auntie Margot and Cousin Philippa. Rob is half way through a yearlong tour in Afghan and was home for Christmas so it was good to be able to get to see them all.

We love Christmas, mainly because it means we get to indulge in our favourite pastime of visiting people. This year, due to being in a different neck of the woods, we’ve been able to share Christmas with a whole other branch of our family and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course it does mean that we’ve spent a good deal of time lounging around and eating too much. There will be a price to pay in the New Year in the form of lots of walking and cycling; let’s hope the weather allows us enough time between deluges to do it.

Talking of rain, we are often asked how the current state of affairs affects us; are we likely to be washed away or left stranded in a field somewhere. The short answer is that as long as we stay on canals and avoid rivers and flood plains we should be ok. There are exceptions, but in general for a canal to flood the adjacent river has to burst its banks and water levels need to rise dramatically, obviously this would cause catastrophic flooding in the local area before there was a problem on the canal. Indeed, aboard a boat in a canal is usually the best place to be when there are flood warnings about. There’s also the added bonus of being off grid to start with, so immune from power cuts and blocked drains. And if the worst should happen, we’re on board to do something about it and we’ve got emergency gear. The boats that appear on the TV news stranded or perched on top of locks would most likely have been unoccupied in the build-up to, and during the occurrence of, their calamity. So thank you for your concern, it’s good to know that you are thinking of us, but touch wood, we’ll be fine.

Thank you, Dear Reader, for sticking with us for another year, we hope you had a good Christmas and we look forward to sharing 2013 with you. Happy New Year.

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