Day 50 – Bullseye!

We’ve hit day 50 today, which feels like a bit of a milestone. 50 days on board…it’s been quite the adventure so far but with lots more to come yet!

After our day trip to Morecambe yesterday, a quieter day today to rest our legs! We started the day by opening an envelope from Barry and Rosemary. We’d thought it was lost, but it turned up at the bottom of one of the shopping bags when we went to M&S yesterday for a food shop – perfect timing. Thanks Barry and Rosemary, we’ll enjoy a meal out in Liverpool, and maybe a sundae too!

We passed some lovely almshouses in the morning, with beautiful flowerbeds out in front. They were part of William Penny’s legacy, founded in 1720 to house the poor in Lancaster, with a small chapel at the back. They are still in use as almshouses to this day.

Our main destination for today was the Lancaster Maritime Museum, located by the banks of the River Lune in the old customs house. The museum had a wide range of different display areas, including the history of fishing and shell-picking in Morecambe Bay, the town’s involvement with the slave trade and trading with the Americas, the history of the Lancaster canal (celebrating it’s 200th anniversary this year), all the way up to the recent history around the oil fields. It kept us entertained for a good few hours.

I practiced my knots…

… and Sarah made friends with one of the locals.

After visiting the museum, we walked back into the centre of town and went to the cinema to watch Toy Story 4. Yes, I still like cartoons / animated films, and so does Sarah. Big kids at heart! We moved seats a few times as Sarah got annoyed with the people sitting behind – maybe Sunday afternoon for a U rated film wasn’t the best timing, but it was good fun anyway.

We then made our way back to Oliver, ready to move on tomorrow. It feels like we’ve been in Lancaster for ages; we’ve really enjoyed our stay here but Glasson is calling.

Day 49 – All Puffed Out

Firstly a picture from yesterday evening and some keen students paddling on the canal on inflatable unicorns. They didn’t return, I’m sure the draw of a pint at the pub had something to do with it.

Today we decided to visit Morecombe and travelled by bus taking the two seats at the front, we got quite a view of the promenade.

We decided against trying to imitate the pose and have a photo looking like a right muppet, we were in the minority.

Morecombe has a pier with arms either side with great views, the tide was going out when we were there, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like on a very high tide.

This weekend is the kite festival, some of the kites were impressive as well as the handling skills. Sadly the wind took a bit of a dip, they struggled to keep those that were up, up, and fly new kites up. I quite like the kite of the lady in the middle, she looks like she’s sat down and taking a rest.

On my to-do list was afternoon tea at art deco Midland Hotel, with their panoramic views over the bay. With the kite festival, and us in t-shirts and shorts, we didn’t think we were dressed as per the other guests, so we opted for a drink in their Ravilious Rotunda Bar. I was somewhat caught out when I followed the ladies loo sign and saw men!!! Had I taken a wrong turn? Although they have different entrances, the facilities are unisex.

We headed back to Lancaster and picked up some food shopping. On our return, every mooring space was full, I wouldn’t like to be moored right outside the pub on a sunny Saturday.

An early blog post today as we’re eating out at the Water Witch.

Day 48 – Lancaster Revisited

We took a short hop down the canal to Lancaster today. We had another holdup with a moored boat coming loose at the stern and floating across the canal, which proved rather difficult to pull in but with help from a walker and another passing boat, we got it sorted eventually.

We reached Lancaster at 10:30; wary of a potential shortage of moorings after last time we’d aimed to get there nice and early, but not too early that nobody had got up and left yet! We need not have worried, there was only one yoghurt pot there with miles of moorings still free. As I write this, there’s still nobody moored between us and the pub a couple of hundred metres away.

First stop was the dentists, who had looked after Sarah so well a few days back. Sarah gave them a box of chocolates and some homemade ginger cake, along with a card. They phoned up later and said they’d be refunding our credit card – not sure if it was related or not, perhaps it’s just karma.

We then headed up to the castle to book the next tour. We had a half-hour wait so visited the priory next door to fill the time. The old choir stalls were amazing. Not so sure about the buy 5 get 1 free candle offer though, it somehow feels wrong in a church!

In the castle, no photography is allowed inside so we could only use this photo from outside. We got the same tour guide as last time – luckily he was very engaging so I didn’t mind hearing him again.

Hungry after escaping the castle prisons (only closed in 2011, and still using poo buckets in the cells up until 1989!), we headed for Atkinsons, a coffee house founded in 1837 and the oldest in Lancaster. We both had toasted ciabattas for lunch, with coffee for me and tea for Sarah. After lunch, we went next door and I bought some ground coffee to take back to Oliver.

Just down from the castle are the Judges’ Lodgings, or Judges’ Houses as I liked to call it, X-Factor style. It’s probably the oldest house in Lancaster, and in later years (1826-1975) visiting judges would stay here when visiting the courts.

On the top floor was a museum of childhood. Sarah thinks her parents still have one of the Fisher Price plastic record players at home.

The Lancaster Cottage Museum was last but not least – though it was the smallest! It’s part of a 1739 house that was split into two in 1820 and has been refurnished to that era. It gave a real feel of how cramped living conditions would have been – and only cost £1 to get in!

We’re back on Oliver for dinner and blog updates, and tomorrow we’re hoping to visit the maritime museum and the Ashton memorial.

Day 47 – The Highs And The Lows

We woke up to blue skies and sunshine, time to get the shorts on and the legs out (albiet pasty white ones). We’d just cast off, I assumed we had a sharp right hand bend as I could see a red boat on the non towpath side. It was only as we got closer, the red boat called snail had come loose on the stern line and was across the canal. Two other boaters helped me bring it alongside with one of the chaps volunteering to walk along the very narrow gunnel – I wasn’t going to say no.

The views out to Morecombe bay were glorious, it’s not often you get see the sand and the sea while on the canal. In the distance is The Lake District.

We’ve not seen many swans, on this occasion we were trying to distract them from the passing dog and owner.

We moored up at 10.45. More washing for me, and Toby worked on the splice for the tube fenders on the side of the boat – why he has to use the chopping board I do not know!

We are moored at Hest Bank, and apparently on a famous mooring, as this is where Pru and Timmy moored on their visit.

We walked down to the Bay at low tide. It’s hard to capture the sheer scale of the sands, how flat, and far-out they reach. We stopped by at the cafe on our way back for ice creams.

We went back at high tide and tried to take a photo at the same location to see the difference. Sadly it’s a low high tide today, so not really the effect we were hoping for!

I managed to spill tea on my shorts, Toby (like his father!!) had left his trousers out, so I thought I’d see if I could get them on and I can – something known as an NSV……a non-scale victory!

We had a feta, bean and sweetcorn salad for tea, Toby had fun feeding the crumbs to the ducks, they became quite familiar and nibbled his hand, although I’m not sure how much you can nibble when you’re all beak and no teeth.

Day 46 – A Brief Encounter with Carnforth

Today we started heading back South, having reached the northernmost point of our Grand Tour. Leaving behind the rush of traffic on the M6, it was an altogether quieter scene on the Lancaster canal.

I’ve heard of buildings with living roofs, but have never seen a boat with one until today! Aptly painted green, it was well camouflaged apart from the bright red toadstools.

There were a few narrow and twisty bends to steer around, and Sarah hasn’t lost her touch after a week away from Oliver. As it always seems, the few oncoming boats we met appeared when going around a corner.

We didn’t have far to go to reach Carnforth, our destination for the day. Despite arriving early though, there were very few places left to moor. We had the choice of opposite the petrol station and close to the road, or a bit further from the road but right by the pub. We went for the pub option – and only just squeezed in front of the slipway.

Safely moored, we then headed for the Carnforth Station Heritage Centre. The train station is most famous for being the setting of the film Brief Encounter, with the clock a central feature. They were continuously screening the film, but also had lots of other exhibits about the town, the station, the age of steam and such.

We used Sarah’s selfie-stick so we could get ourselves and the clock in together – though clearly I need more practice so I don’t get my hand in shot too!

There was even a carriage window replica so we could recreate a scene from the film… but I was more impressed with their cakes, which were delicious!

Suitably replenished, we slowly meandered back to Oliver via Tesco, to enjoy the warmth and sunshine of the early evening whilst reading the paper.

Day 45 – Is My Bite Worse Than My Bark?

While munching on an oatcake at dinner yesterday, I had a sharp pain in my recently filled tooth, and then a constant stabbing pain – not good news, as the dentist said if the flling didn’t work, I’d need root canal treatment. Going home again would be complicated, so we resarched local dentists in Lancaster. 9am and I was on the phone to the private Bay Dental Surgery who kindly agreed to see me at 10am. It was a quick dash over to Lancaster (thanks Romy and Peter) and we just about made it. The dentist was lovely, he didn’t think I needed root canal treatment, and that I probably just jolted it – apparently I have a strong bite! He filed down the filling and sent me on my way. Touch wood, so far so good. We were lucky as the lady who answered the phone was the dentist’s wife, so she ‘pulled in a favour’.

The original course of the Lancaster canal terminated at Kendal, so we decided to spend the day there as it’s only 8 miles from the current terminus. We visited a fabulous chocolate shop, I could have been tempted by one or two. We did buy a box of chocolates to say thank you to the Bay Dental Practice – I checked….they do eat goodies!

We visited the Quaker Tapestry Museum with 40 embroidered panels covering the 350 years . Our favourite tapestry is the one of the tall ships.

We passed Trinity Church, and lit candles for loved ones lost, it’s a sad reminder how many family and friends and are no longer with us.

We followed the culture walk around Kendal and took in all the various sights, the Civic Society have been quite active in putting up plaques with useul information. We had the obligatory selfie, the photo on the right made me smile, how did we cope before mobile phones?

We had dinner in the local restuarant before saying cheerio to Romy and Peter who tomorrow begin the journey back home. We’ll also be casting off tomorrow, and looking forward to new waters.

Day 44 – Blackpool Rocks

I have fond memories of visiting Blackpool as a child, and of all things eating cockles with my dad (I think you’d get done for child abuse if you did that now!) Seeing as we’re only half an hour away, we thought we’d have a day trip out.

We took the lift up the Blackpool Tower, we had the pleasure (pleasure beach…get it?!) of the 4D cinema experience wearing 3D glasses while we waited.

At the top, the 360 degree views were incredible, it was a shame it was such a cloudy day, on a clear day you can see out to the Isle of Man. Toby stepped out on to the 5cm thick glass viewing platform, I wasn’t so brave.

Then it was to level three to see the Tower Ballroom. The wurlitzer music filled the room, with a waltz and a tango. Sadly not quite up to Strictly standards, but then I’m guessing the average age of the dancers was probably in the 80s.

The trams are a mix between old and new, It was a shame we were too early for the Illuminations.

Fish and Chips at Harry Ramsdens (for those concerned about my weight loss, I stuck to the roast loin of cod and risotto)

We then took on the challenge of the Escape Room. It’s just like the crystal maze, with the four of us shut in a room for an hour. You have to figure out the clues to win the six orbs. We managed five, the ‘executioner’ played a wonderful role staying in charater the whole time. I fear this wont be the last we’ll be doing of those, as Toby loved it.

Day 43 – Fit For Twits

We left our pleasant mooring just after Rakes Head Bridge, near Hest Bank just before 9 am this morning with a well researched plan to meet up with Sarah near Borwick Hall where the guide showed some good moorings.  Unfortunately, as we all know, the best laid plans ….ugh!  The indicated moorings were fine if you had a draft of only a few inches or a very sloping side.  Not much cop however for a narrow boat.  After several attempts we were forced to give up.  Unfortunately the visitor mooring as Tewitfield were no better.  We ended up on the mooring for the services but as far back as we could possibly get so another boat could get in and use the facilities.  Not a choice we would ever normally make.  The other downside was that this mooring is only about 25 metres from the M6.  We are however within inches of the furthest possible point of navigation.

The journey to get here was fairly uneventful and unspectacular so we have a great paucity of pictures.  We filled up with water at Carnforth where in spite of the door clearly showing a pumpout symbol there is NO pumpout.  The sides of the canal are very shallow in places and the sharp left hand bend (travelling north) just before Borwick could be particularly tricky.

After we had moored and met Sarah we went for a walk about and discovered an interesting local farm shop, wine store, butchers general provisions, plants, chocolates just opposite the Longlands Hotel.

We walked along the towpath to have a look at the old disused locks leading to Kendal and we were surprised to see how much water is flowing down and must be running past Oliver.

Trying To Catch Another One
Memories Of Dowley Gap

The Ramblingsheep has rambled on for several days and is now signing off and leaving future blogs to Toby and Sarah. Thank you for viewing.

Day 42 – Gone Looney

We awoke this morning to grey skies and rather chilly temperatures leaving our mooring at 9:30.  As we made our way towards Hest Bank the clouds cleared, the sun came out and the day warmed up more than a little.  By the time we arrived it was distinctly hot.

We hardly saw any boats until we reached the Lune Aqueduct.  We decided to stop so we could walk down and take some pictures from below and two narrow boats appeared from the opposite direction.  They also decided to stop so we had quite a gathering all moored along the aqueduct.
From above:

From below:

We took what appeared to be the last available spot before Hest Bank as there was a long line of boats in front of us.  A gentleman from Cala Basa  appeared and asked if we knew anything about engines.  Our sketchy knowledge was somewhat better than his. We concluded that his starter motor was not engaging and there was not much we could do to help.  He called his rescue company who came to a similar conclusion.  Unfortunately a new starter solenoid was needed so they were stuck with a two or three day wait.

We decided to do a bit of fishing. Peter caught a few tiddlers but Romy hit the big time and had a great struggle to land her fish even bending the net in the effort.

We walked, taking the shortest possible route, to the coast, followed by a stroll along the shore line to Happy Mount Park and then, but only after ice creams, took the circular route back to Oliver.

Romy made an excellent job of cooking gammon steaks for dinner having decided that the fish was far too big for just three of us!

Day 41 – The Longest Day – The Shortest Journey

Today is the longest day with 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight but it is our shortest journey covering a mere 5 miles

We left our extremely pleasant and tranquil overnight mooring at around 9 am and headed at a very leisurely pace towards Lancaster.  It was again a beautiful bright morning but very chilly.

We only encountered three boats on the journey which lasted for only 1 hour and 45 minutes but was sufficient to get the batteries up to 99%.

Just before we set off from the mooring we were surprised to see a boat passing us with the driver standing on the seat, peering over the pram hood and steering through the bridge using his foot on the tiller.  It’s a shame we were too late to get a picture!

The journey was nicely varied with some open countryside and some quite deep cuttings with overhanging trees.

We had decided that Lancaster Castle would be our first tourist attraction but we did stop on route for coffee and cake at the Print Room and very good it was too.  The Castle can only be visited as part of a guided tour.  This proved to be very interesting and entertaining with James being a very engaging guide.  It was a shame that much of the castle was closed to visitors and photography was prohibited.

We then caught a bus and visited Williamson Park as Romy was determined to visit the Butterfly House.  A wedding with two brides was taking place at Ashton Memorial so we could only see this from the outside at first but we were able to enter the tower after loosing about three pound each (just sweat) in the butterfly house where we saw some lovely specimens. The view from the tower was quite stunning.

A few shots from the Butterfly House

One even sat on Romy’s hand

Another bus journey took us back to the town centre where did a bit of shopping at M&S before heading back to Oliver. On route we booked a table at the Water Witch for our evening meal.  This turned out to be excellent and very good value.