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Saturday, 17 November 2018

Beers, Boats and Boozers, 2018. No.15

We spent the day around this lovely town with some beautiful buildings. We walked up the Hill first to Williamson's Park.

The beautiful Victorian Williamson Park is named after the Williamson family that were oil cloth and linoleum manufacturers in the area.  the son of the founder of the business carried on the growth and in 1895 was knited and became Lord Ashton. This is the Ashton Memorial that was designed by Sir John Belcher and completed in 1909. The building is dedicated to the Williamson family, but it is thought that it was dedicated to his second wife Jessy, who died in 1904. He was married three times, with two daughters from his first marriage. It must have been a little uncomfortable for them, and the 3rd wife I  would have thought.

The views in all directions form below the dome a great in all directions with this view of the old port are of the town by the Lune and the castle been prominent. In 1981 the Ashton memorial had to be closed as it needed total refurbishment. After 4 years it reopened and now has an art gallery and is a wedding/conference/party venue.

The citizens of the town are very lucky to have such a fantastic facility. It is a victorian park at its best. It even looks like a canal area connecting with this lake, but isn't. The park was opened in 1877 but the fountain was added by Sir John Belcher when the memorial was erected.

Down in the middle of the town, in the square opposite the Town Hall is the statue of Victoria with these bronzes on each side. They are full of the national great and good of  the day. Florence Nightingale is here and the only other women is George Elliot. How times change. They are extremely detailed, and I like the fact that they were allowed to smoke!!

In the foreground is Covell's Cross. It is a recent replacement for the original market cross and is named after the man who lived in the house behind. He was Mayor, Magistrate and Coroner but is perhaps best known as the Keeper of the Castle during the with trials there in 1612. The house is called the Judging's Lodgings as it was where the visiting judges lodge when attending the assizes held here. They brough many people and hence money to the town as until 1835 all cases from Manchester and Liverpool were also heard here. Just showing what a meteoric rise those city's have had. It now houses a museum of Gillows Furniture that was manufactured just round the corner near the castle.

On the side of the Priory church, by the castle is this plaque to the engineer who built the Lune Aqueduct that we will be crossing soon.

The Water Witch pub is, as you can see, on the tow path, and not far from our moorings. It was converted from boat horse stables in 1978. It is very popular, and doesn't have a car park! We went to a quiz night and managed to come equal bottom. That's the trouble with these University towns! It is a long narrow building due to its original use but the stone floors rafters and pine paneling make up for it. They do good food and have about 6 hand pulls on most of the town.

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It tried a beer from Kirby Lonsdale Brewery that is named after the town it comes from! It started up in 2009 and has a 6bbl brewery. It is in the Old Station Yard, but in 2016 they converted a barn in the town to their tap house and also added a small brewery in there too. They make a large range of beers, with about 6 being regularly available, and sell all over Cumbria and the North.

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I tried their Singletrack 4.0% beer. It had a nice golden colour with an average head on it with a bouquet of aromas wafting up from it. It was full of hops and the overall tastes was of citrus, but left a nice clean taste too. I enjoyed it, but I only had one so don't think that was the cause of our poor showing in the quiz.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Beers, boats and Boozers 2018. No.14

When we left Gargrave we headed for the Glasson Branch Branch as it fitted in with our schedule. No windlass is needed as the paddle has them attached. The paddles are opened by rack and pinion on the top of the gates. All was well and we had a nice quite trip down to the basin.

As we got in the basin the wide expanse of water meant that we were exposed to the wind a far bit. After first mooring up I spun the boat round in a lull so we could get the boat round the corner when we left if the wind didn't drop. Luckily we did as it was even windier when we left so I could just let the wind do the work.

After this lock the locks were a little more sheltered but it was no place to linger for Helen.

Here we are back at the junction again. We turned right and headed back to Gargrave as we were booked in the Marina as we had to go home for a while.

Once we returned the leaves had really come out and the weather had warmed up. Basically it was to stay warm for the rest of the year too. As we once again headed north there are some beautiful stretches of canal. As you can see though, not the perfect bank for moorings.

I think this is the biggest turtle/terrapin that I have seen on the canal system, and it was in the same spot when we came back down too.

We moored up in Lancaster and later went for a pint at the nearby White Cross pub, just by the towpath as you can see. The pub was opened in 2004 in an old stores warehouse for the Storey's Oil Mill. It was built between 1854 and 1880, by three brothers that started their business in 1851, Thomas, later Sir Thomas, Edward and William Storey. They made oil cloth, leather cloth, linoleum and baize. The company finished in 1982 and the mill on this site contracted so that this building became vacant and the pub moved in. It is a large airy open space, very modern and on a couple of levels.

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I tried a beer that was quite local to where I live. Rudgate Brewery was started in 1992, in an old ammunition store on the WWII Marston Moor RAF Halifax bomber base. The brewery was named after the Roman road that ran across the site. However the Vikings used it to conquer the Vale of York and they were used as the theme for the brewery and most of the beers. I'm not sure what they had against the Romans. The brewers that is, not the Vikings! In 2011 they moved into a modern new brewery on the same site.

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The pub has many real ales on the bar, around 20 per week, and most are part of the Locale scheme, brewed within 40 miles of the pub, but I really fancied a stout so Settled on the York Chocolate Stout at 5%. It had a medium head on it when pulled and had a ruby colour rather than black. There was very little chocolate taste over all, and for me it was a little 'thin'. However it wasn't bad at all. It was £3-90 which stopped me going back to try another beer. Overall it seemed to be for a younger element than me. I applaud them carrying so many beers though. I must be getting old as it was a bit modern for me.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Beers, Boats and Boozers, 2018 No. 13

After our time in Preston we had to sail down to the end of the canal to wind before head back past the Basin and onwards towards Garstang/

These are the original John Rennie Bridges from when the canal was built. Some have railings and some not. I assume they were not original items.

Not far out of Preston is the Westinghouse Nuclear Springfield plant started out as a munitions factory that was converted for the nuclear programme in 1946. By 1950 it was producing 20 tonnes of Uranium metal a week and by mid decade was making fuel for the experimental reactors and then later for the first commercial nuclear power station at Calder Hall.  It then produced the fuel rods for all the MAGNOX reactors and still toady can produce fuel for just about every sort of reactor. The plant is the most advanced in the world and the fuel made here provides 12% of the nations electricity. It is quite thought provoking when you pass a sign that tells you to go inside, close the windows and doors and turn off all heaters and burners, and listen to local radio if you should hear an air raid siren. (Except once every quarter when it is tested).

The canal passes through some shallow cuttings but generally winds through the countryside eventually heading north.

The mile posts are different and I'm not sure if the post are original as the metal plates certainly don't appear so.

The transport routes are compressed into the narrow coastal plain by the inland terrain but they don't stay too close for too long, and peace reigns. 

On the approach to Garstang the sun came out and we passed the remains of Greenhalgh Castle. It was built in 1490 by the 1st Earl of Derby. By the time of the Civil War it befell the 7th Earl to defend it for the Royalist. It was the second to last to fall to Cromwell's men in Lancashire in 1645. It was ordered to be brought down so it could not be used again, and so it is today.

There are several aqueducts crossing rivers that pass from the hills to the coast. The largest is the Wyre Aqueduct in Garstang.

Once we had moored up we went for a little explore of the town, and to look for a pint.

We found the Royal Oak on the Market Place. Parts of the building are from the 1600's but it was in its hey day during the stage coach era when 8 coaches heading north and 4 heading south a day stopped at the place. It had 11 bedrooms and 3 servants rooms around this time. Internally it still has several rooms and has an old fashioned feel about it. The food looked good though. It is about 20 minutes from the visitor moorings in the centre of town.

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I have talked about Robinson's Brewery before and it is based in Stockport and is still a family run business.

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I tried the standard Robinson's Bitter at 4.2% and it cost £3-20. It was originally brewed in 1896 and is still the same recipe. It was brewed by Frederic for his dad at the Unicorn Pub, from which it was named after. As can be seen the emblem for Robinson's is the Unicorn also named after the original pub on the site which the present brewery was built upon. It is quite a surprising beer as at first you get a fairly fruity taste form the hops and then this followed by a nice malty finish. It has a good brown colour and was served with a nice head too. What's not to like?

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Another busy weekend.

Non canal related as we were visiting our daughter but there was this river close by. I thought I'd post some pictures before getting back to the Boats , Beers and Boozers.

The South Bank near Battersea seems to be just one big building site. There is a new tube station being built here as well as the newly opened USA Embassy.

We had a very interesting tour of the Globe Theatre (reduced price tickets) and had a couple of hours there and the exhibition too.

Evensong at St Paul's.

 Lighting the flares for the latest installation in the moat of the Tower of London. The smoke was added, but I did wonder about how good for the environment it all was?

Quite atmospheric but I wasn't sure what the music added to it all. Wrong type for the atmosphere I thought.

There are lots of creeks and moorings on the Thames bank and this little scene was near where we stayed. The modern glass apartment building was built on the site of an old glucose factory.

There had been a large firework display in Battersea Park the night before but all was quiet on Monday morning. The trees are just starting to get in their full splendour.

This unsual  War Memorial was designed and paid for by Eric Kennington. It is dedicated to the 24th Division, one of Kitchener's New Army of Recruits and was disbanded in 1919 after losing 35000 men killed, wounded or missing, on the Western Front. Kennington served in the Lodon Regiment and later in the War became a war artists, and again the WWII. It was unveiled in 1924.

 This is the Royal Victoria Patriotic Assylum and was built using a fund set up by Prince Albert to assist the injured soldiers and the orphans and widows of the Crimea War. It was opened in 1859 as an orphanage. In WWI it became an hospital and then when peace returned it became a Girls school until 1939 and the outbreak of another World War. It was then used by MI5 and MI6. It later became a Secondary School until 1974 when it fell into disrepair. It was rescued in 1985 and now has apartments, offices the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, and a bar. That was whey we were there. It must be one of the nicest Gothic Buildings that nobody knows about. Not far from Clapham Junction Station.

Even closer to the station is the old Arding and Hobbs Department Store, now Debenham's. A lovely building. There are plenty of things to see in this area, and plenty of shops too, from very high end to charity shops. A nice mixed area of London.

Last train from King Cross to Hull, via Doncaster after a very busy and tiring weekend in London. Got back home about 0030 on Tuesday.

Normal service will be resumed in nthe next day or so.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Busy Weekend.

Macy the cat and myself have had a few days on the boat moored up at Aston Marina. We did choose the coldest weekend of the year so far but we were snug and warm through out.

Helen had come up trumps in the draw for ticket for the 'Strictly Come Dancing' recording at Elstree Studios so I had delegated No.1 daughter to accompany here rather than meas a). she would enjoy it more than I and b). she lives in London to start with. The process of actually getting in to see the show is arduous and started at 0630 to queue to get the tickets  'validated' as they always give out more tickets than there are seats. The BBC seems to do this at all their shows, I suppose to ensure a maximum audience. This meant to be sure of a seat you had to validate the ticket whilst there was enough seats. Apparently the first in the queue started at 2100 the day before. That task was accomplished at 1030. You are then free for a few hours until you are let in around 1500. People started queuing again at 1300, but my girls turned up at 1445 and were in by 1515. You are then in a marquee until 1715. All your coats are taken plus you have to surrender your mobile phone too. You are then shown into your place and you are there until about 2245. What a day it was. Helen says it was great to see the show and how it all works etc. but she wouldn't go again. She had an email today saying that she had been unlucky in the draw for tickets to the Blackpool weekend show. She did breath a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile I was painting the deck heads (ceilings) in the boat and various other jobs. We got there to find everything was fine. The engine started first time and there were no leaks etc. The heating and water pumps started up and I soon had the stove flashed up and churning out heat. Another job I did was finish off the perspex secondary glazing on the kitchen window. I had done this to all the other windows and it works a treat, not only insulating but preventing the vast quantities of condensation that build up when it is cold outside, but warm inside.

The Sunday morning dawned with a frost, -3deg on the thermometer, but little wind and a beautiful light and just the last of the mist over the northern entrance to the marina.

As soon as anybody steps outside 'Swany' is over to start his begging routine. Can you see the name of the boat. Ahh, poetic isn't it?

Monday night saw a beautiful sunset over Aston Church.

It just got better and better as the sun settled further.

Every day you can see and hear the Canada Geese coming into roost at the marina, whilst not my favourite birds they do make an impressive site and sound as the come in, and out.

Helen went from Hull to London and I dropped her off before coming on here. She caught the train back to Stone on Monday so she has had a night on the boat too before coming home today.

Fingers crossed that all is still well when we get back to the boat in a few weeks time.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Beers, Boats and Boozers, 2018. No.12

As it turned out the weather was suitable for us to depart about 1000 in the morning. It did look a little ominous but despite some rain the wind never got up much.

We penned out with a cruiser who was shifting moorings to Glasson Dock. They kindly didn't leave us for dead. We rounded Astland Light just before high water and then found the entrance to Skarisbrook and made the turn easily enough.

The traffic light was green as they have to close the rotary gate once the tide drops so far. There is a real run through the restricted course of the brook.

Any thought that the hard work is now over is put behind you when you realise that there are several loocks and as the tide is dropping it is 'interesting' navigating up to the first non tidal lock.

Here we are almost at the top with the staircase lock. A longer boat has to reverse into the lock as the turn is too tight. At the top we reveresed out into the basin and continued on our way, turning right on the Lancaster Canal proper, heading towards Preston. We moored up at the visitor moorings that are next to the services a little outside Preston.

The next day we caught the bus into Preston to have a look around. It has quite a bit to offer, and is well worth a look if you are this way. After a bit of shopping and sightseeing we deserved a pint.

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We were near the station as I was checking it out for a trip home later in the trip. Opposite the drive down to the station is the Old Vic. It turns out to be a good find. Dating from the late 1830's it has had several names, such as the Victoria and Station, Duck Inn, Victoria and Vic and Station and now the Old Vic. Do you see the recurring theme there? The pub was pretty busy with all ages. There were far too many TV's for me but at the bar I spied at least 6 hand pumps plus a couple of craft beers. People were chatty and the place was quite a Tardis inside so despite being busy there was plenty of room to find a seat.

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I had a pint of the White Rat at 4.0% from Rat Brewery in Huddersfield. It is as it says a pale hoppy beer with a nice mellow taste with a hint of citrus, all for £3-10. I very lovely drink on a warm day.

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The Rat Brewery was started in 2011 this micro brewery is found at the Rat and Ratchet pub in Huddersfield, but is under the umbrella of the Ossett Brewery but as a stand along micro brewery.

Cross Bay Omega
My next pint was a pint of Omega American Pale Ale at 4.2% it is brewed with four types of malt and four types of hops that gave it a full taste with plenty of fruit tastes with a bit of a spice there too. Another beer with plenty of taste but refreshing on a warm day. It cost £3-30 which seems near normal in this part of the world.

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The brewery was started in 2011 in Morecambe and is named after the the route across Morecambe Bay that was the route for travelers from Lancashire to the Lake District that was led by guides to avoid the treacherous quick sands

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Beers, Boats and Boozers, 2018 No.11

We walked down to the River Lock at the end of the Rufford Armto have a look at what we were in for the following day. This is the outer gate with the tide ebbing. It looked like a fair old flow on and it still wasn't low water.

There were two sets of gates one to keep the canal water in and another, outer gate, to keep the sea water out when there are higher than normal tides that may push the inward facing gates open and potentially flood the surrounding land.

Between the two gates the markers show that there can be 13ft of water in the river. That must go with a real rush when it starts to ebb.

This is looking down river towards the Ribble Estuary, and the way we would be travelling, hopefully the next day.

The weather and tide were a bit 'iffy' so we weren't sure if we would be sailing the next morning. So we went up into town for a look around and tried the second pub in the village, named the Village Inn.

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The pub looked like a modern Doctor's Surgery, and without the sign outside I wouldn't have know it was there! Well not quite that bad; but inside it was very plain and stripped back with plain tables and chairs too. It is something that you wont often here me say, and don't tell my wife I have uttered these words, but it needed a few soft furnishings, cushions and the like! There is one large room wrapped around the bar with several areas. There seems to be plenty of food available and the portions looked massive, but they only had two hand pulls on.

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I plumped for a pint of the Cumberland, 4.0% from Jennings Brewery. Jennings started brewing in a village between Cockermouth and Keswick in the Lake District in 1828 by a bloke called John Jennings. His Dad was a maltster before him. By 1874 they needed to expand so set up another brewery in Cockermouth at the Castle Brewery. They were using the well water that had previously supplied the Norman Castle, and still do. In 2005 Marston's bought the brewery, and expanded it somewhat. They brew all sorts of beers there now.

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Cumberland is described as a Deep Golden Ale and is made with English hops and pale and chocolate malts to give it a bit of base It is dry hopped at the end to give it a little citrus after taste. The pint did have a good colour but had a week head and was a bit of a thin. It got £3-00 so a bit cheaper than we had been paying.

The Chip shop was just behind the pub and we couldn't resist the smell so called and bought our tea to eat after the brief walk down to the moorings. We then just had to see if we would be going in the morning as we had been told that it looked a little 'iffy'.