Today we took "Forget me Not" and "Hazel" to Marple. Our guests were people who have been dealng with depression. It was wonderful to see them enjoying the positive ambience of the boat and the waterway. That's what "Hazel" is for!
I've been down to Rugby to visit my brother and family. On the way back I thought I'd visit the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway that runs between Duffield and Wirksworth in Derbyshire. It turned out to be diesel weekend, which was a bit disappointing for me but I nevertheless enjoyed the ride. There were classes 26, 31 and 33 in action and I enjoyed the sound of their growly old diesel engines. The class 31 was hauling a 3 car Metro cammell DMU (class 101). I don't know if its engines don't work or if they were just short of coaches. From Wirksworth a short line carries on up a 1 in 29 gradient to Ravenstor, the old limestone loading point. This was being worked by a Derby Lightweight railcar from about 1956, the sort that was used to try to save the Banbury Buckingham line. I don't think it's engine is in very good shape. As it climbed the incline it left a trail of blue smoke hanging in the air.
Diesel events attract serious railway enthusiasts. Megabytes of video and still photos were being generated, some people were writing things in notebooks and there was an atmosphere of serious study.
Opposite me on the railcar sat a fat man and a thin man, both in their 60s and dressed for a 1950s locospotters club outing. The fat man said in a disparaging tone "I think one visit is more than enough for me",. "Oh" said the thin man, the fatty continued wth a disapproving air "this line wasn't even part of the branch". "It was used for mineral traffic" the thin man ventured. "Yes" continued his friend, now sounding a little angry, "but it never had a passenger service"! Clearly he will refrain, on principle, from the delights of the Foxfield Railway, the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway and the Nant Gwernol extension of the Talyllyn Railway.
Class 31 arriving at Duffield with the DMU set
The Class 33 "Crompton" at Shottle, the crossing point for trains, viewed through the rear cab of the Metro Cammell DMU.
The Derby Lightweight waits for passengers then sets out up the incline to Ravenstor.
Serious railway enthusiasts mill about in the shade of the railcar at Ravenstor.
An industrial diesel with permanent way train in a siding at Shottle.
The 18 locks of the Ashton Canal between Manchester and Droylsden are not the best loved locks on the system. Many are the tales that go around of boats fouled up by rubbish, faulty locks, empty pounds and occassional ambushes. We've certainly had some difficult passages in the past. Not the kind of place you'd think to go bowhauling a butty for fun, but that's exactly what we did today.
"Hazel" had to be moved from Ducie St up to Ashton. We had an excellent good natured team of Tony Hewitson, Aaron Booth, David Basnett, Mary Francis and myself. We set off at about 10 AM and steadily worked up the locks with no fuss. Everyone worked as part of the team and needed next to no direction. The weather was dry and sunny but not too hot. We stopped above lock 7 to eat some excellent vegetable chilli supplied by the wonderful Em. At the summit we were met by our friend Fred who towed us the last couple of miles with his steel boat.
Aaron shafting the boat back towards the winding hole. We discovered that you can't wind a full length boat in the entrance to the private basin in Picadilly Village, but you can in the silly litlle arm on the towpath side.
David Hauls "Hazel" towards lock 8 under Ashton New Road.
Mary steers into lock 8.
Approaching Clayton Lane.
Passing the entrance to the Stockport branch.
Droylsden swing bridge.
Water sports adventure centre.
Entering the final lock.
"Hazel" needs to earn some money so that she can do more good work taking people who need their spirits lifting away up the cut. We decided to try taking her to Manchester as we earn more for overnight stays down there. Today Tony, Aaron, me and new volunteer (though he helped dig out the boatyard years ago) Lee, bowhauled her down the locks to the velodrome. On Tuesday she'll carry on to Ancoats.
We did a trip with "Hazel" from Portland Basin to Lumb Lane and Back for People First Tameside on May 31st. Here are some pictures. Everybody enjoyed it.
At the end of March we organised a trip from Ashton to Bugsworth and back over a long weekend, Friday to Monday. Unfortunately only one couple, Mary and David, booked a cabin, but we ran the trip anyway.
The weather was glorious, if a bit chilly at night. The Friday took us to Chadkirk, where lovely gardens run down to the canal and there's a mediaeval chapel, holy well and is handy for access to Romiley. On Saturday we worked up the 16 Marple locks and along the upper Peak Forest canal, turning off up the Bugsworth arm where we tied in the former interchange basins.
Sunday was an easy pootle back as far as Strines, where we tied under magic oak trees, then on Monday, down the locks again and back to Ashton. Our guests have now signed up as crew.
"Hazel" between Hyde and Gee Cross.
Kim steering at Romiley.
"Hazel" at Strines.
Phil demonstrating where not to stand when steering "Forget me Not".
A tight turn on the upper Peak Forest.
One of the drawbridges.
Peak Forest scenery.
Joan steering "Hazel"
Declan enjoys sitting on the roof.
while granny steers round another turn.
David tries motor boat steering.
While Mary steers the butty.
Magical oak at Strines.
Brewing up on Monday morning.
Aaron works the drawbridge.
Woodley railway bridge.
After being unable to do recycling trips by boat for a couple of months because Lumb Lane bridge was being repainted it was great to get out on the boats again for the first Sunday in April. Here are some photos I took on the trip.
Thursday 9th February. "Hazel" the boat was in Stalybridge but we needed her in Ashton for the Valentines trips (still undersubscribed if you and your lover would like to book a place). Anyway, it was an excuse for a training trip.Tony had invited his friend Joe who found us after a mystery tour of Ashton. We took "Forget me Not" up the 3 locks to Stayley Wharf, Kim Tranter having his first go at boat steering, which he took to like a duck to water. We then left her in the care of Joan Wainwright while the rest of us walked up to Knowl St Heritage Boatyard to collect "Hazel".
Nigel Carpenter shafted the boat down to the winding hole and winded her, before working down lock 7.
Jannice Brown and Barry Atherton joined us Tony Hewitson bowhauled down the locks through Stalybridge town centre. George Hewitt took on her usual role of lockwheeler in chief.
It was a dull cold day with occassional flurries of snow so everyone was well wrapped up but in good spirits.
Back at Stayley Wharf, Joan had been heating up some delicious soup that had been donated by Bev Ackford who was unfortunately unable to join us for the trip. This was shared out and consumed as Joan steered us along the long pound to lock 3.
Then down the two locks and along the next pound to lock 1.
From lock 1 it was a level run through the Asda tunnel to Portland basin, where our crew made an excellent job of breasting up with minimal instruction from me.
It was an excellent trip. Everyone worked well together and enjoyed themselves, mostly just seeing what needed doing and doing it without having to be told.
When we were tied up, some had to go, but the rest of us went up to the shop as it was Hazel the person's leaving do. After a little mix up we found her in the nearby Station Hotel where she organises a Knitting and Crocheting session on a Thursday afternoon. For the last 2 years Hazel Mayow has been our volunteer organiser but, now that the funding has run out, we'll have to organise ourselves or return to anarchy. Hazel has a liking for cake, so we covered the pub table with extreme ceam cakes from the Polish shop. Poles seem to excel in the art of cake making. Luckily Hazel hasn't completely gone as she wil be coing back as a volunteer. I took my camera with me but clean forgot to take photographs, sorry.
All in all it was an excellent day. Thanks everyone.
I met Em on Ashton bus station in November 1988. We hit it off straight away but for years and years we lived in separate establishments. Hers a neat and tidy little house, mine a leaky old boat. Eventually, sometime after I became homeless because "Hazel" sank (this was before her restoration) she allowed my scruffiness to move into her house, and I learned to live with her regular cleaning frenzies. Neither of us were really that bothered about being married, being old hippies, and we certainly didn't want a wedding with all the fuss that it entails. The trouble is that we're both getting to the time of life where Google ads frequently send us links to funeral services. When one of us pops our clogs, unwed, the survivor would have an awful time dealing with the legalities of property, pensions etc. We're not going to follow the Hindu tradition of Suttee so, barring horrible accidents, one of us has to go first. We decided to quietly slip away to Cardiff and get a couple of friends to act as witnesses.
There was a fair bit of fuss really, I had to have a bath and wear posh clothes, Em dressed up and carried flowers from Victoria and Springy's allottment. It was a lovely little ceremony and we promised all kinds of difficult things then got a bilingual certificate to prove we'd done it. Thanks to Springy, Victoria, Joy and Ric for being witnesses. Afterwards we all went for a really nice meal in a pub near Taffs Well.
I hope nobody is too upset at missing out on the wedding of the year with carriages and top hats and the blushing bride done up like a meringue. Sorry, but both of us would have hated that.
I'd like to show you the wedding pictures but the only one of her that Em will allow is this one from our honeymoon.