Saturday, 28 July 2012


The second part of Toms birthday treat was a few days away on  The Queen Mary 2 this entailed a quick flight from Manchester to Hamburg were we boarded the QM2 after boarding we sailed down the Elbe across the North sea though the straights of Dover and on to Southampton were again we took a quick flight back to Manchester a fairly hectic few days.
Six weeks ago I would not have thought it possible as Tom was really not up to it However his remarkable recovery over the past 6 weeks enabled the party to go ahead the credit for the admin and the conviction ( I for one needed convincing to take a 90 year old just recovered from a broken hip on a 2 flights and a cruise ) would work goes to the organisation skills of Mary(Noreens sister) It was Mary who organised the whole thing flights, Taxies, wheelchairs, everything we needed to get ourselves and Tom from A to B as the party consisted of eight you can imagine what the logistics involved.
As our first leg was a flight to Hamburg at 7.00am we arrived in Hamburg in plenty of time to board QM2 and settle in before dinner
Now the QM2 is slightly bigger than Buggerlugs it has 13 decks, not including engineer and engine decks 9 Dinning rooms, 2 night clubs, three theatres, 13 bars plus one English bar and accommodates 2500 guests, need I go on it is enormous. after a quick shower and change as we all had to dress formal for dinner (if you want to know how you can get enough clothes for formal dinning and three days casual wear into a Carry-on case weighing no more than 10kg then just ask us we are experts) Dinner was delicious and a very joyous occasion after which we all took a walk on deck. Having so many of us made moving Tom easy as we all took turns on the wheelchair duty, by now QM2 was leaving port and we were treated to a spectacular review.
As we pulled out of Hamburg we were given a rousing send off, it appeared that the whole of Hamburg had turned out to wish us bon voyage, a flotilla of boats had massed to our stern ready to escort the QM2 down the Elbe to the open sea there were all kinds of boats Sailing yachts of every size, pleasure craft, commercial Barges, Dutch Barges, inflatable’s coast guard, and a beautiful Paddle Steamer every craft you could imagine all blowing horns and sirens. On our starboard the river has its hotels and holiday houses 1000 of guests at these hotels were waving frantically from the balconies from one hotel we had a 12 gun salute then the Paddle steamer broke out in a very loud rendering of Rule Britannia which 90% of the passengers joined in with, which was great as half the guests were German. We now glided down the river on a very calm and beautiful summer evening. As the sun was well passed the yard arm we settled Tom and Shirley in their cabin and us younger ones? Went to explore the bars ??????????? However the early start and the hectic exciting day played its toll and we too were soon settling down in our own staterooms on king sized BEDS
Now the food on board is a strange affair for a start you don’t pay for any food or soft drinks Dinner as I said has a dress code but all other meals are quite relaxed breakfast, morning tea, Brunch, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Tiffin and then Dinner, plus room service 24/7 I tried to attend them all but failed I was quite devastated but I just put it down to my age ??
By now the first full day, Tom was really looking well the sea air, good food and good company had started to work. As I said the ship is enormous and there was so much to do, we only covered a ¼ of it.
The only thing I was not happy about was the fact the Capt never called on my services or advice, you would have thought knowing he had another experience boater on board he would have exploited the fact But obviously he had enough help
I believe that Tom having shared his birthday with his family (Bob and Norma, Mary and Rodger Noreen and myself plus Shirley Has greatly improved his recovery rate. The fact of having his family around him, spending time and going that extra mile to ensure his momentous birthday was celebrated with some style and Panache has made his recovery much brighter
but all good things have to come to an end Bob and Norma are returning to Canada via Northern Ireland though they are returning in the Autumn , Mary and Rodger started there return to Australia today
As many families grow older and have greater individual responsibilities therefore they tend to drift apart. As an extended family we are doing well to stay connected. We will miss them all and God willing will see them again soon.
Noreen and I will continue our summer cruise on Tuesday having a couple of jobs to do for Tom on Monday. For the first week we have Thomas Jnr with us. Now that is going to be fun

Setting out from Hamburg
only six of the eight the other two are behind the camera

The grand stair way

just like my boat all the guest just sit around????

Sun deck a waste of good wood

What a lovely couple

Communications are essential
I struggle with telle

One of the six pools. Im having one fitted on my boat in the cratch

Monday, 23 July 2012

Thats it! we have just completed Toms 90th Birthday weekend celebration

It all began last Sunday when Mary and Roger arrived from Australia, they joined us ib Barbridge They had arrived to us via Venice and Amsterdam, Mary really wanted to experience the life on the Cut So I considered a quick dash from Barbridge to Stretford would do the trick??????

They arrived on Sunday lunch time after a quick lunch and the safety drill?? We were off only a few miles just as a taster we moored for the evening around bridge 24 on the link it was a lovely summer evening with no TV, phone signal or internet, which I thought was typical and worth experiencing, next morning 07.15 I wanted to get through Middelwich early before it started to back up Mary had already completed two locks and we considered her Trained But we didnt take the weather into consideration it was raining when we left at 0715 and still raining when we arrived in Northwich at 16.30 we where all like drowned rats, Mary wanted to experience everything about the canals and she did, the evening on the Weaver was great we even found time to go to Weatherspoons for our evening meal (My birthday treat) Tues Noreen and mary got a hire car and shot up to visit Tom arriving back in time to slip the mooring and catch the last lift back to the canal we then had a quick dash North

We did the first two tunnels and moored up, Weds gave us the last tunnel and on to Lymm as the weather had now changed this was a much better experience arriving early in Lymm and getting a mooring near the chippy gave us plenty of time to take a nice walk around the Dam. This then only left Thurs as we had now joined the Bridgewater no more locks, open canal, wide bridges and little traffic so by lunch time we were at our destination 500 yards from Toms front door and the beginning of the birthday celebrations Sat evening Noreen arrange a Family reunion party at Sale water park 28 dined and it was a re-good-do Different to most Mancuniun family reunions there were no punch ups. Sunday was a celebration Mass again a very meaning full occasion.

We are now sat in Stretford Marina waiting for Weds morning when we all fly off to Hamburg were we join the Queen Mary for a cruise back to Southampton I know I can hear you why are you going on a cruise??? Well I will tell you; all food is included all day every day. And I am sure that when the captain realises he has got another captain on board he will call me to the bridge for some advice and let me have a go ???????????

The above Does not give justice to the four days trip from Barbridge to Stretford our guests seem to enjoy what the system has to offer even the weather did not put them off

Mary & Rodger Lymm Dam
Time off from the locks

Ready to celebrate
his 90th

Mary says in Bigger than anything in Australia
However they don't have canals?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

We are now playing a waiting game , waiting for the weather to change, our next guests to arrive and my Premium Bonds to come up with a good win. First we moored a few days in Barbridge from there Noreen was able to visit her dad, I managed to get some running repairs done, when we are on continuous cruise mode its surprising just how many items break, wear out, get damaged or just simply get lost. Unfortunately I am one of those people who considers everything has a place and everything should be in that place, I also have a fixation on things being fit for purpose. I know that sounds like I have a problem and many people would agree but I know that in an emergency everything will be to hand and it will work

??????????? All that requires lots of maintenance so a few days enforced lay up is always welcome. I managed to give the engine a good service new oil and filters I had noticed a few rattles started to appear so everything got a good tighten down. I had to make two new stern Holding ropes As one snapped ) I use these when just holding the boat in whilst Noreen closes down the lock (its easier that the centre line) they are only 4ft long I like to decorate mine with Turks heads and plats, so as not to be too boring I did quite a few other long awaited jobs.

After a few days of hanging around in Barbridge we head south as far as Nantwich, not far I admit but its a change of scenery, people and of course shops. Saturday we had a really nice day walking around Nantwich which is a very nice country town that has retained most of its quaintness the parish church is well worth a look the market though small is indoors and the fish and chip shop down the side of Lloyds bank is one of the best. Yesterday we had a bus ride (free) into the ancient Roman City of Chester a place that never seems to change. It is still full of touring Japanese, Chinese and Americans, But the best thing about Chester is: that after midnight on Saturday and all day Sunday you can; within the City walls, shoot a Welshman with a long bow. Not very PC but its more fun than watching Sunday TV

I managed to replace my ancient Philips clock radio which has given fourteen years loyal service but now has given up talking to me. Noreen found a very nice Jacket in M&S what was more amazing was we got there and back without getting wet in fact the weather though changeable and not really summer, for us it has not been to bad in fact some days have been really hot and others I have been glad to be in the boat as the houses around us are being flooded by the continuous deluge.

So Noreen is off to visit her A dad tomorrow Thursday will be the big shop day and turn the boat around, I am taking Buggerlugs to fill up with Diesel, Gas, water and get a pump out, all in preparation for the Australian contingent arriving sat we are taking the boat to Barbridge as that is where they are joining us for the four day cruise back to Stretford.

Unfortunately I have no other news, with the weather being inclement the canal is very quiet lots of passing boaters seem to remember us from the Crick show and stop to say hello which is very nice.

Catch you all soon

Big Al

NB Buggerlugs

Monday, 2 July 2012

Hi everyone
How's your Weather?????????????

Saturday morning I was reluctant to rise But! 7.00am came around and it was time to start, I didn’t really want to leave the River Weaver but time marches on and we had done everything we wanted to do, having said our good-bye’s to our host’s last night we were able to get a good start. Over night the river had risen again only, by a few inches but it was still raining and still rising; so maybe getting early start might give that bit more of a chance of getting under that first bridge. With the wind behind us and the river in flood we were soon cruising and a fast rate of knots having navigated the first couple of very tight bends we were soon onto the wide open river, travelling only a few miles the first low bridge came into view, it was looking very low, we approached with great caution taking off all the revs and just allowing the flow to carry us through; with one hand on the reverse ready to make a hasty retreat we inched steadily forward. The previous night I had fitted a little marker to the top of the cratch head beam, my intension being if that goes through so should the rest??.
It did with 1 inch to spare but that’s all we needed, With a great sigh of relief we were through and now just open water two locks and Northwich Town Bridge between us and the Anderton lift. Arriving at the first lock I realised that even though we had a good start to escape the rising water and to make the lift in time for our passage up I did not take into account that the locks don’t start until 10.00am on Saturdays, we had to wait an hour though to be fare as soon as they came they got us through lock in double time, they also phoned the next lock to say we were on our way and wanted to go straight through within 45min we were approaching the next lock it was ready and we were being waved through. Northwich was not busy and we made the bridge with plenty of room to spare so we just sailed on through arriving at the boat lift at 11.35 for our 11.40 appointment
We had Made it.

Again everything was set and in minutes we were on the lift and rising to canal level, we even managed to get a mooing just outside the lift. all in all a very good day
Sunday we had a surprise Mat Lorraine and Thomas arrived though the weather was still not good we found plenty to do, Thomas gave me instructions on how to sail the boat and Mat fished he even caught some. Sunday it was still raining Noreen wanted to shop so Mat took us all over to \Northwich were Noreen shopped I got some engine oil and we all had Breakfast at Weatherspoons Thomas really enjoyed that, though not as much as seeing me go A--- o--- t-- attempting a high catch on our Rugby practice Thomas kicked a good Up and Under tempting me to go for the catch (I obliged) my neck is still aching

We are still hold up at Anderton, we are going to diner tonight with Silvia and Alan then tomorrow first thing we are off again I am picking up Diesel, Gas, Water and a pump-out, then we have no idea were we are going hopefully to find the sun ?????????

God Bless

Big Al

The Night before  clear Sky

Ready to go at 07.15 weather set in
First of the narrow bends

Just got the chimney under another inch and we would have had to
wait for the bridge to be swung open that could take a day??