Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Plan B

Plan A was that we would leave Liverpool on Monday and head towards the Ribble Link of the Lancaster Canal where we had booked time on the link.
 Image result for ribble link images
Unfortunately, due to an emergency need for maintenance the Ribble was closed at the end of last week and will not reopen until the end of August at the earliest.  That is too late for us, so no Ribble.

We now have some unplanned time on our hands.  So, it was back to the drawing board to decide "What's next."

We were lucky enough to receive permission to remain in Liverpool until Sunday so we get a chance to see even more of what we are discovering is a wonderful city filled with humor filled citizens.  Not a bad place to have to spend an extra week.  Not at all.

On Sunday we will head back towards Wiggin.  Luckily, before we again have to do the infamous Wiggin Locks we will take a side turn and begin our journey towards Manchester on the Macclesfield Canal.

I already know the Macclesfield and I are going to become great friends.  How do I know this you ask.
The Macclesfield is a cut and fill canal.

Image result for macclesfield canal  to manchester, england

Besides a stop lock at the beginning and a flight of 12 locks at Bosley the Macclesfield is lock free!  Right now those are beautiful words.

Image result for macclesfield canal images
Bring on the Macclesfield and Manchester.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Meet Lorcan

Meet Lorcan the Jellyfish.  He was so named because the Irish name Lorcan means silent and fierce.  Jellyfish are silent and their sting can be fierce.

The top picture is of him just hanging around.  The second picture shows him moving through the water.

This little guy was photographed alongside our boat as we sit moored in Liverpool.  It was the first and probably the last time  we will be able to be amongst jellyfish since they are not usually canal dwellers.

But here in Liverpool, while technically on a canal, the situation is different.

Image result for map of Liverpool and Irish Sea

As evident when looking at the map above, Liverpool is off the Irish Sea.  Consequently, its water is sea water and contains the flora and fauna common to ports along a sea coast.  Flora and fauna such as seaweed and jellyfish.

Hence, our chance to meet Lorcan the Jellyfish. 

This is about as close as I ever want to get to a jellyfish.  Nothing personal but I am no fan of burning pain.

Friday, July 24, 2015

September 3, 1939 - May 8, 1945

5 years, 8 months and 5 days

the longest continuous military campaign of World War II

It was called the Battle of the Atlantic

England required more than a million tons of goods each week for its people to survive and for the country to be able to fight its war against Germany.

Most of that tonnage came to England via the Northern Atlantic via merchant ships.  Their vulnerability while crossing the Atlantic can not be over stated.  German U-Boats and warships were always searching for them.  If found, the goal was to sink the merchant ships and send the vitally needed supplies to the bottom of the ocean. 

The problem, the Germans were quite good at their objective.

England faced a future were they could slowly starve to death and run out of the munitions needed to keep Hitler on his side of the English Chanel.

The loss of this vital lifeline, the outcome of the Battle of the Atlantic, was of great concern to Winston Churchill :

"Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea or in the air depended ultimately on its outcome."
— Winston Churchill

Combined Operations, responsible for command and control of the Battle of the Atlantic, was moved from Plymouth to Liverpool, Britain's main convoy port, in  February of 1941. Over 1,000 convoys, averaging 3 or 4 each week, arrived in Liverpool during the war. Warships and Merchant ships were repaired and built, in Liverpool.

The Combined Operations complex, known locally as the "Citadel" or "Fortress", was designed to be bomb proof and gas proof, with a 7-foot thick roof and 3-foot thick walls, containing 100 rooms and covering an area of 50,000 square feet.

From this fortress the Royal Navy, Air Force and Royal Marines worked jointly there to monitor enemy warships, submarines and aircraft striving to bring England to her knees by choking off needed supplies.

From here, Britain worked to make sure that supplies and equipment needed by wartime Britain arrived where it was needed. Winning the Battle of the Atlantic was to the sea what the Battle of Britain was to the air.  Superiority in both areas was vital in order for Britain to survive.  

D-Day in June of 1944 would have been impossible if Germany had been the victor in the Battle of the Atlantic.  The necessary troops and supplies could never have reached England.  Allied victory may never have been achieved.

 The Allies won the Battle of the Atlantic but the cost was high, on both sides:

 3,500 Allied merchant ships, carrying 14.5 million tons of supplies , were sunk
 175 Allied warships were sunk
 72,200 Allied seaman lost their lives

783 German U-boats were sunk
30,000 German sailors, three quarters of the fleet, were killed

Such is the high price of victory.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Unfortunately, Popeye Is Not on Our Boat

Last night I made a crust-less quiche for dinner.  It was full of good things like ham, Swiss cheese, onion, and cream.

Unfortunately, I also decided it would be a perfect place to put the last of a package of spinach that needed to be used.

I have done this before, with success.  I was not successful this time.  There was too much spinach for my non Popeye husband.

I have to give him points, he ate it for dinner but did comment afterwards about the heavy amount of that green vegetable that he is only really fond of if it is raw. 

He had a point.  So, the remainder of last night's dinner is no more.

So much for me being economical with our food budget this week.  If no one wants to eat it then what you paid for it is a dead loss.

But, I am making it up to Mike by cooking Beef Stroganoff for dinner tonight.  That he loves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Scouse, Laver and the Liver Bird

Scouse is a Liverpudlian (a fun alteration of Liverpool to Liverpuddle) version of stew containing beef, carrots and potatoes.  When times are tough, it is heavy on the carrots and potatoes. When times are good, it has a little more meat.  During the very challenging times the meat disappears completely and a version called Blind Scouse appears on the table.

So popular is this stew, and so synonymous with the city of Liverpool, that the residents are known colloquially as Scousers and their accent and dialect as scouse.  One basic word, three uses.

Liverpool got its name from the "laver"  or seaweed that was everywhere along the shore and in the city's "puddle" or small bay.  When you combine laver and pool the name of Liverpool is only a few mispronunciations away. 

The strange and mythical Liver Bird is the widely recognized symbol of the city.  The bird is a strange conglomeration of an eagle and cormorant and has a piece of seaweed in its beak.

Two very large stone Liver Birds reside atop the Liver Building, one looking out to sea and the other towards the city center.  Thus the two important areas of the city's economy are always being guarded.

Fun trivia about a fun city.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

£90 Including Postage

When we were last in the US I had my eyes examined.  And, since I have been doing this since I was eight, it came as no surprise to me that I needed new glasses.  I think it was the blurry world I have been viewing and the fact that I have NEVER had an exam that did not end in new glasses that tipped me off.

I saved the new prescription and today went to have my new glasses made.  I did not have this done in the States because:
  1. There was not enough time to have them finished before we left
  2. My eye doctor suggested waiting because the English make wonderful glasses
I know this to be true because I once owned a pair of glasses made in England (mine were broken when we were on vacation here so we had another pair made since I am blind as a bat without them).  Those glasses were by far the BEST I have EVER had, so far.  I am hoping that this pair will be even better.

And, you are going to love this, all this expertise is actually CHEAPER than buying the glasses in the States.  Really.

My glasses are not the standard pair of glasses.  Because of my eye condition mine are somewhat complex which usually translates to expensive.  Like $350 a pair expensive.

So, what are my new British glasses going to cost me?  £90!!!!!  £85 for the actual glasses and £5 in postage to send them on to where we will be a week from Saturday.  That means they only cost the equivalent of $140!!!!

At that price, I can afford to fly to England for a vacation and what I save on my yearly pair of glasses will
help defray the cost of my airfare by over $200.

Now, that is a plan.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Planning Our Liverpool Experience

Mike and I spent some time this morning talking and planning some of the things we want to enjoy during our visit to Liverpool.

  • The Beatles Museum:  located on Albert Dock
  • The Tate Museum and maybe the Jackson Pollock display: also on Albert Dock
  • The maritime  museum: guess what, also on the Albert Dock
  • A bus tour of the city of the hop on and hop off variety
  • The Anglican Cathedral
  • The Catholic Cathedral
  • Take a ferry cross the Mersey, a la the song
  • a giant ferris wheel ride to see the city from way up high
  • a  bus tour, The Magical Mystery Tour, to see such places as  Penny Lane, Strawberry Field, Mendips (childhool home of Paul) and 20 Forthlin Road (childhool home of John)
  • and the always popular charity shops
 We will be here a week but it still looks to be a full one.  Let the sightseeing begin!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


We are docked in Liverpool. 

We arrived here late this afternoon. 

Tonight we will enjoy pizza burgers and sweet potato fries and tomorrow we shall explore the city of the Fab Four.

Will keep you posted.

Maghull to Bridge 9 UPDATE: to the beginning of the locks, I mean

We made our way to Bridge 9 this Saturday morning in preparation for going into Liverpool the next morning starting at 9. 

But then, about 3 a gentleman from British Waterways knocked on the boat and asked if we would like to go part of the way there this afternoon, along with three other boats.  We jumped at the chance, as you might expect. 

So, on down the canal we went, to just before the first series of locks.  On Sunday we will finish our way to the Albert Dock in Liverpool.  And then we will sight-see.

Just opposite where we moored for the night was a Tesco and as you might expect, I had to go in looking for bargains and I found some :-)

In our fridge are two meals worth of ground turkey (Mexican and either Italian or Greek), three small packages of smoked ham (one of which is destined for a quiche) and three meals of beef (stroganoff, Oriental and on the grill with onions, mushrooms and bleu cheese).  I paid half price or less for this bounty and I mean to enjoy every bite of the meals they will be part of, although I will share with Mike.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Burscough to Maghull

We are on our way to Liverpool, home of The Fab Four.  We are booked  to be at bridge 9 and ready to enter the city on Sunday so we are oh so slowly making our way  in that direction.

It was a calm and peaceful day.  The countryside is rural farmland, very pleasing and relaxing to the eye.

What is more relaxing to my knees is the fact that there are no locks on this section of the canal, only some swing bridges and most of them are mechanical requiring no more effort from me than to push buttons and turn a key. Nirvana.

I have made black bean burgers for dinner and just took fruity oatmeal granola bars out of the oven (tomorrow's breakfast).  I discovered that the secret to not having your bean burgers break apart is to cook them very slowly for a long period of time.  Eureka!

The flies have been terrible ever since we got back so tonight Mike is putting up fly paper to hopefully catch some of them before they drive us both crazy (a short drive so we can take no chances).

Mike just got back from his walk bearing bananas for me to use to make my belated birthday pie:  banana cream.  I loved it as a child and still do all these decades later.  Something wonderful to look forward to.  Yum.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

We're Back

We have crossed the pond and are back on our narrow boat in England.  We flew from Reagan National to Toronto and then from Toronto to Manchester.  The Toronto flight was over an hour late in taking off as we sat on the tarmac waiting for maintenance to clear us for takeoff.  It was a little nerve wracking as they kept saying it would only be ten minute's longer.  Maybe they took lessons from the Asian restaurant that always tells you your pick up order will be "ten minute".  Eventually we did take off and we were never to know what the maintenance issue(s) were but since we arrived safely I have ceased to worry.

Several nice individuals helped us with our luggage both at the airport and on the train.  After taking an all night flight I can not begin to tell you how wonderful that was.  I have noticed that people over here are much more likely to help others.  A nice trait.

After a short stop at a grocery store for the essentials, we headed back to the boat via a very nice cabby who also helped with the bags more than he was required to do so.  We probably had that glassy eyed I am asleep on my feet stare by this time. :)

Once on the boat I decided to concoct a quick and easy dinner of pasta, cici beans, spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic and pasta sauce with cheese on top.  I served it with some quick garlic cheese bread made on packaged nan bread.  It was quite tasty, filled us up, and required little mental acuity from me, thank heavens.

Today we have been unpacking and doing laundry.  I am also working on starting a batch of Kifer to up my pro biotic intake.  Tonight's dinner is Moroccan in nature:  garbanzo beans Moroccan style over couscous with chopped tomato.  We will have that with a Greek salad complete with feta and leftover cheese bread.  Sliced cantaloupe will be the sweet. 

I have a pot of beans soaking to make bean burgers for dinner tomorrow and I am planning on making the burger buns but if that does not happen we will use sliced bread instead.  Go with the flow works every time.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Sleep Over

I had a sleep over with my 10 year old great niece.

We painted a small wooden bird house. She made a cheerful rainbow hues beauty. She even mixed her own personal hues and free handed a perfect rainbow on the back wall. It is a beautiful home for any lucky bird.

Then, we enjoyed watching "Mary Poppins".  I hadn't watched it in YEARS! We had to stay up until after 1:00 to finish but it was worth it.  Boy did Julie Andrews and Rick Van Duke ever look young! And I had a great time singing along with all the wonderful songs. I can't remember what happened yesterday but I remembered all the words to the songs. The mind is a strange thing.

We also enjoyed rice crispy treats and lemonade, followed by some cheese curls, pretzels, and taco chips. Ten year olds have bottomless stomach.

And I thought I might be too old for sleep overs. I held my own, although I must admit I was ready to crawl into bed before she was. Energy definitely resides with the young, as this gray haired grandmother was reminded.  I'll have to rest up before we do this again next year.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Drama in Two Acts

Last night I sat and watched a strong summer thunderstorm swiftly cross the lake. The branches of the trees slashed this way and that across the prematurely darkened sky. The ducks, so recently comfortably ensconced on our dock, were now no where to be found.

And then the cottage shakes as the force of the wind driven rain collides with the large picture window through which I observe this drama of nature. For several minutes all that can be seen is the wall of rain throwing itself against the glass.  But slowly, it seems to tire and diminish into a gentle evening rain.  And a man walkers to the end of the dock to check on his boat.  The round circle of light from his flashlight reminding one of a moon on a leash.

And off to the west the angry clouds are again assembling, preparing to once again assert the immense power of nature.  Safely inside, I wait in anticipation for act two of the drama.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Loaves and Fishes reverse.

My grandmother always made sure she had extra food for hungry guests.
One of her favorite sayings was that there was plenty more down cellar under a cup, this said as she urged folks to enjoy second or third helpings.

So, I consider my over abundance of prepared food when I cook for Mike's family a genetic thing.  It's unavoidable.

Everyone has been fed and we still have coleslaw, southwestern pasta salad, watermelon, corn on the cob, hotdogs, kielbasa, smoked sausage, Italian sausage and numerous toppings (enough for another meal) tucked in the refrigerator.

And that doesn't even count the meat still in the freezer, the pasta still in the cupboard, or the cabbage still in the refrigerator.

Feeding the masses appears to be something I could do, no doubt about it.

Just blame it on my genes. I certainly will.

Anyone hungry? Care packages are available.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ring of Fire

When our niece, who was born on the third of July, was a little girl she loved the idea that the ring of flares encircling the lake were there in celebration of her birthday.

Today she is a strong, resilient, and beautiful 25 year old woman and the ring of fire with the accompanying fireworks are still
there to help in the celebration of her milestone birthday.

Happy Birthday Lucy!