May 072013

When is a cruise not a cruise?

With a long weekend booked and a good forecast. The May Bank holiday weekend was looking nailed on as our first overnight cruise of the season but fate was yet to play its hand as my adult daughter came down with mumps and we couldn’t leave her to suffer alone. I say “we”, although his can also be interpreted as “the wife said”.

However by Saturday afternoon the sickness had subsided enough to allow us to leave her alone long enough to get the boat out for an hour of so. Although the promised good weather was yet to make an appearance. I’m pleased to say the engine fired easily after the recent electrickery issues and we had a short but challenging trip in the stiff breeze.

Sunday was middle son’s day off and usually he would visit for some of Mothers cooking. However he hasn’t had mumps yet and thought it prudent to stay away, so we agreed to take him out for the afternoon. Where could we go? A repeat run of the previous day’s short cruise was in order. The only difference was that the wind had dropped and the sun was making a valiant effort to shine.

And so to the Bank Holiday Monday itself. The sun finally made its promised appearance as we headed towards Preston Boat Jumble with the now much improved daughter in tow. After spending far too much money on stuff we didn’t really need, and breathing a sigh of relief when we found out a ten foot boat hook does fit in a Toyota Verso, we left after lunch with the intention of dropping off our purchases at the boat en-route home.

Arriving at the marina we stowed all the new gear on board. The pub across the cut from the mooring was busy and the visitor moorings alongside full. Several boats chugged past making the most of the sunshine. We all agreed there was no rush to get home and the tea would keep. I started the engine and rolled back the canopy and we headed out of the marina for a run up to Tewitfield and back. It was just too nice not to.

Over the weekend we probably cruised more than we would if we had stuck to our original plans but it still felt like a weekend missed. There’s more to cruising than pottering up and down the waterway, pleasant as it is. We still missed out on waking up in the middle of the countryside. Sharing an evening beer with other boaters in a canalside pub. Lazy afternoons drowning maggots or just watching the kingfishers darting back and forth.

But there’s always next weekend…

Jul 202012

People often ask me if I’ve lived in Barrow-in-Furness all my life. I always answer, “not yet”. Barrow is perceived by outsiders as one of those gritty northern industrial towns at the end of a thirty-five mile cul-de-sac. People don’t aspire to come here but it’s amazing how many of those who do never get around to leaving again.

It’s true that many people who come to Barrow, come for the work. The shipyard still draws skilled workers from all over the country. Once here they begin to see real Barrow. The Barrow which is ten minutes from the Lake District. The Barrow that’s surrounded by miles and miles of sandy beaches. We rarely attract the big stars and touring shows, but on the other hand the worst of society doesn’t bother to make the trip down the A590 either.

Barrow does change, it does evolve with the times. But it does so at its own pace and on its own terms. In my lifetime I’ve seen a number of changes to the town. The following list will be completely meaningless to anyone outside of Barrow but here are some of the things I remember growing up in the Town Centre. Perhaps they’ll ring some bells for you too….

100 Things I Remember….

  1. Abbey Road BathsDaring each other to Dive off the high board in the large pool at Abbey Baths
  2. Watching Kendo Nagasaki wrestle at the Public Hall
  3. Annual Boat Trips to the Isle of Man setting off from the deep water berth in Walney Channel
  4. Marshes Sass being delivered on wagons that looked like something off Daktari
  5. The club song at Saturday morning kids clubs at the Classic and Apollo Cinemas
  6. Swimming in the outdoor pool at Bigger Bank
  7. Buying an Ice Cream Soda and playing on the pinball machines in the bottom Brucciani’s
  8. Christmas Panto at the Majestic Theatre
  9. Shipyard and Engineering Apprentice Training schools on either side of Bridge approach
  10. Waiting for a train to pass before going over the low level bridge (one way at a time)
  11. Sitting on the bank on Walney watching ships being launched into Walney Channel and running away to escape the big wave when it came ashore
  12. The glass shelter by the Roundhouse at Bigger Bank
  13. The kiddies roundabout in the market hall
  14. Hearing the shipyard buzzer and crossing the road while you still can
  15. Hot buttered teacake from Redman’s in Dalton Road
  16. Hammerhead CraneThe big yellow hammerhead crane at work beside Buccleuch Dock
  17. Pitch and Putt at Earnsie Bay
  18. The rotten egg smell on Park Road from the Cellophane works
  19. Chasing the Rag and Bone man with his horse and cart when giving balloons away to the kids
  20. Mum complaining that the smoke from Caird’s Foundry had left a layer of orange dust on everything. Including the washing on the line across the back street
  21. Railway lines down the middle of Island Road
  22. The Steelworks wasn’t just the name of a pub
  23. Speedway Racing
  24. Ice Cream from the Bigger Bank Pavilion
  25. The big dome on top of the Coliseum
  26. The model railway exhibition in Holker Street School
  27. North Londsdale Hospital
  28. The flooded low road on a high tide
  29. Cycling Proficiency in the playground of the John Winnerah
  30. The BIG slide in Walney Park and landing in the huge muddy puddle at the bottom
  31. The Paper Mill
  32. A real periscope in the pub on Mill Lane
  33. Barrow MarketThe kids roundabout in the old market hall behind the Town Hall
  34. The sky lit up at night by slag tipping
  35. Buying 45’s from Maurice Roberts
  36. Quigley’s “Toy Guns Fishing” sign
  37. Stuffed animals and ship models in the Museum above the Library
  38. The floating docks lifting boats out the water
  39. Walking the bank between the two reservoirs
  40. Watching your money and change fly over your head on wires in Busy Bee’s
  41. The Fair and the Circus in Barrow Park
  42. The Shipyard Band
  43. Sailing toy boats in Biggar Bank boating pool
  44. Smelling the abattoir from the playground of Thwaite Street School
  45. Shipyard Apprentices v Engineering Apprentices annual road race
  46. Co-op milk floats streaming in and out of the dairy off Rawlinson Street
  47. Yellow wagons going in and out of Thompson’s Pop Factory
  48. Bowling at The Barrow Bowl on The Strand
  49. Cradle BrodgeThe Cradle Bridge over the docks
  50. Division Three Football at Holker Street
  51. The Regal Cinema
  52. Pets Corner in Barrow Park
  53. Sitting down to Fish and Chips at the Copper Kettle
  54. Concert Trips with Earthquake Records in the Arcade
  55. Lipton’s Café
  56. The Fire and Ambulance stations next door to each other
  57. Santa in the big Co-op in Abbey Road
  58. The Hoop Works
  59. Swimming in the timber pond on Barrow Island
  60. Geoffrey Morris School of Dancing at Ramsden Square
  61. Cranes on the slipways beside Walney Channel
  62. Gasometers going up and down at the end of St Vincent Street
  63. Bus DepotBarrow Corporation Bus Depot being eaten by a monster on TV
  64. Ambulances by the Vickers Clinic at Cavendish Park Villas
  65. The Old Bank when it was still a Bank
  66. The Furness Flyer Steam Specials
  67. Dining upstairs in the Lotus House
  68. Looking at the Toys in Pace’s window
  69. The Devonshire Dock could open at both ends
  70. The view from the top of the tower on the Town Hall
  71. The signal box on the low road before it was moved to the park
  72. Taking bottles back to the shop and buying sweets with the deposit money
  73. Being greeted by the bus conductor as you step aboard the back of the bus
  74. Post war houses with corrugated iron walls
  75. The big wooden stand at Holker Street football ground when there was also roof on the Holker End
  76. Fetes and Table Top sales in the Lyceum Hall
  77. Wagons being shunted on the Railway lines beneath the high level bridge.
  78. The Electric Light Theater
  79. Biggar BankBiggar Bank paddling pool
  80. Chicken in a basket at the 99 while watching Tommy Halfpenny
  81. Free school milk
  82. Railway wagons parked along Michelson Road
  83. Buying scout uniforms and sports gear from Willie Horne’s shop
  84. The Waltzer in Market Street
  85. Barrow Island Judo Club tucked away in a hut at the end of the recreation ground
  86. The tall chimneys and the mountains of coal at Roosecote Power Station
  87. Members of the Steelworks Band worked in the Steelworks
  88. Steps around Fred Cavendish’s statue when it was in front of the Town Hall, not behind it
  89. The Bon BonSweets on the left, Tobacco on the right, at the Bon Bon
  90. The Grammar School
  91. Women and Kids sitting in the snug because they weren’t allowed in the bar
  92. Abbey Road College
  93. Alfred Barrow Girls swapping notes with Alfred Barrow Boys through the fence at break time
  94. Mum not hanging the washing out because it was the day the coal man came
  95. Catching your bike wheel in the railway track coming out the Shipyard West Gate on Bridge Road
  96. Paying your bus fare to school with plastic tokens
  97. Flicking through the racks of thousands of LP’s upstairs in Blackshaws
  98. Playing the pinball machines in the bottom Bruciannis café
  99. TTaxi Rankaxis lined up by the little half timbered taxi office in front of the town hall
Apr 012012
Posting a windscreen

The boat was put back into the water at the end of March without a windscreen in place. We ordered the new windscreen in plenty of time and it had been sat on the boat for weeks waiting to be fitted. We concentrated on the jobs on the hull and sterndrive, which had to be completed while ashore, intending to fit the windscreen a couple of weekends before she went back in the water. Despite bad weather we were roughly on target and removed the old windscreen and threw it in the skip. The following weekend we set off to [More…]

Feb 162012
Das Washing Machine

This week we had a minor disaster involving a washing machine, several-to-many gallons of water and some extremely soggy carpets. I received a call at work from she who must be obeyed. “I’ve flooded the house!” she cried. I dashed home while imagining burst pipes and scenes from “Das Boot” and “The Poseidon Adventure” to find we had a paddling pool in the utility room along with the adjoining kitchen and bathrooms. Water was flowing at a steady rate from the top of the washing machine, which had decided it didn’t want to pump out anymore. I turned off the [More…]

Jan 182012
The Evolution Of TV

Our aged Sky+ box has been skipping and freezing for a while and it finally gave up recently and died with a pop, it’s an ex-Sky+ box, it has ceased to be.  We’ve had a high-definition TV for some time and had always intended to upgrade at some point so this became that point and a new HD Sky+ box was duly ordered. This resulted in us having to survive a whole day with just the standard Freeview channels. Before anyone starts saying “I remember when I was a lad…” I know this alone is a great leap forward from [More…]