Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Wicked Wigan!

Surprisingly I didn’t have aching arms today; I must be fitter than I think after so much time on ‘the cut’. It’s better than a boring (in my opinion!) gym - so much more fun!

Lisa and Barry have had a fascinating day talking about photography – I overheard conversations on composition, lighting, polarisers, graduating filters, portraits, and lots of other stuff. They both seem to be loving it. We were very lucky today to have warmth and sunshine in abundance.

We walked along the towpath to ‘Wigan Pier’ (, made famous by George Orwell in his book 'The Road to Wigan Pier' and George Fornby in jokes in the music halls many years ago. It isn’t a pier at all though; it’s just a couple of pieces of metal that curl up and stop above the canal and was used to tip coal into barges, it's officially a 'coal staithe'. The one standing today was actually made by pupils of Wigan and Leigh College in 1986, as the original was incredibly sold as scrap in 1929 for ₤34! Women worked as ‘Tipplers’, which entailed shaking the last pieces of coal out of the laden trucks. They toiled from 6am to 6pm five days a week, until 2pm on Saturdays, and were seen as ‘immoral’ due to the fact that they wore trousers! Shame on them! Lol.

Permanent moorings on our walk along the canal towards Wigan Pier

The Bottom Lock at Wigan by our mooring

A DIY dry dock, next to the lock, with someone blacking their boat's bottom

Part of a derelict building

Wigan Pier warehouses, now restaurants, etc

Reflection of the old buildings

This is the famous 'Wigan Pier' - not what you'd expect at all ...

... or get too excited about!

A very pleasant canal side area

Wigan town centre is a thriving place and we found a brilliant venue for a coffee spot – ‘The Coven’, a Pagan centre, very unusual and fascinating! Another serendipity experience here. Barry got chatting to the man in charge, and of course managed to weave the blog into the conversation and gave him one of our 'business' cards that we’ve had printed. He looked up the site almost immediately as he had his laptop on one of the tables, and said that he knew the bloke in the photo 'one man and his dog' from Thursday, as his boat had been modelled on the one that he and his wife lived on. We’d actually cruised past their boat at the top of the Wigan Flight!

Barry & Lisa took a few arty shots around the shop for practice

Sleeves of clothing hanging on the racks and blurred by moving the camera

Mirror ball spinning, along with shooting at a slow shutter speed, just good fun!

A trinket container full of all sorts of semi-precious stones and crystals (magic things according to Barry!)

Colin and Maria who run the business (found them on the web)
p.s. Colin the 'biofuel' website is

Not sure if he's a customer or friend, seemed most at home and very convivial

Making the most of every situation!
Around the corner, Barry and Lisa took a few pictures of All Saints Church (, while I took the opportunity to go inside as it was free and spookily only open to the public on Saturdays!
The Parish Church Of All Saints Wigan, with the Cenotaph in the foreground

Another for the photo exercise

Row of beautiful old houses by the church ...

and the same row in colour and with the amazing turrets on the end

A sign for anyone whose ancestor was a gunsmith for the King of Prussia (i.e. Barry!!)

There were lots of people in the town, which was clean and well-kept with a multitude of shops to choose from, a bouncy castle, some Highland Pipers and a woman with the voice of an angel serenading us as we passed.
Wigan has been known as a bit of a party town, especially in the days of 'Northern Soul' I seem to recall from the 80's. There were some amazingly skimpy 'dresses' (the word 'dress may be a little ambitious!) in the shop below ...

How much is that doggie in the window .... grrr ... f--k off!!

Sandra & Lisa - lesson in taking 'people' shots and getting the right lighting

The bustling town on a Saturday lunchtime

Very attractive town centre

Amazing sculpture in the park - 'The Face of Wigan'

All stainless steel plates welded together, very effective

Another arty photo from the weekend's lessons!

How desirable can you make a derelict building?

Lisa and Sandra walking along the towpath, opposite the British Waterways building
We had a spot of lunch back on the boat before moving down to the first of four locks that we shared with narrowboat ‘Amaryllis’ from Chester.
The first lock of the day

The side of Trencherfield Mill

'The Orwell' at Wigan Pier

Cruising past The Pier - shame about all the debris that's collected underneath, the graffiti on the wall behind and the barbed wire! Not such a cultural experience!

Looks like an old boat winch, opposite The Pier, for lifting heavy cargo
On the outskirts of Wigan we noticed a number of people walking towards us from many directions on the towpath and over bridges, and realised that they were heading to a football match. At one stage it looked as though we were being pursued by a gang of chanting thugs! A number of police were in evidence, so it looked quite serious. As we drove past Wigan Stadium we could hear the chants from the crowd, and as the match began at 3pm an overwhelming roar filled the air which was surprisingly moving (certainly shocked me as I detest football!). We discovered that Wigan was playing Manchester United, so a big local derby. Burnley beat Man United on Wednesday, which would’ve been quite a coup for them. We must find out how Wigan fared tomorrow …
Sandra being pursued by potential blog followers maybe ...

More police than fans on this bridge!

Keeping a watchful eye out ...

Coming out of the lock with Amaryllis on the left

Another party boat - not sure how the skipper managed to see where he was going!
perhaps the guy on top was giving directions??

A lock underneath the M6 motorway - a stark contrast of travel stresses, depending on how much time one has to spare!

Must be part of the day trippers 'experience' to do the lock - it took them long enough!

We went as far as a small canalside hamlet called Appley Bridge, having meandered through some charming open countryside and villages along the way. As well as the locks there was a swing bridge to open, so Lisa had a good all round experience of the canal. She just needs to do a bit of driving tomorrow now!
Our mooring for the night, we're fourth along on the right

'The Water's Edge' pub on the left, buzzing with people or so it seemed ...

Says it all about the peacefulness of the canals - a narrowboat, fisherman, dinghy and ducks

Three ducks a swimming ...

In the evening we thought we’d try the pub across the cut called 'The Water’s Edge’ , as we were happy to see that there was some live music on. From the canal it seemed a lively place, but once we got there we found it a terribly unfriendly place – even Barry got irritated by the young barman who didn’t serve him for ages and then went to take the order of a woman who had just strolled in! The atmosphere was strange and by the time the live music appeared, it was a young woman dressed provocatively screeching Tina Turner and Blondie numbers with her sound system blasting our ears until they hurt! We didn’t stay long, but unfortunately she did and played (I use that term loosely!) until about 1130pm. Amazing as the pub was close to a built up area and all the boats, not sure how they get away with it!

Maybe we're turning into boring old farts, or more likely that we just value our eardrums highly?! Could be a good job we miss many of the events that are held in the pubs along the way if that’s the sort of thing we’d experience ...

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