Tag Archives: manchester

Monday 14th October 2019 – SOMETIMES IT’S VERY HARD …

… to say goodbye to people with whom one has been associated for so long, but today is the day that I hit the road, Jack (or Jacques, seeing that I’ll be heading towards Quebec).

4th September I arrived in New Brunswick and apart from 10 days or so clearing out my storage unit in Montreal and visiting family and friends in Ottawa I’ve been here ever since.

If I’m not careful I’ll be putting down roots next, and that will never do. I was born under a wandering star, as the old song went, and I’m destined to wander for the rest of my life until, making reference to a certain posting 6 or so weeks ago when I was still aboard The Good Ship Ve … errr … Ocean Endeavour, Charon ferries me across the River Styx.

With it being Thanksgiving (which reminds me, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian family and friends and new readers, et Bonne Action de Grace a toute le monde francophone Canadien) we had another lie-in this morning. Nothing like as dramatic as yesterday’s. Not quite so early in bed, a small disturbance during the night, and raising myself from the Dead round about 08:45. But still, I’ll take that over almost any other night that I’ve had for quite some considerable time.

Eventually there was some noise coming from the rest of the house so I went in to join the (af)fray. We had a reasonably heavy brunch, nothing like the legendary Sunday one but a good one nevertheless, and then hung around chatting for ages. Everyone seemed to be in a very sociable mood today.

With me heading for the hills, I managed to make the printer fire up so I could print off all of my travel documents ready for the trip. Another task accomplished.

This afternoon people had tasks to do so I busied myself packing and having another play around on the bass guitar before I put it away in Strider where it will live for the next foreseeable future.

A curry was on the agenda for supper so for a change Hannah and I attacked it. For some reason that I don’t understand, it didn’t taste anything like as good as any previous one that I have made. I hope that I’m not losing my touch!

But as for my carrot soup, well, what more can I say? All of the leftover carrots (because there were tons of them) steamed slowly to warm them up, with bay leaves for added flavour, and then simmered gently for a while in coconut milk with ginger. Finally the bay leaves were removed and the whole lot given a ride around in the whizzer.

Totally delicious.

Finished packing, and leaving a few things behind such as my spare clothes and my deck shoes, because I seem to have acquired a Tupperware microwave fryer and a pile of CDs somewhere on my travels and it won’t all fit in, and then Rachel took me down to Irvings in Florenceville and the Maritime Atlantic bus.

21:15 it was scheduled to arrive, and at 21:15 arrive it did. And remind me never to travel on a Bank Holiday or thereabouts because it was packed and it was a struggle to find a seat. What I did find though was a backpack under the seat, apparently left behind by someone who had alighted earlier, so I took it down to the driver.

We eventually arrived at Riviere du Loup where we all change buses. It was cold, miserable, wet and rainy but nevertheless I had a chat to the driver. He comes up all the way from Moncton, sleeps in the hotel next door, and then drives all the way back the following day. Reminded me of my days with Shearings when I used to do an overnight run every Friday night from Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh and return the following day.

And while I was chatting, someone came around “has anyone seen a black backpack?” so I passed him on to the driver.

So now I’m sitting on a seat in a draughty windswept crowded waiting room here waiting for my bus to Montreal to arrive. I’m reaching the end of this phase of my journey and who knows where I’m going to end up next?

As Winston Churchill once said after the British flight from the Germans at Dunkirk, “this is not the beginning of the end. It is merely the end of the beginning”.

Saturday 28th September 2013 – I’VE BEEN TO HEAVEN …

… this morning, and it was by mistake. I’d crossed over the river from Lebanon, New Hampshire, to White River, Vermont and I wanted a place to park in order to photograph the sign.

The bridge was under repair and there were queues of traffic about all over the place and so I nipped onto an industrial estate to park up, but I became somewhat distracted instead.

old cars 1932 Hudson white river vermont usaThese three vehicles here, the older of which is a 1932 Hudson, are three of about 20 or 30 vehicles from the 1930s and 40s that were lying abandoned all over the place.

I’ve no idea what they are all doing here but it’s certainly something of a tragedy to see them lying about like this – for some of them, there’s not very much left to save and for others, something needs to be done with them pretty quickly if they aren’t going to end up like the others.

It also begs the question, if these are outside, what might there be lurking around in a warehouse or industrial unit around here? If these are simply the donor cars for other projects it would be extremely interesting to blag my way in for a nosey but there was no-one around to ask. But it does bring back old times when I used to do this kind of thing in France with Nerina all those years ago.

quechee gorge vermont usaJust down the road from there is the Quechee Gorge on the Ottauquechee River.

It isn’t quite the Grand Canyonof course, but it’s the best that was on offer around here. Hordes of people from everywhere and, much to my surprise, much of what seemed to be on offer was free. Maybe the USA is “The Land of the Free” after all, after all that I have been saying. I’ll have to change the script a little.

mountain scenery vermont usaI’ve been travelling steadily south-west through the mountains and there wasn’t really very much to see because with overhanging cliffs and forests and the like there was never a clear view. But somewhere along the highway between Londonderry and Manchester there was another one of these rear-view mirror moments as I crest an enormous rise.

That’s where I’ve come from, right over there in the distance. That far ridge is probably 40 miles away and this is really the first proper glance that I’ve had of it. It was worth the wait, even if the image can’t do the view any justice.

This image is rather sad, though. It’s Troy, in New York State, my destination and where I hit the Hudson River. This is civilisation and a sign that my holiday is drawing to a close. This time next Saturday I’ll be somewhere over the Atlantic if we haven’t crashed on take-off, and I’m not looking forward to going home. I wish that I could stay here.

However I did have a stroke of luck. The Lady Who Lives In The Sat-Nav directed me into town past a huge Home Depot and so I took the opportunity to go for a wander around. I did a few errands there but I also made another Ryobi purchase.

I don’t know if you remember that a while ago I broke my Ryobi flourescent light. Here in the USA the model has been discontinued because they have now launched a similar light but powered by LEDs, and all for $19:99 too, and that’s a bargain in any currency.

And I’ll probably have to use it tonight because I’ve left it late to find somewhere to sleep.

Thursday 15th December 2011 – A WISE DECISION …

… staying here.

Not the least of reasons being that I’m warm and comfortable and at a reasonable price too.

It means that I can load up Caliburn a lot earlier than I would otherwise have done. And so I’m not rushing around panicking at the last moment like I always seem to do.

Having picked up the scaffolding yesterday I can run off to Manchester today, do a trip around Trafford Park for Screwfix and Toolstation for more stuff. Including a 35-litre plastic water tank.

As you might remember, the metal drum for my home-made immersion heater melted through while I was in Canada in the autumn. I’ve decided to build the next one with a plastic container. This is a cold-water container, it’s true, but I’m hoping that it will withstand a regular 60-70°C heat without too many problems.

I’d love to find a copper container somewhere, but I’m not sure how I’m going to do that. Eventually though, I’ll be lucky enough to find a good 50-litre copper immersion heater, and I can then make a new mounting plate for the element.

Later on, I went round to rescue Percy Penguin from work, and enticed her back to my lair to see where I was staying. She doesn’t live too far away from here. I had thought about taking her out for a meal, but when I asked her if she fancied some coq au vin, she got into the back of Caliburn.

But tomorrow I’m back on the road. I’ve a long way to travel and a lot of things to do.

Wednesday 14th September 2011 – SO HERE I AM …

dodge grand caravan mactaquac country park fredericton new brunswick canada… on my little spec at the Mactaquac Country Park not too far north-west of Fredericton. For the next few days I’m not sleeping rough but taking advantages of the faciities that £25 per night have brought me. You can see that I’ve already done one load of hand-washing.

And it could have been even cheaper too. “Would you like the senior discount?” asked the Park Ranger.
“What’s the age limit?” asked our hero
“65”
That’s my ego well and truly punctured, isn’t it?

mactaquac country park fredericton new brunswick canadaBut it’s quiet here. Not too many people around and the camp site is in the middle of a forest by a lake.

And that’s the view after you have driven about half a mile to rejoin the main road. Rolling down that hill in neutral can result in some impressive speeds and you need yo be careful that you don’t have an encounter with a deer because there are dozens of them about, which is good news for me and good news for Strawberry Moose, but for different reasons.

mactaquac dam saint john river fredericton new brunswick canadaThat’s the giant and controversial Mactaquac Dam, that was built in the 1960s to provide power for this part of the Saint John valley.

And controversial was probably not the word as it cut off a great many First Nation Canadians from their traditional waterborne navigation routes, damaged the salmon fisheries (according to some) and flooded the whole of the Saint John valley northwards.

The New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources was no help with my plans to build something ecological on my land here. But then again, I didn’t really expect it. It loks as if I’m really on my own so if people don’t like it, they can’t say that I haven’t tried.

reo speedwagon gold comet fredericton new brunswick canadaOoohhhhh!

We saw an REO Speedwagon in Newfoundland last year but that was quite ancient. This is a much more modern one, a Gold Comet and is probably from the late 1940s, I reckon, although what do I know?

Still, here it is parked up on someone’s lawn just outside Fredericton.

I came across a Value Village in Fredericton. There aren’t charity shops as there are in the UK, but all the charities seem to have banded together to have one communal shop which is much better from my point of view.

A pile of books, a pile of CDs and, at long last, for just $3:99, a whistling kettle. I’ll probably find that it has a leak in it.

And at Kent Hardware, I overheard a sales assistant talking to a colleague, so I went over to him. “Where do you come from?” I asked
“Manchester” he replied
“Thought so” I said. “I recognised the accent”.
So we had a chat and I mentioned that I came from Crewe.
“So what’s in Crewe?” he asked
“Absolutely nothing at all since I left” I replied.

Sunday 12th June 2011 – WE’VE DONE IT NOW!

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that Terry and I have been hunting for the last couple of years for a decent mini-digger. We’ve made all kinds of enquiries but the end result always was that we could never find anything that we wanted.

In the end we decided that we would have to pay more than we wanted and buy something newer, but that never worked either.

That is, until today.

I went to Bacup to see a digger, a 2007 Takeuchi and while it was dearer than we were ever expecting to pay, in the end we’ve bitten the bullet and gone for it, faute de mieux – in the absence of anything better.

The cash will be transferred over on Monday and I’m picking it up on Wednesday night after I collect my new trailer.

Did I tell you about that?

caliburn overnight parking bacup burnley lancashire ukAnd so last night after dropping off Caroline I had a pleasant drive around the back of Manchester, Rawtenstall, Rossendale and all of that.

I found a nice quiet lay-by in the pitch-dark somewhere up on the moors between Burnley and Bacup and settled down for a nice, quiet sleep.

And a nice quiet sleep it was too. I didn’t feel a thing.

caliburn overnight parking bacup burnley lancashire uk wind farmPretty windswept it was too up on this hilltop, as I was to discover when I finally awoke.

And that’s hardly surprising, given the glorious view. That was Burnley down there in the valley on the previous photo and on this photo, there’s a wind farm for you to admire.

So a nice drive on into Bacup where I met this digger guy, who took me to see it in Accrington where it was digging out someone’s footings.

Once I’d recovered from the shock of committing myself to spending all of this money, I went to Preston – or rather, the Tickled Trout in Salmesbury – to see Sandra.

We had a really good chat about one thing and another and It’s nice to learn that in OUSA – the Open University Students Association – things are carrying on just as I left them.

Chaos, panic, disorder – it’s all still going on.

This evening I’m on the M1 at Tibshelf Services. I’m moving off in a minute to find somewhere to bed down for the night as I need to be in Ilkeston early in the morning.

Saturday 11th June 2011 – HIS NIBS IS AT IT AGAIN!

caroline strawberry moose caliburn sandbach cheshire ukHere you can see him dipping into his Auntie Caroline’s cod and chips.

To pass the evening, I went to see Caroline again.

We ended up going out to the chippy (not half as good as a traditional Belgian fritkot), I have to admit, and that was where His Nibs joined in the (af)fray.

But Caroline’s cat Bigsy is very poorly and she might not pull through. I wanted to make sure that I saw her and gave her a stroke.

So after many vicissitudes, not the least of which was parking up for the night in a zone where there was no mobile phone signal (something that only I can do), I finally made contact with whatsername and, sure enough, my wallet was there.

That was just as well as I would shudder to have to think what I would have had to do had it not been there.

She was making breakfast for the family (it was quite early) I was also invited to eat there and that really put an end to my journey to Ilkeston and Vehicle Wiring Products, as they would have been closed by the time I would have arrived.

Instead I went to DK Motorcycles in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

As well as selling road-going machines the company also imports classic motorcycles from the USA. They arrive in all states of repair and I always like to go along if I can to see what’s arrived.

They had a few mint Hondas, including a couple of rare 1970s 350-fours as well as a pile of other stuff as well that was fit for renovation, including a 95%-complete Honda 160.

As an aside, I passed my motorcycle test on a Honda 160 belonging to my mate Ray Stigter.

Many of the machines that arrive there are only suitable to be broken up for spares and I always go to chat to the guys there because many of you might not know that I own probably one of the rarest of all Japanese motocycles – a CB92 “Benly” from 1961.

It’s basically complete and after we assembled it we even had it running after a fashion, but that was back in 1974 and that is a long time ago.

It desperately needs an overhaul but spares for it are impossible to find now – hence the regular visits to DK Motorcycles.

They might one day have one in that is only fit for dismantling but to date the guys in there freely admit that this is one motorcycle that they have never ever seen and don’t ever reckon that they will do either.

One regular feature of this blog in its previous incarnation was something to do with poorly-sited solar panels.

badly sited solar panels keele staffordshire ukBut we gave that up when we were overwhelmed with them. Some of these solar panel salesmen have no shame of course.

We’ve seen some dreadful ones on our travels in the past but this must be pretty near the bottom of the pile.

It’s all about the salesman’s income and nothing whatever to do with the reputation of the product that he’s selling

Lunch was at Waitrose in Sandbach and then I went to B&Q in Crewe to see if they had the doors that I need for my house. My house is dark and gloomy due to the small windows and if I’m putting partition walls in, this will cut the light down further.

What I need is some dirt-cheap glass-panelled doors and finding them in France is impossible. However B&Q does a nice cheap line in exactly what I want.

The door that I fitted into the attic came from there and you can see what a good job it does as well – hence a requirement for another half-dozen to match.

B&Q came up trumps in more ways than one.

  1. they had enough in stock.
  2. they had some that were only 650mm instead of 750mm and that’s what I need for the bathroom and the office.
  3. with my trade card I had almost £100 off the retail price – £240 for 6 instead of about £335 or so.

When you think about it … “you are always thinking about it” – ed … that’s just 20 weeks of rental on my mailbox paid off in one swell foop.

You can see why it’s important to have a UK address if I am buying stuff over here.

Now Caroline and I are having a coffee on Sandbach Services. In a short while I’ll be dropping her off at home and making my way in the general direction of Bacup.

I have to go to see a digger there tomorrow morning.

Thursday 2nd June 2011 – I FOUND A …

caliburn overnight parking poplar motors lymm cheshire uk… lovely place to kip last night. A bit of old abandoned road near the Poplar Motors Cafe near Lymm on the edge of the M6.

Another one of those places that is totally deserted at night but when you wake up in the morning it’s swamped out with car-sharers.

And I had quite an early start this morning. Thanks for the text, Percy Penguin

With my early start it wasn’t long before I ended up on Trafford Park at Screwfix and Toolstation – my catalogues are out of date and need replacing.

And then round to Maccess – the auto-spars wholesalers – for some car bits (I still have my trade card for there from when I had my taxis).

Maccess has gone right downhill but I managed to spend £220 there all the same, including the new brake pads that I need for Caliburn (the guy at the MoT station said that they were down).

From there I sped along the M62 to St Helens to my storage unit. I’ve emptied that out and closed it down now.

A quick nip across the yard to Elite Workwear to order some more shirts with logos as the ones I have are getting a little shabby and I need some new stuff. It’s a reasonable quality, reasonable price and stops me worrying about what I’m going to be wearing.

Next stop was IKEA at Burtonwood but there was nothing really of interest there and so I went to the B&Q Superstore at Ashton-in-Makerfield for Caliburn’s suspended floor.

Here I really struck it lucky.

It seems that there was a salesman there from the B&Q Trade Counter working on a commission basis and short of his targets for trade customers. And the advantage of having corporate clothing and the like is that I actually look like a tradesman (which is, after all, the aim of it).

He asked for two proofs of identity which of course I don’t have, but one of the advantages of having a fully-signwritten van like Caliburn is that it looks kosher, no matter what the reality might or might not be, and that was the aim of that as well.

For the second piece of identity, which needed to be proof of a business address, did I not have in Caliburn the lease of my 1 cubic metre of mailbox in Stoke on Trent that I signed yesterday?

And so with a salesman desperately seeking a target figure and willing to turn something of a blind eye to the finer points of the paperwork, I now have a B&Q Trade Card, and you can’t knock that.

Especially as one of the reasons that I am here is to buy 5 glazed interior doors like the one into my little attic (that came from B&Q a few years ago).

I really can’t emphasise this enough – a van isn’t simply a means of transporting goods and possessions around – it’s 15 square metres of mobile advertising space and if you are in any kind of business you should make the most if it.

I reckon that over half of whatever it is that I have done has come due to the £250 I spent in having Caliburn signwritten.

And so to Crewe – and it seems that my house in Gainsborough Road needs a total rewire as the cabling is falling to bits. No surprise there – I bought the house in 1981 and the only attention that the wiring has had since then has been the couple of extra sockets that I added.

Actually, it’s probably them that need replacement – I didn’t have a clue what I was doing in those days … “and today?” – ed.

The estate agents also tell me that they had to replace the carpets on the ground floor as they were all threadbare. “Not to worry” I replied. “They were there when I bought the place in 1981” – which brought the house down.

“Well, you’ve had your money’s worth there then” said the agent.

After shopping at the new Morrison’s at Crewe, next stop was to rescue Percy Penguin, who couldn’t get home after work, and give her some personal attention.

And that was that. Here I am on Sandbach Services with a new mega-fast high-speed interent connection, and free too, thanks to Roadchef Services and BT Openlink.

I’m off to bed in a minute, if I can think of somewhere handy to sleep.

Wednesday 1st June 2011 – MMMM! BEANS ON TOAST!

Yes, you can tell that I’m back in the UK, can’t you?

caliburn overnight parking A5 markyate UKHere’s Caliburn parked up in our little overnight spec about a mile or two from the M1

This was formerly part of the A5 but the road was realigned … ohhh … years ago now. Certainly 40 years ago if not more because we slept here in 1973 as I said last night.

It’s the first decent place to stop north of the M25 and as an added advantage, there’s a transport cafe – the Watling Street Café – just down the road where there are coin-operated showers and good cheap food.

The ideal place to stop when you’ve been spending a couple of nights sleeping in your van.

Having been suitably fed and watered, and cleaned, I took to the M1 to continue northwards. All the way up to where the A50 branches off and where I can head for Stoke on Trent.

I’ve been going this way for years now instead of via the M6, Birmingham and the A500. It looks longer on paper, and indeed it is. But not by much and there’s far less traffic. At busy times, it’s probably quicker.

Apart from the usual bits and pieces that I need to buy here, I went to Benchdollar to order all of the clamps and fittings for the next round of projects.

Regular readers of this Rubbish will recall that on a recent occasion I left it rather too late and the order hadn’t come by the time that I was ready to leave. Don’t want that to happen again so this is the first port of call now.

But I had a surprise – and a pleasant one too.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I rent a storage container here in the UK, but it’s up at St Helens. In the days when these weren’t so common and I used to be round there now and again, it was a good option.

But it’s far off my beaten track now that I don’t go up to Scotland so much – 85 miles in fact – and so seeing this warehouse just round the corner from Benchdollar being converted into storage units made me go for a wander down there.

And yes, they do have small 1-metre cube containers. And yes, they are cheaper than at St Helens, even without the introductory offer. And 200 metres is much better than 85 miles, I’ll tell you. I signed up on the spot.

swans river weaver nantwich UKThis afternoon we steamed into Nantwich.

This is of course my old stamping ground as Regular readers of this rubbish will remember.

I was born in the hospital here (nearest hospital with the correct facilities to where we lived); lived in various villages in the neighbourhood and went to Grammar School here. It’s always been my home from home.

river weaver nantwich UKIt’s also where my bank is, and so I had come along to give them their annual kicking. Worst bank in the world but for a variety of reasons, I’m stuck with them.

So leaving Caliburn parked up on the recreation area I took the pretty way into town along the footpath along the banks of the River Weaver

Just in time to see a Crewe-Shrewsbury train go rattling past. Yes, they stil have trains in the UK, although you and I could never afford to use them.

memorial arthur briwn us air force nantwich UKOne place that I have never ever visited despite all of the years that I spent in the vicinity, is the memorial to Arthur Brown.

There are various stories about whether he was a hero, staying in his crashing Thunderbolt to steer it away from houses, or whether he was unconscious due to a lack of oxygen.

And various stories whether he’s buried under here, his body is still in the river it whether it was recovered and buried in a cemetery elsewhere

 UKBut whatever happened, this is more-or-less where his aeroplane fell to earth with him still in it, just 20 yards from a row of houses in Shrewbridge Road.

The local Brownies tend the spot and every year on the anniversary of his death the locals still turn out to remember him.

He even has his own street in the town named after him.

kingsley fields nantwich town fc weaver stadium ukOne place that I hadn’t visited before was Kingsley Fields

Well, yes I had. It was at the back of our school and it was also farmed by the father of a girlfriend of a mate of mine so I knew the area pretty well.

But it’s all changed since I was last here.

kingsley fields nantwich town fc weaver stadium ukThe local football club, Nantwich Town FC were perennial strugglers in the North West Counties football league and never ever going anywhere, the butt of many local jokes.

They had a creaking old ground where they had played for 123 years and it was in a pretty miserable condition.

But it did have one thing going for it. It was right in an area that had become a prime residential zone.

kingsley fields nantwich town fc weaver stadium ukAt the time, a new inner ring road was being built around the town (right through my old school playing fields) and there was this corner of the land lying between the new road and the River Weaver that wasn’t fit for much.

For once, acting with considerable speed and foresight, the directors sold the football ground for housing and with the proceeds built a modern state-of-the-art stadium on the land at the back of the ring road

kingsley fields nantwich town fc weaver stadium ukThe rest of course is history.

The new ground attracted the fans (gates tripled) and the new facilities and the larger crowds (and hence the better wages) attracted a better class of player

The club rose through the leagues and is now on the fringe of the professional game (and not long after I wrote this they qualified through the preliminary rounds for a place in the FA Cup proper against Football League opposition).

kingsley fields nantwich town fc weaver stadium ukWhen I called here, a training session was just about to get under way so while the players were warming up in the dressing room, I was permitted to wander around the stadium for a short while

Ironically, just after World War I when Jackson Avenue was unavailable, the club was obliged to play its home matches on a temporary site.

That temporary site is more-or-less where the new Weaver Stadium is situated today.

So having crossed this place of my list of things to do, I’m off to find a parking place for the night. Somewhere towards the north, I reckon.

Tomorrow I’m going up to St Helens to close everything down up there as well as doing a quick trip to Manchester.