Friday, 26 August 2016

Bye bye Blackburn

Everything looks better on a sunny day
First the weather report: today was a good day – by northern standards anyway. The sun shone, though the wind made it too chilly for tee shirts (unless you're northern and have developed that weather resistant skin which even young girls have these days).
Anyway it was a brief run from our country stop into the urban sprawl of Blackburn, a place that's as bad as its name. The canalside is the usual post-industrial mess of dereliction while the canal itself has a scum of floating plastic bottles and food cartons, and under the surface lurks a formidable quantity of weed mingled with semi-sunk rubbish.
Vast piles of weed hauled out at each lock
The weed can't be helped; it's summer, weed grows. At each lock are heaped vast piles that canal workers have hauled out yet there's still enough to foul the prop repeatedly. We spent 15 minutes in one of the locks heaving a tangled mass of weed and the remains of a large zipped holdall from round our prop.
I'm sure there are nice bits of Blackburn but they aren't round the locks. At one we encountered a local lad, spaced out on something considerably stronger than the can of lager he was holding. Mumbling incoherently, he offered to help – and I had to haul him back from falling in the lock. We left him sitting on a lock beam, drifting into a world that was probably nicer than the one he actually lived in.
Further on a couple were walking a muscular Staffie wearing a muzzle on a harness you could restrain a disturbed adult with. He kept taking hungry looks at Brian who – aware of the muzzle and harness – stood on the boat roof and barked back.
The 'bungalow garden' with buzz cut lawn and no flowers
Leaving Blackburn behind I got a chance to indulge in one of my favourite boating pastimes – back garden viewing. It's a bit like nosing in your neighbour's living room window but even better.
A lovely and lively canalside garden
Back gardens are fascinating, from the 'bungalow gardens' with grass buzz cut to a green glow and not a plant in sight to elaborate waterside concoctions created by someone who watched too many Ground Force episodes. No collections of gnomes on this stretch though.
The 'I don't actually like the canal' garden
This afternoon we ran through countryside that, while lacking the Pennine dramas, was still pretty in the sunshine, to finish up at the Johnson Hill Locks - a seven step prequel to the upcoming Wigan flight.

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