Wednesday, July 27, 2016

That is some shop!

The village of Hoscar seems to have very little apart from two pubs, one of which is now closes for some time, and a railway station. And it has several farms, one of which has the shop that's the reason for us having stopped here. We walked out to it this morning, to see what they have to offer, to make sure they were worth waiting for till tomorrow. There were several signs up outside the closed shop, suggesting all sorts of food we may well buy tomorrow, before carrying on the next short step towards Liverpool. It looked promising.

photo -
The moorings here confused us a bit when we arrived yesterday. We tied up not far from a sign welcoming us to the 24-hour visitor moorings. In front of us is a yoghurt pot (aka small GRP cruiser) and several narrowboats, all of which bear permanent moorer's licenses. Part-way up this line of craft is another CRT sign announcing that these are, indeed, permanent moorings. Neither of the two notices, however, says how much of the bank's length they refer to. Nowhere does it say visitors stop/permanents start here.

Anyway, we didn't want to outstay our 24-hour welcome at the visitors' bit, so this afternoon we moved a mere 250 yards to a spot immediately after the last of the permanent moorers. Where I disturbed a wasps' nest whilst mooring Kantara. Dozens of the things came at me, obviously pretty angry. It must have been an amusing sight, me running up and down, flapping my arms around me, trying to shoo the wasps away. I was lucky to be stung just once, on the side of my hand. Fortunately for me, I've never reacted badly to insect stings or bites, and this one came to nothing after the initial pain.

We towed the boat a few yards away from the offended nest, and moored again.

I had a Facebook message this morning from Paul. Paul's a friend and ex-colleague from my last school. He's the first person to speak in “Life with our feet under water”.

"I like the line in your blog there's a farm shop close by that we want to visit. But it's Sunday today, and they're not open until Tuesday. So we wait. People don't wait that long for the Harrod's sale!"
And today we stopped waiting, and went to the shop. And it was so worth the wait! 

Taylor's Farm Shop is much bigger than I expected. Looking in through the glass door yesterday gave me no clue as to its size. Most of it was hidden from view. It has pretty much all of the food and drink that you could need. There's a delicatessen counter, a fresh meat counter, fruit and vegetables, bread, cakes and biscuits, wines and ales, soft drinks, dairy products, and freezers and chillers full of packaged sausages, burgers and other meats. They even sell Meal Deals from their stock, at less than £3! Much of the food is produced on the farm, much of the rest is locally sourced, and the whole spread speaks quality. Prices are very good. Such is the range of goods, and the popularity of the shop, that there are around a dozen staff working in the shop. There must be others behind the scenes, preparing the food.

We were amazed. We were delighted. We bought lots, and we'll make sure we stop here on our journey from Liverpool. Boaters, it's a 10-minute walk from the canal. Take lots of bags, because you'll buy more than you went for!

We carried on up the canal, expecting to do a massive nine miles today. Almost immediately, we passed the junction with the Rufford Arm of the canal.

We knew nothing of this canal until last May. We drove out from Yelvertoft to Darwen in Lancashire, to see Said the Maiden supporting Fairport Convention. To make the most of the trip, we stayed on for three days, on one of which we visited Old Rufford Hall, alongside which, we were surprised to see, flows a narrow canal. Later, we learned that this is the Rufford Arm, which forms an important link to the Leeds and Liverpool with the Lancaster Canal, via the Ribble Link. We sailed past it today. We do have a bit of time on our hands, but not enough for a decent exploration of the Rufford.

Old mill converted to apartments
We stopped at Burscough Wharf for services. (How do you pronounce “Burscough”? Does it rhyme with cough, through, though, or tough? Or something else I haven't thought of?) The wharf is much smaller than Wigan's, but so much nicer, and, well, alive!

There are shops, caf├ęs and restaurants all very nicely created in the old canal buildings. Live music wafted out of a bar, shoppers perused the shops, a young couple carried a white-painted wardrobe out of an "Emporium", people sat and drank coffee in a pleasant courtyard, and a wool shop sold teas to its patrons. It was alive and purposeful. Wigan missed the trick somehow.

The countryside now takes on a rather different character, The land has become very flat, the woodland has all but disappeared, and there are stretches where the canal is very straight, suggesting to us the drains of the Middle Levels. It's all very beautiful in a stark sort of way.

We moored well short of our expected destination. We'd left Hoscar later than we'd anticipated, and our progress had been slowed by three swing-bridges, and a lot of moored boats (for which it is expected that one slows down). The bank here is sloping, the edge is uneven, and the boats stands out from it a foot or so. Which left me a convenient space to fall into as I stepped backwards off the gunnel onto a bank that simply wasn't there.

Our overnight mooring, Bridge 26 behind us, Halsall to our right.


  1. So to you a GRP boat is a Yogurt Pot and to them are you a Rust Bucket then ?

    1. Yes, maybe we are a Rust Bucket to them, but that name would be no more a realistic description of my boat than Yoghurt Pot is of theirs. It's all in good humour, with no offence intended by anyone. I'm very sorry if you took it.

  2. Warning! Pedantry! It's properly the Rufford Arm of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, rather than the Rufford Canal :-) And Burscough is I understand pronounced "Bursca"!! Cheers

    1. Thank you, Mr Pedant! I stand corrected! I shall correct it now. I rely on folks like you to put me right! Interesting that you say "Bursca" - a scouse yesterday said "Burscoe". Who does a bloke believe? :-)