Saturday, 23 December 2006

Merry Christmas

And more

Tuesday 12 Dec

There is a re-run of TO FAT TO WALK on the TV. Whilst I have to laugh at some of the antics the participants you have got to give credit to those that took part. To walk the length of the country, in their condition, shows great courage and determination.

However I am on a crusade of my own. Part of my journey includes hauling a 20 ton boat behind me. I no longer stay on the boat to get into or out of a lock, Sometime when the pounds are short it can be easier to bow haul and good exercise. The advantage being I have lost a stone up to the time I moored at Market Drayton. I probably should have had a medical check-up before I started but if it hasn’t killed me yet I don't suppose it will.

Wednesday 13 Dec

If you were to address a letter to the Milly M, Bridge 63, Market Drayton; would you expect it to be delivered? No! Neither would I, but sure enough I did receive a Christmas card today. The best the Post Office could do was delivering it to No.1 Canalside. The kind gent who lived at that address came along and handed it through the kitchen window.

Friday 15 Dec

So with the canal now open again I am on my way. I should have got up earlier and got past the site of the stoppage but having been sedentary for the last three weeks so I slept in. Ho hum! I managed to get to the top of Tyerly Locks and if lucky will make better progress tomorrow. Inshallah!

Whatever you think of Boy George he was a great singer and is a great stylist, but what was he thinking wearing that money sack on his head recently on the Jonathan Ross show. Definitely loosing it.

Saturday 16 Dec

Did well today, we got as far as Gnosall. When I say we I mean the three boats that have been travelling the same strech of canal more or less from MD and funny enough we are all newbies. Stuart has been on a sail-a-way for a month. And Ike along with two buddies is on a 70 footer. Ike, Carl and Pig are quite professional when it comes to the consumption of the ale, for medicinal purposes you understand. It was a long night!

Sunday 17 Dec. 06

Early start today I was up just after nine which surprised me. Stuart is staying put for a few days to work on his boat. Ike Carl and Pig set off about half an hour before me. Arriving at Wheaton Aston Ike was filling his water tank and chatting to other boaters. With his tank full he carried on to fill his second tank………….? After a while the boat started to list, which even to Ike who had not been on the boat long was unusual. To cut a long story short there was no second water tank. The second connection was just fitted and not connected to any thing. The boat had been filling up under the flooring causing the list. Had this happened to me I would have been in tears. Another boater came to Ike's aid with a hand pump which was utilised to pump the water to the back of the boat and then bilge pumped out.

A tale of woe for all to heed, especially if you buy a second hand boat, make sure you know all there is to know about the boat. Get it in writing. I am thinking if Ike had been told there were two water tanks he would have good reason to expect recompense.

As an aside Ike looked very much like Noddy Holder and Pig was a fair facsimile of a younger Barry Manilow. Carl looked like Carl.

I left Wheaton Aston with Ike and his friends pumping out his boat and travelled on to Brewood pronounced Brude. The towpath here is muddy and the mooring is abysmal. With only an 18 in draft I still cant get close to the edge. It's a good job I have a couple of ten inch wheelbarrow wheels to float between the boat and the bank. Ho hum!

Every day I see Kingfishers. Sometimes just a fleeting glance, sometimes I watch them flying away from perch to perch. One today flew along the side of the boat level with the top rail straight at me, I could have caught it had I stretched out my hand. I have been within a few feet of perching birds without my camera, but today both the bird and the camera were close by. Not the best pictures of a King fisher ever taken but so far the best I have taken.

Oh well time for bed said Maffi.

Monday 18 Dec.

Sometimes it amazes me how things connect. In Market Drayton I met Alan Smith and Diane Daly. This morning in the hedge row where I moored last night was this.
I know it was the same people even the boat name was the same. I can't help wondering what the story is, but more so I can't help wondering why I moored where I did. I passed under bridge 14 and couldn’t find a space so I reversed back through the bridge couldn't moor close to the bridge the edge was collapsing. Back down a few boats and I was able to find a space. There in the hedgerow I saw the board.

Anyway, off I went on my journey. I managed to get stuck in the stoplock where the Shroppie meets the Staffs and Worcs. I couldn’t get the gate to open properly. I had to lift the fenders eventually. Now I know there are those that say not to travel with the fenders down, but in the 8-9 weeks I have been out and about I have not had a problem. Just this one lock.

Chatting to a local at the lock I decided to overnight at Compton Lock. A couple of miles down. There is a good chippie next to the bridge. I am not sure I would have liked 'Oddfellows' (a theme pub) but I did like the 'Swan' a coaching house for 230 years. The Swan is a very friendly if old pub.

Tuesday 19 Dec

I reversed all the way back to the Birmingham Junction before winding and travelling north up the S & W. I need to catch a bus back to Market Drayton for a dental appointment, I have decided to hire a car instead.

On the way to Gaily I passed ******* marina. There I saw nb JAMPAK which belongs to a friend of mine Rosie. Rosie wasn't at home. I shall however take a photo of Milly M with JAMPAK in the back ground and email it to her.

Christmas is nearly upon us yet again. Kim is coming for the day to cook my Christmas dinner so following my dental appointment I need to find somewhere to spend the day. I am supposed to be getting all the necessary goodies. If I am true to form I will screw it up so I need to stop near a pub serving Christmas dinner, just in case.

Wednesday 20 Dec

Very early this morning I was disturbed by the sound of bubbling water. I thought someone was in trouble in the water. I opened the side hatch to see, to help, and witnessed the courtship and mating of a pair of swans. They didn't need any help from me. I had not really realised before what a privilege it is to be on the water. God bless Mag-light.

Before setting off this morning I sat with my morning coffee watching TV. Princess Nikki is a pointless person. Who is she? Why did her parents let her live? Today they had her collecting rubbish, colonic irrigation and working on a sewerage farm. She was insulting to the workers and ignorant of other peoples lives. Some people are simply a waste of the earths valuable oxygen.

Back at Autherley Junction I noticed some yuk venting from the side of the boat. "Oh", I said that’s what that vent is for ewugh! Time for a PO. Chatting to the chap from the boatyard I mentioned that I needed somewhere to leave the boat tomorrow while I was away to Market Drayton for a dental appointment. Very kindly he said I could moor with his boats on the other side of the canal. Sorted!

Thursday 21 Dec

Away to MD early. Bus to Wolverhampton, train to Shrewsbury, bus to MD. On the return journey the driver from MD to Shrewsbury was so bad I fetched up my lunch. When I say bad driver I mean really bad. Even when I got on the train, in Shrewsbury, the passengers on the train noticed and commented on my green complexion. Once more I threw up on the train. It wasn't until I got back on the boat that I started to feel better.

Friday 22 Dec
I still wasn’t 100% when I started out to tackle the Wolverhampton 21 in the morning

Nonetheless after a couple of locks I was OK. 21 locks in 6 hours, not too shabby. I met three boats coming down so all the locks were set in my favour. I suppose I should have stayed at the top of the flight, but I continued on and moored up by the Boat Inn at Coseley about another 4 miles along the BML. The Boat Inn has closed down 'yah boo suks'.

I would love to go down the Dudley tunnel then up the Neatherton tunnel but need to be at Gas Street Basin on Crimbo Day and I really must get to Milton Keynes before the stops start next year.

Saturday 23 Dec

Friday, 15 December 2006

Leaving?

Well I should be leaving MD today, but I got up late and it is raining. I might make a dash for the top of Tyerly locks a bit later.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

December

Tuesday 12 Dec

There is a re-run of TO FAT TO WALK on the TV. Whilst I have to laugh at some of the antics the participants you have got to give credit to those that took part. To walk the length of the country, in their condition, shows great courage and determination.


Wednesday 13 Dec

I phoned BW this AM to enquire about the stoppage at Shebbdon Embankment. It will be finished on Friday as per the plan, so I can move on.

At PMQ's to day a question was asked about funding of BW in the light of DEFRAS cock up. Tony Baloney side stepped with bull about budgets and working within them.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Red Diesel

Oh dear it would seem the battle has been lost, at least temporaily.

Question is how do I get heating diesel at the reduced price? Which I presume I am still entitled to.

Of course this situation is not helped by the fact that our Government have little or no idea of just who it is that owns the boats.

I suppose if nothing else this will cure to Erbspacher HYD 10 problems that some people appear to have.

December trials

Friday 08 Dec

Today they lit the Crimbo lights in MD. I could hear the carol singing from my boat, a mile away! As is the norm at times like this there is nearly always an MC who thinks he is Bruce Forsythe, and this was no different. What didn't surprise me (and why should it?) was, this guy wasn't funny at all, not even a glimmer of a smile. If I tell you I am funnier you will know that this guy was flat as a cow turd. So much for MD culture.

If you walk into town from bridge 63 or 62, when you get into the centre the Crown is on the right as the road turns to the left. The Crown is an old pub. There are numerous black/white pics on the walls of the pub in days gone by, an era when horses were the major cause of pollution. It was closed for a while, but re-opened six weeks ago by two partners who are making a go of it with the help of the local drinkers and a few boaters. Drayton being a market town Wednesday is a busy pub day as is Saturday. They have a lot of competition, there are 9 pubs in the centre of town. They do have an advantage at the Crown, they not only serve drink, but tea coffee and a small but adequate menu. I don't think many of the other pubs serve as much or for so long and some no food at all, but then there are a lot of take-a-ways in town. The staff are very friendly Sean & Sarah are goods host and they deserve success. The chef/partner Gareth, is ex-navy. He came to the pub business from the Prison Service though not as an inmate.

Last night I met Alan Smith and Diana Daly and their 6 month old baby Talula. They are old hands at boating and live on nb Anne Marie at bridge 65 Victoria Farm moorings. I got some good info about the bandit country and about free food on the cut.

Saturday 09 Dec

I am fed up balancing the TV on the ironing board, shelves are a must. Utilising a standard shelving system I duly drill through a mains cable, doh! Not too much damage fortunately only the outer insulation was cut away. This I cured by sliding some spirap along the cable to cover the damaged insulation. I am lucky in that I really don't need to do any more improvements.

Sunday 10 Dec

Morrison's is a very handy place to top up on supplies and of course the Crown is on the way back so I topped up on Foster's. Tomorrow my licence papers will turn up, redirected by Kim to the Post Office in town. So no longer will passing boaters look at me like a sponging leper.

Monday 11 Dec

There ya go all duly licenced and legal.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Eberspacher

It has been two weeks since Peter came to sort out my heating system. I have used it every day for varying periods and have had no problems with it so far.

As I understand it Eberspacher are very specific about the installation of the heaters and not every installer follows the plan.

Those of you who have Eberspachers installed will be interested to hear that Eberspacher have now a dedicated engineer for narrowboats.

And into December

Thursday continued

I also went to the dentist, which was strange being as I only went to get an appointment yesterday.

Friday 01 Dec

So I'm a Celebrity…. has finished. I still have to ask, Who is Matt? Fair play, you have to give it to him after he ate all that crap in the Bush tucker trial, but I think over all Jason or Myleen should have had the crown.

On the subject of the bush tucker trial, I don't doubt that all this 'food' is edible and if you were starving you may well eat some awful stuff, but why, I ask, would you eat a Kangaroo's arse or a crocodile's dick? It seems to me that if you have those bits to hand that the rest of the animal was somewhere in the vicinity. Let's face it would you let someone take your arse or dick without a fight! No? Nor would I!

Candy came.

Saturday 02 Dec

Away up the canal to the Wharf Tavern. Last week I reserved a table for an early Crimbo dinner. Given that Maffi has a birthday tomorrow this was to be my b'day dinner. On the way up, at the top of the flight, I met Martin Shorthouse, a contributor from CWF, on his boat Octarine.

It was a windy night and despite mooring up tight the boat moved quite a bit.

Sunday 03 Dec

It always amazes me that boats attract so much attention. On the way back to MD we dropped down the Tyerly locks. By the time we got half way down there was quite a collection of gongoozelers. Most wanting to help, two young lads hitched a ride down. I don't think anyone noticed I got stuck on the rocky bottom above the bottom lock. There seems to be very little water in the canal along that stretch.

Monday 04 Dec

It can be really helpful when people help with opening gates, but it can be a bit annoying when you are on your own and people assume that they must help. It can throw the 'plan' right out of tilt. At one lock a few weeks ago as I was thrown off my stride by helpers, I lost my map over board. Not directly their fault, but their help steered me away from my plan and I lost the sequence.

It has been 6 weeks since I registered Milly and still I have no papers. BW get your act together! It cannot take so long to fill in the forms and issue the papers and plates.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Engine an' stuff

Well, well, well what to say. Today Lyle turned up to service my engine. Hooray! All good stuff. I also got my anchor and my curtains. The Proptector didn't show, grrrrrr.

As curtains go they don't really cut the mustard. The fabric is nice but I have 7 windows and only received curtains for 4. Each curtain is nearly 4 ft long. When you consider that the windows are only 4 ft wide then you will understand that the curtains are far too wide for the windows and I think a bit too short. So tomorrow I will look for a tailor or seamstress to cut them down to size or make up some more or maybe I will look for vertical blinds.


It's a larf this boating thing init!

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

The protest.

All across the system narrow boaters have been blockading the canals in protest at the swingeing cut in funding. I know this is supposed to be making a point but who is it inconveniencing. Other boaters so what is the point?

Now if we put a load of boats on flatbed trailers and then craned them on to the M25 the government might just be induced to listen. Stopping a few perceived 'rich' narrow boaters from having their leisurely fun is hardly going to cause an upset, but I will if I am in the locality, participate. Solidarity rules!

STOP PRESS

The Crimbo lights of Market Drayton are up ……..and down……. well some are. Monday on my way to the library the High Street filled with emergency services vehicles. It is the norm in towns like this to string the Crimbo lights across the street on steel wires. Some stayed up and others came down. One of the strings attached to a disused shop fell down bringing with it a large part of the upper story of the shop which crashed down onto the pavement. Luckily no one was hurt, had it been a Wednesday, market day, the out come would have been disastrous. Of course me being me hadn't taken my camera with me so a pic of the devastation is no going to be seen here but I do have a pic of the hole in the shop front.













Click for larger image

I must be somewhat lucky. There are two routes to the library from where I was, I took the safe one. Somebody up there likes me! Despite falling masonry I quite like MD it has a nice friendly feeling to it.

Tuesday 28 Nov

Two comments about the TV.
1. The new John West advert is wicked!
2. I'm a Celebrity! Who is Matt? What has he contributed? Why is he still in the camp?

Bored now.

Monday, 27 November 2006

And November is drawing to a close

Friday 24 Nov

Market Drayton is a very nice place. Lots of pubs, more than really seems necessary, but who am I to complain. I enjoyed a coupe of glasses of white in the Crown to wash down my allday breakfast. Novel but nice.

I collected my laptop from the boat and got myself connected via WIFI at the library. A chat with one of the after school club kids ensued and he wanted to know all about the site and how to get his own. His sister was a right po face. They were told to stop bothering 'the man'. I didn't mind. In fact I was finished with my page and returned to show the lad how to get his own. Today kids are forever being told to be wary of strangers. It is nice to be able to do something that doesn't make them scared.

Saturday 25 Nov

A trip down the Shroppie bought me to the Wharf Tavern. What a nice hostelry. Shame the bar staff are all po faced. No one smiled, well not in my direction. I took the opportunity to order Christmas dinner which will be devoured next Saturday the day before my birthday. The towpath here is very muddy.

Sunday 26 Nov

A trip up the Shroppie to the source of my biggest problem. At bridge 45 the canal is closed. Not just a barrier across but a few tons of rocks in the bridge hole. I aint going nowhere. I will return to MD for a well earned rest. I will have to do that which I do not wish to do, stay in one place.

Well here I am still in Market Drayton, I will be for some time. I could go back'ards but what is the point in that? It would mean going down about 40 locks to divert away from the Shroppie and down the T&M. No, I will bide my time and take this opportunity to rest my leg, which is still giving me problems. At least in MD I will be near a good shopping centre and a boatyard.

Friday, 24 November 2006

Action Heron



More in November

Tuesday 14 Nov

Eberspacher arrived about 12:30 pm. I gave him the rundown on the problem. He looked at what I had and came up with a solution which I cannot mention at the moment, but in time I will reveal all.

At 2 0'clock I was on my way towards Middlewich. Arriving at the bottom lock (75) a guy asked me where I was heading. Of course I said, "Anywhere". I mean I was pointed at the lock it was obviously where I was heading. He should have said, "You wont get through there". Lock 75 is scheduled for maintenance from the 4th to the 15th of December. Unfortunately the bottom gate leaks so bad that the water comes out faster than it goes in and doesn't reach a high enough level to open the top gate.

How I will proceed from here I do not know. Tomorrow I will contact BW and see what they have to say. If they don't have a solution to the non-filling lock I will have to back-track a few days, but not till the weekend. Still at least I get to do three tunnels again, cool.

Wednesday 15 Nov.

A chat with BW says "It takes time to fill".

So I set of, fortunately for me some one was coming down and they left the gate for me. It took a while, but did fill. This and the next few locks are all narrow locks. Easy to work because the gates are small and easy to push, but them locks is deep. Coming out of Middlewich I learned a valuable lesson. "You never know you are going to need something until you need it". If you have guessed that I have dropped my windlass in the lock then you will know that I needed a magnet, and coincidently a side fender. Fortunately there was a chandler back at the last bridge.

Bloody hell it's windy tonight. I have moored at Minshull Lock. For two reasons, one it's cold dark and two there are proper bollards. I need to tie up solid tonight.

Thursday 16 Nov

This morning I passed Onion Bargee and a few other boats whose name are familiar. I am now on the Shroppie, full steam ahead for Chester to meet up with Daughter Dannie and her children who I haven’t seen for nearly two years.

There is a very picturesque double staircase lock at Bunbury. However it is spoiled by the operation of Anglo-Welsh boats. They have boats moored tight between two bridges, and they are three deep leaving only a small channel to pass. I realise that 'in season' this would not necessarily be the case (most of the boats will be out most of the time), but I always thought that mooring right on a bridge hole was forbidden let alone doubling up.

Friday 17 Nov
I dropped down the five locks into Chester and moored up right in the centre of town. What a nice town Chester is. The Crimbo lights are up and it feels seasonal. The only thing to spoil it was some drunken son of Chester decided it was acceptable to jump upon the boat and tap dance on the roof at 10 o'clock at night. When I opened the side and said, in a very controlled voice, "Hey steady on there are kids in here". The resident ass hole of Chester wanted to fight me albeit from some distance away. I moved the boat across to the other side away from the Frog & Nightingale, the apparent source of the drunk.

The girls hadn't changed, but, Harri Morgan had grown up a lot. Can you believe it I didn't take any pictures? Sleeping 2 adults and three children in my boat is yet another problem. I popped out to an outdoor shop which was luckily having closing down sale and bought a blow up doll bed and a sleeping bag. So that was me sorted the rest all nestled down in my bed.

Saturday 18 Nov

The fire went out in the early hours so the boat was quite cold in the morning. I don't think the girls enjoyed the boat or the cruise, but Harri thought it was great. I think he will be a regular visitor when he gets older.

I am having a trouble being green on the boat, where do you put all the recyclable stuff. I barely have enough places to put what little I have without finding space for plastics, cans and glass. I don't know. On the same subject 'green'. I heard the most absurd 'green tax' ever proposed. In order to encourage people to buy energy efficient lamps the government are proposing an increase in the tax on ordinary lamps to make them less attractive. Now I may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but would it not make sense to reduce the tax on EE lamps or am I being a bit naive. Surely to make people use the alternative one should make it more attractive, cheaper not make the lesser of the two dearer. Am I being naïve? Yes probably.

Sunday 19 Nov

So Tom Cruise has married again. What's the big deal? It must have a slow news week. How many more times will we have to have these 'celebrity' weddings? It just personifies the throw away lives we all seem to want. It doesn't seem to say much for Scientology. What makes me mad is when the news reader says, "And now for the story the whole world is waiting for……", I hate to say it, but the majority of the 'whole world' is more worried about where their next meal is coming from and not what mega rich so called star is doing with money that would feed thousands for months.
Monday 20 Nov

I overnighted just before the bridge that marks the edge of Anglo Welsh world. You may remember that I commented on them earlier. What is really annoying is that the BW water supply is blocked by AW boats. OK I was able to fill up a couple of miles down the way but that is not the point. A couple of live aboard CCer's on the nb Lindesfarne came to join the fill-up queue and also complained that they have never been able to fill up on that stretch. There is a placard at AW's saying, "NO MOORING FRIDAY SATURDAY OR MONDAY. So if you are on the Shroppie and think you want to fill up with water at the bottom of Bunbury two rise think again! I imagine that during the holiday season that the water supply is vacant, the boats all being out on the cut. There is a water pipeline at the top of the rise but I have it on good authority that BW say it is not suitable for drinking.

Anyway here I am at Nantwich. The basin is full of boats, I moored at the diesel point and went to the Chandlers to buy smokeless fuel at £7 a 20 kg bag. I had paid only £5.25 for 25 kgs two weeks ago. Why the difference? As it happened the bags turned out to be 25 kg. Shhhhh don't tell them.

Yesterday I dropped my GEO Projects map in the canal as I came out of a lock and it promptly sank. Not a problem I will get a new one in Nantwich. Would you believe it Nantwich Chandlers do not have a map of the Shroppie! Doh!

Tomorrow the Eberspacher man will come and sort out the heating and if I am lucky Keith will come from Ledgard Bridge to service the engine and do a little job of fitting fair leads to the side rails level with the centre ring fitting. The proptector should also be fitted. I had asked for this months ago while still in Saudi.???????? If all goes to plan I will have curtains as well, that will be a novelty, not least for dog walkers who will no longer have to glimpse my arse through the windows!

Tuesday 21 Nov

The Eber man, Peter, turned up. My Hydronic 10 unit is now a Hydronic 5. There were a few problems with the installation. Relatively minor points, but those points have a major effect on the operation of the heating unit. I will in due course give a run down of the performance and detail the solution to my problem. For now it will have to suffice that the Hyd 10 is too big a unit for a 58 ft boat. Peter was with me from 11 am till about 4 pm and when he left I had heat!

I moved the boat down to the Aqueduct to spend the night, giving me less distance to walk to the library.

Wednesday 22 Nov

I set out about 10 on my way to Audlem there will be a stoppage there but a call to BW tells me it is postponed until 30 Nov so I will be able to pass through.

I made the first three locks at Audlem and stopped at the Shroppie Fly. Cute barmaid in there, Aussie I think. I was a little disappointed that there were children in the bar at 10pm. One, about 6-7 years old was playing Pool. Good though he was, he should have been in bed.

There are twelve more locks to the top. If I am lucky I might make the top in one day, but that being said I will have only travelled a mile and a bit.

Its pissing down now and I am off to bed Goodnight!

Thursday 23 Nov

By 'eck that were 'ard werk. 14 locks today up from the Shroppie Fly. I think I did manage to half empty a pound. OOPS!

Watching Question Time tonight. Esther Rantzen looks hot, am I getting old? She must be 3 times as old as my normal eye candy. I think I need a rest!

Woo Whoo

Market Drayton Rocks

Not only is it a nice place but the library has WIFI how cool is that?

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Sorry running out of time in the Libary......

....but will be back soon

More travels in November

I left Sale late due to a boat race event taking place on the canal; some people can be so inconsiderate. Don't they know I am on a mission

Anyway I eventually got off around 3 ish and continued on my merry way. Wanting to get a fair distance away I kept going until 6 pm. The tunnel light is getting well used.After an hour or so of driving rain I was ready to stop. I found a mooring place right outside the Barn Owl Inn. When I say right outside I mean just that, I stepped off the back of the boat and into the bar. Pleasant pub, but considering it was Saturday night surprisingly empty and there was live music on too!. I ate well at the pub and had a few beers before returning to the boat by which time it had stopped raining.

Sunday 12 Nov

The morning was bright and brisk. I set off for Lymm, passing nb Midnight on the way . Midnight belongs to Peter Corbett better known as Mathew the hand of SOOTY. Though I didn't see Peter (like he would be waiting for Maffi to appear) if he is half the man his father was he will be a really nice guy. Lymm is a nice place. Peter has a cottage near the bridge.

I had planned to stop at Stockton Heath, but continued on towards the tunnel at Preston Brook, past the huge Laboratories at Daresbury. What they do there is anyones guess. Near Preston Brook I turned up the Norton Arm towards Runcorn but changed my mind after a mile and reversed out. Back on the main line I proceeded in the dark. I was soon confronted by a pair of what I thought were security lights. I decided to err on the side of caution and moved over only to be passed minutes later by a nb with only inches to spare. Looking for a pub to moor up by I battled on. I will just go through this bridge I thought. This 'bridge' turned out to be the tunnel. This is my third tunnel and I love 'em. What a trip. I moored on the other side in the pitch dark, neat trick. In my life I have probably seen only three Kingfishers and then only fleeting glances, but since being on the boat sightings are becoming common place. Today I had seen three including one so close I could have reached out and touched it. Of course as Sod's law would have it I was too late with the camera.

Monday 13 Nov

Up with the larks I found ii had moored about 50 yards away from the first lock on the Trent and Mersey, or was that the last, whatever! The rise was about three inches.

The wind picked up and I managed to hit the bank whilst talking to Keith from LB and again at the eastern end of the Barnton tunnel I bounced off the bridge, but fair do's the canal does do a sharp left hand bend there.

I passed through some great looking places including Salterford and Barnton tunnels (two more ticked off my list, the Winnington Swing Bridge on the River Dee and the Anderton Boat Lift. I over nighted in Northwich bang outside the Old Broken Cross pub. Can I pick 'em or can I pick 'em.

I had my meal and a couple of pints and returned to the boat to attend some 'paperwork'. Blue flashing lights appeared and drew my attention. Me being a nosey kind of bloke I went to the window. An ambulance drew up by the boat. The driver asked if I was alright. to which I responded in the affirmative. I think someone made a prank call on the strength of my being moored outside a pub. Such a waste of resources.

The Eberspacher engineer will be here tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Graffiti

Evrywhere on the cut there is Graffiti. Some seems to point at the perpetrator.

Saturday, 11 November 2006

WIFI

Well this connection has been the first real WIFI I have encountered since leaving LB. I have taken the opportunity to catch up on all the bloggs.

Some people have been so busy. Makes me feel like I am shirking. I don't know when I will get another connection as good as this. Watch this space!

My travels so far

Sunday 22 Oct
Well the curtains will not arrive until Wednesday so I will leave Mirfield today. I will give Gary my daughters address in Denbigh and will pick them up from her at sometime in the not too distant future.

Candy came for the half term holiday. Not really a boaty person but she is trying. We set off from Mirfield after lunch on Sunday and made our way to Broad Cut Lock on the Calder & Hebble where we over nighted. The trip started well but soon deteriorated into intermittent rain and drizzle, by the time we stopped at about 6ish we were wet through and ready to give up. I'll give Candy her due she did all the locks.



The stove works well and soon warmed us up and dried our wet clothes. I think we had sausages bacon and eggs for tea which was getting away from my healthier LS, but welcome nonetheless.

There is enough hot water for two showers and all the washing up. The night was spent watching Ant & Dec (not my choice).

Monday 23 Oct

We awoke very early on Monday, but were unable to set off until after 7 AM when the sun rose. The landscape was vastly different from the desolation we had seen yesterday. Arriving at the Aire & Calder we were locked through the quite substantial lock by Jarvis the LK. Candy took the opportunity to learn from the old master how it was done. We got stuck at the next lock, Kings Road Lock, on the Aire and Calder coz I didn't have a BW key, doh! I am sure now that Jarvis said something to me about it but being hard of hearing missed all that. A quick phone call to BW at Castleford and a key was winging its way to us. On that I cannot fault them. With the key Candy had an easier time of the locks. I was very surprised by Castleford Junction. A very nice area. Stopped in at the BW office they were all very helpful. I suppose they wanted the payment for the key. Castleford is a nice town, in a northern sort of way. I saw a Great Crested Grebe this morning.

Nice view of the junction


Tuesday 24 Oct

I finally paid my licence for Milly M and am now legal. We set off along the Aire & Calder towards Leeds. Some of them locks are a bit on the big side. Six Milly Ms would fit with room to spare. We stopped off at the marina near Lemonroyd Lock to visit with Dawn, but alas she was out visiting her mother. Needing to reach Wigan before the locks closed for maintenance we set off again after about an hours wait. Sorry Dawn had to press on. From Lemonroyd Lock we made it to Leeds centre and moored over night in the Clarence Dock next to the Royal Armouries museum. I still have no idea where we went that night but we did have a meal in the No 1 Oriental restaurant. All you can eat for 8 quid, and we did eat a lot. Not because it was there, but we were hungry and you know what it is like when you eat Chinese food, ten minutes later you need more. One thing I must remember, I am not in Saudi any more, huge tips are not necessary, 10% max.

Wednesday 25 Oct

We went shopping in the city centre. Can you believe a big city centre shopping mall doesn't have a toilet? Well I can and do coz they don't. We wandered around for an hour or two and bought nothing. I did learn something I never knew before. In a phone conversation with my eldest daughter I mentioned that I was in Starbucks, she had never heard of Starbucks. I find myself asking where I went wrong.

We left Leeds about 1-ish heading towards Shipley. Them two rise locks are a bit of tricky fun aren't they, and the three rise very tricky. Good job BW staff was on hand to help with the triples. It rained most of the afternoon, we were sodden when were advised by a BW Lengthsman to moor overnight in the Aire Valley Marina. It is probable that enjoyment in the boating world is indirectly proportional to the quantity of water falling out of the sky. On bright days we were fine, on rainy days were argued a lot, culminating on Thursday with a blow-up and a walkout. However Candy being Candy returned later with ciggies and we went out to dinner.

Thursday 26 Oct

Shipley to Bingley was a short hop through a few bridges and up the three rise prior to the 'big five'. Can you believe the coffe shop at the top was closed! If you have done the five rise I cannot tell you anything you don’t already know, if you haven't I cannot do it justice. I would suggest if you want to do it, you do it soon. It leaks like a sieve, but nonetheless it's a blast. It was in the fiverise that I met Charlie (Charlotte). Cute as a button, six years old. Her parents let her ride up the first lock in the rise on the rear deck.

Friday 27 Oct

A mile or two before Silsden I seemed to lose steerage and power. There appeared to be lots of action at the stern but little forward motion. In fact my side fenders were making more wash than the bow. All sorts of things went through my mind, but not the right one. We stayed at Kington over night and met the owners of Pysorf, nice people.

We left about 10 on Saturday. By the time we neared Skipton I had to stop at a boatyard and investigate the weed hatch. To my delight and dismay I discovered ropes, a tyre and heavy duty plastic around my prop. Delight because I now knew why I wasn't going anywhere fast. Dismay because I had to spend an hour or more with my arm in the canal, and it was bloody cold. Oh the joys of boating!

Once again under power, the difference was amazing and we proceeded apace. In Skipton we stopped at the BW station to fill up with water, but never did. The water tap was less than a foot above the top rim of the Elsan bowl. I decided to look elsewhere for my water. What are BW thinking of? This is most unhygienic. It would take little more than a hour to move the tap. £10 of bits would do it, yet it has been this way for years. BW are you reading this? It needs fixing!

Sunday 29 Oct

Skipton is the first canal town we have come across. I spent many hours just standing on the rear deck watching, it is very busy. Allybsc from the 'Canal World Forum' stopped by in the morning. She was looking for another mooring for her boat Taurus. In the afternoon we went to visit Skipton Castle, that’s a cool place. Mary QoS was once imprisoned there.
Candy will be leaving tomorrow. While I will be sorry to see her go I will relax more. She is such a negative person. Me being something of a negative person as well it is not good for either of us.

Monday 30 Oct
Candy left all emotional as usual. The bus left for London at 11:15. Just after 12 I was on my way.

My first obstacle was a swing bridge. I had been somewhat wary of doing this but shouldn't have worried. The whole manoeuvre is just an engineering exercise. It needs thinking about but is not insurmountable. Swing bridges usually pivot on the off-towpath side, this is a problem. However the difficulty depends on whether the bridge swings towards the boat or away. Away from the boat it is a case of arranging ropes to be where you need them when you need them. Tie the bow rope to the bridge, cross the bridge and open it. The bridge will pull the boat in the right direction. Once open the boat will be in a position to untie the bow rope and haul on the centre rope which has already been positioned on the forward corner nearest to the bridge. Before the boat is past the end of the bridge take the stern rope and tie it to the same end but the opposite side as the bow rope was. The boat will come to a halt on the tension of the rope. Return to the working end of the bridge and close it. This will have the effect of pulling the boat back. Close the bridge slowly or the boat will crash into the bridge. With the bridge closed don't forget to retrieve the BW key or you will find yourself having a long walk back when you remember, as I did.

Depending on the location of the bridge it may be possible to moor up on the pivot side. This makes the job easy in as much as you can drive the boat to the bridge, open the bridge, get back on the boat and move the boat past the bridge, moor up again then return to the bridge to close it. Not many bridges are like this in built up areas, but many are in the country.

I really must make a set of diagrams showing how I did it in case someone else wants to know. I am sure the likes of Nigel Carton are dab hands at this coz they do it all the time. The trick is to take it one step at a time. Walk the job without the boat. Go through the motions and assess the procedure. Reassess as necessary. Tie the ropes so they can be easily removed by pulling on the free end. Doddle.

Tuesday 31 Oct

Today I got woken by some very raucous ducks at the BW station at Greenberfield north of Barnoldswick. Once up and about filled up with water and spotted a very unusual bird. About the size of of a sparrow. Black head red eye yellow back and red/brown underparts, Certainly not in my bird book. If you know what it is get in touch.

Stopping at the Marina shop through B'swick I topped up on important things like smokeless fuel for the old Squirel stove and side fenders which I seem to be losing, three now. The people there are really great, very friendly. Further down the L&L I came to the Foulridge tunnel. WOW faaaar out! 1660 yards of hand dug tunnel straight as a die. Before you enter the void you can see the other end. What a trip!


I continued on to the Barrowford lock system and stayed the night halfway down. Barrowford was very quiet. The morning saw a very heavy heavy frost, bloody cold. The fire went in to warm up the boat and stayed in all day. The fuel I bought at B'ford was like the othe 'nut' stuff, but a lot bigger. All I had to do was put a couple of large nuts on the fire every couple of hours and that was enough to keep it going all day.

Wednesday 01 Nov

I am beginning to lose track of time now. One day seems to blend into the next. I have no idea where I stayed this night.

But I do know that on Thursday I went through the Gannow Tunnel 559 yards a pigmy by Foulridge standards. I overnighted at Hapton where I filled with diesel.

Friday 03 Nov

From Hapton there were three swing bridges the first of which was permanently open. At the second I duly tied the bow to the bridge and as I pushed the bridge open the rope came adrift. There was my boat in the middle of the canal playing hard to get. It took an age to slowly drift to the side where I could get hold of the rope. The next bridge I stopped to answer a call of nature. By the time I emerged to 'do' the bridge a BW worker was there asking if I was going through. He volunteered to work the bridge for me. Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, or the other end for that matter, I gently coasted through. I stayed the night in Blackburn at the Eanam Wharf. I hadn't realised I was in the middle of Blackburn and expected there to be a bit of trouble, but the night passed quietly, well quietly if you consider there was a pub right on the wharf. Fortunately they closed at 12 on the dot.

Saturday 04 Nov

Coming out of Blackburn there are 6 locks. These are some of the hardest locks I have had to work. The canal is filled with garbage. It is by far the dirtiest stretch of canal I have encountered so far. And there is yet another two different versions of locking gear. I had to delve into the weed hatch again to remove several grain bags which I had picked up in the second lock.

Garbage had been lifted out and collected on the bank, unfortunately the yobs had chucked most of it back in.

The bridge at the top lock is very shallow and stopped me dead. I was lucky to get off quite easily and took a run at it, probably not the best idea but it worked. I crusied uneventfully after the locks and moored up at the BOATYARD public house for the night. Surf and Turf was good, far too much food on the plate. I watched the fireworks for a while. Now I am writing this. I had planned to not cruise on Sunday but I don’t think I want to stay here too long, so Monday may be my day off instead.

Sunday 05 Nov

There are six locks ay Wheelton which seemed to take an age to get down. That done I plodded on to Adlington. The last two or three miles I had to do with the tunnel lamp on because I stopped to help another boater who had a flat battery. I moored right in front of the bridge. Adlington is a small town with lots of character. Mobile phone coverage is limited near the bridge and I had to stand on the bridge to talk to people on the phone.

Monday 06 Nov

Before I left Adlington I bought a broom to sweep the roof of the boat. Coffee at the marina was supplemented with by a pleasant conversation with some young people with Downs Syndrome and other learning difficulties. The boys wanted to talk to me about football (not being a fan I couldn't help there) and the girls wanted to talk about boyfriends ( I couldn't help there either). Nothing ever changes when it comes to boys and girls irrespective of what life throws at them. From Adlington it was only 5 miles or so here to the top of the Wigan Flight, where I will stay over night before starting on the decent in the morning.

Tuesday 07 Nov

I inspected the top lock this morning only to find the top gate paddles out of commission. BW informed me that there would be no problem going down 'just use the sluices'. While I am plucking up the courage to get started a chap turns up on his bicycle. It transpired that he had responded to my request for help down the flight posted on the CW Forum. Steve Fahey was a great boon to the trip and had he not shown up I would probably still be coming down now. Many thanks Steve, I hope we meet again some day when I can be of service to you. Steve's boat is moored on the Bridgewater and he will be taking part in a blockade today to protest the huge hike in mooring costs this year.



Wednesday 08 Nov

Here I am at the mooring outside BW offices in Wigan, still no call from the boatyard. I might have to move on if they don’t respond soon. Called Gary they will sort out someone to come out soon. That will be nice coz they will bring my curtains with them and I can stop hanging towels up at the windows. I will continue on my journey in the morning.

I went into town to do some shopping this morning and on my return I had not been on the boat long when I heard voices outside. Me, being a nosey sort of guy popped my head out of the hatch. There I saw a man and woman in their fifties looking at the canal. I struck up a conversation and discovered they had seen Milly M in Skipton. They were thinking about a boat and were going to have a four day taster back at Skipton. Both Curtis and Ruth were a real nice couple, very interested in the boat and I invited them aboard to look around. Curtis reminded me of a friend I had in the RAF many years ago. I hope if they ever get a boat I see them around the system.

Thursday 09 Nov

I left Wigan early and met up with Steve again before I reached the first lock which is just as well because with the rebuilding of the bridge I would have to walk from where I moored about a 1/4of a mile through the industrial estate across a main road and through the construction site to open the lock. Steve not only 'did' the lock, but also bought me a copy of a stoppage notice that I had not seen on the Bridgewater Canal.

I arrived in Leigh with an armchair wrapped around my prop. I took about an hour and a half with my arm down the weed hatch. That was one reason I now dislike Leigh. The other was all the doggie doo doo on the towpath. The stoppage was at Astley. I arrived expecting to wait until Saturday before I could get through, but a friendly guy arrived and asked if I was ready to go through, ofcourse I said 'Yes'. I continued onto The Miller, a public house near Worsley where I spent the night.

Friday 10 Nov

Kinda pointlessI suppose. I haven’t seen a lock since early yesterday and I won't see another for 30 miles or more. I have been fishing, not in the water but in the trees. Many fishermen lose tackle in the trees and eventually these will end up in the water and could be harmful to wild life. I see lots in the trees and retrieve them. I can see a piece of fishing line at distance of about fifty feet. I am getting quite a collection.

I am getting a bit disappointed with the body count. Alan who writes for Narrowboat World seems to find a body every week whereas I have not found one, unless you include the Badger and the Cygnet.

I am in Sale for the night. This cheeky beggar came tapping on the hull for a feed.


Saturday 11 Nov

A quiet night in Sale included a visit from the police looking for nb Ruby Anne. I met up with Liam at the Sale CC. What a nice bunch of people, they even fed me. Many thanks to all at SCC dispite getting a bagged prop when trying to leave. Another spell down the weed hatch, that makes 5 now, it's getting a bit monotonous.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Just to say.....

It is just a tad bit difficult to get to a WIFI connection. I am presently at Wigan outside the BW office. I am waiting for LB to turn up and fit the proptector. The curtains should be here then. The Erbspacher is still playing up. I am waiting for a call about when they are going to come and fix it.

I did the Wigan flight in 3 1/2 hours on Tuesday with the help of a guy called Steve who is a lurker at the CWF. Had he not showed up I would probably still be coming down the flight. I am indeed most indebted to him for his assistance. Today he is taking part in the blockade of the Bridgewater Canal in protest over the huge hike in mooring charges. I wish him and the other boaters much luck in their endeavours.

My Laptop has gone tits up so I cannot now add all the write ups for my travels, but will do as soon as is possible.



Friday, 20 October 2006

Mean while.......

..........I will be on my way on Sunday. Down to Castleford for the paperwork and then away over the Leeds and Liverpool.

Painting finished

Nick and Diane left for home today having finished painting their boat, all done by hand.

It has most certainly been a labour of love. If you scroll back a few weeks you can see how it looked when I first arrived.


Thursday, 19 October 2006

Thursday last week

Caphouse mine is an amazing place. It is the National Coal Mining Museum of England. Above ground the old pit head still exists. Most of the old buildings stand proud as a monument to the age of hard graft and totally unrealistic working conditions that were the mainstay of the industrial era and up to the present time.

Below ground, 450 ft down the mine shaft to the old coalface, the museum moves from the late 1700's through to present day technology. The early part of the subterranean display is quite emotional, I think that is the right way to express it, the conditions were unthinkable for a soft southerner like me. Women and children as young as 5 were used to harvest coal for the nation to burn. An hour and a half of guided tour under the local towns and villages is more than enough for any one.

Steve, our guide, helped to soften the blow with his northern humour. Back on the surface the visual exhibits were absolutely superb. All well displayed, in a modern building. A tape plays continuously, listing all the mining disasters, and the death toll. You cannot help be humbled by the figures. If you are ever in the area stop by you wont be disappointed.

Erm!

Far from being well on my way to Wales I am still at the wharf. I will be away soon, how soon? Well that is in the hands of the curtain makers. In time they will deliver said curtains and I will be on my way. Trust me I am a doctor!

Oh and I discovered I don't have an anchor. It is on order but not yet recieved. Humpfffff.

Sunday, 15 October 2006

Back again

Hello Matey Peeps

Not much to report this week. Still at Mirfield. Doh!

I reversed all the way upto The Old Heron Boats site full speed astern at 8am. There is a definate trick to it.

Took the boat to Shepley Marina for Stuart to touch up the paint. Isn't it funny how people surprise you. He was a really nice guy, pleasant to talk to and very informative.

Allan is away in the hospital. he had a minor HA, but all is well. He should be out next week. Don't suppose he will be opening any locks when he gets to the boat. Ho hum!

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

From the sidehatch.

This little star turned up this evening. It seems to be a hybrid of some sort. The Mallards don't like it and are always chasing it away.













And this gent has my untold respect more especially because he took it away with him.









And one more of our feathered friends.

Monday, 9 October 2006

Last weekend

All in all a nice weekend. I started late and made my way to the top end of the Huddersfield Canal to spend the night. The lock at Coopers bridge is a tight one for me not to mention leaky. There was a pleasant couple in the lock in a 20 footer called ICTHUS. They motioned me in but I need to lay corner to corner in that lock so had to decline. We waited and waited and the lock didn't fill. Well it wouldn't, not until you open the paddles. I went for my Hebble Hand spike. If you have not 'done' the Calder Hebble, some of the locks need a lump of wood 42 inches long, tapered at one end, to operate the gates and side sluices as opposed to the standard windlass. As I opened the gate I noticed that the other gate was not up so no water had actually gone into lock. This was the couples second lock. The first one, Battyeford Lock, they had gone up with two other boats and so hadn't had to do any of the mechanics. "We've not done this before" he said. No, I did not say 'it shows', after all I am relatively new to all this myself, but instead put on my teacher head and explained the way it works.

Still a bit uncomfortable in that I don't have curtains and there are not enough towels to do the job, but I get by. Once tied up I get a shower whether or not I intend to go to the pub. Dinner is as healthy as I can manage, I am no Jamie Oliver………yet. I see I have already lost a few pounds. Some of my trousers that were a snug fit are now falling off my hips plus I made a point of getting some scales for this very purpose.

I was up at 6 am. And took a walk along the 'river' bank just to see what was there (I'm an intrepid explorer at heart, ho ho).

I went through Kirklees Low Lock with out incident, which surprised me because I seemed to have so much trouble before having to remove my rear button, I must have been having a Maffi Day. I stopped at Brighouse Bottom Lock not wanting to go any further. While operating paddles for others (I need the practice) and such it occurred to me that the flow pattern of the exiting water would have an effect on my boat. I looked around the corner to the landing stage to see Milly a fair few feet away from the edge. "Oh shit!" I ran to the mooring just in time to catch the rope before it fell in the water and spent the next 10 mins heaving her into the side. Another lesson learned!

On the way back I helped a boat up through Coopers Bridge Lock. There were four guys onboard about my age. They left the lock leaving me to go down on my own. Thank you guys, I don't think!

Back at Battyeford Lock I Made a cuppa and waited a while to see if anyone was coming up rather than waste a lockful of water. After about an hour two small boats came up together, so my time wasn't wasted. They even let me down through the lock and I was on my way. Thank you, Elizabeth.

I watched a fisherman reeling in a crayfish. I had never seen one before, Crayfish that is. Why do the call them fish? Anyway I was so busy watching him that I ended up on the other side and had to navigate some trees. Sad to say my coolie hat under the influence of the tree bounced down the roof and into the water before I could catch it, Doh! Another lesson learned, screw it on! My smoke stack is now adorned with a red and white striped plastic bag, very Gucci.

Saturday, 7 October 2006

THROUGH MY SIDE HATCH

My lunch companions are now regular visitors coupled with a few Brent Geese. I caught a glimpse of a Yellow Hammer today. I have heard it a lot since I moved onboard but have only just seen it.
I watched a man very tidily clean up after his dog today then act like it was an accident that it fell out of his hand into the river. Boo! Hiss!

If you can't see the picture right click and select 'open link in new window'

Humpfffff

Well I am still not on my way. The seal for the shower arrived and was unsuitable for the job. There are still two door handles to be fitted. I don't as yet have the necessary paperwork giving me ownership of the boat so I cannot apply for my licence

I will go out again this weekend in the other direction, towards Leeds. Hopefully this will be my last shakedown run. Maybe Brian will have forgotten about his fence by now.

It would appear that going to the eastern side of Manchester is fraught with danger. Mike Bycroft was telling me that a police escort has been necessary to travel that part of the canal.

Nick and Diane left last Tuesday after spending 11 days cleaning their hull and putting on the primer and undercoat. Diane was a bit upset when the first can of undercoat was apparently too thick and left 'curtains' on the upper cabin. It will rub down, but that is not the point. The two of them worked so hard to get the finish they wanted only to have it spoiled by bad paint. I supplied them with cups of coffee last week, but I don't think that was any compensation.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Today's words

Well the box is unpacked and mostly stowed. The fittings I got for the bathroom are perfect. They really set it off.

Last night I tried the stove out and nearly choked me sen to death. No one told me that the first burn would release a load of toxic fumes. There was me just out of the shower at 11 o'clock at night leaning out the open side hatch in the buff gasping for air. Not one of my best boating experiences.

Had anyone been looking through the galley window they would have had a ring side seat veiwing my butt with my head out the side hatch.

Ya gotta larf aint ya?

Washing!

It p*ss*ed down last night, even had me awake at 4 in the morning.

Today is going to have to be a washing day. I had planned to wash each time I had a load, but so far that has been a bit of a pipe dream. Well I mean, all I wanted was a machine that will wash and dry and tell me when it's done. What I have is a machine that requires a degree in dial setting and button pushing that would have Einstein scratching 'is head. Why is it not simple?

Do I really need three turny knobs and 6 buttons, not to mention the 9 led's, to say 'wash this' and gi'us a shout when it's finished. No! My old candy had one knob which was push/pull for off/on and I had the only cycle required marked with purple felt tip pen. Oh so simple. Sometimes I think technology is wasted on me.

I still have a lot of 'putting away' to do. My last box from Saudi hasn't yet arrived even though it arrived at LHR 4 days after I sent it at the beginning of September. It should come this week according to Carla at LHR who was more concerned with how I got her number than getting my box to me. Apparently they tried to deliver it two weeks ago, but were told that no one knew me here. The fact that I have sat on the wharf for over two weeks would tend to say that someone is telling porkies. Funny old thing It has just arrived as I am writing this. Gotta go!

A trip up the canal

Saturday I took the Milly M out for a trip. I set off for the Co-op to top up on vitals like eating stuff. The nearest winding hole was all the way up at Shepley Marina. The last time I was there, you may remember, I nearly demolished Brian's fence so that was not going to be a good idea.
Given that the Co-op is only about a 1/4 mile from Ledgard Bridge I took it in reverse. I'm getting quite good at this back'ards stuff. Then on coming into the pool at the wharf I turned round and headed off up river. Last week I turned round at the Kirklees Low Lock. This week I wanted to see if I could get this beast through it.

There was a wine cruise going on from the local boat club. Given that wine and locks don't go together there are crews of lockers (all sober) along the route, which was nice because I didn't have to do the first three locks. It was quite a day; I didn't have to do the first two locks in Brighouse either. Such lovely people these Yorkies.

At Kirklees Top Lock there was a bunch of kids, 6 – 13, most helpful kids who obviously don't conform to the 'bandit' classification. All interested in the boat and boating.

Having moored before Cromwell Lock last night I was left with the decision whether to go a further 7 locks to Salterhebble to turn around or reverse up a mile through Brookfoot Lock to see if I could turn at the corner. Reversing up seemed like a good idea, that is until the Bow Thruster stopped working, but not to be put off I did it anyway. I also managed to turn the boat at the corner without touching the sides, so I am well pleased.

This boating malarkey is a doddle. Hard graft yes, but nonetheless a doddle. Once I got it into my head that slow does not mean 4 mph, but hardly moving at all, it all seemed to fall into place. If I keep learning at this rate I will be an expert in time for my funeral, which I hope will be a very long way off.

Ropes supplied, fore and aft, are far too long for the job. Once I sorted out a centre rope every thing was a lot easier. I will use my forward rope for the centre eye, tying it exactly in the middle giving me one rope either side. The aft rope I will cut in half for the stern and bow ropes. Sorted!

All in all a good weekend, learned a lot, taught myself a lot. Even the weather stayed good for most of the time. Most important of all I met a whole pile of really nice people along the way, the kids included.

Oh and yes she did go through Kirklees Bottom Lock, quite easily with the rear button off.

Been off a bit

Sorry peeps it's been a few days. The WiFi at the baot yard has been disconnected and moved a mile up stream so I am not in range as before.

Saturday, 30 September 2006

Sorry....

... I just couldn't resist this one.

Art for art sake

Castleford is the birthplace of Henry Moore. An artist to some a dreamer to others. Castleford is not known for its civic art. It is almost bereft of art of any sort. Until now, that is. A new work of art is standing proud in this once 'almost' art free zone. It's called the Crate House. It is constructed from two old cargo containers and hundreds of crates piled high as a circular wall. It is a beacon at night as the illuminated inside glows orange. It is a place where you can go to 'view' the surrounding area from a different perspective. All built from recycled rubbish.

So why did it cost £25,000? Who got the 25K? Surely some budding artist didn't get the lot, no two renown german artists. Not that I have anything against the Germans, but can't they have ther little joke in Germany? I know what kind of artist that makes him. Civic art is a necessary evil; it allows erstwhile dreamers and ne'er-do-wells to 'experiment' with other peoples hard earned cash. While Local authorities cry 'no money' for services, good dosh is seemingly wasted on ventures like these.

When will they see sense? In June next year the Crate House will be removed, but will the cash be replaced? I doubt it!

Some art is good art. Some art is not, not by any stretch of the imagination good or even tolerable, often just a fun thing to while away the hours for a select few.

The Angel of the North is good art. I say that because it is designed to be seen by the maximum number of people from it high vantage point and it is built to last. A stack of crates is neither designed to last nor be seen by hundreds of thousands.

I couldn't in all honesty stack up a pile of crates and charge 25 grand.

What do I know? Make up your own mind.


I wonder what Henry would think.

Friday, 29 September 2006

Why me?

Funny old thing I got an email from the New Statesman yesterday. They asked if I would be interested blogging my life aboard. I think they must have asked a lot of people, I can't see my name coming out of the hat so easily. Unless……..nah, I think I am a good writer, but I doubt anyone else does. I should think they have trawled all the search engines.

Anyway I said yes, but only if they thought I was any good and sent them this blog address. They want 400-800 words as a trial. I think I may have to shelve writing about Islam for a while. What have I got to lose they can only say no!

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Thinking out loud

It's been over a week now since I moved on to the boat. It is still upside down, but I am having fun. I suppose every one in this situation has a few doubts about the decision to sell up your home and plunge the proceeds into a boat.

In my quieter moments I do wonder what? why? should I have? I suppose it is because I have been sitting about waiting for things to get done. I have had too much time to think, and thinking I do a lot of.

What the future holds in store for me I do not know, but I do know this 'I am going to have a lot of fun'. Yes there will be time when I will want to give it all up, usually when I find it hard to sit up in bed because the muscles across my stomach ache so much. Or when I fall in to icy cold water, but this has been something that I have wanted to do for a long time. To a degree there is no going back. I could never get back to the same situation as I was before. That in itself is a good thing, it will stop me from wanting to.

So it's onwards and upwards. Another trip out at the weekend and then next week I will be away. At the tiller come rain or sun snow. Off around the country on my many travels.

I suppose the only real cloud on the horizon is the Red diesel problem. When that is resolved once and for all then I will be able to work out a pattern to follow and get on with it all.

There she is, the Milly M, resplendent in all her glory, just waiting to get out tere and enjoy life on the canals. Given the choice I would rather start at the other end of summer, but that is gone. I am here now I will have to make the best of it. Happy Boating!

All go!

Nick and Diane Smith have been on site since Saturday, they drove up from Dorset. N&D are having a wide beam built. The shell is complete. The engine is in. They are doing the paint job themselves. They have been de-rusting, de-greasing and priming since their arrival. I of course have been offering supervision skills and the occasional coffee.















The boat, MV Fleurie is going to be based in France and will be used as an extended holiday home.



Milly M is just about done. Dare I say just a few little odds and ends and I can leave. I will go out this weekend for another trip and hopefully put enough hours on the clock to warrant a first service before I leave. I want to go to Kirklees Low Lock and try and get through without my fenders on. John O mentioned that it might not be a good idea to attempt the Rochdale single handed just yet, but that would mean going through the Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield, which I don't want to do while the paintwork is nice and shiney. So now I have a conundrum. I plan to head over to Llangollan to visit family. What to do.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Soon........ yawn!

Well the curtain rails are in. The back cabin is finished. Just a little bit of tidying up and its all mine. Oh and I did get a wine rack! (of sorts)

Do you remember the taps I bought in Dubai?


The dogs sphericals

I could get used to this

I spent an enjoyable evening over a bottle of wine last night with Bill and Boo from the nb Bendigo which is also moored at Ledgard. Boo is the lady who, you may remember, used to sunbathe on the roof of their boat when the weather was hot. Boo runs 'Café BOO' in the high street. Friday night is Tapas night so I might just pop along.



This afternoon I had guests for lunch. This pair and Mum and Dad crept up on me for a free feed.

Monday, 25 September 2006

Splash!

Ok! Ok! So I went swimming. Not like real swimming just a gentle dip up to my chest. It had to happen sometime. At least I have that out of the way. It did tell me one thing 'GET A LIFE JACKET'. It could so easily have happened out on the cut and may well do in the future. Should it happen again I might be unconscious and a self inflating jacket will certainly save my life.

All I was doing was cleaning the roof in preparation for the first trip out on Saturday. I did down the port side no problem, but about a quarter of the way down t'other when I gracefully slipped down the side of the boat, all in slow motion. Luckily the water was warm if a bit yukkie.

Sad to say that the door lock mechanism on the washer/dryer is not working properly so I had to hang me wet stuff out in the cratch.

Oh the joys of boating. One day when I am a real boater I will look back on this and laugh, but until then you can all do the laughing for me. I know Bones has had a grand giggle.



This morning, a swan stopped by for breakfast. Tame as you like. Took bread from my hand. Apparently once they know you they come and tap on the hull for you to feed them.

Just the smallest excursion today Mark wanted to go up stream for a trip out. And also wanted to be on the outside, him being a night worker didn’t want to be disturbed by people leaping on and off his boat getting to mine. So I did a short 50 yard reverse up river and back again. Of course I was a dab hand at reversing having reversed nearly a mile on Saturday.

Sunday, 24 September 2006

A short trip away.

Well it was a good day for my first trip out. The sun eventually came out and was out for most of the day. I left Ledgard Wharf about ten o'clock heading towards Shepley marina. I would like to say I had a good day out, which I did in the main, but I made a right ass of myself at Shepley much to the disdain of Brian. I moored almost perfectly at the diesel point only to find out they only took cash or cheques, neither of which I had. I took the boat back up to the other end of Mirfield to get cash.

On returning to Shepley I tried reversing into the diesel point, but across the canal is not wide enough. The guy on another boat to whom I was precariously close said why didn’t I turn at the end. I didn’t realise I could so I tried that. The trouble with what I see along the roof is that at the end of the roof is another 81/2 feet of bow. Nearly taking out Brian's fence he got a bit irate, and I don’t blame him, however I would not be the first because it has been repaired before. A lesson to be learned methinks!

The tanks took 202 litres for which Brian only charged me for 200. I know the small tank is full right up because the auto shut of was not auto and but for the collection ring would have put a litre into the canal. The second tank is nearly full, I didn't want to risk it overfilling. Brian offered me many wise words for which I am grateful. These included ' I see thee's got a bow thruster, thee'll never learn now', and 'go out on't river and practice there where ya can do no harm'. I would like to reciprocate 'Change the pump handle'. He did say I was not as bad as some from Ledgard, one of whom he had banned from the marina.

Apart from going in straight lines I also learned to go backwards finding myself in need of turning a near 60 ft boat in 55 ft of canal I decided the only way to do it was backwards for what seemed at least a mile.

Anyway after my debacle at the marina I set off in the direction of the Rochdale canal back passed Ledgard. By 'eck them locks are small. Battyeford lock has very leaky gates. It seemed to me that the water was leaking out faster than it was going in, so that seemed to take an age.

The lock at Coopers Bridge was also leaky but not so much. Another boat tried to come in with me, but Milly was going to have to sit at an angle or she wasn't going in. At Kirklees Low lock Milly was not going in. Oh I showed her the lock, but couldn’t close the gates so I had to turn around. This presents a problem of how I am going to get the the Llangollan canal without going through the Standedge Tunnel. I eventually got back to Battyeford Lock and moored up. I wasn't going to risk going down in fading light.

Friday, 22 September 2006

Wassup

Well yesterday the replacement charger came from Holland. Every thing is now tickety boo.

I will be taking Milly M out for a run this weekend so if you don't see it at the wharf I will be up at Dewsbury.

Still got some door handles to fit and the curtain rails. Dave is building the table, but not today, it's Friday. The final clean and polish will take place when Stuart the painter deigns to show his face, inshallah. (Note: I use that word in the Maffi sense and not the true Arabic meaning.) Paint to be touched up.

My last box should arrive today. There has been some problem finding someone at the Manchester depot that could speak English, this seems to be happening more and more these days.

The only problem I have now is where to put it all.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Doggie doo again!

I walked down the canal last night on my way to get a curry. I was most impressed by the couple who owned two dogs. After one dog took an extremely big dump the guy looked around, I thought to find a bag or something, but no he found the biggest dock leaf he could and cleaned the dogs arse. Very commendable!

He left the steaming pile on the towpath.

Boo! Boo! Hiss!

None of that Sissy Crap

I get lots of sissy friendship emails but this one is different.

True Friendship

Are you tired of those sissy "friendship" poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship. You will see no cutesy little smiley faces on this card-Just the stone cold truth of our great friendship.

1. When you are sad -- I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile -- I will know you finally got laid.

4. When you are scared -- I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

5. When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

6. When you are confused -- I will use little words.

7. When you are sick -- Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall -- I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.

9. This is my oath..... I pledge it to the end. "Why?" you may ask; "because you are my friend".

Send this to 10 of your closest friends,Then get depressed because you can only think of 4.

Friendship is like peeing your pants, everyone can see it,But only you can feel the true warmth.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Nearly there

A few small things to do. Door handles, a bit of varnishing in the office, and little things I have picked up looking around. Shouldn't take very long.

The charger went tits up on Monday. They swapped it out, but it is a problem with the unit. The manufacturer said, 'it's a known software problem'. Well if they know about it then surely they should fix it before it leaves the factory and not wait until I am getting ready to leave before they change it. Nil points to Mastervolt.

I picked up a chair from Ikea. Red leather on mid brown woodwork matches the Sapelee trim very well. And, more to the point, very comfortable, so comfortable in fact I went back today to get another.

The shower works a treat. Very hot. Plenty of headroom. The addition of mirrors in the shower room means I can shave without cutting me sen!

My feet are getting very twitchy it's now been three days since I travelled anywhere, except to Manchester to take the car back.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

First night

Well last night was my first night aboard the Milly M. It was different. There is a slight nose up attitude to the boat so I got a bit of a headache but that was soon sorted by changing ends of the bed and sleeping with my feet towards the stern. I don't know how long I slept, I kept waking up with the rocking of the boat, but I will get used to it in time.

I rose at 6 this morning, had a coffee and a smoke and went for a wander. The fish were rising in the river and a heron glid low across the water. Below the weir, a pair of Greylag geese waiting for the sun to come up.

Is this not just what I wanted when I first ventured forth in my quest for a narrow boat? I think so.

When the builders are finished I will be able to get my self sorted and unpacked, the weekend inshallah.

It's a boaters life for me tra-la!

Oh bugger! It just started pissing down. Ho hum!

Monday, 18 September 2006

Doh!

Well here I am at Ledgard Wharf ready to move on. Is it ready? NO!

There are 4 people on board working to finish it.

I WILL sleep on board tonight!

Sunday, 17 September 2006

On the K&A

Saturday

In all the time I have lived near the K&A I have never walked from the bottom to the top of CAEN HILL, until today. Kim dropped us off, me and Jim, at John Rennie's old house, from there it's a splendid view up the flight. The plan was that Kim would go off riding and we would take on the hill and she would meet us at the top later at the Black Horse. We both set off apace talking canals as we went. Well it took us about an hour to get to the top stopping on the way to 'inspect' leaks in lock chambers and helping one rather elderly looking lady with the gates. The pint at the Black horse was welcome.

We walked into Devizes along thetowpath and stopped to view the Museum at the Devizes wharf. Quite impressed with that. If you go don’t touch the TV unless you have time to sit and listen. Very informative exhibits including working models of beam engines, tools and something I have only ever seen in books before, an Archimedean Screw.

We rang Kim at 3:30 and she said she would be 10 minutes, so half an hour later we rang her again and she promised she really would be 10 minutes at which point we said we would meet her at the marina on the other side of town. It was probably near 5 when we met up.

We drove off to Pewsey for a meal and ended up at the Barge Inn right on the canal. The Barge is a bit old and in need of some TLC. Being there we found out there was a horse show over the weekend so we had to return for the display of American quarter horse riding the next day.

Sunday

It was a late start and we only just got to the horse show in time for the last four contestants. Ho hum! But nonetheless sitting by the canal later we did enjoy a conversation with an elderly couple, who we didn't know, from our home town Calne. From their talk and behaviour I would have thought they were teens, but Lillian at 74 & Stan at 87 were obviously screwing the most out of what life they had left.

Very amusing people, a real joy to meet. We had to put them right about boaters though, they thought we were all gypsies. They were quite surprised that I owned a boat especially when I mentioned earlier that I had spent 26 years in the RAF (Stan was a Brylcreme Boy). New converts to the cause.

From there we shuffled off to the Lock Inn at Bradford on Avon for a meal by the canal and ended up having to rush Jim to Chippenham to help his brother's band set up for their entry in the Battle of the Bands. Busy, busy.

Tomorrow will see me off up north to the Milly M. She is not finished contrary to what Ledgard would have you believe, but nearly.

How I am going to get all my belongings in the car I don't know. Maybe I need to be a bit more ruthless in my down sizing.

Saturday, 16 September 2006

Closer still

Well time is getting near. I will make my way to Mirfield in the next two days and move on board. Given a few days for assessment and working out what's where and a few doughnuts in the pool, some paper work to sort out and it's away.

Oh and I must get rid of that VW Polo.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

So glad to be back

It rained today, which was nice. It is a very different to that which I have experienced during my time abroad. Unlike the Saudi rain there is a greater feeling of need.

There is rain and there is UK rain. A coolness that is oh so welcome. The canals and rivers are very much short in the water department!

It is seemingly fresh, cool and invigorating, almost revitalising. I love English rain!

Monday, 11 September 2006

Down South

I travelled down south on Saturday just after lunch, all the way to Milton Keynes. The M1 was surprisingly empty. I suppose I did the journey in about 3/4 hours. Robert was as I always remember just Robert, it's a bit like looking in a mirror. Jilly, her high tone Hull/Southern twang slightly amusing, somewhat less serious than her sister Jen who was also there.

For the foreseeable future I will be repeating the story of my escape for the clutches of Islam on a regular basis. This was no different.

Big Col and his wife Joy came to visit the next day and took me out to brekkers at the Golf club. Colin and Joy you may remember took me out on Sleepy Otter last year. T'were a damn fine bacon butty, Colin. We parted company just before lunchtime and I made my way to London.

It's not a long way but it does seem to never end, but with out the aid of a map I got all the way to Sutton.

So back in the bossom of the family once again! Tales to tell, stories to exaggerate etc etc.

Saturday, 9 September 2006

My Boat

Well there she was resplendent in the morning sunshine. Rocking gently side to side as the workers moved around her interior. Not finished but getting there. Next week is the new projected date…….September 15……I seriously doubt that.

Like Saudis boat builders have no concept of time or urgency. They are on a different time scale to the rest of the world. A day is a week, a week is a month, who knows how it works. What is certain is that builder's time and real time are most definitely not the same. I have no idea why.

Oh well! So how is the boat otherwise? Looking good! The space is much smaller than I envisaged. It is quite difficult to think in terms of narrow when you have a computer screen with in finite possibilities to play with.

For the time being I will settle for one comfortable chair and foot stool. Whilst I managed to fit two in during the drawing stage it might be a little difficult in reality.

The stove is fitted woo hoo! It was done on the morning I arrived more than two weeks after I asked why it wasn't done and was told, "They were going to fit it today, but were called away".

I visited the cratch and smartly banged my head on the ceiling as I passed through the doors, it still hurts. Doh! I will have to learn how not to do that.

I did point out to Keith that they had forgotten to install the coffee cup shelf to the side of the bed to which he said "What?" "It's in the drawings", I said. Quickly the drawings were produced and sure enough there it was. However, seeing the space as it is in reality I said not to bother. I reckon if I reach out to pick up a cup, the outside wall it is so close I just might punch a hole through the side.

Alien abduction

On Thursday evening, aliens removed two parts of Yorkshire. Experimented on them and returned them in the early hours of the morning. The Navigation Public House was spirited away from its canal side location and what is more I believe the locals were in on it. Every one I asked said "it joost 'arf mile dowen rood, ya can't miss it. I did! Many times.

Prior to that I went to Ikea in Leeds, on my return I discovered that Mirfield had completely vanished and not for the first time, it wasn't very apparent when I arrived in the morning. Supposedly the biggest village in the country had been taken away for two periods of several hours while I was searching for it. I was reminded of the story of Brigadoon, only emerging for the mists of time once every hundred years.

Where I lived in Calne there was a sign on the edge of town announcing that you had arrived. Not so in Mirfield, in fact not many road signs (to Mirfield) at all. I think Yorkshire must be a poor county if they can't afford to tell people where they are. Added to that, they have no funding for roundabouts. You cannot say "I will turn round at the next roundabout" because there isn’t any. If you go to places like Aylesbury or Hemmel Hempstead the road network is littered with roundabouts like Polka dots on a bikini, nearly every junction has one, but Yorkshire nah barely an isolated mole on the bum.

If you ever go to Yorkshire never ask a Yorkshire man the way to anywhere. First off for an increasing number of Yorkies, English is their second language and secondly none of them know where they are anyway so can't actually direct you anywhere not even to the curb If you happen to be a Yorkie reading this, and more important from Mirfield the Navigation pub is not on the road just opposite the Swan not even close. It's not even on the same side of the canal. This I know because I am writing this from the Navigation pub.

I feel I shall be forever doomed to wander the Yorkshire dales looking for Mirfield in the mists of time or waiting in Mirfield for my boat so I can get away when the time portal opens.

PS Since when has Larger been £2:50 a pint! Don't these people know I have just left Saudi Arabia minus a good few grand! Do they have no mercy!

On arriving at the Airport

Security at Riyadh airport is not good. By that I mean excessive, over the top. I was stripped of all my hardware and that was just to get to check in my bags, even had to take of my shoes. I was 5 KG over weight at SR 104 a KG it cost me SR 520 in excess. The sh*t of it being that I had already changed my Saudi dosh for Dollars and they wouldn’t take dollars. which meant I had to go back out of the check in to change my dollars back to riyals. Of course I had to go through the same rigmarole to get back in. it took an age to pay and then get my change. Then the clerk forgot to give me my boarding pass so I had to go back yet again. The official at the desk, where I was to hand in my 'get got of jail free card', asked me if I was going to come back again. When I said no he looked hurt. When I said "Not while there was Islam", he looked enraged. Best stop before my parole is revoked.

To get into departures proper more security my boot were beginning to feel like a whores drawers, take 'em off put them on take 'em off put them on. Is there no end to the monotony? I mean lets be serious I do not fit the classic suicide bomber profile. I am 55 overweight and white a far cry from young skinny and arab. Add to that I do not have a god that will tell me it is right to do such things.

I settled down to make a few calls and use up the riyals on my phone before I left. My fight was called and I never heard. Eventually they came to get me I was the last to board. I apologised profusely only to be told it wasn’t my fault the speaker system wasn’t working, O…..K…a…y. On the ramp into the aircraft yet more security. Are these people for real! If I have got this far with a bomb they ain't gonna stop me now. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

I barely had time to sit and buckle up when we were being pushed back off the terminal. I observed through the windows as we taxied out and lined up on the piano keys. The engine noise rose to a crescendo and the brakes came off, we lurched forward. While some might tense up when the pilot opens up the engine taps, I felt the weight of the last 4 months enforced 'incarceration' falling from my shoulders. And in that instant when the aircraft comes unstuck from the ground I am thinking of MLK Free at last! Free at last! I'm coming home. I'm Free at last, or words to that effect. Sleep came quickly.