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Thursday, 19 September 2019

A Pat on the back... Literally and another 200 hour service.

You know what? - I just read back through my last post and (spelling, grammar and typos excluded) it's actually good.  I don't think I could have done it any better... I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  Aren't I wonderful? 😀

I've had a few nice comments on the blog and also received a fair few lovely emails saying nice things...  Thanks for the kind and supportive words.

That said, please don't think of me as a victim here  - I'm not... we both are in our own ways but it's just part of life...  We are both going to plow on and so long as I don't do anything cruel to folk as I bumble my way through this "life thingy"... I'll be happy.

BACK to the boaty plot -

We had some cracking weather on our sojourn down to Selby ... note I said journey DOWN ... coming back was a different kettle of fish - wind and rain rather wore us down.

Once through Castleford and on back on the River Aire, we got a bit confused when approaching a bridge that was being worked on... whilst there were arrows pointing to the middle - indicating we should go that way through, there WASN'T a route though... not until last minute when 2 chaps pulled a floating walk away across the river and out of our way.

Once on to the Selby canal, it was good to see the weed was much less than expected... it turned out CRT had been clearing it away JUST for us ;-) 

The cows were doing "their thing" and and didn't Moove for us at all lol

It was a really lovely afternoon's chugging and we saw perhaps 5 different kingfishers up close and personal... not close enough to get a photo though.  

On arrival in Selby basin, we were just in time to see a boat come bravely in off the Tidal section... white knuckles and lots of swearing lol.   The chap on the tiller looked just as scared as I did last year when we did the same section...

HE also vowed never to do it again lol.

As mentioned, the following day our return trip back up the river was NOT so good - wind and rain (along with 18inch waves hitting the boat) did mean for a tiring and cold trip.

No matter... we got back on course and ended in Castleford.

IT was here I realized we had just tipped over a service interval ...  nothing else for it but change the oil and filters... we left it until the next morning though as the engine would have been very hot given how hard we'd been working it on the river in the wind.

As luck would have it, Pat was keen to take part so I stepped a side and issued guidance.

Pat was the FIRST guest game enough to climb down into the engine hole - even though to be honest, it was just a photo opportunity to wind her kids up a bit lol  - Oil and filters changed, I checked the belts and before long we were on our way again and heading up stream towards Leeds.

WE stopped off at Thwaite Mills visitor centre moorings and Pat went in for a look around whilst I cobbled together tea.

After a quiet night there, the next morning we set off into Leeds and rather luckily were able to moor in Clarence Dock (which has at some point be renamed Leeds Dock) and plug in to shoreline with water (literally) on tap...  heaven.

The weather remained glorious so I got a load of washing on and out to dry (publicly) straight away...  I've no shame when it comes to pegging out laundry lol

The relaxation was soon broken when on washing up after tea, the sink blocked up... no matter I thought and prodded away with my pipe -unblocker... which promptly

snapped off IN the pipe - making things worse...

Leaving it until morning, I cleared out under the sink and began taking things apart... hmmmf...  what a faff... anyway - it 's done now and all back together...

I'd hoped to be able to encourage Pat to muck in a bit more and clean the oven... alas it wasn't to be.

We did our own thing  during our time in Leeds - when I came back from my walk (I'm trying to walk 5 miles a day at the moment as my back is playing up and it eases it)... I noticed the pump out machine on the service

pontoon on the river was on pause... SO we decided to have a little night cruise to make use of it...

It's not far but still nice to  "play" in the dark...  Pat seemed to enjoy it AND despite what you might be thinking, I DIDN'T make her do the actual pumping out...

, when we returned to the dock, no one had jumped in and stolen our place so a good end to a lovely trip.

On our final morning after breakfast (Banana pancakes yummy) we chugged on up the River to Granary wharf so Pat could catch her train home and I could be closed to a "big shop" in order to restock ready for my next guests to join the adventure...

Until Next time...

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Disingenuous blogging no more and Uppermill on the HNC to Huddersfield (via Standedge Tunnel)...

I'm ignoring you - I know that...  I'll explain in due course, meanwhile I'm going to race through this update as I believe I left you "the wrong side of the Pennines"... Sorry about that - REST assured  though, now we're back in God's own County  😀.

So then,  When my friends left I spent a couple of days down at the visitor moorings in Uppermill  - handy for the shops/pubs but NOT so handy for the TOTALLY in tree cover ... ergo, it began to get a bit depressing...  given all that's been going on of late, I decided it wasn't the best of locations to be killing some time.

With that in mind, I set off UP the locks - the plan being to moor in the top pound near the tunnel entrance at Diggle.

It was quite a slog to get up there - at one point Ellis got firmly wedged on either the bottom or something ON the bottom trying to get into a lock.  In the end (against crt advice) I had to run a bit of water down from the pound above, whilst at the same time leaving the boat on it's own in gear running so that when sufficient water found it's way under the hull, it floated and continued it's journey into the lock alone...  of course when that began happening, I had to quickly close down the paddle and leap on to the roof of the boat like a young thing (can't spell gazelle) to stop it before it crashed.

This went ok and after a few hours,  and at the top lock, I bumped into Fiona (and grand kids) - Fiona is a lady we met first back in Slaithwaite in March and then again at Anderton a few months ago... For some reason I keep thinking she's called "Ruth" but she's not!...

She (avec sprogs) helped me through the last couple of locks and I was soon up at the top and basking in glorious sunshine.

I spent a few days moored up here and did cleaning chores - futile ones such as cleaning the roof which would be getting messed up again going through the tunnel.  Still, it's nice to look nice.  I DID have the sense to avoid touching up any paint work though... 

The down side about being up there was that Tescos was now 2 miles further away... up a slope with heavy bags!  Hey ho.  The walk back and forth to stock up the boat for the next guest wore me out  did me good I'm sure.

After a few pleasant days up there, I began the trip back down in readiness to collect the guest from Greenfield station...  

A little bit annoyingly, it was here I discovered that with a bit of buggering about, I COULD have been moored outside the pub/near Tescos AND in the sun all along!

Hey ho.

The guest for this leg of the journey was Keith - a really well mannered chap and although quite deaf, we got along rather well... it gave me the idea to learn sign language... something I have tried in the past (at night school unsuccessfully - mainly cause I didn't "click" with the class room environment... too many bad memories from school I suppose)...

ANYWAY - once he was safely on board, we began our ascent of the locks once more so as to be at the tunnel entrance by 11.30 the following morning as instructed.

We spent the night a little farther back (thus avoiding SOME train noise) and then crept to the water point near the tunnel on Monday morning to fill up....

It turned out Fiona (not Ruth) and her husband (name now forgotten again) were also booked to go through that day too - along with a hire boat who joined the rear of the queue.  Once the fog had lifted, the sun came out and we were rather pleased to have a parasol to hide under whilst waiting...  this funny CRT chap suggested we "might" need to take it down before the entered the tunnel lol ... ONCE again I've forgotten his name but he was to be our Chaperone and he was thoroughly entertaining and informative throughout.  MY FEAR of tunnels has gone now... it turns out if (well in the case of tunnels anyway) IF you face things a few times, their power diminishes and (in my case) I actually quite enjoyed the trip though... 

It's impossible to take photos and steer through as the concentration required is SO intense from the moment you get in to the moment you leave... well apart from the little rests at the com points.

Once out the other end, the sun was shining and we had quite an audience as I skillfully moored up - ahem in the trip boat stop.... only to be "moved along" a few mins later when said boat returned...hmmmf

Having gone around the corner to approach the "moorings" at the top lock East, we managed to tie up (just) and on walking into town, spotted this sign

It fair made my blood boil as on THIS canal certainly, "mooring points" are few and far between and it's nigh on impossible to get into the side anywhere other than said points due to the VERY shallow water and rubble... so to suggest we leave 5 m gaps to allow fishermen space is ridiculous!

ANYWAY  - after a few deep breaths, I carried on with my wander and found a pub for bank holiday afternoon pint...

Next morning, we began our descent - knowing we'd probably have to go all the way to Slaithwaite due to the aforementioned mooring issues.

PLENTY of water coming down with us however - it did make opening some of the gates rather difficult but I kept roping in tow path walkers/cyclists to help as Keith wasn't really up to pushing too hard.

As we approached Slaithwiate (slowit) we met our first boat coming the other direction AND another helpful chap.

Mooring in the basin, we breathed a sigh of relief and collapsed in a heap lol

Looking at the forecast, Keith and I decided we'd stay a couple of nights here - mainly to sit out the next days rain... single handing in the rain is ok but not pleasant and as we had enough time we agreed not to venture out the next day... well apart from trips to Aldi and the Coop for treats.

Early the next morning, I felt a little movement and looked out to see the famous "Silver Fox" passing by on their way up to the tunnel...  

I wasn't fast enough outside  - well it was early and I still had my jim jams on!

It was nice to finally see the boat in the flesh and we exchanged a few early morning words of kindness as they began our yesterday, in reverse lol.

The following day, we pulled ropes, topped up the water tank and began our journey down to Huddersfield...

Single handing again today ( I have had help on and off through various sections) and of course today would be the day when I came across the most leaking top gates that were accompanied by only ONE working paddle on the bottom set and even that had one of those annoying restricted thingys on it - ERGO, more water was coming in than could come out!  NOT rocket science CRT -..perhaps take off the restriction until you mend the top gates? - JUST A THOUGHT from a "user"...

Anyway - after sitting in the lock for an age, some walkers came by and helped me force the gate open - the Spanish windlass currently being stored in the front locker...  

In spite of my moaning however, I'm STILL in love with the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and have replaced a trip over the Rochdale with a "there and back" on next years itinerary... which was instantly booked so I can't be alone in that sentiment lol.

After a night on-board in Huddersfield, Keith left and then I had a couple of days to shop, clean and prep the boat for my next guest - Pat... a Lady who came with us last year...  as a former boat owner, it's made for a very easy and pleasant journey down from Huddersfield... not always in the nicest of weather but still a thoroughly enjoyable journey.

MORE importantly for me, having her on board has given me chance to draw breath and "think" about the future.

You see, 2019 hasn't been the kindest of years to Andy and I - what with Joyce dying in January and the subsequent long and painful grieving process for me AND fundamentally differing views on how OUR relationship would continue - ergo, we'd long since agreed that as a "couple" we were no more.  

It's odd writing this down - despite knowing we'd grown apart for a long time ... wanting different things from life, when mum died, "dealing with it" got put on hold until I was in a better place... that place didn't really present itself and the stresses of "trying" to fix something beyond repair, became exacerbated when Andy too suffered bereavements...  When he first went off to visit family a couple of months ago, we both knew it was the 1st step to us going our separate ways.... for the most part, it's been a positive experience for us both.  

OK so it's meant I've been a bit busier doing both DARK and LIGHT blue jobs on the boat and with guests coming and going it's not always been easy but it HAS still been "fun" and more importantly for me, its STILL what I want to do.  At first when he left, I kidded myself he'd come back when he'd dealt with his own losses.   That was never really gonna happen - hence why the blog dried up.... 

If there is one thing I pride myself on - well apart from being a fabulous "super Ginge" , it's my sense of integrity and honesty... I don't lie to folk about who I am, where I come from or what I believe in... never have... never will.  The blog thus caused me a dilemma...  

Those who'e read through this from the start will know I bare my heart and soul quite willingly here... it's been a place to sort out "feelings" and sometimes reach out for help and support.  By doing so, I form a bond with folk who read it and as a blog reader myself, understand the energy that goes into following someones  journey.  NOT writing about it has felt wrong.  THAT said, because the dying throws of a 14 year relationship are not just about me, total disclosure would not be fair to Andy...  it's impossible to write impartially on the subject - ERGO, silence has been the best option.

FAST forward to the other night when Pat and I were talking (I'd filled her in on events) and she assured me that it's better to be open with folk and just put it out there... 

She's right of course - AND by "doing this" on my own (for the most part) for the last couple of months) I've discovered I CAN actually manage on my own and still enjoy and embrace sharing MY life with guests just the same as before... only with less washing up!

Boat life and travelling around the country with guests coming and going is STILL what I want to do and WILL continue to do until I can draw  my pension...  There are going to be times when the route dictates an extra pair of hands will be handy (bad English) and on those parts, I'm going to call on the offers of help from friends and "crew sites"... 

IT turns out when you learn to embrace all the good people out there, you look at the world through even better eyes and it's quite a revelation when you also learn (about yourself) to accept HELP offered...  rather than struggling on (as is I suppose the British way) to admit sometimes you could do with some support, is truly a humbling and learning experience...  which I'm finally learning to embrace.

Pat and I have had a blast on this trip - so much so, instead of sticking to the planned itinerary, we've made detours up the Dewsbury Arm of the Calder and Hebble navigation - for no other reason than we could  AND rather than turning left at Castleford and heading up the Aire to Leeds, we went straight across and down the Aire & Calder mainline  and then did the entire Selby canal too... just because we could lol. 

I did have a worry about folk who'd already booked to come along next year might not like the idea of it just being me... Pat has reassured me that I'm actually OK  and quite a good host - she didn't go as far as saying "fabulous" but it was implied...  AND whilst on board, has booked to come along on a LLangollen trip next year too so I'm gonna take that as further positive affirmation...

SO - that's that then .

Until next time - when I can go "back to normal" positing...

Monday, 19 August 2019

Calder & Hebble, Rochdale Canal, and the Ashton... sometimes solo.

Now stop your moaning...  it's been a busy (and at times stressful) few weeks. 

YES I know I've been very remiss at blogging... there just hasn't been time (or energy) as I've been doing Dark blue AND light blue jobs.

The quick version is Andy has gone off to spend time with family following the death of both his mothers remaining siblings... 

THAT left me at Stanley Ferry "waiting" for the river to go down and arrival of 2 guests pending...

Only one thing to do - put out a request for help on the boating forums and twitter.   Oddly, it was Twitter to the rescue rather than the boating forums... I suppose because most of the people on the boating forums just get on and deal with single handing on their own anyway!

As it stands, it's not so much single handing that's hard work - but having someone competent to take the helm when you need  a wee on the river or whatever... someone you know can just do it without running aground on a corner or panicking if a boat comes towards you lol.  I remember when WE used to panic when presented with an oncoming boat... THESE days, we see how close we can get to them in sort of 16 ton game of "chicken"...

I'll get back to the update...

The river went down the morning our guests were due to arrive... this meant I could race up it and be in position at the Visitor Moorings as planned where both the guests and guest crew, were due to meet me.  HOW posh were we with our own CRT volunteer lockie coming on board for the first couple of days ?

Once the guests arrived (and I'd done the toilet training, man over board procedure and opened some fizzy stuff) we set off in earnest up the River Calder.

Simon the CRT Lockie, taking charge of "guest training" using "best practice" techniques...

Of course they don't always work when you're faced with a "different lock" so he had to wing it abit... no matter, before long, they got the hang of things and we were making good progress - roping in passers by and other boats whenever the opportunity presented itself lol.

With rain forecast (again) we made a group decision to make a dash for it to get through as much of the river sections as possible - in case we got trapped in by locked flood gates.  Ledgard flood lock was closed but the river was in yellow so we cautiously went through and raced up to South Pennine Boat club where we overnight-ed in relative safety.

Next morning, the sun was out and the river had dropped a little so we plodded on - stopping off for a pint (and lunch on the boat)

 before ending the day at Sowerby Bridge .

Now the river sections were out of the way, we relaxed a bit and after a couple of hours wandering around Hebden Bridge, we continued on as far as Todmorden.  THIS side of the pennines being truly lovely. 

Compared to last year, there was plenty of water but even so, we did go aground occasionally.  NOTHING to do with the guest skipper at the tiller.

On arrival at Todmorden, we sneaked in just outside the pub and (with nowhere to tie up properly) I must confess to applying a "MLAT" approach - looping the front rope around a cast iron bench!  NOT good form but not a lot else to do really.  It'd been a long day and as none of us could be bothered cooking dinner, we went off to the pub  expecting "pub grub"   - it turned out to be Thai which whilst a surprise, was quite good.

Next day with our guest crew having gone home, the "guests" were flying solo now...  They took to it with glee and we made excellent progress through some lovely scenery.

Whilst we stopped for lunch at the summit, I received an email from the couple who were due to join us in Littleborough for the next leg of the journey...  they had some bad news regarding a terminally ill relative and rather than "risk" coming away with us, they'd decided to cancel - they even asked how much extra they'd have to pay for cancelling at such short notice bless them.    The answer was of course nothing and rather than "steal" their (already paid for ) holiday, I suggested they look at next years cruises and pick one they'd like instead... it's only cricket after all and we never did plan to do this to make money... just to finance a fulfilling lifestyle.

With the contents of the email fresh in my mind, I mentioned it to the guests (due to depart at Littleborough on Friday)... AND a plan was hatched that rather than them leave me there, they'd stay on board down to Manchester (they were going to get the train there anyway on Friday) .

This worked out well for all of us - although I did see a Tweet from him that he wasn't sure if it was a boating holiday or an assisted walking holiday (given they walked miles along the Rochdale)...

Ruth even got brave enough to take the tiller...

We stopped a short distance away from where it gets grotty and enjoyed a few hours of sunshine - knowing we'd need an early start the following morning.

The journey through Failsworth and Miles Platting whilst unpleasant was also uneventful... mainly because the rain kept the scrotes indoors much of the time

If you look closely, you can see a submerged motorbike in the water just near Ruth...

I have to say, some of the locks are nigh on impossible to open without lots of brute force AND an improvised "Spanish Windlass"...

Once down in to Manchester, we chucked a left on to the bottom of the Ashton canal and hid away for our first night in Telford Basin..

No rest for the wicked though as the guests asked if I'd mind if their son, daughter in law and baby joined us for dinner...  an improvised curry was cobbled together professionally produced and it was lovely to see them all enjoying an impromptu get together...  after tea, I left them to it and sat outside reading to give them a bit of privacy - well as much privacy as you can get on a boat lol.

The following morning, we began our descent of the imfamous Rochdale 9 down into Castlefield basin...  The Rochdale just kept on giving - THIS time just as we were going into the first lock, a whole sleeping bag around the prop...  grrr

By now, there was so much water coming down the canal from the recent rain, it was time for another Spanish Windlass  which this time also helped 2 boats coming up - that bottom set of gates would never have opened without it.

Once at the bottom, we filled up with water and spent our last night together just opposite where the trip boats moor.


It was here technical difficulty struck... my blooming phone screen died...  and of course when I eventually found an EE shop (the old fashioned way - asking people in the street) a young chap (probably not even with any curly armpit hair) talked me into   assisted me in  choosing a new phone, tablet and mifi point for 9 quid a month LESS than I was already paying... whilst I can't work any of them yet, for once I don't feel ripped off lol.

WHEN I got back to the boat, I decided that as I had a few days to kill, I'd better take up the kitchen floor and refit it... SORRY - I'd forgotten to mention somewhere along the line, we'd had a bit of a flood and resultant "warping"...  I'd heard the cabin bilge alarm going off when the boat rocked side to side (from over filling the water tank again ahem) but it'd been surface water from over zealous washing up /filling the washer with hot water that had caused the oak to expand and pop up.

It wasn't too bad - only 1 piece of wood needed scrapping and I was able to get it all back down and dried out in a few hours.

THIS being one of those jobs that being on the boat alone was actually much easier lol.

Now that I'd done that and began getting to grips with my new phone, I decided to phone Stretford Marina (about an hour away) and see if I could stay with them a few days in order to use shoreline for laundry etc... They made space for me and once I'd filled up with diesel and had a pump out, I settled in to my secure mooring for a few days before heading back up the Rochdale 9 - THIS time alone.

This was the last photo I took before I began...

It went ok actually and I enlisted assistance at various points from both gongoozlers, workmen and even a few Chinese tourists.

Once again I spent the night in Telford basin before setting off up the Ahston the following day...

I had a bit more luck though as a couple of boaty mates (with a bit of free time) had offered to come and help me work up the Ashton and lower HNC to get to where I needed to be for the next guests....  rather than come and go on the train, I suggested they stay as guests - They are Vegan and it was my first introduction to Vegan food ... luckily Frankie sent ahead a shopping list for me and we cobbled together a few meals that weren't too bad -- even if a little unsophisticated! I mean, what CAN you do to make cardboard tasty?😆

The weather was NOT kind to us... soaking us pretty much all the way...  as much as possible I leaped off the boat to leave Greg at the helm and pull my weight lock wise with Frankie...  it was a hard slog and at one point we did get stuck in a shallow pound on an tractor wheel - the only was to get around it was send someone up to run some water down whilst we made a dash at it...  I did get the hump with a CRT chap who "knew it was there" but said they were waiting on a 7 tonne crane to remove it... I explained in glorious technicolor that I'd managed to move it out of the way with a pole so perhaps simply tying a rope on it to keep it to the bank might be better than just ignoring it! grrrrr.

Once up the Ashton, we stopped at Portland Basin and the next morning, began our climb up the lower Huddersfield Narrow...  topping up the water tank, I spotted a couple of amusing signs in the toilet block:

I can't imagine who was responsible for the misdemeanors in the first place as the services are in the middle of nowhere!

So here we are then - at Uppermill a few days early and ready for the next guest to join and go through the tunnel and on to Huddersfield...

Until next time (which will hopefully be sooner than of late)......