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Saturday, 6 June 2020

Down the rabbit hole...

I logged in this morning with every intention of writing  a witty update - it IS my intention to get back to doing more blogs...certainly when we get moving again - it's even been commented on that of late my 'writing style' has returned to it's former (vaguely) humorous view on life and that perhaps I'm feeling more chipper following on from losing mum last year and getting divorced... a fair assessment I suppose - I've turned grief into acceptance (well mostly) and anger in to forgiveness (see previous parenthesis) .

TROUBLE was this morning, I was having a read of one of the blogs I follow (most are not listed on here) and this lead me to click on to some of the blogs THEY follow ...  and lower down the list, (well actually NOT that much lower tbh) I realized how may of my original bloggers have died.  Mostly due to Cancers.

Since then, I've been ' down that rabbit hole' reminiscing reading their postings and gradual demises  - it's not been a particularly sad thing but it did stop me in my tracks and be grateful for having seized the day so to speak.

Anyway - the "window" is open next weekend - it's gonna be a mammoth task to try and get from where I am to where I need to be ... I am badgering crt to be more flexible in regards lock flight opening hours and my only gain so far has been a 2 hour early opening on one flight - will it be enough?

I'll feed back in due course.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Solar panel anti-clanking supports, hydraulic bridge woes and a slammed window... perhaps.

I'll settle you in gently today with positive news before I go off on a rant...

WAY back in the early days of the blog,  you may recall I bought some smashing stainless steel VERY heavy solar panel mounts that enable a decent tilt.  http://narrowboatellis.blogspot.com/2016/11/drilling-holes-in-our-new-roofeeek.html

In practice, because they are difficult to tighten/slacken without taking the skin of my kunckles, they only ever get tilted as much as the curvature of the roof will allow in their "flat" position.   The reality of having 3 'house' panels of the roof is that they are quite heavy and when the wind blows, they bang around... right above the main bed - the result a very bad nights sleep.

SO - in the middle of the night whilst in Granary Wharf (Centre of Leeds near the station) about 3 am, saw me pottering about outside in gale force winds in my underpants (the winds being out side of my underpants), cutting chunks of kindling to wedge the panels fully one way in the direction the wind was blowing to stabilize them.  This works quite well but the occasional "freak gust" can take the tension off, just enough for them to fall down ... and then of course, clonking resumes.

I even painted them grey to match the boat and whilst a bit naff looking, for the last few months they have proven their worth.


Having spent a little while thinking about a more professional method, I decided to buy some strong magnets and cobble together  engineer an alternative.


A little crude I'll grant you, but it was a prototype - which appeared to be pretty close..  I then managed to find longer metal strips on my mecano set and tweaked it.



I'm quite pleased with it.    I've drilled holes and fastened a bolts through the other side of the panels too so they can be tilted/restrained either side of the boat.

IT works in 2 ways - the bar is under tension to keep the other side of the panel pressed against the roof AND also exerts a pulling force (using the magnet) to provide restraint from winds going under the panel and attempting to use leverage to rip the brackets off the roof.  Fingers crossed the magnets will be strong enough. I'm confident. My dear old Physics teacher would be able to explain it using the correct terminology - I just know it 'works'. 

Having spent a day buggering around with the above (it's only an hour or so's job but as law of sod dictates, you need to go to a hardware shop 2-3 times for such things, factor in buying "extras" as you drop things in the canal and then get distracted with "other 5 min jobs" that themselves turn into 2 hour affairs - one such thing being putting a bit of tubing over the new centre lines (to stop the fair leads chaffing them to the point of snapping like one did last week)... which in turn became a ball ache cause doing that I spotted 2 of the 3 screws holding the fair-lead on were snapped - THE result of this being the 3rd one wouldn't' budge so I ended up crow-baring it off, re-drilling the old ones out, only for the drill to snap off in the hole  - basically, a bugger of a time, drilling out drill bits etc.    Once I'd put my angle grinder away, painted the handrails and refitted the fair leads, I could THEN put the tube over the rope that I set out to...I am sure this is familiar to every boat's engineering departments... Dark Blue jobs!
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

The weather has been so lovely, (well last weekends 2 days of gale-force winds a side), so we've been chugging down the canal as far as Kildwick one way and Gargrave bottom lock the other way - NOT wanting to get stuck (again) the wrong side of the various hydraulic bridges which are FOREVER breaking - they really are crappy.  No word of a lie/exasperation, every other time we get to one of the big "powered" bridges they break.... often taking many hours for a man in a van to come out and most of the time NO feed back from CRT other than "it might be tomorrow and we'll let you know" - WHICH of course they don't!  They really are a pain.

MADE worse on Sunday by the fact that the men 'working' (I write that loosely) on the towpath had tied up all their hoppers on the swing bridge landing at Bradley and then closed off the access to the towpath which meant for a VERY unhelpful landing stage... not TOO bad for me but any old bird without built in stabilizers, would struggle.


My point about it being "every other time" behind upheld when we'd chug on to the winding hole at Farnhill turned and tried going back through - ... computer said no and crt said "oh yes we know about this and will get back to you"...  but  didn't.  4 Hours after the 1st bloke had reported it (a chap was already stuck when we got back) an off duty Crt chappy turned up as he'd noticed we were stuck and manually got us through.

It's only the good men on the ground and volunteers  that keep crt going - the back office is letting them down constantly and don't even MENTION the oxi moron that is "The Water Management Team"....

oh no - here I go...

You see, AS you're aware, despite the wettest end of winter months you could imagine (remember storms Denis, Ciara, Maureen and the like), that had water flooding through towns , over reservoirs etc? - well, following on from them, we now have the driest spring - which fair play, it has been quite dry... There would have been plenty of water had they NOT been letting it out of the reservoirs when they stopped boats moving back at the beginning of lock down - instead, they kept it flowing and then slapped 24 hours notice on us this canal would be closing...  (yeah I know, I'm repeating myself here)

FAST forward to "boats can now move from the 1st of June as normal" - but NOT you chaps on the L & L or Peak Forrest - you can wait another month and then we'll give you restricted hours .  

They (last Friday) sent out an email intimating there would be a 2-3 day emergency window to allow boats to escape.   getting from Skipton to the bottom of Wigan in 3 days will NOT be fun.. or particularly  safe and I'm afraid it doesn't leave any time for "tick over past moored boats" either - in short, it's irresponsible and incompetent of crt.... and the biggest worry of all being that they will lock up Blackburn "out of hours" as usual, or not let us in at the top of Wigan at whatever time we get there... thus marooning us in a place we'd not want to BE marooned...From what I read on facebook groups and boating forums, there are a lot of people stuck in the wrong places and have been for a long time - ergo, WHEN they let us move, it'll be chaos.  

WHAT'S worse is that on talking to a crt chappy (well some bloke in one of their t-shirts) the other day, HE seems to think the "window" may be abandoned all together now they've finally realised how many boats are going to have to try and squeeze through it at the same time - ergo, they'll  make us all wait until 1st July and then let us have a free for all.

WHY exactly do they charge me double for a business licence? I don't get any additional help or support - just the same party line of "we will post an update on line - NEXT Week"? - I'm getting quite cross about it - almost militant.

It looks like hire boats will be allowed to operate from July - and I'm going to try and work out a "social distancing plan" for 'Ellis' ... It's vaguely possible so long as we don't eat at the same time in the boat - and guests sit at the front rather than the back when under way - it IS possible for one guest to be at the back at a time "diagonally from the counter to the seat" 2 metres apart but it's a farcical - we're more at risk going through the checkout in Morrisons.

HOPEFULLY  Boris will  adopt WHO guidelines of 1 metre and more businesses can stand a chance.

Hmmm... we'll see - It sucks.


Until next time...when I may or may not have raced over the Pennines in record time!



















Saturday, 23 May 2020

3400 hour service, NEW stove glass and more freedom - to go nowhere....

Hey up,

It's been too long (again) since my last diatribe.... I'd have written something sooner but I've been trying to decipher 'Boris's' most recent set of instructions  - bless him.

Poor chap - I think the layman's version is just that more people need to go out and become exposed/recover/die to build up the herd immunity just not too many at once... anyone with half a brain should be able to have worked that one out but as usual, the twitter snowflakes are choosing to catastrophise and "blame" any one - EVERYONE  for something... whilst doing this, their lives are ebbing away along with the countries ( and their children/grandchildren's) financial security.  Hey ho...

Anyway - moving away from there - in fact, apart from posting the occasional 'legs Ellis' shot and pics of swan families, I'm trying my hardest to keep my use minimal.... it DOES have the occasional "use" in the form of a public tweet at an agency who are generally crap at doing what they are supposed to but even then you get accused of throwing toys out of your pram - I think my latest one was when I had a moan at crt about the constant breaking down of the swing bridges and I suggested they may as well just order the concrete lorries to fill in the entire canal - given the lack of maintenance, it's about all it's good for... a sarcastic over-reaction on my part I admit, but some folk DO take it very seriously.

So - back in boaty land, it was time for the 3400 hour service  This one included all 4 filters (2 fuel, 1 oil and 1 air) - Although, to be honest,  I could have stretched the diesel ones out a bit longer given how clean they looked when I'd got them off.



I've been using a plastic bag wrapped around oil filters for years to reduce the mess, but splashed out this time on a zipper one and decided it was much tidier than the cheaper ones I've used previously.

I did mess up a bit however by NOT filling the primary diesel filter before fitting it and cause I had the main one off at the same time, it did take a fair bit of pumping through to bleed the air out - no matter... that's the nice thing about simple tractor engines... if it won't start it's usually something simple stopping it rather than an invisible electrical fault.

WHILST I've been doing dirty chores, I thought I may as well replace the - now VERY scratched and dirty fire glass again... Having ordered what I THOUGHT was the right size "generic" glass a while ago, ahem , when I came to fit it I discovered it was half an inch too long /wide.  Bummocks...  It was a saving of 20 quid over the proper Arada part so I was about to chuck it away and order the RIGHT size when it occurs to me it might be worth trying a tile cutter on it to 'make it fit'




I didn't have one on the boat and of course no where that would sell such a thing (thanks to Covid) would be open.  I sent Ian at Pennine Cruisers a text to see if he had one I could borrow - and ONCE AGAIN, he came to my rescue .... calling around with it which was very helpful.  I'll bet there's not many 'businessmen' who'll lend folks things that they could charge them for doing if you follow (well other than my dad used to for the folks who couldn't afford to/the young uns )... Anyway - after a few scores on either side (the glass being mika I think) AND a bit of chipping away with pliers, the glass would now fit in the rebate and the job was done - saving 20 quid... well apart from the cost of a bottle of wine to say "thank you" to Ian.

I've made a promise to myself to clean the new one EVERYDAY and try my hardest not to scratch it... an easy one to keep during the warmer months when you can let the fire go out overnight - less so in mid winter when the fire is always on "hot" mode lol.  We'll see how I manage... so far so good.

I've also taken of late to using those instant fire logs to get a quick blast of heat into the boat on a cold morning/night and when one has been going for about an hour, I chuck a few coals on/around it and it doubles up as a fire lighter too.  A quid a go from Poundland and  given the lack of kindling that has been around without a massive queue around B & M carpark, they've been a blessing. Writing of Poundland, I must give them a bit of credit here...  RIGHT the way through, they've adopted a sensible approach with a lack of hysteria - as such, there have never been massive queues to go in and they expanded their range to include bread/milk and eggs - very commendable of them... now OK - I realise the latter WAS to enable them to justify being "open" but fair play to them.   

More and more little places are sticking lines of tape 2 metres apart int he street outside and putting up notices in windows saying "only 1 person allowed in shop at a time" - fair enough... point is, they are trying to work around things AND keep their heads above water... whatever funding THEY might have been able to have get hold of NOT lasting forever or in some cases, even covering their early losses. 

 I'm still unable to get anything with only a "bounce back LOAN" scheme available... that bit sucks actually because of course a LOAN has to be repaid and I'd only just borrowed a massive amount for the divorce.... but it's my issue not yours so I won't moan about it (much) here...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


After Boris's latest "speech" - CRT were quick to send out an email with an update on "their take" on it...  alas, it was JUST as confusing as the Prime-Ministers lol.    

The day after, (and as a result of a twitter/facebook backlash I suspect), they explained what they actually meant using better English...  the crux of it being non-live-aboards were now allowed to visit their boats, go on  a little chug but NOT over night on them for some silly reason.  Of course, anyone with a reasonable amount of jobs to do on their boat would be expected to drive to it, do a bit, drive home and them repeat the journey until their jobs were complete... HARDLY sensible really....

In addition to this, from early June, navigation will reopen "properly" (them needing time to  un furlough staff - whom in my opinion shouldn't have been furloughed anyway as it was a perfect time for repairs to be done when boats weren't moving and with BETTER weather than the winter stoppage program - of course that would assume crt had competent managers... which it appears they don't). 

Yesterday, afternoon (you know - Friday before a bank holiday) they sent out the notices saying that the Mac, Peak forest and Leeds and Liverpool navigation  would NOT be re-opening due to a shortage of water... the latter being caused by them in the first place for draining down the reservoir up top, to inspect/perhaps do something... a knee jerk panic due to the one Whaley bridge over toppling last year...  in short - I'm losing my faith in them... UP until now, despite MANY challenges they've caused, I'd been a supporter... I suppose, ideally I still am but there is only SO many times you can kick a faithful dog before he'll turn around and bite you!

They HAVE intimated there may be a "window" to allow boats to leave the canal (this one) but knowing them,  (ie given they gave 24 hours it was closing in the first place) it might not be long enough to us to get through and off it... IN WHICH case it will be a crane and lorry affair and I'll pursue them for the costs.... no point in having to pay twice the amount for a business licence if you can't actually run a business due to them.

Apparently they'll issue another update on 29th May.... can't wait. Meanwhile, "Ellis" will continue to chug back and forth in this tedious pound between the bottom of Gargrave and top of Bingley... and get stuck at broken swing bridges as and when they go kapuut - which is about every 3rd one at the moment...

Where did I put that concrete order?

Until Next time....









Saturday, 9 May 2020

VE Day... Shroppie-shelf Fenders and bugger all....

It's been an ok (ish given the circumstances) period since I was last here...  Everyone is fed up... tensions are building and all of a sudden, the world is full of folk with 'opinions rather than solutions'.

I've plenty of both but on occasions, keep them to myself with my inbuilt filter.  SOME folk think I don't HAVE a filter...  they'd be amazed at how much I actually DO block from coming out of my big gob mouth.

The whole "don't move your boats unless it's for services thing - combined with the so called water shortage which has closed this canal IS getting under my skin a bit now.  I honestly don't see why boaters moving around -"socially distant" by the very nature of boating, is being advised against... I really don't.  It's not like your bum on a  lock gate is going to spread Covid is it? -  WHAT'S MORE annoying is all the muppets on facebook / twitter and the like, condemning any boat that IS moving... THEY don't know why a boat is moving - what happened to tolerance of other folks? - more and more people are gradually becoming brainwashed into thinking Covid is everywhere and we can get through "life" by avoiding it forever... I'm afraid the irony is that a lot of the "vulnerable/oldies" we are supposedly protecting, would be happy to make their OWN decisions... instead, they are being peer-pressured into hiding away  'self isolating' and dying inside anyway.

Perhaps a simpler approach should be IF folk are so worried about becoming sick and dying, they should opt to hide away inside for as long as it takes to get either cured/inoculations developed or herd immunity.  THAT way, there'd be enough delivery slots available from the supermarkets and the rest of us can carry on as normal taking our chances BEFORE the whole economy - and perhaps more importantly, the younger folks financial futures are totally trashed... it may already be too late for that one!

Folks in the street are leaping into the middle of the road to avoid coming "too close" to others on the pavements - I mean, a bus is a LOT more dangerous to " Patrena Mad Woman" than walking 3 foot closer to me than she'd prefer...  Same goes for super markets... I may have mentioned this before, but the other day in Tescos (which I am now boycotting for it's Nazi like staff enforcing the 1 way systems)  - I forgot spuds and the powercrazed shop girl KEY worker watched me walk all the way back up the veg isle keeping my distance I must add from other people, only to shout at me to turn around and go the other way...  which I duly did - ONCE I'd picked up spuds!  The reason WHY there are such big queues in the car parks is that when one person stops to think for a moment about something to buy, EVERYONE else in the "herd" behind them ALSO has to stop... ergo, a weekly shop for everyone else in  the shop, takes as long as the dithering bint who can't decide between broccoli and cauliflower takes...  JUST GET BOTH...  ... in the end I reached past said woman and the look she gave me... well you'd think I'd crapped in her basket.

Rant over...

SO then ,  VE 75th Anniversary...  a beautiful day in Skipton... there would have been the boat festival and commemorations taking place...  - instead, little groups of  neighbors sitting in chairs outside their houses a few metres apart trying to make the best of it. 

'Ellis' wasn't on her (well what feels like her ) home-mooring outside Pennine...  we'd been on an essential boat journey down to Aldi (well you can't carry shopping THAT far on foot)  and when we'd come back another boat had nipped into the space...  to be honest though, whilst its my favourite place to moor - the boat behind is one of those chaps who runs his engine FROM 8pm to whenever... which gets on your nerves if you are in bed and he's still running it - ergo, a break from that was due anyway to soothe tensions.    The "other mooring" by Gallows bridge did for a couple of nights and when a couple of the old girls that usually sit near the Fred Trueman Statue turned up for a natter, I rustled together a little VE day picnic (just a few sarnies,antipasta, pork-pies and chicken calzone) - along with a bottle of  Cava.


I even FINALLY used the paper/foil plates that have been in the larder cupboard for about 2 years...  

They made a lovely lighting effect on the ceiling of the boat before I took them outside..



It was nice to have a natter with them and for a short while, things felt a bit more normal...  The swans turned up with their 11 signets for feeding which was lovely too..

When we'd finished our little picnic and drinks, I suggested we could do with topping the water tank up so if the ladies would like to sit on the bow, we could chug along to the tap and then continue back to the basin..  they lept (literally) at the offer and we chugged our way back outside Pennine with them on the front.  

Once they'd departed, I got out the "space-saver" wheels I'd ordered from Ebay the other week - NOW colour coded to match  Ellis... they ARE a bit big for here but DO stop the hull from banging on the sloping sides under water... making for a much quieter night ... prior to this I had been using 2 old wheels Ian from Pennine had loaned me.  It's good to have my own set and they both fit in the rear locker when not deployed.. They'll certainly come into their own when we eventually get on the Shroppie again - that blooming shelf causes havoc with mooring pretty much anywhere other than "designated mooring points"...which tend to be full of boats anyway... these will allow much more freedom.




At some point when a shop selling quick-links/d-shackles opens again, I'll splice one on rather than tying  them to the fender hooks so crudely.

That's it for now -  bugger all else is happening... I'm plodding on with my sign language  course... remind me to post a link to it in case anyone else fancies a go... The new bosun put it together in a bid to raise some cash to finance the missing earnings during "furlough" - THERE's another word very few folk had even heard of until recently....ANYWAY - the link to it is on the other laptop so I'll try and think on next time to begin a blog posting using that... (one for work - one for recreation if you follow)...It's not expensive but as I'm a slow learner, that's a GOOD thing lol.  


I wonder what Boris is going to say when he addresses the nation tomorrow night?- can't think it's going to be particularly helpful but I remain open minded.

Until next time....



Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Bad to Worse... kind boaters, teething problems and black bottoms.

Oh Hello,  Good subject line eh? lol.

There's not a lot of point in reading blogs at the moment - well not those written by folks like me who need things to "do" to be able to write about something...  I'm not good at sitting around doing nothing.  Like I already said, I'd just DONE 5 months of self isolating and chore doing in preparation for the boating season.

THAT said, I have not been entirely slob-like of late - accepting the current situation is totally beyond my control AND that debts are going to have to build up this year (again), I thought I'd see if I could get some welding done and take the opportunity whilst the boat was out of the water, to do the blacking (which was planned for the end of Oct in Stone) now.

Trouble is, with social distancing "rules" (well actually isn't it a 'Guidance'?) whilst the boat was up on the lift at the boat yard, because other folks live there and it would mean being too close to them, I couldn't stay on board.

Rewind a bit - whilst walking along the towpath the other week (ignoring the "use of towpath must be limited signs" as I'm on a boater and LIVE on a boat - ergo the tow path IS for ME), I walked past some holiday cottages with a phone number in the window...

SO , after discussions with the boat yard and a potential agreed window, I phoned to explain my plight to the lady who owned them.  She was sympathetic and whilst not allowed do rent out her cottages other than to "key workers", she thought a friend might be able to help with a smaller cottage in the centre of Skipton and gave me her number.  A call was made and an explanation that I'd be effectively "homeless" for the duration of the work would allow a work around (sensible shades of grey).   During the conversation, I mentioned I was so looking forward to a soak in the bath as I MISS bathing since living on the boat - to which she apologized saying HER place only had a hip bath but she'd have a think....

A while later, the phone went and I was given another number of a friend of hers who also has a cottage WITH a big bath lol.  I'll fast forward here, but the outcome was it belonged to a BOATER I'd met last year not long after Andy had walked off the boat mid season (and she may have remembered me having a tearful day) - a very kind offer of use of her (empty of course ) holiday let in exchange for a clean through...  I jumped at the offer and subsequently spent 4 nights up to my neck in bubbles...the cottage was charming - well appointed and overlooked the Springs branch of the canal.

I'd forgotten the luxury of a dishwasher and unlimited power/water/heat at the flick of a switch.

Bliss.



I haven't asked her permission to advertise it here so if anyone is interested, please drop me a message to mark@narrowboatellis.com and I'll let you have the details - I'm afraid I don't know how much she charges for it.

What made is "special" (for someone a bit emotional like me) is the fact the owner is also a boater and took me at my word and trusted me to let myself in and leave the place as I found it.  Suffice to say, I took the bedding back to the boat to launder and then return it when I got the boat back.

WHILST 'Ellis' was up in the air being welded and blacked, I also received another kindness - ONCE Again from a boater... you see, I broke a tooth the other week and whilst initially it was bearable, when the rest of it collapsed a few days later, it revealed a rather big sharp bit and became very painful.    Trying to find an emergency dentist at the moment is nigh on impossible but once found, trying to get a car hire was ALSO impossible.  Having this discussion with the boat yard boss man (Ian at Pennine Cruisers) from a social distance of course, he offered me the use of one of his vehicles.  Even said it was full of fuel and no need to top it back up... HOW kind was that?  - (of course I did fill it up and give him a couple of bottles of wine as a thank you).  The trip to the dentist was uneventful and I now have a temporary repair... unable to use drills or suction, a 'proper job' was not allowed - the NHS instruction being to remove molars to end the pain rather than attempt to save them at this time...  HARD to believe in the UK in the year 2020!

Still, (for now) I have a 'better than nothing' repair which I hope will last long enough for them to be able to sort it properly -WHAT is the point in paying a denplan for 20 odd years if when you actually need to use it you can't?

Anyway - here is a photo of Ian reversing Ellis back to the town centre for me.  He managed NOT to scratch the new blacking... however the next day, some mad woman crashed into me whilst turning and did just that... BEFORE I'd even managed to scratch it myself lol.

Having a smart black bum has motivated me into finally painting the roof and applying some more non-lip stuff...  I forgot to take any photos but tryst me - it's done and much better than before.


Yesterday (28th) I spotted a notice from CRT - it basically  said they have closed the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from noon yesterday until further notice - due to lack of water... ergo, even though barley a boat has moved in the last month - they have kept drawing water from the reservoirs to wash into the becks/rivers from the by-washes/overflows and now there is a shortage!!!

Make of that what you will...  a few words spring to mind - incompetence being one of them.  What this means is that even if Boris unlocks us at the next review, we STILL can't move anyway as the whole lot between Bingley and Wigan is closed and padlocks... it sucks...  It's bad enough having lost 3 and a half months of the 'earning season' already but not to be able to actually GET the boat to where it needs to be to begin operating again (when we are allowed to) is pants...  

I've a suspicion CRT will just concrete over the entire canal before long and it can become the cycle way it practically already is.

Until next time... 
Capt 'disgruntled' of Ellis...




Sunday, 12 April 2020

Ground Hog Day, Gin Consumption and radical ideas...

Here we are again...

In short, nothing has happened... there are only so many times I can walk around Skipton Woods... there are only so many inane conversations I can have (from an anti-social distance) with people wandering around looking bewildered and fed up...

Having just spent nearly 5 months self isolating on the boat (remember - that winter thing?) being forced to endure more of it is not really conducive to a chipper mind set.  Yes I know folk are poorly.. I know the world is being ravaged by Covid 19... I know compared to many folk's personal struggles with mental health/other diseases/illnesses, it's trivial - it's just difficult when you have a different opinion to many of the  brainwashed masses to "suck it up" as our Canadian friends would say.

There WILL come a point when the masses revolt...me? - well as much as disagree with the way "we" are dealing with this, WILL do as I 'm ordered by Boris and his cronies...  I've always been a law abiding citizen - I revel in "queuing"but wo betide the person who pushes in.. THAT'S just not cricket.

I'll stop harping on about this in a minute but there will have to come a time when a brave economist/politician ... realist - HAS to say "OK - erm I'm afraid it's transpired HAVING had it and recovered, you DONT get immunity from it - we can't find a vaccine in a reasonable time frame so we'll have to let this play out and see what happens" - the subtext actually being "we need enough people to develop it so as to find the one that has a physiological response to the virus which will enable us to replicate it"... until that time, we're just "buying a bit of time" rather than actually getting closer a solution = AND bankrupting millions of people in the meanwhile...

I doubt that will happen though as we all think  our own lives are SO important...  The planet may not agree!

A chap I was chatting to the other day suggested a referendum on how to tackle it would have been FAR more sensible than BREXIT - OH how I miss BREXIT!!!!


Right - enough of that tosh... "stay safe" won't you?

BACK in "non-moving" boating land, we moved to get Diesel and then tied up opposite Peninne Cruisers.  It's quite a nice place to be ... full sunshine all day for the solar panels, somewhere to peg out the laundry to dry, a tap (courtesy of the good folk at Peninne) to use so I can fill up without moving the boat - well other than letting the front line go and pushing the boat across the canal.

  It also means I get my fix of folk to talk at natter to as they sit on the benches for their "exercise"...

I'm beginning to see regulars now - in fact, even a couple of old girls who live alone but have timed their visits to coincide so they can sit at opposite ends of an 8 ft bench, tucking into their respective picnics and sip gin from a mug so as not to attract attention - I LIKE their style!

BEFORE we moved, I decided I'd better try and get some plants on the roof before B & M get shut down totally...  they being one of the shops able to stay open due to selling "Essential items" - alas, all they had were a few pansies - still, better than nothing so I  lugged a bag of compost and planted up just 3 tubs on the roof.  I had a bit of a brain wave of HOW to stop them "bulging" in the middle - drilling  a couple of holes through and passing cable ties through to keep them supported in the centre...  genius EVEN if I do say so myself!





I imagine that will HAVE to do for this year... 

BACK in side the boat - the shower mixer that I'd de-scaled the other month, finally decided NOT to play any longer...  the result being cold showers for a couple of days.  LUCKILY - being OCD  an organised sort, I'd already bought and "filed" away a new mixer bar... it only took 20 mins and 10 of those were spent looking for my big plumbing plier type thingys ('can't for the life of me think what they are called)...



I've HAD to brave the shops a few times - MAINLY cause I'd worked through the gin supplies I'd got on board for the first few guests... Tesco and Morrisons couldn't be more different... the former being quite (OTT) strict in regards queuing in the car park... Morrisons setting up a sensible perimeter route which doesn't take too long... 

Having looked at both queues, I decided to go and shop in M & S instead... only 3 people queuing outside and a far more civilized experience... AND btw, household basics aren't actually any more expensive - I MAY keep shopping there once this is all over.

I STILL need to paint the roof with non-slippy stuff so that'll be my fun for this week - rather than do it all in one go, I'm going to stretch it out over a few days.

I'm ALSO trying to lobby my local councilors and MP to "get help" - I can't claim the covid grants being given to businesses in the Hospitality industry because I don't pay a business rate - it being done in the form of a business licence fee to CRT - ergo, I don't have a reference number to claim  They have passed me back to CRT to ask them to lobby on my behalf... who in turn passed me back to the Councillors ... ERGO, it's going NO where and I can't get hold of a penny.  The only positive thing is that I can have a mortgage holiday for 3 months (note it's a holiday NOT free payments- which means I'll still have to catch up at some point) but so long as tenant keeps paying her rent, it means I have something  (however small ) to live off until I can earn/invoice future guests again.

To add insult to injury, on Thursday I got confirmation from the Solicitors that our consent order/clean break agreement had been approved by the family court.  My options were to make the payment when we get decree absolute from the court (any time) or make the agreed payment (money I've borrowed which i CAN'T get a repayment holiday on) now.   

 I chose the latter as it's not Andy's fault the way the world has gone off a cliff ... at least one of us can feel secure as we begin our separate lives in this strange, uncharted world.  Sitting on the money borrowed would only have risked me dipping in to it to live...  He may even benefit from the impending drop in property values and get a better new home for the money, whilst I cling to the wreckage and try to claw my way back to normality.   It's heart warming that we have remained on relatively good terms throughout this process - it must be truly awful (and extremely expensive with solicitors bills) for people who fight at each stage... I've spent ni on 3k NOT to fight... We'll keep in touch and know we're there to support each other as we navigate our ways through our solo lives...wherever they lead us.

My dad bless him has offered to make the loan repayments if I can't get the money together (from his pension) ... an offer which I can't accept but may have to if things don't get back to some kind of normal within the next 3 months or so...  I've told him I'm  OK until July (which is true) but after then, I'll have to resort to "building debt" to keep afloat so we'll revisit it then.  He also offered to pay the final solicitors bill - luckily, I'd just paid circa 500 quid (for bugger all) so the last one won't be (can't possibly be) TOO much - famous last words.

I'll leave you with a funny photo I took whilst having (my daily exercise walk) around town - it did make me chuckle!


Until Next time...










Sunday, 29 March 2020

1 week in to 'lock down' - actually it's day 6 beginning come to think of it... just feels longer.

Who'd have thought nearly a week ago, we'd all be experiencing (what many consider to be) such draconian measures? -

I STILL GET IT...  I'd have liked a more honest approach to it rather than trying to scare folks into compliance...  I'm STILL only doing what the Government is allowing me to do - despite how 'vague' that instruction was!

Whom ever came up with such an emotive tag line of " Stay home - SAVE our NHS" deserves credit where due - I'm an emotional sort as you may have gathered and as a nation we DO pride ourselves on the NHS - even those who have abused it so many times... the whole idea of being compliant to SAVE it is a brilliant marketed strategy.  Well done that man/woman/trans/non-binary or whatever else we say today.

All this 'Social Distancing' too - another term we'd never heard of until this week... the irony being it's not social at all.  Hey ho. 

WHAT this week HAS shown - certainly to me living on a boat, is that there are a lot of vulnerable, lonely, bewildered and sometimes old people wandering around waiting hours for and catching buses - who DO THIS EVERY DAY... they just blended in to the back ground because of the numbers of people around.

'Ellis' has been moored near the bus-station in Skipton (the final place we got to before Boris Locked us in and CRT prevented boat movements (I'll come back to that shortly) - every day at least half a dozen poor souls have appeared (not at the same time) on the bench near the boat and just looked SO lost.  ME being me, have pretty much engaged in a conversation (using aforementioned 'anti-social distancing guidelines) to pass the time of day with them... PARTLY for my own sake I admit... ... but when you stop top think that perhaps THEIR every day is like that, its heartbreaking.

During my 'allotted' daily exercise walk - which can apparently be  of an unspecified duration
 but ONLY ONCE, I've also made a point of shouting cheery 'Hellos' to everyone else doing the same - some are stopping to chat about how bonkers the world is ... SOME are zig-zagging away (to obey the social distancing rules) and blatantly ignoring me ... as if to say "This is my exercise time so you shouldn't be outside making it more difficult for me" - that's the message I'm picking up anyway.

LUCKILY MOST are cheerful (if confused/angry/exacerbated) and trying to  comply whilst carrying on some normal life.

Going back to "boat movements for a moment" - I knew when Crt phoned me on Tuesday to ask if I still wanted my 2 bookings through Standedge in May, things were NOT going to be back to normal within Boris's initial 3 week lockdown.   I replied that of course as I'm a business I would HAVE to  continue with my route to ensure I'm in the right place at the right time... EVEN though most overseas visitors have already had to cancel due to travel restrictions in their own countries.  THEN a statement from the trust came out, basically ASKING (not prohibiting as without an act of parliament I don't think they can remove the right of navigation originally invoked when the canals were built )-  I could be wrong about that but it's all synaptic's anyway, BOATERS not to move unless going for Water or other boatyard services...

Various other statements have been coming out extending stoppages etc... a bandwagon perhaps now being jumped on to cover up over-running repairs nationwide - sorry.. I'm going off on a tangent.

POINT is - by Wed (Possibly Thursday) it was clear, 'Ellis' was not going to be going anywhere for a long time. 

READING between the lines and from the conversations I've had with CRT, they are clearly expecting a 3 MONTH (not week) nationwide lockdown... ergo, I've had to liaise with booked guests to try and postpone their trips... it's a nightmare - some have paid... some where due to pay... some have had to cancel THIS year all together as their trips from overseas are in limbo.   

I must say, without exception, booked guests (especially the returning ones) have been most understanding about it... moving a few until later in the year meant they didn't lose their money - with others I've been able to move their booking fees to next year and have offered to carry them forward to the year after (2022 when I get a route plan done) so as not make things as bearable as possible all around.

Financially, because the "travel and tourism/leisure sector" has been closed down by the government, I'd hoped to be able to get some help...  LOTS Of spouting on the news about 'Business Continuity Grants, Business rates cancelled , Loans etc - and of course the latest 'Help for the self employed'... WHICH for a fledgling business like this is NO use whatsoever...  you see, they used the words "Profit" as qualification for "help"...

I'll be perfectly candid here - 'Ellis' was NEVER a way to get rich... it was a way to sustain a lifestyle and just about pay for it... 

YEAR 1 - we only had a handful of customers as no-one knew we existed and reported a LOSS ... which was OK as I had redundancy money to live off...

YEAR 2 - I'm due to do my year end return on on 5th April - break even...

YEAR 3 - Cancelled for the foreseeable due to Covid 19

ER - how can I make a claim for 80% of average profits over the last 3 years eh?

I can't to put it simply.

NOW OK...  I can survive - BUT only as a result of accommodating guests transferring to later trips, keeping spending to an absolute minimum and rocking up credit card debts if this goes on for more than 3 months.    I have enough credit available to  keep the ship afloat (literally) and compared to some folks, have a much simpler situation with only self survival to worry about - I SO feel for the other struggling businesses forced into closure  - supposedly temporary who still have staff to think about, their own bills to pay and no immediate light at the end of their tunnels.

Still, we're all in this together so we're repeatedly told...  although at 3 am when the demons wake me up, it doesn't FEEL like we're in it together lol.

Anyway - enough about all that...

I've  'processed' my sulking (for now) and will carry on doing jobs... I still have the roof to paint and apply more non-slip stuff to ... I'm ALSO going to learn Sign language .

Skipton IS a lovely place to be stranded in... although without "people" it's rather sad...  My daily exercise walk will continue to be around the woods and I'll join the 2m apart queue around Morrisons car-park as and when I need to buy things... luckily, I have the boat quite well stocked in preparation for the guest season... I expect to be working my way through the gin stocks quite quickly though.

HERE is a quick snap of the first ducklings I've seen of this year...

DON'T worry - I kept a 'social distance' from them...

Until next time...




Sunday, 22 March 2020

Snapped Lines, Escaping the City and differing perspectives.

Sorry - this is going to be a bit dis-jointed...   The world is still bonkers and (being trapped in it) I fear the bonkersness may be rubbing off 😀

You'll recall 'Ellis' chugged up into Leeds the other week so as to be able to visit friends and continue prepping the boat for the forth-coming guest season.    The river was nearly into flood when we locked through into Granary Basin...  and once in there, we discovered very little in the way of water... OR mooring spaces.  Hobsons choice meant I had to tie up alongside between the Hotel and the Candle House - the problem here being the ledge that sticks out - it's fine when there is plenty of water AND the level is stable...  alas, when the level is NOT stable, you HAVE to leave very slack ropes to avoid the boat being tipped over/sunken.

It's not ideal.

Still,  knowing the ledge is there is better than not!

Having tied up and checked the weather forecast - WIND was coming... Anyone who has ever moored in Granary Wharf knows that WIND is a major problem ... the towering buildings all around funnel it down to ground level and cause havoc - what the forecasts say are 45 mph winds are possibly double by the time they slam into the boats moored down below - it's scary.  IT's MORE scary when you can't tie up tightly cause of aforementioned ledge and fluctuating water levels.



Why? am I waffling on about this? - well, in true Granary "wind" style, we took a major battering - for like 4 days and nights... 1 st of which, included the centre line (which I never normally use to moor with) snapping at Midnight ... the result of which meant the boat (on slack front and rear lines which had either been undone or undone themselves in the storm) began a scary journey across the basin - LUCKILY another boat had noticed (I was in bed trying to drown out the banging and clonking noises from the solar panels) - I DID hear voices above the wind and on poking my under panted body through the hatch, spotted Adam and an unknown other boater both desperately trying to pull Ellis back alongside via the front line.  Between us we got her back in and then securely re-tied front and rear lines - Adam having ashed up the bottom gates down to the river in a bid to keep the level from falling any further. The wind didn't let up for days and as the river was in flood, we were trapped in anyway.  Suffice to say, 4 nights with little sleep -punctuated by 6-7 times a night external trips in my pants to wedge bits of wood under the panels back in that had been ripped out by ferocious gusts.  AS soon as the river had dropped, I made a dash for it down to Clarence Dock - JUST as an overstaying CRT employee had buggered off (I have spies with a view)...  THAT trip was dodgy though as the river was going back in to flood again as we left Granary...

It was nice to be plugged in again AND along side floating pontoons I could tie up to night and tightly...

Having spent a couple of nights there, had supper with friends (I'm going to miss terribly) and also met a writer of 'erotic fiction'... I'll report back on his works at some point -  we departed and began our journey once more.

Leaving Granary, a chap was either practicing escape from being locked down, or measuring for new windows!

I suspect it may be for window guards to "keep folk on lock-down"...

By the time we'd got through Kirkstall little lock, we came across this boat that had been abandoned last year and now sunk... NOT in the most helpful of places... I wonder how long it will remain here.

The locks here was more fun than usual - lots of folk around "bored" - including one rather daring chap trying to skateboard down the locks... I videoed him.




He had cut his hand and was bleeding...  it irked me to have to stop and give him some first aid and bandages...  if I hadn't, he'd probably have ended up wasting resources in A & E...

Writing of A & E - I listened to a podcast earlier of an interview with an A & E Consultant... who was pleading with people to stay in doors - he DID stress anyone with  cold like symptoms.... NOT because everyone who contracts  Covid-19 WILL die but because if they pass it on, TOO many people will need help (ventilators mainly) at the same time and he didn't want to have to "choose" which 1 person gets put on one and the other 7 ... which perhaps die'...it's all about being able to cope with the numbers 'poorly' at the same time.  whilst 95% of people will survive 5% of a large number will overwhelm the care-givers... and I GET that... 

The trouble is - SOCIETY has already gone past the point of common sense in regards their USE/ABUSE of A & E anyway ... folk spending 4 hours 'waiting to be seen' with something that could have waited until the Docs opened the following morning etc... Folk have become TOO used to being able to TAKE and not give.

All this "if in doubt go see your doc" mentality (NOT relating to Corona virus) HAD created a nation of SELFISH folk who abuse the services provided - even before this current situation began.  



In those terms it makes sense... the trouble with 'people' is that in today's "age" we have become so self aware and developed a sense or "right" to live, we perhaps think we are more important than we really are - MOTHER Nature has other ideas.  

Hearing about peoples suffering is awful - the poor folks dying off as a result of contracting this virus is awful...it's probably more worrying for people who have pro-created - their (understandable) fear and feelings of wanting to protect those they care about must be overwhelming.  Sensibly staying home if you have even a hint of cough is perhaps a good idea ... keeping a couple of metres away from people outside is also perhaps a good idea of a way to slow things down...  

Like I said, being on a boat, except for dealings with shop-keepers and the like, sometimes you can go weeks without being close to anyone.  I don't fear for my own mortality/well being ...  I DO feel for the shop workers, medical staff etc who don't have much choice in their proximity to people...  I do fear for folk having to travel on public transport rather than just be able to get into a car and make their Journeys -... you can't STOP an entire planet from living... but I suppose governments around the globe have to take the approach that you CAN  stop it dying quite so fast!

Until Next time...






Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Corona Virus - Apocalypse or media frenzy?


Don't  fret - I'm not dead yet... neither are many people... some are... more will be and most will not be.

I think that sums it up.

THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD... too many films along the lines of  ' 28 days later '.

Now I KNOW if you or someone you care about (which frankly should be everyone in need) falls into one of the groups of folk who are most likely to be at risk, it's totally understandable to feel anxiety about it... BUT the rest of the muppets emptying shelves and stock piling - thus depriving others who might actually have ran out of something and NEED it, should take a a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and what they will see looking back is "the true need for Darwinism" .

Others - such as my aging dad (who falls into the over 70's category) are taking a more common sense , stoic and logical approach...  I can't type his actual words here as the blog isn't rated solely for a mature audience... suffice to say, he's fuming... he will NOT be held under house arrest - right now I suspect he's forming an army of OAPS ready to wander around Tesco moaning....  like he says, there are more oldies than police and army,... and we are not China... 

I can see it now on the news at 10 - thousands of moroading pensioners "taking the streets back"

OK - I'm being a little tongue in cheek but as my dad said, the economy, peoples livelihoods, pensions and mental health is taking a far bigger hit than a few already on borrowed time folk pegging it with the flu.  He pointed out that there are too many oldies around anyway and all this prolonging 'life' for the sake of it - with little regard for the quality is NOT always the best thing...So long as the young people survives, then he's ok with that.

The Press/media have created a panic among the masses and when this all calms down, perhaps we need to take a long hard look at "freedom of the press"  - I dunno ... but I do know, that unless someone is pointing a gun at me, like my dad, i will take my chances with "life"...  what is is worth if it's not free?

I like my dad.

He is a stubborn chap but still the kindest, most humble and generous person I know... 

SO then - HERE on Ellis.... well, I always keep a few loo rolls on board anyway,  I have nappies in the bilge, hand soap and common sense... By virtue of boaty life, I suppose I'm in permanent self isolation at times anyway lol.

I have to admit, financially, what with borrowing money for the divorce, 2 cancelled overseas visitors and 1 postponed, it's going to be a tight year but at worst, I'll have lots of time off to explore the canals in between the UK guests - who I suspect will "keep calm and carry on" as normal...at least I hope they do. 

We all need to take  a breath... perhaps turn off the TV/Radio, take a walk ... perhaps by a canal - don't even bother trying to buy loo roll... most homes have a shower so if you need to make an adhoc bidet you'll be able to manage...  

Stop the world, I wanna get off...until I do however, I'm going to get some more paint on the Port side, touch up the blacking I scraped off getting to Leeds last week and then stock up on Gin- in preference to loo roll ANYDAY

Until next time...





Tuesday, 10 March 2020

And we're off...

FINALLY - the river levels dropped for a few days so those "trapped" in Stanley made a dash for somewhere else to lurk around for 2 weeks, which meant I could nip into the space they left on the visitor moorings and be near the car park.  This has made it easier to stock up the roof of the boat with coal etc.

To be honest, I've not been making much progress with boaty chores other than working on the new website... which I still hate but it's not far off done now - once I work out how to transfer the domain thingys to the new hosting service and point something at somewhere else, it'll be up on line.

I HAVE replaced what was suppose to be a temporary fix of lynch pins and cable ties, with a "dog lead" I chopped up... MUCH better don'y you agree?


#LegsEllis took a  bit of a battering the other day as no sooner had I walked the  9 mile round trip to the bungalow to pick up some things I'd ordered for the boat, than I got call from the next door neighbor to say something else had arrived.... me being me (read eager to get organised) decided to walk back again... ergo, 18 miles in one day.... my left knee was grumbling abit the next day and a little swollen - it's gone down now and none the worse for the exertion.

It's been quite nice on the visitor moorings - FAR more sociable than being at the end in the middle of nowhere... - even the morning views are nice .. although seeing another over stayer taking the micky does irk  a bit when I play by the rules properly.

Once stocked up with coal, I set off on my journey to Leeds - whilst the rivers were still playing nicely...  do you remember the boat that was marooned on the side of the Aire at Christmas ? - well I'm afraid it's no longer marooned... it's SUNK a little farther down stream.

sad


I'm heading to Leeds for a couple of day trips before the season begins properly... a little worrying is the "panic" being caused by the media regarding the corona Virus...  AND the "travel restrictions" being threatened... it's already caused 1 overseas visitor to cancel... and as about half the explorers who join me in my continued adventure come from afar, it's a bit like a sword of Damocles hanging over the season before it's even began - NOTHING I can do about it other than, 'keep calm and carry on'...  Can you believe people have even been panic buying loo roll?... give me strength.

Still, rest assured, 'Ellis has a good stock' so if it gets hairy, I may start selling them off on ebay at a fiver a roll!

Until next time...