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Saturday, 19 January 2019

Ducks lined up... extortionate car hire and child labour!

Here we are then... in a state of limbo - where time has stood still and things are out of my control.

It's not a feeling I'm comfortable with or even vaguely familiar... and to say it's unsettling, is an understatement.

Since my last visit here, it's been a very frustrating and lonely time on the boat....We traveled from Skipton to Bingley (in the rain - which was handy as on occasion it hid my tears somewhat) and then had to sit and wait for our (amended) booking to go down.  I understand the need for crt to organise their work force out of season but it didn't stop the feelings of frustration and despair. 

The sun at least did come out whilst we hung around the tip of Bingley so the solar panels could do a bit to earn their keep - it's been a whilst since we've had any decent light for to be putting in 10 amps made  a change from their pathetic output of late.

Whilst we were there, Andy set to and made some proper side fenders - using the NEW rope we'd bought in Skipton when we filled up with Diesel and Coal on  Monday morning at Pennine Cruisers.

Whilst he was doing that, I was trying to arrange car hire and a hotel near (ish) to my parents home so as to make the journey up there shorter next week.    Car hire in Skipton had been easier using a smaller firm but with less additional cossets.... Hiring from Europcar in Wakefield turned into a whole lot more expensive operation....  it costing the same for a week as it does for 3 days!!! - well that's the "hook line" anyway... by the time you added an additional driver (90 quid more please)... damage waiver to reduce the excess from 1400 quid down to something sensible and include windscreen/tyre cover (another 70 quid) it ended up at 355 quid.... and that didn't even include breakdown cover!!!

 I suspect, had my brain of been working properly , I'd have been able to find something better/cheaper but it was all I could do to book the bloody thing as was - I still need to get the printer working to provide "printed proof of address" ffs.

The place in Skipton was happy with out NI numbers and looking at our online banking on our phones.

Hmmmf,   anyway - it's done now so we just need to get back to Wakefield and then all the ducks are lined up.   We had thought about hanging around when we get to Leeds and using that as a base but to be frank, Wakefield "FEELS" like home... given how pathetic I'm being at the moment, I want to be somewhere that feels comforting... somewhere I can walk around and bump into people who know me. It's also handy for picking up things from the house - along with coal,diesel etc. too.

It did occur to me to stay with dad the night before -  SORRY - rewind.  He sorted out the funeral on his own... not wanting to burden either me, his siblings or my brother... BUT I think it might be too emotionally draining for him having us around... preferring to grieve in private if given the chance.

 We're chatting for about an hour a day though - something which is totally alien to both of us but mum would be so pleased.... even my brother and I are communicating like adults - another thing she'd want AND which was requested in her letter from beyond the grave.

Cliff is doing his best not to break down during conversations - as am I but quite often there are silences on both sides whilst we try and compose ourselves as a result of a shared memory or oppositely, unknown story to the other party.  It's weird but good.  I never realized what a sensitive man he is... something else mum would be pleased to know was happening...  

Oddly, even though I firmly don't believe in "a better place", heaven or whatever else you want to call it, BECAUSE she did, I'm hedging my bets a bit and having random conversations with her ...  bonkers really but it's harmless and just in case she WAS right,  it would give her comfort.  

He's not getting much peace though because being part of a large, well known family, (not to mention the death notice going in the paper) - folk are telephoning him all day... WHICH whilst difficult for him, HAS to be good for him to know he's cared about by so many.

ANYWAY - yesterday morning, the lockie arrived at the top of Bingley and although we were booking in for 1pm, offered to work us down an hour or so earlier ...  so off we went - an American family were hanging around the locks so Andy roped them into helping with his side of things... I wasn't really in a chatty mood so being on the back of the boat on my own suited me.

It made their day and was a brief distraction for us.

Whilst chatting with the lockie, he mentioned there was a booking down Newley locks on Saturday morning - we were booked in for Sunday.... SO, we decided to phone the CRT office and check we could piggy back onto it and share the locks...  that was agreed as it too was a 57 foot narrowboat.

THAT meant a bit o a schlep to Rodley - well not normally but because it's dark so early it meant by the time we'd worked out way through Dobsons Stair case and the swing bridges in Apperley Bridge, we arrived in darkness.

Not ideal but it did mean only a 45 min hop to the top of the Locks this morning to be there by 9am.

On arrival this morning, we spotted the boat we towed down into Leeds on our previous jaunt up here...  NOW resplendent with their BRAND NEW ENGINE.  They came over whilst we were in the lock and it was lovely to have a quick catch up ... hopefully next time we see them we can share a beer or whatever.

IT did feel nice bumping into a couple of familiar faces - I've been feeling a bit lonely of late... MORE so since mum's death so seeing Martin and Jayne was most welcome.

We've continued our journey today and will over night in Leeds before an early start downstream tomorrow - subject to the river not having a paddy...  All being well, we'll be "home" tomorrow and draw breath.      I DO hope these uncontrollable fits of tears begin to lessen their frequency though ... they're exhausting - as is the inability to sleep.  I'm BACK On Dry January though after Monday night's (acceptable) lapse but boy the temptation /need is stronger than it's ever been.

Tomorrow's another day...

Until next time...

btw - a heart felt thanks to those who've said nice things... I know it's crappy and no one knows WHAT to say... but I suppose this "right of passage" so to speak has happened to (or WILL happen to) everyone else too.  Thank you x

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

An Elf is for Life - not just for Christmas...

We're still in shock  here - for the first time, living on a boat without access (easily) to a car has been pants...

On hearing of Joyce's death, instinctively I wanted to get in the car and go to my father...I suppose that's why I crashed out of Dry January so spectacularly in the early hours of Tuesday morning...  Gin on this occasion should not have been the drink of choice but Andy's parents had visited at the weekend and we'd bought some in for them.  

It's been a rough couple of days - we hired a car yesterday morning... Andy driving as I had WAY too much gin still floating around my system... and set off to meet dad at the hospital - he'd gone back to (with his sister Ali who was taking her husband for a blood test) to see if he could collect the MCCD thingy...  until 4 am yesterday morning I had not even heard of such a thing.  Anyway - he couldn't get it because they hadn't decided on the cause of death yet.

On speaking with Ali, given our eta, we changed our route and met them back at the parental home.

It was awful - Cliff was/remains, a crumpled and crushed frail super hero ... I can't find the words to describe the situation.... I know many folk have already endured this and as such, feel it inappropriate to wallow in my own self pity... suffice to say, whilst neither of us could do/say/act anyway to help each other, it was some kind of comfort... AND something mum would have appreciated us both trying.

Oddly, I'm finding myself referring to Joyce as mum at the moment... I think because saying her name feels harder than "mum",  Strange.

I know this is personal stuff, but this is my blog after all -  Anyway - Cliff got out the address book and I started making calls to people who she'd want to know....  that was awful too - barely making it through the calls before i crumbled and blubbed..  folk are kind and tolerant though and I did have some nice conversations with people I've not spoken to for 30 years - one old dear remembered me by the fact at a "village dance/disco" many , many years ago, I'd noticed she wasn't dancing and invited her to do a St Bernards Waltz with me... I have no memory of this but it sounded like the sort of thing I'd have done as a kid and did make me smile through sobbing.

About lunch time, hospital phoned to say they'd had a meeting and agreed a cause of death as a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) and asthma... there was mention of a mass in her lungs but given the outcome, no point in looking for a cancer diagnosis... which is a relief - knowing she was "more ill" won't change a thing and without a shadow of a doubt, I have complete faith that everyone involved will have tried their hardest to keep her alive/bring her back.

That meant we could go back down there (it's about 15 miles away) to get the med cert.  Walking in to the hospital with my dad was the hardest thing ... i wish I'd left him in the car and gone in for him... poor man.  Armed with the cert we then went to the registry office.  I'd phoned ahead and made an appointment for 2.30 - we were an hour early but I used to work for the council and decided to chance my arm at going in early.  Leaving Cliff with Andy in the car, I went in and came out half an hour later with the death certificates and form required to release mums body to the undertakers.

I must say - the registrar couldn't have been more kind, patient and supportive .... I know it's their job but I couldn't do it and all credit to her.  I actually filled in the "customer care survey" card in the back of the folder...  I forgot to post it of course and got a call from the car hire company this morning asking if I'd like them to post it for me... having left it on the passenger floor well - doh! 

When we got back to dads, (that feels weird writing) I logged in and did the "tell us once service online...  if you've not heard of it, basically it's a government thing whereby you can select parts of a persons life that exist in the government/authority ether and close them down.

It's probably a very good idea but it really hurts doing it... each box you tick, blue badge, library card, bus pass etc (not that she had a bus pass) feels like you are deleting her ever existing.

By about 4. we'd done all we could do .... I offered to call the family undertakers for dad but he was adamant he'd sleep on it and do it today.  

Rewind a bit- when we dug out mum's birth certificate/wedding cert to take with us, we found letters addressed to the people she loved most...  dad and I didn't dare open them at the time... both choosing to do it later.

We left about 4- half 4, and set off back to the boat in Skipton.  That back road with Andy driving in the dark was interesting!  I think my teeth marks in the dash will bounce out in time.

Last night  ... even after the hellish day, when we did get back, I resisted the urge to have a drink and instead, took a sleeping tablet - I have some in stock as a long term insomniac... to be honest, I was so exhausted I was already falling asleep before i popped a pill but it was good to feel assured of  an unbroken night...  which I luckily had.

WHEN  I reached out the other night - it was self indulgent of me and whilst I regret not being stronger, I am SO humbled by the kindness, support and thoughts of 'strangers' ... they don't feel like strangers though... the boating community feels like family... knowing that people empathize with you - especially those who have experienced far harder things, REALLY is a comfort...  Boaters ... and boaty enthusiasts, REALLY ARE A GOOD BUNCH!

Thank you for caring...

Oh - I nearly forgot...

As soon as we arrived yesterday... dad dashed into the other room and came back with the xmas presents Joyce had bought but been unable to give us... they'd planned on meeting us in Skipton for lunch before Christmas but was too poorly to make the journey...  nothing important ... a cheery "little Elf" Xmas hat for Andy which apparently tickled her and today whilst we chugged on towards Bingley (we're scheduled to go down the 5 and 3 on Friday now) he wore it in her honor.

Until next time...

ps - sorry ... the fonts re all over the place... a bit like me today.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

RIP Mum....

This was a post that was NOT supposed to happen yet...

Life and the Grim reaper however had other ideas!

It's late - I'm halfway through a bottle of gin (Dry January ended for me spectacularly  a couple of hours ago) and Andy is in the land of nod... not out of uncaring ness... just necessity - he can sleep... I can't.

Rewind a couple of days (and forget the post I was gonna do to bring anyone reading this up to date)...  Saturday night I got a call from Cliff (that's my dad - my brother and I have always referred to our parents using their names.. right since primary school when I got a bollocking by the headmistress for calling mum Joyce) to say that Joyce (mum) had been taken by ambulance into hospital....  long story short, he's been looking after her for years and covering up how poorly she'd become.... a combination of dementia, arthritic decline, bad new knees and various other things...

Great we thought - (illness a side) - it would give him a break since his major surgery and recovery and it would be an opportunity for her to be PROPERLY assessed - in the hope that perhaps help would be provided ... in spite of Cliff's reluctance to accept it....

I've spoken with my dad more in the last couple of days than the last 30 years.... - and despite the circumstances, it's felt good.

Today however - when I phoned about 7.30 for an update on mum - I got the answer phone... on which I left a message asking for an update and call back later...

Not much after, I received a call from my cousin Rachael.    Rachael was looked after by mum in her early years as my aunt worked and mum didn't... ergo, Rache is my "little sister" .... As yet, I don't know the ins and outs but from what I can gather - mum took a turn for the worse in hospital after dad had left to go home... he was called back and she died.  Some how, my dad got in touch with his sitster -  My heroic Aunt Ali,  who then got in touch with Rache /Ken my brother and as Ken was heading to the hospital , Rache offered to call me.

It all feels a bit ... surreal.  The long and short of it is, that mum has  died, dad is alone after 51 years, I'm stuck in Skipton without a car (gonna hire one tomorrow) and I have NO idea what to do or how to feel....  actually that's not true - the feeling bit is easy - I feel totally awful ... none of this" Numb" shite folk mention... I'm raw to the point I can barely see the screen.

I'm writing this because I don't want to burden anyone who loves me - and I'm SO, SO lucky to have people who do....    Nothing they can say or do will take away whatever this feeling is - so I will try my hardest not to trouble them....  Andy is sleeping - he's out of his depth too.... but his heart is willing and just knowing he would try his best is succor.

I phoned my mums only (to my memory ) living relative - her brother ....and broke the news to him earlier....   there may be distant cousin's somewhere but that will have to wait until later.

My brian is going bonkers and I'm hoping this gin will kick in soon - it's not showing much of  sign yet though.

anyway - here is the last photo I took of my parents together when we celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.... there's lots more to say - my brain really is going nuts, but  this is a boating blog ... and although life/death IS part of boating life - perhaps I should wander off and look  at charging regimes or something less painful.

Mum - we loved you and hope you ended up where you believed you would


Monday, 14 January 2019

Are we mad?

I  was gonna write a blog posting but after travelling from Foulridge to Gargrave in yesterday's wind, I've not yet recovered enough... suffice to say it was VERY windy... VERY cold and VERY wet!

Oh and Greenberfield pounds were empty!... hmmf

Until I defrost....

Monday, 7 January 2019

East Marton to Foulridge...

So then - ignoring yesterday's disappointment, it's time for an update.

You'll recall our plan to move on from the "wiggly bit" on New Years day...  before we did that, we thought we'd have a walk to try and find 'the perfect' mooring spot before chugging off...

Once again, we got a bit carried away - this time in our wellies and ended up doing just under 7 miles (there and back) - WHICH took us to Greenberfield locks ... or more precisely the moorings just at the bottom of them after the bridge.

It really was a lovely day to be chugging.... and

rather a nice place to spend a few days actually and we really enjoyed being the only boat around... well I say only, another DID dump there but the occupants then went off and we never saw them again.

Whilst here, the old batteries once again did their "crash rapidly" thingy...  showing as 66% when we got up but after just an hour of the webasto doing it's thing were down to 40% and then went RIGHT down to 10v - ... nothing for it but to change them and whilst I was at it, decided to give the gear box an extra oil change ... to be truthful, JUST to try out my new 22mm spanner I'd treated myself to before Christmas and nothing to do with Andy's 'more aggressive' selection between forward and reverse than she's used to when I captain - HONEST!

The amount of stuff dumped "stored" in the engine bay is quite amazing.

To many boaters, 15 months out of a set of batteries would seem horrendous - BUT given we live aboard full time, have a fridge freezer running 24/7, run 2 laptops, 2 phones,3 TVs plus guests which leave their Ipads and the like plugged in over night etc. they've not done too badly for what really were the cheapest lead/acids I could get - from memory all 4 (130ah each) came in at under 300 quid...

That said, lets hope the new ones do better - they probably will now that we've got to grips with a decent charging regime... famous last words.

Anyway - the solar will soon begin to kick back in again as the days get longer and in a couple of months, we'll have forgotten all about HOW long the nights feel at the moment.

So - once the batteries were installed, we ran the engine for a couple of hours and THEN started up the generator ... continuing to charge until the current dropped to less than 1amp... deciding by then the new batteries were as fully charged as they are ever likely to be.

Next day, we had a wander up the locks and in to Barnoldswick - it's actually a gem of a place... although we passed through several times in the past, we've never explored....  I managed to cash in (if that's the right term) a prescription for my blood pressure pills etc JUST on the day my monthly card expires and we also topped up with supplies from the Coop.   On route back, we met a boat coming down and they turned out to be "The Fender Knot" from Facebook.  Having got chatting about my previously (failed) attempt at making a side fender from our old centre lines, a while later there was a knock on the side hatch and Neil was there with some bits of rope to give us a demo of how he does it...

What a smashing bloke - it was really kind of him to make the effort to explain how he does it and also gave us a note of a book to buy to learn more rope skills - and no... it WASN'T 50 shades lol.

Having spent 3 nights moored at the bottom Greenberfield, we then set off up and on towards Salterforth.

The levels in the pounds were a bit low but we didn't need to run any down .  Once at the top, we filled up the tank utilized the time that took, to make use of the showers... which btw, are the cleanest (2nd to Ripon) we've come across - probably because the canal has been closed for so long and no one has been using them... either way, they were clean, hot and well heated.

Chuggin on, we stopped on the visitor moorings near the "Anchor" pub at Salterforth .
The plan (if we have a plan) was to spend a few days there and explore- however, TV signal dictated otherwise and we chugged on to "this side" of Foulridge tunnel and have ended up moored within hosepipes reach of the water point and a few steps to the facilities block - which (unlike Greenberfield) Is NOT the nicest!!!

On the plus side, the weather has been mild enough for Andy to clean the side of the boat down and I've done a bit of touching up of the paint work...  not ideal weather for painting I admit but I get sick of looking at scratches after a while...  it's stayed on and dried which is all that matters - we're NEVER going to be a member of the "proper shiny boat brigade"!

Yesterday, having struggled with cabin fever, we went off for a walk to Colne - via the road... not a bad hike- about 6 miles all round.  The reservoirs seem to have plenty of water in them which is good so fingers crossed this year doesn't see a repeat of 2018's drought...

On route back, we spotted one of the vent shafts from the tunnel - never seen one from the other perspective before.

Once back on the boat, Andy decided he'd try and make a mini fender from some para-cord (part of my emergency kit)....

to be fair, he seems to have mastered it thanks to Neil's tuition ... as a reuslt, the "old" centre lines have now been through the washer and are currently drying in the shower - in preparation to be made into larger side finders...

Until next time...

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Cancelled booking for Cruise 4 - Llangollen (Pontcysyllte Aqueduct) :-(

I was planning to do a 'proper' blog tomorrow morning but we've just had a disappointing email - our First cancellation.

A couple who'd planned to join us from America for Cruise 4 from Nantwich to Llangollen (  have had to postpone their trip for this year...

It's a shame but beyond their and our control.

I've updated the website  (which is causing problems all of it's own at the moment thanks to godaddy  which I'll explain another time) and also entered on the hotel boating website as "late availability" - We hope someone else will be able to come along with us and given the route takes us over the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - one of the wonders of the waterways world, will keep our fingers crossed for a new booking soon.

Meanwhile - AS we're still doing Dry January ... (is it STILL only the 6th???) we'll drown our sorrows in a lime and soda.... Hmmf!

Until next time - probably tomorrow!...

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Long walks, New Year Peace and Dry January...

Well here we are then - it's over for another year... barely noticed it.

When I sare "barely" I mean THANKS to not having to face driving into supermarket carparks or shopping during peak hours that is..  it IS very hard to get away from even still.

So then... since my last waffle on here, we've mooched around a fair bit and to be honest, I was looking forward to departing from Skipton - don't get me wrong, it really is a lovely place, it's just very difficult NOT to spend money every time we leave the boat... bars and shops keep featuring and as our funds are limited until later in the year, it needed to stop.

BEFORE that however, we had guests arriving for a Boxing day dinner.  We'd decided on roast pork and it was all going swimmingly well, everything cooking nicely until with very little warning I took ill with a sickie bug ... it did take the edge off things but I can only think I must of put my hands to my mouth after salting the pork before a thorough washing ... NOT like me at all as I'm usually obsessed with washing after touching raw meat.  Still, it didn't put too much of a dampener on proceedings but it DID Mean Andy had to step i and finish off dinner - I couldn't eat for 24 hours (although I managed to keep a couple of gins down ) and it was lovely having guests again.

Guests who are now friends and NOT just because they came armed with a '12 days of Christmas Gin set'... HOW well do folk know us now?

Once our guests departed, we hung around for another day as we were keeping an eye on a boat for some new boaty friends who'd gone to visit family for a couple of days - heading off before they were back wouldn't have been cricket.

Their returned timing was perfect though as for the first time in ages, the day we decided to leave, we'd encountered a long (well it seemed like long) night trying to ignore the exuberance of drunken youth on the tow path - twice.   We're really NOT miserable old gits but a group of drunken youths sitting on a bench, near your bedroom window for hours in the middle of the night can get a bit wearing.... at no time was their behavior threatening, it's just at my age (and after being poorly) I need my beauty sleep  - something that's hard to achieve when you're laying they listening for a drunk to fall into the canal and knowing you're gonna have to rescue them.

NO Matter - next day, once we'd filled up the water tank, we set off for Gargrave.  It was Andy's turn to skipper - actually it was probably mine but he was in a sulk about how hard the first swing bridge is to open so it was easier for ME to do it!

Before we left however there was just time for one more visit to the "Reverse Vending Machine" that Morrisons had been trialing for a few months...  we spotted it back in October and since then have been saving our plastic bottles rather than binning/recycling them as they award 100 "More points" for each bottle returned...  5000 of which turn into a £5.00 voucher - ergo, since October we'd accumalted 20 quids worth of plastics - not to sniffed at AND as good a reason as any to pick litter up as we womble around.

It did feel good to be moving again - we'd been tied up for 9 days I think... probably the longest we've stayed in one place - other than our home mooring that is.

We'd initially planned to stay at the bottom of Gargrave locks but decided to  go up the first couple and tie up near the services block.  IT did feel odd being the only boat up there - usually in the summer when we're there it's chocca.   On the plus side however, it did mean we could stay within hose-pipes reach of the water point and not block either the winding hole or the lock landing - RESULT.

Whilst there, we also - a rarity for us, made use of the shower... it's not actually listed as being there but it is,  is heated and works fine - it's one of those silly "posh" looking square rain heads  (so you can't give your 'up and unders' a proper rinse but it does the trick none the less.

As usual of late, Cabin fever (for me) soon set in so it was decreed we'd go for a nice long walk to get out in the day light for a few hours.  "Google" on my phone, led me to believe that Malham was only about 5 miles away so we packed a picnic and set off on the road - we could have gone cross country but given the mud, decided road walking would be easier....

Of course, my phone seemed to be reporting distances as the crow flies so what we thought would be at max a 10 mile return hike, turned into a 14.72 mile hike...  W'd HALF intended to walk up the cove but decided that would be a step TOO far - as it stood, we even contemplated stopping in a B & B for the night and walking back the next day! - HAD funds allowed in all truth, we probably would have done lol.

and my backup plan failed too...

Blisters a side, it was good for us to be out in the air and light (although admittedly it was a bit dank and miserable lighting) and never have we been so relieve to get back to the boat to soak our feet.

New Years Eve morning, we set off again and headed up through Bank Newton locks - during which it was time to take down the Xmas lights (which are now in the bin as they got trapped in shutters/doors etc) 
It was a colder day than the forecast had suggested but as we chugged along, the fire was certainly mult-tasking... cooking onion soup, baking spuds and proofing (proving?) bread.

HAD the tatties been smaller, they'd have been in the ash pan but they wouldn't fit - AND as the fire was running quite hot, they'd have been burned to a cinder in with the coals.  As it happens, they cook just fine on top (so long as you turn them regularly) and after a few hours, give a steam baked spud with a caramelized skin - quite nice.

We moored for NYE, on the wiggly bit before you get to East Marton - nice and quiet... or rather it would have been were it not for the wind slamming us into the shelf quite a bit during the night.  

Today, we're going to move on a short while and hopefully find a deeper bit with less concrete to clonk into... it's DRY January now so sleep is going to feel a bit harder to find as our bodies get used to the missing demon!

Happy New Year btw ...

Until next time...

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas Day - with no TV signal, no "big dinner" and fog... PERFECT!

Well it's the big day - apparently...

It annoys me more and more each year...  I wish it didn't but it creeps under your skin - CAUSED by... the Media and shops.  I've never been good at being TOLD what to do... preferring to plow my own furrow so to speak and have always maintained the mantra  of 'just because I'm the minority, doesn't mean I'm wrong - and also, I'd rather be walking the right direction on my own than heading over a cliff with the crowd'... That's probably a paraphrase from somewhere but you get my drift.

Anyway - if it matters to you and you're reading this we wish you well - but no MORE well than we would if we bumped into you in need on  say the 11th March!

Right - Xmas moan out of the way, an update on the batteries.

Sods law has dictated that having gone to the boat yard before they closed for the holiday and bought 4 new batteries 'just in case', SINCE then, the present ones have behaved perfectly well - I half expected that to be the case but given we've guests arriving tomorrow for a Boxing day, Christmas dinner, it was a gamble we couldn't really take.  SO - for as long as required, they'll have to live at the bottom of the bed - occasionally being moved from one side to the other to adjust the ballast as the black-water tank level varies.

I'll do a quick calculation of self discharge rates and periodically give them a blast on the battery charger so that when they ARE needed, they'll not be half flat already.

Ignoring my ignoration of the festive season, Andy and I decided to have NB Ellis's Xmas "do" around Skipton Town on Friday night...  the atmosphere was really good actually.  Everywhere we went into was heaving and had a good vibe...  folk all over the place were hugging and kissing each other - mainly the men as it happens... I've never had SO many man hugs from  random strangers - presumably, after 13 pints, most of them think  they must know you and go straight in for the hug...  no offence was taken and I had to admit, I was pleased to know that some of the lovely checked shirts I've been hanging on to for 20 years (that I can no longer fit into) ARE still in fashion somewhere ;-) .  We had to admit though, that WE felt a bit lonely - with everyone else apparently KNOWING everyone else...  I suppose that's the nomadic life for you sometimes.  Back in the day of "proper employment" I'd be able to go out in the town I lived in and know 100's of people (mainly as a result of working for the towns' largest employer) and being strangers even in a friendly town, it did feel a bit lonely - the beer DID help though!!!

We did of course drink far too much ourselves and the morning after/whole day, was awful.  We did manage to stagger out for some day light - something which has been lacking for a while.  ALL these years I've been visiting Skipton and I'd never had a proper wander around the woods - it turns out they're quite nice.

Certainly no shortage of water in the woods .

It was a bit muddy in parts underfoot but the trees did provide a little shelter from the rain that kept trying to wash our hangover's away so muddy boots were a small price to pay.

Back to the aforementioned "loneliness" for a moment, we have bumped in to a boating couple we met earlier in the year and keep  bumping into them as they dog walk - we're planning to partake of a libation with them at some point before we depart the town in the New Year. 

Writing of departing - Prior to our arrival, the canal UPstream had been "closed" until further notice... well, that further notice has come and it's now re-opened again...SO, we can go back to (plan d I think it was) to head up as far as Foulridge tunnel (the other side) before we retrace our steps back to Leeds - we have to be through Kirkstall locks by early Feb as a month long stoppage is planned whilst CRT replace some gates ...  

We are enjoying being here but I'm getting itchy feet again and am looking forward to chugging off in the new year.

ONE thing we do find difficult about being in Skipton is the TV / Radio signals...  our Ariel, whilst usually ok, just refuses to pick up Radio 2 or any BBC channels on the telly box.  Christmas days usually consist of eating,drinking and watching whatever tripe is broadcast... TODAY however, it looks like it's going to be NETFLIX  to the rescue - in fairness, these days thanks to "THREE'S"  free data allowance for Netflix (called 'go binge') we tend to work our way through box sets rather than watch broadcast telly anyway.

It's foggy this morning which is a bit pants... I'm really missing sunlight this year... I'll drag Andy out for a walk at some point - probably after we've eaten our "non-Xmas" lunch, which this year consists of Spare ribs, Peking duck pancakes, pizza and chips.

Righty ho - it's half nine now so I'll start up the engine and give the batteries a bit of a boost - they were on 90 % last night when we turned the lap
top off - This morning,  they were at 70% which is about normal for a night running the fridge/freezer with the fire on.
Merry Christmas if it matters to you -we'll see you on the other side.

Until next time...

PS   THESE are actually quite nice...

Friday, 21 December 2018

Ahhhh.... Skipton by boat!

Well we've finally made it - no thanks to nycc highways dept OR crt.

To be frank, it's been a VERY frustrating week...  part of the "point" of moving aboard a boat and exploring the uk canals was to get away from red-tape/jobs worths/ott Elf & Safety procedures that (on occasions) remove the ability for folk to apply common sense to situations.

There's no point in moaning here about it so I'll be as brief as the required vent permits....

As you'll know, - LAST Friday we came across an emergency stoppage on the canal because 5 days earlier a vehicle had hit a bridge wall - knocking said wall into the canal... now crt had already fished out the masonry from the canal and it was sitting in the bottom of the hopper THEY had marooned under the bridge to "block" anyone taking a boat through..

Having spent literally hours on the phone going between crt and the local highways dept, firstly it looked like "something" was to be done on Wednesday the 19th...  then highways did a u turn and said they weren't sure when it would happen... 

ALL we wanted to do was bow haul if necessary the boat through - but could only do that if they moved their ruddy blockage.  HAVING clambered over the bridge and "tested the loose masonry" we were already convinced it was very unlikely it could topple in unless ANOTHER car hit it... in which case, it was NO unsafer than the already smashed through wall to begin with ....  Anyway... as luck would have it , when we went for our morning walk, we found the hopper floating loosely - so having taken the boat through, we then maneuvered the hopper back to it's original "blocking position" - perhaps then tying better knots than whomever had left it in the first place.  

Our journey on wards was then interrupted quite soon when we came across a tree down over the towpath and 90% of the canal... 

No photos of that because it was round a bend and needed emergency action to scrape past- grounding on the off side and then lots of faffing around in the shallows to re-float the boat.

Usually- we'd have moored up... got our saws out and tried to help crt with it's removal ... I'm ashamed to admit that because we were so p'd off with their lack of help and support , we left it to them to do - reporting it when we got back to a signal area - Call it karma.

ANYWAY - we're here now and feeling much more like our normal selves.  

Our enforced stay in Kildwick however, did reveal a few nice walks - shame it was wet and windy generally but we dont' shrink.  

Also all this extra time on our hands, meant a lot more walking - Mostly into Skipton and back - which it turns out is 10.2 miles....

Another positive about our extra walking time, has meant we've seen an abundance of Kingfishers  - (or maybe the same one has been following us for days)... EITHER way, I finally got a reasonable (for me) photo - 

I do wish they would stay "perched" whilst you try and creep up closer to them... it's all well and good having  a 63 time optical zoom lens but by the time I've zoomed in I either a) lose where they are or b) shake so much they end up blurred... anyway - this is the best of about 30 photos...

In boaty jobs, I've had to give the chimney another sweep - in the rain and wind but we were getting so much blow back it couldn't wait any longer... it's amazing how quickly the soot builds up.  I've also had to do some emergency repairs to Andy's Led Xmas light circuits... their positions meaning that they kept getting trapped in the back doors and inevitably, a few got crushed - Ahem... no idea how that happened... he's already looking for new sets for NEXT year... grrr....

WE need to prep the boat now for our guests which arrive on Boxing day - we're really looking forward to having some company again..

We're also meeting up with Sallie and Lee who arrive in the town on 28th so that will be nice too - spending a lot of time in a small tube when it's dark most of the day can get a bit trying ... roll on longer days which by my reckoning are about to begin their return journey - by about 1.5 mins a day if memory serves me right... it'll be spring in no time.

Meanwhile - a decision needs to be made this morning about batteries... having awoken to only 20%  soc on the smart gauge - they were on 83% when we went to bed last night so either something has been touching the back of the fridge, or their goosed.... the boat yard closes today until Jan 7th so we either get them now and or hope for the best and see if it was just a hick up ...  my "emergency planning nature" is preferring the former but that's a lot of money we don't have spare at the moment...  time to dig out the credit card.


Dear Santa....

Until next time...

Sunday, 16 December 2018

And we're off again but not for long ...Stoppage stopping Christmas?...


The trip thus far as been quite nice - mainly bright days, chatty folks along the way and us taking turns being skipper.

We left Leeds Monday afternoon as we were booked in for Forge & Newley locks  9am Tuesday morning...

Having already decided to Moor outside Kirkstall Brewery Halls of residence we sort of expected a bit of noise - we hadn't quite bargained for a combination of Christmas parties & football on top of the already exuberant youth contained within... Ergo, it was about 3am before things quietened down.  Not the end of the world but it did feel a long night.

We got our own back though at 7am when we started up and headed up to Kirkstall lock! - our revenge was short-lived though as we naively thought that it was only Forge/Newlay that were locked... hence we ended up sitting in Kirkstall lock until 9 am when CRT came to unlock it.

No matter - once on our way, we were soon through the staircases. No shortage of water on here despite the closure up stream (Gargrave to Wigan shut again until the end of the year).

On route to Rodley ( where we'd planned on spending a night)we had a feeling we were being watched...

 - alas, the visitor moorings near the pub were full so we chugged on to Apperley bridge.  As usual, plenty of space there opposite the marina and we had a wander up the hill to get some groceries from Sainsburys... The Homebase next door to it having  changed over since our last visit to a B & M (or Home Bargains... I get the 2 muddled up).

You'll note the lights have now been extended onto the Swan's neck - I think that's about the limit now as someone is getting sick of having to remove and recharge the batteries every other day...  and it's STILL ages off Christmas!

Before we could leave Apperley, I had to head down the weedhatch as I had picked something up the previous day and not mentioned it... it turns out, that if you ignore it on your skippering day, it does not become the next skipper's problem -  Hmmf!

Having added a kettle of boiling water before I began, it took the edge off the coldness I suppose.. NOT a lot though - and in hindsight, buggering around taking a photo won't have helped either lol.

I removed a plastic bag and about a metre of electrical wire that was well tangled up.  It felt better after that and we resumed our journey.

Approaching Dobsons locks, we came across a gaggle (no idea what the collective noun is) of CRT volunteers who were having a tidy up.  Dobson's lock and area is quite neat and tidy and they do a good job.  As I was working the lock I looked back and spotted Andy chatting to a bloke who it turns out follows my babbling on Twitter - not for what I post but because he's local and knows the canals I think... nice bloke and Andy enjoyed the natter.

A cold but pleasant hour or so's chugging and we arrived in Shipley - unusually (for us) no one else was on the visitor moorings at Gallows bridge so we tied up and took the opportunity to nip into Aldi for some heavy stuff - being able to wheel the trolley right back to the boat made a lovely change.

Once I'd returned the trolley, we pressed on through Shipley and Saltiare - and met our first boats in days travelling the other way.  I went to help them through the lock to find one of the boaters was a seasonal crt chappy  that we'd encountered earlier in the year...  

We chatted a bit, and he told me he'd just given up his mooring a little further up due to a large price increase and uncertainty as to whether or not he'll be taken back on next year by Crt - "cuts" being rumored...

We ended the day (having gone up Dowley Gap staircase) just outside the Fisherman's pub.

Next morning, I'd sort of let the fire die down and as such when we awoke to minus 2, it was chillier than usual inside too...

I soon had the fire back in to life and we were off - having booked Bingley for 9 am... of course we were there early again but we were up and through in no time - being the only boat booked for the day, I made sure to leave the lockie some beer... having run out of wine SO fast!!!

Spending the morning mostly in the shade of lock gates, the frost on the boat still hadn't melted by lunchtime so I decided it was time for some mulled wine  - medicinal purposes of course.  Andy isn't keen on it so even better.

Passing Silsden, we observed most (if not all) of their hire fleet were tied up for the winter... we counted 25 boats in total but there might be some out on hire I suppose... 

We'd half planned to spend a night there but looking at the weather forecast, decided to push on a bit further so as to be able to get tied up on rings/bollards rather than pins in preparation for the on coming storm.  

Luckily, once through Kildwick Swingbridge, no-one was on the bollards beyond so that's where we've ended up.

Having now taken a walk into Skipton, we've discovered a problem..  a car has hit a Farnhill Bridge and although Crt have removed the debris from the canal, "someone" somewhere has decided it's unsafe to pass under "in case" a bit more falls out....  Having taken a good look AND I suppose done our own risk assessment, we both feel it VERY unlikely any masonry could actually fall UNLESS it was hit by a car again - ergo, it's NO more unsafe NOW than it was BEFORE the original car hit the bridge if you follow..

Alas, CRT have put a big HEAVY hopper under it and blocked off the canal.  They've basically CREATED a stoppage themselves and we're miffed to say the least.  SOME folk would be tempted to move the boat and pass under... we're not rule breakers (generally) so tomorrow I am going to get on the phone and plead to CRT to let me speak with someone on the ground, in the hope they will move the hopper and allow us to bow-haul if necessary Ellis through ....  we've got friends and family and customers all hopping to meet up with us in Skipton over the Christmas period - some travelling a long way and it'll be a poor end to the year if we're stuck here... worse still, is that we've already gone passed the last winding hole and will have to reverse a while before being able to get back to Bingley for water/refuse disposal.  We're OK for coal (for now) but HAD planned on topping up with Diesel and taking on a bit more from Pennine  Cruisers when we get into Skipton.

In other news - remember my old banger I sold the day before we left? - well it got a parking ticked in Southampton on 4th December which the tenant kindly took a photo of and sent to me.......  I've gone online - it being impossible to SPEAK with a person on their "payment line" (ParkingEYE) and launched an appeal...  I mean, this isn't going to be a pain to sort out is it? grrrrr

Until next time....