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Thursday, 19 April 2018

Name the Dog breed and a quick bottle of champers

We decided to spend the night tied just above the Bingley 5 rise locks - so as to be near a water point to replenish supplies after we'd done a few loads of washing...

Whilst nattering to a local boater, I'd been warned about the shelf on the left but - confident our big fenders would keep us far enough out, ignored the advice not to moor there...

As predicted I woke up in the middle of the night feeling quite slopey ... ergo, a trip outside in my undies was required to loosen the ropes to quite an extent and push the boat out further... SO far in fact, that I couldn't leap back on easily and ended up having to pull it back in by the rope, totter on the roof for the pole and then push it back out again... I'm sure someone in one of the houses will have seen me and thought 'what a plonker' (or something a bit stronger).

NO matter - by morning I noticed we weren't the only ones to have been caught out - this hire boat was wedged firmly on it.

We decided to move on a bit and accompanied another boat doing the same - sharing swing bridges and got as far as Keighley before we decided to stop... actually that's not quite true - we saw several lovely stopping areas, with views across Airedale but NONE of them had enough water in for us to be able to pull in.  In fact, we got stuck a couple of times trying.  Hey ho.  AS it happened, we ended up on the visitor moorings not far from the Marquis of Granby pub - next door to a fruit and veg shop.

The view wasn't very nice but the towpath DID include a fair number of friendly/chatty dog walkers...  we fell in love wtih this one (the dog not the walker) and whilst she did tell us the breed, we can't remember... he was a lovely fella  - took to Andy easily but me less so as I'd been banging mooring pins in when they walked past.

Once all the laundry was done we sat down and opened a bottle ( Lidl's finest  - a £9.99 bottle of their champagne...  really quite nice for the money ) to celebrate having completed out FIRST full week with guests on board and the realisation of the long held dream to do it.

Content with how marvellous we are, a plan was hatched to walk into town and find Asda ... we'd seen it in the distance when we did the last swing bridge... that turned into a 1.2 mile hike BACK up hill (on return that is) from said store, carrying 12 bottles of their new budget wine range... it's very drinkable but carrying them back to the boat was thirsty work... by the time we got back, we'd lost a couple in transit 😈

After a night in Keighley, we set off back towards the Bingley locks, stopping before hand to fill up with water (Again) ... it's amazing how much water 4 loads of washing and a few showers uses up.  You take it for granted when you know where water points are - THIS one we stopped at, isn't in Nicholson's but is in Pearson's... Strange...

Descending Bingley we met the same lock keeper that had brought us up so skilfully on Monday... nice chap and at the bottom of the 5 I passed him up a bottle of wine as a thank you - not realising he would also be doing the 3 too...I'd put another bottle a side to give to that one but with it being him, it'd seem a bit too much - he can have it on the way up next week when we return with our next guest.

We ended the day in Saltaire (well just out of) as once again, we're struggling to get close enough in - annoying the visitor moorings where we COULD fit in easily are limited to just 6 hours which isn't helpful!

Until next time...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Bingley 3 and 5 Rise - in the Sunshine...

Well, Yesterday morning arrived and after a bit of a miserable night before, the sun was shining as promised and we set off from our woodland mooring.

School boy error the night before in that we moored under trees which deposited all sorts of 'bits' (can't spell debris?)  to the boat roof and solar panels over night... hmmf...

Still, it was a pleasant morning chugging as we headed up through the locks and towards Bingley.

They're assisted passage ONLY now (as is denoted by the sign stuck to the bottom gate...)

As we penned up, the keeper on the bottom 3 confessed he's only just began working these - having moved down fro Gargrave...  I was unsure whether my decision NOT to use a centre line was going to be a good one... turned out we assended in total (and gracefeul) control - WELL done that man.

Onto the 5 rise and we attracted quite a crowd of observers which followed us all the way up... once again though, all went well - if a little wet in parts....

Once at the top, we filled up the water tank before moving on a little and tying up for the night - unfortunately on a bit of a ledge which became quite annoying as the night went on - to the point that I awoke around 1.30 and had to go outside and loosen the ropes as we were leaning quite a lot as the water leaked down the flight...  By morning proper, it was even worse and we ended up having to use the gang plank.  It's a shame really that they can't put in a couple of concrete lintels to allow for more visitor moorings here.

On the plus side, whilst moored her, Lady Teal the 5 * luxury hotel boat came up the locks and I took the chance to go and introduce myself to the proprietor Nick.  He's been very kind in offering help and support should we need it - they also filled up with water and then went sailing on by... I DID take a photo as they sailed off into the sunset but once again my phone was playing up and it didn't register.  

This morning, we said goodbye to Alan and as I walked with him to meet his taxi, I noticed the lock-keepers letting water down the 5 locks to bring more boats up... that in turn made the pound even worse so we decided to move along a bit and have ended up in Keighley for the night - on the visitor moorings.  I did have a miss-hap in the winding hole (caused by the wind) and need to source a new antenna now - meanwhile I've done a bit of emergency repair work... alas NOT good enough to get a tv picture but at least the Radio picks up still..

Until Next time...

Monday, 16 April 2018

Saltaire by boat and an emergency toilet repair...

After a pleasant evening  playing Rummikub and nattering, yesterday morning dawned with no sign of the previous evenings sunshine...  in fact, from the sounds of it, rain had been falling all night.

The towpath was sodden, and definitely a chill in the air.

Un deterred (and once the fire was lit) we set off towards Shipley.  Not a very pretty cruise but interesting in it's own way I suppose.  Certainly if you want a bike

Saltaire by contrast is a more welcoming place - yet almost connected... and whilst the visitor moorings by Salts Mill are only for  6 hours, we did manage a look around the town before moving on to the outskirts for the night - in preparation to tackle the Bingley 3 and 5 rise this morning.

Before we moved on however, I had to attempt a toilet repair...  the solenoid was sticking again and allowing fresh water to continually leak into the bowl.

There was only one thing for it... a search on You-tube.

And what do you know - a lovely American chap, explaining how to remove and clean a sticking diaphragm within the solenoid ... I  WAS going to get on to Leesan this morning and order a new one but given the time it would take to come and logistical problem of collecting it from somewhere, I decided it was worth a go.

I'm pleased to report that with a little gentle cleaning with a cotton bud and a spray with silicone lube, it's now working perfectly again....well as good as it ever did!


Right - I can't stay here nattering... we've Bingley 3 and 5 rise to tackle this morning...

Until next time...

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Hence forward... (I'm sure I read a play called that at school)

So then,

We left Granary Wharf early doors and set off toward Rodley.  As it happened, another boat was leaving at the same time so we shared the first couple of locks with them... they were only going up 2 before they tied up and departed - it being a local hire boat.

I actually got shouted at by a grumpy chap on a scruffy boat (who had 6 staffies running wild on a muddy bit of the offside bank) to Slow down... that annoyed me a bit because I'm ALWAYS considerate - which clearly given the state of his dogs and the shanty town he'd set up, HE isn't.  Hey ho... there's a place for everyone in this world...  ideally, in his case, somewhere else!

Not the nicest of days to be boating, with a fine reoccurring drizzle.  Still quite a few gongoozlers around considering and we all commented how nice it was to be boating rather than using the towpath for a commute to work - like SO many other poor people were doing.  Alan recruited this young chap to help with the lock... with his father's consent so don't go phoning Ester Ransen good people!

Just after that lock we encountered "the piano boat" wed seen a little farther on last year - he's made a bit of progress on it - both geographically and construction wise...  

He's got a little sign on it saying "please offer a tow" as he's pretending to be on a journey somewhere to deliver the piano... although looking at the side wall, who would want it now is any ones guess lol.

We made steady progress and didn't encounter any hostility - a couple of chaps drinking tenants on a bench ... once of whom, offered help with a gate and the lockies were as helpful as ever up the staircases...  We even saw our first "nearly nesting" swans of the year as we approached Rodley.
and we lucky enough to get on the small visitor moorings near the pub.

On leaving Rodley yesterday morning, we encountered lots of joggers and cyclists - presumably because the towpath is in very good condition...    we even spotted on of the Brownlie Brothers - don't know which one he is though... I'll have to watch the Yorkshire Tea adverts again...

Presumably the chap on the bike was his coach as he was ringing his bell and shouting up the towpath for people to "move out of the way please"... which, if I'm honest, I think is a bit cheeky... given CRT's "share the space" mission, they have just as much right as he does to be on the towpath.

As we approached Apperley Bridge, we spotted out 2nd nesting swans - THIS time with the Duck/Goose on guard duty nearby (a "family" we'd seen last year when we passed through in June)

By now the washing machine had about finished so we decided to go on up Dobsons locks and use the water point to replenish the tank...  We'd forgotten how deep that first lock is and because we were on our own, it took a lot of effort to keep the boat steady as the water leaked in was let in from above.

The Services block at the top is immaculate - certainly more so than any other we've encountered although at the moment there doesn't appear to be any dedicated bins for rubbish disposal ... Andy went exploring around the back and found a handy skip however.

Not long after, we came across the next staircase and guess what? - the sun appeared for the first time in weeks...

Even better was the fact it stayed out for a couple of hours ... by which time we'd moored for the night on the out-skirts of Shipley, where we stayed outside greeting the (still busy) towpath users as we drank some wine and chatted.

A lovely way to end  the day - well it would have been, were it not for Andy insisting we play Rummikub again... AND wiping the floor with me again... I wouldn't mind so much but Alan was acting as my wing man and we STILL lost every time... hmmf...  Boaty bed time was about 9 and a side from a local (but luckily brief) fire-work display around 10, we had a peaceful nights sleep.  

That said, I had a weird dream about palpitations/heart attacks and awoke a bit panicky thinking I was having one and trying to work out whether I could defibrillator myself (so as not to disturb Andy or Alan)...  after taking my pulse and noting it was normal, I decided it was just part of the  dream...

Until next time...(I hope 😜)

Thursday, 12 April 2018

And we're off... Ruddy River!

Here we are then - we've began(begun?) our journey to Liverpool ...Base-plate fridge acting as an overflow for the TOO small 12v Inlander Fridge Freezer....

Alan joined us around 3pm on  on Tuesday... and guess what?  ... the ruddy river Calder was doing it's thing again...  - ergo, we only got as far as Alftofts (again) and spent the night at Woodnook lock.

Now whilst it doesn't LOOK a lot - we know that travelling downstream when it's in the red is not a good idea... ok, we'd probably be ok but IN the event of something going wrong, there'd be no insurance... SO we waited... thinking "it's only an inch... HOW long can it take?

The answer to that question is 26 hours!!!  - The annoying thing about it was we'd planned to spend 2 nights in Leeds and had to change the plan.

By about 4pm on the 2nd day, the level had dropped into the Yellow so we got on to the river and set off towards the safety of Lemonroyd - it had been particularly frustrating because I kept getting the emails from crt, telling me that the Aire and Calder mainline was open, Doncaster aqueduct was open, the flood locks on the Calder and Hebble were open etc. etc.  The final insult was when they sent the "Leeds lock is open" one- ... grrr... of course it is because of the new weir which lets water through quickly and sends the problem DOWNSTREAM.... ADD to that the combination of the Calder going into the Aire  and THEN Castleford weir slowing things down further, the levels at Faires hill take AGES to fall.

Anyway - we got through Lemonroyd and on to Woodlesford for the night.

THIS morning, it was drizzly and not exactly nice boating weather (I suppose you could say it was TYPICAL boating weather) but we made good time into Leeds and topped up the water, emptied the crew loo and had showers. 

Alan took the helm for the first leg -turns out he'd been a narrow boater for 40 years and it was like riding a bike...  

SPEAKING (well writing of which) when in Leeds whilst the initial plan had been for Alan to head off to the Armouries museum, that changed so we all met up with our friend Richard who gave us an old bike he no longer uses...  the sad part to THAT tail being that the day BEFORE, his "good" bike had been stolen in broad daylight.  We of course offered not to take this one but he was adamant it's fine as he found it difficult to ride.  

It's certainly superior to the one WE had stolen last week - it's just a bit "big" for Andy's little legs to manage... even IF his gonads had gone down enough to do so - which btw, they haven't very much...

Hey ho - from Tuesday he can have a few days resting in bed again before we begin the next part of our journey with "nurse" Patty.

BEFORE then however, tomorrow we'll have an early start from Granary Wharf to get through the bad-lands (although in our experience they've not BEEN badlands) and aim to end the day around Rodley.  That said, we HAVE heard a few rumours today of Ropes being cut and mooring pins being stolen in Apperley bridge of late... we'll see!

Until next time...

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Man over board , A welcome Trend and more au revoirs...

Well it's been a busy few days.

Time is short this morning so I'm afraid it'll be a bullet point day - well it would be if I could find the little things in the blogging software.

     Walking back from the pub the other night, we got chatting with some new boaters - they've got a lovely new Aintree fat bottomed girl wide-beam  with a paint job to die for.  Whilst standing there (admittedly having had a few) we noticed our neighbours returning from the water point slowing down to wait for an on-coming boat to pass their mooring....  ignoring them somewhat, we carried on chatting as you do.

Everything then sort of happened quickly in slow motion if you follow.  All of a sudden, their boat was wedged sideways (another wide-beam as it happens) acrross the canal between 2 other boats (also wide-beams)...  The woman on the boat was shouting for help and we couldn't see the chap... (I'm not using names here on purpose) - tuns out he'd slipped off the gunwale whilst trying to breast up to another boat to await the passing of the one coming down the cut.  Unfortunately,  his good lady is not experienced at all (and may have had a couple of drinks ) and had no idea how to get the boat out of it's predicament.

BEING a super hero, I leapt (leaped?) into action - climbing over the roof of the boat this side... tip-towing over their blooming awkward cratch cover and took over control of their boat... WHILST this was going on, another boater on the opposite side was trying to help the chap out of the water - it's about 6 ft deep at the edges here so NOT an easy job... especially as the chap (in the water) already HAD a bad shoulder and in the process of falling in had dislocated his GOOD shoulder... which in the end HAD to be the one he was pulled out by.  OUCH.

Anyway - I carried on up the canal with his girlfriend, dog and boat to their home-mooring and then did my best bit of parking SORRY, mooring ever in what is quite a tight space - especially given it was my first time at the helm of a fatty. 

Shortly after, the soggy wet chap walked up clutching his shoulder and thanked me for rescuing his boat - I apologised for not pulling him out but said that I figured he(like me) would probably be more concerned about the boat  than being in the water.  I was right.

OF course we've not got any photos of this  as when acting on auto-pilot one tends to forget all about social media...  that's a good thing I think.

The next day, his girlfriend knocked on the hatch with a lovely bottle as a thank you.

we rather like this....  

AND as yet, it's not been opened either.

The next night, we met up with Tony, Vicky and their newly driving son Oli (never sure if that should be Olli or Olly) for a goodbye tea in the pub.  It was VERY busy and it took an absolute age to get served both drinks and food - I just found out this morning from a new chef who's working there, they had a party of 40 in at that time which they were trying to get eating at the same time so no wonder. 

They treated us to tea which was kind of them and then presented us with this

This certainly is a trend we appreciate and approve of.  Long may it continue lol.

Anyways - we said our goodbyes and I must have been a bit squify as despite being a non-huggy/touchy person, I actually volunteered hugs all round - poor Oli (Olly Olli)... lol 

We'll not see them again until early July when we return from Liverpool and will miss them.

TODAY we're all set for our "grand depart"- of course it's raining cats and dogs AND the river is already looking angry - which means that when we DO sett off later, we'll only be able to get as far as Woodnock and will have to wait there... probably until morning by the looks of things to be able to get on the Calder and then Aire.  At least WHEN we eventually get to Leeds, that will be an end to river dependant sections for a couple of months.

Until next time...

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Maiden voyage and goodbyes...

After a peaceful night - well I say peaceful... our new friends introduced us to a board game they'd brought along with them called Rummikub  and it turned out they were quite competitive - certainly compared to my "we're all in this together" approach.

It's actually quite good but a little complicated for a divvy like me someone of my limited mathematical ability... doing sums WHILST drinking wine is not easy... it'd be hard enough with a cup of tea.

The only "round" I won was one they played FOR me whilst I was dishing up a Sunday Roast (on the wrong day of the week.)

ANDY has since ordered said game on-line and it arrived yesterday - it's quite addictive

Anyway - when Thursday morning arrived, the sun was shining, birds were singing and the river had dropped considerably.  Not quite into the Yellow before breakfast but shortly afterwards it did so we pulled the ropes through, got the life-jackets out and set off upstream. 

There was quite a flow and we all kept our eyes peeled for torpedoes ahead (in the form of tree trunks etc).

BY the time we tied up at Fall Ing lock however, we were quite pleased to be getting off it as up there, the board was showing red still .

As we ascended we got chatting firstly with a lovely Australian chap who was stranded the other side of the lock and then encountered a crt chap who could at best be described as kurt/grumpy.  He basically gave me a telling off for being on the river in red... harping on about it invalidating our insurance etc etc.  I DID point out (more politely than he) that WHEN we got onto the river at Stanley Ferry Flood lock it WAS in yellow... ergo, it's not our fault either a) their boards are inconsistent or b) it had risen.

No matter, the plan was to go up to the town centre, have a nosey around the Hepworth and have lunch before we considered returning whence we came.

By now it had warmed up and we spent a pleasant few hours having coffee, Hot-cross buns and chatting in the sun.

On walking to the shops, we spotted a "rather large twig" that had come down the previous day when the river was angry - I'd been chatting with the chap who's boat it'd gone under on route and he said it fair shook him...  can't imagine why !

About 2.30 we set off back towards Fall Ing and were pleased to see the water was now back in the Yellow there too.  We could see there was still quite a flow so we proceeded with caution - having both gates open AND Andy walking Ellis round holding the centreline tight to the lock landing... the idea being to prevent the front of the boat being taken with the flow and a difficult return to pick up the crew....  it worked a treat and before long we were tootling downstream in tick-over to maintain steering.

Aware of the flow, I didn't offer to let anyone else take the helm and considering how long it took to bring the boat to a stop (think braking on snow in your car) that turned out to be a wise decision.

Rather exciting but safely under control at all times - shan't lie though, I WAS relieved to get back onto the canal.

The downside  being that this marked the end of the Maiden Voyage and it was time to say our goodbyes.

Before they left we asked for some feedback from them.  Kathie's candour was appreciated and it was useful to hear a woman's' point of view... things we're not thought about like having different coloured towels for couples so they didn't use each others un-knowingly... Things like additional hooks in the bathroom and bedroom too - all of which we've addressed with a trip to Ikea over the weekend *note to self - DON'T go to Ikea on the last weekend of the Easter break - EVER, EVER again*.

They genuinely enjoyed their experience with us - as we did with them and it was lovely to read their feedback on facebook.  All in all, it was a positively enjoyable experience for us and confirmed that what we're doing to finance our life afloat WITHOUT working in a proper job IS a good idea and something we'll settle into nicely.... I mean,who in their right mind would describe  boating as work?

When back on our mooring however, the sheen was taken off slightly as we discovered Andy's bike that was chained to the picnic bench had been stolen whilst we were away...  blooming scrotes... Having filed an on-line theft report (for all the good it will do) there was a box for "any other comments" and I'm afraid I couldn't resist putting a comment in there about hoping the brake cables fail and whomever took it has a nasty accident.

Hey ho.

ON the plus side though, a friend is donating an unused bike and meeting us in Leeds next week to drop it off... STRONGER chains required this time me thinks.

Now we are all set to begin the first long trip to Liverpool on Tuesday and we're really excited about it.

Until next time...

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Maiden voyage...

Here we are then - blogging "live" from the lock landing near the River... waiting/hoping/praying that the calder will oblige by dropping into the yellow so we can make a dash for it upstream to Fall Ing lock.

REWIND 36 hours...

We've been living in crew quarters for a few days now in preparation - trying to get used to sharing (I have 1/4 of the space allocated for some reason) a wardrobe/dyson cupboard/wine store...

The newly made mattress covers and fitted sheets by our dear friend Denise proving to be a success.  The cassette toilet in the cupboard, slightly less so since I omitted to clean it out properly last time we had friends on board...  *lesson learned*...

Our first guests joined us on Tuesday morning - from the visitor moorings at Stanley Ferry... we'd all being following the weather forecasts AND river levels for the last few days so it didn't REALLY come as a surprise to us that plan a had to be abandoned.

NOT to worry -  we opened the champers and set off in the vague hope of being able to get on the river...

Alas that was NOT to be...

Somewhere under 5 foot of water in the next photo, is a lock landing stage...


Hey ho.
SO - we turned the boat (with about 1ft front and back to spare) and set off towards the dizzy heights 
of Altofts...

We could see more clearly how high it was when we went over the new aqueduct at Stanley ferry... a bit scary!

Luckily, a bit of bubbly goes a long way and even Andy had a glass to celebrate the culmination of 8 years saving and planning.

After a couple of big electric locks, we tied up briefly a little upstream from Woodnook lock and had a wander to the river to see how bad it looked down there...

Not good was the answer - and certainly no chance of a quick dash down to Castleford - oh well, at least we got to use the gang-plank for the first time *read Wickes Scaffold board*...

Having turned, we went back up to Kings Lock for the night and moored on  a (currently vacant) long term mooring for the night.

At first light - this morning promised a better day... a promise that didn't last long.

We set off back (having topped up the water tank) and the rain began once more in earnest... The plan HAD been (having looked the EA website first thing) to try and get on the river after Stanley Ferry  and make a quick dash up to Fall ing lock . 

Through Kings lock and then Birkwood , the  precipitation varying form light spots to torrential. 

It's raining again now and although the river HAS fallen a little, it's still in the red - we'll give it another hour and then look again - if the smallest bit of yellow is showing, we'll crank her up and race upstream for the night... if not - we may introduce our new friends to "wine Wednesday"...

Until next time...