Tuesday 25 September 2018

Flood trapped guests, WRONG kind of flood gates & bath-time....

Don't worry - for those dreading catching a glimpse of another of my nipples (that sounds like I have loads) there are NO bathing photos in this post.

So then,  as you'll recall on Wednesday (19th) an Australian couple joined us for a short  trip, going  to Cooper Bridge and back from Wakefield.  Jenny and Neil were 6 weeks into their UK trip and after various whistle-stop tours, had scheduled in a relaxing boating break.

Hmm - typically after weeks of relatively nice, calm weather - all that was about to end abruptly.

The first day of our trip took us from the visitor moorings in Wakefield, up the river Calder and on through broad cut  towards the Dewsbury arm.

I shan't lie - for the first hour or so the wind and rain was awful - at times we were even crabbing our way up stream on the river...  Oddly enough though, by the time we stopped for the night, it was earilery calm.

The following morning, once again we seemed to be stuck in our little bubble of lovely autumn weather...

Jenny and Neil had very quickly become comfortable crew members and our journey, whilst a little chilly was really lovely - at least for a while.  By about noon the sky had darkened and the wind and rain had returned..

As is the norm under such conditions, I tend to end up skippering on the back of the boat alone whilst the lazy buggers below crew stay out of sight and play board games/drink gin.  To be honest, I don't REALLY mind.... although I do like to pretend not to ;-)  By about 1.30, we'd reached the flood lock at Cooper Bridge and tied up on the visitor moorings for a spot of lunch.
 - a simple lunch of pea and gammon soup with bread that I'd produced during some impressive multi-tasking earlier. (IF I have a fault, it's my modesty.)

After lunch, with no sign of the rain abating, we headed back on to the river... turned and then began to retrace our steps - once again with muggins  the just the Captain on the bridge lol  - Actually that's not totally fair ... Andy was on the towpath with a brolly and heading back to set the lock ready for us to chug straight into.

Our original plan HAD been to moor up in Mirfield on the bollards opposite where the OLD supermarket had been  - the visitor moorings already being full of boats ... boats, that could have tied up a bit closer together to fit a few more in.  On arrival however, we noticed the towpath was closed so if we DID stop there, we'd end up trapped.

Instead, we chugged a little further on and stopped outside Mirfield Boat builders.  The weather was deteriorating yet further so we battened down the hatches (literally), made the fire up and spent the evening playing games and nattering over a drink or two.  Jenny and Neil have been good for us as what with them NOT being very committed drinkers, we too cut back.

It didn't seem TOO bad - well not until about 1.30 am when the wind went up another level and as the flood gates had obviously been closed , the water level dropped a bit - thereby clonking the base-plate on to the bank sides every 20 seconds or so occasionally.  Add to that the worry I'd banged in 2 pins rather than set springs, it did mean for a rather restless night

Of course, I could have had  a wander around in my pants in the dark but given how wet and windy it was, I decided that IF I had to go out it would only be to recover one end of the boat from the other side of the bank and ideally that might not happen anyway.

It didn't - instead however,  I got the emergency navigation closure  email from CRT we'd been dreading which effectively meant we were "stuck" in Mirfield until river levels dropped.

Annoyingly, when we went for a walk the next day, we spotted the NEXT flood gate downstream on the river was open  but although the river was in the amber, the section remained officially closed... not a risk we're prepared to take with guests on board.

Mifrield is nice enough to spend a few hours in but in the wind and rain thoughts soon lead to comfort food.  At the request of our guests, a walk to "Alan's Fish and Chips" was in order where we all ordered chip butties (with fish on the side)... Apparently, they don't have them in Oz.

We kept checking the CRT notices in the hope they'd open the navigation again - if it had been done by 3pm, we'd have been able to go a bit faster than normal and get closed enough to Wakefield for an early start the following morning.  That would have meant our visitors could get on the train they'd planned.

It wasn't to be.  Instead, we did a reconnaissance mission to Mirfield station and tried to work out the best plan to get them to Leeds in time for their pre-booked train to Crew the next day.

Talk about insult to injury, WHAT was happening on Saturday 22nd? - RMT strike action affecting LOTS of trains.  After a bit of buggering about on various websites we formulated a couple of plans  - and (factoring some plan c's) all was well.  

We said our goodbyes at about 9.30 on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day mooching around Mirfield awaiting an email from CRT.

By about tea-time, we had a wander to the river and noticed the level was WELL back into the green so we set off downstream.

Once through Shepley Bridge lock and the next flood lock, we came across a trip boat coming up the river who indicated for us to pull close enough to speak.  They warned us that the NEXT river lock was closed and no landing was available.   hmmm - Andy decided to do his Indiana Jones impression and lassoed the bollard from the roof whilst I kept the power on - There IS a lock landing but CRT seem to have decided to abandon it AND to remove the 2nd set of gates that WOULD make the flood LOCK just that... instead, it being turned into a flood GATE that can't be used as a lock if you follow - perhaps the photo below will make it easier to understand.

Because the river was now back in green but the pound behind the flood lock  gate was low - DUE to it leaking out of the lock at the OTHER end of the pound. it meant we had to effectively top up about half a mile - maybe a bit more of pound, before we could get through. 

WHY they are doing this to former WORKING flood gates is beyond me.  Well actually, I suppose it's CHEAPER and easier for them to do this than maintain something that has worked perfectly well for years... choosing instead a cheaper option perhaps and to "CLOSE" Navigation's until it suits THEM (or until Monday morning as it turned out).

WE continued our way back towards town and encountered  another FORMER flood LOCK that is now a Flood GATE at Thornes.... 

The thing is, the river was back in the green - and had been for about 5 hours at least by the time we got here... We met a few boats who had the same frustration and grumbles as us .  It's perfectly acceptable to close the gates when a risk of flooding approaches but by the same token they need to be on the ball and re-open them ASAP to allow navigation once it's dropped.

By the time we got back to our mooring, our backs were aching and we agreed a "bath treat was in order" - Looking last minute online, I found a good deal at the Cedar Court Hotel using a website called "Amoma"-  a very good room only deal with a superior room with (most importantly) a bath.

We called in to Sainsburys on route and bought  some Sandwiches for tea, then spent the evening watching telly - interspersed with soaks in the bath.

Until next time...

Thursday 20 September 2018

Out and about again.

We've been pottering around our home mooring for too long now so are relieved to have guests with us as I type.  Of course, as you might expect after the longest, hottest, driest and lovely summer we've had, Autumn is here with some horrid storms.

Before we left "home" - a rare sight could be seen mowing the lawn grassy verge...Even better, he was powering the mower by the generator rather than off the invertor on the boat.

Yesterday, we left the mooring and by the time we'd gone onto the river, the winds were really battering us and what with the waves, it really felt like we were at sea - what with the pitching and  rolling.

On arrival at Fall Ings Lock, as well as the usual assortment of miscreants that loiter there, on this occasion there was a chap - having a wash and doing his laundry in the lock. Andy applied the "head down and pretend he's not there" approach, whilst I engaged in boaty type conversations.  Luckily, thinking quickly enough to say we had guests on board when he asked to have a look around.

We're so lucky to be in reasonable shape mental health wise but it's a very fine line for some people...

Having spent a night on Barnsley Road visitor moorings in  Wakefield, we awaited the arrival of our guests for what seemed like an age -  it'd been quite a while since we had longer term travelling companions and we were both looking forward to playing "hosts" again... as usual, the excitement of meeting new people was twinged with the nervousness that we'd not get along.

When they arrived a little after midday, it only took a matter of seconds to suss them out and feel comfortable we WERE going to get along...  you just know with some people.  They are  our 3rd set (or whatever the collective noun is) of Aussie travelers.   Up for anything and as easy going as you could ask for - WHICH turns out is good given Storm Alan and the remains of Helene were about to clobber us again.

Talk about windy... once on route, we crabbed our way up the river with the rain battering in our faces - well I say OUR,  Neil and Jenny were unpacking and I was loading up the washer (we offered to do a load for them as they've been in the uk a few weeks already) and filling it with hot water manually through the drawer.... I might have taken a long time to do this so as to stay out of the weather....

The rain did ease (if not the wind) and we ended up moored for the night, just before the Dewsbury arm on the Calder and Hebble.  This morning, after a surprisingly quiet night  we're going to head off shortly before the weather deteriorates yet further - it's forecast an Awful afternoon so hopefully we'll get hunkered down somewhere around Mirfield before then.

In other news, even though we're away from the gym for a few days now, PRIOR to departure we've been going once-sometimes twice a day and I'm pleased to report this mornings readings as 13 stone 11 and a bit...  IT's bloody slow over 40 though - I remember when I could just look at a Ryveta and lose some flab.

Oh how things have changed... it's a miserable slog now.  Hey ho.

Until next time...

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Malnutrition and Wine Wednesday - sans wine!


Dieting and abstinence leave a lot to be desired...

Today marks the end of week 2 of "the health kick" - and it IS a health kick... no way could we keep up this misery long term... OK, so once the flab is off we'll relax things a little but there is no way anyone with half a brain a life, could keep it up indefinately.

No sooner do we finish our breakfast than do we begin thinking about lunch... add into that an hours cardio, a swim and then splodge poolside, we spend the whole day- AND more difficultly, night Hungry.

Hmmf again.

Still, the scales this morning for me showed 13.stone 12 and a half... if I'm totally honest, I'm annoyed with myself for letting it get this bad again - LAST time I was this fat  cuddly, was just before my 18th birthday, when the scales said 15.stone 7.

Its crept up on me after a year NOT working (well as in a proper job) and boaty socialising....

Today is wine Wednesday - WITHOUT the wine... it's just not right.

To add more insult to injury, when I had my "health MOT " at the gym, I was told my cholesterol was high (6.8%) , blood pressure was high and my bmi was not ideal.  I'll show them... when we go back in 3 months to repeat the process they'll not be able to keep their hands off my gorgeous ness.

Luckily for you dear reader, there are NO photos to accompany this posting.

Until next time...

Wednesday 5 September 2018

RIP injured Cygnet... Health Health Health and Autumn arrival

I love this time of year... it's still warm during the day but evenings and mornings have that distinctly autumnal nip in the air.  THIS means of course, we can have the fire ticking over of an evening (leaving it to burn out ) and set the webasto to come on about 6 am to take the chill off getting out of bed.

We've been back on the home mooring for a few days doing chores here and there AND going to the gym daily.  Given we're unable to undertake our planned Autumn cruise to Wolverhampton, we've taken a 3 month membership at the local Nuffield Heatlh  Gym - we could have go to a cheaper one but Andy was insistent on having a pool... a pool that as of 6 visits so far, he's NOT been in!!!

No matter.  We're forcing ourselves to do an hours plodding away in the cardio suite each day before a relaxing splodge in the spas... THUS far I've only shifted 4 lbs of blubber but it's going in the right direction.  Once we get back in the habit, we'll increase our times and get on with the job in hand.  As miserable as it is, at least we can use THEIR showers each day and save both engine hours (heating the water) or diesel in the webasto.... not to mention reduce the number of times we have to fill the water tank on the  boat.

Yesterday, rather than driving the car from the mooring to the gym (circa 10-15 mins through town traffic) we took the boat - it takes around an hour and half but we can moor about 100 metres away from it so it's handy enough.

The only thing that took the edge of a nice chug, were 2 idiot fishermen who'd plonked themselves on the river lock landing...  refusing to take the hint the boat's horn made until the last minute... NEXT time, I'll just crash in to their landing nets and trample on whatever I need to to get off with the centre line and tie the boat up.  

Speaking (well writing) of fishermen - they are NOT in my good books at the moment - well not all fishermen per say - JUST those who abandon masses of fishing line... which in turn gets wrapped around wildlife.  

WHY am I ranting about this? - well, on Sunday afternoon, a random cygnet appeared at the back of the boat and we could see one of it's wings was swollen and submerged about 4 inches under water...  combined with that, it's legs were both quivering  - we fed the poor thing and phoned the RSPCA to see what we should do.  

They called me back about an hour later to ask it's whereabouts and inquire if I knew what "Angel Wing" was...  After she described it to me, I confirmed I didn't think it was that...  the lady then said initially she'd come on Tuesday so I could point her in the direction it had gone.  I explained I was still watching it - (the poor thing had paddled about 200 metres up the cut towards the river)  at which point she said in that case, she'd come straight out -  apparently people report things and quite often the birds move on... thus wasting lots of their time.

Anyway - long story short, upon arrival she confirmed we'd need to try and catch the creature.  I jogged back to the boat to get some bread to entice it... which worked to a point but every time she tried to hook it/net it, it managed to evade capture.  It took about half an hours buggering about but with another boating holding the landing net, the RSPCA woman using the neck hook and me grabbing it's neck/head we got it out and carefully secured in a giant piping bag.
Sadly, an hour or so later she telephoned me to say that once she'd taken it to the vet to have a proper look at, the wing was dead  - fishing line was wrapped round both it and a leg and both were too badly damaged... as such, they put it to sleep.

A sad end to a well intentioned rescue but at least it didn't die a long, slow and painful death.
Ergo, at the moment, FISHERMEN are on not in our good books...and we've half a mind to tie some of them with their line and leave them under a bush somewhere to suffer to see how THEY like it!

In other news,  we've spotted that the section of the Leeds and Liverpool between lock 1 (into Granary Wharf) AND the bottom of Bingley is now open again ... still on restricted operational hours for Newley locks... this bodes well for our final cruise (with guests) of this season, which runs from Leeds to Skipton (and back) in the middle of October... hopefully coinciding with Oktoberfest again.  

Before then however we've a couple of shorter "on and off the river" cruises mid and late September which we're looking forward to.  With luck, the weather will play nicely and NOT send the Calder into Flood ... although, given how things have gone this first year for us, we're not holding our breath.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a photo I took this morning from our favourite local mooring - (us spending a couple more days away from Stanley Ferry) up near Broad cut.

Until next time...