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....

Sunday 9 December 2018

Eureka Moment, 1000 ways to end a life & Floods.

Don't fret - this isn't a "to whom it may concern" moment... we're still trapped in Leeds by the river in flood  - well I say trapped, we're trapped from going on and off the river to the service point NOT the other way (which is the way we are intending to go anyway) but it adds to the drama!

So - it's been raining on and off since we arrived here and as such apart from a brief few hours, the flood gates into Clarence(Leeds) Dock have been closed.  Trying to fill time NOT boating and NOT spending money is quite challenging - especially when it's raining.  We don't mind walking in the rain particularly, but NOT when it's windy as well... water proofs only go SO far when the rain is horizontal.

I forget which day it was, but the decision was made - Jointly I think, that we'd go and have a look around the Royal Armories Museum.

We did hang around briefly for the river taxi but decided that it might not be running as the boards were already well into the yellow and fast approaching red.  Having arrived at the museum, I have to say it' feels a lot bigger on the inside than it appears externally.

Rather than take the lift to the top, we continued with our health kick change of lifestyle, and walked up the stairs.

We've often seen this from the outside but hadn't realized the centre of the column was also filled with 1000 different ways to kill someone.

The displays in the museum are very well laid out and IF you were actually interested in that kind of thing, you could easily spend days exploring  and learning a lot about weapon history since God was a lad.    I can imagine the museum is a wonderful resource for schools doing projects on whatever period in history.  Alas, for us it was wasted and whilst we could appreciate the collections, had that awful feeling in the pit of our stomachs in regards the horror of it all.

For me, the best view in the place is that out of the windows over looking the docks.

I caught (albeit it  bad one) photo of what I think was the last river taxi to run since the river got angry ... the flood lock was closed by the time we left anyway and we've not seen one running since.

As well as a visit to the Armories, we've also tried out another Gym in the city centre - This time, the Nuffield.  It's in "The Light" and was offering a free trial day.  Given it's possible we might take a winter mooring in Leeds for a couple of months on our return from Skipton, it seemed logical to try out the local fitness centres.  It's not bad actually - the changing rooms are a bit tired but they do have a reasonably sized swimming pool that wasn't dirty  and supply towels.  If we do stay here for a while, it's certainly worth the money.  It all depends on trips booked etc. and we still want to get up to Slaithwaite before too long.

We've got passage booked through Forge/Newlay Locks 9 am Tuesday morning which will mean a night moored up near Kirkstall - we normally try to avoid mooring in that area as urban myth suggests it's not the safest of places of an evening... it's not like we're going to leave the boat there though so for one night, we'll take our chances - it's that or setting off in the pitch black on Tuesday morning to arrive at the locks by the allotted time.

We've been spoiled here though - what with the power bollard being "on" we've been able to keep the batteries fully charged without running the engine much - hot water has come from the webasto.  Writing of hot water, the other day, I had another of my (infrequent) Eureka moments... WHEN I was filling the washing machine - pouring 2 x  5 litres of hot water into the drawer, it dawned on me to buy a "shampoo spray" head... the sort that plugs on to the tap and give the washer a head start that way... DUH!

WHAT an improvement... NO spills on the floor when the drawer 'burps' and far easier than having to store two large empty water containers...WHY it didn't occur to me 2 years ago, is anyone's guess!

Until next time...

Tuesday 4 December 2018

And we're off...with a Wine Wednesday on a Saturday!

Well, the chap DID come and collect the car as planned so we're now car-less.  Funds of which have been distributed between our nephews/nieces thanks to Christmas, so we're now back to square one financially - but WITHOUT wheels lol.

Hey ho.

Still,  at least we can move around on the boat at free will ... well "ish" .

Friday night saw us taking the boat down to the visitor moorings (outside the pub) where we met up with a few boaty friends to say our goodbyes over a bottle (or 3) of bubbly stuff and a last supper.  Oddly (for us given our dry November) we didn't' drink TOO much and although we were the last ones in the pub (again)...Still managed to get up and set off - in the rain on Saturday morning... BEFORE it was even light!

It's a good job we did leave early though, as what with all the rain that was coming down, by the time we'd gotten to  Woodnook lock the river was already getting a bit fruity... by the time we'd turned off the Calder and on to the Aire (to head upstream) the flow was considerably greater - NO major worry as Ellis's engine is powerful enough to make good progress, it just meant we'd gobble up a bit more fuel.

Once at Lemonroyd, the level had increased a bit further

It didn't matter for a while after that as the next few miles/locks were canal rather than river AND the rain did offer a few more breaks

One thing we did notice thought is how differently the boat handles with the roof full of coal though - you'd think because it's sitting lower in the water (presumably) it would be more stable but that's not the case... then again, I suppose with weight on the roof, the centre of gravity is altered.

By the time we'd gone past knostrop lock, the river had risen even more and a decision had to be taken whether to abandon a planned pump out at Leeds Sanitary station (and save half an hour of time on the river) OR do it as planned - given the pumpout at Stanley has been broken for ages, we really DID need to get it done.  Once completed, we powered on up the river and through Leeds lock - hoping to get in to Clarence dock... that wasn't to be as the visitor moorings were full.  SO - back on to the river and a mad dash up the Granary Wharf - the flow by now quite considerable.  We were quite relieved to get safely tied up along side and away from the by now fast rising river.

Of course - it then meant we were trapped in Leeds for a few days but with full water (and empty toilet) it's not a problem.

Settling down for the night, I got a message to see if we'd arrived in Leeds yet from our old "Wine - Wednesday " friends who were passing through on route back from seeing 'Dracula' in Bradford.  An impromptu bangers and mash for tea followed by a few drinks followed before they had to dash to catch buses home - Trains HAD been planned but YET again, Strike action messed things up.

Sorry ladies, my phone doesn't seem to like taking "flash required' photos these days... either that, or my greasy fat fingers had smudged the lense.

Poor photography a side, it WAS lovely of them to call in  - we've really missed them since one of them moved away to Harrogate and the other changed jobs.

Hopefully, we'll catch up again in Skipton over the Christmas period when I believe a hotel stay is planned.

The river is still up so we're holed up in Granary Wharf and unable to nip back to Clarence dock (where we'd hoped to connect to shoreline to give the batteries a bit of winter TLC) but as luck would have it, I spotted an Xmas tree lights plugged into one of the power bollards here so figured if ONE was turned on, the others might be too....  fast forward to a 16amp cable plugged in to test and Bingo - shore line.  

Given it's not technically turned on for OUR benefit, we're not taking too much of a liberty and restricting our use to daylight hours (to get the batteries full) and unplugging over night in case someone trips over the cable and ends up in the water.  

If challenged, we will of course unplug it but to be honest, I'd think the locals would much prefer us to 'purloin' a few amps of their power rather than run a carbon producing diesel engine for hours on end to achieve the same charging result - that said, due to the hospital silence, we're so quiet when running anyway AND our engine doesn't smoke, they'd probably not notice in the first place.

Today we've been for a free trial pass at the Anytime Fitness centre in Bridgewater Place - just to see if it's worth joining for when we're in the area...  between you and I, it's a bit over priced for the facilities offered... still, an hour plodding away on the cross trainer followed by a shower using their facilities does mean our  water tank stays fuller a bit longer.

Perhaps we'll try another gym before we depart for Skipton next week.

Until next time...