Saturday 23 February 2019

A Week in Leeds...

Sorry I'm being a bit rubbish re.blogging at the moment - to be honest,  a side from grieving and doing the odd chore, we're just mooching around until the stoppages are over and we can get going again.

The winter stoppage season has really frustrated me - I know this is our 3rd year experiencing it now but it seems far harder than previously... probably because since giving up our mooring there's an expectation/desire to actually travel SOMEWHERE rather than just play the game a lot of cc'ers do - IE. shuffling around a few miles every 2 weeks.

Obviously, my mood isn't being helped by trying to work through the grief of my mothers death ... I'm not sure whether I'm handling it well or not but still feel the need to randomly burst into tears for very little reason - it seems EVERYTHING ...often not even related to mum, seems to upset me.

Even when out chugging - quite often when I was waiting for Andy to ready a lock, I'd use the time to make a quick phone call or drop her a text... instinctively I keep grabbing my phone to do it only to remember she's dead.  It feels really weird and I'm instantly catapulted back - umbilical grief I suppose.

 Another thing I'm finding difficult is night-times inside the boat...When it gets dark out and we close the side-hatches and light a few candles with the telly on, my brain keeps replaying the phone call from my cousin at 8 minutes past 8.... no longer does it feel like a cosy night protected by the boat - instead it's a milestone that needs passing every night.  Once its a bit later - assuming I've not had a drink, it's not so bad.  The sooner the light nights are here and we're pottering out and about the better.

I know as time passes things will improve and compared to many folks I'm very lucky.  It doesn't always feel like that though.

Dad is (on the surface at least) adjusting to being alone - we're still talking regularly which is a good thing and he's being candid about stuff...  Even my brother and I are still communicating more often than we have in years... without writing in cliches, good can come out of bad.

ANYWAY - to bring things up to date...   After a lovely couple of unseasonably mild days in Woodlesford, we pulled pins and chugged up to Leeds on Sunday lunchtime... not before the Freda Carless went by.

I'd been chatting with the bloke that owns it the day before when he knocked on to say he'd seen my you-tube clip of them when they passed our home mooring a year or so ago.  Quite a chatty chap although a little too full of conspiracy theories for my little brain.

Not long after they went by, we sett off the other direction . We'd hoped to be able to get tied up in Clarence Dock on the Shore-line ...  OTHER "non-moving" cc'ers (who are not even plugged in) put paid to that idea,  so once again we ended up in Granary Wharf.  As it stands, we're the only boat in here - well I say that... there ARE actually 2 boats "dumped" ... 1 of which has been here since the end of last summer!!!  I'm not going to harp on about it but it really does get under my skin and is the reason WHY CC'ers have a bad name... the few that spoil things for the many.

Chore wise, the chimney needed a sweep and the fire a good clean out - given how mild it's been, it seemed like the perfect time to do it... I even took the riddler apart and gave the whole thing REALLY good hoovering.  Whilst it was out, I've also sanded down the  top and given it a couple more coats of stove paint.  Whatever the stuff is I'm using this time, it's no where near as good as the first stuff I bought a couple of years ago - That said, at least it looks a bit smarter now .... despite it not bearing up to close inspection.

THIS time, rather than putting the eco-fan back on we're waiting until it's had a couple of "hot" fires to harden the paint... last time it blistered.

Also whilst in Leeds - (initially outside the Double Tree Hotel - well until their AWFUL outside "dirge" music they insist on playing got so loud we couldn't filter it out) I've touched up the blacking on both sides and also a few of the worst offending scratches in the paintwork... this did necessitate an interesting pirouette in the wind, but as is typical when no one was watching, it went REALLY well!

After 5 days moored outside the Hotel, yesterday morning we nipped back down the river to the service point to fill up with water and take a peak into Clarence - in the hope that someone had vacated an electric point... no luck again though so we chugged back up and this time have gone into the "private" dock (still within Granary) that belongs to Granary Wharf company...We'll probably stay here until Monday morning and then begin our SLOW journey back towards the Calder and Hebble in order to be as close to the  stoppage that stopped us by the 15th March - WHEN it's due to open again.  IF for any reason it's late, we'll have to adopt plan f ... which I think is somewhere along the lines of turn around again... head up and over the L & L, down the Leigh Branch and into Manchester that way... assuming the stoppages on the L & L (Kirkstall and Burnley ) are over with by then... IF not, we'll have to go the other way and tackle the Trent.

Who'd have thought SO much planning would have to go into the "relaxing pastime" we know as Narrow-boating?

Until next time...

Saturday 16 February 2019

Jelly Brain and killing time...

After a few days hanging around behind the flood gates off the river Calder, we finally were able to make a move and set off upstream towards Huddersfield.

The sun was shining and off we went - leaving Broad Cut  on the most mildest of February days you could ever want.

We weren't the only ones enjoying the unseasonably mild weather - we came across a chap - presumably practicing  free climbing in relative safety under a disused railway bridge.  He only got a few feet up before we went passed and I was relieved he abandoned it - well I can only do so much with my "Mr Bump" plasters!

We' had a late start as we'd been back into town (on foot) to pick up some post from the house - ahem... POST I didn't really want...

yep - a notice of intended prosecution for speeding in the hire car on route to mum's funeral.  I won't lie - it was me and the reason I was speeding was that in the process of buggering around trying to work out how to use the cruise control, the car got a bit carried away and the next thing I knew Andy had spotted a camera van on one of the motorway bridges - ergo, I'm about to be another 100 quid worse off and receive some penalty points.  They may offer a 'speed awareness course' but quite frankly as someone who struggles to even do 3mph for 99 percent of their travelling life on the boat,  I can think of better ways to spend a day..

It has occurred to me try and appeal the fine - in the hope that if I put the purpose of the journey some kind hearted person in the office might delete it? - then again, knowing my luck it might make matters worse... I'll just find my cheque book and pay up.  


ANYWAY - as I was saying, we left early afternoon and our aim HAD been to get as far as Shepley Bridge to spend a week or so there...  HOWEVER, CRT winter stoppage program had other ideas....

You see the thing is - I KNEW there was a stoppage just after Dewsbury double lock coming off the river ... BUT because our original plan had been to leave on 4th April my "brain"  had filed it under 'not relevant' and forgotten all about it.

When we tried to turn off and leave the river, we came across locked gates, a drained pound and notice saying "closed until 15th March.  This tipped me over the edge and I ended up in floods of tears - inconsolable for a good hour as we turned and headed back downstream whence we came.  

I'm really not myself at the moment - I know that grieving takes time but to have a melt down over something so trivial really bugged me.  

We tied up for the night near the Dewsbury arm and decided to head towards Castleford for a few days followed by a detour to Leeds to kill some time

Having first gone on to Castleford (for a pump out as Wakefield's machine has been dodgy for a while now - despite it supposedly being mended several times) we then decided as it was such a lovely day again, we'd chug up the river as far as Lemonroyd... which THEN turned into Woodlesford as it really was a lovely day to be out boating.

Today finds us moored up and doing cleaning jobs - well I say US - tbh, I woke up about half 3 this morning and couldn't get back off so have been moping around feeling tired and sorry for myself all day whilst Andy has washed the boat down and as I type this is currently applying paint stripper to the starboard porthole surrounds that a certain Ginger (not to be named) might have made a mess of when he was painting a a couple of years ago now (eek)...  Hopefully given how tired and sad I've been all day, I'll sleep better tonight - without booze and tomorrow will be raring to sand down and repaint the stove - it's looking  a bit shabby and as the forecast is for another mild night, I'll let the fire go out (setting the heating to come on just in case) and then rub it down and paint it in the morning.

Meanwhile - AS we're not in a TV signal spot, it's going to be a netflix night on the goggle box.

Until next time...

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Thank you Polly Kay.

Ignoring our current "sulk" about messed up plans,  TODAY, whilst browsing through a facebook group (I hate the place but it has it's uses), THIS was posted by a chap I know...

Orginally Written by Polly Kay -

I thought I'd pop it here cause I'll never find it again if it ends up in my filing system.

"50 things you wish they'd told you before you bought the overpriced s(t)inking wreck Boat"

1. All of your clothes will smell faintly of ‘real fire’ or coal, regardless of how recently you washed them. Initially this is an inconvenience but eventually you come to rather like it.

2. If you own any white, cream, or pastel coloured clothes, they will soon take on odd black smudges, regardless of how careful you are about keeping them away from the stove, hod, or anything else coal related. This remains as an inconvenience and does not fade.

3. When visiting another boater, it is uncouth to ask to their toilet, unless you are at least a fifteen minute walk from another toilet facility (for women) or a wooded area/ bush (for men.)

4. If you have boater visitors over for more than four hours at a time, you will find yourself spending the latter half of their visit thinking that surely they must need to pee soon/ is your bathroom so nasty that they are too scared to want to use it/ how much more tea can you ply them with as a kind of pseudo-scientific experiment, just to see what they’ll do in an emergency.

5. Visits from other boaters will seldom exceed four hours without them either departing/ needing to go back to their boat for a minute/ having to ‘pop back to the car for something,’ see point four.

6. ‘Townies’ fill gaps in conversation by talking about the weather. ‘Boaties’ fill gaps in conversation by talking about water levels.

7. Pump out or cassette? Oh hells no. Don’t even go there.

8. It’s okay to insult a man’s wife, children, career choice, hair, or dress sense. But engines must always be coo’d over and spoken of in hushed approving tones, regardless of their size, condition, or maker. Shhhh! She’ll HEAR YOU!

9. If you are expected to go to work in anything approaching smart casual, you have likely got a pair of boots ‘for the journey’ that are generally covered in orange clay- like towpath mud, and also a pair of ‘smart shoes’ that are clean, patent leather, and walk less than ten steps a day. Plus a bag to keep each pair in, separately.

10. You become obsessed with what you can convince your stove to burn... Large, unwieldy or inflammable objects of rubbish will all be graded highly, according to your success in convincing the stove to eat them.

11. Ecofans. Having an opinion is mandatory. Having ever tried one is not.

12. If you have a posh new shiny boat, you are probably king of the marina. Conversely, that may also make you ‘king shit’ and/ or a N00b/ ‘more money than sense joker’ out on the cut.

13. ‘Online’ no longer just means that you have internet access, and committing the faux- pas of confusing the two meanings in conversation is verboten.

14. Portholes or windows? See point seven.

15. It seems perfectly normal to you to have both the stove/ heating going full pelt, and all of the windows open.

16. If you can’t manage to have a thorough shower, including shaving your legs, washing and conditioning your hair, and brushing your teeth in under four minutes/ four litres of water, you have failed as a boater and should probably consider moving back onto land.

17. Whenever you go to work in an office, visit a friend in a house, or have cause to use a hotel, you need an extra bag to haul along all of the things you want to charge up from their mains while you’re there.

18. Irons, microwaves, hairdryers and hoovers are all for posh people.

19. You used to own ten big thick jumpers for use in winter. Now you own two big thick jumpers, and a bottle of Febreeze.

20. And... You can make ten cubic feet of stuff fit into four cubic feet of space.

21. You keep a mop on your roof because everybody else does, but you’re not quite sure why...

22. When everyone else on the train home standing up is swaying about and clinging to railings, you are in the middle of it all freestanding, swaying with the flow and not falling down (until you do!)

23. Your mailing address is the same as your parents, for the first time since you were 16 years old.

24. Rosie and Jim are Bad People.

25. You probably started life on your boat with a novelty neckerchief, captain’s hat, pirate bandana, or 
“I’m on a boat, Mother F***er!” t shirt. By your third week therein, you have experimented with how that burns on the stove (see point 10) and roll your eyes and snort derisively at the fresh faced wannabe’s who have taken your place in committing aforementioned fashion faux-pas.

26. You have a beard. This is neither negotiable, nor gender- specific.

27. You can answer the question “is it cold on a boat in winter?” sensibly, only a finite number of times, 
before deciding to mess with people and saying “yes, it’s terrible, I have nearly died of hypothermia twice this year already, and I don’t know how I’m still alive...”

28. You thought you’d save money in winter by using the open bow as a fridge/ freezer for your food... 
Until you realised just how much alcohol you could actually store there if you stacked it all up right.

29. Upon hearing ‘man overboard!’ you reach for the camera first, and the life ring second.

30. When other people fall in, you are never there to see it/ photograph it. But you know damn well that when YOU fall in, there’ll be a group of Japanese tourists there, immortalising it on film and upping it to YouTube within the hour.

31. You can cook and serve a full Sunday roast for four, with less than two square feet of counter space to work on.

32. You stop thinking to yourself, “there’s some funny people on the cut” around the same time you realise that you are just like them, actually.

33. The 8pm engine/ generator off collective: You’re either with them, or against them.

34. You know that you have to disown any of your former friends who are apt to order “a pint of lager, please” in the pub, and you’re okay with that, actually.

35. Your hands and nails are NEVER clean, no matter how much you wash them.

36. You WILL have some kind of nasty toilet emptying related incident within your first few weeks away from mains plumbing. No one can teach you how to avoid your own personal initiation into boat toilet hell, you’re just going to have to grit your teeth and wait for it to happen.

37. When you started out with the boat, you had a little list of about five things that you needed to do/ buy/ sort out. However, due to a phenomenon I like to think of as ‘boat mathematics’ you learn that for every one item you cross off of said list, another two appear.
Three months down the line, your list has about 30 essential and time sensitive things you need on it, and your earnings for the next two to four years are already committed to it. Oh well, spaghetti hoops for dinner again..

38. If it moves and it’s not supposed to- Duct tape. If it is supposed to move and it does not- WD40. For everything else, there’s MarineFlex.

39. The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is look out of the window and make sure that the land is still at the same level to you as it was the prior evening, and that that recurring ‘sinking’ dream was in fact, still just a dream.

40. For your first two weeks of living aboard, it feels like the ground is swaying, even on land. It’s a little bit like the first stage of getting tipsy, before the bad head and bad judgement kick in. Enjoy it while it lasts... You’ll miss it when it passes!

41. And on that note, it's also worth mentioning that an impressive number of boaters seem to produce their own elderflower (or similar) wines. This is very refreshing, tastes delicious, and doesn’t seem particularly alcoholic. Do not fall for this! I promise, you only need one all day hangover, complete with associated ‘vomiting over the side’ incident, to learn your lesson on home brews, boats and moderation!

42. You become obsessed with list and trim, beyond any approximation of what is reasonable. “Does my boat look wonky to you? Are you sure? I can feel it, I know I can. Look again! See?”

43. You start a ‘first cat to fall into the cut’ sweepstake, but realise that there really are no winners in that game, when said cat comes bolting in drenched in grimy death water, and proceeds to burrow her vile smelling and soaking wet self under the duvet with you. At 4am.

44. Your internet search history includes terms such as ‘shooting ducks legally’ ‘Eating wildlife UK law’ and ‘Mallards edible or not.’ Purely for the theoretical knowledge, you understand.

45. Good things about living on a boat? The food cupboard is within reach of the sofa.

46. Bad things about living on a boat? The food cupboard is within reach of the sofa.

47. The first time that you steer your own boat yourself, however slowly or poorly, you just know that you’re the coolest dude in the world. I wouldn’t say that the feeling is better than chocolate, but it’s certainly better than sex. (Did I go too far with this one? I went too far, didn’t I. )

48. You start to wonder why the hell everyone owns a key float, when they don’t actually float after you’ve attached your bunch of keys to them. Take my word for this one, and plan accordingly!

49. You can do the washing up every third day, and then only if you have a full bowl, and feel virtuous about it as opposed to slovenly.

50. You used to hate having pictures of yourself shown around, because you always look so gormless in them. But with boating pictures, you don’t even really mind that you look like a cross eyed imbecile, because you’re just so obviously happy in all of them.

There are a few I could add to this and might do when I'm in a better mood - MEANWHILE I need to go sweep the chimney as refueling is becoming a bit smokey... it's about 2 months since I last did it whilst on route up to Skipton .

Until next time...

Monday 11 February 2019

Over-running stoppage messing with 2019 already....

Sorry I've not been back here recently... to be honest, I'm trying not to blog too much about the current feelings... I'm in some weird kind of limbo that isn't the me I recognize.

To add insult to current emotional injuries, last week I tweeted CRT to ask for an update on the works taking place on Lock 11 on the Marple flight...

For those not in the know, the Marple flight of locks was closed for MONTHS whilst work was done to repair/replace/rebuild them.  DURING this LONG closure, somewhere along the line a defect in lock number 11 was missed... it's alleged that movement occurred in the chamber walls after the initial closure which created a pinch point and "wedged" boats over a certain length during operation of the the lock...

A temporary 'manned period of passage was trialed - along with attempts to jack the walls back a bit... LONG Story short, it didn't work and it closed the flight in July 18 I think it was (don't quote me on the dates)...

FAST forward a mere 6-7 months and work was supposedly due to be completed by 15th March... KNOWING how things "are" - I asked crt for an update and confirmation the lock flight WOULD be opening as planned - BECAUSE we had 3 bookings (Carried over from LAST year as a result of said problem) that depended on us travelling that way in Early April...

The reply I received was along the lines of "check the stoppage notices as an update is due shortly"... NEXT day, notices were sent out saying the repairs are taking longer than expected - blaming English Heritage for their interference due to it being grade 2 listed ffs.   Now SOMEWHERE, SOMEONE along the line MUST have already known 15th March was never going to happen... presumably 2 months ago given that's the length of the extension (so far)...  I don't blame crt per-say, but I do take issue with the fact we - licence payers (and in our case inflated cost licence payers due to having to have a business license) were not told sooner... if we had been, we would have been able to contact our booked and paid for guests to try and work around it.  AS it stands, our first set of guests have prior commitments which mean they are unable to come with us 3 weeks earlier than planned (now we have to go a longer route to get into position for cruise 2 onwards.

Here's a route map showing 8 hour days "chugging" showing where we SHOULD be going verses where we now have to...

And don't forget, this is in March with the potential for "river problems" - to say we're brassed off about it is an understatement.

NOW OK - we enjoy boating... but it does take the pleasure out of things when it becomes endurance boating.

Financially, it would have made more sense to honour the first cruise for 2 people - 7 days and mess up cruises 2-3 which jointly don't add up to as much money... HOWEVER, morally, that didn't feel the right thing to do... messing up 6 folk... LUCKILY the guests booked to come with us (for this second attempt at the Huddersfield Narrow) are prepared to switch to another cruise later in the summer and will join us coming down the Rochdale into Manchester and then back out on to the Huddersfield Narrow instead.

We're very grateful for their understanding and flexibility... many "non boaty" folk would have been demanding their money back  - quite understandably.

SO as things stand, we're currently on our way to Manchester Slowly... and I say slowly because for the last 4-5 days we've been stuck behind the Closed flood gates on the Calder and Hebble Navigation...  They have however today opened (about 1500 hrs) so in theory we can move again shortly.

We were on route to Slaithwaite to trial how long it would take before we came up "for real" with guests in April - NOW we've decided to take it slower and have moved our booking for Standedge Tunnel to when it first opens this season to the 18th March.    We've also tried a positive spin on things by creating a little 4 night trip fro Castlefield Basin down to Sandbach ... on route to Marple junction (below the lock flight ) so we can pick up trip 2 in mid April as planned.

Hey ho.

Until next time...

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Ice-breaking...keeping a promise and that list of jobs (including 2100 hour service)

The trouble with being "off work" (forever) so to speak is that you can't use 'work' to keep your mind occupied.  I thought I'd be able to distract myself with the general rubbish swirling round and around my head so as not to be stuck in the random 'burst into tears' limbo mode  - as of yet, that theory is yet to prove itself.  MUCH to my annoyance.  Apparently it's normal.    Another new one for me... being normal.

I think I'm doing a  bit better now at fighting the need/urge to tell everyone I come into contact with that my mum just died - i can't explain that one... but since the second I got the phone call, there was an inbuilt need to tell people... dunno why...perhaps attention seeking - then again, that's also out of character ... these days I prefer to blend into the background... certainly compared to my younger days.

Anyway - here we are... the world keeps on turning and 'stuff'' has to get done.

The first important thing was to get the oil and filters changed... they were getting a little over-due (just over 20 hours) but the freezing weather had been putting me off doing it.  On Friday morning I bit the bullet and got to work in the engine bay.

I even finally had to break into my 2nd tub of stern Reese - the 1st one lasted over 2 years.  I suppose that's a good thing - indicating not much is needed to keep the bilge dry.. well I say dry, there WAS a load of water sloshing around down there but that was still in there from Bingley the other week... I'd not gotten around to throwing a couple of nappies down there yet... it's now done - well it had to be in order for me to get in there to remove the oil filter without getting soaked.

Once the servicing was done, next on my list was (luckily inside in the warm) to make a grab handle for folk to pull themselves up out of the boat.

"Eddie inspired", I set to and spliced a couple of eyes round some brackets courtesy of Srewfix *other hardware stores are available but not as handy*.... once I'd tied a couple of knots in the rope to stop hands sliding down, I fastened it near the back door and whilst not BRILLIANT, it's better than nothing... I THINK next time (given this is a prototype) I'll splice in a mini fender that Andy has now become so proficient in making and that can be used as a handle to pull on.

After a day of jobs, darkness was soon upon us and it was 'time' to continue with a promise I made to my mother along time ago...  

10 years plus ago, one morning whilst on route to the dentist (near the family home) I called in for a cuppa and chat with mum... coincidentally, at the same time, my brother popped in.  NEVER one to miss an opportunity to hold council, mum made us both sit down as she wanted to ask us something very important... mainly, to get us to promise that when she died - (she always planned on going first... quite candidly... ) that we'd look after Cliff and make sure he didn't become a neglected, dirty and lonely old man.  

At THAT time, he was still working 24/7 ... hadn't learned to cook, or use the washing machine etc.  To her, it was important that because she'd been a house wife and he'd never HAD to look after himself,  she'd wanted assurances that we'd do our best to take care of him...  she also wanted us to promise not to abandon him emotionally as despite his (at that time) somewhat hard exterior, he was/is a sensitive and gentle soul.

FAST forward 10 years plus, and here we are - the difference now being that SINCE that request, Cliff HAD learned to cook/clean/keep house and HAD become Joyce's full time carer... ergo, the physical side of things were no longer an issue.

The 'keeping in touch and  talking to him aspect ' NOW being more important than ever.   

It's difficult trying to get a feel for what is molly coddling verses appearing un-caring..  It's only been 3 weeks since mum died and initially (when not there in person) I phoned up at least once a day to talk with him.  Father and son telephone conversations have never been comfortable for either dad or I... mum used to randomly put him on the phone and sort of force us to chat - perhaps her way of giving us both a bit of practice.  It clearly has worked as although our conversations ARE strained quite a lot of the time, we are BOTH trying to  continue them... quite a few silences here and there but so long as HE know's I'm on the other end of the line and vice-versa, it HAS to mean something... to both of us.

I AM mindful though, that his network of peers, family and friends are ALSO constantly phoning or calling in to support him and as such, still find myself trying to skip a day or 2 to GIVE him the space he may (or may not) want/need.

Short of asking him "hey dad, how often shhould I call you?" I don't know how else to play it...  For now, it's every other day... perhaps every 3rd day and we'll see how it goes.   I try and talk about mum and things I've read in her "life books" she'd written for my brother and me - GOSH he was a sickly child... always calling out the doctor when he was a baby due to asthma ... no wonder she hates/hated that he began smoking... and to this day still does.  It must have felt like a slap  their faces him willingly poisoning his lungs after ALL the care and effort they'd put in to keeping him alive as a baby/child.

ANYWAY - this world keeps on turning and our 2 weeks at Stanley Ferry were up on Sunday morning...  Topping up the water tank, off we set up to Wakefield town.

A cold but bright day

and the river section was lovely...  until we came to Fall in lock - where "ice" presented itself...

We've been ice-breaking before ... on a hire boat down in Daventry a few years ago... it seemed "fun" then... it's NOT so much fun when it's your own boat and YOUR blacking that is getting scraped off... ergo, once we'd gotten around the corner, we pulled up and whilst planning on spending  few days on the visitor moorings opposite the pub, decided that the sun was too low there to hit the solar panels so moved to behind the flood lock off the river.

Nicely in full sun (if it's out) all day.... at one point I noticed 18 amps going in from the panels which for the time of year is splendid!

It's here we'll stay a few days now  - Docs appointments and deliveries to the bungalow before we continue our trip up to Huddersfield and beyond.

Until next time...