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Tuesday, 24 September 2019

2 short trips and now a week long one - all with "johnny Foreigners"...

NOW keep your knickers on - it's a term of endearment NOT xenophobia!

 Since Pat left, I've done the usual manic boat clean, re-stock and collapse in a heap for a few hours...  Luckily,  one of the guest changer overs took place in Leeds  and I was able to moor the day before  Clarence Dock on the visitor moorings - thus making use of Shoreline and water on tap...  it makes 5 loads of laundry SO much easier.

You might recall my old phone died a couple of months ago and I hurried out to replace it in the centre of Manchester... well, my new one is ok - except I can never find photos I take ... or rather, it doesn't put them in any logical or dated order - ERGO, when I try to find some to jog my memory of what I've been doing - it's bloody hard work!

Take the Canadians - a lovely couple who came on for a few nights to play around on the boat from Granary Wharf, down to Knosstrop and then up the Rodley and back into Leeds...  I cant for the life of my "find" any of the photos I KNOW I took of us having laugh...  they have to be "somewhere" on the phone but I'm buggered if I can find them... grrr.

YOU'LL have to take my word for it that they were a blast and we had a smashing time - they even took me out for dinner with their daughter and flatmate on their last night on board to save me cooking.  I'm not sure whether that was a kindness or they were sick of my food... I obviously deciaded to take the former theory lol.

AFTER they left, a lady who had come for a few days last year joined the journey and we pretty much repeated the same journey - once again TRYING to get a look at the Industrial museum at Thwaites mill - only to be accosted by a moorings chap who wanted the fiver "mooring fee" but told us the museum would not be open the next day as there was a schools day on...  he still took my money... if Id been a bit smarter I'd have said thanks but no thanks and  moved across the other side of the canal for FREE - hey ho...

WE went up the "other way" and as far as Rodley before turning round and heading back into Leeds for our final night back in Clarence dock.  A swift clean and few loads of laundry later and I was ready for the next guests - THIS time from Australia...  a couple of old old mates.

For some reason however when I plugged my phone in to the old laptop today, it FOUND some photos I 've been taking on this trip - no idea WHERE the others have gotten to but never mind... I think the lesson here is to keep plugging it in regularly and let it DO it's own thing lol.

When Vickie departed, I had a race back to Wakefield ready to pick up  the aforementioned Aussies and then retrace my steps (well chugs) back to Leeds over a couple of days...  The weather had been glorious and once again I ended up a bit pink - weird given it's the end of the year and I should be "used" to sun shine by now...


Their first encounter with an electric lock was helped by us sharing with a yogurt pot
GRP cruiser - who as is usually the case, wanted to hang back in the lock so I didn't smash in into them and sink them.

We over-nighted in Castleford and the following morning awoke to a lovely mist on the Canal -

It soon cleared and we were on our way up the Aire and into Leeds. by early afternoon - NOT before TRYING Thwaites Mill museum again ... which was ONCE again, closed... THIS time for a private wedding... grrr...  

Luck was back on our side however and we were able to tie up in Clarence and plug back in to shoreline again... - and then the weather decided to change... and not for the better.


After 2 nights in Clarence Dock (so they could go to the Armories Museum...) we set off up stream for Granary Wharf.

We were lucky and able to share with a Hire boat - which continued with us all the way up to Rodley...

As we approached the manned staircase, Lois had a quick go on the tiller - and even manged a smile...  the previous shot was more of a look of terror

- being kind, I'm not posting that lol

The first flight was a swift, trouble free passage... it being "run" by a volunteer.

The 2nd one however was a little delayed whilst the most obnoxious lockie we ever keep having to deal with  tried to show off by running 2 boats up and 1 boat down the stair case at the same time... the other 2 boats being hirers...  luckily I'm fabulous and rather than expressing what a pillock I thought he was being, ignored him and just got on and DID it....

Hey ho...



WE made to Rodley, where we tied up for the day, and went in to the Barge for a pint (or 2)...

Until next time...



Thursday, 19 September 2019

A Pat on the back... Literally and another 200 hour service.

You know what? - I just read back through my last post and (spelling, grammar and typos excluded) it's actually good.  I don't think I could have done it any better... I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  Aren't I wonderful? 😀

I've had a few nice comments on the blog and also received a fair few lovely emails saying nice things...  Thanks for the kind and supportive words.

That said, please don't think of me as a victim here  - I'm not... we both are in our own ways but it's just part of life...  We are both going to plow on and so long as I don't do anything cruel to folk as I bumble my way through this "life thingy"... I'll be happy.

BACK to the boaty plot -

We had some cracking weather on our sojourn down to Selby ... note I said journey DOWN ... coming back was a different kettle of fish - wind and rain rather wore us down.


Once through Castleford and on back on the River Aire, we got a bit confused when approaching a bridge that was being worked on... whilst there were arrows pointing to the middle - indicating we should go that way through, there WASN'T a route though... not until last minute when 2 chaps pulled a floating walk away across the river and out of our way.


Once on to the Selby canal, it was good to see the weed was much less than expected... it turned out CRT had been clearing it away JUST for us ;-) 




The cows were doing "their thing" and and didn't Moove for us at all lol

It was a really lovely afternoon's chugging and we saw perhaps 5 different kingfishers up close and personal... not close enough to get a photo though.  

On arrival in Selby basin, we were just in time to see a boat come bravely in off the Tidal section... white knuckles and lots of swearing lol.   The chap on the tiller looked just as scared as I did last year when we did the same section...



HE also vowed never to do it again lol.

As mentioned, the following day our return trip back up the river was NOT so good - wind and rain (along with 18inch waves hitting the boat) did mean for a tiring and cold trip.

No matter... we got back on course and ended in Castleford.

IT was here I realized we had just tipped over a service interval ...  nothing else for it but change the oil and filters... we left it until the next morning though as the engine would have been very hot given how hard we'd been working it on the river in the wind.

As luck would have it, Pat was keen to take part so I stepped a side and issued guidance.



Pat was the FIRST guest game enough to climb down into the engine hole - even though to be honest, it was just a photo opportunity to wind her kids up a bit lol  - Oil and filters changed, I checked the belts and before long we were on our way again and heading up stream towards Leeds.

WE stopped off at Thwaite Mills visitor centre moorings and Pat went in for a look around whilst I cobbled together tea.



After a quiet night there, the next morning we set off into Leeds and rather luckily were able to moor in Clarence Dock (which has at some point be renamed Leeds Dock) and plug in to shoreline with water (literally) on tap...  heaven.



The weather remained glorious so I got a load of washing on and out to dry (publicly) straight away...  I've no shame when it comes to pegging out laundry lol


The relaxation was soon broken when on washing up after tea, the sink blocked up... no matter I thought and prodded away with my pipe -unblocker... which promptly


snapped off IN the pipe - making things worse...

Leaving it until morning, I cleared out under the sink and began taking things apart... hmmmf...  what a faff... anyway - it 's done now and all back together...

I'd hoped to be able to encourage Pat to muck in a bit more and clean the oven... alas it wasn't to be.

We did our own thing  during our time in Leeds - when I came back from my walk (I'm trying to walk 5 miles a day at the moment as my back is playing up and it eases it)... I noticed the pump out machine on the service


pontoon on the river was on pause... SO we decided to have a little night cruise to make use of it...

It's not far but still nice to  "play" in the dark...  Pat seemed to enjoy it AND despite what you might be thinking, I DIDN'T make her do the actual pumping out...

Luckily
, when we returned to the dock, no one had jumped in and stolen our place so a good end to a lovely trip.

On our final morning after breakfast (Banana pancakes yummy) we chugged on up the River to Granary wharf so Pat could catch her train home and I could be closed to a "big shop" in order to restock ready for my next guests to join the adventure...



Until Next time...




Sunday, 8 September 2019

Disingenuous blogging no more and Uppermill on the HNC to Huddersfield (via Standedge Tunnel)...

I'm ignoring you - I know that...  I'll explain in due course, meanwhile I'm going to race through this update as I believe I left you "the wrong side of the Pennines"... Sorry about that - REST assured  though, now we're back in God's own County  😀.


So then,  When my friends left I spent a couple of days down at the visitor moorings in Uppermill  - handy for the shops/pubs but NOT so handy for the sunshine...ie. TOTALLY in tree cover ... ergo, it began to get a bit depressing...  given all that's been going on of late, I decided it wasn't the best of locations to be killing some time.

With that in mind, I set off UP the locks - the plan being to moor in the top pound near the tunnel entrance at Diggle.

It was quite a slog to get up there - at one point Ellis got firmly wedged on either the bottom or something ON the bottom trying to get into a lock.  In the end (against crt advice) I had to run a bit of water down from the pound above, whilst at the same time leaving the boat on it's own in gear running so that when sufficient water found it's way under the hull, it floated and continued it's journey into the lock alone...  of course when that began happening, I had to quickly close down the paddle and leap on to the roof of the boat like a young thing (can't spell gazelle) to stop it before it crashed.

This went ok and after a few hours,  and at the top lock, I bumped into Fiona (and grand kids) - Fiona is a lady we met first back in Slaithwaite in March and then again at Anderton a few months ago... For some reason I keep thinking she's called "Ruth" but she's not!...

She (avec sprogs) helped me through the last couple of locks and I was soon up at the top and basking in glorious sunshine.


I spent a few days moored up here and did cleaning chores - futile ones such as cleaning the roof which would be getting messed up again going through the tunnel.  Still, it's nice to look nice.  I DID have the sense to avoid touching up any paint work though... 

The down side about being up there was that Tescos was now 2 miles further away... up a slope with heavy bags!  Hey ho.  The walk back and forth to stock up the boat for the next guest wore me out  did me good I'm sure.

After a few pleasant days up there, I began the trip back down in readiness to collect the guest from Greenfield station...  



A little bit annoyingly, it was here I discovered that with a bit of buggering about, I COULD have been moored outside the pub/near Tescos AND in the sun all along!

Hey ho.

The guest for this leg of the journey was Keith - a really well mannered chap and although quite deaf, we got along rather well... it gave me the idea to learn sign language... something I have tried in the past (at night school unsuccessfully - mainly cause I didn't "click" with the class room environment... too many bad memories from school I suppose)...

ANYWAY - once he was safely on board, we began our ascent of the locks once more so as to be at the tunnel entrance by 11.30 the following morning as instructed.

We spent the night a little farther back (thus avoiding SOME train noise) and then crept to the water point near the tunnel on Monday morning to fill up....



It turned out Fiona (not Ruth) and her husband (name now forgotten again) were also booked to go through that day too - along with a hire boat who joined the rear of the queue.  Once the fog had lifted, the sun came out and we were rather pleased to have a parasol to hide under whilst waiting...  this funny CRT chap suggested we "might" need to take it down before the entered the tunnel lol ... ONCE again I've forgotten his name but he was to be our Chaperone and he was thoroughly entertaining and informative throughout.  MY FEAR of tunnels has gone now... it turns out if (well in the case of tunnels anyway) IF you face things a few times, their power diminishes and (in my case) I actually quite enjoyed the trip though... 

It's impossible to take photos and steer through as the concentration required is SO intense from the moment you get in to the moment you leave... well apart from the little rests at the com points.



Once out the other end, the sun was shining and we had quite an audience as I skillfully moored up - ahem in the trip boat stop.... only to be "moved along" a few mins later when said boat returned...hmmmf

Having gone around the corner to approach the "moorings" at the top lock East, we managed to tie up (just) and on walking into town, spotted this sign


It fair made my blood boil as on THIS canal certainly, "mooring points" are few and far between and it's nigh on impossible to get into the side anywhere other than said points due to the VERY shallow water and rubble... so to suggest we leave 5 m gaps to allow fishermen space is ridiculous!

ANYWAY  - after a few deep breaths, I carried on with my wander and found a pub for bank holiday afternoon pint...

Next morning, we began our descent - knowing we'd probably have to go all the way to Slaithwaite due to the aforementioned mooring issues.

PLENTY of water coming down with us however - it did make opening some of the gates rather difficult but I kept roping in tow path walkers/cyclists to help as Keith wasn't really up to pushing too hard.

As we approached Slaithwiate (slowit) we met our first boat coming the other direction AND another helpful chap.


Mooring in the basin, we breathed a sigh of relief and collapsed in a heap lol


Looking at the forecast, Keith and I decided we'd stay a couple of nights here - mainly to sit out the next days rain... single handing in the rain is ok but not pleasant and as we had enough time we agreed not to venture out the next day... well apart from trips to Aldi and the Coop for treats.

Early the next morning, I felt a little movement and looked out to see the famous "Silver Fox" passing by on their way up to the tunnel...  


I wasn't fast enough outside  - well it was early and I still had my jim jams on!

It was nice to finally see the boat in the flesh and we exchanged a few early morning words of kindness as they began our yesterday, in reverse lol.

The following day, we pulled ropes, topped up the water tank and began our journey down to Huddersfield...

Single handing again today ( I have had help on and off through various sections) and of course today would be the day when I came across the most leaking top gates that were accompanied by only ONE working paddle on the bottom set and even that had one of those annoying restricted thingys on it - ERGO, more water was coming in than could come out!  NOT rocket science CRT -..perhaps take off the restriction until you mend the top gates? - JUST A THOUGHT from a "user"...

Anyway - after sitting in the lock for an age, some walkers came by and helped me force the gate open - the Spanish windlass currently being stored in the front locker...  





In spite of my moaning however, I'm STILL in love with the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and have replaced a trip over the Rochdale with a "there and back" on next years itinerary... which was instantly booked so I can't be alone in that sentiment lol.


After a night on-board in Huddersfield, Keith left and then I had a couple of days to shop, clean and prep the boat for my next guest - Pat... a Lady who came with us last year...  as a former boat owner, it's made for a very easy and pleasant journey down from Huddersfield... not always in the nicest of weather but still a thoroughly enjoyable journey.

MORE importantly for me, having her on board has given me chance to draw breath and "think" about the future.

You see, 2019 hasn't been the kindest of years to Andy and I - what with Joyce dying in January and the subsequent long and painful grieving process for me AND fundamentally differing views on how OUR relationship would continue - ergo, we'd long since agreed that as a "couple" we were no more.  

It's odd writing this down - despite knowing we'd grown apart for a long time ... wanting different things from life, when mum died, "dealing with it" got put on hold until I was in a better place... that place didn't really present itself and the stresses of "trying" to fix something beyond repair, became exacerbated when Andy too suffered bereavements...  When he first went off to visit family a couple of months ago, we both knew it was the 1st step to us going our separate ways.... for the most part, it's been a positive experience for us both.  

OK so it's meant I've been a bit busier doing both DARK and LIGHT blue jobs on the boat and with guests coming and going it's not always been easy but it HAS still been "fun" and more importantly for me, its STILL what I want to do.  At first when he left, I kidded myself he'd come back when he'd dealt with his own losses.   That was never really gonna happen - hence why the blog dried up.... 

If there is one thing I pride myself on - well apart from being a fabulous "super Ginge" , it's my sense of integrity and honesty... I don't lie to folk about who I am, where I come from or what I believe in... never have... never will.  The blog thus caused me a dilemma...  

Those who'e read through this from the start will know I bare my heart and soul quite willingly here... it's been a place to sort out "feelings" and sometimes reach out for help and support.  By doing so, I form a bond with folk who read it and as a blog reader myself, understand the energy that goes into following someones  journey.  NOT writing about it has felt wrong.  THAT said, because the dying throws of a 14 year relationship are not just about me, total disclosure would not be fair to Andy...  it's impossible to write impartially on the subject - ERGO, silence has been the best option.

FAST forward to the other night when Pat and I were talking (I'd filled her in on events) and she assured me that it's better to be open with folk and just put it out there... 

She's right of course - AND by "doing this" on my own (for the most part) for the last couple of months) I've discovered I CAN actually manage on my own and still enjoy and embrace sharing MY life with guests just the same as before... only with less washing up!

Boat life and travelling around the country with guests coming and going is STILL what I want to do and WILL continue to do until I can draw  my pension...  There are going to be times when the route dictates an extra pair of hands will be handy (bad English) and on those parts, I'm going to call on the offers of help from friends and "crew sites"... 

IT turns out when you learn to embrace all the good people out there, you look at the world through even better eyes and it's quite a revelation when you also learn (about yourself) to accept HELP offered...  rather than struggling on (as is I suppose the British way) to admit sometimes you could do with some support, is truly a humbling and learning experience...  which I'm finally learning to embrace.

Pat and I have had a blast on this trip - so much so, instead of sticking to the planned itinerary, we've made detours up the Dewsbury Arm of the Calder and Hebble navigation - for no other reason than we could  AND rather than turning left at Castleford and heading up the Aire to Leeds, we went straight across and down the Aire & Calder mainline  and then did the entire Selby canal too... just because we could lol. 

I did have a worry about folk who'd already booked to come along next year might not like the idea of it just being me... Pat has reassured me that I'm actually OK  and quite a good host - she didn't go as far as saying "fabulous" but it was implied...  AND whilst on board, has booked to come along on a LLangollen trip next year too so I'm gonna take that as further positive affirmation...

SO - that's that then .

Until next time - when I can go "back to normal" positing...