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Friday, 23 October 2020

Moan Moan Moan Moan Moan! - oh and the 4200 hours service

 I'll come clean - I'm not in the best of moods at the moment... well let's face it, WHO is?  This whole situation with restrictions and people with different opinions /solutions/knee jerk reactions and down right hostility is getting me down.  Well more cross about it than down I suppose but given the impending "dark gloomy nights" and short days it's only a matter of time before I'm feeling blue.

The thing is, I love boating, and moving around the network - I love chatting with folks and having guests on board.  Winter is miserable enough after a GOOD summer of guests ...  I'd hoped for a good season (I'd been pretty much fully booked at the start of the season ) - well PRE the covid situation.  SO many folks couldn't come (the overseas totally cancelled and even when we were allowed to operate under the '1 metre plus' guise, quite a few didn't want to take the risk... which I totally understand.

Others were "trapped" in places like Wales and Scotland with their power crazed dictators cautious leaders locking them up like criminals  To summarize, from a potential "earning year" of  30 weeks, we only were able to "do" 7 and a half... the majority of which were solo travelers... in short, I'm heading into winter with even less than bugger all and STILL have divorce loans to some how repay.  NOW OK ... I'm not destitute as despite NOT being GIVEN any grants or self employed income support (you'll recall I didn't qualify as due to this being a new business, I didn't have 3 years profitable tax returns to submit)  I WAS able to borrow 25 percent of my turnover on the basis of a 'bounce back loan' - which of course will need to be repaid.  I can survive and will try and offer some out of season day trips again as soon as tier 2/3 restrictions permit 2 households being under one roof again...

THIS whole "tier" thing is a load of bollocks, designed to let the government off the hook from having to try and 'pay' people not to work whilst at the same time, effectively passing the buck to businesses/self employed folks.

THING is, I GET it.  Boris and Co - (and by Co I suppose I mean the country) can't afford to have a total lock down again... and anyway it DIDN'T work last time did it? - all these folks spouting off about a ruddy circuit breaker being required (and Wales / Northern Ireland and Scotland most probably - I've lost track a bit) don't seem to GET it....  it's all spin an being SEEN to be trying to do something .... when in reality there is bugger all they CAN do.  I believe the term is LIP SERVICE.   Boris needs to grow a pair of balls and actually state that we can't afford to hide away forever...  RATHER than allocating funds to provide (lip service ) support, to the offending areas, how about  channeling all that money into MORE field hospitals to provide covid care  - let it burn it's way through and let the people who WANT to hide - or rather CAN afford to hide on their pensions and HAVE all the supermarket delivery slots etc. DO SO.

I'm really getting sick of the young folks being demonized for just trying to get on with things - I saw a lovely clip the other day of an 83 year old woman saying she's not got much time left and she'll be dammed if she's gonna hide away so she'll take her chances - very stoic but more importantly NOT selfish... she went on to say it's all well and good her friends berating the youth for putting "her" in danger but they will be ones who (if they are lucky enough to be employed in whatever economic world is left) will be paying for this for years after she is dead anyway.

Sobering but true.

Don't get me wrong - I AM complying with the guidance... I AM wearing a ruddy mask when in shops like I'm supposed to but it really is a load of cobblers having to wear a mask to get from a pub door to a table - then take it off once I'm sitting down.  It makes NO sense... NOR does the "children being except" rubbish - everyone knows they are full of germs at the best of times... it's all gotten so silly it'd be funny if society hadn't been brainwashed.  THE REALITY of a SAFE mask is this - what is now having to be worn all day in operating theatres 

So all this silly mask wearing obsession whilst might mitigate how far the globules in a cough can travel, WON'T do an awful lot to stop it spreading...they are just a way for governments globally to create some positive assurances that our lives matter ... the reality is none us really do.

Rant over - suffice to say I continue to follow guidance, wear a face covering, wash my hands and keep the required distance away from people which is common sense (well that latter 2 anyway).

MEANWHILE - back in boaty land...

When the couple got off in Chirk, we decided we'd go BACK up to Llangollen Basin to do our "1 day turn around" back on mains electric ... that turned out to be a bad move as we ended up stuck in a convoy - at the head of which was a 70 foot boat being skippered by someone who'd never been on one before and who held everyone up.  In fact, a couple of boats ahead of us actually winded and abandoned the journey.

We tolerated it and did a couple of loads of laundry on route anyway so it turned out for the best in the end.  Next day we headed back to Trevor and collect our next guests.  They were with us for 5 nights and after them we had another quick turn around and then another guest joined us in Nantwich to Penkridge.  When he'd departed  we trudged on to Stone in the wind and rain and then spent a few days on shoreline in Aston Marina.  IT was nice to see my friends again (who are there now for the winter ) and when the time came to leave, we began our trip back up north where we're to spend the winter. The plan HAD been Aston but with winter stoppages planned, IF they over run (and lets face it that's highly likely) we'd NOT be able to begin next season in the right place at the right time.  

So here we are ... effectively trapped in a tier 3 area for a month at least with no chance of doing any trips.  On the plus side, I HAVE done the 4200 hour service and also gotten rid of 20 litres of waste oil to be used as fuel for a boat yards heating system.

Here's a photo of me having a nap after that picnic we had down by the river near the Ponty what's it's name? aqueduct.

I think that was the last sleep I had lol - nothing to do with a big swig of oramorph to ease my poorly toe - WHICH is still sore btw if anyone cares.

Until next time... (when I'll hopefully be feeling more chipper)

Friday, 2 October 2020

LONG overdue update, a bit (well lot) of a moan, a broken toe and a dislocated shoulder!

 Righty ho - I'm finally back here for a catch up.... not really with any spare time as such, but we've stopped early today due to Storm 'Alex' making progress difficult and bloody miserable!  

WHAT'S been happening I hear you ask? - well, having merged two trips together so as to enable a returning guest (who's barmy but lovely  who's great fun)  to celebrate her 70th Birthday on 'Ellis'   BEFORE then however, we took another trip down the Anderton Boat lift to enable easy mooring of the the boat near the supermarket to stock up - NOT before the lady had met us in Lymm at the pub to buy us lunch AND bring two caldrons of plants ( a few days before her trip) that were shortly going to be bursting into flower - we do get em!

I think you'll agree, they looked nice enough on the roof of the boat as we waited return passage up the lift.

In typical ginger style, whilst leaping back on to the boat like a fat ginger lump the athletic gazelle I am, I clonked my middle toe on my left foot on the dolly and apart from pushing the nail back through the bed and causing it to bleed profusely for days, I think (from the ongoing pain) I must have broken it.  Having consulted 'Dr Google' the consensus being nothing can be done other than strapping it to another to until it heals...  suffice  to say, nearly a month on it 's still blooming painful - NOT that I'm moaning about it so much now and after the initial 3 weeks of not being able to wear anything on it other than crocs, I can now at least tolerate a trainer.

We did our 'covid clean' (which is just the same as a normal one tbh) and collected our guest near The Old Broken Cross at Northwich.  After the usual ching wag and glass of fizz, we began our trip to Llangollen.

AS you'll know if you read this (and yes I admit I've been really crap lately at writing it... so much so in fact, the other day a woman passed by on another boat and shouted " I still read your blog but you need to pull your finger out" ) you'll know, GENERALLY I'm quite forgiving of hire boaters doing silly things...  HOWEVER, just as we ascended our first locks of the trip in Middlewhich, we encountered  hire boat "mid hand over" who 'stole our lock' just as we'd come up and one had come down in the middle pound...  meaning I had know where to go in the wind other than the far side - the so called expert (the chap doing the hand over from the bank side) then shouted at me that I'd need to move as the boat was 70 foot long and needed the space to turn... I'm afraid I shouted back and explained what a poor example of boating etiquette HE'D just demonstrated to the hirers... and have to admit to sulking about it for a fair few hours after.


Next day I was in a better mood and we stopped off at Church Minsull where, we took a walk into the pub for a lunchtime glass of vino - OVER priced at £19.50 for 3 glasses!

Still, the "socially distanced" toilet in the loo did give me a giggle.

AND the scramble back up though the woods was pleasant enough.

We continued our journey and after a detour up the Shroppie to Calverley Services (to dump some rubbish that Venetian Marina wouldn't take when we filled up with diesel) and were soon on the Llangollen canal again... our trip was interesting as we encountered several hire boats without the first clue of how to work a lock - the result being queues of 5-6 boats soon mounting up.  

LUCKILY, the bosun is now well versed with bossing people about at providing assistance, so he and Chrissie went to the front of the queue to sort things out and in Much less time than it could have been, we were making reasonable progress.  We went a bit further than we'd planned to (once the hirers had stopped so as not to be behind them again the following day) and due to an early start, there was even time the following morning for an impromptu "zoom" Zumba session - on the towpath...  luckily, the captain had enough sense the night before NOT to agree to join in... unlike David. 

It was an exercise theme to continue throughout the rest of the trip lol.  OUR 70 year old not behaving like a 70 year old AT ALL!

The weather was behaving itself quite nicely so we decided to take a segway down the Monty branch...  Chrissie insisting on working the locks and remembering about the "blow holes" I was ready with my camera when we began our descent.

 I'd forgotten HOW shallow it is down there... not so bad when you are in the middle of the channel but whenever you meet a boat coming the other way, BOTH parties get grounded quite often.  Still, the journey to the end of the navigable section was enjoyable and we spent a lovely while down there... 

We even  went exploring on the kayak...NOT quite so sure where we'd stand insurance wise (although the kayak IS licensed properly) but you can't keep a game bird down with trivialities like that so we did it anyway...  NO Matter.  It was a lovely change from the chug of the engine.

Once our sojourn down the Monty was over with, we continued up stream - NOT before I'd been made to walk nearly 6 miles STILL with a broken toe to a pub for a drink... I barely moaned about as you can imagine...IN my crocs - them being all I could tolerate at the time!

A little farther on, I threw an "I'm sick of cooking" tantrum so we went out for tea in the Poachers Pocket in Chirk...  nice enough, a crappy selfie but these days you can't ask someone to take a photo  - apparently!

On route back to the boat we bought some eggs (as you do) and then had a "gin tasting night" .... the next day us ALL thinking the former was perhaps NOT the greatest idea we'd had!

Still, we had an easy day planned with a ramble along the aqueduct and picnic lunch down by the river underneath - David took his drone and this photo was the best quality he could take due to the fact he'd forgotten to put a memory card in it! - it IS us 3 having a lovely picnic though... my toe was really hurting so I'd been swigging oramorph on route  .

.. the result being me having an afternoon nap on the rocks by the river as they drank bubbles.

The remaining trip up from Trevor to Llangollen Basin was as interesting as usual with lots of chaotic moments including hire boaters AND live-aboards - all in great spirits.

Spending 2 nights in the basin, we were able to celebrate Chrissie's (I never know whether it should be Chrissy?) birthday with a surprise "unicorn cake" we'd kept hidden... and a rather dangerous candle which claimed to be safe for indoor use - we took no chances and I think the expression on her face, rather captured ALL our thoughts about said candle!

What this photo doesn't show is ME in  behind the camera with a fire-extinguisher to the ready!

We ended our trip with a birthday meal in the Cornmill Restaurant  - the usual one way system meaning that if you want a wee you have to go out the back door, round the outside, back in the front door and then repeat to get back to your table ... it's all a bit silly really but the sheeple seem to think it will stop covid spreading...  AND given how brainwashed we've all become, folks walking their dogs down the towpath wearing masks seem to think it'll make a difference.

Oh dear - If I'm not careful I'll end up on a rant about it...

MOVING away from that - we said our goodbyes following 2 weeks of laughs and adventurous japes - the down side being we only had 1 day to turn around and get the boat prepped for our new guests who were due on at Chirk the next afternoon... in the (rushed) process of mooring up, I took a tumble into the canal between the bank and the boat - only up to my groin and dislocated my shoulder during the attempt at not falling further...  this meant more pain (well i suppose it distracted me from my toe for a few days) but it went back in without too much hassle as I have quite lose shoulders...  FINALLY something useful about being genticially flawed lol

With new guests on board, we began another trip up to Llangollen Basin and then on to Ellesemere before returning 4 days later.  We had fun with them too but my photos seem to be missing...  no idea what I've done on my phone but hey ho.  It was their first trip on a narrowboat and they've booked to come again next year which is lovely... 

When they left, we had another next day turn around (5 loads of washing and drying being a bit of a schlepp  on a boat) but we did it and all was fine... I'll up date about that trip next time.  RIGHT now, time is cracking on and I've got dinner to cook.

until next time...

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Still here - just busy

Sorry - this isn't an update... it just a quick note to prove I'm still alive and all is well... busy but well.

We're back on route to Llangollen now... 'will update when we  stop for air.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Northwich to Manchester to Tarleton to Liverpool - at last!.. PHOTO HEAVY

It's been quite a busy time sine I was last here...  I'll explain.  Whilst down 'playing' on the Weaver, I had a call from a chap wanting to know if we could fit him in before our next planned trip.

Being skint thanks to covid and lack of support from Boris EVER amenable, we quickly worked out a plan to offer a 3 night trip on the river AND incorporate the return journey up the Anderton Boat lift at the same time.

This meant initially that we might have to abandon the planned trip the other way (down to Runcorn) on the river given the restricted locking operational days.

Tying up in Northwich the night before the chap was due to arrive, it  had all gotten a bit congested and when we went to fill the water tank, we "lost" our space.  Looking across to the Marina (with apparent spaces) it seemed logical to give them a call and see if we could tie up for the night - plugged in to shoreline.

The lovey Heather was most helpful and we were able spend the night on a floating pontoon - plugged in to the national grid.

Having developed a bit of a rapport with the chap arriving, I'd explained he'd need to sign our covid disclaimer and agree to having his temperature taken twice daily - (infrared rather than rectally)😉  and David even made a valiant effort at a "duck" towel for him...

If you are coming along at some point, don't expect this every time... we had time on our hands lol.

Once our guest was on board (and covid proofed), we discussed options... he was game to head down stream and try to get to the end of the river and back in the time... in the end, we had MORE than enough and ended up almost wasting  time.  At least heading down stream meant we wouldnt get stuck if the lockie was forced to work to rule - the locks holding up to 24 boats at a time!

We spent our first night together moored just after the last lock - the plan being to chug down to the "end" the following day before overnighting at Devil's Garden (referred to as enchanting in the guide) in readiness for our return up stream the next day...

It was a nice enough evening, but the next morning the wind had gotten up and rain was intermittent.

The run down to Runcorn was uninspiring and the squalls coming and going made for some miserable cruising - still, we made the best of it and stopped off to take a look over at the ship canal.

ON our return, the rain was awful and on tying up at Devil's Garden, we STILL decided to go for an exploratory walk... in the mud!

Still, AFTER our walk, the sun DID return and the evening ended nicely.

Next day we returned to Northwich for our final night with our guest and then went up the boat lift as planned.  Saying goodbye to him, we winded and then began our journey to pick up the next guest.  Alas, he emailed to cancel as due to the quarantine restrictions imposed (he was coming from overseas) he'd be unable to join us in Runcorn on Sunday as planned.    

Rather then detour to Runcorn, we hatched a revised plan to head straight to Manchester and have a couple of nights in the Marina again - where I planned to paint the roof, fit some fairleads and give the boat a good clean.  Once again, PLANNING to do jobs meant something would break... THIS time it was my drill - it finally burned out drilling the holes for the fairleads and that necessitated a walk to screwfix to buy a replacement (I'd only drilled 1 of the 4 holes when it melted)...

The walk from the marina to the shop wasn't too far (circa 1.5 miles each way) but in the  heat by the time we'd got there (and put on the required mask to enter the store) I could understand perhaps why so many folks get agitated wearing them... I have to admit it should be ALL folks in the shops not just the customers... no point in moaning about that however.  The walk back, did introduce me to a sad sign of the times... masks now beginning to litter the streets!

Once back in the marina, I finished fitting the fairleads, washed down the roof of the boat and then applied a coat of paint.  To be honest, it was WAY too hot to be painting but I added a bit of white-spirit to the paint and made as good a job as I could ...  it's ok and has at least sealed in the non-slip granules properly now.

IT really did get hot though - being in the marina (in full sun all day) the boat was like a sauna...

Although for some reason, "Vinny" the marina managers dog, didn't seem to want to sit in the shade of the parasol -opting for full sun!

When our time was up, we left and headed off towards Appley Bridge where our next guest was due to join us.  The weather still kind to us, we enjoyed the trip along the Bridgwater to the Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool

We spent a night at Pennington flash where I witnessed my first "live" mirmiration (sorry no photos - I did take a video but can't find it now)and then went on through Wigan in the sun (for a change) before tying up in the old lock arm after Appley Bridge - a leak recently occurring there has meant crt have filled the hole, cut down some trees and taken the edge off the mooring... THAT said, I did at least see many kingfishers whilst there so it's not all bad.  I've got some photos somewhere that David took and once I work out how to get them out of Whats app into my normal gallery, I'll upload them!

Once our guest arrived, we chugged off towards our ultimate destination of Liverpool.  Having looked at the map, we decided there'd be time for a quick diversion down the Rufford branch to Tarleton (Ribble link) so that was a nice detour.

Although a lot longer than I remembered it from 2018

Once back on the mainline, we chugged on to Maghull and through to Melling where we planned to stop the night before the run into the docks - reputation of the rough areas ahead being our primary motivation.  The canal beyond Maghull was quite weedy and after way too many trips down the weedhatch, once tied up for the night, we decided to head out to the Bootle Arms for tea (taking advantage of Boris's "eat out to help out" discount.  

It was nice enough  - if a bit chaotic.

The journey next morning towards Litherland left a lot to be desired...  the canal being full of junk and general yuk.  

Once at Litherland services, we stopped to get rid of rubbish and top up the water tank .  As the wind began to get up again that proved to have been a good idea... 

It rained solidly from Litherland through Bootle to Eldonian village and by the time we arrived at the locks, I was soaked to the skin.  Jules (the lockie) was there and helped work us down through the flight - providing information and advice at each lock.  

Not many boats in ... and even less as I type this (Saturday morning) as 2 left yesterday before the link was closed due to high-winds....

More are due to arrive today (them being held at Eldonian village over night) so hopefully we'll have a few neighbors before the day is out.

We got  until Wednesday now to explore and experience Liverpool - it's good to FINALLY have made it here on the boat after a couple of thwarted previous attempts.

Until next time...