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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Fridge-gate...a friend came to visit and various pubs.

Random enough title? - I do try lol.

Righty ho - After Lymm, we made our way on to Stretford Marina (booked in for 4 nights) where the delivery of a new Fridge-Freezer had been arranged.  If you've been reading this twaddle since the beginning, you'll be aware after my energy audit back in the  planning stages,  I'd convinced myself a 12 v offering was the only way to go for a live-aboard.  I stand by that decision... HOWEVER, the Inlander 50/50 12v one (that cost over 600 quid) does have a flaw ... that being there are no little lips at the back of the shelves which means when the boat is moving, things can easily end up pushed against the cooling plate at the back... what then happens is it stays ON - trying to freeze whatever is touching it.

Given Ellis's 'hotel ish' operational requirements, the fridge is often completely stuffed full of enough fresh food for 4 adults for  a week.. and what with it not being a particularly large fridge it's nigh on impossible to keep things from the back of it - ergo, the battery consumption is quite often much more than the quoted 2.1ahrs.

Enough was enough - with a visitor looming I made the decision to replace it with a mains powered -larger one. Having roughly worked out the power consumption and conviced myself using the invertor's "power save mode" ther'd only be about 25 ahrs a day between the 2 and given Ellis runs the engine 6 hours daily with guests on board AND the 600 watts of solar, we'd be ok.

hmm- I'll come back to that in a bit!

Options were limited - mainly because of the depth available due to the tumblehome.  The max squeeze inable, was 54 cm deep, 55 cm wide and 167 cm tall.... AND that would require relocation of the Microwave.

In the end it came down to an indeset or Hotpoint - neither make particularly good but hobsons choice dictated the only one in stock - Hotpoint...  Delivery came from AO.com and to be fair, they came the agreed time and wheeled it right to the boat - PASSING the fire-brigade doing  a test of their equipment and plonked it outside on the floating pontoon.


By this time, We'd already removed the old one  and it was in the middle of the saloon keeping stuff cold until the new one had settled and could be turned on...  a simple enough job you'd think.

Well you'd be wrong there - the idiots at both AO.com AND Hotpoint seem unable to quote the correct dimensions... the 54cm depth one in particular...  that figure EXCLUDED the cooling thingy that protrudes from the rear by an additional 3 cm...  GRRRRR,

Of course we didn't discover that until AFTER we'd faffed around changing the door opening side on the pontoon (in the rain btw) and then getting it wedged in the rear dinette!


I  might have had a bit of a temper tantrum swearing and cursing at both AO And Hotpoint  Many blue words were spoken and the only thing to do was (by now in the smallest space available) remove the doors totally, along with the brackets top and bottom  and also the larder cupboard door opposite to make another 2 cm wiggle room.

As you might imagine, this took a long time, required borrowing an 8mm spanner (mine being under the doors already removed which were laying on top of the dinette storage boxes.

ANYWAY 3 hours later, it was in position.  It STILL sticks out more than I'd like but there is nothing I can do about that now...  In the winter, I'll take the larder door off, cut an inch of the long side and make it flush fitting rather than surface closing if you get my drift - this will give another 2 cm (ish) of walk by space  AND make it easier to open the door flaps on the freezer.




Still, it's positively cavernous  compared to it's predecessor, quiet as a mouse and very very cold.  The down side being the invertor "eco mode" thingy, refuses to kick in cause even when the compressor ISN'T going, it still draws JUST enough to keep the invertor on full power mode... which means if the batteries as 100 percent at the end of the day, by morning they are down to 55% which doesn't sit well with me.   The microwave now sits on top of the tumble drier in the larder cupboard.

The solution to that is to have the fridge on high all day, bung a couple of freezer blocks into it at bedtime and turn the invertor off until morning - the result being the freezer remains about -20 degrees and the fridge by morning, is about 4 degrees... which is fine - it's supposed to be "power loss safe" for 16 hours.  It's a bit of a faff but there is NO way I'm gonna try and remove it now unless it breaks!

Moving on -  once everything was tidied away, my dear friend Richard came to stay and come on a trip with us back down the Anderton boat lift.  Unusually, he came alone as his other half was practicing for an upcoming cello exam and 4 adults AND a cello on a narrowboat would have been a bit of a stretch lol.

We had a lovely trip to Lymm in the  afternoon- dragging him out for his first pub visit in months now that they are open again ... to be fair, the Golden Fleece  had a one way system in place, well spaced out tables and "app" ordering so you didn't need to go to the bar.  After a couple drinks in there, we retired to the boat in our respective "socially distant" areas and continued our journey the next morning to Anderton.

YES I know I'm getting too fat again - I'm back up to 13 stone 6 again...  It's all that lock down rubbish at the start of the year that did it... well that and gin but we wont mention that!

We arrived in Anderton a little earlier than planned , so went on to the Broken Cross for an exploratory wander, then winded and returned ready for our booked passage down the lift the next day.

Once down the lift, we chugged back up to Northwich and quite by chance got a message our friends from Rog and Jane to say they were in the pub if we'd like to join them for a lunchtime libation - well it wouldn't have been rude NOT to and it WAS a lovely hot day so taking shelter from the mid-day sun seems sensible.



We were moored opposite the Marina which was actually quite a nice spot - if a bit shady later on due to the houses/apartments blocking out the sun. 

Next morning we went back up the lift and then retraced our chugs to Manchester and spent our final night in Castlefied basin... not an uneventful evening as the bloke in the boat behind asked if I'd help him carry his dog to his car to take to the vets.  Said dog, turning out to be a 10 stone Rottweiler on it's last legs poor thing... the dog didn't return from the vets.  Awful.  Still, I did have chance to change the oil/filters so that's that job done for another 200 hours.



Until next time...



Monday, 27 July 2020

Anderton Boat Lift and a while bobbing about on the river.

I know - I'm getting worse at keeping the blog updated... it's cause we're out and about boating again.

Last time  I left you, we were at the top of the boat lift waiting to go down on to the Weaver.    We'd discovered a place not far from the service block where we can get an intermittent phone/tv signal - not an ideal mooring (bit it IS an official one) as it's on a narrow, blind bend - over grown with reeds on the off side... no matter - it's fun shouting "slow down" at every private boat that goes by - the hirers generally being a bit more considerate... Tbh, when only tying up for a night or so, I don't bother setting springs but in hindsight I should have so it was my own fault when we clonked against the side... frequently.

Annoyingly, whilst we were booked for the first passage down, a couple of other boats booked for later had gotten themselves into pole position - grumpy old git that I am more confident than I used to be, I moored up along side of one 30 mins before the booking as instructed.






Due to the rain over the previous days, there was a little more flow than usual on the river but compared to most, it was still quite benign - certainly compared to the fast flowing Aire & Calder.


 In  typical 'Ellis' style,  we found once down on to the river, due to restricted operating hours on the manned locks, we weren't actually able to go through any if we were to be able to meet our return booking.

Hmmmf.

Oh well - Northwich is actually not a bad place to spend a few days... SO we did!

Tying up on the floating pontoons at Barrons Quay (Odeon Cinema - closed of course) we went exploring into town and went into a 'Spoons' for the first time this year...  I have to say, it was quite organised, well 'socially distanced' and a nice bit of "normal" .




After a night on the pontoon, we went up stream to the lock (to turn around/take rubbish and fill with water) - the sun was now shining so I took a load of photos which I'll add in below ... suffice to say, I'm quite taken with the river now.  















As per usual, we spent the night before our ascension (that sounds way too biblical) moored at the bottom of the lift and it really was a  pleasant evening... despite the factory sounds.

Once up, we chugged on as far as Lymm before ending the day - having arranged for a friend to come along for a trip (neither of us had 'bubbled' yet so covid risk was minimal) and on route, we overtook our friends boat.  They were out walking as we passed, but I did take a nice snap of Jane's lovely floral display... which is much better than my rubbish plastic bucket affair this year.

Tying up in Lymm, the sun came back out again and I went off to get Fish and chips for tea.


Until next time...



Wednesday, 15 July 2020

MUST catch up - Llangollen to Anderton..

Righty ho - having raced up to Llangollen and back (note the absence of other boats - well apart from 'Mr. You shouldn't have come up here...I'm self isolating in the basin and  have been for 3 months' (on free electric))... upon chatting with said bloke whilst going to take rubbish to the bins, he was returning from doing his OWN shopping in Aldi - ergo, NOT self isolating at all.... grrr..



Anyway  - pedantics a side,  whilst we'd wanted to stay another day, the forecast for the days ahead was going down hill so we'd escaped Wales and headed back down stream.

Still very few boats encountered on the return journey - which as we were going WITH the flow was now using a bit less diesel and poor weather ignored, was a pleasant (if speedy) journey.

By the time we were back in Nantwich, things had brightened up again and I also got notifction my new fenders had arrived (click and collect) - the previous ones going "pop"  few months ago with the galaes in Granary Wharf.




NOT the easiest of boxes to carrry 2 miles on foot but worth it in the end as cushioning is now restored... a good job as no one seems to slow down any more... I mean, ok We HAD to race across from Skipton to Wigan the other week due to CRT 's imposed deadlines but I'm quite sure the rest of the boats on the Shroppie are not under the same constraints....

The Wheels that have been a godsend were about to be put a side (well shoved on the roof for a while) until next time they are needed and I got to thinking about how to improve their aesthetics...

I came up with a plan to turn them upside down so to speak, plonk a plastic bucket in each and have plants cascading down...  well, that was the plan.

The reality was that the bottom needed cutting out of the buckets to take into account the actuall shape of the wheel... THIS necessitating in insertion of a hanging basket liner to stop the soil going everywhere (and enable the buckets to be lifted out when the wheels are needed as fenders/spacers)




The only plants available in Nantwich seemed to be a bit of trailing lobelia (from Morrisons which had seen better days) , a few Impatiens in M & S and some dried up Nemesia from Aldi... suffice to say, I DON'T have high expectations for the outcome... we'll see... if they don't perk up by the end of July, I'll sling them in a hedge somewhere and write this years floral display off lol.

On leaving Nantwich, our route took us once again on to the Middlewich branch - stopping as before to fill with diesel and pump out in Venetian Marina... Ellis had used 87 litres to Llangollen and back which is more or less what I expected.  Rather than spend a night on the branch, we chugged straight through this time and tied up at Kings lock - really, just to go to the chippy for tea.


Having gone up the lock to be close, I turned round in readiness for our continuing journey the following morning and just as we were tying up for the night (school boy error there as that road is SO loud all night!) - I looked up to see my friends Eddie and Wendy tootling along in their boat... ALSO planning to stop for the night and have a chippy tea. THEM having more sense than us and turning on to the branch we'd just come off for a quieter evening...

IT was a lovely surprise to see them and share a (socially distant) tea with them.  Plans were hatched for us to all head towards the Anderton lift and have a jaunt on the Weaver once my dental visit was completed.

After tea, we said our goodbyes for now, and returned to our respective boats.    Next day we chugged along to Anderton as the car hire was booked from Enterprise (Northwich)...  I hadn't quite realised how long the walk is from the top of the lift back to Northwich...  ergo, 3.5 miles later in the rain the following morning, meant spirits were a little low.

No matter,  Once we'd picked up the hire car, we could stock up the boat and then I went off the following morning for my 2.5 hour drive to the dentists... I'm pleased to report, they completed the rebuilding of the collapsed teeth - all PPE'd up to the eye balls and I've no pain at all now... RESULT.

Whilst in Anderton, came the news that Eddie and Wendy had to turn around as they had some pressing matters to attend to with their conservatory roof back at home.  Oh well... best laid plans  and all that... we'll do it at some point again in the future I'm sure.

We still had the booking for the lift so went down it anyway and I'll fill you in on that later.

Until next time...




Thursday, 9 July 2020

Fly-Boat Ellis... Dentist looming.

Okey dokie - having had the news that the dentist could have a go at sorting out my collapsed teeth properly, we'd made the decision to have a quick nip up the Llangollen Canal whilst it was still quiet.

Quiet was an understatement - certainly compared to the usual Chaos up there with hire boaters and every other man and his dog...  SOME people like empty and quiet... ME less so.  I miss the peril of hire boats hurtling around corners/bridge-holes and the panic expression on their/my face when everyone tries an emergency stop of with 16 tonnes of momentum to try and reverse lol.

As we headed out of Nantwich, I spotted Robbie Cummings's "naughty Lass" near the services...  his recent series on the BBC being very successful - so much so, that they've offered him another one... Good stuff.

Alas, he wasn't about to shout a hello to.
oh well - maybe next time.

Just as Ellis sailed under the bridge, we spotted Jane heading back from the Laundry and shouted quick goodbyes (having already done the same to Roger when we past him a while further back).

It felt odd do be leaving Nantwich as even though we'd only spent a few days there, once again I'd been beguiled by it's charms...  the fact it was slowly opening back up again being very welcome.

Once at Hurleston Locks, I took a quick walk up to check there was enough water in the pounds and then we began our ascent - through the bottom lock (which had been rebuilt over the winter due to it trapping boats for years... alas, there appears to be a leak in the NEW chamber.. I hope crt kept their receipt!

I'd forgotten how much you notice the flow of the water on the Llangollen.... some 12 million gallons each day make their way down from the river Dee to Hurelston Reservoir..  We had planned to stop at Wrenbury for our first night but once pulled along side, discovered neither tv, phone, radio or internet signals... ergo, we chugged on a while - eyes glued to the wifi point and as soon as we got a green light, dropped anchor - THIS being the mooring for the night.

Even though it was a hot summer evening (remember those? - it's been tipping down for the last few days), I decided to experiment with a flaky pastry roulade type thing..  (an idea from Tiktok)...

I have to say, it worked out rather well for something so simple... the veggie option since tried with goats cheese, leak and spring onions...  in fact, the veggie version is probably nicer.





Very nice...  

Next morning, our first obstacle being Grindley Brook - deserted also, with no sign of a lock keeper... which suited us anyway.

No boats at the top either so a quick top up with water ad then on to Whitchurch.  

Technically, it's NOT a left turn you want to make but with only the odd boat around, I decided we'd have a go, chug down to the bottom of the arm and then walk in to town.

I must admit, it WAS too tight to make without David holding the centre line... I'd NOT try it again... certainly not with the likelihood of boats moving around lol.



Having walked into the town on what must have been the hottest day of the year so far, it was most annoying none of the lovely pubs were open  to partake of refreshment and shade...    I have to say, I know councils have to be seen to be trying to  protect their residents but imho, spending what must be 1000's of pounds on signs like these, really IS a waste of all our money.

Next morning another early start to beat some of the heat...rather than go up the Ellesmere arm, as we didn't need anything (grocery wise) we continued on and  eventually had a long day in the sun...a slight disagreement with a bridge and the parasol left it a bit bent but no serious harm done.  




Before we knew it, we'd crossed over the Welsh border and were going through Chirk tunnel - it never every occurred to us that Wales was under different jurisdiction to England.. my own fault really cause I sort of drift away from the news when that Scottish awful  power crazy freak Sturgeon woman comes on dictating how the Scots will do  as SHE says... this is inevitably followed by the Welsh  equivalent I presume - ergo, I don't hang around enough to listen to the spouting...

OH well, we'd done it by then and decided to press on - making a mental note not to leave the "isolation of the boat" ... ie, not being a risk to anyone thus doing no harm.

IT was after tea time by now but rather than stop, we pressed on over the Ponty and the journey up to Llangollen itself.

The flow of the canal by now is quite strong so the journey from the aqueduct to the basin took 2 hours - with not a single boat encountered along the way.  Once in the basin, we came across 6 other boats in there - all spaced out nicely.  We spent a night there before retracing our steps and heading back to Ellesmere to stock up again..


Until next time...