Sunday 29 March 2020

1 week in to 'lock down' - actually it's day 6 beginning come to think of it... just feels longer.

Who'd have thought nearly a week ago, we'd all be experiencing (what many consider to be) such draconian measures? -

I STILL GET IT...  I'd have liked a more honest approach to it rather than trying to scare folks into compliance...  I'm STILL only doing what the Government is allowing me to do - despite how 'vague' that instruction was!

Whom ever came up with such an emotive tag line of " Stay home - SAVE our NHS" deserves credit where due - I'm an emotional sort as you may have gathered and as a nation we DO pride ourselves on the NHS - even those who have abused it so many times... the whole idea of being compliant to SAVE it is a brilliant marketed strategy.  Well done that man/woman/trans/non-binary or whatever else we say today.

All this 'Social Distancing' too - another term we'd never heard of until this week... the irony being it's not social at all.  Hey ho. 

WHAT this week HAS shown - certainly to me living on a boat, is that there are a lot of vulnerable, lonely, bewildered and sometimes old people wandering around waiting hours for and catching buses - who DO THIS EVERY DAY... they just blended in to the back ground because of the numbers of people around.

'Ellis' has been moored near the bus-station in Skipton (the final place we got to before Boris Locked us in and CRT prevented boat movements (I'll come back to that shortly) - every day at least half a dozen poor souls have appeared (not at the same time) on the bench near the boat and just looked SO lost.  ME being me, have pretty much engaged in a conversation (using aforementioned 'anti-social distancing guidelines) to pass the time of day with them... PARTLY for my own sake I admit... ... but when you stop top think that perhaps THEIR every day is like that, its heartbreaking.

During my 'allotted' daily exercise walk - which can apparently be  of an unspecified duration
 but ONLY ONCE, I've also made a point of shouting cheery 'Hellos' to everyone else doing the same - some are stopping to chat about how bonkers the world is ... SOME are zig-zagging away (to obey the social distancing rules) and blatantly ignoring me ... as if to say "This is my exercise time so you shouldn't be outside making it more difficult for me" - that's the message I'm picking up anyway.

LUCKILY MOST are cheerful (if confused/angry/exacerbated) and trying to  comply whilst carrying on some normal life.

Going back to "boat movements for a moment" - I knew when Crt phoned me on Tuesday to ask if I still wanted my 2 bookings through Standedge in May, things were NOT going to be back to normal within Boris's initial 3 week lockdown.   I replied that of course as I'm a business I would HAVE to  continue with my route to ensure I'm in the right place at the right time... EVEN though most overseas visitors have already had to cancel due to travel restrictions in their own countries.  THEN a statement from the trust came out, basically ASKING (not prohibiting as without an act of parliament I don't think they can remove the right of navigation originally invoked when the canals were built )-  I could be wrong about that but it's all synaptic's anyway, BOATERS not to move unless going for Water or other boatyard services...

Various other statements have been coming out extending stoppages etc... a bandwagon perhaps now being jumped on to cover up over-running repairs nationwide - sorry.. I'm going off on a tangent.

POINT is - by Wed (Possibly Thursday) it was clear, 'Ellis' was not going to be going anywhere for a long time. 

READING between the lines and from the conversations I've had with CRT, they are clearly expecting a 3 MONTH (not week) nationwide lockdown... ergo, I've had to liaise with booked guests to try and postpone their trips... it's a nightmare - some have paid... some where due to pay... some have had to cancel THIS year all together as their trips from overseas are in limbo.   

I must say, without exception, booked guests (especially the returning ones) have been most understanding about it... moving a few until later in the year meant they didn't lose their money - with others I've been able to move their booking fees to next year and have offered to carry them forward to the year after (2022 when I get a route plan done) so as not make things as bearable as possible all around.

Financially, because the "travel and tourism/leisure sector" has been closed down by the government, I'd hoped to be able to get some help...  LOTS Of spouting on the news about 'Business Continuity Grants, Business rates cancelled , Loans etc - and of course the latest 'Help for the self employed'... WHICH for a fledgling business like this is NO use whatsoever...  you see, they used the words "Profit" as qualification for "help"...

I'll be perfectly candid here - 'Ellis' was NEVER a way to get rich... it was a way to sustain a lifestyle and just about pay for it... 

YEAR 1 - we only had a handful of customers as no-one knew we existed and reported a LOSS ... which was OK as I had redundancy money to live off...

YEAR 2 - I'm due to do my year end return on on 5th April - break even...

YEAR 3 - Cancelled for the foreseeable due to Covid 19

ER - how can I make a claim for 80% of average profits over the last 3 years eh?

I can't to put it simply.

NOW OK...  I can survive - BUT only as a result of accommodating guests transferring to later trips, keeping spending to an absolute minimum and rocking up credit card debts if this goes on for more than 3 months.    I have enough credit available to  keep the ship afloat (literally) and compared to some folks, have a much simpler situation with only self survival to worry about - I SO feel for the other struggling businesses forced into closure  - supposedly temporary who still have staff to think about, their own bills to pay and no immediate light at the end of their tunnels.

Still, we're all in this together so we're repeatedly told...  although at 3 am when the demons wake me up, it doesn't FEEL like we're in it together lol.

Anyway - enough about all that...

I've  'processed' my sulking (for now) and will carry on doing jobs... I still have the roof to paint and apply more non-slip stuff to ... I'm ALSO going to learn Sign language .

Skipton IS a lovely place to be stranded in... although without "people" it's rather sad...  My daily exercise walk will continue to be around the woods and I'll join the 2m apart queue around Morrisons car-park as and when I need to buy things... luckily, I have the boat quite well stocked in preparation for the guest season... I expect to be working my way through the gin stocks quite quickly though.

HERE is a quick snap of the first ducklings I've seen of this year...

DON'T worry - I kept a 'social distance' from them...

Until next time...

Sunday 22 March 2020

Snapped Lines, Escaping the City and differing perspectives.

Sorry - this is going to be a bit dis-jointed...   The world is still bonkers and (being trapped in it) I fear the bonkersness may be rubbing off 😀

You'll recall 'Ellis' chugged up into Leeds the other week so as to be able to visit friends and continue prepping the boat for the forth-coming guest season.    The river was nearly into flood when we locked through into Granary Basin...  and once in there, we discovered very little in the way of water... OR mooring spaces.  Hobsons choice meant I had to tie up alongside between the Hotel and the Candle House - the problem here being the ledge that sticks out - it's fine when there is plenty of water AND the level is stable...  alas, when the level is NOT stable, you HAVE to leave very slack ropes to avoid the boat being tipped over/sunken.

It's not ideal.

Still,  knowing the ledge is there is better than not!

Having tied up and checked the weather forecast - WIND was coming... Anyone who has ever moored in Granary Wharf knows that WIND is a major problem ... the towering buildings all around funnel it down to ground level and cause havoc - what the forecasts say are 45 mph winds are possibly double by the time they slam into the boats moored down below - it's scary.  IT's MORE scary when you can't tie up tightly cause of aforementioned ledge and fluctuating water levels.

Why? am I waffling on about this? - well, in true Granary "wind" style, we took a major battering - for like 4 days and nights... 1 st of which, included the centre line (which I never normally use to moor with) snapping at Midnight ... the result of which meant the boat (on slack front and rear lines which had either been undone or undone themselves in the storm) began a scary journey across the basin - LUCKILY another boat had noticed (I was in bed trying to drown out the banging and clonking noises from the solar panels) - I DID hear voices above the wind and on poking my under panted body through the hatch, spotted Adam and an unknown other boater both desperately trying to pull Ellis back alongside via the front line.  Between us we got her back in and then securely re-tied front and rear lines - Adam having ashed up the bottom gates down to the river in a bid to keep the level from falling any further. The wind didn't let up for days and as the river was in flood, we were trapped in anyway.  Suffice to say, 4 nights with little sleep -punctuated by 6-7 times a night external trips in my pants to wedge bits of wood under the panels back in that had been ripped out by ferocious gusts.  AS soon as the river had dropped, I made a dash for it down to Clarence Dock - JUST as an overstaying CRT employee had buggered off (I have spies with a view)...  THAT trip was dodgy though as the river was going back in to flood again as we left Granary...

It was nice to be plugged in again AND along side floating pontoons I could tie up to night and tightly...

Having spent a couple of nights there, had supper with friends (I'm going to miss terribly) and also met a writer of 'erotic fiction'... I'll report back on his works at some point -  we departed and began our journey once more.

Leaving Granary, a chap was either practicing escape from being locked down, or measuring for new windows!

I suspect it may be for window guards to "keep folk on lock-down"...

By the time we'd got through Kirkstall little lock, we came across this boat that had been abandoned last year and now sunk... NOT in the most helpful of places... I wonder how long it will remain here.

The locks here was more fun than usual - lots of folk around "bored" - including one rather daring chap trying to skateboard down the locks... I videoed him.

He had cut his hand and was bleeding...  it irked me to have to stop and give him some first aid and bandages...  if I hadn't, he'd probably have ended up wasting resources in A & E...

Writing of A & E - I listened to a podcast earlier of an interview with an A & E Consultant... who was pleading with people to stay in doors - he DID stress anyone with  cold like symptoms.... NOT because everyone who contracts  Covid-19 WILL die but because if they pass it on, TOO many people will need help (ventilators mainly) at the same time and he didn't want to have to "choose" which 1 person gets put on one and the other 7 ... which perhaps die''s all about being able to cope with the numbers 'poorly' at the same time.  whilst 95% of people will survive 5% of a large number will overwhelm the care-givers... and I GET that... 

The trouble is - SOCIETY has already gone past the point of common sense in regards their USE/ABUSE of A & E anyway ... folk spending 4 hours 'waiting to be seen' with something that could have waited until the Docs opened the following morning etc... Folk have become TOO used to being able to TAKE and not give.

All this "if in doubt go see your doc" mentality (NOT relating to Corona virus) HAD created a nation of SELFISH folk who abuse the services provided - even before this current situation began.  

In those terms it makes sense... the trouble with 'people' is that in today's "age" we have become so self aware and developed a sense or "right" to live, we perhaps think we are more important than we really are - MOTHER Nature has other ideas.  

Hearing about peoples suffering is awful - the poor folks dying off as a result of contracting this virus is's probably more worrying for people who have pro-created - their (understandable) fear and feelings of wanting to protect those they care about must be overwhelming.  Sensibly staying home if you have even a hint of cough is perhaps a good idea ... keeping a couple of metres away from people outside is also perhaps a good idea of a way to slow things down...  

Like I said, being on a boat, except for dealings with shop-keepers and the like, sometimes you can go weeks without being close to anyone.  I don't fear for my own mortality/well being ...  I DO feel for the shop workers, medical staff etc who don't have much choice in their proximity to people...  I do fear for folk having to travel on public transport rather than just be able to get into a car and make their Journeys -... you can't STOP an entire planet from living... but I suppose governments around the globe have to take the approach that you CAN  stop it dying quite so fast!

Until Next time...

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Corona Virus - Apocalypse or media frenzy?

Don't  fret - I'm not dead yet... neither are many people... some are... more will be and most will not be.

I think that sums it up.

THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD... too many films along the lines of  ' 28 days later '.

Now I KNOW if you or someone you care about (which frankly should be everyone in need) falls into one of the groups of folk who are most likely to be at risk, it's totally understandable to feel anxiety about it... BUT the rest of the muppets emptying shelves and stock piling - thus depriving others who might actually have ran out of something and NEED it, should take a a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and what they will see looking back is "the true need for Darwinism" .

Others - such as my aging dad (who falls into the over 70's category) are taking a more common sense , stoic and logical approach...  I can't type his actual words here as the blog isn't rated solely for a mature audience... suffice to say, he's fuming... he will NOT be held under house arrest - right now I suspect he's forming an army of OAPS ready to wander around Tesco moaning....  like he says, there are more oldies than police and army,... and we are not China... 

I can see it now on the news at 10 - thousands of moroading pensioners "taking the streets back"

OK - I'm being a little tongue in cheek but as my dad said, the economy, peoples livelihoods, pensions and mental health is taking a far bigger hit than a few already on borrowed time folk pegging it with the flu.  He pointed out that there are too many oldies around anyway and all this prolonging 'life' for the sake of it - with little regard for the quality is NOT always the best thing...So long as the young people survives, then he's ok with that.

The Press/media have created a panic among the masses and when this all calms down, perhaps we need to take a long hard look at "freedom of the press"  - I dunno ... but I do know, that unless someone is pointing a gun at me, like my dad, i will take my chances with "life"...  what is is worth if it's not free?

I like my dad.

He is a stubborn chap but still the kindest, most humble and generous person I know... 

SO then - HERE on Ellis.... well, I always keep a few loo rolls on board anyway,  I have nappies in the bilge, hand soap and common sense... By virtue of boaty life, I suppose I'm in permanent self isolation at times anyway lol.

I have to admit, financially, what with borrowing money for the divorce, 2 cancelled overseas visitors and 1 postponed, it's going to be a tight year but at worst, I'll have lots of time off to explore the canals in between the UK guests - who I suspect will "keep calm and carry on" as least I hope they do. 

We all need to take  a breath... perhaps turn off the TV/Radio, take a walk ... perhaps by a canal - don't even bother trying to buy loo roll... most homes have a shower so if you need to make an adhoc bidet you'll be able to manage...  

Stop the world, I wanna get off...until I do however, I'm going to get some more paint on the Port side, touch up the blacking I scraped off getting to Leeds last week and then stock up on Gin- in preference to loo roll ANYDAY

Until next time...

Tuesday 10 March 2020

And we're off...

FINALLY - the river levels dropped for a few days so those "trapped" in Stanley made a dash for somewhere else to lurk around for 2 weeks, which meant I could nip into the space they left on the visitor moorings and be near the car park.  This has made it easier to stock up the roof of the boat with coal etc.

To be honest, I've not been making much progress with boaty chores other than working on the new website... which I still hate but it's not far off done now - once I work out how to transfer the domain thingys to the new hosting service and point something at somewhere else, it'll be up on line.

I HAVE replaced what was suppose to be a temporary fix of lynch pins and cable ties, with a "dog lead" I chopped up... MUCH better don'y you agree?

#LegsEllis took a  bit of a battering the other day as no sooner had I walked the  9 mile round trip to the bungalow to pick up some things I'd ordered for the boat, than I got call from the next door neighbor to say something else had arrived.... me being me (read eager to get organised) decided to walk back again... ergo, 18 miles in one day.... my left knee was grumbling abit the next day and a little swollen - it's gone down now and none the worse for the exertion.

It's been quite nice on the visitor moorings - FAR more sociable than being at the end in the middle of nowhere... - even the morning views are nice .. although seeing another over stayer taking the micky does irk  a bit when I play by the rules properly.

Once stocked up with coal, I set off on my journey to Leeds - whilst the rivers were still playing nicely...  do you remember the boat that was marooned on the side of the Aire at Christmas ? - well I'm afraid it's no longer marooned... it's SUNK a little farther down stream.


I'm heading to Leeds for a couple of day trips before the season begins properly... a little worrying is the "panic" being caused by the media regarding the corona Virus...  AND the "travel restrictions" being threatened... it's already caused 1 overseas visitor to cancel... and as about half the explorers who join me in my continued adventure come from afar, it's a bit like a sword of Damocles hanging over the season before it's even began - NOTHING I can do about it other than, 'keep calm and carry on'...  Can you believe people have even been panic buying loo roll?... give me strength.

Still, rest assured, 'Ellis has a good stock' so if it gets hairy, I may start selling them off on ebay at a fiver a roll!

Until next time...