Tuesday 21st October 2008 was our first full day in the cottage we'd hired for a few days. We made sandwiches and walked out, turning right up the hill. In a matter of moments we were passing the "J and I" school and into open countryside. The skies were dramatic, but the rain, when it came, lasted no more than a minute at a time.
Our route took us round Digley Reservoir and through Holmbridge. Towards the end of what should have been a nine mile walk we came across footpath diversion signs: our way across the Ramsden Reservoir dam had been closed for reconstruction of the reservoir.
There was no option but a one-and-a-half mile detour over Yateholme Reservoir dam further up the valley. Hmmm. The view of the drained reservoir was fascinating, though.
We were looking forward to a pub meal at the Fleece, and (this time) we weren't disappointed.
On our way from Lancashire to Yorkshire we stopped off at Greenfield. From here we walked up the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Uppermill, and then struck out up the hill to Saddleworth. I'm sure this marina wasn't here when we came through by boat three years ago!
The walk up the towpath was most enjoyable. By the amount of foliage on the roof of Hephzibar that boat hasn't moved for a while - or perhaps the leaves came down in a rush.
And then the spectacular railway viaduct over the canal at Uppermill.
From the walk up to Saddleworth you can see the canal climbing the hillside. Well, two pounds, at least. Which would buy almost two pints at the pub.
The prices haven't changed much at the Church Inn, Saddleworth...
...so I scraped together 55p for a half.
I have had better beer, but I'm sure I could have acquired the taste! Not today, though, as we had to return to the car for the rest of the drive to Holme.
Back home again now. We've just spent a few days in Yorkshire in a lovely cottage in Holme, near Holmfirth. We booked it last Friday as a last minute deal: it was excellent. We had spent the weekend in Southport where our daughter was visiting her fiance, and drove over to the cottage on Monday. On the way we stopped at Scarisbrick to see how the new marina is progressing. It's supposed to be open soon: there's water, but it still looks quite a way off being finished.
Scarisbrick Marina on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal (yes, canal, not sea!)
the same place three months earlier
the cottage in Holme
the view from the window
we roasted ourselves by the woodburner
More canal pics to come. Well, we were close to the Huddersfield Narrow, after all.
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago my brother David will be taking Shadow out for a week in November. It'll be his first cruise of Shadow as "captain" as he's now also a part owner. I'll be crew, along with a two of David's friends; unfortunately Jan won't be able to come as it's in term time. The boat will be at Stockton Top Marina on the GU (Warwick and Napton). Instead of the southern Oxford David's now thinking of cruising to Market Harborough and back, taking in a detour to Welford. According to Canalplan this is achievable with seven-hour days, assuming we hit Watford and Foxton when those flights are open. Now I'll ... no, he'll have to check for stoppages.
Almost indispensible for canal route planning Canalplan AC is up and running again. I was disappointed to find it down when I tried it the other day. But now everything seems to be OK again. Thanks Nick.
The "AC" part was added by Nick to make it palindromic.
I rarely write to papers or magazines, but I felt I had to after reading the latest issue (Nov 2008) of Canal Boat magazine. As I read it I made a list of all the typos and other errors: more than 50 in all. Some were serious ("it's" when it should have been "its"; a quotation in bold with "english" for "English"; "there" for "their"); some just annoying (such as "Chick" for "Chirk"; "Lowsondord" for "Lowsonford").
A couple of days ago I e-mailed the editor, Nick Wall, complaining about the poor standard (and enclosing a copy of my list). I haven't yet received a reply. Perhaps he's getting someone to check his spelling! Or perhaps he thinks I'm a sad nutter who has nothing better to do than pick holes in an otherwise enjoyable mag. Perhaps sending him the list was the wrong thing to do.
The countdown has reached zero for Narrowboat Caxton, which is to be launched in Stourport today. Lesley K has been blogging about Caxton's build since April and was quickly "Discovered by Granny" (Granny Buttons), which, of course, alerted the rest of us to their project.
In her "About Me" section Lesley writes:
We are yet another pair of early retirees that are busy dodging our coffins. We are looking forward to the building of our very own narrowboat, Caxton, and spending several years exploring the ditches, dykes and rivers of this beautiful country along with shipmates, Fletcher and Floyd.
From today that will need updating!
All the best to you, Lesley and Joe, and we trust that all will go well.
A few days ago I wrote that we were considering buying a boat for our daughter and future son-in-law to live on (temporarily) next year. I've been looking at boat ads and musing on the possibilities. Should we go for our ideal boat and see how they get on with it? Or should we ask what they want/don't want and take it from there? There are other considerations (apart from the obvious one of cost, that is). Jan and I have slightly(!) differing opinions on what's desirable in a boat.
I was drawn by one ad for a 55' trad - with a BOATMAN'S CABIN!!! And an engine room. In the (small) photo the boatman's cabin looked superb. On the downside (for me) was the loo (pumpout); on the downside (for Jan) was the trad stern. Yes, I know. She says that trad sterns aren't as sociable as cruisers or semi-trads. And to some extent I agree with her, but don't the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? There's more internal space, and work on the engine can be under cover. Yes, I know that a trad stern is also more "authentic", but the boat won't be a working boat, nor will it really pretend to be. We will use it for cruising the waterways of Britain for pleasure, and if that pleasure increases with the amount of space at the back, then that has to be taken into account.
Another boat ad was for a 56' cruiser stern which had been used as a liveaboard, complete with 3.5 kVA generator and washing machine. I have to admit the photo of the boat with a pram hood cover put me off! I know it can be easily removed, and it would give more useable space for A+B. And the washing machine would be useful to them...
And then there was the ad for a boat with my ideal layout: rear galley, forward saloon.
Of course, I haven't even started thinking about moorings yet.
I managed not to tread on these large eggs, which were outside the services at Castlefield Basin, Manchester, when we were there in July. The Nicholson's is there for scale. Are they heron's eggs? There didn't seem to be much of a nest: it was as if someone had just put them down and then forgotten about them.
Please be advised that due to vandalism the pump out at Moss Lane South on the Lancaster Canal is currently out of order.
A replacement deck gun has been ordered and will be installed upon delivery. We estimate delivery in approx 7-10 days, an update notice will be issued once works have been completed. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Yes, it does seem a trifle inconvenient, doesn't it? Especially if you happen to be a vandal.
Our daughter has let on that she's started her own blog. In her latest post she talks about the problem of finding somewhere to live after getting married next year:
...talked to Dad about arrangements for after we are married, house wise... He has offered for us to live on a..wait for it.. boat. yep. a boat. well the advantages are that its free for us, free rent for as long as it takes for us to move to manchester and find a place to live, it means we can stay in southport while Ben finishes his contract at his current job and we have somewhere to live when we come back from honeymoon!
I had suggested that a narrowboat would be an excellent way of having an "instant" home while looking for something a bit more land-based. My ulterior motive, of course, was that we'd have the boat when they'd moved out, so I suppose I wouldn't want them to get too attached to it. But is this the right thing to do? Should boat-dwellers be only "natural" boaty types, so they go into it really wanting to do it? And shouldn't I want them to get attached to the boating idea?
Anyway, I'm pleased that she's not completely dismissive of the whole thing. I'd better start looking for a suitable boat. Any ideas?
Last year I bid for, and won, a trip in a vintage (veteran?) bullnose Morris. This was at the same auction of promises where I landed a year's supply of homemade cake (provided I made each cake last a month). In August, on a day when the sun actually shone, we were taken on a thirty mile ride in a gorgeous 1925 car (I got the date wrong before). We had lunch at Beale's Roses in Attleborough and enjoyed a journey on country lanes at a speed of no more than fifty miles per hour.
It was wonderful. We had the wind in our hair (those of us who weren't wearing hats). Jan made me promise not to publish the photo of her - she looks like she's being electrocuted! At 83 years old the car was more than twice the age of mine (but only just).
Or, perhaps, not so quick. We had come by boat after the IWA Festival had finished, and witnessed the craning in of this narrowboat at Hanbury Wharf.
The boat, from the New Boat Co., had been on display at the Festival and was being returned. We had taken nearly three days to get here by water. Perhaps they didn't want to risk scratching it, or perhaps it wasn't fully ready for cruising.
I have an outboard engine which hasn't run for a few years. It's a Johnson Seahorse 4 horsepower 87cc twin cylinder jobby. Recently Bones let it be known that she was in the market for such a machine, so I got it out of the garage, put some petrol in, and tried to start it. And tried again. And again. Nothing. Not a cough. No sign of life whatsoever. I took the plugs out and cleaned them; and then checked for a spark when I pulled the cord. Yes! So it must be a carburettor fault. Perhaps the petrol/oil mixture (it's a two-stroke) had turned to jelly and was blocking the way for the nice fresh liquid stuff I'd put in. I unscrewed the float chamber to check that fuel was at least getting there - and got petrol on my trousers. So far so good. Now I'd have to take the carb off the engine and investigate further. This was easy: pull off the fuel pipe and undo a couple of 7/16 nuts. Er ... now what? I could see the choke butterfly valve, and, beyond, the throttle butterfly ... but what should I do? Ah. There was the rich/lean idle adjustment screw. I'd read somewhere that you have to screw this in to note the number of turns so that it could be replaced in the same position. I screwed it in and counted all of three quarters of a turn. Then I unscrewed it completely and was surprised to find a needle on the end. I was expecting the needle to be somewhere else. (No, I'm certainly not an expert on carburettors!) Perhaps there is another needle elsewhere. But where? I couldn't see anything wrong with the needle I'd removed, so I put it back and left the carburettor on the kitchen table for a few days. (Mmm. Nice smell.) Then I thought: I know, I'll put it back on the engine and try again. Well it's worked with other things in the past.
So I did ... and ... still nothing. I even mounted the engine with the prop in the water butt so that if it fired up it would have plenty of nice cooling water. Actually the water, when disturbed, turned out to be full of rather rusty scummy stuff, but that didn't matter as there was still no hint of life. Grrr. Now Bones has found an outboard engine that works, and I have put mine, dead, back in the garage. And I didn't even take a photo of the semi-dismantled carb.
Thanks to my brother buying a share in our boat Shadow I'm to have a week on board in November. David's thinking of cruising the southern Oxford canal. It'll be weird being crew and not captain! Now I'll be able to sit at the front and watch the scenery glide past....some chance! I'll be at the back as usual, wet weather gear on, only not steering quite so much (probably).
Yesterday I went to North Walsham to take part in a singing day with the composer John Rutter. He writes mainly sacred choral music which is very popular with church choirs and congregations/audiences (even if sometimes sniffed at by "serious" classical music buffs).
I was there with some 450 people to enjoy being guided through some of Rutter's vast output. We sang from his Requiem; A Clare Benediction; New Year; For the beauty of the earth; All things bright and beautiful... and many more. It was a good day, despite the church where it was held having been double booked: we had to make way for a wedding at 1230.
During the enforced long lunch break I started walking towards the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, but gave up as it was just a bit too far away.
The town sign was the nearest I got to the canal.
In the evening, much nearer home, Jan and I went to a concert in Hethersett Methodist Church given by soprano Elizabeth Watts, winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World 2007 song prize.
We were blown away - almost literally - by her performance (we were sitting in the front row). Lizzie is already a top-flight singer, and is still rising through the ranks. Why was she singing in little old Hethersett Methodist Church? She grew up in the village; that was her church; and it is from there that we know her. There's a good review of the evening here. It was a great privilege to hear her sing on her home ground, in a humble church building, considering that she's performed at the Proms and in concert halls throughout the world. Did I mention she used to baby-sit for us?
As regular readers will have noticed, I've tweaked the look of this blog, putting a photo in the header, changing the list of boaty blogs to one which ranks them in update order, and changing my mugshot. I'd noticed several blogs with the blog upate feature, and worked out how to do it. Enjoy!
The final push to Worcester. Still plenty of locks to do. I love narrow locks, and these are among the best on the system. Really quick fillers and emptiers. quiet surroundings ... perfect. Fergus steered competently in and out (I think we helped with the throttle). Here he is steering away from the bottom lock of the Astwood flight.
We tied up opposite the junction with the Droitwich Canal at Hanbury Wharf and investigated the three restored locks.
At the moment they are padlocked as the canal below is a reedy swamp.
Work is progressing nearer Droitwich itself, so this canal should soon be open for business.
Shortly after Hanbury Wharf, near Coffin Bridge, was this gruesome warning to anyone going too fast past Old Flame's mooring.
The caption reads "I was a boat speeder!"
At 1730 we arrived back at Shadow's mooring at Viking Afloat. We tied up alongside the floating dry dock and started unloading and cleaning. We had a barbecue in the marina's gazebo-covered smoking area, putting a couple of disposable BBQs in an oil drum BBQ which was already there. It worked well. Tomorrow we would finish the cleaning and go, having had about the best weather of the summer for our week. Such a difference from our two weeks on Willow in July: then we had only one day without rain; this time we had only one day when we had any rain.