Thursday, 22 November 2012

A Big Thank you

I'd just like to thank everyone who's been in touch, either via the blog or by phone or email.
I've been a bit overwhelmed by people's kindness, it's certainly true that when the shit hits the fan you find out who your real friends are.

I had my surgery yesterday and am now back on the boat. I can't tell you just how wonderful it is to be home. The hospital staff were brilliant but it's so true "there's no place like home".

Hopefully I'll be back blogging properly again soon.

Thanks again folks XXX

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Normal service will be resumed shortly

We're back in Macclesfield for a while. 

It wasn't where we expected to be spending the winter but I need some medical treatment which means we won't be able to go cruising for a couple of months.  It'll be a real shock to the system to be marina based again but hopefully we'll be able to get out and about in between the treatment and I'm aiming to be continuous cruising again early next year.

Thank you all for following our travels so far, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Back on the Macc.

We made it back up Marple Locks today without any real problems. Water levels in some of the pounds was a bit low which meant we had to let some water through, but it was nowhere near as bad as when we went down back in October.

The locks are due to close tomorrow for maintenance and it looks as if work will start on time as the fencing has arrived for Lock 8.

There were lots of walkers out today, making the most of the sunshine and we had "gongoozlers" at every lock.  Of course there were the usual questions; "do you live on your boat?" "is it cold?" "have you got a TV?". Several men were intrigued  with the mechanics of how a lock works and one little boy ran up to the lock and shouted to his mum that there was a ship in the bottom of the lock. He was very disappointed when we got up to his level and told his mum "it's not a ship, it's only a little boat".   Roger got talking to one couple and told them about C&RT hoping to get donations from walkers to help with maintaining the towpaths etc.  They were horrified and stated quite categorically that they wouldn't pay as it should be free to go for a walk!

This was the view from the top lock.

The moorings in Marple were full of the usual lurkers. If they have to lurk why do they have to do it on visitor moorings, why can't they do it out in the countryside?  One boat which is now on the visitor moorings used to moor permanently in Castlefield but as they've recently had a clear out it looks like he's come up to join the other "bridge hoppers" here on the Macc.

We managed to double-breast with a boat that we've met a few times before while we went to the Ring O'Bells pub for a late Sunday lunch.  The food's really good there. Roger had roast pheasant and I had slow roast belly pork with superb crackling and a black pepper and brandy sauce.  Both were served with 5 large portions of veg, roasties and boiled potatoes and was just what we needed after doing the locks.  We carried on again after lunch and got moored up just before it went dark at Hawk Green. We'll carry on again tomorrow.

I totalled up the log today. So far this year we've travelled 891 miles and done 698 locks our biggest yearly total. I'd like to make it to 1000 miles by the end of the year but think that may be a bit optimistic.  We'll see.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Canal and River Trust - turbo-charged response

On Wednesday when we were coming up Lock 91 on the Rochdale Canal Roger noticed that the ratchet on one of the top paddle gears was loose and working it's way off the spindle ready to fall in the water, so he phoned the local C&RT office to report it.  By the time we'd left the lock and arrived at the next, no more than 15 minutes, the maintenance guys had arrived to fix it! We've had fast response from C&RT  to other maintenance problems this year so I'd urge you to report anything you come across.  After all, if they don't know there's a problem how can they fix it?

Yesterday we left New Islington Marina, dropped back down the 2 locks on the Rochdale canal and then Roger worked us up the 18 locks of the Ashton Canal.  We didn't have any problems apart from low water in the top 3 pounds. This had been caused by a convoy of 5 Claymore hire boats coming down the locks on their way back to their base at Preston Brook. The pounds hadn't had time to recover from having 5 lock-fulls of water taken from them in rapid succession so we just let some down to raise the level a couple of inches to stop us dragging on the bottom.

We're now moored in Portland Basin Marina again and will probably move again tomorrow ready to go up Marple Locks on Sunday before the winter stoppage.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

New Islington Marina

It was Roger's turn to work the locks today while I drove. We would have liked to share the locks, and the work, with another boat as we'd done a couple of weeks ago when we came down the Rochdale 9 with David on Wye Knot 2 but there was no-one about when we set off this morning.

As usual the water was rushing over the gates at lock 92 but we weren't in any rush so took our time and went up slowly.

I like retracing our steps over sections of canal and lock flights as the view's different and you see things you didn't spot when going the other way. These arches under the railway bridge weren't as noticeable last time but are quite a beautiful piece of engineering architecture.

Deansgate is one of the main shopping streets in Manchester and the traffic is always very busy. It's one of the nice things about being on the boat that you can just go underneath the traffic jams with a smug smile on your face.

This was another tunnel under the shops.

The water jet coming into the canal from the right bank is really powerful and I'd remembered it from last time, so I stayed back until Roger had the lock gate open and then went in on full power to avoid being pushed into the bridge side.

Once up the Rochdale 9 we made a detour up 2 more locks on the Rochdale Canal and turned into New Islington Marina.  This is the "famous" new bridge that has reputably cost £4 million.

It has writing on it's underside that can only be read as a reflection in the water.  It's supposed to read "cast no shadow" but as it's always windy here and the canal is seldom calm enough to see any reflection it seems a huge waste of money to me.

The marina is now fully occupied and even the visitor moorings were full, but Ben the mooring warden/park keeper found us a spot right outside the Boaters Hut which houses the laundry and shower. It's only for one night and we'll carry on again tomorrow.

This family of swans arrived almost as soon as we'd moored up. They were very persistent and pecked at the boat until I gave in and fed them. Once they'd had their fill of swan pellets they left us and went to pester another boat.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Back in Manchester

Well we're back in Manchester again!  Apart from the usual 4 or 5 "lurkers" who have been here since last Autumn, Castlefield Basin is fairly empty.

We filled up with water at the service block on the way in.

It used to be a really dirty horrible place, full of boaters rubbish which was dumped here even though there are plenty of rubbish skips just round the corner but I'm happy to say that it's been cleaned up and this notice seems to be having the desired effect.

It's now dark around 5pm and although I miss the sunny evenings of summer, it's nice to sit by the fire and indulge my passion for crochet.  This is the latest little cardigan I've made for my granddaughter. She's now 6 months old and growing so fast she's keeping me busy. The stash of wool under the bed is dwindling rapidly, I feel a shopping trip coming on!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

It's time to think about Christmas

I came across these gorgeous knitted Reindeer tree ornaments recently on one of the blogs that I follow. Aren't they wonderful!  If any of you Ladies would like to make them, you can find the instructions HERE

Friday, 2 November 2012

A busy week meeting family, friends and fellow bloggers

We've been back in Boothstown this week. We're not actually in Bridgewater Marina but are moored outside the Moorings pub as it's a nice convenient spot for visiting family and friends.

Today we had a drive out over to Middlewich to meet the new owners of one of our boats. Australians Elly and Mick bought n.b. Parisien Star to live aboard and travel round Britain for the next year.  Our boats have quite sophisticated electrical systems which we always took great pains to explain fully to new owners on hand-over day, but as Mick and Elly bought the boat second hand the brokerage had no idea how things work so they needed a bit of advice and we were quite happy to go out and meet them and explain things. We've been following Elly's blog since they first looked at Parisien Star and it was lovely to finally meet them in person. Hopefully we can meet up again next year by boat and spend a bit more time together.