Saturday, 26 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Welcome back, I hope you had as good a Christmas where you are as we've had here on the boat.

poster made by my gorgeous grandchildren

We arrived in Bugsworth Basin on Christmas Eve and were surprised by how deserted it is. 

Christmas Day saw us following our usual traditions and after preparing the veggies and squeezing the turkey into the oven we adjourned to The Navigation Inn for a couple of beers. The Christmas Kiss ale was on perfect form.

Someone asked me the other day where we were going for our Christmas dinner "as you can't cook a decent meal on a boat" ?????

Wanna bet? 

The turkey was the smallest one I could find and at 4kg just fit in the oven

The dinner was great and for once I didn't burn anything due to excess alcohol. I reckon we'll still be eating the remains of the bird for a while but I always enjoy the leftovers more than the actual roast. Well who doesn't like a good turkey curry and turkey soup...........not to mention all those butties, pie and salad.

Bye for now X

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Carry on Cruising

Hello again, nice to see you. Are you ready for Christmas yet?

We've finally escaped from the marina and set off this morning on our way to Bugsworth Basin where we're spending Christmas.

It's been a beautiful day for cruising and it was great to be moving again. There were lots of walkers about and the biggest Kingfisher I've ever seen flew alongside the boat.

The trees and plants seem to be confused by the warm weather we've been having recently. I saw several trees which were starting to bud and also these primroses which were blooming beside the towpath.

The sun shone as we crossed Marple Aquaduct which has had a lot of work done to it since we were here last.

Marple Locks are deep and heavy to operate so I drove and Roger did the hard bit. One of the locks (sorry I can't remember which one) is leaking heavily through the side wall and the boat got soaked. I'm glad we had the cratch cover down as the bow would have been flooded but at least it washed some of the muck off the roof.

Roger had help with the locks as a fellow boater friend of ours, Phil, came to give us a hand. Once we'd got to the top of the flight and moored up we adjourned to the Ring o'Bells pub and "paid" him with beer. His help was very welcome but it was even nicer to catch up on the local gossip as we haven't seen him for a year or so. Hopefully he'll be able to join us with his wife and boat in Bugsworth next week and we can carry on where we left off.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

A Rude Awakening

Hi, Lovely to see you here again. I hope you're well and making the most of the mild weather.

I find marina life extremely boring which is why I haven't inflicted the mundane minutia of my current day-to-day life on you. We are both recovering from nasty colds gifted to us by our lovely grandchildren when we saw them last month, but that's a small price to pay for having had such a wonderful time away with them.

We had a rude awakening last night - literally - as the Carbon Monoxide alarm went off just after we'd got to sleep. The fire was very low and banked down as it was still 12' outside when we went to bed, so we opened the door and windows and the alarm stopped shrieking. Chico wasn't impressed as the alarm is right above his bed and he took himself off to hide under our bed at the other end of the boat. To be on the safe side we left plenty of windows open and went back to bed.

Checking on the internet this morning the main reason for carbon monoxide poisoning is due to a lack of ventilation but as we have 5 mushroom vents as well as plenty of low level ventilation grilles throughout the boat we didn't think that would have been the problem.  Just to be sure I took all the vent covers off to have a look and I was gobsmacked!  We've had an awful lot of spiders in the boat this autumn due to the mild weather and they seem to have taken up residence behind the grilles.

Our mushroom vent covers have an insect grille behind them to keep mossies and spiders out while still allowing a good flow of air

When I took the covers off almost every vent was full of spiders webs that looked like cotton wool

The grille covers were almost totally blocked which had drastically cut down the ventilation

A quick clean with an old toothbrush soon had them clear again.

Cleaning the vent covers is usually one of my spring cleaning jobs but in future it'll be done before we start using the fire in the autumn.

So that's my tip for the day. If you haven't got a carbon monoxide alarm - GET ONE!

And don't let the spiders bung up your holes...............

Bye for now

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Quick Update

Hi, nice to see you again.

I've been away for a few weeks looking after my mum who finally had her knee replacement operation. Unfortunately she was quite poorly after the op and had to stay in hospital for a week rather than the usual 2 days but she's much better now and is much more mobile.

We've also had a week's holiday in a very wet and windy Cumbria with our children and grandkids. The house we'd rented was HUGE and it's been a bit of a shock coming back home to the boat which seems very low and narrow. I suppose I'll soon adjust.

We're currently moored at Portland Basin Marina as Roger is helping the owner refit a boat. I'm hoping we'll manage to escape before Christmas, but if not we'll definitely need to move shortly afterwards to get past the winter maintenance stoppages on the Marple Lock Flight due to start at the beginning of January. It's a long time since we were last on the Macclesfield Canal and we're both looking forward to visiting old friends and checking out some of our favourite pubs.

Bye for now

Friday, 6 November 2015

Liverpool to Droylesden

Hi, sorry I haven't blogged since leaving Liverpool. We've had a few problems getting internet as our wi-fi box, which has served us brilliantly for the past few years, suddenly decided to give up the ghost. We had internet through our phones so were never out of touch with the real world and are back online again thanks to a new mi-fi unit.

We hardly ever have any problems with rubbish getting stuck around our propeller as we have a very efficient blade fitted on the prop shaft which cuts weeds  and plastic bags off. No matter how sharp it is there was no way it could cope with this pair of fisherman's trousers which we picked up in Wigan.

Luckily we'd recently bought a new toy "just in case". We've always had a dedicated carving knife to deal with any stubborn crap but this was the first occasion Roger had had to try out his folding pull-saw. It's pretty lethal and worked amazingly well. Hopefully he won't need to use it again for a very long time.

The trip from Liverpool to Manchester was made in gorgeous unseasonal weather. It was warm enough to still be in t-shirts and we had some amazing sunsets. The autumnal colours of the trees were pretty spectacular too.

We needed to be through Worsley by Monday as the Bridgewater Canal was being closed for 4 months for installation of a new gate which will raise up off the canal bed to form a barrier in case of a breach.

Spending a night in Boothstown gave us the opportunity to catch up with the 2 guys who used to work for us when we were still building boats. Stuart is now a buyer for a major wholesaler and Jimmy has retired. It was hilarious as we all tried to remember our sign language as Jimmy and his wife are profoundly deaf.  Strange but I could only remember the swear words..............

After Boothstown we spent a few days in the centre of Manchester in Castlefield Basin. On Wednesday evening we had a night out with David who has been travelling with us for the past 5 weeks. We started off with cocktails in Cloud 23 bar in the Hilton Hotel. It's on the 23rd floor and the views were spectacular. The prices were too!!!

After cocktails we walked into China Town and went for a Japanese Tapanyaki dinner. The bibs were compulsory!

Yesterday David helped us up the Rochdale Nine locks before leaving us to go back to his winter moorings.

The duck des-res was looking a bit overgrown

but the flowers beside the locks in Canal Street were still well tended and in full bloom.

There was a lot of rubbish in the water, unfortunately including lots of syringes and used condoms. It made me laugh that there were also several unopened packets of condoms floating about - all size extra large!!

Today we set off early to come up the 18 locks on the Aston Flight. We had a really good trip until we got to lock 16. We hadn't seen any other boats all day but when we got to no. 16 there was a small boat moored up. I went up to empty the lock but it wouldn't drain properly as one of the top hydraulic  paddles had failed and was stuck open. A woman off the moored boat came to say she'd phoned CRT yesterday but no-one had been. Roger phoned the help-line and within 10 minutes a very nice CRT man arrived. He said he was aware of the problem but was unable to fix the defective paddle without using stop-planks and was unable to do that without getting the works signed off by an engineer which would take weeks. With his help Roger managed to man-handle the bottom gates open and we carried on our journey. Unfortunately the people on the moored boat had disappeared so we weren't able to help them through. They hadn't been on-board yesterday when the CRT guy had come round either.  Lock 17 was uneventful but when we got to the top lock no. 18 we had more problems. We couldn't get the hand-cuff locks off the top paddles so had to phone CRT again. By the time the CRT guy arrived 40 minutes later the boat was about half way up the lock, thanks to a leaking top gate. He was extremely apologetic; the top lock has extra long hand-cuff locks on it to stop the local scroats messing with the paddles but unfortunately he'd forgotten to undo them this morning. We'll never get caught out like that again. One of the next jobs Roger is planning on doing is making an extra long hand-cuff key.

We'd been due to moor in Portland Basin Marina tonight but by the time we got out of Lock 18 it was starting to go dark and we still had about an hours cruise to get there, so after a quick phone call to make other arrangements we're now moored in Droylesden Marina.

By then the rain had stopped and the sunset looking back towards Manchester was pretty spectacular

Bye for now

Monday, 26 October 2015

More from Liverpool

Hi, nice to see you again.

Liverpool certainly lived up to expectations and we've had a ball.

We've eaten in some wonderful restaurants especially the Bistro chain of Francs, Jaques and Pierre where you can get a really good 3 course lunch for £10.50. Another place I can recommend is Miller & Carter Steakhouse in Albert Dock. We had some fantastic steaks and David (aka the Steak Monster) was a very happy man. That was a 10oz fillet on the bone and there was nothing left to take home for Chico

On Friday night Roger and I went to see Joe Bonamassa at The Echo Arena. If you haven't heard of him before he's an amazing rock/blues guitarist. He sang and played for two and a half hours solid, it's a wonder his fingers weren't bleeding!

The big wheel was still doing a roaring trade when we came out of the arena but as I don't like heights I wimped out.

The water in the dock is crystal clear and when the wind drops you can see the bottom and also the shoals of jelly fish that live here.

It was so lovely on Sunday morning that we decided to take David's boat out for a trip through the other docks so he could see the marina and the sea lock out into the Mersey. It was nice to be on a moving boat again, even if it was only for an hour.

After lunch we took the train to Crosby to see the statues at "Another Place". It was very windy and perfect kite flying weather.

The statues have changed a bit since we were here 4 years ago. Many of them are totally covered in barnacles.

It's nice to see that they are still being decorated

even if it is in NHS clothes as some sort of protest

I think I was wearing a few too many clothes to be taken on as a permanent exhibit

This morning we left Liverpool far too early (8am) but at least the sun carried on shining on us as we said our goodbyes to the Liver Birds

It was much windier than when we arrived a week ago and there were waves on the docks

We're now moored back at Litherland Visitor Moorings. The CRT guys who saw us up the locks were as cheerful and helpful as always and I can't praise them enough.

If you haven't been to Liverpool by boat yet then you MUST put it on the list of places to visit. It's amazing.

That's all for now, take care x

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Our Liverpool City Break

Hi, welcome back.

So far we're having a great time here in Liverpool. The weather is being kind to us as well which is nice.

If you'd like to stay in the dock without bringing your own boat you could stay in one of these converted wide beams. There's the Titanic, which I personally think is in very poor taste as it's supposed to depict the liner sinking

or the Yellow Submarine. Prices from £199 a night

Personally I prefer our own accommodation, complete with morning visitor

Yesterday we visited the Maritime Museum

and took the Old Dock tour down into the world's first enclosed wet dock which has been excavated and preserved underneath the Liverpool 1 shopping & hotel complex. It was a fascinating tour which I'd recommend to anyone.

This is the side and floor of the dock. The dock walls were made from bricks which have been painstakingly cleaned, the floor is the red bedrock that Liverpool stands on. It all dates back to 1715 having been re-discovered during excavations in 2001 after being filled in and buried in 1826.

Liverpool 1 was built above it and you can see some of the concrete pilings that hold the buildings up above.

Today we went to the World Museum. It's only small and quite a few of the exhibitions were closed for maintenance which was a shame.

I know the collection and decoration of ivory should be banned, but I can appreciate why they did it when you see things as beautiful as this Burmese chair

It was so intricately carved and just stunning

One new external exhibit needs a bit of TLC

maybe it'll be nice next year?

Liverpool has some amazing architecture all around the city. This is St George's Hall

even the City Tower is spectacular

or how about a Lambanana?

This is the "Dazzled" pilot ship Edmund Gardner which is a permanent exhibit in the dry dock.

Dazzling was a technique used a lot during the First World War in an attempt to camouflage war ships to make them lesser targets for U-boats

This is one of the propellers from the Lusitania, the liner that was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in 1915 and which was a catalyst in bringing the Americans into the war.

This is a statue of a dock horse

 Another horse sculpture, supposedly made from rope

We ended today's walkabout in a new type of coffee bar in Albert Dock. Ziferblat is the latest craze especially with students. All food and drink is free, you just pay for the time you spend in there at 5p per minute.

There's tea, coffee, hot chocolate and an assortment of fruit juices. Cereals, fruit and toast for an all day breakfast

and an assortment of cakes and fruit.

We stayed half an hour but you could easily stay much longer as there are lots of comfy sofas plus board games, a piano and free wi-fi to tempt you to linger longer.......  I can definitely see the attraction and the place was quite busy whereas the Costa Coffee shop further up the street was practically empty.

We had a surprise yesterday when our old boat Two Hoots arrived in the dock.

It's still owned by Phil and Carol who bought it off us 7 years ago, so that makes 3 Crown Narrowboats here.....a good excuse to go to the pub for an owner's meeting don't you think?

See you soon