Monday, 28 June 2010
Sunday, 27 June 2010
Saturday, 26 June 2010
Friday, 25 June 2010
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Monday, 21 June 2010
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Saturday, 19 June 2010
Friday, 18 June 2010
From sunhats to rainhats, from sunscreen to waterproof gloves: the planning and packing for waterways "climate change" has proved worthwhile! It was a quiet start to the morning as there were few other boat movements. The Trent and Mersey is delightfully rural in this stretch, especially around Weston- upon -Trent and Little Haywood. There are hints of the River Trent to the south, sometimes parallel with the canal, and wooded low hills behind. Cows and sheep graze in the meadows; Canada geese, in gangs, guard their young broods – except once – where at a lock a pair of adults zealously protected their single fluffy gosling. The towpath forms part of the Staffordshire Way, a very tempting-looking route for walkers. Occasional seats have been cut from felled trees and colourful information panels placed at about mile intervals: I longed to moor up and read each one! Stands of trees crowned the hills across the Trent Valley; eventually the area gives way to Cannock Chase, steeper hills and gullies.
The hills flattened out and the first power station came into view at Rugeley. While moored here for essential supplies (newspaper, milk) Ken and the boat suffered a (mis)adventure; mooring either side of Bridge 66 was recommended. An underwater stone shelf grounded the boat so that the only remedy seemed to be to off-load water (half a tank's worth) and then gas bottles – but to no avail. A passing boater came to the rescue by towing and snatching the boat off the obstacle...
In rain we moored up at Fradley Junction, just onto the Coventry Canal. It's a colourful spot, canal boats, canal buildings and a delightful interpretive nature area centred on Fradley Pond.
Did I mention the head-banging experiences in the Stoke area? Some of the bridges below the locks are extremely low: even I, when at the helm, have had to bend my knees and neck from time to time. An innovation on this trip is an umbrella holder on the tiller arm. On Tuesday Ken positioned a brightly coloured sunshade in it to shield him from the beating rays. Said sunshade took a few knocks yesterday on those bridges and by the end of the day it was at a very jaunty angle! The holder was in use again today, this time to keep the rain off – and I am glad to report the large sombrely coloured umbrella is still in operational order!
Thursday, 17 June 2010
At Barlaston trees line the watersides, even one willow bending right across the canal at one point, form a frondy screen to navigate through. The dappled shade offers relief from the hot sun. All gardens, large or small, are well-tended, few totally screened from the water’s edge.
Then Stone: welcome signs on towpath and bridge, even a mini-narrowboat filled with flowers on the town’s bridge. Several boatyards – working; a canal cruising club. Have we passed the place where the Phyllis May met her sad end last November? (Reference to the boat taken by Terry and Monica Darlington from Stone to the Med and down the East Coast US Inter-Coastal Route to the Gulf of Mexico). At the bottom lock a pub garden extends on either side of the lock. The pub is The Star: isn’t this the pub referred to where Jim the narrow dog (whippet) so loves his pork scratchings? Stone is a town worth mooring up at for a proper exploration, rather than just the dive into a supermarket afforded today. An hour later a pleasant rural mooring is found, a sunny position for a towpath dinner.
Domestic report from the day:
Ken - repair to bathroom light; repositioning of the fire blanket in the galley; de-rust paint on the stove flue.
Sue: water mint and basil pots; compile shopping list; packhorse supplies from supermarket to boat...
Two swans, various ducks and cows in the field opposite were sniffing at appetising smells from the galley tonight. This afternoon, while moored in Stone, a confused Old English sheepdog puppy jumped aboard one end, emerged at the bow, concerned perhaps that this boat smelt differently from his own!
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Domestically today saw a personal triumph: the washing machine quietly and efficiently washed a bed undersheet, sundry items of underwear and a tea towel, all of which dried on the front deck before we reached the damp and leaky Harecastle Tunnel. (Note: the transit through the tunnel takes 45 minutes).
At the tunnel (Kidsgrove) there was an issue about queuing; fortunately the tunnel keeper’s word prevailed. We emerged, discarded waterproofs, (yes, the tunnel is that leaky...) and moored within a mile or so at Westport Lake.
Since the “winter works” on the boat storage space has changed a little. During the day some items were found more appropriate homes. Preparing for this trip meant bringing clothing to suit all climatic conditions, from mountain caps, gaiters, over-trousers and heavy waterproof jackets to sunhats, sunscreen and t-shirts. (To date, much wearing of sunhats - but the winter peaked cap and a waterproof jacket were very useful in the tunnel in the wet section!)
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Our departure from Lyme View coincided with sharp north easterly winds, which meant that it took four attempts to ease away from the pontoon, do the sharp right hand turn necessary to pass the other boats and then make the sharp left to the exit onto the canal. Only fierce activity by Ken with the heaviest barge pole managed to combat the effects of the wind...
Our boat trips have rarely been drama-free; three hours into the trip, and only a mile south of Macclesfield, a most unusual ominous double thump from the engine compartment caused an emergency mooring up, right beside a small group of anglers. Such a sinister noise perhaps indicated a failed gearbox... in the event, from the weed hatch a lot of rope, much plastic and a rubber fender were retrieved. Delay to the journey, 30 minutes. Benefit to the environment: a boat fender will be recycled! As for the anglers: when profuse apologies for disturbing the fishing were offered, a gruff reply came: “Too late now”.
We locked down the Bosley Flight (of 12) in one hour 46 minutes, a good time for what can be a gruelling stretch. Bosley was at its best, there were clear views of the cliffs and stone faces on the Cloud (local Cheshire hill landmark). We moored for the night at the base of the flight among about seven other boats and spent the evening undisturbed by any traffic other than a passing boat or duck! One strong visual memory from the day: the large clumps of yellow irises seen alongside the towpath in many locations.
But what of Part 1 of the Project? After all, it has taken a full 5, pretty focused, months to arrive at Part 2. For those with any knowledge of our 60’ long boat perhaps the following details will help:
- a persistent window leak in the front cabin was sealed and the surrounding woodwork replaced;
- the wood wall linings in the front cabin were refurbished;
- a washing machine was squeezed on board and, much later, plumbed in;
- the bathroom was stripped out, redesigned and new plumbing and bathroom furniture installed (Highlight: the wizardry at Bathstore whereby a 3D bathroom plan could be drawn up by CAD).
In the engine room much work went on ... and on:
- the bilges were cleaned out, dried out and painted (several times);
- the engine room walls were painted white;
- all engine hoses were replaced;
- the low pressure diesel pump was replaced;
- the storage in the engine room was all rebuilt.
Gadget lovers are probably intrigued by the addition on the roof of a small (2’ by 2’) photovoltaic panel, its purpose being to trickle charge the batteries and power the very small fan of the new ... composting loo, which, to date is proving a very successful addition to Cleddau’s appliances and facilities.
So that’s a summary of Part 1 of the 2010 project (carried out about 150 miles from home and often in difficult weather conditions, and despite the need to continue grandparent duties, attend a wedding, a school reunion and an important birthday, all far from home). And why the project? So that we can take the boat “home” to Bedford for the July 2010 River Festival.