Wednesday, 27 April 2011

That´s the way to do it mister

When you’ve got to back up through a lock,, then turn in an unofficial windy hole afterwards it’s always a bit daunting. Says she when all she has to do is open the lock gates, then stand and watch…
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That’s it, check out tha back end lad…
 
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And the front…
 
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When you get out of the lock, 100 yards further on, this turn is so tight for a 57 footer it can’t be done without a bow thruster to keep the front end steady. It’s always blowing a gale here (well it is when we’re about), and it’s always coming from the wrong direction, ie: \\\ at the stern…
 
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Unfortunately the boat can’t be turned the other way round, (with the wind in your favour) because it’s shallower at one side (RHS in this photo). So it still took about 10 minutes on high revs to get round…
 
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A friend of ours, (minus bow thruster) once proved the point. There was no other choice but to use the wind and turn the opposite way. The rudder scraped on the side of the bank and the prop on the bottom, end result? Beached, the only answer was to teeter down the gunnels, then physically push the bow away and jump on quick…
I once did a post about the bowthruster debate focusing on the SAFETY aspect, which sorta stirs things up from a different angle. “Girlie button?” No such thing…
 
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The “V” shaped railway bridge further on. We’ve often wondered why, because the train goes across in a straight line…
 
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This swing bridge hasn’t just got a number, it’s got it’s own number plate, the little yellow thing in the middle, bad photo, light fading, so you’ll have to trust me on this one…
 
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With the light fading fast there was just one more lock to do and we were back at the marina…
 
Oh and we gained a windlass and lost a fender (plus clip) on the way back. It would’ve been much more productive had it been the other way round because we’ve now got three windlasses and a fender short of a full set… 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

We´re staying put for the weekend

But our friends had to leave us yesterday and head back for the marina. The first bit of the return journey is a bit difficult, because it involves backing up through a lock, then turning in the “unofficial” windy hole further down. Only a select few of us know about it so shush.
 
Dave’s done this procedure before with TT so he helped Ian get his boat lined up in the lock next to Mark. It was a strange sight that, watching Dave backing up a narrowboat and parking it neatly next to another one in a lock. There’s a first x 2…!
 
He did a good job too, in fact I was quite proud of him considering most of us had chronic hangovers. I went to help open the lock gates and told Debs there was only half of me here, the other half was still in bed asleep.
 
There he is on the right holding the boat away from the side, don’t know where Mark had disappeared to. He’s a bit like Dave when it comes to doing the Spiderman thing where locks are concerned, could be anywhere…
 
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Meanwhile on the other side of the lock this swan was doing the “bottoms up” thing, bit late for that, should’ve been with us last night…
 
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Yes very balletic, thought it was going to do an unplanned 360 backwards flip there for a moment…
 
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Which also reminds me, we’re going up to “The Ship Inn” again tonight to try out the food, we’ve heard it’s very good. (All we know for sure is that the drinks are very good – as discovered Friday night).
 
Sunny day, Easter weekend, popular place in a gorgeous setting, which means we’ll probably have to set off down the towpath about 4pm. Order at 5pm, then wait another hour or so. But who cares when it’s sunny and warm?
 
Tip of the day: Never leave your dry roasted peanuts out in the sun because they turn into rock pebbles…

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Now then, now then, let´s have some decorum please

Oh, ok then sod it…
 
Two boat loads of friends arrived yesterday and moored up either side of us. It transpires that some of us thought we were going to the pub for a meal, some of us thought we were just having a BBQ, and some of us just didn’t know what we were doing – no make that all of us.
 
So we had a little discussion about things and came to the conclusion that there’d be “no room at the inn” as it were, seeing as half the marina was already installed at the pub (including boats). Which meant we’d probably have had to wait about three hours for food to actually arrive at the table, that’s if we could get a table in the first place.
 
At this point we implemented a voting system which turned out to be an overwhelming “YES” vote for the BBQ, and THAT was when we realised we hadn’t got enough food for all of us… I mean why didn’t we discuss all this a couple of days ago? Just how daft are we? (No don’t answer that). It’s not like we hadn’t planned all this, we had – well, to the best of our ability which leaves a lot to be desired.
 
So Mark the Spark and Ian set off on a mammoth expedition to find Tesco, (across some fields, then about two miles walk). We all waved them tatty bye and said we’d see them next week sometime. Which also meant there might’ve been enough food for the rest of us (should they only return next week). But it was about an hour after they’d set off, Heth the Feth here suddenly realised it was Good Friday. So would Tesco even be open when they got there??? Oops…
 
Fortunately the Tesco Trauma place was still open (just), so they came back in a taxi and then trudged back across the fields again. Turned out taxis don’t do fields.
 
Being as a BBQ is a “man thing” we all sat outside on the towpath drinking copious amounts of wine. Meanwhile Dave and Mark did all the cooking, whilst also drinking copious amounts of beer. My contribution was to go inside, hook my laptop up to the sound system so Coldplay, Oasis, and Snow Patrol could join in.
 
The BBQ wouldn’t light at first, so Mark the SPARK put cooking oil on it. Good idea that (sarcasm), because it suddenly exploded into a roaring furnace of a bonfire. There were bits of chicken flying about all around (excuse pun), and one of our “Tesco Finest” beef burgers spontaneously combusted itself.  
 
Normal people can simply say “We had a BBQ and it was very nice.” End of. But if we’re involved there’s always some kind of saga goes with it.
 
Anyway this was the end result – all THREE tables of it, and yes it was VERY nice…
 

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Some members of the rabble…
 
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Later on we all put our Sunday best on and set off up the towpath to the pub, some of us were walking in a straight line more successfully than others.
 
Amazingly we found a table outside, I was checking it out for bird poo or something equally as cruddy. Seeing as the place was mobbed, one empty table is a bit suspect. (Not that any of us would’ve noticed a bit ‘o shit). It was still about 22 degrees when we sat down, very pleasant. Later on we could see thunder clouds moving on in, so we staggered back to the boats.
 
Mark the Spark brought round his vast selection of extremely silly board games. I can remember we played two of them and our team even won the first one! (Ha! AND How?). But don’t ask me what either of them were called because I’ve no idea. I’m sure there was lots of cheating going on.
 
So that’s yet another night to go in the archives of “sense and sensibility” then. Blimey, think I’m going have to start another library.
 
PS: I bet the marina looks deserted, especially our pier…

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Booze Cruise

Aha! Look where we ended up yesterday evening about 6pm…
 
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That’s the infamous lock 7 just outside the marina you know,, the one that had the new lock gates fitted. They still leak as bad as they did before, and the lock gear is even more difficult to operate than ever. In need of TLC but it won’t get any.
 
And this is the sign next to it, perhaps it’s supposed to be a naff joke…
 
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The beginnings of the new 50 berth marina that may never happen a bit further up…
 
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So why are we on our way up towards the Leeds Liverpool canal all of a sudden? Well there’s a lovely pub up there called “The Ship” at Lathom locks (that’s locks 1 and2). It’s situated right where the Rufford canal meets the Leeds Liverpool, and it’s re-opening this weekend after refurbishment.
 
There’s about a million boats coming up from the marina for the night. We came up here yesterday to get a decent mooring he he. But we’ll still have to walk about half a mile to get there, which will be quite easy on the way, but might be a problem when staggering back…
 
We passed a Chocolate Frog on the way here, that’s Mike peeking out of the side hatch, but his real name’s Chocolate Frog same as the boat…
 
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Will post some more photos later, some friends have just arrived in their boats and moored up. We put the traffic cones out and taped off the towpath for them last night.
 
This booze cruise required advance booking…

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Door Disaster Zone

Imagine the scene:
 
I woke up at dawn this morning, greeted with warmth, sunshine, the sweet chorus of birdsong, and the happy smile all that puts on one’s face :-)

So I got up to throw open the front doors (still wearing said cheesy grin). The idea being to close the curtains again afterwards to avoid a bluebottle invasion. Then go back to the land of nod in peace and quiet…

When I say “throw open the front doors” I don’t mean literally of course. But that’s what happened because one of them fell off it’s hinges, which left me stood there holding it up thinking now what do I do? Whenever I find myself in a predicament like this, which is quite often, the best plan of action is to shout the likes of “Dave, we have a situation here,” (works every time).

Well how the heck was I to know the darn thing was going to drop off in my hand…?
 
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The temporary answer was to jam it shut, fortunately there’s three hinges and the bottom one was still intact – but it didn’t make the operation any easier. There’s only me could walk into a door that isn’t all there in the first place…

So this afternoon’s job was to go get some new hinges, and make it into a door that does what doors are supposed to do again. There’s an opening for a puny pun there, but I’ll close the door on it.

Coming up tomorrow:Carpentry skills nailed.” A short and extremely boring instruction guide on how to maintain your hinges without losing a screw…

Monday, 18 April 2011

Evening Star, Albert Fowler’s steam road roller

We heard a steam roller trundling along yesterday, then all of a sudden silence descended, except for the “toot toot” of a whistle. So we went out to have a look, it had stopped to fill up with water. Tell you what, it attracted quite an audience…!
 
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Turns out it was on it’s way back to Mawdesley after spending the day at a local Steam Engine Rally. I wish I’d had chance to get a photo of the guy riding the Penny Farthing, he could’ve done with a whistle too.
 
Can’t say that I’ve ever been a big fan of engines of any kind, but stood in front of 100 years of history like that was really quite impressive, so:
 
Happy Centenary “Evening Star”
 
I was online this morning trying to find some more research and a bit of history about it. All I found was a couple of photos that weren’t as good as these…!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A cheeky visitor or two

We went round to the Dumpout Palace yesterday and a few minutes later Samson came a calling. With one of the sides up and the door open in the lux con, for a moment there we thought he was just going to jump on board…
 
Then again he could´ve been politely reminding me to clean the shit off that floor...

 
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With best friend Doug – the most unlikely chums in the world, they´re never apart…
 
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Further along, three little babes from a new brood were staying put on dry land while their siblings all plopped in. Mum came round later on and gave them all a gentle shove with her beak. They fell in sideways and backwards with double somersaults, but they still floated…  

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Thursday, 14 April 2011

90 Degrees

Sad to say, no it’s not the temperature, it’s the angle…
 
Last weekend we witnessed the motley crew of this boat trying unsuccessfully to pull in before this swing bridge. There were three people on board, and it took them half an hour of faffing about like this before they finally managed it.
 
On several occasions the back end came in, but it seems nobody thought about getting off and grabbing a rope. Just watching this performance was really quite entertaining in a quite spectacular sort of way. Grounded, stuck side on, bashing into the bridge, it had all the elements required for a short educational film on “How not to.”
 
Pure inexperience, or lack of common sense…?
 
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Even the bloke on the towpath walked past TT and said to us,
 
“Well I’m no boater, but he’s making a right pigs bottom out of that!”

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Why we love the Rufford canal so much

It’s so quiet and peaceful here, just a few boats have been past us today, two of them turned in the windy hole further down then came back!
 
When I hear some of the stories about the area round Braunston and the phrase “Boat rage” this couldn’t be more different. {However we usually get some visitors when we’re out here to shatter the peace for a while}
 
Anyway here’s some pictures I took on our way on Thursday, with not a BW sign in sight.
We have orange fields round here as well as not real orange trees tha´ knows…
 
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I would say that’s my house but there’s too many barns round it. The old gem “can’t see the wood for the trees” comes to mind even if it isn’t particularly relevant…
 
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Spot the sheep amidst the tumbleweeds…
 
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Spot the lambs amidst their mums…
 
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Working boat Ladybird – hasn’t done any work for ages…
 
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Percy the pigeon sat posing on a bridge…
 
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Nope I’m not coming out from behind this bush for anything, no way…
 
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Oh well go on then…
 
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“Please respect Jessica’s special place, died Oct 97”
 
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I know it’s a bit morbid but every time we’ve gone past this memorial it makes me wonder if Jessica died there. It may have happened before they removed what used to be a lock.
 
You can just make out what was the RHS of the lock beyond the bridge in this photo…
 
Sollom Fav Spot (85)
 
Right well I’ve got to go, the crew of nb “Just Imagine” are on their way to moor up here overnight. No need to mention the BBQ and jolly good knees up (old bean) is there? Dave’s out there cordoning off the towpath with luminous netting as we speak.
 
Last time Michelle and Barry came for a visit and a silly night out (while we were moored up here) was via car, then a walk down the towpath. JI was still being fitted out at the time, and with delay after delay they were a bit peed off with it at the time. Bit different now though eh?
 
In case you’re wondering, “JI” is the shorthand version of their boat’s name. Just like TT is the shorthand version of “Tetley Teabag…”

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The first babes of the season

And one of them is an acrobat balancing precariously on top of mum…
 
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We counted 15…
 
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Then they set off for a paddle…
 
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And stopped for a rest at the back of TT…
 
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I make no apologies for posting several photos at a time when ducklings are popping up all over the place, they’re just so cute aren’t they?
 

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mount Everest

 A view from the boat? Yes…
 
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Oh look it’s afloat…
 
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Took these the other night – sometimes my imagination astounds me…
 
Got to fly, I’m being wined and dined for Mother’s Day…
 
Winking smile