Saturday, 18 January 2014

And we're off . . . .

Hi There

And we're off on our 2014 travels having started our life aboard in Cheshire in October 2012 and got as far as Lancashire at the end of 2013!

Whilst we'd been home for Christmas, Badger Sett had been waiting patiently for us in White Bear Marina near Adlington on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. We'd de-winterised her in case there was any cold weather that's simply not leaving any water in the boats water tank and pipes that might freeze. The last time we'd gone home we'd left all the cupboard doors and drawers open, but found that they'd got a bit of condensation in whilst we'd been away so this time we left them all shut. We'd moved stuff away from the edges of the cupboards and any cardboard type packets, cereals etc, we'd left out on the top. Much better this time, no condensation at all and we just left the cardboard boxes out for a day or so to fully dry out as they'd attracted a bit of moisture.

On the mechanical front, we hadn't left enough money in the electric meter so we'd run out on that and although the solar panels had kept the battery levels up okay the batteries themselves hadn't had a good long spell of being plugged in to the mains that we'd hoped for. Unfortunately the boat wouldn't start, but following a call to River Canal Rescue who'd got someone there within a few hours, we were all sorted and ready to go as it was simply a wire connection that needed a bit of a clean.

So here we are, getting ready for the off.

Bit tight to get out

But don't worry, we've got a bit of room to play with

Almost made it in one turn, but not quite

Saying bye to Badger Setts home of seven weeks

And now back on our travels travelling east on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

As usual for us though, stopped about an hour up the canal for the night as that was enough for us for one day.

First lock of 2014 was number 64 of the Johnson's Hill Locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Bit rusty, but got into the swing of doing locks again until we came across a pound . . . .

Without much water  !

Now we've come across the odd small pound on our travels that's been a bit low and have simply opened up the paddles of the lock above to bring the water level up a bit, but we hadn't come across such a large pound so empty before so didn't fancy doing a DIY job on it so just moored up and took a walk to survey the situation.

We then had a run of good luck. Just as we got to the top lock a Canal and River Trust guy was just parking up so we had a chat with him and he called up the office to report the problem who said they could get someone out to us in about 40 minutes. Started off to take the boys for a bit more of a walk before returning to the boat and the guy came looking for us to say that they'd found someone closer and they'd be there in ten minutes. True to their word they were there by the time we got back to the boat.

We thought that as it was going to take a while to fill the pound we'd get our later-in-the-day-chores out of the way now so I made our spaghetti for tea and Nicky made my scones that she does on a Friday aka Scone Day :-) With that all done, we sat down and got a knock on the window to say the pound was full and he was just going to open the lock for us. One of the guys then helped us up through the remaining locks and we moored just at the top. For their troubles Nicky then went and gave them a bag full of MY SCONES, but following a minor tantrum she said she'd make me some more in a few days time as I only had a few left :-) Who say's it doesn't pay to throw the odd paddy.

Final bit of good luck for the day was sitting down with a cup of tea (plus a few of the aforementioned scones) looking out the window and seeing it starting to rain, how was that for timing.

Now one of our Christmas presents from Nicky's brother and wife who live in Switzerland was a Wonder Bag. It's simply a bag with foam filled sections that retains heat so when you put a pot of hot food in, it continues to cook as a slow cooker would minus the electrics. We've used it a few times so far and not only will it cut down on the amount of gas we use, but probably more importantly, it'll reduce the amount of moisture in the air from the cooking that in turn will reduce the amount of condensation on the windows in the winter.

So here's our new toy looking something like one of those pods in Alien out of which flies the spider looking thing with a tail.

Sweet and Sour Pork for tea tonight that needs to be done on the hob so this is just the rice going in the bag tonight. Just bring it up to boil for a minute or so and then

Pop it in the bag

Tie it up and leave for an hour. Water needs to be measured to the rice or it'll absorb too much water and be soggy so tried it at two parts water to one part rice and came out perfect first time.

We've tried a few other meals and with a bit of trial and error for a different style of cooking we'll get there, but so far, really pleased with it.

Came across a set of old medieval stocks in a little village called Withnell Fold and told the boys to pose in front of them, that they were happy to do.

Then I explained the next part to them, that is, now get into the stocks. . . .

They weren't too keen on this suggestion though and pleaded with their little sorry eyes and suggested mum as an alternative offering . . . . . .

Well, so be it . . . .

We moored up just outside of Blackburn and went for a walk, ended up on the wrong side of the M65 and arrived back at the boat about three and a half hours later. The boy's normally get two to three hours of walks a day, but three and half hours in one stint left us feeling a bit drained. Other than the distance though, the scenery was nice albeit a bit soggy from the rain.

Looking back down to a length of canal that we'd travelled along on and currently moored just down to the right, but out of picture and below the valley over which the M65 travelled.

Now country walks mean stys and sometimes they don't come with convenient dog access holes or gaps under the fencing close by. The boy's have learnt how to negotiate them now though, although sometimes the foot boards are a bit low and do present a bit of a challenge.

That's big bruv about to tackle it . . .

If you can do it big bruv I'll certainly give it a go says little bruv . . .

Decided not to stop off in Blackburn itself other than topping up with water, sorting out the loo, doing a quick shop at an Asda that was right next to the canal and negotiating the six locks. Came across another pound with not much water, but managed to sort this one out ourselves and then travelled out of it and past a number of old and near derelict mills.

We've travelled over a number of Aqueducts on our travels so far, some just across valleys, some roads, some canals, but this was a first . . .

The M65 motorway

And no, I'm not wearing a bonnet in this picture, it was just a cold day so I had my hoody on under my coat.

And here's the half way marker of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal having done 63 and 5/8th of a mile with 63 and 5/8th of a mile to go.

So that's a quick round up of our journey so far and about to start travelling through the Calder Valley that we unfortunately have to share with the M65, but not too much of an inconvenience in the winter as with the windows shut to keep the heat from our stove in you won't really hear it much anyway.

And so in signing off,

Day 406 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 789 miles and 336 locks further on from when we started.


Friday, 10 January 2014


Hi There

Well, here we are back on Badger Sett following our trip back to Jersey and as promised here’s a bit about Jersey.

For those of you that are not local, known as Jersey Beans or Crapauds (pronounced as Crap O’s, if you’re sounding the ‘d’ your saying it wrong) then a quick run down of Jersey.

We’re about 100 miles south of the UK that’s about 4-5 hours by fast ferry or about 50 hours if we set sale in Badger Sett with no tide against us! but only about 15 miles from France. There are about 98,000 of us living on an Island that covers about 45 square miles, but whilst quite a large population, there are large areas of countryside and unspoilt areas. Of that population, about half of us were actually born in Jersey.


Jersey is the largest of the ‘Channel Islands’ with Guernsey being the next largest. Some of you will be familiar with the saying ‘Red sky at night, shepherds delight’ well in Jersey ours is ‘Red sky at night jerseymens delight’ (because Guernsey's on fire)! Am I jealous of them, cos not, there’s nothing to be jealous about! I have to say though that in business I did actually work with some very level headed Guernseymen, they used to be the ones with a chip on both shoulders! Anyway enough of that, if I haven’t got rid of any Guernsey readers of my blog by now I guess they’re here for the duration of this post so best say welcome fellow Islanders I suppose.

The Island is split into twelve parishes, similar I suppose to counties as in the UK, with the main one, known as our Town, being St Helier. Each parish has a bit of coast, some as you'll see with more than others. Our ‘government’ is known as the States of Jersey and is made up from a mixture of parish elected Constables and Deputy’s as well as Senators that are voted in by an Island wide mandate.


We print our own pound sterling currency and still have a pound note that disappeared from the UK a while ago, although we also have pound coins. Other dominations of coins and notes are the same as the UK and whilst we accept UK coins and notes in Jersey, our own coins and notes are not accepted in the UK.

Jersey is probably best known by some of you for ‘The Jersey Royal’ potato

or maybe by John Nettle’s ‘Bergerac’ TV program from the 80’s


But enough of the school lesson, I’ll just take you on a bit of a pictorial journey around Jersey and hope my camera and not so nice a day does it justice.

In the west of the Island and looking north from Corbiere across St Ouens bay

Corbiere lighthouse itself that you can walk to along a causeway when the tide goes out.

Bit of a windy and rough day when I took these photos. Even had to hold the camera strap in my hand to try and stop the wind making it move.

St Brelades Bay in the South West of the Island, very popular and busy in the summer and where I spent my summer holidays as a boy. Well, just round the corner off to the right actually around the rock pools and gullies.

Up on Mount Bingham looking west with St Helier Harbour below and Elizabeth Castle in the bay.

Again from Mount Bingham and looking East.

Jersey has I believe about the third highest tidal range in the world. I think one is in Japan, but I'm not sure where the other one is. The tide can rise/fall as much as 40' on a spring tide and at high tide all you'd see in the photo would be the bit of harbour to the right of the picture and the tower on the skyline towards the top left hand corner.

In the East of the Island now and looking at Gorey Castle. This and probably Corbiere lighthouse I'd expect to be the best known landmarks if any of you have been to Jersey.

Looking down on Long Beach from behind Gorey Castle and Bink's favourite beach. Loves running in the surf and chasing the small birds that skim across the surface of the seaweed on the beach. We were in our sons car today, so no wet doggies aloud.

Looking down from behind Gorey Castle across at St Catherine's Break Water. On a clearer day you'd be able to see France.

Came across this little chap on our travels.

Typical north coast view of Jersey with cliff paths along the full length if you're up for a bit of exercise. Not for the faint hearted though . . .

Back to the beginning now at St Ouens Bay and the sand dunes that the boys had most of their walks at whilst we were over.

And last but not least, our cold looking driver for the day, Aaron our eldest son.

As I said at the start, we're now back on Badger Sett and about to start heading across the Pennines towards Leeds so we'll being doing our first lock of the year (Lock 64 on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal) with another six after to help burn off the Christmas calories.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and all the very best for 2014.

And so in signing off,

Day 397 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat -  770 miles and 323 locks further on from when we started.