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.