Thursday, 20 February 2014

A touch of Deja Vu !

Hi There

HEALTH WARNING – This post doesn’t contain many photo’s

REASON – We are having a bit of a Déjà vu journey, confused, read on

So far 2014 has very much been start, stop, start, stop, backtrack and wet.

Having got our prop shaft fixed and arranged a grocery delivery from ASDA we were ready to set off the following day. But, found that our fresh water pump had been leaking and were then delayed for another four days whilst a new one was ordered and fitted. Unfortunately it hadn’t decided to go whilst we were moored up and immobile waiting for the prop shaft to be sorted, but timed its failure to perfection to coincide with departure day. Well, actually, there had been some signs for a few days as the floor had been a bit wet, but we’d put this down to the wet weather and as we were getting in the front of the boat due to where we were moored whereas we always come in the back way. So this and wet coal buckets when we went to fill up with coal was ‘assumed’ to be why the boards were a little wet (not).

Anyway, that got sorted and off we went continuing our journey east along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, until, an hour into our journey, a chap called out and said they were working on the canal up ahead. And for all you seasoned boaters reading this, no I hadn’t checked for stoppages, as I knew where all the planned ones were, but note-to-self for the future, remember to check for 'unplanned' stoppages.

So we moored up before we got into Burnley and took an hour walk up the canal just to check that the guy was right and yes he was. About a week before a wall had fallen into the canal so had it not been for our prop shaft problem we’d have been past it a few weeks before in which case the now problem wouldn’t have been.

So here we are at the 'un-planned' stoppage and unfortunately the diversion sign isn't for water based travel.

I thought that a few bin liners and some scaffold poles was an impressive way of holding back the canal, well, maybe a bit stronger than bin liners, but impressive nonetheless.

And here we have one drained section of canal.

And all those little hidden treasures that are waiting for your prop along the way!

And finally, the wall that was.
The choice we faced was waiting another three weeks before the canal was reopened, or double back and do the Wigan flight of locks for a second time. As we’d already been static for about three weeks we thought we’d go with the latter and started heading back west towards Wigan locks where a planned stoppage on the flight was due to finish in a weeks time.
He are the new top gates of lock 83 on the Wigan flight that we were the first to use and have to say, I've never seen such a leaky pair of new gates!

So, fast forward and we’re now at the bottom of the wigan flight having cleared them in under six hours that we were pleased with and now just two more locks to do on the Leigh branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal that’ll take us onto the Bridgewater Canal. We had been planning to go up the Rochdale Canal and then down the Huddersfield Canal although on ‘checking for stoppages’ I found that this was not going to be an option, but at least I found out sooner rather than later this time.

So one plus point to me followed by a negative one when we shared the last two locks of the day with a fellow boater who told us that the Bridgewater Canal between Worsley and the Barton Aqueduct was closing from midday the next day. You’ll note here that I failed on the aforementioned note-to-self to check for stoppages, but as the Bridgwater Canal is privately owned and not part of the waterways of the Canal and River Trust I hadn’t realised that there was a stoppage. Hadn’t realised or was it hadn’t bothered checking, probably the latter so note-to-self again, bother your arse to check in future!
So having started the Wigan flight at just after eight in the morning we then made a dash to get through the closure in time or we’d be stuck for two weeks. Got to within a few miles of the impending closure, but had to stop as it was 6pm and was getting tricky to see where I was going in the dark. But at least we’d broken the back of the journey and were just a short hop away from getting through the stoppage the next morning. Until the next morning that was when we found that the last time of travel had been 16:30 the previous day so we missed getting through by just a couple of hours and have now got the delight of a ten mile stretch of canal to meander back and forth along for the next two weeks until it opens up again. Oh well, at least it’s quite a nice stretch of canal although we’d already done it back in August.

Plenty of lazy days ahead for us and the boys particularly like reading time after breakfast, especially when the suns out.

So the plan now is once the Bridgewater Canal is open, is to just start heading down south as our youngest son and his girlfriend are flying into East Midlands airport for a holiday with us at the beginning of May. We'll therefore be heading west along the Bridgewater Canal, start down the Trent and Mersey and then cross over onto the Shropshire Union and pass the time in the Midlands until the beginning of May.

Our general plan for the early part of 2014 of finishing off the Leeds and Liverpool Canal followed by the Rochdale and Huddersfield Canals has therefore been bazookad and we're not where we expected to be or heading where we expected to, but hey, if this is as bad as life or stress gets, well isn’t life afloat just great :-)

Sorry about the lack of pictures this time, but as it has been a bit of a Deja Vu trip for us there are plenty of pictures in the back issues of my blog for the waterways we’re doubling back over.

And so in signing off,

Day 439 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 851 miles and 372 locks further on from when we started.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Lightening never strikes twice !

Hi There

Our last post on the 18th January found us at Altham on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and this post sees us having covered no miles since then as we've come a cropper and damaged our prop shaft again and that's less than twelve months after the last time ! Who says lightening doesn't strike twice ? Can't take credit for the picture, just downloaded it from the Internet.

Don't know what we hit, but it actually raised the back of the boat out of the water in the process. It's not even as if we charge around the network, I mean, we only average about an hours cruising a day and that at under 2mph, so we're not ploughing the back into the water because we're going fast and I wouldn't say we've got a particularly deep draft.

Luckily we were close to a place called Altham Marine and called in there for them to have a look at it for us and this is where we've been moored up since. At least we can plug into their electrics and have got access to water, disposal point for the toilet, coal that we're starting to run low on we just need to change our gas bottle aswell so we're living fairly comfortable rather than being moored up miles from anywhere and the  resulting difficulties that this delay would have caused us. We've ordered groceries online a few times (Tesco and Sainsbury), but this area was covered by ASDA so we gave them a bash this as the closest supermarket is about a 40 minute walk away, in fact, the closest convenience store is a good twenty minutes as well.

Have to say that Steve at Altham Marine has been very helpful and we've got him to service our engine whilst we were here and he sorted out of boat yesterday so we'll be underway a little later this morning after we've stocked up with another delivery from ASDA that'll see us through the next 10 days.

Luckily Altham Marines yard is within feet of the canal so we didn't need to go to the full hassle of getting the boat lifted out of the water and onto blocks for the necessary works to be carried out, but managed with a suspended lift that raised the back out of the canal just enough to get the prop clear of the water.

Luckily the weather was good so we took this as we went for a walk with the boys and it was just being lowered back into the water when we got back a few hours later.

Whilst it's a nice area, the weathers been quite wet so the walks around the area have got very muddy and having been here for two weeks it's starting to get a bit repetitive and we'll be glad to be fixed and on our way. It seems like the temperatures are starting to drop though so we'll probably just make it around the corner and then we'll get stuck in the ice although at least the mud would freeze then as well so it wouldn't be such mushy walks. Give us cold weather and ice rather than mild and wet any day. . . .

So here are a few pictures of the Altham area of the Calder Valley that we've snapped on the nicer days.


Sorry about the shadow from the walkway over the motorway, but we'd have had too much sky in the photo to have cut it out.

Not sure what Nicky's up to here, obviously some sort of meditation or paying homage to a higher body complete with sacrificial poo bag offering at her feet. Strange girl, never fully sure what goes on between her ears, but I suppose it's all part of what makes her special. . . .

Anyway, back onto my life's primary mission of keeping her in doors happy as part of my 'happy wife easy life philosophy'. Having been stuck with her happily married for 28 years and known her for 30 years, I've still got my mojo in this department.

Yes girls, I brought her a twin tub, are any of your men so thoughtful ? ? ?

We had planned to buy one back in October, but the company couldn't fulfil the order so we've only just got around to ordering one now. Only used it a few times so far (Nicky that is, I've just observed and directed), but it does a pretty good job. Takes about 50 minutes of power to do a 3kg - 4kg wash and spin and as it's a low voltage appliance (about 200w) it'll only cost us about 15amps of power. We'll probably still need to do it when underway in the winter, but from Spring the solar panels will provide more than enough power to do a wash whenever we please. Saves us trudging to the laundrette as we've done this past year and at £99 plus about a fiver for the delivery it doesn't break the bank either.

Well that's it for this post. We should be underway a few hours from now so will hopefully have a bit more to tell next time.

And so in signing off,

Day 420 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 789 miles and 336 locks further on from when we started.