Sunday, 17 November 2019

Moody Moorland Meander

One of the few aspect of school learning that somehow lodged into my brain - Alliteration, that and onomatopoeia !

Anyhow, the weather on the moorlands can be very personal, from how it treats you to how it shows itself. I recently did what I call the end of the lane walk (very imaginative, there is the also the five fields walk, the valley walk, the village walk, the farm walk, the flagpole walk ..... plus a few more) Anyhow my walk was undertaken just as the moorlands was having a change in personality, from moody wet miserable moorlands to light bright wide open and welcoming moorlands. In between there is a change of light that is quite engaging.






Thursday, 14 November 2019

The marking of time - especially around the 11th of the 11th

The concept of time intrigues me and also agitates me. It's the one thing we as humans have little or no control of and has such a big impact on us and our planet. Of course our individual time on this earth is minuscule... in fact someone has worked it out.

Your age when you die = 85 years
Earth’s Age = 4.5 billion years
85/4,500,000,000 = 0.000,001,890%
Roughly your life span will be two millionths of one percent of the age of the Earth. Compared to a human life span of 85 years, it would be like a life form that lasts 141 seconds. 141 seconds is to a human lifespan, as a human lifespan is to the age of the Earth. 

Just to add some Canal reference here I found a picture the other day of the first time we saw Percy in the 'steel' so as to speak.

27th October 2012 at 10.26 am
So our ownership give or take a few weeks for surveys etc is coming up to 7 years not a lot of fractions of a % but those seven years have flown. And time does fly... but only when you look backwards. Looking forward to something and it seems to drag, it certainly did when we were waiting for the survey results 
I did buy time when I retired early, I brought my freedom from my job by a large pension sacrifice - worth every penny, if you can you should I have not regretted a day of no work and being on my own time


So where is this going. I walk a lot in the area of the moorlands where we now live, great for the body but also great for the soul. One of my walks takes me through the graveyards of Kingsley Church St Werburghs - The Church is a grade 2 listed building, with the tower dating back to the 13th century.




I first started walking through the graveyard when we got the cottage April 2017 and there were two graves in the newest part of the church. There seems to be a new grave appear each month just lately - or more frequently. Its filling up so quickly they have now set the plinths for the next row of lives lived and completed….

It's one thing the graves spreading, but when you read some of the dates - a few have lived long lives but some have lived less than my time on this earth. Some of the older graves in the cemetery around the church date back hundreds of years - all people who lived their lives and are now not talked abut, maybe just read out aloud to keep their memories alive! 

On a poignant, relevant and related thread the Commonwealth war graves cemetery at Tyne Cot  has a constant reading out over discretely placed speakers the names of the34,887 soldiers from the United Kingdom and New Zealand Forces who are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. As visitors walk along the path to the Visitors Centre names are spoken out loud by a female voice. These names are called out every few seconds on a continuous speaker system. It is incredibly moving and I was compelled to stand and hear as many names as I could saying a silent thanks you to each man who was read to me as his memory passed by me.
So spend that minuscule % of you time wisely, if you are doing something you don't enjoy try to change so you do not have to. Be brave be bold, relish each new day and every now and again say a silent thank you to those men and women who gave their today so we could have our tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

A tale of 48 hours(ish)

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up.... I am getting behind but at least I now know why... - see here  Linky

Yes for the record we had some boat time, now going back to the 27th October !

It was planned so off we drove, dropping the trusty Rover 75 tourer off for its MOT work while we were aboard. It had to be Sunday to Monday as there were caring responsibilities to undertake at both ends of the age scale.

We got to the boat and set to with the required job, me on the stove and Rachel swapping the bedding over. I cleaned the chimney last time I had a day visit when I also cut the grass and did some napalm type gardening ! Therefore the stove job was to get the stuff swept down the chimney off the top back boiler plate. I don't know why they call it a back boiler - back and top boiler would be a more apt name. Anyhow all cleaned (reminder to self take the workshop vacuum cleaner next time ) it was lit and a walk undertaken to give myself and Leia some much needed exercise  - Rachel was resting up due to a foot injury.

Fire lit....

Then off for my walk...








Almost dark on my return 
Then it got cold and very misty  - I love these very atmospheric autumnal mornings.



We did some light gardening then sadly had to repair back to the cottage as I had to collect my Rover from its MOT (150,000 miles now !) and we had to be elsewhere on the Tuesday.

It did not stop me getting a lovely canal walk in the other side of Staffordshire on the Wednesday (Rachel was back at work - only semi retired !)  -in my valley along the Caldon canal. It was quite alarming to see how high the River Churnet had been !






There was a load of sediment dumped under the railway bridge

I did the full walk out of the valley to the top fields behind the Falconry centre. This is my five fields walk added to the valley walk ( a decent amount of exercise) as the footpath is at the end of our house. The farmer had been cutting the grass on the top field.

Sadly I'd forgotten the other farmer (they have some strange field ownerships around here) had been muck spreading on the fields behind our cottage and Leia was sick for the next couple of days - could be totally unrelated but a bit of a coincidence  - any advice or experience of such?

Now I have resolved the photos issue I'll hopefully get the blog up to date 

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Sorted (sort of) I'm still here, just Blogger or Catalina being difficult

I have had a blog under edit for a couple of weeks now but for some reason I can't see all my photos when I try and add one to my post..... I can only assume it's something to do with te changes to Phot's on the Mac under Catalina ....Grrrrrr !!

I am working on it honest.

Blogger used to be able to show the low res versions of photos from Iphoto on the mac when composing a new post. It seems since the upgrade to Catalina now Blogger can only see the downloaded full resolution images despite the los res images being in the Photo library. So now the only way I can upload my photos to my blog it to first download the hi res version to my macbook.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Feeling guilty for wanting solitude

I am quite often admonished for seeking out solitude. I am happy to take such as I have in the past thought myself a 'miserable' person ! However as  grow older and more comfortable in this skin I feel more at ease with my desire to be alone, often with nature and never more so that since moving to our Staffordshire cottage in the moorlands.

When I say I, I mean we -  have two lovely places to spend time at the boat and the cottage both provide peace and quiet and lovely places to walk that are so lightly inhabited that if I'm lucky I can walk for a couple of hours and not meet anyone. I'm not antisocial, I can be very sociable but I do crave my own bit of quiet. I think that is why I struggled in the dry dock, like a caged bird if you like (only an ugly bird to be fair.)

So in the spirit of seeking solitude I recently really enjoyed a wet  and therefore quite solitudinal (not even a word I am sure) walk around one of the local reservoirs to me.

Titteswoth Resevoir 4th October 2019


Easy spot the reservoir is quite full  












Looking back from the start to the other end - the dam wall end 


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Almost essential I do these things

I have some good friends down south who ride bikes. They also like military history, especially one called John who is a Guild of Battlefield guides member and an oracle of military history.

We have over the last few years established a pattern of a European motorcycle trip to follow a particular period of war history - this takes place May time and then a local museums meet up over a long weekend in late September. John organises both brilliantly

So for my record we were in Fareham staying at the Red Lion for a long weekend visiting said places of interest for the weekend of the 27-29th September

Why the title  - obvious as one of the significant observations is the staggering loss of life matched with unimaginable bravery of soldiers and civilians during the conflicts we revisit. My life is just so easy and therefore I have to honour the sacrifice by doing things these brave people could not do whilst thinking of them and silently thanking them for my peace and prosperity.

These words from Major Dick Winters who was the cement in Easy Company still makes me feel incredibly humble.

“Before I dozed off, I did not forget to get on my knees and thank God for helping me to live through this day and to ask His help on D+1. I would live this war one day at a time, and I promised myself that if I survived, I would find a small farm somewhere in the Pennsylvania countryside and spend the remainder of my life in quiet and peace.”
― Dick Winters, Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters

Our base ....


Our bikes ...


The boy band...



It was choppy in Solent waters 


The submarine museum is well worth a visit  - done it twice now and still in awe of the living conditions of the crew and the engine room noise and smell must have been intense 


So many boats just bobbing around waiting for their owners to take them out !


Fort Nelson, one of a ring of forts around Portsmouth built to defend this essential port, used many times - the last being for the defence of Portsmouth in the second world war. Four million bricks used and it was built 60 years after our cottage !!


The contractor who build it was responsible for much of the railways infrastructure of the time also 


Grey hair no hair and dayglo.... good men.


Friday, 11 October 2019

The freedom solo cruise

Where was I .....

Day twelve Seventh day in the dock - freedom day ! I have negotiated a later start (7am) for the dock to be flooded as there was no other boat following me in. The day was starting bright which bode well for me as I was solo for today and a bit of the next day,




The top stop plank was lifted and the dock started to fill pleasingly.



Gary and his daughter were very efficient, Percy was pulled clear and then I was invited to start the engine to allow me to perform the wind and get Percy pointed to home.


Gary was readying the dock to be emptied again as I think he was going to give it a decent de-sludge 


... and we were off 


Waiting while I turned the Stourton locks as they were all empty and no boats about.



A beautiful autumn cruise


It was a reverse route to the outward trip. No help at any of the locks but thats no big issue. Just took my time, only raised one paddle at most locks to have full control of Percy. We ended up at Swindon visitor moorings for the night, same spot as the outward journey. 

Now single handling is relatively easy if you take your time and think things through. Since escaping the dry dock I was thinking evermore of the sequence and more importantly the control of Percy as I ascended Bottersham staircase locks. Only two in the staircase  but very leaky and as I would have to have the bottom chamber empty and the top chamber full with very leaky top chamber gates. Normally I leave Percy in forward to ride up the gates but not possible in this very deep leaky lock. so it would be rope control and a slow rise  - that was my plan. I walked up to the staircase that evening to agree with myself the plan of approach ! I took advantage of the chip shop again on my walk back and retired for the night dreaming of staircase locks !

Saturday morning I (we) had a plan. My lovely crew member Rachel was to drive to Shebdon and then Mandy our neighbour was to drive Rachel to The Bratch with a rendezvous time of 10.30am !! All I had to do was navigate the couple of locks before the staircase then a couple more and get help at the Bratch - or so I thought !


A beautiful early morning readying for my long day. 


The staircase comes into sight...




No one about so I was happy to tackle the locks on my own slowly... the upper chamber is empty at this point.



After climbing out I closed the gates and secured the centre line 


 I then filled the top lock and started to empty it into the lower chamber using just one paddle allowing me to walk below to hold Percy mid chamber. Just as the chambers were balanced and I had opened the gates another boater appeared and invited me to get on board and he'd bring me up. Pleasingly he was an experienced boater and signalled and asked how much I wanted the paddles opened so I has a controlled accent of the top chamber. 

Happy days I set to to make it to the Bratch for the crew arrival...


Now this flight is staffed so I was more relaxed about tackling it single handed. It was all clear, empty ready for me no other boats about so I moored up and walked to let the lock keeper know I was ready to come up. He knew I was on my own as I told him so. He was less than helpful advising me to bring the boat in and close the bottom gates behind me and he'd bring me up. Now that meant a climb up the wet slippy ladder to close the gates while he stood at the paddle end watching as I then climbed back down and along the gunwales  - very unhelpful. He was also quite uncommunicative all the way up... his loss as I was planning on buying one of the windlass holders at the top.



Despite this small irritation these locks are still a favourite and will be a motorcycle destination in the near future.

Now talk about planning, just as I was a the top of the final chamber I was hailed by Rachel and Mandy who's timing was perfect as was mine !

So now Rachel as I set to to hit a destination of Wheaton Aston on the Shroppie as we did not need a long day on the Sunday as Rachel was in London on the Monday am. Indeed this whole day's travel and some more was done over two and a bit days on the way down. Lovely cruising weather and we met a few boats all out enjoying a early autumn cruise.

Even beautiful nature was out enjoying the day 


It was so nice to have crew to share the locks with ....



This one was resting  - they look so prehistoric .... more so in the trees 




Back across Stretton aqueduct 



Then after about 9 hours we were approaching our destination - Wheaton Aston 




Rachel bringing Percy to the Wheaton Aston lock landing 


We found a mooring and phoned the pub to see if there were any free tables - there were not so the Bangladeshi restaurant in the village centre got our business and good food and service it was indeed. Always a great way to end a long days cruise.

Next morning we had a relatively short four and a bit hours cruise back to Shebdon. It was somewhat lengthened by finding the junior equivalent of the national fishing match (held the day before) happening between Wheaton Aston and High Onn.




At the same time we met as many boats as we had seen the previous day it would seem. It was not helped by the hire boat that had nipped out in front of us just after we set off thinking it was take it in turn time as the bridge holes... resulting in the flow coming towards us getting a little into trouble as one boat stopped to 'allow' the hire boat through. We held in a gap and let what must have been five boats through the bridge hole. It gave me time to talk to the junior anglers (they were not fishing yet)




No dramas saw us back from the blacking cruise with a few more hours on the clock, the engine rebuild full tested and a well protected hull for another couple of years and the roof repaired and repainted.

Would I do it again.... yes certainly as I know how good a job has been done. One significant learning point is do it locally so you can get home shower and rest between sessions. Stourbridge was ok this time as we needed to be close to the boat painter, next time I'll use either the Stafford boat club facilities or Stone boat yard, both half an hour from home. I will still take a week to do it to allow the Intertuf to cure.... hard work but worth it.