Monday 3 June 2024

Nothing then everything !

We had a quiet night at Market Drayton last night. It was so quiet this morning we overslept and woke naturally at 9am!! We decided to delay our departure and have a walk into Market Drayton and was pleased  to see it looking a bit more profitable. We had a lovely walk around the Norman church there Saint Marys. A nice lunch at a cafe we've used before when back on the boat  I emptied the cassette again so as not to have to take it home full on Wednesday.

The canal was very quiet all morning which has been consistent with our experience on both legs of this trip. 2.30 pm we slipped the ropes and headed for the locks. We met the first boat in the narrows approaching the locks... they held and we passed all fine.  A boat coming down the flight saw us coming and opened the gates of the bottom lock so we had no chance to prepare it by the planned opening the top paddles to divert the flow  - pleased to say despite an increasing flow of the nasty sideways by-wash I nailed the entry not touching the sides which anyone who knows this lock is an achievement ! A chat with the boat descending who were a bit miffed about the clown who lives in the wharf as they had had to go up the locks to wind to get access to the pump out and ended up having to go to Goldstone to wind and pass the Woodseaves cutting twice.

Rachel nailed the second lock despite the boat coming out hovering as the boat going into lock 5 had grounded on the lock landing  - happens a lot I think we've been caught out there also. As we came up lock 4 the boat came out of lock 3 and a couple despite seeing us closed and filled the lock  - never mind it didn't get them anywhere as the delay to boats moving due to the grounded boat meant they just sat on the lock landing not helping the crew descending  - you do see all sorts.

So I think it was 5 boats we passed approaching or on the flight. The reward was nothing in Woodseaves so we were able to enjoy its majesty. We both shared the same thought about how 'easy'  life is and how entitled everyone seems compared to the graft and struggle of the people who cut out such cutting with their bare hands and no doubt were pleased to be employed to do so  - not saying that was right but it seems to have gone the other way.... personal view your view may differ.

We left it to fate for our evening mooring, it was either Goldstone if there were free mooring, if not then Knightton Woods if boats were there it would be home at Shebdon. As it turned out there were only two boats at Goldstone so we bobbed in and booked a table for tonight. Since we moored we have got two more boats.

Ran the genny for 45 mins to charge up the Ecoflow. I had it connected to the 12v in the back cabin while cruising the two hours today and got about 15% thats at 6 amps or about 65w. I have been contacted by Giandel  who want a video of the inverter overloading when not connected which I've sent - hopefully they will come good with a replacement or repair.

Right beer o'clock !

Interesting repairs on the stone at St Mary's in Market Drayton  - something for our cottage maybe 

There are three significant rock slides in the cutting one which has left a massive overhang that I think needs attention as if that comes down it'll be a big old closure 

All dug by manpower !

Our welcome with mum and dad ripping the grass off the edge for the signets 

Sunday 2 June 2024

The best laid plans

We certainly think fate is leading us on a learning lesson right now. We had so many plans for 2024 that almost to a plan have been impacted or cancelled. Many reasons and some have positive outcomes for others so we can't be too upset. In fact for me personally who for 61 years has lived most of those years in the future to have plans adjusted or cancelled is a great lesson. Life right now is telling us appreciate what you have now this day this hour this minute.

Sermon over back to the boat. Due to other commitments alluded to above our Four counties / Chester / Anderton lift / Llangollen trips have been commuted into a return slow time journey to our mooring at Shebdon. So Friday we arrived at Percy mid day and she was already slipped back in all blacked up annode'd and ready to go. We filled with water then did a 180 turn out of the marina to look for a mooring below the Audlem flight of 15 locks. Nothing below the first lock so we started up and stopped after lock 14 to see if there was anything on the visitors between 11  and 12 which there was so we nailed another couple of locks and moored up for the night. Frustratingly loosing a windlass as part of the final lock mooring up process. We consoled ourselves to the fact out loss would be someone else's happiness if they kept the windlass which we have to assume they did ! 

A lazy night then a lazy start the next day. ( Sat 1st June) saw us ascend the rest of the flight turning every lock - why are there so few boats moving ? Part way up we adopted a vlovky who was friendly and efficient and was rewarded with a bottle of Tim Taylors 'Landlord' for which he was pleased to receive.

At the top lock I struggled to get the top gate fully open and expected to be able to just edge out but no Percy got stuck.... a pair of American fellas tried to help and wanted to 'push' Percy back in - they seemed excited to do this ... as they were approaching with Rachel on the back in decent reverse I 'bounced' the gate and freed us thankfully much to the disappointment of our American friends. I then set to clearing the lock recess with our boat hook - basically lots of rotting veg and sticks on the shelf where the lock gate goes into .... opened the gate all was well apart from a some new blacking not being there anymore ! 

We mored at the first mooring on the visitors at the top of the flight at around 1.15 pm two hours after setting off and rewarded ourselves with lunch and ice cream from the cake lady at the top lock.

I took a walk back to the Coop  - just under three mile round trip for supplies later. Below the top lock was a dead eel  - quite massive as long and as thick as my leg... what a canal monster and a shame it is no more. 

Not sure of the gate number but it had some decent holes in it !!

A bit of fishing and I then started to remove the new but seemingly failed Giandel inverter  which just keeps going into overload with no load on it .... trying to get them to support their product is difficult, I'll update if I get some support.

A quiet night ensued as no other boats joined us. 

Today off to do the Adderley flight then moor in or around Market Drayton for the horrible bottom lock of Tyrley on Monday all being well.

Thursday 30 May 2024

Ouch that stung a bit !

BOAT - Bring Out Another Thousand ( or two in this case ) as they say .....

It is only when you commission third party work at home or the boat do you realise what savings you or in this case I achieve  by doing it yourself. However there comes a time due to the work type and  age sometimes in combination that passing the job to the professionals makes sense. This has been the case with our blacking and some welding. The former I can do and have done in the past  - the last three blacking we did ourselves but the last one at Stone was a challenge as Rachel was delayed so I did the first coat myself and the dock filled with fumes and I went home feeling very sick  - like I was 6 pints drunk !!

I have to reconcile myself to the thinking I paid someone to do the work on the boat but I've done just about all the conversion on the workshop at home ( bar plastering it  - I've done all the plasterboard and trims etc)  so the budget I set myself for the conversion by someone else means the savings will pay for the boat work and leave a few K's spare for holidays or motorbikes !

This is a short update as all being well we will be back aboard tomorrow bringing Percy back home unless.....!!!!

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Meeting hero's and our new granddaughter

Right back we go to do a bit of catching up for my care home memories!!

So it's for now the 10 - 12th April and I'm off to meet a hero of mine I've read his books and followed him on Youtube  - Nathan Millward. He rode his 125cc Australian postie bike back from Australia then took it to the East coast of America and rode it across the States then from the west coast to Alaska.

Now he runs a taster day on smaller capacity bikes on the lanes and trails of north Devon.  Plus he organises trips to America Ireland Iceland and the UK. I rode down the day before and stayed in a B&B I've stopped in twice before at Coombe Martin. The ride down was very wet and I went on my 750cc bike for this trip.

This is a stop in Dartmoor. I don't mind riding in the wet is helps the concentration and skill levels. Over time I have acquired the right gear so don't suffer wet hands or feet or crotch !! 

Rattling across Exmoor on my bike in the rain and mist was a mind emptying experience. My bikes are my anti depressants I'm not sure what I'd do without the ability to take off and explore meet people and see places. 

The next day I was meeting up with Brian Allen Trev and his lad Jim and Nathan. We just rode bikes all day swapping between us riding one off road trail but it was sooooo wet we opted to say on the little lanes for the rest of the day. Great to have such an ambassador for small capacity bikes - they were all 350-450cc range and a personable knowledgeable fella as our guide to his back yard ( he was the editor of the Adventure bike magazine for a while iirc) Loved the day liked the Himalayan  - no surprise there and the little CCM ex forces bikes he was also selling a batch from the manufacturer as the UK forces don't use them anymore 

Some photos of blokes doing what blokes do best ....

Me and Nathan  - we are planning a dryer trip back maybe autumn time as he'll have different bikes then. 

The trip back on the Friday was chalk and cheese and I chose to ride over the Seven bridge and wend my way up through the Welsh Marches. A long but enjoyable day on the bike 

The next day on bike cleaning duties I found some metal I'd exported from Devon !! I carry a plug kit so it was a easy repair and the tyre is only about 1000 miles old I'll monitor it. 

My mum who recently turned 89 is sadly now in a care home so I visit when I can and take her out for a drive and tea and cake. I've four sisters so she gets out and about a lot still. She is from a generation of getting on with it and self reliance she lived independently until she was 88, never complains and is always smiling  - Be like Beryl !! 

Here she is at the windmill cafe near Ilkeston. Life and memories are precious

Our next event was looking after the two grandkids while son and daughter in law went off to provide another for us  - Baby Lira Ivy she's our first granddaughter and we went back a day or so later after helping out with new batteries for their new car that  thankfully  let me down on the school run not mum and new baby !!  

Don't know where that gormless smile came from - maybe a bit overwhelmed !!

More updates to come in this interlude!! 

Sunday 26 May 2024

Out we come - all very efficient

Haul out day and we were advised there was to be boat shuffles as there was a very tired looking Braidbar boat going into the paint shed. We were up at seven to start unloading and closing down the boat  - emptying cassettes etc. We got the call at 11 and very efficient Matt and his oppo got Percy onto the trailer and out of the water. 

Never a relaxing time but they were efficient and confident.

While Percy had her bottom jet washed we went for a tad expensive breakfast at the cafe - again nice people and nice service. Overwater is a nice marina like Great Haywood on steroids !

A chat with Matt about the hull... a few pits that need filling nothing bad as she'd passed her 30 year hull survey just over two years ago. We could have relaxed on the survey but while she was out it made sense to take the opportunity. I was pleased how well our DIY blacking had held up over the past two and a half years. The bigger issue was the weather, I'd not factored in they black outside so we agreed with the welding and the weather we'd not expect Percy to be back in on the Friday as originally agreed,  we settled on them to take the time needed to do it around the weather. We will adjust our plans accordingly. 

So for now I'm up to date .... while we wait out the call to come and fetch our boat I'll try and fill a few gaps... more for my record of my life in retirement but might be of interest to you who follow this blog.   

Saturday 25 May 2024

Into the marina a long day !

It was a very hot day on the Sunday  - we should have made more progress the day before but hey ho... 13 locks in full sun reminded us we aren't getting any younger ! 

I started the day with a 50 minute blast of the genny to charge the Ecoflow back up to 75%  - the house batteries are about 5 years old now and showing that age, still serviceable just but will need replacing at some point in the next 12 months. This was fortuitous as the inverter that had worked very well the day before pulling 200w off the alternator and charging the Ecoflow on the move just wanted to throw overload errors even when there was nothing connected !! That'll have to go back bugger

Everything was going one way - down only two boats all day came up the flight meaning we had to turn (fill and empty) 11 of the 13 locks for the day. Due to the direction of travel there was no water in the bywashes on most of the locks I suspect C&RT had reduced the flow to account for the lack of use of the locks due to the stoppage at Tyrley  - judging by the few boats going that was a sound decision.

Once we were in the marina it was round two for me as I unloaded the Brompton from the fore cabin and set off back to Shebdon for the car. A lovely 18 mile ride somewhat spoilt by google trying to get me onto the tow path and finally succeeding at Knighton winding hole and the tow path from there to the Shebdon winding hole isn't great for a small wheeled bike. 

Regardless I was back at the boat for about 7.30pm a quick shower and food then bed after a bit of TV. 

Thursday 23 May 2024

The Audlem flight

 We set off with a fairly unambitious target of the first set of visitor moorings on the Audlem flight basically two locks to do leaving 13 for the following day  - turned out to be a questionable decision! 

Nothing in front or behind as we set off to the lovely 5 Adderley locks. they were quickly descended with our usual swapping of duties half way through.... we still see far too many ladies on the lock while the fella stands leisurely on the tiller. Half or more than half the fun is doing the locks and chatting to other boaters. 

Then more lovely sunshine cruising to the top of the Audlem flight and a noice chat with the cake lady and cakes brought. She actually opened the top gate for us so we went straight in. I did suggest she should have emptied the lock so we'd have been on the lock landing looking at her cakes for longer !!

We dropped two locks then moored up for the rest of the day. This was Saturday so we took a walk down to the Shroppie Fly and had food there which was nice  - basic and the service was a bit erratic but friendly. They got a double tip as I paid the bill at the bar and left a tip and Rachel left one on the table. 

Back on the boat I tried a bit of fishing but was interrupted a few times so ended up magnet fishing for our friends prized windlass she dropped mid channel on her way down the flight with my help ( need to blog about that) a week or two earlier. No luck but an enjoyable two hours all the same.

The bywashes we again very active and there was a procession of boats coming up the flight heading to Tyrley to beat the stoppage.