Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Remodelling Project – update


Well, Saturday was fun although not particularly successful, mission-wise. We had intended to shop for tonal lift objects for Lesley's new bathroom after visiting the conservatory place. After a drive through the badlands of Medway Industrial Estate we eventually found it only to discover it wasn’t open on the weekend. Why we, as project managers, didn’t check this out first, I am unclear.
Then, by the time we had looked around for something ornamental (a.k.a. tat)  for the bathroom (found three options to be considered, but Lesley wouldn’t countenance the orange china parrot for some reason), we were hungry and tired from the heat, so came home for a late lunch. That was the end of shopping for Saturday – it was too hot to go out again.
Sunday we went out again, this time to Wickes to check out the kitchen. Yes, Lesley still loves the Heritage Bone style she chose last year – glad to see chemo hasn’t affected her brain overly much. We made an appointment with their designer to come to the house on Tuesday. Went to Sainsbury’s somewhere in the south east, but I have no idea where. Shopped for meals for the next few days. I am constantly amazed (don’t know why it still strikes me) by the amount of shelf and freezer space given over to ready-made food. However it does make shopping easier as I can by-pass those aisles (except maybe for where the Gu puddings are located…). Dinners have been planned – goat’s cheese and walnut salad, chicken thighs filled with boursin cheese and wrapped in bacon, burgers, nachos. We had a lovely beef curry at the neighbours’ place Sunday evening and came home well-fed and well-wined ready to fall asleep.
Monday has faded into the recesses of my memory (some kind of shopping – for required bathroom accessories), but I know I made the goat’s cheese, walnut and nectarine salad for dinner – it was very yummy.

Tuesday was rather productive (note British understatement).
First achievement included decisions about the kitchen: The kitchen designer came in the morning and she heard the desires/wants/needs/unwanted and went away to do the drawing up. My hunch is it will end up almost the same as what Lesley had drawn up last year. Well, I hope so as that was efficient and effective use of space, and workable except for the sink being beside the wall with nowhere to put anything waiting to be washed. (Drawn up by a rather young man, so what more could be expected?) Charlotte also took measurements of the under stairs cupboard to see if my plan for fitting a drawer for the vacuum cleaner and a pullout cupboard/drawer could be implemented to make good use of otherwise useless/unusable space. We are meeting Charlotte on Saturday at 11am at the store to look at her drawings plus stoves, microwaves, range hoods etc.

Tonal lift down low in the bathroom
The second achievement was deciding on and purchasing tonally uplifting tat for the bathroom: At the shop called Home, I think, the assistant there arranged the artificial flowers in a vase for Lesley and I don’t think she charged for her time. Score! It looks pretty good, I think, and certainly relieves the beige-ness. I do believe that chickens would look better but, for some reason, Lesley won’t take that advice …

Then it was off to the conservatory people where the third achievement occurred - she has decided on using these guys and has a better idea of what will work, look stylish and be in keeping with her house. We had a good chat with the owner and one other staff member, with the upshot that the owner drove us to his place to view his conservatory so Lesley could see it in the flesh.
She may end up with a straight ended conservatory, but at least she will NOT have a lean to style. (Here's their website  http://www.t2twindows.com/ They seem to be well made, sturdy and attractive.) She will have a proper roof, not glass; and will probably choose between a gable end (either glass above the door or filled in) or Edwardian. The Victorian style, which is my favourite, has standard angles of 135 degrees so their advice is that it isn’t practical for narrow-ish conservatories as it chops too much useable space off. Mmmm, I'm not convinced. Today we are going to buy a couple of spray cans and mark it all out on the ground outside so she can 'see' the size. The guys are coming on Saturday arvo to measure and do some drawings on the fly so she can get more of a picture. All they need is cake and coffee. She will buy cake and I will make pikelets (with jam and cream, methinks) as there is still no stove …
Incinerated buns - I decided discretion was the better part of valour and didn't take a photo while they were under the grill in flames ...
Dinner was burgers with beetroot, fried onions, tomato, lettuce, with some mushrooms and salad on the side. The preparation was not without excitement. I managed to set fire to the buns under the grill when I was preparing salad. I left them out on the front grass, and while I was unsure if Chatham’s birdlife eats charred bread, I notice that this morning it has all gone!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Land-based for a while


Travelling by train yesterday towards London I could see the canal off and on almost all the way – the juxtaposition of the development of the canal and railway systems is plain to see regarding the routes that they both took, one slightly before the other. Getting to London from Macclesfield yesterday took 1 hour 50 minutes on the Virgin Pendolino. I know the trains back in the 1800s would have been a lot slower, but how long would that journey take on a working boat, even if travelling 12 or 14 hours a day? No wonder the canal trade diminished so rapidly. In thinking of the pleasure we boaters get from being on the cut and that walkers get from being beside it I am very grateful to Tom Rolt and all the other campaigners and volunteers and workers that have restored the assets for us to enjoy.
David, if you are reading this in NZ (in the depths of winter …) be aware I am keen to start heading south-ish when you are back here. It just looked lovely yesterday in the sunshine. I think I recognised Great Linford where, back in 1990, I first got a narrowboat broadside across the canal trying to stop after we’d almost passed the park. I remember our being there with the kids – great memories that made me smile. That was a lovely trip, wasn’t it? Tim as the ace steerer, and Kirsty as the ace lockwheeler – it wasn’t until we were on our next narrowboat trip a few years later that we realised how strong she had been at nearly 13 working the GU locks singlehandedly. Do you remember Tim’s dishes roster where he’d assigned himself more turns than anyone else and wasn’t allowed to amend it? What mean parents …
Enough nostalgia!

Travelling by train was good – I booked a seat in the quiet coach from Macclesfield to Euston (to avoid the phone conversations that all seem to start ‘I’m on the train, we’re coming into …, I’ll be there at …’), and then the Tube one stop over to St Pancras. As I came out on to the main concourse at Euston, I was gobsmacked at the crush of people there. I had forgotten just how crowded it could be, even though I had been preparing myself for it. I was pleased I knew where to go as I couldn’t see any signs for the Underground for some reason. I was booked on the fast train from St Pancras to Faversham, no stops till it was well out of London. Lesley had told me to come out of the side gate at Gillingham, so there I was looking for a gate in the fence … Doh! Had to ask and was directed to a proper exit with ticket gobblers and flapping barriers.
Her new bathroom looks great and our first task today is to find a few more accoutrements (all women of a certain age need accoutrements) to finish it off – a hand-towel ring (square, stainless steel), a towel rail (square, stainless steel), a mirror and something for tonal lift to go on the wall. I am thinking an orange starfish perhaps … I suggested a cow or a chicken (those readers who know my house will understand) but Lesley just sniffed derisively, so a starfish it may have to be! Perhaps some flying ducks?
Our next tasks include a visit to the conservatory showroom. She had received some CAD pics from a guy (the one she dared to get around here without me recently) and the style he had drawn up is appropriately called ‘Lean to’ as that is exactly what it looks like! Yuk. She is keen to have something that looks like it is part of the house rather than tacked on, so the roofline and style need to match, and a lean to has neither in common with her house. So that’s out then…
We are also going to Wickes to fall in love again with the kitchen style she chose last year (it’s very lovely – plain, classic, classy) and to organise for them to come and measure up, plan it and get it installed. She had a plan done last year very quickly by another firm, and it looked great, so hopefully she will stick with that – it was an efficient layout and made good use of the small space. I am keen though to get her to consider opening up the end wall of the kitchen and having it open plan, but that may be a bridge too far …
Scrapers, yes, we have to buy scrapers so we can get the paint off her end wall in the hallway. The extreme weather rainstorms of the winter destroyed the pointing on the external wall (she’s end of terrace) and it leaked lifting some of the internal plaster exposing the trunking for the power cables. Scary stuff.
So a busy few days coming up, helping spend her money – always a pleasure!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Off to points south

Last night I went to a BBQ here on the marina. Lovely people and lots of laughs.
This morning I am getting the train down to Chatham in Kent to stay with Lesley for a while - if it isn't too hot, we'll do some preparation and painting inside. The journey is scheduled to take just over 3 hours - shorter than it took me to go from Marple to Macclesfield the other day!
I am preparing myself for the noise and bustle of London as I transit through there. It is so quiet on the canal, even when the train lines are close the noise isn't constant, and we always try to moor up away from the A roads.
I've got to pack, clear stuff out of the fridge that won't last till I get back here with David on Aug 7, do the dishes from last night, clean the boat, water the plants again, and walk down to the station in time to get my tickets from the machine. So no loitering in bed today!
When I went out to feed the ducks with the last of the bread, I saw this heron sitting calmly on the end of the pier.


Back up the Marple Locks in the rain - 19/7

The view out the window first thing in the morning. A heavy thundersrtorm overnight and it rained steadily till we were at about Lock 14. I was freezing on the tiller, the others were hot, and I couldn't read a paper! How cruel is that?

We reversed in to the Maccie and moored up alongside a boat that had been moored in the 48 hr moorings when we came past 4 days before. We went to lunch at the Navigation Inn on Stockport Rd near Lock 13, then back to the boat and across for water. Then back through the bridge, turned south again.

Barry and Pauline walked back to Marple for a few groceries (I forgot when we were heading for lunch ...). On their way back it started to rain again, but they took the time to get lovely shots of the heron flying in front of them.

The heron rises to flight again. Our mooring in the background. The huge amounts of dog poo cannot be seen though. There's a dog owner living beside the lock with 4 pooches that are allowed out the gate on to the towpath unaccompanied and without plastic bags  (with no opposable thumbs, I guess they'd have trouble loading them)...

Isn't that beautiful?

The 16 Marple Locks - Down in the sunshine on Friday 18/7 - Part three

Moored up, one ring, two pins

Barry took photos from the road behind the trees across the cut while Pauline, David and I get the table, chairs, drinks and nibbles sorted

TV aerial up, pram cover up, plastic bags on the pins, Pauline and Barry off for a walk after dinner

The 16 Marple Locks - down in the sunshine on Friday 18/7 - Part two

Beautifully peaceful with lovely views off to the right - not far to go now

Leaky gates behind me. I'm keeping well forward and reading the paper while I wait

The last lock emptying while I'm inside it

The garden of the house next to the pound at the bottom.

Out of the last lock - yay!

The 16 Marple Locks - down in sunshine on Friday 18/7: Part one

In the distance Melanie and Peter emptying the lock under David's tutelage. Under Stockport Rd, the tunnel for the horse - original cobbles.

Next to the horse tunnel is the boatman's tiny tunnel that gets him back to the horse close to the lock exit

Into the pound below Stockport Rd

Not sure which lock. First time I have seen the stone bridges across the locks.

Am I going in straight? Will I hit the side?

Barry was still smiling at this point and still smiling after the 16 locks!

Project update for Wednesday 23 July


As I am writing this (on Thursday 24 July) I realise it is one day short of 2 months since we left NZ. A lot has happened in that time, even if we haven’t cruised as far acanal (the boating equivalent of afield) as we had expected to.

Milestones for 23 July: Have passed lots of them, esp on the Macclesfield Canal which has them in abundance – they all look like headstones with chiselled lettering. Oh, that’s not the reporting milestones you were expecting? OK, here goes.
·      Milestone 1 – David arrived back in NZ to a Wellington mid winter southerly with a 5 deg wind chill factor. Went to bed not long after arriving home (courtesy of Gary who collected him from Wellington Airport). Two hot water bottles, loads of blankets, and he can’t find his warm pyjamas! The other thing was that his bag did not arrive with him back into Christchurch – he was the first one out to baggage claim and the last to leave.
·      Milestone 2 – He successfully found Gregor’s carriage clock and champagne opener that we’d put in a safe place, (almost) never to be found again. Usual story – we decide on a place, are convinced we’ll remember it, and then promptly forget. One of our favourite hiding places for precious things was in the piano, so we both had palpitations thinking that we may have put them there – and we sold the piano a few weeks before we left … But no, we don’t have to replace Gregor’s treasures.
·      Milestone 3 - My first day as a single hander – from Marple to Macclesfield: 100% complete, a successful water fill before leaving, then 11 miles, no locks or lift bridges. Lots of boats coming the opposite way though, so in most instances I let others go first through bridgeholes, esp if the side I was on had plenty of room. A couple of women kayaking flat out came towards me and then overtook me when they turned around. I could see them when they were beside me, but not when they were in front for some distance so I went into neutral – seeing 2 sets of flashing paddles was a help until they pulled well ahead.
·      Milestone 4 – The warmest day of the year here so far – eat your heart out, David! I have improved my tan, but for the sake of my neck I repaired my cap – sewed the hankie back in more securely.
·      Milestone 5 – Lunch at Lyme View Café – my reward for successful first half of the solo journey. Lovely food and excellent service. My lunch was a lovely goat’s cheese salad starter made into a main by adding a side salad and fries.
o   When I’d moored up and was heading for the café along the towpath, a couple of kayakers asked me if they could leave their kayaks and gear beside the boat while they went for a drink at a nearby pub. They had been on the cut since 7am and were trialling their gear for a Firemen’s Charity event in which they are circumnavigating the Cheshire Ring in early August (portaging through the locks). They had a cool thing for heating food – a metal tray they put a pack of some chemical that they added water to and it heated up the food in a container that slotted into the metal tray. Very cool! Well, actually, very hot. The guys did make me laugh though – they made sure not to let their forks touch the towpath but they were happy to place them on the bottom of the kayaks …
·      Milestone 6 – lost the first piece of laundry overboard. Coming through Bollington the wind picked up and I looked alongside to see a familiar Tshirt sinking. I hope it sank like a stone and stays on the bottom so it doesn’t wind around someone’s prop. I had no way of getting it out of the water. I did however stop in the next bridgehole and raced through the boat to get all the rest of the washing out of the cratch and tossed it on to the sofa in the saloon.
·      Milestone 7 – Mooring up at the marina visitor mooring in a strong wind: 100% complete, with a bit of swearing and much hauling on the middle rope to stop the boat from blowing away down the cut – the 60 foot by 3 foot 6 inch side of the boat acts as a very effective sail. Once the middle rope was finally tied on, I got the back tied, then the front, then the middle again to tighten, then adjusted the back and front again. Breathe out.
·      Milestone 8 – Put up pram cover in the wind: 100% complete. I wasn’t sure if it was better to leave it down with the wind or to put it up, but decided that at least if it was up all the canvas would be supported by the framing, whereas down it could flap about and may tear.
·      Milestone 9 – A good night’s sleep: 100% complete. When I got into bed I could hear the boat squeaking against the rubber fenders on the jetty. It was only at the stern, so I eventually went out and loosened the rope. Then I could hear the middle rope creaking as the boat moved a bit in the wind. Too bad. I decided that 3 ropes would hold the boat and that I had knotted them correctly, so decided that sleep was the best remedy for noisy ropes.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A busy but lazy day


Evidence of aerial and today's washing in the cratch - of course if I'd cleaned the front glass the washing would be more easily seen!
My mooring with the snake bridge past the next boat. Beautifully sunny and warm.
Yay, yesterday I managed to put up the TV aerial (all 3 sections of its mast) and used the Antenna Aligner app to get a good signal. Did manage to scratch my neck with the fins of the aerial at first but apart from looking like a big cat has attacked me, I did OK.
I slept pretty well last night given I was on my own and I’m a wuss … The moorings at Marple are peaceful all day with pedestrians walking past, but really quiet at night. However I was awake by 6am and dressing to go over and get water, when to my shock and dismay, I saw another boat already there at the water point! At 6am – I ask you – who would be nuts enough to be out of bed getting water at that time of the day? Then I realised it was Tom on the boat behind me that has been moored here a while and he’d pushed his boat over rather than start the engine. Considerate man!
When it was my turn (7am by then), I eschewed the pushing option (my boat is much longer than his) and started the engine to cruise over in tickover. Filling took less time than I expected – I was concerned that my tank was close to totally empty, but apparently not. I had intended to go back to bed after re-mooring in the same spot – my main reason for going early was to get back in the same possie, before anyone else was out hunting for scarce moorings.
However, back to bed wasn’t an option. Tom and I spent a fair while discussing life, relationships and everything, as well as checking out the reorganisation options possible in his boat – he hasn’t been on it long and it doesn’t have a fixed bed, but has two pull-out sofa beds. Also his galley is laid out in a way he’s not happy with. I am always happy to identify ways people can spend money on renovations and redecoration – just ask Lesley! (My tally with her is new bathroom [almost completed], new kitchen, and new conservatory [both about to be given a shove when I head down there on Friday].)
David texted a couple of times from Singapore - once that he'd landed and the next time that he was due to board the flight to Christchurch. He should be there by about 11pm UK time, I think. Then a flight to Wellington where Gary is picking him up and taking him home. I have asked the neighbours to get in some milk, eggs, bread and tomatoes in case the kitchen is bare of food given Joe is away looking after his dad this week.
At about noon, I went off into Marple looking for a few bits and pieces (see I also spend my money) and came back to the boat very pleased. I’d found a new plastic stool to elevate a certain short person on nb Waka Huia, a new basin for the sink (I am English, after all), the ingredients for insect repellent I saw on the living on a narrowboat forum website (baby oil and Dettol) to be employed to banish horseflies and midges from about my person, a container of Barman’s Friend that a guy in Willington told me was the business for cleaning the brass mushrooms when mixed with Cillit Bang, a new purple backpack that I think I am safe in saying David won’t want to use, a few groceries from the Coop, and best of all, a steak pie from Archers – it was yummy.
See, I have been quite lazy today, in spite of doing 3 loads of washing – the hardest part about that was sorting the piles and then hanging it out when the machine had done its job in sterling fashion. No DIY as it was too hot for such efforts to be rewarding – I do find that DIY requires cool temperatures so that the effort and energy expended warm one, rather than threatening expiration!
Tomorrow morning, after another quick trip into Archers for a pie (I do need to do a quality control check – the first one may not be matched by the second), I will refill the tank, so I can do a couple more loads of washing as I cruise down to Macclesfield – we haven’t done any washing since before the team arrived a week ago, so things are getting desperate in the teatowels, handtowels and smalls departments! And I do need to have David’s boating clothes clean by the time he gets back from NZ.
Tomorrow afternoon I am due down at the Macclesfield Canal Centre, and will moor up for a couple of weeks on a powered site. If there is a mooring space, I will stop for lunch on my way at the café opposite Lyme View Marina. Watch this space!
Before I leave the boat and head down to stay with Lesley and ensure the economy there is kept moving, Kev at Freedom Boats is going to teach me how to change the oil and will sort out a few other things. One of which will be the air-horn which currently sounds like a strangled goose in its death throes and wouldn’t warn anyone off. I have warned it that if it doesn’t buck up its ideas, it will be considered surplus to requirements and will be replaced. I am also going to ask him to fit a new bilge pump as ours is pants.
OK, it’s chardonnay o’clock, so enough of this nonsense. Big hugs to all who want to be hugged and firm handshakes to those who do not. Cheers, M

Monday, 21 July 2014

Some of Barry's photos

Mmmm, when did they get time for posing for this?
Approaching a lift bridge, sitting up high so I can see ...
A swing bridge with Pauline in charge between Marple and Bugsworth
A lift bridge between Marple and Bugsworth
On our way back from Bugsworth Basin we caught this lot on the prop - it made a dreadful noise.


At Bugsworth Basin

At Bugsworth Basin


I'm not going to drink alone, honest, but I'm just well organised and quick ...

Even my ears are wrinkly! And I can see both my mum and dad in my face now.
The happy band - this is before Pete and Barry accepted the challenge to produce another seat, so Barry was perched on the bar stool.
Bugsworth Basin is very lovely and has a sense of being peaceful even though there is quite a noisy A road nearby. It was such a lovely day we had lunch and dinner outside and we walked to Whaley Bridge in the afternoon. I went back before the others and cooked a pork roast and veges - it was yummy and could only be eaten in the slightly cooler evening. Not sure why I thought a roast would be good when all of the team were there - didn't plan on extremely hot weather, I guess. But not disappointed at all.
As we only have 5 normal sized seats (ie ones I can reach the ground on) I gave Pete the challenge to construct another one so there was one each. He had to do it with materials available - anything he could scrounge or find. He and Barry collaborated (good teamwork) and came up with the stunningly simple plan of slotting the plank through two of the chairs to create a bench - we could have accommodated a couple more people then, but no one wanted to share dinner ...
A lovely night in a beautiful place. The next morning it was pretty windy when we were planning to leave and I had to turn the boat and get water - not necessarily in that order, but that's how it turned out. I tried turning but after starting to get water another boat came up and explained that it was easier to wind (turn) further into the basin, so that is what I did while Barry was showering and Pete was off for a walk. Success!

As befits our status ...

A flotilla of Royal Canadian Mounted Geese accompanied us part of the way down to the field they roost on - do geese roost? Maybe it's more like poop on ...

Waka Huia has been threatened with this in the past ...

It's a tough school here - guests have to work!

Barry fixing the cratch bolt that was in the wrong place

Pete suffering while steering - you can see how he is so stressed

Melanie on camera duty
Missing from the photos are me, Pauline and David. David and I were taking photos, Pauline and I were preparing lunch or cleaning up after some meal or other. These photos were taken on Thursday morning as we cruised down to Bugsworth Basin - a beautiful spot.

Dinner on board Waka Huia on Wednesday and the alternator framing




Barry and Pauline

Melanie (not to be confused with Mel who is much hairier) and Pete

Part of the framing that held the 150 amp 24 volt alternator in front of our engine - now in the skip

With my size 4 (UK sizing) sandal for comparison. You realise this meant I was barefooted near the rubbish ...


Sunday, 20 July 2014

There and back to see how far it is


Today, after saying goodbye to Barry and Pauline at Marple, David and I did a bit of shopping at Iceland, headed back to the boat and then set off for Furness Vale Marina. We had planned that I would stay there for a week or so doing maintenance chores before making my way by train or car down to the crowded part of England to visit friends and family while awaiting David’s return from NZ.
Alas, it was not to be. We arrived to find that we did not have a mooring with power which is a bit of a necessity to keep the batteries charged when we are away from the boat for any length of time. So, having got there, moored up like a pro (backwards into a very narrow space – but let’s face it, narrow makes it easier not harder, but don’t tell anyone that) we discovered the lack of electricity, and pondered the next move. A range of options were available, but David had the best and the one acted upon. So we came back to last night’s mooring outside Marple, but now we are facing the other way … A total of 6.5 hours boating for the day, which included the four lift or swing bridges each done twice, and an additional piece down to the junction that splits the route down to Bugsworth Basin and Whaley Bridge to wind (turn). I was ready to stop when we got to Furness Vale the first time, so an extra couple of hours’ boating was not my desired plan, but it did mean I didn’t have to get through the 4 lift or swing bridges on my own tomorrow. We did do the return journey faster than the outward one, and the sun shining on the water didn’t make it easier, but it certainly was beautiful.
In the morning, David is catching a train to London and then heading out to Heathrow and flying back to NZ for a fortnight to visit his mum. I will drop him (I am sure he could walk it faster) at the Marple junction where I am going to meet up with the genius Ed (Four Counties Marine) extolled herein before. Ed is going to fit a new thrust bearing and complete the work he started last week re the new alternator.
Our few days with Melanie and Pete (2d) and Barry and Pauline (4d) have been great. I am missing them and preparing to miss David.
The tragedy of MH17, my worst nightmare about air travel, is powerfully in my mind at the moment especially given David is about to fly. Our Dutch friends (both in NZ and the Netherlands) have been in our thoughts – I am sure, as with the Erebus crash way back in 1979, many Dutch people, as well as those of other nationalities, have someone they know or someone who knows someone who knows someone who was on that flight. Very difficult times.
What it made us aware of was the criticality of enjoying our time with friends and family as it comes along, making the best of it in a very positive way, so that opportunities for lovely moments and closeness are not squandered.
Now I need to go to bed – it has been a tiring day. Tomorrow I will sort through all the photos taken over the last few days – Barry and David took lots so I will find some to post separately when I have a few hours to spare … BTW, any photos featuring reflections will be Barry's, so keep an eye out for them.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Shallows and amazons


A brief post tonight – a lovely two days with Melanie and Pete (Whitby, Wellington, NZ) and Barry and Pauline (London, but from Tauranga, NZ). Melanie and Pete have gone down to visit family in Melton Mowbray, Barry and Pauline are still with us until Sunday.
We went from Marple (cr*p moorings) down to Bugsworth Basin (just lovely) yesterday, and today we’ve come back up to Marple where we sent Melanie and Pete off to the station and points west then south. Then down the Marple Locks which are dramatic with amazing views off to the west as we descended.
Now moored up at the bottom of the locks – peaceful, beautiful, quiet in spite of the train tracks above us in the trees.
We had dinner on the towpath (chilli, rice, sour cream) and then we have been off walking further up. The aqueduct is amazing in itself, but the viaduct beside it for the railway is stunning.
OK, time for sleep for me! Photos and more commentary tomorrow.
PS Shallows in title refers to the lack of depth down to Bugsworth, amazons refers to the strength required to work the locks - I was hard at work reading the Metro while waiting in and before the locks ... It is a very tough life I lead!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Six Kiwis go mad on the Peak Forest


The team are on board, we are moored precariously just on the outskirts of Marple – the visitor moorings before the junction are few and were full when we arrived at about 3pm yesterday. After the junction the canal sides are collapsing – a fisherman told David it is the effect of American crayfish burrowing into the banks. So we are using the plank for the first time and 3 pins to hold us still. It has worked well, to my surprise!
We fitted all six of us in rather well last night and now we’ve had brekkie (B&B fruit salad, home made bread toasted) and all gear is stowed tidily – either on our bed or under it.

I am writing this while the guests are clearing brekkie away. I am not sure what David is doing but I am sure it will involve getting the boat ready for the off. Today we are heading down to Buxworth Basin I think. Not many choices at this point of the journey, and I’ve never been there. David came this way with Dave and Jan some years ago, but I was working … Tomorrow we are going to do the Marple locks and head north.

Higher Poynton


Evidence of the £250 shopping expedition on Monday
One of the milestones on the Maccie - gave me a shock at first as they look like gravestones!
The former station platforms at Poynton
After I posted on Tuesday we went for a walk – headed back down the towpath to near Bridge 16 and then followed the path over to Middlewood Way. It is a 10 mile path that runs on a former railway bed that serviced coal mines in this area. It was a lovely walk and I was pleased I wore my boots as bits of the access to it were muddy, and also because I avoided the plight David had over getting small stones in his shoes and having to empty them out while keeping more from getting on the unshod foot … The path is well used – cyclists, walkers, dog walkers, horses – the latter two left signs even a blind detective could follow! At the time we were there it looked as though people use it to commute by cycle. The path goes from Macclesfield up to Middlewood and was opened as a path by David Bellamy in 1985 if I remember rightly from the plaque at the old Poynton Station platform. A picnic area has been constructed between the two platforms there and access paths lead down/up to/from the road. We used another path heading back in the direction of the canal – I got David to check on the ipad that we were on a path and not someone’s driveway! We came out at Bridge 14 north of the CRT Long Term moorings on the onside and Victoria Pit moorings on the offside. It looked idyllic there in the late afternoon sun.
Back at the boat, I showered and we had a drink onboard (chardonnay, pear cider, no prizes for correctly assigning ownership), and then we walked down into the village to The Boar’s Head – wonderful home cooked food: I had braised steak and onions in a red wine gravy and David had steak and kidney pie. No room for desserts although the choices were tempting. When we got back I had a call from our dear friend Lesley (the woman who was such a mean boss when I worked [slaved] for her at the Home Office back in 2006). I stood chatting to her (lecturing more like… she needed a good talking to!**) while I was overlooking the playing fields beside the moorings. Apparently they used to be at the level of the canal, but have subsided with all the mine workings below. When I was told this yesterday at The Trading Post (nice man who sorted out our pumpout hassles) I said I hoped that kids wouldn’t fall through if they jumped up and down in one spot. He wasn’t so sure that would be a bad thing for some of them who come into his shop.
** Lesley has had the cheek to talk to a potential conservatory builder without my being present. It is a cheek because it was my sister Dee and I who first suggested a conservatory to Lesley, we drew up the design and planned the garden. And now she is talking about getting a boring square conservatory built! You can tell she worked at the Home Office – all her imagination has been pummelled out of her. Seriously tho, the planning permission rules here are quite different from in NZ. At home, any structure that alters the footprint of the house has to have a permit. Here people can add a conservatory of up to a certain size and made of certain materials without planning permission. Hence the plethora of samey samey conservatories all over the place. Lesley has been given strict instructions to work out what she wants it to look like, what doors, windows, roofing she wants, (to be signed off by me) and then apply for planning permission if that’s what’s required. None of this restricting herself. She HAS been told!
Today (ie Wednesday as this was written then) we are moving up to Marple and will moor up to meet our 2 sets of friends coming to stay. Barry and Pauline are arriving by car,  Mel and Pete by train. We are looking forward very much to seeing them all. Both couples are yachties so will be able to steer the boat and give me a break. More than that though, we are always happy having friends on board. YAY!!! I have even worked out where the luggage can go (B&P are coming up from London and always travel light, but M&P are visiting us on a European trip so will have more than a backpack each).



Higher Poynton - CRT long term moorings on left, Victoria Pit moorings on right.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The alternative alternator is the business


I emailed a friend back in NZ yesterday evening and here is what I wrote to him: ‘I should be preparing dinner here, but I am had it. Did a big grocery shop this morning before taking the rental car back. Spent £250 - we do have 4 people coming on Wednesday to stay (2 for 2 nights and 2 for 4) so lots of booze, bedding, meat, and various supplies for longer term. The shopping took over an hour and the trolley was chocka and therefore very hard to push/pull or slide sideways! By the time I'd filled the trolley, emptied it on to the conveyor belt, packed it in the trolley again, emptied the trolley into the car boot, emptied the car boot into the boat, I was had it. But then we set off to cruise up to moor up opposite Lyme View Marina to get a new smaller alternator fitted by Ed Shiers, the mobile engineer. Since we arrived, while Ed did his magic, I've re-organised all the food cupboards, the fridge and the freezer, stored most of the groceries (David had put the booze away and unpacked the bedding), and I’ve made a chilli con carne for one of the guest dinners. I am starting on the chardonnay soon! I think a few cheese and crackers and I'll be sorted for an evening meal.’
After emailing Gregor, I modified my dinner ideas and had fresh pineapple alongside a gu pudding – people, if you haven’t tried them, do! They are yummy. And the bonus is that if you eat lots of them you build up a set of little glass ramekins that can be used in the oven. Now what could be better? Yummy puddings and ramekins! Just so you don’t think he went hungry, I will tell you that David used up the last of the frozen thai green chicken curry that was too hot for me.
This morning we moved off to Higher Poynton to get a pumpout. Had planned on getting it done across from where we moored last night, but when we pulled up there there was no hose for cleaning it out and the diesel pump had a notice saying cash or cheque only. We do have a cheque book, but the lack of cleaning hose put us off. Obviously they use canal water to clean it out. I guess that is reasonably common, but it seems weird to us.
We were delighted as we moved on – the engine sounds wonderful now: there is no shuddering or vibrations, and in neutral and tickover the engine just purrs instead of rattling. I can go along in tickover which is now as slow as it should be instead of fast and noisy. So in our book, Ed Shiers is a genius. He is helpful, responsive, willingly works after hours, tells you what he is doing and why. And what he does works – that’s the main thing, of course! He is Four Counties Marine Services – if you need him, look him up on his website. The testimonials are great to see and we agree with them wholeheartedly. He travels quite widely – all he needs is for you to moor close to a road so he can park nearby.
We’ve had the pumpout – not without hassles as the onboard pump seemed to have something stuck in its valve (it is in line, so even with a commercial pump out, everything goes past it). Andy from the Trading Post, at Higher Poynton, helped sort it out and wouldn’t take any additional fees for his time. A good kind trader, and we are delighted to find him.
While that was being sorted, we met a family (Jackie, Simon, Matthew and Theo) who are having a 3 day trip on nb The Wandering Duck, which is a narrowboat backpackers (as opposed to a hotel boat). It is run by a couple who spent a year running a backpackers’ hostel in NZ and have replicated it on a smaller scale on a narrowboat. Excellent idea!
I moved the boat back for the water (it is so easy to move it at low speed now, that I could do it by myself without David there to take ropes etc) and while David went in for a shower, I met a lovely lady called Linda who is dead keen to come to NZ for a holiday but her husband did lots of travelling for work and now doesn’t want to travel. I suggested she come over with a friend and leave him at home – without filling the freezer for him. She said he’d just go to the pub – no worries, I said, that’s what you’ll be doing too! I think a seed has been sown so I won’t be surprised to hear from her re coming to stay at Cherswud, whether we are B&Bing or not. Here’s hoping!
After the water fill up, we moved backwards through the bridge (another easy move, thanks, Ed!) to the visitor moorings and have tied up for the day. I know, it’s a b*gger, isn’t it, finishing up by lunchtime? When I have posted this we will go out for a walk. We have seen several groups of walkers (ramblers they are called in the UK) come past us here so there must be good public paths available to explore. I can’t see any hills (am keeping my eyes firmly downwards) so we won’t need to repeat the White Nancy- and Mow Cop-type treks!
Am feeling very pleased at the moment – getting the alternator replaced and the resultant change in engine performance, and then resolving the pump out hassle has a sense of victory about it. We are, fingers/toes/eyes crossed and touching wood, gradually sorting out hassles and understanding the boat better. It feels good. I do hope putting that feeling in writing isn't tempting fate ...

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Those locks for the second time and a visit from B&B friends - this post should be before the one it's after ...

Beautifully rural
Olek is using up energy, running alongside the boat, being a mobile tree

A static tree

He's a winner
Jon helping with closing the gates

Lunch with Jon and Sybil at the bottom of the locks - chicken soup, home made bread followed by fruit salad and cream

Best buddies and both gorgeous

Well, Kirsty and Tim, at least Olek likes Mel!