Friday, 30 May 2008

Just Us And Our Boat

Early morning, another lovely day, and we said our farewells to Alan and Chris as they carried on towards Lymm. Meanwhile we turned in the nearby winding hole and headed off home. As mentioned yesterday work commitments meant we couldn't go any further with them, and had to turn back.

So we took our time, the weather turned cloudy yet REALLY humid and warm which was nice. The sky threatened thunder a couple of times but it didn't even rain, I guess we got lucky! It was very quiet too, we only passed 3 boats, and one of them was from our marina.

On the way back I managed the locks ok. I can’t use my back due to an old injury, so I have to push with my arms and lean forwards when it gets tough.

But as I discovered, doing it this way means you have to take "baby steps" or else you end up banging your knees a lot! My right knee was different shades of black, blue, yellow and purple later, but it won't happen again!

We pulled over at the same place we did yesterday for some lunch, the back of the boat was "grounded" when we set off again, but we got moving ok.

Facts: Fourteen locks and four swing bridges (in two days) was some achievement! Especially being as we were "first timers," and more than half of them we did on our own.

At one point we lost a fender going into a lock. Dave managed to fish it out, then when we got back noticed another had gone missing, didn’t see that one go!

When we set off yesterday, Dave swung TT round enough to get out of the marina in one go. So we thought it might be possible coming back in the other way too. It's very narrow and we bumped on the side, but it was no big deal, we were back in one piece!

People helped us to pull TT back into our mooring and all was well. I did a bit of a clean up while Dave went to get a Chinese takeaway, we were starving again! We sent a text to Alan and Chris, so they knew we were ok.

We were happy in the knowledge that we'd really accomplished something in the past two days. The effort was worth it, and it hasn't put us off at all... (Phew!)

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Epic Voyage

Wow, what a day...! We set off from the marina at about 10am with Alan and Chris on a very warm, sunny day. This was a magical mystery tour for Dave and me, also a big learning curve for us using the locks.
Takey Tezey, with Chris and Alan following behind us, coming out of the marina and onto the canal towards the first lock:
 Captain's Mate (Me):
Captain Dave (him):
I found working the locks was difficult at first. I'd heard so many ways of doing things, and how different some locks are to open. Its all right in theory, but experience means everything!
After four locks and three swing bridges we moored up for lunch, (whilst still on the Rufford Branch). Chris had prepared sandwiches which were very much appreciated!
After half an hour's break we set off again, went through three more locks. (One with a swing bridge that had to be opened at the same time). Then turned left after the bridge that spans the Rufford Branch and out onto the Leeds Liverpool.
Beyond that there were just two swing bridges, and no more locks till we reached our destination. Which meant we could stay together the rest of the way. Two wide beams don’t fit in a lock together, not even a wide lock.

We kept hearing comments from folks like "Am I seeing double?" Or "Haven't I just seen your boat go through this lock?" Confusing but amusing once we'd explained the “sister boat” thing!
We moored up at Parbold around 6pm, just by the old mill (minus its sails). Then walked round the village to stock up on supplies. We found the local chippy too! So we all went and sat on the back of TT2 eating our tea in the evening sunshine, perfect. We were so hungry we couldn't even be assed using plates! Later on Dave and Alan both did some fishing, meanwhile I sat and caught up on some reading.

We both really enjoyed today, it's been great fun and has given us the confidence to tackle the locks on our own. It's great that we've got friends who can provide support and guidance with all this.

Later on Dave was discussing heading back to the marina tomorrow on our own, looks like setting off a day late has buggered up our plans to carry on another day.
Chris and Alan are on their way down to Cheshire. They're spending a week travelling there and back. But unfortunately for us Dave has to go back to work on Monday and we wanted some "chill time" before then.
If we'd gone any further away tomorrow, we would've been under a lot of pressure to get back in time. Ah well, never mind, we've had a great day and gained a lot of experience too…

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Plans Cancelled Due To Bad Weather

Got up this morning and it was teeming down in buckets, we knew it was going to be raining but not like this!

Sent a text to Chris (just four boats away) to say "We must be crazy going out in this!” Please note this wasn't lazy, just didn't want to get soaked wet through. Well yes, I suppose it is kind of lazy but who cares, we all hate the rain.

Got a text back saying we couldn't go anyway. The rain was so bad it might be dangerous, hence we decided to wait till tomorrow with a much better weather forecast.

So unfortunately the delay shaved a day off our adventure, more about that later. 10.30am (original set off time) came and went, in fact it pissed down – all day.

We got on with the finishing touches to the saloon instead, it took longer than expected. Just sorting out the beading for the edges of the shelves took ages, so in that sense we'd saved a day...?

Later on we went shopping for some decent welly’s for me in case the towpath is muddy tomorrow. We couldn't be bothered going a long way. So we went to a nearby garden centre "out in the sticks" where they only had "unisex" welly’s in men's sizes (?) So they were all too big.

Next stop - a nearby tackle shop (as in horse tackle) bloody hell they had some there for £50.00, no way! Ok so they were furry inside and you could roll them down, (why?) Anyway they'd have to be lined with gold for me to pay that.

So I went for the cheapest option and at erm, £29.00 all in, I thought I'd got a good deal at first. Till we walked outside, then realised it was only a good deal in comparison to what everything else cost in there! I think the salesgirl could sense the urgency in me needing them for tomorrow, an easy sale.

Hence I justified this price tag to myself by surmising that I must be getting something "extra" for my money. Maybe they're supercharged, maybe they'll massage my feet while I slip-slide along, maybe they've got cushion soles like granny slippers. Then again it could all just be invested in the fancy box that contained them. It was like something you'd expect to find a designer wedding dress in, even had a proper handle and a logo on the side. Alas I still look like I'm wearing "wally welly’s" when I put them on, but I don't care!

During the time it took us to find the said item, we could've been to B&Q (miles away) and got a pair with flowers on to match Chris's.

As it turns out mine have butterflies on them, (aw sweet), apart from that they look exactly the same except they cost almost £20 more. Hence:

Saving time don't necessarily save you money!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Planning Our First Trip Out This Year

We've arranged to go out up the canal with the crew of TT2. Taking both boats through seven locks onto the Leeds Liverpool and mooring up overnight. But that’s tomorrow, can't wait.

So today we did all the boring stuff like getting the boat ready for her first venture through the locks, and of course getting ourselves up to the job mentally...

Monday, 26 May 2008

Bank Holiday DIY Day

The big change round part two began today at TT...
Once we'd waded through the ten extra jobs that were created yesterday, Dave carried on with his shelf building. Whilst I oiled the wood over the other side of the boat, and varnished various pieces of shelving for the corner unit. (Three coats required for each one).
As invariably happens to us, what started off as a serious attempt to get things done in an orderly fashion eventually turned into a comedy of errors on a grand scale.

We had a couple of shelves that didn't fit, and a wobbly one because a fancy leg support was shorter than the other after he'd cut them. 
So we were left with what looked like two "skittles," which had to be placed between shelves to support the TV hard drive thing and the TV shelf. Dave went about setting it all up. (How he'd designed it to look - after all this was no MFI jobby). It lasted about three seconds and fell down like a pack of cards...
Next he went out onto the dock to shave some off the legs to make them "even" and he accidentally dropped one in the marina, all I heard was "Oh shit!” Luckily it floated and he fished it out.
By this time though, all decorum had been lost, and what started off as silly giggling turned into full blown hysterical laughter. I couldn’t speak for laughing – well neither of us could, oh it's all fun and games isn’t it? Well isn’t it?
After tea we cracked on a pace and finally managed to sit down at 11pm, in our newly configured saloon. It's looking good but still not finished.
Looking good so far...
Yep, Dave’s slowly adding carpentry to his engineering skills…

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Unplanned Fishing Match

The weather was a lot better today, we spent the afternoon saying things like "well this is what it's all about.” This is the reality of the dream, and here we are living it, wonderful.
I sat on the front of the boat reading while Dave sat on the end of the jetty next to me fishing, this was the biggest catch of the day, not too impressive, but worth a photo...
A fishing match of sorts began with Alan fishing off the back of TT2, (front end's in, that's why he's at the back), and Tony fishing off the front of Lock Dodger. Some of the comments going round created more than a chuckle or two!! My "three fishing rods in a row" theory is now a reality!
Alan has this quirky thing going on whereby he has two bells at the back of his boat, which only come into use when he's fishing. The higher pitched one means he wants Chris to make a cup of tea, whilst the lower pitched one denotes a beer.
When he dings the higher pitch, I think the idea is that Chris (the captains mate) salutes. Says "aye aye cap'n" and puts the kettle on. Of course in reality she just ignores him or gives him a mouthful of crap...!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Stars And Stripes

Today we set about the task of using this star design which is on the side of the boat…
So we could copy a version of it onto the inside of the hatch doors.

The idea comes from me pondering about it every time I've seen a boat with decorative hatch doors open that are painted with a lovely design. Some of them look totally naff though, namely the old "roses and castles" which I'm not a fan of. But the majority compliment the boat and make it look really special.
The best one I've seen so far was a narrowboat that used to be moored at the marina. It had two hatch doors in different places, one on each side of the boat. They each had intricately carved wood with a beautiful design. And that same design was on the inside of the doors at the back, nice.

Anyway, once my idea had been "approved" by my other half, seeing as neither of us is a carpenter, the hammer and chisel approach was out of the question. That's how we agreed on the Star, anything else just wouldn't have looked right.
I may be good at creative ideas, but occasionally I need some help carrying them through! Hence Dave took charge of making the template to fit the doors, which involved lots of masking tape and precise measurements.
By working off the design itself, he changed the proportions so that it would cover the whole of each door, from the square shape on the boat to oblong. If I'd attempted it, it would've ended up looking like spaghetti junction. On the other hand Dave even managed to make the masking tape alone look so good I suggested leaving it like that... Then reached for the paint pot...
Of course, as per norm when we do anything like this, we had everything against us. Thunder and lightening, wrong size paint brushes, etc. etc. All adds to the fun!

After I'd nervously finished my nimble brushwork, Dave reliably informed me that the tape has to be peeled off while the paint is still wet, to prevent it fuzzing round the edges. So I stood back in anticipation of a (possible) white blobby mess. Had I gone over the lines? {Cringe}
To much relief, when the end product was unveiled, all either of us could say was "WOW"
The effect was stunning...
There's still some touching up to do on the varnish, but Spaghetti it is not…!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Jog The Memory Not The Feet

I went for a jog round the marina this morning, phew, it was hard work because I forgot to bring my trainers to the boat. So undeterred, I ran in my sandals, not a good idea - ouch!
Learning curve, what learning curve???
Later on these three little cheeky pies arrived so I gave them some bread. They’re quite amazing really, because they were abandoned by their mother, yet they've stayed together and survived. Most unusual, but they're doing well bless them.
They’re a bit older than those from yesterday

Monday, 12 May 2008

A Visit From Family And Fluffballs

We stocked up on water and electric in the morning, (dam it those cards are hard work to slot into the meter). Whenever I try, it always ends up looking like it's been chewed on by a donkey, the air turns blue and it still it won't go "click".

I stayed here at the boat while my darling hubby went back to the house to get some sleep before work. There’s no point in me going back there now that all the hard graft is done. I felt a bit guilty, but he said "It's OK I won't be offended if you stay here you know!"
Aw, my sweetheart...

Meanwhile, it's not all roses, yet again, I can only stay because it's so warm. I’ve had to go back to the old fashioned way of running the engine for hot water (how embarrassing). We're now into week thirteen of having a boiler that doesn't work and a technician / engineer that can't be arsed.
Surprise visitors arrived early evening to see TT in her new berth. I say I was surprised because my dad's not well at the moment, so I never expected them to turn up unannounced!
They brought a friend of theirs who's been dying to see the boat, he was well impressed. As were my mum and dad with the different views we now have from this side of the marina.
While they were here we found a mother duck with twelve fluffy ducklings at the back of the boat, so we gave them some bread and they posed for a photo shoot! Ah...

Now are they cute or what?!


Sunday, 11 May 2008

Copying And Pasting A Star

The Star design on both sides of Takey Tezey...

Please try and ignore the fact that there's a reflection of yours truly in the background, David Bailey eat your heart out.

I've decided that I'm going to paint a smaller version of this star on each hatch door using a matching colour of paint. I'll need to create a template and change the dimensions / design to make it fit. So it could take a couple of weeks before I get round to it simply because my rush jobs never work out right. Photos of the finished product to follow, however badly it turns out...
We awoke to glorious sunshine this morning, really warm with no wind. I went to visit some friends at the other side of the marina. When I got back, Dave had finished fitting the shelf he started work on yesterday, so I varnished it.
By this time I'd caught the bug and got started on my "hatch doors prep work," then the clouds came in and we could hear rumbles of thunder a long way away. The storm literally took hours to get here, we were hoping we'd miss it. But alas not, the thunder was deafening.
One "rumble" even sounded like an explosion. Think it's the loudest thunderstorm I've ever heard -- I said, I think it's one of the loudest – oh sod it, I'll shut up because I can't hear myself anyway...

Friday, 9 May 2008

Let Down By The Cowboy Again

We got to know a few other folks on this pier today, and they're all a jolly bunch, every one of them!

With the boiler still not sorted the only reason we can be here at the marina is because it's lovely warm weather. Boiler still not sorted, this engineer is a cowboy. We’ve heard it from everyone, but like a couple of fools we’re sticking with it (or without it) for now.

I said I'd run through the problem with this Webasto boiler in a more "techie" sort  of way in a previous blog post, but never got chance.

Basically, it conked out in February, it was a 9.5K Webasto boiler (too big so it cokes up quick). But we can’t afford a new 5.5K one, what with everything we’ve spent on tarting up the house recently.
So Mr Rip Off said he’d sort it to last perhaps another six months. HA!
After he’d finished we got precisely 48 hours use out of it, a bill for £550 which we haven’t paid yet because it’s outrageous. We should’ve listened to our friends about who to call. But we took the advice of the marina manager!! (Lesson learned the hard way).

The boiler conking out is crap because it's like the most important / biggest thing that can go wrong on a boat, (apart from the engine I suppose). And just like with a house it should be classed as a priority by a decent engineer.

It hasn’t, and we’ve got nowhere with it. Like I said, STUCK for now, running the engine for hot water is ridiculous, and our phone calls go ignored…

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Moving Day For TT

We went for a very necessary pumpout this morning. I drove us round to the service area, meanwhile certain other persons we know stood on the side with their hands covering their eyes. There's confidence for ya! I had to hand over to Dave because I was too busy laughing. So he had to bring her in, although he was tittering somewhat also.
Anyway we asked the marina manager if it was ok for us to have Lock Dodger's ex mooring and it wasn´t a problem at all, in fact he told us it was ok to moor up there now – marvellous!
We felt so isolated over the other side, we had a beautiful end mooring, but were surrounded by empty boats.
Now we’re on the same pier as all our pals, away from the lonely (yes lonely) boat park over the other side. So before we moored up in our new spot:
Alan decided to bring TT2 round to face TT at the service area, so we could have a "photo shoot" of the two boats having a chat. It was a gorgeous day so why not?
As you can see, the photo would've turned out better using a wide angle camera lens for two wide-angled boats...

The wind got up as usual, both boats struggled with it being side on. Eventually the guys managed to get TT2 alongside of TT and push her off from there. It was so funny to hear them shouting different plans of action, while nobody was taking any notice anyway.
It was all very entertaining. Then we had even more farting about getting TT back to her new home. It was all about angles, and shunting two wide beams around in hot weather is bloomin hard work. Phew! Lets all sit down have a cup o' tea.
The view towards the entrance from our new mooring…
Parbold Hill is in the background, it's usually more visible than that.
So while we marvelled at the panoramic view, and pondered on the bonuses of being over here:
  • There's a big island in the middle of the marina with loads of trees, which means we can't see any boats across the other side.
  • There's no boats behind us either, and just six visitor moorings situated next to the island quite a way across from us, they're the only ones we can see.
  • It's much more sheltered from the wind here, has wider jetty's too which is nice.
  • And last but not least our good friends are just four moorings, two moorings and seven moorings away from us!

Then, (bugger) we had to come back to the house. Dave's working tonight, so we had to tear ourselves away.

Turns out we've gone "full circle" too, Alan says that our new mooring here is where TT was temporarily berthed, before they moved to the end of this pier. History repeating itself.

Chris suggested I stay because we're coming back to the boat Thursday anyway. Would've loved to, but it's a bit hectic at the house right now, got lots happening in 2 days! We also had to go back for a family meal at my mum and dad's tonight – it’s not often we can all get together at the same time.

Later on, a builder we know came round to give us an estimate for power washing the soffits, driveway, and patio area of the house. Well you know what they say about "kerb appeal.” He tried to talk himself out of a job by telling us it didn't need doing, but we thought it had done for a while.

This is the same guy that did a bloody good job of putting our staircase in. So he said YES…

Monday, 5 May 2008

The Bank Holiday Monday Whopper

WOW, this is the biggest fish (sorry BREAM) Dave's caught at the marina yet, what a beauty. Note how I cut his head off in my haste to zoom in on the fish, not that he'd be bothered,, Dave I mean...

He sent this photo via email all the way across the marina one of his fishing “rivals.” They have this thing going on about who's catch is the BIGGEST. Then there’s when, where,, type of fish,, hook used,, bait used (usually top secret that), the angle they were sat on the chair etc.
MEN, honestly they're like big kids!
Anyway, still on the same subject, we've worked out that there'll be three fishing rods sticking out the backs of three wide beams all in a row if we move to their side of the marina. (Tony the nutcase is also a fisherman).
So you can imagine the intense amicable rivalry involved will cause a laugh or two. Believe me, the saying about "fisherman's tales" is no exaggeration...

Sunday, 4 May 2008

The Big Boiler Problem Returns

I wouldn't have posted anything about today if it weren't for the fact that the boiler's stopped working again... There was black smoke pouring out of the exhaust when we tried switching the central heating on earlier, it was quite frightening to watch. I was even ready with one of the fire extinguishers!

We couldn't believe our bad luck, tried firing the boiler up three times, with the same result. We pondered about dragging our heels and going back to the house, but it was just warm enough the night so we did...

We've had a grand total of 8 hours use out of it since March, and an outrageous cowboy bill of £550 for the privilege.

I first mentioned the problem about the boiler failing on 8th March, that's two months ago. We were warned against using the engineer we called out. However, us being "naive newbies" we took our chances. Because at that time of year, (for us) it came down to who could get here quick smart. As it turns out we should've waited a week or so for an engineer with a good reputation to sort it properly. Without stringing us along, and without us paying out a shed load of cash for, well, nothing.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but never mind we live n' learn. Looking on the bright side we've got a lot more done at the house between then and now, because it's been too cold to stay here at the boat without any heating...

We're just stuck for what to do next about the boiler, at least we can come here while the weather's warming up a bit...

At he moment we feel cursed…

Friday, 2 May 2008

On And Off The Pier

Dave was working last night, so I went round to see Chris and stayed there a while, Tony the nutcase from next door came round for a natter too. His boat's called "Lock Dodger" a very appropriate name considering it’s never been through a lock. (Really).

He's in the process of selling his boat at the moment, and has moved it from four moorings further down. We got talking about how all our friends are on this pier, and um,, we’re not. So Tony suggested that we move onto the mooring he'd left, if it was ok with the marina manager.

I said I'd discuss it with Dave, we've been weighing up the pros and cons of moving from our beautiful, but remote mooring for a while. Unfortunately it´s difficult to find a wide beam mooring because it takes up that of two narrowboats. We have a beautiful view where we're moored, it’s very appealing. But for us it's a bit too far away from our friends over the other side of the marina...

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Cautiously Confident

Went to TT in aft, weather's looking good, and it's so nice to be able to arrive here WHILE ITS STILL LIGHT!!

We both nervously waited as Dave cautiously switched the Central Heating on after tea, it appeared to be working fine...

It's great to be back here after two months away, and so much hard graft at the house in the meantime...!