Saturday, 30 May 2009

Day 8: Ailing back to port we must rename the boat

What a gorgeous day to be on the move, we set off back to the marina just before lunch. With three locks and a swing bridge to do, the first two were absolutely knackering, Dave had to help, because I nearly killed myself shutting the last lock gate!

It was then that I realised a week of partying had taken it’s toll, I was seriously dehydrated and on the verge of passing out! I know, I know, self-induced so no pity please, (physical burnout?)

Anyway we had plenty of time, so we moored up again for an hour, had some cheese on toast and lots of ice cold water from our “part-time” freezer, ah that’s better.

Our second attempt to meander reluctantly back to the marina was a bit more successful, we passed through the swing bridge and the last lock with little effort. Thereby proving the scientific theory that food and water get converted into energy pretty dam quick if necessary.

So moving swiftly on (before this turns into a human biology report) we arrived back about 5pm, and connecting up to shore power was priority number one. The inverter whirred into life and charged the batteries up to a steady 14V (Phew).

As reluctant as we were to have come to the end of our little excursion. We were both happy about having power to all our electrical friends back ON. It was such a relief to be able to switch a light on without doing any complicated calculations first. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to whip round with that hoover anytime soon!

It can stay in its cupboard and suffer in total disgrace for a while longer, sod the fluff balls that are rolling around the boat like giant tumble weeds in a Spaghetti Western. I’ll have to summon up courage from above and beyond before attempting to vacuum this desert.

Once we’d moored up, plugged up and filled up with water we went to the local pub for (another) meal, I mean we’re still on holiday right? While we were there I reminded Dave never to say he’s pleased with any new kit we might get for the boat again.

Only hours before everything went pear shaped he’d said these exact words: “Well I’m really pleased with our new setup, and how amazingly well it works."
Well at least we could laugh about it – the wine helped a lot…
As for TT herself, well I think I’m going to rename her, put an N in the middle and you’ve got:

“Toil n’ Trouble.” Rename? Bad luck? Nah, it couldn’t get any worse...

Weird as this may seem Diane and Steve are currently trying to sift through a myriad of different problems (on a much grander scale) with “Toil n’ Trouble 2.” They even have a “To Do” list. Good job we can all have a laugh about it eh? (And believe me WE DO). I mean some of these quirky problems border on being truly bizarre, but the timing of these failures is something else.  

At least (for us) with the major stuff it seems to be one thing at a time, for example the current THING isn’t with the new inverter / charger, or the batteries, it’s what they’re connected up to --- the alternator... 

Reminds me of a trail of breadcrumbs, each one bigger than the last, this doesn’t necessarily refer to cost, it’s more about importance. See we’ll get the alternator fixed, then the next crumb on this particular trail is the engine itself. [Of course one has to ask oneself if the darn boat really needs one anyway? I mean we can’t go anywhere without a major disaster occurring]

It may sound like I’ve been a bit melodramatic about this latest setback (what, me?). But last summer we were bounding up and down the canals, and an estuary with a temperamental boiler that wasn’t working proper. AND THERE WAS MORE, the old inverter expired not long after the boiler did. (RIP).

We were out at the time (obviously) and had to throw away ALL our food when we got back. So when we went across the Ribble Estuary for the Preston Riversway Festival, it was vital we go a few days early so we could get one of the moorings with electric hook up. Otherwise we’d have been coming back on the next tide.

So when I think about the crippled state the boat was in this time last year, looking on the positive side, this year’s palaver is but a drop in the ocean (or the canal), whichever.  
Since then we’ve learned the hard way that:

B O A T stands for “Bring Out Another Thousand”
But nay, despite everything we both still love our TT, whatever she gets called and whatever mutiny goes on, we will NOT be defeated.
One last thing before I bore you to sleep, a couple of days after the alternator had decided it wasn’t going to alternate properly. I remember pulling TT in with the middle rope (against the wind) shouting:
“C’mon you big bugger for crying out loud work with me,” and Dave said “Aww, don’t talk to her like that, you’ll upset her!”
[Oops, too late]

Friday, 29 May 2009

Day 7: Staying put regardless

We’re only able to hang around here in this gorgeous spot on the Rufford canal because it’s warm and sunny today. Couldn’t do it otherwise, because we’ve got to save ALL the puny amount of power for the dam fridge freezer. Alternators, who’d have them eh?
Without moving, just running the engine for an hour or two here and there, we’re lucky if it stays on for three hours. So there’s nothing at all to spare for heating and lighting.
Dave did some fishing this afternoon while I did some blogging, (he never caught anything and I couldn’t think straight), we did well between us. So we cheered ourselves up and had yet another BBQ! Diane called round later on for a brew and a natter, she’d walked a long way to get here.
Later on we sat outside in the cabin and played Scrabble (again). This time, being as we were sober, “proper” words were available. By the way, (not to blow my own trumpet), I WON…!  
The view from where we’re at now…
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Looking back, the last lock we came through before mooring up…
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And a beautiful sunset…
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It was quite a dismal start to the day and we almost set off back, but decided to stay because by mid-morning the weather started to improve a lot, glad we didn’t leave early…!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Day 6: A fond farewell and back towards Rufford for us

Well today’s the day we have to say goodbye to our friends, Debs  is back at work tomorrow, so they have to cruise back to their mooring which is the opposite way to us.
The view from where we moored overnight…
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Getting ready to pull the pins…
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Debs and John very kindly offered to open the New Lane Swing bridge for us, so we could go just beyond it to the winding hole and turn. (Which of course meant they had to open and close it twice).
Coming back towards New Lane…
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Then they walked along and opened the next swing bridge by The Slipway pub, (even kinder…!)
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And a final (for now) “Farewell” to Debs and John…
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We kept waving till they were out of sight, on our own now, and determined not to let the electrics situation mean we have to go back a day early. The weather improved a lot too.
After turning onto the Rufford Branch, we did four locks then moored up overnight between locks in ANOTHER lovely spot. Later on we decided that if the weather stays this good, we’ll stay here another night and go back to base on Saturday…
Not bothered mentioning the alternator, but we’re having to run the engine more often, even after travelling during the day, it still needs another two hours later on… We’re trying to ignore it, but the boat won't let us…

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Day 5: Gale force pace from Appley Bridge to New Lane swing bridge

Well when we set off this morning – to say it was windy was an understatement, had to keep the tiller 30 degrees starboard just to go in a straight line!
Three little ducks and a swan stopped by before we left to say “Tada” and wish us luck…
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First of all we backed down the disused arm and went through Appley Bridge lock, the final destination today being The Farmers Arms pub at New Lane Swing bridge. It meant passing through Parbold again. It’s a lovely run till you get to Burscough, there’s only a short stretch through the town itself, but the canal there is HORRIBLE…
This is the kind of “scenery” at Burscough we had to go past and avoid. See what a hazard the sunken front end of this blue “wreck” is,, on a bend too? Next to it is a burnt out hull…
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Exhibit 3…
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And there’s more. BW take note, amongst the wrecks we noticed several boats with out of date licences (one going back to early 2008).
Now if this particular stretch were checked up on as often as every boat in our marina is. LIKE IT SHOULD BE, there’d be enough money made in fines to clear the area of all eyesores. Nothing’s changed since we went past here last year, it’s a disgrace. Beyond there, the countryside opens out again in a blaze of glory, and what a relief.
On a lighter note (further along the canal), I noticed this scarecrow impersonating a snowman…
Clever eh? And he knows it…
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Later on we came across another “incident,” we pulled in just before Tickety Boo to stop at a water point. They weren’t far behind us when a widebeam about the same size as ours broke free and was headed straight for them! It was being blown around side on with the wind and gaining speed. Apparently it was only moored up temporarily and tied down using just the centre rope, the owner wasn’t far away.
But that’s not enough to securely hold a big boat even for a couple of minutes. It took some clever manoeuvring  from the Tickety Boo crew to get out of the way in time to prevent any damage…
I got this photo of the widebeam being pulled back in with Tickety Boo passing by safely on the right of the picture afterwards…
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After all this we had an uneventful (phew) and relaxing journey to the Farmers Arms…
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Even the wind eased off. We moored up in a lovely spot opposite the pub, which meant we had to walk all of 100 yards across the New Lane Swing bridge to get to the front door. It was easy on the way there, but not so on the way back. HIC, (titter).
We certainly went out on a high note and came back on an even higher one. This was our last night together on our little voyage,, we sure went out in style…!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Day 4: Lolling about again

Yes, as predicted, the fridge freezer was OFF when we got up. Everything inside is still ok so we’ll just have to keep this routine going. Which first thing, meant it was time to run the engine again, what a crime in such a tranquil place!
We’ve stayed in the same spot as yesterday and just “chilled out,” well the weather did that for us really.
In between showers we went for a walk down this little “offshoot” of the canal where we’re moored up, so I took these photos. Bit sad really.
Coming towards the lock gates that were holding the water in for us…
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Paddle with “NOT IN USE” painted on it…
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Inside the lock behind it, almost empty with a layer of silt and scum, what a mess…
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The opposite set of lock gates, permanently wedged half open…
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The other side of those gates, Debbie said last time they came here there was much more water in than this…
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The view to the left with the real canal hidden amongst the greenery…
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We wondered why it had been left like that, I mean was it part of the original canal, or was it the start of another one that was abandoned? Hmm.
Anyway on a more upbeat note, this was Dave trying to light tonight’s BBQ in the rain, (yes it just started as he was setting the darn thing up).
What I didn’t capture here was the graceful way in which his designer £2.50 (outsize) brolly blew itself inside out the second he put it up. Yet totally unfazed, he put the brolly back together and continued, (I’ve started so I’ll finish). That’s style, ingenuity and determination for you. Even the sun came out later...
Back view…
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Front view…
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We each contributed towards both BBQ’s, it was like one (two) of those party’s where you not only “bring your own drinks,” but bring your own food too! Hey it worked real well, and we successfully managed to mix n’ match stuff successfully between us.
So all 4 of us sat on the back of TT for yet another feast – don’t think I’ve ever eaten a BBQ two days running before! What a great laugh we had, even while the engine was running in our bid to keep the freezer alive…

Monday, 25 May 2009

Day3: Bank holiday bungle

After leaving the Baby Elephant behind, (ah) we set off for Crook to turn at the winding hole. There were a few boats still there from the festival over the weekend, everything looked very quiet – maybe they were all sleeping off hangovers?
Anyway after turning we set off the way we came, the weather was gorgeous at first, I was even decked out in T-shirt and shorts, but ended up needing a woolly jumper later on. Once we’d been through the deep locks, we veered off right onto a “disused arm” at Appley Bridge lock, and moored both boats up there.
We knew the weather was bad for tomorrow, so we decided to stay here both nights, what a beautiful place to stop off. BUT by this time we had WIND and RAIN, did we let it get us down? Nope. Did we feel sorry for ourselves? Nope. Did we carry on having a good time partying regardless? Yep. Oh and we decided to have two BBQ nights in a row.
That means wine, beer and all the trimmings along with it…
THE BUNGLE BIT: While we were sat doing nothing in particular I thought I’d hoover round, because when you get to the stage where you’re playing stepping stones between bit’s of muck. It’s time to do something about it.
“Play safe” we thought, as in run the engine at the same time JIC. I’d almost finished when, silence, and I hadn’t switched the dam thing off yet. This silence was immediately shattered by various alarms going off all over the place. Of course the most important thing at this point (never mind if the boat’s on fire) was establishing who’s fault it was, but we couldn’t agree on that one.
Hmm, next move, switch everything off except the fridge freezer, leave the engine running to charge up the batteries,, hum-de-dum it’ll be ok. But hang on, why did they go flat when the engine was running anyway?
Dave went “down in the depths” to checked for the likes of loose connections,, there weren’t any. We’d worked out that with the engine running (whilst merrily hoovering). The alternator should’ve been charging the batteries faster than they were being drained and obviously wasn’t. (Worrying thought with a freezer full of goodies). So we surmised that was the source.
The old chestnut “Is there a doctor on board?” came to mind, (but there wasn’t one). Yes the alternator is powerful enough, yes the batteries and inverter are ok, that means they’re all supposed to play nicely together right? We kept an eye on the Volt Meter thingy and it took HOURS (engine running) just to get up to 12V…
It was time to ring Engineer Tom (the man who can), he agreed it was most likely a dickey alternator. So what now? We found out it would be ok as a temporary measure to swap it over and use the starter motor alternator. An “alternative alternator” then? (This had been discussed already), but nope it turned out NOT to be an option because the lead / wire thing wasn’t long enough to reach across.
Out of desperation Dave even considered using jump leads for about half a second. Then decided it was too dangerous It would give TT the potential to become a floating time bomb as well as a pain in the bum. Dammit, we’re going to hear that engine a lot while we’re moored up then.   
Ah well, did we let this get us down? Sort of. Did we feel sorry for ourselves? Sort of. Did we carry on having a good time partying regardless? YEP. It seems like we can’t take TT anywhere for longer than a night or 2 without there being some kind of trauma.
Reminds me of when someone (a human) makes a gaff and you hear those golden words:
“Oh I can’t take him / her anywhere.”
Well in our case it’s a drama queen of a boat. Anyway while the engine rumbles on (we’re going nowhere), the weather’s picked up a bit so here’s a few photos:
Must’ve been something interesting going on here, John and Dave “Tinkering about on Tickety Boo” (too). Meanwhile Debs pretends to be as engrossed as they are, when really she’s whishing they’d hurry up so she can make a brew…
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         The view from where we’re at…
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The REAL canal below us…
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Someone trundling along…
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The sun stayed out for the BBQ (no brolly required), it was lovely, so was the red wine, mmm…
PS: Bet that fridge freezer goes off before we get up tomorrow morning…

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Day 2: Parbold and the baby elephant

Well we awoke at Parbold this morning to find these little darlings by the back of the boat. They were literally falling over each other to get at the bread we threw, it was a work of art getting them all in the same photo.
I think the highest number of ducklings reported so far on the blogs (with one mum) was about 22, but this has got to be some kind of record.
Here they are, all 32 OF THEM, did a recount as they were swimming away too…!
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Plans changed for the better when Debs altered her shifts at work, which meant we could carry on travelling together till further into the week.
Debbie, John, and Bobby aboard Tickety Boo…
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Just to clarify which one’s Bobby, here he is but I don’t think he likes having his photo taken…!
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Leaving Parbold heading towards Crook…
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Coming up to the first lock after Parbold at Appley Bridge…
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TT coming into Appley Bridge lock…
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Gorgeous day,,, gorgeous view…
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Fast flowing weir before King’s Lock, we filled up with water at the BW water point nearby…
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Just after we’d gone through the lock I was waiting on the bank for Dave to come along and pick me up (right under the M6 to be exact). Where,, I surprised myself by averting disaster with my “expert” boating skills:
Another boat was coming towards Dave looked a bit too close for comfort, there he was heading straight for our boat. Obviously Dave had slowed right down, but the other boat was totally out of control. I shouted to the driver to “BACKUP NOW and turn the tiller towards me.” The poor guy tried, but by this time he was being blown across sideways, then I heard “Sorry, my engines packed up…!” (Sh*t)
It was quite breezy under the bridge and somehow he managed to get the front end in towards me. There were 6, yes I said SIX people sat on the front. All TOTALLY ANEBRIATED OBLIVIOUS to the fact that the boat they were on had just nearly clattered another. OR that it was now on a 90 degree angle.
I couldn’t believe that I even had to shout “Can somebody throw me the bow rope please?” One of the passengers stood there with a rope asking if this was it, I said “Yes it is, but could you PLEASE remove the mooring pin before you throw it?” Reply: “What’s that?” (Stay calm Heth, stay calm).
After we’d established what a mooring pin was it took what seemed like ages to untangle the darn thing. I kept the front end in and another guy grabbed the middle rope. I felt really sorry for the guy steering, it was obvious he was an experienced boater, and felt totally embarrassed. Probably more so about the lack of assistance from his passengers than anything else.
Anyway he thanked me for the help and I told him that I hoped he could get it sorted soon. He said it was a recurring problem with the electrics. They managed to spark it up again before we left, but how long for?
Debbie and John missed all the “excitement” (is that the right word?) Because they were in the lock at the time. After that experience we moved on quite a long way away from the noisy motorway, to a nice quiet spot and moored both boats up just beyond this pub: 
It was originally called “The Navigation” inn, but has been reborn as the “Baby Elephant” and serves Indian food. Well as long as “leg of elephant” isn’t on the menu who cares…?
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By this time the wind had dropped, and it was really warm again. So the four of us went and sat in the beer garden of the pub for a really nice meal, later on we had a drink sat on the back of TT. (Great place to sit and party!)
Then the “crew” of Tickety Boo went for an early night, so Dave and me got the old, (well newish) Scrabble board out.
Diane had texted me during the day about where we were, I let her know, and at precisely 11pm I got another txt saying “Is the kettle on?” Before I had chance to txt back “Are you serious?” There was a knock on the side of the boat, it was Diane AND Steve!
Well the game of scrabble was immediately abandoned, I mean you know what it’s like when you’ve had a bit to drink, or even a lot. A game of Scrabble gets to the stage whereby adding bits onto words that are already there is the best it gets. For example I created the word FART and Dave added ED on the end. (Clever that).
So basically the boredom soon got chased away with the appearance of our fellow friends, we had a hilarious hour of banter (as usual). I mean anyone listening from outside would’ve thought there was about 20 of us in here.
After discussing “His n Hers” bathroom sinks, we ended up on the subject of installing “His n Hers” stair lifts in the boats at each side of the um, stairs. However, Dave insisted that his would have a remote control, so he could set it going and take a run at it while it was gently gliding upwards. I can picture it now…

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Setting Off

We left port (well, the marina – but the former sounds better) at around noon, all set for the seven locks and two swing bridges up onto the Leeds – Liverpool canal. The weather was great so we took our time.
Some of the locks were much easier to open than last year so perhaps lifting my weights regularly (well sometimes) has been worth it.
Then again it could just be that BW have been round with the Vaseline over winter. Anyway we’d arranged to meet Debbie and John from nb Tickety Boo at Parbold. But we’d no idea how long it would take us to get there.
The green green grass of home…
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Coming towards Parbold hill on the left…
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Getting closer…
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The “strange bridge” with two arches either side, weird, I mean people could’ve walked round it like most bridges…
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A proud mother and her brood…
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Rufford canal between locks two and three…
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We moored up there (above) for a late lunch and I got a text from Debbie. She said they were waiting for us at The Ship Inn which backs onto Lathom Lock 1. The pub is situated in a lovely spot. Right next to the arch bridge where we turn off the Rufford Branch, and onto the Leeds Liverpool.
So lunch turned into “butties on the run” because we weren’t far away at all, (locks 1 and 2 are right next to each other). Debbie and John were stood waiting at Lock 2, by the time TT was in Lock 1 Debbie went and brought us all a drink from the pub!
We  stood next to the lock gates and had an introductory natter whilst Dave aka Spiderman jumped off the roof, and left TT to rise from the depths on her own! Before we knew it, I leant on the lock gate and it moved, but we stayed there nattering for a bit longer. Well it’s not like there was anyone else waiting to come through. I should’ve got a photo of TT coming up in the lock on her own, but I was too busy wittering.
Afterwards we rounded the corner following “Tickety Boo” and set off towards Parbold. Then we moored up the other side of the bridge. Close to the windmill that had it’s top half chopped off, no I’m not kidding! What’s left of it is now an art gallery.
Once we were moored up and pinned down, we went to the local Chinese Takeaway and had a feast in our back cabin,, or as Debs calls it “the conservatory.”

Friday, 22 May 2009

Is it really one of those days?

I heard someone say “it’s one of those days” this afternoon. It made me wonder why we all translate it as being a bad day for that person. I think the word “those” is the deciding factor in this sentence and how it comes across.
I mean no-one would say it if they’d just won the lottery would they? But it certainly would be “one of those days!” (In a spectacular sense of course). Hence it would never apply to me (us) in that sense at all, but that’s life.
However, if you add the word for on the end it can all change, for example: “It’s been one of those days for” having a jolly good time old bean? So this one word can transform the whole sentence into something more positive than being “troubled.” And the saying is suddenly set free to apply to ANY day whatsoever.
That’s good news for me (us) then. I mean to make the most of every “one of those days” just add the word for on the end and it’s an easy life right? Hmm, I must remember this.
Dave’s doing an oil change at the moment in readiness for tomorrow, well next week, well into next year really.
I noticed these lily's at the back of the boat earlier, the flowers must’ve started to open yesterday in all the rain:
Beautiful, bet there’s a few fish hiding in there…
So it’s also “one of those days FOR noticing nature’s new beginnings.” [Don’t need to say that sounds good do I?]
Can’t wait till tomorrow, it’ll be “one of those days FOR” starting a new adventure and having some fun [And that sounds very, very good]
We’re meeting up with Debbie and John (Tickety Boo) at Parbold around teatime, and mooring there overnight. Just call us “Water Wally’s United” (oh don’t ask). Looking forward to seeing yet more fellow bloggers!  More partying, aye that’s the idea chuck.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

John and Fiona pull the pins today

Dave’s got next week off work, it’s his last night tonight, and we’re going out on Saturday for a week. Up onto the Leeds Liverpool and headed towards Lymm. The reason why I haven’t mentioned our little voyage is that I didn’t want to tempt fate. I mean the weather...
But the forecast says it’s going to be really nice this Bank Holiday weekend, which still gets a vote of no confidence. Even so the ban on this news item has been officially lifted.
John and Fiona called in on their way back from Southport for a brew, and to say Tatty Bye before crossing of the Ribble Link. I couldn’t resist telling them NOT to turn left on the way, else it’ll be a sea crossing. (Seriously, we could see fishing trawlers out there when we went across the estuary!)
They’re going to Tarleton first thing tomorrow to moor up ready and waiting. I don’t think they were that impressed with Southport (who can blame them?) But they were very impressed with Rufford Old Hall, the boundary of which is no more than 200 yards away from the marina entrance. The beautifully maintained gardens back onto the canal..
“Photo shoot” No.2 at Takey Tezey:
Fiona and John with TT just before they left…
Later on we went to Tesco to do 10 days worth of shopping in one go. We could’ve done with a trailer on the way back there was that much stuff. What with (in order of importance) wine, beer, barbecue fixtures and fittings, oh yes, there´s food too…

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Tea aboard Epiphany

It’s been lashing down with rain all afternoon, and we’d arranged to be aboard Epiphany at 4pm for a meal. As we were about to leave TT and walk down the towpath something quite unusual happened, IT STOPPED PEEING DOWN and THE SUN CAME OUT.
It came as quite a surprise really because under normal circumstances a lucky break in the weather never happens to us. The towpath was still squelchy, so we had to don the weather proof gear anyway, but it wasn’t far to walk. We had a lovely meal a good natter. 
Dave, John and Fiona…
Me, John and Fiona…
It looks warmer than it was, hence the jackets for me and Dave! Think John and Fiona are a bit more naturally “weather proof” than us two!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Better than a piece of string eh?

When I got rid of the exclusive “Camelot Feature” around the back cabin last Tuesday, I accidentally broke the last strap that holds up the “back bit” when it’s rolled up. Oops.
We were left with the prospect of using a sophisticated new system involving hooks and string to replace them all. So we went to B&Q in the hope of spying something more reliable, and found some replacement “danglers.” Good enough to hold up the flappy bits in future. There’s 11 of them up there altogether now, which includes the sides and back.
Plastic chains they might be, (no laughing please), but they look a darn sight better, funky even? Hey, and they work too.
Here they are hanging on their hooks “folded up,” but this photo isn’t very flattering at all…
Unfortunately this is what keeps happening everywhere else. This is the worst bit, and it’s a pain in the bum keep replacing poppers, well for Dave it is anyway…
Later on (when we’d all recovered from last night’s visit to the pub), Diane and I went for a walk down the towpath. We found a nice spot for John and Fiona from nb Epiphany to moor up when they arrive here tomorrow. They´re crossing the Ribble Link later this week, so it´s this way or no way.
After reading their blog for some time, we’re looking forward to meeting them…