Monday, 30 November 2009

Tony the Mop returns for a brief visit

Here's Dutch Barge “Lock Dodger” and Tony the mop last year before he sold it, that’s the boat not the mop…
The name “Lock Dodger” is very apt because that boat is the same age as ours and has never been through a lock yet, I kid ye not.
The new owners have plans to “break the mould” as it were, but not till it’s been in the boathouse to have a bow thruster fitted. And today was the big day. So “The Mop” made a brief visit here this morning, to give them the benefit of his “vast experience and knowledge” in return for a free breakfast.
Here’s Lock Dodger is being dragged in the boathouse, sorry it’s a bad photo. I took it through the front windscreen because it was early morning, and I wasn’t going outside in me dressing gown.
It’s quite something to see a widebeam up in the air like this...!

So here’s Tony’s new boat, sorry TUG, called Freddy II, moored at Scarisbrick marina. It’s got a 150hp engine and he reckons we’ll know when he trundles (zooms?) past on the Leeds Liverpool. Because we’ll be able to hear it all the way down the Rufford Branch.
Oh, and he loves showing it off…
Tonys boat1
Tonys boat3
"There you go Mr Mop, photos of Freddy posted as promised. Right, that’ll be £200 for the promo and I’ll knock off a tenner for a friend. So that’s £190 total, I’ll send ya the bill tomorrow ok? Don’t worry I’ll give you a month or so to raise funds down the market selling fenders before I slap on any interest."
Right, now where was I? Steve and Diane popped round for tea last night, their boat is going in the boathouse for a paint job the same day Lock Dodger comes out. (Shake it all about). AND they’re going to rename her while she’s out of the water, but they still haven’t settled on the new one yet...
There’s a list of about 10 or so floating about with one of their favourites being “Which Craft.” But like we said, it’s a bit unfortunate really because that name will only get shortened to WC. So back to square one, it was flushed down the loo. 
Blimey, it’s all go round here considering nobody can get a boat in or out of the marina…

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Untying the ropes

Well TT left the mooring yesterday and we set off on a mammoth journey which lasted months, weeks, a day, an afternoon, ok then the sad truth is it was just an hour.
Distance travelled: Around 300 foot.
Locks: None, and the nearest one to us has no gates at the moment anyway.
Engine hours: 10 minutes tops.
I wouldn’t care, but I wasn’t even on the boat for this epic voyage, I was stood at the destination point waiting for a rope. It wasn’t too bad a journey though, we got lucky with the weather, a window of sunshine opened, so we jumped through it.
Again we were warned that we couldn’t “go” today because the weather wasn’t bad enough.
Again we were told to use the non existent bow thruster (just in case a gust of wind blew up).
Again we got asked to hang on while the wet weather gear was wheeled out of cupboards.
So friends and compatriots round here were fully prepared for the incoming storm, but it didn’t happen. I said it DIDN’T HAPPEN!!! In fact I even got a sun tan. Ha Ha…
So here we are “out on the cut” moored up in a lovely little spot we know of for a BBQ…
Positioned right next door to the pumpout station and the diesel pump…
Setting off for the cruise back to the mooring…
Going through a massive winding hole…
Backing into our mooring, left a bit, left a bit. It’s ok he missed it (honest)…
That’s as good as it gets for the time being, because for anyone who doesn’t know, we’re still on lock down at the moment…

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The calm before the storm before the next storm

Did you see the weather forecast for last night? Blimey it made me feel cold just looking at it...
For a while it blew a gale here, windy with no rain. I’ve heard people jest about feeling sea-sick on a narrowboat when it’s windy. Well even this big bugger was doing a bit of rockin’ and rollin’ each time a strong gust slammed into the side of us. Then just before 8pm all went calm and still, so were we a fly in the eye of a hurricane all of a sudden?
It was really weird, but the serenity didn’t last long of course, the wind got up again. This time it was constant so we weren’t doing the jitterbug anymore. But Dave had gone to work and I suddenly remembered we hadn’t filled the water up for quite a while, and I needed some for a shower...
We can’t get out of the front doors at the moment because they’re sealed off with that (luxury) double glazing stuff. So it was a bit daunting walking down the jetty, in the dark, with a dodgy torch that kept going off. It gave out about as much light as a candle while it was on.
I mean how stupid can you get, I’d thought about it during the day and promptly forgot, (happens a lot that), but at least there was no rain while I was farting about.
So lets just remind ourselves for a moment or two of happy weather, happy times out and about in summer…
And again…
And again…

And on that note, with great reluctance, I’d better get on with writing me Christmas cards. If I can be bothered :-(

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Fret ye not dear non boater

I overheard a conversation the other day, (no I wasn’t ear wigging, well maybe) which went something like:
“Ooo well they can’t stay on their canal boats in this weather can they?”
Answer: “Ooo I doubt it.”
I thought it was quite amusing that a couple of obvious non-boaters should express concern or more likely simple curiosity about us being on our boats in this weather. I guess they’ve forgotten about Noah and his ark. I mean the weather he was up against in that rickety wooden boat, poor bloke, but he managed.
If it’s all about concern, the reality is that these boats are made of steel and contain all the comforts of home, like central heating, hot and cold water, showers, fridge / freezer, washer / drier, and all the other necessities.
Even the luxuries of life are integrated, oh and boats are built to float on water and get battered by the wind too, without any fuss. They keep us nice and warm and snug, so no need to worry about canal boats and boaters then.
The people to express genuine concern for at the moment are those up in Cumbria, who lived within the confines of bricks and mortar yet lost everything. That sort of puts things in perspective doesn’t it? Some canal boats go on rivers, but they can also MOVE to safety if necessary, or stay well away in advance of the weather forecast. In other words a boat like this is probably one of the the safest places to be in the worst conditions, provided it’s not sitting on a swollen river…
If it’s all about curiosity, speculation only creates more questions than answers!
For those who are truly concerned about our safety, although it’s much appreciated. I think if we can survive being hemmed in by this for three weeks solid without being cold inside…
Then we can manage rain, wind, even the odd plague of locusts or two…

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The stoppage update

Well at last the work on Rufford Branch lock 7 has been published on Waterscape. It's the 7th one down in the Leeds Liverpool canal list. (Lucky 7?) The info only appeared on the website after work had started on the lock, and after I’d made a note on here. But better late than never.
This canal obviously isn’t deemed important enough to be listed in the “Stoppage Hall of Fame.” When doing a search on Waterscape we have to click on the Leeds Liverpool. So even though the Rufford Canal is the only route to crossing the Ribble Link, and the only way to get to the Lancaster canal beyond. It doesn’t seem to matter where importance is concerned.
Maybe it’s because we’re “up north” or it’s a relatively short stretch of canal, or maybe I’ve got it all wrong,, it just isn’t important at all. If it were a “dead end” it would be easier to understand what with all the cutbacks, but it isn’t...
Then again perhaps we should be eternally grateful that BW are (at last) carrying out such major work on lock 7. Trouble is there’s another 6 need a dam good seeing to as well before we and anyone from the Lancaster canal can get onto the Leeds Liverpool. So lets hope they do a better job on this one than they did on locks 1 and 2 last year. Like finishing it off properly?
On a lighter note, according to the Google Earth map of this marina, we aren´t here at all...
Bing map
I think I’ll stick to photos, makes you wonder why these two huge companies ever bothered mapping the world if they don’t do updates…!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Spot the difference

Last weekend Dave replaced some of the single radiators with double ones, we’d decided more heat was needed in the saloon and the bedroom.
First of all he had to drain the system and opted for a hi-tech solution to prevent any spillages... A modified a plastic milk carton to catch the brown soup.
We considered applying for a patient patent for this new invention. But came to the conclusion that it might be too expensive, plus it’s complexities might just put people off a bit:
Later on I noticed there appeared to be no difference between the single and double radiators, they both look the same. Maybe I was expecting the double ones to be twice as wide but they weren’t.
Single radiator or double…?
In case you’re wondering it’s a double,,, I said a double…
As usual, with nothing ever being straightforward round here the new one in the bedroom sprung a leak from the start. Dave tried everything short of draining it and taking it off the wall --- then gave up. Basically because he’d hurt his back.
So with renewed inspiration today he sorted it out good and proper, but it still required more hard graft.
Ah well, next on the agenda: Fitting an extra radiator on the other side of the boat, but we may have to check out the health insurance first…

Friday, 13 November 2009


I stood on the front of the boat the other day and took this photo of the trees on the island, still photogenic even without any leaves…
Compared with August…

They stayed like this right up till the end of September, then we had one really windy week, that was all it took to strip them bare. I’m sure they’d look nicer with LED Christmas lights wrapped all round them. Any volunteers to go up there…?
That reminds me,, ever since the nights started drawing in we’ve been pondering about getting some (permanent yet subtle) lighting for the lux con. After considering everything from up-lights, down-lights, backlights, low lights, even Blackpool lights. We eventually decided on something sophisticated, went out and bought a box of Christmas tree lights!
So in an effort to cheer things up a bit and provide some light amidst the murk of winter this is what Dave did last Friday afternoon:
These photos don’t do justice to the way it lights up, even glows out there during these gloomy long nights…
There were even enough to carry them on down the front screen too…
Well, they might be Christmas lights but they’re going stay up there for good. When I first poked my head out to have a look at his creation, Dave said something like “oh you’ll just laugh at it.” How wrong could he be? Sophisticated and simple at the same time, just like me...!
Now all we need is a few Christmas candles dotted about to give off some heat, and we can sit out the back to eat tea like we did in summer, oh if only…

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Is this really winter?

Here’s some lovely views I took of the fields on the towpath side, just before I bumped into the ghost the other day. But worry ye not, there’s no weird apparitions in these photos, well I hope not...
Reflections on the water…

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A supernaturai encounter of the first kind

I haven’t had chance to post these photos yet! During my trek down the towpath on Monday I took a few of where the grounds of Rufford Old Hall back onto the canal. Including some of the remains of the “missing bridge” we crashed into a couple of years ago...  
Blimey is it really two years ago? Seems like yesterday, I guess you always remember the first time you bash your boat don’t you? Within seconds the whole experience is instantly hard-wired into the memory cell. Then there's the onlookers... Once the horrors of potential damage fade, it's then replaced by a feeling of total embarrassment...! 
It was such a relief (when it happened to us) that there were nothing but a few laughing ducks around. Phew! Then we looked ahead towards the next swing bridge and uh oh, about 20 people appeared from nowhere to watch the free sideshow, {cringe}
They were all very polite and concerned as we trundled on past. But it was no consolation because as we nodded our heads, gave them a smile and passed it off as nothing. But in reality it was a case of “Oh sh*t!”
All of the above happened behind Rufford Old Hall, which is supposed to be haunted by three different ghosts. Load of old cobblers” eh? Well I think perhaps I’ve been converted. Let me set the scene:
This is the back of Rufford Old Hall, taken from the towpath, looks a bit creepy from here doesn’t it...?
Part of the grounds, all barren and bare at this time of year…
Spot the bridge, this is the place where a ghost guy bearing some kind of grudge is supposed to hover…
And this big chunk of stone is what’s left of it…
This gives some idea of the size jutting into the canal…
And this corner here is what we slammed into with all the force of a guided missile…
For some reason I walked a bit further, took some photos from the other side and thought nothing of it. Then later on back at the boat when I checked them out on my laptop I discovered this apparition on THREE photos...
Can you see the creepy skeleton like face? It's got to be none other than the resident ghost with a grudge...
YIKES, he’s still there when I’ve moved about a bit…
He's getting closer too, but I didn't know at the time…!
The weird thing is it wasn't visible through the camera lens, and I haven't messed with these photos AT ALL.
My reaction when I first noticed it on my laptop was total disbelief, Dave too, till a modicum of rationality eventually kicked in. We both agreed it must be something to do with trick(s) of the light or something. Still not convinced...
We'll never be able to sail past there again without feeling like we're being watched, but I don't think "it" means any harm. In hindsight I remember suddenly feeling really cold when I took this last photo, so I started to walk back.
Hmm, must remember to call my publicity agent in the morning…


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The supersonic train with a dodgy track

Continuing the stoppages rail trail. The cute one carriage train I’ve mentioned before has “intermittent stoppages,” depending upon what mood the single track is in on any given day.
Whilst I was out and about yesterday taking photos of the local canal stoppage and the “road stoppage,” I heard voices from the little station. The station master and his mate were having a joke about me taking photos. They asked if I was going to take some of them because they wanted to be famous!
So I went over for a chat, we put the world to rights, had a “reet good laugh” and I forgot to take their photo! But never mind, I took one of the train itself, just to prove it’s not a figment of my imagination because:
a) I haven’t taken any photos of it till now.
b) My imagination has many figments.
So here’s the full length of the train sat at the station with no passengers on board, just the driver himself in solitary confinement, ah…
While the train was approaching the station master pressed a button (no cutbacks here). It opens and closes the level crossing that crosses the currently "stoppages" road.
Then he passed the “baton” to the driver, in exchange for the “key” from the driver. Seriously though this is important, it’s so that the next station knows there’s only that train can come through.
I also discovered that its speed limit is just 15mph around here, that's why we only ever see it crawling along. However it is capable of blasting along at up to 50mph --- but I wouldn't like to be on it at the time.
What am I saying? For all its quirks I'd much prefer to travel on this slow train full of character and charm (if not passengers), through stunning scenery any day. No comparison with a high speed rattler with no spare seats through the suburbs! It's a darn shame more people don't use this line, even if it's just for "a day out with a view."
Soto the jolly stationmaster at Rufford: Remember that weird woman who stopped by on Monday? Be prepared, with all this new publicity there'll be thousands of people queuing up tomorrow, and you'll be cussing me...!
Not to worry, what that translates to in the real world is just one or two extra passengers per year, they'd probably all be members of my family feeling beholden.
So anyway, here’s the baton, but I didn’t like to ask if the driver sticks it out the window, waves it around and shouts “COMING THROUGH” or not…
And this is the key that the driver had to hand in here…
One day I might wander past and find out more details about this tradition.
Meanwhile across the road I noticed these sheep...
Spot the white sheep of the family, ok then,, it’s over there on the right blending in with the surroundings. Although, rather strangely it’s got a black head which gives it away, how bizarre. Oh and him sat in the middle there has MASSIVE curly horns…

Monday, 9 November 2009

Work In Progress On Lock 7 or not?

Well it’s a gorgeous day and BW has begun its work on Lock 7. So I took myself off round there to see what was (or wasn’t) going on, I gather it was lunchtime.
What looks like a building site surrounds the lock…
Heavy lifting gear on the towpath…
Tried to get the whole lock in this photo but couldn’t get close enough. Both front gates are wide open with back gates closed with water pouring through them...
A baby dredger on the left, and just to the right of the lock the overflow is dry, they must have blocked it off at the other end…
The two sets of planks at the marina entrance taken from the towpath side, for the time being the canal water level is quite high…
Right that’s the canal stoppage update done, so here’s some photos of the road stoppage!
The narrow bridge with a nasty right turn is just beyond the railway crossing, but I couldn’t get close enough for a photo…
Walking along a bit further than I should’ve…
After I’d taken these I turned round and walked down the towpath the other way, I took 62 photos altogether! So tune in tomorrow for more weird and wonderful stuff. You know, just like normal really...