Thursday, 7 September 2017

Going, Going, Going ……..

Friday 1st September to Thursday 7th September 2017

I guess the news this week is that we have acceped an offer on the boat and subject to a survey, which will be on 19th/20th September, Ferndale will pass onto a lovely couple – more to come.

All of that took place whilst I was moored in Leicester – see what I said in the last blog – Leicester is a lovely place.

It has been a thoroughly exhausting week – I left Leicester on Saturday morning earlyish for some but not by my standards – but early enough to catch the rowers on the river.

By the first lock I was joined by another boat, whose name I forget, but by the time I was approaching the third lock I had to say goodbye to – the reason was quite simple.
Something was wrapped around the prop so badly or large enough to almost stall the engine – in fact it easily would have if I had pushed it at all; so a bit short of the lock mooring and no power, but I did have a pole to get me close enough that I could jump off to the bank.
That would have been fine if not for the tumble on landing into the nettles – my arms and hands itched and tingled for the rest of the day.

Anyway, I managed to get the boat to the lock mooring and set about freeing the prop – as soon as I lifted the weedhatch I could see what it was and armed myself suitably for the task.
After about 45 minutes the said item was freed – traffic cones are useless in canals and this didn’t wash down with the last downpour.
No need to traffic control on the canal 
Free now to move on, it would be single handing through the heavy double locks and by the time I have made it through Lock 32 I had had enough and moored just past the lock moorings for the night.
It was at least a very quiet mooring and the TV signal was good – good enough to see the Spain v Italy game on ITV.
I did sleep reasonably well – I can tell you that.

Sunday and it was only just the additional two locks down up into Kilby Bridge where the services would be handy; it would also allow me to start the much needed repainting of the inside bottom of the gas locker – a good coat of Fertan was applied and the rust conversion would be completed by the following morning.
After all my exertions I thought that a Sunday lunch was in order and so it was over to The Navigation, where the food was quite good, the Guinness was excellent and the rugby was on the screen.
Another lovely quiet place to moor – definitely a favourite with us on the times we have been through here.
The following morning, I simply pushed across to the services block – only water to do – I had emptied the cassette the previous day – trollied it around – and after that I was off.
The first lock was a portent of things to come – I arrived and another boat that had left some time before was still in the lock – when I went up to see them the reason was self evident – the pound above the lock was practically empty – John the male half of the crew had gone ahead to let water down; I rang CRT; Mark the CRT guy turned up not too long after and I held firm where I was (in the lock by this time – enough water had come down to allow boat out and then boat in) – no problem for me- it became breakfast time.
After 30 minutes later the level had risen and other pounds were OK.

Mark suspected that someone had let water down to the Kilby Bridge pound because that had dropped a bit, but it was not CRT sanctioned and this is what happens when people don’t think about it.

Anyway, Tanya and John aboard Tardius Tarde (Slow Slow) aka Stumpy alon with dog Elijah shared the locks until we reached Lock 23 and I had reached my destination for the day.
There has been a great delight in meeting lovely people along the way; sharing locks with them; and for a small portion of your life you are with people whom you have an affinity with – today was one such event in my boating life and it was simply very nice.

Mooring was at Newton Harcourt; TV reception was good; internet was good; train proximity – very; but it didn’t seem to matter that I was moored right along side the trainline, I slept soundly until my normal time, which these days appears to be closer to 4am than the desired 6am.

Today would be possibly the last day when I would be locking the boat through – these 5 locks would most likely be the last – was I sentimental about it – NO – doing these locks on your own knackers you, so not to have to see another lock was a bit of a relief.
It does raise the question which people have asked – Will I/we miss the boating life?
Without doubt, we will miss being on the boat – but in some ways it’s the same as other choices that you make through your life – there are always T-intersections that we come to and have to choose a path to follow – we have decided that looking after Diane’s mother is more important to us than staying on the boat – we had also decided that it was important to spend more time with our daughter and see more of Australia (although we have already seen more than most Australians anyway).
We will however miss the friends that we have made and they have been very important to us.
Last lock......

....and she behaved as well

Enough of that sentimentality – Paul will kick me out of the Aussie blokes club with talk like that.

I finally moored above Smeeton Westerby for the night – again very quiet and lovely – it is such that the tranquillity of the countryside, free from the noise of urban life has a dramatic effect on you disposition.

The following morning, I had a target and a couple of obstacles to overcome along the way, but first a stop at Debdale Wharf to top up with diesel – I could not believe that everything was finished and done in just 15 minutes – the young lad who was blacking the boat out of the water made the simple enquiry did I want diesel (as I had moored up) – he set off and got the key as I tied up completely; was back; set the pump; filled the tank; and had a chat as well; up to the office and paid the bill – just went smoothly and I was away.
My two obstacles for the day were two swing bridges on the way into Market Harborough – being a single hander I have been concerned about a day like today and how would I cope.
Well the first was dead easy – I followed another boat through; for the second I managed to tie up on the off side and open the bridge and would have been through except three (yes, three) other boats turned up and we got them through first, though one of them obviously forgot about slowly past moored boat and practically pulled Ferndale across to the other side of the canal; in the end I got through and it will be easy on the way back knowing that it can be done.
Moored up in Market Harborough for a few days, it was time for a bit of shopping, emptying the cassette and a bit of work and a rest, all of which have been achieved.

As exciting as life on the canals can be, it isn’t half as exciting as what has been happening to Diane back home. The mother-in-law has a cat which roams during the day (no bell, which annoys me) and the other day he decided to bring home a friend as you can see in the picture below.
Not your usual invitee to the backyard for a BBQ

A six-foot brown snake – which is amongst the three most venomous snakes in Australia – fortunately it was only a baby but it could still kill you with its bite.
Diane stayed relatively calm underneath the panic, and called a neighbour and between the two of them dealt with the visitor – there were no friendly gestures on their part and the snake was gone.

24 Miles, 24 Locks, 1 Tunnel and 2 Swing Bridges
YTD:  785 miles (1263 km), 382 Locks, 20 Tunnels, 13 Lift Bridges, 32 Swing Bridges
Total: 5417 Miles (8718 km), 3533 Locks, 145 Tunnels, 79 Lift Bridges, 204 Swing Bridges

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Just wanna see a game mate!

Monday 14th August to Thursday 31st  August 2017

What have I been doing all this time?

For some of it I have actually been on holiday from work – it is such a lovely experience I may do it full time, but not just yet.
It was lovely to not have to get up to walk that incredibly long journey to the dinette and see what emails I have from customers.

But I have not been idle – all of the packed boxes have been despatched and soon will be on their way back home; our daughter Sam has sorted out my return flight – I will be air testing Royal Brunei Airlines this time - she assures me that she is not getting any payback from RBA but when have you heard of a daughter not using their dad as a guinea pig.
Apparently it is much easy for receiving the boxes if I am actually the one to pick them up or at least sign for them, so that is all sorted.

There have been a vast number of things – some of them small, others not so small – that have needed attention.

Most of the boat is cleared and ready for a full de-camping, with simply enough to carry on here until I go.

One thing I do know is that I have thoroughly enjoyed mooring here on the river – it is simply glorious.

I have spent a fair amount of time with Gary and Carolyn (nb Inca) and have enjoyed their company but careful to be able to have space as well.

After telling them about the T20 match last Friday there was a deal of enthusiasm on their part to go to the next match which just so happened to be on Friday just gone (last night). There were no problems in being able to get tickets – plenty available and it was sit where you like (except for in the members area).

There was a suggestion about going to see the Championship match on Staurday between Nottingham Forest and Middlesborough, but when we rocked up at the ticket office it was like we were asking for some unbelievably difficult task to be performed.
“Do you have a customer number?”
“No, we simply would like to see a match”
“Have you purchased tickets from us before?”
“No, we simply would like to see a match”
“Do you know someone who has purchased tickets from us before?”
“No, we simply would like to see a match”
“We can’t sell you tickets, you may be away supporters trying to (infiltrate) get amongst the Forest supporters”
“We understand your position, but we are all on narrowboats moored down on the river and we happen to be in Nottingham and thought that it might be nice to see a game”
“I will go and see my supervisor”
…a minute or so later…
“Yes, we can sell you some tickets”
Whatever went on in the back room, we have no idea, but we got the 3 tickets that we wanted.

So, Friday night at Trent Bridge – Nottingham Outlaws v Leicestershire Foxes in the T20 contest – I have said before that T20 is not my preferred version of the game, but it was an exciting finish and with few overs left we thought that it was all over and an easy foxes win would occur – but some solid hitting by the outlaws meant that just 9 runs were needed off the last over – the result? A two-run victory to the foxes and 10,000 outlaws fans trudged out of the ground; I was pleased with the tight result.
A perfect night for a game 
By golly we had a bit of a coolish Friday night and Saturday morning was quite cold.

I had been told earlier in the week that there was a pretty popular market on Saturday morning, to which Carolyn was keen to go; I had a double look when I saw that Gary was also ready to go.
We headed off using the directions that I had been given and as we walked it began to look like I might have been wrong/hoodwinked/tricked, but we found the place.
It was a typical trash’n’treasure market with lots of the former and little of the latter – we wandered around it all and left with our money intact heading towards ‘spoons for Gary and Carolyn to have breakfast and I smply for a latte.

Back to the boat to catch up on things that needed to be done (at least for me) – just to make sure that I would not have any problems with my suitcases heading back, I did a practice pack and with nearly everything packed the weight was just 18kg (out of a total of 30kg in the hold and 7kg carry-on) – so no problems there – always good to know before hand.

Before long it was time to head off to Forest where the seats were to be in The Brian Clough Stand.

Like all clubs, the Forest supporters were incredibly passionate about their team, but like all supporters they also, as a group, could not get along with the other teams lot – such a great pity and a blight on this game that supporters find it impossible to sit together and enjoy the game – every other sport that I know has the fans all mixed in together without any problems.
By golly, they let just about anyone in these days - who's that scruff on the right

There was also a game of football going on which was entertaining
- and sunshine as well

Still it was an enjoyable game – Forest did end up winning 2-0 over Sunderland.

Sunday morning arrived and it was time for me to head off – early as a I am used to – it was very nice to have the help of Carolyn and Gary for the first lock, which was shared with a hire boat – they were experienced boaters, just without their own boat.

After hugs and goodbyes, I was back on my own again – I will miss the company of two lovely people – hope that they enjoy the tidal Trent as I have done.

I had a couple of locks to do by myself; I passed by nb Pendle Warter, knocked on the side but alas Richard was not in, and then moored up above Cranfleet Lock for a pleasant evening which was both very quiet and extremely peaceful.
I did however make contact with Richard and we agreed to meet up the following day – he was coming this way anyway.
So lunch and a drink it was to be at the pub by the lock.
We have known Richard from our early days in Aston Marina and I know that it is true of most people we have met who have boats, but he is such a lovely man and it is a pleasure to know him and to enjoy his company – not sure when we will meet again, just hope it is not too long.
The next 4 to 5 days I spent some of the time at Sawley, moored and enjoying the sunshine, the free power and the wide space that is afforded above the lock and then I made a beeline back to the TrentLock junction where it is just as lovely in a more rural sense, even if there is the occasional train.
Just at TrentLock
After discussion with Diane – usual phone call so that she can check that I am still alive and she doesn’t have to call the insurance company just yet to collect -  I decided that we (Ferndale and I) would head up the Soar and make our way south through Loughborough and down towards Crick.

Setting off up the Soar - early morning and the power station in the background

Just for Diane

Imagine my shock at this - I thought ours was unique
but this boat also had a kangaroo tiller pin

From our past experiences, we simply enjoy Loughborough – some would say to avoid it – but there has been no problems for us in the times we have moored there – so it was a couple of nights there and then further south to Syston, where I encountered about 6 or 7 Fire Brigade chaps – two in the water – so slowed right down in case they were looking for something, but it was just a training exercise, which meant that I could moor up there, which again is quiet and peaceful – a lake being just on the other side of the towpath – allowing people the chance to just walk around it or fish or put a boat on there for a fun day out.

The following day was the trip into Leicester and despite the forecast of bad weather I headed in there anyway.
Sunrise on a lovely morning as I head into Leicester

So many people will tell you not to moor in Leicester; or make sure you go early and get through there as quickly as possible; don’t look at anyone there or they will sink your boat – silly stories indeed and generally told to you by someone who has never been there themselves.
This is the third time that we have moored there – twice on the castle moorings and now on the Friars Mill moorings, which are very new – not once has there been a problem mooring here.
Getting there without getting rubbish around the prop is another thing – every time we pick up some rubbish – but it is getting better, this time I was only stopped the once and even then it looked like very old rubbish that was caught.
The only problem that I have is the poor TV reception but I can live with that, but anyone wanting/needing to watch their Corrie or Eastenders might be in for a problem or two.

I was quite taken with this board
- my superpower? Selective hearing

...and this one too - beware parents the owners are out to get you

We simply love Leicester with it’s huge pedestrianised area in the city centre, the quirky back streets and one-way traffic system to get the traffic through easily and quickly.

Do yourself a big favour and visit Leicester – just remember that you are not likely to run into Jamie Vardy along the way.

39 Miles, 23 Locks
YTD:  761 miles (1225 km), 358 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 13 Lift Bridges, 30 Swing Bridges

Total: 5393 Miles (8679 km), 3509 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 79 Lift Bridges, 202 Swing Bridges

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Happy Anniversary

Sunday 13th August 2017

No travel today – I will be staying in Nottingham for a few more days.

This is a special day, but sadly for the third time in the last 8 years Diane and I would be spending our wedding anniversary on opposite sides of the globe.

It is a necessary outcome of the decision that we have made and put into action.

I could not imagine a life without her and for 34 years I have been so very happy – I am sure that will continue.

We shall be back together soon enough and I look forward to that with delight.

We have to realise we are just so lucky to have each other and how very much you appreciate and love the person that you have committed your life to be with and to love.

I did console myself with finishing off the packing of the boxes – another item to cross off the list – every one that I cross off means a step closer to going home and being with Diane.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Visitors and crew arrive

Monday 7th August to Saturday 12th August 2017

Just enough time in the morning to get the boat in some semblance of order before it was time to hike it down to the train station and meet Paul and the boys as they alighted from the Sheffield non-express.
The old train spotter that he his, he was keen to tell me about the stations and the track and the trains themselves – at least that was the case until I managed to let out a stifled yawn !!

It was great to have Paul visit and to be able to catch up with him even for the few days that we would have together – it was far different to the original plans that we had envisaged earlier in the year when he would take control for a couple of weeks on the Lancaster Canal – solo – whilst Diane and I were due to tour around Scotland in the Jaguar – sadly it was just not to be.

Paul would have to content himself with a few days on the tidal Trent and put up with yours truly.

The first shock that he had was that the lockout onto the river would be at 6am the following morning; the second was that it was due to rain all day.
Like a trooper – a very asleep one at that – Paul was up not long after 5am – a time for which he was more akin to arriving back rather than getting up – and we were ready to go by 6am.
As it normally ends up, the weather was a bit windy but dry; the clouds approaching were bringing the promise of meeting the forecast and sure enough about 30 minutes into it the first drops appeared and the tempo increased until it was more than a drizzle and not quite a downpour – either way we were pretty much wet within the hour – no real point in doing anything about it, we would remain that way until we moored up at Torksey.
For Paul though, remembering that he had not been on this river before, it was definitely different to what he had experienced here – the flow was pushing us along and in 4½  hours we arrived at Torksey and moored up at the pontoons – it was also a chance to get inside for a hot shower which was heaven sent.

The rain continued and even the possibility of a visit to the White Swan after 4pm (when it opens on Mondays) could not tempt either of us to venture outside – the boat was warm (and dry) – the mykuni had done its job – so a drink and then dinner and a relatively early night at 10pm.

The day before, I had been to see the lock keeper about passage to Cromwell Lock – indication was about 9:15, so we prepared ourselves for that – this was a day to sleep in – obviously compared to the previous day, but more importantly it was a dry day – no rain, no drizzle, no anything.

At the appointed time we set off and we had a better chance to enjoy the trip; taking it in turns for tea/coffee duties and steering, the time to Cromwell went fairly quickly.
It was obvious that the effects of the tide were substantially less this far upstream and after the flow reached a slack point, there was virtually no further movement at all – passing through Cromwell Lock with 4 other boats (all cruisers) was not so bad, but each of the remaining locks for the day, until we reached and moored in Newark, were all slow filling and we spent a long time simply passing through the locks.
The water point at Newark Nether Lock was only available in the lock -
so under the Lock Keepers instructions we moored in the lock and filled
the water tank

a panoramic view of the lock

There were perhaps a half dozen of these small hut just after the lock - maybe
for the fisherman

Once moored in Newark, Paul needed to take the dogs for a walk to do their thing and also to check out the drinking and dining options for later on – we had decided that it would be nice to have a drink and eat off the boat.

One important job that we had was to be ready for a delivery of packing boxes – afterall I still have a job to get all of the things packed that would head back to Australia – the people at Pack and Send delivered the boxes to just about where the boat was moored; I managed to be able to store them under the mattress (which raised the bed up quite substantially - almost touching the roof) - after that we headed out.

First up was the bar for the micro brewery Just Beer – which was rather nice and then after that we avoided what Paul was saying was the gay bar (but really wasn’t), and headed around the corner to a lovely pub (whose name I cannot remember).
The ladies on the next table recommended the pizza, which was what we had fancied anyway (the pizzas) and a couple of pints and it was a lovely night.

Now that we were on the canalised part of the river, the situation was very different and heading off times were self-imposed and not tide-dependent.
After walking the dogs for a bit and enjoying a lovely morning coffee we finally moved off, through Newark Lock and beyond.
Paul using the zoom in facility - that is, walk up closer 

Market Square Newark

Heading off - approaching Newark Town Lock

Again today the locks were all slow filling and this coupled with a desire to hope for Nottingham we pushed ourselves a bit longer than perhaps we should.

It is a lovely trip through this part of the country, but after 9 hours on the go (and it had been a rather warm day as well), we finally moored up at County Steps very much exhausted and not at all interested in cooking – in fact not much interested in eating – but we could handle a drink or two – course of action – head over to The Brewhouse and Kitchen – just on Trent Bridge.
Another micro brewery – we sampled a couple which were to our taste – then, as often happens – a lovely plate of nachos will never go astray.
Back to the boat, both knackered, both reasonably quick to bed and we slept through.

We had decided the previous night, that rather than try to move on and for Paul to then retrieve his car, which had been left with Kevin Too, he would simply leave from Nottingham and come back for the dogs and all his gear before making the trip up to Macclesfield, where he would be for the weekend to catch up with Elaine’s family and others that he needed to see – that all went well and I was a bit sad to see Paul depart – it had been a great few days and I really enjoyed the company and just being able to chat away, but Paul needed to be where he needed to be – and I had things to do.

Not long after, just as I was about to start paintng, nb Inca turned up – Carolyn and Gary aboard with grand-daughter Abbey (Curley to some) – they had been just a bit further along on the canal and decided to come down. With the wind blowing quite hard, Gary did a very good job of getting the boat in without any fuss; tied up; and ready to relax.
Approaching and then a perfectly executed mooring up.

We talked a bit – well for quite a while – and with their thought of being here for at least a couple of nights, we would talk some more – and I could get to the painting.

Way back at Newark Lock, some days earlier, the lockie advised that it we were in Nottingham on Friday night there would be a T20 cricket match, if we fancied a bit of ball against willow – with Paul gone northwards in the Jag, I decided that it might be a nice way to spend a Friday night and so I went.
T20 is not usually my cup of tea, but as I had so far not been able to get to a county ground to see any cricket during these 7 years, it was a chance to scrub that off the list of things to do.

Up against the Birmingham Bears, the outlaws were quite good and it was a good competitive game, but the home side triumphed a bit convincingly for this form of the game – it was a bit on the coolish side but also with a bit of humidity in the air – all in all I was felling a bit tired by the time I was back on the boat – a combination of the tiring day the previous day and the cold air, it was not long before I was sound asleep.
Waking on Saturday to some glorious weather (again), it was a day with plenty to do – there were boxes to pack, and more boxes to pack, and did I mention about the boxes; and still some more painting to carry on with – not sure that I was doing myself any favours with all of this, but when the job is done it does bring some relief that it is finished – unfortunately that was not the case on Saturday night, but the end was in sight, and so I simply settled down with something that appeared on my plate – cannot remember cooking anything – and watched a bit of the IAAF championships and then Match of the Day; went outside about 11:45pm to see if I could see any of the promised meteor shower, which I couldn’t and then it was time for bed before I turned into a pumpkin.
Walking along the river on Saturday morning - absolutely glorious

Somewhere up there on the right we are moored up

Obviously the French have feelings about Brexit

69 Miles, 8 Locks
YTD:  722 miles (1162 km), 335 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 13 Lift Bridges, 30 Swing Bridges

Total: 5354 Miles (8616 km), 3486 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 79 Lift Bridges, 202 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Solo again

Thursday 19th July to Sunday 6th August 2017

I have been slowly making my way eastwards from Lemonroyd Marina; there has been a bit of time spent in Castleford and since then it has been a steady pace to Keadby where we (the boat and I) sit and contemplate more than our navels.

The flight back from Australia was not particularly enjoyable – I have made a few of these flight on my own but this was pretty miserable – not only leaving Diane behind which has always been hard when we have had to be separated but also the prospect of seeing friends and saying au revoir to them; the thought of having to sort out everything on and in the boat – there is/was a massive amount of stuff that we have collected and stored during our time afloat.
They say that with not a lot of space we do become inventive of how we manage to find places to poke things away and believe me we certainly have become inventive; but not everything will make the journey home and a great many bags of things (mainly clothes and books) were dropped off to charity shops in the Castleford town centre – hence the longer time spent there.
I never tire of seeing herons around and this fellow has been around the front
of the boat for over a week
I did manage a train trip over to Manchester to have a day out catching up with Diane’s cousin Marnie and her husband Leigh – they are over here from Australia for a year – a gap year – Marnie is of welsh origin and Leigh is originally from around the greater Manchester area.
Leigh and Marnie - A bloody good day catching up and looking forward
to getting together back in Australia
We basically found a pub and had a great day talking about all sorts of things – things that they wanted to do; advice that I could pass on to them – but after about almost 7 hours of this I realised that I needed to get the train back to Leeds and then Castleford – a 2 hour trip – so said my goodbyes and made the train with a few minutes to spare; got to Leeds quite late and found out that the train to Wakefield was the last one for the night – so made that with just 3 minutes to spare – a bit of luck there or I would have been stuck in Leeds on a Saturday nigh – probably never going to be my idea of fun.

But just when you think that you are on top of it all, there are all of the craft things that Diane was involved with; all of the little bits and pieces that you kept (just in case); I am amazed at what I have found that we still had, and slightly amazed at where we stored things that we couldn’t find.

My intent is to travel back up the tidal Trent, through Nottingham and make it back onto the non-tidal Trent as a first step (that could also be a last step). To accomplish this our good friend Paul Macy has agreed to be crew for me as we battle the wild and untamed Trent – battling monsters, evil pirates and the storms – well that might be a bit much – at least we will mainly have the incoming tide pushing us along.
He will join me tomorrow along with the two boys – Bombo and Sammie – and the four of us will expand on Jerome K. Jeromes famous travelogue and we will be Four Men in a Boat (two men and two dogs in a boat might be more accurate).

The pantry is reasonably well stocked – that is another thing that has to be sorted out and apart from some staples, the meals will be aimed at reducing the stock in the cupboards and fridge/freezer.
There is also the matter of some quantity of illegal contraband in the form of bottles and cans of ales, lagers, Guinness and red wine that will also need careful reduction – I am blaming Diane for allowing this to become the problem that it now is – truly glad that Paul was on hand to sacrifice his time for the greater good; such a true friend – actually he said ‘YES’ first before other volunteers could do so.

Interestingly the journey from Castleford to Keadby has been largely uneventful – not even the lift bridges and swing bridges presenting a problem for a single hander – all have mooring bollards on the side of the navigation where the controls for the bridge operation are found.
The locks have been just as good – most were the large locks no longer used by the big commercial traffic that has disappeared, but I do like an electronic control box which does everything for you – that is when they work.
At the junction at Knottingley - the visitor moorings are full but this time
there is no rubbish around

Just peaceful cruising

The Exol Pride on its way to Goole from Rotherham - perhaps not a bad
place to meet - at least it was going slow as it passed.
Coming into Thorne (on Friday) and the boater in front had phoned CRT to advise that the lock was not working – sure enough, after an hour wait, the CRT man was able to say that one of the sensors was not working at all, but he locked us through with the standby over-ride system. This had been the only problem encountered with the locks.

At the last swing bridge for Friday, I decided that just for fun, I might crash my leg into one of the foot pegs below the seats at the back of the boat – it took a bit of skin off the leg and a lump the size of half a tennis ball came up – at least when I told Diane about it later she knew that I had been taking my aspirin – the thinner blood meant that this would happen.
That is NOT my knee - the lump that appear after a bit of an innocuous

The first aid kit in the freezer (aka the bag of frozen peas) helped to ease it a bit, but putting my leg down to walk was a bit painful as the blood rushed downwards – it was decidedly better the next day, but still painful to press on.
Sunrise on Saturday morning - and it was a nice day to go along with it
As anyone who has come into or left via Keadby Lock can attest, there is a sliding rail bridge just west of Keadby Lock – you approach from either direction and wait for the signalman (or is it signalperson) to wave you to come through, at which point the rail bridge slides out of the way.

Saturday: after getting through Vazons swing bridge, I moored to wait for the call – a train came through about 2 minutes after I had moored; then waited; and waited; and waited; and waited; another local train after 18 minutes –mmm I thought “there had been plenty of time ther for me to get through; but I waited some more; then two freight trains came at the same time (different directions and tracks); then I waited – after 45 minutes I had had enough and walked over the swing bridge, down the dirt road to the signal box.
I had to call out to make the person inside that I was there –
This young fellow pokes his head out of the window, looking all of about 17 and asks “are you waiting to come through?” – classic, I thought – he looked like he might have been the work experience kid
“No, I am here for my good looks – 45 minutes I have been waiting, what are you doing?”
“I’ve been having my breakfast, I’ll go and check the computer to see when I can get you through”
No reply after that, just the siren to not use the crossing and suddenly the bridge starts to move back – I guess that means that I can go.
I wasn’t about to be rushing back to the boat, so at my normal pace (which today was slow due to the gammy leg) I set off – about 200 metres in all, but finally got through – bloody kid!!

So now I am moored up at Keadby; there are still plenty of things to do as there are with any boat and I have found more hiding places – at least the bins here are only half full.
Sunrise on Sunday morning - I may be developing a theme here

a panorama of the Trent - the white building on the right is the control tower for the lockkeeper

The weather has largely been not too bad; of course for anyone expecting an English summer to have sun and warmth and no rain then forget it; it has been a lot better here than further south from the reports that I hear.

40 Miles, 7 Locks, 4 Lift Bridges, 11 Swing Bridges
YTD:  653 miles (1051 km), 327 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 13 Lift Bridges, 30 Swing Bridges

Total: 5285 Miles (8505 km), 3478 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 79 Lift Bridges, 202 Swing Bridges

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Ferndale is for Sale

Friday 30th June to Wednesday 19th July 2017

This has been an exhausting 3 weeks for all of us.

We arrived in Brisbane at a half decent hour – around 7am and we were through customer and immigration without any problems within the hour – we then had another hour’s wait whilst Mitchell and Sara did exactly the same following their flight from Los Angeles.

The transportation from the airport is brilliant – the train station is right outside the airport and we were on our way – to the Sunshine Coast.

Not having to worry about driving was a bonus – the station at the other end was more or less just a short walk to where we had to be.

As can be imagined we have been through quite a lot during this time; the funeral took place on the Monday following and very pleased to see a strong contingent from Western Sydney – good to see cousins and Diane’s aunt – just sad that it was under such circumstances.

There has been a lot of crying going on – my job was to make sure that clean handkerchiefs and tissues were available for all.

We have had a lot of things to think about which we had hoped would be the best for everyone concerned – with Diane’s sister, Vivienne, and her brother and sister-in-law, Rob and Sonia, bearing the load with looking after both mum and dad for the past couple of years, we have decided that the best idea all around to allow for Mum to be able to stay in the house was to plan for 24 hour / 7 day full time care.

To this end, the only feasible solution is for Diane to take on that role for at least the nest 10 - 12 months until Vivienne retires from work.

This is an outcome which relieves the pressure on those who have been working hard to look after mum and dad.

So effective immediately Diane will remain here in Australia, specifically on the Sunshine Coast with her mother and take care of her needs with respect to getting her to appointments and ensuring that dietary and medical needs are looked after.

Where does this leave our adventures on the boat? They are about to end quite suddenly – I am leaving on the 19th from Brisbane to come back and will be taking care of a number of things – including transporting the vast quantity of things that we have accumulated over the past 7 years.

We have had such a lot of support and understanding from all of the people that we have met during that time and also from the close friends that we have made – we are constantly amazed and so thoroughly pleased with how close boaters are and how immeasurable ready they are to help – I cannot thank everyone enough –but as others would say “ I luvs you all”.

The best reaction for all of this has been from Diane’s mum, who just cried and cried when we told her of what we would be doing with her approval – we took a bit of time to explain that this is what we wanted to do.

So finally what I need to say is that nb Ferndale is now up for sale - please see 

for further information regarding the stats for the boat; I have with each blog advised of how much travelling we have done; we are not setting a price or even a price range, as we do not want to encourage or discourage people to look at the boat on its merits and make a sensible offer.
The basis of the sale will be an all inclusive offer - all items (apart from personal items) will remain on the boat, so there should be virtually nothing else to spend on the boat when you purchase it.

Friday, 14 July 2017

A trio of uplifting moments

Sunday 25th June to Thursday 29th June 2017

As I have recorded in a separate blog, we awoke on Sunday morning to the news that Diane’s father had passed away; we spoke with her brother and sister-in-law back in Australia about all of it.

With that news, it was time to make decisions about our plans for this week.
First and foremost was where to leave the boat – a no-brainer really – we had been in Lemonroyd Marina about 3 weeks earlier and it was lovely, so a phone call to Marie at an appropriate time was needed – in the meantime we needed to cruise from Wakefield at least Castleford – during this time a lovely lady called Karen rang back from Lemonroyd – we explained our problem and she was able to help, so that problem was solved.

Diane was busy looking at plane flights and we managed to find them – leaving Wednesday and we would be in Brisbane on Friday – we allowed a couple of days to sort things out with the boat and just make sure that we had everything that we needed.
 On Monday we were advised that the funeral would be the following Monday, which worked out well; Mitch and Sara would be able to fly in from Los Angeles on Friday – landing within an hour of us; we also were able to get a unit at the resort with Rob and Sonia (where they manage) –all set.
We cruised up to Lemonroyd on the Monday late afternoon – it was quite still and peaceful and a bit of warmth from the sun even at this time – would love to do a bit more of all of this type of cruising.
We moored outside the marina for the night and after seeing Marie in the morning we went in and found our berth – luckily there was no wind and we could easily reverse into the allocated spot.
Everything sorted and by 10:30 we were physically and emotionally drained – this was just one of the steps in getting back, but a fairly crucial one; so from here we were ready for the next one and the one after that and so on.

In the afternoon, we decided that a bit of a walk would help, so we wandered into the village; had a coffee and bought a few things at Lidl that we would need and then back again – the round trip was no more than a mile and a half.
We also managed to book train tickets, on-line, for the trip from Leeds to Manchester Airport for the following day – by doing so we saved £22.

The following morning, Marie generously provided transport to Lemonroyd station – she is a lovely person.
In next to no time we were in Leeds and after a coffee we were heading towards the airport.
Once there a series of very wonderful events seemed to start from nowhere – we arrived there and went to the Emirates Customer desk – our initial booking had us in seats not next to each other for the long leg between Dubai and Brisbane.
What nice people they were – after explaining the circumstances they moved a few people around and we were then in seats next to one another – we were very pleased with that.
At the baggage counter, Diane cheekily asked were there any exit row seats; the young girl behind the desk found a couple and we were set.
At the check-in point (where they make sure that your passport and boarding pass is still OK), the same young girl from baggage check-in was there and when it was our turn, she took our boarding passes away (surprised looks on our faces – “what’s happening”), when she came back we had Business Class seats – totally unexpected – Diane was a bit teary-eyed about it all and I was non-plussed – such a lovely surprise and it lifted our spirits immeasureably – only for the first leg but it was so nice.
Despite our reasons for having to travel, Diane had a smile on her face for the first time in 4 days and she enjoyed the upgrade and despite having just the economy class tickets for the second leg, she was much happier.

Problem now is that she did enjoy it so much that she wants it next time we travel – we will see – life is just a bit too short as we know, and why we were flying, we may just do it for future flights.

12 Miles, 5 Locks
YTD:  613 miles (987 km), 320 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 9 Lift Bridges, 19 Swing Bridges

Total: 5245 Miles (8441 km), 3471 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 75 Lift Bridges, 191 Swing Bridges

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Just heading back towards Leeds

Monday 19th June to Saturday 24th June 2017

After a peaceful and very quiet night at Mytholmroyd we move off relatively early for a week-day; our only concern for the day being that we needed to get through Lock 3/4  today or else it would involve a call to CaRT to make a booking for tomorrow.
There is a lock-keeper on duty there from Friday to Monday (inclusive) every week (8:30-16:00) – other times need to be booked.

We knew that there would not be any problems (or at least we hoped not) – and there wasn’t.
We hit Sowerby Bridge around mid-morning and we all tied up before 11am, which left us time to get things done – I still had work to get through and Diane had her prescriptions to pick up from Lloyds Pharmacy (we had left them there before we left).
But first there is always time for a coffee first (the Weatherspoons variety was not too bad).
The side of this disused building was made into a rock-climbing
business - large-scale recycling

After that it was time for tennis – Queens was starting and her indoors will almost always be found enjoying the court game).
One more day here would be necessary, some of the pills were not yet available and whilst we had no pressing concerns we thought a relaxing day would be worthwhile and it most certainly was.
Sometimes it is easy to forget just how much the fresh air environment can make you a bit tired, and those heavy lock gates don’t help either, so this a most welcome break.
Next day, Wednesday, we were again on the move earlyish, but had mad up our minds that Elland would be the stopping point for the day – it was only 3 locks and 5 miles – and we easily found a space to moor up.
Not having been here before we wanted to have a bit of a wander around the area to see what was there – we were in need of a few things and google-maps told us that a Morrisons was just nearby, so we headed that way.
oooh, look at that hair (hat hair)

and I do love a good sign where the creative juices have
been active

We were in for a bit of a shock as we walked further and further. We found the Morrisons alright, but when Diane suggested that we carry on just a bit further – just to see what was there, we kept on finding more and more shops and stores and buildings (in use) and plenty of people around – bus stops and plenty of buses to stop there and lines of cars – it was a real eye-opener – a bustling hub in the making.
Strange how many times we have found places such as this where there was an expectation of much less.
Back on board it was essentially the usual – tennis (she) and work (me).
Travelling now was a bit like going through the motions of going along knowing that we just simply had to be in a certain place at a certain time, that essentially would be to be in Leeds around the first few days on July – we would start the journey across the Pennines via the Leeds and Liverpool canal, with a booking for the boat to be blacked in Skipton in mid-July.

Struggling with the stick but... the end of it, she had made it

Not quite Betty Grable, but that's her..

All of this is not to say that we do not enjoy simply cruising – we certainly do – and we really enjoy the chance to cruise on any river sections that come by – but mooring on these is not possible, so you become limited to the same places you have been before.
One pleasant surprise we came across was in Mirfield – the Railway Pub was a most pleasant place to have a couple of drinks – it has been renovated, but we are not traditionalists – we like the old pubs but also like to sit down in a bit of comfort and enjoy the feel of the place.
We caught up with Jan and Colin and then we left them again

Further along came Wakefield where we did a bit of walking around the city centre and found the museum and also the free bus service, so that saved a bit of a walk back to the boat.
By this stage we were a bit tired and needed a chance to relax – I am not saying that there was anyone nodding off in the lounge, but it got a bit quiet in there (as I was working away) – and there was only one other person on the boat with me.
But still, the dozing must have been needed; there are times when it becomes very hard to find much needed sleep.

25 Miles, 31 Locks, 1 Tunnel
YTD:  601 miles (967 km), 315 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 9 Lift Bridges, 19 Swing Bridges

Total: 5233 Miles (8422 km), 3466 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 75 Lift Bridges, 191 Swing Bridges