Saturday, 11 February 2017

The atmospheric Caldon canal

Last Sunday saw us meet up with our youngest who had flown in to Birmingham airport after a weeks skiing in the alps - nice.  His partner Emma came up and she and Rachel had a girly day shopping while I was Cindafella cleaning the boat, emptying cassettes and fettling the engine.

We all stopped in the Boars head hotel on Saturday and on Sunday went for a walk from Froghall wharf down the (more muddy than we expected) Caldon canal. As we got to our terminus close to the footpath up to the Falcon centre a large American steam loco came past which was a sight to behold. At that point we decided to walk on the Consall forge and get the train back.

It was muddy but still beautiful. 

I have reported the tree down....

When the train passed us going to Cheddleton we could hear its urgent whistle all down the valley - a simple but engaging pleasure for me !

 We timed our arrival at the station well with a five minute wait 

 This is the train arriving with the loco going backwards 

 Leia got a nights stay in a hotel, a train ride as well as a great walk - she does live an interesting life !

Sadly my phone ran out of battery at the station but while watching the engine run around and then couple up the boiler made too much steam and I know where the term  - 'let off steam' comes from, my goodness the noise was literally deafening.

These machines are real living beasts and beautiful to be exposed to, so close as well.

The Caldon canal and the Churnet Valley have some real treasures.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Electric shock and the poo fairy

Ok, don't worry I was not me who had the shock but I am the poo fairy.

Poor Leia was playing with a bottle she had found and backed onto the electric fence that has been installed on part of one of our favourite walks. Not just any electric shock but one up her backside make her yelp quite loud - she backed onto it and shot forward much quicker !

I clocked someone had left their collected dog turds by the gate to get to the path.... two lots so a regular walker. I did my good deed for the day and became the poo fairy and removed it for them. I only hope they do not really start to believe in the poo fairy as they will never put their dog mess in a bin ever again !

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

It's like living in a cloud

A comment from one of my boaty neighbours this morning( last week now !).

The mist and drizzle that has seemingly been ever present this year is not welcome. I am actually looking forward to some strong winds to blow this weather away..... when not moving a boat the wind is quite nice to sit and listen to. Certainly a nice accompaniment to going to sleep.

With the mist and warmer temps comes mud. Despite best efforts I have to go to work in scruffs as the mud just gets flicked everywhere.

So I don't want snow just some nice crisp clean mornings and the sight of the sun might be useful. I literally cannot remember when I last saw  a clear sunny blue sky at the moorings.

Ok - I wrote this a week ago  and since then we have had some nice crispy mornings, but this morning it was back to mud and mist.

In fact Saturday was a beautiful day am.... what a contrast to Tuesday am.... but if the weather is to be crap, better be crap while I am at work.

Monday was so nice Leia and I went to Common lock for a pre work walk... the pictures say it all

Every day it gets lighter and when the sun is free to roam free from the clouds the mornings frosts and evening sunsets are as much as anyone could want.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Les Biggs

Sadly Les has to quote Maffi 'swung his last windlass in this life' It's always hard to accept someone is no longer with us  but now a loved and cherished memory for all those who he loved and befriended in his life.

My thinking on death is that you move to a memory and live again in everyone's hearts when you are spoken of .... this keeps going until the last one who loved talks no more and you pass to whatever and where ever  - I do not know.

I hope and I am sure Jaq will cruise on and we can raise those memories out on the cut where Les was at his happiest.

Too many are passing on in my life for it not to be a reminder, a strong reminder that dreams are only reality for those brave and strong enough to pursue them.

Last time I meet Les was on the Coventry and I blogged about it here.... 

In memory of that day I have copied the post and the picture so I have the memory on two of my blogs.

Canal Royalty

It's something you hear about when people refer to the old working boatmen and women, and rightly so. They had a hard life and the latter workers stuck at it and in some ways bridged into the next 'life' of the canals. This new life is characterised by the live-a-board, those who take a brave decision to move aboard, yes I think it is brave to step aside from the umbilical cord of bricks and motor and all the connectivity that comes with it. So these people are the new generation and in my opinion true custodians of the waterways, they look after it for me while I am at work ;-)

So today I met canal royalty. I have hailed Les on a couple of occasions when doing our own bit of cruising. I then started to read of a true romance (and I'm a bloke remember) his princess lived thousands of miles away, living a completely different life. I started to wonder if was reading fact or fiction, it was so unlikely but so worthwhile, especially as the two life journeys had been so seemingly difficult. The writing was compelling, the story was absorbing, as soon as a blog entry had been consumed you were left waiting and wanting more update, the next instalment.

Like all fairy tales this one had the very best of endings, the English gent gets his bride and the princess gets to live in her stately home.

So back to today, I visited that stately home and it rivals the best. It's one full of love and laughter. It represents everything that those desiring to live-a-board must aspire to. It was certainly helped by the lovely smell of baking cake when I was invited aboard!

We chatted for a good couple of hours about life, boats, culture plus much much more that will no doubt come to me in reflections as the days pass.

So in my book this pair are canal royalty as they represent so many canal users but they are at the top of the tree in their story, their use of the canals and what came over most was the love of the life they lead. Better not shout about it too loud otherwise there would be a massive rush to buy boats.... and I know how hard that can be !

I came away inspired, certainly by the lifestyle but I think more so by the obvious love and affection between the pair, it was nice to see the last chapter of the book in real life. Long may they cruise the waterways.

Monday, 16 January 2017

About as low as it gets

Dark nights are one thing, dark wet drizzly nights are pushing the test to a new low. Offside moorings, a good trek from the car in the pitch black are joy on a crisp moonlit night, or a warm summers evening . But a crappy January with towpaths muddy and dangerously slippy have no appeal.

All with the catalyst of events well outside of my control deliver a less than ideal experience. Thats the bad stuff.

Down south this weekend we saw a truly beautiful thing.  First off we are privileged to be able to carry out a semi remote south Downs walk. We have good fitness. We inadvertently went off the track and met up with a beautiful white stag.  Ghosting through the woods like some form of etherial being. I'm pleased we have no photo as my memory will last longer and it so much more detailed.

As if by magic it and the heard of red deer melted off into the woodland  - it felt like a dream a sweet dream you wish to remember for a long long time.

So we have to seek out the small beautiful things especially at this testing time as the year turns and the sun starts to ever gradually warm us all again.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Grrr.... feeling envious!

I do not like envy,  I try and strip it out of my life as I already have so much. So what am I getting envious of....

Well a blogger and a Vlogger have got my feet itching, especially David's cartographic masterpiece that describes a route I'd love to do, but maybe with a loop de loop on the four counties clockwise so we get to do the upper Staffs and Worcs three times   - those who have done it will know why.

So they are planning their 2017 cruising routes.

What do they have that I do not have, well I could say time as neither seems to be working (job stuff, I am sure there is work in their lives somewhere). Alas it is not time they have got  - it is the courage and conviction to make/take the time that I guess we all have.

So I'll be vicariously cruising with them this summer and maybe bump into them and you when we do move Percy at some point this year !

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

A weak milestone but useful blog data

....As I reflected on this milestone I was quite pleased.

It is the 400 hours on my engine counter. Lets see I fitted this here. For those not boaty people we use engine hours as we cannot record miles run to gauge the wear on an engine and to work out service intervals. So for those not clicking the link it was fitted January ish 2013 - not long after I got the boat. So that makes the maths easy to work out 400 / 4 years  = average of  100 hours a year.

Ok we may not have travelled much but I have lived aboard for over a year so far in the four years we have now owned Percy.  It really helps having a gas water heater as unlike Waterlily where we had to run the engine for hot water we have what we use at home hot water on demand. This for a boat helps by only really needing run the engine to charge the batteries and during the summer and some of spring and autumn nature helps here with the solar panel.

As for diesel use, lets see I last filled up here  February 2016 when the engine counter was on 347. So I guess in the last 11 months I have only used around 50 litres of fuel. It is a sad reflection of the lack of cruising we did last year.  As Percy has two very large fuel tanks I guess we could go years based on that consumption before another fill up. However I'd like to cruise more and will so we will use more up in the next year or so.

So to servicing, a quick search of my blog tells me I fettled the engine  - including oil change in May 2015  - with the engine counter on 271 hours. So 20 months and 130 hours of use I think Percy's donk is due another oil change so I'll order some Morrisons oil again.

Percy's engine does not have a modern filter for oil, it relies on the oil not holding the minute particles that a modern oil does which are then filtered out via the oil filter under pressure. The Morrisons oil dumps the sludge in the bottom of the crankcase so at some point I need to open her up and check if I need to clean this area out. There is a decent sized door to gain access but it will require removing the water pump ..... a summer job so I may delay the oil to May and do a bigger strip down then.

Anyhow there are some uses for the blog, recording the above has been a useful reminder of what will need doing (oil change) and what does not need doing (diesel fill up)