Sunday, 28 December 2014
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
We've upped the game from those boaters who bragged about taking their Narrowdog to Carcassonne. They only had to cross the channel.
But these Venetians are the real masters and mistresses of the waterways, Everything that happens, life, death, fire, flood happens here and on this canal. Every single thing that has to be delivered comes by boat. Here is a Venetian version of our Brian and Anne Marie and just as cheerful and hard working. They must have been up before day break to stock their floating fruit stall. We didn't see a coal boat but it would have been there somewhere on the system.
Princess Lucy issued a huge sigh when she got back to Peak Forest and is now safely moored at FurnessVale. She awaits our Boxing Day explorations. Who knows where she'll end up.
Sunday, 14 December 2014
New items added to Princess Lucy were the Candy washing machine and a ceiling mounted glass rack to hold our newly acquired (yes, ebay) Babycham glasses. I suppose it is logical, when you have filled every cupboard and fitted shelves where you can, the only place left is to fasten things to the ceiling!
Anyway, the boat is now decorated with its Christmas lights and a small tree. On Thursday we leave for a short break staying at the Palazzo Stern with a view of another canal (The Grand Canal in Venice).We will be back in the Peak District for Christmas and will cast off on Boxing Day if the weather is reasonably clement and try out the new galley.It looks good but how well will it work?
On the subject of weather, sort of, a neighbouring narrowboater at our Marina lent us his anti-freeze tester last week. Nothing, No antifreeze at all. Hmmmm. The bigger shock was that the engine and skin tank and the calorifier piping probably totals about 40 litres, and the cost of putting in 20 litres of concentrated antifreeze is scary.
However, I am thinking that the skin tank is insulated from the frosts by the canal, which is unlikely to drop below 0 degrees C. The calorifier is sort of in the boat and as I have a frost stat set up to switch on the central heating, then that should be OK. That leaves the engine. Now the theory here is that the central heating diesel heater (Eberspacher) is next to the engine, as are its exhaust and some hot water piping. So tomorrow there will be tests to see if the heater significantly warms the engine bay. We will see.
I asked First Mate what she thought about the antifreeze dilemma.
She turned to me, and I waited for her thoughts. Then she spoke.
"I'd love a Babycham!"
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
They are perfectly proportioned. Every glass we had looked at elsewhere was way too big for our design. When did wine glasses turn into such monstrous vessels? Has this fashion come over from Venice where you get a thimble full of wine served in an oversized but beautiful glass? Very sophisticated. More likely it is a response to the availability of cheap booze in the supermarkets which means that you can neck a half pint at home without it costing that much. And claim that you have only had the one.
That's all for now but we may be able to post an additional picture of the glass arrangement (very exciting) in the near future. It's at the pencil drawing stage at the moment but knowing the Captain it will materialise out of thin air some time soon.
Friday, 31 October 2014
If all that seems a little mathematical, then you haven't seen anything! Captain's post on CANALWORLD explains how the washing machine is fooled into using less power than it might! And it details the electric and water consumption. If you are interested you can follow the link HERE. We have now run the machine three times and the towels came out fluffier than our big machine at home. So we are very pleased with it.
We had a moment where we wavered about the new hob. We have quite a soft spot for the cream enamel Vanette's retro appeal which is almost trendy. We have a horrible feeling that the new replacement won't be as well made or as durable. What we are ripping out is still clean and functional and, as we can't bear to skip it, it might just go on Ebay for a modest sum. We replaced a 4 burner hob with a triangular 3 burner having figured that no one uses 4 gas rings at the same time. However, the new hob seems so small and wobbly that we have had to replace our large frying pan with a mini wok. How long will this new kit last? We'll see.
Our next trip out is scheduled for Boxing Day so we are well on target for that, We are longing to finish up and tidy all the tools away in time to put up some Christmas lights, maybe.
Monday, 13 October 2014
We are not tampering with any of the layout, cupboards or any of the original Canal Time features. The galley looks tired after 15 years or so of numerous boaters. There is good chance that no one will even notice that she has a new hob/sink/worktop/ tiles/under cupboard lights. Everything still works fine and it is a credit to whoever designed the boat that you would struggle to come up with a more practical or ergonomic working space.
We love our little galley but she deserves a smarten up. A year or so ago, there was a cookery programme about a young Corden Bleu trained British woman (Rachel Khoo) cooking in a tiny French apartment in Paris. She managed to whip up fantastic stuff in about the same amount of space.
So, it's not about having acres of granite worktop and hangers full of kitchen cupboards, it's about using the space intelligently. And it's about loving working in the space you are in.
The weekend was Autumn at its best, full of sunshine again (in spite of predicted rain that never arrived). We entertained a good friend from Manchester and had dinner at Zayka. Not having Rocky to worry about, we ended up in The Goyt Inn for the first time which is a nice proper good old fashioned pub. We stayed there until it was time for her to stumble on to the last train to Manchester, where apparently she was serenaded by a group of twenty year olds and had a photograph taken with all of them. So, I think, she enjoyed it.
Sunday, after a supreme lie in until 10 am, was all graft. Clearing the cupboards out and packing away china and all the nonsense on the worktops. We then managed to woman/man handle our new washing machine into the saloon in readiness for fitting. We have also come up with an ingenious plan for drying small loads of washing come rain or shine, We are fitting brass rails inside the boat in front of the hatch and on which we will hang a couple of airers designed for Italian balconies.
There is a radiator under this hatch that will dry clothes in the winter. However, If the sun shines and the breeze blows, we can open the hatch doors and roof and the washing will be inside and outside at the same time,
We also discovered that the same airer will fit on the front rails around the tunnel light and so we can dry stuff properly outside even when we are cruising. So we have options (and we have seen various solutions as we have passed other boats). We are determined not to have stuff dripping in the shower like a Sixties film about a Northern girl in a bedsit - except that in those films it is always a a pair of stockings and a yellowing corset hanging forlorn over a bath. In Sixties Britain they hadn't invented showers.
As you know Princess Lucy is all about the comfort and glamour - but clothes do begin to whiff a bit after several days on the cut.
Tuesday, 7 October 2014
It seemed logical to start painting from the top down. We like this because (a) We could cover any drips on the sides later, (b) The roof is by far the worst paint on the boat, (c) The rust and peeling paint is a nagging reminder of what needs doing as we potter along.
The boat started its life (in 2000) with the roof a sort of Grand Union CC Co pale blue, but since then it has had at least 2 other shades of dark blue, and even more shades where it has been touched up.
|... AND AFTER|
Winter has now arrived. By our reckoning Summer ended last Thursday (2nd October) - a day when the Captain managed a final coat on the roof, and winter began the day after.
We are quite pleased with the paint job. It has gone all strawberries and cream on us - a reminder of a fabulous summer. It will cheer us on when cruising through rain. When viewed from the other side of the canal, in fading light, and without your glasses - it looks pretty bloody good.
Next year WILL be mostly painting and we will get further with it. We will. We even plan to repaint the name by hand and move this from the centre to the panel nearest the stern. Those lovely vinyls will have to go.
But for now, we have the coming weekend planned for cruising and then - the galley gets it: new worktop, sink, tap, hob, tiles, lighting and a washing machine.
Sunday, 21 September 2014
The Bosley flight on Thursday afternoon was wonderfully sunny and passed smoothly. 2 hours for 12 locks in a mile seemed like a reasonable result. Especially as we waited for one hire boater who closed both bottom paddles before he tried to open the gates! I suppose it might work - if you are quick.
We then had an easy Friday moored up all alone at Oakgrove. We waited the arrival of our visitors. Then had a short cruise on the only dull day of the holiday to Sutton Hall with the Captain's sister Chrissie and her husband Chris, We were in good spirits and cheered ourselves with cake and Bucks Fizz. Sutton Hall was as delightful as ever, and we were attracted by their New Year's Eve party where it suggests we book "Carriages for 1 am."
By Saturday night we were enjoying a very good curry at Marple Spice, but not before we trawled the charity shops for any old films on DVD. This followed on from our thorough enjoyment in watching Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember (1957), We found a copy of an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway starring Vanessa Redgrave, a 1938 version of Pygmalion scripted by George Bernard Shaw himself and couldn't resist The French Lieutenant's Woman - one of our favourite films. As they were all originally given as freebies with The Daily Mail, we just made a donation.
We trundled onto our mooring at Furness Vale early Sunday afternoon and said goodbye to Princess Lucy for a while. We hope to manage one night aboard in October before she has a galley refit which will take her out of action for a while.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
On Monday, we had arranged to meet Chris and Hilda of the sea going yacht Scharjade. They came to see nb Princess Lucy and we promised them a good dinner at a canal side pub. The last time we ate with them was at The Seafood Bar at The Crinan Hotel. The two men declared that this was the best fish and chips they had ever eaten.
We returned to the Hollybush at Denford, and mindful that on our previous visit there, the food had been mediocre, we looked for something 'safe' on the menu.
"Fish and chips," first mate suggested, "they can't do much to ruin that."
Well they could, and they did. Chris had asked the bar person whether they battered their fish. The look of disbelief said it all. They didn't batter anything that could be delivered in a packet. Four portions of dry, triangular slabs of something battered were delivered. Luckily we could laugh about it. The parsnips weren't so bad though.
Yesterday we made fantastic progress for us from Hazelhurst Junction all the way to Etruria. The lovely sunshine helped. There is a lot of new house building around the canal, so we thought that maybe something is happening to regenerate The Potteries at last. We walked into Hanley for shopping and dinner but found the centre almost empty of people. The only visible change in Hanley since first mate left 8 years ago was a giant 24 hour Tesco plonked outside The Regent's Theatre. This lit the deserted townscape.
Today we travelled north through the Harecastle tunnel and decided that the novelty of this dark and chilling experience had definitely worn off. We literally counted the yards painted on the tunnel sides. It was a huge relief to be out in the fresh air and back on The Macc'.
Tonight we enjoyed an excellent meal and service at The Rising Sun, Scholars Green. Tomorrow is the Bosley flight and a quiet night in. At least we have got to end of all Scarlet's weeping, whining and wailing in Gone With the Wind. Like Rhett, by the end of this epic melodrama, we couldn't give a damn.
Sunday, 14 September 2014
We went off plan yesterday when a Waterways guy told us a different route to The Hollybush. He said we could avoid any locks by taking the Leek turn and mooring on the aqueduct. So lovely is this part of the canal, that we decided.to continue for an hour along the Leek arm its terminous near the town.
There are few prettier detours even if you can't get anywhere. We moored at the end of the canal and walked through a scrap yard and industrial estate before climbing up into the market place. Leek is another silk town and full of interesting buildings. We shopped, had Prosecco in Getliffe's wine bar and curry at Pabna's. We were glad we didn't miss this experience.
Today we enjoyed an afternoon's cruise with the real Princess Lucy and her mum and dad. We tied up for afternoon tea and Lucy decorated cakes with icing, sprinkles and animals, finishing the design with fresh roses. Very classy. Look out Mary Berry.
Tonight is one of those rare dinners onboard and then "Gone with the Wind," a DVD we have had for ages, but not yet seen.
Friday, 12 September 2014
As time goes by, (sing along if you wish) we become more confused about where (and where not) it is safe to moor. Our downloaded Waterways World article said of Etruria Basin, that "you may not want to stay there overnight." The man we met coming into Etruria from the Caldon said, "It's a bit rough up there." Well it looked OK and we have honestly no idea what he meant.
Tonight tried to discuss this with another boater in The Holly Bush at Denford. His offering on the canal around Hanley was enlightening: "I thought I was the wrong colour." So we are struggling to discern the genuine bits of advice from racism (and probably a host of other prejudices). It's troubling to admit that some, not all, boaters are afraid of different people - be they people of colour, people with dreadlocks, in fact anyone who looks different from them. We asked the waterways man what there was to fear in Milton. He said it was kids throwing bottles. That seems to be main real threat. Not people who look different.
We slept peacefully in Etruria Basin, and met many friendly locals.
Today we met a young lad who looked poor and uncared for. He was fishing by the locks at Stockton Brook with a stick. He'd caught a Bream. This is very enterprising and we congratulated him.
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Since we last blogged, narrowboating has been very hectic. Tonight we are sunburnt in Etruria, and tomorrow the weather promises to burn us somewhere else. Our progress had been stunning (for us), perhaps it would be modest for others. But, to begin at the beginning.
We were in a rainy Marple on Saturday night moping about because we were missing Rocky. The weather cleared, we pressed on to Macclesfield where we hung around for 2 nights. We explored the town with its unusual and impressive architecture. Even Wetherspoons has Art Deco toilets. We had an excellent curry with visiting family in the old fashioned Pappadams. We noted that the dated interior with its heavy use of fabrics meant we could actually hold a conversation!
The next day we met our neighbours at the top of the Bosley flight. They helped us down the locks - in full sunshine. It was superb to be messing about on a boat.
Today we have done the Harecastle tunnel and cruised through Stoke which looked much softer than last time because of the sunlight and greenery. We returned to Middleport pottery and bought some plates, (Goldilocks size plates for the boat, that is - not too big - not too small).
Last night we moored near Buglawton, overlooked by a blue cow. Tonight we are moored in Etruria; watched over by a statue of a rather superior looking James Brindley.
Saturday, 6 September 2014
We are beginning a two week trip where we might reach Cheddleton or maybe Leek.
Today we acheived our target of Marple in the pouring rain. Skillfully avoiding the Giant Hogweed at New Mills, we travelled the 2.5 hours from our mooring at Furness Vale. The new alternator appears to be working and the new set of domestic batteries look good. The following days which include a stationary day in Macclesfield, will test them properly.
There is a shadow hanging over this trip. We should have had Rocky with us pacing back and forth checking out all points from the stern. But for the first time in 30 odd years, we are "dogless." Rocky, the small greyhound, who has been with us for the last 12 months has left us for the beaches of the south coast.
We live in "sheep country" and Rocky's passion for sheep proved too stressful for both him and us, and after one sheep incident too many, we realised that he could not have any sort of life with us other than tethered to a lead. Which is no life for a breed built to run.
After some quick thinking by our friend Sarah of Chertsey, we came up with a plan for a new home away from the temptation of sheep rustling and the the very real threat of a farmer's gun. Sarah suggested that Rocky might do better with Jim.
So we are have having to get used to life without him. Jim phoned today to report that he is settling in to his new life quite well. He has new friends, new walks and Jim is clearly looking after him splendidly.
Tonight we are headed to Murillo's (Spanish restaurant).
No need to leave the radio or the light in for Rocky.
Sunday, 24 August 2014
Friday, 22 August 2014
Saturday, 19 July 2014
At least it made a change from him trying to find a sheep round every corner.
|Visitor Moorings in Bristol|
Bristol harbour is most impressive especially on a steamy summer day where the number of visitors in flip flops and shorts could persuade you that this is the South of France. It is full of boats (and ships) of all shapes and sizes and the harbour is lined with smart cafes and bars. People messing about sipping skinny lattes.
The modern cosmopolitan version of this harbour betrays little of its massively important role in the slave trade except for the naming of Pero's bridge after an African slave brought to Bristol.
We met a Big Issue seller with his lovely little dog Reggie who told us that they were just about to kick off the huge Bristol Harbour Festival and how good it is. So we were much attracted to the idea of hanging out there on Princess Lucy.
Unfortunately the prettiest moorings (see picture) are now closed following the eviction by Somerset Council of a line of liveaboards. Rumour is that the council plan to install electric and water facilities and charge for future use of the moorings. The moved boats appear to be still on the Avon, but to the south of the city in a CaRT controlled section . There was still plenty of spaces though and Rocky was happy enough with them, and the Avon.
Dream on Rocky. You have to have a dream. We'll get there one day. You'll see and by then you'll be on the tiller whilst we do the locks.
Monday, 9 June 2014
But staying on he subject of the weather - just for a moment - the Whaley weather swung violently between that very wet rain, and that very beautiful sunshine. Saturday was mostly wet, and you might have expected a dismal turnout. But the trip boats continued to fly past full of customers (flying so fast that one of the wee Bollington day-trip boats pulled the pins from of one of our neighbours). Yes, like me, the Whaley people also didn't care about the weather, and on Sunday when the sun did come out, all of the people who did care about the weather came as well, and the place was buzzing.
We arrived on Friday night and tied up and the end of a line of boats who we later found out were 'traders.' I don't think anyone noticed we had nothing to sell! We did have Rocky though, who seems to be adored by everyone. Perhaps we could have charged folk to stroke his neck?
We had fabulous food out on Friday at Casa di Pizza and on Saturday at Zayka. Work friends and neighbours popped in to see us and on Saturday evening (just as the rain subsided) First Mate served a bunch of us with cocktails (Passion Fruit Martinis - and very nice). After two of those, the world seemed good, and I was at peace with the weathermen.
The weekend wouldn't have been complete without Alton chugging by, and although we didn't need anything this time, near enough everyone else seemed to, including a jump start for Gracie (although a push start would have been more impressive!)
What a difference a day makes
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
But on Friday, reckless as ever, we made the decision to go and see what happened. We could, after all, always come back to Furness Vale the next day.
We got to the boat at 5.45 and cast off for the 2 hour cruise to The Strines. It was supposed to rain. It didn't. We made fabulous time due to another boat doing 3 out of the 4 swing/lift bridges for us. We tied up in sunshine, walked to the Sportsman in sunshine with Rocky for dinner. He clicked with another boater's dog, Gale, and lay on the floor French kissing her. He was happy and we were happy.
On Saturday, we did not lie in but instead cast off at 8 am, made it to Bridge 25 in the dry and tied up at noon. It then rained very heavily during our afternoon nap but miraculously cleared for a sunny walk to see the Historic Narrowboat gathering at the Adelphi Mill. This was a meager showing with Alton and two other boats but it was gloriously warm and pleasant strolling over the viaduct to reach them.We had dinner with Rocky and more new canine pals at the Windmill. It was excellent. On Sunday we made it to Marple and in fair amount of sunshine. Had a lovely walk down the lock flight, chatted to a number of boaters including this one!!! and had a good dinner at Marple Spice. On Monday we came back to Furness Vale, again in sunshine with just one spit of rain which amounted to nothing. So, all this boring detail is leading us to the main point, that if we had gone on the weather forecast, we would have had none of these pleasures.