Sunday, 28 December 2014

Crispy, Cosy, Comfy, Cheery Christmas

A brief post from Princess Lucy. We are too lazy to write much. Hopefully the pictures tell the story. We've had snow and ice but managed to get the boat down to Marple in the dark. Since then we've had loads of sitting round the fire, eating too much, drinking fizz and bingeing on episodes of Breaking Bad. Walked down the lock flight yesterday and remembered the same walk with Rocky last year and how Jem was recovering from major dental surgery. That made us a bit sad but only for a moment because everything else is pretty much perfect.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

British made narrowboat on Grand Canal

We've upped the game from those boaters who bragged about taking their Narrowdog to Carcassonne. They only had to cross the channel.

We made the epic haul down the Rhine and Moselle and briefly out into the Adriatic. Thereafter Princess Lucy majestically entered the Guglie canal, under the bridge called Tre Archi and turned into the Grand Canal. There is a lot of wild water and a good deal of fog between Venice and the Peak Forest. The picture shows first mate dodging the gondolas. We wondered what all the shouting was about. They are gobby on the canal. Anyone would think they owned it. We  thought it best to tie up at Ca Rezonnico, paid a street boy to look out for our boat and wandered. We happened upon an exhibition which reconstructed Leonard da Vinci's inventions. This was held in the beautiful, vast and icy Church of San Barbara. Here we learned that Leonardo invented the swing bridge and paid homage to the genius who made it possible for us get off our own waterway. We wouldn't go anywhere with out him.

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

The Bar Opens on Boxing Day

The last three months have seen Captain furiously refitting the galley. Pretty well everything was renewed in the end. The replacement of the cream enamel Vanette oven and hob gave us the opportunity of selling them on ebay. They sold for much more then we had thought, and it all helped balance the books.

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

Buckets for Wine

Time to post an interim blog on the galley refit. We spent an industrious and enjoyable Sunday pottering about and moving things back to make the galley into a galley again. We even managed a walk along the tow path into Whaley Bridge for Sunday lunch at The Cock Inn. Inevitably, we were remembering Rocky every step of the walk and missing him. But having seen how happy he is with Jim on our visit to Newhaven last weekend, it seems totally unjustified to be sad about his new life. We will have to be resigned to missing him whilst knowing that he is so much safer and better off where he is. And we couldn't have hoped for a better outcome because we can stay in touch. Jim has promised to bring him up our way again at some point. Even though we are hundreds of miles away, we have managed to see him twice since September.

Back to the Galley. Captain has made terrific progress, beating all his own deadlines as usual. We have a few snagging jobs and there is promise of an over hanging glass cupboard. When we were in Brighton last weekend we bought some gorgeous gold rimmed wine glasses from Zara Home.
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.

Generally, we are amazed that we seem to have created space, There is more worktop due to the re positioning of the sink and in opting for one without a draining board. We have also fitted a new three burner hob - space saving again. The cooker is slightly smaller giving us more bottle storage underneath (and God do we need that!). The biggest surprise is that the washing machine has forced us to clear out all the underneath cupboards, throw duplicate cleaning stuff away and generally reorganise things much better. So we have won a washing machine and gained storage under the sink. How did that happen?

Captain D.I.Y. has built a brand new fully functioning drawer where there was just a pretend front. So we have won space again to store miscellany (foil, cling film, bin bags etc.). We are pretty pleased with how it has turned out. The new under cupboard lighting has made a huge difference to the feel of the space. It is now warm, welcoming and provides a good working light. The overhead lights will only be needed occasionally and we have come up with a plan to fit new LED moveable spots into the original brass fittings. The boat will be 95% towards having all LED lighting. So all is well on the power consumption front.

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

What Watts?

We can report three weeks of steady progress on Princess Lucy's galley refit. At two or three days a week, and at Captain's working speed - which is slow and involves a lot more looking (thinking he says) than doing - the galley is probably two thirds of the way there.

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.

Anyway, the new worktops are in, as is the new sink, new tap, washing machine (as you know), the new hob is half in, and a new oven is to go in on Monday.

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.

That just leaves tiling and a good few days miscellany and snagging.

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

Candy Girl

We have just passed the last weekend on Princess Lucy until after Boxing Day which will be our next trip. This is because, and this is very exciting, the galley is finally due to get her refit. It is almost exactly two years since we bought this boat and it was meant to be the first job. It has ended up being the last internal job having done the shower room, fitted a stove, replaced the floor and sorted out the lighting. Everything has taken longer than we expected because we have spent way too much time enjoying ourselves instead of working.

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

Clotted Cream Ripple

When we started to think about this year, one plan was to get some paint on the boat. Maybe not all, but a fair bit of it. September came and we had painted virtually nothing. Anyway,  there was a modest start on the roof, but then we went away for over 2 weeks with a half finished and by now multi coloured boat, By the 22nd September, it dawned on us that the summer wasn't going to last for ever. 

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 roof has been flaking and making a mess everywhere for a good year. I think maybe the bloke who sold us the boat (2 years ago) put a very thin coat of something on it: something that was probably not enamel. 

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. 

International Mauritius Blue seemed the closest we could find. But despite that being a good match we chose Rylards Cream!

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

Fridge Monsters and Old Movies

The last few days of our holiday were happy and peaceful. We became accustomed to the strange noises from our Shoreline 12 volt fridge which seemed to keep switching off for a couple of seconds and then coming on again (any thoughts on this would be gratefully received.) Anyway, it muddled on and kept the wine cool - just. Captain also discovered partway through the fortnight that the PRM gearbox changes gear more reliably if it has oil in it! (no comments needed on this one.)

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

That was tha wurst fish supper I've eyver had!

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

Leek. The Delightful Detour

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 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

Safe Moorings

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

Sun Scorched in Stoke

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

Carry on up the Caldon

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

The Call of the Sea

Last night, Saturday night that is, turned out somewhat different to how it was planned. The plan was to have a meal in our holiday cottage (smoked salmon, prawns, and spinach with fresh pasta). But that was not to be, and on a whim, "it will keep" I said, we shot across the lock to the Crinan Hotel Seafood Bar.

Battered Haddock for me, Arbroath Smokie for First Mate and and some bits from the table and lots of fun with friends for Rockie. Even the owners' dog, Fly, seemed happy to see Rocky.

In the bar we met Hilda and Chris who were on a 38' yacht, moored in Crinan Haven for the night.  (For narrowboat people, a yacht is like the boat you draw when you are 6, with a pointy bit in the middle). They had brought this beauty all the way up from Lagos in Portugal to Oban. They had achieved this in stages over a number of years.

We thought that people with serious sea going craft would hold Princess Lucy in mild contempt, but it turned out that Hilda and Chris are seriously thinking about moving to narrowboating, whereas we, I now confess, have a serious attack of "the call of the sea."

Well, drink was consumed, and we had a tour of the yacht (strange to see Waterways World on top of the navigational charts!) The drinking then continued in our cottage and there was lots of boaty chat including chat about toilet "issues" (pun intended).

We waved them off this morning in glorious sunshine in a flat calm sea (The Sound of Jura). I turned to First Mate, "I said those sails were no use."

The sea still calls.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Everything but a narrowboat

NB Princess Lucy is temporarily out of action. She is waiting for a replacement starter alternator to be fitted. 

The alternator, it transpires, is quite rare, and to allow Nick from TW Marine time to sort one, we have taken to the car and driven a ridiculous distance north to spend a week in the former lock keepers cottage at Crinan Canal Sea Lock.

You can get all manner of craft passing through the sea lock at the end of the stunning Crinan canal on the West coast of Scotland.

We have constant and variable views of the craft passing through this most beautiful shortcut. We also happen to have a lighthouse in the front garden. Just today we have been entertained by an old Clyde Puffer leaving the basin and heading seaward to Fort William. 

There were yachts of all shapes and sizes, swanky motor boats and at the end of a busy working day, the lock keepers had to stay late to help a tall ship, The Flying Dutchman, take shelter in the sea lock over night. That proved to be a monstrous job manoevering a big sailing ship into a tight space against a brisk wind. Ropes, inflatables and sheer determination brought this off.

There will be more of our sightings soon. At the moment our internet connections are very iffy and we rely on hanging out of the window to connect to free wifi from the coffee shop across the lock.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Bath and Bristol on our to do list

Rocky has been quite adventurous lately. We recently had a rest and recovery weekend aboard Princess Lucy and on one of his walks, he made an impressive attempt at surfing. Either that or he was building a life raft. He found an old pallet in the River Goyt just down from The Peak Forest Canal at Whaley. Perhaps he was frustrated at not being able to take the tiller.

At least it made a change from him trying to find a sheep round every corner.

Visitor Moorings in Bristol
We have just returned from our first cottage break with Rocky in a converted barn in the ancient village of Compton Bishop in Somerset. He got to run his heart out on on the beach and had fish and chips in Weston Super Mare, so this was altogether a different holiday to boating. However, we decided to check out the possibility of bringing our boat down to Avon. This would be the furthest South she could get to from the Peak Forest. At our usual snail's pace, it could take 6 weeks (maybe more). But with work interrupting our boating adventures, this can't happen any time soon. It's at the ideas level but Rocky still insisted on checking out the visitor moorings outside the Arnolfino Art Gallery. Because you never know. It might happen one day.

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.

We also had a trip to Bath and found the moorings there to be right on the edge of surely the most attractive regency city in the Western hemisphere.

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

Whaley and the Water Weekend

Our last post was largely about the weather, and in particular about the inaccuracy of weather forecasting. The theme could continue here, but, hey, let's give the weathermen a break. You know, I just don't care anymore about the weather, and I possibly now regret my petition to have all weather people put on Performance Related Pay.

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!)

Here is the final picture from the weekend, so sing along everyone ...

What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Weather or Whether....

We enjoyed planning our Spring Bank jaunt to Bollington. We were fastidious in booking ahead for restaurants, calculating routes and packing food and clothing. Then the weather forecast was so dreadful, predicting relentless downpours for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, that we came very close to staying home under the duvet for the entire holiday. It had rained hard on Thursday night and First Mate had been miserably soaked to the skin on Rocky's walk. So we were justifiably wary of three days of the same.

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.

We have just returned from preparing Princess Lucy for Whaley Water Weekend. She is decked with flowers and has had her roof accessories painted but downpours, thunderstorms and plagues of locusts are predicted. We are definitely going and in hope that we can defy the weather forecasters again. The main header picture for this blog is of late and lovely Jemma basking in the afternoon sunshine at the same festival which we happened on purely by chance last year. But then someone did say that 2013 was the first time in ten years that the sun had shone and they normally expect to get a soaking. Ever the optimists, Our next job is fitting solar panels.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Macclesfield draws nearer every day.

We are attempting the prize for the slowest cruise ever to Macclesfield (from Furness Vale). In the first 3 days, we have made it to Poynton, so that's an average of an hour and a bit each day! We are on target, and achieving our goal by lying in bed drinking at least two mugs of tea, having a two course breakfast, walking Rocky for an hour and all before setting off. An hour or so later we have made the few miles needed and we stop for lunch and siesta. Then it's afternoon tea followed by Rocky's afternoon walk. Then time for cocktails and dinner.

One downside of these short cruises is that we have to run the engine half the day to keep the batteries charged, and the wine chilled, but it's a small price.

This evening, we had a poor welcome from the Boar's Head at Poynton and won't be rushing back there. In spite of booking in advance, it seemed to be an effort to seat us, serve us and we had to pay up front because they had "run out of tabs" ??? We ate mediocre food in front of a giant TV footie game. Very sociable. Anyway we were soon back aboard Princess Lucy where the bar is well stocked and the atmosphere rather more convivial.

Previous meals out have been the very friendly (humans and dogs that is) Sportsman at the Strines, and the outstanding Murillo's in Marple (Spanish).

Above is a picture of Rocky where he should be, and below, one of where he shouldn't be!