Sunday, 24 September 2017

Welsh Road (Finally left Calcutt and getting the winter flowers potted up)

Karen enjoying a beer on Welsh Road lock gates on Saturday evening

Buddy and I left early on Friday morning for the water point at Calcutt.  Well, it wasn’t that early really but considering we haven’t moved for nearly a fortnight it felt like it.  It was fantastic weather especially as it had been so wet and windy on Thursday.

I was under a promise to Karen to do no more than three locks so that I didn’t aggravate my back.  After taking on water, I went down the top lock at Calcutt and fortunately shared it with a hire boat so I didn’t have to do too much hard work 😉

Helpful hire boaters on the first lock of the day

I was then going to stop at the hire boat yard to get a pump out but the (helpful) hire boaters had parked right alongside the wharf where I needed to get to.  When the hirers return their boats, they are meant to moor up perpendicularly to keep the wharf free.  The guy wasn’t confident about doing that so he was told to leave the boat there and one of the yard men would move it.  I was asked to hover in the middle until the boat was moved out of the way.

For those of you who are interested in pump outs (not many I know 😊), this is how it’s done.  The large pipe sucks everything out of the holding tank.  The hose is then used to refill the tank with water to rinse the tank whilst the boat is rocked to make sure everything gets rinsed off.  The large pipe is then used to pump the waste out again.  This particular yard do this four times which is good – when we go to the self-operated pump outs there isn’t time for a rinse as they run on a timer of, usually, eight minutes.

Big green hose doing the sucking – man getting ready to put the rinsing water in

When I went into the chandlery to pay for the pump out I also bought a couple of O rings to replace the ones that had split on both the water and fuel caps.  Every time Mark has topped us up with diesel he has told me he worries that we are getting water in the fuel tank because the seal on the cap had broken - my guilt finally got the better of me.

I then went down the last two locks of the Calcutt flight and was lucky that there were boats coming out of both so I didn’t have to park up the boat and go and set them.

Two boats coming out of the bottom lock whilst I came out of the middle lock

When I got to Tomlow (yes, another one of our favourite spots) I saw a fisherman right at the spot where we moor.  I deliberately didn’t moor too close to him but he wasn’t happy; hardly responded to my cheery. “Good morning”.  I went in to prepare lunch and could hear a lot of deliberately loud noises and when I came out to eat lunch on deck, he had gone, obviously in a huff.

Fisherman moored in ‘our’ spot in front of the boat
After the fisherman had gone

Talking about the fisherman reminded me of the conversation I had had with one at the reservoir when I took Buddy out for his first walk in the morning.  Buddy, as usual, wanted to sniff around the fisherman’s gear but I called him back.  The fisherman told me not to worry and that the dog is just being nosey.  I agreed but added that many fishermen don’t take to kindly to it and he responded that a lot of fishermen are just grumpy old buggers.  He went on to ask how many walks Buddy gets a day as he said he has seen us around a lot lately and several times each day.  I did recognise him as he always fishes in a spot that doesn’t get the sun so asked him why and he told me it was his lucky spot.

Later in the afternoon Ann arrived and Karen came home from work early (not really as she’s not meant to work on Friday in the first place ).  We had a pleasant evening staying in and playing cards.

On Saturday morning we set out for Welsh Road and, for once, shared locks all the way.  We had 15 locks to descend and, with such brilliant weather, Karen and Ann walked the whole way with Buddy whilst doing the locks.  Gill, who was driving the other boat had her sister and niece with her too so there were plenty of people to help at the locks so we had a good old chat in each lock.

Gill on her boat in one of the locks

Gill had some fascinating stories and I was particularly interested in the vineyard that she and her husband run in Ludlow.  They bought the land many years ago and, after spending time in France learning the trade, started the vineyard from scratch eleven years ago.

We all stopped for lunch at Bascote after the first 11 locks.  Karen and I were eager to see what had been grown in three fields around there as, you may remember, we had seen the strange courgette like plants growing when we came through last time.  It was obvious this time – the fields were full of pumpkins, many of which had obviously been picked already.

Karen thought I should have gone and taken one as we think the poorer quality ones had been left behind

Gill and I had got in a good routine sharing the locks, especially as there were a lot of boats coming up and we had to negotiate round them in the short pounds.  When we reached the last lock of the day, Gill went first as we wanted to moor above the next lock and it’s always easier to moor when there are no boats passing.

Leaving Bascote bottom lock – the last of the day

We moored at Welsh Road lock and were lucky to be the only boat there.

Our mooring for the next week or so

We spent the rest of the afternoon getting rid of some of the summer plants that had gone over and repotting with some winter plants.

Karen getting ready to do some gardening and Buddy just wanting to relax

Winter plants on the front of the boat now (excuse the untidy lines)

Whilst we were gardening a Red Admiral kept bombing us:

When we finished gardening we went to have a beer or two on the lock gates that were still in the sun – see picture at the top.  Whilst chatting, Karen commented that this was the first time we had been moored on our own for quite a few weeks.  Since going to Cropredy, which was obviously busy with the festival, there have been boats everywhere so we both felt really fortunate to be on our own again.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Calcutt (Mooring booked at Liverpool docks)

What a difference a night makes - Friday morning on the cut after a day of wind and rain

The plan on Thursday had been to go down Calcutt top lock to have a pump out, getting water on the way, and then carrying on through the other two locks to moor around Nelson’s Wharf (aka ‘Shotgun Alley’). We wanted to be around there for Friday as Ann, Karen's mum, is coming for a sleepover – her first visit to the new boat – and she can park right next to the canal.  It also means we can get the old batteries in the car without having to carry them too far.

As it was, it was really windy when I got up; for some reason, I had missed that part of the forecast.  On checking, the wind would ease by lunchtime but then the rain would come.  I decided to stay put one more day as I can move on Friday morning before Ann arrives after lunch.  Also, the forecast looked pretty good for Friday too.

Buddy and I had a dry but windy walk in the morning but got soaked during the afternoon walk.  As we were coming back along the towpath I could see Mark was filling us up with diesel and putting some bags of coal on the boat for us.

Mark’s boat is very low in the water as he has only just set out on his round and is therefore almost fully laden

As you can see from the picture I seemed to have misted up the lens on the camera phone so that’s the last of the pictures for today.

Later on, I set about my job list – one of the things that has been there a while has been to book into Liverpool docks next year when we go on our northern travels.  When Karen finishes work in the middle of March we want to head for Chester first.  We have never made it into the city on the boat and Karen also has an aunt who lives there so we will kill two birds with one stone so to speak.  I only know Chester as a pedestrian so it will be interesting to see it from the canal as it runs right through the middle of town.  It will also be the first new bit of canal for some time for us.

After Chester, we want to moor in Liverpool docks for a week and then set off on the Leeds & Liverpool canal and spend a couple of months near my parents who live at Gargrave, the northernmost point of the waterway.  I have allowed two months to get up to Liverpool so have booked us into the dock moorings for the middle of May.  It should also give us time to hang around the Middlewich/Nantwich area as well and meet up with Karen’s cousin, Dave, and his wife Barbara.  Mind you, that’s assuming they are in the area; their daughter gave them a grandchild last year so they tend to cruise the Middlewich area so they are not far away 😉 

I attempted the booking online but it was rejected because the boat was too tall.  I checked the details the licence authority had on the boat and found the air draft (the height from the waterline to the highest point of the boat) was 182 metres!  It seemed a decimal point had been missed, so I had to ring them up to finish the booking and get the records changed.

The Leeds & Liverpool canal will be new to us too as our previous boat was too long for the locks there.  After that canal, we fancy places like Ripon, York and Sheffield but those plans haven’t been firmed up yet.

Anyway, I must get on as I have to cruise on to pastures new (well, revisited) today.

Looking towards the water point and Calcutt top lock on Friday morning before setting off