Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An alarming call

Whilst at work this morning I received a surprise call from the marina office at Kings Bromley to say that there was an alarm going off on Blue Moon. Strange I thought... we don't have an alarm !!
Luckily I was not too far away - I was actually having a coffee in a cafe about 20 minutes drive away - so off we go with that worried feeling getting stronger and stronger. I had left Blue Moon on Sunday evening hooked up to the electrics - could it be the alarm on the Victron inverter / charger signalling that it was overheating - now that could be expensive was the thought. By the time I arrived, would the boat be on fire?? How things get twisted in your head the more you think about them. As we approached the marina, scanning the sky for signs of smoke, I was relieved that there was none to be seen. Pulling up close to the boat there was a lady looking questioningly at Blue Moon. 'Is there an alarm going off?' I asked. 'Yes' she replied...'It's been going for a couple of days now'. It was actually quite loud and could clearly be heard as I approached the mooring. Three sharp bleeps, a slight pause and then three more. On entering Blue Moon, it was found to be the carbon monoxide alarm that was going off. Even stranger as everything was off, and the gas isolated in the front gas locker. On checking the alarm itself, it says that it has a 5 year life and should have been replaced in Feb 2012, so I can only think that the alarm is defective. For now the batteries have been removed and the problem will have to wait for the weekend - an excuse (as if we need one) to pop down to the marina at the weekend !!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quick fix in the sun.

Well, after a week back in reality, we needed a boating fix. The sun was shining and John's mum felt up to a day out, so off to the boat it was to be.

We had a run from Kings Bromley up to beyond Rugeley. Plenty of boats moving which I suppose is to be expected on the first week of the summer holidays and the long awaited good spell of weather. How great to feel the sun on your back at last. Having passed through Plum Pudding we negotiated a fishing match, but the sun hadn't made these chaps happy. Only one of the line managed a smile and bit of a joke. It's quite amusing as I have been an angler most of my life and still do a fair bit whenever I can, but if it made me look that miserable whilst I was sat there I don't think I'd bother. Louise likes to play a game of getting them to say hello, and often greets the really miserable ones with a very cheery 'hello' and asks them if they have caught much, whilst I try and keep a straight face. Having winded, we moored up for lunch at the aqueduct over the River Trent which still had a good flow on it.

The return journey was just as pleasant and Louise even had a good spell on the tiller which was very welcomed. It was nice to sit in the front deck and watch the world pass by with a cold beer. All too soon we were arriving back at Kings Bromley, but passed this interesting steam powered narrowboat near to Handsacre - I bet it was hot stoking the fire today.

Oh well, back to work tomorrow for some of us - enjoy the weather if you are lucky enough to be out on the water.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rain stops play... but every cloud has a silver lining.

The forecast was for heavy rain on Friday and unfortunately the forecast was correct. The run back to Kings Bromley is about 4 hours from Great Haywood, so we hoped that it would improve and stayed put for the morning. Boats around us were all moving in the deluge, the one immediately behind us decided that 5.45am was a good time to set off... thanks !!!

However, every cloud has a silver lining as they say, as at lunchtime, Lisa and David on 'What a Lark' pulled in next to us. Very kindly, they invited us round for coffee and we spent the afternoon having a lovely chat about all things boaty which brightened the afternoon up no end. The rain actually stopped towards the end of the afternoon, but by this time we decided that the evening was to be better spent with dinner in The Clifford Arms with Lisa and David and we would head back in the morning. 
Blue Moon and What a Lark at Great Haywood
We left this morning just after 7.30am and had a lovely run back through our last lock at Colwich and then on through Rugeley in SUNSHINE !!! The fields on the flood plain of the Trent were still full of water in places and the river itself was clearly high and flowing strongly. Despite the poor weather that we have experienced over the last two weeks, we have to count ourselves lucky as we haven't been affected as some others clearly have been where rivers are involved. 

Ironically, the weather had the last laugh as it started to rain as we left for home about 3.30pm and as I look out of the window at home now - you've guessed it - raining again. Surely things have to improve before our next trip in August... don't they ??

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some nice weather... and don't get any ideas !

We are now back at Great Haywood and todays entry comes direct from the bar of The Clifford Arms whilst enjoying a pint (or two) of Adnams Broadside.

Yesterday we travelled from Hazelhurst Aqueduct back down to Etruria and the Trent and Mersey Canal. We were tempted to change our minds and head down the rest of The Caldon as the weather was quite good, but the water levels were still a bit dodgy, so that will have to wait for another day. Louise decided to bake a loaf in the breadmaker and put a curry in the slow cooker, so it was a bit like aromatherapy as we entered Stoke. 

Brindley Statue at Etruria Junction
Etruria Junction was very busy and it is a very tight turn onto the mainline. A couple of boats were manoeuvring to go up the Caldon, so I held back near the services and Louise went and told the two boats waiting to go down Stoke locks that we would turn and join the queue once it was clear to do so. Five minutes or so later, two other boats appeared travelling south and again Louise went and told the steerers which boat she was from and what our intentions were - good communication (or so we thought). When it was clear for us to turn out of the junction I managed to back in to a tight gap left for me by one of the late arrivals who then accused us of queue jumping !!! As you can imagine, that went down well. Apparently I should have backed up beyond the boats that had arrived after us. I offered to let him go ahead, but he was 'just saying for next time' We agreed to disagree - the sun was shining and that was far more important. We moored up at Barlaston for the night and enjoyed our curry. 

Thursday, and a lovely day. We left about 9am and at the top of Meaford locks we met nb 'What a Lark' again. This time we had time to introduce ourselves to Lisa & David - lovely to meet you both and your beautiful boat. Louise was even invited for a guided tour whilst we waited to decend Stone locks and when she re-appeared she had that look which all men will be familiar with - only to be met with 'Don't even think about it'. Fernwood have certainly done a fabulous job and we hope you enjoy your time cruising. As we passed The Star pub at Stone bottom lock we learned that it had flooded last weekend with a lot of damage being caused. The pub is famous for having the most different floor levels of any pub - a strange but worthy claim. 

'The Star'............
...and the brook at the back showing water levels a few days before...

We said our goodbyes to Lisa & David below Aston Lock - pictures of 'What a Lark' and your washing will be on the blog at the weekend ;-)

... and here it is as promised

The run down to Great Haywood was lovely in the sunshine and we managed to drop on a mooring just below Great Haywood lock before our evening in The Clifford Arms. Back to base tomorrow - weather permitting.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Caldon Canal & Leek Arm

Written Tuesday but unable to post due to being in another universe...

Yesterday (Monday) saw us travel through Harecastle Tunnel and Stoke to join the Caldon Canal. A damp start, but the day improved as it went on weather wise. If anyone ever asks us about the Caldon, we always reply that the further you go, the better it gets. It's 3 years since we were last up here and there has certainly been a lot of building and re-generation taking place in that time as you leave Stoke. We eventually moored up above Engine Lock for the night. The weather forecast for Tuesday was for torrential rain overnight and into the morning, so we were thanking our lucky stars we weren't on a river. 

Monday evening - water level normal under pontoon

What a surprise then when we woke this morning to find ourselves listing. We were woken in the night by very heavy rain, but as it turned out, the water level had risen about a foot !!! The piling had disappeared and the water almost up to the towpath. Now on a river I wouldn't dream of mooring with really tight lines, but on a canal I like the ropes quite tight to avoid too much movement from passing boats. Other boats in the pound suffered the same experience... you never stop learning.

Tuesday morning  - check the difference compared to the pontoon above !!
BW (sorry...CaRT) were actually down at Engine Lock running water through the lock to prevent flooding. They seemed quite concerned about the state of the levels. Needless to say the River Churnet is well in flood as are surrounding fields. 

This afternoon we went onto virgin territory for us and travelled the length of the Leek Arm. Only a couple of miles, but a lovely stretch of water and we are glad we did it. We managed to get a mooring on the Hazelhurst Aqueduct and have had a lovely meal in the Holly Bush at Denford. We got a really close up view of the water levels in Endon Brook behind the pub which was almost to the top of the bridge... quite frightening.
Leek Tunnel

Leek Arm

Leek Arm

A lovely canal side property
Endon Brook at Denford
In view of the forecast and the fact that we've quite simply had enough of this dreadful weather, we are thinking it's pointless doing the run down through Cheddleton tomorrow and are going to head back to base a bit earlier than planned.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

No news is infact good news

Today has been a long yet very enjoyable day. We left our moorings at Four Lane Ends not really knowing what the day had in store as we hadn't managed to find out whether the fallen tree had in fact been removed. We travelled for over an hour and a half without seeing another moving boat, before deciding to stop short of Macclesfield in a lovely spot and had breakfast. Another check of Waterscape, emails and CWDF all proved fruitless for updates. After a short time a boat finally appeared heading north. It was a relief to hear that the obstruction had in fact been removed, so after finishing breakfast, we headed through Macclesfield and Oakgreave before passing the location of the fallen tree. Some goods logs there for anyone who wants them.
Leaving Macclesfield behind
The offending tree and some free logs
The Macclesfield has been so quiet. We did services before descending Bosley, and again only passed a couple of boats in the flight. The sun was shining now and we were both able to brush the cobwebs off our shorts and sunglasses... it is July for heaven sake !!
Bosley Locks with an audience
Blue skies and sunglasses !!
We made the most of the sunshine and continued through Congleton, admiring the views from the embankments, before mooring in a lovely remote spot before Scholar Green only to learn that Andy Murray had lost in the Wimbledon final... what an absolute shame - he's just not our favourite. Well done Federer too - a worthy champion. 
One thing we have learned today is that Jasper can swim !! He lost his footing this evening getting off the boat in a rush and did a few circles of 'doggy paddle' before Louise managed to haul him out. Let's hope he doesn't make a habit of it. 
Tomorrow we will head back through Harecastle and up onto the Caldon for a few days.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

There may be trouble ahead...

We had planned to move on Friday having had a lovely rest day on Thursday, but the weather forecast was for prolonged heavy rain. When we woke and took a peek out of the porthole, it didn't take long to persuade us to turn over and go back to sleep. Even the dogs weren't interested in going out !! 
We were joined for a liquid lunch by another of Johns long time work friends, who lived quite closeby and happened to be on a rest day. The rain kept coming through the afternoon and the reports on the local and national news showed quite disturbing scenes. Needless to say we kept the bar takings of The Navigation ticking over quite nicely !!
Departing from Bugsworth Basin
This morning we left Bugsworth about 8am. As we departed, we bumped into 'Dave' cycling back from Tesco with his paper. We wished him well, but he told us of a stoppage on the Macc above Bosley Locks due to a fallen tree. A quick check of Waterscape confirmed this. We hope to go down Bosley on Sunday, so hope the contractors can remove it expeditiously. The weather today was such a contrast with some bright sunshine. As we headed south from High Lane we were passed by nb What a Lark. It was nice to hear from one of the lady crew that she read our blog - Thank you and sorry we couldn't stop for a chat, but we appreciate it as we are quite new to this blogging game.
We decided to stop early at Four Lane Ends near bridge 18. There certainly aren't many boats going north which suggests the route may still be closed. I even posted on the CWDF hoping for an update, but as yet we have no updates.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Chilling out at Bugsworth Basin

Yesterday we made our way up from Macclesfield to Bugsworth Basin. A lock free cruise with some wonderful views and yet again some luck with the weather. We could see heavy rain over towards Wales and Manchester but again we managed to avoid it. The mills at Bollington now house offices, but you can imagine the hustle and bustle of industry in years gone by. At High Lane we saw a heron at work catching his dinner with great success.
We turned right at Marple Junction and headed on down towards Bugsworth. I know the area around here quite well. Back in the mid eighties I was a young 'cop' at Glossop and Buxton and still have many fond memories of the area and many friends still reside and work up here. The views over towards Kinder Scout were obscured by rain, but again we managed to avoid the worst if it until we got towards New Mills. The instantly recognizable smell of 'Love Hearts' filled the air as we passed the Swizzels factory. We tried to remember as many phrases as we could from the iconic sweets of our youth.

Nice spot on the Peak Forest
We had a small 'incident' with a hire boat at a lift up bridge as we headed for Furness Vale. They raised the bridge and then the operator jumped back on his boat - not ideal if the oncoming boat is single handed as I politely pointed out to the crew. We also collected a prop foul as we manoeuvred about to allow them through the bridge. A large heavy duty plastic sack was removed with a sharp blade within a few minutes.

Bugsworth is a lovely spot and again the past industry would have been wonderful to witness. We moored in the lower basin and met some friends, Keith & Margaret, in the Navigation pub for a drink and then they took us to a local curry house for a lovely meal. We first met by chance in 2009 at Kilby Bridge when we moored next to them and have kept in touch ever since. We met up last year at Lowsonford, but they have very recently sold their boat 'Misty Lady' and replaced her with a motorhome. We had a lovely evening catching up.

Bugsworth Basin (with blue skies !!)
Today we have had a string of visitors with several of Johns work colleagues dropping by for coffee plus Keith & Margaret calling by to show us 'Wendy' their new motorhome. It has all the mod cons and we're sure they will have lots of fun travelling about in her. We have enjoyed a beautiful day with plenty of sun. We had a late lunch at the Navigation and chatted with 'Dave' who had travelled single handed from Marsworth over 4 weeks to attend his sisters 30th wedding anniversary in Sheffield this weekend - what a character !! We had helped him up Stoke Locks a few days ago. It's great how boating introduces folks from all walks of life through a common theme. All I can say is 'Never judge a book by its cover'.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stoke and Macclesfield.

Yesterday we travelled up into Stoke on Trent which we have to say is not our favourite stretch of water. It seems to drag on forever and the locks are deep and heavy, but on the plus side, it was noticeable that there was far less rubbish in the canal than in previous years.

The tortoise and the hare
We had a brief wait at Harecastle Tunnel for one oncoming boat to emerge, and then we entered as the second of just two boats travelling north. We had been lucky with the weather until now, but the tunnel was very wet and we emerged some 40 minutes or so later into rain - we'd have been better off underground !!
Southern portal
We made the sharp turn at Hardings Wood Junction onto The Macclesfield and negotiated the stoplock at Hall Green. The rain was heavy now and so we decided to moor just beyond the lock for the night. The rain subsided briefly during the evening for some dog walking and fishing, which was very successful. A bite a cast with lots of skimmer bream, roach and perch, the biggest being a good two pounds plus which got the pole elastic stretching well.

Overnight mooring at Hall Green
We left quite early this morning as the weather forecast was for rain around lunchtime... will it ever end ?? Our neighbours were very keen as they headed off towards Stoke at 6.30, but even that was far too early for us. It is so quiet on 'The Macc' and even when we stopped briefly for a coffee at lunchtime just at the bottom of Bosley Locks, which is such a prime mooring site, there was only one other boat. We could see rain over the hills, but it seemed to be skirting us nicely, and so we decided to ascend the locks. We only saw two boats coming down the flight, the second of which was nb Moon Shadow, an almost identical boat to Blue Moon. We chatted with the owner about all things Aqualine - toilet seals, window seals and batteries to name a few !! The rain was still evident in the distance, but the gods were truly on our side today as we stayed dry all the way to the top. The views on the flight are spectacular and make the locks such a pleasant experience. We also watched a pair of yellowhammers and spotted reed buntings too.
Bosley Locks
We continued on making the most of the fine weather and had a run up to Gurnett Aqueduct at Macclesfield. Let's hope for the same luck with the weather tomorrow and that Murray gets knocked out of Wimbledon. Either one will do !!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

On our way to Bugsworth

We left Kings Bromley early afternoon on Saturday and began our journey north in windy and cloudy conditions. We earlier met Glenn from Elite Furnishings who came and fitted our new long awaited kitchen blind which looks great and is much less obstructive than the old one.

We had a pleasant afternoon with just one brief shower and moored just below Haywood Lock. We had a lovely meal at The Clifford Arms where the portions are large and the value very reasonable. 
Haywood Lock
Great Haywood village
Today is Louises birthday. 21 again plus VAT !! We were up quite early and Louise opened all her cards  and we walked the dogs (we've also inherited Louises Mums Jack Russell for this trip - oh how lucky we are !!) and then set off about 8.15 am.

Plenty of boats heading south, but no queues for us. As we approached Aston we met one of our old shared boats 'Marbury' travelling south. We didn't know the steerer and didn't get chance to speak, but it felt strange to see her again.

We always seem to drop lucky with Stone Locks and today was no exception... until the 4th lock when a boat coming down blatantly stole our water. We weren't impressed and I think they know we weren't, but what's the point in getting stressed when we are on holiday. It is frustrating though when we were clearly in view and only about 60 yards from the lock.

We have moored at Barlaston this evening ready for the run into Stoke tomorrow. Indoor barbecue, dog walking and watching the football is the itinerary for the evening.