Saturday, 17 June 2017

A Night at the Premier Inn (with bath)

Sunday 11th June to Thursday 15th June 2017

We untied the ropes at a not too early time for us (9am) – some would say a way-too-early time for a Sunday, but day looked to be quite nice – not all of the wind from previous days had left us yet, but we had a purpose to move.

On through Wakefield where we had spent a couple of days back in August 2012 with friends Mike and Stella, but this time it was a straight through cruise – flood locks were open so no need to have to pull over at all – a lovely gent from the moorings just before Wakefield helped us though Fall Ings Lock (seems to sound like Falling Lock).
Looking back at Wakefield after clearing the Wakefield Flood Lock
After that there was a regular procession of locks until we finally called it a day at Crigglestone – the nice weather that we set out with had become more cloudy and windier – giving rise to thoughts about rain. There was a mooring near to the pub there, so we took it and ventured down to see what it was like – neither of us felt like a drink so we opted for the coffee and cake option instead; the menu items seemed a bit higher in price than we would have thought and what seemed to be on the plate, so it was lunch back on the boat afterwards.
Diane was ready for the men’s final in Paris and I was happy to let her whilst I got on with some work that would come in handy for Tuesday (public holiday in Australia on Monday).

The following day we were off earlyish and we were quite lucky to find some lock-mates in the form of nb Inheritance and travellers Boo (aka Elizabeth) and Peter (residents of that popular city by the name of Hull – everyone seems to come from there these days).
Peter and Boo - a lovely couple 
We were very pleased to be able to share the coming locks with them – they being about 59’ meant that we occasionally had to jiggle boats around to get both in at one time – sometimes it didn’t work but we worked our way through them – deciding not to veer off at the Dewsbury arm we headed for Mirfield and moored up there – to take advantage of the Lidl store on the canal.
Right by where we had moored, there was a new Lidl being built – what we didn’t realise immediately was that they would be working from 5pm to midnight – the compromise to closing the canal-side road during the day.
I slept quite soundly, but apparently whatever noise there was affected Diane’s ability to get to sleep – in the morning I was quite well slept and Diane was just a little underdone, but she was a little excited as we would be heading into new waters once we passed Cooper Bridge Junction.
We have been and continued to be on and off the river as it darted in and out of the canal, sometimes a flood lock would be open and then we would have a lock to rise through, but consistently along the way there were these relatively bright orange barrels chained along the water - I think that they were trying to tell us something -
Not to the left; to the right.

Are you sure we can't go that way?

They do look nice to moor up to...

...OK, not so nice here.

New water was a strange expression when we got through Kirklees Low Lock – for some reason, unknown to all of us, the pound above the lock was well down – I would guess by about 1.5 metres, but still deep enough in the centre to allow passage.
We were able to let a little water down to give more leeway for the two boats and after getting through the top lock it was smooth cruising with a full pound.

No more problems until we hit Brighouse; mooring below the lock on the floating pontoon, we soon found out that there was a severe problem.
All the way along the Calder and Hebble, Diane has been a dismal failure at using the spike to operate the top gate paddles - she was that way 5 years ago and nothing much has changed in the interim period - except that she can now drive the boat like an expert - so naturally the job fell to the crew (oh that would be me!).
Struggling to move the blasted spike

Finally moved it - do I really have to do this ?

Just too much of a struggle

Captain has deemed that the crew has to take over

It is not too hard at all...

The hydraulic gate paddle were not working and the ratchet (the spike model) on the other gate paddle was damaged and the paddle could not be raised.
CaRT were notified but apparently they were all in a meeting until 1:30pm (it being just after 11am when we arrived) – nothing to do but wait.
After some time we all noted that the water level in the lock was rising – slowly but going up – so we thought that we may get it full to allow the two waiting boats to go down and then we could enter and come up – very slowly.
Well after an hour and a half, we brutalised the lock gate into submission and got it open – the two boats went in, we lowered them and locked them out – we brought our two boats into the lock, ready for the time-frame, when suddenly the CaRT guy turned up.
Quickly getting a large G-clamp from his van (something which Peter had identified as what we needed), clamped the broken wooden gate paddle support and promptly raised the gate paddle and in next to no time we were through the lock – then one more lock (only 30 metres away) and we had a water tap to fill the tank, we emptied the cassette and we could then moor up right at the back of Sainsbury.
A longer day than it should have been but at times like these you get to know the people around you and can have a bit of a laugh about everything – there’s nothing else that you can do.
Boo demonstrating chairs that were being made on a boat stranded at Brighouse Lock
Check out Toby's website

We had a chance to have a walk around Brighouse – having never been here before – it is quite a nice town, but not a lot that would drag us to moor up again – it would not be first or last on the list of places for a re-visit. We found a chippy for Diane and the markets would be on the following day, so we would have a look at these – many of the usual shops and establishments were all there.

We both felt a bit tired from our exertions throughout the day and decided that a relaxing end to the day was worthwhile – I managed to nod off to sleep – my nanna nap time.
Next day, we had brilliant sunshine, again, and after a trip to Tesco and a walk through the market (where we bought a couple of things) it was time to head off.
Peter and Boo, had headed off earlier – we had not made any plans about on-going travelling together, but after a couple of locks we had caught them up and continued with them for the day – hitting the three locks at Salterhebble at lunch time – they pulled over for a lunch break (they were heading further along the way), but our destination was right here, and so we completed the last two locks solo and headed into the arm to find a mooring spot.
The Guillotine Lock at Salterhebble

At least it was electrically operated
Those crazy kids

What we found was a relatively empty arm – I had been walking from the top lock whilst Diane brought the boat in – she took it up to the winding hole and after turning it around we moored up on the off-side, right outside the Premier Inn – the sign said “Mooring allowed with permission” – nothing ventured, nothing gained – so Diane went in and it was all OK – with the £10 donation to the Great Ormond Street Hospital – a few minutes of giving some information and the money and we were set.
So we could say that we spent the night at the Premier Inn, and after a short wander around, Diane decided to have a bath (on board) – Premier Inn (with bath).
It was a quiet night here; Diane still less than pleased with my ability to get to sleep quickly and soundly – the bruising has not yet shown up but it will appear.
Deciding to spend a rest day here, we caught the bus up the hill (11% rise) into Halifax – the major town here – first point of call, as usual, was the Visitor Information Centre; Diane then decided to embark on my least favourite pastime – shopping for clothes – fortunately it was a short exercise and I survived (just!).
Initial impressions as we came through the town on the bus was of a town that had been quite successful in the past and was now re-inventing itself.
Our first area to stroll through was the Minster, dating back about 900 years and reputedly to have the bones of John the Baptist buried beneath – a story that shows in the Coat or Arms for Halifax.

We then carried on to visit the undercover markets – quite large in size – plenty of stalls could have tempted us, except that we were on our fasting day (for the 5:2 diet).

Next it was the Town Hall – why is it that people (politicians) always find loads of money to build and adorn great monuments to their activities (or in some cases, lack of activity) – however, it was a very attractive building, both inside and out.
We also met one of the councillors and had a quite interesting chat with him – judging by his remarks, he is of a like mind with us regarding the focus of some of them.

Are we getting old or not, but we were getting quite tired again – we caught the bus up the hill and would be going back that way and we had not really walked that far at all.
Maybe it was just an off day with our fitness, but the boat looked good when we got back.
We did decide that we would push to other side of the arm and thereby save another night at the Premier Inn – not enough water for her indoors to have another bath.
Despite any problems we may have had with a low pound; problems with the spike;
a problem with one lock, the scenery is simply lovely

21 Miles, 28 Locks
YTD:  567 miles (912 km), 275 Locks, 15 Tunnels, 9 Lift Bridges, 19 Swing Bridges

Total: 5199 Miles (8367 km), 3426 Locks, 139 Tunnels, 75 Lift Bridges, 191 Swing Bridges

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Back to the Usual - Cruising and Work

Thursday 8th June to Saturday 10th June 2017

After a restful night back in our own bed, it was back to usual – the week away with Sara and Mitch was wonderful, but we were back to the reality – back on the boat; back to cruising; back to travelling – such a tough life – back to coffee in bed for Diane and I was back to work.

After getting some of the necessary stuff done, the sun shining outside was beckoning and we had a bit of a window of clear weather to cruise back down to Castleford.

I went over to see Marie to advise that we would be leaving soon, also to pay the bill and return the key – the moorings and power with it was very reasonable and if we are here again we would not hesitate to stay here; similarly we will be recommending it to everyone else.

But it was time to head off – Diane walked over to the lock, I took the boat out through the marina entrance and straight into the lock – all paddles were now working and pretty soon we were down, out and heading south.
It is just a few miles to Castleford, but when we arrived, the flood lock was closed (not locked) and needed operation to get through which we did, then moored up on the visitor moorings.

Diane had shopping to do; I had more work to do, but we met up at the pub when Diane was done for a quick drink – and it was actually a coffee.

The French Open was still going so that would be the afternoon done for Diane, which suited me as I still needed time to continue the catch up with work – everything was back to normal.

Friday was a bit blustery with patches of sun and cloud and an occasional sprinkling of the wet stuff; there were a few locks thrown in there and by the time we reached Stanley Ferry we thought that this was a fair day’s effort, so we have moored here – visited the pub and done some walking.
Approaching Stanley Ferry and the almost iconic bridge in the distance

New lock gates being "seasoned" at the CaRT workshops.

The bridge from the side

More tennis and more work and we were done for the day.
Sunrise and whilst it looks lovely it does not necessarily bode well for th day

Looking north from the walkway bridge...

...and then looking south

early evening...

...later that same evening 

Saturday started with rain and it was not in any way fine until after lunch by which time we had given up any thoughts of cruising for the day – after all it was Ladies Final Day in Paris and the football was on directly after – no chance to cruise in the afternoon, but tomorrow we must be away – onwards towards the Rochdale Canal (and more colouring in on the map)

10 Miles, 6Lock
YTD:  546 miles (879 km), 247 Locks, 15 Tunnels, 9 Lift Bridges, 19 Swing Bridges

Total: 5178 Miles (8333 km), 3398 Locks, 139 Tunnels, 75 Lift Bridges, 191 Swing Bridges

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Off to London for the week and one day from a tragedy

Wednesday 31st May to Wednesday 7th June 2017

Safely moored up in Lemonroyd Marina, we could finish the packing and finalise the boat to be left for a week; we were even driven to the railway station by the lovely Marie who runs the marina – such service was very much appreciated – it did allow everything to run a bit more smoothly.

We managed to catch the 9:10 from Woodlesford to Leeds and we were still early for the connecting train to King’s Cross – a 2 hour trip on Virgin East Coast – after that we negotiated the Underground (which really is quite easy as we found out last year and before) – we had bookings for a couple of rooms for a week at Chiswick Premier Inn – we got a good deal on it all.
So we dropped off our bags, booked in for both us and also for Mitch and Sara, who would be arriving around 16:40 from Paris on the Eurostar.
Plenty of time to get back to St.Pancras and meet them as planned.

They had come through all of the way from Champagne and with it all being by train, they were not tired at all – not like plane travel (and international at that), there was no need to arrive a few hours early.
Sara and Diane were certainly happy to see each other; Mitch was just ignoring it all

The closest that they were getting to this attraction

As it was now the start of the peak hour(s) we opted to have an early dinner – at the same, Pizza Union (Pentonville Road) that we had used in April, before battling the Underground out to Chiswick.
Sara was keen to try an English Pub – her first trip to the UK – so across the road we went to The George and Devonshire – a not atypical pub – pretty much what you see these days, but it was lovely enough for Sara to get an idea about it all – and really it was a lovely pub anyway.

We had a rough plan of things that they wanted to experience and where it was necessary we had suggested some timetabling – so it was on Thursday that we headed off to Watford to see all of the relatives and for them to meet Sara and catch up with Mitch again.
A chance to relax and meet the relatives


...and David...

...and cheeky Phil...

...and Lisa and Pam

It was such an atypical English day – yes, the sun was out in force – the new home was on show and we also got a chance to see how the renovations were coming along; plenty of food, plenty of drink and plenty of talk – a lovely day for everyone.

But we needed to get back for all our sakes – even we were feeling a bit on the tired side – but TfL had a last thing in store for us – there were some signalling problems along the path we wanted to take and so we made our way back via central London, but it had been a great day out.

Friday was a day predicted to be a bit unpredictable – there would be sun, but equally there was a strong possibility of heavy downpours and a thunderstorm. It was important to keep the early momentum up in their trip and cross some things off their list of “must-sees”.
First call was at Buck House (the palace), then the Mall, Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
The crowds were out as usual; the guards as well

close to the gates

and a sneak peek through

In front of the Australia column

The Horse Guards on the Mall

Looking out over St.James Park

and in Trafalgar Square - last time  Mitch was here was 2000
and the pigeons were all still there

We hadn't seen this memorial before - and for the women in all wars

One of the icons of London - we were not surprised
with the look on Sara's face when she turned the
corner and first saw it

Across the river and a stroll down along the Thames on the southern side, taking in lunch at The Mulberry Bush – a great place for something to eat.
Then it was on to The Globe and the Golden Hind II and around the corner was Borough Market, where we had never been – Mitch recognised it from an earlier trip – it was here that everything HIT! – the promised thunderstorm rolled in and luckily we were under cover, because it really pelted down.
The Golden Hynd II

The Globe Theatre - something they both wanted to see

Borough Market - why this shot - Sara's middle name with the one "l"

Tragic to think how this would have looked just a bit over 24 hours later

We stayed at one of the pubs for a little while whilst it continued to rain.
After we finished our drinks and the rain had retreated, we decided it was time to move on and off we strolled across London Bridge.

The storm had passed but those dark clouds in the distance, came back.
metaphorically speaking, the following day

Our idyll on this Friday was tragically not the case when senseless violence engulfed the area on Saturday night (just a day later), when 3 terrorists inflicted their idea of vengeance on innocent people.
No amount of understanding can comprehend the reasons why these people find it necessary to do what they have done.
Extremists of any cause or any religion cannot be allowed to threaten our way of life simply because they do not like it.
It is important to understand that these people are EXTREMISTS and in no way represent the good people who follow a faith built upon peace and understanding – if you are in any doubt about it, compare these people today, to those who ran around covered in white sheets for almost a hundred years in the United States – they are exactly the same – terror in the name of any religion is simply TERROR.

Before those events in the evening on Saturday, we had a day out at Kew Gardens whilst Sara and Mitch were catching up with friends on Saturday afternoon and evening in Soho.

The lift for the tree-top walk at Kew Gardens

Kew Palace - where George III spent many months recuperating from his illness

The un-renovated kitchen...

..and the top floor, which they will leave as is - in it's almost original state

The important room of the house - the reading room

As we watched in BBC news, all of the events unfold, we were very concerned about both Sara and Mitch – fortunately they were nowhere near it all and about to head back – the disruption to tube services caused them a little inconvenience but this was not an issue for them – especially compared to what was happening.

They arrived back just after midnight, to our relief – to make sure that they were there.

Messages had been sent to people that we knew and they knew advising that we were all OK – the facebook people initiated the “I am Safe” messaging to contacts and we took advantage of that – we still had people from Australia emailing and messaging to make sure and they had family from the US doing the same.

Sunday, was not a good day, in light of the previous evenings tragic events and like all others we have to commend the bravery shown by so many to help others – in most cases complete strangers – and to the families and friends of those who lost their lives we send our deepest sympathies.

We did however try to make some degree of normality try to return to our lives – we visited Camden Markets – another item on the list – so many people around and getting back to normal; we wandered around, had some lunch, watched the boats through the locks – we were tourists as well.

After that it was back on the Tube and we found a place for an evening Sunday roast – The Old Ship, right on the Thames at Hammersmith – another thing for Sara to experience and enjoy.
Life is about new experiences and learning about other countries and cultures and we have had Sara leaving her American ideas at the door and seeing how it all happens here and she we enjoying it immensely.

On Monday, we were off to The Tower of London – such an iconic building – a symbol of strength and power from by-gone days.
It was not that long ago that Diane and I had been here, but we didn’t mind the chance for another visit and using our 2-for-1 tickets, it was much cheaper than the normal prices.

We found areas that we had, naturally, seen on our previous visits and other areas that we had not seen before – it really is such a remarkable complex with a fascinating history that you could not tire of seeing it again and again.

Diane had been hoping to be able to take Sara to a performance of “Phantom” in the West End and so we headed for Leicester Square – alas the only tickets available were all single tickets – separated seats – so no performance that night – but time for dinner and we had one last surprise for Sara – a quick visit to Harrods – just so she could say she had seen it on the inside and of course they all found something to buy and get a unique green Harrods bag.

Home again – we are really exhausted from all of this touristy stuff – must be getting old or something like that.
The head barely hits the pillow, for me, and I am asleep – and apparently I snore loud enough to keep “she who must be obeyed” awake for some time – I have to believe her only because she must be obeyed.

Tuesday came; we all had breakfast at one of the cafes on the High Street in Chiswick – called the Cowshed – have to say the breakfast was beautiful, but the price would help with their bottom line.
After that we would be heading separate ways for the day – it was important that they had time for themselves to see things again and also to catch up with some more friends and we had a couple of things that we needed to take care of whilst we were down here.
So it was a relative easy day for all of us – I have to say, I am quite enjoying this holiday thing and feel that making it a permanent arrangement would not be such a strange thing to finally do.

Wednesday was our last day here, and again we had breakfast together, this time it was another easy and long time together, talking about a lot of things that had happened in the last week and things that would be happening in the future.
When it was finally time to say goodbye to them, it was a bit sad, but also happy as we knew that they would be heading back to carry on with the things that would help to start to change their lives for now and for the future; we would be heading back north again and return to Ferndale and continue our travels for the remainder of the year.

By the time that we were back on the boat, they had been in the air for less than an hour, 
with a much longer trip back to LA.

We came across this whilst we were in London and really thought nothing of it except that it might have been a play
on the name of a tantrum-throwing actor, but apparently
if you look at the following it was all official-like