Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Ferndale is for Sale

Friday 30th June to Wednesday 19th July 2017

This has been an exhausting 3 weeks for all of us.

We arrived in Brisbane at a half decent hour – around 7am and we were through customer and immigration without any problems within the hour – we then had another hour’s wait whilst Mitchell and Sara did exactly the same following their flight from Los Angeles.

The transportation from the airport is brilliant – the train station is right outside the airport and we were on our way – to the Sunshine Coast.

Not having to worry about driving was a bonus – the station at the other end was more or less just a short walk to where we had to be.

As can be imagined we have been through quite a lot during this time; the funeral took place on the Monday following and very pleased to see a strong contingent from Western Sydney – good to see cousins and Diane’s aunt – just sad that it was under such circumstances.

There has been a lot of crying going on – my job was to make sure that clean handkerchiefs and tissues were available for all.

We have had a lot of things to think about which we had hoped would be the best for everyone concerned – with Diane’s sister, Vivienne, and her brother and sister-in-law, Rob and Sonia, bearing the load with looking after both mum and dad for the past couple of years, we have decided that the best idea all around to allow for Mum to be able to stay in the house was to plan for 24 hour / 7 day full time care.

To this end, the only feasible solution is for Diane to take on that role for at least the nest 10 - 12 months until Vivienne retires from work.

This is an outcome which relieves the pressure on those who have been working hard to look after mum and dad.

So effective immediately Diane will remain here in Australia, specifically on the Sunshine Coast with her mother and take care of her needs with respect to getting her to appointments and ensuring that dietary and medical needs are looked after.

Where does this leave our adventures on the boat? They are about to end quite suddenly – I am leaving on the 19th from Brisbane to come back and will be taking care of a number of things – including transporting the vast quantity of things that we have accumulated over the past 7 years.

We have had such a lot of support and understanding from all of the people that we have met during that time and also from the close friends that we have made – we are constantly amazed and so thoroughly pleased with how close boaters are and how immeasurable ready they are to help – I cannot thank everyone enough –but as others would say “ I luvs you all”.

The best reaction for all of this has been from Diane’s mum, who just cried and cried when we told her of what we would be doing with her approval – we took a bit of time to explain that this is what we wanted to do.

So finally what I need to say is that nb Ferndale is now up for sale - please see 

for further information regarding the stats for the boat; I have with each blog advised of how much travelling we have done; we are not setting a price or even a price range, as we do not want to encourage or discourage people to look at the boat on its merits and make a sensible offer.
The basis of the sale will be an all inclusive offer - all items (apart from personal items) will remain on the boat, so there should be virtually nothing else to spend on the boat when you purchase it.

Friday, 14 July 2017

A trio of uplifting moments

Sunday 25th June to Thursday 29th June 2017

As I have recorded in a separate blog, we awoke on Sunday morning to the news that Diane’s father had passed away; we spoke with her brother and sister-in-law back in Australia about all of it.

With that news, it was time to make decisions about our plans for this week.
First and foremost was where to leave the boat – a no-brainer really – we had been in Lemonroyd Marina about 3 weeks earlier and it was lovely, so a phone call to Marie at an appropriate time was needed – in the meantime we needed to cruise from Wakefield at least Castleford – during this time a lovely lady called Karen rang back from Lemonroyd – we explained our problem and she was able to help, so that problem was solved.

Diane was busy looking at plane flights and we managed to find them – leaving Wednesday and we would be in Brisbane on Friday – we allowed a couple of days to sort things out with the boat and just make sure that we had everything that we needed.

 On Monday we were advised that the funeral would be the following Monday, which worked out well; Mitch and Sara would be able to fly in from Los Angeles on Friday – landing within an hour of us; we also were able to get a unit at the resort with Rob and Sonia (where they manage) –all set.

We cruised up to Lemonroyd on the Monday late afternoon – it was quite still and peaceful and a bit of warmth from the sun even at this time – would love to do a bit more of all of this type of cruising.
We moored outside the marina for the night and after seeing Marie in the morning we went in and found our berth – luckily there was no wind and we could easily reverse into the allocated spot.
Everything sorted and by 10:30 we were physically and emotionally drained – this was just one of the steps in getting back, but a fairly crucial one; so from here we were ready for the next one and the one after that and so on.

In the afternoon, we decided that a bit of a walk would help, so we wandered into the village; had a coffee and bought a few things at Lidl that we would need and then back again – the round trip was no more than a mile and a half.
We also managed to book train tickets, on-line, for the trip from Leeds to Manchester Airport for the following day – by doing so we saved £22.

The following morning, Marie generously provided transport to Lemonroyd station – she is a lovely person.
In next to no time we were in Leeds and after a coffee we were heading towards the airport.
Once there a series of very wonderful events seemed to start from nowhere – we arrived there and went to the Emirates Customer desk – our initial booking had us in seats not next to each other for the long leg between Dubai and Brisbane.
What nice people they were – after explaining the circumstances they moved a few people around and we were then in seats next to one another – we were very pleased with that.
At the baggage counter, Diane cheekily asked were there any exit row seats; the young girl behind the desk found a couple and we were set.
At the check-in point (where they make sure that your passport and boarding pass is still OK), the same young girl from baggage check-in was there and when it was our turn, she took our boarding passes away (surprised looks on our faces – “what’s happening”), when she came back we had Business Class seats – totally unexpected – Diane was a bit teary-eyed about it all and I was non-plussed – such a lovely surprise and it lifted our spirits immeasureably – only for the first leg but it was so nice.
Despite our reasons for having to travel, Diane had a smile on her face for the first time in 4 days and she enjoyed the upgrade and despite having just the economy class tickets for the second leg, she was much happier.

Problem now is that she did enjoy it so much that she wants it next time we travel – we will see – life is just a bit too short as we know, and why we were flying, we may just do it for future flights.

12 Miles, 5 Locks
YTD:  613 miles (987 km), 320 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 9 Lift Bridges, 19 Swing Bridges

Total: 5245 Miles (8441 km), 3471 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 75 Lift Bridges, 191 Swing Bridges

Friday, 7 July 2017

Goodbye Dad

Sunday 25th June 2017

Terence John Brennan (30/10/1934 – 25/6/2017)

Early this morning we received a phone call from Diane’s brother and sister-in-law in Queensland with some very bad news; Diane’s father Terry had had a fall in the bathroom and had died.
He had been not at all well for a few years now with severe breathing difficulties and we had been preparing ourselves that if he had a bad winter then it would dramatically affect his ability breathe at all, but we were just not prepared for the phone call that came through.
Naturally Diane was a bit distraught, I was pretty upset as well (someone has to hold things together) and the crying down the line from Queensland compounded it all – no-one was really holding back how they felt.
Terry was a great man in our family – the patriarch – someone who we have at stages in our lives looked to for guidance and a gentle word here and there.
Great men do not have be great to anyone else other than their families.

Originally from Watford, he and Dorothy, along with their 3 children made the voyage to Australia for a better life and they achieved their goal; in the latter 1990’s they both took out Australian citizenship to make it complete.

As my father-in-law he was just Dad – both he and my own father were men who spoke softly and did not need the big stick – they were men you listened to and they were mates to everyone.

Terry, of late, has been frustrated with not being able to do what he would have done in younger days and that will happen to us all.

Late last year in December, he and Dorothy renewed their marriage vows and whilst, like many men, he might have had a bit of a grumble about it all, he truly loved Dorothy and there was no-one else for him.

It has been a sad sad day for everyone in the family – from Mooloolah to Melbourne, from London to Los Angeles – we begin the grieving, but we will never miss missing him.

So goodbye Dad – we love you and we miss you !

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Just heading back towards Leeds

Monday 19th June to Saturday 24th June 2017

After a peaceful and very quiet night at Mytholmroyd we move off relatively early for a week-day; our only concern for the day being that we needed to get through Lock 3/4  today or else it would involve a call to CaRT to make a booking for tomorrow.
There is a lock-keeper on duty there from Friday to Monday (inclusive) every week (8:30-16:00) – other times need to be booked.

We knew that there would not be any problems (or at least we hoped not) – and there wasn’t.
We hit Sowerby Bridge around mid-morning and we were all tied up before 11am, which left us time to get things done – I still had work to get through and Diane had her prescriptions to pick up from Lloyds Pharmacy (we had left them there before we headed off).
But first there is always time for a coffee first (the Weatherspoons variety was not too bad).
The side of this disused building was made into a rock-climbing
business - large-scale recycling
After that it was time for tennis – Queens was starting and her indoors will almost always be found enjoying the court game).
One more day here would be necessary, some of the pills were not yet available and whilst we had no pressing concerns we thought a relaxing day would be worthwhile and it most certainly was.
Sometimes it is easy to forget just how much the fresh air environment can make you a bit tired, and those heavy lock gates don’t help either, so this a most welcome break.
Next day, Wednesday, we were again on the move earlyish, but had made up our minds that Elland would be the stopping point for the day – it was only 3 locks and 5 miles – and we easily found a space to moor up.
Not having been here before we wanted to have a bit of a wander around the area to see what was there – we were in need of a few things and google-maps told us that a Morrisons was just nearby, so we headed that way.
oooh, look at that hair (hat hair)

and I do love a good sign where the creative juices have
been active

We were in for a bit of a shock as we walked further and further. We found the Morrisons alright, but when Diane suggested that we carry on just a bit further – just to see what was there, we kept on finding more and more shops and stores and buildings (in use) and plenty of people around – bus stops and plenty of buses to stop there and lines of cars – it was a real eye-opener – a bustling hub in the making.
Strange how many times we have found places such as this where there was an expectation of much less.
Back on board it was essentially for the usual – tennis (she) and work (me).
Travelling now was a bit like going through the motions of going along knowing that we just simply had to be in a certain place at a certain time, that essentially would be to be in Leeds around the first few days on July – we would start the journey across the Pennines via the Leeds and Liverpool canal, with a booking for the boat to be blacked in Skipton in mid-July.

Struggling with the stick but... the end of it, she had made it

Not quite Betty Grable, but that's her..

All of this is not to say that we do not enjoy simply cruising – we certainly do – and we really enjoy the chance to cruise on any river sections that come by – but mooring on these is not possible, so you become limited to the same places you have been before.
One pleasant surprise we came across was in Mirfield – the Railway Pub was a most pleasant place to have a couple of drinks – it has been renovated, but we are not traditionalists – we like the old pubs but also like to sit down in a bit of comfort and enjoy the feel of the place.

We caught up with Jan and Colin and then we left them again

Further along came Wakefield where we did a bit of walking around the city centre and found the museum and also the free bus service, so that saved a bit of a walk back to the boat.
By this stage we were a bit tired and needed a chance to relax – I am not saying that there was anyone nodding off in the lounge, but it got a bit quiet in there (as I was working away) – and there was only one other person on the boat with me.
But still, the dozing must have been needed; there are times when it becomes very hard to find much needed sleep.

25 Miles, 31 Locks, 1 Tunnel
YTD:  601 miles (967 km), 315 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 9 Lift Bridges, 19 Swing Bridges

Total: 5233 Miles (8422 km), 3466 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 75 Lift Bridges, 191 Swing Bridges

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Brass Band Weather (not Brass Monkey)

Friday 16th June to Sunday 18th June 2017

The mooring at Salterhebble was again very quiet and we woke with the sounds of the birds – quite early though – which was good for me as there was a mountain of work in my in-tray, so I was able to get an early start on it all, but being Friday, it is easy to spread it over the weekend and in reality have a three-day weekend.
Never-the less, we were able to get a reasonably early start to cruising – untying the ropes just after 7:30, cruising to the waterpoint and from there is was a gentle 3 miles to Sowerby Bridge.
It was a bit disconcerting when we pulled up at the Visitor Moorings – one boat was already moored there and then there was us.
The rings had been removed using an angle grinder and there was no manner of being able to put a pin or a chain in anywhere to allow secure mooring – or really mooring of any kind.
Diane went for a walk further up and reported that there were moorings up there, below the lock making it difficult to go back for a diesel fill at the boat yard; a mooring almost opposite the boat yard but would involve reversing out of the arm and that was it.
She also remarked that back through the previous bridge there were moorings on rings – about 200 metres behind us.
So we reversed back to those rings which provided a much more open area and much more secure being on rings.
By then it was time for a bit of a walk together and to check out the situation of getting into fill with diesel and then get out again – we spoke with the lovely people at the hire company and as luck would have it we were right in time for them to be able to do us – almost all of the returning boats were in and none to go out just yet; the price was OK; and we needed a new gas bottle – so back for the boat; filled up with everything; reversed out of the arm – we had a kindly offer from Colin and Jan on nb Pelako to moor up in front of them but I felt it was a bit cramped, so we got back to the junction – just as that last hire boat appeared – and then we followed the waterway around to moor just below the lock.
Hebden Bridge - a fine church but we didn't have time to go inside

as if she doesn't struggle enough with some gates

We caught up with Jan and Colin later on at the pub overlooking the basin for a couple of drinks – after all it was a Friday night.

Friday night, the pub, new friends - what's not to like

What a lovely couple – very solid Yorkshire people who enjoy a laugh – hope that we can see more of them in the future – life with friendly boaters seems to be the best.
The following day we set off again, this time with the intention of making it to Hebden Bridge – a few locks to do, but the third lock was Tuel Lock 3/4 – two made into one very very deep lock – at just over 19’ deep it is the deepest on the system – and it seemed that way too.
Summer had decided to hit us this weekend and it was really quite lovely cruising along with the sun on our backs.
We met up with a day-boat coming down at Lock 5; and then we met up with a tunnel wall at Fall Ing Road Bridge – not marked in Nicholsons as a tunnel but the CaRT signs say it was – anyway, just as we entered the tunnel light stopped working and in the pitch dark we didn’t see the 60o bend and the bow hit first just before the back end and seat took a bit of a knock. Carrying on we made it through and onto Hebden Bridge where we winded and found a lovely mooring spot right on the park.
By this time the sun was high in the sky and it certainly felt like it – I don’t need to tell you that we do not like this heat, but I can tell you there were so many others here that were exactly the same as us.
Shade was at a premium and if you had some you probably could have sold the space; ice-cream outlets were doing great business as well as the pubs.
We wandered around the market area and got a feel for the town; visited a couple of antique shops (that is shops that sold them, not shops that were), until we finally had had enough of the sun and retired back to the boat, where fortuitously there was some shade on the towpath and it was wide enough to sit out there.
We were on the other side of the canal to the main part of the town, but the park was a mecca for many people of all ages.
As we found out later, it was a bit of a double-edged sword – nice to have space but the evening noise was a bit of a nusance, but sleep did not entirely elude us, even with the heat.

Next day was Sunday and we had decided before we even ventured here with the boat that rather than cruise the 21 locks and 6 miles to Todmorden (and to the available winding hole) and then return the same distance, we would simply take the train there – it was just a 12 minute ride.

Todmorden - looking down towards the market area

We rather enjoyed the area of Todmorden that we saw – the markets were nice and Diane managed to find a few things that she could buy, so that made her happy, I was glad because it wasn’t too much, and we both found enjoyment in a walk along the canal to discover the Great Wall of Todmorden – ranking amongst the wonders of the known world (Pennines Division).
The Great Wall of Todmorden - this one cannot be seen from space

About lunch time (which is 12 noon – in the north it is usually referred to as dinner time) we boarded the return train back to Hebden Bridge – we couldn’t dare miss the Marching Brass Band Festival which was kicking off just before 1 o’clock.

Please pick me to stay.... please, please

Being great Brass Band afficianados that we are (wouldn’t know one end of a tuba from a cornet – although that does sound a bit like an ice-cream), we found a huge spread out crowd of people who were, in fact, very much interested in the competition and had there local favourites.

We really enjoyed the atmosphere and probably one of the few times where there were such numbers in a confined space but it was easy to walk around.
But finding a shady spot with a place to park our bums, we watched 3 or 4 bands go through their paces, stepping it out and blowing and drumming for the chance of greater glory.
We do not know who the eventual winner was, there was a chippy with Diane’s name on the door and I had my name on a couple of cold ones back on the boat – we could still here the brilliant music from where we were sitting (in the shade, in the park).

It was best to remain out of the sun, but as mid afternoon approached the intensity was dying down a fraction; Diane was not really ready to have a noise interrupted sleep again (I was fine – I generally don’t hear a thing), so we decided that having seen quite a lot and not much else would be likely to throw us any more of real interest (but we could always be wrong), we fancied a cruise back out of Hebden Bridge to a more docile and peaceful location.
So off we went, untied ropes, and were cruising back towards Sowerby Bridge but not planning to reach there today.
We dealt with the bendy tunnel again, no problems experienced – it could well be Diane’s expert steering that was the main reason – down a few locks and found a nice little mooring at Mytholmroyd, where we stopped and had chairs quick smart along with cold cider.

When it finally cooled down but was still quite light, we wandered around the small village (too small for a town) and when back on board we were ready to settle down for the night.

9 Miles, 9 Locks, 3 Tunnels
YTD:  576 miles (927 km), 284 Locks, 18 Tunnels, 9 Lift Bridges, 19 Swing Bridges
Total: 5208 Miles (8381 km), 3435 Locks, 142 Tunnels, 75 Lift Bridges, 191 Swing Bridges