Saturday, 19 August 2017

Happy Anniversary

Sunday 13th August 2017

No travel today – I will be staying in Nottingham for a few more days.

This is a special day, but sadly for the third time in the last 8 years Diane and I would be spending our wedding anniversary on opposite sides of the globe.

It is a necessary outcome of the decision that we have made and put into action.

I could not imagine a life without her and for 34 years I have been so very happy – I am sure that will continue.

We shall be back together soon enough and I look forward to that with delight.

We have to realise we are just so lucky to have each other and how very much you appreciate and love the person that you have committed your life to be with and to love.

I did console myself with finishing off the packing of the boxes – another item to cross off the list – every one that I cross off means a step closer to going home and being with Diane.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Visitors and crew arrive

Monday 7th August to Saturday 12th August 2017

Just enough time in the morning to get the boat in some semblance of order before it was time to hike it down to the train station and meet Paul and the boys as they alighted from the Sheffield non-express.
The old train spotter that he his, he was keen to tell me about the stations and the track and the trains themselves – at least that was the case until I managed to let out a stifled yawn !!

It was great to have Paul visit and to be able to catch up with him even for the few days that we would have together – it was far different to the original plans that we had envisaged earlier in the year when he would take control for a couple of weeks on the Lancaster Canal – solo – whilst Diane and I were due to tour around Scotland in the Jaguar – sadly it was just not to be.

Paul would have to content himself with a few days on the tidal Trent and put up with yours truly.

The first shock that he had was that the lockout onto the river would be at 6am the following morning; the second was that it was due to rain all day.
Like a trooper – a very asleep one at that – Paul was up not long after 5am – a time for which he was more akin to arriving back rather than getting up – and we were ready to go by 6am.
As it normally ends up, the weather was a bit windy but dry; the clouds approaching were bringing the promise of meeting the forecast and sure enough about 30 minutes into it the first drops appeared and the tempo increased until it was more than a drizzle and not quite a downpour – either way we were pretty much wet within the hour – no real point in doing anything about it, we would remain that way until we moored up at Torksey.
For Paul though, remembering that he had not been on this river before, it was definitely different to what he had experienced here – the flow was pushing us along and in 4½  hours we arrived at Torksey and moored up at the pontoons – it was also a chance to get inside for a hot shower which was heaven sent.

The rain continued and even the possibility of a visit to the White Swan after 4pm (when it opens on Mondays) could not tempt either of us to venture outside – the boat was warm (and dry) – the mykuni had done its job – so a drink and then dinner and a relatively early night at 10pm.

The day before, I had been to see the lock keeper about passage to Cromwell Lock – indication was about 9:15, so we prepared ourselves for that – this was a day to sleep in – obviously compared to the previous day, but more importantly it was a dry day – no rain, no drizzle, no anything.

At the appointed time we set off and we had a better chance to enjoy the trip; taking it in turns for tea/coffee duties and steering, the time to Cromwell went fairly quickly.
It was obvious that the effects of the tide were substantially less this far upstream and after the flow reached a slack point, there was virtually no further movement at all – passing through Cromwell Lock with 4 other boats (all cruisers) was not so bad, but each of the remaining locks for the day, until we reached and moored in Newark, were all slow filling and we spent a long time simply passing through the locks.
The water point at Newark Nether Lock was only available in the lock -
so under the Lock Keepers instructions we moored in the lock and filled
the water tank

a panoramic view of the lock

There were perhaps a half dozen of these small hut just after the lock - maybe
for the fisherman

Once moored in Newark, Paul needed to take the dogs for a walk to do their thing and also to check out the drinking and dining options for later on – we had decided that it would be nice to have a drink and eat off the boat.

One important job that we had was to be ready for a delivery of packing boxes – after all I still have a job to get all of the things packed that would head back to Australia – the people at Pack and Send delivered the boxes to just about where the boat was moored; I managed to be able to store them under the mattress (which raised the bed up quite substantially - almost touching the roof) - after that we headed out.

First up was the bar for the micro brewery Just Beer – which was rather nice and then after that we avoided what Paul was saying was the gay bar (but really wasn’t), and headed around the corner to a lovely pub (whose name I cannot remember).
The ladies on the next table recommended the pizza, which was what we had fancied anyway (the pizzas) and a couple of pints and it was a lovely night.

Now that we were on the canalised part of the river, the situation was very different and heading off times were self-imposed and not tide-dependent.
After walking the dogs for a bit and enjoying a lovely morning coffee we finally moved off, through Newark Lock and beyond.

Paul using the zoom in facility - that is, walk up closer 

Market Square Newark

Heading off - approaching Newark Town Lock

Again today the locks were all slow filling and this coupled with a desire to hope for Nottingham we pushed ourselves a bit longer than perhaps we should.

It is a lovely trip through this part of the country, but after 9 hours on the go (and it had been a rather warm day as well), we finally moored up at County Steps very much exhausted and not at all interested in cooking – in fact not much interested in eating – but we could handle a drink or two – course of action – head over to The Brewhouse and Kitchen – just on Trent Bridge.
Another micro brewery – we sampled a couple which were to our taste – then, as often happens – a lovely plate of nachos will never go astray.
Back to the boat, both knackered, both reasonably quick to bed and we slept through.

We had decided the previous night, that rather than try to move on and for Paul to then retrieve his car, which had been left with Kevin Too, he would simply leave from Nottingham and come back for the dogs and all his gear before making the trip up to Macclesfield, where he would be for the weekend to catch up with Elaine’s family and others that he needed to see – that all went well and I was a bit sad to see Paul depart – it had been a great few days and I really enjoyed the company and just being able to chat away, but Paul needed to be where he needed to be – and I had things to do.

Not long after, just as I was about to start paintng, nb Inca turned up – Carolyn and Gary aboard with grand-daughter Abbey (Curley to some) – they had been just a bit further along on the canal and decided to come down. With the wind blowing quite hard, Gary did a very good job of getting the boat in without any fuss; tied up; and ready to relax.
Approaching and then a perfectly executed mooring up.

We talked a bit – well for quite a while – and with their thought of being here for at least a couple of nights, we would talk some more – and I could get to the painting.

Way back at Newark Lock, some days earlier, the lockie advised that it we were in Nottingham on Friday night there would be a T20 cricket match, if we fancied a bit of ball against willow – with Paul gone northwards in the Jag, I decided that it might be a nice way to spend a Friday night and so I went.
T20 is not usually my cup of tea, but as I had so far not been able to get to a county ground to see any cricket during these 7 years, it was a chance to scrub that off the list of things to do.

Up against the Birmingham Bears, the outlaws were quite good and it was a good competitive game, but the home side triumphed a bit convincingly for this form of the game – it was a bit on the coolish side but also with a bit of humidity in the air – all in all I was felling a bit tired by the time I was back on the boat – a combination of the tiring day the previous day and the cold air, it was not long before I was sound asleep.
Waking on Saturday to some glorious weather (again), it was a day with plenty to do – there were boxes to pack, and more boxes to pack, and did I mention about the boxes; and still some more painting to carry on with – not sure that I was doing myself any favours with all of this, but when the job is done it does bring some relief that it is finished – unfortunately that was not the case on Saturday night, but the end was in sight, and so I simply settled down with something that appeared on my plate – cannot remember cooking anything – and watched a bit of the IAAF championships and then Match of the Day; went outside about 11:45pm to see if I could see any of the promised meteor shower, which I couldn’t and then it was time for bed before I turned into a pumpkin.
Walking along the river on Saturday morning - absolutely glorious

Somewhere up there on the right we are moored up

Obviously the French have feelings about Brexit

69 Miles, 8 Locks
YTD:  722 miles (1162 km), 335 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 13 Lift Bridges, 30 Swing Bridges

Total: 5354 Miles (8616 km), 3486 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 79 Lift Bridges, 202 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Solo again

Thursday 19th July to Sunday 6th August 2017

I have been slowly making my way eastwards from Lemonroyd Marina; there has been a bit of time spent in Castleford and since then it has been a steady pace to Keadby where we (the boat and I) sit and contemplate more than our navels.

The flight back from Australia was not particularly enjoyable – I have made a few of these flight on my own but this was pretty miserable – not only leaving Diane behind which has always been hard when we have had to be separated but also the prospect of seeing friends and saying au revoir to them; the thought of having to sort out everything on and in the boat – there is/was a massive amount of stuff that we have collected and stored during our time afloat.
They say that with not a lot of space we do become inventive of how we manage to find places to poke things away and believe me we certainly have become inventive; but not everything will make the journey home and a great many bags of things (mainly clothes and books) were dropped off to charity shops in the Castleford town centre – hence the longer time spent there.
I never tire of seeing herons around and this fellow has been around the front
of the boat for over a week
I did manage a train trip over to Manchester to have a day out catching up with Diane’s cousin Marnie and her husband Leigh – they are over here from Australia for a year – a gap year – Marnie is of Welsh origin and Leigh is originally from around the greater Manchester area.
Leigh and Marnie - A bloody good day catching up and looking forward
to getting together back in Australia
We basically found a pub and had a great day talking about all sorts of things – things that they wanted to do; advice that I could pass on to them – but after about almost 7 hours of this I realised that I needed to get the train back to Leeds and then Castleford – a 2 hour trip – so said my goodbyes and made the train with a few minutes to spare; got to Leeds quite late and found out that the train to Wakefield was the last one for the night – so made that with just 3 minutes to spare – a bit of luck there or I would have been stuck in Leeds on a Saturday night – probably never going to be my idea of fun.

But just when you think that you are on top of it all, there are all of the craft things that Diane was involved with; all of the little bits and pieces that you kept (just in case); I am amazed at what I have found that we still had, and slightly amazed at where we stored things that we couldn’t find.

My intent is to travel back up the tidal Trent, through Nottingham and make it back onto the non-tidal Trent as a first step (that could also be a last step). To accomplish this our good friend Paul Macy has agreed to be crew for me as we battle the wild and untamed Trent – battling monsters, evil pirates and the storms – well that might be a bit much – at least we will mainly have the incoming tide pushing us along.
He will join me tomorrow along with the two boys – Bombo and Sammie – and the four of us will expand on Jerome K. Jeromes famous travelogue and we will be Four Men in a Boat (two men and two dogs in a boat might be more accurate).

The pantry is reasonably well stocked – that is another thing that has to be sorted out and apart from some staples, the meals will be aimed at reducing the stock in the cupboards and fridge/freezer.
There is also the matter of some quantity of illegal contraband in the form of bottles and cans of ales, lagers, Guinness and red wine that will also need careful reduction – I am blaming Diane for allowing this to become the problem that it now is – truly glad that Paul was on hand to sacrifice his time for the greater good; such a true friend – actually he said ‘YES’ first before other volunteers could do so.

Interestingly the journey from Castleford to Keadby has been largely uneventful – not even the lift bridges and swing bridges presenting a problem for a single hander – all have mooring bollards on the side of the navigation where the controls for the bridge operation are found.
The locks have been just as good – most were the large locks no longer used by the big commercial traffic that has disappeared, but I do like an electronic control box which does everything for you – that is, when they work.
At the junction at Knottingley - the visitor moorings are full but this time
there is no rubbish around

Just peaceful cruising

The Exol Pride on its way to Goole from Rotherham - perhaps not a bad
place to meet - at least it was going slow as it passed.
Coming into Thorne (on Friday) and the boater in front had phoned CaRT to advise that the lock was not working – sure enough, after an hour wait, the CaRT man was able to say that one of the sensors was not working at all, but he locked us through with the standby over-ride system. This had been the only problem encountered with the locks.

At the last swing bridge for Friday, I decided that just for fun, I might crash my leg into one of the foot pegs below the seats at the back of the boat – it took a bit of skin off the leg and a lump the size of half a tennis ball came up – at least when I told Diane about it later she knew that I had been taking my aspirin – the thinner blood meant that this would happen.
That is NOT my knee - the lump that appear after a bit of an innocuous

The first aid kit in the freezer (aka the bag of frozen peas) helped to ease it a bit, but putting my leg down to walk was a bit painful as the blood rushed downwards – it was decidedly better the next day, but still painful to press on.
Sunrise on Saturday morning - and it was a nice day to go along with it
As anyone who has come into or left via Keadby Lock can attest, there is a sliding rail bridge just west of Keadby Lock – you approach from either direction and wait for the signalman (or is it signalperson) to wave you to come through, at which point the rail bridge slides out of the way.

Saturday: after getting through Vazons swing bridge, I moored to wait for the call – a train came through about 2 minutes after I had moored; then waited; and waited; and waited; and waited; another local train after 18 minutes –mmm I thought “there had been plenty of time ther for me to get through; but I waited some more; then two freight trains came at the same time (different directions and tracks); then I waited – after 45 minutes I had had enough and walked over the swing bridge, down the dirt road to the signal box.
I had to call out to make the person inside that I was there –
This young fellow pokes his head out of the window, looking all of about 17 and asks “are you waiting to come through?” – classic, I thought – he looked like he might have been the work experience kid
“No, I am here for my good looks – 45 minutes I have been waiting, what are you doing?”
“I’ve been having my breakfast, I’ll go and check the computer to see when I can get you through”
No reply after that, just the siren to not use the crossing and suddenly the bridge starts to move back – I guess that means that I can go.
I wasn’t about to be rushing back to the boat, so at my normal pace (which today was slow due to the gammy leg) I set off – about 200 metres in all, but finally got through – bloody kid!!

So now I am moored up at Keadby; there are still plenty of things to do as there are with any boat and I have found more hiding places – at least the bins here are only half full.
Sunrise on Sunday morning - I may be developing a theme here

a panorama of the Trent - the white building on the right is the control tower for the lockkeeper

The weather has largely been not too bad; of course for anyone expecting an English summer to have sun and warmth and no rain then forget it; it has been a lot better here than further south from the reports that I hear.

40 Miles, 7 Locks, 4 Lift Bridges, 11 Swing Bridges
YTD:  653 miles (1051 km), 327 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 13 Lift Bridges, 30 Swing Bridges

Total: 5285 Miles (8505 km), 3478 Locks, 143 Tunnels, 79 Lift Bridges, 202 Swing Bridges