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Monday 30 September 2013

Settling in for a short while.

It is strange to get in to a different routine now we are home. After breakfast, as it was a nice day I decided to get in the garden to set to with getting the garden under control. Whilst the beds and lawn are not too bad the shrubs, trees and ivy are well over grown. I started on the second rambling rose and this one had even sharper thorns. It does look tidier for doing. I then thought that the ivy 'hedge' that divides the side of the house would be very vulnerable to the winter winds as it is very over grown. It was also climbing the walls and blocking the kitchen window.

Before the pruning.

After the pruning.

There is still plenty to do!

I will leave the rest of the ivy until we are home for longer, and the trees and shrubs can wait until the leaves have dropped to. 

Macy the cat seemed to go missing for a while. We had been worried about how she would settle back at home. She had seemed to be fine, but when she didn't appear for a few hours we were worried. I tried the tracker that we have and it registered that she was just the other side of the fence but then went quieter and quieter as though she was moving away. We were quite worried but eventually she turned up in the afternoon. I took the opportunity to check the battery in her collar unit and yes it seemed flat. I went to the shops to buy a couple of replacements and now she is back on line.

The annual insurance renewal for the boat has come through. It is less than £200 this year. We are with Towergate Insurance and they seem friendly enough. I have a few questions for them so we will see how they deal with that, and really it will only be when we have a claim that we will see whether they are truly worth their salt. 

Sunday 29 September 2013

Back home.

We arrived at Manchester Airport in good time, but to find that the flight from London had been delayed fifteen minutes or so. Amy must have been one of the last out and I guessed that she had not found her case on the conveyor. She only had 90 mins change over at Heathrow and normal places would have managed to get the bag on the next flight but Heathrow is Heathrow and it didn't get to Manchester. The paperwork delayed her a little but at least it meant that I didn't have to lug her 21kg ruc sac back to the car!

Amy and Helen at Manchester airport after almost a year to the day since we last saw her.

We went back to the boat at Droylsden to pick up Macy the cat and give Amy something to eat and we were back home for 2230.

It was a lazy start to day but I was up and out for milk and a paper at 0930 and then the Archers and when the kids finally showed a nice catch up. This afternoon they were off out to see friends so I got the lawn cut and started pruning the rambling roses on the side of the house. I wish I knew better what to do, but if I have got it wrong it will soon grow back. I have done one rose and there is one more to do. There are lots of shrubs and trees to prune this winter as they didn't get done last time as the weather when I was home was so bad.

We sat down a to full roast pork Sunday Roast with all the trimmings and it was lovely to have everybody round the table. Just before tea was ready the missing luggage was delivered. We had frequent up dates through the day so we knew exactly when it was coming. I think in all the years I was travelling I only didn't get my gear a couple of times when I arrived home, and it was with me with in 24 hours. It was when flying out to the ships that it was more problematic as it wasn't good to be left with nothing, especially if you had to sail before it finally did arrive as it did a couple of times. I always made a complete list of everything in my case when I traveled, just in case, but I always got my gear, eventually.

Saturday 28 September 2013

Big Day, the prodigal returns.

Today has been taken up with sorting the shower, again, and getting everything ready to go home for a week. Helen went shopping into Droysden to get everything for a big Sunday lunch, our equivalent of killing the fatted calf.

Our daughter has been away around the world for 15 months and for the last several she has been an au pair for a couple of girls in Auckland. The last time we saw her was just about a year ago when we were all together at the Singapore Grand Prix. I was working out there and we managed to coordinate everybody being in the same place. The blog will be early as we have to be at Manchester Airport Terminal 3 for 1830. We are getting excited now.

Our mooring at Fairfield Junction. Not the most salubrious place but it very handy for us at the moment.

Macy enjoying the sunshine and being away from the noise of the drain in dry dock.

It has amazed me how much 'stuff' we have accumulated over five months. Some of it is clothes that we brought with us that we have never worn, some of it is the 'summer' clothes that we don't think we will need for a while, and some of it is jam, vinegars, vodkas etc that we have made on the boat and some is jars and bottles that we will need to bottle it all once completed. Therefore I don't think we have done too badly. It will be interesting to see what Macy the cat thinks about going home and resuming her old life. I hope that she doesn't get too used to it as she will be coming back to the boat with us next weekend.

Part of the pile of stuff to load up to take home. Note the crocheted bunting that Helen has made to welcome home Amy.

Friday 27 September 2013

Up, off and away!

There were a few little jobs to sort out before we flooded the dock. The main thing was to fit the reconditioned propeller. Crowther's had done a good job, and it didn't look like very much had been trimmed off. It had been polished up and balanced and didn't take long to fit. The split pin through the nut needed trimming to prevent stuff getting caught on it.

Looking at the refurbished propeller through the weed hatch.

We then had to fill up with water and wash the tunnel bands before re-hanging the fenders. The weed hatch also needed securing before flooding. Prior to us floating out of dock there had to be a little shuffling of boats down the arm to allow us to 'escape' and then the drain was closed and the top plank removed to allow the dock to fill.

The gate planks with a few leaks. This was how it was whilst we were in all the time.

The top plank removed and the water starting to fill the dock.

Water starting to fill in the dock.

It didn't take more than half an hour to fill up and then we were off and soon clear of the dry dock.

The dry dock. at Portland marina. It was good to get out and into the sunshine. It was a beautiful day too.

It cost £70 for going in and out the dock and £25 a day whilst in the dock. The blacking was £470. The cost of removal and replacement of the propeller, along with the refurbishment was £90. So not too bad, but not that cheap either. It is a good thing that blacking is only required every two years! Helen had the car to drive round to Droylsden and I went with the boat.

The foot path to Guide Bridge Station I took on Tuesday was between the two sets of railings.

Despite the Ahton Canal not being the most scenic of cuts there are some nice parts that could be in the middle of the countryside.

The leaves are just starting to go in some cases. This sycamore tree has a fantastic mix of colours and stands on the edge of the now demolished Robertson's jam factory.

At the first of the Ashton Locks is Fairfield Junction. Here a branch canal led off to Hollinwood. It terminated about a mile from the Rochdale canal. Wouldn't it cut out a lot of locks and time if the Hollinwood Branch canal was re-watered and extended to the Rochdale Canal as it would be a great short cut. We moored here and after lunch I set to taking the accumulated grime off the boat. We also put a couple of wash loads on too. I was washing down the st'bd side of the boat that is the off side, by walking along the gunwhale and of course I broke my duck, or acted like a duck, and fell in! First time ever. Apparently I was right under for a moment and as Helen was hanging the washing out she looked when she heard the splash and couldn't see me. I was soon out and wrung out my shirt and as the weather was great I just put it back on and finished the job.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Back to the boat.

After a quick clean round and a collection of the stuff that Helen is wanting me to take back to the boat I went round to see my Mum before heading off back to Ashton. I made very good time and was back at the dry dock at Portland Basin Marina in under two hours. It was very good to be back and be back as a team. Following lunch I donned the boiler suit and got on with the painting.

The yard had completed the two coats of bitumastic paint and it was now curing. I had to finish off the cutting in of the upper hull as we are changing it from green to black. I was using the non slip tread on the gunwhale as a guide and to give a good straight edge. It looks pretty good even if I do say so myself. We had decided to use Comastic paint as it would be cheap and easy to maintain the hull looking nice. This area gets some rough treatment as it makes contact with locks etc. Using Comastic paint means that paint has a bit more give and shouldn't shatter on contact. The paint is much cheaper than gloss paint and is much easier to apply as it doesn't have to be worked out and made smooth.

I had to complete the cutting in of the upper hull on the port side to be similar to the st'bd.

I painted a round at the bow and dropped the fender to be able to paint beneath it.

After cutting in I then used a mini roller to fill in. The finish isn't too bad at all and the finished look is good too.

Only time will tell whether this has been the right decision or we should have stayed with the gloss paint, but I have high hopes.

I was 'umming' and 'ahhing' about whether to paint the tunnel bands but decided against in the end. I can do that when the boat is in the water and will do it anyway after the winter. I cleaned off the weed hatch cover and painted that with the Comastic paint and then cleaned everything up. I went to talk to the manager to check that the propeller would be fitted in the morning and we would float out in the morning afterwards. It became obvious that he thought that it was Wednesday, and not Thursday. It turned out that he was supposed to pick up the propeller yesterday. I left him in a bit of a panic but it seems we will be leaving tomorrow. I am looking forward to getting afloat and moving. There is a heavy constant leak from the dry dock boards and this rushes over the brick bottom of the dock and down the drain. It sounds like it is raining or we are next to a waterfall. The weather has been nice here and being under the cover it remains cool. The water blasting and the general work in the dock has meant that the boat is filthy and I can't wait to get her cleaned up. We are only going down to the moorings at Droylsden but it will be nice to be underway.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Dentists visit.

I had to be up fairly early today as my dental appointment was for 0900. I was there in good time and so had a wait. I am with quite a large NHS practice and they are very business like in one way. In another the dental nurses and secretaries seem to think nobody else is there. For some reason they were up and down to the whole time and then a bang on 0900 they all came up the stairs to the second floor where I was with coffee. I wasn't quite sure whether it was for them or for the Dentist ensconced within. The same nurses seem to crash though the consulting room door every few minutes. I find this  very rude but nobody else seems to mind. I normally see a Polish Dentist but he must have been on holiday as a saw somebody new in a new room. This gave me the chance to walk past all the doors. I saw that there were two British, two Polish, two Greek and one Spanish Dentist working there. I suppose this means that the majority of the British trained dentists are working in the private sector. As I say there are very efficient and after a check up and scrape and polish they soon relieved me of £18 and gave me another appointment for March. I have never been private but the most expensive treatment was £145 so maybe if you are unlucky in a year it may cost you around £200. I expect that the dental insurance route  would cost more than that a year.

I got some stuff out to take back to the boat and then went round to see my Mum and do a few jobs for her. She is off to France to visit another brother at the weekend so she is all packed etc. The |C&RT Licence Renewal was there waiting for me. It was gone up to £925-67 for a 56' boat. With the discount for early payment it comes down to £833-38. I will pay it soon and also that means the boat insurance is due too. I was talking to the lady who had her boat sunk at Lock 9W on the Huddersfield the other day and she was telling me how pleased she was with her insurance company as they had been very helpful, within the limits of her policy and she had no  regrets and would not leave them. It is only once you actually need them that you appreciate them, so long as they do keep their side of the bargin. She was single handing up the Huddersfield when she left 9W the lower gates were leaking so badly and the pound above was so low that by the time she had opened the gate and started to move the boat out of the lock the water level had dropped and she was caught on the sill. If you can't quickly pull her off with a full astern movement then the only thing you can do would be run and let water out of the lock above. Not really possible when single handed. This is the second time in two years it has happened at the same lock! C&RT recommend that before crossing the sill the water level in the pound should be checked to ensure it is high enough to compensate for the leaking bottom gates. I will be checking very carefully when I am there in a week or two, but you would think the thing to do would be to fix the leaks in the bottom gates wouldn't you! The incident occurred on 5th August and the lady was telling me that the boat should be ready about first week of October. As it is her home she has had to live in a tent whilst the work has been done. She has been largely lucky with the weather though.

Boat caught on the cill of 9W lock on Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

I will be heading back to Ashton in the car tomorrow morning to give me time to get the boat painted up etc. I am looking forward to getting back as it does feel like home.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Off back home.

I was up early this morning to see if I could get the cutting in finished before I left for home. I didn't manage it, but there isn't much to do. It seems that we will be floating out of the dry dock on Friday so I would have plenty of time to finish the job. Apparently the blacking is now finished with two coats on and needing 48hrs to cure. That time scale suits me anyway.

The walk along the tow path from Dunkinfield Junction was done in under 30 mins. The canal is not very appealing with plenty of rubbish in the water and on the towpath. There is also a film of oil on the surface of the water and a pervading smell of fuel in the air. It is definitely not the most appealing stretch of cut there is. Guide Bridge is getting a bit of a makeover as there is a new commuter car park and it is also getting a new booking hall. It is a good station as there are two lines from which trains stop. Trains to Rose Hill, which is a station in Marple, and a line to Hadfield that lies beyond Glossop high in the Pennines.

The train to Hull was several minutes late and it is amazing how quickly they are able to turn the trains round. We didn't manage to make up all the time by the time we arrived though. I took special notice on this trip and it took 20 mins to get to the Standedge Tunnel and by boat that will take us about four days. I seem to remember that we were through the tunnel in about 10 mins and I think it will be about 1hr 45 mins in the boat. My son was waiting to whisk me home from the airport and after a cup of tea we went shopping to get something in the house to eat. I then popped round to see my Mum and get the gossip from her. I was able to sort her next gas/electricity supply sorted as her current  deal runs out at the end of the month. Her best deal seems to be M&S Energy. I hope it is all smooth sailing.

When back at home I called C&RT and booked our Standedge Tunnel Passage for Friday 11th October. I expect it will be a bit nerve wracking when it come to the day as it is a lot of locks to go up to the tunnel to find that the boat is too big to fit through. I'm positive we are but.....

Sorry there are no photos today. I will try harder tomorrow. I have my dental appointment early then will be doing some jobs for my Mum.

Monday 23 September 2013

Into Dry Dock.

We were up a little early to get into the Portland Marina Arm ready for the dry dock.

The entrance to the Peak Forest Canal under the lovely bridge.

We got into the arm at about 0830 to find that they don't open until 0900. Then it sems they had to shuffle a load of boats about and I had to come in stern first anyway. So back out to await the sorting out.

Portland Marina Arm. The arm used to extend further but had been truncated and then the last bit has been reinstated as a dry dock. One side of the dock was the original wharf wall. The water drains out down into the River Goyt I assume and is not pumped out. Therefore the slope is towards the inboard end and the stern was to be down there. The dock drains very quickly and we were soon on the trestles and they were blasting out the mud from the bottom.

Two bent propeller blades clearly seen. It was soon taken off the shaft and sent off for straightening and balancing.

The condition of the blacking was very poor. The boat was completed in October 2011 so is only two years from new. However it sat in a marina for over a year before we bought her. The blacking hasn't adhered at all well with the hull and I suspect that it was blacked when it was too cold and the hull was sweating, or it was wet. I also wonder if the fact that it was sat in a marina with no galvanic insulator has assisted the breakdown and piting of the metal.

Before and after pressure washing.

No fire just the mist from the pressure washer. The anodes are hardly wasted at all.

I had decided to paint the upper hull with blacking a while ago and hadn't been able to do it due to moving and the moorings being too high. I have started to rub down the green ready to cut in with Comastic bitumen paint to make it easier and cheaper to keep the  hull painted. I hope to get the cutting in all done before I go home and then roll in the rest if I have time. If no time I can then do the bulk of the work with a roller from the side with her floating.

Whist the hull was drying we went for a walk into Ashton. It is a strange place that has obviously been well to do, with some nice buildings, but the centre of commerce seems to have moved a couple of times and there are areas that have been left floundering. There is a great indoor and outdoor market. It was pretty good on Monday but I assume loads better during the week and Saturday.

This Lion and key was over a Barclays Bank. I don't think this was ever a symbol for them so maybe at one time it was a pub, the 'Lion and Key'. We went past another pub that had beautiful blue tile work on the facade called the Angel Hotel. It was full at 1400 on a Monday and there was some terrible karaoke emanating from the doors.

We then walked to the nearest station that goes direct to Manchester Piccadilly, which was at Guide Bridge. Ashton station trains got to Manchester Victoria. It was a little walk down the tow path and then a very overgrown and litter strewn footpath but it is less than 30 mins away. I will go there tomorrow to catch the train as I am going home for a dental appointment and to see my Mum before she goes off to visit a brother in France. Guide bridge is apparently named after a bridge over the Ashton Canal, but I'm not sure why it was a guide bridge.

Sunday 22 September 2013

A nice day for puttering to Portland Basin.

The place we are moored was the site of a collapse of the canal into the River Goyt below in 1833. As a result big buttresses were built but they are hidden by the trees and bushes that have overgrown them. Just down the way is a narrow section with retaining walls that were actually a tunnel but now has the 'roof' taken off.

The Narrows that used to be a tunnel on the Peak Forest Canal.

Our overnight mooring between Marple Aqueduct and the Hyde Bank Tunnel.

It was a great mooring to be underway and the scenery was pretty good too as we moved along the Goyt Valley. We quickly came to the Hyde Bank Tunnel that has Ivy growing down over the entrance. It is supposed to be two way but it would be very tight though.

East Portal of Hyde Bank Tunnel.

We only went a little further on before we pulled over and moored whilst I went to get the Sunday Paper from Romiley. 30 mins. late we were off again. The canal was largely in a cutting with bridges over. There were glimpses of houses but largely it was very green.

Railway Bridge 13A north of Romiley.

The canal comes out of the cuttings and starts to lead a curved route. This was even more rural and was where previously there had been mills and mines. Just before Hyde we passed a fox laying in he sun just watching us go by.

Railway Bridge No.6 just by Hyde on the Peak Forest Canal.

The canal goes past the Houghton Dale Nature Reserve and remains nice and green but getting more and more littered. Just before the last bridge on the Peak Forest Canal, a lift bridge, we watched a mink slither along a wall top. It looked gorgeously slinky and I was a little surprised to see it's fur was black just like the coats! Not sure why really. We got to through the bridge and arrived at Dunkenfield Junction. There is a railway bridge, then the arm where we will be going to dry dock 'Holderness', followed by the aqueduct over the river Goyt, a stone bridge dated 1835 and then Portland basin with the Ashton Canal Co. Warehouse that was built in 1834. It burnt down in 1972 and was resurrected from 1988 when it was rebuilt similarly to the original to house a museum, offices and flats. We turned and backed up the arm towards Huddersfieled a little way before mooring. After lunch we went for a walk round Ashton to get the lie of the land. Once back at the boat we had beans on toast, a rare treat as we are sworn off bread mostly, unless Helen has baked it and we had a new loaf to cut into. It was great, simple pleasures are the best. Up a bit earlier in the morning to get in the dry dock as soon as possible.

Portland Basin from Bridge 29 on the Ashton Canal. The Chimney is the 210 foot Junction Mills Chimney that was built in 1867. It is octagonal in  shape and has a distinctive tulip shaped crown. It was bought for a pound bt Tameside Council to prevent it being demolished.

Saturday 21 September 2013

Down Marple.

One boat had passed a good while ago and another had gone up the peak forest. Another boat was a bit miffed as they were just getting ready when we passed. As it happened all the locks were the wrong way anyway.

Just waiting for the top lock to fill.

Posset Bridge at Lock 4 has the towpath tunnel for the horse and one for the boatman to get back on the boat.

Helen exiting the Posset Bridge, Lock 4 on the Marple flight. It is said that it was called Posset Bridge as Samuel Oldknow, one of the main promoters of the Peak Forest Canal, offered the navvies a posset of ale each if they filled it on time, and they did.

Helen entering Lock 9 with Samual Oldknow's Warehouse

After the first lock Helen took over the driving and I did the lock wheeling.

At the bottom lock. We left our mooring at 0930 and arrived at the bottom of 16 locks at 1155, a very good 2 hr 25 mins. That is with only one boat coming up and only a couple of the locks were full.

Marple rail viaduct is a hundred feet high and was completed in 1800. It still looks as good as new and is very busy with commuter trains. 

Next to the viaduct is the canal aqueduct with no barrier on the off side. Not quite like the Llangollen but quite lovely in its own right. Pearson's Canal Guide intimates that boatmen were in the habit of burying their dead horses at the foot of the aqueduct to save them having to carry them far! The trees certainly seem to have grown to a good size.

Friday 20 September 2013

Moving North on the Macclesfield.

We had a lovely night with my niece and nephew and his wife. It was great to catch up with their news and things seem to be going well. The Holly Bush pub in Bollington was interesting as it looked like an old fashioned Doctors as it was a 1930's house. It was disappointing as there was only one beer on, and only us in the place. Not one of the better of the many pubs in Bollington.

This morning we moved off and made for Higher Poynton for water. We passed the Clarence Mill and it seemed that there was greater occupation of it so hopefully it is doing well.

Clarence Mill, Bollington.

As we approached Higher Poynton a small boat was winding and I had a feeling that he would be going for the water tap. And so it proved. I managed to tie up across the mouth of Braidbar Boats Arm to wait for him to finish. I think really he was loading his motorbike aboard. We didn't have too long to wait though.

Taking water at Higher Poynton water point.

I had forgotten how much linear mooring there was on this length and it makes it slow going. To relieve the tedium you can see 'The Cage'. This stands on Lyme Park land. Lyme Park estate was granted to the Danvers family in 1346. It was then passed to the Legh Family and they retained it until 1946 when it was handed to the National Trust. The present house was built in the late 16th Century and modified in the 1720's. The Cage was built in Elizabethan times and it has been used as a banqueting hall, a hunting lodge, a prison for poachers and a look out for the Home Guard and the home of the Estate Keeper. It has never had plumbed in water. 

The Cage, Lyme Park.

We arrived at Marple having done two loads of washing and got it up on the line quickly to give it the best chance of drying. We went for a walk round the town and it seems to have quite a few nice fancy shops and was busy. We walked back via the canal and stood at Bridge 1 and looked at the juction of the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals. The building opposite used to be part of the buildings for Jink's Boat Yard. It is interesting to note that the Cheshire Ring was fully opened until 13 May 1974

Marple Junction from Bridge 1 on the Macclesfield Canal, looking at Jinks's Boat Builders.

Just looking the other way there is a perishable Goods warehouse that belonged to the Macclesfield Canal Company. The covered loading bay is getting a bit forlorn and I understand that there was to building development on the site but it is all on hold at the moment. One of the features of the Macclesfield Canal are the mile posts. This is the only canal with stone mile posts. There are 27 mile and 78 quarter mile posts made out of Kerridge Stone. In WWII the mileposts were removed and buried. The Macclesfield Canal Society managed to track down 24 of them in the 1980's. They had the others made. There is some controversy as there are 27 mile posts but the canal is only 26 miles long. The Society made up a Mile Post for Marple where the canal was measured from. This one shows no miles. The argument is that there shouldn't be one here as surely the boatmen would know where they are!

The controversial first mile post with the Persihable Goods Warehouse in the background at the start of the Macclesfield Canal.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Bollington Bound.

We had a couple of pints in the Kings Head just down from the aqueduct last night and as it was raining when the alarm went we had a little lie in. By the time we left the sun was out and all seemed to be set for a nice cruise. Or so I tried to kid myself! The forecast was for the rain to start and only stop after lunch but as we were hoping to meet up with folk we left anyway. We were going to take water at Macclesfield but when we got there the tap had been removed!! I had seen a new tap just before wharf but was nearly past it and so carried on to the one I knew was there, but it wasn't! I could have reversed up but as it was chucking it down I didn't bother and just stopped and went for some milk and eggs.

Just before Macclesfield is this sunken boat, and with the moored boat on the offside it makes for a bit of a bit of a wriggle to get round.

As I was standing on the back end in the rain my mind turned to finer things. Helen was busy inside baking etc, and the buns were very nice indeed. As I passed through the bridges I grew to admire the beautiful shape of the bridges. There was no need to make them other than flat or even straight arches but these elliptical shapes really do look special, and the turn over bridges even more so.

Bridge 36 just past Macclesfield.

At least some of the wild life was enjoying the weather!

We arrived at Bollington and found our mooring from June was free so pulled in again. And of course the rain stopped almost straight away. It is just off the aqueduct and although not quite alongside it is a good place.

As promised a photograph of the planter with the winter plants in. Hopefully it will fill up more.

After a bite of lunch we decided to go for a walk in to West Bollington. Bollington is known as 'Happy Valley' and was a very industrial place at one time but is now a very good community. The Town Hall was a nice building and I particularly liked the the glass.

Bollington Town Hall.

Fan light and window glass with confident statement of purpose on them. There is now a new Civic Centre up the road too.

Helen at the Bollington Woodland Walk.

We walked to the recreation ground that has one a Green Flag Community Award and looked very well kept and with a woodland walk. We then walked up to Clarence Mill and back to the boat. A Niece and Nephew and nephew of mine came to see us on the boat before tea. Steph didn't stay long as she was going for a run as she is practicing for the Chester Marathon next weekend. Chris stayed and we swapped stories of Africa before he went to let Steph back in the house. We are looking forward to seeing them later.