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Monday 26 February 2018

Observations, 1. Fenders.

Fenders! What is it with folks going about their business with their hanging down all the time? They tell me that it is to protect their paint work when in the locks etc. To me they are just encumbrances that all too easily get ripped off in the locks and then end up round my prop. Several times I have had those round thick rubber ones with the line through the hole in my prop, and jam so badly that they stall the engine. Even worse are those that have tyres hanging over their sides on little bits of string that invariably snap on contact and the tyres just sink to the bottom, lurking, biding their time until I pass and pick them up in the prop. They can be the very devil to get off.

Luckily this one managed just to get hooked right round the prop but was big enough to just prise over the top again. Mind you it isn't an easy job lying on your stomach, head down a hatch trying to lift something with no room.

To me they are used when breasting up to prevent rubbing on your partners boat, or when moored up to prevent bumping alongside the side when boats pass. Even when sharing a wide beam lock with a boat the steel rubbing bands easily cope and are quickly touched up a couple of times a season, and it is what they are for after all.

You can just see our fenders down between 'Holderness' and 'Waka Huia' as we shared the Buckby Locks.

You can see in this photo of four boats outside the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham that 3 of the 4 seem to have fenders rigged  permanently as they are currently no use over the offside. Looking through my photos I suspect that a quarter to a third of boats leave fenders down when moving.

The permanent fenders on bow and stern are useful when you get the turn wrong etc and are more rugged in construction anyway. The bow and stern fenders are seen every day and it is quickly noticed when a chain has broken or they are missing. If the little side fenders are left over the side permanently they just seem to be neglected and get very scruffy quite quickly. As they are below the eye line I contend that they are often overlooked and so not noticed when lost.

Here at the dry dock near Dutton Stop Lock by Preston Brook Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey you can see a fender hanging on a bit of rope that has seen better days.

We have the same fenders we started out with and they are the black solid ones that are clipped into an eye on the roof. The rope does rub a little on the roof rail but just a small touch up job every now and again.

You can see the rope down to the fender at the stern. We have a bracket midships and one for'd to hang other fenders from.

I have augmented these with a couple of inflatable fenders that we have recovered on our journeys, and a few hard plastic tyres from little wheel barrows etc that I have picked up from the mud flats of the Humber following a spring tide. These work quite well as you can thread a line through the central axle hole and they float on the water. Not bad for the 'Shroppie Shelf' etc. Mind you to prevent the hull banging on the shelf when moored I find the best way is to use those heavy round rubber fenders talked of earlier. It is now useful that they don't float as you can lower them down to where the base plate meets the shelf, tie them off and they stay in position and prevent any jarring on contact.

It looks like at the Ellesmere Port Canal Museum they agree with me on the fender thing.

It is interesting to see that the Isle of Mann catamaran, made of aluminium, does not use fenders either.

We had an incident on the Thames where the lock was pretty full with two narrow boats on one side and a variety of cruisers fitted in every where they could. As the gates were closing another cruiser turned up and who ever was operating the lock opened them again to admit them. The trouble was that it was quite big in beam. This was further compounded by huge inflatable fenders on both sides. She would have fitted in next to me with no trouble without the fenders. As it was the 'driver' was in no mood to wait for the next lock and rammed himself in next to me. The lock was dropped and we were the last two to leave. There was no way he could move as he was firmly jammed in. I had to tell him to tie up aft and then power out of the lock and managed not to drag any of his fenders off after me!

The fenders in use on these cruisers are of a suitable size. Some you see seem to be used for protect super tankers when bunkering from each other!

Anecdotally you hear of boats getting stuck in locks that have narrowed over the years and where fenders just add too much to the beam and get jammed. We have seen some that are indicated as narrow, but surely if you run around with your fenders down you sort of forget they are there and then get surprised when like the men of the Duke of York could go neither up nor down!

This seems a little excessive and smacks of not being able to go astern, or unable to steer!

This photo goes to show that no matter how many fenders you have round your vessel, it is very unlikely that it will them that save the vessel from sinking in the long run.

I understand that everybody has their own ways of doing things, and it is not really a criticism of people, just an observation!

Thursday 22 February 2018

Rufford Old Hall.

On our visit to 'Holderness' at Fettlers Wharf we had an afternoon at Rufford Old Hall. There is a privately owned Rufford New Hall just down the road.

Ruuford Old Hasll is now owned by the National Trust and as it was the first weekend of re-opening the property this year it was surprisingly busy. The original parts of the building is Grade I listed and the rest Grade II and the house belonged to the Hesketh family until 1936 when it was donated to The Trust by the 1st Baron Hesketh. The Hesketh family had moved into the 'New Hall' in 1798.

This is the original great hall of the original buildings, built about 1530. There were wings to the left and right of the timber framed building and the lantern was added in the 19th centuary but it is still a great building. The land is low lying and was on the edge of a mere. Luckily when they built the hall they did so on stone footings otherwise the building would have rotted away and be long gone.

The brick built wing to the left on the first photo was a wing that was built in 1662 and the family crest adorns each wall, along with the date. They are made of 2" bricks as have other local buildings.

I'm not sure whether the front has been altered or not, but the sort of symmetrical look of the front could be Georgian other that the fact that it isn't really and the round heads on the windows. It is a point of interest that William Shakespeare may have stayed in the Old Great Hall for a while, and maybe even performed a play here before heading down to London and to make his name.

The Great hall has a hammerbeam roof with five bays. At the end of each there is a wooden carved angle, most of which have lost their wings. It is thought that these are not original but may well have been obtained during the Reformation of Henry VIII when the churches and abbeys etc were stripped of items and sold off for the Crown. The fire place and chimney is unusual for the time as they were still using a hole in the roof to allow the smoke to escape. Also note the stone flagged floor.

One of the main features in the rome is the 'moveable screen'. It may officially be called 'moveable' but I don't think it would be possible with damage it must weigh a tonne. It is elaborately carved and probably of very hard bog oak. There are three 'errors' in the carving and these are thought to be deliberate as it was felt that only God could create perfection so errors prevented the carvers from committing heresy. It is positioned to block the view and/or draughts that might come from the north wing which was originally the kitchen and servants wing.

The view of the Great Hall also shows some of the topiary in the garden depicting a squirrel. The lantern was added later to bring more light into the hall. Recent work on the wattle and daub walls found that at some stage they had been infilled with brick and rubble. This meant the the building wasn't able to breathe natural and was causing structural damage. It was removed and replaced with the real thing at the same time some of the timbers were replaced.

Whilst not at their best at this time of year and not being extensive, the gardens are worth a walk. This avenue of trees lead to the old church yard. I'm not sure if there is a gate to allow you access to the road on which the marinas sit but that is where it leads.

The courtyard and barns had been adapted to toilets, shops etc but made a nice setting.  The wing with the castellated towers was added in the 1820's

There were plenty of snowdrops out and I was attracted to the yellow plants that sat strangely amongst them.
On closer inspection they are also snowdrops but I wasn't sure whether there was a problem with them as this bunch was part green and part yellow. However there are over 2500 types of snowdrop so you never know.

Away from the canal, towards the road, there were many snowdrops that always bring a bit of cheer, even when there is snow on the ground. A load of yellow aconites scattered among them would look even better.

We walked back to the boat via a post box and I returned to my task of fettling the bathroom on the boat before heading home the next day. I'm already looking forward to our next visit.

Monday 19 February 2018


Last weekend we went up to 'Holderness' to do little jobs and to check she is weathering the winter well. The main job was to re seal the bathroom and to try to watch the rugby internationals at the same time! Sealants in the bathroom are a wonderful invention as much rotting wood is prevented as the water is kept where it is supposed to be. However I know no quick and easy way of removing it and cleaning it off before reapplying it. This is normally done following work being carried out or it just gets old and mildewy with the damp conditions. I think the anti mildew content has improved these days, but they still get a bit grubby over time! Still with much pulling and scrapping and cleaning with meths it all seemed to work as it didn't leak after a day to cure.

One other little niggle was there appears to be a slight leak in the chimney collar on the roof. I therefore had to wait until a none rainy period and then go out and dry the suspected area of current seal and apply fresh to see if that does the trick.

One other small job was that the vent for the compost loo wasn't working. This is a little computer 12V fan in the vent pipe. It is positioned so that it sucks out from the boat and expels to the outside. This aids in the drying process and obviously removes odours. It was just a loose connection in the switch so that was soon fixed.

One other problem found was that since our repaint there seems to be a bigger gap than previously at the for'd end of the sliding hatch, either side of the runners. It is no massive, but there must have been some driving rain and this had got in the small gap and dripped water. I will have to look at it later, but for now I have blocked them whilst we are static.
We are moored in Fettlers Wharf and are very pleased to be there. The guys running the place on a day to day basis are very friendly and helpful. I bought another electricity card that I hope will see us through until we are off cruising again. 'Holderness' is the boat bringing a bit of colour to this northern basin of the marina, the smallest part.

The much larger southern basin stretches away from the service quay where we are standing for this photo. The railway that runs by the site can be seen to the left of the lamp post.

From the same position we look west and directly through the entrance on to the Rufford Arm of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. The hedge that can be seen in this photo effectively screens our moorings from the elevated tow path at this point and acts as a massive wind break against the SW'ly winds. We are well shielded from everything but southern blows. Directly opposite the entrance to Fettlers Wharf can be seen the entrance to St. Mary's Marina on the opposite side of the cut.

Before canals were being dug there was a water route to Wigan for the export of the coal via the Ribble using the River Douglas or Asland that was made navigable in the early 17th Century. This became redundant when the Leeds and Liverpool was completed and was replaced by the Rufford arm that allowed cargoes to descend to the Ribble. The white bridge is that over the Entrance to our marina.

This is a view of St. Mary's Marina from the road. There are about 100 berths here, and about the same at Fettler's Wharf marina. St. Mary's has a Brassiere and Fettler's a tea room!

Looking north up the Rufford Arm towards Burscough Junction from the road bridge. The two entrances to the two marinas is given away by the white bridge.

Looking north towards the Ribble Link, the Lancaster Canal and the Lake District. This was taken from the road bridge on the way back froma visit to Ruffold Hall which is a little way down on the left. It was just starting to rain so we hurried back to the boat to get back to the warmth of the stove and another cup of tea.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

A Medley of Animals, Part 4.

We the last blog found us in Saltaire with an unusual octopus. We are still in Saltaire but with an animal that would be more in line with the history of the place.

In Victoria Square are four sculpted lions, two outside the Factory School that represent 'Determination' and 'vigilance', and two outside the Victoria Hall that represent 'War' and this one above 'Peace'. Apparently Thomas won the  commission to provide the lions for Traflgar Square and Nelson's Column. However despite them being made and ready the commission was just handed to Edwin Landseer for his larger bronze lions. These were mounted in 1869 and are made out of Pateley Bridge Stone. They are 8' long by 3' wide and 5' tall weighing in at 3 tos.

This rabbit was just been nosy as we rose up through one of the Gargrave Locks

These cows were enjoying a paddle on the really bendy part of the Leeds Liverpool between Bank Newton and East Marton. Several times on this stretch you tend to meet yourself 'coming back' as the canal does a 180 deg. round the heads of valleys.

We moored up near to Thorton in Craven and went for a walk. One of the objectives was to find Rainhall quarry canal, which we did but we had a great walk around the countryside. We saw this trotting pony going through its paces. I didn't know this went on in this country. It certainly went along at a good pace.

This crow and a concrete post with barbed wire on a really dull and cool day just seems to be in the right place at the right time. It could have been posed. It wouldn't have been the same if the sun was shining or it was a wooden post.

We have seen many more kingfishers this year than ever before, but getting a photograph is another thing. This one fell to my snapping in the sun as we approached the top of the Wigan flight of locks, somewhere near to Haigh Hall.

I love this sculpture that is particularly unsung as there seems to be no information about it at all. The two fish are swallowing the others tails to make a bench round in a circle. There is a handy refuse skip here to get rid of accumulations.

When we finaly got through the No.1 lock on the Rufford Arm and made our way down to Fettlers Wharf we saw these swans dabbling. It is a good indications as to why swans have long necks so as to be able to access the weed at depth. Quite often you see them with a reddish chest. I have often assumed that this was because as they picked the weed them also got some mud that dribbled down their front, or maybe they wiped their beaks there. But maybe it is from a sort of weed?

Friday 9 February 2018

A Medley of Animals, Part 3.

We found a very nice berth at the end of the Garden moorings at York, despite the main area was under water. We then had a few days exploring York.

We walked into town through the Museum Gardens and Helen was drawn to the display of owls from the Owls Trusts. This one seemed to be just losing its young feathers. They were charging £5 to have your photo taken with them to raise money.

I think this is a little owl and they do look bad tempered and what Disney would draw as a cartoon owl!

Also in the Gardens was this. Without seeing the bushy tail you can see how mousey/rodenty the squirrel looks. I have always been struck by the name squirrel. Apparently they used to be called aquernes until replaced by squirrel in around 1320's. This was from the Anglo Norman word esquirel, which was from the Old French escurel. This itself came from the Latin sciurus, and the Latin word was borrowed from the Ancient Greek skioros! The long and short of it is that it means 

There is a nice trail around York that gets you out and about called the Cat Trail. You have to search for all sorts of cats on buildings, like the above. The idea started in 1920 when Sir Stephen Aitcheson put two cats on his buildings in Ousegate, and others continued the fashion. In 1979 Tom Adams, a local architect who used a cat as a signature, started putting them on buildings he designed and the idea has been carried on by local sculptor Jonathon Newdick. look out for them as you walk around. You can download the guide, get them from the Cat gallery or Tourist Information.

The heron in the sun was snapped on the bank in Doncaster. It is a crossroads between heading east to Selby, York and Ripon. Also the South Sheffield Navigations, Hull and points south via the Trent. You can also follow the Leeds Liverpool via Leeds or the Calder and Hebble for the Huddersfield or Rochdale canals to cross the Pennines.

We chose to use the Leeds and Liverpool to cross to the west and when we stopped on Potato Wharf/Clarence Dock we called in to the free Royal Armouries. There was a lot of lovely displays, but I was overcome by all the guns. Their sort of worship made me queezy. Mind you some of the old ones were really beautiful. I don't think I would fancy this running after me, but at least you could see it coming, unlike these days!

I'm not really sure who put this here, but I am thinking it may be to stop people skateboarding cycling down the bridge wall, but what ever it is for it is quite cute. Not the sort of thing you expect to see in Saltaire.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Medley of Animals, Part 2.

It is a shame I don't get a publishable photo of all the wildlife we see as one of the joys of the canals is the access to animals due to the lack of noise and slow motion travel, and of course just been in the countryside. Mind you I have been feet from some mink cubs on the outskirts of Birmingham and seen deer in Glasgow.

This swallow was posing nicely by our moorings in Thorne on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. It is actually a Barn Swallow and is the national bird of Eastonia.

Not the best photo of a barn owl ever but it was great to watch it as we left North Frodingham Wharf after out stay up the Driffield Navigation. There had been horrible weather for a couple of days so it was out early as there must have been hungry young to feed.

Unfortunately not swimming back stroke this cow was causing a bit of a whiff as we passed near to Boothferry bridge on the River Ouse on our way to Barmby Barrage.

These hares were just nibbling close to the Pocklington Canal between Gardham Lock and Hagg Bridge. I love the black tips of their ears.

What all the best dressed cattle are wearing this season, matching earrings and necklace! The earrings are a requirement for traceability of the cow via a passport and I think the other must be to activate a counter of feeding system or similar.

These Eurasian Oystercatchers  followed us down the River Derwent for a while as we passed through the Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve, North Duffield Carrs. I think they lay eggs in mid April so these could be the new young as they didn't seem to be too competent at flying. It is the national bird of the Faeroe Islands

The little egret had been missing from the UK for many decades following the over hunting of it to provide plumes for hats. It was partly the loss of the little egret in the UK that prompted the formation of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1889. In recent times it was first found breeding in the Uk in 1996 on Brownsea Island.