Thursday, 7 November 2013

Silly trick

Thursday 7th November 2013
"Silly trick", "senior moment of the week", call it what you will, but I pulled it last Sunday. Chatting to Dave, one of the new arrivals, I asked why he was running his engine.  He told me he was having to charge his batteries because he didn't have any electric cards. I'm a bit slow, and was on my way into town so it didn't cross my tiny (mind) to offer him one. Later on I remembered and went round, but they were out. In the evening I tried again and this time they were in. I offered one of our £20 cards, which he accepted, but then asked if I could show him how they worked. This is where I had my "moment". Without thinking, or checking, I just lifted the flap and shoved in the card. When no power appeared on his board the light dawned. I'd put the card in his neighbour's (for the life of me I can't remember his name) slot!
Luckily the neighbour was very good about it and bought the card from me. (Big red face!)

Having enjoyed the play with Daniel last week, we had noticed a short sci-fi/murder mystery play called The Noise was playing this week, so we booked to attend on Tuesday.
It was a good play. Only 5 actors, with one of them playing 2 parts. It was set on a fictional island which had an all pervading noise around it.
There has been some activity on the river recently. C&RT workboats have been out working on Leeds Lock and also taking samples from the riverbed in preparation for repairs to Crown Point Weir.
 Dredging around the bottom gates of Leeds Lock
As can be seen here, there are several large gaps in weir crest.

I finally got around to doing the winter oil change on the engine. It's good to get fresh oil into it for when it is sitting around doing not a lot in the cold weather.
On Wednesday Damon came around to take us back to their house where I could take a look at a problem with their shower, and he could take a look at problems with my laptop and Cath's tablet. Also we managed to get to the local recycling centre and get rid of the several cans of waste oil from all the changes we have to do over the summer's cruising.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Non Event

Sunday 3rd November 2013
The expected huge storm and associated high winds didn't happen up here in the north. We reckon that all the fuss was because it happened in the south, which is where it really matters. Well, that's the impression we get listening to the national news.
Cath's frozen shoulder got worse during Monday, and on Tuesday she already had a booked appointment with the quack. He gave here some gell to put on it, and over the week it has steadily improved.
On Wednesday I had an appointment for a minor MOT, all was as well as could be expected. Blood pressure good, but as always lung function a bit poor. In fact she told me that the machine reckoned my breathing age to be 90! Oh well, I'm still vertical. She gave me another inhaler to try.
Wednesday also saw us looking after No. 1 grandson. It's half term so the family pitches in while Liz and Damon have to go out and earn the bread.
Monday and Tuesday it was Grandad John who did the duty, and it was our turn on Wednesday. We decided to take him to a children's play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse here in Leeds. He's a bit of a fan of Charlie and Lola, the stars of a TV programme and some books. The play was wonderfully done, and he thoroughly enjoyed his time.
More boats have arrived at the moorings here. There's and interesting coincidence on the end two pontoons. Two boats, side by side, one called Rebekah and the other Rebecca. What are the chances of that happening.
Earlier in the week the river had dropped enough for the gates to our dock to be reopened, but this morning they have once again been shut, and there are high level warnings out for the Aire and Calder as far as Ferrybridge.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A visit

Sunday 27th October 2013
Due to the clocks going back there was a good opportunity for a lie in this morning, well for me anyway. Unfortunately Cath had a rough night. Yesterday she started to get pain in her upper arm area, which got much worse overnight to the point where she couldn't get much sleep. She ended up sleeping in a chair poor girl. Looks like she's got what is commonly called frozen shoulder. Very painful.
At about 11 am our expected guests arrived, bearing gifts. Not only a lovely fruit cake, but a very nice little wind up LED lantern.
Andy and Gill West, Kevin and Jane Jones had been visiting the Railway Museum in York, and broke their journey back home to call on us.
It was wonderful to see them again and reminisce about "old times". Also to get the news of old friends from Glavon TRs.
Unfortunately the only picture I got of our group is not a good one. I used my phone instead of getting my camera out.

Luckily others took pictures, and I hope they will send them back to me for inclusion in my album.
Thanks to all of you for coming to visit. We may see you some time in the new year when we once again visit Bristol.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Storm coming

Friday 25th October 2013
Its Friday evening and after a wet morning the sky cleared up a treat, the afternoon was lovely. As the sun sets once again the clouds are gathering out to the west, and I'm sure I've heard a rumble of thunder.
 Cath reminded me about 20 minutes ago that I was going to check out electric meter to make sure we had enough. Oh damn! I think we've got another card. Oh dear, we haven't. Check meter, only £1.60 left, probably not enough for the weekend, and the office is shut.
A quick trip to Sally and Mike's boat "Bendigo", and as ever they have spares. What would we do without them, so helpful.
On the shaft seal front, I've given up my attempt to just change the lip seals. Dave, from "Pas Meche" had to have his complete shaft, seal and tail bearing replaced recently, and he kept some of the bits, which included the seal housing.
I thought that this would give me a chance to change the seals in the housing and then have one ready to slip into place when I started the job.
When I had a look at his housing, I wasn't able to get the old ones out, because they appear to be molded in place. This gave me pause for thought.
I phoned Kings Lock for advice, and was told that to change just the outer seal was probably false economy. The self aligning bearing, just aft of the seal will almost certainly be worn, and not replacing this will probably cause early failure of the new seal.
With this advice in hand I decided to bite the bullet and buy the whole lot, seal and bearing.
I must say the delivery service from Kings Lock was excellent. Ordered yesterday, late afternoon, delivered this morning!
Cath decided that we would have mussels for dinner tonight. I have to admit I was less than enthusiastic, but I'd have to give them a go. Unfortunately, they were a bit of a disaster and neither of us were impressed with the outcome.
Monday, the weather is set to become really bad, so with past experience of the wind tunnel that this place can become I've taken our Sky dish from the roof and put in the cratch area. We did this last year and it was quite successful.
We are expecting guests from Gloucestershire on Sunday. Friends from our old TR car club 'Glavon' are visiting York and will call round to us on their way back home. We haven't seem them for a few years now so look forward to meeting them again.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Settling back in

Sunday 20th October 2013
Back into the (boring) routine of winter mooring.
We've been back to our quack to make ourselves know again. It's the only practice within easy reach of our mooring, but they do have a poor rating on line. I can see why. The organization seems poor, for instance they wiped me from their books again. Despite being told of our situation, they continue to send letters instead of texts or emails. When they go unanswered, as we told them would be the case, they assume we don't want to be there any more and take us off the books.
For the Nth time we explained what we would like to happen, and the girl on the desk just says "we can't do that".What she says they can't do is send mail to an address outside of their "catchment area". What a load of bo!!**cks. When I got to see the doctor it was a completely different story. "Of course we can do that" he says, and sent an instruction to the office. So, let's see if that works. They, once again, know to contact us by email or text.
We have both applied for senior rail cards, so will probably be taking more train journeys this winter.
On Thursday I got around to taking the washer/dryer apart to carry out the regular cleaning of the drying fan and ducting to ensure that the heater doesn't burn out prematurely.
Yesterday I made a start on trying to work out how I might carry out the changing of Lyra's propellor shaft seal. I had hoped to use one of the wiper rags which I have plenty of. Grease it and tie it around the shaft to slow down ingress of water while the seal is removed.
Not a complete success. The rags are not long enough to tie around the tail shaft, and it turns out that my arms are a bit on the short side for reaching  down and getting the rag around the shaft. I can, with difficulty, get it around, but then I want to tie string around it to get the best seal possible. It's right on the limit of my reach, and passing string around the shaft under water right on the reach limit is very very hard.
Next plan is to use a strip of old sheet, kindly donated by Tracy, one of our neighbours. There's still the problem of my lack of reach. I'll get there sometime.
I've just spent the afternoon watching bike racing. An absolute treat today. The final of BSB, won by Alex Lowes, the WSB won by Tom Sykes, and in Moto GP an absolute farce of a race leaving the season still open.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Home again

Monday 14th October 2013
The weather forecast for the day was a right mixture of rain and showers. For a change they didn't get it too wrong.
We got up at just gone 8 this morning. It was raining a bit, but it soon stopped. There was even a hint of blue in the sky.
This prompted us to take the chance, cast off and head for Leeds. The plan was to keep going and see what happens.
The first three locks were on the Aire & Calder from Stanley Ferry to Castleford. Just a little light shower here, nothing to put you off.
As we turned the corning at Castleford on to the Aire, the sky was looking quite threatening and Cath nagged me into putting the full wet gear on. Boy, was I glad of that!
We had a bit of luck at Lemonroyd Lock, there was a keeper in the box and as we approached he gave us the green light. That's the first time we've ever been let through that lock. At Woodlesford Lock the heavens opened and poor Cath hadn't taken a waterproof with her to operate it. She got a bit damp.
The next lock, Fishpond, she did 'gear up', and it was worth it. Nostropp Fall appeared and it wasn't looking too threatening so once again she didn't take her raincoat. Yes, it started tipping down just as the lock emptied and she was opening the gates. By the time I could get stopped in the lock and in a position to hand her the coat she was well wet.
It stopped again for the time it took to get to Leeds Lock, but that ended as we pulled in to the service pontoon so we could throw some rubbish. Luckily it gave warning so that she could put the coat on again. It chucked it down from then until we were actually tied up back on our mooring here in Clarence Dock.
We are now tied up, plugged in, and snug.
The blog will be sparse now for a while, but I hope to add some words on my attempt to change the Vetus seal on our propellor shaft some time soon.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A great day

Sunday 13th October 2013
Despite the dire predictions of the Met Office, the weather wasn't too bad. it did rain at bit, but nothing like the predicted 80% heavy rain.
To Paul and Jac turning up on Friday, we added a load of visitors today. My cousin Gail, with husband Derek, they brought her niece Terry, who, to our delight is expecting her first baby in only about 5 weeks. Later Damon, Liz and grandson Daniel.
All ten of us then descended on the pub, Daniel headed straight for the Wacky Warehouse of course.
After lunch we retired to the boat where puddings were the order for some. There was a choice of blackberry and apple crumble, or chocolate cake from Jacqui's kitchen, or banana cake from Liz's. Derek and Gail had brought a box of chocolates, so the boat was almost sinking under the weight of puddings, and if we eat as much of them as I would like to we probably will.
We plan to head towards Leeds tomorrow, that is if the rain holds off.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

A visit to Stanley Ferry

Saturday 12th October 2013
Having been unsuccessful yesterday in Morrisons getting a bottle of Southern Comfort for our weekend guests I went back this morning, on the promise that a delivery would be made. No such luck, it seems that the morning delivery was stretching the truth a bit. I also wanted some blossom honey, but they didn't have that either. All in all I wasn't impressed with the Castlefield Morrisons.
I wandered back into the main town and managed to get both of the things we needed in the Coop, and the Southern was on offer.
Paul and Jacqui arrived in mid afternoon, and of course the "Southern" was opened almost immediately.
Cath produced a wonderful beef in wine stew, followed by apple crumble. We then had a few more drinks while we set the world right again.
This morning we set off for Stanley Ferry. Paul took their car to the pub car park there, and then cycled back to meet us at Woodnook Lock. While waiting for him we took the opportunity to fill our water tank.
At Ferry Bridge we managed to get a mooring without any trouble. I had been a bit concerned that it would be crowded, but I needn't have worried.
Tonight we piled into the car and went into Wakefield where we had booked a Greek restaurant. It turned out to be a cracker. The food was excellent.
We're here(clicky)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


Wednesday 8th October 2013
As the weatherman predicted, today was the start autumn.
We woke up to fine sunshine, but there was a certain nip in the air. After leisurely breakfast we started up began a slow plod to Castleford. As expected, Ferrybridge Flood Lock was open, so no stopping there. Because it was only a short trip I decided to go fairly slowly so that we wouldn't need to run the engine to finish off the washing while moored up.
Not long after setting off the sun disappeared behind some clouds, and a stiff breeze got up. I quickly reached for a thicker coat and a hat. By the time we reached Bulholme Lock it was perishing. Shades of things to come me thinks.
Once we arrived, I steered for the service block so that we could chuck a can, and then headed back to the moorings. We've taken a spot on the north bank, just to the east of the road bridge. It's a good spot where we can get satellite TV and there's somewhere for Paul and Jacqui to put their car overnight on Friday.
This afternoon we decided to go into town and get a bit of shopping, we'll do it several trips as there is a fair bit to get for the weekend. On the way back we got caught in a torrential downpour less than 5 minutes away from from the boat. Not long after that the sky cleared and the sun came out. Bad timing, or what?
In the satellite piccy we're moored right where the barges are (or were)
We're here (clicky)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A lovely trip to Ferrybridge

Tuesday 8th October 2013
Another glorious day. In bright sunshine, which even had some warmth in it, we set off through Pollington Lock.
The bright sun was on our backs as we plodded our way along the A&C. We weren't quite sure how far to go today. There was a choice of stopping at Ferrybridge, or continuing on to Castleford.
After about an hour of travelling, the wind, which had been steadily increasing, stiffened sharply. I gave up the hardy approach and donned my coat and scarf. While the sun shone it was quite good, but the clouds started to build up, and whenever they hid the sun the perceived temperature plummeted.
We made excellent progress, passed through Whitley Lock earlier than we had thought we might. This made us think again about where we might stop today.
The decision was made to stop early, that is at Ferrybridge, and make a start on the boat cleaning for our weekend visitors. We now have a bit of a crowd coming for Sunday lunch. There could 9 of us.
We moored up before lunch, and after a spot of nosh we launched into cleaning mode. I fired up the steam cleaner and attacked the tiles in the bathroom, and behind the hob in the kitchen. Cath got on with the ironing.
Later on we were joined on the mooring by Rebecca. Bob and Marie moor their boat at Clarence Dock the same as us. We had a long chat about the usual boater things, batteries, electrics, and, of course toilets. These are the favourite topics whenever boaters gather!
Here's us tonight (clicky link)

Monday, 7 October 2013

On home waters

Monday 7th October 2013
The prospect of a long day lay ahead as we cast off this morning. The plan was to get at least as far Sykehouse Lift Bridge. Between Thorne and there lay a lot of lift or swing bridges, and two locks.
First up was Bramwith Swing Bridge, a powered road bridge. Just passed it is a service block and we had hoped to take on water here but another boat had just beaten us to it and we didn't want to hang around waiting for them to finish as we weren't desperate for the stuff.
Bramwith Lock is the last of the manual locks we will have to do for a long while.
At the junction with the South Yorkshire Navigations we turned right onto the 6 mile stretch of water leading to The Aire & Calder. This short run is blocked by no less than 6 bridges and a lock. All are powered except the swing bridge over the lock.
The first bridge, Low Lane, presented the first problem. As we approach it there was a team from C&RT visible at the bridge. they were replacing old, damaged stone blocks around the bridge. One of their number was seen walking up to the control position, so we thought, wonderful, they're going to open it for us. Well, that was their plan! It didn't happen. When nothing started to move I decided to pull into the side and investigate. Turned out that the chap had tried to open it for us, but it had failed and they were calling an electrician!
Help arrived half and hour later, and we were on our way again. We approached the next bridge, Kirkhouse Green Lift Bridge, and noticed a guy get off a bike and walk to the control pedestal. Sure enough, the bridge opening noises started and up it went.
I slowed down as we went through to talk to the guy, and he told us that he just enjoyed helping boats. Great! he can help all he wants. While we were bowling along towards Kirkhouse Green Lift Bridge the bloke on the bike whizzed past on the towpath. Sure enough, the next bridge lifted for us, and we pressed on.
Next up was Sykehouse Lock and Swing Bridge. This is a slightly awkward one. There is a manual swing bridge over the lock chamber. You must use your key at the bridge station. This unlocks the bridge and barriers. Shut the barriers and then push the bridge until it locks in the open position. This allows you to start operating the lock proper. The rest is just to cycle the lock and return the bridge to the closed position to allow the retrieval of you key.
Two more bridges and that was it for this stretch of water. We continued to Southfield Junction, turned onto the Aire & Calder. At Pollington Lock we've stopped for the night and taken on water.
We are here

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Keadby and Thorne

Sunday 6th October 2013
No Internet last night so there's two days to relate.
On Friday the rain did arrive, but it wasn't quite as bad as the forecast. We had already made the decision not to move on Saturday, so I took the opportunity to visit Gainsborough. We've passed it several times on our way up and down the Trent, but the moorings didnt look inviting, and anyway we were on a time budget.
I had a look on line, and found that the local buses ran every two hours at 20 minutes to the hour.
I had a word with the lock keeper at Torksey to let him know we weren't travelling on to Keadby today as arranged, but leaving it until tomorrow. I then went down to the bus stop and was pleased to see that I wasn't the only one who thought that a bus was due. It's always good to have confirmation.
Gainsborough was smaller than I expected, and I didn't spend as much time as thought looking around. The only thing of slight interest is the main shopping area is in a place called Marshall's Yard. This area was once part of the famous firm of Marshall, makers of boilers and steam engines. The factory is long gone, but the name lives on in the shopping area.
As promised, the weather on Saturday was much improved. We had been joined by 3 other narrowboats, and we all set off at about 9.00 o'clock. They set a fair pace as we cruised down river
Passing Torksey Castle, now a ruin, it was built in the 16th century. Not really a castle, but a manor house with pretensions. It was burned by royalist soldiers in The Civil War and never rebuilt.

The convoy passes through Torksey rail bridge.

And past West Burton power station.

At this point the others seemed to speed up, and I was finding it difficult to coax more speed out of Lyra. It took me while to consider that the propellor might be a bit fouled. There was none of the usual shuddering that accompanies that problem. I quick burst of reverse, and all was well, we pick up speed and caught up with them easily.
We were now running with the outgoing tide and my satellite speedo was showing 8 mph.
As I mentioned earlier, the three boats were together. Keadby lock will only take a maximum of 3 narrowboats, so it was agreed that we would race ahead and take the lock alone, and they would follow for the next cycle. It all went as planned and we then tied up for the night in Keadby.

Sunday morning dawned bright and we set off expecting to get to Thorne to do a bit of provisioning. The route here is strewn with swing or lift bridges. 
On the plus side though I managed to really piss off a couple of fishermen. God, some of them are miserable, unreasonable sods. The majority of them like boats to slow down and keep to the middle. This miserable so and so shouted at me because he wanted me on the far side. Unfortunately my powers of clairvoyance have temporarily deserted me. How was I to know where he wanted me?
The second one was fishing close to where we wanted to moor up. This is the only place around here where we can see the satellite, and I wanted to see bike racing this afternoon. We tied up a good 30 yds. from him, but he complained loudly, finally saying,"Well I might as well pack up". Anti social, or what?
Anyway, on the way here we met up once again with the three boats from yesterday, so we now had help with the swing bridges, and only had to do three of them. When we got to the only lock there was someone already there and they did all the work, magic! To top it all, the one swing bridge that is always a real pain, because it is poorly maintained by the council, not C&RT, has now been permanently disabled open.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Back on the tidal Trent

Thursday 3rd October 2013
Yesterday we spent a very relaxing day, just did a bit of shopping, and a little cleaning. Last night the went out for a meal at Zizi's. Very nice food, but greedy pig that I am, I could have done with a more generous helping of ice cream for afters.
Up with the lark again this morning. We used the river flow to turn us around, just untied the bow and let her swing on the stern rope. It was a bit early for the lockie at Nether Lock, so I jumped off and operated it myself. From there it's about 5 miles to Cromwell Lock, the start of the tidal section of the river.
I had spoken to the keeper yesterday and been told that around 10 am would be a good time to pen through for our trip to Torksey.
We arrived in plenty of time to empty a can, and fill with water. The lockie said we could go at any time that suited us now.
At about 9.50 the bottom gates were opened for us and we were off on the approximately 16 mile run downstream to Torksey.
The river level is very low, we've not had a great deal of rain this summer, (not that I'm complaining mind). Here are some examples, and this is at high tide!

We met a couple of boats going upstream.
We arrived at Torksey after about 3 hours of travel, and after winding (turning) we are tied up to the floating pontoon below the lock.
We had intended to travel on to Keadby tomorrow, but the weather forecast is foul, so we may just stay here and wait until Saturday, which they are promising will be better.
We are here

PS It's just started to rain outside, and it looks bad.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Newark on Trent

Tuesday 1st October 2013
That's it, we really are into the short end of the year now. The months are in double figures, and we can see signs of turning leaves although not much yet.
I had one of those 'good feeling' moments this morning as we reversed out of our overnight mooring. We had moored on the inside of a floating pontoon and moved forward as far as possible to allow another boat to get in behind us. This meant that we had to reverse out around them.
Reversing these things can get tricky, but sometimes it just goes right. This morning was one of those times. As if she was on rails Lyra glided backwards, manoeuvring to avoid the moored boat, then swinging around in the river to face the right way. All without a hitch or hiccup. Someone should have been filming!
After using the services at Gunthorpe it was just time for the lock keeper to open up.
We were joined by "Aisling Gheal", the name means "Beautiful Dream" in Irish Gaelic.
The owner was picking up a friend in Newark and continuing on down the Trent hoping to eventually get to near Blackburn for his winter mooring. When I told him of the stoppage at Burnley he had to rethink his travel plans, and will now probably have to divert onto the Huddersfield or Rochdale canals.
The radio came in handy again today. There's a fair bit of dredging going on, and a large barge was being manoeuvred into the lock at Hazelford. the lock keeper was able to keep us advised about what was happening.

We reached Newark at about 1.30, we had hoped to get on one of the moorings with a power connection, but they were taken when we got here, we were lucky to even get a pontoon mooring as we had to tie up on a wall for lunch, but later one of the boats left so we hurriedly got ourselves over there. The wall moorings here, although plentiful, are high and Cath can't climb off the boat.
Just after mooring up, 3 more boats turned up in a group. One of them was short, about 50 ft. and they could get into the small gap between two boats on the pontoon where we wouldn't fit. This allowed the other two boats to tie up alongside them. Very handy. They had all come from Gunthorpe, where we were last night, and chap from one of them came along and returned the fender which we had lost overnight. We looked for it this morning, but could see no sign, so thought that was that. He'd found it floating past his boat, picked it up and returned it. What a star, thanks.
We are here tonight, and maybe tomorrow night as well.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Nottingham to Gunthorpe Lock

Monday 30th September 2013
Off once more, heading through Nottingham, past the old BW and FMC buildings. I don't know what the BW building is now, but the FMC warehouse is now a popular waterside pub/restaurant. Through Castle Lock and round the sharp bend on the cut we pass Meadow Lane, home of Notts County FC.
At Meadow Lane Lock there are services, which we needed. What to we find? A pair of idiot/antisocial nits, in tupperware boats had moored on the service mooring and gone away. We managed to stop across the weir and get off the boat to reach the water and elsan points. How I would have loved to crush those plastic pigs. Rant over!
We dropped in Meadow Lane Lock onto the Trent and continued our cruise downstream. Holme Lock turned his green light on as we approached, so it was straight in and down. I'd forgotten over the summer, Trent locks carry radio, and so do we. I dug out our radio, and gave Stoke Lock a call as we came around Radcliffe corner, and the lockie had it ready for us as we arrived. Once again, straight through.
Our intended overnight stop was Gunthorpe Lock, and as we sailed up to the moorings I spotted Grace & Favour, a widebeam that had shared Clarence Dock with us earlier this year. They're heading towards Nottingham to visit the Goose Fair which is next weekend.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A nice day in Nottingham

Saturday 28th September 2013
We decided to spend the day having a look around the castle museum today.
They certainly make the most of the legend of Robin Hood here. There are references to him all over the place.
The museum features a whole gallery display on the story, a lot of seem to come straight from Disney, but what the heck, it brings in tourist dollars.
Unlike many places, the cafe seems reasonably priced and we didn't feel ripped off in there.
The castle itself - isn't. That is it's not a castle any longer. The original was demolished after The Civil War. Later the Duke of Newcastle built a new mansion on the site. This one was burned down in riots in 1831. It was later rebuilt and reopened as a museum.

Cath is still looking for her Robin Hood.

There was a living statue of a medieval knight.

The castle gardens are small, but nicely laid out for a stroll.

I took a couple of pictures from the castle wall over Nottingham.

Included in the entry price was a visit to The Brewhouse Museum. It seems set up for around the WW2 period.
You also get a chance to look around some of the caves which have been cut into the sandstone on which the castle was built.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Back in Nottingham

Saturday 28th September 2013
We arrived back in Nottingham yesterday afternoon. Let's hope that we can get away from here when we want to, unlike the last time when we broke down for a week.
After spending the night on Sawley Cut we awoke to another fine day, and prepared to lock down onto the Trent.
Sawley is a very busy with a large marina, boatyard, and also The Derby Motor Boat Club.

There are two (tandem) locks letting down onto the Trent from Sawley Cut. This is the view as we leave and cruise under the rail bridge.

A mile or so downstream there is Trent Lock, the junction of the Erewash Canal, and the River Soar with the Trent.
With the addition of the Soar, the Trent becomes the mighty river (in this small island's terms) that carries commercial traffic.
There is also another path you could take, but it isn't to be recommended, it ends on a large weir!

Here's the entrance to the Erewash Canal. We've never traveled it.

From there we carried on through Cranfleet and Beeston locks onto the Nottingham Canal.
Our propellor shaft seal had recently started dripping, and lately that drip has turned into a trickle. Lyra has what's know as a Vetus Seal instead of the traditional stern gland. The advantage of this is that under normal running there is no leakage at all, and maintenance is limited to a bit a greasing with silicon grease. The downside of this seal is that once it does start to leak it really needs replacement.
The recommended way to do it is to dry dock  the boat. However, I have been told that it is possible to do the job while still floating. The other consideration is that Vetus want a lot of money for the replacement seal. Another thing I've learned from talking to people is that the seal elements are simply ordinary shaft seals which can be bought from engineering stockists.
With this in mind I looked up bearing and seal stockists in Nottingham, and found one within a couple of hundred yards of a bridge which we wee due to pass on the canal. We found a place to tie up very near to it and a wandered along and bought the seals. The two cost me £5.00, so if the scheme works I'll save us a few hundred pounds. If it doesn't I've wasted a fiver.
The job itself I will leave until we get back to Leeds, in the meantime I've rigged up one of my barrel pumps permanently in the shaft sump to try and keep it clear.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

And so to the end of the Trent & Mersey

Thursday 26th September 2013
The last few miles of the T&M canal slipped by this morning. Four more of the heavy double locks.

 Shardlow is supposed to be one of the best remaining examples of a "canal village". There is still plenty of local work based on the canal.

 As we expected the flood gates at Shardlow were open. The last lock then dropping us down to Derwent Mouth, where the waters of the rivers Trent and Derwent meet to become one big river

Sawley Flood Lock was also open so we cruised onto Sawley Cut with no delays.
here we will stay tonight.
Here we are tonight

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

It's Wednesday already!

Wednesday 25th September 2013
We've had a steady few days since Fradley. On Monday we set off with the idea of getting to Burton on Trent. The canal was fairly busy, and we met boats at every lock.
The short river section between Alrewas and Wychnor Bridges was taken easily, there hasn't been a lot of rain and the river is very low and slow. A couple of the boats that we passed this morning warned us to be careful because it was quite shallow in places.
There were no dramas on the passage, and we dropped back onto the canal at Wychnor.
For about 2 miles the canal and the A38 run together, and you get a taste of the rush in the outside world as they zoom past you.
One of the options we had considered was to see if there was a mooring to the north of Branston, where the A38 crosses the canal. If there was, and access could be gained there is a Morrison's supermarket not too far away. In the event we didn't see anything that looked likely to fulfill our needs, so we trundled on to Shobnall Fields. We know that there is good mooring here. It's park land, there is a pedestrian bridge across the cut, and within about 100 yds. you can catch a bus into town.
Once we were tied up I took myself off to just confirm that my memory of the buses was correct. It was, and while in town I found a Wilkinson's and bought some more engine oil. With all the running that we do in summer I seem to be constantly doing oil changes.
On Tuesday we set off to carry out a raid on the Sainsbury's, which is conveniently right on a bus stop, the same bus which goes past the mooring. Once again we overloaded our trolley, (too much wine!), but the wheel stayed on this time. We really must get a new one soon.
In the afternoon I decided to go for a walk and ended up at the National Brewery Centre, a museum of brewing in Burton on Trent. I've been before, but it was probably around 15 years ago. One thing I did learn was that Burton on Trent was never bombed in the 2nd World War. It seems that brewing wasn't important enough.
I didn't take a lot of pictures. Below are the big steam engine which drove some of the machinery. Its is still a runner, and does get into steam some weekends.
 This little locomotive was designed 'in house' for use around the brewery.

Today we resumed our travels eastwards. We dropped through Dallow Lock, the last of the narrow locks on the canal. From now until we reach the end at Shardlow all the locks are wide, they're also deep and the gates are heavy.
Luckily we managed to pair up with an American couple, who were over here on holiday from Missouri, for the 2 wide locks we had planned to do today. All went smoothly, and we reached our planned place of stopping just before 2pm. Tomorrow we plan to get to Sawley cut for the night.
This is our country estate tonight

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Fradley Junction again

Sunday 22nd September 2013
Wow! What a glorious day it's been.
We set off from Hopwas at about 8.30, the sky was a bit overcast but it felt fairly warm. After cruising for a few miles we passed a boat going the other way, the steerer yelled to us "Good luck at Huddlesford, it's a really tight crush!"
Didn't know what he meant, but oh well we'll find out when we get there. We did! There was a canal festival going on, and it looked interesting. The boats were moored three deep, leaving just enough channel for a boat to get through if all on board breathed in. Bends were very interesting, and required a bit of 'fending off'. I decided I wanted to see what it was all about, so we luckily found a very rare mooring slot and tied up.
The canal banks, both sides, were lined with boats, several of them trading in everything from cheese to jewelry to fancy ropework.

There was even a dog trial course.

A gypsy caravan display.

A spinning display.

After wandering the trade stands, I managed to resist buying all sorts of things, except a rhubarb pie for our tea tonight.
Later we set off again and arrived at Fradley Junction. Here there were the usual crowd of gongoozlers, watching the boats passing through the locks.
We stopped just before the swing bridge to take on water, and then after passing through the lock (note the gongoozlers) we aimed to stop at the services and then find somewhere for the night.

We were really in luck! As we pulled up to the service mooring, just on the other side was moored Ramyshome. We haven't seen Ray and Maureen for a couple of years now, we first met them in Wigan, some 6 or so years ago, and have passed them in several places since.
After yelled greetings across the cut, they told us that they were just casting off. Would we like their spot? Too right we would!. We arranged a quick swap to ensure that no-one jumped in, and off they went.
Later on, there was a knock on the boat and Ray and Maureen showed up for a cuppa and chat. They had just moved up the cut a bit and decided to come back for a proper chat as we haven't see each other properly for a few years now. We've passed and waved a few times, but never had a chance to stop.
Fradley is a very popular spot on the system, there's a fine pub, well known in biking (not cycling) circles. There is a steady stream of big bikes cruising up and down the road alongside the canal, which leads to the pub. Great sight and sound.
Here we are tonight

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Through Fazeley Junction to Hopwas

Saturday 21st September 2013
It's supposed to be the best day weather wise today.
We set off about 8.30 this morning to complete the last 6 Atherstone locks. Cath has been doing all the locks recently, so I insisted that it was my turn, before I forgot how to do it. The descent went very smoothly, most of the locks were in our favour, and several actually had the gates open ready for us.
After that it was a fairly long pound before the last two locks for the day, which are close to Tamworth.
Despite the grand weather forecast, it did actually rain a bit this morning, but not a lot.

This poor boat was once someone's pride and joy.

A lovely autumn scene.

Another express thunders through on this busy line.

Lovely, typically English canal scene. imagine having this at the bottom of your garden.

Someones garden shed?

The canal crosses the River Tame, near Tamworth.

Water meadows around The Tame at Hopwas.

It looks like The Tame once had a wire ferry here. That shed has several wire ropes from it going across the river.

After passing Fazeley Junction we have continued along the Coventry Canal as far as Hopwas where there are some lovely moorings, and a choice of 2 pubs. they both look good, but we're eating in tonight. I've been out for a wander with the camera, and got the pics of the Tame here.
The weather has really perked up, and it got quite hot this afternoon.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Two days to Atherstone

Friday 10th September 2013
Yesterday we decided to move despite the  forecast, it hasn't been too accurate recently. The sky didn't look very bad as we set off, but we were always aware that it might all turn nasty.
We managed to get as far as Nuneaton before things got nasty, so we found a nice looking piece of the towpath and tied up.
Later the weather improved slightly and I took a wander into town for a nosey around. I managed to get a couple of piccys of local buildings that caught my eye.
The town hall has, what I think is a rather incongruous entrance to the rest of the building.

This United Reformed Church looks quite Gothic to me.

This morning, with the weather set to be dry all day, we set off to see how far we would get. I had already checked out Springwood Haven, the home of Valley Cruisers, for their price on fuel. It sounded quite reasonable so we planned to stop and fill up.
When we arrived there were two boats ahead of us waiting for service so I took a look around their shop. It turns out that they are a main dealer for Victron. We've got a Victron inverter, and I've always fancied having the interface lead that connects a PC/laptop to the inverter. It was in stock, and has come down in price to a point where I had to have it. This allows me to check and change the settings of the inverter/charger without having to mess around with the DIP switches inside. It also monitors the performance of the unit. I've had a go with it tonight and have already found one of the settings needed improvement.
Finally we got onto the fuel point, and we took on just over 300 ltrs of fuel. Lyra is now very heavy at the stern.
We continued cruising along the Coventry Canal to Atherstone Locks. There were volunteer lock keepers on duty here, and they were doing a great job assisting boats through the flight. It was fairly busy, and we only came down 5 locks, but we passed boats at all of them. We've stopped just below lock 5 for the night, and have already raided the local Co Op for some milk and fruit.
Small rant before signing off: This thoughtless boater has moored a breasted up pair on a corner, with a bridge hole. Later I think I found an excuse - he's also a fisherman, say no more!