Monday, 30 June 2014

At last a sunny day

Monday 30th June 2014
A fine day, if a little cool this morning. The sun soon warmed it up though and I had to put my baseball cap on back to front to keep the sun off my neck, almost unheard off is that.
The canal was covered in duck weed and Lyra ploughed a furrow through it.

We negotiated the 6 swing/lift bridges between Keadby and Thorne, which then left only the troublesome Princess Bridge in Thorne. This time it behaved itself, almost. I managed to get the gates lined up well enough for the bridge to open, and luckily a lady on a boat moored near the bridge landing had warned me that when the bridge panel lit up 'bridge closed' it was lying. At that point you still can't open the gates because not all the sensors have been made. You have to keep your finger on the close button for a lot longer and the bridge finally closes the last inch or two and allows the gates to open. Once again several local people commented that the bridge needs some dynamite to fix it properly!
We moored up on the visitor moorings while I walked into town to raid Sainsbury's. When I got back we had managed to gain a pair for the next two locks and a bridge.
After Bramwith lock we turned the corner onto the SSYN and then moored up for the night.
Cath is enthralled watching Andy Murray play Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon right now.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Back to Keadby

Sunday 29th June 2014
After lovely meal out at The Hume Arms with John and Sarah last night (see photo) it was time to face the river again. The lockie at Torksey had told us that between 10 and 10.30 would be right to set off for Keadby. We had said to ourselves that if the weather was a bit s**t we probably wouldn't go, but we need to get back to Leeds to try and rescue the house purchase, or start looking for another.
The sky was looking leaden, so I decided to put the wet gear on just in case. Good decision! We hadn't been long out on the river when the rain started. It continued to shower on and off for the rest of our run down.
For the first few miles we were pushing the incoming tide, but this changed and from just before Gainsborough the flow started to move with us. By the time we were passing West Stockwith we seemed to be flying, with between 7 and 8 MPH on the speed readout from my phone.

After 4 3/4 hours we pulled into Keadby Lock and have tied up on the visitor mooring here for the night.
The weather has cleared up a little, so we hope that tomorrow will be an improvement.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Farewell to Lincoln

Saturday 28th June 2014
Under a leaded sky we cast off from Brayford Pool and set course back along the the Fossdyke.
There were a few boats moving this morning, notably we came across a small river cruiser trying to tow a narrowboat. He was making progress, but it looked like hard work for him. The crew on the boat reckoned they had a fuel blockage. I wonder if it was the dreaded diesel bug, which seems to affect quite  number of our boats. Once you have it in your system it can be difficult to shift.
We arrived at Torksey at about 11.45 and spoke to the lock keeper. He told us that between 10 and 11 tomorrow morning will be the best time to set off for Keadby. There were a couple of boats due to arrive on the Trent and come up through the lock, so when they were up the lock would be in our favour and we could go through and tie up on the river pontoons to await tomorrow's tide.
Small bit of excitement this afternoon, the roar of a jet engines made me look up and there was a Vulcan, one of the most beautiful aircraft in my opinion. I'll never forget as a young man watching one of these things come overhead low and then start a hard climb, the noise was awesome.
Tonight we hope to meet John and Sue here and go out for a pub meal.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Last day in Lincoln

Friday 27th June 2014
Not a very pleasant day. It was raining when we got up, but it stopped long enough for me to do the 'can run'. A bit later it stopped again so Cath gave me a shopping list and sent me on my way to the local Morrison's.
Luckily the rain held off all the time I was out. I then had thoughts of spending our final afternoon looking around the Bishop's Palace, but once again the heavens opened, so I didn't bother.
I did a bit of boat cleaning, then very lazily sat down with the computer and surfed or played patience. Cath watched Wimbledon. Of course Andy was playing, and won easily.
Tomorrow we'll set off for Torksey where we have arranged to meet John and Sarah for dinner. The weather man keeps changing his mind about what to expect in the morning so we'll just have to wait and see.
Thoughts on Lincoln. We like the place, there's more to see than we have gotten around to.
What we didn't like was the mooring we were given. Just in a position so that scroats could lob cans and cups down on Lyra. Luckily I don't think we sustained any damage, it's just annoying. Bring back flogging I tell you!!
 Anyway, we must get back to Leeds as our house purchase is reaching reaching a crisis point. We are still unsure if things will go ahead alright.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Up the hill

Thursday 26th June 2014
Well, we did it today! The place we wanted to see today was about half way up the steep hill on which the castle and cathedral sit. The special bus which makes the climb to the top for lazy folk like us doesn't actually stop half way up, only at the bottom and then at the top. Cath isn't too clever and walking down hill, it hurts her knees too much, so we opted for the climb. We certainly needed that cup of coffee when we finally made it.
The climb was worth it though. there is an art gallery and a local archaeology museum. Cath went for the art and I headed for the interesting stuff. We both spent nearly 2 hours perusing our bits of the place before stopping in the cafe for lunch.
Having eaten we then decided to bite the bullet and finish the climb to the top. As I commented on one of my earlier photos, they call it Steep Hill for a reason! Wow, what a climb, well it is to two unfit people like us. We saw young women pushing kids in buggies up the hill, it must certainly keep them fit.
Once at the top I took a couple of more photos of the area before we took the bus back down to the main town.
The weatherman has promised rain this evening, although it doesn't look like it a present. We plan to go out for our meal tonight, but on the off chance that the Met Office may have got it right (for a change) we stopped off in M&S and bought something to eat in the boat if it all gets bad.
 As in many English tourist places, horse and buggy rides are on offer

 The main entrance to Lincoln Castle

I have no idea what this gate, between the cathedral and the castle, is called.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Museum of Lincolnshire Life

Wednesday 25th June 2014
Today we decided to go and visit The Museum of Lincolnshire Life, which we had spotted signs for while walking to the water tower yesterday.
Thank goodness for the wonderful hill bus, walking up there would probably take us all day.
The museum turned out to be very well done. Sometimes these smaller, regional museums can be a bit disappointing, but this one was fairly interesting.
There was the usual exhibits of Victorian life, kitchens and parlours etc. However there was also a good sized hall full of machinery, which I'm sure most of you will not be surprised to learn was more to my taste.
A Ruston twin cylinder engine from a pumping station
I didn't know it but the engine maker Ruston comes from around here. They have been around for many years, making all sorts of specialist motors, mostly stationary engines. They also branched out into excavators. My interest in the marque comes from their provision of canal boat engines. It's one of the motors to which many canal enthusiasts aspire. Nowadays they are fairly rare, and expensive of course.
Ruston also made this rotary aircraft engine under licenceth
These rotary engines were strange beasts by today's standards. The propeller was attached to the engine crank case, the crank shaft was solidly attached to the aircraft, so the cylinders whirled around with the prop. One side effect of this arrangement was that there was no engine speed control like a throttle. The only control the pilot had was an on/off switch, all or nothing.

A "Mother" tank
Another thing I learned was that the first tanks as used in the First World War were designed here in Lincolnshire.

On the house front, it's not quite dead yet. The selling agent has said they can find a local solicitor who should be able to complete our purchase in the time scale already set out. It's fingers crossed time, both Cath and I are a bit low about the situation.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A trip through 'The Glory Hole'

Tuesday 24th June 2014
I wanted to take Lyra down through The Glory Hole, just for the trip. This morning looked as good a time as any so we untied and set off through Brayford Pool.
We then enter the River Witham, under a road bridge which replaced an earlier swing bridge. Apparently the bridge had a dedicated keeper, but it was causing a lot of traffic jams so the road was raised and the bridge taken out.
 Round the corner was get the first view of The Glory Hole. I believe it was once known as The Murder Hole.

 Above the hole is a cafe. Under here there is lovely fan vaulting

 This steel sculpture is called Empowerment and spans the river at a riverside shopping area.

 As can be imagined the swans around here are generously fed, which makes for lots of them. Collective nouns for swans (with thanks to Google): a gaggle, a gargle, a herd, a bank, a whiteness, a bevy, and strangest of all, an eyrar. Take your choice.
 The trip through the riverside shopping area is interesting, and there is mooring here. However, the prime spots were all taken as we came through, so decided to stop in the same place that we did 8 years ago on a stretch of mooring just the other side of the bridge in the picture below.
It seems as though some H&S jobsworth in the council has been "at it". The gate from these moorings has been locked with a chain and non C&RT lock. I rang C&RT to ask why and was told that it wasn't their doing, but the council's as they thought the gate was too close to the road. What a load of rubbish! Like I said an H&S jobsworth!
Rant over.
 We did actually get a mooring where we wanted because while we were down near the lock winding, one of the boats cast off, so we gladly took the spot.

Here's another picture of the sculpture from a better side.
Later in the day we decided to head off back to our powered mooring in Brayford Pool. We hadn't been tied up for more that 10 minutes when the heavens opened and it poured down. What a stroke of luck that was, deciding to move when we did.
On a down beat note, it looks as if the house purchase may well fall through. The two solicitors dealing with it can't seem to agree on the difference between planing permission, and consent to build. It seems as if there's a standoff and we're getting fed up.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Lincoln Cathedral

Monday 23rd June 2014
A fine sunshiny day saw us deciding to take Lincoln's 'Walk and Ride' bus up the hill to Lincoln Cathedral.
This magnificent structure dominates the city. The castle is also up there on the hill, but isn't as obtrusive as the cathedral.
After our wander around the Gothic pile we walked around in the hill top area, and had lunch in a small hotel restaurant.
We spied a large tower up there and were intrigued as to what it was. It turns out to be a rather grand water tower. Constructed around 1911 after a typhoid epidemic in the city. As seems to be the usual case, it came from contaminated water. In this case it was the River Witham. A complete new water system was designed and built, culminating in this extravagant structure.
Speaking of extravagant structures I make no apology for the number of photos of the cathedral. I just love their OTT architecture, usually driven by one man's ego to have the biggest or best.
 The font

 One of many beautiful wood carvings along The Nave

 The Chapter House

 The view from the cloisters

 Flying buttresses outside the Chapter House

 A statue of Tennyson in the garden

 This little imp has been included as a reminder of evil

 They call it 'Steep Hill' for a reason

 Lincoln's grand water tower

The view from the base

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Lincoln Sunday

Sunday 22nd June 2014
Once we were moored up and settled in Cath and I took a wander around Brayford Pool to get a feel for the place. It is as pretty as we remember.
There are two ways we can get to the other side, where all the eating establishments are. One is a flat walk around the Pool the other is to climb the steps up onto the flyover. We chose to go the flat way at first.
The food area is very well provided with a selection of restaurants from Italian, Mexican, Indian and burgers. Too many to give a comprehensive list. There is also  theatre and pub.
We stopped off for a Ben & Jerry's ice cream on our way around. To complete our tour we walked over the flyover and down the steps back to Lyra.
Last night we again ventured out for a meal and chose the 'Eat Italian' place. The menu was interesting, Cath chose a fish dish, which seemed to be an Italian take on the Spanish paella. Not being a fish lover I went for the belly pork. Very rich it was too.
This morning we again headed out, this time looking for the Lakeland shop. Cath feels very deprived not having a Lakeland in Leeds. Low and behold, they had run out of the main item she had gone to get. But you can't leave without buying something, so we gained a set of freezer storage boxes.
As I promised last night here are some piccys. The little deer was wading in the Fossdyke as we went passed, and didn't seem too concerned as we passed by. I didn't get decent picture of it because the sun made looking at the screen viewfinder on my camera impossible. It's one of the downsides of an otherwise good camera.

Saturday, 21 June 2014


Saturday 21st June 2014
A glorious midsummer's day. We awoke to the sun streaming though the curtains, and it has continued all day.
We cast off from Torksey and headed down the Fossdyke, sometimes know as the Fossditch for very apparent reasons. It's a fairly straight, steep sided cut, which was originally dug by the Romans. Its has been through several periods of use, and dereliction resurrection over the years. Running from the Trent to the sea at Boston, it passes through Lincoln, and I suspect that most of the traffic stops here. I'm told that Boston isn't a great tourist destination.
Arriving at Brayford Pool here in Lincoln we reported to the Harbour Master to check in and get our mooring. Unfortunately it's not in an ideal position, but at least there is power and water. The elsan is fair bit away, as is town, but at least we won't have to run the engine to charge or do washing.
I'll probably get some piccys to post for tomorrow.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Keadby to Torksey

Friday 20th June 2014
The lockie had told us we would get a 10.45 release through the lock this morning. A nice lazy start, giving us time to do a bit of cleaning, fuel and water filling as well as checking the engine bay.
Spot on time the lockie open the swing bridge and called us forward. We were the only occupants of the lock and soon the exit gates opened and we were on our way.
As soon as we were out on the river it started to rain. Typical I thought! But it was only a short, very light shower. The weather stayed mostly cloudy for almost the entire trip.
Of course the tide was with us and we were soon zipping along at 6, rising to 7 MPH, with an occasional flash to 8 on the satellite speedo.
We continued thrashing along, past West Stockwith and then Gainsborough. To my amazement we saw some narrowboats in the distance, we were catching them up. This is unusual, as whenever we have been in convoy on any river we have been hard pressed to keep up. We soon overtook them. The first boat was not going through the lock at Torksey, but the second was. He told me to press on, as he couldn't go any faster.
We weren't too far from Torksey by now so I pressed on but waited in the lock for him to arrive rather than getting the lockie there to cycle it twice. We weren't in a hurry as we were going to spend the night here anyway.
 Towards the end of the trip the weather did clear up
 Torksey church taken with telephoto
 Cottam power station
Sharing Torksey Lock with "Rock Solid"

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Stainforth to Keadby

Thursday 19th June 2014
After a quiet night in the little town of Stainforth we tootled of towards Keadby.
Onwards then, through Thorne Lock, which has a manual swing bridge interlocked with its operation.
We stopped at Thorne visitor moorings to drop into the town where I got my MCN and bought some Parmesan cheese for our risotto tonight. Next up was Princess Bridge, this swing pedestrian bridge is a constant pain in the butt to boaters and the townsfolk alike. It's tricky to operate because the gate sensors are difficult to line up, and there is no indication that they aren't until you try to open the bridge. Then it won't work, but the fault is at the far end gates, the gates at this end are now locked and won't open to allow access to get to the far end gates.
There is a telephone number, which no one answers. Luckily an impatient cyclist came along, lifted his bike over the first gates and after doing the same at the other end he wiggled those gates and finally the sensor 'made' and the bridge worked. Several locals were very scathing about the bridge, saying it was the biggest waste of money in the town.
there are several more swing, and one lift bridge on this next stretch towards Keadby. At the second bridge, a powered swing, we were lucky to catch a boat coming through. At the next we had to hold it open for two boats coming the other way. After a few more we reached the end of the line, Keadby where there is a unique sliding railway bridge, where a dedicated operator opens it for us.
I walked back and took a few pics of bridge.
 The rail bed of the bridge, you can just see the canal on the right
 The slideway with the wires that pull it
An engine crosses
We're now moored up in Keadby, and tomorrow we should be off up the Trent at about 10.45 according to the lockie.
We've managed to book mooring in Lincoln so we should be able to stay for several days without having to run the engine to charge or run the washing machine.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Whitley to Stainforth, and a small rant

Wednesday 18th June 2014
We rose at about 8.30 and after a leisurely cup of coffee we set off down the A&C. The weather was a bit cool with overcast. Once again luck was with us and Pollington Lock was in our favour.
Onward to the junction with The South Yorkshire Navigations. Here the weather took a turn for the better and the sun came out. Things then got a little busier . On this short stretch down to South Bramwith there are 6 lift or swing bridges and a lock. The lock isn't straight forward, it has a swing bridge over it. There is only one place to put the key to operate both sets of gates. First you have to turn your key, this unlocks the road barriers and you close them. This then releases the lock handle on the bridge and you can then lift it and push the bridge open until it locks in the open position . When all this is done the lock operates as normal. Then you reverse the palaver with the bridge to get your key back. In fairness the bridge is very well balanced and moves easily. Just last week I was speaking to someone who had just come across the Pennines on the L&L and one of the swing bridges there took 6 people to open it.
Small rant here. At the last (powered) swing bridge before South Bramwith, as we approached, the bridge was opened and through it came a little plastic boat. We were very close, but despite my horn signal they just continued to shut the bridge in our face. We were close enough that Cath was off our boat at the landing before the chap was back at his. Very bad manners, complete t*****s.
We reached South Bramwith much earlier than we thought we would so carried on as far as Stainforth before stopping for the night.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A summer Cruise

Tuesday 17th June
Once more we are venturing forth from Clarence Dock.
With our new house purchase taking a lot longer than we had anticipated we are taking the opportunity for a little cruise, Just a couple of weeks, going down to Lincoln, we hope.
Last weekend was a real treat. It was Brenda's (our daughter in law's aunt) 70th, and the family gathered at Fasenda, a wonderful restaurant beside River Lock in Leeds. We took the chance to bring Lyra up from our mooring in the dock to tie up outside the restaurant. This made a few folk jealous.
On Friday, Dave and Jo on 'Grace and Favour' had had enough of Leeds and we helped them through River Lock on their way down to Lemonroyd.
Monday we shopped and topped up with fuel for our trip. This morning we pulled the power lead and set off.
Leeds Lock was passed with the greatest of ease, Sally, from Bendigo, had seen our moving and decided to cycle the lock for us. Wonderful service, thanks Sal.
At Knostrop Lock I decided to jump off and take some pictures because this place will change dramatically when the new flood alleviation scheme is complete. Part of the work is to remove the bank between the navigation and the river to provide greater storage of water. The weir itself will be more controllable with moving parts.

At Woodlesford we saw this odd looking craft, I think it might be modified from a life boat.

We continued down the A&C as far as Whitley Lock. A long day by our standards, nearly 7 hours. All the locks were in our favour, a first for us I think.