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Monday, 19 February 2018

Weekender.

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 
SHADOW TAIL.

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.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

A medley of Animals, Part 1.



Always nice to see a lamb in spring. This one was somewhere on the Shropshire Union.

This timber horse is found by Nantwich Basin and services and really looks like it is leaning into the traces to set off. It is made up of old lock gates and John Merrill did the timber work and Justin Taylor the metalwork. There is a sculpture trail along the canal and I think it was put in place to celebrate the restoration of the embankment and aqueduct.

These young lambs were reall enjoying life as they ran helter skelter, hither and thither. It really lifted the spirits as we approached Macclesfield on that canal.

This Canada goose chick delayed us a bit as it took a swim in the lock as we entered it, just after the Manchester Velodrome and the Etihad Stadium. No.4 of the Ashton Locks I think. They weren't very grateful after I had managed to fish it out with a bucket.

This Canada goose chick delayed us a bit as it took a swim in the lock as we entered it, just after the Manchester Velodrome and the Etihad Stadium. No.4 of the Ashton Locks I think. They weren't very grateful after I had managed to fish it out with a bucket.

Not what you expect to find at the summit lock of the Rochdale Canal. Just another of the surprises that the canal offered us.


This family came to see us as we were moored up at Viking Marine in Goole. In 2007 there were around 22,000 mute swans in the UK, a bit down from their maximum of 26,000. They are called mute not because they make no noise, but because they make less noise than the other species.


Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Amended Cruising costs for 2017.

As we are looking back over the last year's amended costs I thought I would put in a couple of photos from each of the last few years cruising.

This is a rare sight indeed. Helen, or any one, polishing the boat! Mind you now we have had a repaint and the paint doesn't just come off on the cloth, and we have found carnuba polish, I think I will be doing it more to protect our investment. I still think that this will be a rare picture though. We are in Polesworth on the Coventry Canal. Early season 2013

We were back up North for the end of 2013 as we over wintered in Thorne. Here is the Charity Keel 'Sobriety', of the charity of the same name, exiting Pollington Lock on the Aire and Calder.

After leaving Thorne in the spring of 2014 we headed up the South Yorkshire Navigations to Sheffield. The weather may appear dull but it was a great trip there and back, and we will be going again. I think we are somewhere near Spotborough on the River Don here.

Again not much sun in this photo but we are back North once more with Helen doing the honours at Greenwood Lock on the Calder and Hebble. Not far from our winter moorings at Dewsbury, at the end of 2014. I love the Calder and Hebble as it has a bit of everything, and is nice and quiet. Nothing like the Oxford at all. Great.

Once we had got off in spring 2015 this picture wasn't taken far from the start. We moored at Horbury Bridge and had a walk round the area. This was an old colliery railway that led us to a footpath close to the Calder. The bright birch bark certainly lightens up the picture.

For the autumn of 2015 we were aiming for Kings Orchard for our stop over and it is nice to have the sun as we head there from London and points south. We had done the length of the Thames and some of the connected navigations and were heading back to relative sanity (if there is such a thing). I think we are on the Atherstone flight of locks in this picture.

Spring 2016 saw us heading towards Fradley in the above picture. I like cruising early, and late, as there is little traffic and there is nothing better than getting inside to the stove glowing with tingling hands after been on the tiller. The same goes when entering a pub in the dark after a walk down a muddy tow path.

You could be forgiven thinking that we hadn't been very far in 2016 as here we are in the autumn passing through Hopwas Wood. We had a rendezvous with the Little Chimney Boat as Kim was going to replace our stove flue so we could have a double skinned chimney. This was required as we were going to leave the boat at Streethay Wharf for a repaint, and it would be a waste if the chimney leaked tar all mover it. I'm pleased to say that it doesn't.

After a lovely job was done or the painting we were off in March of 2017. This was going to be a 'funny' year as Hull was City of Culture and we would be dashing to and fro a lot. First of all we headed into Birmingham for a while poking about the canals in the area, before heading up North to make journey's easier. This is on the Curdworth flight and it will be interesting to see how soon anything appears here. There has been a lot of protest about the HS2 and you can argue about whether it is required or not, but I'm pretty sure the same protests will have been made about the building of the canals and their scar across the countryside. If you see old pictures of the canals there are hardly any pictures of trees. Things change, people adapt and, with help, the countryside will survive.

We finished the year in October 2017 being blocked from dropping down the Rufford Arm to our winter moorings at Fettlers Wharf by a stoppage at the Top Lock. It was fixed and we were settled in the weekend afterwards. I wonder where we will get to in 2018. I have booked for Liverpool and the Ribble Link so that will do for a start.


After compiling the figures I have had to amend the totals as I had double accounted for a few items. The amended totals are below. It was good to see it made the situation better.

                              2017          2016           2015        2014
Fixed                 1328-17       1668-33      1504-09    1159-57 
Moorings         2148-82      1268-48      1524-55     1297-88
Fuel                     506-51        721-92        824-94     1156-66
Repairs             1698-50      1441-62       321-63      1558-64
Equipment         503-56       556-24       164-22        678-39
Consumables     517-80       342-24      454-58         255-22
TOTALS       6703-62   5999-34   4794-01    5336-56

(Amended once more due to mental maths failure, 1-Feb-18)

So despite everything it didn't turn out too badly at all. Even at nearly £55 a day for the time we were on it makes it a cheap long holiday, especially when you think to hire a similar boat would be around £200 a day. Obviously the shorter time you spend on the boat the more expensive it becomes. I expect that the older the boat becomes that costs will increase too. But as we are expecting to be on the 'Holderness' much more this year as Hull year in the sun has wound down (we are still City of Culture until Coventry take over in 2021!) and so we wont be going home quite so much.

Happy cruising for 2018.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

2017 Consumables.

As a rest from Hull I am giving you my years collections of animal photos. You will soon see why I haven't been invited to meet David Attenborough!

Who knew that we actually have the have the pink footed geese from Greenland and Iceland, where as those from Svalbard go to Denmark and the Netherlands! For some reason it is rare in France and Ireland and Canada and east coast USA. It seems they are quite fussy. In the UK they have done very well, from 30,000 birds in 1950 to 292,000 in 2004. This one was seen near Minworth on the way into Birmingham.

Surprisingly this wont be the only elephant you see in these photos. This one was filmed on the Dudley Canal No.2 on the way to Hawne Basin.

Are these the ugliest birds in the UK? Muscovy ducks aren't even after Russia for which they are named. They are actually from Mexico, Central and South America and have been domesticated since the pre-Columbian times. In actual fact the wild goose is black in colour.

As we were passing from Birmingham we decided to head up the Wednesbury Oak Loop at Deepfields Junction and have a look at the  Bradley Lock Gate factory. On the way we saw little egrets for the first time (no picture) but did get these swans gracefully flying off.

On the way back we saw these tethered horses with the ubiquitous Canada geese sharing the turf. The Canada goose was introduced into the country, but it has been proven that they have naturally migrated here as well. They don't seem to migrate once they arrive though. They are from Canada and USA and have a life span of between 10 and 24 years in the wild. Here in the UK the oldest recorded has been 31.

Some sort of a long eared owl and a couple of other kinds were patiently sitting on a stand in Wolverhampton Market raising money for an Owl Sanctuary. Helen is a sucker for an owl.

This year we saw more kingfishers than ever before, but always seemed to be when we were cruising so by the time I had picked up the camera, stuck the tiller in the small of my back and aimed, this was almost as good as it got.

2017 Consumables

                                              2017       2016       2015         2014 
5 x 110Ah batteries             395-00
sale of old batteries;  refund 66-55
2 x life jacket gas btls           39-92
2 x Morris K99 grease          10-00
5 lt 15/40W engine oil          15-50
2 x East Yorks. flags               5-98
Carnuba wax                         17-95                                                  
TOTAL                               417-80     342-24     454-58     255-22

I am hoping that I have cracked the battery situation having altered the wiring of them to have a more even charge so they last longer. I had the usual dilemma of what type of batteries to buy. I settled on normal lead acid ones and got them enclosed to even reduce the possibility of over filling them. 

It is always nice to get some money back for the old ones to defray the costs, but it was about £5 less than the last time and just depends on the price of the metals on the market at the time.

One of our four life jackets had got set off by the automatic activation device so needed replacing. I bought a spare. It just shows that they should be entirely dry before storing and they should not be kept in damp spots. Always check well before you need them too.

I had some filters left from last year, and only needed 15 ltrs of oil extra. The grease is for the stern gland.

The carnuba wax is expensive but I must say I have been impressed by it and will no doubt buy more next year. I still have half a bottle left. The flags are to proudly show where we hail from. Holderness, the boat's name is the triangle of land boarded between Hull, Spurn Point and Flamborough Head, and Hedon Haven, our 'port of registry', is the ancient town where we live, close to Hull.