Wednesday, 14 December 2016

One whole year aboard nb Burnt Oak

Dec 15 Bugsworth
Feb 16 Bollington

Jan 16 Poynton

So after so many years of dreaming of living on our own boat we have actually been living ‘our dream’ for the last year. We always imagined we’d simply love living on a boat, but there was always a chance that we might not, once we’d actually done it…..but NO it’s such an amazing way of life. We have quite a lot of ‘mod cons’, but it’s still quite a labour intensive way of life which makes for never a dull moment and keeps us fit.
March 16 bridge 86 Macc canal
May 16 Mancester

April 16 Marple aquaduct
So how far have we have travelled? 665 miles and been through 437 locks and 183 swing bridges. We have travelled a good way this last year, but nowhere near as far as quite a few other boaters we’ve met. We’ve attended 4 canal festival and a 2 wool festivals, we volunteered at some of them too.

Our first 4 months aboard we were trapped on the lock free beautiful Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals, due to winter stoppages. This gave us an excellent chance to really get used to our boat. Within a few days of moving aboard we were frozen in, which was magical. We’ve seen the River Mersey from both sides, Ellesmere Port for the Easter Historic Boat Gathering (we were made very welcome even though Burnt Oak was only a few months old) and Liverpool where we were at the IWA festival. We have cruised from Liverpool to Leeds and taken part in lots of the canal’s bicentenary celebrations. We loved staying in Manchester during the spring. Due to the incredible height of most of these canals, we’ve been up and down some interesting flights of locks. Bosley and Marple flights were our first, with Ashton, Rochdale and Wigan. In addition the staircase locks at Chester 3 rise, Bingley 5 and 3 rise, to name just a few.
June 16 Onthe way to Liverpool
August 16 East Marton

July 16 on the way to Blackburn Fest
We have met lots of great boaters, volunteers & CRT staff, walkers and fishermen, some who we have made good friendships with. We’ve moored several times with other Braidbar boats.

Quite a few people have come to stay with us over the summer. Ada for her 21st birthday & Dale to help us up the Wigan flight of 21 locks and Edmund to help us back down.

I have almost finished all my incomplete knitting projects in addition to doing a little spinning too. We have done natural solar and traditional dying, made locker hook and rag rugs for our floors. John has made blackberry wine and mead, which will be bottled before Christmas. I have made blackberry and apple jam, plus my usual pickled onions, red cabbage and eggs. I used canalside crab apples in my mince meat this year.

And then there’s all the pubs in quaint little villages and larger towns we’ve visited along the way. I keep a daily journal as it’s so easy to forget what we did yesterday yet alone last week/month.
Sept 16 The Twisties

Nov 16 Rufford branch

Oct 16 Burscough

We have been down south just twice this year and it felt quite comforting to be with everyone who had the same accents as us!!!!

This winter is going to be fantastic being so close to Heather & Jason’s. However, we’ve only got a very short 4-5 mile stretch of canal from Tarleton to Rufford to travel due to the planned winter stoppages.

For our second year afloat we’ll head off of the Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal as soon as all the winter works have been completed in March. Probably first stop Poynton to have a couple of bits sorted on the boat and then onto the Midlands.

And I don’t think we’ll ever get bored with seeing kingfishers just about every day, even on the urban stretches of canal.

And now I need to up date our blog with the events of the end of November & early December........

Dec 16

Friday, 18 November 2016

Buckets of hail stone being thrown at the roof!!!!

We’ve been moored in Wigan since Sunday, we had planned to take a couple of days to get here with a stop over at Crooke. However, there was a 3 MILE fishing competition last Sunday. Boaters have the right to moor anywhere and the fishermen have to move for us. We had to pass all the chaps close to the bank so as to reduce disturbing their catch too much. They were telling us it was a league competition. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to get, probably 5 or 6 of them to shift, so we ended up in Wigan. We decided to cruise here to see the chiropractor as we’ve neglected ourselves over the last year, as we always used to have a routine manipulation every few months.

It’s a good job we didn’t need to leave Wigan this week as we’ve both had a rather nasty tummy bug, which lasted a couple of days and vandals opened the paddles on the two locks directly below us, completely emptying about 2 miles of canal. It’s taken 3 days to refill the section which has due to reopen tomorrow.
And, today the weather’s totally pants, it sounds like someone’s been throwing buckets of hail stones at the roof since the wee hours of the morning and on and off all day long.

This has given me the perfect opportunity to get on with making my first boaty Christmas puds, cakes and mince meat. I’ll let the fruit steep in rum over night and cook them tomorrow and jar the mince meat. Earlier in the week John made some raspberry, cherry and mixed fruit vodka, which we are shaking everyday. We just need to peel & pickle the onions I brought last week, may be tomorrow. There’s only about a couple of measures of rum left in
the litre bottle, so best have some with coke this evening.

While we’re close to Heather she’s taking the opportunity to do a good bit of overtime and we are baby sitting the boys. Plus, we’ve been to the McMillan coffee afternoon at Nikita’s school, where we won a huge cake in the raffle. The following morning we attended Nikita’s class’s Remembrance assembly.

I went to the knit ‘n’ natter at the Farmers Arms at Burscough, organised by Carole from the Wool Boat a few weeks ago. I had attended it way back in May and had met most of the girls at the Burscough Wool Festival. I’m trying hard to finish all my half completed knitting projects. So far I’ve managed a shawl which grew amazingly once I blocked it. Lots still to do though.

Heather and the boys (Nikita had a party to go to) helped us up the 7 locks on their Rufford Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, when we were heading for Wigan. It’ll be good when Lance can get his life jacket on and help too.

We’ve had some spectacular sun rises and sun sets these last few weeks and the super moon was behind the clouds as it came up at it’s largest. It looked beautiful through the willow tree in front of the boat but didn’t come too well in a photo. Sadly we missed an amazing photo opportunity last week, a kingfisher doing his morning ablutions on a branch oblivious to us chugging by.

Next week we’ll need to head back and go up the Rufford Branch as due to the planned winter stoppages we won’t be able to wind (turn around) beyond Burscough. So that’ll be us on the branch until the stoppages are completed in mid March. It is going to be a very different winter this year, last year we were ‘locked’ in on a 28 mile stretch of the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals. We are going to be limited to a 5-6 mile stretch between Tarleton and Rufford, but a short stroll from Tarleton to Heather & Jason’s though.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Cold and frosty morning

November’s certainly here with vengeance, the temperature halved last night and our first frost this morning. Yesterday afternoon I was sitting out beside the boat knitting. We had lots of coal delivered to Heather & Jason’s garage today, then we can have a bit at a time as we don’t have a coal boat like we had last winter on the Macclesfield & Peak Forest Canals.

We are moored in Tarleton just by Heather & Jason’s for this week as it’s half term. Heather’s had the chance to do some overtime the last few weeks so as we’re here we are looking after the kids.

Last Sunday we helped at the 5th ‘Burscough Fibre Festival’ organised by Carole and Colin of ‘The Wool Boat’. We’ve been to the first three in the car. It’s a tiny event compared to any of the other ones we’ve been to. We were looking after the entries in the Halloween competition, which gave us the opportunity to chat to lots of people. I spun on a drop spindle & John had lots of interest in his knitting loom/block. One of the stall holders was a boater who sells hand spun yarn, dyed yarns and fibre & felting.

We decorated the boat for Halloween with some bright orange bunting, gel window stickers and the ghost & pumpkin light’s Edmund brought us. Plus we had two small pumkins carved on the bow. We got some sweets in as we had the Overells booked in and Nikita had her friend with her. There is a new housing estate right by the mooring, there were people commenting on the boat’s decoration but none knocked.

We’re planning to go to the firework display on Saturday at Southport as we can all squeeze into the car.

Sunday we’re planning a trip with the Overells back down to the main line of the canal.

We have seen the end of the season long celebrations of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal’s bicentenary. We caught the train from Burscough to Wigan on Friday 21st October to see the flotilla headed by ‘Kennet’ the Liverpool short boat that’s been renovated and converted into a floating museum, it was doing a week long trip along the whole canal. ‘Kennet’ had a huge band of volunteers that were assisting it’s passage down the Wigan flight of 21 locks. The second boat in the procession was our friend ‘Ribble’ the other short boat that we’d helped when it got stuck under a bridge. ‘Ribble’ was looking much higher in the water as it had unloaded it’s 30 tons of sand. We’d taken our windlasses & anti vandal keys with us, so we helped ‘Ribble’ with it’s crew of just 2 down quite a few locks. Then on the Saturday the flotilla came past where we were moored in Burscough. We put up our bunting, pompoms and fairy lights. I made the grandchildern some wavers out of some old material and we blew bubbles and honked the horn as all the boats went by.


 Then on the Saturday the flotilla came past where we were moored in Burscough. We put up our bunting, pompoms and fairy lights. I made the grandchildern some wavers out of some old material and we blew bubbles and honked the horn as all the boats went by.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

At Crooke

This evening we’re moored at Crooke just below Wigan on a beautiful autumn evening. The sun’s getting very low and the leaves are turning and falling at a rate of knots, we wake everyday to the boat covered in them. We have unpacked our winter clothes from under the bed and have had to have the fire on everyday. The Canal and River Trust do all their major repairs over the winter and issue a list of the dates of the stoppages. So we are having to plan our cruising carefully so we aren’t stuck on the wrong side of some of these essential works.

Edmund came last weekend to help us down the Wigan flight of 21 locks on Monday. Our friends Eric and Cheryl who are due to move onto their boat in a few weeks also came to give us a hand. We teamed up with Colin and Carole from The Wool Boat again. It was so lucky we had a big lock crew as the elderly chap, a single handed boater who was ahead of us slipped and fell head first into the canal. I was heading to the bins with our rubbish when I saw him go in head first. Luckily, he was just shaken with a little graze on his head. So we sent our trainee emergency ambulance crew, Edmund, ahead to keep an eye on him and to do the locks for him. It was an overcast day with a couple of showers. It took us quite a bit longer to get down the flight than it did to get up, as we had wait while our very soggy friend showered and changed into some dry clothes and also we had to fill all the locks after the other boat ahead of us departed them.

It was great to be chauffeured down south by Jason a couple of weeks ago to Alice’s 21st birthday party. They picked us up not, so bright, but very early at 04.15. We left the boat at Riley Green while we were away. We got to the house around 9ish, for the first time in 10months and picked up a few bits and pieces we actually have room for. The kitchen seemed SO wide compared to our very compact narrow kitchen. Dale made us all pancakes for breakfast. Heather, Jason & the children stayed at the house with Ada and we booked into the Kings Langley Premier Inn. The bed in the hotel room was absolutely massive, compared to our small double bed on the boat. 

By mid afternoon about 9-10 hours after leaving the boat we were having canal withdrawal symptoms. So, off we toddled a few yards to walk along our most familiar stretch to the Grand Union Canal from Kings Langley to under the M25. There were lots of hops all ripe and winking at us, so we just had to pick some. We all had a fantastic evening at the party. Sunday afternoon we strolled back along the canal to Louise and Paul’s in Abbots Langley before heading back up north. The M6 on the way down and the M1 on the way back were both on their very best behaviour.

Just as we were approaching Riley Green (where we were leaving the boat) we came across ‘Ribble’ a restored Liverpool short boat, fully laden with 30 tons of sand it was delivering to Burnley. ‘Ribble’ had run aground under a bridge due to it being fully laden and the water level was about 9” lower than it should’ve been. So, the only thing we could do was pull it through. We tied their bow to ours and we had to go full blast backwards. Slowly, but surely we shifted her after about 45 minutes.

I have done my first natural dying while we were moored at Cowling near Chorley. First, I used some onion skins we’ve been saving since we moved aboard, John used some for solar dying in the summer. The second batch I collected acorns, crushed them and soaked them over night. Although my good friend Jenny Dean in her book ‘Wild Colour’ suggest soaking for several days, I just couldn’t wait that long. I dyed some of my old clothes and some left over curtain material I picked up at the house which I will will shred to make a rag rug to go beside the fire. I got varying oranges from the onions and a lovely brown from the acorns. I need to get some fleece prepared ready to pop in the dye bath as things flower & fruit next year. I quite fancy using some of the dreaded ‘Japanese Knotweed’ that’s in abundance along the canal, to make some indigo, however, I think I’ll have to closely follow Jenny’s advice for that one.

Our blackberry wine is snuggled, maturing in the airing cupboard and a batch of mead is sitting on the shelf in the saloon near the fire happily fermenting away. The book suggests leaving the mead for a year to mature – well I’m not at all sure about that one!!!

Over the next few weeks we’ll pootle up and down the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Burscough before heading down the Rufford Branch where we’ll spend the first 3 months of next year due to the locks being closed for the planned stoppages. It’ll be so lovely being a mile or at the most 5-6 miles away from the Overells.