Thursday, 23 April 2009

Making the most of the weather

What glorious weather we have had this week & we took advantage of it on Sunday to get out for a walk. It's the first time we've been out for a 'proper' walk this year what with one thing & another.
We crossed over the Trent into Lincolnshire & parked up in the pretty village of Winteringham.
The first 1/3 of the walk took us down to Winteringham Haven on the banks of the Humber and onto an easy path along a raised flood defence. Emerging from behind a bank of trees we spotted this narrow boat making its way up the river, well it was certainly the day for it as the Humber was as smooth as the proverbial mill pond - they were making good speed & were soon out of sight so we don't know if they went down the Trent or up towards Goole.

We left thebanks of the Humber at Whitton & the Trent came into view as we walked to Alkborough, again 2 pretty & well kept villages - just one moan, I could have murdered an ice cream but no shops open ! ( well it was sunday afternoon )

On route I spotted the 1st cowslips I'd seen this year

& the 1st bluebells

We then walked back to Winteringham on paths that crossed fields of yellow oil seed rape, cereal crops & baby broad bean plants. On the way home Mark managed to find a shop open in Gunness so I got my ice cream after all!

The deck or engine 'hole' boards, not sure of the proper name, have been looking a bit shabby & having 2/3rds of a tin of 'rusic oak' stain/varnish going spare I put it to good use & gave them several coats yesterday. They certainly look better for it.

On my walk onto Thorne this afternoon I passed Louis & Joshua's boatyard & saw that they are having a boat jumble tomorrow & Saturday so never one to pass up the opportunity of a bit of a rummage I shall certainly be popping in hoping to get a bargain or two.

Just seen the weather forecast & cooler, showery weather on its way - oh well, it was nice while it lasted......

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A quiet day .......

I've been taking things easy last couple of days as I have a few pulled muscles as a result of my ducking on Monday - well more as a result of being pulled out!
So been catching up on a bit of reading, currently reading 'One Man and a Narrowboat' by Steve Haywood & have 'No Second Chance' by Harlen Coben, one of my favourite authors, lined up.

Whilst sat quietly reading I kept hearing some high pitched squeeking & eventually got up, slowly ;-), to investigate & found these 2 by the side of the boat, mumless.

Turns out Mum was being hassled by a male & she was seeing him off & before long they were back together.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Easter mini cruise - days 3 & 4

Day 3

After spending a leisurely morning in Sprotborough, walking up to the well stocked village shop for the sunday papers & some bread & relaxing with the papers for a couple of hours we decided to make a move. A lot of other boats were also on the move but others were also arriving so as soon as a space was vacated it was quickly filled.

Busy moorings at Sprotborough

The trip boat Wyre Lady was out and about although not too many customers, maybe too early in the day plus it was overcast & cool, no sign yet of the forecasted sunshine. We shared the lock with Wyre Lady & thankfully it was lockie operated after yesterdays messing about!

Wyre Lady

The weather stayed grey with the odd spot of rain, I even dug my warm gloves out as bit chilly on the tiller ( I'm trying to improve my steering so need all the practice I can get!) As we approached Doncaster town lock we found 1/2 doz cruisers & 1nb waiting as no lockie - someone had rung BW & lockie eventually turned up 35 mins later. Doncaster lock is huge so we all fitted in easily.

Queueing at Doncaster town lock

We arrived Long Sandall visitor moorings at 3pm & just enough room for us to squeeze in. The moorings are neat & tidy with picnic tables & even brick built barbeque's. Water & self pumpout but no elsan point. We had a walk down the river (Don) bank & managed to scavenge some wood that had washed up.

Long Sandall picnic area

We have had a bit of an issue with running the washing machine when not on shore power. We bought the small candy as it comes recommended for boats & inverters due to its simple electrics but it won't work with our sterling 1800w. It is not pure sine but I still thought it would run it but no.
We had decided, after having charging problems last summer, to invest in a generator - so we would always have the option, belt 'n' braces so as to speak.
I had read about the Kippor's but not really sure until we went to the boat jumble at Snaith last autumn, a chap was selling them & we were able to see & hear them running & we decided to get one (but not from him - Ebay! quite a bit cheaper)
So whilst at Long Sandall we gave it a try out & success, the washer worked fine. Phew, quite a relief because otherwise it would have prob meant more expense on another, pure sine wave inverter.

The sun eventually came out just in time for a lovely sunset.

Day 4

Time to head for home, albeit slowly so we set off at 9.15am stopping off at Barnby Dun, Mark went to get the paper & we had a prolonged coffee break.

Kirk Sandall's pretty church

Next stop Stainforth's 'The New Inn' for lunch, they usually don't do food monday lunch but make an exception on bank holidays.
But 1st we had Bramwith lock which was quite busy but with everyone helping each other it didn't take too long which is more than can be said for Bramwith swing bridge! I don't think that I am unusual in that if I am operating a bridge for us & other boats come into view I'll let them through before closing & I usually find that the favour is often returned - seems to be common courtesy.
So not best pleased to be approaching the bridge which was open for it then to be closed right in front of us!
The lady ran back to her boat & muttered something about the traffic (1 car!) being impatient, mmm.

Anyway our lunch was delicious, as usual, cod,chips& mushy peas for me, veggie lasagne for Mark then apple crumble & ice cream for pud.
I don't usually drink ( alcohol) during the day as it guarantees a headache but 2 halves (pints in Marks case)of Hobgoblin went down very well. £16 including drinks - excellent value. Then back to Poppy to enjoy a coffee sitting on the back deck.

So onwards, through a busy Thorne lock then home, Mark was doing a splendid job of reversing onto our mooring watched by most of our neighbours when a gust of wind blew us across into the empty space left by 'The Rev Cathy Milford' & I sort of tried to jump ashore - & fell in - & its deep & cold & non too clean. My feet didn't touch the bottom!
Anyway I was non too ceremoniously hauled out - gasping, wet & feeling very stupid. A hot shower helped warm me up, I threw my clothes in the washer, Mark made me a hot drink & then I realised my phone had been in my jeans pocket & was now in the washing machine. B****r!!

Thankfully no-one had a camera handy so there are no pics to remind me of my stupidity.

Feel a bit sore today, thankfully nothing worse ( not sure how a mouthful or two of canal water would have affected me) the phone may be dead but hey the laptop survived so I won't write it off yet!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Easter mini cruise - day 2

Awoke 7ish to a dull but dry morning slipping the moorings at 8.20am & arriving Doncaster visitor moorings at11.45. No space really but managed to just tag on the end & as we only wanted to stay an hour or two whilst we did a bit of shopping it sufficed.

So into town & 1st stop Argos to pick up some headphones I had reserved so that I can watch DVD's on the laptop whilst Mark is watching something else on TV or visa versa. I find the 'in ear' earphones uncomfortable so am going to give these a try, next stop Wilkinsons for some non-slip matting to put on the top of the hatch to stop mugs of tea/coffee sliding about whilst cruising then back to the boat via Tescos which is very handy for the visitor moorings being just few hundred yards away.

Spotted at Doncaster town lock - Expecting an invasion perhaps?

With cupboards stocked we then had a very pleasant run from Doncaster to Sprotborough despite intermittent light showers, the countryside round here is beautiful & especially so this time of year.

The A1/M - I'd rather be boating!

A slight hiccup at Sprotborough lock as it misbehaved, it is ( in common with the majority on this waterway) all push button & automatic, give me a windlass job anyday, we were held up for 30 mins or so then just as the engineer phoned me back it did what it was supposed to & we got moving again.

Approaching Sprotborough lock

The visitor moorings were full but plenty of space just beyond or there was when we arrived, boats have been arriving all afternoon & you'd be hard pressed to get a canoe in sideways now.

Sitting pretty

The Toll House at Sprotborough Bridge

This one is for Albert!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Easter mini cruise - day 1 - Oh deer !

Apologies for the naf heading, Mark thought it funny and as he was 1/3rd responsible for rescuing said deer I suppose I should let it stand.

I'll get to that in a min, first...... Mark couldn't sleep in, was up at 7am then out for a run so I upped, showered, breakfasted & generally made us ready for the off which we managed by 8.30am. It was warm & sunny despite a gloomy weather forecast & a real pleasure to get out of the marina.

After clearing Thorne lock we expected a straight run to Bramwith when just before Stainforth I spotted something moving in the canal ahead which turned out to be a young deer, which due to the piled edges had no chance of getting out unaided.

We cut the throttle as it was obviously panicking & trying to swim faster to get away from us so we kept back at a slow pace while trying to figure what to do. As we rounded the bend at the Huddle winding spot we spotted a small cruiser moored to the bank, a chap & 2 boys doing a spot of fishing, I shouted across & fortunately he quickly grasped the situation.
The wind then took us & blew us into the opposite bank & the deer turned to go back the way it had come. With us struggling to do anything the chap in the cruiser untied his ropes & being a bit more manoeuvrable than us, set off after the deer which by now had disappeared back round the bend.
We finally managed to get across to the towpath side, quickly moored & Mark headed off, rope in hand, whilst I stayed with the boat as it's an area popular with kids off roading on motorbikes & we could hear them not far off.
It seemed like an age then a wide beam 'Elonay' came into view & as he drew level shouted that all was okay, they had managed to get the deer out. Mark was back a few mins later & it appears that the chap in the cruiser had managed to lasso the deer & then Elonay turned up so when Mark got there the three of them managed to haul him out. He seemed okay just a bit shaky so hopefully he is now recovered from the ordeal.

Not long after that the cloud began to build up & by the time we arrived at Barnby Dunn lift bridge it was raining intermittently. As I stood operating the bridge I spotted a cruiser behind Poppy & then coming from the Doncaster side 2 dutch barges so the road traffic was building up in the few mins it took for them all to get through. As the traffic flowed again & I waited to cross the road a chap wound his car window down & yelled " get a b****y canoe" Nice !

Barges dissapearing at Barnby Dun Lift Bridge

We moored long enough for a bite of lunch & a quick trip to the local shop for a paper & bread loaf then moved on a few hundred yards outside the village away from the noisy road to moor.

Imposing cooling towers of Thorpe Marsh Power Station

Mark has found the 'dot in the sky' so good tv reception, a reasonable internet connection & Poppy has enjoyed being out & about despite the rain so everyone's happy.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

A sad end.....

Yesterday I checked on the mallards nest only to find it abandoned, it appears that rats or weasels have had the eggs so no ducklings from that clutch, I'm hopeful that there will be others though not spotted any yet. Oh & Phil says he has seen at least 3 swallows although I don't think they'll stay long in the cold wind & rain we've had today!

3 of our neighbours have gone off this afternoon headed to Boston (Lincs not US!) for a few days. It will be an early start tomorrow for the lock at Keadby, 6am I think.

Not such an early start for us though, Mark has 4 days off ( wow !) so we hope to be out & about but I think he'd like a bit of a lie in 1st. I'm not supposed to mention any destination as any narrowboater knows 'the best laid plans & all that' but to get to Sprotborough would be nice!
The forecast for tomorrow is rain so the umbrella holder will be put to good use & hopefully the wind will ease.

No duckling pics so one of Poppy looking cute

& Soona in her default position.

Maybe some out & about pics next post....

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

How many Swallows....

Phil spotted a swallow yesterday, but just the one and according to The Guardian

"One swallow does not make a summer, because individual birds may overshoot, arrive too early, have been blown north by accident, and they tend to retreat swiftly if conditions are harsh. The presence of two swallows might well be a sign of preliminary nesting behaviour. The presence of three, or 17, suggests that they mean business. However, the swallows sighted in south-east England this week do not mean winter is over early this year"
so we won't get too excited.... yet.

On the subject of birds Ian put up this nest box a few weeks ago & a pair of blue tits have been seen nipping in & out so fingers crossed that they will be raising a family, fortunately the box has been placed out of Poppy's reach with no nearby branches as she is a very able tree climber

No ducklings yet, I shall be there with my camera as soon as they are spotted - the other female ducks who have not yet 'been caught' are being pursued relentlessly ( & noisily!) by the males.

I mentioned last week that Mark had got a payg vodafone dongle for his laptop - He is getting some really fast speeds, whether it's because there is a vodafone mast nearby or what I'm not sure but the speeds put my T Mobile connection to shame. It just goes to show - if I hadn't knocked the tea over I wouldn't have got another laptop & Mark wouldn't now be using the old one, back from the dead, on vodafone - He's delighted as alot of the stuff he does online (way over my head!) needs a good speed.

The hatch is finished & I'm quite pleased with the result - it practically glides open & the underside, which I lined with polestyrene matting to prevent condensation in the darkest depths of winter, has been given an additional layer of carpet & all looks very cosy.

April fool....

This was spotted in Phil's garden this morning, the perpetrators have not owned up yet but who had eggs for breakfast ?

Each time our hatch is opened it scrapes along the runners & they are now rusting, the paint all but gone. Nosying around other boats I saw quite a few fitted with brass strips on the runners which seemed a good idea, I managed to obtain some from Ledgard Chandlery last autumn & they have been lanquishing in the corridor outside the bathroom ever since.
So today
I have been outside enjoying the sunshine whilst getting the runners ready to take the strips. Phil helped me lift off the hatch then the runners were sanded to within an inch of their lives.
The brass strips have been cut to size & holes drilled (& countersunk !) through strips & runners. The hatch is now back on, it will come off again 1st thing tomorrow, the runners painted with hammerite then brass strips affixed when paint dry enough. Hopefully that will be job done.
Pics maybe in next post if all goes well...