Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Not a lot…

Not much happening up here in the wild and woolly north. We didn’t get quite the inundation of visitors over the weekend we expected, but we had George and Margaret, and Arthur and Wendy come over to see us. Since then it’s been quiet, the damp and gloomy weather a little depressing. Mags’ son Howard came over on Monday to collect me for a doctor’s appointment.
While we’re stuck up here I’ve decided to seek professional help about my right ankle and heel. After some initial improvement following the Great North Run (it couldn’t have got any worse!), it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. A week ago I had X-Rays, the results showed that while there’s no damage to the heel-bone (calcaneus), there is deterioration in the area where the Achilles tendon attaches, and this is causing the inflammation I’m suffering.
FootSo now I’m on a course of industrial-strength NSAIDs to reduce the lump on the back of my heel (retro-calcaneal bursitis), which will be followed by an assessment by a physiotherapist. I’m hoping that the anti-inflammatories and strengthening exercises will sort it. I don’t want to resort to steroid injections… But we’ll have to see.

We’ve had the odd frosty morning; there’s nothing better than coming back to the boat on a clear cold morning and seeing a spiral of woodsmoke from the chimney…IMG_8021…especially if it’s free wood!

We’ve been here long enough, any longer and there’ll be expecting us to buy a Winter Mooring Permit. All the length of the moorings here have been allocated as Winter Moorings, but there’s not been much enthusiasm.
At £13.50 per metre per month these are among the most expensive on the network, so it’s hardly surprising. The price is based on proximity to village amenities and sanitary facilities, both of which are handy here.

Although the sluice is out of action and has been for at least a fortnight!IMG_8025

We decided to head to Skipton for a bit, we’ll have to stay local for my expected physio appointment, so dropped down Higherland and Eshton Road Locks, and moored above Holme Bridge Lock, next to the aqueduct over Eshton Beck. Not so far, then.

With limited cruising, and therefore limited opportunities for wood scrounging, I decided to collect some more solid fuel from Fred Green’s, handily just alongside Eshton Road Bridge.

Here’s Fred now…IMG_8026

We’d been asked by the local lengthsman to leave this lock empty, with a paddle part-raised. There’s a large void under the towpath and if the lock is full it drains through under an adjacent garden and garage. Not good.

It’s better if it drains back into the lock chamber…IMG_8027

Ray Bridge, with the 1100-foot Sharp Haw rising beyond.IMG_8030

We moored a quarter mile past the bridge. We’ll maybe stay here a couple of days before heading off to Skipton. Depends on the weather, I guess.

Full moonrise over Sharp Haw this eveningIMG_8033

And another fine boat for sale - Windsong

Locks 2, miles 1

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A first touch of winter…

We woke up this morning to a cold but beautifully sunny day. We’d had a rocky night; at 04:30 we were waken by ferocious gusts, making the boat work against it’s moorings and sending icy draughts through the mushroom roof vents. It lasted only 40 minutes, but it was impossible to get to sleep, and not just because of the wind. Meg trying to burrow under the bedclothes didn’t help…
But it was worth it for the view this morning…

A dusting of snow on the tops, a film of ice on the puddles.IMG_8013

We had an easy run down the last three locks into Gargrave. Stegneck and Scarland Locks were in our favour, but I had to fill Anchor Lock.

Mags in Scarland LockIMG_8016
In the background can be seen the triple-arched viaduct carrying the Settle-Carlisle railway line over the infant River Aire.

We were moored in Gargrave well before lunchtime. I made a trip down to the Co-op for provisions; we’ve a mess of visitors coming over the weekend.
It’s going to be another cold night, it’s down to -3° out there already.

Locks 3, miles 1

Friday, November 20, 2015

No rainbows today, but we did find a small pot of gold!

Boater’s gold, wood, of course.

The bright, sunny but chilly start to the day soon deteriorated to dull, rainy and still chilly. The hour-by-hour local forecast indicated that their might be a gap in the wet weather around lunchtime, so off we set, arriving at Bank Newton Top Lock soon after 11:00.

Looking east towards SkiptonIMG_8004

Sunny but a cold wind today

A maintenance crew were relaying the coping stones under Bridge 164IMG_8006

The top lock was full with the gates half open, so that gave us a good start, and with an enormous amount of water running down the flight, several of the lower ones were being filled with water coming over the top gates…

…and all over the lock surrounds!IMG_8008

Below this lock there was a fairly large tree-trunk lying on the towpath, a casualty of the recent gales, I suspect. I say was…

It’s sliced up and on the roof, now!
This is the first decent bit of firewood we’ve had this winter.

Cutting it up didn’t take long, I‘d had all three of my saw chains professionally sharpened, so it was a doddle.

By half-twelve we were dropping down the bottom lock of the six, with just another ten minutes to go before we moored above Stegneck Lock.

Bank Newton Bottom LockIMG_8012

Lunch was taken while another shower passed over, Then out came the chain saw and axe and I got those logs sliced and diced. Should last for a few days.

Into Gargrave tomorrow, visitors on Sunday.

Locks 6, miles 1¾

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rainbows over Greenberfield.

After spending the last few days sashaying between Barnoldswick, Foulridge and Salterforth we decided to head back towards Gargrave for a change.

Yesterday we just hit a one-hour window of fine weather, long enough for us to move from our mooring outside the Anchor Inn, turn around, and cruise in to “Barlick”, mooring up opposite Silent Night’s truck park.

Salterforth Bridge pontoon moorings

Salterforth Bridge and the Anchor Inn.IMG_7956

Unusual for a canal side pub, this one pre-dates the navigation…20151109_182742

Moored up, just before the heavens opened again.IMG_7962

This morning we tried, and failed, to avoid the rain again, although we didn’t do too badly…

Off at 10:40, again the early rain cleared, we passed the site of the now-plugged leak that affected the water levels for the last week or so.

Tidy job 
We weren’t here while they did the work, but the normal procedure is to dig out the bank behind the copings to a depth lower than the canal, then tamp a plug of puddle clay into the hole, sealing the leak. It’s effective, puddle clay, to a depth of one or two feet, is what the channel is lined with after all.

Heap of clay ready for use last week.20151114_123944

This wasn’t the only leak, it appears. Further along, near Bridge 154a, they’ve used another method, lifting the cobbles from the surface of the old wharf and piling “crinkley tin” across the breach.IMG_7964
The steelwork will presumably be cut off below ground level and the cobbles relaid.

We were filling with water at the top of Greenberfield Locks when a heavy, half-hour shower blew over, but by the time we’d done it had mostly cleared to the east, just a couple of drizzly spells dogged us as we dropped down the three locks.

A feeder from Winterburn Reservoir flows into the canal above the locksIMG_7966

Greenberfield Top LockIMG_7970

A mason’s mark is exposed as the middle lock empties IMG_7972

The drizzly spells were annoying, but they did give us some spectacular rainbows…IMG_7975

There’s a double one here, just a faint echo off to the right of the main one.IMG_7978

When the canal was constructed Greenberfield Locks were actually just off to the north, a triple staircase. A bridge which crosses the abandoned line can be seen at the lower end of the picnic area.

The old line below the locks can also still be seen.IMG_7971
The locks were replaced to save water on the summit pound, Staircase locks, although fast to pass, are notoriously wasteful.
A proposal to construct a branch NNE to Settle from the top lock never came to fruition. It would have carried limestone from the quarries there.

After the locks we toddled on, the weather steadily improving to leave us with long sunny spells. The canal twists and turns around the rounded hillocks.IMG_7980

Blue skies, but the grey clouds are lurking…IMG_7986


Must be East Marton…IMG_7995

More doglegs the other side of East Marton took us to our mooring for the night, a regular stop up here.IMG_8001


Tomorrow we’ll aim for another gap in the weather to tackle the 6 locks at Bank Newton.

Following Mo’s sad death, Ness has reluctantly decided to put Balmaha on the market. It’s a beautiful boat, well looked after. If you’re interested have a look…

Thanks for the comments, Ade, Chas and Carol. It’s still working….Be right back
Hi Mike. Thanks for putting me right. He did well then, didn’t he. Escaping with his harem!

Locks 3, miles 8½

Friday, November 13, 2015

Laptop Upgrade III, Out with the spanners…

Well, not so much the spanners – a small cross-head screwdriver was all it took, actually.

Howard came visiting this afternoon bearing gifts. The various packages I’d ordered over the last couple of weeks had arrived so  was able to get on with my latest projects.

First off was to tidy up the wiring from the roof-mounted internet antenna to the Mifi dongle.
Two short pigtails now connect the dongle to the antenna leads, rather than adaptors. IMG_7932
I was concerned about the pretty stiff antenna leads connecting, via adaptors, to the delicate TS-9 sockets on the modem. The pigtails are a lot thinner and more flexible.

The big advantage with installing the antenna on the roof is that now I no longer need to have the dongle in the window, either dangling on a strap or stuck on with blue-tack. And I’ve never failed to get 5 bars on 3G since I plugged it in. No 4G yet, but we’re not in a very good signal area here. IMG_7796

The other task to tackle was the swapping of the hard drive in my laptop. As I mentioned previously I was going for a hybrid drive, a conventional mechanical drive with 8Gb of solid-state NAND memory tacked on, used for the boot files and the most often used apps. This makes the laptop start up and respond much more quickly, without sacrificing disk space or splashing out loads of money, Or so they say…

The installation took less than 90 minutes, including installing Seagate’s Discwizard software, cloning the drive and swapping them over. I took pictures, so here’s a pictorial guide…

First off, install Discwizard. But only if you’ve got a Seagate drive, either source or destination. Other cloning software is available…IMG_7934
Just on the left of the picture you can see the new drive plugged into twin USB ports. It’s plugged into two to ensure there’s enough power for the drive. An alternative connection arrangement would be to use a separate power supply and lead. I’d plugged it in to check that it was recognised by the system, and in order to install Discwizard. The OE drive is by Hitachi.

The software prompts a restart, then seems to take a while to sort itself out before starting the application. Select the Clone Disk option,IMG_7953
then it’s just a matter of following the prompts -

Select your source drive…IMG_7936

…and your destination drive…IMG_7937

…select “Copy partition without changes” to get a mirror image that is bootable.IMG_7938

Click on proceed on the next screen and go and make a brew. It took around 50 minutes to clone the 70Gb of data on the old drive.
The timer is inaccurate, so don’t rely on it. A flashing blue light on the USB to SATA cable indicates data transfer.
And that’s it. Before proceeding you get the option to Shut Down or Restart after cloning. I selected the Shut Down option, then restarted with the SSHD unplugged to make sure that the thing still worked!

All OK, so I shut down again, unplugged the power and removed the battery…IMG_7944

…before taking off the cover over the hard drive.IMG_7945
On this model you only have this to remove, other laptops might require further dismantling to get at the drive.

Three screws secure the drive tray to the chassis (there should be four but one escaped the last time I had the back off)…IMG_7946
…then just unplug the SATA lead.

This laptop has a mounting tray which is attached to the sides of the drive with four screws.

The new drive came with rubber anti-shock strips on the sides, these had to go to fit the mounting tray.

Then plug the thing in and refit it into the bay. You can’t get the plug the wrong way round… unless you try really, really hard!
Refit the cover(s) and the battery, turn it the right way up, press the start button and keep your fingers crossed!

It started up fine, but seemed to take a while. Maybe sorting out the new drive. Bear in mind that if it doesn’t start, you can just swap back to the old drive. It’s only been copied, not deleted.

I shut down to do the dinner, then started up again. This time it booted faster, and I noticed a new app on the start menu.

I ran it to see if it reported any errors…
Nope, all good.

Was it worth it? Well, I don’t really know yet. The drive manager will sort out what is stored on the NAND memory and what stays on the mechanical bit, based on frequency of use. Whether it already has that information from a historical perspective, or whether it has to develop it’s own history from now on, I’m not sure. I can’t seem to find a way to see what is stored on which portion of the drive, maybe I don’t need to know???
One thing I do know is that the laptop is running cooler, the fans are barely turning. That alone should improve battery life.


The old drive is in a case so I can use it as a back-up. But at present it will hold the bootable image of the system from today. You never know…

Locks 0, miles 0