Friday, December 14, 2018

Turn of the seasons…

Well, since we arrived in Skipton, summer has gone, autumn has come and gone, and now we’re seeing the first signs that winter is here.

Ice on the canal at sunrise today

But we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Meg went to see her vet on Monday and, although that bladder infection seems to have reared it’s ugly head again, it’s nothing like as bad as it was. So, with her dosed up with a course of antibiotics, Sam the vet is happy for us to leave it for 3 weeks before we need another visit.
Mag’s news is good too. We went to give blood and urine samples at our surgery on Tuesday, the results are in and are good. Everything seems to be working as it should and her liver function is better although still not 100%. And the same situation applies; she doesn’t need another visit for a month.  
So we can look at moving on. Further tests on both of the girls can be made as we head south and west, with the results passed back to Skipton and Bentham. We’re going to leave it though till after the weekend. Wind and wintry showers are due tomorrow afternoon and overnight. We’re keen to get moving, but not that keen!

The boat’s all ready to go; there’s a new set of batteries in the engine room, the engine and gearbox have both had oil and filter changes, alternator belts and the stern tube gland have been checked and adjusted. I’ve even replaced the radio aerial which has been a bit dodgy since it got snapped off under some trees…

One other thing needs replacing though. Mag’s hot water bottle sprung a leak the other night!DSCF5026

I think she’s had her money’s worth, she had it from before we got married!DSCF5027

Since the last post over a fortnight ago we’ve returned to Skipton for a few days, then back out to moor near the Rendezvous Hotel. We’ll turn around and head back to town to top up cupboards and tanks on Sunday after that front blows through.

An unusually calm night at Skipton!

Back at The Rendezvous

Then, finally, pastures new on Monday!

Thanks for all the supportive comments, everyone. You can look forward to normal blogging service being resumed next week.

Locks 0, miles 3

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Quick Update

Thank you all for your comments and messages of support for Mags. She went into Airedale General this morning for her ERCP, had the procedure and I collected her at around half-three. She was a lot brighter than I expected her to be. I thought that she might be a bit groggy after the sedative, but no, she was laughing and joking with the nurse as she was wheeled down to meet me in the waiting room.

DSCF5020The doctor’s report indicates that everything went well, although two large stones could not be removed from the bile duct so stents were introduced instead to get things moving. There was no pain, nor even any discomfort, and she was well looked after by the staff in the Endoscopy Unit.

We’ll wait to see what her GP wants to do regarding a follow-up, but the hospital are happy that there’s no need for further investigation. I expect that the GP will want Mags in for blood and wee samples in the next couple of weeks to make sure everything is back to normal. We’ll see.

So thanks to the people at Airedale, and thanks again, Dear Reader for your kind thoughts.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Things are moving on…

We’ve been in Skipton this last week or so. The blood samples Mags gave last week showed a degree of deterioration in her condition, so her GP rang Airedale Hospital to move things along. You remember that she’d had a consultation cancelled, which was supposed to be tomorrow.

Well, a consultant rang last Monday, wanting to see Mags urgently, so we went to see him on Tuesday. The result of the meeting was that Mags is booked in for a procedure this Thursday, the purpose of which is to locate and remove the gallstones blocking her bile duct. No surgery needed, it’ll be done using an endoscope and associated gadgets passed down into her stomach.


It’s called an Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatogram, ERCP for short. She’ll be awake throughout, but sedated.

She’s not looking forward to it, but accepts it needs to be done. She shouldn’t need to stay in overnight.

Meg is improving, she’s finished her extended course of antibiotics and showing no signs of her bladder infection returning. In fact she’s quite a bit brighter. She’s got better control now as well, she sometimes goes through the night without an “accident”, and she actually woke us at half-six this morning, wanting to go out. The vet says she needs to lose a few pounds though. Me and her both…

It  was quiet in Skipton, not many boats moving. We’d moved on a little after the weekend to moor near the bus station, nearer the shops and handy for the services. The moorings there are earmarked for Winter Moorings, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone wanting them. But although there was only one boat there besides ourselves when we arrived, another couple had landed, filling up all the space. So we decided to move out of town today in case someone turned up for a reserved mooring. It’s perfectly acceptable to use Winter Moorings if they are vacant, but you are obliged, understandably, to move if someone turns up who has paid to be there…

We decided to move today to take advantage of the fine weather. It’s supposed to go downhill rapidly after lunchtime tomorrow.

Leaving the Gallows Bridge moorings this morning.DSCF5015

The large group of walkers had just been laughing as Mags gave them her “Royal Wave” through the window…

Heading out of town.

We didn’t go far, pulling in near the Rendezvous Hotel before Snaygill Swing Bridge.DSCF5018

We might go back in to Skipton on Wednesday afternoon. There again, we may stay here. Not decided yet.

Locks 0, miles 1½

Saturday, November 17, 2018

All is chaos and confusion…

We’re still waiting to hear about another appointment for Mags to see a specialist at Airedale General, after the last one was cancelled. A telephone consultation with her GP arranged for Friday morning never happened either, so we’re completely in the dark as to what the future holds.

Meanwhile she’s got to have another series of blood tests done, so we’re back in Skipton again where we’ve easy access to Skipton hospital for samples to be taken. And to cap it all CRT are closing the locks from below Gargrave to Wigan again
This action is necessary because of the limited water resources currently available but more importantly to reduce the risk of the reservoirs not refilling in time for the start of the main boating season next year.”
I don’t see that closing the locks to traffic is going to make much difference. There’s a 3 month stoppage at Burnley preventing any through passage in the New Year, and we’ve only seen a handful of moving boats in the last week.

If we have another dry Spring forget about boating in the North next year.

We had a good stay at Gargrave; Mags’ son Howard came over to see us Sunday, then Val and John stayed the night with us on Monday. Mags has been crowned the Undisputed Frustration Champion, after several games played until the early hours. Food and drink were also enjoyed…

We’d recovered enough by Thursday to drop down the locks out of Gargrave, to moor below Holme Bridge for the night. A fine day for a bit of lock-work.

Filling with water at Higherland Lock

Heading towards Ray Bridge

You don’t often see herons perching in trees, but this chap was enjoying the sunshine.DSCF4995

There were two boats tied on the upper lock landing at Holme Bridge Lock, making it awkward. Mags had to float about while I filled the lock…DSCF4997

We pulled in below the lock for the night. A fine sunset suggested that Friday should be a fine day, but the forecast said otherwise and for once was right. It was overcast and gloomy when we set off, looking at doing the four swing bridges that cross the canal to Skipton.

Coming up to Highgate Swing Bridge

Under the curiously attractive bridge carrying the A629 at Niffany.DSCF5008

We moored between Gawflat and Brewery Bridges, its not far to Aireville Park and Meg likes to have a slow amble on the grass there.

Howard had brought over the mail last Sunday, including a service kit for the Eberspacher heater that I’d taken off a week of two ago. So I set to yesterday afternoon and dismantled it.

I expected it to be coked up, but it was remarkably clean inside. But it was also damp, which is a clue to why it had stopped working. The seal between the combustion chamber and the water jacket had failed, allowing water in to where it shouldn’t be…
It’s the large O-ring you can see around the end of the combustion chamber.

There’s one included in the kit so it was replaced, as well as all other gaskets and seals disturbed during the strip-down. It took about 90 minutes in all to strip, clean, and rebuild the unit.
When we move out of town I’ll assemble a test rig and fire it up on the bank to try it out. From experience it’s likely to be a little smoky for a start… Then I’ll wrap it up and store it ready for when I need it.

We’ll be in town for a few days, apart from going to the hospital for Mags bloods I’ll pop Meg in to the vet to weigh her and check up with Sam the vet. She’s doing ok, dry through the day now but still a little incontinent at night. Probably as good as we’re going to get.

Locks 3, miles 5½ 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Still pottering about.

We might be pottering a little longer than anticipated now. We had a call from Airedale Hospital earlier in the week to advise us that they’ve cancelled Mags’ appointment with the specialist on the 27th. Apparently the chap assigned to the case has reviewed the notes and has decided that he can’t deal with it, so we’re now waiting once again. Not really good enough, is it? Hopefully we’ll get to see her GP next week, and she might push things along a bit.

We moved out of Skipton on Thursday, swapping black tarmac for green fields, the twitter of schoolkids on their smartphones heading for school for the bleat of sheep.

Brewery Swing Bridge, semi mechanised and always busy with traffic avoiding the town centre.DSCF4977
I think we held up half a dozen this morning.

Archie off NB Greenfinch gave me a shove on the obstinate Gawflat Swing Bridge, then we were out of town with three more rural bridges to deal with.

Niffany Swing Bridge

Thorleby Swing Bridge

It wasn’t a bad day, overcast and cool but calm. These exposed bridges up to Gargrave can be a right bugger if there’s a westerly blowing.

Shepherding the easy way – the collie dashing around while the farmer cruises on his quad-bike.DSCF4983

We spent the night below Holme Bridge, then tackled the three locks up to the Gargrave moorings on Friday morning.

Emptying Holme Bridge Lock

I’d arranged to pick up a load of solid fuel from Fred Greene’s canalside warehouse, and it was there waiting for us on the old wharf next to the converted canal warehouse.

I usually buy Excel when  can get it, but was advised to try RED, a pound cheaper and just as good. First impressions are favourable.

The trees are rapidly losing leaves now, unfortunately they finish up wrapped around the prop.DSCF4988

Up Eshton Road Lock and Higherland Lock, we pulled in to fill up the water tank and I washed the left side of the boat while we were there. Then we moored just beyond the winding hole.

We’ve Mags’ son Howard coming across this afternoon, and Val and John, the “Welsh Stalkers” coming to spend the night with us tomorrow. We’re not going to make it over there for Christmas now, but should be there early in the New Year. Maybe.

Not sure what we’re doing the rest of the week, I reckon we’ll hang around up here till we get any phone calls from the surgery or the hospital.

Locks 3, miles 5¼

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Backs to the wind.

Today we moved back to Skipton, following the well –worn track we've cruised back and forth along for the last several weeks.

Leaving Lower Bradley Swing Bridge after going through once, turning around and coming back again.DSCF4971

We needed diesel but the small wharf at Snaygill Boats was a bit full…DSCF4972
However the SCAD (Skipton and Craven Action for Disability) boat Endevour was out so we snuck onto the end of the wharf outside the covered dock.

There’s very few boats about now, the chap at Snaygill said they’ve only got one hire boat out this week, and no more booked for the rest of the month. Consequently we didn’t get a chance to follow anyone’s coat-tails through the bridges today.
Still, not a problem, the brisk breeze was from behind so Mags had no problem hovering while waiting for me to deal with them.

We arrived in Skipton, filled with water and disposed of the rubbish then pushed across to moor on the Gallows Bridge moorings.

No problem finding a space here now… Meg waits patiently while the tank fills.DSCF4974

We’ll stay here through tomorrow as it’s supposed to be wet and windy, then push on up to Gargrave on Thursday and Friday under drier skies.

Hi KevinToo. Yes, the French Connection is probably a no-no. The boss would be happy on the big boat and wide water, though, it's just the thought of 1000 miles and 320-odd locks to get to Calais. And that's before the channel crossing...
And I'd forgotten that the current Palace of Westminster isn't the original, nor even the second, but the third royal palace on the site. Thanks for reminding me.

Locks 0, miles 3

Monday, November 05, 2018

The year wears on…

Halloween has come and gone, and bonfire night is upon us, though I reckon that most of the celebrations took place over last weekend. Saturday and Sunday evenings were marked by a smattering of bonfires across the valley, and the occasional whoosh – pop and shower of sparks disturbed the night sky. 
I suspect that Catesby, Fawkes and their group of co-conspirators had the right idea, only 415 years too early and for the wrong reasons. I don’t think we’d miss this band of self-serving indecisive hypocrites but it’d be a shame about the building…

We moved out to Bradley on Tuesday to avoid any fun and games the Skipton youth may have got up to now that we seem to have adopted the American Trick-or Treat. The weather has been typically autumnal, Some sharp, frosty wooly-jumper nights, followed by beautiful, sunny tee-shirt days. Mixed in we’ve seen rain, wind that threatened to clear the gear off the roof, and mild misty mornings.

Passing Victoria Mill in Skipton

Dramatic skies as we head to Bradley

Moonrise and a rainbow over Bradley village


We’ve not been up to much. I had to swap the Eberspacher water heater for the serviced and prepared Webasto I had on standby, as the Eber was getting a bit unreliable on start-up. It’s been running happily for 18 months but is probably a bit coked up. I’ve a service kit on the way, so will sort it out then put it away for the next 18 months till the Webasto starts playing up!
I spent just over an hour swapping the two units, it’s a bit awkward as they are positioned under the counter off to one side, so you have to hang upside down through the counter hatch. But I’ve made it easier by modifying the wiring on the Webasto so that it plugs straight into the Eberspacher wiring loom for power supply and the controller. The exhaust and fuel feed swap straight over, but the plumbing has to played about with a bit.
I’ve got sore ribs though as a result. I slipped and dropped chest-first onto the stern cants while I was checking the exhaust and I’ve badly bruised or even cracked a rib. It’s been 10 or 11 days now and it still hurts when I breathe in hard. Slowly improving, though.

I also knocked up a step for Meg for when we’ve low banks like here at Bradley.DSCF4967
She was a bit wary at first, but now she’s got used to it I’m not having to lift her on and off umpteen times a day!

We’ve got neighbours now, too. The farmer has put cattle in the field alongside.DSCF4970

We’ve had visitors, Mags’ grand-daughter Melanie came over to see us, and long-time boating buddy Carol and her partner Victoria came and spent an hour with us one afternoon.


I’ve been re-reading Terry and Monica Darlington’s Narrow Dog books, enjoying their adventures in France and the US, delivered in Terry’s inimitable style. Well worth a look if you haven’t already.

Mags should have gone to see her GP tomorrow but that’s been cancelled. She has an appointment with a specialist at Airedale Hospital on the 27th to discuss her gallstones then we might have a better idea of what we’re doing for the winter. Meanwhile we’ll keep pottering up and down this stretch of cut. We’re heading back to Skipton tomorrow, stopping for a couple of nights before heading off to Gargrave. Getting a little stir crazy. I must be, I’ve been looking at a Dutch barge, a Kotter, for sale on Apollo Duck. It’s in the south of France….
Now wouldn’t that be an epic adventure! A thousand miles up through France, via Paris, to Calais. Then across the channel. Not sure I can convince the skipper, though.

Locks 0, miles 3

Monday, October 22, 2018

Fine autumn weather.

We dropped back down the Gargrave locks on Saturday morning, timing it well as we met boats coming up. 

Out of Higherland Lock, and there’s two boats in the distance just coming up Eshton Road LockDSCF4926

We left Eshton Road Lock open for a Silsden fat boat heading up.DSCF4928

The day had started a bit overcast, but brightened steadily through the day.DSCF4930

We moored below Holme Bridge Lock, leaving the swing bridges to do today.
Mags’ son Howard came over for the afternoon yesterday, bringing mail and some items I’d ordered online. Meg is always pleased to see him…DSCF4931
I think the pocket full of gravy bones has something to do with it!

This morning was frosty and cold, I bet the sheep were glad to have their wooly coats on!DSCF4936


We left it till nearly eleven before heading off back towards Skipton. We were hoping to meet boats at the bridges, and it worked on two of the four we passed this morning.

Leaving Highgate Swing Bridge after being ushered through.DSCF4939

A spectacular morning…

We had Thorlby and Niffany Swing Bridges to deal with before catching up with a hirer just going through Gawflat Bridge and following them through.

A kestrel near Niffany looking out for an early lunch…DSCF4945
Sorry, a little out of focus…

We moored between Gawflat and Brewery Swing Bridges for a change today. Meg had an appointment with Sam at Ashfields vets at 4 o’clock. It’s a bit further from here but she’s feeling a lot better now. The consultation went well, there’s no trace of blood in her wee now, which implies that the bladder infection that has plagued her for the last few weeks is on the retreat. I thought that was the case, she’s not leaking so much as she was. In fact she rarely has an accident through the day. But Sam is a bit concerned about her weight. She reckons that she (Meg) could do with losing a couple of pounds… It’s the sausages she has her medication with that’re doing it! So instead of 5 a day we’ll drop it to three. And ease off on the gravy bones…

Mags’ CT results finally came through. It appears she has gallstones in her bile ducts, nothing life-threatening but we have a visit to her GP in a couple of weeks to discuss treatment. She feels fine though, so they can’t be that serious. She absolutely refuses to go in for surgery… If the condition can be managed with diet and medication we might be able to finally move on in the first week of November. I’ve devised a schedule which gets us over to the Llangollen Canal just after Christmas, working around the pre-Christmas maintenance stoppages. If we don’t get away then we’ll probably finish up stopping in the north for the duration. There’s worse places to be, though.

Locks 3, miles 5¼

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A change of scene and christening a new windlass.

We’re up at Gargrave now, having left Skipton on Tuesday, stopping overnight below Holme Bridge Lock, then coming up to the moorings above Higherland Lock yesterday. Three locks done, the first for three months!

Leaving Springs Branch Junction on TuesdayDSCF4903

Cool and gloomy as we headed north and westDSCF4905

Mags certainly would have liked it to be warmer!DSCF4907

With five swing bridges done we moored just below Holme Bridge Lock at lunchtime. The afternoon brightened up quite nicely after the overcast morning.

Yesterday we waited till nearly 11:00 before moving on. We were hoping for a boat to arrive to share the locks with, but when I saw one coming down I thought we might as well take advantage of the empty lock. We were nearly up, helped by the crew of another boat heading down, when one arrived below the lock. They declined my offer of waiting at Eshton Road Lock for them though. At 60 foot long they were concerned that we’d struggle to get both boats in these short Leeds and Liverpool locks. So we tackled all three on our own.

Coming up Eshton Road Lock…

…and Higherland Lock

Moored above Higherland Lock after turning in the winding hole.DSCF4918

There were three or four boats here when we arrived, but we managed to secure the sunny spot between the winding hole and the services. Well worth it too, it was a fine sunny afternoon and today is positively warm after a frosty start.
There’s been a bit of traffic today, a couple of Silsden hire boats arrived later yesterday and they’ve turned around and headed back down this morning, then at lunchtime the Short Boat Kennet went past, heading down to Skipton for a bit of a paint job.

Leeds and Liverpool Short Boat Kennet dropping down Higherland Lock.DSCF4920


(Click on pic to enlarge…)
Sorry about the legs in the last picture. They’re mine and you’ll notice I‘m still in shorts!

Now you may remember, when we came down Anchor Lock all those weeks ago, I lost my aluminium windlass in the canal below the bridge. A couple of hours magnet fishing was fruitless, at least as far as the missing windlass was concerned. I did dredge up several items of cutlery and an assortment of tin cans though…
Anyway, we finished the trip to Skipton with me using a heavy steel windlass, one of several we’ve “adopted” over the years. In fact the ally one I lost was discovered on the Rochdale Canal several years ago...
With my birthday coming up in August Mags said she’d buy me a new one (I thought about getting her a set of saucepans for hers…), so I’m now the proud owner of a shiny new aluminium windlass, complete with steel jubilee clips to make it attractive to my magnet if I drop it again!

It got it’s first outing yesterday.

On the home front, we’re still waiting on the results of Mags’ CT scan, although they should be imminent. And Meg continues to make slow but positive progress. She seems better in control of her bladder now, although we still have the odd accident, mostly at night. She’ll be finishing her 2 week course of antibiotics early next week, so we’ll have to go back to Skipton by then for yet another vet visit.
I expect we’ll take 2 days again to head back, stopping below the locks maybe Saturday and moving on on Sunday or Monday. We’ll see…

Locks 3 (wow) miles 5¼