Friday, September 28, 2018


Meg has reached the stage where we’d be happy to move on now. She’s still on steroids and is likely to be for a while, but unfortunately she’s still a bit incontinent. She’s ok when she’s awake, but leaks when she’s asleep. Something we can manage, though.

While we were up here we decided Mags should have her annual review while we’re close to our doctor’s, so she went a week last Wednesday. We had a phone call from the surgery Friday saying that they needed to see her again as soon as possible, so we were back again on Tuesday. Her blood test results were not good, there may be a problem with her liver. So we’re now waiting for a hospital appointment for a CT scan. Should be sooner rather than later, hopefully. Until that’s done and the results assessed we can’t make any plans.

Meanwhile we’re still shuffling back and forth between Gargrave and Bradley, stopping for a few days in Skipton on the way through.

Flying lessons for the youngsters near Belmont BridgeDSCF4859 

Waxing moon and a pebbly sky…

We’re back out at Bradley again for a few days, it’s a lot quieter here than in town.

A bit black behind us as we leave Snaygill Swing Bridge heading for Bradley on Wednesday…DSCF4868

…but it’s sunny where we’re going.

It seems to be taking an awfully long time to do those 27¼ miles…DSCF4869

We can get to Airedale General easily from here by taxi, but if we don’t hear anything by next Tuesday we’ll have to head back to Skipton for supplies. A bit further to travel but quicker by car…

Oh, and I found a poor earth connection on the heater wiring, so the charging and domestic battery modifications I made a couple of weeks ago are doing the job just fine.

We’ve a fine, sunny morning today. Warm in the sun, cooler in the shade after a chilly night.DSCF4872

Locks 0, miles 5½

Sunday, September 16, 2018

And so back to Bradley…

We’re back moored at Bradley again now, after coming back into Skipton from Gargrave on Thursday.

While we were near Gargrave we had a visit from one of Mag’s grand- and great-grand daughters, Melanie and Laura. And on Monday morning we reversed under Holme Bridge, up to the lock, to pick up 8 bags of smokeless, delivered to the lockside by Fred Green, the coal merchant in Gargrave. It’s that time of year again…

The modification to the charging circuit I mentioned in the previous post hasn’t been as successful as I’d hoped, I think the older lead acid battery is past it’s best after all, sometimes the heater will start, sometimes not. Fault number 11, low voltage. I’m going to have a good look at the live and earth feeds connecting the heater, just in case there’s a dodgy contact somewhere.

We came back into Skipton on Thursday, a fairly good day, dry until we had a short, sharp shower just before the town.

Leaving Holme Bridge on the edge of GargraveDSCF4834     
Mags coming through Highgate Swing Bridge, the first of the five back to Skipton.DSCF4842

Apparently that new structure next to the old weaving sheds on the edge of town is going to be flats…DSCF4843

Belmont Bridge, Skipton

We topped up the nearly-empty water tank then pushed across to moor in a very familiar spot opposite the bush station car park.

First thing Friday morning we were off down Gas Lane to Ashlands vets for yet another visit. Meg is actually quite sprightly now, and Sam the vet was pleased with her progress. Her temperature is lower than it’s been for the last month, there’s now only a trace of blood in her wee, and, with the steroids she’s taking giving her an appetite, she’s gaining weight again. One problem is that she’s now badly incontinent. Not her fault of course, whatever is ailing her has weakened the muscles in her urinary tract, so basically she leaks. It makes her very unhappy, she looks really embarrassed when she does… So she’s on some pills that should tighten up those weak muscles, although the low dose doesn’t seem to be having much effect. I’ll ring the vet’s in the morning to see if I can increase the dosage. Meanwhile she’s getting used to lying on bed incontinence pads.

We timed it well yesterday, leaving Skipton behind a couple of day boats and Dalesman, one of the trip boats off Belmont Wharf. So we were able to pass through Snagill Swing Bridge in convoy.

There’s a couple of boats moored here besides us at Bradley, but it’s quieter than it has been.
We’ll be back in to town on Tuesday, hopefully for the last time before we head off towards Leeds.

On the subject of my rant the other day (see The Blame Game), Paul Balmer has posted an explanation of how CRT believes the Middlewich Breach occurred. Not a gush of water rushing down the canal as reported in some of the newspapers, but a steady trickle, overflowing a low section of bank and gradually eroding the edge. See the comment on the post. Thorough and well reasoned. Thanks Paul.

Locks 0, miles 6¾

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Battery charging modifications.

We’ve all been there; not moving very much so the batteries are not getting a thorough charge. We’ve got four 100 Ah AGM batteries which I installed about 2½ years ago and they are still OK if not in the first flush of youth. They are charged from the two engine alternators through a Sterling A-B four stage charger which performs well, but recently the battery bank has rarely reached 100%.

If we have heavy usage in the evening, maybe running the hard-drive recorder as well as the TV, charging the laptop and with the fridge and freezer running overnight, the voltage can often drop to below 12.25 volts. Not a problem with the AGM batteries, they are far more resilient than standard flooded lead acid. But those of you with diesel-fired heaters, Eberspacher, Webasto, Mikuni et al will know that they are power-hungry on start-up, drawing maybe 13 amps initially, and they are very sensitive to low voltage so may fail to start as the voltage drops due to the amps being drawn.

Our old but generally reliable Eberspacher starts at 08:00 on a timer and runs for an hour to provide hot water for abluting, but we’ve had this situation a couple of time recently, easily fixed by firing up the donk for 15 minutes but a nuisance none the less.

When I swapped the old lead acid batteries for the AGM ones I had one that was only 6 months old and in good condition, and space to keep it in the battery bay. So I did and it’s been sitting there since, getting a top-up charge once a month but otherwise enjoying a life of leisure. So I thought what about dedicating that one battery to the heater and nothing else, isolated from the main bank. Obviously it would need to be charged more often than once a month, so today I’ve fitted a Voltage Sensitive Relay between it and the main domestic bank so it will charge when the engine is running and the alternators are pushing out the amps, but will be disconnected when the voltage drops below 12.8 volts.DSCF4833
That’s the chap, below the Sterling charge controller.
It will actually pass 140 amps, far more than normally required, and both feeds to and from the batteries are protected by fuses. It trips in when the voltage on the main domestic bank rises to 13.3 volts, and drops out when the combined voltage falls to 12.8. The power supply for the Eberspacher, and nothing else, is drawn from the single lead acid battery. It remains to be seen whether it will be effective or not, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.

I got the unit and a fitting kit including cable, fuses, battery clamps and comprehensive instructions from a company called Simply Split Charge, delivered within a couple of days.

Thanks all for the kind comments regarding the saloon doors; Kath, it’s not real stained glass of course. Stick-on lead strip and translucent glass paint. But it looks good if you don’t get too close…

We’ve reduced Meg’s steroid dosage today, she’s now on 10mg instead of 20mg. Hopefully she’ll still be OK on the lower dose. She’s going back to the vet on Friday morning, and I think Sam will be pleased with her progress.

Locks 0, miles 0

Sunday, September 09, 2018

The Blame Game

shropshire-union-canal-damageNow, as regular readers of this blog will know, I’m not one to be controversial, but I do feel quite strongly about the tone of the latest updates on progress to repair that dirty great hole in the canal near Middlewich.

No doubt based on a press release by Canal and River Trust, the Telegraph, Express, Nantwich News and others have reported that the March breach, which will cost around £3m pounds and will take until Christmas to repair, was caused by a boater leaving lock gates and/or paddles open on the upstream Stanthorne Lock.

Now, there’s no suggestion that this was deliberate vandalism, and no mention of damage to the lock itself, so I’m confused as to how water could have “ended up gushing down the canal, washing away the banks and leaving a huge gaping hole in the waterway”. After all, opening both lower gate paddles at once is normal practice when descending a lock…
Even if both top and bottom paddle paddles where opened at the same time, the flow would still be restricted by the size of the lower paddle opening, about 3 square feet in total. In operation it takes around 5 minutes to drain the lock through these openings, dumping around 360,000 gallons of water into the lower pound. But the turbulence caused is resisted by the construction of the wash walls below the lock. By the time the water has flowed down to where the breach occurred it would be a shallow wave, no more. Not at all of the Severn Bore proportions implied by water “gushing down the canal”.

Sorry CRT. I know that a lot of occurrences of structural damage on the canals can be placed at the doors (or bows…) of boaters, especially during the silly season, but I don’t believe this is one of them. Aqueducts over waterways are vulnerable from both the canal above and water erosion below, and as such need to be checked and maintained rigorously. With cut-backs in staff maybe that’s not possible any more… 
OK, rant over.

Meg continues to improve, she’s getting about better now, is eating like a horse and is more alert. We’ll have another visit to the vet next week to check her vitals, but we’re cautiously optimistic.

And I’ve finally finished the saloon doors, and I’m quite pleased with the result.


Different, eh...

Locks 0, miles 0

Friday, September 07, 2018

Same old, same old…

Not much happening up here in the north, I’m afraid.

We could have headed off eastward, but we’ve chosen to stay up here rather than lurk about on the edge of Leeds. Meg is still making regular visits to the vet and it’s a little quieter now that the ankle-biters are back at school and several boats have headed off at least part-way to Leeds.

We left Skipton last Saturday, heading out to Bradley for a few nights, before returning to town on Wednesday. Shopping and another visit to Meg’s vet done, we untied this morning, filled with water and got rid of the rubbish and headed out of town towards Gargrave.

A sunny morning as we left the quieter Gallows Bridge moorings last weekend.DSCF4796

Busier than recently at Bradley, though.

Every so often the cows in the field opposite get fed up with Canada geese (don’t we all…) and form a line to herd them back into the cut.DSCF4804 
The geese don’t like it, kicking up an indignant cackling, but there’s no way they can argue with a ton of beef bearing down on them…

It’s certainly turning autumnal now, with chilly nights and often a heavy dew. Wednesday was definitely a cobweb morning…


It was Wednesday when we turned around and headed back to town.

Mags coming back through Bradley Swing Bridge after we’d turned winded just beyond.DSCF4808

We timed it well, soon after we pulled pins the mower men arrived…DSCF4809
I know they have to do it, but the grass cuttings get everywhere!

Just reflecting on life…

Back into Skipton.

A couple of nights in the bustling metropolis was enough this time, and as I already mentioned, we headed out the other way to Gargrave this morning.

Brewery Swing Bridge, our first this morning.DSCF4816

We chose to move today as the weather is set to get damp and windy over the weekend. It did stay dry but it was certainly breezier than we anticipated!


Sharp Haw rises on the right hand as you approach Gargrave.DSCF4821

We turned around below Holme Bridge as the locks here are still closed, reversed back and moored below the lock landing. We’ll stay here now till the middle of next week, I reckon.

We had another visit to Ashlands Vets yesterday morning. Meg has been on a new antibiotic since last Saturday, and she does seem to have improved a little. But the latest blood test results are not encouraging, they do seem to indicate some sort of cancer somewhere. The only way to be 100% positive is to perform biopsies on her bladder, liver and bone marrow under general anesthetic, but she’s too old and frail to go through that sort of trauma.
Anyway, knowing doesn’t help as we’d already decided that she’d not be suffering a course of chemotherapy. She feels rough enough as it is. So we agreed that keeping her comfortable for as long as possible is the best course of action, she’s staying on the antibiotics that seem to be making a difference and she’s now also on steroids. She had these when she had that bad lung infection last November and the change in her was dramatic. This time too, after just two days on them she’s more responsive, is eating well and is steadier on her feet. It’s not a long term solution, we’re aware that it’s now a matter of time before we have to make that tough decision, but while she’s well we’ll enjoy her company a little longer.
I can’t praise the Ashlands practice enough, they’ve been brilliant with her over the last seven weeks (has it really been that long?) and Sam who has been looking after her has been great. She even brought some medication out to us at Bradley on Saturday evening!

We’ll be up here for at least another couple of weeks anyway, so we can keep Meg monitored and Mags is due her annual health review shortly too, so we may as well deal with that before we head off. We might have some water in the reservoirs by then…

Thanks to all the kind comments about Meg. It’s possible we might be over the worst for the time being…

Locks 0, miles 10