Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Good deed of the day…

This afternoon we heard a plaintive bleating from across the canal, but the source took some spotting.
A lamb had slipped down the bank and into the brambles on the canal side, and couldn’t get out.

We couldn’t leave it there, it wasn’t visible from the field so the farmer wouldn’t have spotted it and it would have starved to death. So I untied the rear end of the boat, poled across and used the plank to get ashore with dry feet.

Mags was taking pictures of the operation but unfortunately she pushed the video button by mistake so the following poor quality pics are frames extracted from the short movie.

Assessing the situation…

…clearing the brambles and lifting the distressed animal up…

…and he’s away, none the worse for his adventure.

Crashed out with Mum in the afternoon sunshine.

For the last couple of days I’ve been trying to get a picture of one of the great-tits that visit the feeders. Today I got that chance as one of them chose to pose on the top of the feeder.

We’ve been here for four weeks now, with weekend trips into the arm. It looks like it’s going to be at least another couple. The birds will miss us when we leave…. I've started to dream about cruising to far-off exotic locations. Like Fradley Junction and Castlefield Basin...

Hiya KevinToo, looking forward to the pork pie and donuts. I reckon they’re locking the Leeds and Liverpool to save water while there’s supposed to be no-one travelling anyway. Lets hope the reservoirs are up enough so we can get up there.

Hi Carol. That Zoom software is pretty useful isn’t it. Good to keep in touch…

Unknown, I wish you’d left your name… Our dongle is charged from a mains socket with a USB port and is off overnight. So it’s only charging when the inverter is on and that’s not usually till lunchtime. I’d noticed that the battery was flat by then. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Why do breakdowns come in threes?

After reading Steve and Chris’ blog from their boat Amyjo, I thought I’d check on my Mifi dongle too. It’s been stuck on the wall above one of the middle windows for two or three years, only coming down for an occasional wipe of the paintwork, and, sure enough, the battery in our Huawei E5573 was also swollen and in danger of failure. So I took a leaf out of their book and ordered a replacement from a supplier on Fleabay, choosing the same model they did.

Huawei 5785 Mifi dongle, up and running.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though. The antenna ports and charging socket were identical which made it easier, but the old dongle used a full-size SIM card, and the new one was designed for a micro-SIM. Still, a sharp pencil and an equally sharp pair of scissors sorted that out…



While that was winging it’s way towards us the Sterling A-B battery charge manager went on the fritz. It was shutting down it’s boost function unexpectedly, turning into a basic split charge system. At least the batteries were still being charged, considerably slower though. I checked the fuse and that was ok, as was the cabling but  didn’t expect to find anything wrong there, after all it’s been running happily for over 8 years.
A trawl of the interweb found me a replacement at the best price of £400, so that was ordered too.

New Sterling AB12210 alternator to battery charger installed.

And finally, yesterday, the voltage sensitive relay that allows charging of the battery dedicated to the water heater popped it’s clogs too! Back onto Ebay again… That should arrive this week.

I’ve developed quite a relationship with the chap in the shop at Mere Motors, the local Collect+ hub. He sees me coming and gets my packages ready…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’ve built a rudimentary bird feeder for our feathered friends.
It took a couple of days for them to find it and become confident patrons, but now we’ve regular visitors, a pair of blue-tits and another of great-tits, a robin, two or three blackbirds and the occasional crow.

The lambs in the field opposite are almost twice the size they were when we first started mooring here.

We made our regular run into the arm on Friday, shopping in the evening when for the first time since the social distancing rules came into force I didn’t have to queue to get in! Result!

We came back on Saturday, stopping for water and rubbish disposal then headed up the canal, winded and returned to what we’ve come to consider as “our spot”. We’ll be right annoyed if someone else moors here during one of our shopping trips!
Not likely though, we only see a handful of boats a week and most of them are doing the same as us.

And that’s about it. All families are  well, in fact we had a multi-generational conference call using Zoom on Sunday with Mags’ lot.

Five generations all at once. Can’t wait to do it in person.
Might not be this year now though. Passage restrictions to save water are now in force on all the lock flights on the Leeds and Liverpool, and if we don’t get any significant rainfall they’ll stay in place throughout the summer.

Having said that the fine weather we’ve had for the last weeks is breaking this week.

Locks 0, miles 3

Monday, April 20, 2020

Groundhog Day…

…or I suppose that should be Groundhog Week. Each day is a little different, different little jobs to do day by day, but each week we do much the same; on Friday we head back into Ellesmere, do two shopping runs to Tesco, then head back out on Saturday, filling with water and disposing of rubbish and recycling, before mooring up again in much the same spot.
This weekend though, much excitement, we stayed on the Ellesmere Arm for an extra night!   It was wet on Saturday…

The week after Easter you’d normally expect the Arm to be full with boats…

Bright blossom, blue sky.

Percy the peacock  was ready to welcome us back.

He’s a proud looking chap.

This afternoon Mags had a conference call organised by her grand-daughter Melanie.
That’s Mel in the top left, with Mags’ great grand-daughters Joanne bottom left and Emma on the right. With Emma is Mags’ first great-great grand-daughter, Bethany Grace, now 8 or 9 weeks old. There’s another due in August too.
It was great to see them all. We’ll be doing it again.

Meanwhile we’ve been perusing dog adoption websites in Cheshire and Shropshire, We’d really like to fill the dog-sized space on Seyella. We can’t replace Meg, just like she didn’t replace Bruno back in 2006. But we’d like to give another rescue dog a chance at a good life.
Not likely to be able to do anything till this lockdown is lifted though.

Locks 0, miles, not many. About 3 in fact.

Keep well, keep safe.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Busy doing nothing…

As far as we’re aware all of our friends and family are staying clear of Covid 19, but with the pandemic seemingly getting worse I’m not sure how long that will last. Val and John, our friends from near Wrexham have a daughter Carol who works in the NHS at Chester. She self-isolated after suspecting of being infected, but is now back at work after the symptoms faded.
Just one of the millions of front-line workers who are putting their health and even their lives on the line  Heroes all.

We’re trying to keep busy, jobs to do in the mornings, board games in the afternoons. Beautiful cruising weather that we can’t take advantage of. There have been a few boats pass, but often they come back again after a couple of hours presumably after using the services and visiting the shops. With Mags in the at-risk category I’m only shopping once a week to limit my exposure, while she stays safe aboard.

There’s things of interest outside though, we have regular guests for breakfast and lunch…

The sparrows are busy nest-building in the hawthorn alongside and we had a pair of goldfinch checking out the real estate opposite.

The lambs come and go, watched carefully by their mums and tonight Percy the peacock was back, stalking along the bank opposite.
We hear him most days, but he doesn’t always appear.

The clear skies last night allowed a good view of the super moon, when it’s at it’s closest to earth so it appears larger and brighter.
It’s average distance is around 250,000 miles, but at the moment it’s 3,200 miles nearer.

That’s it then for the time being. We’re still waiting to hear from the vet about collecting Meg’s ashes, sometime next week I guess. And on that subject thanks so much for all the kind comments.

Meg, May 2006 – 3rd April 2020. Much loved, much missed.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

We’ve lost a crew member…

Meg hasn’t been at all well for the last week, unsteady on her feet and very lethargic. I’d made up my mind to see if we could get her to a vet early this coming week despite the lock-down rules, but events overtook the plan.
On Friday morning she was unable to stand at all, not interested in drinking or food. I rang the vet and arranged an emergency appointment, and to get her there I organised a local taxi, on the understanding that I would put Meg in the back of the car and the vet would take her out on arrival. I wasn’t allowed inside the surgery.
She was thoroughly checked over while they were waiting for the results from a blood sample. They showed acute kidney failure, with high levels of toxins in her blood stream. Nothing to be done for a dog in this condition, so we made the decision to let her go. Sadly we were not allowed to see her off due to the lockdown restrictions, but the vet said she was comfortable and being given plenty of fuss, even though she was sedated. We’ve been a bit weepy over the last couple of days, she’d been with us for a long time and not being able to say goodbye properly is upsetting. But still, she had a good life.
Here’s a few memories…

Checking out the Foxton Inclined Plane, December 2006

She loved a paddle but wasn’t keen on swimming, although she had to on occasion!

She didn’t like getting a haircut either!

Playing with friends on a sandbank in The Wash, June 2015.

Starting to slow down a bit, taking a break while going up Meaford Locks, 2018.

Enjoying the view across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct last year.

Doing what she did best – getting mucky!
She’s sorely missed…

We’re topped up with coal and diesel thanks to Richard on Mountbatten on Thursday afternoon.

He’s a vital link for us live-aboards while we’re in this situation. Most of the marinas are now shut, with no hire fleets operating they are only opening for doing toilet pump-outs.

We went into the Ellemere Arm on Friday morning for Meg, and I did two shopping runs to Tesco’s before we came back out yesterday. We’re now moored just out of town again. We’ll be here for a while, the vet will ring us when Meg’s ashes are ready for collection.

Locks 0, miles 1½  

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Two days back to Ellesmere

We’ve headed back to Ellesmere now, probably the best place to hang about for a bit with boat services and shopping opportunities local to the canal.

A brave show of daffodils just around the corner from The Poachers.

The two-day trip was unremarkable, I think we saw a couple of moving boats, and had a helping hand at New Marton Locks from a couple of CRT chaps.

Unusual to see a pair of mandarin ducks along here…
I reckon the male thinks he's a goose...

We pulled in just past Maestermyn, a regular overnight stop for us. We’d intended to stay there a couple of nights, but a dip of the tank showed just 3 inches of diesel left, and I’m not sure how far the pick-up is from the base of the tank. Richard and Ruth’s fuel boat Mountbatten is on the way up, but I decided that if we were going to run dry I’d rather do it at Ellesmere than out in the sticks!

We left it till after lunch before we got going though, and I was just setting up when this very young family went toddling past.
Our first ducklings!

There were three boats moored at Frankton Junction and a couple more near the winding hole past Stanks Bridge, but it was quiet.
We pulled in short of the main moorings opposite the services. I thought they would be busy and wasn’t wrong.

But the surprise was that there are only two boats moored on the arm. I thought it would be rammed.

The field across the canal is used by the local farmer as a nursery, and it’s busy with new mums and their offspring.

Not sure what we’re doing now. We’ll stay put for a few days anyway.

Locks 2, miles 10