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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Weekly update…

That’s what it’s turning into at the moment. Nothing of any note to report, I‘m afraid.

We went off to Airedale Hospital on Tuesday for Mags’ scan, picked up and returned by Station Taxis out of Skipton, prompt and efficient too.
The scan went OK, but Mags got a bit fed up with the wait while she had to drink over a pint of water with the trace dye for the x-rays in it. She even tried to give some away to a chap who’d already drunk his! We’ve not heard anything back yet, I’ll give her GP a ring early next week if they’ve not been in touch.

Meg is slowly improving. She’s now on a different antibiotic, delivered by Sam the vet on Tuesday evening and resulting from the lab tests on a sample taken from her bladder a week ago. She’s a little drier through the day, only leaking once or twice and letting us know she wants to go out most of the time. But she’s worse at night when she’s fast asleep. Hopefully, when the infection clears up, she’ll have better control.

We came back into Skipton a couple of days ago. After that bright but cold weekend last week it’s turned mild again but damper. It’s got pretty busy as well, with quite a few hire boats out and about.

The Canada geese at Bradley seem to have had a population explosion recently…DSCF4895

Cloud on the hills, but a bit of brightness trying to break through.DSCF4897

We were joined on the service wharf by a steam-powered narrowboat, the shell only 6 years old but the actual engine over a century. It’s looking good on it…
It started life powering a steam tug in Canada, then was a museum for a bit before being allowed to deteriorate. The present owned rescued and restored it to it’s former glory.

The weather looks a bit better for next week, so we might go up to Gargrave for a few days now the locks are open again. We’ll have to come back by a week on Tuesday though for Meg to get checked over.

Locks 0, miles 2¾

Sunday, October 07, 2018

From Summer into Autumn…

…and we’re still here! The weeks are starting to blur into each other now as we shuttle back and forth between Bradley and Skipton.
But this last week has seen a marked change, colder nights and damper days, and the leaves on the trees are starting to turn. We arrived in Skipton in July, and we’re now in October, with still no plan going forward.

A fine, still morning last week at Bradley.

Those old gateposts are just the right height for a good old scratch!DSCF4876

We moved back to Skipton last Tuesday, not the best of days, a bit damp and with a brisk breeze bowing in from the west.
We had visitors both Wednesday and Thursday though, and we needed provisions…

Val and John and dachsund Harry came over first, bringing a prepared lunch of home-made steak pie and veggies, so I just had to bung that in the oven for 45 minutes. They stayed till late afternoon before setting off for the trip back to Wales. Then we had three generations of Mag’s family arrive on Thursday, son Howard, his daughters Melanie and Zoe, and his granddaughter Laura. A fun afternoon, even with me spending 90 minutes replacing the screen on Mel’s iphone…
A word of warning in case you’re ever tempted to do the same. It’s extremely fiddly, the screws are very, very small and there’s a lot of them… Still, it worked after the surgery (big sigh of relief).

We took advantage of Howard (yet again) and had him run us up to Skipton Hospital for Mags to have a blood sample taken. This was a requirement prior to her having a CT scan next Tuesday. She’s not looking forward to that…

On Friday I took Meg to see the vet again to check her blood and urine and to discuss her meds. She’s doing pretty well, and an unplanned ultrasound scan showed no abnormalities apart from a thickening of her bladder wall, in fact her liver looks better. So we’ve dropped her daily steroid dosage from 10mg  to 5mg, now she’s not so thirsty she’s not drinking as much which has the knock-on effect of putting less pressure on her bladder, improving her incontinence. Samples taken by needle from her bladder have been sent off to a lab for analysis, but we seem to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now. We’ve just got to see what Mags’ scan reveals now.

We filled up with diesel and swapped an empty gas bottle at Snaygill Boats on the way into Skipton, had Fred Green deliver a load of smokeless fuel to us at the service wharf in town, and with a full water tank and rubbish and recycling disposed of we moved back out to Bradley yesterday.

Heading to the Springs Branch junction to turn around yesterday.DSCF4882

Busy on the moorings near Gallows Bridge.DSCF4883

Mags bringing Seyella through Snaygill Swing Bridge

The leaves are on the turn now…

Last night was the first proper frost we’ve had, with the temperature dipping to nearly zero. It was a splendid morning first thing, though.

View from our side hatch this morning…

…and out with Meg as the sun rose.

We’ve got a taxi booked to take us to Airedale General on Tuesday for Mags’ scan, then it’s a waiting game again till we hear from her GP.

Thanks for all the comments guys.

Hi Debby, pleased to hear that your Meg is now out of the woods.

Hi Jennifer and Peter. Hope you had a good summer out and about. That tentative plan to meet up near Trent Lock never really had a chance, did it!

Tom, Now that would be something to see! Still, it’d save some fuel and I could sneak a couple of pills into her morning brew!

KevinToo, Carol. Mags reckons she feels OK and doesn’t know what all the fuss is about. Imagine how she’ll feel if they do sort out a problem. I’ll not be able to hold her back! Here’s hoping…

Locks 0, miles 6½