Sunday, 23 April 2017

Tragedy in Lancashire

We bravely fought our way through the Foulridge tunnel at the start of the week and into Lancashire at some point.  We headed for Burnely and then Blakcburn, two old industrial towns with most of the detritus of the Industrial Revolution plus most of Mc Donald's stock of plastic wrappers chucked in the canal.  I've never seen such a filthy stretch of water. We even managed to get some stuck around the prop on two occasions.  I now know how to get at the weed hatch and clear the prop quite quickly.  Its a shame really as the bits in between the towns are really quite pretty.  We also had several flights of 6 and 7 lock s to descend but its much easier going down as you can open the paddles fully straight away.  If you did that going up these types of lock - you'd sink the boat.  We've also buddied up with another boat and its much easier with two crews.  Hopefully we'll meet them again on Tuesday as we have the Wigan flight to descend which is a mere 21 locks.  After that we have a week to get to Liverpool where I've managed to book in from the 3rd to the 8th of May.  Everyone says its a really great trip and place to stay.
Now for the reason for the title.  One of the best pubs on this stretch burnt down last week, a few months after a million pound rebuild.  A photo is below but that's not the real tragedy.  Here we are in the little village of Adlington which has at least 5 pubs - and not one of them does Sunday Lunch!!!!!

The crispy pub - bet they did Sunday Lunch!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Jon Hunt number 9 now underway

I've finally got my head around a plot for the next Jon Hunt novel.  Like all the others its pretty damned vague but I know where it starts as I written the first few thousand words now.  I know how I want it to finish and I've got several plot lines in mind for the 'tricky bit' in the middle.  Once again it'll be interesting to see how it writes itself.  A few hints - its the end of the 21st century and for anyone who's remembers the prologue to 'Sea Skimmer' Jon's career doesn't have much time left (or does it??).  Oh and its working title is 'WMD'

And these two delightful, intelligent, caring and loving people will be getting a mention.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

All down hill from here

An intersting week of pootling.  Some nice locks, some not so nice swing bridges.  The wind caught us out several times and we managed to run aground quite comprehensively yesterday but what's life without a little excitement?  We're in Foulridge today, a little village apparently named after Vikings who used the ridge above us to spot rape and pillaging opportunities. The word 'Foul' is a mispronouncement of some Viking word it would seem.  The good thing is that there is a cafe just by the canal that does Sunday lunch, has beer and likes dogs. Then I can fall asleep in front of the Bahrain GP this afternoon.
This stretch of the canal is the highets point and from now on we will descending, which with these locks will be a little easier.  They all have very awkward ground and gate paddles to fill them up but emptying is much more straightforward.  First we have to go through the Fouldridge tunnel, of about 1600 yards and then there only two small flights of locks for miles until we get to Wigan when there is a flight of 21 which should be fun.  Once we are there I should have a better idea of how long it will then take to get to Liverpool because we have to book in as numbers are limited.

The entrance to the Foulridge tunnel, dark and gloomy but better than going over the top with all those Spam eating Vikings waiting to pounce.

Monday, 10 April 2017

On the level

For the moment anyway as there aren't any more locks for a while.  We spent Saturday and Sunday in glorious sunshine in Kildwick, a pretty little village on the edge of the dales.  The pub - the White Lion had a nice beer garden but sadly only scored 6 out of 10 for lunch.  Maybe its a Yorkshire thing but serving roast beef as one slab bigger than a steak that had clearly been cooked hours previously as had the spuds was never going to work.  
We've moved on now and are in the little town of Skipton with lots of good shopping and a castle.  However, we don't really like towns so its out into the country tomorrow to Gargrave where the locks start again but it looks like the endless heavy swing bridges are less common.  All we need is that good weather to come back.

Nice pub - shame about the lunch

35 years and 5 years

35 Years ago the Falklands War was ramping up. 5 years ago I published my first naval novel 'Sea Skimmer' about the war. It was the start of a series of books about the RN and Fleet Air Arm. This book, like all the rest, was based on fact but very much a novel. What I wanted to do was illuminate an aspect of the war that never got any real coverage - the small ship's Flights and their contribution. However, I also wanted to explore another issue which for some reason has never really been covered by the media - why did the Argentinian Exocets fail so badly? The Board of Enquiry into the loss of Sheffield concluded that the warhead failed to detonate and the one that hit Glamorgan would, in my and many other's opinions, have made a much bigger hole if it had gone off. Then there were two fired at Sheffield and one was never accounted for. Not able to find out why - I used this as the main plot of the book. I also researched the Ilsander's contribution and was amazed to find how brave and ingeneous many of them were and managed to dovetail some of their stories in as well. The book has sold extraordinarly well over the years despite a host of literary agents saying it wouldn't. Hopefully it will continue to do so along with the whole ''Jon Hunt series. 

A picture of my old Lynx attached, now saddly decommisioned.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Movin up

First week of pootlin' complete and we are in the little village of Kildwick somewhere on the eastern edge of the Pennines in glorious sunshine (forecast to snow next week).  No shops but one rather nice looking pub which is one reason for stopping as its Sunday tomorrow and we will have to assess their Sunday Lunch.  As usual, we have found that this canal has solved the problems of going up in a different way.  All the double locks have ground paddles as well as those in the gates themselves and all are bloody heavy.  In addition there are more swing bridges than you can shake a Yorkshire stick at and some of them are even worse.  We had to delicately ram one today to get it to move.
Also, rather than having flights of locks seperated by pounds, many on the climb up from Leeds are in 'staircases' of two or three.  This means one lock empties directly into the next and although hardly rocket science one does have to think carefully about managing the water levels.  The most challenging, the famous 'Bingley Five rise' was actually a doddle as there were two permanent lock keepers and two volunteers so we didn't have to do a thing.  We're heading to Skipton on Monday which is meant to be really nice and it has a chandlery.  This is necessary as we have already lost two of the rather horrid rope fenders that came with the boat and I want to replace them all and buy other stuff - I have a list but I bet it won't reflect what I actually buy.

Approaching the dreaded 5 rise

Someone's happy as we have no gates to heave or paddles to fight.

Almost at the top

Someone's been busy this early in the season.  I count 16 chicks.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A little change

Spent the day renaming the boat.  Some say its unlucky but even yesterday when the old name was on it I mentioned to an accompanying boat that I was going to change it and name it after my first novel.  The net result was an interested potential reader who left us clutching one of my business cards.
In fact, the colours of the boat are exactly those of various varieties of Jacaranda tree so it all seemed to make a spooky sort of sense.  Also, we were already getting fed up having to explain to all these foreigners (sorry Yorkshiremen) what a Grockle was. Another success yesterday was stopping the engine making a dreadfull rattle below 1000 rpm.  Spoke to Beta marine who make them and did some measurement to find that the engine wasn't properly aligned with the prop shaft.  All is quiet and smooth.  Still got a massive list of things to do with the boat but they're all seemples little things now. 

Don't you just love sticky backed plastic