Friday, 4 August 2017

Thank you to all my readers

Every month I have to do a spreadsheet for the blessed Inland Revenue or whatever they're called these days.  I also keep a running total of all my book sales.  At the end of this month I cracked 20,000 Kindles.  As my books are also taken out as library loans from Amazon I've also had the equivalent of another 10,000 Kindle sales (rough figure as it's an estimate from pages read) and a measly 400 paperbacks.    These figures may not be earth shattering compared to some 'bestselling' authors but last year 'Jacaranda' was an Amazon best seller in the 'travel adventure' category so I can claim to be one anyway.  So to all my readers - thank you.  (next novel in about two months).

Saturday, 1 July 2017


Back at home for the last few weeks and I've been getting things sorted and also getting stuck back into writing.  The Wasp book is shaping up well.  I am in the 'herding cats' phase which means chasing up all those people who promised me input and then immediately forgot about it.  That said, some good dits are coming out fo the woodwork  I've got some excellent shots of what happens when a Wasp gets taken out by a bowl of custard - you'll have to buy the book to find out what that's all about!
However, Jon Hunt number 9 is now in full swing.  My aim is to publish in the Autumn.  Below is a very, very draft cover just to keep some interest going.  WMD is only the working title and the picture is probably not the one I'll use. I might have one of a skyscraper falling down for no apparent reason at all on Sept 11.  'Nuff said.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

End of the line

Anyone looking out of the window this week mught just have noticed the odd gale and torrential rain.  We certainly noticed it as we were trying to get up the 12 locks of the Bosely flight.  With the forecast as it is, it seemed a good idea to get into our marina today as it looks like the only respite from strong winds.  You might think that a fifteen ton boat would shrug off a little breeze.  Nope, she sails sideways with ease, normally just when you don't want it, like when coming alongside and you jump ashore with the one centre line in your hand trying to pull her in.  In top of that becasue of our layout the boat needs to come into her berth stern first.  Anyone who has driven one of these things knows that steering them backwards is hit and miss at best.  Our last boat had a bow thruster which simplifies things greatly.  Jacaranda doesn't have one.  So it was with a little trepidation because it was still quite windy that I took her into the marina this afternoon.  My incredibly cunning plan was to turn across the wind, upwind of the berth and let the breeze set her down so that I could simply reverse in at the last moment.  You can always rely on the wind to catch you out.  Normally its a gust just when you don't need/want it.  This time it simply said 'sod it mate you're on your own' and died completely.  Still with a bit of throttle, rudder and prayer we made it in.  So, we will be sorting things out for the next few days and back home at the weekend sometime.  Next exciting adventure will probably be in August for a week or two.

All snug in the marina.  Actually my reversing in was pretty good so of course no one saw us do it.  Why is it only when you cock things up that you have an audience???

Sunday, 4 June 2017


Well 'Heartbreak Hill' actually.  Its the name given to the section of the Trent and Mersey between Middlewich and Kidsgrove.  In fact its nothing of  the sort and one of my favorite bits of canal (although there are 41 locks to navigate).  The locks are unusual as they are twin set ups with two narrow locks side by side.  Most are still functional although in a couple of places one has fallen into disrepair.  It means the flow of traffic is very smooth.  However, more importantly the gates are light in operation, the paddles easy to operate and they fill very quickly but without lots of turbulence.  Why can't all locks be like these??  The countryside is also very pretty and we were blessed with decent weather.  The only problem now is that because we weren't able to go down the Anderton lift and onto the River Weaver we are ten days achead of schedule.  As I write we have just come onto the Macclesfield canal and should be at our marina on Thursday.  We're not too fussed as the weather is forecast to be pretty average for the next week.  So we'll probably head home at the weekend as long as I can prise the keys to my car from the grip of my daughter in law who has been using it for the last two months.  Although we are early, we will still have been on board for over ten weeks and its time I got to grips with a golf club again.  Sunday lunch was the Rising Sun in Scholar Green.  A 8.5 was awarded - someone needs to come oop north and teach these foreigners how cook roast spuds.
So an exciting week ahead and who knows maybe that IRA sympathising, spendthrift, Marxist, Worzle Gummidge won't get the keys to number 10!

The locks are all quite deep

But its like going up in a lift

Women drivers (I'd better say no more)

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Not quite such a cunning plan after all

Yesterday we had to do 'navigation'. In other words we had to turn right off the Bridgewater and on to the Trent and Mersey canal.  Not quite as easy as it sounds as there wasn't the usual signpost but we managed to get it right (I am an RYA Yachmaster (Ocean) after all).  Maybe the sign was in the Preston Brook tunnel which is the first thing you come across on this canal.  Its quite nice to be back on a narrow canal, ie one which can only take narrow boats because of the size of the locks and bridge holes.  Mind you, each bridge is on a bend and each bend is hidden by an overhanging tree so it can get quite amusing as there always seems to be boat coming the other way just at these points.
We spent last night at the 'the breach'  a refurbished part of the canal which is on an embankment and which collapsed a few years back and dumped a squillion gallons of canal water into the neighbouring famers field.  Its all fine now and they've even put in mooring rings which makes a nice change as on the last two canals we needed to bang in sticks nearly everywhere we went.
Anyway, as I said in previous posts, our intention was to go down the famous Anderton boat lift onto the River Weaver for a few days.  There's a beer festival on at the bottom of the lift and we were warned that the place was absolutely full.  As usual it was all b****ks and there was plenty of space.  the only problem is that as its a bank holiday weekend and there's the beer festival, the lift is booked solid until Tuesday and we are on a 48 hour mooring.   So next time perhaps.  It means we will probably arrive at Macclesfield early although there are a few options we can consider - of course this will mean making a 'decision' at some time, something I strenuously try to avoid doing.

From the top it doesn't look all that exciting

But from below its really quite spectaclear

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Escape to the country

So with all the conspiracy theories about the owners of the Bridgewater canal not sticking to the times promised to re open their canal, we were really looking forward to what we would find when we got there.  Would it really be open?  Would there be hundreds of boats all waiting for the starting gun??  Would there be riots??? Er - it was open and we were the only boat in sight.  OK there was a large barge blocking the way which the workmen immediately moved for us but to call it all an anti-climax would not be an exaggeration.
So off down the Bridgewater for a long day, as you really need to get past the big, sweaty town of Manchester before mooring up.  Seven hours late we found an idylic spot near the National Trust estate of Dunham Massey.  Today we've moved on to the pretty little town of Lymm and tomorrow we're aiming to get to the top of the Trent and Mersey canal at Preston Brook.  After that, we hope to get to Anderton for Saturday where the famous boat lift is lurking and maybe take a trip down it onto the river Weaver.  There are no stoppages in the way now (fingers crossed) so should be in our marina on the Macclesfield as planned towards the end of June.
The rearward view of the new bridge supports, the building of which caused the canal to be shut for three months.  Note all the other boats in sight!!!

Crossing the rather larger Manchester Ship canal

The view from the stern on an absolutely stunning evening.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Bridgewater Grand Prix

Despite the weather doing its best to spoil our plans we managed to get the boat blacked and back into the water a day ahead of schedule.  It was particularly good  as when on the hard, the boat sits level but in the water she slopes down towards the stern. The net result was that the shower wouldn't drain properly and half the doors kept coming open.  Still a good chuck up to the marina who did an excellent job at short notice.  We've now moved down the canal and are in the little village of Parbold for the weekend along with quite a few other boats who are all heading in the same direction and who all want to go through the Bridgewater canal when it is due to open.  When we were talking about this we thought it might be a good idea to hang back a few days to let the rush die down.  However, every boat we have spoken to seems to have had the same idea.  It wouldn't surprise me that no one goes through when it actually opens and the rush is several days later.
A reasonable Sunday lunch in the Windmill pub but it seems that, although they are good at Yorkshire puds up here, they are not so good at roast potatoes so only an 8 was scored. We were hoping for more because we stopped here on the way up and Lindsay my daughter and her fiance joined us for the night and we had a really excellent supper there.
So fingers, toes and everything else crossed that the canal opens as advertised. Then hopefully a dash through to the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Anderton Boat Lift which is on our narrow boat bucket list.

The start of the Grand Prix with many boats moored and all heading in the same direction.  We are still miles away from the stoppage and its only going to get busier.

As we came through a swing bridge the skipper of the boat coming the other way said that there were lots of Kingfishers on the next section and there was one in this tree.  I've even bought a camera with a special high speed bird feature just so I can get a photo of one of the elusive little sods.  So here is a photo of a Kingfisher hiding in a tree.