Saturday, 25 April 2015

Things you need on the canals

First - mooring rings - much easier than banging in bank sticks

Second - a nice quiet spot, preferably without other boats around

Third and most important..............

Sunday Lunch report to follow.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Heart Break Hill

A quiet night in Kidsgrove at the junction of the Macc and the Trent and Mersey was had by all and today we set off down the aforementioned 'hill'.  Its not a hill and its not heart breaking.  Its really called the Cheshire flight and its rather pretty but it does have a lorra  lorra locks.  We did about 14 today and another 10 tomorrow but the countryside is beautiful and the sun is still out.  Not that the weekends forecast is that good.
On another note, to all my readers who are not friends on FB.  Yesterday I received an offer from a mainstream publisher to publish a book I have been planning to write for some time.  This time its a factual one about the Lynx helicopter which features a great deal in some of my novels and also in this blog if you go back  couple of years.  Its going to be hard work and need a lot of research but its something I want to do as the aircraft has never really had the publicity it deserves. So that'll be me busy for some time to come.

Someone wiping the sweat from their brow on Heart Break Hill - this is after the first lock!!

Monday, 20 April 2015

An electric morning

Beautiful day, sun shining, countryside looking stunning.  Start the engine and all looks fine so head off down the cut.  Next to my right knee I have a battery monitor that tells me how much charge is going in and what volts I've got - all as it should be.  Just behind the gauge is my inverter that I normally have on when charging, as the AC supply then tops up my laptop and phone. 
'Fi, turn on the inverter please.'
Click.  Followed by panic, the volts are dropping through 11.5 and the discharge current is approaching 200 amps.  In a bigger panic I reach down and turn off the inverter - all back to normal. Suddenly a gentle morning's pootle is not so gentle as I try to work out what the hell is going on.  The immersion heater is off so the only thing I can think of is that there is a massive short in the AC system somewhere or the inverter has shorted out internally - (only a grand to replace).  As I imagine more and more possible disaster scenarios, all involving a big hit to the wallet, I decide we'd better stop and check things out.  As we come alongside I jump ashore with the centreline and look in through the kitchen window.
'Er, Fi is the electric kettle plugged in and turned on??'
Problem solved.
It just doesn't get any more exciting on the canals.
Oh and we then did the twelve locks of the Bosley flight and are now tucked up in a quiet mooring for the night.

Fi driving through our first swing bridge of the day.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Last in first out

The last Sunday Lunch assessment of 2014 is also the first of 2015 and a very good 9.5 (if only they would put the gravy in a separate jug).  The pub in question is the Sutton Arms just past Macclesfield and its very good.  Hopefully not so good that I don't fall asleep during the Grand Prix this afternoon but there again that normally happens anyway.  Tomorrow we go down our first flight of locks at Bosley - all 12 of them and thence on to Kidsgrove, slowly heading towards darkest Wales.

The Sutton Arms and formally the residence of a certain Lord Lucan - they serve a pint of  Lucan beer here and when you get to the bottom - its all disappeared!  Its also meant to be haunted but there was no sign of a ghost or a missing peer of the realm.  Lunch was excellent though.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A tribute to John Belushi - sort of.

'Its a hundred miles to Chicago, we've got half a pack of cigarettes and half a tank of gas, its dark and we're wearing sunglasses - hit it!'
Or - Its 28 locks and fifty miles to Langollen, we've got a full booze cabinet and a full tank of diesel, its sunny and we're wearing sunglasses - bugger where's the ignition key?
Oh and on top of that we've got a full water tank, plenty of coal for the fire, two gas bottles and an empty loo but that doesn't quite fit with the Blues Bothers quote.
So we're off. Lovely sunny day if a tad cold.  Boat is serviced and we have a plan.  All we need to do is remember to slow down for the next 2 months or so.

Newly pained roof and new roof garden, trees starting to come into leaf, lovely sunshine and a mug of coffee (or two) and all at a massive two miles an hour.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Back on the cut soon

Its almost that time of year when we get the urge to disappear into Narnia otherwise known as the British canal network.  We were going up to Macclesfield on Sunday but have delayed because of the weather forecast (and absolutely nothing to do with getting one more round of golf in before I fall asleep in front of the Grand Prix).  We actually went up to the boat a few weeks back and took her to a boatyard to get her 'blacked'  ie the underwater section of the hull painted.  We also took delivery of a futon so guests can have a proper bed to sleep in and nothing to do with giving the dog somewhere else to sleep.  The current plan that's steeped in cunningness is to do about two months away.  We will go and do the Llangollen with the famous unpronounceable aqueduct  that's 500 foot up and 1000 yards long.  Then I am aiming to head up the Shropshire Union to Elmesmere Port where we will join the Manchester Ship Canal as long as I can get my head around all their weird rules - like needing relevant tide tables - er for a canal??  However, that will lead us to the Rive Weaver which eventually joins up with the Trent and Mersey canal via the famous Anderton Boat lift and will allow us to head home again.  Yet another exciting adventure to look forward to and of course yet more Sunday lunches to assess.  Oh and I've another book to finish - 'Nautilus' is shaping up nicely and will finish off a trilogy that started with my first novel 'Jacaranda'  I think I'll call it the 'Jacaranda Trilogy', just to be original,  If anyone wants to join us for any of our adventures and to try out the futon just drop us an email.  Next entry will probably be from a deep and dark canal somewhere in England - unless we get really lost.

The Pontyunpronouncable aqueduct.  Built by Robert Telford and now a World Heritage site.  They clearly hadn't heard about elf 'n safety in 1795 but I am surprised we are not required to wear parachutes in this more safety conscious day and age.

The Anderton boat lift that takes you 50 feet up from the river Weaver to the Trent and Mersey.  I think we really will invest in a couple of parachutes!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Lynx and Submarines

Apologies to my readers for being rather silent recently but Christmas followed by a dreadful bout of flu just seemed to get in the way.  I have just started a third novel in the Jacaranda series and like all my books I know where I want to end up by haven't a clue how to get there.  One of the stars will be a submarine - the Nautilus - built between 1800 and 1804, it was actually quite successful but never came to anything - I'll soon change that!  However, I now have a separate and parallel project.  I have been liaising with a historian over certain aspects of the Falklands War that I was involved in and a few months ago he suggested that I would be uniquely placed to redress a wrong - that is to write a book about the Lynx helicopter, especially its achievements in war time.  The aircraft is ending its service life this year and in my view has never been given the recognition it deserves, particularly for its performance during the Falklands.  All the documentaries and books focus on the land battle once the soldiers were ashore but there was still a fight going on at sea and in the air.  This is a departure for me as I won't be able to just make things up if I run out of material!  So if anyone who was there reads this article I would really like to hear from you.  My intention is to base the book partly on a factual account of its gestation and capabilities but in large part on the personal accounts of the guys who flew it.  I will be using the Fleet Air Arm Officer's Association data base to contact most of the aircrew but not everyone is a member.  All help will be greatly appreciated.  Unlike my novels, I even have a publisher lined up for the book and intend to give a proportion of my royalties to the Fly Navy Heritage Trust.

My Lynx - in 1982, called ARFA

A full size, sectioned model of a submarine called Nautilus.  3 crew, 2 knots and four hours underwater endurance - not bad for over 200 years ago.