Sunday, 3 April 2016

Doing much this weekend?

When still working the nine to five (or the five to nine!) or after doing my gym class at the end of the week, I inevitably get asked this question or a variation of it. Any plans? Doing anything nice? Well, no plans really but yes, something nice as a matter of fact! When I tell people I live on a narrowboat, their reactions are (almost) always the same. Wow, they will say. Do you travel around? It must be really great to have such freedom. (Is it cold? - you knew that one was coming). I have to admit that it is with some satisfaction and not a little relish that I admit that yes it is wow, yes we move about and yes I feel free like I never have before (but no, it isn't cold!). I never stop appreciating the life I live, the beauty that surrounds me and the pure pleasure of travelling for no other reason than because it is enjoyable to do so.

The flatlands of Rufford

Neatly coiled ropes

Over the last few months (otherwise known as winter!) we have moved around more than in previous years. It seems a natural progression for us. As we have fully embraced the liveaboard life, we have also embraced travelling and mooring in different places through more inclement weather. After leaving the confines of a marina on our first boat (with water on tap and plug in electricity) for the call of the cut, we were lucky to get a private online mooring, affording us the 'security' of somewhere to be based for longer periods in the winter. The first winter we didn't really move around much except to empty our waste tank or fill with water, these tasks being completed in a morning or a weekend. The next winter we were later in returning to the mooring and earlier in leaving. This year we have abandoned the idea that you need to bed down for winter altogether and pretty much moved around the whole time. We are loving it. Below are a selection of photos taken of our travels over the last month.

Gongoozlers at a lock

Cormorant between dives

Nesting swans

The splendid artwork on the back cabin doors by the esteemed Dave Moore

Gliding off through the still waters...hey wait for me!

Waiting patiently for the lock to fill

More gongoozlers - this is a favorite spot for them, next to a pub

The Tim Tyler hull moving beautifully through the water, creating very little wash as seen by the still water at the front of the boat. Hull shape makes a huge difference to how a boat cuts through the water

Fuel boat Ambush towing dumb boat Viktoria to Burscough Wharf, where she normally resides, after extensive repairs in Wigan dry dock

Hardly any wash on this beast of a boat!

Newly welded and painted

Derek Bent doing what he does best

A great sight, three Liverpool boats all together - Mersey on the left

It was popular to put fresh flowers on the roof in days gone by, usually wild flowers collected from the hedgerows. Sadly these are less common these days. At this time of year there isn't much growing  anyway so I made do with shop bought!

This stretch of canal between Parbold and Appley Bridge is beautiful in all seasons. We have had a very mild winter albeit a wet one with the terrible flooding all around the country over the Christmas holidays. It is four years since we had any really thick frost or snow. The canal can get frozen over preventing movement but this happens less frequently. Years ago, ice breaker boats would be put to work to keep the canals open, to keep goods being transported. Think of it like the gritting wagons going out to keep the road network open. Simple but effective, they were horse drawn (the thicker the ice, the more horses were used) with pointed hulls and a flat, open deck upon which a bar was mounted along the length at chest height. Men would line the bar each side and rock the tug to smash the ice.

I love this tree. It is like a tree goddess. Unfortunately it is dead as I have photographed it in summer, bare of any leaves.

Emptying Appley Deep lock, you can see the power of the water flowing out of the lock

A glimpse of the back cabin through the lock gates

Outside the lock keepers cottage filling with water

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