Sunday, 30 September 2012

Canal Royalty

It's something you hear about when people refer to the old working boatmen and women, and rightly so. They had a hard life and the latter workers stuck at it and in some ways bridged into the next 'life' of the canals. This new life is characterised by the live-a-board, those who take a brave decision to move aboard, yes I think it is brave to step aside from the umbilical cord of bricks and motor and all the connectivity that comes with it. So these people are the new generation and in my opinion true custodians of the waterways, they look after it for me while I am at work ;-)

So today I met canal royalty. I have hailed Les on a couple of occasions when doing our own bit of cruising. I then started to read of a true romance (and I'm a bloke remember) his princess lived thousands of miles away, living a completely different life. I started to wonder if was reading fact or fiction, it was so unlikely but so worthwhile, especially as the two life journeys had been so seemingly difficult. The writing was compelling, the story was absorbing, as soon as a blog entry had been consumed you were left waiting and wanting more update, the next instalment.

Like all fairy tales this one had the very best of endings, the English gent gets his bride and the princess gets to live in her stately home.

So back to today, I visited that stately home and it rivals the best. It's one full of love and laughter. Its represents everything that those desiring to live-a-board must aspire to. It was certainly helped by the lovely smell of baking cake when I was invited aboard!

We chatted for a good couple of hours about life, boats, culture plus much much more that will no doubt come to me in reflections as the days pass.

So in my book this pair are canal royalty as they represent so many canal users but they are at the top of the tree in their story, their use of the canals and what came over most was the love of the life they lead. Better not shout about it too loud otherwise there would be a massive rush to buy boats.... and I know how hard that can be !

I came away inspired, certainly by the lifestyle but I think more so by the obvious love and affection between the pair, it was nice to see the last chapter of the book in real life. Long may they cruise the waterways.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Boat viewings - dissapointment

After our recent failure to buy a very nice boat I lined up a couple more viewings - same builder - the now defunct Severn Valley. Why this builder, well they were latterly based on a decent shell and the layout and standard equipment installed appeals. 58 foot, trad, diesel heating bath, expandable bed decent kitchen good engine, good electrical install...some have bow thrusters....

Problem is the two I have viewed, one at Kings Bromley marina and the other at Ellesmere were very disappointing.  I recently read a thread about selling boats and the seller was criticised for not showing the engine bay. I agree this is the signature area for how well a boat has been looked after/maintained.

The two I looked at this weekend were messy, compared to the one you would have eaten your dinner off. Interesting thing is there is a run on decent boats at the moment they are selling, no doubt with the demise of so many builders good second hand boats are in demand - plus it seems life afloat is getting popular again... or people see it as a cheap way to live?

No problem, it was a nice 160  mile trip out on my bike today. Called in on Waterlily, she is a great boat, just not long enough for me but if we cannot find anything soon we will give it up and stick with what we have, she is not at all bad.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Chirk and Wales beyond

Unfortunately not by boat. It was in our new (old) car. We have parted company with the ever unreliable VW polo and brought a little bit younger Honda CRV. It is part of a master plan of relocations..... but in reality is a want as much as a need. However so far it has got no2 son back to Leeds with all of his 'stuff' and as the post title describes a recent long weekend to Wales.

It was to take my father -in-law back to Wales where he had lived for 40 plus years and where Rachel did a lot of growing up. We stayed in a great guest house Bryn Elltyd   please give the link a click, you will be impressed as we were, even though we stayed in the pig sty and my father-in-law stayed in the Hobbit hole. It is based in some fantastic scenery with the steam railway running at the end of the garden.

We started the weekend with a stop off at Chirk castle.... worth a visit, I'd have preferred a walk by the canal but I am saving a lot of the Llangollen canal for when we visit it fully on our boat.

A short walk from the guest house took me into this lanscape....

I know steam trains saw off the canals, but who can resist all that fire, water and engineering....

We did electric mountain on Saturday which was also very impressive and the secret bunker in Nantwich on Monday on the way back. I opted out having done it before and took Leia for a walk by the canal, stopping at Adderley top lock and helped a flurry of boats through.

All in all a good weekend, even if the canal links were tentative. But we do not have our parents for ever so it was also nice to be able to be apart of a visit back to Wales.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Quiet on the cut...?

After my considerable disappointment , see last post, I went out for a ride on my bike, 110 miles up to Buxton, then over to Leek, stopping off at Stone then a call by the boat at Fradley. There was one cruiser on the mooring below Star lock at Stone and nothing at Woolsey bridge moorings.

I gather there was a burst of activity after the school holidays but the drop in temperature and race towards darker nights seems to be curtailing the majority, shame we have no plans for a cruise anytime soon....

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Being used.....?

So an update from my last post. We went to see a boat, it was what we wanted it was something we could live on in a lot of comfort, it was very expensive.

We were advised after the viewing an offer had been made on the boat but refused. The next day I emailed the broker ABNB asking for a second viewing as we were very interested in the boat..... no answer. A couple of days later I emailed again, this time getting a response saying fine for a second viewing, could ABNB have my contact details (they already had them) to contact me prior to the viewing on Wednesday AM. Tuesday pm I still had not heard from ABNB so I phoned to confirm the viewing, bearing in mind this was an expensive boat and I was going to make an offer..... they told me it had been sold !!

I asked more than once if my interest and plans for a second viewing had been relayed to the owners...... ABNB never confirmed this. So I have to assume the owners were not aware of my significant interest before they accepted the offer on the boat. If it had been my boat I would have wanted ABNB to tell me of the interest before I took an offer on selling my boat. Sick, yes I was and whilst ABNB were sympathetic, it went no way towards making me feel anything other than used to generate a higher offer from the original viewer of the boat. I am very pleased for whoever has brought the boat, they have something very special, as to the way I was dealt with by ABNB...... well you can make up your own mind on that one. Interstingly, and I may be paranoid here but I was on the ABNB Friday mailing list..... I never got this weeks update??

So, very frustrated - towards the end of the week close, very close to taking a big step but seems we were not being taken seriously.... dangerous I'd say in any sales situation, especially for the poor person whose item is being sold by a third party.

One thing I have noticed since boat builders have gone under, the trade in good quality second hand narrowboats is brisk.... last time I looked at Great Heywood boat sales their stock of boats on brokerage was very low.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Life changing decisions.....

Some really interesting posts lately.

Sarah blogged very honestly about her year out living on Chertsey and Bakewell. I like reading Sarah's blogs as she seems to give an honest account of her experiences, good and bad and this was most evident in her blog entitled 'Happy New Year' Aside from the fact I fully understand the New Year context as I work in Higher Education (HE) and in a week it will all start again with lots (thankfully) of new and returning faces - some of them lecturers from their scholarly activity over the summer! Sarah tells a tale of a year off that was good but not as she expected. My wife recently asked if I'd be happier working on the waterways.... I said not as I feel making it too accessible  would take the enjoyment from it.

So then Halfie is taking a well earned rest from the world of work. Unlike some he has opted for this end of career move, but it will no doubt mean much more time afloat - will it diminish the return he gets from being on the water?

When I read Les and Jaq's blog  - NB Valerie  I reach for the boat keys and the phone to tell my boss its over...... they seem so at peace with what they have. They have love also but we have that in spades so can it be that easy and does it never get bad?

Then my neighbour Mandy from Don't panic wrote very honestly and deeply recently about being at peace in isolation that can be found on the canals. I can really connect to this. I look for remote moorings when out and about and try and avoid where possible the honey pot sociable mooring on the system. I might be missing the food and drink that some seem to share and enjoy  - almost every day - NB Chance leads the pack on this one for sure.

Finally John and Louise from NB Blue Moon are heading back to reality after their recent cruise.... they end their blog .....

"Oh well it's back to reality on Monday for us both. I wish this retirement lark would hurry up !!!"

So why the post today and with this reflection.... well we are viewing a boat tomorrow that we could live on in some comfort. That is all I am saying as it is a million miles away from reality right now, but for tonight I have one foot closer to realising a life changing decision  ;-)