When we woke the forecast said it was going to be OK until early afternoon so we made the mistake of believing it. While we were having our breakfast planning our next adventure it started snowing, and oh boy was it bitter.
But it didn’t last and having got the blue sky we’d hoped for, it all looked rather pretty, so we donned the thermal long johns-no you’re not getting photos of us in Aldi’s finest, but take my word that they certainly kept the drafts out…
Past the Swizzels sweet factory where love hearts, drum sticks and Parma violets are made. I’m told that the descerning can tell which sweet is being made that day, by the aroma that surrounds the factory. And a little further past the magnificent New Mills viaduct.
We’d been going about 5 minutes when it clouded over and the heavens opened. Rain, like we never see in Suffolk, cold, wet, heavy and miserable. We knew it was only 10 minutes to our first destination the marina a New Mills where we could fill up and add the waterproofs to our layers. Only to find it closed for the day. Oh well, our final destination was only two or three miles away and Eric gallantly suggested I stayed in the dry instead of keeping him company while we trudged on.
We pulled into Bugsworth Basin just as the sun came out, we filled up with water and found ourselves a lovely mooring spot, the same one we’d used in 2015 on Braidbar’s hire boat.
So despite getting very wet in the morning the afternoon turned out beautiful and in the evening we treated ourselves to fish and chips at the Navigation Inn, the building you can see directly behind Firecrest. No wonder it’s a favourite with the boaters moored at Bugsworth.
We did get the snow today although it wasn’t really cold enough for it to stick. The geese didn’t like it and couldn’t wait to get out of the water.
Friday’s sunshine was a bit of a teaser as it’s become wet and wild again, not at all ideal for cruising. But even with the towpath competing for its own canal status both Disley and New Mills are within “easy” walking distance, so we’ve stayed put.
Going to church is part of our lives and as we’re not committed to a particular denomination, easy access ticks the box. This week both the Methodist and the Baptist church were equidistant so I browsed their respective websites and chose the one whose service started at 10:30 rather than 11am.
We arrived in good time only to find the door being locked…. Mmm not the welcome we’d hoped for. It turned out that this Sunday was Disley’s churches together day and the service was taking place in our second choice venue. Which was rather good as we got a merry mix of 5 churches for the price of one. Note to any church secretary reading this blog. Please keep your websites up to date and accurate.
Now as everyone knows if you like a really good sing church isn’t the only place to go, so it was off to Twickenham for the Rubgy international in the afternoon. I’m learning to cope with intermittent TV signal, the weather playing havoc with our reception, but Well done England, you got there in the end even if the first half had us all worried.
Monday morning still isn’t enticing us to leave the comfort of a warm boat just for the sake of moving a few miles. The forecast is for heavy rain and even shows snow overnight. We’re still erring on the cautious side of things, but the mechanics of the boat are paying dividend. We charged the batteries with the generator on Wednesday and again last night for roughly 3 hours each time. During those 4 days we’ve cruised, cooked had heat and light aplenty and done the washing and tumble drying without any concern. We still have half a tank of water so it’s all looking good to stay put for another few days if the sun doesn’t shine.
What a glorious day after yesterday’s ferocious winds.
We’d overstayed on the 48 hour moorings because of the weather but as no one else was moving I think we were excused. Today we turned right onto the Peak Forest canal heading towards Whaley Bridge, though we only intended to go as far as Disley.
We took Firecrest through her first lift bridge
We moored up in time for lunch, and the conservatory had warmed up so we sat out to make the most of it. We’d received a special gift from John and Martina from Burnt Oak, hand Made coaster to match our colour scheme. Fibre dyed and spun by Martina and woven by John.
We’re dedicating today to storm Doris which is whipping through the country and has put paid to our cruising plans for the next few hours at least. Our winds might be reaching 50mph but it sounds like the rest of the country is a lot wilder. Mooring under trees is a mixed blessing, it’s definately more sheltered but we”ll be in trouble if one of them comes down.
I’m thinking of taking up surfing cause we’ve got waves on the canal. But then I’m full of daft ideas. It must be cabin fever cause I got the iron out for the first time. (Do you think this is Eric getting his own back for all those photos of him wiring)
Cabin fever got the better of us so we set off for a walk, “on the beech” this was just a bit further along the canal.
The Macclesfield canal starts at Marple Junction. It leaves the Peak Forest canal and travels 26miles south to Kidsgrove. The route of the canal was given permission by an act of Parliament in 1826, surveyed by Thomas Telford and construction was engineered by William Crosley and finally completed in 1831 at a cost of £320,000.
There are some beautiful bridges that curl around onto the tow path. They’re known as Snake bridges and were designed where the towpath crosses to the opposite side to allow the horses to cross over without being untied from their barges. (Information taken from the Macclesfield canal website)
we’re moored just after bridge 2
Despite the grey and miserable weather, the boat is so nice and snug, we’ve changed the duvet from the winter 10.5 tog to our brand new 4.5 tog. I kept a blanket close at hand in case we were cold overnight but no, the lightweight duvet is just right.
And finally a bit of colour, Eric went out to buy some wiring supplies and came back with flowers for me.
After leaving sunny Suffolk, and 6 hours and 5 trains later. With the occasional highlight of sitting next to a pearl dealer, a family going to the science museum for the day and beautiful bronze sculpture.
I arrived back in a grey and drizzly Stockport. At least it was a warm welcome even if only because we have discovered the ventilation around the generator isn’t sufficient to keep it as cool as hoped. But every cloud has a silver lining and not only does the engine room now make a good drying room, the warmth from the generator keeps us warm whilst cruising. Sadly we’ll have to do something about this as its compromising efficiency too much.
Eric assures me that he’s made good progress over the past week, but he didn’t need much encouragement to pack up the tools for a well earned day off today. I wasn’t impressed with how clean he’d kept Firecrest although I think we’re fighting a loosing battle against the mud.
He’d moored at High Lane but, the village itself doesn’t hold much excitement for adventurous boaters like ourselves so today we drew in the ropes and cruised up to Marple. The small town we had walked to a few weeks ago.
I was keen to take a turn at the tiller, if only to build my confidence having had so little practice. I’m pleased to say I made it through more bridges cleanly than Mr Bump would have done. Everyone assures me, it’ll become instinctive eventually but right now if you see me at the helm I suggest a wide birth.
Unless that is, you happen to want to come aboard for a cuppa which is what Kate and Dave, fellow Braidbar boaters did when they saw us passing. Just as I said to Eric, that looks like….. Kate stuck her head out of the hatch waving and saying “it is, it is them, they’re afloat at last”. Luckily we had just reached Marple and were looking for a mooring spot. So they hopped aboard and came for a short cruise and a cuppa, generously letting us take the spot they were about to vacate as they travelled south.
Its a lovely feeling knowing that we have friends afloat. People that we don’t know well but it’s good to pass the time of day with and share our experiences. And if we’re honest to show off Firecrest to.
Another quiet week on the boat, mainly because I left Eric to get on without me distracting him. While I do some socialising back on dry land. I’ve also been able to get on finishing off some knitting projects.
Do you remember the lace shawl that I started the week before we moved onto the boat? I finished the knitting bit yonks ago but there a big problem with the boat, no where to block ( stretching it out to remove all the wrinkles) my projects. So I had to bring it back to the house to find a bit of space big enough to do that.
And as any serious lace knitter knows, shawls look like old dishcloths until they’ve been properly blocked, but then they magically transform into something very pretty. This shawl has now been gifted to someone special in need of a cosy hug.
I’ve also been knitting slippers this week, because the men in my family don’t appreciate lace shawls as much as warm feet. This pattern is for felted clogs which involves knitting in pure wool, comically large shapes that would suit a clown but then putting them into the the washing machine so they shrink down small enough to be moulded to the owners foot.
And each pair fits perfectly, these are for me.
my next knitting project is to make Eric a new wooly hat but for that I shall have to return to the boat because that’s where all my yarn is now.
I’ll be returning to Firecrest tomorrow to find out if Eric’s made as much progress as I have. I hear he’s taken to cruising without me, and I can’t have him making a habit of that. I hope I can find where he’s moored up.
Sorry for the lack of posts this week. We have had a few days off the boat to tie up some loose ends on land.
But having enjoyed a relatively mild winter it seems to be becoming a habit that we should drive back to Firecrest in snowy weather.
Thankfully Braidbar had turned our heating up so it wasn’t too long before the boat was cosy again. But far too cold for a cruise.
We’ve enjoyed having the family on board, Heather staying over using the dinette made up as a bed
and Tim joining us by train from his nearby home. Sausage casserole and mash for tea, followed by couple of rounds of Boggle.
The plan for the week is that Eric will continue fine tuning the wiring although the boat is now self sufficient running on battery power only. I’ll be returning to Suffolk with Heather for another few days to let Eric get on undistracted.
There’s always something to do on a boat. Can’t think why I ever worried about getting bored living on a boat. So Monday has become “Maintenance Monday” or Pipes and Plumbing day.
Although we’ve not cruised far, and had the luxury of shore power for cooking etc, the central heating boiler has been guzzling diesel for the past month. And as Firecrest sits better in the water when she’s got full tanks we thought we’d take this opportunity to fill up.
Diesel in at the stern, Water in the bow, and the urh hum removed from the middle.
We found it very useful when other boaters posted their running costs to help us estimate our own budget so with any luck we’ll be able to generate some proper statistics of our own to help the next generation planning their dream.
We’ve been using the boiler for approx 6 weeks, it’s been a mixture of cold but not frozen in and relatively mild for January. We’ve used about 95 litres diesel at 75p/l (that’s about £71). It might not be the most economic way to heat a home but we haven’t skimped on using the boiler and I reckon £11 a week keeping warm is worth it.
And having Andy from Bailey’s trading post right next door to the yard is a good opportunity to fill the tank.
Water is supplied through CART stand pipes situated regularly (or should that be irregularly) along the canal and they are funded through our annual license fee. As it takes nearly 2 hours to completely fill our tank so it’s politer to use Braidbar’s tap than to hog the water point for that long. We reckon it took about two weeks to drain our tank but that was without economising on usage. If we get the warning that ‘winter is coming’ and we fear we’ll be frozen in then, that’ll be the end to clean clothes and showers the biggest use of water. We’re aiming to keep our tank full most of the time to help keep the boat trim and balanced.
And now for the middle. Well you don’t really want photos of me emptying our toilet, do you? (Or filling it for that matter..) Some boating chores are there to endure not celebrate. We have opted for a villa seperata waterless toilet. We haven’t had it long enough to have come across any problems so I’ll leave it at that. You can visit the Eco toilets website if you want more detail.