Wet felting workshop

“…..you do know there’s one place left on Sunday’s workshop, don’t you……” Well it would have been rude not to take it wouldn’t it….so having established that I didn’t need to take any equipement other than myself, I ventured forth to learn how to “wet felt”.

Broadly speaking, felting is a textile process of matting and compressing fibres together to make a dense fabric. It’s a technique that’s been used for millennia and of course it is commercially and economically manufactured now. So hand made felt is considered an art form which can be both practical or decorative. And the nice thing about it, is that it’s not difficult so ideal for a beginners workshop.

(And yes there is a dry felting technique, it’s called needle felting and in my opinion is a lot harder)

Everything at Wiseheart studio starts with home made cake and today was no different, Annie kept us well fuelled throughout the day.  Kate had everything prepared for us to make our first piece of felt and talked us through the process, within the hour we’d made two beautiful flowers.

Kate showed us how to layer the fibres, add highlights of colour and sparkle, and how much water and soap is needed.

Having encouraged the fibres to ‘stick’ together we then had to agitate them to compress and shrink them into a dense strong fabric by rolling the fibre mat up in a sushi roll mat, (I’m not sure sushi rolls were available when felt was first made but never mind)

I’ll embellish my ‘Derbyshire dale’ with some embroidery once it’s dry.

I had enough time to play with a few more colours and made a small piece of fabric that I can use later, probably to make a book cover.

It was a brilliant workshop and just to add the icing to the cake we were given a goodie bag full of fibre to encourage us to do more felting at home.

A week of visitors

We thought that Bugsworth Basin would give us the opportunity to make really good progress with the dreaded wiring, and to a certain extent we have. But oh boy have we had a good week here. We’ve made so many friends that poor Eric has had to keep his work area neat and tidy as we’ve kept inviting people to look at the boat.

I’ve managed a few nice photos of the inside of the boat, particularly the saloon and conservatory.

and while I was doing the vacuuming indoors Eric set to with the mop and bucket.

We met up with a local couple who drive an electric car and of course we had to compare our batteries. After a short cruise we agreed that the one thing we had in common was that no one can hear us coming.

We spent a day with Ian and Joy whose electric boat is due to be completed soon, and as both their boat and ours use the same motor, they were encouraged to see and hear how pleasant it is to cruise an electric boat.

On Friday, family came for the day, and as they have been listening to us talking about our boat for the past  5 or so years, it was a real pleasure to show off Firecrest and a reality at last.

And finally having imposed myself upon Wiseheart Studio’s hospitality all week, I thought it would be nice to invite Kate Annie and Martyn to see the boat. It was the first time we have sat in the conservatory in the evening and it certainly won’t be the last, the only thing I’d forgotten, was to get in a bottle of ‘chilled white’. Although I don’t think anyone minded and I suspect that Kate Annie and Martyn were as impressed with Firecrest as I have been with Wiseheart studio.

I wish I’d thought to take snaps of all our visitors, we’ve had more smiles on board than a school photographer gets to see.





Bird life

Leaving the Canada geese behind, I was on my way to … Well my second home for the week, Wiseheart Studio for more knit and natter and for a change it was gloriously warm and sunny. The bird life was out in force. I never realised just how many Robins there are hopping about. I guess we’re all familiar with the single one that’s made its teritory in our own back garden but once you start walking through the the countryside with no physical garden boundaries it felt like a Robin invasion was taking place, not that I’m complaining, they have a very sweet song. Funny how I’d never considered how many Robins there are.

And I confess to getting very excited when I saw this little gem flitting amongst some ivy. But alas, it’s a Goldcrest not a Firecrest. An easy way to spot the difference is that firecrests have a white band above their eyes. They are have a paler belly.

And finally I heard this fella, before I saw it. It’s a Nuthatch. They are quite a big little bird almost like a small woodpecker. There is a footbridge that I use on my daily walk and it elevates me to the top of the tree height so it’s interesting to view the wildlife from a different angle.

Sadly I can’t take credit for any of these photos but have to thank mr Google for them.

Of course I shouldn’t leave without sharing another photo from Wiseheart as I have enjoyed a fair bit of knitting and spinning in their company.




Bugsworth Basin

Bugsworth Baisin is the head of the navigation from Buxworth to Dukinfield on the 14 mile Peak Forest Canal.

 Built in the late 1790’s for the transportation of limestone and gritstone from the higher quarries. It became a hub for the preparation of lime in the 19 kilns and the import of other goods for the local mills and businesses to and from Manchester. At one point over 600 tonnes of limestone was passing through the basin every day and it was the largest inland port in England, and all with horse drawn barges. It was closed in 1927 and fell into disrepair. Thankfully a dedicated team from the Inland Waterways Protection Society set about restoring what was left in 1968 and the basin was opened for navigation again in 2005. The Bugsworth Basin Heritage Trust continues to maintain and improve the facilities and environment for both those on the water and the land.

This is where we are moored. The arches are the remains of one of the buildings

Warm welcomes

We’ve been welcomed with open arms here and so enjoyed this area that we’ve asked permission to stay a bit longer. Bugsworth Basin can get crowded in the summer but at this time of year the rules are relaxed and common sense and a donation prevail.

Erics been keeping busy while I’ve walked into Whaley Bridge most days.

My highlight being a fantastic wool shop, which is hardly the best way to describe the WiseheartStudio Run by Kate and Annie, Wiseheart Studio is an independent textile studio and yarn shop that feels more like being welcomed into someone’s front room than a business venture. Whilst the stock isn’t the most extensive, it is all special and so very tempting. Much of it from local independent spinners, dyers and artists which are displayed on the Welsh dresser, sideboards and the coffee tables. (And yes I did buy some, if only to make Eric a better wooly hat) The comfy sofa is draped with crocheted blankets and the walls adorned with local artwork Homemade cake is served on an assortment of China plates, and there are knit and natter groups running most days. And upstairs is the Pear Tree cafe which is equally inviting. I can see me wanting to return here frequently.

The Basin has a warden called Pavlo who has taken under his wing. There’s a shallow area in one of the winding points and we managed to run aground. Pavlo came to our rescue and helped pull us off with his own boat. We were mightily embarrassed but Pavlo and his mate Mark were brilliant and reassured us that they have to pull someone off at least once a month. I made them cake to say thankyou, and then Pavlo who keeps chickens gave us some freshly laid eggs. Yet more kindness

I’ve been taking advantage of the space here at Bugsworth and having some ‘driving lessons’ I’m still very unsure of myself when it comes to steering a 60 foot boat, but everyone assures me this time next year I’ll wonder what all the fuss was about,min the mean time I still suggest you give me a wide berth.

And finally today’s weather report, more rain, more mud and even some snow. But I’m hoping for sun tomorrow.


All boaters suffer with condensation at some point and we’re no different. Most of the boat is ok, we’re both well ventilated and well insulated, but the ‘conservatory’ at the bow has a lot of exposed metal and doesn’t have the double glazing that the rest of the boat has. In the mornings I can usually wring out two mopping up cloths before I give up. All gadgets and gizmo’s have to earn their right to storage space on the boat and we’d decided not to bring our trusty Karcha window vac with us. But enough was enough and as luck would have it Tesco had just one left reduced down from £39 to £14 so it was a bit of ano brainer. Ha, this morning the temperature had risen and not a drop of moisture to be seen. It seems that the threat of being sucked up was enough to beat the condensation into submission and the problem is solved.

I feel very British right now cause I am becoming obsessed with the weather. The early morning drizzle soon turned into heavy rain and as it didn’t show any signs of easing off I decided it was time for me to test out my gold plated waterproof trousers. I’m happy to report that I walked for over an hour and stayed as dry as the conservatory. I’m quite content trudging along in the rain, just so long as I can step around the puddles and there’s no mud.

Wonder what tomorrow will bring.


Spring is on its way

Spring was in the air today. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. I walked into Whaley Bridge and was overjoyed to see this patch of crocus growing by the canal side.

The Ducks were happy to pose for photos

even the swans came to investigate.

Pity there’s more snow forecast overnight.

A cold days cruise

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.

Snow goose

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.

Soggy Sunday

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.