The Wides

Just beyond Braidbar is an area know as the Wides. The canal channel only runs down one side and is a popular mooring spot, but you venture further out into the mere at your peril, for there be dragons and all manner of dangerous creatures. I think the only thing I haven’t seen yet is a crocodile. Maybe tomorrow.

But although it looks tranquil and idyllic, the geese seem to have other ideas and at this time of year they are fiercely territorial, they all look the same to me but they each seem to have found a soul mate and paired off to build their nests and do whatever geese do in the spring. It seems to me that attacking other geese and honking 24 hours a day. Ah well I guess I did choose to live on a boat so what can I expect.

This is ‘our’ goose, he likes to hang out outside our conservatory in the hope that I’ll feed him.

His missus is sitting on their nest on the far side.

I’ve seen the kingfisher flitting up and down several times but it’s a bit too far away to see it perched. And I reckon there must be perch in the water as well. In the evening we sit and watch the fish jumping for flies and there’s some whoppers out there.

Laurence came for lunch today, so did someone else from the foot prints left on the roof.

 

Battery Charging Day

Having had a cup of tea at 5:30 am because we woke early, come breakfast we had no 240V power – oh well no coffee.

Opps – we had run the batteries flat and the Inverter had powered down as it should.  I knew the batteries were low, but declined to run the generator the afternoon before because our neighbours were enjoying the sun and the peace fishing off the bow of their boat, and I thought we would do it today instead, and let them enjoy their afternoon.

We ran 3 cells out of 32 – 100% flat – opps not the best thing to do for longevity, but once in a while is OK with our batteries, but something I intend to ensure does not happen again.

It has given me the chance to check the state of all the cells, and assess the state of balance, and we now have a fully charged battery, and I have lots of measurements for each cell.

I am installing electronics that will monitor the batteries all the time, and will eventually start the genset automatically if they get too flat, but I have not installed that yet – ironically I was going to make a start today.  This will also keep an track of exactly how much power we have left.

Normally it is best to keep LiFePO4 batteries between 10% and 90% charged.  The normal practise of charging Lead Acid batteries to 100% and float charging them is a really bad thing to do to Lithium Batteries, so I have been very careful not to charge them too much.

Still it has been a nice day – and we have a nice view over the wide’s – with pairs of Geese being very territorial, and chasing the swan away.

 

 

Old habits die hard

We set off from Braidbar for our weekend cruise aiming for Marple, but I spotted a pleasing view just before we arrived. Eric dutifully pulled over and we tied up. It was only then that I realised it was the identical spot where we had moored when we took the Braidbar hire boat out in 2014.

I could hear the cows but couldn’t see them until I went for a walk and saw they were housed in one of the sheds.

From our mooring here we can look right over to the sprawling conurbations of Stockport and Manchester.

And finally, we had an enjoyable afternoon on Thursday when we saw Jo bringing her newly launched hull into the yard at Braidbar. We remember that overwhelming sense of excitement seeing Firecrest for the first time in her raw naked state and and I wonder if we’ll ever loose that. It shouldn’t be too much longer before we’ve ticked all the boxes and can begin to travel freely.

 

Contentment

It’s been a week of contentment, enjoying the peacefulness. Early mornings when it’s all still are magical. And so is the excitement of emerging from a bridge.

Or looking down into a valley, this is Bollington and when we stop here I’ll try and get a view looking up from the valley below.

On my walks I’ve seen a pair of greater spotted woodpeckers and a cormerant to add to my new bird spotting hobby.

Macclesfield Treacle Market

Macclesfield used to be known as Treacletown because of an accident centuries ago when a horse cart toppled over and spilt its cargo of treacle all over the cobbles. everywhere was sticky but the local poor quickly scooped up what they could and had a feast.

The treacle market is a monthly celebration of real good food and arty crafts

Macclesfield has a fascinating history,  We had to climb the 108 steps, which apparently where mentioned in the doomsday book. The legend is that if you can run up without getting out of breath you can make a wish and it will come true. I wish I were fitter.

Once we got our breath back it was a lovely atmosphere.  The stalls were set around the 14th century church, st Michels,

And the Butter Market town hall

There was loads to see

Packed in like kippers

It was a glorious warm day

With buskers and entertainment

I’m not sure this stall held only local specialities

If we go back next month I must remember not to go shopping the day before cause there really was an abundance of delicious produce to buy. including sticky treacle pudding.

As we’re discovering when you think of places to visit in England, Macclesfield might not be your number one choice but it really has a lot of character and a proud history. On 13th April, they are holding the potato riot re enactment and feast. See you there?

 

Weekend wanderings

Please forgive the lack of posts for a whole week. I’m just too busy enjoying myself and Eric’s too busy working…… Oh and at long last, the sun’s been shining.

At least I know Eric hasn’t been off cruising without me as he’s was still hemmed in by 2 other Braidbar boats, the Mary Sunley which is the community boat, Sunflower and Trading Posts day hire boat.

I had a week in the Lakes eating cake, playing scrabble, dodging the snow and counting lambs. Sadly non of the lambs were in within photo range. But once I got back to Firecrest, the sun emerged and so did the wildlife.

Once Sunflower was taken back into the yard, the swans were able to come and say hello

We set off for a cruise downstream This weekend, along with all the other boaters enjoying the sunshine and came across this sight, at first I thought it was a sculpture.

But then as we cruised past, we realised it was a very confident heron, not at all disturbed by our passing boat.

And we came across these Jacob Sheep that had escaped from their field and were enjoying the canal side vegatation

After a beautiful days cruise our mooring wasn’t the prettiest, but the sunset was still very pretty. More adventures planned for tomorrow.

Change of scene

I’m taking a few days away from the boat so that Eric can work without distraction. No photos but Braidbar have double breasted one of their boats in build against Firecrest which means until they move it Eric can’t go cruising. And I’ve arranged to have a week of rain so he won’t be tempted to go walking. I’m staying with Mum in the Lakes so I’m not too far from water as there is a river running through the garden. Pity it’s not suitable for narrowboats to moor in.

Sadly the rain has come with me so I’ve spent the afternoon on the sofa knitting up the wool that I bought from Wiseheart studio. And I’m making a shawl known as the hitchhiker.

Feeling more like summer than Spring

We woke to find the most perfect of days, the water was still and the geese were still sleeping off their late night shenanigans, even the dawn chorus didn’t disturb us. So we sat in the conservatory drinking in the tranquility with our morning cuppa.

Its been the first time we’ve rolled up the sides but the day just got warmer and I sat and basked as Eric got on with the ‘wiring’ although he did keep coming to join me.

The waterfowl didnt miss the opportunity to come looking for food but soon went to pick on the walkers who are more gullible than the boaters

The sky stayed blue until the sun went down

What’s been interesting for us as new boat owners is that the heating hasn’t come on at all all day, even now as I’m writing this at 9pm. This all bodes well for a really economic boat.

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.