Beware of low flying Pterodactyls

We spent the weekend at Bollington, mainly so we could attend the ‘Love Bollington artisan market’.  The weather was mixed but good enough for some pleasant cruising and walking.  Mooring at the Householes Lane, where the NCCC have made a very attractive area, meant we were able to watch the wildlife strutting it’s stuff.

Ducklings and goslings aplenty but sadly whilst growing in size, reducing in numbers.  There are a number of hungry Pterodactyls picking them off.  Ok they aren’t really pterodactyls they’re Herons, but oh boy are they vicious and what’s more they hunt in packs.

We watched in amazement as three herons flew low under the Bridge and attacked the mummy duck while another one picked up a duckling with its beak. They made several fly pasts but only got one chick this time.  Nature in the raw is both beautiful and heartbreaking. We also saw a mink checking out the delicacies but disappeared when it saw us.

Boating with a difference, How to spot a Firecrest

Narrowboat design is evolving to take into account modern technologies.  We’ve tried to incorporate a lot of the benefits behind the facia of  Firecrest.  We’ve chosen to embrace the environment, making Firecrest, albeit a very beautiful one, a means to an end, our comfortable home from home that maximises our ability to explore and enjoy our surroundings.  We’re reading that more and more boaters are pushing the boundaries of how much you can fit into a long metal box.  We’re loving the interest shown in our boat, and likewise how interested we are in the more traditional.

Firecrest’s features aren’t unique, just not as traditional as a lot of modern boats.

What makes her unusual.

1) Instead of a diesel engine we have an electric motor for propulsion, giving us totally silent cruising.

2) We are a gasless boat, so don’t use bottles of LPG for cooking as is usual, instead we have an electric oven, an electric induction hob, use an electric kettle, and an electric toaster.  These are all powered from the batteries so we can use them any time day or night without running the generator and disturbing the neighbours.

3) With my background in electronics and computer control, we have a modern computerised CANbus wiring system so all our lights, water pumps etc., are powered and controlled by a system much the same as is in all modern cars, lorries, coaches, and many commercial boats.  This gives me a lot of flexibility how things work, greatly simplifies the wiring, and reduces the amount of wire needed too.

4) Instead of the normal deck at the bow that is above the canal water level, ours is below the water level, a dropped well deck, at the same level as the rest of the interior of the boat.   Instead of the canvas cover (a cratch cover) we have extended the steel roof over the bow deck to make it an indoor sitting area, with headroom to stand up, and overhead lighting.  We have cratch sides that can open up, or be removed completely allowing us to have fresh cool air, but also shelter from wind.

5) Since we don’t get “free” hot water every time the engine runs, we have a modern high efficiency diesel boiler for our central heating and hot water, more like the ones found in homes with oil heating than the typical boilers used on narrowboats.  This means we have hot water all the time, Cheryl can wash up as many dishes as she likes and take as long in the shower as she wants.

6) We’ve opted to have a waterless Eco toilet, (composting toilet.) which are becoming a more and more popular choice for boaters. One of the biggest benefits is because we don’t flush, we don’t have to fill up the water tank so often.  And no, it doesn’t smell.

7) Our battery charging system is also computerised, and nothing like the usual alternator run from the propulsion engine.  This I have had to write the software for.

8) Our batteries are LiFePO4 (a type of Lithium battery that is much safer than the ones used in phones and laptops).  These have very different characteristics to the usual leisure Lead Acid batteries making them ideal for our boat.  These are charged from an onboard GenSet or shore power when available.  These need electronics and software management which I have also designed and built myself.

Lots of people seem interested in our electric propulsion and how we charge our batteries so I will add some “techie” posts in the future to describe that in some detail, and how we find it works in practise.

For all of Firecrest’s individuality, she still requires polishing and painting to keep her looking good.

Pop the champagne corks

It’s felt a little like waiting for the baby to be born today. Anxiety and excitement do not make for a peaceful nights sleep. Today we had our wiring inspected by Sandra the marine electrician and ….. Big drum roll please…… We are pleased to announce that we passed with flying (cruising) colours. And I can’t tell you what a relief that was.

The standard of Eric’s wiring skills has never been in doubt. Wiring a bespoke electric boat, that doesn’t come with an instruction manual but several sets of standards that sometimes require “a little interpretation” and a lot common sense, was a complete unknown.

We haven’t received the actual certificate yet but we’re happily celebrating, secure in the knowledge that not only did we pass but Sandra was extremely complementary about Eric’s workmanship. There are a few more bits and bobs at Braidbar to do before we can get our licence but hopefully that shouldn’t take too long.



Bluebell Woods

I knew I’d find a bluebell wood somewhere around here, it was only a matter of finding the right footpath.

My aim was to walk to Poynton Pool, an ornamental lake, built in the 18th century by Lord Vernon who owned all the coal mines in this area.

And this meant me using another of the many footpaths and I discovered Princes Wood and incline and Rabbit Burro Farm. (The inclines being the tramways and rail tracks that brought goods too and from the canals.)

The Lake was lovely,

But I think I found Bluebell Heaven

Essential repairs

A several weeks ago we realised we had a leaking diesel tank. Luckily it was right at the top so was only a problem when we filled up the tank, and then even more luckily the diesel spilt over into our inspection hatch rather than into the canal so we were able to skim it off before it caused any significant pollution. As soon as we let Braidbar know, they liaised with Tim the hull builder to come out and fix it. Today we’re back in the yard and Tim has worked his magic. No more leaking diesel.

We’ll spend the night in the yard guarded on each side by Blue Pearl and Elizabeth Anne, Jo and Lawrence’s boats. It’s a bit of an odd sensation because they are still bare hulls so they tower above us.


Buxton Spring Fair

Buxton is a beautiful Spa Town,

the spring water is cool, fresh and freely available from St Annes shrine and has been enjoyed by visitors for centuries, the Romans took advantage and built a thermal bath, the Georgians built the crescent, the Victorians built the pavilion gardens.

And in 1903 the opera house was opened  It’s the highest market town in England and I think it deserves its popularity.

(amendment I received this information from John one of our followers “….For the sake of completeness I would like to mention that Alston in Cumbria also claims to be the highest market town in England. Having checked the Ordnance Survey it seems that various parts of both towns range from 960 to 1040 feet. ”  Thankyou John

On May Day it hosts a spring fair where the whole of the centre is lined with a veritable feast, of food,drink, arts, crafts and entertainments.

And lots and lots of people. The day started of in true bank holiday style with grey clouds and showers but the sunshine battled it’s way through and the atmosphere was carefree and happy.

In my opinion Buxton only has one failing, it doesn’t have a canal. However it does have a trainline that roughly follows the Peak Forest canal

What a waste

But we won’t make this mistake again. Firecrest sits quite deep in the water and we’re finding it hard to tuck in for oncoming boats because we’re running aground and tilting more than we’d like. It’s frustrating for both us and the oncoming boat because we are trying desperately hard to be considerate boaters. Today however, despite slowing right down, the unseen roots and rocks on the offside bank caused us to bump boats and as we rocked I heard an almighty crash and oh no, there goes the bottle of wine I’d bought for tonight’s dinner.

The moral of this is if you must drink red wine, don’t leave it on the worktop, put it safely away if you’re cruising.

Perhaps the heron in today’s photo has the right idea, when Firecrest is on the move its safer to watch the world go by from an elevated roost. I know herons nest in trees but we’d never seen one perched above us like this before.


Wonderful Wonderwool

Last weekend Heather and I got in the car and drove to Wales for the wonderful Wonderwool festival. Two days of self indulgence where 200 mainly independant fibre and yarn producers exhibit their wares to 1000’s of happy yarnies like us who can’t resist 1 or 2 or 3 ….. (Bagfuls) to feed our creative dreams. I reckon a lot of purchases don’t ever become a completed project, and remain as stash although as everyone knows wool makes excellent insulation so should be encouraged not frowned upon.

We browsed

And drooled

And oooed

And arred (angora bunnies)

And smiled (I think these are the mohair goats)

And yes we brought home a few goodies


And we took two mini classes, one with Jenny Barnet who showed us how to make a needle felted lamb and the other to make some dyed yarn using food colourings.

It was a great weekend and of all the fibre festivals we’ve visited over the past few years, this one was possibly the best. There are a few more around the country that we shall visit in time but for now we have work to do.


One of my joys is having the time to take advantage of these beautiful surroundings. Last week I turned off the canal and took a footpath through the woods, and oh what a mystical and magical place. A hidden woodland stream surrounded by bluebells and wild garlic. Now when we were in Bolligton for the market we saw a stall selling wild garlic preserves, chutney and pesto, hum I think to myself there’s enough garlic here that I could take a bagful of leaves home without damaging the natural growth or spoiling it for anyone else.

So yesterday I took a carrier bag with me and helped myself to a bag full of garlic leaves. And tomorrow I shall buy some pine nuts and make wild garlic pesto. Mmmm yummy.

I resisted picking a bunch of bluebells because I know they don’t last indoors and bluebells in woodland ought to be classed as a national treasure for all to enjoy.

Whatever the weather

We’ve had a whole years worth of weather today, and it all started when I got up to make an early morning cuppa and saw there was ethereal  mist rising from the canal so I threw on some clothes and rushed outside to take photos.

And then again this evening after tea, whilst I was sheltering inside from the snowstorm I realised the light had changed and there was a complete rainbow outside the boat, it even had a reflection.

We’ve had,warm sun, followed by rain, snow and gales during the day but I wasn’t venturing out to capture any of that for you.