Sunday, 31 August 2014

Confused and two visitors

The CRT signage at Castleford Flood Lock is quite confusing.  This following photo explains why.

The timber posts (red arrows) have signs stating water point mooring only.  The large CRT sign on the building (blue arrow) states “Visitor Moorings” (no time stated).  Paul,  the green arrow points to the self pump-out station.  I guess these two boaters have decided that it’s a 14 day mooring with handy water and pump-out access.

The first boat looked rather interesting.  I initially thought it was from a James Bond movie.

But then I realized the UK government was probably copying the current Australian government illegal immigrant asylum seeker policy.  The boats would sail from Indonesia and when they reached the Australian international search and rescue zone the occupants would call SAR on their satellite phone to advise they were sinking and required rescuing.  This strategy worked with the previous government but the current Liberal-Nationals arrive on scene with one of the following.

Source: ABC Australia

The orange stealth boat is then towed back to Indonesian territorial waters and released.  I wonder if the UK Border Agency is about to do the same and how many illegal immigrants do they expect to find in Castleford? Winking smile

We departed Castleford around 9.00am and headed down to the water point immediately before Bulholme Lock.  OK, we filled the tank yesterday, but we’re trying to get into a routine of filling the tank whenever the opportunity avails itself.  The top gates on the lock appeared to be already open?  And they were!  That’s because there is a third set of gates half way down the lock.

Initially this was rather confusing (for me) but Jan seemed to take it all in her stride.  She locked me down and whilst I was carefully attempting to manoeuvre onto the landing below the gate a cheerful looking male appeared and in a Kiwi accent said “Hello Tom, I have something for you!”  First thought was “The bloody Tax man has found me!”  It was blog reader Don McCoskrie from Waiheke Island, NZ.   Don had left a comment on my 26 July blog post about the problem extracting the pins from the camera plug <link to post here>.  He had come all the way from NZ to give me his pin extraction tool.  Well…… Not really….. Smile  Actually he and Joy were over in the UK on holiday and had made a special effort to find us so he could give me the extractor.  So there we were moored on a lock landing out of sight and he still managed to find us.  We invited both of them aboard and were having a chat when boats arrived from either direction wanting to use the landing.  Just our luck.

Don and Joy on board Waiouru

There was just enough time to show Don my latest purchase which I’m still salivating over.

A set of articulated ratchet and open ended spanners.  Just under £10 at Aldi.  Our meeting was cut short, but were very pleased Don & Joy took the effort to find us and say hello!

Waiouru enjoyed the wide and deep water and at 1500rpm we were rocketing along towards Knottingley.  There is a large coal fired power station at Ferrybridge.  My understnading is commercial traffic has creased on the Aire & Calder so I assume this coal unloader is no longer used.

There are also coal conveyor belts across the site leading from some huge coal stockpiles.

After looking at the scale of the operation you realize your own carbon footprint is rather insignificant.

Ferrybridge Flood Lock is usually open but we had been told by a passing boater that today it was closed.  However we found another boat exiting the lock towards us as we arrived.  Time for that Lotto ticket purchase!  Jan didn’t have to get off as a man was already operating the controls.  He told us he was a volunteer although he wasn’t wearing a CRT blue top or life jacket.  Nevertheless, we were grateful for the assistance.

Ferrybridge Flood Lock with the power station in the background

We are now moored in Knottingley.  As you can see in the following photo it’s obviously a popular spot because moorings are at a premium.

Yes, that’s Waiouru moored on the right

I’ve already done a recce and found the pub at the far end of the moorings.  Around the corner is the Chinese Takeaway and Sainsbury’s Local.  We might have a takeaway tonight.  Yes, I did check… there are a few local cats and they don’t look worried.

There were quite a few blackberries on the path beside the boat but someone has now picked them.  I do like blackberry sponge pudding  <hint hint darling!>

Leave you with a view of the canal at dusk taken on the phone yesterday whilst out blackberry picking.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Steam, the Elephant, and where’s Tom?

Poor Jan is already starting to suffer from RSI in her main right pinkie.  No windlass required; just push buttons!  We turned right out of Clarence Dock and almost immediately entered Leeds Lock.  For the next couple of weeks it looks like Jan will be suffering from windlass withdrawal as all the locks are now electric.  It wasn’t long before we reached Thwaites Mill where we could see a thin column of smoke adjacent to the moorings.  To our surprise the smoke was coming from a small static swivel steam powered jib crane.

The crane operator appeared to have a suspended load and as we got closer it appeared to be a wet cylinder.  Initially we assumed it was being removed from one of the adjacent boats.  However as we passed it appeared to be a replacement boiler for the crane.

We arrived too late at Fishpond Lock to share it with a boat already going down.  The locks are huge and totally dwarfed the sole descending narrowboat.

We almost felt guilty refilling the lock just for Waiouru.

Not being in a hurry we elected to stop for the night on the visitor moorings above Woodlesford Lock.  Jan’s finger was sore! Smile

It was a relatively quiet night, despite the nearby railway line.

Jan was concerned that the elephant on the far bank might have caused a disturbance, but it appeared to be content to quietly watch the boats go by.

Today’s cruise to Castleford was very tranquil.  The navigation was wide and deep which appeared to suit Waiouru.  We made good progress with the engine running at 1500rpm.  This is quite high for us.  Normally the Beta would be doing 800-1000rpm.

Lemonroyd Lock proved to be the deepest we’ve been through this season.  Jan actually lost sight of Waiouru and had to walk to the edge of the lock to check her location before opening the gates.

Don’t worry darling… your husband is still with you!

A bit of a panic at Castleford Junction.  Just as I was preparing to line up on the turn into the junction a dutch barge shot out of the lock across our bow.  I thought he was going to turn towards us and tried to go around him only to suddenly realize the boat had no intention of turning.  Hard reverse on my part prevented a collision.  The passenger on the other boat called out that there was another boat behind it.  That was useful information but I would have preferred to have been advised of their intentions.  However it all worked out well and we’re now moored at Castleford.

Friday, 29 August 2014

A Trip around the Royal Armouries

The surprise was the entrance to the Royal Armouries In Leeds is free.  I can’t think of any comparative attraction in Australia which wouldn’t have an admission charge.

Everything in the main building is on three floors with a round tower and circular staircase at the opposite end to the entrance.  The ground floor is mostly taken up with shop, cafe, administration and conference/theatrette rooms.  The exhibitions are on levels 1 and 2.  This fat old man decided to take the stairs for a little exercise.  The plan was to walk directly up to level 2  and then slowly make my way back down viewing the exhibitions. 

The staircase tower is hollow with a large multi-faced pyramid mirror at the base.

By looking at each mirrored face of the pyramid it is possible to view all the weapons that have be fixed to the vertical interior wall of the tower.

I guess if you have a surplus of swords, bayonets, guns, rifles and armour it’s a clever way to get them all on display.  It’s also possible to look into the tower from levels 1 and 2.

Both exhibition levels are divided into various “theme” rooms.  The oriental room included Arabian weapons.

This isn’t one of Hannibal's elephants.  Its ears are too small.  Obviously a lightly armoured Indian elephant.

On first glimpse it was initially hard to identify this next scene.

Obviously a crouching elephant with a handler who appears to be falling off.  Walk around to the opposite side and you find one seriously annoyed elephant.  You’d probably feel the same if a tiger had you by the nose.

Two armoured horsemen look like they might be going to get their comeuppance.

There were plenty of interactive and audio visual displays to keep the ankle biters amused.  Actually some of them were quite wound up by the time they reached the shop on the ground floor grabbing swords and shields whilst driving mothers to despair!

For me, it wasn’t all leisure.  I still had work to do checking Jan was hard at it.

Ah yes…..  Good girl, hose out and filling the water tank whilst I do the hard stuff. Smile

Verdict.  The Royal Armouries are well worth a visit!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Royal Armouries at Clarence Dock

We received a comment from Mick & Pip (nb Lillyanne) regarding the boats on the visitor moorings at Clarence Dock.

“That red wide beam arrived just after us last Thursday afternoon. The light blue shorter NB near the taxis arrived last Friday. 48 hour moorings?
We left £2.70 credit on the electric post at the rear of the dark blue boat that is in between the two boats mentioned above.”

The red boat left at 9.00am this morning (7 days) and we quickly grabbed the vacant spot.  The light blue boat that arrived last Friday is of course nb Lakeland.  We have been playing leapfrog with it since we first came upon him moored on the water point way back at Blackburn (the first of a number of water point moorings).  He also spent 3 days on the 24 hour moorings at Skipton.  There are signs here stating 48 hours with a £25 per day overstaying charge.  The CRT regional offices are on the other side of the bank within easy walking distance which makes one wonder why the overstaying occurs.  It would be a very simple task for someone in the office to check at the beginning and end of each day.  If you can’t ensure compliance at such an easy location what hope is there for the rest of the network. <rant over>

There was £2.70 credit on the meter when we connected.  Thanks Mick & Pip! Winking smile

I was attempting to remove the paper masking tape from around the bow hatch when someone started to chat.  It was blog reader Graham <sp> who lives locally (I think) and who’s boat is currently moored at Mercia Marina.  Graham did mention he’d wondered why the blog posts had stopped last winter and then he found the link! 

It’s always nice when a blog reader introduces themself and stops for a chat.

Later we wandered into the Leeds CBD.  We had a shopping list but nothing on it was urgent.  I’ve worn out a pair of jeans and could do with a replacement.  Unfortunately they don’t make men like me anymore.  Primark only had them in sizes up to 34 and I’d have to go back 45 years for my crutch to be that small.  Even then I’d either be with the soprano’s or the Vienna Boys Choir!  We didn’t even bother trying Debenhams knowing the likely price.  A quick look at a price tag in TK Max had us scurrying to the exit.

We stumbled into Leeds Kirkgate Market quite by chance.  It’s the largest covered market in Europe with more than 800 stalls.  No….. we weren’t tempted to visit all of them!  However Jan did find a wool shop which enabled her to half fill the daypack.  Then she managed to buy a cooked chicken for £4.  Another bargain.  Meanwhile I took photos of the building.

Construction of the original covered market commenced in the early 1880’s and as you would expect it has undergone numerous expansions and alterations.  What we hadn’t realized is that the market is located in what was the original part of Leeds.

The ironwork is all very ornate.

Another interesting fact is this is the location where Marks & Spencer started.

This is the original stall <cough>

Wikipedia states

In 1894, Kirkgate Market was the founding location of Marks & Spencer which opened in Leeds Market as a penny bazaar.[6] The Marks & Spencer's heritage is marked by the Market Clock in the 1904 hall which bears the shop's name. This clock was unveiled in 1984 to celebrate the centenary of Marks & Spencer. In 2012 Marks and Spencer returned to Kirkgate Market, opening a stall alongside the centenary clock.

In 1904, Marks & Spencer relocated its Leeds branch to the then recently opened Cross Arcade (now part of the Victoria Quarter).

I even took a photo of the Market Clock without realizing its significance.

The main pedestrian area appears to be Briggate where you can see the usual High Street shops

Most of the CBD appears to be pedestrianized, which we found rather pleasant.

Wandering back to Clarence Dock we noticed the circular shape of the Corn Exchange building. 

It’s only one of three Corn Exchanges that continues to operate as a centre of trade.  However it no longer trades in grains but rather is another covered market for independent upmarket retailers.  No cheap jeans there!

The route took us past Leeds Minster.  I suggested to Jan that we might go in and have a look around. When they saw us coming they closed and locked the doors!

I just happened to notice the south east corner of the Minster appeared to be moving.  There is a definite sag in the corner.  It looks like the foundations are slowly collapsing.

Can you see it at the left end in the above photo?

CRT have some rather nice offices on the opposite side to the River Aire from Clarence Dock.

Can you see their name and logo on the wall above the far end of the footbridge?  There’s also a good view of the weir from that end of the bridge.

I then tried to be clever and take a photo of Leeds Lock in the evening.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

To Leeds

We were only planning to go half the way to Leeds but two local boaters told us it was safer to go all the way into the city centre. Apparently some of the natives can be restless with reported cases of stoning. As it was everyone was friendly with no sign of bored youths.  But we did go through some serious graffiti country.  Perhaps they were all sleeping off the long weekend.

Some nice rural scenes today.

We had been warned by several boaters, including Mick & Pip (nb LillyAnne) that the second swing bridge (Moss Swing Bridge 218) might prove to be very hard to move.  Mick had mentioned it needed a tractor to pull it open when they went through.  However Jan huffed; and puffed; and bounced; and pushed, and grunted; and groaned until the damned thing started to move.  That’s what’s called “Gran power”!  As we left the 3rd swing bridge Jan thought there might be a boat behind us and we therefore waited at the Newlay Staircase Locks (3) to see if we could have a locking partner.  The locks were staff by two CRT employees.

Newlay Locks

Jan’s assessment proved to be correct and we had a partner until the 24 hour moorings at Kirkstall.

Forge Staircase Locks

Off to the left in the middle distance are the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey.  They are the ruins of a Cistercian monastery which was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of Henry VIII.  A clever move by Henry who replenished his empty treasury by confiscating much of the Church property in England.  Unfortunately it was too far away from the canal for us to visit.

Our locking partners stopped on the 24 hour moorings at Kirkstall to do some shopping at the nearby Morrisons.

24 hour moorings at Kirkstall

This bridge with a tunnel puzzled me.  It didn’t look like a horse tunnel and the towpath went with the canal.

At the far end of the tunnel is a short length of level and straight pathway that ends at a gate.  My guess is this is the alignment of a disused tramway?

The CRT lock keeper at Forge Locks had told Jan there was a former lock keepers cottage at St Ann Ing Lock which had been sold and refurbished by the new owner.  However the lock scroats had vandalized it.  He had refurbished it a second time only for his wife to refuse to live in it. 

Such a shame

The lock keeper had also told Jan to look for the relatively new round residential tower block beside Office Lock.

Apparently one of the new residents is complaining bitterly about the noise from the canal and adjacent railway.  It’s not as if they were built after the tower!

There is a water point at Office Lock so we decided to top up the tank.  The only problem was the tap wasn’t 3/4”.  It looked more 1” and our standard coupling wouldn’t fit.  I rummaged through the “you’ll be sorry box” (the box of stuff you have otherwise you’ll be sorry) and found something I thought might work.

The coupling stayed on the tap as long as we didn’t turn it fully on.  That wasn’t a problem as there was plenty of pressure.

Someone watches the bow sink under the weight of all that water.

Dropping down through Office lock brings you to Granary Wharf. 

There was a vacant mooring but we decided to press on to Clarence Dock in the hope of finding a vacant mooring with 240V power.  River Lock proved to be rather difficult.  There was no where to moor and Jan struggled to open the top gates on her own.  However she used Gran Power and we were able to carry on down the River Aire turning into Clarence Dock.  Unfortunately there were no vacant moorings.  Eventually we managed to moor against a high wall using the steel railing as anchor points.

Now moored diagonally opposite the Royal Armouries with the official visitor moorings below.  Hopefully one of these boats will move off tomorrow.