More Trees Planted

Today Tony and me got a few more trees planted, near the motorway in Audenshaw. I also cut back some sycamores that were threatening trees planted in previous years. We pulled out some shopping trolleys and a bike. Back at Portland Basin we tried to breast up to Southam but "Forget me Not" stemmed up in mid basin. The level is about 9" down but the water should be deep here. I poked around with a keb and managed to move something big but couldn't get it out of the water. It felt like a submerged tree trunk. Here's some pictures of "Forget me Not" around Guide bridge.

Tree Planting Day

Today was supposed to be a canal clean up but CRT hit us with a load of paperwork that I haven't got round to completing yet, so I thought I'd get a few trees planted. All unofficial guerrilla planting. I only invited a couple of people as I'm not very sociable at the moment. Niether of them showed up as both were feeling ill, the winter lurgi that keeps coming back I think.

After waiting a bit and having trouble starting "Forget me Not"s cold engine I set off up the Peak Forest on my own. The level was down and almost immediately I stemmed up in mid channel. When I eventually got away a wheelie bin rose to the surface then sank again.

I got up to the site of our Solstice fire that wouldn't burn, removed the remnants of the bonfire then planted an oak in the ashes. From there I carried on to Hyde where I winded the boat and started heading back. Joe Hodgson, tree surgeon par excellence rang. He had just arrived at Portland Basin. He walked up the towpath and met me at Well Bridge.

At Globe bridge I got off and walked on to work the lift bridge. Joe successfully got the boat through the Great Central railway bridge and the lift bridge, both sources of trouble, then stemmed up un the same wheelie bin back near Portland Basin.

When we eventually got off this we turned left towards Guide Bridge and I got off to take these pictures. We planted more trees on spare land at Guide Bridge, winded at Lumb Lane and got back to Portland basin at dusk. A nice day.

Passing Oxford Mills.

Joe hides behind the wonky chimney.

17th January 2010 Kingfisher Morning

2010-01-17 @ 11:46:44 by ashtonboatman

Kingfisher Morning

Friday morning at Portland Basin. The snow and ice had departed overnight and so I was able at last to drive the van down the hill to the wharf. I noticed Mr Woodcutter perched on the hatches of "Elton" peering into the watery interior. I had been unable to keep the boat afloat during the icy period. I think ice had prevented a bilge pump from switching off, so it ran until the battery was exhausted, then the boat filled up with water.

As I walked over to talk to the woodcutter my eye detected a movement near the stern end of "Hazel". A flash of electric blue whizzed out across the water as a kingfisher took flight. It is years since I've seen a kingfisher at Portland Basin. I was delighted. It seemed like an omen of good things to come in the awakening year.

Mr Woodcutter came back across the boats and I set him up with some waste wood to cut up for the boat ranges. He is the first volunteer I have ever come across who never tires of cutting wood. Consequently we have not had the usual Christmas firewood crisis this year.

Mr Woodcutter is an excellent fellow, and yet would be despised as a scrounger by many, which is why I call him Mr Woodcutter. He is a simple man, not in the sense of being a simpleton, but of enjoying the simple things in life. He enjoys walking and physical exercise, which is why he comes and cuts our firewood. Most of all he enjoys a skinful of good quality ale (none of your cheap lager thank you very much). Unlike many who get the taste for alcohol, Mr Woodcutter seems to be very much in control of the drink, rather than the drink being in control of him.

Mr Woodcutter's dislikes include employment, which is why some people would have little time for him. Personally I feel that the idle rich, who live by renting out their inherited assets, are more of a brake on the well being of the populace than the few who choose to take the pittance that the dole offers in return for a less stressed life. Post triumph of capitalism that is an unpopular view!

Mr Woodcutter is an expert at staying one step ahead of the system, and good for him. He is fascinated by the Loch Ness Monster and often stays near Inverness, which he considers to be the best place on Earth, in order to catch a glimpse of the fabulous beast. So far he has been unsuccessful.

I lit fires in "Forget me Not" and "Southam" to dry the cabins out, then started the petrol powered pump to raise "Elton". As the water gushed from "Elton I started sorting out the bilge pumps that had failed during the icy period. Soon the boat was floating again and the woodcutter had run out of work for his bowsaw. We picked up saw horse, bowsaw and firewood sacks and walked the quarter mile to the bit of woodland that I look after. Mr Woodcutter was happy to get to work cutting up the sycamores that I felled a week or so previously.

Returning to the boats I put some pies in "Southam"s oven and carried on sorting out pumps. Mr Woodcutter niether eats nor drinks during the day so I enjoyed my meal alone. He cut loads of wood, which I collected in the van later. By the end of the day, which is about 3PM at this time of year, things seemed to be getting back to normal after the disruption caused by wintry weather.