Sep 082012
 
Bluebird

The weather had been awful all week to the point that many areas had suffered flash floods. We knew we’d have to visit the boat at the weekend to check she was still dry and likely slacken the mooring lines. Little did we know it would turn into such an unexpected weekend.

Sat in the office on Friday morning people were talking about the forecast for the weekend being so good. The weather had been a common topic all week and looking out of the window at the hail storm currently giving us a pounding you could see why. Nevertheless I checked the met office application on the phone and was surprised to see bright sunshine symbols predicting good weather over the weekend.

By the time October arrives you have to make the most of the good weekends as they tend to be few and far between so I phoned the crew and told her to pack for the weekend. I finished work at lunchtime and we drove to the marina. The plan was to spend Friday night on board to get an early start on Saturday and make the most of the promised sunshine.

Arriving at the marina I was pleased to see that some kind soul had already slackened our ropes for us and the canal did look as high as I’d ever seen it before. Unfortunately this was probably done by the same person tasked with power washing the jetties who had also managed to blast off paint from one of our rubbing stakes. Another job added to this winter’s to-do list.

Roach

Excellent Roach from Carnforth Basin

We moved across the basin to tie up outside the Canal Turn Pub and I enjoyed an afternoon fishing until the heavens opened once again forcing us to close up the boat and hibernate. The rain lifted long enough for us to walk into town for an enjoyable chippy tea before the sun set and the cold night air forced us inside. At this point it was hard to imagine things improving very much as thunder and lightning lit up the sky. We were considering abandoning the trip but once we lit the fire the boat soon became snug and we even forsook the visit to the pub and opened a bottle and watched TV instead.

Approaching Tewitfield

Approaching Tewitfield

Saturday morning was glorious. It was still chilly but the sun shone, the clouds had disappeared and the air was still. We set off and motored at a very sedate pace up to the terminus at Tewitfield. The canal is taking on its autumnal hues and the trip was a delight. We never saw another moving boat and practically had our pick of moorings when we arrived in time for a late lunch. The only boats we saw moving that day came later that afternoon when the weekend hire boats exited Tewitfield marina.

Sunset sky

Sunset sky

Once again we forsook the visit to the pub and opened a bottle and watched TV. But this time, instead of shutting out the night we had the pleasure of seeing the orange and red hues of a lovely sunset through the windows of the boat and we were so glad we hadn’t abandoned ship the previous evening.

Incredibly, Sunday was an even better day and as we say on the back of the boat enjoying our morning cuppa we watched a small colourful flotilla of canoes pass by and head off south. Our usual Sunday morning ritual at Tewitfield involves the Greenlands car boot sale and lunch at Wellies Café. But watching the canoes pass by made us itch to get moving and repeat the pleasures of the previous day.

Tewitfield Canoes

Tewitfield Canoes

We set off after the canoes but with the engine barely above tickover we didn’t catch up with them until they stopped beyond Kellet Lane just before Carnforth. The canal was like a millpond and the towpath busy with walkers, but still we only passed a couple of moving boats. We were entertained many times by the flashing iridescent blue streaks of the kingfishers as they darted along just an inch or so above the mirror like surface of the canal.

We reached Carnforth basin for lunch and moored up. The basin was busy with both people and boats coming in for a pub lunch or out of the marina for a day trip. After lunch we sought refuge at quieter mooring further down in Bolton-le-Sands for the rest of the afternoon before tagging onto the end of a returning convoy back to the marina after a most excellent and unexpected weekend.

Oct 172011
 

Let me start by stating, “I like wind farms”. This is just as well because we have one of the largest being constructed just offshore and you can’t get in or out of the area I live without passing numerous hillsides littered with wind generators. Nevertheless, I like them. I think they look good, tumbling over the landscape like cart-wheeling giants. Renewable energy is a goal well worth striving for and I accept we aren’t going to get there quickly or get it right first time. There will be lessons to be learnt on the way.

I’ve heard the so-called “facts” that building wind farms generates more greenhouse emissions than can ever be recouped by renewable energy. It will be the most expensive energy we’ve ever generated and the country will be littered with new pylons connecting them all to the national grid. Whether all this is true or not, I don’t know. Time will tell I suppose, but I’m certainly not anti-wind farm.

But…. (you could tell there was going to be a ‘but’ couldn’t you.)

I don’t understand why we seem to have put so much investment into wind power. We have no control over the wind, it blows when it wants to. We need to generate energy to meet demand. What’s the point of generating when the wind blows if we don’t need it and what happens when we all put the kettle on and the wind isn’t blowing.  Wind Power, Solar Power, Wave Power, all share the same problem, they only perform intermittently and unpredictably.

We live on an island surrounded by sea. Twice a day, every day, the tide comes in and then goes out again. It’s predictable. You can even buy a little book of tables which tell you when the next tide is due and how high it’s going to be. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t prevent it happening and it goes without saying that a tide is a powerful force. Why then, aren’t we investing in tidal power as our primary source of renewable energy?

With the money being spent on our giant wind farm off Walney we could have constructed a barrage across Morecambe Bay which would not only generate energy from every incoming and outgoing tide, it would do amazing things for the local economy by improving transport links and also save the huge amounts of energy currently expended in getting goods and people in and out of the Furness peninsula every day.

Conservationists say it would destroy important natural habitats. Why? The tide will still come and go, albeit in a more controlled manner. The habitat would not disappear, it may change, and it may even change to become an even more important habitat. I appreciate the need to protect the environment, it’s all part of the renewable energy argument too. To not do something for the same reason as wanting to do it, means we end up doing nothing at all. Doing nothing is no longer an option.

I’m sure there are many other areas of our coastline that could benefit economically from being straightened out a bit and in the meantime contribute to our energy needs.  I think this is where we should be concentrating our investment, even if I do like wind farms.

May 032011
 
Back in harness

Back in harness today. It doesn’t take long for the daily routine to reclaim your soul and file away the events of the holiday in the memories file, but before I close the file drawer I’ll share some of my thoughts and observations on my week in Northumbria. When we describe something we generally do so by comparing it to something else we already know well. So where The Lake District is very green, hilly and sparsely populated and the locals speak with a funny accent (mainly Polish). Northumbria is very green, hilly and sparsely populated and the locals speak [More…]