Saturday 24 September 2011

It's Leeds, Jim, but not as we know it.

There's a lot to be said for 'City Break' weekends - especially when you visit a city as energetic and interesting as Leeds.

I have to admit that I have spent the last decade regarding the place as a necessary evil: more theatres than York; better shops than York; but horrendous traffic, worse parking and mile after mile of miserable urban sprawl.

And a boating friend says that 15 years ago he referred to the canal through Leeds as "Gunboat Alley" - he would run through it as fast as possible on his way to the beauty spots of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

But these days Leeds by boat is a pleasant surprise. The last few miles of the Aire & Calder are tree-lined and easy to navigate. Leeds itself is now marked by apartment blocks and waterside bars. Not a concrete jungle, and certainly not an intimidating or unnerving experience.

The reclamation of the industrial waterscape even stretches to some pleasant spots for overnight stops - Thwaite Mills Museum has been noted for a future stopover.

Once again we picked up some friends and went for a cruise, this time through the city centre as far as Armley Mills Museum, and then back to Clarence Dock and the Royal Armouries Museum.

There is more to do in Leeds than we can fit into one weekend. We're going to have to come back a few times.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Working Waterways

Well, it took a week longer than we had hoped, but our little boat is finally back at her home mooring.

Last Sunday's trip down the tidal Ouse was immense fun, but high winds led to delays on the Aire towards Ferrybridge. A power failure at Bulholme Lock held us up for another hour and we didn't get to Castleford until after BW closed the flood locks for the night.

So we had to leave Honey to fend for herself among all the working boats for a few days.

The final part of the voyage home had to wait until this morning - just a short hop along the River Calder in sparkling sunshine.

This afternoon we are clearing out our old beach hut - the loss of which prompted our decision to buy a boat. It's a shame they decided to sell the hut we have rented and loved for so long, and we will miss the beach.

There is a time for everything.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Moody River

The tidal section of the Ouse is an invigorating way to start a Sunday morning- especially with the magical combination of a high tide, a low sun and a strong wind.

It's a beautiful stretch of river, although we missed bits of it because we had too much spray in our faces to see anything.

In still water we cruised at just over 4mph, but once the tide had turned the speed increased to almost 9mph - with the wind and currents in some places creating foot tall waves. The only worry, though, was the risk of losing hats.

In other places the river was calm and smooth with only the GPS to hint at the speed of the tide.

Saturday 10 September 2011


Every now and then you find yourselves in the right place at the right time - like our last visit to Naburn Lock.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Fin de siècle

La Belle Époque has come to an end.

Today was the last day of a golden summer. And yes, it was just a little bit decadent and more than a little bit self indulgent.

In fact it was just plain, old-fashioned downright fun.

 We met Paul and Chrissie (who built Honey and cared for her for 18 years) for lunch on the banks of the Ouse in the centre of York. With the appropriate lubrication, we chatted about the boat we all love and the good times that are continuing on her.

Their kindness continued with gifts of wine, spare rope and a toolbox - they know the way to a man's heart!

 We discussed fuel filters and bilge pumps, antifreeze and coolant, calorifiers and toilets. And we finished with a leisurely cruise through the centre of York to the Archbishop's palace and back into the heart of town...

 ...where we tidied everything up, emptied the fridge, isolated the batteries and then carried the laundry to the car.

 Tomorrow, we all return to work and school.

Next weekend, we take Honey back to her home mooring - and there she will have to stay until October half term.

 Well, we'll probably break her out of jail for a weekend or two before then...