We stayed almost two weeks in York just tuttling up and down as far as Borough bridge and Naburn. Spending time some time moored at Museum gardens, just wonderful being a tourist and staying in our home in the centre of York. My sister Sharon and her husband Tommy came for a visit for the weekend, sharing wonderful memories and stories about their sailing adventure in Croatia, sharing their dreams and exploring what they would like to do for their future... messing about on a boat appeals to them too, they have started to explore different boats, they now have a certificate in sailing, they stayed with us extra day, we where having such a good time.
Sharon and I even did the fully history tour of the York Minster we really enjoyed it and some shopping in the sales... The weather was just wonderful, we had a fab weekend, wonderful to be able to spend so much time with people. Michael joined us for a couple of nights in York too, what a reception he receive on his arrival, as we were all on tender hook's as he traveled the River Ouse in a storm on his own, several boaters all shouted well done Mike as he arrived in museum gardens,the welcome committee was wonderful, they all shared in our awaiting his arrival, we made lots of friends that day.
John's mum & sister Susan husband Neil and children Joe and Tom paid us a visit and we enjoyed a trip to Naburn, see photo's of our trip below, we also spent time with Mick and Pam went for an Indian curry, we nearly got roasted it was so humid and warm that night, almost wanted to sleep outside the boat. My friend Sue also took time out to visit us in York sharing in the sunny weather and trips on the river Ouse what pleasure it is for us to share this with others, all part of our new life "time messing about on the river" so precious. With plenty of time for each other two, nice long walks, enriched dinners with a glass of wine... we are trying to get used to the French way of life, two hours for lunch... time to chat, take in the sunrise, and the sunsets... I will miss my friends and family when in France wont be able to drop in for coffee so much but I'm sure we will all enjoy special holidays together... time will have to be booked and holidays taken for those wishing to visit us in France. Sharon and Tommy went home and booked flights to Paris and will join us in September taking a weeks holiday, we can't wait.
We had some of scariest moments ever... leaving York on Sunday 8th August at 9am heading for Goole with a spring tide (high). Our alternator belt snapped just before going on the tidal river... we had help getting the boat across the river Ouse to safety from Billy and Loraine, (we had met, at a lock the day before) Billy pulled us next to their boat at Naburn, and he even offered to go get us a belt, but John being John had a spare belt and after a few beers a long chat then John got down to fitting the new belt, (using his new found mechanic skills), we were soon on our way, a little stressed by our experience, but warmed by others generosity and help. We left Naburn lock around 2pm hoping to make Ocean Lock in Goole by 7.30pm. We were behind many boats in Naburn lock and we where slowed up by a narrow boat which cost us a lot of time. The going was tough with a rough tide bouncing off the boat, but rich blue skies followed us and a nice warm day for the journey. We used our VHF radio to inform Ocean lock of our arrival in about 30 min's but never made it... we where grounded in the middle of the river (ocean is how it felt) as the tide left us high and dry... Ocean lock in formed us via radio we would have to sit it out until the next tide, they had us on TV and would watch us we felt safer knowing that, they said the tide which would reach us at around 11 pm... we sat and enjoyed a wonderful dinner out on the sands just us and the gull's, enjoyed a nice glass of red and put some calming music on and waited the 3 hours.
It got dark.....very dark... the water took such a long time to lift us off the bottom, (I thought "oh no we have sunk into the sand").
The rain came... with the wind, we now had to try to find the lock entrance (never been before to Ocean lock). Ocean lock staff were helpful in navigating us towards them with emergency lights on. It was so hard to see till we turned a bend and then we saw the lights ahead of us...
The wind and high tide and rain all most washed us up against the lock walls, they where huge too. John managed to get us in safely into the lock and out through the docks huge ships all around us.
We arrived to a safe mooring, passing some mighty big ships one was waiting to come into the lock, it was scary to say the least, we landed at 1am and had a stiff brandy to calm the nerves.
We learnt some very valuable lessons that night, we should of had the river navigation charts, we did try to get them from several places. It would of helped us a lot, a course in tidal rivers would of helped... (we have booked in for some river training, we need it)... we would have known where the channel was and the beacon could of helped us know exactly where we where. But we know in the future, hopefully we will not make that same mistake, also we can take all the learning to France with us. Mistakes are valuable lessons to learn from and we have made a few a long the way, I guess many more mistake's will happen, we are human.
We had very little sleep that night, so we got up at 6am and washed the boat, it was three inches full of sand all over, but we soon had it spick and span.
The rain started when we finished washing the boat and it rained and rained on & off for almost two weeks... some sunny moments in-between. We set off again heading for the river trent calling at many different places along the way, shopping in many villages, some good walks into the villages and it was nice trying out new foods and recipe,highly recommend good cooking magazine for September. We were now meeting lots of people now we where on our way. The floods continued all over the country too effecting many people. We were safe on the canal system the boat just went up and down with the flow. We had a few days in Thorn near Doncaster which we enjoyed, ordered a new fancy boat satellite system and sky dig box and our new 12 volt flat screen TV too all arrived from Ledgard bridge boat company... hoping that when in France we can have some familiar programs when home sick... "bound to happen". It was fitted by John, he rewired the whole system back to the batteries and put in a converter too and Mike did all the technical stuff with help from ringing friends too, he spent many hours on it, the patience of a saint, so far we only have German programs!!!
The weather did not put us off traveling with our new hood protecting us from wind and rain and we enjoyed watching some amazing storms on the way, I have some great photos too of the trip to Thorn. My sister Jean and husband Keith joined us in Thorn for the day, we enjoyed a very warm day sat on the boat chatting and catching up. John enjoyed going for a pint with Keith, it was great catching up, especially their stories of their recent family trip to France. Keith even caught an eel with his fishing rod he had brought with him.....we keep meaning to buy ourselves a little rod to have a go at fishing, might come in handy when we can't find a shop for food... nice fish supper. John once speared a big fish on Brownsea Island in Poole harbour when we where on honeymoon and it fed four people.
Mick and Pam also joined us in Thorn, Mick is getting a dab hand at driving and finding us along the canal system over the months, we have really enjoyed their company and had some wonderful meals out at different locations. This time they became our chauffeur and picked us up from Thorn and we all went to Leeds to Helps friends Judy and Dave celebrate their 60th birthday with family... we had a great night at Est Est Est and afterwards at their home for more drinks.
We then spent the night in Tony and Paul's apartment in Town enjoying some special time with them too, wonderful big bed and lots of space, some times I miss space on the boat, not enough to go back to a house though not yet!!! we spent the day driving around and getting things we needed in Leeds. Enjoyed our trip on dry land but we where eager to get back to the boat and be on the move again.
We were laid up in the height of the floods for a mere two days on the new junction canal in a wonderful spot on the south Yorkshire navigation, as the river Don came over the canal... the guillotine gates (see photos) remained shut to protect the canal from flooding, we had to wait till the river returned to a safe level. We have some fab sunset shots though... such beauty at the end of a storm it makes me want to paint it... one day!!! We met other boaters and shared some drinks and nice long evenings chatting.
We set off to Keadby when we got back at 5pm and encountered a group of lads at the first lift bridge, it was tough getting them all out of the water and from some of them hiding under the bridge, but I would not lift the bridge till they all stood at the side of me... and they all did... using my skills wisely "wow I thought" around about 20 or so youths. I must have handled it well... they where polite in the finish and I gained their respect and though it took a lot of my patience, we were then able to get on our way, they all wished us well on our travels. We learned later a lone boater traveling the same canal, had encounter some youths who stole his bike from his boat while he was working the lift bridge, then when he brought his boat through the lift bridge they stole his waterways key, and he had to involve the police. We arrived at Keadby Lock to see a lone boater stuck the other side of the lock on the River Trent, lock keeper had gone home and not waited for his arrival from Torksey, it was a frightening experience for him indeed stuck out on the tidal river Trent in a tiny one man cruiser... he spent the whole stormy night outside the lock gates, snapping all his ropes too. I think the lock keeper was called in to explain his actions (I think he left early). We really felt for the lone boater.
We where allowed out on the Trent at 6.30am the following morning even though there was so much flood water coming down... but it calmed the waters and we where sure not to be stuck on the bottom of this river... we came across some very big boats on the river Trent, having to get out of their way a few times.
We arrived at Torksey our stop for the night around lunch time. Enjoyed a walk around the village... no shops... post office was a ladies house for two hours a day, so we came back....just in time for the biggest storm so far right above us, we could almost touch the black clouds... it was a hurricane passing through... the wind nearly took all the tree's, a lone fisherman carried on fishing... some very loud thunder and lightning... I was out and about with my camera, but it was not powerful enough to catch it all, got some good shots though. We had a wonderful dinner watching and taking in the storm from the safety of the canal... glad we where not on the river at the time.
We left Torksey at 10am the following morning for Newark in Nottingham shire our final destination before being lifted out of the water. It was hard going the last hour and I found I was getting very set up and worried and a little upset too. I cried when we arrived and got so upset, it was the overwhelming thought well this is it we are here, our last calling place before leaving England and our friends and family, it hit me hard.
I settled down and we got on with jobs in hand, living and traveling on the boat has been hard work and we have had some stressful moments of late. We found Newark marina to be big... friendly and very helpful indeed, we got to see other boats being lifted out and placed carefully on the lorries, and being transported to and from Europe.
Teresa and Jo took a weekend out and got the train from Manchester to spend some time with us and to say farewell... never easy, we had a great time, though as we always do Tree had a funny spell and worried us for a while, but she bounced back and we had a great time... even enjoyed some good weather at last we went to an open air concert at Newark castle and listened to a brass band before enjoying a drink in the local barge bar on the river. Saying good bye was hard... hard waving them off on the train sending them back to Manchester (quicker to visit us in Paris the train changes they had to make). We walked back to the boat with a lump in our throats...