July 2004 Leaving Leeds

20th July - New Cratch finished.

Getting ready to set off from Leeds in a few days time, we have been very busy indeed. We have had a new cratch designed and built by Chris the canvas man tel 0113 263 55 99 we highly recommend Chris for the job if you need one building see photo's, the cratch hopefully will protect us from the wind, rain and sun when we are in France and it's all detachable too we are thrilled with it.

We are also going to do our boat handling course in a few days, on our way down to Newark, we have been studying hard too. John and I have been very busy doing last minute chore's and as we get ready to leave. I have shopped till I dropped at the wonderful sales in Leeds, renewing my wardrobe for France, was a good excuse and I really enjoyed time with friends and family too.

Michael enjoyed painting in the sun, music on.

We have all been busy putting the finishing touch's to Mikes boat Blue Sapphire, it's looking good and we are all thrilled with the results we have all worked very hard on it over the last couple of months, John's brother Stephen put the finishing touch's he's magic with a paint brush, Michael too.

Blue Sapphire all new again, Steve's final finishing touches of paint, makes the boat glow.

Mike and I visited Steve Heighton (who designed the web site) at his home in Dewsbury for some web training for our new web site. We now need to apply the training and update our site when we can, we came away full of knowledge and very grateful for all his help in setting up and up dating our site we are also glad of our new e-mail address's, we can now go check them, in the local libraries when I have no service from the boat which often happens, I am on my third new faulty phone, my GPRS service has been a pain with O2 I will soon be canceling that contract where has customer service gone!!!

I had my final mammogram yesterday to be told all is clear, no cancer "go have a nice life", the consultant said what wonderful news it was too, so we can now set off free of worry on that score.

28th July : Lock Keepers Johnny & Nick turned up to wave us off see ya lads & thanks.

It was a sad day setting off from Leeds on 22nd July waving to Mike as he stood at the river lock with two of our best lock keepers "tears were shed from John and I", we all felt the sadness as we set off on our adventure journey. We would of liked a final party, but not sure if we could have coped, but it might of helped.

We decided to spend a night in Castleford with friend's Chris and Tony, they arrived for a drink late as their son was getting married the following day, but they said we where important and they would not miss the opportunity of us passing through, to have a drink together, (any excuse) it was wonderful, we go back a long way and have many good memories to share.

Castleford from main bridge.

My sister Marie and her daughter Lisa and her two children joined us the following morning for a trip to Stanley ferry Wakefield we had awful weather, but it did not spoil the day, a great deal of fun was had by all on the trip. Coming back we had what is know as lock out in one of the locks, and we had to wait for British waterways to come and release us from the lock, two keys had caused the problem we did not get back in time to have a celebration drink with Chris and Tony we were sorry to miss out.

Leah & Connor

We headed off for Selby and the Ouse deciding we have plenty of time to visit our favourite city York, it was a nervous journey traveling this year on the River Ouse, with logs, and full tree's floating towards us, at one point we where pushing a forest and had to slow down to remove it from our bow, it was all coming down the fast flowing tidal river, we were glad when we arrived at Naburn using our VHF radio for the fist time to inform the lock keeper of our arrival, we had successfully completed the RYA VHF radio course last month in Salford Manchester and we now have our certificates (John got 100 per cent) doing well with our bits of pieces of paper from different courses, (France needs bits of paper!!! or they wont let you in).

Lock Keeper John and another boater at Selby Lock, River Ouse.

We have spent a great deal of time in research and on the phone (bill to prove it), we have had a lot of help from other boaters and traveler's, we thank you all, for all your help, advice and time that you have given to us so freely.

We are trying to organizing our trip across the channel, arrange cranes and decide where to be lifted from in England and where to be dropped in the water in France. Has not been as easy as we first thought (we had so many different prices stories too).

At last we now have a date for our move to France 31st August 2004 our boat will be lifted out of the water from Newark Marina, address Fardon Road, Newark, Nottingham shire, you are all welcome to come to see us being lifted out and give us a good send off hopefully, some good weather too, you can just share a drink with us before we go, or help us pack. John and I will be traveling in the truck with Moet Chandon and the driver.

We now have our permit from the French authorities thank goodness, David informs us all is on target, he has taken a lot of the organizing from us regards the transport and travel arrangements and ferry too. The company moving our boat is David Lumsdon from Essex he's come recommended by St.John Foy who had his narrow boat brought back from France in April (he's buying another boat to return to France) he has spent many years cruising the French canal system and has produced a French Pack and forms for £10 which we have found all the information to be very helpful indeed and we have been able to ring St.John when needing further information.

We will head for Dover around about 10.30 am on 31st August where we will board the ferry to Calais, we will arrive in Calais and spend the night aboard the lorry on the boat to get into the boat we need a big ladder to have our first night in France we have to remind David to pack a big enough ladder for us to climb aboard, should be fun and different, we never know where we are when we wake up some mornings on the boat, all part of the adventure.

We will arrive sometime 1st September (John's most favourite month) in Chantier Fluvial De Migennes, Glare-d'Eau, 89400 Migennes France, (80 or so miles south of Paris) hopefully the marine owner Jo Parfit will meet us (he's English that's why we choose this particular marina in France) he's suppose to be a mine of information and very helpful indeed, we needed to feel no language barrier to start with especially when lifting our boat into the French water ways system, and getting our boat license when we arrive.

Though John's brushing up on his French, and also studying for one more exam,we need the certificate for the "Euro Regs for Inland Waterways" (like studying the high way code with a bit more added) he has been studying very hard pages of lights to learn bless him I am studying French cooking!!! instead I thought it was a good deal.

What a month it's been so far we have seen some of best and worst weather so far, getting caught in one or two storms too, so glad of our protective cratch right now, what a blessing that has come to be. Floods galore too for others, my poor mum got flood out in Liverpool John's brother Tony & Paul's warehouse was also caught out in all the rain and floods.

Poor Mike was forced to leave Museum Gardens where he was moored in York, it was so bad the river Ouse just kept rising, he was stranded in Naburn for almost a week. Walking out at the side of his boat he was chest high in flood water, he wrote some music while in York in the floods and wrote the music to a poem for my brother Philip turning it into a song it sounds really good too. Philip it's on it's way to you soon, Michael just needs to record it now. He's worked very hard on his music and photos, they are wonderful, he's putting some up for sale that he's had put on canvas watch this space. Good Luck...