Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Day 3: Linlithgow to Falkirk

Now the pace is picking up a bit and I simply haven't found the time to learn youtube editing (Sonia where are you?!!)... I mean how to join these clips. Rather than delay I'm just putting them up now to give you a flavour of the journey as we go. These are all very short clips; the Zimbabweans should be happy about that!

Reason Day 3
To inspire other boaters to get moving on Scotland's Waterways.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Day 2: Ratho to Linlithgow

What a punishing run is the Union; we bucked and yawed our way to Linlithgow and my engine is seriously unhappy. The bigger the water, the happier she is but he Union is only 3 feet deep (and we draw 2)… let’s away to the Atlantic! Oh but the scenery… the view up here (it’s a summit run) feels like a Constable come alive and the yellow rape horizons are difficult to capture on the humble camera. But we tried.

My heart is heavy moving west away from this thriving canal community… a hint of how things could be in Glasgow… boats boats boats… at Ratho, in Edinburgh.

In Glasgow? Nothing. Just li’l ole Peccadillo.

Reason 2 (for doing the journey)
I love this engine, this old BMC 2.5. I love it and know it so well (thanks to the coaching of the Dutch Navy… Joe, Jimmy and Davie), and one of the greatest gifts of my time on the canal has been the growing relationship with the mechanics and vagaries of the vessel and its works. And now I take the old BMC 300 miles to Inverness. “I know what you want to do” said Joe after our last great scare when the fuel pump went… “you want to take that old BMC out to sea and say look what I did, I took that bloody old BMC out to sea, don’t you!?!” And that’s exactly right. I can’t afford a shiny new boat or a zooty new engine… I don’t want one. There’s nothing to beat the beat of the engine you know beneath your feet… knowing there’s a problem just by the sound or the smell of her… and there’s no lottery worth winning than just dropping below, fixing it and then setting off again.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

cc Day 1 - Ediburgh Quay to Ratho

Ratho, and the day started with sun, moved swiftly to sleet and eventually back to sun again. Peccadillo grumbled till the Scott Russell Aqueduct on the outskirts of Edinburgh and then settled to smooth sailing... apart from the bank and wash and uphill climb that is this shallow shallow Union Canal (guaranteed draft only 3 feet!).

Teddy Slateford was rescued from the Slateford Aqueduct
The gathering last night was warm and wonderful and we added voice to what seems to be the interminable shout of that terminus. The arrangement of the buildings has created a great echoing amphitheatre that prompts bursts of song, laughter and inanity from revellers all through the night. I'd rather have that than the sneaky thief trying the door of the boat at 3am in Linlithgow (scared off by the deep throated barks of Richmond Benfield). I have footage of the departure and illustrious crew today but the i-pad is not letting me upload pics or vids.... Nor put line spaces in the blog ho hum, sorry about that! Will add them tomorrow night.

In the blogs of each day of travel I will put a reason for doing this journey. Every time someone asks me i seem to give a different reason and I'm sure I can give thirty; one for each day of the voyage.

Reason 1 
I go because I can. I have this wonderful boat, life in my limbs, the wherewithal and a love for the west coast of Scotland that surpasses the contortions of recommended self preservation that pass for sense in this world of ours that seems to be spinning faster and faster into nonsense.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

cc -1 Edinburgh Quay

A Sadza Send-off with Stevie doing his Exorcist impression...

5 May 2012 cc -1

A Beltane Moon for Blessing
Some mornings I wake up with my arms wrapped round my head as if it's gonna burst. Set off yesterday morning on the Union from Linlithgow to Edinburgh with gearbox running as sweet as a nut... felt we had conquered the world. But the old BMC got warm and once we'd stopped and tightened the bolts on the engine mounts she started growling again... called Jimmy who told me how to check the alignment before attaching the prop shaft coupling and I realise there is no mechanism for such adjustment and that it is some mighty miracle that has kept the thing operating all these years. I must uncouple it again, get under the floor and see if there is some measure of squeezing and releasing the nuts on the rubber mounts that  will give the adjustment I need. Is this at the root of all the gearbox nightmares of the years?  How tragic it would be to resolve it now. Tragic or magic?

Amy was a rock with the repairs on Friday. We had an idyllic run on Wednesday evening to Slammanan Basin, the beautiful picnic site just before it, and I had the best sleep I've had in many years.  Waking to birdsong and no traffic... a sunny day (my poetic and literary skills fail me in the description of happy sunny days... I am much more effusive on the miserable moment, aren't I Dazzie?) So idyllic it was we dallied till lunchtime  before moving off to Linlithgow and the tool bag.

Olivia's Owl
I'd decided to change the drive plate and see if that sorted the gearbox... she's begun slipping soooo badly in the past fortnight. I'd forgotten that the drive plate is actually behind the bell housing so a one hour job turned into 4 (we had to jack up the engine) and then one rogue nut cost us another FOUR HOURS. Unbelievable... with no electricity to employ savage grinders we had to resort to laboriously sawing through washer and nut. Well Amy did. I could only look on as she folded her lovely long limbs into my filthy bilges (I have a bit of a love affair with the oil in my bilges... the quintessential diesel dyke... that some folk don't share... Jimmy cursed me blind for utterly ruining one of his boiler suits when he welded the weed hatch... thought to buy him a new one but do you have any idea how much those things cost? And how minute are the various fitting requirements? There is  a whole world of fashion in working gear that makes Versace look positively cheap!

Our new Grandaughter Hollie Helen Christie just 1 day old
So on cc -1 here are a million thanks to those of you who have crushed yourselves into our  filthy bilges, those of you  who are wending your way to Edinburgh quay tonight to consecrate the journey... and those of you  far away who are holding me tight. To precious little Hollie who has brought such light into the world, to Margaret who is braving the edges of it. And tonight we raise the glass to who? To all the women who ever struggled and struggled and struggled simply to do what thier heart tells them they are here to do.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

cc -5 Music Boxes and Babies!

Hollie Christie
Well well, here's Gil and Moray's baby born just an hour ago...
a baby dragon girl on May Day!

I'm a gogo! Cathy's a granny! Hooray! And there was Gil as large as life at the Falkirk Wheel on Sunday... I can't believe it...

Ahhhhhh - the world is singing today... I never saw granny Cathy so happy... not ever.

 And didn't the family go get me an accordion for my journey... maybe I can learn a tune, David, between Edinburgh and Inverness! And maybe I could sing it in Gaelic Joanna? Babs? Hey Mizzle, what about the moonlight sonata?

This is my mum, Marie Gale, and my dad on the drums I was named after... I wish she was here to show me how to play this thing...