Tuesday 20th to Sunday 25th July 2010.

Today, Sunday 25th, is National Bog Day and I’ve been helping by spending at least an hour in there.
I may have read that wrong, so perhaps it’s National Blog Day, in which case I’m doing my bit by recounting this week’s events on the good ship Balmaha.

We started the week south of Preston Brook tunnel on a quiet bit of towpath. The length of the grass in the centre of the path told me we wouldn’t be disturbed.
But not so from the water, boats in bunches from the tunnels going both ways kept me busy tightening the spring lines.

Swallows came in two kinds, little ones that skimmed the water late afternoons and big ones that our tame heron demonstrated after he’d caught fish.

Our turn for the remaining two tunnels came on Wednesday. The first was timed so there were no conflicts but the last one wasn’t quite so straight forward and a crowd of us had to ‘own’ the tunnel before we could start through.
It’s only a five minute trek but making sure the boats at the other end know you’ve started isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Our end’s number one took the tunnel by sounding his horn, flashing his lights and making as much noise as he could but still they wanted to come in from the other end.

By the time we were half way through, and probably because of the noise, there were bats flying between the boats and missing our faces by inches, all very exciting.

By contrast our descent to the Weaver on the Anderton Boat Lift was unremarkable, I guess we are old hands at it now having done it and photographed every inch of it a couple of months ago.

To brighten our day we bumped into Best O’ Mates at the services and joined them for the trip down the lift.

We haven’t seen Graham and Jennifer since we passed on the Trent about a year ago. Talking about boats and catching up on news of mutual friends we passed an evening on Bally’ while the weather tried to make up its mind what it was going to do for the night.

Best O’ Mates looked beautiful in her new paintwork as Graham and Jennifer set off up river for supplies, leaving us to fight off hoards of visiting boats hoping to grab a piece of these idyllic moorings.

We thought the river very quiet last time we were here but word has got out and every man and his grandchild are after a bit of the action. Not that we mind, its lovely to see boats of all shapes and sizes cruising at decent speeds without affecting boats pegged to the side.

Spent a day or two indoors sanding floors, doors and portholes ready for a fresh coat of varnish while the clouds fought the sunshine from dawn to dusk. We did manage one barby but it was a case of keeping one eye on the sausages and the other on the sky.

Perhaps it’s the insects that attract the night life because down here on the river we are treated to wonderful displays of bats. I’ve tried catching them on camera but all you see is the reflection from their eyes.
Saturday night was no exception and we knew when they were about because they clouted the whip aerial I put up for Sunday morning’s RSGB broadcast. Twang, twang it went until they worked out where things were. I checked the boat roof for bodies the following morning but there was nothing to add to my fried breakfast.

It’s been a fairly restful week and apart from a planned trip to Northwich for provisions it should remain that way. I’ve been banned from using the sander because it’s upsetting the neighbours but next week watch out if you’re moored down on the lower meadows, I’ve got new sanding pads and refills for my face mask, this varnishing has to be done before July is out.