Closing Down. 27th April

Lockdown Mooring 4

Today notices from C&RT have been coming into our inbox regarding the closure of lock flights due to low water levels in reservoirs. Levels have been kept low at reservoirs on the Leeds and Liverpool and the Macclesfield due to essential maintenance works. Now with the lack of rainfall, the levels will remain low, so not enough water at the beginning of the boating season to sustain normal boat movements.

As we’re not meant to be moving anywhere anyway it seems sensible for measures to be taken to conserve as much water as possible. So all the locks between Wigan and Bingley, and either end of the Macc are being padlocked and ashed up tomorrow lunchtime and measures are being taken so that vandalism won’t be possible.

So when the lockdown ends (which I don’t think will be anytime soon) we won’t be able to cross the Pennines by any route, the need to do so no longer exists for us, but it would still have been nice to be up on the Leeds Liverpool again. Another thought had been to spend some time on the Macc, but the poor old Macc hasn’t had any luck in the last few years.

Where we go, and when, will stay on the back burner for now, there are other things we need to do whilst the canal network closes down around us.

Sour dough Into the bowl to rise

This morning I decided I’d be making some bread today whether my starter was ready or not. I’ve been watching it closely and it definitely runs to a timetable. Nothing happens for a couple of hours, then it gradually rises over the next hour and a half. At some point in the next half hour it gives up bubbling and sinks again. It hasn’t been as bubbly as I’d liked, maybe my expectations were greater than its own. Maybe what it has been doing is all it will ever achieve and I’ve just been wasting flour. So this morning I fed it and returned the jar to the proving shelf. A timer was set for three hours time.

Town square

I re-read the synopsis for panto and took notes. The writer for Rapunzel is the same chap who wrote Aladdin and there are similarities. Along with a tower with one window and no door, I will need to create a Town Square (obligatory), a pub, a galleon and a medieval jousting match.

Cannons and rigging

My calf muscle has been rested for a few days so I decided to see how it would fare walking up the locks whilst the hours ticked by for my starter.

As I approached bridge 97 I could see there was some sort of kerfuffle going on, flapping of wings etc. I carefully walked up the bank to see what I could see. Two male Pheasants sparring with each other. No females standing on the sidelines, just a head bobbing stand off.

Boys will be boys

One chap looked pristine whilst the others feathers around it’s neck were bedraggled, he certainly wouldn’t have been my choice in such a state. Heads bobbed up and down and only occasionally did claws make contact. Stunning looking birds.

Once they’d made enough room for me to pass I carried on over the bridge and up the flight. Sandra from NB AreandAre had told us about an egg farm at the top of the flight. We already knew of the lady with her few hens, but on the other side of the Llangollen just a bit further along was a whole farm.

Egg shop

A red van was parked with it’s back doors open, a honesty box and prices on the eggs. Medium and Extra Large hens eggs along with some duck eggs. We currently have quite a few eggs on board so it was just as well I didn’t have any money on me. But we’ll be back when we need some. Apparently he normally has around 30 dozen to sell a day. His ladies looked quite happy out the back too.

Eggs anyone

My calf had survived the journey, so I’ll be taking more short walks for a while.

Happy ladies

The timer was just about to go off when I returned. Time to make necessary flour for a loaf. Oats and sunflower seeds needed grinding up and adding to various other starches and flours. I hoped that Maple syrup instead of coconut palm sugar would work. My starter had reached it’s normal maximum, so I poured off enough for the loaf, mixed everything together then put it into a t-towel lined bowl, wrapped it in plastic bag and left it to rise back on the shelf.

The recipe said two hours maximum, but hardly anything had happened. I decided to leave it the three and a half hours my starter normally takes to rise and this proved to be a good idea.

Risen a bit

Whilst it did it’s thing Mick worked his way though tax returns all of which mean he owes the tax man nothing again. I dealt with emails about my sketches and ideas for Dark Horses next production #unit21. So a day pretty much like the old days, three projects in one day.

The timer went off the oven and cast iron pot were hot, time to see what baking my loaf would turn out like. The previous recipe had been using sorghum flour and had been a lot firmer, this was with buckwheat and had been like a thick cake batter. I carefully turned it out of it’s bowl onto grease proof paper and scored the top. It started to relax, so I quickly popped it in the pot and into the oven, fingers crossed.

A loaf with potentail

The end product looked not quite as risen as I’d hoped for, but it still showed much more potential than the last loaf I’d made. We’ll have to wait for the morning to see how it has turned out. The remains of my starter have been put into the fridge with the hope that it will pop back into life for the next loaf.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 flight walked up, 10 flights closed, dozens of eggs, 1 last feed, 1 sketch to redo, 5 amendments, 2 uv or not, 9 scenes, 2 boats again, 1 set breakdown, 3.5 hours, 1 loaf with potential, 1 very large friend!