May 26

Fingers crossed……….She is ready to go

Well, “Owl and Pussycat of Ardrossan” [hope you like the name] is ready for “splashing” on Saturday [27 June]. Just a few words there – makes it sound quite simple doesn’t it? But, let me tell you, it has been quite a challenge getting to this point. As many of you know, it all began on Thursday 9th February when we first viewed her. Having had our offer accepted Mike then flew back to Livorno again a week later for the survey – which went well. Arrangements for sale and transfer commenced and we had a list of work which needed doing before launch.

We knew it would take a while but I don’t think either of us anticipated that it would be more than three months before we were ready. At this point Mike might possibly say that he did – but I know I didn’t. I was trying to be realistic but was about a month out in my optimistic calculations.

So…. what took so long?

OK, OK I hear you all shouting “Bureaucracy” – and how right you are. I guess it was never going to be easy dealing with two languages and two sets of authorities and documents but even so it was a bit more complicated than we thought. Perhaps I should have been aware of the difficulties when, just after the purchase was agreed, I read a comment in answer to someone else’s question on a forum that buying a boat in Italy and using an Italian surveyor was a foolish thing to do!

Fortunately for us, Sonia – the previous owner of the boat – is actually also a yacht broker and therefore knows her way around the [Italian] forms and departments but even so, she got frustrated with the things she had to ask us to do. At the time the initial paperwork was being done we were still in the UK so everything was being copied and faxed and we had to have our passport copies authenticated etc. For some reason, which we still don’t quite understand, we also had to register with the Italian equivalent of the Dept of Work and Pensions. It was something to do with the tax payment which had to be made.  We now both have the Italian equivalent of an NI number. Well, you never know – it could come in handy!!!! Anyway, Sonia managed to complete all the Italian paperwork within the 3 week period which is required under Italian law and the boat was ours.

BUT…. Now we come to British Registration. Prior to leaving the UK we completed all the relevant forms and sent copies of all the documents we had which, on our interpretation of the regulations, met all the requirements. No surprise to you readers, I suppose, that we were sadly mistaken!

There were two problems. Firstly, the documents we sent did not apparently prove the previous five years ownership and secondly, even though we sent the original Italian tonnage certificate and a new one, in English, completed by the Italian surveyor, this was not acceptable.

We thought that the first issue would be resolved when we got to Livorno because Sonia had told us that she had all the boat documents we hadn’t already had ready and waiting for us. What we did not know was that the Italian registry only returns some documents to its owner on de-registration and they keep previous Bills of Sale etc in their records. What they do give the owner is a transcript of their records giving details of all previous owners and dates and reasons for transfer of registration. Great, we thought, that should be OK ….and we sent a copy immediately. “Sorry”, came the reply. “We need the original document and a translation into English and for both those documents to be authenticated.” Yikes. Well, to cut a long story short we managed to get the document translated and then, again fortunately for us, the father of our boatyard owner’s son’s girlfriend [have I got enough/the right apostrophes there??] happens to be an English speaking Attorney who, for €90, did the necessary. It still took several days and two visits to his office followed by a frustrating morning trying to find a courier to get the documents to the UK – but more about that later.

Given that we had only had to pay £5 in the UK to have a Notary authenticate our passports the €90 seemed a bit steep but we were so grateful to get it done we didn’t care and, given what was yet to come, it was a relative drop in the ocean and takes us back to problem two.

We now know that the British Registry only accepts Surveys of Tonnage from a few surveyors on their approved list. On the phone we were told that they would send us a list and that of course these included surveyors in different countries.  We received the list and they were all British surveyors. We phoned the Registry again thinking they had sent us an incomplete list. Oh no. These are surveyors who are happy to travel to different countries to complete the survey. Well, they would be. Nice job if you can get it.

Again, to cut short a diatribe, we opted for an RYA recognised surveyor who, when we spoke to him was – by chance – visiting Pisa the following week for another job and who agreed to take a detour to Livorno for us. I guess this was a bit of good luck but the £420 it cost us for the privilege didn’t feel that lucky. I suppose rules are rules but we had already submitted two tonnage surveys and, if anyone is interested the way it is calculated, it is basically length x breadth x depth plus a “fiddle factor” of x 0.16 [which is standard wherever it is calculated]. Why it had to be a Registry approved surveyor to submit the same figures as the previous tonnage surveys heaven only knows.





But there you go…… £420 worth








The formal boat registration number meant that Mike could complete all the OFCOM stuff so we now have the relevant Call Sign, MMSI number and Radio Licence number. Thankfully that was on line and straightforward and free.

I think that’s more than enough about bureaucracy don’t you? So, now for the work.

As I said at the outset, overall we got a favourable survey from a very thorough surveyor. He spent a full day with the boat – including about three hours inspecting the outside with four different types of meter over every inch of the hull. Interestingly, in the aforementioned forum thread I mentioned, he was recommended as a “go for it” or “don’t touch it” guy. There is no in-between. His reputation is that if there are any reasons not to buy he will advise against.  We had initially selected him as he was recommended by Cruising Association members and we later found out that he is also a surveyor Pantaenius use. I am putting together a list of useful names and addresses for anyone who is in or around Livorno and will post it soon.

But even favourable reports come with recommendations. The two main ones were that the below waterline through hulls should be replaced and that some remedial work needed doing to the base of the mast before she was put into the water again. He also strongly suggested that the sanitation hoses should be replaced – just because!!!

I am not going to go into any detail about the last recommendation – only to say that we have done it which is again only a few words to describe several hours work taking apart cupboards, crawling around in contorted positions trying to loosen and later tighten hose clamps and having fun with Mike’s favourite job of plumbing before putting all the cupboards back into place.

The through hulls and some of the mast work we commissioned to Carlo – the yard owner. He was able to start this work immediately which we hoped would speed our launch date. He also has the expertise in these matters. We decided that although it was only the below waterline through hulls which had to be replaced we would actually have them all done. Mike has since wondered whether this was a good decision on our part because having seen the removed pieces he feels many needn’t have been touched. But once bashed out there is no going back so its new ones throughout. Actually I think it’s no bad thing. We should be good for at least twenty years now – and longer with most of them. The parts of the hull they go through have been examined, new coats of epoxy applied and every valve is in perfect working order. Of course it will be the big test on launch day but the work looks good.

All earthed to the anode

Now some of you may be wondering what was wrong with the mast base. When Mike told me about it I was quite taken aback – but really it was no big deal – other than the mast had to be removed to do the job. By “no big deal” I don’t mean that it did not have to be remedied – as it certainly did – but the outcome is that we now have a much better arrangement at the mast foot.

The problem was that the base of the mast sits in the bilge – as I expect most keel stepped masts do? This is a new thing for us but we know that water gets into all masts and has to run out somewhere. “Siga Siga” had a deck stepped mast and there were small grooves at the base for water to escape onto the deck. So, water in itself is not a problem, except if it pools and, regardless of all other evidence being that the boat bilges are clean and dry, there have obviously been occasions when a little water has just sat there. Over time this caused corrosion….

What the surveyor recommended and Mike concurred with was that the damaged part of the base be removed and a platform built to stand in the bilge on which the base could now sit.

The lower part of this base is polycarbonate which cannot corrode and in both new parts of the base holes have been cut so that any water drains straight through. Everything was repainted….

….and it’s all back together looking splendid – and sikoflexed [maybe a word!?] in place.

But, as with everything else, this piece of work is only part of the story.

“What”, we asked ourselves, “is the point of taking down the mast and only doing that work? Let’s have the whole thing painted”. Well, as anyone who may have done this themselves will know that means every last thing has to be removed. Halyards, shrouds, electrical equipment, aerials, fixtures and fittings. All off. Spreaders removed for painting as well and similarly all fittings off the boom.

As with the through hulls we asked Carlo and his crew to do this to get things moving but we decided that we wanted to replace it all ourselves…. Brave words which didn’t end there. “We should also replace the wiring – stupid not to take that opportunity” …. “and, while we are about it lets add mast steps.”

So, there was plenty of work for us to do when we arrived in Livorno on 28th March and, with regard to the mast, this is how it went….

First on were the steps….

…. very carefully measured, avoiding all the other fittings and using the spreaders when appropriate. Two in parallel at the top [well, at a distance that allows Mike to be at chest height with the top. Who the hell wants to balance right at the top!?]

This first task meant we made good use of our old friend “Copperslip” – vital for all screws in a marine environment if you want to be able to get them out again – and we made a new friend “Duralac” which forms a barrier coat between the two different metals.

Next, the mast track…

…. which we pushed the cars up and down loads of times to ensure we had smooth running. A trusy file was needed in a couple of spots but all seems good now.

We serviced the winches

…and then we put back all the sheaves, cleats and other paraphernalia.

The halyards all went back OK – and we serviced the pulleys etc as we went along but, when it came to putting in the new wires we had great fun. This may have been because it is always the case or maybe because we upgraded the wires and therefore had a bit more bulk. Whatever – it created a few tense moments. But we survived. We resorted to our tried and tested favourite ….

….the coathanger and, when wires wont go back in from top to bottom then why not try bottom to top? As you can see Mike didn’t believe my idea would work…

We also ensured we put in sufficient “mice” for the future

During this process Mike acquired a new skill – i.e. wiring the shrouds to the spreaders and he also re-kindled an old one as he has made a complete new set of lazy jacks for the mainsail which involved lots of splicing to hold the thimbles which join all the stays together.  We have only sailed a boat with a slab reefed mainsail once before and that was a charter in Greece, so again it is a new adventure for us.

Finally everything was attached….

… and don’t you just love that horn! Think we will be heard worldwide.

Our next task was to service the engine and genset. As well as it being important to change all the fluids and replace filters, v-belts, impellers etc we thought it was a good idea to get to know these beasts as you can bet your bottom dollar we are going to be thankful we at least know a bit about them. There is much more space in this engine room than we had on “Siga Siga”. Mike can almost sit in it – but does that make it any easier? Well, of course not!

I don’t know whether it is engine designers or boat designers who are to blame – or maybe a conspiracy between them – but if they can make an impeller inaccessible then, believe me, they will. We tried all the tools we already had, bought a small pulley puller because we knew a real impeller puller wouldn’t fit [having measured the gap], and swore a lot. None of this worked. Finally we found some smallish right angled long nose pliers which did the job – but not without the usual scuffed knuckles. But this was only half the issue because “Owl and Pussycat” is a Taiwanese built boat made for the US market and we are in Europe. Some parts are easily interchangeable but some are not. Both the impellers and, we believe, a couple of the filters which were removed weren’t actually the right ones. In respect of the genset impeller this was a bit of a mystery because we found a spare one – a true Onan product – lurking at the bottom of a cupboard. I think it had been forgotten about. We were therefore able to use this and order 4 more spares from the US which were delivered to the UK. With regard to the filters and other engine parts we did manage to source them too – though not without a couple of false starts.

It was a similar issue with the anodes. The max prop and propeller shaft anodes were no problem. Having checked we knew we didn’t need one for the bow thruster. The pencil anode in the genset is another story which we haven’t solved yet! Our main concern were the two hull anodes as we could not find any which fit and/or which allowed us to get the nuts onto the end of the bolts. Given the number of rectangular anodes available it is hard to believe we couldn’t find one. Although we didn’t really want to, as a temporary solution we may have been able to put smaller ones on but even that wouldn’t work as the holes weren’t in the right places. In the end Mike invented some new nuts which look a bit like a small top hat so that part of them go through the holes in the anode and therefore fasten to the bolt whilst the wider part actually holds the anode on. Sorry, a bit of a ramble there and I am sure I have bored many of you. But these are real challenges. Finding a brilliant metal turner was a godsend.

Whilst I am on the theme of buying I think I should explain that there aren’t really any chandlers as we know them. There is no on-line “Force 4” or “Marinescene”. There are a few very small shops where you can walk in and view products but their range is limited – mainly catering to large motor boats whose occupants like fishing and worthless gadgets. There are suppliers to superyachts but they don’t have anything we would [or rather, could] use. We were told that there is a company called “Osculati” – which is probably the largest Italian supplier but their nearest outlet was about 2 hours away and they are not cheap. In terms of pricing – some things are cheaper in Italy such as chain but other things are more expensive. Unless there is no option, buying electronic gear is best avoided here. We were lucky being in the boatyard because Carlo has an account with a supplier [Forniture Nautiche] based in Cecini [about 40 minutes away by car] so we were able to order through him. They would not have accepted us as direct clients.

So buying stuff becomes a full time job in itself. Italy is wonderful in that it retains traditional small corner shops which include “Ferraterra’s” [Ironmongers] but we often had to go to three or four before finding e.g the screw or washer we needed.

Finally on this subject is the problem that if you are told of somewhere to go, you have to actually find it. From our experience all Italian cities are full of one way streets and you can end up going round and round. Many small businesses do not have websites but the Italian equivalent of Yellow Pages pinpoints them on a google map using goodness knows what spurious criteria – because even if you manage to navigate to where Google sends you – there is no shop. Either it looks like it closed last century or it’s a block of flats or it goes something like this…

Don’t be ridiculous, it can’t be here!

This looks like it might be right… but No

This can’t be right.. but actually it is – just round the back

I mentioned near the start of this post that we had difficulty finding a courier service. It’s hard to believe that finding Fedex – or rather not finding Fedex – would be an issue. Luckily, just as we were about to give up after trying two different addresses I saw a sign on the side of the road for DHL. We followed this, and other signs, for about five miles into and around an industrial estate. We did eventually find them but we still feel it was a lucky break!

I could go on and on but feel that I have said quite enough for one “sitting” – at least I hope you are sitting! So, I have decided to make my planned post a bit shorter.

I will just tell you briefly about some other jobs we have done.

We have commenced changing all the lights to LED’s. This will be completed after our visit to UK in July to pick up more bulbs but, amongst others, we have done the masthead anchor light and the tricolour – no need to go up the mast now even though we have the steps! One thing we were quite pleased about was that we found kits in a B&Q equivalent [or almost] which has meant we have been able to convert all our fluorescent tubes [eight in total] for around £38.00.

Strip of LEDs..look a bit strange but…

…looks OK and works when the cover is on











We have more or less built up a new tool kit. It’s now a case of trying to find somewhere to put them all – especially the new angle grinder. Why have a small one when a big one costs less!

We have done some internal wiring as a result of re-attaching the mast and have taken several facias off and lifted floor panels up to trace wires. So far fairly successfully. We now have a wiring diagram to help us make sense of what goes where in this nice, but complicated control panel.

We have replaced the anchor and chain. We now have to decide how much of the old chain to keep with the old anchor as our second anchor system and how much rope to have. We are rather pleased with the chain locker though. More chain than on “Siga Siga” and loads of room.

We have new mooring lines. We have polished the stainless steel & serviced the fenders [i.e. blown some up and washed, re-stiched and put new shock cord in the socks]. Strange isn’t it that I take photos of Mike at work but he never seems to get ones of me! Not that the polishing and fender jobs are the only things I have done. I make a great mate for most of Mike’s jobs and am generally in charge of any soldering and quite a bit of electrical work as I have the steadier – and smaller – hands.

And lastly, but not surprisingly we have started a list of jobs to do. This winter in Spain is looking busy. Although we thought we might leave the sprayhood until the Caribbean I am increasingly thinking it is a priority.

Maybe we will get used to it but it is much lower than “Siga Siga’s”- and not as good – so unless we are happy to continue bashing our heads it may have to go sooner rather than later.

We have also had the bottom sand blasted, coated with three layers of epoxy and then Coppercoated.

Gelcoat nicely protected

Luca taking great care

She looks fine – and, we hope, is ready for the water.

I have just realised that I forgot to say that the mast is, of course, now back on. That was quite a stressful couple of hours when all we could do was stand by and watch it all happen.

Push the mast towards the crane guys….

Forestay please

Up she goes

Steady now – new wires nicely coiled and out of harms way

Come on…push, pull…

But these guys know what they are doing and – it all went without mishap.

Now I am sure that you are fed up of photos of a boat on land and boat parts so, we hope that the next photos you see will be “Owl and Pussycat afloat”….. Watch this space.

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Apr 30

A new adventure begins…..and a visit from James








Hi everyone. Well above you see Mike and I having our first drinks on “Owl and Pussycat”. Unfortunately it was lunchtime so my drink was good old Fanta though Mike always seems to manage a beer. She is on the hard in a boatyard just outside Livorno and it is not the place to spend the night – at least not a month full of them – so, for now we have been staying in a small apartment in Venezia Nueva, sometimes also known as Piccola Venezia [New or Little Venice].

The area is crossed with small canals built during C17 using Venetian methods of reclaiming land from the sea.

Our flat is in the large white building – but at the back. We do still have a canal view but, unfortunately, no balcony which, according to James, every self-respecting flat should have.

We arrived in Livorno on Tuesday 28 March having driven down through France. We decided to bring the car as it was going to cost almost as much to get our belongings here had we flown. It also meant we were able to buy a Rocna anchor in the UK [not easily available in Italy] and bring Coppercoat for the undersides [available here, but cheaper in the UK]. Most importantly, it has meant we have transport here. Silly to rent a car when we could bring one.

As you can see we had a full load….

……just about enough space for us.

Having caught the Dover-Calais ferry on Sunday 26th we drove for a couple of hours to Reims. During the journey we saw what I thought were lots of nests.

We debated this as surely there couldn’t be that many rooks! Mike finally worked out what is was – and no doubt some of you will already know or have guessed too….

….its Mistletoe.

Browsing through Trip Advisor before we left the UK it seemed as though Sunday night was a bad time to be in Reims. All indications were that cafés and restaurants are closed Sunday evening. WRONG!

People were out and about, pavement cafes busy and restaurants preparing to serve meals. We had brought a “picnic” with us thinking we would not be able to eat out but we still enjoyed a stroll around, a glass of wine and bought bread to complement our chicken, cheese and pate.

The following morning, after locally bought croissants, we headed south. It was a long day in the car but we arrived in Fréjus late afternoon with time to relax…..

…. before heading out for Moules/Frites.

No, I know that isn’t a bowl of mussels! But it is what we started our evening meal with. When in France and all that…..!!!!

An overturned lorry on the autopista between Savona and Genoa slowed us down – so what should have been a four hour journey from Fréjus to Livorno on the Tuesday took us nearer seven. Having arrived safely we contacted various people to let them know. James’s reaction was the best. He immediately booked a flight and joined us three days later for a long fun packed weekend.

Our first day out was to Lucca with cobbled streets linking its many pleasant Piazzas….

… and its monumental city wall.

Preceded by two previous walls, the first of which was built by the Etruscans in the second century BC, this wall was built around the city in C16/17 and remains in almost perfect condition. It is 4.2 km long and 12m high and its ramparts are topped by a tree lined pavement – a favourite place for the local’s evening “passeggiata”. Surrounding the walls are grassed areas perfect for a spot of sunbathing.

As you would expect, drinking beer was high on the list of things to do – we even waited patiently [well, fairly patiently] for “De Cervesia” to open its doors at 5pm for craft beer from the local micro-brewery.

Equally impressive was the available local produce in many small shops along Via Santa Lucia…

… on which also stands the “Chiesa di San Michele in Foro”.

Marking the spot where the Roman Forum stood, this church – with its wedding cake Romanesque façade – was constructed over a period of 300 years. Crowning the structure is the figure of Archangel Michael slaying a dragon, though I was more taken by the fresco above the main entrance.

From walls to towers – and our day two trip to San Gimignano.

There are a total of fourteen towers in this “hill town”, named after a bishop of Modena who is said to have saved the city from Attila the Hun. At one time there were 72 towers, each built taller than that of ones neighbour as a way for the towns prominent families to impress each other and flaunt their wealth.

Not sure who was trying to impress whom with this sculpture…

…but we thought it was rather creative.

The views from the town walls across the Tuscan countryside are quite stunning…..

….. and even afforded us the opportunity of a photo shoot.

A splendid lunch was had in “Echoes” – the Italian owner being a fan of British rock music and bands. He waxed lyrical about Led Zeppelin and Genesis though you can guess his favourite band from the name of his restaurant. I loved this photo which adorned one wall of the room we dined in.

Also worthy of a photograph was this magnificent tree…

At first I thought it was a purple Laburnum but believe it is probably Wisteria. The flowers of both are very similar.

Of course we also had to visit Pisa -partly because that is where the airport is! – but also because it is a must see/must do when in the area. No, we didn’t do the “stand or lie in a funny position and pretend you are holding up the tower” but we did take its photograph!

The cathedral, to which the tower “belongs” sits on one side of the huge Piazza del Duomo [Cathedral Square], also known as Campo dei Miracoli [Field of Miracles].

The Baptistry is rather unusual as well – being round and having one dome atop another.

Whilst the area around the Leaning Tower swarms with day trippers it is easy to escape them as many people literally come to Pisa just for that. But there is a lot more to Pisa such as the Piazza Martiri della Libertà.

There were very few people in this square – just a few local people going about their daily business. No crowds here to marvel at this building with its lovely decorated frontage.

Mike was tour guide for the day, having wandered the city alone when he came to meet the surveyor at the end of Feb, and he deliberately took us to see this column which he had found.

He seems to remember there being something special about figures sculpted with their fingers in their mouths or tongues sticking out – but he can’t remember what it is!

He also took us for a stroll along the Arno and to see the “Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina”, a Pisan-Gothic church built in C13 to house a reliquary of thorn from Christ’s crown.

Although the Arno mouth is just west of Pisa, the Carrara Canal [now mostly unused, except for a few small fishing boats and rowing boats] also links the Arno with the sea and it is on the side of this canal – just before it reaches the sea immediately north of Livorno city centre – that Tecnomarine boatyard sits.

James could not have returned to Berlin without visiting the boatyard. He seemed to like our new home and we hope he – and others – will soon be able to join us aboard. For this trip he had to make do with Mike explaining some of the work needing doing.

All of this will be written about in detail soon as we are still completing the jobs. In the meantime I leave you with the “before” photo….

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Apr 07

A Mystery Weekend with Dave and Margaret

Well, we are now in Italy working on the boat. However, contrary to what might have been your expectation, this post is not about boats or sailing or even Italy. It is mainly about a weekend we spent in the Yorkshire Dales – with a comment or two on Mike’s birthday first.

As there was no 29th February this year Mike had all the excuse he needed to have a minimum two day birthday. [In actual fact, he needs no encouragement for this and even makes sure it happens when there is a 29th February in the year!]. Anyway the first day [28th] dawned bright and sunny…..well, it always does in books, but the reality was it snowed.

We had a lovely day just relaxing and eating fine food…… unfortunately another fairy-tale as the day was really spent plumbing and decorating. However, the fine food bit of the day lived up to expectation by way of a couple of juicy steaks preceded with an experiment on my part – caramelised onion and goats cheese tarts. What I lacked in technique I made up for with ingenuity. The finished product didn’t look quite like the photo in the recipe but tasted damn good- which is all that matters.

His second birthday [1st March] was very much like the day before – except we didn’t have the fine food. I guess we just weren’t up to celebrating properly this year, though we made a good attempt on other occasions like Cath and Mag’s joint birthday meal, an excellent evening of fine Italian food at Chris and John S’s, a great Indian meal with John and Kath, a visit to Lesley and Kath for Rugby and Campervan envy, a visit by Steve and Mary, several brilliant evenings in Winterley and finally a wonderful St Patrick’s night meal at Cath’s with Mags “Kiwi sorbet Prosecco” to put us in the mood. Well, it was a green drink!

Despite the above mentioned snow, spring had arrived….

……and we looked forward to a weekend we had planned to thank Dave and Mags for putting us up for almost 3 months. It is amazing that, despite a number of times when the experience hasn’t lived up to the imagination in relation to weather, I still plan in the belief that all will be hunky dory. So, what’s wrong with a walking weekend in the Yorkshire Dales in March? Well, nothing if we had gone on the weekend of the 10th March or the 24th but we had booked for the 17-20th and it rained and rained and when it wasn’t raining it was drizzling or pouring down!

That said – we therefore had good reason to spend time drying out and warming up inside a number of wonderful pubs. If memory serves me right we went to ten over the three day period – all of them traditional Dales hostelries full of character [and characters!].

We started out at “The Green Dragon” in Hardraw village and, after a couple of drinks to stimulate us, walked for all of five minutes to visit Hardraw Force which is situated within the pub grounds.

It is a pretty setting and the fall is quite spectacular…

…especially when seen from behind.

Well done Mike for volunteering to get very wet and to Dave and Mags who followed him. Determined to see if he could have got any wetter Dave also decided to play tight-rope walker across the remains of a bridge.

I am not sure I approve of having to pay to see the waterfall, but I suppose it is on someone’s land and, if you fancy owning it yourself, you may be interested to know that the pub and the waterfall are currently up for sale.

Our next stop was Askrigg Village….

…. where, having found the correct path at our second attempt, we walked a four mile circuit taking in the “free to view” Askrigg falls……

…..and Whitefield’s Gill Force…

……before climbing up to Low Straights Lane….

….for great views over Wharfedale.

The sun actually made a brief appearance, casting a lovely light onto part of the hillside and Dave was so inspired that we all had to pose for a “Selfie”!

The following day we walked from our accommodation – “The George” in Thoralby….

….along to Aysgarth village where we visited an Edwardian rock garden….

…..which Mag had read about in a local magazine.

It covers about 0.14 acres and was designed as a kind of walk through “alpine” grotto. A mountain stream and small cascade add to its atmosphere. I am sure that in sunshine the garden looks much better and at other times of year when full of colour it would be lovely.

A pretty hellebore had made a brave start.

We then retraced our steps a little way and made the turn for Aysgarth Falls which were in full spate.

By this stage I was wet through – obviously being in Wensleydale I had mistaken myself for Wallace, or was it Grommit, who wore the wrong trousers! Anyway I wasn’t a happy camper and decided enough was enough with regard to walking that day. Being the gallant gentleman Mike decided to escort me. [The reality was that he rather fancied the dry clothes, hot coffee and Sunday paper experience that I said I was going to indulge in]. Being hardened troopers Dave and Mag decided to continue with the walk.

In typical “weather witch” fashion, when we got back to the pub half an hour later after walking into wind and driving rain all the way, the sun decided to make an appearance and by the time we picked Dave and Mag up in Bolton Castle we had blue sky. We tried to go to Hawes for a late lunch but had to turn back due to flooded roads and, after finding a suitable alternative watering hole in West Witton, we stopped off in West Bolton to look at the “Sorrelsykes Follies”.

It seems that the 1860’s construction the “Bishopsdale Rocket” is the most famous….

…. and the 1920’s “Pepperpot” also gets a mention in some guide books.

What I didn’t know until I was reading up about them later was that part of the farm we could see below us is also a kind of folly, having a C18 Palladian mansion frontage, and there is a sham ruin and some form of elaborate arched gateway which we didn’t see.

The blue sky didn’t last long and Monday was again overcast and drizzly. I had planned a triangular walk taking in Hubberholme, Bucken and Cray but as the route was described as being “very slippery when wet” and as part of it was alongside a beck which was, by now, more of a river we opted for a walk around Kettlewell. I had found an article which was a much abridged version of a book about the cottages and houses in the village – when they had been built, their various usage over the years etc. which gave us a better understanding of the history and culture of Kettlewell.

One building not mentioned in the guide was the parish church inside which we found what I think is quite an unusual stained glass window.

The centre window commemorates a local young man – a 20 year old Sub-Lieutenant of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve who, in 1942, went missing in active service on an operational flight from Malta.  His brother, a Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant who survived the war but died aged 47, was also mentioned.

We were all agreed that as an example of a “whole village” it was really quite outstanding. There was no real evidence of new build or anything to mar its authenticity. I remember visiting some years ago when its annual scarecrow festival was taking place and thinking then what a great place it was so I am glad I have been back.

“The Falcon” in Arncliffe and “The Craven Arms” in Appletreewick formed part our route home. Both these pubs are well worth a visit and if any of you fancy a week long walking experience then “The Inn Way” may just be the thing for you. I have heard that the original Dales “Inn Way” book may be out of print but there is plenty of information on the web.

I am not sure what Dave and Margaret were expecting from their “Mystery Weekend”. I am pretty sure it wasn’t what they actually got! However, despite the weather it was a fun packed time, we visited places they hadn’t been before and we shared beer, food and laughter in equal amounts and, because of the weather, we saw some rivers and waterfalls at their best.

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