Monday, April 30, 2007

General ramblings....

What a day of contrasts! Glorious sunshine and warm temperatures tempered by a brisk wind. A glorious early spring day. On the other hand, you hear just how low human nature can stoop. The 'busting' and trials of creatures plotting the largest terrorist raids on the UK - congratulations to the MI5 for saving countless thousands of lives. The early evening sinking sun, setting over the blue water in the marina and hanging from a cloudless blue sky is a glorious sight to return home from work to. The warmth has begun to form the annual blanket weed 'skirt' that shrouds my hull and this, in turn, brings the perpetual tap, tapping of ducks and fish eating it - especially in the early hours of the morning. There are a few boats moored each evening or morning on the waterside frontage outside and I often watch from the window as boats chug past on their way north to south along the Oxford canal. Somehow, just the sight of the boats going past gives a taste of the freedom they are enjoying and evokes those memories I have from all my past trips and explorations along with the anticipation of planned trips to come.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Back home!

Well, I have returned to inside the marina after my spell outside. Had a lovely relaxing morning sitting by the boat but the weather forecasters got it wrong again and this morning it was overcast and positively chilly so I went back in earlier than expected. Took the canoe out for a long paddle up to Rose Narrowboats and back. I Feel good for it but with aching muscles! I have posted a couple of pictures today of seriously shoddy workmanship! It seems as if every Tom, Dick and Harry who thinks they have any knowledge of anything vaguely related to boats, caravans or indeed cattle troughs has now entered the boat building market! These 2 pictures show welds which quite frankly are a disgrace to the workman who made them. This one is even down the cabin sides!
It now appears that even boat building has lost the pride of those past engineers. I know there are still some quality builders out there and I had the joy of seeing a beautiful replica Woolwich 'Star' class boat with an outstanding sounding 'National' engine moor up along side me the other day. The boat was called Adrastea, (sorry Jane, I can confirm there is now definately another Adrastea on the cut!) and I spent some time chatting to the lucky and extremely proud owners. My apologies to all those people who have left me messages recently and I haven't posted them. I'm afraid, the one downside outside is that I was only able to get a GPRS signal and this meant that some of the messages left didn't come through. My roast pork joint was cooked today in the knowledge that ALL the gas leaving the cylinder was arriving at the intended destination! I have packaged up a copy of the certificate and will, tomorrow, post it to the inspector for his scrutinee. Hopefully by the bank holiday, I might have my Boat Safety Certificate - watch this space. School is closed on Thursday for polling and then again on Monday for the bank holiday. I plan to take the boat back out to the front if the weather is good on Thursday so that I can sit in the sun and spend the day writing school reports and then on Saturday the plan is to head Braunston direction for the bank holiday weekend.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I have posted a picture of my leeks! I use the word 'leeks' in plural as the Corgi engineer today found loads! I have spent my entire day at Rose Narrowboats being 'sniffed' for gas! The main leak was from a loose joint in the back of my saucepan cupboard, another leak was found in the joint above the solid fuel stove, (!) one in the bulkhead and a leaky valve from the cylinder!! At least they are all sorted now and I have a very official looking bit of paper that says it's all safe.Now I have topost it to the BSS inspector who will post me the certificate, (hopefully,)! Apparently the heat from the stove often causes the joint above it to expand and contract and work loose but the rest should not be there on a 4 year old boat. We expect they have been there since the start and therefore the Recreational Craft Directive should not have been issued when new - thanks again NBC, it makes the fire I had on board even more worrying and sinister if true, although it could never be proven.

Took on diesel and water whilst there and returned to my favourate spot out the front of the marina for the night. The plan is still to go back into the marina at some point tomorrow afternoon/evening.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Selective efficiency

I have come to the conclusion that the offices within British Waterways have a learning difficulty! So many parents nowadays what labels for their children to band around in the playground and I'm going to proudly announce to the world that BW has the Special need of, what I will term, 'Selective Efficiency'. Less than 24 hours after my BSS failure and I receive a phone call from a very pleasant lady from BW informing me that they have been notified of the failure of my BSS and asking me what I was going to do about it - how fantastically efficient, however, on the other hand they seem totally incapable of efficiently and effectively monitoring and policing the myriad of vessels roaming our waterways unlicenced, uninsured and 'homeless'. It seems to me to be a case of those who are law abiding get heavily policed and those who aren't get away with everything and anything - I guess the only way of bumping up statistics is to hound those who are 'in' the system as finding those who are 'out' of the system is simply not financially viable or time/cost effective - ummmm, now I'm thinking!!

This morning, after singing the praises of 'Fuel Set' fuel conditioner, my Eberspacher refused to fire up at all. This evening, I got it going and have now been running it for the last hour and intend running it until about 10.00-10.30 in the hopes of giving it a jolly good burn through and see if that makes a difference. If it doesn't, I'll have no option but to impart hundreds of hard earned and increasingly diminishing pounds into the pockets of some guy who just happens to have the 'right tool for the job' and the certificate hanging on the wall from Eberspacher as his licence to print money.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gee thanks!

Well, I am pleased to report that I am now the extremely proud owner of a bright red slip of paper warning me and all persons, 'stepping aboard this vessel' that '....they might be in immediate and serious danger'! In short, I've failed - the story of my life here! While rusting and half sunk hulks of dilapidated scrap iron and rotting wood sail merrily by, shaking me off my moorings, this 4 year old boat with more money for maintenance thrown at it over the past years than many would throw at their houses has failed its Boat Safety Certificate. Apparently I have a 'significant gas leak' somewhere. Where, is anybodies guess but I do feel somewhat uncumbered by the release of the burden of something in the region of 134 quid for the privilege of owning said slip of paper.

The Corgi engineer at Rose Narrowboats is on a course, (should I feel confident or worried at this?) and so Friday or Saturday is the earliest time for getting the fault rectified. Assuming he can find the ellusive leak, he then has to run various tests, put the results in writing which I then have to post to the inspector before being allowed to have a certificate and freedom of beaurocracy for the next 4 years. To be fair, the inspector I used had the balance of being both strict and reasonable and I would recommend him. We believe the leak is probably from the front locker as the pressure drop was so significant that we would have smelt it inside by now if it was anywhere else! I shall report on the continuing saga over the weekend but until then there's a pretty safe bet that anyone coming for dinner round my house in the next week will get a salad!
....and by the way, I know really that this weekend isn't the bank holiday, I was just finding out how many readers I had and who was awake - teacher tactic, "spot my deliberate mistake now children!"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Weekend - end of......

Why do weekends go so quickly! My apologies to those who have complained regarding my lack of posts over the last week! You know how it is, work being so busy and all that, in fact, last week, on 4 evenings, I either had to go back to school for an evening meeting or was late home due to an over-running after school meeting. This weekend has been lovely though and I still have the cratch open now at 8.30, (although will shut it as soon as I've finished this!)Just had to completely re-moor the boat due to a big old thumping boat going past as break neck speed. I would 'name and shame' but it was a boat belonging to a friend of mine, (although her son was steering it and she wasn't on board!!) My friends from NB Four Winds, (Crick show boat this year and profiled in Canals and River magazine - May 2007) are now moored in Brinklow and stopped for a chat as they passed by this evening. I must say, it's a stunning looking boat and it was nice to have some familiar faces around this, my new home patch of canal. Next weekend, being a bank holiday, I plan to go down to Braunston for the weekend and back, with the plan being to return to INSIDE the marina on the Monday evening!OK, now it's getting silly! I have resorted to washing the fire extinguishers in readiness for my Boat Safety Inspection tomorrow! Things like this always tend to bring bad news for me, so my history as taught me, and I am worried of the same outcome tomorrow. I did get a phone call this evening from Julia on NB Even Balance to wish me the best for tomorrow, (although the main call was for more general reasons!) Tomorrow's post will bring either good or bad news - watch this space.Reading the Forum this evening and I was saddened to read yet another post from someone who is interested in living on a boat. It reads like a comedy and would be laughable if not so common in these days: 'I was finking of a boat to live on and wondered what type I should get. I have seen this nice cruiser which is a bit like a narrowboat but a bit wider and wondered if it would be good. Where can I moor it? Please advise' The post went on to say, '....I did look at a caravan but couldn't live in a caravan park all year round so thought of a boat....' Why, oh why do so many people think the waterways are little more than housing estate over-spills and what future is there for the history, heritage, knowledge and maintenance of our canal system if more and more people buy cheap boats simply to live on with little or no interest in the infrastructure they are sponging off of. OK. rant over! I was heartened to see the somewhat 'curt' replies from other forum members, although have to confess that the forum seems to develop unwanted tangents into the world of cheap housing with some member's attitudes, at times, giving away their true colours! Call me over-simplistic, but I would never even consider indulging in the finer debates of golf without having ever stepped foot on a golf course, let alone lifted a club. Mind you, the same argument could be applied to other areas of the waterways given BW's new passion for encouraging marinas to spring up everywhere up and down the system - how long will it be before we see new marinas appearing, developed by unscrupulous 'business' people with little or no knowledge, (let alone interest,) in the fascinating history of the past or understanding of the closeness and very specific etiquette of the way of life of those they serve?

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Well, it seems weeks since my last entry and even longer since my Easter cruise! I'm still moored up outside the marina at the moment as the sun is still shining! Went up to get a pump out, diesel and water this morning and had a bit of fun turning at the 'Rose' yard with all the day boats and hire boats everywhere. My thanks to Tony Collins of the Cov. Cruising Clun for his suggestion to me some time back, (at least, I think it was him!) that I should use 'Fuel Set' in my tank to help keep the Eberspacher central heating boiler clear. Many people swear by the stuff and I might be becoming a convert! I reported a while back that my boiler was mis-firing at startup on a number of occasions. I started using Fuel set and it seems to be clearing. I don't want to tempt fate too early but it has only mis-fired once so far in over 8 hours of use since using this stuff. At fifteen plus quid a bottle - it's not cheap but seems to be good and I have since heard that Eberspacher now actually recommend the stuff for marine applications.
As I returned and was banging in the mooring pins, I had a visit from 4 friends from Trinity walking down the towpath to see me which was nice - the kettle was duely put on and the fridge was duely raided!
Went for a long paddle in the canoe this afternoon which was good but I'm suffering for it now!
The sun is still shining although it is getting a little chillier in the evenings and the forecast is set to break this coming week. Boat Safety Certificate on Monday. Silly I know, but I am quite nervous about it - it's kind of a bit like having your house inspected and surveyed as well as your hobby and holiday home all rolled into one. A lot rides on this! Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Holiday ended!

WOW! What a day! Scorching temperatures, blue skies, moored up on a wide grassy bank with little yellow celandine plants all over the waters edge, field of sheep one side, field of bright yellow rape the other, little family of ducklings paddling around - couldn't be better. This is the kind of day boating was made for. I spent the whole day doing absolutely nothing! Sat outside under the sunshade with Simba panting at my feet reading magazines and drinking cool glasses of coke and fruit juice. Tomorrow - back to work and bells, timetables, marking, planning, meetings............. what a contrast of two worlds I live!

Now, off the canals for a few moments....
I was reminded of a chance meeting at Hopwas over the Easter holidays I had with a very nice lady whose partner was sadly killed on the Hercules that went down in Iraq. She has set up an excellent charity called 'Purple Salute' which aims to enable a platform for the public to say 'thank you' to the servicemen and women of not only the army, navy and RAF but also those of the police, fire and medical profession. Whatever ones opinion is of the Iraq conflict, we must admire and honour those men and women who do what duty and the country calls them to do, even when their own conscience might not agree. I would encourage people to visit this site and add their name to the signatures of those who simply want to publicly say 'Thank you'.

I have a 6 week half term to get through until the May half term break. As has become a tradition, my father and I take a totally non boating holiday. We go walking! This year, we are hiking up the Peak District. We have a caravan from some friends, (since my fathers motor caravan was stolen,) and are staying on the farm of someone my father knows to use that as a base for our walking. If we get the weather we had last year it will be superb. It also acts as a break from the canals so that the long summer cruise down the Kennet and Avon is even more eagerly anticipated!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Easter holiday - final day!

Missed yesterday as it was hectic for the following reasons! Yesterday, we worked our way up the Atherstone flight towards home. At around lock 3 of the flight, I got a phone call from some staff at school to say that over Easter there had been some vandelism and graffiti to the school and my car! My heart sank and the rest of the Atherstone flight was spent ringing the police, ringing my Head and attempting to negotiate the lock flight. Obviously it took the edge of the last day and I just wanted to get back and see what the damage was. This was not helped by the dreary trip from the top of the Atherstone flight along the Coventry Canal Corridor through Nuneaton and Bedworth attempting to avoid the rubbish and debris together with attempting to avoid all eye contact with the extremely dubious looking 'lads' and 'ladettes' loitering under bridges. We eventually arrived back at Brinklow and turned into the marina at about 6.30pm. Bill came and took us into my school so that I could collect my car and assess the damage. Not as bad as I originally thought with only a small amount of silver spray over the bonnet and specks of red paint over the doors. Apparently, the cleaners spent some time washing it off as soon as they spotted it which was kind. Picked up the car and took my father over to Hinckley to collect his car. On the return journey to Brinklow we bought a Chinese meal as it wa snow too late to cook and neither of us could be bothered anyway! This morning, the sun was shining and the temperature was soaring so I did some shopping and took the boat out the front to do various jobs. I am now moored just outside the marina in a beautiful location and may well decide to commute from there next week as the car is safely in the marina and it's only a short walk up to it. Monday 23rd April, (St. George's day,) I have my boat booked for its first ever Boat Safety Certificate at 4.00pm. Watch this space!! I spent the day today sticking little signs all over the place to warn of battery, gas, fuel shut off switches etc and bolting 2 snap clips onto the bulk head inside the gas locker to take a retsraining chain for the cylinders - even though the cylinders are so tight in the locker, they can't possible fall over! Tomorrow, I plan to relax - something I've not done a huge amount of lately despite being on a very relaxing holiday - work that out! I've posted a picture above that show the extremely dirty and dreary Coventry canal! This picture shows my current mooring space along the North Oxford, outside the marina.
I have also posted a screen capture of todays weather and tomorrows temperatures!I posted it simply as I won't believe it in years to come when I look back- 22 degrees in Mid April!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter holiday - day eleven

Nothing spectacular happened today but then what would you expect when cruising through Tamworth for much of the day? After only a few minutes of cruising, the boat decided to grind to a halt. What appeared to be half a mile of very fetching blue nylon mooring line had wound itself tightly round my blades. Much cutting, heaving and pulling and it was finally all freed and we could continue on our merry way through Hopwas. Queued behind 4 boats at the bottomof the Glascote pair but then very little traffic meant we breezed through the bottom 2 locks in the Atherstone flight where we are now moored. Moored up at about 3.30 this afternoon - a first for us being so early! The weather fluctuated between pleasant and cold with nothing than required more than about 10-15 minutes of shorts wearing! Tomorrow, we should get back to Brinklow and arrange to collect my car from school and my fathers car from Trinity. I will need to make a fairly urgent stop at Rose for water and diesel first however.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter holiday - day ten

Woke up this morning at about 6.00 and looked out the side hatch to see a magical scene of heavy mist over Tixell - grabbed the camera and took a few shots. The one here shows the 2 working boats 'breasted up' behind me. A fantastic days cruising - one of the best for a long time. The sun was shining almost all day and there was very little traffic around. In fact we whistled through the locks at Fradley junction with no waiting whatsoever. Past NB Strait and Narrow again today who informed us that Andrew Denny and NB Granny Buttons were in Streethay Wharf - unfortunately, by the time we past Streethay, all that was visible was the back end of Granny Buttons! Past NB F.U.B.B - a beautiful tug built by Hudson as their Crick showboat last year, (the printable version of the name F.U.B.B is 'Fed Up Beyond Belief.) I met this boat a year ago at Tixell Wide and had a great time with them so it was nice to meet them again in passing. Another boat passed and called out, " do you have a blog?" When I answered in the affirmative they complimented me on the site and sailed on past. It's these chance encounters out ont he cut that make it all worthwhile!
It's lovely to see the ducklings out now and many a duck sitting on eggs. Swans are attacking passing people and boats and boy do they have some swans in Staffordshire! The nest below was passed on the Birmingham and Fazeley just after Colwhich lock travelling south - some wag but great fun!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter holiday - day nine

A huge journey today! From Shugborough to Tixell Wide - took about 15 minutes and included 1 lock. The weather was breezy and very cold compared to what we have been used to of late. Managed to moor up right on the wide which was good and had a passing hello to NB Strait and Narrow who admitted to reading this blog and another passing hello with NB Caitlin Jane who we met on the Llangollen a few years back. Spent the rest of the day tidying the front cratch and various internal cupboards and then sitting reading the BSS guide before becoming too cold for outside and having to retire in front of the fire inside! An excellent satellite signal, beautiful mooring and 3 bars of UMTS service - the 'holy trinity' of a good mooring!
A little bit of fun this morning as I waited for water at the busy Great Haywood junction. Another boat breasted up alongside the boat in front of me after I arrivedat the waiting area. As a hire boat at the very front of the queue left his waterpoint, the breasted up boat slipped in ahead of me on the pretence that he had been drawn into the space by the wash of the departing hire boat! Much, in my opinion, unnecessary 'thrusting' of the bows betrayed the real experience of the helmsman and the gleaming paintwork and hull betrayed the lack of 'lock miles'!
Tomorrow - back to Hopwas and the sunshine hopefully!

Easter holiday - day eight

This post has been posted a day late due to no internet connection last night. I think T-Mobile was down as the communication centre told me I had 4 bars of GPRS but it wouldn't connect! A very pleasant cruise yesterday to Shugborough, (just below the Great Haywood turn).
Started the day in shorts and T-shirt but the day got progressively colder as we went on resulting in the need for jeans, jumper, fleece and a roaring fire by the time we moored. Whistled through the 2 locks at Fradley junction and then somehow ended up on the back end of about 6 boats for the 3rd lock! Just as the boat in front were entering the lock chamber both they and us simultaneously picked up serious quantities of plastic around our props. Much amusement later and we were all cleared and through. I am pleased to report that Colwich Lock is now a fully functioning one and that the 16+ boat queues we are all accustomed to are a thing of history! 2 Two brand new shiny lock gates herald the work completed during the winter stoppage and the lock now fills at a perfectly respectable speed. Beware, however, that the bottom left hand gate is not well balanced and swings open before the top paddle can be drawn!
Moored up in the evening and were rewarded by the common sight of 2 large hot air balloons taking off and then flying directly, (and extremely low,) over head. I have posted a picture fromt he better part of the day of my flag fluttering in the sunshine and the picture below requires an answer please? What are these gates for? They can be found in many of the bridges on the Trent and Mersey between Fradley and Great Haywood. Our assumption is something to do with hay or feed for the horses but they could be for something much more mundane such as stop planks! Can anyone advise?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter holiday - Day seven

The enemy has surrounded us!
Woke up this morning to find ourselves surrounded! About 20 or so of the local angling community had taken up silent residence around us, in fact - the guy in front was using my mooring chains as a fishing pole rest! To be fair, they were silent arriving and all very pleasant as we crept our way off the mooring and past them: with every single one saying good morning instead of the usual mono-syllabic grunt more accustomed to fishermen! The final 2 locks in the Atherstone flight were completed with no fuss or wait and as I exited the bottom lock, my engine burst into a loud rattling vibration. We pulled into the water point to take on much needed water as I opened the engine hatch to discover the air filter frying pan thingy had dropped off due to the restraining jubilee clip having lost its thread. A frantic rummage through my toolbox revealed every size except for the one I needed and so I resigned myself to ringing RCR to see if they could advise - they did, 'take it off completely mate and get yourself to the nearest marina,' Thanks RCR!! It was at that point that a neighbouring residential boater appeared with a selection of jubilee clips and asked if any of them were any good. He had 2 of the right size and gave us both so that we had one as a spare. We made it worth his while and continued on our merry way.
Passing through Tamworth and I was just emerging from getting a drink when I spotted a frantically waving boat approaching us clicking away on a camera. By the time I realised it was the well respected Andrew Denny from the equally well respected Granny Buttons blog aboard his boat, 'Granny Buttons', I just about had time for a last minute yell 'hi' and took a very hurried grab shot, (as posted above,) before we sailed past and off. I did feel bad and wished that I had stopped for more of a chat but we were both equally excited to pass each other in the 'flesh' and hopefully we'll meet again some time and have the chance for more of a 'social'.
The approach to Glascote locks revealed a queue of 3 or 4 boats which included 2 hire boats, one of which was moored on the lock waiting area having lunch - no, not moored having lunch whilst waiting for the lock, simply moored to have lunch! Almost an hour and a half later, (anyone knowing Glascote locks will understand the extreme 'slowness' in the final foot or so of fill,) and we emerged to continue to Hopwas where we are now moored for the night. Dad thinks that Hopwas sounds as though it should be part of a film set for Harry Potter and I have to say, with the number of people around this evening, they would be fine for extras!
As today was my birthday as well as Easter day, we enjoyed a full chicken roast for the evening meal including stuffing, mange-toute, (little posh pea things,) parsnips etc. Birthday presents included a carbon monoxide detector and the manual for the boat safety certificate which I need to arrange as soon as I return to 'home waters'!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter holiday - Day six

Left Battlefield mooring this morning at about 10.00 and enjoyed a very pleasant cruise down to meet my father walking back up with Simba! I really wouldn't want to be on the Ashby this weekend! Dozens and dozens of boats were pouring onto the canal in great flotillas and I can imagine some very extreme bottlenecks on some of the shallower northern regions. Cruised on to Atherstone and currently moored in the long pound just before the last 2 locks. Lots of boats around but not much hold up on the flight due to locking through after 5.00pm when most people are moored up. Managed approximately 30 lock miles today which was good. A large spaghetti bolognaise this evening and now settling down for the evening. Tomorrow, on to Fazeley and Fradley. The weather forecast is good and tomorrow is my birthday so hopefully another good and enjoyable days cruising.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter holiday - Day five

Two totally non boating pictures today! I thought I would post a couple of pictures of my brothers new car - a posh thing that costs almost the same as my boat! A good couple of days with him visiting and he finally left at about 4.00 this afternoon. I'm now waiting for my father to arrive VERY late this evening before we move off tomorrow. Lovely weather, bank holiday weekend and everyone crawls out of the woodwork! The Battlefield moorings are full this evening with boats that haven't moved for years. It's fascinating to listen to the conversation between gongoozlers and boaters who never move their boat except in sunny weather - the most rubbish information is imparted from these supposed 'knowledgable' and 'experienced' boaters! Today, I've heard the wrong directions of where the canal leads to, the wrong distances given to the end of the Ashby and the wrong information as to the current state of restoration of the Northern reaches!
Job wise, I did manage to straighten my rear fender and touch up an annoying scratch on the cream band round the hull - that's about it! The rest of the day was spent dozing, chatting and reading outside the boat being entertained by the myriad of 'interesting' methods of mooring displayed!
Tomorrow evening, I hope to update the blog from a new location somewhere around the Atherstone Flight I should imagine.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter holiday - Day four

Another busy day! Gave the instrument panel a rub down and a final coat of varnish this morning then re-assembled all the instrument dials etc. Temperatures soared today and I actually got the shorts out the cupboard for the first time this year - not a pretty sight! With the temperatures as they were, the varnish dried quite quickly and by mid to late afternoon I felt brave enough to apply the decals. The pictures show the finished woodwork and very smart it looks too! I also managed to sweep the chimney and thoroughly clean out the stove, polish and hoover the inside of the boat ready for Easter and polished the outside of the boat with the proper 'International' Teflon polish that brings it up beautifully and protects it for the summer. I polished one side and then decided to turn it round and polish the other side so I'm now facing back down the Ashby ready for the trip to Tixell that begins on Saturday with my father. This evening my brother is due to arrive for the night. He is on the M40 as I type this and should arrive at some point soon.

Plans for tomorrow: absolutely nothing if the weather is like today! All my jobs are now complete and so I feel chatting to my brother on the bank, in the sun, with a cold beer is the aim of tomorrow - sounds good!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Easter holiday - Day three

No pictures today! I didn't want to post any pictures of the newly varnished woodwork as I thought I would wait until I have totally finished and applied the decals!. Managed to rub it down and get a second coat on. For the side hatch doors and the rear doors, 2 coats is fine and so I screwed all the brassware back on. The instrument panel needs another coat tomorrow so the engine room is still in a mess for another night. A glorious day with much of it spent sitting out in the sun in between jobs. Made a new rubber seal for the tiller bearing as the old one was perished. Cut up a few more logs this evening and then went out for a paddle in the kayak to enjoy the long shadows cast by the evening setting sun.

Plans for tomorrow include, finishing off the instrument panel, polishing the outside of the boat and touching up a few rust spots that I applied 'rust killer' on that I saw on the rear sliding hatch. Hopefully some pictures tomorrow especially as the weather is forecast to be up to 18 degrees with more hot sunshine!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Easter holiday - Day two

Had a lazy start to the day! Woke up to a grey and cold morning with the rain lashing down so decided to have a full fried breakfast; bacon, sausages, black pudding, mushrooms, fried bread! Finally left my mooring at about 10.30 to head up to the Battlefield moorings at Shenton. The rain had stopped but the wind and the cold were most definately still there! Arrived at the moorings and moored up being only the 2nd boat there. I spent the rest of the say working! Stripped off all the brass from the woodwork, sanded it all down and got the first coat of stain on. Window sills inside completed and dried quickly as did the surround to the rear hatch so I installed my bell as seen in the picture above. The other 2 pictures show the woodwork all rubbed down ready for their first coat of varnish. Due to the extreme cold and damp, that first coat is still very tacky so I have carefully shut the doors in the hopes that the fire will raise enough heat to dry them all off ready for the 2nd coat tomorrow. I certainly wasn't going to photograph the first coat as it looks a mess right now!
A second boat moored up in front and started carting large logs of wood towards their boat from the adjacent woodland where BW have undertaken maintenance. I decided to strike a deal with them with regard to using my chainsaw in return for some wood and it turned out that not only did they have their own chainsaw but there was plenty of wood for us all! We did join forces though and the three of us spent an hour carrying and cutting plenty of woodwhich now sits on my roof. It struck me how lovely it is in the boating community that I was working with a couple I had never met before in my life, chatting about all sorts and offering cups of tea and coffee between us - not to mention me using a chainsaw inches away from their hands! It turned out they were both teachers who had given up the 'rat race' to live aboard and now continuously cruised having just over-wintered in Warwick and worked at Warwick Castle for some 'pocket money'. It's lovely that new friends can be made within an hour of meeting complete strangers.
Objectives tomorrow: to be able to give all the woodwork the second and, (hopefully,) final coat of stain and then screw back all the brass ready for the roses decorations to be applied the next day. (Wow! just realised that I can't even write this entry without it sounding like a lesson learning objective!)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Easter holiday - Day one

I've posted 2 pictures today, the top one is a general view of my cruise this morning showing my flowers in all their glory. The secondpicture is a beautiful sunset photographed a couple of evenings ago.
An interesting day! Left my mooring this morning and stopped at Rose Narrowboats for services. Hats off to them, they were very busy trying to 'turn around' 8 hire boats but still made time to give me a very thorough pumpout which included at least 2 or 3 big rinses. Passed Bill at Sutton's Stop and had a quick chat before pushing on up the Ashby. I had hoped to get up to Battlefield this evening but a biting wind forced me to moor up earlier and I am now sitting in my old regular weekend spot- a peaceful place surrounded by fields of bursting oil seed rape. Held up a short while at the entrance to the Ashby at Marston Junction as Iain and Allison on working boat Gosty Hill had trouble getting through due to a large deposit of debris under the bridge.Much heaving and pushing with poles and we managed to get them through. A few bridges later and a group of small boys no older than 10 were throwing stones off a bridge. One large rock narrowly missed my boat and it was only when his mother called up, 'don't throw stone darling - there's a boat coming through' that my jaw fell open as I realised he was doing this right in front of his mother! It beggars belief! A slightly more forceful telling off I felt was in order but nothing surprises me anymore when I see examples of total inadequate parenting skills sweeping across this country.
Plans tomorrow are a full fried breakfast followed by a move up to Battlefield to start all the jobs. Jobs this week include rubbing down and re-staining ALL woodwork trimming such as side doors, rear doors, window sills, rear hatch surrounds and instrument panel, touching up all the little rust chips on the paintwork, re-packing the tiller bearing with grease........

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Finally broke up from school on Friday and now look ahead to 2 weeks of freedom and relaxation. In school almost all of the day yesterday as I was hosting the Save Our Waterways meeting and took the opportunity to plan for next term and get my marking up to date etc. Today I spent the morning doing jobs around the boat. Cut down the dead daffodils on the roof to allow the primulas to show their true glory, washed and polished the boat and the windows so it now shines and repaired my horn that wasn't working! I have a set of 12volt twin tuned horns on the roof and the cable I used to extend the reach to their location was too thin resulting in a simple 'click' rather than the loud tuned blast I wanted. I replaced the cable for thicker core, (and re-routed it away from the gas pipe in readiness for my BSC in a months time!) and they sound fantastic!

Moored up this evening as the sun was setting, I decided to take Simba for a little stroll along the towpath and back. As we passed a green boat, (Josher bow, Satellite dish on a long pole, name witheld!) Simba mooched over along side the boat and I noticed an irrate woman in the galley shouting at him and banging the window. I realised she was trying to get him away from the boat. As I walked along side, I apologised and said I was very sorry if he was causing a nuisance. She barked at me that she didn't want 'im peeing up me ropes! Strange as he hadn't even got to their mooring lines when she started to get irate? I tried to explain this at which point her husband appeared at the front cratch and politely informed me that he had 'heard it all before'. I sarcastically wished him a good day and reminded him that the sun was shining and that spring was on the way and continued on my way with his parting shot yelled after me that there was no need to get abusive!!!!???? What strange people who decide to take to the waterways - most bizarre and so sad that they are so highly strung even when on the canals. I had to chuckle as on returning to my boat a local farming family walked past with no fewer than 6 lively cocker spaniels runnign around. I couldn't help but watch as they passed Ms. angry's boat! A witness to the whole event did question with me what she did to the foxes that prowled around at night? I have visions of her sitting up all night on a stool with a powerful torch to ensure they didn't get too near!

My 'roses' transfers arrived today for my side and rear doors and am looking forward this coming week to sanding down and re-varnishing the doors and applying the transfers - they look very good and should make a huge difference to the over-all look of the boat. Tomorrow, I head off to the Ashby for the week. My plan is to stop at Rose for a pumpout, diesel and water and then head off to the Battlefield on the Ashby to do these jobs for the week before meeting my father and heading off towards Tixell Wide for the Easter week.

And for those interested, my father is on TV on BBC1 this Tuesday 3rd April at 11.15pm in a historical programme called Amazing Grace - the true story. The show is presented by Rick Wakeman and filming it interrupted my last half terms cruise! (See Thursday 15th February blogs entry for pictures and details.)