Wednesday, May 23, 2007

2 days to go!

A VERY hot day today! Dare I say it but in my humble opinion - too hot! The forecast is cooler, windier and wetter weather from the weekend which would be just about right as that's when I leave to go walking. Got home from work this evening and wandered down with Simba along the towpath out the front. Had a long and fascinating chat to some boats moored up there and was excited to see the beautiful Braidbar no. 100 on it's way to Crick. Called a quick acknowledgment to the young couple steering it over the awesome thud, thud of the power plant, pushed the green eyed monster back in and returned back to my good ol' Liverpool boat!

Darren from C & K Narrowboats is coming in either tomorrow or Friday morning to move my freezer from its current location in the engine room to its new home under the locker in, what will bea modified, Pullmans dinette locker. I spent the evening emptying out said locker in readiness for the excitement and anticipation of this work, (just read this back - boy, I must get out more!)

I have a series of LED colour strip lights that I have used in various places around the boat during the summer. They run off a transformer that steps 240V down to 12V. It suddenly dawned on me that if I cut the transformer off, I can wire a cigar socket on the end and run them straight off the 12V system - I have now done so and positioned the lights in their usual summer location under my rapidly growing flowers on the roof.

I do plan to take my laptop on holiday with me but not sure what sort of signal I will get in the Peak District so next week, postings may be sparodic, (no change there then!)

Tomorrow, my father arrives with our borrowed caravan and in the evening my brother arrives with his dog! I will then look after his dog for the night while he stays in a posh hotel courtesy of his company andmy father will stay in the caravan to test it all out. On Friday, my brother will arrive in the afternoon to take over the boat for the week and I, and my father, will leave in the evening for our holiday with Simba - boy; what a complicated life!

I noticed from the Snecklifter blog that my friends Derek and Dot Canvin on their boat NB Gypsy Rover have recently passed by here. Such a shame I missed them but I have emailed to say so and hopefully our paths may cross over the summer or at some time in the near future.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A good but tireing day!

Woke up this morning and the sun was streaming through the window from a cloudless sky and the marina water was the stillest I have ever seen! Couldn't resisit a cruise and the pump-out was in dire need of, well.... a pump-out! A very pleasant trip with Andy from NB Smart Move down to Willow Wren to get diesel and a pump-out, dodging everyone else who has decided to come out to enjoy the sunshine today! Got home and spent a while working before deciding to go for a long paddle in the canoe.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Summer has officially started!

That's it- I declare that summer is officially here. No more frosts, no more fires, no more rain; I've planted my summer display! My father came up this morning with my plants, along with a load of pond plants for the marina pond. We spent the day planting up the pond so that it now has a good number and range of plants all round the edge. We also planted some Bluebells on the bank behind the pond. My summer theme this year is red geraniums in the middle with mixed sephinias, (I think that's how you spell it!) all round the edge. The pictures show the infant plants ready for the sun to bring them on so long as the wind doesn't get to them first. I also planted 4 tubs for the marina, one on each of the electric sub stations and a tub at each side of the driveway. They don't look much at the moment but will look fantastic once they have bushed over the top and down the side of the tubs and have thick blooms all over them.
I must apologise for the delay in moderating and replyign to the comments. Blogger is supposed to email me whenever there is a comment waiting for moderation but for some reason it has failed to do so recently resulting in my delay. I will check it more often from now on! Having been granted the freedom of safety in receiving my boat safety certificate, I phoned BW to sort it out. Apparently I need to send the 'blue' copy to them with my licence renewal form. I informed them that my licence is paid for by DD and that it is up for renewal during the summer when I will be away cruising down south and asked if it was possible to be sent the renewal form early. After much gaspingand sucking in of air - they agreed, so I now have the renewal form to return in the hopes that I might get the licence before leaving for the summer and therefore being forced to cruise without displaying a valid licence. The trouble now is that I have to phone my insurance company and sort it out with them as the licence renewal form requires the up-to-date insurance policy number and details to cover the next annual period - something I can't do until the insurance runs out - in the summer!! Why oh whydoes life have to be so complicated!? I have now installed the maps for the Peak District onto my PDA to run in Memory Map and now need to transpose the walks for my next weeks hiking holiday from the route cards onto the software. This time next week, I should be up there enjoying, (hopefully,) good weather and a relaxing week of hiking and camping. Khayamanzi will be left in the more than capable hands of big bro! (I have to say that in case he reads this!) I think his plan is to trek up the Ashby so if anyone sees the boat call out 'Hi Steve' instead of 'Hi Andy'! I feel a bit mean as wind has prevented me obtaining a pump out or diesel this weekend sothe tank is somewhat full right now and the first thing he will need to do is stop off and have it pumped out and take on diesel. Obviously as a family, my brother was includd in the many canal holidays we used to go on and it's funny how water runs through the family in one form or another. Me being a slow, lazy and unfit old codger going down the narrowboat route and my brother being amuch fitter adrenaline junky going into sailing. If you see Khayamanzi zig zagging up the canal towards you- don't be alarmed, he's just trying to 'tack' to catch the wind and the large bed sheet hanging out from the pole down the chimneyis not the washing drying - rather an attempt at a spinnaker!! It is good though knowing that the boat won't be left unattended for the week and that someone will be able to keep the batteries charged up full and something of a bonus to know that someone else is getting enjoyment out of her while I'm not using her - who knows, maybe he'll get the bug again - give up sailing and take to the 'high canals'!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Passed at last!

OK, this is a scanned image of the hologram seal from the bottom of my Boat Safety Certificate! It came through this morning andI am now completely certified safe and legal, (well I'm certified anyway!) I promptly phoned BW and due to the fact that I'm away cruising during the summer holiday period, I have asked for them to send my renewal forms out early so that I can send the certificate copy off and hopefully get my new licence before I leave to go cruising. Watch this space for a report on the efficiency of BW!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Horrid weather!

Well, a good day all in all. Finished another set of subjects on my class reports, read the exam administration bookfor next week but otherthan that - generally chilled: literally! The fire has been on all day and the rain hasn't stopped except for about half an hour when I decided to go out for a canoe. Nothing else to report today!

Just checking the usual blogs I have linked into 'Feedreader' and noticed a report of interest on Andrew Denny's site - Granny Buttons, (actually, as usual, there are several!) As well asan interesting report ona controlled explosion reported by BW near to the Anderton Boat lift, he reports on a BBC Radio 4 item next Tuesday 15th May at 8.00pm which questions the viability of our old canal network in easing congestion from the motorways of freight. Thanks, as usual, to Andrew's blog for providing more 'cutting edge' reports.

I am also well over-due in mentioning BW's new 'idea' of Secret auction for moorings. Read about it here- an interesting concept!?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Daily report!

As predicted- a very busy day! Polished, hoovered and shampooed the boat, topped up with diesel, did the ironing, serviced the batteries, visited the garden centre to get pots for the summer flowers and managed to clear out my roof tubs ready for the summer flowers arriving next weekend. Tomorrow is set for report writing and swatting up on the exam instruction book to make sure I administer them correctly this coming week.

Sign of the times! Just finished reading in canals and rivers magazine of the boating event that was planned to be organised when the British Waterways Health and safety expert turned up to give all the plans the final check. All was going fine until the organiser informed her of the fact that a horse drawn boat was planned to attend. A sharp intake of breath followed before she announced, "I don't think these towpaths were designed for horses back then"!! The report is headed with the strapline 'Heard it all now!' It did strike me as quite indicative of the vast numbers of people who know nothing of the heriatge and history of our waterways and who appear to not only be hoarding onto the canals in a bid to turn them into floating caravan parks or housing estates but who also appear now to be infiltrating the very management of the system. Don't get me wrong,I have nothing against new people getting into boating and enjoying the waterways but I do believe that some basic form of passion and interest in the history of the canals is part of the package, after all - you don't tour castles with no knowledge or interest in the history behind them and our canals are equally as historic. I do believe that the canals of England should be taken as a complete package by anyone getting involved, you MUST embrace the boats, the colours and art, the history, the wildlife, the geography, the workings, the etiquette and the people. To dis-regard or even object to one area is like severing a limb from a fully functioning body and before long, if left untreated the whole body will become infected and cease to function!

I end this evening by urging people to sign this petition. I think it is absolutely clear to all waterway users that the current waterways minister, Barry Gardiner, is completely innefective in his post and Richard Fairhurst, editor of Waterways World, sent an email encouraging people to sign this petition to appoint Sir Peter Soulsby as the new minister. Peter is a boat owner and clearly would be better suited for the post.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Busy, busy!

A very busy weekend ahead! I have had to decline the offer of meeting up with friends over the weekend as I simply have too much to do. Next week is Sats week at school for year 6 and I have a lot of reading to do to make sure I understand any exam changes as well as more work writing the little darlings' reports in addition to all the boat jobs that need doing in addition to visiting a garden centre to start preparing for my summer rooftop display. The theme this year is mixed petunias again but with a few geraniums or fuschias added in. I also want to get a couple of tubs and make a some nice displays for areas in the marina.

Sitting here now with the rain lashing down, (in fact it hasn't stopped for the last few hours,) and a fire roaring in the stove. The washing has finished and Simba is curled up asleep on the chair in front of the fire. Next weekend, my father is planning to visit as he has to be in the area anyway and he should be bringing my summer flowers up to plant so I also want to clear out all my rooftoptubs from the, now very dead, winter pansies in readiness.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Weather and weekend!

Only in England......

........Last night I was blown around by winds that, according to my anemometer, gusted at almost 50 MPH! I had to tie down the TV aerial and take down the satellite dish! Today it has rained almost all day and this evening the outside temperature reads 8 degrees and I've had to light the fire. Steve and Julia from NB Even Balance are coming up the weekend and invited me to Braunston for a 'meet up'. It sounded exciting but with reports desperately needing to be written, weather forecast not great, a very stressful week at school this week and only a couple of weeks before leaving the boat with my brother -I have felt I had to decline. My batteries desperately need topping up and checking, my carpet urgently needs washing, the whole boat really needs cleaning etc. etc. Driving out to work this morning and I noticed 2 boats passing each other on the stretch of canal that runs parallel to Cathiron Lane. A second glance confirmed that one of the boats was my good friends on board NB Snecklifter. I pulled the car into a sharp reverse, backed up,stopped and managed a fleeting yell 'hi' to them as they passed. They confirmed they were on their way to Braunston for the weekend before heading south for the summer. Now I really want to go down to Braunston for the weekend but really can't afford the time!
School today involved dealing with children who scribed their names across desks and a 'pulling down someones trousers' joke that went very wrong - I'll leave you to imagine that one!! I have earned my entire summer holidays break in one day today!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Holiday ended.

Well, I have now returned back home from a very pleasant bank holiday weekend visiting my father 'down south'! Had quite a relaxing weekend of walking and doing various other bits and bobs. Today we went for a 7 mile walk around Guildford and my brother joined us which was good. Simba had Tally to play with and apart from one sharp shower, it was quite a pleasant day as the pictures above show! A good run back home this evening with a very clear M25 and M40 which was amazing took just about 2 hours. My engine was started immediately I returned as the battery banks were down to 60%, (the fridge and freezer shut down at around 40%!!) and I am still running the engines now - over 3 hours later. I don't think I'll get them back up to 100% this evening and will have to run the engine a little longer each evening this week until they return to their normal cycles - another weekend next week running back and forth to Rose Narrowboats carting 100+ gallons of diesel! Only 3 weeks until I go for my weeks hiking holiday in the Peak District and my brother and niece borrow the boat for the week. The weather looks set to be considerably colder this week and I only hope it's just a 'blip' rather than a downward turn for any length of time. My father cleared out some of his ponds over the weekend which resulted in him having a lot of small cuttings of lillies and various other lovely pond plants so I travelled home with Simba squeezing himself in between a boot full of pond plants which I planted in the lake here in the marina as soon as I got home. They're small currently but once established in a year or two will look fantastic. If anyone has sent me an urgent email which needed lookign at this evening sorry, I won't get it! Some twit has sent me 10.2MBof email which I am attempting to pull through my internet connection which currenlty is averaging 52kbps! Unless it speeds up soon, I'll have to abandon the idea and wait until work tomorrow when I can get them through a true broadband connection. PLEASE don't ever send me anything over about 3MB at best and then only once you have told me it's coming so I can be warned. It cans up my whole systema nd I now can't check any of my email- home of work, until I have somehow cleared this great fat elephant trying to get through a hosepipe! Anyway - enough time wasted, now I need to go and check the engines again and carry on with all my work that I really should have doen over the weekend but didn't!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Change of plans!

You know how it is - plans change at the last minute! I changed my mind and decided to leave the boat in the marina and visit my father down south for the bank holiday! The weather forecast was not great for the weekend and as I arrived home on Friday there were more boats cruising up and down and moored out the front than I have ever seen in my life so I figured Braunston would not be a pleasant place to visit! A quick phone call and I decided to pack up, grab the dog and travel south. I am now typing this entry from my fathers computer! On my return tomorrow, I hope to have some pictures from the weekend to publish but until then - this will have to do!!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Weather and sunrises!

Well the weather is just about still holding on with exceptionally warm temperatures although the forecast is set to break at the weekend as it's a bank holiday on Monday! Tomorrow, school is closed for polling and so the day is planned to be spent on writing reports - oh joy! I hope to take the boat out the front and then I will be able to sit on the bank working. With the bank holiday on Monday, again,weather permitting, I hope to take a trip to Braunston returning on Monday. The open views across green fields with the occasional bright yellow of an oil seed rape crop makes a magnificent back-drop for sunsets and sun rises here in the marina and I have posted a few pictures of some amazing early morning sunrises and glorious calm reflections. More and more boats are passing by and spending occasional overnight stops out the front and it is lovely to meet, pass time and share experiences with boaters from all over the country as they journey from south to north or north to south. Many are filled with plans and anticipation or memories of exciting journeys and challenging tidal river runs. It's a funny thought that every boater you meet and chat with, you are instantly sharing in a bond of friensdhip and common enthusiasm that results in leaving a 15 minute conversation as if you've know each other for years and full of anticipation for the innevitable next meeting when paths cross at some point in the future when least expecting it. More boats than I can count, have moored up out the front and as I drive home I've recognised the livery and had to take Simba over for a walk to say 'hi' to well met friends! Even more lovely is hearing people who I have never met shouting 'Hi Andy' or 'great blog' as I pass by on Khayamanzi. A hard 'chuck back' on the throttle and the conversation can continue until one or other of us looses the vessel or another boat wishes to pass.
Anyway, work must continue for now and, until my next 'escape' I'm left wondering which is reallity?........