Thursday, June 28, 2007

I need a holiday!

I am sitting here typing this at 8.45pm, hardly able to keep my eyes open and with a million thoughts racing round my head! Every night this week I have left work at 6.30 or later, I think I've had one short 10 minute break for lunch and not a single tea break all week! I have returned home, completed the usual chores and finally sat down to plan tomorrows lessons at about 8.30 each evening - only finishing at around 10.00-10.30 to go to bed!! It has been one heck of a week and anyone who teaches year 6, (the oldest children at primary level,) in the summer term knows exactly what hard work they can be as they 'stretch their wings' ready for secondary school. Add to that, the general mele of sports days, induction days, open evenings, end of year productions, report writing and general tiredness of all, and you have a certain recipe for stress!!

Tomorrow, we have the summer fayre after school into the evening and then the weekend heralds the final 3 weeks of survival. The forecast is dreadful! Yet again, the wind has ripped all my flower blooms off, yet again the rain has lashed down and beaten them flat, yet again have I had to shut up the windows and side hatches and yet again have I had to run the central heating in the evenings. To cap it all, I got home from work tonight and Simba had carefully rolled back the dust sheet I put on my bed to stop him getting the duvet dirty and been sick all over the duvet.I have now had to srip the bed, sponge down the duvet, put fresh linen on the bed and run the washing machine and consequently the engine for the past 2 hours!

Oh joy! Well, at least I have a nice quiet weekend of work to look forward too after tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One thing after another....

After reporting yesterday on my snapped throttle cable, I woke up this morning to discover that somehow I had managed to snap off a connector on my freeview digi box! I did manage to get a new throttle cable from Rose narrowboats at lunchtime and also pick up a new cheap digi box so I've spent all evening tonight re-connecting the new digi box and helping John re-connect the new throttle cable. Just sat down to watch the news and catch up with the devastation across the country due to the terrible floods from all the rain we've been having. I think now, I'm sorted but it would be good to get an evening back again some time to do some school work which has taken a back seat lately due to all the other commitments - if anyone tells you that living on a narrowboat is a stressless, peaceful way of life - shoot them for me!

Monday, June 25, 2007


No - don't panic, I'm not just about to end my career by finally giving in to my self-restraint, nor even end my own life, (though both options sound tempting after the day I've had!)

I started my engine tonight to charge the batteries and, after allowing the engine to warm up at idle, edged the throttle forward to bring it up to full charging speed - nothing, zilch, nowt, zero, not a dickie bird - no throttle. Further examination discovered that the throttle cable was happily connected to the single lever control and even hanging on to life at the pump on the engine block but had somehow become 'dearly departed' withing the cable housing!

A hasty phone call to my mate John on NB Briar Rose and he was zooming to my rescue, (having first finished his dinner). We managed to disconnect said offending cable, (having removed 2 shelves, 2 steps, one storage box, 2 floor panels, 2 windlasses, a carpet, 1 wood faschia and an assortment of CD's that had fallen down behind the shelf,) and I now have the cable rolled up waiting to be replaced. I plan a phone call and then hopefully a trip to Rose tomorrow to buy a new cable and John said he would help me replace it tomorrow evening - what a star!

Meanwhile, an ingeniously wound bit of green garden twistee wire enabled me to throttle the engine up to full charging speed and hold it in place by winding the wire round the alternator bracket - working millimetres away from a whirring alternator belt the system worked but I'm not sure how it would hold up to close manoevering work at Fradley junction?!

Watch this space.......

Sunday, June 24, 2007


What a weekend - I'm exhausted!! Woke up yesterday morning and went to Tesco for shopping for the party in the evening. Came back and took the boat for diesel and pump-out, Spent the rest of the day working out how to erect 3 large gazebo's in readiness as the weather was, to say the least, 'iffy'! A huge thanks to Chris and Jeff from NB Libs who moored up with me and helped hugely over the weekend in the preparation and then again the clearing up. A good night was had by all and even the weather held off and smiled on us for the evening.
Woke up this morning with the rain lashing down and the wind blowing things around. I now know why these gazebo's only advertise themselves as being 'shower proof' Cleared up, packed away and was pack in the marina by about 1.00pm ish to sort out the boat and take a car load of bits in to school to return. The rain did, eventually die down and I even managed to get my gazebo dried before packing it away.
Only four weeks till my big summer trip! I got a lot of tips last night at the bar-b-q from Chris and Jeff who used to base on the K & A which was extremely useful and I now can't wait to get off and tackle the Thames again and break into new territory on the K & A.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reports finished at last!

I had to report this - tonight, I have, at last finished my reports for another year! I must calculate how many hours they take one year just for interest. Although I say 'finished', I still have to doublecheck all the grades against their published Sats results when they come through, read them all to check them and do the last minute tidying up bits - but at least the main work is finished.

The weather is still decidedly 'iffy' with intermittent sunshine and showers. The forecast for the weekend is much the same. I have my bar-b-q going ahead on Saturday evening canalside, with currently somewhere in the region of 35-40 comingincluding staff from work, friends and boating friends from all over the place - anyone else who knows meand is able to get to Brinklow on Saturday evening, email to let me know and you'll be most welcome! Did my weekly shopping on Wednesday and ended up spending 135 quid and I haven't even bought the food yet!!!!

I just hope we dodge the showers for it in the evening!

Friday, June 15, 2007

What a soaker!

Two days ago,I posted an entry titled 'What a scorcher'. Today the heading has to be 'What a soaker'! How can the weather change so much and so quickly? Yesterday evening, I even had to put the central heating on for an hour to take the chill off. This afternoon at school it rained - it hammered down like I haven't seen before. The playground flooded and several classrooms developed leaks. There were 2 fire engines at the local pub pumping out flood water from their cellar and water was forming menacing pools right up to the doors of school. The kids had a whale of a time jumping in it, kicking it and even sitting in it (!) as they left to go home at the end of the day - boys will be boys! At one time, I phoned the office from my classroom to inform them that year 6 were stranded and to request a lifeboat which made my class laugh!

The water levels are high all round and my plants have taken a serious pounding and will take some time and serious sun to pull them up again. I seem to remember reporting the same thing a year ago just after planting the summer display. Not to be content with having to finish off my 35 plus reports this weekend, I decided to bring the mother of all piles of marking home - how much will actually get done will wait to be seen!

I had planned some very finely tuned logistics for my summer trip down south this year. My brother was coming to the marina to leave his car there and crew for the trip down to Reading where my father was to meet us, collect my brother and take him back to the marina to collect his car. My brother would then pick up his car, (having left my fathers car there,) and drop my father back at the boat to crew the rest of the trip whereupon his car would be waiting for him when he returned with me back to the marina!!!! Needless to say, my timings are wrong and the whole plan has now fallen apart! Somehow my brother will now end up at Reading too early to meet anyone who can drop him back and my father will not be able to meet me for another week after that. I think my trip down the K & A might just be relegated to a short pop onto the K & A and little more!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

General ramblings!

I have spent the past week sniffling, sneezing and wheezing thanks to some extremely viscious pollen grains floating around and being brought on board by Simba! Spent much of the last few nights with the doors and hatches wide open sitting up in bed over dosing on Salamol asthma inhalers - as ever, this has now hit my chest and I'm hacking well and croaking at the children in school which they find very amusing!

I have posted a flyer for Brinklow Marina which can be clicked on and then printed off, if anyone wants the contact number or details - it's filling up quickly now but there are still moorings available if you get in quick; it's not hard to see why it's popular in such a glorious location. I certainly have seen the marina in some glorious evenings lately with a magnificent red fiery ball of a sun sinking gently below the rolling Warwickshire hills and fields.

The weekend plans to be spent finishing off reports and doing jobs! The forecast is not great and indeed this afternoon and evening the rain has hammered down and looks set to do so tomorrow - a good weekend for working and staying on board I feel.

The weekend of 23rd June I'm hosting a bar-b-q on the bank out the front for my work colleagues and friends. It's a kind of 'Post Ofsted' thing and will give them all a chance to see the boat. I have got a backup plan with gazebos but really would like some good weather as I don't do social things much and on the rare occasion that I do, I want it to go well!

You see it all on the Oxford - it's certainly more exciting than the Ashby.Following on from my post about the abusive Rose day boat, the other night I was walking Simba along the towpath when I was alerted to 2 CanalTime boats apparently towing. There was a lot of shouting and yelling from one boat to the other and it was only when they passed me that I realised that they weren't towing rather occupied by loutish groups who felt it funny to see how close the could get to the boat in front. With that and the fleet of 5 Willow Wren boats I saw the other day swarming with kids in life jackets standing and climbing all over the roof - 3 of which hit the wall instead of turning the boat into the bend, it's amazing there aren't more serious accidents.

I am thoroughly enjoying meeting new people on the Oxford now. I got to the point where I knew almost everyone on the Ashby and whilst I miss many good friends from there, it is great to have such a greater passing number of boaters to meet and chat to.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

What a scorcher!

The title says it all today! Temperatures soared to 25 degrees and inside temperatures reached the mid 30's!!

Ofsted is finished and gone, (for those interested - we did very well thank you). The final hurdle was running the school discos last night which, with the aid of plenty of caffeine in the form of Coke, (the legal and drinkable type!), I managed to get through with all the kids dancing and loving every minute of it - I haven't quite lost my old DJing skills yet!

This afternoon I had promised to go off with Norman from next door and help him take his boat for diesel and services. he has only just bought a new boat, having converted from the 'motor caravanning' world and was a bit worried about his first trip out. A beautiful day for it and met Iain and Allison from working boat Gosty Hill. Just had to stop and have a long chat, (apparently they sold 18 bags of coal today!) before completing the return journey home. I took the advantage of re-filling my jerry can with diesel, disposing of a bag of rubbish, changing a gas cylinder and picking up the latest waterway mags whilst there.

Just returned from a very pleasant stroll along the towpath with Simba to enjoy the evening sun. I say pleasant, it was; apart from the 'Rose' dayboat swarming with lager swilling louts which was zig zagging its way back at full throttle, past all the moored boats and blasting its horn to try and make some sort of 'tune' with it. I stood and watched it past, only to be met with a barrage of swearing using hand gestures and testosterone enhanced, severely intoxicated toungues! How I love day boats!!

My summer floral displays on the roof are doing extremely well this year and should be at their peak flowing across the roof and down the tumble-holm of the cabin sides at about just the right time for my main summer trip down the Thames and towards the K & A. I'll post another picture of them soon to chart their growth but I'm almost at the stage of daily dead-heading already!

Due to the sudden arrival of Ofsted in school, the day that was set aside and given over to staff for writing our school reports was spent preparing for the inspection. I will now have to spend much of my weekends for the next 4 or 5 weeks finishing them off in readiness for the deadline of sending them out to parents - oh joy!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Just Canals Forum

If any of you are members of the Canal World forum and have monitored it over the past months you will, no doubt, be aware of the significantly deteriorating attitudes of many members. The forum appears to now be more pre-occupied with slanging matches between users over petty things than boating and quite frankly I've had enough of it. The boaters have now been driven off leavign behind predominantly people who simply use the forum as a virtual social life, (given that they can't get a real one!) I know there are exceptions and some serious boaters are still 'hanging in there' but recently a new forum has been opened which is rapidly growing in popularity. It is well managed and I have cautioned the administrators to take a much stricter line on people who disagree with others in immature and aggressive ways. I have now registered and wouldencourage others to do the same in the hopes that the 'Just Canals' forum might develop into a serious boating discussion forum. Find it here.

Can I apologise in advance for the possible lack of posts over this coming week. This morning we had THE phone call - the one everyone in education dreads! Ofsted are in this Thursday and so life is becoming even more hectic than usual for a while. Must go - I have planning to do, marking to get up to date, policies to read or revise, assessment data to input, action plans to action, documents to read, statistics to update and familiarise - oh, and children to teach at some point!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Thought I would post a picture of Jaws! Jaws is a pure white ghost carp, (so I am reliably informed!) and he's big - very big.In fact the picture doesn't actually do him justice. He is a magnificent monster who has spent the day today swimming lazily round in amongst a shoal of thousands of little fish. It was the most amazing spectacle I have seen and we spent a long time feeding Jaws with half a loaf of bread to re-pay him for presenting himself to us in such a glorious manner. Now, as a rule,I don't 'do' fish - certainly not hanging worms on hooks for them, ut seeing this one in it's natural and relaxed surroundings was great. It's lovely to think that I'm sharing my water with many creatures like this.

I went for a long paddle in the canoe this afternoon up to 'Rose' and back which was great and fed, watered and dead-headed the flowers on my boat and in the marina. Upon my return, I spent a good hour or so 'perched', (pardon the fishy pun!) on the front gunwale of NB Four Winds chatting about everything and nothing. It has been noted that there was a considerable number of young people at the Crick show this year. Now in the normal run of things - it would be good to encourage more young people into the past time of boating however, I fear that many of them were there as a foothold onto the floating property ladder rather than to embark on a passion of boating. I know that many may become passionate as a result and may-be my cinicism is unfounded and stuffy but my views on this are well known and documented - I'm a traditionalist at heart!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Home again!

Wow! What a lot has happenedsince my last post. Returned today and my feet haven't touched the ground! The inevitable shopping, washing, un-packing etc. etc. that results from a week away. Happily re-united with Khayamanzi, (still in one piece and in full and excellent working order!) My brother seemed to have a great week on her and has phoned me regularly during the week, knowing how worried I would have been; often his phone calls have re-counted the many people who saw the boat and either started a conversation with him, thinking he was me, or started a conversation with Simba before realising it wasn't Simba, (Yes, that really happened and I'm sorry I missed you F.U.B.B!) I will find out who it was standing on the bridge at Sutton's Stop as made the turn before yelling to him,'well, you did that better than Andy does!' Come on - own up whoever you are, you cheeky whatsit!
So what was the Peak District like? In a word - wet, cold but beatuful, (maths has never been my main subject!) The walking was amazing with walks of average length between 7 and 10 miles every day except one, (on Thursday we did the tourist thing and went down a cave and visited a museum,) Stunning views, wonderful wildlife and some very tricky trails to negotiate all made the experiences great. Thank goodness for GPS and compasses, especially at the top of Kinder Scout, in thick mist and confronted by boot sucking peat bogs! Hail stones one day but the week ended with glorious sunshine for the last walk to 'Three Shire Heads' and the subsequent journey home. We borrowed a great little caravan from some friends and it was nice to return home and have heating and hot water at the end of the day. My tent was comfortable, (I pitched it inside the caravan awning for double protection!) Simba has run his socks off and barely woken up since but I'll leave him to tell you about that on his blog.
Now, I have to return to reality with an inset day on Monday dedicated to report writing and then school starting back properly on Tuesday.
I have posted 2 pictures above from my week away- one of me in the clouds up Kinder Scout and the second of me and Simba enjoying the view!
Darren from C & K Narrowboats came on the Friday before we left to re-position my freezer into its new 'under locker' location and did an excellent job. I now have less 'white' on show in the engine room and more space for storage of such items as the generator and a new little shelf housing the 2 way radios and CD collection etc. Not a great picture but it does show the freezer built flush into it's new home.
Sitting here now, typing this with the combined sounds of a concert at Coombe Abbey - a historic house and gardens just down the road mingled with the merriment of the Coventry Canal Society's annual 'bar-b cruise' which takes place on the straight frontage outside the marina. I was invited to attend the CCS Bar-b-cruise but after the past week and the business of today sorting things out, I really didn't feel like it. I have to say though - they do things well; a huge marquee now strands the towpath with lighting, music and PA all set up. They certainly can't complain of the weather this year!