Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Half term planning!

Things are looking good for a half term trip away! I break up on Friday 9th February for the week and the current plans are either down the south Oxford to Banbury and beyond or to Braunston, Grand Union past Gayton and beyond. A lengthy Skype with my father tomorrow evening pouring over charts should decide! Still planning the summer trip down the Thames and Kennet and Avon to Bristol and back - already the anticipation is growing!

Kayaking at the weekend planned. My brother is bringing my old kayak back up to me from his house and planning on bringing his stunt boat up so that we can go off out and paddle up and down the Oxford. I plan on keeping the kayak then to use more often - I have to loose the belly somehow!

The temperatures have been quite barmy recently! Night time temperatures of 7+ degrees and daytime ones hitting 10+ degrees. Last night, it dropped and a small frost had to be contended with first thing but this soon cleared leaving another warm and 'spring-like' day!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Another busy day!

Well, I have just about managed to complete all my marking despite many interuptions, (all welcomed - I have to say!) The crew from NB Painted Lady made a surprise visit as they were cruising past so stopped for a day or two and visited this afternoon. Jim from Trinity Marina also popped up to see how things were going. Simba needed a long walk this afternoon, (or was it me that needed it?)

I now have to cook and eat dinner and finish scanning all the test papers so that I can go through them with the class in this coming week.

I guess one of the main reasons for this journal/blog is to enable me to look back a year ago and see what was happening this day in years past - always interesting, especially when you compare the weather!
Must dash!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A busy day!

I thought it was a bout time I published a couple of pictures! The top one shows my flowers on the roof bursting into colour with the hundreds of minature daffs. just beginning to poke through. The bottom one shows my generator poking its nose out the rear doors providing all my 240V needs. I apologise for the picture quality- since the last update, Blogger seems to be highly compressing the pictures - presumably to save space on their server. Until I find out if there's any way of disabling this compression, the pictures will remain blurry and pixelated.
Well, I started the weekend with 6 sets of 35 exam scripts to mark and have succeeded in marking one and half sets so far! The rest will have to be tomorrow.
Re-fuelled the diesel tank this morning then went to Rose Narrowboats to re-fill my diesel drum, purchase 3 bags of coal and a couple of spare lightbulbs I needed, then hoovered, polished, cleaned the fire, walked the dog, filled up with water, ironed my clothes for next week, ran the engine to re-charge the batteries, made myself a coffee and finally sat down to a couple of hours of marking.
A lovely surprise was a visit from Henk and Coby off of NB Double Dutch, (see the website of their boat,) who used to be moored at Trinity and are now very happy at Kings Bromley Marina. A couple of cups of coffee later and we had put the world to rights as boaters are reknown for doing! Within about 15 minutes of them leaving the phone rang and Steve and Julia, (not to forget Cairn Terrier Jess who totally knackered Simba!) from NB Even Balance arrived, (after arriving first at the wrong side of the unfinished bridge!). Many more cups of coffee later and the world was well and truely sorted! Steve and Julia have been up to visit their boat and took the opportunity to visit Ventnor Farm's new extension whilst here. You know Spring is round the corner when boaters start thinking about where to return their boats to after the summer months cruising! Only another couple of months and the cruising season starts again good and proper with the '6 monthers' disappearing out onto the cut - only to return in September/October, the hire boats dominating lock queues once more and the weekends becoming filled with those who have remained 'boat free' for the cold winter months. Darkness is really only set in proper from about 5.00 onwards and I'm already looking forward to shutting the stove down for the summer and planning my Easter holiday cruises, half term cruises and lengthy month long summer cruise.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Last night's post!

I typed all this up last night for last night's entry and then Blogger went down and I was unable to publish. Fortunately I had saved it in Word first so have copied and pasted it below. The date ought to read Wednesday 24th January 2007!

OK, I lied! This morning we did get a bit of snow. Not much - only about an inch and it was almost all gone by lunch time but it did make everywhere look very pretty. The drive out the lane this morning was beautiful as the trees were all outlined in a shadow of white, sticky snow. A hectic day at school attempting to stop snowball fights, (which always contain handfulls of accompanied grit!)

My brother is coming to visit on the weekend of 3rd/4th of February and bringing my old Perception kayak back up to me so that I can start canoeing again and he plans to bring his own stunt kayak up so that we can go off for a paddle!

Steve and Julia are up from Cornwall this weekend to visit their boat and hope to pop in and visit on Saturday afternoon. It is nice to maintain the contact from some of my good friends from Trinity. John, (NB Helen Louise,) Skyped me this evening to discuss a few things with me and told me that a short trip out and up the Ashby this morning resulted in them crunching through ice. In the interest of preventing a premature 'hull sanding', the decided to turn back to the marina. I haven't been out to see if the Oxford is frozen over or night.

I read with interest this evening that Microsoft has issued 90 'bloggers' with state of the art laptops loaded with the new Vista operating system for them to test and hopefully 'rave' over on their blogs. Apparently, the test has backfired as those bloggers have considered it nothing but a bribe and many of their readers have informed them that they have lost credability if they go through with the trial! It does go to show, however, the seriousness that is being taken as blogging rapidly gains more cudos as a serious form of publishing.


Good news, I discovered this evening that if I use my engines to get the batteries back up to 100% each evening, I can then use the generator to top up and keep topped up the battery banks. My Mastervolt unit has a 3 stage charging cycle. When drained it whallops in about 70 amps on what is called a 'bulk' charge stage. The generator won't cope with that but when the batteries are already as full as they can get using the engine alternators, the Mastervolt skips the bulk stage and begins charging using the 'absorbtion' stage which only puts in about 20 Amps - for this it copes fine and so therefore, I assume will also cope with the final 'float' stage which only trickle charges about 4 or 5 amps to keep the banks topped up. This is good news as it means I will use less diesel to charge the batteries up as the generator will trickle charge them until I shut it down at about 10.00pm so they will have less time to drop their charge.

My father bought me a safety helmet and trousers for when I use my chainsaw and these arrived today which is good. The last couple of days of 'cold snap' is forecast to end by the weekend which is about all the winter I like to have! Hopefully spring will be well and truely on the way then. The days are getting longer already and the buds are beginning to form. I recently secured a grant for a very posh and expensive bird box and camera kit for school. I hope it should arrive in the next few days for me to install as it woud be fantastic for the kids to be able to watch a bird making their nest and rearing chicks. Hopefully, I'll post some pictures if it ever comes about but click this link to see about the bird box.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cold weather.

What a shock to the system! With rediculously mild temperatures 'till now, it is quite a shock to be sitting here with the outside temperature reading -1.5 degrees. There is the possibility of snow forecast over night and early into tomorrow morning but somehow, I don't think so. My primulas on the roof are beginning to look good with some lovely colourful flowers showing and plenty more buds coming through. The spring minature daffs. are also coming through which is a good sign.

Engine charging is now down to around an hour each night thanks to the new alternator. I have now started to find some lovely short walks within easy reach of the marina and so have started to take Simba on a few varied walks, in fact, this morning was the last time for Simba to have his morning exercise within the marina. As the lane is very quiet, he can have a good run up and down the lane off his lead quite safely!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Since residing principally on Khayamanzi, this is the longest time I have remained static without at least a weekend cruise. I'm beginning to understand why some live-aboards consider it claustrophobic. I certainly could not live on a boat if cruising was not an option - my world seems to have shrunk considerably and I feel I'm simply living in a very small toothpaste tube. The adventures and freedom of the outside world around are temporarily not at my disposal.

Spent much of the day marking school books! A welcome breather allowed me the chance to go and cut some more logs ready for the forecasted cold week ahead. This activity I undertook until the saw chain had hit just a little too much mud and then I retired to re-sharpen the chain and clean/store the saw. Life constantly has its ups and downs but sitting here now half way down a bottle of Year 2000 vintage 'Chateau La Couronne' The ups and downs seems to be slightlu outweighed by the 'ups'! A roaring log fire, a snoozing dog in front of it and 'Wild at Heart' on the TV - I can't complain!

Simba hasn't really had much of a run this weekend due to how busy I've been. Normally I make sure he has had at least one really good, long towpath walk every weekend; as much for my sanity as his, but this weekend - it just hasn't happened.

This half term is so short, I only have 3 more weeks until half term which is good. I really hope I can get out in the boat as by that time, I'll be going mad and now dad's motor caravan has been stolen - we won't even be able to go off camping. Boy, will I need some freedom, fresh air and wide open spaces by that time and I'll have to find them somehow. Anyone got a caravan I could borrow and tow behind my car for that week so I can get out and away!?

Just to end, I want to post the link for the BBC interview with David Suchet which was recently broadcast during the Westminster protest cruise past Parliament to protest against the DEFRA cuts to the waterway. As many will know, I have been involved with this campaign and protest and the next stage is due for the weekend of 3rd and 4th of March. Click here for the interview.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Busy day!

After a good ly-in this morning, I spent the entire day working! Had to do 2 diesel runs to Rose Narrowboats to topup the tank on the boat which was only just about an inch off the bottom. Hoovered, ran the engine to charge the batteries, washed the carpet, ran the engine to charge the batteries, ironed, ran the engine to charge the batteries, cleaned, dusted, polished, re-aligned the satellite dish on the roof, ran the engine to charge the batteries, refuelled the generator, started the generator, (no need to run the engines now!) Sorted the fire,fed the dog,walked the dog, sorted out the wood that had blown all over the roof of the boat, had a shower, cooked dinner, sorted out all my files, burnt thousands of old bank statements, wrote the cheque to Martin for the work he did on the boat the other day, posted a few other letters and then finally sat down at about 8.00pm to stare at 4 piles of books that need marking tomorrow!

Just as I close, a note to other 'bloggers'. Recently, my computer has slowed right down when using Blogger to update postings. I have detected that it is due to my Lavasoft Ad-Watch taking up 100% of my CPU usage. This only ocurrs in Blogger so has blogger started spying on us with the roll-out of the new Beta version becoming fully fledged -perhaps other users have noticed the same or Blogger could confirm this? Let me know if anyone else has experienced this recent phenomena.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Complete toe-rags!

Well, my father phoned this morning to tell me that at about 11.00pm last night his camper van was stolen. It is an extremely distinct vehicle as seen in the picture above having been custom designed and built by him to the exact specifications necessary to accommodate my disabled mother when she was still alive.

The latest news is that a neighbour saw 3 gentlemen standing in the driveway looking at it at about 10.30 that evening. They were described as being of ‘Eastern European’ appearance. We are now hoping that a Polish immigrant family have found themselves a nice home to live in and are too stupid to know just how distinct the vehicle is – that is the only way we are likely to ever see it again. Bang goes our walking holidays in May now!

The wind had calmed down all day but I’m now sitting here being rocked about yet again with the wind banging and flapping my cratch covers. Martin Plant from the Ashby Canal Centre, came and fitted my new alternator today and serviced the engine for me. It’s now good to push out 30 amps on tickover and up to 69 amps at 1400 RPM. I think I should be able to charge the batteries now each night in under an hour which will save me a fortune in diesel. I had to put the 30litre emergency supply of diesel in the tank this evening and just as well too, as the level only came up to about an inch on the dipstick. I will need to make a few car trips to Rose Narrowboats tomorrow to fill her up again and get some coal given that the next weeks forecast is getting a lot colder.

Any ideas – my laptop has now slowed down to such a rate that every sentence I type takes about 10 seconds before it all appears. All the scans and anti-virus tells me there is nothing wrong and yet programmes keep crashing left right and centre as they simply can’t cope with the most simple of requests!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I shall start tonight with a light hearted report – read to the end before you realize why it’s light hearted! I’m sure the Brits. are the only nation to laugh at themselves so much!

A seven year old boy was at the centre of a courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt in keeping with Australia's child custody laws and regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree possible.
The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her.
When the judge suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him.
After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.
After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the English Cricket Team, whom the Court firmly believes are "not capable of beating anyone”

Now, more serious! I have published a picture of the top of a tree in my father’s garden which not only broke and blew off – it also managed to traverse the length of the garden! I have survived well as I took the satellite dish off last night, strapped down the TV aerial and ratchet strapped all the deck gear down as it was about to blow off. Many trees appear to have blown down in Cathiron Lane and I guess the site workers today have spent much of the day cutting up and removing trees! According to the news, about 8 people have died and winds have topped 90 MPH in some areas. Reminds me of the South Eastern hurricanes of the late 1990's. Apparently now the wind is calming down but the snow is on the way – oh joy!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

General ramblings!

Well, the forecast for the next 24 hours is, to say the least, grim! With expected winds of anything in the region of 50+ MPH gusts, it’s a worrying time to be on a narrowboat in the middle of a lake in one of the most exposed places in the Warwickshire countryside. Tomorrow evening, we have a staff social at work and whilst I’m planning to attend, the safety of my boat may have to become top priority if things do get rough. This evening before going to bed, I plan to dismantle both satellite and terrestrial TV aerials as well as check and secure logs, flower pots and sacks on the roof.

I have just heard this evening that an old experienced boater from Trinty, who was so well loved, passed away today at 3.30. He had been battling with cancer and had really given up since his wife died a year ago. Only last year, in the summer, he went on his last big cruise – a trip down the Thames and back; no mean feat for a single man at over 70 years of age, battling with cancer and totally alone! He was known to be a wealth of boating knowledge and although many friends from the marina often visited and looked out for him, he was concerned not to be a burden to anyone. It is so sad when real boating legends like this pass away and my thoughts at this time are very much with his friends who he leaves behind.

Charging the batteries back up this evening took around 3 hours due to the dodgy alternator, and the bank had only dropped to 90% and used around 50 amp/hours! I think on Saturday, I will need to do a couple of diesel runs from Rose Narrowboats to top up the tanks. The pump has finally managed to empty out the bridge ‘ole between the stop planks in the marina and so I guess the 28 days of testing period can just about start! Unless we can shorten this time somehow, I’m going to be locked in all over half term and will really be in need of a pump-out. Good job I’ve been carrying a spare toilet round in the boot of my car since Christmas as I think I’ll be needing it!

My Summer plans of visiting the Kennet and Avon may have to be shelved or re-thought. Not only is my father in America for the first 2 weeks of my summer holiday and so hindering what is a very demanding trip by lack of crew but my school has some exciting plans that have been drawn up for developing our entrance/reception area and building me a proper office, enlarging the Head’s office and developing a more prominent and purposeful office for the school admin. Staff. I can see this meaning that I will need to be in a fair bit to help with the sorting out and moving round over the summer so really need to be available.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I reported yesterday that my battery light was lit on the dash board and indicated a concern for the alternator not charging. I was right! Martin, the engineer from Willow Park, (Nigel's yard,) up the Ashby very kindly popped in to check things out and declared one of the alternators faulty. A return trip on Saturday has been booked to replace the alternator and service the engine at the same time – I’ll keep you posted.

The weather forecast for the next couple of days is pretty dire and I have to say, I’m hoping they are wrong! Serious winds have been forecast with gusts in excess of 50-60 MPH are expected, I am wondering whether to take my TV aerial mast down and the satellite dish off or chance it and see how it fairs- certainly if the predictions come true, there will be some serious damage somewhere for sure. The last 2 days have been lovely in the marina with owls being heard, pheasants squarking and fluttering out of bushes, swans swimming across the calm waters, barmy mild temperatures, beautiful sunsets and sun rises and hardly a breeze of wind. I think we’ve now seen the marina in the best weather and the worst weather.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Nothing much!

Nothing much to report tonight but as I seem to have started a daily blog, I feel I need to keep it going!

Got home and started the engine tonight to charge the batteries. When on tickover, the red battery warning light on the dash panel was glowing faintly. As I increased the revs, the light glowed more brightly but the audible alarm was not sounding. The analogue dial on the panel was telling me that I was charging at a healthy 14 amps and the digital readout on the combi unit tells me that everything is fine and normal. Spent about 40 minutestightening up both alternator belts but the light remains on. I am now beginning to feel that a wire has come loose on the back of the panel and this is going to be my next avenue of exploration later in the week or next weekend.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunshine and calm!

As if by way of an answer to my previous post, the sun shone constantly all day today and whilst a wind kept it feeling cold, it was calm by the time the sun set this evening allowing a glimpse of the true beauty this marina has to offer. 3 swans flew across and landed behind the boats as the red sun slowly sank behind the trees.

I took Simba for a long walk along the towpath until the mud prevented me going any further and then chain sawed some logs with Chris to kep us going a bit longer.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wind again!

I know the weather has been a bit extreme lately but the wind has simply not stopped and since I've arrived!

My satellite dish, whilst clinging on to the mast, simply keeps getting blown out of line so I've given up with it and gone back to the terrestial aerial.
I spent much of the day working! Cleaned, installed a small aerial for my radio as I couldn't pick up classic FM and visited Trinity marina to return some keys only to be told that due to the number of people who have been returning keys and leaving, they have run out of money so will need to send a cheque! I thought it was funny when I walked in on a conversation between the marina staff and a boater from the marina who was telling them all about his summer cruise holiday he has booked, I overheard him say, "These narrowboats are OK but they're a bit claustrophobic to be out on all summer, so we prefer a nice large cruise liner!" Me thinks he's missed the point!
Well, the exciting news is that I managed to iron all my work clothes for next week whilst running the engine and still managed to get the battery banks back up to 100% this evening - this means I don't have to do my ironing in school next week!

Friday, January 12, 2007

I've survived!

Well, I've survived the first full week of life afloat self sustained! Had a panic this evening as I needed to use my washing machine and half way through the cycle, the inverter gave me an error code E2 which basically means not enough power in the battery bank for the power drain - and that was with the engine running almost full tilt! I immediately thought the worst and suspected a dodgy battery bank before spotting that I had knocked the temperature dial on the machine and the poor inverter was trying to heat the water in the washing machine to 70 degrees! A quick reduction on the dial to a 50 degree wash and sanity, (and power,) was restored. The washing is now drying in front of the fire, the generator is powering my 240volt needs and the main engine is just finishing off topping up the battery bank again.

The wind seems to have subsided and just as well as yesterday, it succeeded in almost snapping my satellite dish off it's ball and socket joint that clamps into the sucker foot. I have now had to clamp the dish onto the TV aerial mast at the front of the cratch to keep it secure but it does still require periodic swinging round as the wind tends to catch it and swing the mast out of line. Tomorrow, Iplan to take the keys back to Trinity Marina and get my deposits back on them.

School was exciting as I now have an interactive whiteboard in my classroom - something I have fought for, for some time. The children have already named it Wallace the Whiteboard.... and these are 11 year olds!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Country living!

The joys of living in the country! Boy has it been windy! Forecasts predicted gusts of 70+MPH and I'm sure we've had them. Awake most of the nigth with things banging and crashing and the boat being blown about so much that I could hardly stand when I visited the toilet at 1.30am! I decided to check the satellite dish ont he roof and secured it with several bungie straps - good job too as when I woke this morning, it was dangling precariously over the side of the boat on the end of one of the bungies.

Walked the dog this morning and then left for work and discovered that the gates were still shut and I couldn't get out of the marina. After some knocking and telephoning, I managed to raise Chris who had the key and I managed to get out. Less than half a mile down the lane, I realised why the builders hadn't arrived on site to open the gate - a huge tree had blown across the lane and we couldn't get out and the builders couldn't get in! I phoned Chris so he could bring his chain saw down and we managed to use a hand saw to cut a 'car sized' arch in order to carefully sneak through. Just round the next bend and I met a 44 Ton lorry attempting to get up the lane and make a delivery. I, and the cars I was following, dived into hedges and field gateways to let the lorry through, praying that we wouldn't get stuck. We didn't,and the journey to school was completed in about 40mins - the same time as it took from Hinckley to school via the A5!

Not sure I've mentioned but we are now stuck in for the next 4 weeks! The stop planks have gone down and the marina has to be locked tight to check for leaks before BW will sign the contracts! Hopefully, we will be clear again to cruise by half term and the marina will be given a clean bill of health as regards leaks.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New day, same weather!

Well, a new day has been and gone. Shut the generator down last night and discovered that it had only used about half a tank of fuel all evening. Had to buy another can of petrol this evening. A fantastic purchase, I must say!

It's interesting how, some of my 62,000 hits are now beginning to make themselves known! This new marina has enabled me to make contact with old friends, be introduced to new ones and meeet people I knew of or knew their boat, but had not had much contact with - you are all welcome, each and every one; and if you haven't yet plucked up courage to say 'hi' to me either by personal email, comments on this blog or through my main guest book on my main website - don't leave it too long! A special hello to all those people who have emailed me to ask for information on the new marina or contact details of the owner to apply for moorings. Without his permission, I won't publish his number publicly but do email me if you want to make an enquirey.

As it wasn't raining this evening, I decided to take Simba for a good run up the lane outside the marina this evening when I got home. Took him up to the bridge to see how it was going. Certainly, the road and footpaths are completed but nothing is yet in progress to buiod the parapets - essential before the road and bridge can be re-opened.

I now notice that the website of Trinity Marina has splashed across the front page the following message.... "WE CURRENTLY HAVE 5 X 70FT, 2 X 50FT AND 1 X 40FT MOORINGS AVAILABLE. PLEASE CALL **********FOR FURTHER DETAILS. " Oh dear, I wonder why?!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wind and power!

Well, spent much of last night being blown about in the gales and much of the night up on the roof fixing things down to prevent them being blown away! My TV aerial and satellite dish were blown out of alignment!

I am now the proud owner of one of the little beauties pictures above - it's nice to come home and simple start up the genny to get all the 240V power I could reasonably want. Doesn't quite stretch to charging the batteries but with it taking much of my domestic requirements off the battery bank and onto the 240V system, my battery bank hardly gets tickled and so a quick engine run in the evening soon sorts them out! Ironic really that these two previous paragraphs have been put in the same post as I know many will immediately be thinking of wind turbines. Certainly, this marina would be a great place for one but personally, I don't like the sight of them on boats and have heard too many horror stories of vibration caused by them.

At least I can feel that I am currently seeing it in the worst possible conditions, weather and time of year; if I can get through this and still see it as a prime boating location and facility - it will be amazing in the spring!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Home in daylight!

Got home early this evening as it was an in service training day at school - due to the short drive home, I actually managed to get home in just about daylight!

Phil and Anne from NB 'What-ever-next' leant me a small 750W generator today to test and it is fantastic. In effect I have 240V for everything I want and very little drain on my 12v system - tomorrow, I get one, me thinks!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Wild and lonely!

The wind has been banging us all about all night and all day and things have been flying off the roof of the boat. Just heard voices outside and a man leading a horse and a lady leading a dog were walking round the marina! It's a very lonely place at the moment. I've got a rolled, stuffed pork roll in the oven and have spent much of the day washing the outside of the boat and looking back through the canal log books from childhood holidays!

I think I've now got the engine charging down to about two and a half hours which is going to be the best I can do. I have to say, the last thing after a stressful day at work I'm going to feel like is sitting down with the boat shaking and the roar of the engine charging the batteries every evening for two and a half hours but hey - I keep telling myself, it's only short term.

Well, I've worked out a system of taking the next days clothes into school each day so that I can iron them there and then bring them home again to wear the following day as my inverter and battery bank certainly won't cope with an iron! I have a plentiful supply of logs on the roof and a rapidly diminishing fuel supply due to the amount of engine running necessary. What I'm saving currently on mooring fees, I'm going to more than make up for in fuel bills! Ah well, better go and take Simba out for a walk before it gets too dark!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mud, glorious mud!

Well, what a lot of rain we've been having lately! At least the car drive way around the perimeter is fine and well done with firm road planings rolled in. This morning, a few of us decided to go and cut up dome logs from a fallen tree in the marina. 2 chain saws and a maul, 1 and a half hours later and we were taking our 2nd Landrover full back to the boats - only this time, the mud got the better of us and the Landrover sunk! Much wedging of planks and logs to try and free it was to no avail and so we had to be unceremonously pulled out by a dumper truck! Phil and Anne from NB 'Wot-ever-next' arrived to join us today and so the full compliment of caretaker boats is almost complete. On taking Phil back to collect his car, I passed a dozen or more Landrovers and a tractor and trailer made up with bales of straw as seats all blocking the lane - a local pheasant shoot was in full swing! Cathiron Lane is beginning to flood all-be-it not too bad.

My engine ran from 9.00 this morning to about 3.00 this afternoon in order to get it back up to 100% so I spent most of the rest of the day wiring everything possible into the 12volt system to save running the inverter. Fortunately the TV signal is so strong, I can use the TV in the saloon off the 12V system and with no signal boosters. I need to somehow get my electricity useage down so that I only need to run the engine for a maximum of about 2 hours a day - I'll let you know how I get on. I cancelled my standing order to Trinity today. I'm going to have to take rubbish into school to be disposed of - good job I have a pump-out!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Day one!

Well, the first day in Brinklow Marina is now almost completed. Had to run the engine for quite some time today to get the batteries up and even then only managed 98% full - anyone know of any very cheap Honda 'suitcase' generators for sale, hire or to borrow? This boat is really designed for either continuous cruising or plugged in - it just can't cope sitting around all day with no electrics. I can see I'm going to have to start to forego the evening's TV watching; even typing this is being done on the laptops battery - I coulod never be a bridge hopper!

My father left this morning after helping me fix a clear acrylic plate on the top of the cratch board so that I have a smooth base to suck the satellite dish onto without it getting blown off in this exposed marina. I then cleaned the boat and hoovered, (another hours engine running needed for the hoover alone!) and went to explore the shops. My return journey from the supermarket brought me back past my school and I timed the journey back to the boat: under 15 minutes and 9 miles, not bad when most of the journey was stuck behind some old cloth capped farmer travelling at 20mph!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Home moving!

I am finally in my new marina! Cruised up from Braunston today after a full fried breakfast, stopped to top up the water tanks at Newbold Tunnel and finally arrived at Brinklow Marina at 4.00pm as the sun was setting. The wind was kind to me and getting in and berthed was a very simple affair. The bottom picture, (above,) shows me entering the new marina and the top picture shows my final resting place, (for the moment anyway!) It was a beautiful entrance with a deep red sun sinking over the surrounding countryside and even a rainbow was visible as I finally tied off. Currently there are no mooring cleats so the rope has to be passed round the entire pontoon with the use of a boathook to pull it through and prevent getting wet arms. I am in reach of a mains water hosepipe but no electrics appear iminent and so engines need to be run for several hours each day to keep the battery banks topped up. I am the 5th residential/caretaker boat in the marina to date and one other non-res.boat has arrived to berth.
The pictures above seem slightly pixelated but I think they are better if you click on them and view them full size, (I hope,) I am reducing them to save on bandwidth uploading. The good news is that I get an excellent satellite signal for the TV and and 100% signal on the digital box in the back cabin along with currently 3 bars of 3G signal so all is looking good.
I'm off to walk Simba round to see how quiet it is over the other side of the marina and then tomorrow I'm off to explore the loacal shops and find my way to the supermarket!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year and travels!

OK, this was only the 2nd bottle, honest - Steve was just putting it on for effect! Met up with Steve and Julia from NB Even Balance on New Year's Day and had a very pleasant evening catching up and putting the world to rights. Moored up with them at bridge 3 at the bottom of the Ashby as I was going out and they were coming in. Moored last night outside the new marina at Brinklow and had no signal from T-mobile whatsoever, either GPRS or 3G - not good news, however I live in hope that there might be a glimmer of a signal in the more exposed marina. Delivered my cratch by car to A J canopies at Braunston yesterday for them to do some repairs to the corners and zips and then collected it today by boat. Moored this evening right opposite the hill with the floodlit church on top, at Braunston - it would be lovely if the wind wasn't banging me about and the rain wasn't lashing down on the roof! Stopped for a pumpout yesterday morning at Rose Narrowboats at Stretton and met Christine and Anthony - the new owners. Very pleasant people with a clear committment to expanding services for the private boater as well as continue with their high class hire boats. Anthony used to be the manager at Midland Chandlers, Braunston and they have great plans for expanding the chandlery in a big way - it all seemed very exciting talking to them and I certainly wish them the very best.

Stopped this morning for seventy pounds worth of diesel and coal off Iain and Alison on working boat Gosty Hill. Had a long chat as you do and it quickly appeared that they were as much in the dark as anyone else regarding the derogation of red diesel, having even phoned customs and excise to gain clarification! Why did we have to bow to European ignorance and pressure in the first place but now that we have, why can't we get ourselves organised for proper consultation and clear communication - especially where it matters such as working boats and trade marinas!

I'm pointing North currently, having turned, so tomorrow, the plan is, to return to Brinklow and attempt a landing in the marina! I will then have time to sort things out ready for the weekend and then back to work next week. A new routine is in order - not only because I should be able to leave for work later and arrive home earlier but also to run engines etc for my own generation until mains electricity is connected. Watch this space!

......and before you ask Julia, yes I did check it for typo's today!

Monday, January 01, 2007

On the move!

Well, this is my first post officially from my 3G datacard thanks to T-mobile! I am currently moored up at bridge 3 on the Ashby Canal en route to the new Brinklow Marina. There was almost a fight at Trinity for my end mooring but in the end it went to Chell and Sally on NB Chell's Dream. Many turned out to say goodbye and some even honked their horns as I left - I assume as a gesture of farewell rather than of good ridance! It was almost emotional leaving the marina as it has served me well for the past 4 years but one has to move on to pastures new when the opportunity arises. Delivering my car to Brinklow this afternoon and the wind was howling round the marina whipping up white horses - it is going to be very wild! There are currently no electricity facilities or pump out facilities and only one hosepipe delivering water - I feel a little of the pioneering spirit of our early predecessors of those who were involved in the early restoration of much of the system as we know it.

Well, tomorrow I hope to get deisel and a pump out at the newly taken over Rose Narrowboats before popping towards Braunston, (weather permitting,) for a canapy repair at A J. Canopies. Right now, I'm going to relax in front of the roaring log fire with a good drink.