Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Phew! What a day!!

Boiling hot day today!! Seriously - temperatures hit 30+ in my back cabin. I'm moored in a lovely spot on Tixall wide so what did I decide to do.... T-cut and polish both sides of the boat and black the hull down to the water line!! I have only just finished and I'm exhausted and have caught the sun big time. I have to say though, it's a very good job, in fact it now looks so shiny that I couldn't get a good picture without the colours washing out and seriously over exposing the shot as this picture proves.
It's been nice to be here and catch up with so many friends along with making new ones. My friends from NB F.U.B.B, (email me privately if you wish to know about that name!) are up here and NB Riverdance has also moored in. They used to be with me at Trinity Marina and now base at Kings Bromley only a few boats down from my friends Henk and Coby on NB Double Dutch. Too many friends have passed by to mention - all have bibbed or yelled at me and it's been great to see them all.

Ever since Banbury, I've been 'leap frogging' NB Eden Gill and this evening the moored up behind me, (well in front of me now they helped me turn Khayamanzi round so that I could polish the other side!). They are active members of the website 'Friends Afloat' - a site I have to admit, I didn't know existed. It seems to me to be a kind of 'Friends reunited' type site for the waterways, a forum for boaters to keep in touch with the many people they meet in passing along their journeys. this seems a very good idea to me but the 'friends afloat' site seems a little closed to me; a kind of site for a select few friends to keep in touch. Fine if that's what they want but I think a wider, larger and more publicised site for all regular cruising boaters to meet, chat and keep in touch would be great idea. A kind of friendlier version of the Canalworld forum without the backbiting and slagging off and with the only aim of keeping contact rather than all the other facets!!

I have been informed by Don this evening that the picture of Rivendell I posted last night is NOT his Rivendell - ah well, someone will be pleased to see their boat published on the world wide web, if they ever find my site!

Anyway, tomorrow I head off, via Anglo Welsh for the necessary services, towards Stone to pick up my father on Thursday. The weather this week looks glorious, all except Thursday which is forecasting light rain - typical!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tixall Wide and the right decision!

A good days cruising although the weather was better suited for sailing with an incredibly fierce wind blowing headlong into my face all the way from Rugeley to Tixall Wide! Stopped at Rugeley to get anew electric toothbrush from Argos along with a selection of magazines to read whilst at Tixall. As I approached the broad water, I saw a frantic of untying of knots from a moored boat - no sooner had I passed under a bridge when the bow was pushed hard out in front of me! It was obvious that they had arrived too late yesterday to get onto the broad water and seeing my approach; panicked and pushed out in front. I actually had to pull Khayamanzi hard astern to prevent hitting it, sure enough they pulled into a neat little mooring on the wide leavingme to squeeze in between 2 other boats right under a tree and in totally the wrong place for ANY TV signal! Last time I was here, I reported getting an excellent terretrial signal, a first class satellite signal and even several bars of 3G internet; this time,I get absolutely NO terrestrial TV, absolutely NO satellite whatsoever and only a couple of bars of GPRS internet!

It did tickle me that on my way past Spode House at armitage I noticed the Waterscape boat moored up in a strategic position, oferring prime advertising to all the passers by on the road just below the embankment, however if you examine this picture closely....

....you'll notice that the craft is displaying absolutely no licence disc! Either BW coulodn't get organised to provide them with their licence on time or the Defra cuts have had a much greater effect already!

I did pass NB Rivendell on the way towards Colwich Lock. Rivendell is part owned by Don - an avid reader of this blog and a 'virtual' friend for some time now. I can confirm Don, that Rivendell is safe and well, (assuming I have the right boat that is!) An interesting report on board Rivendell in dual lingo can be found here.

Now for the right decision. The environment agency website is reporting the following:
There are now no Flood Warnings in force for the River Thames. However
water levels are still dangerously high and the river remains 'out of banks' in
many areas.There is still a very strong stream warning in force over the full
length of the Thames and red boards continue to be displayed at all locks. The
strength of the stream will remain very strong even though water levels are
beginning to fall. We understand that boaters are anxious to know when the
river will be safe to navigate. This is very difficult to predict, but it is
good news that dry weather is forecast for the coming week. The situation will
slowly start to improve but we do anticipate strong streams for at
least another week.This weekend there were several emergency incidents involving
boats navigating against our advice. One boat was drawn through a weir and both
crews had to be rescued. Not only the boaters themselves but also the rescue
crews were put at unnecessary risk.Our advice remains to stay safe and
leave boats moored up where they are, the river is dangerous to navigate and
many locks and also lay-bys are still impassable.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

More sunshine and an epic journey!

Woke up this morning and the sun was shining again, (wow - 2 days on the trot!) A lazy start to the day as Steve had to take a taxi back to the marina to collect his car. It was good to know that the journey was 45 mins. I've been travelling for about 3 days and all too often you discover that you're only just round the corner by road. I'm beginning to feel that I'm actually away from home on a holiday!
Steve was going to the Lake District for a camping break but spent much of the morning phoning all the hire companies in an attempt to find a cancellation hire boat in the area to follow me around. That would have been fun but unfortunately the only one available was snapped up while he was off the phone deciding!
By the time he left, it was too late for me to go any distance as the next few miles or so are hauling through Armitage and Rugeley and I didn't fancy mooring in the middle of them so I simply threw the boat through the next lock, round the corner and moored up at the far end of Ravenshaw Woods just before King's Bromley Marina. (See picture,) Itwas nice to have a leisurely day cooking my traditional roast pork dinner, which is just finishing off now whilst a bottle of Australian Chardonnay chills in the fridge!
Tomorrow, I plan to get through the narrows and tunnel at Armitage and through Rugeley on my way towards Tixell Wide for a day or 2 before tracking up to Stone where I should be meeting my father on Thursday. I will then be 'crewed' again for the trip up to Anderton and/or the Rochdale Canal into Yorkshire.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Khayamanzi on TV!

OK so it's Japanese TV but it's still TV none-the-less! Today we have moved fromAtherstone and moored up right on the first mooring above Shade House Lock at Fradley Junction. A fine evening meal was had in 'The Swan' - the first time I have ever stopped at this hostelry and I have to say it was very good! At the bottom of the Atherstone flight, we pulled in to the water point to take on water and dispose of rubbish and just about squeezed in behind Hotelboat 'away4awhile' They were very apologetic but explained that they had to take on water and were also meeting a Japanese TV crew who were filming the equivalent of our holiday programme and were featuring British canal holidays.

We got talking with the people from the boat who were extremely friendly and pleasant and helped pass the time whilst waiting for our water tank to fill! It wasn't long before the film crew arrived and filming had began.

As we left the water point, the film crew were filming the hotel boat as it crept off down the cut and we were pleasantly surprised to see them panning round on Khayamanzi and following us also as we made our way down the Coventry Canal.

Smiles all round were needed! Maybe someone who has access to Japenese Tv could let us see it sometime!!

We decided, given the mysterious amount of shoes one sees floating down the canal, that it would be funny to collect them!Of course, no sooner had this decision been made than the 'show supply' dried up leaving us with a measely 3 which I dutifully disposed of at the end of the day. Great fun was had not only in the collection process but also in the complicated design of a major canal based game which we felt might take off based on a point scoring system of collecting said items and the trading of them amongst fellow boaters! We even made up the constitution for the commitee of the governing organisation responsible for regulating and monitoring fair play amongst fellow 'shoers'!! Such is the boredom whilst cruising through Tamworth behind a very slow weekend hire boat!

Whilst chatting to the crew of the holiday boat, we endulged in a little 'tale sharing' of stories reported to be true from various hire companies. These included:
  • The hirers who contacted their base to complain that the process of filling the water tank seemed to be taking a very long time. Upon investigating further, the hire company discovered that they had attached the hose to the kitchen sink and the other end in the water tank!
  • The hirers who reported to their hire company that they were sinking and had been baling out water for the past hour and it had made no difference. The company immediately raced to their rescue, only to discovere that they were baling out the weed hatch!

Along with many more stories that escape me now but I am sure I shall remember and report them on here soon!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sunshine at last...for now!

Today we had sunshine! A few showers on and off prevented me from reporting wall to wall sun but at least we stayed dry most of the day. I am currently moored up just before the last 2 locks on the Atherstone flight and have published a screen shot of the next 5 days forecast for Rugeley, Staffs. I can't believe it and so thought I would publish it so that we can see how close to it my daily blog is!
Passing through Sutton's Stop and I managed a quick grab shot of NB Granny Buttons. whilst negotiating the myriad of hire boats all running back for a Saturday turnaround on the mid Oxford areas having all been sent north last week due to the South Oxford closures.
Tomorrow, I should be around some nicer and less familiar territory. I like Hopwas and beyond and with a little sunshine maybe my holiday can begin!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Back home!

Cruised up from Hillmorton today and stopped off at Rugby for shopping. Now moored up outside Brinklow marina! If the sun isn't shining tomorrow - I'm going in and terminating the holiday!! The plan is to head up to Tixell for a day or two and then meet my father at Stone. We are then deciding whether to head up and attempt the Anderton Boat Lift if the floods and rain allow the Weaver to be open by then or possibly head for the Rochdale canal via the Bridgewater and Ashton - not sure yet, all I do know is that it is most depressing to be back outside my marina when I ought to be down at Oxford heading towards the Thames by now....

I have posted a picture today, (above,) of the most common sight on a British canal in summer, (or certainly this year,) rain pouring down the window! We moored up having drowned in the most deluge of a rainstorm I have seen since the last one, last week!!
Finally,a couple of pictures below of 2 narrowboats moored up on the Thames. My father went to see what it was like this evening and took these pictures using his phone camera. It is clear to see the speed and height of the water outside Hampton Court!
Anyway, must go - I'm off to light the bar-b-q, pour another chilled beer and sit in the sun to read my book!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Boat for sale!

OK - I've had enough - I'm selling Khayamanzi and buying a villa in Spain! Not really but after today; it certainly is tempting. Woke up this morning and set off in miserable drizzle which rapidly became a torrent. A howling wind not only made the boat a hard fight but also dropped the temperature by what seemed like minus twenty! By the time we reached Braunston turn a fire had been lit as much for the damp as for the cold. Note the smoke from the chimney on the picture below.

We pushed through with the aid of hot mugs of soup and bacon sarnies and cleared Hillmorton locks finally mooring just after bridge 83 still heading north. Tomorrow the plans are to stop in Rugby for some essential supplies and rush on past Brinklow quickly enough to still feel I'm on holiday! It won't really be until well past Atherstone before I can begin to feel I'm off somewhere on holiday. Passed by and had a quick wave and a cheery 'hi' to the crew of NB Moore2life around Braunston. En route, we passed this bridge - clearly the Defra cuts have started having an impact already - literally!

My final picture this evening is this one! This is a genuine picture taken yesterday from the back of the boat - we did have blue skies. For one day only!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Head north young man!

Well today we gave up and decided to terminate the initial plans. With flood warnings still in place and some parts of the Thames not even expected to peak until 24-48 hrs time and with more heavy rain forecast for later this week and into next, we turned just below Banbury thanks to the fact that Banbury lock itself was, at last, opened and are now heading north. Not quite sure exactly where yet but towards Tixell, Stoke, Harecastle and Macclesfield to start with - any suggestions gratefully recieved; perhaps I could run a phone poll as to where you would like to see me go, but then, in light of the experiences of the BBC maybe that's not such a great idea!

We had a good run up today and are currently moored just north of Fenny Compton. We saw the Micron touring theatre company moored outside the pub in Fenny and all set up for a show this evening but there were no moorings available so we pushed on through - more's the pity!

The tiller bearing has once again worked loose so this time I took the mole grips to it! I will see if it now holds up a little longer! An enjoyable bar-b-q this evening ended the day and is also the reason for this very late enty tonight. I must compliment Mike from Snecklifter on the excellent picture he took of myself and my brother in Banbury and which can be seen on his site. I have posted a picture this evening, (below,) of the sandbags piled up outside of waterside property doors in Banbury taken this morning. The comment of the week must come from a passing boater who said he really didn't believe all the fuss about the 'so called' floods. He continued by saying, "after all - I saw a duck this morning and the water only came half way up him!"
I saw this sign on the edges of Banbury today and it tickled me! Having helped a somewhat inebriated gentleman through a lock in a boat covered in dubious looking foliage and proudly showing off his 'patrol notice' issued by a BW officer; I could well imagine the kind of 'boater' who might write such a message!

My final offering tonight is this boat I passed, also just above Banbury. I noticed it had a 'for sale' sign on the window but couldn't quite read the small print at the bottom of the notice. I wondered whether it detailed any indication of the inventory included in the purchase of the craft - like perhaps the inclusion of a bow thruster!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

End of the line? Life in a goldfish bowl!

Today is more of a photo blog. Partly due to the excellent internet signal I am receiving! We are now in the midst of deciding whether to sit here for a day or two and see what happens or give up and return north for a variation on the holiday and attempt the K & A next year! Life in a goldfish bowl! That's exactly what it feels like here in Banbury. Not only are the gongoozlers rampant but there is even a CCTV camera just outside my starboard side pointing directly over us!

Today, I type this from what is possibly the end of the line for me. I'm in Banbury town center enjoying a good satellite TV signal, an excellent UMTS broadband signal, some wonderful company but sadly not enjoying the British summer weather! Banbury is packed and the locks ahead are firmly padlocked shut and expected to remain so for the foreseeable future as the picture above shows.
Our final resting place in the center of Banbury.
The small army of BW vehicles at the bottom of Banbury keeping an eye on things!
Sandbags in a somewhat vain attempt at keeping the flood waters at bay. Sadly Tooley's boatyard has been completed flooded and is currently closed for clean-up.

British Waterways employees at the bow of my boat delicately washing the mud and silt off the bank. This included brushing and throwing buckets of water over the bank which had the desired affect of clearing the path and bank but simply transferring it all over the side of my boat resulting int he need for a total wash of that side - thanks BW!

One positive was the chance to moor up just behind Mike and Liz from Snecklifter and invite them on for a very pleasant coffee, cake and chat! At last, our paths crossed long enough to meet and chat properly!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

'Summer' holiday??

The question mark says it all! Today has been a glorious day with sun shining all day and not a drop of rain. In fact I've been in shorts all day long and at the top of the Napton Flight even had to climb into the canal to re-tighten a tiller bearing that had worked loose! Set off this morning at around 9.00 as the Napton locks had re-opened and pushed on to take advantage of the weather. Final mooring is just before Cropredy having completed up the hill via the Napton flight and back down the other side via the Claydon locks!

Passed a man from Napton Narrowboats who had been sent to Banbury to collect a hire boat that had been abandoned at Banbury due to the fact that the police had told the occupants to leave immediately as it wasn't safe to remain on board - we pass through Banbury tomorrow!
The photo above is our final mooring this evening just above Cropredy.
I meant to report this yesterday but forgot! During our cruise yesterday, my brother, Steve, knocked my mobile phone off its holder. I spent a frantic few moments looking for it in the engine room before deciding that it must have somehow vanished! Eventually, we moored up so that I could remove all the floor boards and associated paraphernalia and discovered said mobile phone resting neatly on the engine support joist just inches from dropping into an oily and murky bilge! It's not often that things work out that well as the picture of the phone below shows!!
Well - tomorrow we attempt Banbury! This evening we dared to look at the BBC news website and, for the first time discovered just how bad things have got in the floods around the rest of the South and East! It's amazing howisolated you become on the canals with just the towpath gossip as your source of information! How far we get tomorrow will be interesting but for now, we sleep easy! I did comment to one friend on the phone this evening that there was a whole bunch of animals coming down the towpath towards me 2 by 2!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Summer trip - day one!

Braunston Junction - then and now!

In 1979 the Edwards family took a family holiday on an Anglo Welsh hire boat. En route we stopped at Braunston junction and my father took the first of these two pictures. I am the shorter and younger of the 2 boys with the pole and my brother was the other person. With grateful thanks to a passing gentleman today we made history by re-enacting that picture!

Took off this morning in a horrible cold drizzle and made good progress. Currently moored up at the bottom of the Napton flight having completed 21 miles and 3 locks. The Napton flight is closed as boats are pushing water over the hill and flooding Banbury! There are about 14 boats moored up ahead of us, many of whom have been waiting for 24 hrs plus. Apparenty there is a possible maybe that the flight will re-open tomorrow but for the time being we're 'hunkered' down preparing to loose a day tomorrow if necessary. Passing through Braunston today and we passed Chas and Ann on NB Moore 2 Life. My only disappointment was that I was so concentrating on finding a mooring for the above re-enactment that I totally missed them!
The picture shows the 'locks closed' board up at Napton bottom lock.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Not going anywhere!

Ye gods have conspired against me!

I've just discovered that the Oxford canal is now closed and the red boards are up on the Thames! The Waterscape stoppages site records the following:

Stoppage: Navigation closedThe Oxford Canal is currently closed due to flooding.
There is widespread flooding on the Oxford Summit including Napton and Claydon and heading south towards Oxford.
Police have closed some schools and roads in Banbury.
All boats are advised not to cruise until the situation is brought back under control.
British Waterways have put control measures in place to manage the water.
We will advise users once the canal is safely navigable. (Enquiries: 01827 252000)
Looks like I'm staying put for the foreseable future and thi smay put paid to any visit to the K & A. Typical - all year, I've been looking forward to this trip and now it looks like the great British weather has thwarted me. I'll check in the morning and see if I can head off anywhere or not!

What the heck is going on!!??

My picture today is taken outside the marina entrance on Cathiron Lane! In fact, that IS Cathiron Lane!! Today it rained; and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained. Yet again school was flooded, this evening it took me over 45 minutes to get home as every road was flooded and even the lane leading to the marina is flooded in several places and I almost couldn't get up it.

School is finally finished and I am typing this with my dinner cooking and that lovely feeling of the next few weeks ahead of me. My brother is attempting to journey up to me as we speak and tomorrow we go. If anyone is anywhere near the Thames and can tell me what it's like between Oxford and Reading given the weather and floods I'd be very grateful.

This morning, Simba had his grooming and a jolly good job they did too! This afternoon he went into school with me and caused chaos melting the hearts of children and staff alike.

Still no BW licence! A very polite email from BW customer services but no licence disks. The posters are displayed to explain!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Still no licence!

Today I checked the post and still nothing from BW. Tomorrow is the deadline for recieving it and so I'm off now to type a couple of posters advertising BW's total incompetence as being the reason why my boat will be cruising all round the system for the next month displaying no valid licence. I am now extremely cross with BW and off to email them a blast, or should that be a howler? That reminds me - I must stop and get my copy of Harry Potter on Saturday.

Tomorrow evening my brother arrives with his dog and Saturday I leave - more news then....

Below is a copy of the wording on the poster now displayed in my windows!

This craft is fully licenced and the money has been taken from my account. More than one month prior to leaving for my cruise, I returned all completed paperwork to BW. I did not receive my licence in time due to the incompetence and lack of co-operation from British Waterways.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Boat for sale!

No, don't panic - I haven't gone and done something silly! Some good friends of mine have their boat NB Cygnus up for sale due to the completion of their brand new build. It's a lovely boat with some super extra features and at a very good price through ABNB- worth a look if you're looking for something new.

Today has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime and I have only just sat down at 9.30pm to type this! Another typical manic day at school. During this afternoons sports day my gazebo covering the PA equipment blew across the field much to the hilarity of the children and parents. Unfortunately one of the legs snapped. On the very first day I bought it the zip on the carry bag broke so I thought it was time to exchange it. A quick phone call to Argos confirmed they had one in stock so they reserved it for me to collect after school. Typically that was the one receipt I couldn't find so I spent a frantic half hour trying to find the bank statement with it on and finally made it to the shop with only 15 minutes spare. They couldn't find the reserved item and eventually put it down to human error! I had to upgrade to a different type but did 'fight' the manager for a big discount on it.

This evening I received an SOS from Tony Collins of the Coventry Canal Society to say they are tracking a man down who is currently out cruising in his 33 ft cabin cruiser and needs to contact his family immediately. Apparently he often moors outside the marina and so I walked over to see if he was there - he wasn't, so I drove down to All Oaks Wood to see if he was there - he wasn't, so I drove to Stretton Wharf to see if he was there - he wasn't, so I gave up and drove home! On the way home, I was driving through the woods at 9.30pm and met a lady on a very flighty horse. I stopped for her whilst she struggled to regain control of the horse whilst flapping her hands at me. Eventually she came alongside and I wound down the winder and asked her to explain why she was flapping at me to which she replied in a somewhat grumpy tone, "You have your headlights on and they're startling him!" Am I missing something here or does anyone else think that riding a scatty horse at 9.30 in the evening through dark woodland when it gets scared by car headlights is probably not the most sensible idea since the Sinclair C5!

I notice from WW this month that the 2008 licence fees are expected to rise by 10% plus inflation - the first impact of the DEFRA cuts. I'll drink to the new waterways minister- Jonathon Shaw, (but not whilst cruising of course!)

OK, for one brief moment I thought BW was efficient. Over a month ago I phoned BW to ask if it was possible to get an early licence application pack so that my boat was fully licenced BEFORE I leave to go cruising. "No problem" they said; it will be in the post first thing for you. It duly arrived and I returned it all by immediate return of post. Today I thought I ought to ring and check it as I hadn't received the licence. "Oh yes," they said, "it was posted out to you on Monday this week so you should get it soon." I explained that I was surprised to hear that they hadn't posted it out any earlier as I had especially requested an early renewal. the answer was emphatic, " Whilst it is our policy to send early renewal forms out, we don't process them any earlier as it would be unfair to other boaters to raise some people to the top of the pile" I begun to reason but quickly realised that this telephone assistant was clearly not intelligent enough to work out the idiosyncrasy of this policy - maybe someone from BW could explain??

Meanwhile, I wait and hope that it might arrive tomorrow or Friday; otherwise I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do all the way down and back. I may just display a poster in each window saying 'this boat is fully licenced but I am not displaying the disc due to BW's total incompetence - ask for more details!'

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Late again!

Story of my life!

I was informed by the good man at ABNB this morning that my dream boat as mentioned yesterday has already got a deposit on her - shucks! Probably good actually as I couldn't really afford the change and probably would have done something silly had I seen her 'in the flesh'.

Well today was sports day at school - well, it was supposed to be except it wasn't. I mean, the wind and gales wouldn't have stopped us, the rain certainly would have as it was lashing down and beating everything flat in its path, as for the hail - I have never seen anything like it in the midst of winter let alone in July. Returned home to find nothing at all left on my roof except 5 flower boxes full of very flat and snapped off green weeds. That's what it looks like as EVERY SINGLE bloom has been ripped out, torn to shreds and the little pieces flung all over the cabin roof. PLEASE can I have just a tiny little bit of sunshine in the next few weeks to enjoy and just one day of no rain or wind would be a bonus so that my flowers have the tiniest of fighting chances to look vaguely pretty!!

3 more days 'till I go. My brother and his dog, Tally, are arriving on Friday evening so that we can get off on Saturday. Hopefully, this blog will be updated daily, (or as near as,) with the exploits of that day.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lovely boat!

I have found my dream boat at last - the problem is that I don't have the money available to buy it!! Any offers of the loan of a shortfall of around 20-30K gratefully recieved!! Click here to see it. It ticks all the boxes for me, fixed double,vintage engine, lovely traditional back cabin, pump out toilet, solid fuel stove, Mikuni central heating, lounge seating, speed-wheel control etc etc. If I wasn't off on holiday this weekend, I would certainly go and visit and take a look and discuss it. Ah well, I guess they'll be more that will come along in the future.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Too quick!

Weekends seem to go so quick at the moment! I seem to have spent an eternity anticipating the summer holiday and now it's almost upon me - I just know it will be over too quickly!

Yet again, a very busy weekend sorting the boat for the holiday in a weeks time. Washed the carpets, hoovered, polished, scrubbed, shined, washed out the engine room, moved some ballast around to make it better trimmed etc. etc. A glorious day yesterday with the sun shining but we're paying for it today with significantly lower temperatures and now yet more rain. I have posted a picture above of the magnificent sunset last night. The picture was taken from the back deck of my boat, glass of wine in hand and looking towards my car!

I now have neighbours! NB Windrift has come in next to me. Actually, I know them anyway! I've met them several times in passing in the past and only just discovered that we have mutual friends through Mike and Liz on NB Snecklifter. They are only visiting for the week and will leave again on Friday - just as I get ready to go.

Another busy week will keep my mind pre-occupied! My Head at school has been signed of ill 'till the end of term, my class are getting excited about leaving primary school and moving on to 'big' school, the builders are due to start work to rennovate our front reception area and build me a new office, on Thursday I have a doctors appointment to check out my asthma and on Friday I have to sdrop Simba in to the grooming parlour at the end of my road at 8.00am and collect him at lunchtime.

I may well write another entry during the week but if I don't, the next entry will be when I'm on holiday and out - watch this space!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

BMF response to drink/boating laws

So, someone, somewhere has had to justify their existence yet again by producing totally unnecessary laws to restrict the great British public even more. I now see that from next year boaters will be under the same strict regulations as car drivers as regard alcohol limits despite not a single shred of evidence of boating accidents or fatalities accredited to drink! I wonder who is going to police this draconian measure - the lesser spotted lengthsman perhaps? BW can't even keep up to date with enforcing the laws already in place, let alone any new ones. Click here to read the BMF response to this.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Just catching up with Andrew Denny and his famous Granny Buttons blog and noticed his recent review of the Mortimer Bones Blog. I have followed Bones for some time on her blog as well as the CanalWorld forum and of most of the contributers, her writing was the most astute and interesting. I have now seen that she has been 'signed up' as a contributor to the newlook Canal Boat magazine. Bones is a regular reader of Simba's blog and has left many a comment for him! An excellent blog giving boating ramblings alongside interesting or humorous musings over matters such as a 10p coin! Well worth a read.

This has prompted me to update and add links to the other websites and blogs that I regularly follow, (thanks mostly to feedreader!) All, I heartily recommend and personally follow on a regular basis along with many others which I shall add soon. Andrew Denny recently reported to be following around 250 sites - I can't quite compete with that but the best of selected sites I follow, shall be added in the links on the right hand side.

Busy weekend!

A busy but satisfying weekend!

Having reported yesterday on the accomplished jobs in readiness for my holiday, I can add to the list today! This morning I went and got a pump out and diesel, returned home with a new tiller bar and handle! I then spent time trying to drill out the holes for the tiller pin and varnish the handle which is drying on my dining room table as I speak. My old tiller bar was very scratched and had a little too much play on the top of the swan neck, this one is tighter, more polished and slightly longer which means I can stand more comfortably in the back 'atch to steer.

I have also cleaned out all the brass runners where the hopper windows slot into as there was the beginnings of a mould accumulation in them. In addition, I've dusted down the outside of the boat and 'T-cutted' out some scratches as well as steam jetted the sinks to unblock the skin fittings and steam cleaned/defrosted my fridge!

Next week, I have all the inside jobs to do and the weather can do what it pleases. A glorious and sunny weekend but as I sit and type this, the rain is, once again, lashing down against the cratch. Whilst out today, I picke dup the latest, (August,) edition of Canal Boat magazine and I have to say that they have done an excellent job with the new look. Waterways World always used to be widely recognised as the market leader but I think Canal Boat could well be ahead now, (sorry Richard!) A collection of fascinating and well written articles, including an interesting response to a question regarding the old Brinklow arm where I am based on the Oxford Canal,) make the magazine a very good read - I just hope that the new plethora of personal columnists who they have enlisted, don't become too 'bitchy' and cynical as this will detract from it being a factual and informative publication for enthusiasts.

Anyway, the week ahead sees me meeting my new class for next year on Tuesday as well as taking our current year 6's toalocal high school for a rocket launching activity and a long hike on Friday - whose idea was it to take 100 11 year olds on a hike on Friday 13th July??!!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sometimes you just have to get in!

A good day today! Amazingly the sun was shining and it was a glorious day with only a gentle breeze and I managed to keep my shorts on all day. I have now completed all the mechanical preparation for my holiday. The batteries are topped up, (including the bow thruster one!) the tiller bearing was re-packed and tightened, the stern greaser re-filled, half a mile of someones mooring line unwrapped from the prop and the slack 'play' in the rudder from the tiller control has been (hopefully) eliminated or at least, reduced. As we have sloping pebble banks in the marina, it was a simple case of turning the boat round, donning the wetsuit and getting into the water~! Rather than have a simple welded rudder attachment method, Liverpool boats use a system of 3 bolts. The top and bottom one go right through the shaft and the rudder whilst the middle one clamps the rudder and shaft together by means of a locking nut and then a bolt to be tightened. Amazingly, the locking nut actually undid rather than having been corroded solid onto the shaft. Several times, I needed to tighten, loosen and then re-tighten the nut and bolt and have finally managed to tighten it all up as much as I can but am a bit worried that the bolts that go right through may have now worn out too large and that I may always have a bit of play until she comes out the water next time and I get a drop of weld put on to hold it all in place.

Jobs left now include all the inside ones - tidying, sorting etc etc.

Whilst on here my brother has asked if he can abuse my blog! Permission granted so here goes.

Have you ever cruised the Leeds and Liverpool in a 60 foot boat - what are your experiences? I know the stories - there is much debate and controversy as to whether this is possible and how easy it is but we now want first hand experiences to help inform some decisions! Even if you haven't, maybe you know someone who has who could email me with their experience. Email me at khayamanzi@ukcanal.org if you can help and I will forward them to big bro!

Friday, July 06, 2007

The only way to go boating!

A short entry this evening before I rush back to work to 'host' the year 6 leavers disco at school! A new boat has arrived in the marina this evening. Much talked about, I am pleased to see it and photograph it and document it here. NB Smine Too! For those not in the know, NB Smine Too tours complete with working beer pump fixed within arms reach of the helm. Serving chilled beers from the Black Sheep Brewery range, the barrels are tucked away with only a pipe convincing the onlooker that this is for real! I can prove it as I have now tasted the very good results from that tap. Apparently the inverter drives a flash cooler and the pump which dispenses a good chilled ale complete with head. Now this is one boat you really wouldn't mind getting behind in a very long lock queue at Fradley Junction!
I take my hat off to the owner and team who installed it. It did make me wonder why no-one has yet started up a floating and touring bar on board an NB!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Here we go again!

Another weekend and somehow they don't seem so anticipated when the weather is like this and the forecast is like it is. A quick search back on this blog shows that a year ago, temperatures soared to 30+ degrees and every weekend was spent cruising out. This year, summer just does NOT want to arrive. Tonight, I arrived home from work at around 7.30pm and dodged the rain to walk Simba whilst having to wear a fleece and my boots and breathing clouds of vapour from my mouth! Every evening, the central heating has had to go on and my flowers were a complete waste of time and money this year.

This weekend is another busy one with many jobs planned including piles of marking for school along with a list of 23 jobs on Khayamanzi to be done to begin preparing for my trip away in 2 weeks time, (actually 11 school days only!) There's cleaning and tidying and polishing and repairing and preparing to be done and an EXTREMELY over excited bunch of 11 yr olds to be contained somehow.

It's a worrying trend just how 'precious' our children are becoming. On the one hand, it seems to be easier in society for us to have children and then dump all responsibility of parenting them onto the state and on the other hand, more and more parents seriously believe that their child is perfect - they're always the ones that start a sentence with the words, ...."I know many parents believe their child is perfect Mr. Edwards and we're not one of those, but....." there follows a 30 minute harangue of how their child is perfect including, as was quoted at me recently, the words, "I'm sorry, but my child does not lie!" Find me the 11 yr old in the world that doesn't!!

We are just now beginning to reap the results of a previous generation brought up to learn that if you scream, shout and generally spit the dummy out the pram - you get your own way eventually. Some parents are teaching their children this powerful, but not helpful, lesson and as an educator, it grieves that I am powerless to counter this lesson as I am bound by so-called 'professionalism' which basically means don't do anything that might possibly upset a child or their parents. Now I wonder, what would the country be like if politicians and the police force had the same philosophy?

Sorry if all this sounds whinging - it is! I am emerging from a few weeks where we have been inspected by dozens of people who can't teach but leave me wondering who ever inspects to protect the rights of the teaching professionals, where I have spent disproportionate time to a single situation where a parent wants a public execution of other children for crimes their own child has committed and where staff are at home nursing injuries inflicted by a kicking and flailing 7 year old - oh! and we can't touch him in case we get sued, we just have to stand there taking the punches and attempt to talk and reason with him whilst the inspectors watch and tell us we're doing it wrong and then sit back and wait for the hours of paperwork and unsuccessful attempts at justifying when the parents complain that their child is being victimised by the school!

Would I recommend teaching asa career to others - you decide!!

Monday, July 02, 2007


On the main Khayamanzi website, I have added a database to collect examples of etiquette on the canals. It can be found by clicking on the 'communicate' tab in the navigation menu on the site. My reason for this mini campaign is outlined in the following quote from the site:

For anyone who has cruised the canals and inland waterways for any number of years as I have, the unmistakable fact of the gradual erosion of courtesy and friendliness cannot have gone unnoticed. As more and more people have taken to the waterways and decided to invest in a narrowboat, for whatever reason, it is a sad fact that the 'rush' and 'rudeness' of modern day life is rapidly entering the hitherto peaceful, friendly and tranquil canal system. I feel the time has come to compile a directory of etiquette before it disappears completely. Those unwritten rules of courtesy that help make the canal the place it was, and still should be. I hope that you will feel able to contribute to the directory and/or simply add your name and perhaps a comment to 'simply show your support'.

I would urge readers to contribute and, at the very least, feel able to sign to show your support.

Burglers and boats!

A great start to the week! Arrived in work this morning to discover that we had a major break in over the weekend. Lots of computer equipment was stolen from the Special Needs department along with projectors, laptops and digital cameras. Three rooms were broken into and one classroom was turned upside-down. It's worrying that such low life exists around about us and with whom we rub shoulders with on a daily basis totally unaware of their spurious evening and night time activities.

More heavy rain today ensured that my roads home were flooded and my flowers beaten down still more. The playground at school was flooded and for a brief moment, I was, once again stranded in my classroom. I am now sitting typing this entry with the wind howling round the boat and the temperature at only 13 degrees and falling rapidly.

My closest friends will know that my ultimate boating ambition has always been to own a trad. with a vintage engine thumping away. Recently, I have started browsing ApolloDuck and Boat finder at just such boats. Don't panic, I am not, (very sadly,) in a position to buy but it is good to look and dream. I could sell my boat for around 60,000 but would need to look at spending around 80,000 for the type of boat I want. Any donations of anything up to 20,000 can be sent to me at ..............

Anyway, my specification is as follows;
  • 60 foot length,
  • Fully traditional including boatmans cabin,
  • Vintage 2 cylinder - preferably RN or Kelvin,
  • Pump out toilet,
  • NOTa cross bed or bathroom!
  • Decent battery/inverter set-up or cacooned genset/travel-pack,
  • Solid fuel stove in saloon and also in boatmans,
  • Diesel central heating,
  • Good sized front cratch,
  • Nice, cosy interior fit-out of a high quality,
  • Portholes,
  • Ideally recessed name panels,
  • Top quality paint job,
  • Speedwheel controls

Basically - a real head-turner! If anyone knows of such a boat for sale - do let me know. I'm beginning to miss my vintage stationary engines and feel the need for some brass to lovingly polish at weekends!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Total washout!

What a weekend! It has simply not stopped raining! I'm officially beginning to get fed up with this and wondering if summer will ever arrive this year. I have posted a picture above of my flowers in July last year. The reallity of this year is very different as you can see below!
Most of my blooms have become shredded and beaten down with the wind and rain and those that are hanging on, are rotting on the plant! The weekend has been spent on lots of jobs; with only 3 weeks to go till my summer trip, I'm trying to get things sorted and done before I go. I still have another 2 weekends to go and much of them will have to be spent topping up batteries, cleaning, servicing etc. etc.

Looking at my diary and the next few weeks are somewhat mad at work with many evenings taken up with open evenings, concerts, discos and so on.