Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm connected!!

At last!!
Over a month from my first attempt, I finally have a BT line up and running! Got a phone call at 1.00 this afternoon from the engineer to tell me he was on site - my hopes got up and sure enough, when I returned home from work the phone was working. A phone call to Maggie not only told me my phone number, (email me if you want it!) but also a hard driven deal on my part was struck by way of compensation; I won't go into details but suffice to say, I won't be paying anything to BT until at least September 2008!!
Doesn't look a lot... but this little white wire connects me to the world!
One quick phone call later and Tiscali had a new customer for their 'free anytime phone calls and unlimited broadband with wireless router' package! This should arrive in 7-10 working days. Let's hope this all works OK now!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I woke up yesterday morning to the news of an earthquake that had been felt even as far as Rugby! Apparently everyone at school had been woken up by the rumblings and rattlings. That's one advantage of living afloat - I felt nothing but do vaguely remember hearing what I thought was a particularly loud train passing in the middle of the night. I guess the boat may have rocked a little more than normal but it certainly hasn't split the banks to any canal locally!!

Two more phone calls today with 'Maggie' from BT. The cabling is now complete and it is possible that the OpenReach engineer may come out tomorrow to activate my line. It's only a possibility as apparently when the order was placed it was flagged as 'bronze'. This means that the infrastructure is not yet in place. It now is and although the last order flagged as bronze, (twice,) and it still didn't stop an engineer turning up to activate a line that wasn't even installed, I would expect that on this occasion, when I actually want them to turn up and it's all ready for them - they probably won't!

Another weekend looms and I'm looking forward to meeting up with Derek and Sheila from (embryonic,) NB Clarence on Saturday evening.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BT update

This BT thing is even more fun than boating! I have a new hobby and it's called 'BT goading'! I have to say, I'm getting really quite good at it too. Got another phone call this morning from BT customer services confirming that my line activation was booked for Friday 29th February between 1.00pm and 6.00pm. I phoned 'Maggie' from the Chairman's office and she 'hoped' that this might happen depending on the cable layers. On arriving home, I got yet another letter from BT welcoming me to them and confirming that my line activation will take place on.....

.....Tuesday 26th February - I received the letter today, Wednesday 27th February!!

Apparently the cable layers have now finished the cabling for my pontoon and I have plugged a phone line into it in eager anticipation, (actually I wanted to check that it wasn't already live!) I shall phone Maggie again tomorrow and inform her that the cablers have finished and enquire about activation- oh, and the small matter of being told what my phone number is!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

BT - making progress.....

This morning I received a voice mail message from another BT customer service agent asking me if I could ring back and confirm if I wanted the order of a phone activation that is on his system! Needless to say, I didn't phone him back but phoned straight to the chairmans office who couldn't understand it but assured me things were happening and that in fact the cable layers were due on site today to run the final connections through. Amazingly when I returned home, I discovered that they had indeed been there and pulled the cables through and were due to complete it tomorrow. Who knows - maybe the line might be activated by the end of the week - it could be in theory, although they probably won't bother telling me when it is so I might wait for weeks only to discover it has been activated for weeks!!
It's nice to see the latest developments with NB Clarence. It's a good sign when little touches like mooring studs, rings and hatch hinges are being built - that's when a boat really starts to become personal and take on its character.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another weekend over.....

.........and another weekend nearer to my Easter cruise!!

I would like to think that this time next week, I might be reporting on an active phone line but I won't think too hard on that one!!

Managed to get across and pump out the loo tank this morning. Filled up with water, missed my diesel fill as I was at the show all day yesterday so I will need to get diesel urgently next weekend. I didn't get any more coal either this weekend but that will give me a chance to use some of the rubbish I have on the roof! Since discovering Stoveglow, the bags of Taybrite etc on my roof simply haven't been touched so I now have the chance to use some of that up. It would be good to think that the spring will be arriving soon and I might be able to shut the stove down at least during the daytimes. It was nice to watch two swans fighting over a female this afternoon - spring must be on the way.

My 'man flue' is slowly subsiding and has now simply left me with a VERY stuffy nose, sore throat and chesty cough. I am moving on from Nurofen Cold and Flue to Covonia cough balsam!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New arrival!

This morning, just as John and I were leaving for the boat show a BT Openreach van turned up! I went to speak to the engineer who told me his job was to activate the phone line today. A simple test, however, revealed one small problem - no wires connected the post! Am I missing something, (no but the post is!) or should BT have known this information from the start?? He phoned his manager who apparently was not happy and said he would personally look into it first think Monday morning. I have lost count of the number of BT employees who have told me they will "look personally into it..." and still wait for the next installment of the joke, sorry story!

Now to the boat show. Really quite disappointing from an inland canal point of view. Very few boats and the interesting chandlery bits had to be searched for between large floating plastic hulls and kayaks! Even so, it was an enjoyable and interesting day with many people spoken to, met and contacts made!!

Now to my new arrival. Meet Lenny!
Lenny is a young, male Leopard Gecko who now lives proudly in my old fish tank.
I used to keep lizards and snakes including a Green Iguana in a converted wardrobe and it seemed a good use of an old tank to start back up again with a small little critter. Don't worry, I have no plans to expand any more - just Lenny to keep Simba company on long lonely days!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Updates and weekend!

Since posting on here about my BT fiasco, I have been inundated by people who are fed up with BT and want the contact details of the top honcho! Here's the deal BT - for every day my line isn't active, I shall inform one more disgruntled person of the direct email for the CEO!! Get me sorted or be inundated as I have been.....

Now, the continuing story. A telephone call this morning from Maggie, the CEO's private secretary informed me that she was now taking this on personally. Apparently the bloke who turned up to activate 40 odd lines, needed to do something technical before the line can be activated. She was very apologetic that no-one had communicated this with anyone and actually thought that he might have been a technician from Fujitsu who have the contract for BT's computer bits: BT, Fujitsu, OpenReach - they're all the same to me!

Anyway, the upshot of it is they will need to arrange another time for the bloke to come and perform his black magic or whatever he needs to do before my line can be activated. As for line activation on the 29th - no chance, in fact there never would have been and so that adds to the list of 'confirmed' dates I have been given - I now have a collection of about 3 official letters from BT welcoming me to their services and confirming various dates for my line activation.

I have been told that Maggie will email me regular updates and that I am NOT to ring their customer services number at all as this will only confuse matters.

Oh, and by the way - would I please ask my father not to order any products on my behalf as they had about 8 orders for me on their system including several ordered in the name of my father. Very bizarre seeing as my father not only lives over 100 miles away but has absolutely no idea of any contact names/numbers or anything to order anything so someone somewhere has been simply making that up - the whole story gets more stupid by the second.

Write your own ending - think of the most crazy and rediculous thing they could possibly do, multiply it by 50 and you'll be half way towards the possible real solution....

Well,I am taking my mind of it tomorrow by attending the National Boat, Caravan and Outdoor show at the NEC. Never been there before so quite looking forward to it - another dent in the cards no doubt. If you're planning on attending and looking out for me as a break from my tradition - I won't be identifiably at this show by my characteristic green 'Khayamanzi' shirt or fleece - lookout for me wearing a classy dark blue 'Brinklow Marina' one instead and do say 'hi'!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

OK put your glass down - you'll spill it laughing

I must begin this evenign with the absolutely hillarious latest update with BT. As you know, I now have a hotline to the Chairman's office for complaints. I have daily been hounding 'Lyndsey' with the problem in order to keep it on the boil. This morning, I got a text through at 4.00am from BT automated confirmation system confirming that an appointment has been made for 27th February - AM to activate my phone line. Of course, I won't be around in the morning on 27th but I thought I would let them turn up anyway just to waste a bit of their money and make a point! At around 4.15pm I got a phone call from Lyndsey saying that she was pleased to confirm my appointment is on the system for the afternon of 29th February?? I questioned the text message and she had no idea where that came from as there was no record of that date on the computer but she guaranteed it for the afternoon of 29th. On my way home I spoke tomy father who informed me that somehow she had managed to get his phone number and had rung him this morning and started telling him the details until he realised the call was meant for me. It gets worse......
This evening I got back to the boat only to discover that a BT engineer had turned up today with instructions to install and activate 49 phone lines!!!!!! Needless to say, noone knew anything about it and he was sent away with a flea in his ear - apparently very unhappy!!
So the latest confirmed and guaranteed appointment is that BT may or may not turn up at some point between 27th and 29th February, either in the morning or the afternoon to activate any number of phone lines between 1 and 49 - good, that's that sorted then!!
I have posted a few more pictures of the ongoing build of NB Clarence. I have to say she is begining to look like a splendid ship.

On the personal front - I'm ill! I have struggled over the last few days to get through each day sniffling, shivering and sneezing. I can hear the 'man flue' jokes already. I have to say though, it is bad enough now for me to have put a supply teacher on standby for tomorrow!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


An enjoyable weekend to end half term! Managed yesterday to get most of the paperwork and school jobs done that I needed to and even a bit of housework! Last night, the temperature fell to -7 degrees according to my outdoor thermometer on the side of the boat! Clearly, the marina froze; the first time this year. The daytime weather has been glorious all weekend though and although chilly, the sun has shone from a clear blue sky.
The spring bulbs are beginning to bud and show real promise and even catkins are dropping into the canal from Willow trees. Today, John and I took the dogs up Sutton Cheney on the Ashby Canal and they tired themselves out running around and chasing each other.
Back to school tomorrow and routine again. My thoughts are now turning to Easter in 5 weeks time and I am beginning to think of somewhere nice and exciting to go in the boat for that time. I need to get out and go off for a cruise as although this week has been useful in getting boat jobs done, I badly miss 'stretching my wings'! Any suggestions of an 8-9 day trip over Easter is gratefully recieved. Hopefully they'll be some news on the BT front this week to report......

Friday, February 15, 2008

BT - from the rediculous to the sublime

OK, the next installment! This afternoon I returned to my mobile to discover a voice mail message from BT - not my contact at the chairmans office - just a customer service agent. They wanted to check that I did actually want 2 lines as they noticed there were 2 open orders on my account. I didn't phone them back but contacted good old Lyndsey who was despairing with them and told me she would get onto them on Monday and ring me back. Just one working line would be good. Despite diverting my mail to my school address, I received another 2 letters from BT at the wrong address. I queried this with Lyndsey too who told me that she thought it was that that was confusing them and so hasn't officially changed my billing address and won't do so until after the line is activated! I despair....

Spent the whole day in school today catching up with stuff, only leaving at around 6.00pm. I discovered that I have lost one of the keys to the y6 block at school so had to call out another teacher to lock it up for me - how embarassing! I did manage to set up a display, print off 200 pages of maths planning for next term, re-arrange and tidy up my classroom and analyse some test results for Y6.

The weekend is set to get very cold apparently - well minus five - six anyway! Apart from a pile of marking and the next book script that needs reading through - oh and the ironingand usual chores such as taking on water - I do plan to attempt a bit of a more relaxed weekend in readiness for Monday.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Flying time and the saga continues.....

......there it goes, oh - it's gone! The week, I mean - where has it gone; I need a holiday!! This morning I had to go and collect my bike from Halfords and popped into the T-Mobile shop in town. They can't replace my data card as it's out of warranty but could sell me a one hundred quid USB modem or even upgrade my package for fourty quid a month! On yer bike! I will simply not use it for he next couple of months by which time I hope BT have got organised and in the meantime I get an excellent 3G service via Orange and my mobile phone but can only access free data after 7.00pm!

I also got some wick for my oil lamp and the latest Canal Boat magazine to read this evening! This afternoon, I spent a very enjoyable few hours with Derekand Dot Canvin from NB Gypsy Rover. Several doughnuts later and we parted company for me to re-lag my exhaust with glass fibre webbing - another itchy arm tonight!

Now to the latest from BT. Spent an hour on the phone this morning to customer services who re-booked a new appointment for me on Friday 29th February between 4.00 and 6.00 to have my line activated. A few hours later I received a very polite phone call from a lady who was from the 'Chairman's Office' at BT. She took the details, apologised profusely and told me she would ring me back before 9.00 this evening with a way forward. An while later, she phoned again and told me it had taken over an hour to wade through it all and get to the bottom of it. Apparently, because there is already a business line in the marina their system should have flagged it up as not being possible to activate a line as one is already activated at that address. She said that the customer service agents should have noticed this on their screens. I told her that I now had been given a new date of the 29th to which she informed me that that date would never happen and it would have been impossible for the customer service agents to guarantee that - which they most certainly did and several times!! Had I not kicked up a fuss, I would have been waiting yet again on 29th and no engineer would have turned up. I now have her name and a direct line number to the Chairman's Office and her personal assurance that she would be my point of contact from now on until the issue has been resolved. She went on to say that she would ring Open Reach first thing in the morning and get them to contact me ASAP to arrange the final connection of the line. During the conversation she askedme which broadband package I wanted. I told her that I had now lost all confidence in BTto deliver a value for money service and that all I now wanted was for them to activate my line so that I can exercise my right to take my custom to another company - she replied, "leave it with me and we'll get this sorted." I wait with baited breath!!

Tomorrow, I really MUST go into school! I have data to analyse, displays to put up and a classroom to tidy up. How long until Easter??

PS. See Nev's comment on the previous post to see BT's consistence of poor customer service!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

BT - learn from Halfords!!

OK, I shall start this evening with some advice for BT - learn customer service from Halfords! Strange but true. I dropped my bike down to Halfords this afternoon for its free service to tighten up the cables etc. They were very apologetic and explained that as it was half term, they were very busy and I would have to leave it with them and collect it tomorrow. This evening I got as phone call from them saying it was done and ready for collection. I shall collect it tomorrow morning.
I did attempt to attack the bilge with a paint brush today. The results are as follows....
Not very impressive I agree but you have to trust me that it is a massive improvement from what it was.I have even included oil absorbent mats in the bilge to prevent any spillage contaminating the water.
An email from Derek and NB Clarence confirms progress is being made. Slow over the last 2 weeks by all accounts due to Jonathan Wilson being on holiday but progress is clearly being made and the overall shape is beginning to show some stunning lines.
This afternoon saw me allow myself the little luxury of a long canoe! Another glorious day weatherwise and a very enjoyable canoe. Tomorrow, I need to go into school. It's hard to believe that the week is almost over - I can't remember such a busy week..... ever!
Maybe I'll chill out, relax and read a book or magazine for a while before the week's out!

****STOP PRESS****
A phone call from Derek and Dot Canvin this evening on NB Gypsy Rover confirms that they are near me in the Rugby area. Tomorrow, they plan to cruise up to a bridge near me, (not a bridge too far!) and we plan to meet up for coffee. I'm really looking forward to this, not least of all as it gives me the perfect excuse not to be able to go into school tomorrow either!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Do you ever start something and then regret it? I did today. Yesterday was a superb day that went very well, today went well but not as smoothly! I started the day by gutting the engine room, climbing in and attempting to clean the bilge - what a job! It took around 5-6 hours and even then I haven't cleaned it to the level I would have liked. Most of it looks cleaner but the floor still has a large amount of flaked paint, oil and grime over it. The plan was to clean it today and then paint it tomorrow but that is not going to happen; partly due to the factthat it isn't really clean enough and partly due tot he fact that I needed to put it all back together again as I didn't have any water until the washing machine was plumbed back in again!

I did finish off the bedroom and am very pleased with the effect.

Even Simba seems to like it!

Still on the subject of bilge.....

I got an email from BT apologising for the cock-up yesterday and informing me that they notice it has been re-booked for 26th February. That was news to me! No-one had cleared that date with me and as it's a school day it simply isn't possible. It just made me even more angry with them and I was extremely rude in turning down their derisory thirty three pound offer! I am still going for the full install fee being waived and will push for this all the way.....

Monday, February 11, 2008

Busy, busy and BT!!

I will start this evening with a very public thank you to Steve and Julia for an amazing afternoon and evening yesterday and the most mouth watering roast dinner you could imagine. I never knew that Gloucester Old Spot tasted so good and I promise to have a roll a day from now on!!....
Generally a good day today with regard to jobs. Woke up this morning to a glorious sun rise. As my promised BT engineer hadn't arrived by about 9.00, I pinned a notice on the gate and popped into Rugby to get some bits for the boat so that I could make good use of the time. Arrived back home and replaced my bathroom and kitchen roller blinds that had squashed one fly too many for my liking!
I then took away the aweful blind from the saloon and replaced it with a lovely curtain on a wooden pole rail.
Tomorrow,I need to finish it off by some fastening to stop it blowing anywhere near the stove!
By 1.00, the BT engineer hadn't arrived so I phoned. I was promised he was on his way and would arrive before 2.00. By 2.00 - no BT engineer so I phoned again and was told that the call had been cancelled due to a "technical reason" - whatever that is!! Needless to say I hit the roof and all the little Indian chap could say was what was written on his screen that I had to re-book a new call. I eventually got through to someone who I could hold a conversation with in English who was extremely helpful and informed me that BT had no right to book the call in the first place as it was Open Reach who dealt with initiating a new line and that even the phone number I had been given couldn't be guaranteed to be mine as Open Reach deal with all that!! I hit the roof again and have now started proceedings to get the one hundred and twenty four pounds line install fee waived as I have wasted the day and given out my phone number to people with instructions to use it from today. I now have to wait until Open Reach contact me and re-book the engineer. Utterly appalling and it has totally confirmed in my mind that BT are going to do nothing now except to activate my line. I will then transfer all my calls and internet over to Tiscali. I strongly recommend anyone who wants a fair and efficient service does likewise!
I was given some lovely table legs the other day by a fellow boater for me to burn. They look far too good to burn so I have fastened them together with dowel and wood glue and made a post for my bed - I now sleep in a one poster bed!!
Tomorrow, I hope the glue will have dried clear and I will use the second curtain from the pair I bought for the saloon, together with a matching valence, to 'embelish' round the top of the bed and the post. I'll post a picture if it works!!
I also bought some de-greaser and bilge paint and can't put it off any longer. I need to climb into the bilge tomorrow and get extremely mucky and wet cleaning it all so that I can then pain tthe bilge, I'll just pretend all those rust patches are BT engineers - that get the job done quickly!!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A good, (but very expensive,) day!

WOW! What an amazing day weather-wise. A glorious blue sky, bright spring sun and very warm temperatures. At one point my car was telling me it was 13.5 degrees outside; you have to keep reminding yourself we are still at the beginning of February. Just the weather I want to be off cruising at the start of a half term, unfortunately this is just not possible right now. Got a phone call at 9.00 this morning to ask if I still wanted my car booked in for a service as they hadn't seen me yet - I 'politely' informed them that the car had been waiting on their fore-court since the previous evening. The final bill ended up at around four hundred pounds as it needed new brake pads and discs. It also had 2 illegal tyres but they didn't have them in stock so a further trip to Kwik Fit was needed and anopther two hundred quid to get them sorted - ouch!

I also bought a telephone ready for my land line to be fitted on Monday - now I have to work it out!

I love trees! and this one at the bottom of the marina is pretty amazing all year but even more so when there is a beautiful sunset on a warm evening.

With no wind this evening, my water feature on the front locker looks lovely. I have posted a picture showing the mysterious mist wafting across the alpine garden.
Tomorrow, I plan to meet up with Steve and Julia on NB Even Balance to catch up. Looking forward to it as it seems ages since we last met. I would prefer it if I could meet them by boat but as I have to be back by 8.00am on Monday to meet Mr. BT engineer - it just isn't possible, I will have to put up with trudging along the towpath to find them somewhere around Braunston!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Finally....., not half term; just being able to sit down this evening! I actually don't want half term - it's too early. None of the staff feel quite ground into the ground enough yet for a break. 5 weeks is nothing like enough before having a break; it seems crazy that Local Authorities can't get their act together and sort these daft flexible holidays out. Ah well, the plan is to spend much of it in school anyway this time as I have a lot to do and it's aweful that having no children around allows me the chance to catch up with mindless beaurocracy unhindered by the very people who are the reason for the job in the first place!

This evening I got home from work at around 6.30, walked the dog and fed him, started hoovering and the belt snapped. I opened it up to check it and it spat all the contents all over the floor. I then went to take the car into the garage for its, (I expect very expensive,) service tomorrow. John kindly collected me and brought me home. I had a shower, did 2 loads of washing and hung it up, cooked dinner and am now allowing myself the luxury of sitting down for a couple of hours.

The plan tomorrow is to collect the car at some point, sort out the hoover and visit Rugby to buy a telephone ready for Monday!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tasty and itchy fingers!

OK - a good weekend generally! A gusty wind kept us on our toes today and event hough the temperature didn't rise above 6 degrees, the wind chill felt much, much lower. This morning I managed to wash the car and hoover it inside ready for the service next week. It actually scrubs up quite weel and now looks like this....
This afternoon, John and I popped up the garden centre. Since replanting the primulas in my water barrel at the front, they really haven't liked life much and look a bit forlorn. I decided to turn the barrel into an Alpine garden, (sort of,) I have to say it looks much better and should last the whole year round and the plants hopefully will spread out given time.
On the way back, we notice the narrow shop, who also run their own blog, moored at All Oaks car park. We simply had to stop and say hi and ended up getting some lovely jam to go with the fresh crusty bread from the garden centre!
The fresh food from passing shop boats, village stores and canalside farm shops has to be one of the highlights of boat dwelling!
Ah well, another week ahead but the last one before half term so can't complain.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


This morning - a coal run! John beat me to Rose Narrowboats and discovered the last few bags of StoveGlow left so kindly saved me the last 4 bags! I topped up the diesel tank and headed off to Halfords to change my bike light. Apparently they have had several problems with them doing much the same as mine and the first 3 he took off the shelf to swap were all also faulty so I got an upgrade to a different make. On to Homebase to get an angle grinder and some discs. A very useful tool and mine that I used to have seemed to have gone AWOL somewhere. The plan is, to cut off the bottom of the chimney at some point so that it fits tighter.
On to a new 'workwear' shop that John had discovered and I ended up buying a new 'body warmer' for wearing round and about!
My father turned up at around mid-day en route to meetings further north so it was nice to catch up and he walked along the towpath with Simba while I canoed along the cut - jolly cold but felt good!
A lovely shot of me returning in the marina and back to Khayamanzi as the evenign sun sets.
An email from Don on Bute confirmed that there is, indeed, plenty of snow in the land of the Whisky and haggis and this lovely picture he sent proves it:
Next week, the car is booked in for it's annual service - more expense! It had to be at the garage by 8.30am so tomorrow is the last chance for a thorough clean prior to the service. I always have this theory that they think, 'if he can't be bothered to look after his car then neither will we,' so I like to send it in looking clean and well kept!
This is the last week before I break up for half term, ('he's only just gone back,' I hear you cry and actually agree!) No cruise plans for this half term for the first time ever! The marina is so lovely that I can quite happily stay in and work on the boat without feeling guilty so that's what I'm going to do. Car service Saturday, BT line installed Monday then into work for some of the week to catch up with bits and pieces that need doing as well as several boat jobs all depending on what I feel like doing and the weather! Several rust patches need nocking on the head before they get too bad, the engine bay and bilge needs a thorough clean out, de-grease, wash and paint, the front gas locker needs rubbing down and re-painting etc etc. I'll just see how many I get done!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Another weekend!

Here we are again at another weekend. Today we actually got a few flakes of snow for a short while - quite exciting but I bet Don is laughing at us right now out there on Bute! It really hasn't felt like winter yet this year and any cold snap is quite a shock to the system, (cold being around 2 degrees Don!)

Tomorrow my father is stopping by on his way north so it should be good to see him all be it briefly. Quite a bit of school work to do this weekend but also need to re-stock with coal and diesel. A little trip to Halfords also needed to re-place a faulty back light on my bike! I also want to get a small angle grinder to cut off my chimney to the right size. Not much else to report really! I have booked tickets to the outdoor camping, caravanning and boat show for February at the NEC. I plan to go with John and have never been so I'm really quite looking forward to it.