Saturday, January 31, 2009

I have the power!

No, sadly not a reflection of my ongoing battle with Warwickshire County Council to prevent funds being cut!
I have power to the railway shed! In between marina jobs and chasing escaping sheep back into their field, I have managed to run a pipe across the road in a trench and wire up the plugs to get electricity into the shed. The shed has a 32amp large connector on the outside and I have made a short section of cable to step it down to a sensible 16amp plug. The cable running through the pipe under the road conects to that.
The only thing left to tell of my task is a slight ruffle on the stones across the road where I dug, chisel and hacked my trench!
It was like chiselling through solid rock and took me the best part of several hours to get it done! The plugs work, the lights work and the heater did work for a few minutes before deciding it didn't like life! Tomorrow, I now need to go to Homebase and find a new wall mounted heater which is cheaper to run than my big fan heater.
I've also painted the ceiling with white emulsion so it looks smart and also enables me to check if there are any leaks still outstanding.
Note the light on just to prove it to all those friends of mine who don't believe I can tackle anything even remotely DIY orientated!
The final task was to wash and scrub the floor in an attempt to remove years of builders mud that had accumulated - doesn't it look smart!
Once a new heater is installed tomorrow, it should be ready for the base board to built at half term!
Now - the weather. The BBC site has downgraded the heavy snow to light snow but the TV forecast still forecasts 'a significant snow event' whatever one of them is? Why does everything have to be wrapped in jargon designed to impress now-adays??
Oh well, I'm off to have a homosapien cleansing event before partaking of a nutrition intake event.
Good bye!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Please help!

As a general rule, I try to avoid too much school and education chat on here except in very general terms but tonight is an exception for a very particular reason - I need your help!

Environmental issues has been at the front of the national agenda for years and schools are supposed to be sustainable by 2020. For a few years now, Warwickshire County Council has supported the funding for a national awards scheme called 'Eco-Schools'. They have also funded a full time sustainable schools officer who has provided valuable advice and support. I learnt this week that Warwickshire in their wisdom now feel that the environment is no longer important and they plan to vote at cabinet next week to withdrawal ALL funding for sustainable projects. This can't happen!!
Please go to the site specially set up and leave a comment to express your support for environmental issues to remain a high priority in the funding of Warwickshire. I need everyone's support - not just those in education so please help!

Now to the news - I have the required plugs and cable to 'power up' the railway shed tomorrow as well as a tin of emulsion and a big brush! The forecast for Monday and Tuesday shows this...

....and the wording underneath says 'Heavy snow' - we'll see!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another week!

Well here we are in the midst of a new week! Boy time flies. I was prompted to update this blog by a copper bottom saucepan!
Sunday was another good day - went over to Steve & Julie for the day. Boy she is a good cook! An amazing meal but that's not the copper bottom saucepan issue. As well as getting a cracking dinner, I was invited over for a secondary purpose. Readers of the K2 blog may have noticed that Steve is attempting to 'slim down' the stored mass in his lockup. I was there to help this mission! Not only did I come back home with a new set of speakers on loan to the school together with cables, stands etc. but I also gained a few personal items - the best of which is a fantastic set of copper bottomed saucepans! The handles of my old set were wobbly and the bottoms were black. These things cook amazingly and are so quick!

Well, tomorrow I have a course which is in a posh hotel just up the road so a lay-in is in order!

I'm starting to collect bits ready for the great railway project build of half term! I now have 'Mod-Roc', Cellotex on order, paints and PVA glue. I'm now contemplating the possibility of fitting in more lays of track in to allow for expanding possibilities - only when we see the base board down will I really be able to answer this.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A good day!

Work cracked on apace today. Sorry for the quality of the picture but it was taken on Andy's phone camera!

Andy, my mate and neighbour from Trinity who is now here at Brinklow wandered up this afternoon when I started attacking the railway shed. Hi help was so valuable and we got a lot done by the time the sun was setting and the temperature rapidly dropping.

So what has been achieved. We have cleared out the shed completely and swept it down. Dismantled a workbench which is to be used elsewhere, dismantled a water heater, sink and draining board and removed dozens of workmans pins and staples from the walls! A long coat hook strip has been taken down and the entire roof has been sealed all round the edge; above and below the metal flashing that holds it down. The next priority is the electrics and then white emulsion the ceiling to freshen it up on the assumption that it doesn't still leak!

Already the project is generating quite a bit of excitement round here with a constant stream of well wishers and interested people visiting during the day. I could have booked almost all of 2009 in 15 minute slots of people who wish to come and 'play' when we're up and running. I hate the disappointed looks on peoples faces when I explain that this is very much a long term project and not to expect anything amazing in the next few weeks!!

No work tomorrow as I am off to have lunch with Steve and Julie. Not on K2 this time but I have to go to one of those funny things they call 'houses'!

The plan is to go up to them with a truck full of coal, have a good hearty lunch, return back with a truck full of bits from his lockup that I may want at school and be back home in time for 'Wild at Heart' and a bottle of wine at 8.30!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Initial plans!

So another weekend looms and more rain and wind is on the cards - oh great! Weather permitting, I plan to start sorting out, tidying up etc. the railway shed. The roof needs sealing, it needs cleaning out and tidying up, the ceiling needs painting white to freshen it up, the electrics need checking, a cable needs running out to plug it in, a work becnh/water heater and sink unit needs removing........

Well here is an initital plan of the layout....

It might need downloading to see it clearer!
The main feature is that I want to contour a large part to make it more 3D with hills and mountainous woodland areas and a large section of track at a higher level than the base board. Comments welcome!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Too much to see!

Woke up this morning and the wind was beginnign to get up although the sky was a beautiful blue with a bright sun shining. Did the usual Saturday morning chores such as ironing, taking on water etc. and then ventured forth for a pump out - interesting in the wind but I managed without hitting anything. My father then arrived and we went to check out the railway shed to make sure that the roof was up to the job of 'project 2009'! It seems to be well fibre glassed on the top and we think that a good all weather sealant round the edge should make sure but it was good news.
We then set off to the NAC at Stoneleigh where the Leamington and Warwick model railway society were hosting their annual exhibition. Wow! Over 50 layouts and trade stands meant so much too see with modelling skill that would silence the hardest of cinics and convert the most anti of critics. Scenes such as this amazing canal diorama....
Chatting to people and stands meant I have learnt such a lot - new skills and ways to do things that weren't heard of 15 years ago when I was modelling! I have made more decisions though! Peco track and pre-built resin buildings, (as opposed to the card kits that I used to build,) and more of a 'mix n match' scene than a specific location. I will still base it on LMS but may well run GWR and early BR stock alongside. There is so much that I have seen that I like and want to incorporate into my layout that it would be virtually impossible to focus wholly on one little place - sorry purists but this layout will be 'my world'!
One member of staff wanted to change my 'Deputy Head' sign on my office door to 'The Fat Controller' on Friday and on handing the office staff a spare padded envelope I was asked, "are you sure you don't want to keep it - to put your anorak in?" Why do I stand for it!
I'll leave you with some more amazing scenes from various layouts today.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

So what's the news?

Not a lot really!

Quite a lazy weekend all in all and well needed to in order to gradually ease myself back into the routines of school life.

Yesterday I went to visit a couple of model railway shops that included the amazing Castle Trains in Warwick. They were so helpful and what an Alladin's cave of a shop! Not only did they take the time to answer all my questions, they have also demonstrated, (not to mention convinced me that it's the way to go,) a digital DCC control system. I'm now convinced.
I also really want to get a DCC sound enabled locomotive but currently by Hornby, this is the only one they do.

Search on youtube for DCC sound and see for yourself!

My bike is now SOLD and the first £150 is in the pot for the railway fund!

Now, talking of livery - I'm moving away from GWR in my thinking! My previous layout was very much GWR, (Great Western Railway,) and so I had just assumed that I would go down the same route but research is persuading me otherwise. Firstly I love the maroon livery of LMS, (London, Midland, Scottish), secondly it has very strong canal links with LMS buying and owning many canals, thirdly it is of the same era - pre war 1930's end of steam period which I like, fourthly it was on eof the longest and largest geographical canal networks and so widens my options of location to base it on and finally it links my previous residential location of London, my current location of the Midlands, (I have no future plans to move to Scotland whatsoever but hey, no analogy is perfect.)

Sorry if my boating friends find all this very boring but hey, those I lose from the boating world I might gain from the modelling world and I have always said that this blog's primary aim is to record my life and interests - others are welcome to eavesdrop if they wish!

Thursday, January 08, 2009


In the best tradition of blogging and to further aid the reproduction of blogging news, I have stolen 2 ideas from other blogs this evening!
Firstly, from Granny Buttons comes the encouragement to sign up with a new UK waterways blog ranking system! For some time now I have subscribed to the US ranking system that so many waterway sites proudly boast but removed the link as I found the constant attitude of 'look at me, I'm now ranked 356 instead of 355' very irritating, (actually I was probably jealous because I never got higher than 356!) Well I have reinstated this one and installed the UK one for interest.
The second 'theft' of ideas was prompted by Nev on his blog. He displayed some lovely pictures in light of the collapse of Wedgwood and it reminded me of some pictures taken in the summer of 2005 on our way to the Llangollen. We set off early as I recall, to get through Stoke before the hoodlams awoke!
and passed by the Wedgwood plant as the sun was rising through the early morning mist.

The first week back at school is taking its toll and I am very much ready for the weekend! I hope to be able to travel across for a pump-out this weekend and have the same job to do for another boat whose owners were unable to do it themselves due to the ice and who have now left for sunnier climes. I also hope to visit a couple of railway model shops to establish who should get any of my future custom. A shop named 'Joto' in Rugby, (although this doean't seem a very comprehensive shop - I'm always dubious of any business that doesn't have a website in this comptetitive day and age,) and Castle trains in Warwick which looks good! I also have a lot of 'book' work to do as the series editor is 'champing at the bit' for the next draft!!

Monday, January 05, 2009


Only one year old and hardly used Carrera Vulcan mountain bike. Although the advert on this page call it a 'ladies bike' you will notice it is exactly the same as the 'mens bike' below except the colour! Complete with light weight helmet, LED front and rear lights and a cycle computer all installed and ready to go. Absolute A1 condition but not used and I need the money to start 'Project 2009'!! Front and rear wheels have quick release so the whole thing packs small - ideal for boats.

..... £150 only!

Contact me on 07976 409415 or email me at if interested.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Project 2009!

This year I have made a health related new years resolution - I'm going to sell every bit of health related equipment I own to fund what I have affectionately called 'Project 2009'. Project 2009 is a new and exciting development and bloggers here will be able to follow every step along the way. OK, enough hype - just what is Project 2009?

Many years ago in a previous life, before moving aboard Khayamanzi, I used to escape to a little village in my garage. Here it is....

It consisted of schools, churches, pubs, housing estates, shops, parks, street lights, lights in the houses and the most important part - an OO guage GWR 1930's based railway layout. Here is part of it from above...

When I moved away from terra firma and entered the restricted world of narrowboat dwelling, my pride and joy had to go and was dismantled and sold/given to local enthusiasts. Boy have I missed it!?

Enter Project 2009!

I have very kindly been given the use of this...

Now I know it doesn't look much: in fact it was destined to be scrapped before being given a reprieve! The door needs replacing, the roof needs some attention to ensure it is 100% waterproof and the electrics need testing but I hope it will gradually morph into 'The Railway Shed'! Brinklow may yet boast its very own model railway enthusiasts hideaway and in my experience most boaters also have passions in motorbikes, vintage/traction/stationary engines or steam trains!

Actually, there is a surprising amount of space inside..

Once tidied up and cleared out, plans are already under way for the base board which will include a viaduct/tunnel combi. as well as sidings/goods yards and a mainline for the express train to trundle round.

This is planned to be a long term project which will start in 2009 and complete when I die or sooner if barriers are encountered! Stage 1 begins February half term, (traditionally I don't go boating that half term anyway,) and includes clearing out the cabin, suring up the roof, testing electrics, cleaning it all, carpeting it, installing the base board and setting up the basic track in order to run a simple goods train and some rolling stock - watch this space but if there are any enthusiasts who read this and wish to donate/sell anything - do get in touch!!

Edwards recovery now open for business!

Just completed my 3rd callout for vehicles in ditches this winter and am beginning to think this could be a lucrative business!

The ice on the marina now stands at over an inch thick and one poor goose, (poor due to how it died not the fact that it was a goose and so died!) was frozen into the ice overnight and killed. The temperature hasn't risen above freezing all day and fluctuated between -3 and 0. Over night it got down to -5.8 degrees! The mother in law of one of our boaters managed to get their car well and truely stuck in thick mud this afternoon up some farm track that led only to a barn! I was up to the running boards in it and dragged the truck through the bushes and undergrowth to get her out. I have now ordered one of these...
....but would really like one of these...
Ah well, I'm going to throw another block of peat on the stove, open a bottle of wine and check the pork chops!

Tomorrow - back to work!

Saturday, January 03, 2009


So at 5.00pm we set off to London to celebrate the new year. We decided to see if there were any standby tickets for any shows and quickly discovered that most of the shows did not have a 7.30 performance... except Oliver! and they just possibly had tickets to sell. A half hour queue saw us with 2 top class and best seats tickets in our hand. An awesome show, made even better by the fact that we were with a crazy couple of French people who had the most amazing sense of humour!
The end of the show saw us scuttling our way, (or rather pushing and squeezing our way,) down to the north bank of the Thames by Cleopatra's needle to watch the festivities unfold before us. Brilliantly organised except the journey home! (Picture not mine sadly!)
The journey home took us north before going south and crossing the river several times, eventually arriving back at around 3.00am new years day!
A stiff walk was needed on new years day so we set off to explore parts of the Wey & Arun canal as yet not explored. This is a project we are following and supporting as it is not only brilliantly organised and run but well under way to re-opening a beautiful stretch of canal. I just seriously hope it doesn't end up the same way as the K&A with local authority housing associations buying boats as a cheap way to get rid of problems ands reduce targets!
Not only did we follow a 6 lock flight but also discovered the half way mile marker!
Friday and I drove back home to sort everythingout and I have only just got round to updating blogs, replying to emails etc etc.
Monday - back to work but let's not go there yet!