Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Germany, graduation and hot Rayburns

A Rayburn, yesterday

Several weeks ago I was told that it was time to light the Rayburn (these decisions are never mine) and we instantly regretted it. It's certainly no fault of the range, the boat or the economic climate but the weather changed and didn't inform us. The end of the week was a little chilly and we thought the writing was on the wall. This was re-enforced with the BBC forecast so it was lit on Saturday evening and nice and toasty it all became. Sunday dawned and we were back to tee shirts in the open air and sweltering in the boat with all hatches open. You really can't win. It's just one of those decisions you can never get exactly right although we won't be complaining when it gets to minus twelve again.

During the summer, our daughter Terri graduated from East 15 Acting School, picked up her Equity card and has got herself a contract with an English touring theater company in Germany for eleven months (or was it a traveling circus, I never remember). It seems like a good, well paid job for a new graduate and she is very happy about it. And so are we. We visited her place of work (despite her objections) and to that end popped over to Germany at half term to see her (some unheard of small town in southern Germany... although probably not unheard of by the locals). We had a wonderful time drinking German and Belgian beer and I believe, so I am told, we saw Terri as well.

Just what the world needs, another actor
Talking of the graduation ceremony, we had a wonderful time in July (that's goin' back a bit) at that famous seat of learning, The University of Essex. It was Terri's first time at the university as they don't normally let the acting students onto the campus grounds and insist they have their own campus well away from the academic students. It all seems very sensible if you ask me.

Two understated new actors, Terri and Tressa (friend)
Terri and her friends made us all feel very welcome. I didn't have the heart to tell her that that was probably the last time that she would ever see 90% of them, although that is not necessarily the case these days with the advent of the interweb and Facebook etc.

I don't think I've ever seen anyone I graduated with again (except Lisa that is). Although this could have been a conscious decision on their part rather than an unconscious decision on mine?

I've even had my first potential client approach me for when we open our accountancy business next September or maybe they just give me their email address to get rid of me. At least one name is on the mailing list.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A change in direction, possibly.

I feel like I need a new direction in life and to that end, I am researching a new career. Bow making fascinated me for years but lately I have not been as interested nor as active on that front and no one wants to pay for workmanship (well not mine anyway). I think that I need something to keep my brain active and not just my hands. This sounds extremely boring, but I fancy something steady and safe, interesting, challenging and stimulating. I'm seriously looking at accountancy but initially, bookkeeping (I know, I know). Lisa planted the seed in my head some time ago (she has a habit of doing that) and left me to make my 'own' decision.

I have had a interesting and varied working life (Lisa would say a non-working life), paratrooper, parachute instructor, motorcycle instructor, university student, lecturer, longbow maker, campsite manager and owner amongst others (and some rather dodgy jobs that are probably best forgotten, or at least ignored). Accountancy is something I can do from the boat (that's the boat reference for this post). To this end I have started a course in bookkeeping and very interesting it all is. I should finish all three levels this year then start the accountants bit for another year or so.

We'll see how it all pans out. Just send me all your receipts to practice on.

You can trust me. I'm an accountant!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Another life saved

I hauled a lady from the canal he other day but it wasn't half as exciting as it sounds and there was absolutely no heroism involved, unfortunately. I really would like to be a hero just once. I was on the way to the water point at the terminus of the Ashby when I bumped into someone familiar and stopped the boat to have a chat. On leaving, they told me that the other boat in front of me was captained by a bit of a faffer (someone who faffs around, ie not getting the job done in a timely manner). I then fell in behind them with this in my mind. At the water point he winded and seemed to moor up in the winding hole so I passed to fill with H2O thinking that he'll be faffing around.

Hose out, cap off and start to fill when said faffer arrived and announced that he thought that it was customary for the first to arrive to get to fill up first. I said he was absolutely right but that I didn't know his intentions, to take my hose off and fill his own tank. He decided not to and did some more faffing about. I saw out of the corner of my eye his wife was shooing Sam away from sniffing her mooring lines (can't imagine what the problem was there). I remember thinking at the time, 'faffers and dog haters'.

About twenty seconds later I heard another boater shouting that someone had fallen in the water. I ran back to faffer's boat and found it was his wife who had fallen in. She was looking a little bedraggled and shocked as her husband was holding onto her by the scruff of her neck. We each took an arm and hauled her out and a sorrier sight would be difficult to imagine. By this time others had arrived and I left the scene (I don't do after-incident consolation).

After the tank was full I reversed out of the water point and asked if she was ok but he wanted someone to blame and told me that if I hadn't have jumped in front of him it wouldn't have happened. Well, I wasn't to blame and told him so. He did however thank me.

Was I wrong to jump in front just because I had heard he was a faffer from a third party? On reflection, I probably was. I  don't usually take any notice of what anyone else says but, on this occasion, I did. It just goes to show that the vast majority of incidents on the canals are communication related (don't try to jump onto a boat that is not on the bank).

So what's the moral of all this and what's to be learnt. Why did the lady fall in the water after shooing Sam away from her lines? Did Sam have something to do with this? Is Sam a wizard dog who can make accidents happen to those who cross her? I'll endeavor to be nicer to the dog in future, just in case.

But I probably won't be any nicer to faffers.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Back on the Ashby

I arrived at the bottom lock and was dismayed to find eight boats waiting before me at 8 30 in the morning. Oh dear. I thought I would have been in good time to avoid this. The boat towing a hulk in the queue didn't help, neither did the sole, one armed boater, the crew member with learning difficulties and the limping stroke victim. Hmmm! This may take some time. And it did. Eventually got to the top lock in seven hours.  This would normally be a three hour trip if I'm by myself with no-one helping me.

There's just too many people on the water in the summer months. Can't wait for the winter when it's only us liveaboard scum abusing the system and getting all those facilities without paying for them. Amazing that when you use the facilities in the summer, you're utilizing your licence but when you use them in winter, you're a freeloading scumbag.

Parked outside The Anchor pub between Atherstone and Nuneaton to await Lisa. The Anchor used to do a good line in real ales but seemingly it is now under new management and real ale is no longer important to the business. You leave a country for three months and the whole place goes to rack and ruin. How difficult can it be just to keep some beers in the barrels.

What's happened to Nuneaton. Every single person on the towpath acknowledged me and nodded, waved, said 'good morning' or winked (not sure about the winking thing), the lads on the mini-motos, the fishermen, the drunks, the tramps, the shell suit wearing scronks; everybody. Are the all on drugs? Probably I'll have what they're on.

It looks like soooooo much fun, doesn't it?
Tractors 'an all
Boats as well

We finally made it to the site of the Shakerstone Family Festival and joined the back of the queue of the moorers. Met a few familiar faces and joined the throng at the pub. Real ale at last. A good night was had by both of us.

We are well and truely established on the Ashby Canal again where we belong.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Atherstone Flight, hello.

I am currently at he bottom lock on the Atherstone flight and the original plan was to make the Shakerstone Family Festival this weekend but this is now looking highly unlikely. The water conservation measures imposed by BW are now in effect and they are opening and locking the top and bottom locks at 0830 and midday. This means that there are very few boats in any of the pounds between the top and bottom locks so when they open them in the mornings, there is nobody to come through and the lock has to be emptied without a boat coming through. In fact if the top and bottom locks are opened at eight, we will all meet in the middle before there will be any one up, one down operations. Is this really conserving water or am I an idiot (no, don't answer that).

Lock queue (ok, I know it's not very big 'oh arrh missus')

I really have no idea how Lisa will find me at Atherstone Bottom Lock when she finishes work if I can't get at least half way up as the sat nav's not working. I'm sure it'll all work itself out. Or Lisa can find a hotel if she can't find me.

By the way, we're back.

I think you may have noticed.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Finally don' swimmin' in the Thames

It seems that I have been wallowing around in The Thames since 23rd April but this is not in fact the case. We are indeed alive and well and living in separate countries (some may say that was a blessing...but not me).

Since my dip in the countries favorite stream we've made our way to Lisa's favorite marina, Pillings Lock. I am currently in France running our extraordinarily unsuccessful campsite business and Lisa has just finished the school term before joining me over here next week but not before I return to see Terri's graduation ceremony next weekend.

The journey back from Oxford was a little more eventful as we got caught up at Hilmorton Top Lock and nearly tipped over in the lock. The wind was blowing us into the lock wall and we got hung up on an exposed brick. Lightning reactions by yours truly saved the day (ever the obliging hero). The bloke on the boat in the parallel lock said that we were still tipping over and I realized that it was because everything inside the boat had slid onto the starboard side. I expected the worst on entry but in the end the only casualty was a broken champagne glass.

The only other event was when I tried to get round Sutton Stop without reversing and ended up in the lone bush outside the houses much to the amusement of those sitting outside the Greyhound who are obviously there waiting for this sort of thing. Nothing dented but my enormous ego.

Why is there a Chinese flag flying over Newbold?
We spent a week or so on the Ashby before leaving for Pillings Lock. This trip was as usual done in five days with a weekend stop over at Trent Lock. Can't remember much about the journey so it must have gone OK with no hicups.

Lisa claims not to have broken anything on the boat since living on her own but judging by past years, I am deeply dubious. It really means that anything that has been broken has been successfully adhered using Sellotape, elastic bands or paper glue. She has even said that she has painted the bathroom. I dread to think.

I may post a report and some pictures of the campsite next if you're good. Are you good? I somehow doubt it.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Up to my ass in alligators

Here we are in Oxford and very pleasant it all is. However, it has not necessarily been a dry day as I have, for the second time since buying the boat, fallen in the cut. It happened in a place that I was well and truly warned about by, as it happens, Maffi who we met for the first time yesterday. Maffi has mentioned in his blog the installation of a new barrage outside Isis Lock that had been located in the wrong place. And I would absolutely agree.

We arrived at the pub The Jolly Boatman, Thrupp, at the lower end of the Oxford Canal. A lovely area with well maintained moorings by the TCCC, we took a walk to the local co-op and passed Milly M, Maffi's boat. Comments on the blog indicated that Maffi was around and we met up later in the evening. A very pleasant time was had by one and all. Maffi was the first person to find this blog and mentioned it on his own.

Oh, and by the way, further to my story of emergency brickwork in one lock earlier in the week, I have found more emergency work had been carried out. In this case an emergency path laid to the paddle gear necessitating the closure of a paddle on Easter weekend and more queues for slow filling locks. Isn't BW management just brilliant. You really couldn't make this stuff up. Is this the result of a navigation authority being run by non-boaters? You decide. I'm starting to sound like Maffi now.

Emergency concrete path
Today we left Thrupp and made our way to Isis Lock to wind and find a mooring opposite Collage Cruisers ready for the meeting of friends and the return leg of the trip. Out through Isis I thought it was a little tight but considered it could easily be done if I take it easy. Well I took it easy and got stuck due to the constraints imposed by the new barrier that has been built by BW. There may be enough room to turn a 70 footer but, in the (bastardized) words of Eric Morecambe, not necessarily in the right places. I got stuck in the trees at the back end and in the mud at the front end.

Attempting to extract myself I (stupidly) managed to place the boat pole against a 'v' in the bough of a canal side elm and the inevitable happened, it slipped and I was swimming for my life. Well possibly a slight exaggeration but I was standing up to my chest in water, tangled up in underwater roots and up to my ankles in mud. However the boat was moving in my direction and I was stuck in the mud so was slightly worried that the boat would move over the top of me but fortunately I was able to physically stop it and the propeller wasn't turning.

A particularly wet yours truely
Fortunately, despite the number of gongoozlers, nobody apparently saw my possible demise and I extracted myself onto the counter without anyone seemingly noticing and wielded the boat pole like a true pro. Even Lisa who had been examining my progress from the open Isis saw that I had disappeared for a minute but failed to recognise that I had been swimming. Even the bloke who was also watching my progress and came to chat to me recommending that I write a letter to BW telling them of the difficulty of turning at that point also failed to notice that I had taken a dip even though I was dripping wet and covered in mud.

Looks big enough to me
I don't want to blame the positioning of the barrage for my dunking but it is certainly in the wrong place and does not make easy the turning of a full sized boat in that space. And there wasn't any flow in the water which would have made it virtually impossible.

Needless to say that I will indeed be joining the protest to have the barrage removed from it's current location and will be writing to BW. Well it could have contributed in killing me, couldn't it. That's a relatively good reason to protest don't you think.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Emergencies, shopping and BBQs.

 I spoke a little too soon when I said that there were no queues for the locks. At Slat Mill Lock south of Cropredy, BW decided to do some 'emergency' brickwork and there was a small disgruntled group of ten boats waiting to go through in our direction with a simlar number in the other. The workers seemingly didn't expect so many boaters to be around (quizzical look). I think some appalling BW management may have had a hand in this. We considered getting to the front by declaring a medical emergency as we were running short of alcohol but fortunately Lisa found a dusty bottle of something indescribable so all was well.

Disgruntled boaters
Two hours later we were through and on to Banbury which was a little bit of a surprise as the canal goes from rural tranquility to having heavily leaden shoppers tripping over your boat and waiting for Lisa to lower the mid town lift bridge so they can continue their retail therapy, back to rural tranquillity again all in the space of about twenty minutes. Did that really happen or did I doze off and have a nightmare.
You don't get these on the Ashby
The highlight of our Banbury excursion was watching the arrest of a cider drinking type beside our boat for the theft of a belt from the Blue Cross!!!, whatever that is. It was like being in one of those Real Life Cops With Cameras type shows. I was hoping we weren't going to be following the unfortunate cider drinker to the station as the police poured his bottle of White Lightning away stating that it was a non-drinking zone. We had several bottles of opened beer on the hatch and had consumed several before our arrival. With relief I then realised that we would be perceived as being middle class as I was attempting to wrestle 20 tons of badly behaving steel so those rules wouldn't't apply to us. Toodle pip. More Pimms anyone.

Someone mentioned that at Aynho there is a pig farm that you can pick up very good BBQ meat products for our evening fare. Fortunately we decided to use Morrisons instead and forgo the pleasure of meeting the unfortunate BBQ meat's live family. No idea where we are this evening but I can hear the M40 and Lisa snoring.
Another rubbish mooring

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

First time on the Oxford Canal

After a pleasant trip from Braunston and up Napton to overnight at Marston Doles. We arrived in Cropredy today but alas are several months too early for the folk festival. Decent Hooky around here though. It's a pleasant change on the Oxford from being at Braunston in that it is much quieter. It's like Piccadilly Circus round Braunston but here there are no queues for the locks and everything is quite civilized.

Another bridge!

Too hot for wooly jumpers. Sheep in the shade.  
 Lisa's has been trying on her summer clothes and today was the perfect day for that. She's taken to wearing my old army trousers for some strange reason but has a habit of spilling beer over them by mistake. Personally I'd rather drink the stuff but everyone to their own.
Those winter floods really left their mark

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Ex-working boat Renwick

To back my previous discussion point, I've just seem nbRenwick entering Hillmorton Top lock, hit the gate when entering and bang into the bottom lock. And before any ex-working boat owners tell me that that's the way the old working boaters used to do it I would like to say, 'Rubbish'. Some of you just can't handle a full sized boat.

Braunston today and tomorrow. Bit busy around these parts.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Ex-working boat Aldgate

I've just watched ex-working boat(big Woolwich), nbAldgate at Sutton Stop turning from the North Oxford to the Coventry in one go without engaging reverse. I'd heard that it could be done in a full sized boat but had never seen it. I have nearly done it myself in the past but always failed in the end. Should I put it down to my inferior stern gear or a lack of ability on my part. Well Mr Wolfe, I doff my hat to you sir for you are indeed a master boatsman (if there is such a thing). There are few enough ex-working boat owners out there with any boat handling skills at all. I reckon that I just have inferior stern gear (or possibly inferior abilities). And I thought I knew everything.

I am so jealous (but trying to hide it).

Monday, 11 April 2011

Coventry Beer Festival

Can you believe it. It was the Ashby Canal and you don't expect crime around there. We have been drilled. That is, the fuel tank on our car was drilled with an electric drill, the fuel stolen and the remainder left to flow all over the road. "Happens quite often." says the AA man as he pushed some epoxy into the hole.. Not to us it doesn't. There are scronks everywhere and with the current price of fuel, it will be more prevalent in the future. No wonder all the livaboards round there drive small, cheap cars. Lets be careful out there.

I did have a diatribe about Paul Davies' position (well somebody's got to support minority groups and lost causes) but have decided that life's just too short to place it on here. I'm possibly one of the very few who support his right to be a bridge hopper. It was one of the comments on nb No Problems blog that convinced me not to bother. There was one person who claimed to be struggling with his finances but was having a brand new boat built but who was currently a hirer and that constant moorers made his blood boil. I would advise him to not have that boat built if boating is that stressful and he doesn't have any money. We really need less boiling blood on the canals and more of the easy going, relaxed sort of boater. Maybe boaters who didn't interfere with other people's lives and just concentrated on their own. Maybe a little rationality might be nice. Just my tuppence worth.

Here we were at Coventry Basin for the Coventry Beer Festival (Surprise, surprise). Our daughter Terri also stayed over and attended the festival although she was a tad overdressed for a beer drinking event. I think she even enjoyed it. I most certainly did, as did Lisa. The festival itself was what a beer festival should be. Small enough to be friendly but with a large enough selection of beers so you can sample many different types.

The canal on the way to the basin had a certain amount of debris in it but no worse than any other urban canal despite others telling me that it was full of mattresses. Indeed it was a very pleasant journey and the basin itself is lovely and in the centre of the city. I think that we shall make this one a date for the future.

First bend, that's not a good start

And again

Some houses!
Old and new
This ones not in my fifteen year old Nicholson

The bridge into the basin, very low and no towpath. For security apparently

Masses of room to spare

All very pleasant when you're here

Even James Brindley thinks so.

Not many others here though. Do they know something we don't.
We've decied to pop down to Oxford during the two weeks of the Easter holidays. We were planning the Warwickshire Ring but thought we need to visit pastures new.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Sewage,clocks and water tanks

I tried to be a good citizen the other day and attempted to report a sewage slick that was entering the canal. It looked like a leaking septic tank or broken pipe, smelt dreadful and looked like an oil slick leading into the canal. I got in touch with BW, the local council and Severn Trent Water but none of them were interested and all told me to contact the other. Well that's the last time I'll even bother with good citizenry. I shall continue to be as egotistical, self serving and looking after number one as I usually am. I'll leave the community spirit to Maffi.

How come when the clocks go forward all the weekenders make for the canals. It's like Piccadilly Circus 'round 'ere (not south of the river this time of night gov'nor). Where do they all go during the winter. Oh yes, I know this one. Ian from Gosty Hill was saying that was the reason he doesn't bother doing any more runs after his next one...too many part timers on the waterways. Judging by the various exploits I've seen so far. I couldn't agree more (or am I being a little elitist here. Of course I am). I haven't seen so many immaculate looking boats in a long time.

Reading nbStarcross's blog the other day reminded me that I will have to repaint the water tank this year. It's only been three years since it was first done but I think it would be best to take the lid off and get in there with the bitumin. Not looking forward to that job as I didn't enjoy it the first time 'round. I may think about it for a time. I've also promised myself that I want to paint the exterior this year including the sign writing. The sun must be out to be thinking of painting.
It's a sink, in'it

We've actually got a sink in the bathroom now. Indeed, all mod cons here. IKEAs finest.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Brackets, routers and cars

This blog is becoming a periodical with the 'period' getting longer between the 'icals'.

I found a bracket in the Rayburn the other day red hot and in the centre of the other burning coal. It wasn't necessarily an important bracket but a bracket nonetheless. I have built everything on the boat and I don't recognise it as a bracket that I've dealt with in the past but it may be important I really don't know. It may also have come bagged in with the coal as it was bagged at the coal merchant and it is actually him who is missing a bracket. It's all a little worrying.

It was half  term the other week and we went for a jolly down to Braunston and back. Pretty uneventful trip with few highs or lows but a trip nonetheless. We didn't even have a pub meal and spoke to no-one else apart from friends we had over at Suttons Stop. There wasn't even many others on the move and I didn't take any pictures.

There was one exception when I was on the towpath attempting to recover my hammer that had slipped from wet hands and been lost in the canal the night before (I recovered four mooring pins before I got the hammer back), I was approached by a man and two youths. The man asked me if Miss D was aboard. A little surprised I called Lisa. It was apparently one of Lisa's pupils who had been in the area and had seen us in the co-op the evening before and, knowing Miss D lived on a boat, got dad to bring her to the moorings to see if she could be spotted. Indeed she was. And a little surprised she was too. Especially as she was wearing her leopard skin pj's. I'm not allowed to put up photos, unfortunately.

We're now all wifi-ed up with a new router providing a wifi bubble around Pickles no2. The dongle works well and the new router converts the 3g signal to a wifi signal available anywhere on or off the boat without having to plug anything in (if you have the password or can get through my security screen. Come and try if you're hard enough). It has made it all a little more convenient as Lisa and I can get on-line at the same time, albeit slowly (it's only 3g after all). It works with the the kindle and is supposed to work with the printer but doesn't at present. We don't have very much that is wifi enabled but what exactly do you need? I just need to wire it up to the 12v system now.

New router

On the technical side of things (ignore the next bit if you're not of a technical bent) the router is a Netgear MBR624GU that is very simple to set up. It's configured through your web browser so works on Windows, Mac and Linux. Highly recommended for one and all.

We needed a new (second hand, very second hand) car and bought one the other day, then promptly give it to Terri. Brilliant. We bought our daughter a car several years ago but she off-loaded it onto to us as it's too expensive for her and we drove around in said car for a year. Now she gets the new one, insured, taxed, MOTed with a full tank of petrol. Where did it all go wrong. She's graduating this year from acting school and better get an acting job pretty damn fast. This being nice malarkey is't going to last forever. And it better be a well paid job. I may have to get out the old contacts book. What was that number for Torrentino?

I'm honoured to be left on nb No Problem's blog list after Sue purged over a hundred from the list. One of the 32 left. I may do the same as I also have about a hundred and fifty on my blog list and I tend to scan all of them but it is all a little too much.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Favourite topics

I don't know why I was surprised the other day when I found that, someone who I talk to on a regular basis and lives as a constant cruiser around these parts, is a sergeant in the CID. I always assumed that we constant cruisers are on the margins of society and have little opportunity to contribute to the communities we pass through and those same communities, in many cases, don't want us to. For example, getting into the local doctor's surgery list involves lying by using an address from a land based friend in the local area, the dentist the same and similarly for local schools.  Also, some of the the vitreol poured out at us by some members of various forums and the fact that many think of us are 'merely gypsies'. Always nice to be surprised now and again.

Back on the DIY front, in line with the liveaboards favourite topics of conversation, I've fitted a fully sine wave inverter and a new toilet although Lisa still hasn't washed her smalls whilst sitting on the china bowl. The novelty of being able to wash our clothes without firing up the generator was too much for us, with the washing machine red hot all week, so much so that we ran out of water.The quasi sine wave inverter is heading towards ebay I think as there is little point in having an extra piece of kit aboard if we are not likely to use it.

Ex 3kw inverter heading to ebay
New inverter and RCD (not particularly well mounted)
New and old toilets
The guts of the operation
The plumbing (including sawdust still on the floor)
The new toilet makes a huge difference in comfort and,as we have now got two cassettes, the run to the Elsan should be a little less frequent and the toilet seating arrangements, a little more comfortable. The work was relatively straightforward but involved all the DIY elements; electricity, water, woodwork and sewage (but no painting). More exciting reports of the improvements in our lifestyles next time. I bet you can hardly wait.

It's half term after next week so I think that we are taking a trip down to Braunston or Napton to have a pint or two.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Revelations and growlers

We're all shuffling around on the Ashby Canal with the water now free flowing and this is a good thing. Unfortunately, as of the other week, I am now half a century old and this is not necessarily a good thing. On the up side, Lisa bought me a Kindle ebook reader. Like everyone else who has one, I was a little suspicious that I wouldn't use it, but it has been a revelation and I Haven't read so much. I have downloaded over fifty free books and I may even buy one if Amazon are lucky. Although that won't happen for a while so, Amazon, don't get your hopes up and don't do any unnecessary investment.

We have also bought some new batteries and these too have been revelation. You forget how good new batteries are and it improves life greatly. We no longer have to moor in the middle of nowhere so we can run the engine to ten and just to watch the telly to half past. Power to the people (or at least the couple). I wanted 135amp batteries but the cost was not worth the extra amps.  We have to budget for cheap new batteries every year as they never seem to last longer. Cheap and nasty, that's just me.

We are currently at the terminus of the Ashby and, since our last visit, there has been a bit of work done on the extension. An extra hundred yards have been completed. This includes a small footbridge made from lightweight aluminium that won't be there the next time we get here. The problem is that if you want water, and since the existing sanitary block has ice damage to the pipes and cannot be used, the alternative pipework is in a framer's field opposite. You have to moor your boat, bow against the bridge.

It's already dented and the fittings are from your garden gate. I thought about taking a photo but was so amazed by the builders/planners incompetence, I forgot. See it while you can as, by the summer, it'll be on the side covered in mud and weeds having been crashed into, fallen into the canal, been hauled out and left abandoned in the hedge. I wonder how much it cost? Probably a lot more than the foot bridge at Stretton Stop at Rose Narrowboats that has been there for years but doesn't look as nice (my English teacher always told me never to use the word 'nice'. No idea why)

A new sine wave inverter and a new toilet system are also on the cards as Lisa wants to wash her smalls on the move and sit on a china bowl while she's doing them. It's in the hands of the gods whether she can convince me and she may have to complete a cost/benefit analysis including flip charts, graphs, Power Point presentations, written reports and a small group of skin headed growlers armed with baseball bats to change my mind. It's more likely in the hands of this group rather than of the gods.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Old filters and new sofas

Lisa's been complaining of a bad back lately and her symptoms are exactly the same as mine when I have a bad back. I am, however, a little sceptical as she has been watching me with a bad back for years and I think she's just after the sympathy vote. Anyway, she's too small to have a bad back as she doesn't even have a back.

We've gone all Moroccan
I have failed in my abilities as responsible for the maintenance of the working parts of the boat. We ran out of diesel the other day and the primary filter was clogged up beyond help and I didn't have a spare. So I cleaned it out in clean diesel and hoped that would last a couple of days until after the holidays and I could get another. Unfortunately my technique for bleeding the fuel system was incorrect (as I later found) and, with the blocked filter, by the time the fuel was just starting to enter the system, the inadequate starter battery was finished. And there was nothing left in the leisure batteries either. So we ran out of energy and with the generator not working correctly and not allowing me to charge the starter battery, we were stranded without our electricity generator. Any solution was going to cost just under a hundred quid so I decide to cut my losses and call RCR in an attempt to get maximum chance of starting for my money.

The chap duely arrived and sorted the problem and I got a second hand starter battery to boot. Excellent service and we aren't even members although we did promise to join, which of course we will. I even got a free course in properly bleeding the system for when this happens again (which it surely will). He even said my wiring was good (on second thoughts, he was probably drunk). Highly recommended to one and all although wait until your first breakdown then join over the phone.

I've finally clad the front inside of the boat with timber, in this case t&g. It looks a lot better than the old look of yellowing spray foam insulation. That was looking a little tired. So last year. Next, apparently, I am required to make the steps into the boat, a coat cupboard (a coatboard?) inside the door and a small table opposite.

Don't be stupid, of course it'll fit

I've had enough and need a glass of wine

 It always looks better in the morning

We've now bought a new leather sitee/sofa from Ikea for £160 and got rid of our chairs. It was the perfect size for the boat and was easily fitted through the front door. At least it was after we had man-handled it down the towpath (I can say 'man-handled' as Lisa took no part in this activity). We left the store with most of the sitee/sofa hanging out of the back of our little Peugeot 106. Well, we have in the past, moved house in smaller cars than this. It was too heavy for Lisa so she dropped it as soon as we got in from the car to the towpath. I tried to get it on my head but it was too large. So, since I was on my own with Lisa only taking photos, I decided that the hundred or so metres to the boat could only be completed by wheeling this giant cardboard package down the muddy towpath end over end. I can't say it was my finest moment and I wasn't best pleased but was grateful that it was dark with no moon. But at least it wasn't raining. I also had to disassemble the cratch to get it in.

Is it called a sitee or a sofa? Are they the same thing? Or is it a couch? I really don't know. Lisa calls it a sitee but that must be sooooo working class it can't be right. Any ideas?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Christmas skiing in France

We've been skiing over the Christmas period as we don't really like the whole Christmas thing. Lisa, Terri and myself in a tiny apartment in Tignes, France. A superb week and the first time skiing for about five years. It was also the first time that Terri has spent a considerable time with us since she went to uni. It may also be the last as she is on her last year and will be in the job market next year. We got her to go with us by making it all inclusive for her but even that may not have sweetened the fact that she was stuck with us for a whole week. No broken legs or cracked heads only bruised egos and busted skiing reputations. I am now not an advanced skier any longer and have handed the mantel to Terri.

It never ceases to amaze me how ridiculous Lisa and I look together (and those glasses don't help at all).

We thought that when we got back the ice on the canal would have melted but no such luck. Still nobody is moving. One of the other livaboard boats is up for sale but I don't know if it is related to the current iced in situation but I wouldn't be surprised. It's all a little depressing, well not really depressing but a little anticlimactic after the pristine environment of Tignes). I had drained down the water system but didn't do the central heating and one of the connections had expanded and broken. Half an hour after getting back on board the fires were burning and the joint had been fixed from my vast box of spares. Other than that, no problems except the four hour delay in getting the boat back up to heat.

We did nothing over New Year only drink French wine and beer. Very comforting.