Sunday, 24 March 2019

Sharing locks and mending punctures

After church we set off towards Birmingham at about 1245. Our friends Robert and Margaret on Blue Iris were also heading our way so we agreed to stick together and share locks: this is Calcutt Bottom Lock.

The entrance of Ventnor Marina is very daffodilly.

We stopped at Itchington Bottom by The Two Boats but decided against eating out again. After tea on board, then, I repaired three punctures in the back wheel of my bike, all collected on one section of towpath by Atherstone Locks. All hawthorn, er, thorns. I found that my tinnitus really got in the way of locating the punctures by ear - everything seemed to be hissing. Back to the usual method: detecting the leaks by upper lip.

Tomorrow we shall pair up again as far as Leamington Spa, where we will stop for provisions.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

BCF Spring Conference; The Boathouse review

Today the Boaters' Christian Fellowship held a Spring Conference in All Saints' Church, Braunston.

46 members of the BCF and one guest listened to fellow member Rev Stephen Gardner share his thoughts on how, as Christians, we could respond to the difficult questions people ask us as we travel the waterways. And, no, these aren't the questions on pumpout v cassette or gas v gas-free. The sort of difficult questions people sometimes ask BCFers can be more along the lines of "Is my mother with Aunty Betty in heaven?" or "Why does God allow suffering?"

Stephen was difficult to photograph as he was constantly on the move as he guided us enthusiastically through his topic.


Afterwards 13 of us went to the Boathouse pub for a meal.

As I wrote yesterday, the Boathouse has changed, no longer offering "two for one" deals. The food was generally good: I had an excellent gammon steak with very good chips. Roasted tomatoes on the vine formed part of the garnish. Jan had the lasagne with vegetables instead of ciabatta, but she wasn't hugely impressed with the veg. The others on the table all seemed to enjoy their food. The service was good in that we didn't have to wait too long for the food to arrive, nor for puddings for those who ordered them. Overall I would say that it is an improvement on the pub's previous incarnation, even though it was a bit more expensive. The Hobgoblin was rather too cold, though (and pulled through the inevitable sparkler).

Friday, 22 March 2019

Braunston Boathouse pub has changed

We tied up in Braunston opposite the Boathouse pub at about 1100 this morning having watered and winded.

The Boathouse has changed! No more "Two for One" deals. It's still a Marstons outfit, but the menu is much reduced. We shall be eating there tomorrow evening, so I shall be able to report on the quality of the food. It's standard pub grub now, with no specials board. The prices are perhaps a little higher than usual for this sort of thing - but I might be out of touch.

We walked up to the church for a recce for tomorrow, then called in at the butcher's for a gammon joint and walked to the canal by the bottom lock. We were on our way to accept the offer of afternoon tea on Faithful; on the way we passed Melaleuca. If you're still there on Sunday we'll call in and say hello.

Dutch Courage tied up in front of us this afternoon; in the evening Richard and Elizabeth came for drinks and a chat.

Tomorrow is the BCF Spring Conference in the church, so we'll be busy.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Whether you lichen it or not ...

As we progressed along the Oxford Canal this morning Bridge 42 looked as though chewing gum had been stuck all over it.

It's actually hundreds of patches of lichen.

We stopped at Brownsover for lunch; no sooner had we tied up than Maffi turned up on Milly M. We invited him to join us for lunch but all he would accept was a cup of tea.

While we were chatting Tim and Tracey also turned up on Sola Gratia, with Tracey's new guide dog, Teddy.

It was good to see you all.

A little further on we came to where the new bridge is being built over the canal. Cast into the concrete deck (not visible on my photo), in huge letters, is what looks like "Houlton Bridge". Which would make sense, as the new development it connects to is called Houlton.

Hillmorton Locks were a breeze; flowers by the old paddle gear linking the parallel locks added colour.

At Barby we passed a boat with one of the most unusual cratch covers I have seen.

Tamsin had a sign in the window proclaiming "The Stage Boat". Which would explain it. A bit.

As is often the way, I have noticed something unusual when reviewing the photo. Interesting rear fender arrangement on Tamsin.

We stopped for the evening outside Dunchurch Pools Marina; John and Gill joined us for tea.

Perhaps I should have removed the wine glasses. Ah well.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Spider in the shadows

I can't resist taking photos of backlit bulrushes. These were about an hour after we set off from Atherstone Top.

Arachnophobe alert! (next photo)

We stopped at Nuneaton for Lidl. We spent rather more than we had intended, but came away with a pair of safety shoes for me and a pair of headphones for Jan. The shoes are comfortable and seem reasonably heavy duty; the headphones are very light and sound good.

We enjoyed almost continuous sunshine today, the first day of spring according to some. As we continued past Bedworth I noticed the shadow of a large spider on the cabin slide.

Then I realised it was actually cast by the knot in the string holding the can to the aerial.

Sutton Stop was quiet as we entered the Oxford Canal.

The Volvo P1800 is still by Bridge 4 ...

... and is still gently rusting away. Such a sad waste of a lovely car.

A plan was hatched during the day for a meal at the Lime Kilns pub in Hinckley (where the A5 crosses the Ashby Canal. We could have gone by boat but wanted to be in Braunston in good time for the BCF spring conference this weekend, so we were picked up from Ansty by Stephen and Gwyneth.

A guinea fowl was patrolling the car park, but seemed more interested in the car than us.

There were nine of us for the meal: Andy, Sue, Jan, Christine, Terry, Gwyneth, Stephen, Morgan (Andy and Sue's niece) and myself behind the lens.

Tomorrow we carry on up the Oxford Canal towards Braunston.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

First boating of 2019 and replacing an iPhone battery

Yes, after a break of many months we are back on board Jubilee. Hooray! We drove to Fazeley yesterday, emptied the Volvo into the boat and prepared for a three week trip. I managed to remember all the things I'd switched off or closed, so I opened the gate valve from the domestic water tank, opened the diesel valve, switched on the gas, closed the water taps and switched on the water pump. Pleasingly, everything seemed to come back to life in the manner intended. The engine fired up first go too.

This morning we reversed to Fazeley Junction and set off for Glascote. David L came with us to help us through the locks before cycling to Tamworth Market.

Half an hour later (Amington?) we passed a house we hadn't seen before.

Bill and Ben seem to have had an update.

A plaque gave details of a royal nurse maid we hadn't heard of: Charlotte Bill "Lala".

We stopped for lunch at Polesworth and had a phone call from David to say that a package had arrived for me. This was the replacement battery for my iPhone which had almost died. I cycled back to Fazeley, brought it back to the boat and immediately got to work.

I was only just in time. The phone was being forced apart by the old battery, which was expanding as it died. I wasn't in time to stop the case splitting.

I hadn't started opening it in these two photos: this is the phone gently exploding all by itself.

The replacement battery came with the tools for undoing four tiny screws. The first two were of the "pentalobe" type with, as the name suggests, five lobes, which your common or garden pozidrive wouldn't come anywhere near.

Those screws were small, but the two I had to unscrew next were the most microscopic I had encountered. The divisions on my tape measure are millimetres. I hadn't known the tape measure was magnetic! The head is not much more than 1mm across; the length was about 1mm.

Here are the old and new batteries together. The side view shows how the dead battery is expanding.

I am very pleased to report that I managed to get it all back together again and, so far, it seems to be working. Thanks eBay. All for less than a fiver including tools and delivery.

Back to the boating. We thought about stopping half way up the Atherstone flight but decided to crack on and finish the locks.

It's good to be on board again - tomorrow we're aiming for Stretton Stop on the Oxford Canal. Braunston by Thursday, ready for the Boaters' Christian Fellowship Spring Conference on Saturday.

Monday, 11 March 2019

River Wensum walk

Today Jan and I recce-ed a walk along the River Wensum in Norwich. We are organising a day out in our fine city for anyone in the Boaters Christian Fellowship who wants to come along - so far there looks to be ten of us.

I had hoped the railway swing bridge would have been visible from the riverside path but the Laurence Scott works are in the way.

One end of the walk, then, will start at the neighbouring Carrow Road swing bridge.

The Norwich City Football Club ground is just to the right.

Further upstream is Pull's Ferry, one of the most photographed locations in the city.

Next up is Bishop Bridge, above which hire boats are not allowed.

There wasn't much traffic on the river, but we were crossing the bridge when this hire boat came up to have a look before turning round.

Next to the Cow Tower ...

... is a curious collection of bird boxes in the name of art.

Skirting round the cathedral and the courts, past the art school and the Playhouse, we came to New Mills Pumping Station.

The Victorian pumping station spans the river and was used for pumping sewage to a treatment works. Water turbines compressed air which drove pneumatic ejection pumps, a system reputed to be replicated in only one other place, the Houses of Parliament. (Info from here)

There was rather a cold wind blowing today, but we had some welcome sunshine. Let's hope it's not raining on Saturday.

I had forgotten how long it takes to write a blog post - perhaps that's why there has been such a gap since the previous one.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Fazeley Junction

We moved the boat today to achieve three objectives: to empty the Elsan, to fill up with water and to charge the engine starter battery. Also I think it's a good idea to run the engine every time we visit the boat over the winter period.

This is the view as you come onto the Coventry Canal at Fazeley Junction - Coventry to the right, Fradley to the left.

Having winded this is Tolson's Mill on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal; our mooring is a little further on the right.

This afternoon we walked into Tamworth for a watch battery. On the way back, as we crossed the point where the rivers Tame and Anker merge, I took this oil painting photo of a heron at sunset.

Jan has been putting a lot of work in in preparation for the Boaters' Christian Fellowship AGM which is on Saturday in Rugby. We shall be going by car, not boat.