Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Crick fatigue

Phew! That's the Crick Boat Show over for another year. I haven't blogged for a while, not because of lack of signal but because the days have been long; we have been entertaining guests in the evening and I've been too whacked out to sit in front of the computer for an hour or so composing each new chunk of this stuff.

There's been a lot happening over the last few days but, even now, there isn't enough time to detail it all. I'll just mention a few of the people we met at Crick.

It was really good to see Del and Al of Derwent6 over for a day's visit. We saw Adam and Adrian (Briar Rose); Neil and Kath (Herbie); Andy and Helen (Wandering Bark and The Jam Butty) and we met Barry and Sandra of Areandare (the homebrew boat) for the first time. Now there's a couple it's impossible not to like - they are such good company. We also saw many fellow members of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship, of course. We were there to help run the BCF stand in its usual place in the Kingfisher Marquee.

We did get some time off to wander round the show site; I bought new firebricks for the stove; a new Nicholson's and some oil. We looked round only one boat, being put off by the need to book (and the fact that we're not really looking for a new boat anyway).

It just so happens that the boat we looked at went on to win the "best boat" accolade (I think I'm right in saying that. We looked round Ampere by Wharf House Narrowboats).

This year I managed to get to three of the seminars: The Blind Boater (Tracey Clarke); Floating Business (Andy and Helen, Barry and Sandra and Sarah Henshaw); and Boat Maintenance (Mark Langley and Rupert Smedley from Waterways World magazine). All three were very good, certainly beating aimlessly wandering round the show site!

On Sunday Jan and I went to the beer tent for the Hazel O'Connor gig, bumping into Andy and Helen and Barry and Sandra straight away. The venue was packed; we joined the crowd outside but with a good view of the stage.

It's not really my music, but Hazel O'Connor gave an energetic performance.

Gosh, the time has run away from me yet again. Just to say that we're now at Foxton with Adrian and Chris (Essence).

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Rubber mats laid on towpath at Crick, bridge over the top?

CRT have today put rubber mats down on sections of the towpath in the vicinity of the Crick Boat Show.

They are laid on top of finely crushed hardcore where exposed tree roots could have presented a trip hazard.

A little over the top, methinks. Jan did manage to fall over one such exposed root last year and bruise her ribs, but I doubt she is to blame for this expensive operation. There is, of course, no way to secure the mats; there's nothing to stop a light-fingered boater purloining one or two for their deck. Let's hope all who pass by are honest.

The mats, though, are as nothing compared with the temporary bridge providing access to the show site from the towpath. This is an amazingly robust-looking steel (or is it aluminium?) construction soaring over the canal and must be costing thousands.

Since I took the photo the last section, by the steps, has been fitted, but the bridge is not yet open. The sign requests that people wishing to walk along the towpath use the steps as there is insufficient room between them and the edge of the bank.

The weather has certainly improved (will it hold for the show itself?) with wall-to-wall sunshine most of the day. Despite the still cool breeze I was inspired to dig out the barbecue (first time this year).

Today's last photo shows how far from the bank we are. I ought to drill a hole in the end of the gangplank to take a mooring pin so I can fix it to the bank; every time a boat goes past too fast (there have been quite a few today) the movement of the boat causes the gangplank to slip.

A job for the morning.

Adrian and Chris from Essence, fellow BCFers, came round for a drink and a chat this evening. We all enjoyed some of Jan's tiffin, which she made this afternoon. Scrummy!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Voltmeter working a treat; wind turbines at sunset

I think I have mentioned that my current (sorry!) favourite gadget is the cheap but effective digital voltmeter constantly monitoring the battery bank. Here it is in situ in the cabin, measuring the voltage while the sun shines on the solar panels (and with the inverter and fridge on).

Being out of direct sunlight it's easy enough to read, but the one I have for the steering position is hard to read in daylight. I now have some different colour gels with me to try out over the display, so I'll experiment. Meanwhile I have ordered another low cost DVM, this time with a red display which I'm hoping will be more legible at the helm. Like the blue voltmeters it's not a bank breaker at £1.48 including postage. (The blue ones have now come down from the exorbitant £1.85 I paid to the altogether more reasonable £1.63!)

Stephen on Chyandour came over for a coffee this morning after I'd helped him tie up; he came for a meal later as well.

We walked into Crick village again; this time we looked round the (unlocked) church and bought milk from the Co-op.

On another walk, this evening, I took this photo.

What is it with me and wind turbines against an interesting sky?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Crick prepares

I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that we had an enjoyable glass or two of wine with Chris and Joy of nb Wrens Nest after our meal in the Boat House pub. It was good to meet you, and I'm humbled that you read my blog. I shall have to add you to my blog roll.

We made a leisurely start from Braunston this morning, stopping to top up with water before sharing the locks with Dunslavin.

Kevin and xxx (oops - we didn't discover Mrs Kevin's name) on Dunslavin were on their way back to Crick, so we followed them through Braunston Tunnel and up Watford Locks.

The tunnel was notable for two incidents; a passing boat suggested I should point my tunnel light up at the roof. Was I dazzling him? No-one has ever commented on my tunnel light before. The other incident was being hit by a boat despite my hugging the wall. Dunslavin was hit by the same boat.

At Watford Locks the boat in front of Dunslavin was the steamer Adamant. This would explain the smokiness of the tunnel. In this wonky photo Adamant has its funnel lowered as it enters the bottom lock of the four-rise staircase.

We were fortunate to do all the locks in the dry; it started raining almost as soon as we left the top lock. Then it hailed. Crick Tunnel came as a bit of a respite, feeling warm as soon as we entered. I thought it was rather misty in there until I removed my glasses. They had steamed up the instant we hit the warm air.

Immediately after exiting the tunnel the mooring restriction signs - for the Crick Boat Show - were in evidence. The temporary bridge to the show site looks a rather more elaborate affair than in previous years. The bridge was still being constructed, but I suppose they have a day or two to finish off.

The sky above the show site looks threatening, but I understand the forecast for the weekend is - at the moment - quite good.

The eagle-eyed will have spotted a certain well-known boat on the left.

To finish with today, the view from our side hatch now we are tied up past all the reserved moorings. This is Crack's Hill, up which we scampered this evening.

And a view from the hill itself: wind turbines and sky.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Weather. Lots of it.

I think this photo tells the story.

No, it's not a tornado. We cruised from Rugby to Braunston this afternoon in Vivaldi weather. You know, the Four Seasons. We started in warm summery sunshine; then we had a heavy spring shower; I'm sure I had some autumnal leaves round the prop at one point; and, with Braunston in sight, it hailed.

I took the above photo from the Boathouse pub: blue skies and sunshine on the right; dark clouds and rain on the left. Intermittently there was a good rainbow as well.

As we got near to Braunston I took off my clip-on sunglasses and put them on the slide. I think they must have blown off because there's now no sign of them. Oops.

Regular readers might have guessed that we have been away from the boat for a few days. We returned home to do some essential gardening etc. It was good to see friends there; we went to our choir's concert on the Saturday and experienced it from the audience's point of view. It wasn't at all bad! We'll be back in the ranks for the next concert as rehearsals won't start until September.

Here's one of the four trains which took us from Norfolk to Rugby: an East Midlands service just coming into Wymondham Station.

We tied up outside the Boathouse pub and ate there. (Waitress: "I'm sorry, we haven't got any French mustard, only some Dijon mustard.")

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Under the towpath

Walking along the towpath from Wood End Lock to Fradley Junction recently I came across this.

Literally.

At the end of a short brick tunnel under the towpath is a paddle, connected to which is a rod extending above the ground. Raising this would empty a section of canal. I wonder how often it's used.

Friday, 15 May 2015

A shed load of sheds

Seen in a canalside garden in Weston-on-Trent (I believe it was):

A lot of sheds. I counted eight. I think this constitutes a shed load.

Not that there's anything wrong with sheds - I rather like them.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Knitted mushroom covers!

Some people polish them, some people leave them tarnished, some people paint them ...

... and at least one person knits mushroomy covers for them.

Seen on the Shroppie.