Thursday, 28 February 2013

L-day is getting closer

The day of my leaving the BBC suddenly seems very close. My last day is just four weeks away. Today I attended the last of the courses in London which the BBC lays on for those venturing into the outside world. The ones I chose were:

  • Writing an Effective CV
  • Exploring your Future Options
  • Setting up as a Sole Trader
  • Pension Options on Retirement
  • Succeeding as a Media Freelancer

Some were more interesting than others; some were better presented than others. Some parts of some of them might be useful. It all depends on whether I want to seek more work in the media industry, and I'm not sure that I do. Perhaps I'll have a better idea after a few months of recovering from 33 years of working for Auntie.

The pensions course was in the Council Chamber of Broadcasting House, where the BBC's first Director General John Reith looks down on proceedings below the art deco light.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Wigram's Turn Marina

I really like Wigram's Turn Marina. Shadow has been based here for the last few years, and it is a convenient location for a number of cruising routes. From Napton Junction you can go down the South Oxford Canal to Oxford and the Thames; you can go north up the Warwick and Napton Canal (now the Grand Union) to Warwick, Birmingham, Stratford and all the Midlands waterways; turning east takes you in five miles to Braunston with the choice of heading north down the North Oxford to Rugby, Coventry, Fazeley etc.; or south along the Grand Union towards London, with links to Leicester, Northampton, Aylesbury etc.

But it's not just the location. The facilities are good. There's lots of convenient car parking; good loos and shower; well-lit pontoons with electricity and water; and the usual boatyard facilities. The mooring rates are very reasonable too.

In fact, once we have Jubilee back, we might consider mooring here as it's a fairly easy journey from home.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Four miles from Napton is the town of Southam. We spent an enjoyable afternoon there last week, looking in the usual mix of charity shops, and just having a wander.

The crocuses were out in front of the church which, sadly, was locked.

There was a fine path ...

... and the mosquitos were doing their sun dance.

This clump of snowdrops was right by the church.

Elsewhere in the town I saw some scrap timber being dumped in the front garden of a house undergoing renovation. I asked if I could have it - help yourself was the reply. So Ally and Ben got a season's supply of kindling when I'd removed the nails, sawn it and chopped it up.

Top Thirty, 2013 Week 8

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty places) as it stood at 1000 on Tuesday 26th February 2013. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 CanalPlanAC (+1)

3 Pennine Waterways (-1)

4 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (-)

5 Living on a Narrowboat (-1)

6 Retirement with No Problem (+1)

7 UKCanals Network (-2)

8 Water Explorer (=)

9 Waterway Routes (-3)

10 nb Epiphany (-1)

11 Granny Buttons (-1)

12 nb Waiouru (-1)

13 Jannock Website (-1)

14 boatshare (=)

15 Towpath Treks (-2)

16 nb Lucky Duck (=)

17 Canal Shop Company (=)

18 ExOwnerships (+14)

19 Baddie the Pirate (+3)

20 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-5)

21 boats and cruising (-2)

22 One Thing After Another (-4)

23 Boats and Canals Forum (+3)

24 Milburn Boats Ltd (-3)

25 Narrowboat Bones (-)

26 Halfie (-3)

27 Derwent6 (-7)

28 boatrent (-3)

29 Narrowboat Chance (-)

30 Boatshed Grand Union (-3)

31 Narrowboat dreaming ... Parisien Star (-7)

32 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-3)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 188 entries, down from 190 last week.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

New stove glass? Cracking!

Shortly after lighting the stove on Shadow a week ago the stove glass cracked. Grr. It looked like it had been only just fitted as part of the winter maintenance.

I didn't go overboard, as it were, with cleaning it as BCBM said they would replace it.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Do I sell our share in Shadow now, or after the two weeks we have at Easter?

A small dilemma. We won't want to hang on to our half share in (BCBM-managed) Shadow when the time comes for us to have exclusive access to Jubilee. That time will be either when Ally and Ben can buy a house, or the summer of 2014 - whichever is sooner.

So what's the dilemma?

We have managed to join a "low-season" week to a "high-season" week at Easter, giving us two consecutive weeks on board Shadow. Now this "instant" holiday, coupled with the fact that our holding is a valuable half-share, could be just what a potential buyer is looking for.

Of course, a two week cruise with only four weeks' notice might not be possible for many people.

But there's another element to come into play: BCBM are having a "share show" in Nantwich next weekend (2nd and 3rd March 2013): potential buyers might just be tempted by the savings on offer from a half-share.

Shadow is looking really good at the moment, having just been blacked; and all the interior lights are now LED units. They really work a treat, and give no less light than the fluorescent tubes they replaced. There's now a Victron Centaur battery charger on board, which keeps the batteries fully charged while on the shore line at the marina.

I'm looking forward to a proper fortnight's cruise, which starts on the very day I say "goodbye" to a third of a century of working for the BBC. So should I put our half-share on the market, and possibly lose out on a nice "retirement cruise", or should I hang on until after Easter, and put it on the market then?

I realise that this is my "problem" - I'm not really expecting you, dear reader, to dispense advice (but feel free!).

Oh - I forgot to say yesterday - fellow blogger Kevin from shared boat Tranquility made himself known to me as we were just about to drive from Wigram's Turn to Milton Keynes. It was good to meet you, Kevin, and perhaps we'll meet on the cut some day. I should say, perhaps we'll meet again on the cut some day, as we shared a quick exchange of boat-to-boat greetings on one occasion in the past.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Painting radiators

I did a few more jobs on Shadow today. These included painting one radiator; touching up another one; and painting the bottom of the windlass locker.

I was rather disappointed with the result of the radiator painting. It was the first time I'd attempted such a thing. I prepared the surface by rubbing down and cleaning with "white spirit", but when I started painting it looked horribly streaky. When it had dried it looked slightly better, but it had a few paint runs. Perhaps I should have used a higher quality paint, but all that was on board was a tin of Wilko. At least it was proper radiator paint. I didn't have time to give it a second coat - that's for the next time we're on board (unless another owner beats me to it).

The painting of the bottom of the windlass and mooring pin locker was more successful. A couple of days ago I cleaned out all the mud; today I gave it a coat of grey primer. It should have dried by the time the boat is next used.

Before you say - I know the photos aren't exactly the right ones for this post, but I didn't take any of the radiators.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Here's one of the photos I tried to upload yesterday

Thanks to Adam's suggestion, and to a fair amount of perseverance on my part, I've managed to recover the photo of the collapsed floor under the well deck of Shadow. It just didn't want to appear on yesterday's post, no matter how many times I tried to upload it. And, as Adam thought, the photo had indeed uploaded to Picasa correctly, but it just hadn't made the transition to Blogger. So on my Picasa photo album there are several copies of the same photo.

Here, then, is the picture of some of the space under the well deck.

It really wasn't worth the effort, was it? I thought this would show the chipboard flooring collapsed, but it doesn't. Oh well.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Windlass locker and under-well-deck collapsed floor

I've been doing some small jobs on Shadow today. These included tidying the under-well deck storage area and cleaning out the windlass locker ready for rustproofing.

Now I'll try to upload the relevant photos, and will see if Blogger allows it.

Nope. Didn't upload the windlass locker photo. I'll try the other one ...

GRR! It didn't upload the under well deck photo either! Well, this post will be even poorer than usual, sorry. Perhaps it's something to do with the marina wi-fi.

The windlass locker photo wasn't very exciting, but the area under the well deck was perhaps a bit more interesting. The chipboard flooring has given way under the weight of all the clobber that's been stored there in the past. I think there may even be dry rot in there - some of the wood was powdery. The good news is that there was no sign of moisture, even on the top of the base plate which was exposed in one spot. This being a shared boat it tends to accumulate stuff. In that out-of-sight-out-of-mind storage area were:
  • a load of loose charcoal briquettes
  • a bag of UHF TV leads, connectors and old signal booster
  • a folding barbecue
  • an old plastic fender
  • a couple of pipe fenders
  • two bags of old mooring ropes
  • a flexible plastic hose (for transferring fuel?)
  • a bag of posessions belonging to our American fellow-owners
  • a saw
  • a tiny pot of enamel paint
  • a normal-size tin of paint
  • a pile of paving slabs for ballast (slipped)
  • and the water pump.

Stop press! I tried the photos again, and it's deigned to upload the windlass locker one:

Now that was worth it, wasn't it? Interestingly, there were no windlasses, mooring pins, piling hooks or hammer in there. I wonder where they've been hidden?

We've just got back from Armadillo where we've been enjoying drinks and a chat with Graham and Jill.

We're off to Sheffield tomorrow by car to see Andrew and Bekka.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

An excellent lunch at the King's Head in Napton, and a visit from a blog reader

It was difficult to get out of our snug bed this morning - it had been cold overnight, and ice had formed in the marina. We soon had the heating on and the stove lit. The start of a great day.

After a lovely warming shower in the facilities block, and when I'd had breakfast, I took the above photo from the boat. The ice was slowly disappearing, and the ducks were reverting to swimming rather than walking.

Ally came to visit today, and we walked to the King's Head in Napton for lunch. We were delighted to find a £5 lunchtime menu with superb-looking options.

Between us we had a pheasant, leek and tarragon pie on a creamy mash bed; coq au vin with vegetables; and chicken, bacon and mozarella baguette with chips and salad. It was all utterly delicious, and then we shared an Oozy-Woozy Chocolate Pudding with chocolate sauce and ice cream. That was fab too, although I was pretty full from the first course. I had change from £20 (for the food). We'll go again, possibly tomorrow, to sample the liver and bacon or Hungarian goulash. Or both.

Before lunch, though, there was a banging on the side of the boat. I went to investigate, and Graham from nb Armadillo was standing there, introducing himself to me. His boat was moored on the next pontoon but one. I invited him in, of course, and offered him coffee. It was good to meet you, Graham, and look forward to the beers tomorrow! I've added your blog to my list on the right.

There's still a problem with Blogger not uploading photographs. Grrr.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Knife taken to crushed hose in hose reel

As well as the porta potti problem yesterday (and thanks to Beardy Chas for his analysis) we had a water hose worry.

On reaching Shadow we found that the water tank was empty. It had been drained as part of winter maintenance and left dry - as was the pipework - as a precaution in case of frosts. At least, that's what I assume.

To refill the tank I unwound the hose from its Hoselok reel, connected it to the tap, switched on and ... nothing. Not even a drible from the far end.

Investigation revealed that the innermost part of the coil of hose had been badly kinked and crushed, enough to prevent any flow. I tried to straighten it, but without success.

My next line of attack was to try to unscrew the two halves of the reel. I managed to remove three screws, but the rest had rusted so much that the heads disintegrated rather than turn with the screwdriver. I suppose I could have drilled them out but I had only a hand drill, and by this stage I was cold and lacking enthusiasm to repair something which had probably been with the boat since its launch.

I cut the hose from the reel and attached a connector. Within moments I had the tank filling.

Now I suppose we need a new hose reel.

By the way, Blogger again refuses to upload more than one photo. Has anyone else experienced this?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Porta Potti flush problem

We're on Shadow again - hooray! We'll be using the boat as a base from which to make various trips by car. One of those will be to Birmingham, which we had intended to do by boat, but the stoppage at Calcutt got in the way.

On to the title of this post. As we're not likely to be taking Shadow anywhere - and won't be on the boat the whole time - we thought we'd bring our (ex-caravan) Porta Potti so as to avoid the pumpout fee. I cleaned off the cobwebs and loaded it in the car, along with logs for the stove etc.

There's plenty of space in the bathroom (now the ridiculous corner bath has gone), so I put a splash of blue in the bottom, put some water in the top, and flushed it.

Or, rather, I tried to flush it. The concertina thing you press down wouldn't go down. So no water flushed out of the little nozzle.

It worked the last time we used it (but that was probably 15 years ago). What could have happened? It's a Porta Potti 145.

(There was meant to be another photo, a wider one showing the whole loo, but Blogger just won't let me upload it.)

Top Thirty, 2013 week 7

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty places) as it stood at 1215 on Sunday 17th February 2013. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Living on a Narrowboat (=)

5 UKCanals Network (+1)

6 Waterway Routes (-1)

7 Retirement with No Problem (+2)

8 Water Explorer (-1)

9 nb Epiphany (-1)

10 Granny Buttons (=)

11 nb Waiouru (=)

12 Jannock Website (=)

13 Towpath Treks (=)

14 boatshare (=)

15 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (+1)

16 nb Lucky Duck (+11)

17 Canal Shop Company (-2)

18 One Thing After Another (+2)

19 boats and cruising (-)

20 Derwent6 (-2)

21 Milburn Boats Ltd (+7)

22 Baddie the Pirate (-3)

23 Halfie (=)

24 Narrowboat dreaming ... Parisien Star (+8)

25 boatrent (+6)

26 Boats and Canals Forum (-1)

27 Boatshed Grand Union (-6)

28 Contented Souls (-2)

29 Narrowboat Briar Rose (=)

30 NB The Manly Ferry (=)

31 The Real Life of a Narrowboat Wife (-7)

32 ExOwnerships (-15)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 190 entries, up from 181 last week.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Shakespeare and his Birthplace

While visiting them this afternoon, Jan's parents produced a book which had been presented to Jan's grandmother 109 years ago. Shakespeare and his Birthplace was written by Emma Marshall. I didn't have time to read much, but it had some beautifully coloured - hand-tinted? - engravings of Stratford and its environs.

One of the first pictures to catch my eye was of a lock on the "old canal" (click on the image above for a larger version). Is this the Stratford Canal? Or is there another, older, canal which this could refer to?

The pages of the book were the thickest I've come across, being heavy card with gold leaf edges.

The book was a prize awarded by the RSPCA for an essay on "Man's Duty towards Animals" and was presented to Isabel Careless at the Crystal Palace on May 14th 1904.

updated to add detail

Friday, 15 February 2013

Aston Junction

In the absence of anything more recent, here's a photo from May last year of Jubilee poking its nose into Aston Junction on the BCN.

We'll be on Shadow soon, but are unlikely to go far. We had hoped to take it to Birmingham but the stoppage at Calcutt has come at the wrong time for us. We'll use the boat as a base for various visits. And I'm intending to clean the gas locker and do other jobs.

Tomorrow we're picking up the Volvo 240 after its MOT (nothing needed to be done - not bad for a 26 year old car!).

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Halfie then and now

As you will see on the right I've just updated my profile photo.

For comparison, I thought you'd like to see a version of yours truly from an old ID card. (Can this really be the same person?)

Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to the vintage of this photo?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Folding bike makes life easy for train, car and boat

It took me a long time to get round to it, but today, at last, I took a couple of pictures of my new folding bike.

From rideable to folded, or the other way round, takes a few seconds, and involves just two quick-release clamps: one half-way along the frame; and one half-way up the handlebar stem.

If the seat has been lowered, as in the photo above, that's another quick-release clamp. Easy peasy. And it feels perfectly firm when pedalling - and I've never had such good brakes!

I've made good use of the bike recently in my travels to and from London. It gets me to the station this end, and to my brother's house the other. And I can take it on the Underground as long as it stays folded.

The model? It's an Easystreet City Folding Bike from, and it cost me £160 from Wilco Motorists Discount Centre in Norwich.

I'm very pleased with it, and am looking forward to putting it in the car to take to the boat. Much easier than a full-size "normal" bike.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Stop horsing around!

I wonder how long it will be before it's discovered that this is not all it's cracked up to be:

I enjoyed my Tesco Value Lasagne on Saturday.

Who keeps minced beef in their kitchen cupboard, though?

Good to know that the "beef" comes from the UK or Ireland. Although the claim is only that the lasagne is produced using such beef: it doesn't say what part the UK/Irish beef plays in the production. Perhaps it's a screen extra.

OK, OK - I'm being a right donkey.

Monday, 11 February 2013

In London again ...

... for another course. This one is called "Setting up as a Sole Trader", and is the third of five. Not that I'm necessarily intending to set myself up as a "sole trader", but I'll take any course that's going in these last few weeks.

I was surprised to see snow on the ground as I came through Essex on the train - it's all gone from Norfolk now. And it was cold and drizzly when I got off the tube at North Greenwich.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Wild rises and falls in waterways websites' rankings

Some years ago (four (!) - I just looked it up) I took it upon myself to log the UK Waterways Ranking Site chart every week, thus preserving a regular record of the top thirty positions of waterways websites in Tony Blews's tables. At the beginning there was quite a lot of fluctuation as bloggers and website owners cottoned on to the ranking site; they installed the widget and put the position indicator on their sites, and they shot up the chart. And others moved down, of course.

Then things settled down, and the only major fluctuations happened when a new boating forum started up, or when a blogger recounted a particularly riveting story (there's a pun there if you'd like it). Now I can't think of any waterways website which doesn't subscribe to the UKWRS.

BUT ... the last two or three weeks have seen unusual ups and downs. Jim Shead's Waterways Information site has slumped to a lowly number 54 from its number 4 position of two weeks ago. New website Living on a Narrowboat has come from nowhere two weeks ago to number 4. And Sarah has written about her blog's sudden rise to 18 one recent Tuesday - a position which didn't last long: Chertsey is down to 58 today.

What is going on?

You might like a reminder of what the UKWRS looked like when it started up:

This was in its first week of operation, in January 2009. It's a lot easier on the eye now.

Top Thirty, 2013 week 6

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty places) as it stood at 1930 on Sunday 10th February 2013. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4 Living on a Narrowboat (+4)

5 Waterway Routes (-1)

6 UKCanals Network (=)

7 Water Explorer (=)

8 nb Epiphany (+1)

9 Retirement with No Problem (-4)

10 Granny Buttons (=)

11 nb Waiouru (=)

12 Jannock Website (=)

13 Towpath Treks (+1)

14 boatshare (-1)

15 Canal Shop Company (+2)

16 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (=)

17 ExOwnerships (-)

18 Derwent6 (+3)

19 Baddie the Pirate (-4)

20 One Thing After Another (+3)

21 Boatshed Grand Union (+1)

22 nb Piston Broke (-)

23 Halfie (+3)

24 The Real Life of a Narrowboat Wife (-)

25 Boats and Canals Forum (-5)

26 Contented Souls (-7)

27 nb Lucky Duck (+1)

28 Milburn Boats Ltd (-3)

29 Narrowboat Briar Rose (=)

30 NB The Manly Ferry (-)

31 boatrent (-1)

32 Narrowboat dreaming ... Parisien Star (-1)

33 Narrowboat Bones (-1)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 181 entries, down from 182 last week.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Jan does well in "quiz"

We took part in a fund raising event for our local church this evening.

It was a quiz and food - no chips.

At half time most of us formed a circle round the room, put a pound in a couple of boxes, and passed the boxes round while music played. When the music stopped the people holding the boxes sat down, and the music restarted. Eventually there were just two people left - the two boxes had been combined - and Jan was one of the two. People, not boxes. (Are you following this?)

When the music stopped for the final time Marion was holding the box, which meant that Jan was the winner.

She magnanimously shared the proceeds (half of which had already been taken out for the church funds) with another competitor after a box-dropping incident.

Oh - I managed to be on the winning team in the actual quiz (yes, somehow Jan and I ended up on different tables) so I came away with a bottle of wine. Jan's winnings covered the cost of our tickets and the wine "replaces" the beer I took to drink, so we've done all right, really!

(updated to improve accuracy)

Friday, 8 February 2013

Seeing this signwriting reminds me ...

... that I haven't done anything about Jubilee's signwriting - or lack of it - yet.

This is butty Cygnus being given some more shading at Stoke Bruerne in June 2011 (more photos here).

Now I've had an idea for Jubilee. I think I'd like to recreate the logo of Jubilee hose clips. But would they give me permission? Their website has this warning:

Jubilee® is a registered trade mark of L Robinson & Co (Gillingham) Limited. The company name, brands, drawings, photographs and descriptions are protected by L Robinson & Company (Gillingham) Limited's industrial and intellectual property rights. Any reproduction and/or modification without the prior written agreement of L Robinson & Co (Gillingham) Limited will be interpreted as an infringement of copyright and may be liable to prosecution.

So I dare not even reproduce the logo here.

Did Steve get permission from Brasso to reproduce their artwork on his boat?

I can't see how Brasso would mind all that free (I assume it's free) advertising. So perhaps L. Robinson wouldn't mind either.

Jubilee is still a blank canvas.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Tony Hales meets Andrew Denny

At Braunston two summers ago I saw Andrew Denny (on the right) talking to someone I recognised but couldn't immediately put a name to.

It's Tony Hales, who was then the chairman of British Waterways, and who is now the chairman of the Canal and River Trust.

The occasion was the annual historic boats gathering, and I believe the location was the towpath bridge over the entrance to Braunston Marina.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Stuck south of Calcutt

Unless we can somehow get Shadow moved north of Calcutt Locks it looks like we won't be cruising to Birmingham.

I received a prompt reply from the South Eastern waterways office, which confirmed that Calcutt Locks will close for maintenance, as planned, on 11th February.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Graffiti smoke effect

It's a shame this photo is blurred, as the graffiti on the bridge could be the outline of a plume of smoke coming from Victoria's chimney.

Ashby Canal, August 2012

With regard to our route planning problem: I e-mailed Damian Kemp of CRT - he who sends out the regular Boaters' Update e-mails - and received a prompt reply. I'd asked him if the stoppage information is likely to be up-to-date, and he said it was. He gave me the e-mail addresses of the appropriate waterways regional offices and suggested I contact them for first-hand info. I'm just waiting for a reply from the South East Waterways office ...

Monday, 4 February 2013

Route planning scuppered by stoppages

The last time we were on Shadow was last September, almost half a year ago. This was the weather then:

Forward to the present ... and, oh dear. We were planning to be on Shadow for a few days, taking it from Wigram's Turn to Birmingham. The boat needs to be at BCBM's shared ownership boat show at the beginning of March, but the stoppage information from CRT seems to indicate that there would be a problem.

Grand Union Canal »

  1. Stoppage: Calcutt Lock 1 to 3

    11 Feb 2013 - 01 Mar 2013
    Associated Regional Office: South East Waterways
    Relining of lock gates.
    (Enquiries: 03030 404040)

  1. Stoppage: Atherstone Lock 7

    07 Jan 2013 - 01 Mar 2013
    Associated Regional Office: Central Shires Waterways
    Repair / Rebuild Lock Landing
    (Enquiries: 03030 404040)
    The towpath is also closed

We were intending to leave Wigram's Turn Marina after 11th Feb, i.e. after the Calcutt stoppage is due to start. An alternative route to Nantwich, via North Oxford, Coventry, T&M and Middlewich Branch Canals is blocked by the closure at Atherstone Locks.

I'll have to contact CRT to ask if this stoppage info is up-to-date.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Water meter installed at home

Just before I left for work the other day (30/01/13) a large white van struggled down the driveway and a man in overalls and a dirty hi-vis vest banged on the door. I had forgotten that we'd agreed to have a water meter installed - this was the team of two from May Gurney who were about to fit it.

Here is the meter, about two feet down a tube at the top of the garden. It's now up to us to opt in to metered water. If we do nothing we'll continue to receive bills based on our house's notional "rateable value".

We've always been careful with our water use, and we stand to save at least £100 per year with metered water. I'll have to send off the form.

Water bills are something most boat dwellers don't have to worry about - although boaters have to be rather more hands-on when it comes to getting water and disposing of sewage.

Top Thirty, 2013 week 5

Here is the UK Waterways Site Ranking (top thirty places) as it stood at 0855 on Sunday 3rd February 2013. This is taken, with permission, from Tony Blews's UK Waterways Ranking Site.

1 Canal World Discussion Forums (=)

2 Pennine Waterways (=)

3 CanalPlanAC (=)

4Waterway Routes (+3)

5 Retirement with No Problem (=)

6 UKCanals Network (+2)

7 Water Explorer (+2)

8 Living on a Narrowboat (-)

9 nb Epiphany (-3)

10 Granny Buttons (=)

11 nb Waiouru (=)

12 Jannock Website (=)

13 boatshare (+2)

14 Towpath Treks (=)

15 Baddie the Pirate (+4)

16 Captain Ahab's Watery Tales (-3)

17 Canal Shop Company (=)

18 Jim Shead's Waterways Information (-14)

19 Contented Souls (-3)

20 Boats and Canals Forum (+6)

21 Derwent6 (+4)

22 Boatshed Grand Union (+7)

23 One Thing After Another (+1)

24 boats and cruising (-)

25 Milburn Boats Ltd (-)

26 Halfie (+4)

27 Rock n Roll (-6)

28 nb Lucky Duck (-10)

29 Narrowboat Briar Rose (-1)

30 boatrent (-)

31 Narrowboat dreaming ... Parisien Star (-4)

32 Narrowboat Bones (-12)

The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart;
(-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the chart;
(=) denotes no change.

There are 182 entries, up from 180 last week.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Accepting Safari upgrade means my Hotmail now works again

On my elderly Apple iMac G5 I've been struggling for years with Hotmail. I could read messages, sometimes, but it wouldn't allow me to send or forward messages. Rather frustrating, as you can imagine. For the last two or three years I've had to use the slow PC laptop, or wait until I was at work.

Also, my computer really didn't like the recent changes to Blogger. On selecting my blog it appeared without the bar at the top, so there was no "New Post" to click on. In order to create a new post I've been having to click on all sorts of things to make it work.

But a few minutes ago the icon indicating a software update started bouncing, so I clicked on it and selected an update to Safari, my computer's browser. I can't remember this ever having been updated before, and this was the reason for internetty things failing to work as they should. I was dreading the mandatory restart. Would anything work again? Would I be able to post to this blog?

Well, Safari now comes up with a funny "preview" window thing, and the tabs look slightly different - but - Hooray! Hotmail now seems to work again! I can actually send a message! And my blog has come up looking like it should, so I can easily create a new post!

To celebrate, here's a derelict warehouse by the Grand Union Canal in Wolverton. The sun shone through from the other side at the instant I snapped the photo, so I've played with the image a little.

This is what it looked like before I tweaked it in iPhoto.

Here it is again, without the blinding sun.

My online life, such as it is, is going to be a lot easier now.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Paddington Basin reflections

Paddington Basin, the terminus of the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal in London, is surrounded by new-looking high-rise buildings. These crowd in on the waterway, seemingly jostling for the best position. Last month I took three photos there, and here they are.

I like these reflections ...

... which are part of the first photo.

The building at the end, resembling part of a giant electric shaver or perhaps a toast rack on its side, appears to be called "Grand Union" (photo two).

Looking this up, however, it seems that the name refers only to an upmarket bar, presumably on the ground floor. If I remember correctly the rest is a hotel (photo three).

I wonder how many of the clientele appreciate the significance of the name.