Sunday, 3 June 2018

Historic boats and house moving

Is it really almost a week since the Crick Show? Time behaved strangely last week. I'll get on to that in a bit. First, while we were still at our mooring on the piling just south of the winding hole, Nutfield and Raymond came by.

For quite a while after they had passed I could hear Nutfield's engine as it rounded the long bend to Yelvertoft.

On the Tuesday after the show we drove to Wolverton to help daughter Ally, son-in-law Ben and grandson Josiah move house. This was one vanful, with the family and their removal man, on Wednesday, moving day.

With the van gone to the new house Ben and Josiah drove away from their old house for the last time. Theirs was the one with the ladder outside.

And here's the new house, a dozen miles away in Cranfield. Sadly from our point of view it's not close to the canal, but it's a lovely house and they are very pleased to be in it at last.

The break from boaty things to help with the move was why the time went strangely. Now we're back on board Jubilee.

Yesterday afternoon we were invited to fellow BCFers (and Waterways Chaplains) Bob and Jan on The Barocha for tea and cake; this morning, after the 0945 service in St. Margaret's Church, we returned the invitation and shared coffee and biscuits. Now we have moved south through Crick Tunnel and tied up between the railway bridge and Bridge 9. And there's a decent mobile data signal at last.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Crick Boat Show 2018

We were at the Crick Boat Show primarily to help at the Boaters' Christian Fellowship stand over the long weekend. I always enjoy walking round the trade stands and meeting friends. On the Sunday the BCF holds a service in the entertainments marquee, popularly known as the beer tent.

After a time of worship led by Tim, his wife Tracey spoke on the question "Do you know where you are going?"

The service was well attended, with numbers estimated at about 100.

The BCF stand was in the usual place in the corner of the largest marquee and attracted a steady stream of visitors.

The weather was remarkably kind, with plenty of warm sunshine over the entire three days. The sky got very dark at about 5pm on Sunday, but the rain held off until the show had closed for the day.

I got wet helping to secure a boat which had come adrift. No, I didn't fall in: the expected deluge of rain came.

In the evening John and Jane came for a meal on Jubilee, then the four of us returned to the show site for the Abba tribute band Abba Revival.

For once, a band playing songs I mostly knew!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Crick arrival

On our way to Crick from Foxton the blackthorn (?) blossom and the cow parsley were out in force.

We tied up, retrieved the car and drove to Wolverton where we stayed the night with Ally, Ben and Josiah. The next day we went home to mow the lawn etc., returning to the boat on Friday.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

CRT boss praises Waterways Chaplains

At a service in Braunston Church yesterday Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal and River Trust, spoke to praise the work of the Waterways Chaplains.

Mr Parry acknowledged the fact that there are some who live on the waterways and who are in difficult circumstances. The Waterways Chaplains, he said, do a great job in helping them.

The service was held at the end of a training day for the Waterways Chaplaincy.

Many waterways chaplains are also members of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship; Jan and I went to the service. Richard Parry may not be flavour of the month for many boaters perturbed by the rebranding of CRT, but he does seem to make a huge effort to get to as many boating-related events as possible.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Bridge removed on Market Harborough arm; visitors

Here's a not-very-difficult spot-the-difference pair of photos of Wooden Stepbridge 14 on the Market Harborough arm.

The first, with bridge deck intact and worker climbing down, was taken on 14th May. The second, with no bridge deck, was taken just four days later.

Immediately to the right (east) of the bridge land has been cleared leading to the Leicester Road (B6047); to the west is a vast area of cleared land which will be 2,000 more houses for Market Harborough. I suspect that a new road bridge is to be built here giving direct access to the new housing estate.

Perhaps it will be only a temporary structure and the original footbridge will be restored once the building works are complete.

Ah - I've just found the CRT notice alert relating to this: a new road bridge is indeed being constructed (but it doesn't say anything about it being merely temporary).

Today we went to St. Dionysius's church in MH; after lunch we topped up with water, emptied cassettes and winded in the basin before making our way back to Foxton. While waiting to go up the locks (we were third in the queue) we spotted these bikers wearing what look at first glance to be police hi-vis jackets.

The jackets, complete with blue and white chequered strips, actually read "POLITE notice THINK BIKE".

I wonder what the real police think of that.

I mentioned yesterday that, while moored at Market Harborough, we had a visit from old friends. Jan's old friends, actually, from her Havering Youth Choir days. She hadn't seen Trevor or Arlette for 41 years - they had just been on a day boat from Union Wharf celebrating a birthday.

Trevor and Arlette have been hiring every year for 16 years; they were very interested to come on board a non-hire boat.

On our way up Foxton today there was the usual crowd of sunny Sunday gongoozlers. A family attached itself to us, helping with opening and closing gates. They said they had never seen inside a narrowboat before and asked if they could come on board, so at the top we invited them for a look round.

I'm afraid we didn't get all their names, but Shahid is the one wearing glasses. They were thrilled to be given the guided tour, saying it had made their day.

We continued a mile or so further south before tying up in a peaceful location with views over the Leicestershire countryside. Tomorrow we shall continue towards Crick.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Blacking, a disappointing meal, a tasty meal and a returned camera

Oo er ... it's been six days since my last post. I've obviously been having too much fun. Since the last update we've been down Foxton Locks and visited Market Harborough twice. Oh, and we've been out of the water for blacking.

This is a lovely tree-lined part of the Leicester Section north of Welford Junction. Monday 14th May 2018.

Arriving at Foxton Locks at about 1130 we found we were able to follow a boat which had just started down, so we had very little wait. Here's the obligatory shot at the top of Foxton Locks.

At the bottom we watered up and had lunch before proceeding to Market Harborough.

The next day daughter Ally and grandson Josiah joined us, having driven from Milton Keynes.

They stayed on board while we cruised to Debdale Wharf; I cycled back to get their car.

The next day - this is Wednesday 16th now - Jubilee was lifted out of the water for its biennial blacking.

We let Dean do the dirty work.

While that was going on we walked up the hill to Gumley, continuing to the top of the locks where we met fellow BCFers Audrey and Ray on Livien 'G. Back on Jubilee we had lunch, then waited out of the wind in the reception area while Dean lifted the boat some more to black the baseplate. In less than a hour that was done and the freshly applied bitumastic paint was drying in the sun. The whole process had taken just a few hours; the boat was to be put back in the water at 1400 the next day. The problem was, I had hoped to do a bit of painting of the hard-to-reach bits while the boat was still up in the air. Now there wouldn't be much time.

We had already decided to eat out that evening, so we walked to Gumley again, reversing our route of the morning, and participated in the Bell's steak night deal. The steak was done exactly how I like it, but it somehow seemed to lack taste. The chips were below par too, being too thin and McDonald's-like. The place did redeem itself, however, as the manageress ran after us a minute or so after we had started walking down the road. She was holding my camera, which I'd left hanging on my chair. Phew!

We walked across the fields to the bottom of the locks and found ourselves drawn to the Bridge 61 pub where a folk session was under way. As I'd had no pudding, and as I still had room ... I had a beef stew in a Yorkshire pudding! Now THAT was tasty. And only a fiver.

The next morning, Thursday, I managed a coat of the red tunnel band and to scrape, sand and Fertan the worst bits of the gunwales. Before I could even think about any more painting Steve asked us to get off the boat as he wanted to put it back in. Once in the water we returned to Foxton where I did a second coat of the red and stayed put for the night.

Still to come: the disappearing bridge and a visit from friends unseen for more than four decades. That's all in the next post, which might be tomorrow (but I'm not promising).

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Braunston to Crick; Crick to Welford Junction

Another fine boating day we've had today. Mostly sunny, not much wind. But a quick summary of yesterday first: we set off from Butcher's Bridge shortly after 0800 and had an uneventful passage up the locks and through Braunston Tunnel. Indigo Dream had departed in the other direction half an hour earlier, steered by Graham.

At Norton Junction we turned left onto the Leicester Section. We stopped to chat to Angela and David of Norfolk Belle at Welton Hythe Marina with their daughter Sarah. At the bottom of Watford Locks we had to wait 1.5 hours so we had lunch, then I helped lock a boat down the flight.

We tied up at Crick at about 1600 just beating the rain. Hazel from Charis came for a chat in the evening.

Today we went to St. Margaret's Church for their (quite noisy) family service with baptism, after which Hazel gave me a lift to Rugby so I could get the car. I drove back to Crick via Aldi.

We had a salad lunch on board, then we set off northwards. The weather, as I've mentioned, was pretty perfect.

We stopped at the moorings just before Welford Junction at 1630. I erected the TV aerial and tested the reception, which was good. The only thing we use the television for is my watching of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, which I did from 1800 to 2000, then I derigged the aerial and put it all away again (until two weeks' time). I must get a cover for the TV, for the 99.4% of the time it is unwatched. I could prop a picture up against it, I suppose ...

This was our view from our mooring at Welford Junction.

I've just had an idea! That would make a good photo for the TV. Just need to print it nice and big ...

Tomorrow we plan to get to Market Harborough.

Friday, 11 May 2018

New bridge between Brownsover and Hillmorton?

We set off from Brownsover at about coffee time this morning, soon coming across the vast building site on the eastern side of the canal extending down to Hillmorton. It appears that a new bridge is in the early stages of construction.

This appears to be a storm water run-off drain, unless it's for draining the land generally.

We called in at Dunchurch Pools Marina (newly constructed) to visit John and Gill on Faithful, where they kindly gave us lunch.

Then we carried on to Braunston, where we enjoyed a meal at the Boathouse pub with John and Gill (again) and James and Hazel of Gabriel.

Hazel, James, Gill, Halfie, Jan, John
Oh - and we are tied up by Indigo Dream (with Graham and Jill on board, moving the boat for Richard and Sue).

Thursday, 10 May 2018

CRT workers' radio disturbs the peace of the canal

As we approached Brownsover yesterday my ears were assailed by loud music coming from, of all places, a CRT work boat.

It's the sort of thing you come to expect on a building site ... but on a canal? A site radio was on top of the boat blaring out rock music at high level.

As we passed I commented on the intrusiveness of the loud music.

Me: "Does it need to be so loud?"
Worker: "Why, is it disturbing you?"
Me: "Not just me, but anyone else who might be expecting peace and quiet."

To the worker's credit he did turn it down but, of course, I don't know what happened to the volume after we had gone.

I had thought CRT was keen to promote canals and rivers as havens of tranquillity. If so, it needs to tell its staff.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Atherstone to Bedworth and Brownsover

Ah ha! I have now had the opportunity to fire up the laptop, connect to Jan's wifi hotspot and upload some photos. First, the old and new starter batteries (new at the top).

I got a Hankook MF59519 battery from Battery Megastore for £77.73 including postage. This claims 720 CCA (cold cranking amps - a measure of the "oomph" it can give to the starter motor) and a capacity of 95 Ah. The old battery, I discovered, was a leisure battery. The same as was in the domestic battery bank before I replaced them a couple of years ago. I'm hoping that the new battery will last a lot longer than the old one, especially as it is "sealed, maintenance free". The battery is in a very hard-to-reach place, which meant that I never topped it up. That's probably why it died.

Right, enough of batteries (for now).

This is where we tied up on Monday, between locks 8 and 7 on the Coventry Canal at Atherstone.

The trains were a bit noisy and woke Jan too early in the morning. We walked into the town, catching Aldi with just enough time before they closed.

The next morning, after our early-ish rise, we ascended the next two locks before Jan walked back to the high street for a hair cut, leaving me to carry on up the flight on my own. This is Lock 5, I believe.

Could someone please identify these white flowers, seen by a bridge?

At Bedworth we stopped at our friends Terry and Christine's canalside house and were invited for a meal together with Stephen and Gwyneth who live nearby. Thanks for a great evening. Stephen was kind enough to drive me back to Fazeley to pick up the car.

This morning we walked up the road to Chopra's car spares shop for the fuel filters I need; at coffee time we set off towards Hawkesbury Junction.

We are now at Brownsover, having turned left up the Oxford Canal.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Non-functioning bilge pump turns out to be dead starter battery

When we came to the boat last month for a brief stopover I was perturbed to find that the bilge pump didn't work. It was the sort with an in-built float switch; there was enough water down there for it to have operated, but when I removed it and pressed the manual override it made a pathetic small noise and did nothing else.

Oh well, time to buy a new bilge pump, I thought. A new pump obtained, I installed it and ... the same result. It was only then that I thought of checking the voltage at the pump. 6V. Surely there must be shome mistake! I traced the wire back to the circuit breaker and then to the starter battery. Yup, only 6V there too.

Then I had my only bright idea of the day: I wired the bilge pump to the domestic battery bank. This is constantly being topped up by the solar panels so should be a better bet than the starter battery anyway. When we got home I ordered a new starter battery.

I fitted it yesterday - not an easy job as it lives in a wooden box tucked away on the swim and secured by inch-high steel upstands. All now seems tickety-boo. I have now installed a dedicated voltmeter so I can keep an eye on the battery's performance.

Today, then, we set off on our first trip of the year, travelling from Fazeley to Atherstone (above Lock 9). We're on our way to Debdale Wharf for blacking.

No photos, sorry, as I'm writing this on my telephone.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Finding out why the bilge pump didn't work - stupid me

On Friday I disconnected the outlet hose from the bilge pump and lifted it out of position so I could get at the impeller. It seemed free enough but still only managed a pathetically slow speed when operated. Hmm. Broken, I thought. We were only 15 minutes by car from Streethay Wharf, so I drove there to buy a replacement pump. £83.90. Ouch! Back at the boat I swapped it over, switched it on and - yes - the same result.

It was only now that I had the bright idea of checking the voltage at the pump. Aargh! Only 6V! No wonder it didn't work! What an idiot! I followed the cables up to the control panel and checked the voltage on the lead from the starter battery whence the bilge pump gets its power. Yup, 6V. Not good for a 12V battery.

I disconnected the new pump, reconnected the old one and powered it from the domestic battery bank. This should be better as the solar panels should keep them charged. I jump started the engine from the domestic bank. It started first time, pleasingly, and we moved the short distance to Fazeley Mill Marina where we used the new Elsan point (viciously strong rinsing jet) and topped up the water.

By the time we'd gone to Fazeley Junction, winded and returned to the mooring it was almost dark. We had to be in Milton Keynes that evening, so we hurriedly packed the car, drained the water as much as we'd done previously and drove away.

Well, now I have a spare bilge pump. I read recently that the cabin bilge should also have a pump - has anyone done this?

Thursday, 8 March 2018

On board: good news and bad news

We drove over to the boat this afternoon to find ... no apparent faults with the domestic water system. Hooray! It seems to have survived the winter so far.

But ... I found some water in the cabin bilge and a very damp bung. The bung is a disc of the floor cut out to form the inspection hatch. Worse, I tried operating the engine 'ole bilge pump to find that it made a pathetic small noise - and then nothing. As the canal doesn't seem to be emptying into the bilge at the moment I shall investigate properly tomorrow. If it can't be resuscitated I still have the old pump. I replaced it only last year as it was getting noisy. Hmm - it should still be under warranty (but will I be able to find the receipt?)

No photos, sorry. I'm doing this on my telephone.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The end of navigation - and the end of the road for Moley?

Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn't it? But that's what the sign says. (Not the bit about Moley.)

OK, it actually reads "End of Environment Agency Navigation", so it's not forecasting the end of the world as we boat it. We were in Brandon, Suffolk, today (not by boat), walking along the River Little Ouse on another recce for a regional BCF gathering on Saturday week.

Attached to the mooring pontoon was a notice written in the local lingo.

It's in Polish and - according to Google Translate - means "Please take your rubbish home, thank you".

On our walk we came across a man in a hi-vis jacket with a long-handled four-pronged device. He had been creeping gently forward amongst fresh molehills on a playing field before coming to a complete standstill.

He noticed me taking this photo but ignored me and didn't move. I had never before seen a mole catcher in action - if "action" is the right word. After a while nothing happened and we moved on, completing a very pleasant walk.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Calorifier concerns

What a difference three days makes! We've been basking in double-digit (just) temperatures today and the snow is going fast. It was only yesterday that our local Tesco Express received its first delivery of milk for a while - the shelves had been bare for four days.

Two days ago many houses had spectacular icicles. I had hoped to provide an example or two, but the computer is on a go-slow and isn't playing ball. Unless it's a Blogger problem whereby it won't upload images. Here they are.

Jan said something the other day which made us both think about Jubilee - effectively abandoned by us since the last time we were there in January - and its calorifier. The mild winters of the last few years have lulled me into a false sense of security and I realise that I didn't properly winterise the boat. I suppose I thought that we'd just drive over and do the necessary if the weather got cold ... but it all took us rather by surprise.

One good thing is that our friends David and Mary have checked the boat today and all seemed to be well, so I hope we don't find a ghastly split in the calorifier when we go ourselves later this week.

Updated with photos

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Snowhere man

Er ... hello! I'm back. It's been a while, but I'm hoping to renew my blogging energy and get going again. There was a lot happening in our lives and I let this slide. I suppose I was enjoying the extra freedom I found by not feeling obliged to update the blog, and once I got out of the habit ...

Anyway. I'm sure you're up to your neck in snow pictures, but here are two I took from our house. First, this from the back:

and then a white-out down the driveway.
Both photos were taken on Wed 28th Feb 2018. I measured 9" of snow here in Norfolk; today the thaw has set in with the temperature reaching a balmy 8.1 C. Oh, and it's been raining all afternoon and evening so far. The garden is still white but already patches of grass are showing through.