Monday, 13 February 2017

Chimney hard hat, the widening Thames

Well, I suppose it stops the rain getting in!

Spotted at Taverner's Boat Club, Castlethorpe.

In the local charity shop a couple of weeks ago I saw a jigsaw puzzle of the London Underground. I love the Underground so I had to buy it.

The lines were reasonably easy, not so the large areas of plain white.

While doing the puzzle with Jan I noticed something for the first time. The Thames gets wider as it traverses London towards the estuary - as it does in real life, of course.

Now it's time to put all 1000 pieces back in the box.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Stove fixed and a short boat trip

Just over a week ago the fitters came to fix our woodburner at home. The rear blanking plate had broken, so it was a case of "simply" refitting a new one.

I'm very glad we paid someone to do this as an angle grinder was needed to remove the old bolts, and the three holes in the new blanking plate needed drilling slightly wider to fit the new bolts.

The job took an hour. As soon as it was done we drove to Milton Keynes and lit the stove on the boat - the one at home would have to wait a few days. On the Saturday (a week ago today) we drove up to Birmingham to sort out a loo problem at a house we let; on Sunday we took the boat out of the marina.

We only went as far as Old Wolverton, all of one mile and one lock away. It took more than an hour as we stopped at the services to empty the loo, and there were all the moored boats of Cosgrove Marina to pass.

Our mooring opposite The Galleon was convenient for Jan's BCF committee meeting there on Monday. Later Ally and Josiah visited the boat. No danger of him hitting his head on the gunwale.

Josiah enjoyed watching the ducks with Mum from the side hatch.

The next day we returned to the marina and drove home. The boats on the left are on the Cosgrove Marina moorings; ahead is Cosgrove Lock.

Now we are at home I can report that the stove works better than it has done for a considerable time. It draws better and there are no fumes. Yes, I will get a CO detector. (We do have one on the boat.)

Nev on Percy prompted me to write this post, so here you are.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Panto run over for another year

One of the reasons we return home from boating when we do, around the beginning of October, is so I can go to rehearsals for the village pantomime. This annual event was started in 1970 by a man called Duncan who devised it as an evening's entertainment for his mother. The entertainment was enjoyed so much that Duncan decided to repeat the exercise the next year. It quickly grew into the lavish production that we have today. This year's run was sold out for the first time. Nine performances to 180 people at a time in the village hall makes all the rehearsals worth all the effort.

As I mentioned before I had the role of Narrator in Sleeping Beauty.

This was the biggest part I have had. I'm pleased to report that it went well. Now I shall miss the pantomime "family" ... until October.

A few years ago Duncan retired from active involvement with the pantomime group, becoming President and passing the writing baton to Lloyd who does an excellent job. There will be a big celebration in a couple of years' time, no doubt, when the panto reaches its 50th production. Duncan will then be 93.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Woodburner blanking plate broken

Our home woodburner had been letting out a bit more smoke into the room than usual, and probably dangerous fumes as well. When I looked round the back of the stove I discovered this. The stove is on the left, can you see the crack?

From inside, after removing the baffle, you can see that a piece has fallen off the blanking plate which covers the unused flue exit.

From the front nothing looks amiss. This is a Cottager 01 stove, which we had fitted 18 years ago.

The blanking plate is normally hidden by the baffle - or throat plate - which itself was a bit cracked and distorted but I don't think that matters so much.

We are having someone to come and sort it out next month. This would have to be the coldest time of the year.

This is our view of the sun breaking through the fog this morning.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Treading the boards

It's that time of year again - oh yes it is! - when I take to the stage in the village pantomime. This year I have the role of Narrator in "Sleeping Beauty".

Here I am being made up. I don't know who took the photo, sorry.

We have now completed three performances with six more to go, finishing this Saturday. If my head looks rather large in the photo it's because this year is the first time I've taken a solo bow at the curtain call ...

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Inner tube retired

I did a spot of bicycle maintenance today. My folding bike had a flat tyre. When I removed the inner tube to locate the puncture I decided that it was time to retire it. Excuse the pun.

There were already 13 patches on this tube! And the latest thorn had pierced one of those patches.

The bike is now up and running again with a brand new inner tube in the rear wheel. Must buy a new spare now.

I cycled to pick up the Volvo 240 which had had a bit of work done to get it through the MOT. It cost more this time than probably all the previous 20 times put together. Still cheaper than a new car, though. And I'm hoping that it will last a while longer, although I'm now looking out for a 940 unless a good 240 comes along.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Ranworth Church weathervane

We spent a very pleasant few hours by the Norfolk Broads today, mainly at Ranworth. I went up the tower of St. Helen's Church where I enjoyed the views and found this wonderful boaty-themed weather vane.

Back at ground level boats lay peacefully on their moorings ...

... and birds walked around on the ice.

We walked the boardwalk to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust floating building at Ranworth Broad. The low sun was lighting up the reeds.

I'll post some more photos later.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

1970s British Waterways film well worth watching

Thanks to Sarah I discovered this fascinating half-hour film made for BW in the 1970s. "Waterways our Heritage" is refreshingly slow-paced and features a family hiring Water Topaz from the boatyard at Hillmorton.

Brindley's canals are compared with those of Telford. Railway competition, boat families and working boats get a mention - with a brief nod to freight operation - and restoration (of the Kennet and Avon) is looked at. Use of towpaths by walkers and anglers - but not cyclists - is acknowledged.

The date is supposed to be 1972, but comments make it clear that it is more likely to be 1978 or 1979.

There's some great aerial footage, including a swoop up Hatton. There's an old boat in what looks like an isolated dry dock off to the right of the locks by the Hatton yard. Next time I'm there I'll have to try to identify the location.

Do you know the best thing about the film? It's not plastered with music. You can actually hear the natural sounds, even if the birdsong is laid on a bit thickly in places!