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.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

How did I manage without one of these?

A few days ago, after some deliberation, I bought myself a combi drill, which I take to mean a combination drill/screwdriver. At a shade under £50 from Aldi it must be among the cheapest on the market.

My August Toolstation catalogue lists a similar spec Bauker drill driver a penny cheaper at £49.98; the next comparable tool is double that and still has the same capacity batteries.

This Aldi Workzone device comes with two 1.5 Ah lithium ion batteries, a five hour charger, a selection of drill and screwdriver bits and a good carry bag.

Minutes after cycling home with my purchase I was fixing a wood block to the wall of the house; this afternoon I did some more drilling and screwing jobs at Andrew's house in Sheffield. It's so quick and easy! For all these years I have been stringing up extension leads, fiddling with a chuck key, finding the right screwdriver (manual, of course) and so on. Now everything is in one small bag, with no need of mains electricity. The jobs took less than half the time they would have done. I would say "Who knew?" but I expect you all did.

Yes, the batteries may be on the small side, but the sort of jobs I need a drill for are usually small ones themselves. Neither is the motor brushless. Nevertheless I suspect my faithful old Black and Decker may never get powered up again.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Celebrating Andy and Helen's 30 years

We came up to the boat yesterday as we had been invited to Andy and Helen's 30th Wedding Anniversary celebration in Aldridge today. We joined more than 50 other guests, including at least four other boaters, for a splendid buffet lunch with a looped slide show of pictures from the happy couple's life over the last three decades showing on a screen above the cake.

And what a cake! An iced Wandering Bark

… towing The Jam Butty past a WildSide meadow.

We sat at a table with Adam and Adrian of Briar Rose, Sandra of Areandare and Bones of Bones. It was excellent to see them all, and Andy and Helen, of course. Unfortunately some people didn't make it through the traffic in the London area, including Sue of Indigo Dream.

Andy and Helen, thank you for granting us the privilege of being able to share in your celebrations.

The Aldridge Church Centre was a superb venue for the event; other guests included family (of course), members of the church and their book club friends.

And all less than 12 miles from our boat - very handy. We're back on board tonight and will visit Andrew in Sheffield on Monday.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Jubilee on the telly

Relaxing in our sitting room at home Jan got a message out of the blue from an old college friend.  "I've just seen you on TV", she said.  Scrabbling for the TV listings we realised it must have been Songs of Praise on BBC1, which had just finished.

We remembered we had encountered a cameraman filming a couple and their boat at Braunston around the time of the historic boat rally in June. The couple - independently of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship - were talking to people they met on the towpath and looking for opportunities to share their faith in Jesus.

Here's a screenshot from the programme featuring us in front of Jubilee talking to one half of the couple.

It was a look ahead to next week's programme featuring the couple and their boat, My Diadem.

Nick Wolfe (Aldgate) didn't escape my lens; I don't know if he will appear in the film.

My Diadem was filmed going up Lock 2 ...

… including footage taken with the camera resting on the balance beam as the gate was closed.

It will be interesting to see if there's any more of us when the programme goes out next Sunday. That's Songs of Praise, BBC1, 21st October at 2.55pm.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Flaming burgers!

Yesterday was a busy, full-on day so no blog post. After an excellent teaching and discussion session in the morning we had various activities in the afternoon, including a treasure hunt which we were able to enter this time as it had been set by someone else. We won, despite dropping half a point because I forgot to return to one clue to get some more information. Don and Celia did a barbecue - Don had an interesting technique.

It all tasted fine, I'm pleased to say.

In the evening we had songs, sketches and readings; this morning we had a short communion service just for the BCFers, then we joined the usual congregation for a service in the church before Sunday lunch in the Fazeley Inn just down the road.

And then … it was our last half mile of boating for this year (possibly), taking the boat to Fazeley Mill Marina for diesel filling and Elsan emptying. This is Tolson's Footbridge while the sun was shining; at the marina we had a sudden downpour.

After winding at Fazeley Junction we returned to our online mooring and relaxed. I'll load the car tomorrow.

Friday, 21 September 2018

A BCF gathering at Fazeley

More people arrived today for the BCF weekend at Fazeley. We hosted several on our boat at various times both before and during a committee meeting. Here are Don and David …

both of whom are on the committee. Jan (stripy top) is here chairing the meeting. (I'm not on the committee, so I was able to welcome Andy and Sue and Chris and Di on board this afternoon.)

This evening we had a social get-together with drinks and nibbles in the church hall; tomorrow there will be a teaching session in the church followed by activities in the afternoon, a barbeque and entertainment in the evening.

There are six boats here altogether: Sonflower, Jubilee, Erin Mae, Ichthus, Ultrea and Spring Water. David and Mary have left Kew at Hawne Basin ready for the Parkhead festival next weekend.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Overspill weirs on the Coventry Canal

We lit our stove today as we did mostly sedentary jobs this morning. It was good to get the lovely warmth - and occasional smoky smell - from the dry logs we've been carrying around all summer. It was also very good not to have to go anywhere in the rain! This afternoon Jan walked and I cycled to Tamworth for a little light shopping (no, we didn't buy any little lights) and stayed dry. Now (10pm) it's pouring with rain again (on the day, naturally, when CRT announced the closure of the Caldon Canal at Hazelhurst Locks to save water on the T&M).

Cycling along the Coventry Canal towpath the other day I photographed a couple of overspill weirs.

They didn't have much to do ...

… but the rain will be making a difference. The River Tame in Tamworth was up today; it'll be even higher soon.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The effects of wind

The main story today has been the wind. Trees were shedding leaves, twigs and bigger stuff. Mostly they were demonstrating their resilience by bending and not breaking.

Corrugated metal sheets were lifting off the roof of a farm building, banging and clattering as they fell back.
The flag at the Samuel Barlow, Alvecote, hung on by a thread.

The water in the marina looked distinctly choppy.

Even my coffee had waves.

And our BCF burgee flew like it has not flown before.

But I'm jumping ahead. Before we set off I helped Graham on Dawn Run (and another single-hander ahead of him) up the locks as far as Lock 5.

When we got going the wind certainly made it interesting. There was a certain amount of debris - mainly leaves - being driven into our faces, and my hat struggled to stay on my head despite the string round my chin. Some parts were sheltered, giving a respite, but the wind really made its presence felt in open spaces. Passing Alvecote Marina was where we received the most buffeting. At one point I saw a mass of leaves fall into the water ahead of me; when I got to it I saw that they were attached to a branch several feet long and 1.5 inches diameter. My hat wouldn't have provided much protection.

The crew of one boat we passed were concentrating so hard on steering that my "Good morning" was totally ignored. I could hardly have been closer to them when I said it, loudly. Any more of this and I'm in danger of getting a complex.

At Glascote we watered up and descended the two locks, the lower one being our last lock (probably) of 2018 (boo hoo!)

Despite a short but heavy rain shower the sun shone again as we tied up at Fazeley. We are here a few days early for the BCF gathering this weekend. Jan, as Chair, will spend the time preparing for the event and for the committee meeting on Friday.