Wednesday 30 December 2015

Ammeter update and other small jobs

Hmm. I rewired the shunt this morning hoping to detect charging current flowing into the batteries, but the meter displayed 0.0A. Either the display unit isn't working or there's something else I've missed.

We came up to Jubilee on Sunday; I've done one or two jobs on board and we've been helping at Ally and Ben's house nearby. This evening I finished building a high-level cupboard in baby's room (only three or so weeks to go).

On the boat I wondered why the shower waste pump wouldn't automatically switch off, so I checked the hair filter. This was completely clogged. (I thought I'd cleaned it very recently - apparently not!) Cleaned - now all is well.

When we got back to the boat this evening we couldn't open the internal door from the engine room into the cabin. It has a Yale-type lock; the key just wouldn't move the latch. We were able to enter via the front doors and I took the lock apart. The thing that rotates to withdraw the latch had rotated too far; I managed to put it in its right place. The mechanism now seems to work but I expect it failed because it is worn. I'm expecting it to fail again some time.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Attempting to install an ammeter

A few weeks ago I ordered from Amazon a 100A ammeter. We are currently (oops!) on the boat having got here two days ago. Yesterday I had a go at connecting up the current shunt and digital display.

Ideally I would like to be able to see how much current is flowing into or out of the domestic battery bank; I know that these meters need the shunt to be in the negative lead and that they work in one direction only. I have an idea for how to deal with this later, but for now I wanted to see if the device would work.

As soon as I lifted the lid on the battery compartment I realised that things were not going to be straightforward. Some of the negative connections, from the alternators, for instance, I think go directly to the engine "earth". And there was the massive cable going to the inverter. Do I try to put the shunt in the way of this? The inverter is a 3kW jobbie; at full output it could draw at least 3000 / 12 = 250A, so my 100A shunt would get all hot and bothered. Plus the display would merely indicate overcurrent.

I bolted the shunt to a spare short battery lead from the negative of the battery bank and connected all the negative leads apart from the inverter to the other end of the shunt. I say "all" - there were, in fact, just two leads. One was the negative connection to the 12V distribution busbar; the other connected to the engine block. Then I connected the three small leads from the display unit - one to +12V and the others either side of the shunt.

I found the display reading the battery voltage more or less correctly (overreading by 0.2V) and displaying 0.0A. Then I switched on all the lights to see if the reading changed but it didn't. (That's LED lighting for you - I should have switched on the tunnel light!) I guessed I had wired the display for current going in the other direction but I had run out of time to see if it measured a charging current as we had promised Ally and Ben some help at their house.

Today I had another go, swapping round the current sensing wires and connecting only the 12V distribution negative. Mistake! This is how it looks now.

The current shunt is a bit difficult to make out as it is black over the black battery. It runs top to bottom of the photo; the top thick black cable goes to the main battery negative terminal and the bottom thick black cable goes to the 12V distribution. The thin blue and green wires are fixed to the shunt with small screws.

This is the display. The wires coming out of it are only a few centimetres long, hence the different colours at the other end.

The mistake I made was to not connect the lead to the engine block to the shunt (I had reconnected it to the main battery negative). When I checked the display again it showed 0.2A when the water pump ran, but the reading jumped between 0.2A and 0.4A in an apparently random manner.

Tomorrow I shall have to connect up the engine block lead and see if I can register any charging current.

My solution to the only-reads-one-way problem will be to add a simple changeover switch in the current sensing wires. Then I should be able to see the charging current when the batteries are charging and the load current when not charging.

Sorry this is a bit rambly!

Sunday 27 December 2015

What is it? - the answer

Kevin T of NB Tranquility got it. It is the breather for the ground paddles on a lock on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The pepperpot-shaped device seems to serve as a bollard or strapping post too.

This is at Lock 12W.

The breather (if that is what it is called) is marked "Huddersfield Canal Society".

The photos are from 28th August 2015.

Saturday 26 December 2015

What is it? - more revealed

First, thank you to all who have wished us a Happy Christmas. We went to church at St. John's, Blackheath with David and Penny, their children, my (and David's) parents and Penny's mother. Our other brother, Peter, and Penny's sister, Liz, arrived in time to join us for lunch. This was a jolly affair with 12 of us round the table; we just about finished eating before The Queen at 3 pm.

But you don't want to read about our family Christmas festivities - you want to know what the mystery photo is. Well, here's a bit more:

All will be revealed within a day or so.

Thursday 24 December 2015

What is it?

Seen on our cruise this year.

Can you identify it and its location? No prizes!

Depending on how much time I get tomorrow(!) I'll reveal more.

Meanwhile Jan and I wish you a very Happy Christmas!

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Facing the music

We had a nice e-mail from James and Hazel of nb Gabriel today which mentioned that they were finding that the folk scene where they are in Buckinghamshire is thriving. I don't suppose much of the music they perform in pubs and clubs is as old as the manuscript we saw today.

This is a page from a book of antiphons - short songs written for use in church services - dated to the 1400s.

For something produced 600 years ago and, presumably, intended for daily use it looks in remarkably good condition. That's vellum for you, I suppose. (Sad that vellum is no longer to be made in this country.) And non-fade ink.

Some words are recognisable, but others look like a series of ems, ens and so on all running together.

Muine? Nuune?

We had gone to Wymondham Abbey near where we live in Norfolk to look at a Christmas tree exhibition and discovered that two extensions had been built since our last visit. In one of these modern additions very high quality displays of artefacts from the abbey were available to casual visitors like us.

The most striking interior feature of Wymondham Abbey is the fabulous gold screen behind the altar.

It was installed in the 1920s as a memorial to Wymondham people who had died in the First World War.

Wymondham Abbey is a landmark for passengers on the train from London to Norwich; when you see its twin towers you know Norwich is ten miles away.

I saw our outside thermometer reading 15C today. As I walked to our carol service yesterday on Sunday I heard the summery sound of lawn mowing.

edited for a small correction

Saturday 19 December 2015

Snow on snow?

As is usual for this time of year a group of us stood outside Tesco's and sang carols for an hour this morning.

Jan kept us in tune with her violin ... while I was plenty warm enough in my shorts, thank you very much.

It felt strange singing "In the bleak midwinter" when the temperature was over 14C.

Friday 18 December 2015

Hedge trimmer hiatus

I suffered a painful right hand over most of the summer, not that it stopped me winding thousands of paddles. I think the condition had been exacerbated by my using hand shears to cut the large leylandii hedge in our back garden, so today I decided to treat myself to a petrol hedge trimmer. After reading various reviews I settled on the Titan TTL 531 HDC from Screwfix (£89.99).

image from Screwfix
Initially all went well. I read the instructions, mixed up the two-stroke fuel, put it in and started the machine. It ran for ten minutes and cut the hedge well.

Then it stopped. I oiled the blades and spent the next 20 minutes trying to restart it; eventually it fired up and I was able to do another 20 minutes of hedge trimming. And then it stopped again. This time I gave up after five minutes as it was getting dark.

Tomorrow I'll check the spark plug. If it seems OK but the trimmer still won't run properly I might have to phone the helpline before returning it to Screwfix.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Shorts weather

Mid December and I'm back in shorts again.

Yes, the mild weather isn't only bringing out the daffodils, as reported elsewhere, but my legs too.

As you can see, I haven't quite forgotten how to blog. I find there's considerable inertia; when I'm in the habit of blogging, as during our long cruise this year, it's fairly easy - but having stopped for a while it became more and more difficult to summon up the will to do it.

Now I've broken my December duck we'll see if I can keep going - or if this is merely a quick single.

Monday 16 November 2015

Building a log store

Over the last few days I have been building a log store against an outbuilding. Inspired by helping with the reroofing of the outbuilding earlier this year I decided to make it with a tiled roof.

I wanted to use bits and pieces I had lying around. First I nailed together some of the old timbers from the original outbuilding roof to make two frames, one for the back and one for the front. The back one has vertical timbers with four longer horizontal timbers between them. The front frame is two verticals and two horizontals making a rectangle. The verticals are shorter than those of the back frame so that the roof has a pitch.

I added some diagonal battens for strength and joined the two frames together with horizontal battens making the sides.

The next job was to construct the roof. Left over from the outbuilding roof I had enough 4x2 to form the rafters. I fixed the two end ones to the frame, having strengthened the left-hand front with another piece of 4x2. Then I nailed battens to the rafters at the right interval for my pantiles - battens, nails, rafters and tiles all left over from the outbuilding roof. These battens also had the effect of holding the three centre rafters in position.

Then, at last, I could lay the pantiles on top. I was getting worried that the front top horizontal timber might not be able to support the weight - the 60 tiles are very heavy - so I nailed another 4x2 under it.

I nailed some more battens on the sides to prevent logs falling out. To finish the job I need to put barge boards on the end rafters to prevent wind and rain getting under the tiles - and to make it look nicer. I couldn't immediately find anything suitable but I'm sure I'll have something somewhere.

We've already almost filled the store with logs. I'm rather proud of it! I hope the old timbers are not too rotten. Oh, it sits on slabs just laid on the earth.

The black pipe, by the way, is a temporary connection to the downpipe from the outbuilding gutter. A major job for the future is to dig a soakaway for it.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Skeleton under swingbridge

I had a surprise when opening a swing bridge on the Leeds and Liverpool in August.

Analysis of the time the photo was taken compared with neighbouring photos leads me to deduce that this was Strangford Swing Bridge 211B.

The skeleton was about the size of a dog; I suppose that is what it was. I left it undisturbed.

Saturday 10 October 2015

CRT "introducing duck lanes on towpaths"

"Ducks get right of way on England's towpaths" is the headline on p32 of today's Times newspaper. The article begins: "The Canal and River Trust is pressing ahead with a campaign to demarcate duck lanes along the side of canals in England and Wales, with an appeal to walkers, cyclists and boaters to "share the space, drop your pace"."

The piece goes on to say that sections of towpaths will be marked with a white logo of a waddling duck; the latest "duck lane" is on a 1.5 mile stretch between Elland and Brookfoot, near Bradford.

I looked for the news release which might have prompted this report and found one entitled "Preserving the peace on our towpaths" issued on 6th October.

There's no mention in the text of "duck lanes", but there is an accompanying video where they are referred to.

The Times article missed the point. Of course it's absurd marking out a lane for ducks to use. As Dick Vincent, national towpath ranger, says in the video, "You can't have a lane for every single type of use".

But just how marking out a "duck lane" will encourage (human) towpath users to "drop your pace" is not made clear.

I think it's a waste of money and vandalism of a historic structure. Oh, but it got three column inches in a national newspaper. So that's all right, then.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Money for old batteries; the Navigation Inn's interesting taps

On the last night of our six month cruise we went to the Navigation Inn next to the marina for a slap-up meal drink.

It was very quiet in there, apart from the slightly too noisy kitchen extractor fan (or was it the air conditioning?). Well, it was a Monday night. The kitchen is in full view of the dining area and there were some delicious smells, even though they had stopped serving food. According to the website the general manager is Rod Stewart (probably not that Rod Stewart) and I'm sure I read somewhere that there are 30 staff. When we passed by earlier it was buzzing. In a short space of time it seems to have gained a very good reputation for quality food - we might treat ourselves to an actual meal some time!

After spending £1.5 million on the rebuild perhaps they ran out of money for the taps in the loos.

They could at least have polished the copper.

Stop cocks are not really designed for everyday operation; the cold one is difficult to grip, especially with a wet and slightly soapy hand.

(Photos by Jan)

Now we are at home and getting on with a few (non-boat) jobs. Today I rounded up some old car batteries (and three old boat batteries) and weighed them in at the local scrap metal dealer. The first surprise was at the number of old batteries I had accumulated (pun intended): 11, weighing very nearly a fifth of a tonne. The second, bigger, surprise was how much they were worth. £78! That's more than seven quid per defunct battery! Who knew? I'm now (slightly) regretting leaving behind at the chandler's the four old batteries when we bought new ones this year. Would I have wanted to cart them around with us the whole cruise and then put them in the car to take home, though? Probably not.

Monday 5 October 2015

Just a few more yards to go

While Jan was off looking after Ben (bad back, v. painful) I put the stuff which had been in a neat pile on the towpath back onto the Fertanned but unpainted deck. We had to move; I'd run out of time for painting. I took Jubilee up Cosgrove Lock, stopped at the services, and then continued to tie up opposite the Navigation Inn by the entrance to Thrupp Wharf Marina. Below the lock I topped up with diesel from Jules Fuels. When I had finished tying up Jan appeared, having parked by the bridge.

This afternoon we did more packing and loading of the car, then I checked in with Val and Roy, the proprietors of TWM, to find out where we had been allocated a mooring. We decided not to move there tonight as it was raining and getting dark; we'll move the few yards across the cut in the morning. For a short time we'll be online, outside the marina itself but on the offside and with no electricity hook-up available. We're looking forward to having an online mooring, but we won't be here long to enjoy it. We're off home tomorrow after a wonderful six months of boating. I'll have to calculate (or let Canal Plan calculate) how many miles, locks and tunnels we did.

Somehow I neglected to take any photos today, so here's my not very good shot of the lunar eclipse from a few nights ago.

As I explained at the time I'd left the camera in macro mode and had been too sleepy to realise.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Worrying about the BSS

The gas locker received its first coat of fresh paint this morning after I'd rinsed off the Fertan dust and allowed it to dry. With the boat facing the sun it dried very quickly - the canal water must be warm.

I rinsed off the well deck too and gave it a second coat of the rust converter. I'm glad I bought a large bottle (at Crick a couple of years ago). I'm now expecting tomorrow morning's rain to do the next rinse for me. I just hope it will dry in time for me to paint it - and that the paint can dry before the next rain comes. I have decided not to replace the "Versatile" matting, at least, not in high use areas.

I borrowed Ben's vibrating power tool to cut a slot in the panel behind the fridge. It looks neat with the brass ventilator over it. It would look even neater without my pencil marks (at the last minute I decided to move the slot); we don't seem to have a rubber on board.

I have also spent a considerable amount of time reading the requirements of the Boat Safety Scheme. (If you click on the link it will download a PDF of - I think - almost 1Mb.) It's 87 pages long and is surprisingly easy to read, but I keep finding things to worry about. I have got as far as the gas section and now need to check that the regulator can't be damaged when lifting the gas cylinders into or out of the gas locker(see top photo). Also that every gas pipe connector in the boat is accessible for inspection.

There were other concerns earlier about the electrics; I think I will need to wire up a changeover switch to select between shoreline and inverter - or use a clumsy plug-and-sockets arrangement.

It must take hours for the BSS examiner to check a boat. Our first safety exam is due next spring so there's still time to fettle. I don't know how it all works, though. What happens if it fails? How long will I have to fix any faults? Does the same examiner come back to do a retest? Would I have to pay the full fee? What is the fee for a BSS test? The CRT licence is due at the same time as the BSC; if it fails I will presumably not be able to licence the boat - then what happens?

Saturday 3 October 2015

Derusting the gas locker and well deck

I was just about to start on the day's jobs when Andy and Sue on Spring Water went past. I hailed them and they stopped for coffee, which turned into lunch. It was great to see them and I think they enjoyed seeing us too.

During their visit another boat I knew went past. This time it was Darley, with both Blossom and Dawn on board.

I called out to Blossom and he responded with a friendly wave.

This afternoon, then, I removed everything from the gas locker and wire brushed the rusty bits, mainly on the bottom. I had originally expected to have to somehow contort myself into the small space, but it was easy enough to do reaching in through the hatch. Then I sloshed some water in and used a washing up brush to eject most of the excess through the handily positioned drain holes. This done, I poured some Fertan into the bottom section of a four-pint plastic milk container and painted it on. This was a very quick job with a 3" brush, but I did have to pull my head out of the hole a few times so the fumes didn't get to me too much.

This is what it looked like after the treatment.

Now I have to leave it for a day or so before dusting off and painting. (I'll have to stoke up the fire or we won't be able to make tea!)

Then the job I'd been putting off. The well deck. I dreaded taking up the "Versatile" deck covering with its little plastic feet keeping the surface you walk on a few millimetres above the deck. First I had to remove the various bits of accumulated stuff, ranging from the heavy - full 25 Kg coal bags - to the light - 2p coins to open the water filler with, plus a lot of bits of wood, plastic and iron. Then the Versatile matting came up. Underneath was quite as bad as I had feared. The tiles' little feet had worn through the paint covering the well deck and made little rust spots.

Like this.

These rust spots had, for the most part, joined up to create large areas of thick corrosion. I knew I'd be wasting my time with a wire brush - and wasting the wires of the wire brush - so I used a spade to scrape away at the flaky paint and flaky rust.

After a lot of noisy scraping and less noisy (but dustier) brushing I had the well deck in a state ready for its first treatment of Fertan. More water sloshing (the Fertan instructions say the area to be treated should be dampened), more use of the washing up brush and it was time to paint on the brown smelly liquid.

And here's the result.

You can see how little of the original paint on the deck is left. If it's another fine warm day tomorrow I might just do the painting slightly before the recommended 24 hours is up, especially where the gas locker is concerned (we need to be able to cook). And I hope it will then pass muster in the eyes of the BSS examiner when the time comes.

Friday 2 October 2015

Meeting the boss of CRT on the towpath

As it had been several days since we last topped up with water we cruised slowly along the straight half mile to the water point immediately below Cosgrove Lock. While filling up I carried a full Elsan cassette to the disposal point, passing two people wearing small CRT name badges. At the time I wondered if one of them might have been Richard Parry, the chief exec. of CRT, but they had gone before my brain got into gear.

After emptying the cassette I returned towards the boat, but there were the two CRT people by the lock. They asked me if I'd seen NB Barnet, which I had; I was able to tell them that it was moored near the aqueduct. And this is when I found I had been right: it was Richard Parry, accompanied by photographer Liz Waddington. Mr Parry was meeting up with Barnet for a cruise to Fenny Stratford.

Now we were having a proper towpath chat. Richard Parry was delightful, asking me where we were based and asking about our summer cruising, taking a genuine interest. Of course, this led to a bit of a discussion about our experience in Standedge Tunnel; I was able to express my disquiet about CRT's failure to send in an inspection boat after the Network Rail beams-in-the-water fiasco. Mr Parry asked me to send him an e-mail so we'll see what happens.

The pressure was low so it took an age for the tank to fill. I had time to wash half the roof and one side of the boat before it was done. We returned to The Galleon, tying up this time on the 48 hour moorings to be nearer the car for unloading. (NB Emjay is still there; it hasn't moved for at least a week.)

The weather has been fantastic. Here is this evening's silhouetty sunset shot.

During the day I finished the painting job on the front doors, getting both the undercoat and topcoat down. I also primed around the previously Fertan-ed areas by some of the windows; I also did some more rubbing down and Fertanning below the gunwales. Inside I fixed the stove to the hearth with angle brackets. I had thought that drilling holes in the stove legs would be difficult, but it was actually quite easy. I used a hand drill with a 3.5 mm bit. A harder job was drilling into the tiles on the hearth. The only masonry bit I thought I had was a Poundland one. I managed one hole, starting off with the hand drill and moving to the electric drill, but this is what happened on the second hole.

Yes, I know. What do you expect for a quid? But at this point I remembered that I had some proper masonry bits with the Black and Decker so I popped one of those on and finished the job in no time. I'm trying to get through rather a backlog of boat jobs before we go home. Tomorrow's important job is to derust the gas locker ready for the boat safety inspection next spring.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Helping Ben build a cupboard

While we're moored near Galleon Wharf, Old Wolverton, we went to help son-in-law Ben on his day off today. The task was to build a cupboard high in an alcove to hide a fat extractor fan pipe. We spent a long time thinking it through on paper before measuring and cutting battens. We got these screwed in place successfully eventually. Why does an apparently straightforward job take far more time than you can possibly imagine? After several hours, during which time Jan went shopping, washed some shirts, did washing up and cooked the tea, we had three horizontal and two vertical battens in place and had cut a shelf from MDF to size. Still to do is to construct doors and a front. We're going to concentrate on boat jobs tomorrow so Ben will have to finish off the cupboard on his own. All the difficult stuff is done now!

I neglected to take a photo of the work in progress, so here are Ben and Jan eating lunch outside.

It has been T-shirt weather again and prospects look good for tomorrow. More work on the front doors, I think, plus some touching up of the steelwork.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

No wonder the paint was peeling!

I started having a go at the front doors today, scraping the flaky paint from the woodwork.

I started using sandpaper, but found a much more effective tool was an old knife. This got under the old paint, flaking it off easily. The wood underneath looked completely untouched by paint. I suspect primer hadn't been used, or perhaps it had been stained in an earlier incarnation. It looks very dark.

I sanded and primed the bare wood, ready for an undercoat later.

We are currently near The Galleon, just east of Cosgrove's Iron Trunk Aqueduct. It's an excellent mooring, getting the full effect of the sun during the day and with great views of sunsets over the canal in the evening.

When October comes we'll move up to Thrupp Wharf Marina for overwintering. We won't be back on our original pontoon but online initially; we'll move to a pontoon with electricity when one becomes free. We had been looking forward to an online mooring with its greater connection to the canal and passing traffic, but mains hook-up will be useful when the weather gets colder. We have a small thermostatically controlled fan heater to reduce the likelihood of pipes freezing up.

Sunday 27 September 2015

90th birthday celebration

It was Jan's mother's 90th birthday recently; today we joined a family gathering at the Ivy Hill hotel in Margaretting, Essex, to celebrate the occasion.

There was a similar bash last year for Jan's dad's 90th birthday.

26 members of the family enjoyed good food and conversation.

And there was, of course, a cake to cut.

Next year they will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.

Oh, by the way, spot the deliberate mistake.


Saturday 26 September 2015

The axeman takes a break

By a bridge a little way below the Buckby/Whilton Locks I was surprised to see someone apparently taking a boozy break from log splitting.

It didn't take long to realise that the whole scene was a carefully constructed tableau. (Brian of Harnser mentioned this a day or so ago.)

I love these random homemade pieces of art. Others on the system include the old man holding a lamp (or is it a glass?) on the Trent and Mersey near Armitage, I think, and the sculpture of (I believe) Christina Collins near Stone, also on the T&M. There must be many more; please use the comments box to tell me about them.

Friday 25 September 2015

Tove stoved in?

As we came past the River Tove outfall below Stoke Bruerne Locks I saw that the pipe appeared damaged.

Unfortunately my camera was still in its bag; by the time I got it out I was almost too late. But you can just see part of the black metal peeling away. Perhaps someone didn't beware enough.

Thursday 24 September 2015

One more lock to go

Despite a couple of spells of rain in the night my window fix wasn't properly tested. It needs a good heavy downpour to do that. I did run another line of Capt. Tolley's solution along the top of the window seal but it all stayed put, showing that there might not be a leak there. We'll see.

We passed three boats in Blisworth Tunnel; we were following a boat and one came in behind us so it was quite busy. At the Stoke Bruerne locks we had the assistance of two volunteer lockies; after the top lock we waited for the following boat to join us for the remaining locks. At the Long Pound I was surprised to see it completely devoid of moored boats; the first time that I can remember.

The female crew member of the boat we shared with (Allm....?) was a wrgie; she was telling me about some of the work camps she'd been on this year, including Cromford, Inglesham and Chesterfield. It sounds a lot of fun, but I'm not sure Jan would appreciate the often basic accommodation. They were stopping at The Navigation at Castlethorpe (by Thrupp Wharf Marina, to where we are returning for the winter) to celebrate a birthday. Since its rebuild it has, apparently, quickly gained a good reputation and is very popular. The only time they could get a table was 1700!

We stopped for lunch at the bottom of the locks; we stopped again to chat to Helen on Pipistrelle, whom we'd last seen on the Huddersfield Narrow.

Then we passed TWM and The Navigation.

That's a lot of glass! It did look good.

Now we're visiting Ally and Ben in Wolverton. Having come down Cosgrove Lock all we have to do is go up it again to return to Thrupp Wharf Marina and that will be the end of this year's marathon cruise. As I think I mentioned, I'll have to come up with some stats later.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Windlass hands

Today it did not rain!

Doing the Buckby locks was a pleasure in the sunshine.

At the bottom we met Tentatrice on its way up the flight with Chris and Jennie.

It was good to meet you, if only very briefly and from the other side of the cut.

We ended up at Blisworth where Ally and Ben joined us for a meal in the Royal Oak pub. I don't usually go for curry in a non-Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant, but I saw - and smelled - what other people were eating and ordered a Beef Madras. It was rather good, with plenty of distinguishable spices.

As we were approaching Gayton Junction a helicopter buzzed low overhead.

We're nearly at the end of our six-month cruise with just seven more locks to go (eight if we go past Cosgrove). We have had a great time, and have met and made loads of friends en route. It will be quite hard to go home. But we will be able to visit the boat from time to time over the next few months, of course, even if we don't take it on such a mega cruise for a while.

Oh yes - I applied some of Capt. Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure to one of our windows this morning. We just need some rain (!) to see if it has cured the leak.

Nearly forgot: the title of this blog post. My hands, especially the right hand, have developed patches of hard skin from all the paddle winding they have done. I'm quite proud of them, although Jan isn't so impressed. Once we've got home I'll have to calculate the number of locks we've done; I'm anticipating quite a high number.