Thursday 29 June 2017

Big load? The Volvo isn't floored

We picked up the ingredients for flooring the lean-to conservatory in a house in Birmingham today. These included four sheets of 8' x 4' plywood (or their metric equivalent), all of which - fortunately - needed cutting down slightly. I had measured the boot of the 240 and ascertained that they would fit, albeit at an angle.

It was a tighter squeeze than I'd thought but, after we'd moved the front seats and tilted the backs forward, and with a bit of juggling, everything fitted. That's two sheets of 1.99m and two of 1.77m length, by 1.22m wide (and 18mm thick). There are six packs of laminate flooring in there too.

Getting it out at the other end was, somehow, harder work. Now all I have to do is make it all fit in the house. (I've not attempted this sort of thing before.)

After the heat wave of last week, some boats near us have had their stoves going. Not us.

Oh, back to the Volvo: when I started it up today the ignition warning lamp stayed on. The alternator belts were still in place. I switched off and on again, this time the lamp went out. Coming away from the builders' yard the same thing happened. I think that, after 199,000 miles, the alternator may be giving up. Come on, car, just another thousand miles! You can do it!

Tuesday 27 June 2017

These historic boats have been shifting

I was elsewhere when a small fleet of historic boats passed our boat this morning, so these are Jan's photos - thanks Jan. I didn't see President and Kildare at the historic boat show at Braunston, but some of the others in this procession were certainly there.

Steamer President is usually seen towing butty Kildare, but here President is itself under tow.

And here comes Kildare. I can't make out the names of the towing boats - can someone identify them for me?

Emu followed after a short interval (I'm told). This boat won a water can for "Best in show".

I believe these boats may have left Braunston on Saturday afternoon (we didn't see them during out visit on Sunday). Even so, they have made good progress as CanalPlan reckons on 22 hours to get here to Lyon's Boatyard. They passed us between 1000 and 1100 this morning.

Monday 26 June 2017

Sea Otter shows how aluminium burns

As we left the Braunston Historic Boat Show we saw the dreadful end result of a fire on a Sea Otter boat, just along the north Oxford Canal.
It's made of aluminium, which is good for not rusting, but which actually burns in a hot fire.

This fire, which I was told had taken place only two days previously, had evidently been very hot indeed ...

... burning the roof completely off and singeing the trees above.

In places the side of the hull has been destroyed almost down to the water line, threatening the boat's imminent sinking.

Sunday 25 June 2017

Braunston Historic Boat Show 2017

We took a break from working on the house in Brum to drive down to Milton Keynes to visit Ally, Ben and Josiah yesterday. We had a lovely time during which Ben tested my eyes.

This morning we drove up to Braunston to catch some of this years Historic Boat Show, seeing among others Sarah and Jim (Chertsey), David, Mary and Richard (Kew), Terry and Chris (Grace), David (Trimstone), Stephen and Gwyneth (Chyandour) and Alan (Tranquility).

We saw only part of the last parade, which seemed less chaotic than in the past. Perhaps fewer boats were taking part, although there seemed to be plenty there ...

... tying up six abreast at the entrance to the marina.

I wonder if Jules Cook would like this one of her.

Kew, prominent as ever, is in the centre of this photo.

I was able to admire Chertsey's freshly blacked hull.

Next: how aluminium burns.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Dredging on the Stratford Canal

We moved from our Yardley Wood mooring to empty the elsan. The nearest facilities, as far as I could work out, were back at Kingswood Junction (a day's cruise away) or at Holliday Wharf in Birmingham city centre, there and back in a day. Neither option what you might call convenient, given that we wanted to return to our mooring. A third choice was to investigate Lyons Boatyard, half a mile from here. Yes, we could empty the elsan for £2.50, or for nothing if we filled up with diesel. We needed diesel anyway, so that is what we did.

At the boatyard Land and Water were emptying dredgings into a lorry.

We came across the actual dredging operation between the boatyard and Brandwood Tunnel on our way to King's Norton Junction to wind. I should have just reversed back to Bridge 5 - it would have been quicker. Not that the dredging held us up - despite the notice warning of delays of up to 30 minutes, in practice as soon as the operator saw us coming he moved the hopper out of the way.

Brother David arrived just as we were tying up back at Bridge 5. He's come to help me with some fencing.

Sunday 18 June 2017

A funny thing happened on the way to King's Heath

It's been another hot day today. Despite the insulation the walls of the boat have felt very warm where the sun has been beating down on the outside.

I did a bit of cosmetic repair work to the ceiling of a house we let near here; tomorrow I think we'll be hedge trimming before the rain comes.

We went to church this morning - the Baptist Church in Yardley Wood Road where our friend and waterways chaplain Richard Alford goes - and to our favourite curry house this evening, the Sweet Chillies, also in Yardley Wood Road.

After the meal, very good as always, we went for a walk along the Chinn Brook to Trittiford Mill pool where I took a rare photo with my telephone camera.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was an interesting thing which happened as I cycled up a gentle incline towards a roundabout in King's Heath. I was overtaken ... by a hand-powered wheelchair. Not the sort where the chair is propelled by a handrail just inside the wheels, but the type driven by a bicycle-like device with handles instead of pedals. I know these days I'm not as fast as I used to be on a bike, especially on the cheap folding machine I use when boating, but it (over)took me by surprise. I'll know to hang up my bike helmet when I get passed by a tortoise.

Saturday 17 June 2017

Narrowboat passes with 23 on board

We could hardly believe our eyes as a narrowboat passed us at Yardley Wood with people and a lit barbecue on the roof.

The steerer proudly told me that there were 23 people on board. I couldn't find my camera immediately.

The boat happened to be passing under a shaft of sunlight, thus heightening the drama of the smoke.

A worse drama would be when the weight of the crowd on top causes the boat to topple. I wonder how many it would take. Of course everyone was having a whale of a time.

Friday 16 June 2017

Is this a fox?

We moved from Hockley Heath to the Birmingham suburbs today, tying up at Bridge 5 on the Stratford Canal. On the way we spotted on the towpath what looks like a fox, but with a less than bushy tail.

What do you think? A cub?

Earlier today we passed a recently burnt out canalside cottage.

Perhaps it had been derelict before the fire, but it's sad to see. Nothing on the scale of Grenfell Tower in London, of course, with its shocking death toll.

Thursday 15 June 2017

"Just normal stuff for hire boats"

It was all so quiet on the Grand Union. Then, this morning, we joined the Stratford Canal at Kingswood Junction and, suddenly, there were hire boats everywhere. Mostly going in our direction and mostly in front of us. The first few locks of the Lapworth flight had queues, but it all sorted itself out eventually.

At what is probably the trickiest pound for passing in, between locks 9 and 8, we had to pass a long hire boat coming down.

The hire boat did the right thing by going into the 'dead' area to the right of the lock so we could squeeze past hugging the bank, then, once we were clear, it reversed and headed into the lock.

We tied up at Hockley Heath, and I cycled back to Warwick to get the car. Had I cycled on the towpath it would have been downhill all the way, but I chose to use the B-road. This avoided villages, by and large, and was rather hillier than I was expecting. Still, I got to the car and brought it back OK.

As Jan steered under Bridge 25 I took a few photos, this being the best of them. The strong contrast between the sunlight and the shade of the bridge made getting the balance between under- and overexposing tricky.

We ate at the Wharf Inn - two meals for £10.49 was good value. (Jan had the beef and ale pie; I went for the hunter's chicken. We gave each other half of our meals - Jan's pie was very good.)

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Hatton in the heat

We left Leamington Spa this morning and stopped by Budbrooke Junction so I could cycle back to Radford Semele to retrieve the car. The car bit of the journey took twice as long as the cycling as I found myself on the A46 dual carriageway heading out of Warwick. It's all been rebuilt since my OS map and the satnav so they weren't much good. I parked eventually in Hampton Magna. What I should have done is parked at the top of the Hatton flight so I could freewheel down the hill to the boat.

At 1445, after lunch, we started on the Hatton locks.

It was hot work and there was very little traffic. We passed just one boat and were not aware of anyone going in our direction. We had a good road: all but two locks were in our favour.

The pound below the top lock was a good two feet down, so I ran some water in from the long pound above the lock.

Tomorrow we'll be joining the Stratford Canal, heading north, and we'll be back to narrow locks, the first since Watford two weeks ago.

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Under the moon

This is where we are tonight, under the moon.

Oh, wait, it's not the moon. It's Lidl's big round sign. We're in Leamington Spa, sorry, Royal Leamington Spa. Possibly the most convenient place on the system for supermarkets, with Lidl as close as it's possible to be; Morrisons a short walk along the towpath and across one road, and Aldi hardly any further. There's also a Sainsbury's just beyond Aldi. Just half a mile or so nearer Warwick is a canalside Tesco.

Yesterday we saw Savoy Hill; this morning it tied up in front of us, giving us a chance to talk to Mike and Jenny (?), and Mike's parents. Savoy Hill is the BBC Club's narrowboat, an earlier iteration of which we enjoyed a few holidays on back in the 1980s.

I love the tiller pin, a representation of an AXBT ribbon microphone, the BBC's studio mic for 30 years from the 1930s.

No sooner had Savoy Hill gone than Hadar turned up to use the same Lidl mooring. It was good to see Jo and Keith, who came aboard for coffee/tea.

In the afternoon we walked into the town, the first time we'd visited. And what a fine place it turned out to be, with a parade of grand buildings in the Parade (that's the name of the main street) and plenty of interest. For example, the Royal Pump Room and Baths, now a museum and art gallery; and the Glasshouse, a modern glass building housing tropical plants. There are parks a-plenty and people. The place was populous with pedestrians parading along Parade (OK, that's enough - Ed.)

In the art gallery I saw an early forerunner to Mike Smith's Blogshank. Not as witty, though.

And here's an evening sunshine shot of the canal from our mooring.

I shall try to get back into the swing of blogging again, family events allowing.