Sunday, 28 August 2016

A quote ....before my blog update

Life goes on, a steady regime of work travel and relaxing is par for the course at the moment. Lots of interest in the house so I'm glad the estate agents are doing the viewings.

I picked up my copy of Narrowboat by Tom Rolt the other day, it was on the little bookshelf we had made by Adele for Percy. I do not normally read books twice - I have listened to a couple of audio books on my drive to and from the south coast a few times, mainly Stephen Fry's books as I find his voice good company on the long drives. Anyhow in reading Toms book again I am reminded of the passion and joy he exudes of the ways of the english countryside. He was no doubt a romantic for the old ways and there is nothing wrong with this. It is in my opinion an age thing when we start to feel the pace of change and yearn for how it used to be. If you don't feel it now it'll come to you for sure.

One paragraph describes the juxtaposition of life afloat compared to the land based life of possession and marketing we live by today.

In describing the back cabin on the working boats, he writes;

A wide bench along the opposite wall to the stove is the only sitting accommodation, and does duty at night as a side-bed for the children. A second and wider cross bed, with cupboards above it and a folding centre portion , lies athwart the for end of the cabin. It is usually screened by a pair of lace curtains. This is the boatman's marriage bed; here, in this little space, he was born and will one day die. No simpler existence can be imagined. The boatman's life is stripped of all the complex comforts with which we have surrounded ourselves  at the price of contentment. He works and lives hard, but he has not heard of hire purchase agreements, while the collectors of lights and telephone accounts, rates and taxes know him not. 

I loved reading this simple paragraph. It says so much of how far we have moved away from need to want, and are we better for it?

Anyhow to fully expose the contradiction of my post ..... and to update my diary as I have only one post in August .....

I use pictures taken to remind myself of where I have been and what I have been doing. I'll spare you the pictures of car parks, vandalised signs  and exploits of contractors to curl the estate managers toes. Instead August saw me a year closer to my pension and a travel log of many means. 

The fishing on the mooring has been very enjoyable. Bread being my bait for Roach, Bream and Chubb. The sun sets opposite my mooring so it is a very calm and peaceful end to the day and at high summer saw me fishing to past 10 o'clock at night.

The bike did not suffer too much. I have a route I like to ride that takes my into the Staffordshire Moorlands from Derbyshire. A one point I am so high I can see the Wrekin and the Welsh hills in the far distance. It is up close to Cauldon Edge. I wonder if we'll end up living back in Wales?

For my birthday I purchased a new cycle... I have a collection now, all for specific uses of course. I wanted (not needed) a bike that has decent front suspension and a more upright riding position due to problems I am having with my joints .... age does not come alone.

For  my birthday we were invited to London to stop with my youngest son Callum and his partner Emma. Their two bed flat in Greenwich is a great base for visiting the capital. We took a walk into Greenwich and ate at the market before a walk for a drink onto Blackheath (where the plague victims were buried)  through Greenwich park back to the flat for food.

On the Monday we took ourselves back to the park and then onto the Greenwich museums where we signed up for a year so we can visit again. It enabled us to go to the exhibitions, the observatory and the Cutty Sark. It has had a very interesting life.

That evening we were treated to a show in London - 1984, a very dark but well presented and well acted experience 

Back on the boat the fish just kept getting bigger....a nice Chubb, hand in picture to show the scale !

I had a couple of days leave to use up so I called a friend to see if he wanted to play out on the bikes.... Bob, Allan and Brian all needed little encouragement, all retirees  - lucky buggers. They are Yorkshire based so I met them at Thirsk market place and Bob took up through some stunning Yorkshire countryside  up to the Transporter bridge in  Middlesborough. it was a 330 mile day and the temp on the M1 on the return journey was 30c at 6pm !! 

Two Yamaha FJR 1300's a Pan European 1300 (mine) and a CBF1000  - Bobs, serious bikes !

Back to the boat and work etc.... I'd not like to leave you thinking is was always beautiful sunsets, although as we get towards Autumn they get more spectacular as do the sun rises on the other side of the mooring.

The joy of heavy rain is being out in it dry under the fishing umbrella and having the place to myself as the walkers and runners that use the tow path don't appear !

This little Perch made me smile, as soon as I held him he puffed up all his very impressive defenses against being swallowed, so I dropped him back into the canal to grow up into a monster for me to catch in a few years time (hopefully)

Off for a 6 mile walk around the coast now, planned again via memory map .... pictures to follow in a September blog no doubt.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Mr fix it ....

Not a lot going on at the moment, seems very quiet compared to the manic spring and early summer of getting the house sorted the boat sorted and the holidays sorted.... a getting things sorted sort of busy.

The Brexit voters have delivered a very nervous and static housing market - not the best time to put your property up for sale but we don't need to sell. If we don't I'll have a option for winter living as well as the boat. If we did sell I was going to swap out the solid fuel stove for a diesel one but that does not seem so urgent now.

Despite buggering up my hand (waiting a hospital referral for that) I have still been fiddling with stuff. Last week I sorted the petrol strimmer, just some replacement fuel hoses as the originals had gone brittle. Then the electric cooker at the cottage was stripped as the oven stopped working. A selector switch was diagnosed as the fault so off to the pub for food and a part ordered from Espares to be fitted next visit.

Then it was the Honda Deauville that I needed to do a coolant change on.... the internet is wonderful for such guidance - especially the Deauville forum. I then took it for a good run Sunday and decided I needed to nip up the head bearings so that was Sunday PM's job. Rachel painted the new window frame Callum and I made so we could get a cat flap in.

We treated ourselves to a nice 5 mile walk up on the South Downs  - walking late afternoon we had it much to ourselves which as an antisocial type appeals !

Then it was the early morning run back to work - a gentle 200 mile commute before getting back to the boat for some sublime fishing.

My neighbours are back from two very different cruises, one taking 4 months the other 10 days - both did big distances but in very different time spans.

The fridge is working fine... the day sun is keeping it going FOC via the solar panel and I have not had to run the engine at all  - the boat is frugal on its power demands. In the winter when the sin is low and does not give much of a charge the back cabin is cold enough to be the fridge so that works well.

So house stuff and boat stuff to do plus work not much to blog about so only when I want to record something will I reappear with some words.

Take care

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

What does that hold.....

.... is a question we have been asked a few times when out cruising. They are referring to our forecabin. It is indeed a cabin as it has two small berths and could with some woodworking be made into a big double. However like any space that does not get frequent use it turns into a dumping /storage place.

I was advised by a self confessed ex working boater at Colwich lock last year the boat was not authentic as it did not have a stove in the forecabin - now I don't pretend my boat is anything other than a nice place to be and a nice thing to move around the canals on. He advised when he was a child he lived in the forecabin with his many other brothers and they had a little pot belly stove to keep the place warm. Obviously no BSS in those days, but I do not doubt his tale as I have seen similar with a stove chimney.

Back a couple of days before I progress the forecabin story and we took the opportunity to give Rachel's mum a trip out on the boat. She has not been too great recently and the fresh air and a memory or two were the ideal tonic.

The Sunday I decided the boat was overdue a clean so set to but could not find the cleaning 'stuff'. I decided it must be in the aforementioned 'storage' space so I set to finding it......

Yep.... that lot came out - it looked like a jumble sale !! A good clean inside and after some judicious sorting, scrapping and tidying I got it all back in and now I can find stuff. What I did not find was my cleaning stuff ! At least I have a tidy and useable forecabin now. (and a dirty boat !)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Certain types

Sitting outside of the boat this morning watching the behaviour of the boaters approaching Hunts lock gave a good insight to their ' normal' behaviour traits..... So there is a volunteer lockie in his hi vis now the sensible approach or what I would call sensible is to slow down and time my arrival to his opening the bottom gates for me. However there were a fair few who motored up at not tick over only to moor up after a good deal of reverse thrust  only then to push off into the now open lock. on of my favourite anocrnyms.... But if we were all the same I guess life would be less interesting.

Friday, 22 July 2016

All alone ...... more ways than one but this is the boat at 7am this morning. You will need to click the image to see the desertion !

A little catch up  - blacking is now done for another 3 years courtesy of Phoenix marine at Kings Bromley. We dropped Percy off there the other weekend after getting to the boat 6pm ish then took a beautiful late evening cruise past Woodend lock and moored in splendid isolation on one of the long wooded stretches that make this part of the canal one of the best about.

I'll add a photo here from Rachel's phone later of Percy waiting to have her bottom sorted.

Then is was normal work and travel stuff with Callum and Emma coming to the cottage to help cut the hedges and build a window frame so I could add a cat flap.... its a long story !

After a hard weekend we took a lovely sea walk around Bosham.

Then it was a drive back up the A3/M25/M1 to drop all the tools off at the house, then on to Fradely. It does make me chuckle to see people just standing holding ropes, like large dogs at locks, 'tis what the bollards are for? Click the image and zoom in.... I did not wish to offend !

Anyhow I dropped off the car and walk a couple of miles up the canal to pay for (£10/foot) the job then off back, but the warm day and the desire to just rest took over and once again I moored up for the evening - this time with two other boats at respectful distances who were also enjoying the shade of the woods.

Excuse the selfie.... very tired and hot !

I needed to be at work the next day so it was an early start - 6am up and untying the ropes just after 6.15 am. 

It was magical until I looked behind me and saw another boat  following !! They were on a mission to get back to Braunston as they had a poorly dog on board and a fubarr'd water pump. The benefit was they helped me through Woodend and Shadehouse. By the time I got to Fradley locks there were boats moving. I emptied my cassettes, I did not need water as I had filled up at Kings Bromley. 

The sun was streaming in the boat by the time I moored up on my neighbours mooring as I wanted the strim the grass on the pillings  and cut it elsewhere. 

It was hot and I am ashamed to say the only cold drink I had was a can of John Smiths that went down in one at 9.15 am -a new record !! At least the fridge is doing its job now.

So lawns cut boat moved back then back home to cut the grass there before going off to work finally getting home again to the house at 9pm.

Been on the boat for a few nights  - mainly to fish - I do need to give it a good clean inside and out... but that can wait, while the weather is so nice and the evenings so balmy fishing takes precedent.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Free (cold) beer for the following ......

My SOS for advice on my poor performing fridge was detailed here ....

Brian, Tom and John all provided comments and gave assurance my thinking was correct. It only took me a year to deliver the solution, some nice tick 8mm2 cable direct from the busbar to a fused switch next to the fridge.

I was hoping to use the old thin cable to pull through the new thick cable. This was not a success as I think Tony had correctly secured the cable bundles within the coving. So a delay was endured while I secured the correct cable 'fishing' device, basically a thin flexible drain type rod much thinner to be used to push/pull the thicker cable through. 

This was undertaken last night with a decent degree of success getting the thick cable from the kitchen to the busbar in the engine room. After having made the connections beer was added to the fridge and the switch flicked......

..... a nice instant compressor tune sparked up and continued until after about 2 hours it cut out when the fridge got to temp. Over night the fridge stayed cold and did not play the fan song that we got before when the compressor would not start and we got the fan instead. A result and the fridge and other pump and lights use took 15% from the battery bank as advised by my Smartgauge. 

So I will have a cold storage space .... until the temp turns the back cabin into a much larger fridge and the natural swap over coincides with the arrival of autumn and winter. 

Its good to get the advice from fellow boaters so as and when we meet if I have cold  beer you are due one.... of course I am talking larger, ales and red wine will be served at room temperature !

Onwards and upwards... now a back cabin stove for those winter cruise days  - perfect !

Friday, 1 July 2016

Lots to record on me blog, not least boating again and a mooring update !

Ok, as said many times before this is my diary that I share with friends. I need to keep it up to date so when I am in my old(er) age I can look back and say - I did a bit when I was able !

We had a mad run up to our holiday in Europe on the bike - see here 

By the time we left on the tunnel train we had;-

  • Shopped for a sofa for the boat in a charity shop in Chichester.... still to be moved and the older Ikea Poang chairs brought back to the cottage 
  • Hosted Rachel's nephew Richard and his partner Amy as they were down for a sailing race  -we had a great pre race night in the sailing club.
  • Driven over to Greenwich to help our youngest son and his partner Emma move fully into their flat 
  • Drove back to work to complete the preparation for the house to go on the market
  • Finished all my work obligations prior to the holiday... late finish again !
  • Then drove back to Chichester to pick Rachel up and make sure she did not wake up on her own on her birthday
  • Left Rachel's car in Chichester and drove back to Derby the next day (That's over a thousand miles in 6 days)
  • Then met the Estate agents and signed all the forms - took the pictures and agreed to have the house on the market !
  • Sadly Rachel's dad Charles passed away three years ago on Rachel's birthday so the girls had arranged for a memorial bench to be installed at Crich tramway museum where Charles being an engineer loved to go. So we met Sharon and her son Aiden to check the install was ok  - it looked stunning and a perfect location.
  • Then started to prep the bike and luggage for the trip to Europe
  • Then had a great night out to celebrate Mike (Rachel's Brother) and Katie's marriage (they got married in Hong Kong last year. (.... and yes Katie I do remember we are visiting Hong Kong in 2018 so we need you as our guide to your country)
  • Got back home at just after midnight to pack and got to bed at 1am
  • Up at 6am to walk the dog and get her ready for her holiday with Rachel's sister Sharon - (thanks again Sharon)
  • Then the holiday began with a ride to the tunnel.....
And its not been foot off the gas since being back as I am now back on the boat - Hurray !!
A couple of photos....

Our new found local - the Fox and Hounds at Funtingdon - I walked to it twice on Saturday last time I was down , 6 miles all in but the beer food and company were worth it.

Callum and Emmas local in Greenwich on the Thames and over 5 quid a pint !! But still a vibrant place to be.

The Thames was in full flow - can't wait to get Percy reacquainted 

Charles bench at Crich tramway museum

This is the view from the bench platform  - stunning 

The trip up and back on the tram gives some more stunning views and we were lucky to get a beautiful day 

Rachel reflecting .....

Part of the wedding celebrations saw a Chinese tea ceremony where the Bride and Groom serve tea to the Grooms family in order of seniority - we went second. This is Sharon and Andy Rachel's eldest sister and husband  We were asked for advice for the married couple...Never go to sleep on an argument  !

It was a lovely meal and occasion, Rachel with her nephew Luke 

Back to the boat it was rewiring the fridge with 8mm2 cable. I need a 'fishing' kit to pull the thicker cable through. Next weeks job ! I need cold beer aboard !!

Spot the fishing rod.... 9.30 pm on the day after the longest day - perfect

Part of the role I have at work I need to work all hours that enables me time to wind the boat and have a great breakfast if not a little expensive at the Fradley cafe. Percy is now pointing the right way for her blacking trip next weekend 

Last weekend we relaxed with a walk by the Cromford canal.... At high peak jinction they have a couple of BR brake vans  - this is the stove we had in the back cabin of Percy and I am still looking for a replacement

 This is my 10pm Bream. I have been fishing with bread and using a mashed up slice for ground bait. Slowly the fish are getting greedier and this whopper came out almost last cast. The fishing is so perfect when all is quiet and the sun is setting and the fish are feeding....

My 6.30 am view from the back cabin. Don't panic is on her travels, Harnser is sold and Deco dream - the next boat you can see is moving off at the end of the month. 

Finally I did renew my moorings for another year. It is enchanting down at Hunts lock, everyone is very friendly and helpful and if I do sell the house this will be my home again as I did in 2014/15, could be a lot lot worse !!