Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Miles and smiles with a decent boaty tip

Sadly no boat miles but car bike and legs all getting a decent run out.

It is a 'down sarf' weekend hence the no boat miles. I foolish thought I'd do the M1 M25 A3 route on Thursday evening -  all ok till the M25 turned into a 20 minute car park as the services cleared a bump at the top of the M3, just par for the course now.

Took a lunchtime ride  out to get seaside chips on Friday I have the Deauville down here now so fully intend to use it. This is Littlehampton - a seasidy place for sure and I guess very busy in high summer.

They were dredging the channel  - impressive reach of the JCB to dig the pebbled out.

Saturday was a decent South Downs dog walk. I was heading for Stoughton  but took a wrong turn and ended up walking around Stanstead forest  - a great walk - very muddy in places but I had the walk to myself so I was not complaining.

I did find a nice Church yard to sit and eat my apple & Mars bar !

These boots are superb, they have taken me up the three highest mountains in England Scotland and Wales - twice and have covered hundreds of miles in Wales Scotland and England and they still don't leak !

Not sure how natural this is  - all Willow making a beautiful walkway on one part of the footpath

I actually talked to this tree ... and gave is a hug. You have to wonder how old this Yew tree is, it must have seen some seasons. 

This is the 'Avenue' that was created for the owners of Stansted Hall  - it was the view we enjoyed last year from the house when John Carrie and the girls visited us. If you click the image you may just see the house....

Here is the boaty tip - I have an app on my phone that has found and guided me on many many walks both planned and unplanned. Memory Map  it really is a top app and if you can afford it and you like walking especially as on the boat you will be in lots of different areas it is a must have. I have a battery pack that I take with it as over a lonf walk it does use the battery. A screen grab from the Ipad - walks can be routed like this then sent to the phone for following. This was just over three and a half miles but n the mud it felt more !

We then had a trip the Chichester - a really nice little place to shop. We did call into our favourite coffee house to listen to a chap on the piano and have some really nice coffee - and a scone.

Sunday I took the bike out  - greasy wet roads but a great ride. Spot the Deauville ....

The run back was one to record... and I did when I got home..... I'll certainly do this again from the biker cafe on the A272 to Petersfield then down via South Harting, Compton and Walderton..... a great ride.

Not finished yet.... after washing the bike and tidying the garage we went for another even muddier walk. Mapped again on the fly this time. Just over three miles and we arrived back in the twilight.

There were some decent size animal tracks  - deer are ever present in the downs, a few have run across the road when Rachel has been driving home at night.

Evidence of Badgers also, they grub for worms ...

Leia certainly was tracking lots of scents 

Did I mention it was muddy !

We hit a small lake and it took some engineering to effect a crossing  !

All in all a good busy weekend.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Question is - Do you believe in signs to your destiny

I am getting a few for sure. It would be inappropriate to comment but there are those in this life that live their lives like the feather in the wind... it is tempting isn't it.

Maybe I need Zen .. read this, it is appropriate !

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The red carpet cinema experience

For those midlands based boaters I can fully recommend the Red Carpet cinema experience that is based at Barton Turns marina. I think I prefer Barton to Mercia, it might be that is is a more established marina but the facilities seems broader and more established.

We treated ourselves to their Valentine special - it was our 31st wedding anniversary after all. It was a film then a three course meal while we were entertained by a very competent 3 piece band. They do a cinema and meal package that we may take advantage of next weekend to see the Dads Army film.

When we were there last weekend there did not seem too many people aboard - a non scientific count of lights and smoke from boats.  It does amuse me that such facilities are born out of a big pond to keep canal boats in, I wonder what the old boatmen would have thought of such facilities.

Of course you can travel there by boat.... we did last me 

Friday, 12 February 2016

Who says shiny boats only cruise in the summer ?

Our shiny boat was the only boat moving between Taft bridge (69) and Fradley Junction today. Well I am sure there were others moving (I know of one) but between 11am and 4pm we cruised without passing another moving boat. So confident was I I even motored on though the narrows at Armitage without sending my crew mate ahead. .

You have all  missed some great cruising weather, not the sunniest - well it did appear about 3pm but just great to have the canals to myself ! Rugeley visitor moorings had filled up since we passed on Wednesday so some boats had shuffled around. I guess next week will be different as it is half term week?

Heading towards civilisation .... and the power station was working hard this morning.

Leaving behind Cannock Chase - shame

My power generation is a lot less 

The visitor moorings at Rugeley were full 

Proof another boat was moving today... My neighbour Mandy had moved Don't Panic from the woods to the marina for service then round the corner so to speak to be ready for blacking on Monday. 

And a sight you will not see now until the end of the year.....

Not a boat on the Fradley visitor moorings ! I spoke the the cafe owner while we were watering up and he confirmed it had been a quite day. Half term next week so pop over and try out his new furniture - it must have cost him a fortune ! 

This little fella was watching our technique at Junction lock.

When we were confident there were no other boats moving we spotted one coming up Hunts lock as we approached an empty Keepers lock, so we waited and let them pass through to choose their mooring for the night.

Having filled the tankI treated myself to a beer and a bath, it had been cold on the back  all day !

These two were waiting for their tea when I got back aboard....

So a nice little break, I have some news on my complaint I'll blog about next week, I am liking the way C&RT are dealing with it so far. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Out and Back ... plus a lot of diesel

We are moored just after the Pig farm/Taft bridge/bridge 69. It's where you buy diesel quite cheap 57p per litre to be precise. Am I being cynical when I wonder how often such dispensing equipment is checked compared to the average roadside filling station? Anyhow cash only 85 quid and 149 litres later - that is the most I have ever put in a boat I think.

I was unsure when I last filled up......just checked back on the blog it was ......October 2014 !  I filled up at the pig farm and paid 79p  - says something about the world economy when  diesel prices have dropped so markedly over the last 16 months  - not complaining but I fear for the economy.

I had 180 hours on the engine counter then  - now I have 347. So I have used 149 litres for 167 hours giving a consumption of .89 litres and hour - what a star of an engine, and I have cruised a little more in that time - out and back to Stourbridge and this little sojourn. Of course I have also lived aboard but I do not need the engine much as I have a solar panel and gas water heater. I used the back cabin for a fridge when I lived aboard in winter once more removing the need for the engine to be run.

So heading back tomorrow as the weather is not set fair for the weekend. We have had two lovely days cruising, today being the better of the two as Wednesday I had the cold wind in my face. The engine does throw plenty of heat out the back cabin but I missed the little stove - I need to have that sorted before next year !

Talking of stoves the Morso went out overnight, I am really still dithering about a diesel stove.... seems sensible to set it low and know it will stay that was all night and wake up warm.... but I like the simplicity of the solid fuel, like most thinks on this boat KISS. I may see how the funds look towards the end of summer as I would replace it with a converted Squirrel stove from Lockgate.

Anyhow some lovely cruising, little else moving. We winded at the junction in Great Haywood and went shopping in Stafford to The Soup Kitchen tea rooms - well worth a visit. I like Great Haywood, I have put in another web request for a call back from their marina, I think I have done this once before with no response - maybe they are full? Maybe they don't like me ? Maybe I should stay put at Fradley ....? I don't trust C&RT not to damage my boat again so I have reservations about my C&RT mooring - time will tell.

Anyhow pictures are better than my words....

Back to Fradley tomorrow to beat the poor weekend weather 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016


Don't you hate it when you plan a job then forget about it until the time comes when it is too late to do anything about it ? This is the case with my good intention of protecting my hemp rope fenders, as advised by Joe who made them, 'give em a good dose of creosote lad' was his advice, 'that'll last em' or some such black country language.

So dutifully I removed them in November and hauled them across the lock to my car and took them home to the garage pending the sourcing of creosote.....

Bump forward to this morning when I was loading the car (or rather un - loading the stove from the back cabin out of the car) when I found the three fenders sitting waiting for their dressing. Bugger !

Now getting them off was easy'ish only lost one shackle, getting them back on I needed Mr Tickle to help me ! What I did do with some degree of forward planing was take a photo of how they were sitting to help me get them back onto the back of the boat, sorry stern of the boat.

Before ...


After.... some messing about 

Those astute amongst you will notice the addition of some strategically positioned (on the chains) inner tube donated from my Gary Fisher mountain bike.

Job done to be reversed when we finish this little sojourn aboard Percy - it is a 31st anniversary cruise just to great Haywood and back.

For my record we were out on the bike seeing Sussex via the back lanes  on Sunday. It is a monthly get together by the southern members of the Deauville owners club - I now have a Deauville again. A great bunch of people.

A 7.30 am start .....

Early February on the bike as well as the boat..... hardy souls !!