Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Offered £60,000 for Percy while out winter cruising

Well 2020 is boats bikes and fishing for the retired Nev and so it continues.

Rachel has a week off so we took the opportunity around other work (Rachel) and family commitments (Rachel) to get to Percy for a few days. I see no value in having a great asset in enjoyment and experience terms sitting unused as quite a few boats are for the whole of the winter.

I went as the forward party to get the boat cleaned, provisioned and warmed up with Rachel joining me in the early evening. A relaxing evening on a warm boat was enjoyed.

Today we set off on a mini cruisette (as my neighbour Mandy called it) to moor in the middle of nowhere past Cowley Tunnel (the only tunnel on the whole of the Shroppie apparently). Tomorrow we will wind at High On wharf then stop for the night at Norbury Junction to test the pub again - many years ago we had a cold cold meal in there as we were I recall one of the first customers of the then new tenants  and the heating was not working/playing up. A quite unpleasant experience as I recall, it can only get better hopefully.

On the way out I was hailed by a pair of gongoozelers who stopped to watch and listen to Percy pass by.... the first complimented the boat and the second said sixty thousand for the boat - now !! I was tempted to hit reverse and talk in more detail.... only Percy kept on plodding along, subconsciously piloted by yours truly, not the time despite the very fair valuation ! 

I have a 'condition' not doubt shared by a few of needing to be 'ready and sorted' for the next days cruising, invariably meaning if I am due to wind I'll do it so it's one less thing to do/worry about the next day. Today I was within 20 mins of the winding hole but I deliberately stopped to teach myself I can be easier with my planning .... and I was rewarded with rain  - if i'd gone on I'd have been wet through so there was my happy lesson of today, you can  put of today what you can do tomorrow !!

So a few photos of the cruisette

High Offley church in the distance 

A beautiful day to cruise

This pair followed me for a while ! 

This very large house always impresses just before the Anchor pub

Then into Grub street cutting 

Pearl Barley (lovely name) passed our mooring on the way to wind at Shebdon wharf before heading to Norbury and back to their mooring opposite the Anchor. A lovely looking boat - so low in the water 

There is a stream running above the arch and below the road of this bridge

The telegraph (high arch) bridge was having work done not to it but the water pipe that runs across the outside of it 

Lots of boats both sides as we approach Norbury

Looking back at Cowley tunnel

Sadly this boat was floating last time I passed .... a sad end.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Another influential and much travelled boater swings his windlass for the last time

How very sad I am to receive the news that Bruce Napier from NB Sanity again lost his battle against pancreatic cancer yesterday 24th January. Bruce and Sheila being local to Fradley for much cruising latterly residents in the marina and with a lodge at Mercia meant I saw them a few times. I was always welcomed onto their boat for a brew and a chat if they were on the area of Fradley where I moored until 2018.

Their combined knowledge of boats and the system was extensive and well enjoyed. Bruce’s blog was always pleasantly honest, enjoyable and informative. It was so sad that just after Bruce and Sheila announced their plans for a smaller new boat to be commissioned Bruce in his typical open and frank way announced his illness. It is a great credit to Sheila and to Bruce as well that Sheila is looking to continue with that build with some adjustments for solo boating. I am sure Bruce will be with Sheila and us on the cut as we chug along enjoying all he did for so many years.

I am sure if there is a boating heaven he is discussing the relative merits of hybrid drives with Les and they now will share a sad anniversary together.

Rest in Peace Bruce.

Friday, 24 January 2020

A boater to remember and talk about Les Biggs

I don't have a faith I believe when you die you are kept alive by others thinking and talking about you, as those people themselves pass on then your name gets spoken less and you gently rest in peace.

So while I can I'll remember Les Biggs who was a true boater and who was one part of an amazing couple who met fell in love and lived and laughed brought together by the love of the canals in England and Wales.

I have one profound regret and that is not spending more time with Jaq, when returning from my retirement cruise I spotted her on NB Valerie. I jumped off letting my friends cruise on and we had a hug and tears and spoke briefly of Les and Jaq's immense grief. I wanted to stay longer, talk longer but as is the case on the canals boats move apart like an invisible watery tug of war with a rope of hope and friendship never really breaking. Jaq his lovely soul mate who carried on showing her true Alaskan grit on the canals for a couple of years afterwards will always be held in the highest of fondness and we do keep in touch but facebook is the canal we both cruise now.

Today is the third anniversary of Les' passing so I'll raise a glass tonight and have a laugh with the love of my life while talking of Les.

Two photographs, one on the Coventry canal when I drove over one weekend just for a cup of tea and some lovely cake and the other when I managed to get Percy in the same shot as Les had done with Valerie on the Caldon canal. Les should know how much he inspired me to make that journey to get that picture to remember him.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

On board in January and the cat poo’s in the bath !

Our cat Lilly is a large stupid ball of fluff. She is a rescue cat and bless her she I think was badly treated in her previous life. She is very scared of people and noises and ghosts around the cottage and the boat. When my very large Hi vis clad friend arrived at the cottage once she hit up the chimney !

When we went to America last year we arranged for the local chattery owner who luckily lives across the lane from us to call into the cottage and feed and check on Lily so as not to have to put her in ‘ cat prison’ for a couple of weeks. However Lily managed to get stuck in the cat little box and this freaked her out so much she decided to use the cottage as her toilet for the rest of the two weeks.... nice find Neville and a lovely lingering wee smell until I had to cut part of the carpet away.

So we are on the boat and we have brought her with us. But she is very scared of the outside even when it’s super quiet and not much else is about ( although there are more cats here than our other Fradley mooring) so this morning we were woken up with the tell tale sounds of her in her litter box, then we hear the sounds of paw against bath .... yep she had took a dump in the bath !

No point in telling off an already timid cat.... anyhow, that’s pet ownership for you.

We were due to go off for an overnight cruise today.... I spent some time yesterday fettling the engine which included trying to balance the injector feeds to the two cylinders. A fiddly process involving small adjustments to the threaded bar that links them from the speed wheel. I used my laser thermometer on the same part of each cylinder exhaust port to gauge the temperature of the cylinders against each other. They started quite a bit out, no doubt associated with the decode and gasket replacement last year. Now I have them to within 2c of each other but the engine really needs a proper run under load to get a better test.

I did the test and after a good run they are still 9c out so one is working harder than the other.... more tweaking needed.

Friday, 17 January 2020

My Christmas present in action

Yes I did ask for this specifically. I do a lot of walking and am quite ofter angered by litter in the hedgerow. It seems worse in the country lanes as there are some $hitbags who decide to just toss anything out of their car windows....

So on my 'Village walk' a nice 2 miler out of the little hamlet where I live through the local village and back up the lane that literally clings to the side of the valley.

On the test run this was my collection...

Yes I got a litter picker for Christmas. The bottles and cans went into the recyling everything else went into the bin.

I'll do the canal walk (in the valley... along the Caldon canal then back out via the woods ) I know there is a pile there waiting for me as I have past what is obviously a boater dump - aaargh !!

I also got the circular bag holder for black bags for bigger litter picks. On one of the walks at Shebdon there is a lot of lane side litter that I'll collect next time we are aboard.

I have an old bathroom cabinet and a car parcel shelf that someone fly tipped on the back lane that we recovered and the cabinet I'll reuse in my workshop for washing power for the old washing machine I use for rags and overalls and the parcel shelf will go to the tip on my next run. Gotta do you bit as the litterers are all around us seemingly....

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

That cage thing update

Bloody good.

It’s a Coalcage to give it its correct name. I lit it as described in a previous post and it’s been in since Friday Lunchtime.... it’s now Monday evening.


  • It uses less coal, its hopper type feeding above the riddle plate (where the updraft is) means the heat is controlled more by the bottom vent than by the amount of coal added.
  • As above the control is much more fine tuned as the burning of the coal is directly above the riddle plate/vent. As there is no coal burning uncontrolled on the sides it’s so much easier to get and maintain the right temperature.
  • Night time burning is excellent as the coal burns as it decends into the pit of the fire. No need to do anything different as the control alone allows you to regulate the fire right down to the point the fan stops but the fire is still in, we have never been more comfortable overnight on the boat in winter... just so able to fine tune 
  • The Glass is still clean after three days of constant use... again no doubt as there is no coal or wood burning right in front of the glass.
  • As above as there is nothing much forward of the riddle plate there is no ash drop out when the door is opened.
  • Loading the fire has to be done by the tongs, one lump as a time, not too onerous and you realise how much less coal you are using. Just have to be careful.
All in all a great device and to be recommended. It’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts 

Monday, 6 January 2020

For the record

I try and record when and where I filled up with Diesel. Today the coal boat came by so we flagged them down and took a new bottle of gas, three bags of Excel and 116 litres of diesel. The engine counter was on 669 hours.

Now 116 litres is a record for us ( stop sniggering you cc’ers). Edited as I found out we put in 146 litres here I had a quick trawl to see if I recorded when I last filled up and at what engine counter we were at, of course I can’t find it if I do later I’ll edit this post..... yep found it it was at Turners with the engine counter on 570 hours so 99 hours for 116 litres makes 1.17 litres of fuel per hour running. Small interesting detail but we just added 116 litres, last top up was 113 litres.... at least we are consistent.

. I do recall where I was and that would be Turners when I brought Percy up from Fradley, so that would be late October 2018. I recall somewhere else I worked out we used about a litre and a half an hour so that gives some indication of the running of the engine.

To use that diesel we’ve really only been up and down the Shropshire, as far as Tyrley locks North and Church Eaton to the south. Done both a few times now. We of course did the blacking cruise up to Stourbridge Bonded warehouse which really was the single biggest trip of 2019.

Yesterday we were planning holidays and we firmed up the four counties ring and the Llangollen up and back, so hopefully we’ll be using a bit more diesel this year and out cruising.

One thing to note since we altered the charging regime we of course are not using the donk on Percy to charge the batteries when stationary so less engine hours and less diesel use there.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Why I don’t roll down hills .....

.... it’s because of dog shit. What am I on’s really a simple metaphor of the restrictions  I constantly fight in my life. Rolling down a hill is just such a great thing to do, all kids do it. They do it because there is no fear of ‘what might happen ( roll in dog shit)’ they just do it because it’s fun.

So 2020 has to be the year of rolling down hills and maybe there will be dog shit but maybe it’s better to risk the dog  đŸ’© rather than miss out on the hill rolling.

Now why on earth am I posting this drivel.... I follow a vlogger called Casey Neistat, a YouTube 11.5 million subscriber superstar. He’s not up himself so much and that is why I think he has such a following. But he just hit ( IMHO) the pinnacle of insightful vlogs...

Click here and watch it should if nothing else give you some pause for though.

That’s it, I’m off to find a hill - sod the đŸ’©

Friday, 3 January 2020

A superb idea

The simplest ideas are sometimes the best. I was watching some canal vlogs when I happened across this one ... Well Deck Diaries

It's such a simple idea but quite clever ...

We have three coal burning appliances, one on the boat and a multi-fuel stove and open fire at the cottage. It’s a simple stainless steel cage to hold a stack of coal that just gets topped up as the coal burns down and new coal is ignited by the coal it sits on as you top it up.

I gave it a test run on the large stove at the cottage ....

Of course it also helps set the fire by allowing a tower of kindling with coal above. It looks a little lost in the behemoth burner that heats the whole cottage, but it works.

I was worried it would not fit the Squirrel on Percy due to the back/top boiler. So as we are on the boat this weekend it got transported from one stove to another  and I can report....

Job done, sitting here the boat is lovely and warm 

They are so good I’ll be getting another one for the cottage. I'll try it in the open fire and see how it works in there. One benefit I’ve noted is that as the coal is held in the cage as it burns down you don’t get the ash build up near the door and subsequent drop out. 

Thursday, 2 January 2020

2020 and a deserted Fradley Junction

Well it's 2020 a new blogging year, let's see where this decade takes us. 

On New Years eve we spent a lovely evening together, playing games drinking eating and talking - the telly never got turned on !

It was a relief for all you workers to go backto work and continuing paying your taxes and leaving me to enjoy the peace and quiet. That extended to a spirited ride on my motorbike (Honda NC750x - not the Pan today) over to Fradley Junction. For those who are late to this blog that is where we moored our last three boats for eleven years and where I lived on board Percy for a couple of years. 

As an aside for my motorcycling friends I have signed up to a GPS motorcycling app called Scenic . It is quite good, using my phone and a quad lock fitting and case it's a very cheap full featured (and more) motorcycle GPS unit. It even allows you to set a destination then it'll route you via more twisty roads if you ask it. It also will generate a round route based on your input on N,S,E,W and total distance you want to ride. It can import routes planned on Google maps as well as Garmin Basecamp - very useful.

Anyhow It took me on a nice run  to Fadley Junction, I've not been back since I left on Percy in October 2018. 

It was deserted boat wise ....

The cafe was full but few walking. I got  takeaway coffee and had a reminisce as I walked down the Hunts lock moorings.

I quickly reminded myself of the distance I walked from the car park to boat each day  - not so now at Shebdon as the car park (and water) is next to the boat and much cheaper !

There were quite a few gaps including where we used to moor. Our old mooring looked very desolate 

 Sad to see so many who I used to know have moved on, but some of the old guard are still making it their home which is good.

I did not walk all the way to the new marina, I'll do that another day now I have a nice bike route sorted. Here is the gratuitous shot of the 750 ... a nice little bike for mucky road days like today.

I got back to a card from our postie. She is good, knowing the best place to leave parcels so I don't have to go into town to collect them. She left me this... more to report hopefully over the weekend.