Saturday, 30 October 2021

Grindley brook staircase and other destinations

Percy is in disgrace bobbing around in her new home Great Haywood marina waiting for a visit from her engine reverse birth partner Paul Redshaw ( Tony was also present when Percy had the lister installed as opposed to removed in a normal birth - what a waste of typing that all was !) So the visit to Grindley brook staircase  on two wheels. For the diary is was a long way round 160 mile mild day of biking. Phone repair at Timpsons Asda somewhere in Newcastle Under Lyme, then some browsing not purchasing motorcycle gloves then bacon at the staircase.

We of course did the staircase when we did the Llangollen in September 2020.... happy memories.

Then it was over to Great Haywood to check Percy and pick some bits up we'd left behind.

One of the benefits of my Himalayan 'Adventure' motorcycle is I can point it up any little lane and explore so instead of the normal route from Uttoxeter to home via Alton or Ellastone ( both lovely villages) I went off piste and found this gem 

I took a walk around and marked it up as a future cycle destination when the weather is allowing.

Monday, 25 October 2021

A really sad bitter sweet few days

So the sweet ... We are grandparents again as Benjamin Wells arrived safely into the loving Wells family of Tom Courtney and Teddy 14th October 9.43am  Always a relief ( I always shed a tear of happiness, this time luckily no one witnessed my weeping as it was done on a walk along the edge of my valley)

I'm so proud of them all.

Then last week my youngest son and his fiance left London and their lovely two bed apartment in Greenwich to seek new challenged in the frozen north - well Buxton for now. They arrived for an overnighter with us in the cottage with a large van one of our neighbours let park on his 'yard'. Loaded said goodbye to the London life and drove 4 hours to us - an emotional and tiring day.

Next day Wed 20th October I followed the convoy of Van and car to a very upmarket Buxton postcode right next to the new Crescent hotel and overlooking the Buxton Opera house. We unloaded and set up home. 

Now the bitter(ish) I took advantage of the fact Callum had the large van and the next day he picked me up and we went to Shebdon and cleared the mooring ( Canoe gardening tools chiminea etc ) It was hard to arrive and see the mooring in its finest, sunny, boats moving, people pottering. We emptied the shed and moved twice plastic storage shed and walked it down to Mandy who gave it a good new home.

The new tenant had taken a liberty of dropping a load of slabs ready to remove some of the grass I suppose plus cut back some of the vegetation that meant I didn't have to worry about emptying the compost heap we had filled. In some ways he had done me a favor as it really did not feel like out mooring as he'd 'taken over'. So we drove off and I didn't look back.... 

Very sad but .....

.... I visited the boat a few days later to basically check it and collect  some stuff. All was ok. I'd brought a 25 meter hook up. Where we are in the marina is right at the back in the corner and the marina actually is very shallow at the back so reversing in means the rudder gets locked and there could be a risk of it being lifted out of the skeg cup. To be fair Julie and Tony offered me two alternative mooring but where we are is quiet and there is only one pontoon I'd prefer which is right opposite the entrance where we can see boats moving.... if we stay I'll see what it taked to get one of those moorings. 

Anyhow the umbilical cord connected I switched the changeover switch to generator ( I will need to change that label to 'hook up' ) then switched  the battery charger on and ..... no lights on my newly installed Galvanic isolator  - how ironic, remember this post  - click me  It was me telling you I'd installed a piece of electrical equipment I didn't need !! Batteries being charged and lights all quietly being fed mains electricity for the first time in our ownership 

So no loose current emanating from my boat's electrics ( If I've understood the thing correctly) Just so ironic that I fitted something I thought I didn't need now its earning its keep.

I took a walk around the facilities as I emptied the cassette (no more transferring full poo tanks in the back of the car post cruise)  - or rubbish, or recycling. The elsan is spotless, the showers are like new as are the loo's. The workshops seems comprehensive ( they don't do gas work but they have someone who does - we need the regulator and pig tail replacing as its quite old - picked up by the insurance survey) There may be a few issues with the T&C's that we got after signing up ! But that may not be an issue we will see. 

So for now I'm waiting for a visit from Paul Redshaw to look at the engine and check it over. In the interim I've got the gas locker to paint, the cabin to polish maybe put in a new floor in the kitchen and bathroom and maybe finish the stove in the back. All jobs technically not to be done in the marina, but we are at the back out of the way. If we get challenged we'll be off, there has to be some common sense.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Into the marina who saw that coming ?

It's funny how the universe operates .... I'm a planner by nature and as I get older I worry more and plan more. Not sure why that is, I've seen it with people older than me who seem to have to get everything 'sorted' maybe because they have the time  and the usual work distractions are not there so they replace them with other works .... or maybe it's a 'being in god's waiting room' approach to sorting affairs out subconsciously who knows. I try and fight it, it's good to plan but when anxiety rears its head then the planning is getting too involved and I have to really work hard at stepping back and seeing the bigger picture.

We (I) am incredibly lucky in what I have in all aspects of life, health, love, relationships, family income, chattels, security. I do genuinely count my blessings and they are all anchors to remind me when my imagination and planning reaches anxiety point to 'rest and be thankful'  - as an aside I've always thought that to be a great name for a boat so don't  pinch it.

Here is the actual Rest and be Thankful. 

This year on my Himalayan 

On My Honda ST1300 in 2015 

Anyhow I digress. On the way back from the Stone dry dock Percy's engine sounded different. I was once told by a mechanic the best tool you have on an engine is your ears. So I diverted into Great Haywood marina and hovered in the entrance and called in and asked if they had a berth. The ever helpful Julie had a look and sent a nice fella out - not got his name yet to help identify a free mooring and grab the bow rope to help to tie up. As can be expected right now at the height of silly season in boat usage as well as buying and selling engineers are very busy and as the family we brought the boat from are vintage diesel engineers and the same engineers Tony and Paul who put the lister into Percy, it made sense to give them a call. So we are in a queue for a visit. 

We are in no great hurry as we took the educated decision over a chicken balti and two pints of Doom Bar (me) fish and chips and ginger ale ( Rachel) to relocate our mooring from Shebdon to Great Haywood. A little surprise to us and possibly those readers hardy enough to have been around a while as we have been on line moorers since we've owned boats 14 years - all three of them. 

For the majority of that time we used the boat(s) as our country cottage as we were living in a city suburb. A trip to the boat was an escape to the country and we didn't move the boat just stayed aboard in countryside. Now we live 365 days a year in that countryside so the visits to the boat to just get a rural fix are redundant. We decided in the Clifford arms that marina life ( albeit more expensive but with other fringe benefits) was the logical thing to opt for - especially as we were waiting for the engine to be checked and if work is needed might see us the wrong side of months of stoppages on the Staffs and Worcester. A hard but reasonable decision made all the easier as were were within a few weeks of the end of our current mooring contract at Shebdon.

So no more Shebdon but more Great Haywood. Will we miss Shebdon, a little but we've been there three years already. Great Haywood gives us still the four counties option plus the nice top end of the Staffs and Worcester. It also puts us a day away from the Coventry and all points south plus the nice stretch of the Trent Vale to Stone. Finally we are closer to the boat for checks and works. So sad but practical and a little bit exciting all the same.

Final bit of logical planning was within the week we will have, all being well, another grandson plus our youngest and his fiance will be moving back north from their raid on London's property and jobs market. 

Exciting changing times - a challenge to reign in my levels of anxiety but a world of new challenges and opportunities - life is so fleetingly short so grab every last chance for change and grab all experiences.

So the sun sets on our time at Shebdon 

Monday, 11 October 2021

Ready for the off

It'll be a solo run back over 4 days all being well. It might be a non starter due to my poor resourcing. I fitted the last Greasomatic see here Click Me  September last year  and didn't order more. I have ordered three now for the future and they should be delivered tomorrow so plan B is moor up somewhere and keep an eye on the bilge. I'm sure it will be fine as the existing one has 20% grease left.  

Finished the gloss black on the rear rubbing strake today .... not my best work but lessons learnt for next time. I had to start early and go back ( benefit of using Stone ) to fit the three rear fenders after the paint had dried as tomorrow it'll be us arrive 8.15 dock flooded 8.45 ( could be earlier). Rachel is taking me down but only locking me through the two Stone locks as she has commitments this week  - and we have a imminent arrival of a grandson so we need the boat back asap and to be around to help as and when. Plus other son is moving back from London so one or both of us are needed Saturday to help a partial move. 

Busy times....

A footnote .... the facilities and staff at Stone boat yard are very good. They are busy which is good, shame they could not fit me in for a bit of gas work needed ( not critical) but the insurance surveyor picked up the gas regulator and pig tail were old and could do with replacing. Might have to see what Norbury will charge. If we decide to self black the boat again we will be back here for sure.  

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Get a boat they said, it’ll be fun they said …..


Today was a success of sorts. A second coat on the tunnel bands and a second coat of blacking. The result was the masks, not nice to work in but removed the smell of the blacking completely. So no sickness or dizziness that lasted two days so I recon I really did poison myself ! Lesson learnt 

One more day of black gloss and maybe another coat of blacking along the waterline. Put some new squishy tape onto the weed hatch lid then ready for water and home for the winter.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Surveyed and poorly in the dock

I’m my own worse enemy. I set myself targets and as I get older they seem harder to attain. Anyway, Thursday at 8am I was on the boat ready to go into the dock. 8.45 am and the lads lifted the first stop plank to fill the dock and quickly we were pulling Percy into the dock. 

I drank coffee while the boat was jet washed then the surveyor arrived and set to for the insurance survey. It was more comprehensive than I was expecting ( advised there was no issues preventing me getting insurance plus plenty of good advice for the future) the time taken put me back so I was only able to scrape and wire brush one side before my time ran out and I headed home for a bath and bed. 

Friday was a tough day…. I arrive and set to scraping and wire brushings the other side then cracked open the blacking and spent the next five and a half hours blacking both sides. Thankfully Rachel arrived half way and set to with brush and roller. 

I overdid it with no break and by 5pm was feeling quite sick from the constant exposure to the stinky blacking. Still we got to where we needed to be as today, Saturday we wanted to leave the first coat to cure and did the tunnel bands. 

Tomorrow ( suitably masked up) we are both back in the dock to give the boat a second coat plus a second coat to the tunnel bands 

Monday is curing day and some gloss black touch up plus a general tidy up ready for refloating on Tuesday at 9am. I’ll have to get there early on Tuesday to put the fenders back on and then homeward bound…. More on that later.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Logistical challenges and I'm retired !

October 2021 was scheduled for a leisurely cruise to get the boat blacked and hull surveyed in Stone. Combining a nice cruise to a location we can work on the boat while going home to a hot bath and comfy bed each night. Better than being in the Bonded warehouse in Stourbridge on my own as was the case just over two years ago.... see here and a few pics below 

The blacking and trip to Stone were planned and booked Christmas 2020  - 29th December 2020 to be precise.

Spin forward to October 2021 and a few things have added to the planning ...... another grandson and youngest so moving out of the smoke having made his money coming back for quality of life now. Also Rachels workload at the University is daunting as well as pressure from the NHS to help out/return .... So our planning and booking in 2020 has been impacted in 2021.

So as you will have seen on my other posts we (I)  should be in the dock on Thursday morning. This one will come out Thursday and my progress on surveys and blacking as well as a few other little jobs will be details for my care home reading down the line.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Boom ….. the goose murderer strikes

A bit all over the place is my blogging at the moment but here goes an update……

Yesterday 4th October we dropped a car off at Aston Marina and drove to Great Haywood Marina to pay for another four nights we’d used and head off for a rendezvous with a dry dock on Thursday morning.

Due to needing to be local (home) in case we are needed for parenting/Grand parenting we are home for a night then I’m back on board to take Percy for its appointment with the dry dock. 

We had been watching the ever changing weather forecast and true to form by the time we’d paid, shopped  and oiled the donk it started to rain…. But I was committed so we slipped the ropes and headed north for an overnight in the country. 

On approach to Hoo Mill lock there was a boat seemingly moored on the landing with a full lock ( water firing through the bottom gates high up) and no one about. As they heard the engine they appeared with cups of tea/coffee and the fella walked up and started emptying the lock. As the gates opened his crew stood on the rear waiting for the fella to come back and take the boat in. All the while we were hovering as they had moored on the first bollards. 

I moored up and went to see what was happening and a boat coming the other way was locking him up. Only when the boat came up did she see three crew inside watching her work in the rain ! It was a hire boat and only just picked up but there seems to be only one person on board wanting to get involved (skipper the boat) 

Skip to Weston lock and this time they were in the lock as we passed a boat moored at the end of the Armco ( not on the lock moorings). We moored up and I went to see the score and again only one crew on the boat but a fella working the lock who I assumed was their crew. As they left they said thanks and I said hop on I’ll close the gates…. He said no I’m not with them. I said is your boat on its way and he said no he was on the boat moored below ( not on the lock landing) and was going to fetch his boat now ! So I signalled to Rachel to hold as she was untying to come in….. he then said it’s ok we are not in a hurry so I then signalled to Rachel to come in…. Another boat came to the lock landing again passing his boat… I presume there was a conversation as no one came up to help us lock up but we were glad to see the back of the lock ! 

We had planned a overnight stop around Burston and just as we were pulling in a flock of geese flew over and BOOM someone the other side of the hedge led off a massive shotgun blast and took one of the geese straight out of the air…. The flock circled round and again boom, this time one shot took three geese out of the air, god knows what size shotgun he was using but it was sooo loud and obviously very powerful. We thanked him for the scare ( no response) then headed  further down the canal away from the murdering of geese ! 

This morning (5th) after a night of heavy rain we set to to get into Aston Marina. 18-20 mph winds blowing straight down the Marina took us sideways as we tried to turn onto a berth we could not easily identify. We ended up pinned to the pontoons sideways and Rachel had to walk the gunnels dodge the goose poo on the pontoon to hold a bow rope while I slowly edged Percy into A25.

Another boat tried to reverse on and failed so had to pirouette to get his nose into the wind and held there for 5 minutes unto a lull in the wind then did get on in reverse. I’ll be going out backwards single handing tomorrow…. The wind is due to settle a bit so I may be holding waiting for that same lull. I know why I don't like marinas …. Had the same at Mercia a few years ago…. They are so unprotected from winds that make them a skating ring for boats

The pontoons here are much narrower than Great Haywood and in poor condition. Covered in goose poo as well. The bigger issue for anyone moored here is the amount of diesel in the water…. it’ll be dissolving the blacking of the boats for sure ! 

Its hammering down so we waited to do the car shuffle and empty the cassette….. back tomorrow for the trip up three locks to overnight outside the dry dock. The adventure ( part 2 )  has begun. 

Leia was straight in front of the stove that kept us toasty warm on a windy rainy night 

The clouds built just ready for our arrival into the Marina ( plus wind) 

We have a dome clear umbrella that is ideal for heavy rainy days 

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

C&RT need to get it’s act together

When we traveled from Shebdon to Great Haywood I recalled three of the four locks from Penkridge only had one top paddle working…. With leaky bottom gates they took and age to fill and we commented at the time they were taking a risk …. That risk has been realised with Shutt Hill lock being closed as both top paddle rods have now snapped. 

Inevitable and C&RT should be ashamed of the state of this section of locks.

I hope they get their act together as I need to be using that lock I suspect Wednesday next week or I'm going to have to go thru the tunnel and over the top which on my own would be a real marathon.

Notice Alert

Staffordshire & Worcestershire Cnl
Location: Lock 41 Shutt Hill Lock, Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal
Starts At: Lock 41 Shutt Hill Lock
Ends At: Lock 41 Shutt Hill Lock
Up Stream Winding Hole: Above Gailey Lock
Down Stream Winding Hole: Moat House Winding Hole

Tuesday 5 October 2021 12:00 until further notice

Type: Navigation Closure 
Reason: Repair

Original message:

Shutt Hill Lock is closed until further notice due to both paddle rods have snapped. Please bear with us when our teams assess damages and work on repairing this lock.  

You can view this notice and its map online here:

You can find all notices at the url below:

Monday, 4 October 2021

A great send off

Sad but happy times last week as we finally got the opportunity, thanks to a great deal of hard work and planning from Rachel, to come together and celebrate the life of her late mum and my favourite mother in law Christine.

Christine sadly died March last year and her funeral was right in the start of the first and most rigorous lock down in April. So tight and nervous were the 'rules' only direct family was allowed - children and her siblings. I was granted special permission ( from who  I don' t know) to be there  to live stream the events which thankfully went ok.

So we finally met at a local venue and came together with Christine's brother and sister and their families as well as special long standing friends plus most of the extended family to chat reflect laugh and maybe a few tears to remember a very special strong independent lady. 

It was a special and lovely occasion 

We ended our evening with a visit to Dale Hill where Christine is properly resting in peace in a beautiful setting in the day and night.