Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Still Marking Time.

Still moored at Linslade / Leighton Buzzard.
Total of 145 locks and 1061/2 miles since 5th Nov 2006

Yesterday was a complete change of weather; the sun came out and blue skies all day.
Amazingly the ‘Lake’ along side us had receded overnight and except for puddles here or there you wouldn’t know that it had been flooded only 24 hours earlier. Today the canal is still overflowing into the still swollen river Ouzel but at a greatly reduced volume. We had more overnight rain and it looks like more rain tonight.
To allay the boredom while we wait for Homebase to say our vanity basin has arrived we have been watching the bird life in the hedgerow. The usual Robin, Blue Tit and Sparrows, Blackbirds, Wood Pigeons and plenty of Crows in the meadow on the other side of the hedge. There have been some that we are still trying to identify using my very old Birds in Colour book published by Penguin.
I think there has been some Wrens and possibly a Willow Tit but don’t hold me to that.
The sooner the basin is delivered the better then we can get steaming again, we’ve been idle too long.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Rain, rain, rain.

Now moored at Linslade / Leighton Buzzard.
Total of 145 locks and 1061/2 miles since 5th Nov 2006

Last night we were aware that it was raining but thought nothing of it until this morning. When we looked out of the window, the view across the towpath had changed from Ouzel meadow to Ouzel Lake. The canal also reminded us of the river Kwai in Thailand being muddy brown and full of debris.

After a late breakfast we went for a walk to see the extent of the flooding and take some photos.

These show one of several pathways across the meadow completely under fast flowing water,

the next picture shows water actually topped the canal bank and flooded a short stretch of towpath and the last is an overflow weir from the canal into the river Ouzel.

At one point along the towpath there was water very close to us on both sides.
Talking to a couple out enjoying a Sunday stroll who were amazed at the extent of the flooding as they had lived here for 30 years and never seen it so bad.

Hopefully canals such as the Basingstoke will have got their share and will solve the water shortage problem for a while.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Has Spring sprung?

Now moored at Linslade / Leighton Buzzard.
Total of 145 locks and 1061/2 miles since 5th Nov 2006

After catching up with several little jobs and getting them out of the way I have found time to assemble another heater/bookcase cabinet that has been lying around in the boat for too long.

This one didn’t take as long as the last one because I have acquired some power tools in the meantime. I just have to sort out some shelving and stain it and that’s another job done and dusted.

This afternoon Dot decided she needed some fresh air (probably my fault making a load of dust sawing and sanding) so she went for a walk up past the Globe pub which is close to where the great train robbery took place. She decided to carry on just to find out how far it was to the nearest winding hole.According to her Pedometer it was 11/2 miles.On the way she spotted the flowers in the accompanying pictures so it looks like spring is here.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Baking and Odd job day

Now moored at Linslade / Leighton Buzzard.
Total of 145 locks and 1061/2 miles since 5th Nov 2006

Living on a board is full of firsts. Today it was baking in a gas oven. What to do with over ripe bananas? Only one thing for it, a banana cake or something. Oh dear where do I start? No butter only oil, well, 225gms is about 1 cup, I’ll try ½ cup oil, and the recipe says bake at 180 0c, well, how about gas 4, hmm! Well here goes, oh dear, no mixing bowl, oh well a casserole dish and a measuring jug will do. Must remember to put mixing bowl on the grocery list. I have one of those new silicone (or something) soft plastic like loaf pans and similar muffin pans. Well I used both as the mixture was too much for the loaf tin, cooked the muffins for 30 minutes (disappeared in ½ the time) and the loaf an hour. Success first time around, lovely moist banana/carrot loaf and 6 muffins.
With it being wet yesterday nothing much happened except reading and updating our website and other internet stuff.
Today the weather improved so I have made a start on tidying up the paintwork in the cratch area.
Before we left Apsley Mills we also bought some vinyl to put on the floor in the kitchen, bathroom and both entranceways. It was not an easy task working in very confined areas but I managed to get 3 of them done today. We are having second thoughts about the front entrance now we have the cratch cover so we may put some vinyl under the dinette table instead.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Bored teenagers

Now moored at Linslade. 0 locks / ½ mile
Total of 145 locks and 1061/2 miles since 5th Nov 2006

Having spent the first night moored near Tesco’s without incident we were lulled into a false sense of security. Last night about midnight we heard voices outside the boat and saw 4 male teenagers sitting on the bench opposite the boat. That was OK but about 15 minutes later I felt the boat move so I shot out through the stern doors just in time to catch one of the little rat bags trying to unhitch the boat from the mooring bollard. They had already managed to get one of the ropes off. Lucky being of the large round variety he was having a problem. Yelling a few choice words at him as I chased him and his mates they ran off to the bridge and sat there watching us. Seeing this I got the camera out and walked towards them taking photos as I went. Realising that I was trying to photograph them they took off at a great rate of knots never to be seen again.
Having got ourselves sorted out from that little incident we retired for the night only to be annoyed by 4 boy racers having races around the Tesco’s car park. After about a ½ an hour somebody came out from Tesco’s and sent them packing. So this morning we backed up through the bridge to the water point (the 1 outside Tesco’s has been disconnected) and re-filled the water tank as we wanted to do some washing. We then travelled north for about ½ mile to an area on the outskirts of town by Ouzel meadow opposite some nice secluded housing just above lock 27. Hopefully we will be able to get some peace and quiet here. Ouzel meadow is a large area of common land between the canal and the river Ouzel. The area was left to run to rack and ruin but is now controlled by the local council with the aid of a ranger and is periodically grazed with cattle to keep it under control.
I have now completed the wiring alterations in the saloon and they work a treat and will be less draining on the batteries.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Market Day

Leighton Buzzard
Total of 145 locks and 106 miles since 5th Nov 2006

After a morning of trying to re-wire the front cabin lights and finding obstacles every step of the way I decided to call it quits for a while and walk into town.

As luck would have it, today was market day and the High St was lined on both sides with stalls. The town is very similar to St Albans in its layout. At the top of the road was the old fire station with what you might call the town cross or memorial.
The station building is now used to store all the market stalls etc.

We found a W H Smiths and purchased our usual copy of Canal boat and Inland Waterways and Dot spotted the Canals and Rivers magazine with a Fens Waterways 2007 pull out. As we are heading that way and have no books or guides for the area we thought it would be useful. It turns out that it is packed with all sorts of info that we are likely to need.

Upon our return to the boat we found the local goose standing by the boat and we wondered what he was doing.

It transpired he was either admiring himself in the reflection in the paint work or he was stupid enough to think he had found a new play mate. Every time somebody walked past he would run at them with his head down and peck their shoes. Perhaps he was trying to protect his new found friend.

Anybody know a good goose psychiatrist?

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Hop skip & a jump.

2 locks / 31/2 miles
Total of 145 locks and 106 miles since 5th Nov 2006

Shortly after Tracey left us last night she rang to say she had seen the carved lion on Dunstable Downs. I thought this strange as she left just on dusk but she told us that the lion is illuminated. So, what to do? Nothing for it but go for a walk up to the ‘T’ intersection at Slapton where we knew we would be able to see the lion providing there was no mist or fog. Sure enough we could see the lion even though we were probably the best part of 7 miles away but it was too far for a photo. But at least we have now seen it day & night.
After sorting out a few chores we pulled the pins about mid morning and set off for Leighton Buzzard. As usual we had the whole canal to ourselves.

On the approaches to bridge 114 there is a whole new housing redevelopment called “The Wharf” not unlike Apsley Mills. When completed it should be very nice. Just before the bridge we spotted an old style BW water point and 14 day mooring signs so we moored up to fill the water tank as we had done a load of washing on the way up here.
While waiting for the tank to fill I checked out what was beyond the bridge as it is on a blind corner. The 14 day moorings extended for about another 300 yards, which incidentally was full of fishermen, then changed to 2 hour moorings alongside Tesco’s supermarket. We opted to move up to the 2 hour moorings and visit Tesco’s and Homebase who are next door to restock. Mid afternoon the fishermen started to pack up so before they had even left we made a very pointed statement by moving back to where they had been fishing and made ourselves at home. It turned out that the damned cheeky fisherman had been fishing right by a new BW water point and parked their cars in Tesco’s car park within about 15 yards of where they were fishing. The gall of some people.

Monday, 19 February 2007

Mail delivery.

Slapton lock 30

Weather wise it hasn’t been much of a day. Heavily overcast and cool was the order of the day.
However daughter Tracey came out from Wimbledon to see us and brought us our mail. The directions I gave her must have been pretty good as she found us quite easily.
In the meantime I have been working on modifying the lights in the kitchen and saloon. I have put a strip light over the bench/sink area because when you are standing at the bench all the lights are behind you. Not very well thought out.
In the saloon the light switch is right up the front of the boat which means stumbling through in darkness to switch the lights on. The plan is to split the lights into 2 banks of 3 instead of 6 on 1 switch and put another switch near the kitchen doorway so you can turn the lights on as you enter the saloon.
Tomorrow we will move further North to Leighton Buzzard where we will have to cool our heels for up to a fortnight until our sink unit arrives from Homebase.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Another old church

Slapton lock 30

The day started foggy which did not lift until mid morning. Eventually the sun broke through to give us another fine day.
Surprisingly there has only been 3 boats go through today. The first boat looked very sad in appearance being all covered in green algae and dirty. We were told that the boat was only 4 years old but it looked more like 40. Perhaps the gentleman had only just bought the boat because we found out later that he was not familiar with lock procedures.
About half an hour later we started to list to starboard and it was obvious that the pound was losing water. Shortly after this another boat came through also heading south. I spoke to the boatman who informed me that the previous boat had gone through locks 28 and 29 and left the top gates open and the bottom gates are leaking quite badly. Now we know where the water was going.
The third boat only went through lock 30 to the winding hole and returned to moor up just ahead of us.
He said he just wanted to get out in the sunshine for the week-end and would be going back to Linslade tomorrow.
After lunch Dot & I went for a walk into Slapton village to look for another 15th century church that we had read about. On the way we passed the farm we had spotted the previous day.

The farmer was rounding up the sheep, shepherds crook and all. The church turned out to be a bit of a let down as it was all locked up unlike All Saints at Marsworth.

The building itself was not in such a good condition either. It was interesting that some of the surnames on the very old grave stones we saw at Marsworth were evident here as well. I suppose communities were much closer in those days not moving far from their birthplaces.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Ivinghoe here we come

10 locks / 41/2 miles.

Peter, the coal and diesel man was on time this morning and caught us before we had time for breakfast. We took on another 40 litres which was less than I had anticipated but it’s good to keep the tank topped up.
We eventually pulled the pins and had another windy day to contend with. At the BW yard at Marsworth Junction we stopped to drop off rubbish and had a trial run with our self pump out gear. After some trials and tribulation we think we have now mastered the beast.

Noticed on the side of the canal this morning, don't know any details!
It was well underwater but we don't know for how long.

Our journey today was through farming territory with one particular farm right on the canal side. They still had their cows penned up under cover which of course means mucking out the sheds and a huge dung pile at least 15 feet high. The surrounding paddocks all had water laying on them in places so the farmer was probably keeping the cows inside to stop the paddocks getting all churned up and wrecking the pasture.
As we neared Ivinghoe we passed 4 BW boats and workmen getting organised to close off Ivinghoe locks 32 and 33 on Monday for repairs.
As we passed between the villages of Horton and Slapton we could see the white lion carved in chalk on the Dunstable Downs. This was carved in 1935 and is 480 feet long and on a clear day is visible for miles.

Slapton also has a church that dates back to the 15 century, which weather permitting we will visit tomorrow. We plan to stay here over the week-end as the canal might be busy with boats trying to beat the stoppages or as it is mid term holiday for the schools there may be a few hire boats on the move.

The Carpenters Arms at Slapton a 16 Century thatched pub,
serving quality meals and bookings essential.
Well............ perhaps we shall sample the fare.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Starry night and windy morning.

5 locks / 21/2 miles.

What a lovely peaceful night it was with a clear sky and all the stars clearly visible. It put us in mind of our caravan club friends back in NZ at a recent rally sitting out under a clear sky spotting satellites as they pass overhead.

This morning dawned very windy and cold, so porridge was back on the menu.

Before we pulled the pins we had a wander and took some photos and read the information board which outlined the restoration progress. The Wendover Arm Trust plan to restore a further two miles to Drayton Beauchamp by 2010. The work on this is well under way as there are no obstacles in the way. The final stretch into Wendover is in water but needs dredging and there are 3 bridges that need to be raised for the canal to be passable.
Marsworth Flight

The journey back to Marsworth Junction was a bit tricky with the wind pushing us sideways but we made it unscathed.

We are now going downhill after passing through the Tring summit yesterday. We had planned to do the Marsworth flight which is locks 39 to 45 and moor up by bridge 130 but after leaving lock 40 we found the diesel and coal boats Bletchley and Argus moored just above lock 39. There was no sign of Peter so we made a phone call to ascertain his whereabouts’ to find that he will be back on board first thing tomorrow for his next run south. With this in mind and the fact that we could probably take on another 60+ litres we opted to wait until the morning.

As it was a fine day we walked into Marsworth village where we had a look around All Saints church which is mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086.

It was interesting to see the family names of West and Seare were evident in the village for many generations. The last male heir of the West’s died in 1700.

From the high ground that the church was built on you could see back across the canal out over the 4 reservoirs’ one of which covers 100 acres. These feed the Grand Union canal via the Tringford pumping station and Wendover arm. The pumping station is a big building as it used to house big beam engines but now is electrically powered.
We walked back to the boat via the BW yard at the entrance to the Aylesbury arm. The first lock is the only staircase on the Grand Union south which is very deep and narrow. You go from the first lock straight into the second and there is a very definite sequence of events that must be followed. We had planned on visiting this canal but as there are 16 locks each way we decided that this was at least a 4 day trip and we have insufficient time as we have to be through Ivinghoe locks by Sunday. So this will have to wait until next time we are in the area.

After a short walk along the towpath we climbed the embankment to have a closer look at the reservoirs and some of the different bird life that abound on the water before retiring to the boat and a well deserved cuppa.

Last photo shows the well attended cemetery at All Saints Church in Marsworth

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Off the beaten track.

7 locks / 71/2 miles.

After yesterday’s busy day we slept very well to the extent we didn’t wake until 9am, so it was a quick breakfast, a fleeting visit to the post office for stamps and we were ready to move off. Just as we had pulled the pins to do our first chore which was to move across the canal to the water point we got talking to a gentleman out walking with his grandson. The grandson was wearing an “All Black” parka which grandad was quick to point out to us. It turned out that the family were back here to visit friends and relatives and were going back to NZ in 5 weeks time.
We eventually filled the water tank which was precautionary as we had put 2 loads of washing through the washing machine on our journey yesterday which would have used over 100 litres.

The journey was pretty uneventful except for meeting another Kiwi (New Zealander), I tell you we can’t get away from them.
As we were working the Dudswell lock we got into conversation with 2 teenagers who were fishing and it turned out that 1 of them was born in Wellington NZ but his mother had bought him back to the UK 7 years ago. He was looking forward to the UK summer holidays as he was going to Australia and NZ to visit friends and family.
The journey through the Tring cutting was not very interesting and being out of the sun the temperature dropped quite sharply.
It was good to get back into the sunlight at the end of it.
At the old BW yard at Bulbourne we saw the sculptor/artist who has taken over part of the site and producing sculptors out of metal. He was in the process of testing an artistic garden fountain that stood about 4 feet high. From here we noticed a marked change in the scenery from urban to decidedly rural.
At the top of the Marsworth flight we turned sharp left onto the Wendover Arm which although only being just over a mile in length with no locks is navigable. Our aim is to follow the lead of n/b Earnest and the Tuesday Night club in traversing these back waters just because they are there. If boats don’t use them there is no point in them being restored.
The canal is a narrow waterway with about a couple of dozen or so boats moored along the way and a bit over grown on the non towpath side. There is an industrial site along the way where there are signs warning of an underwater ledge but we stayed mid stream and had no problem. There is 1 tight bend as you pass behind the factory which could be a problem to any boat 60ft or more but we got around OK. From the factory it becomes very rural again right through to the end of the navigation. Just before the winding hole at the end of the canal is a stop lock which is secured open and the pumping station which is feeding water into the Grand Union canal from a huge reservoir behind it. Dot was concerned the winding hole was not going to be big enough but all her fears were laid to rest when we found the winding hole big enough to turn a 70 footer IF you could get it up there.
After winding we moored up on a delight stretch of tow path with no trains, cars or motorways. Utter peace and quiet. As the saying goes in NZ we’ve gone bush.

End of navigation of the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union

Plaque to commemorate the restoration of this section of the Wendover Arm in 2004.

View from our galley window tonight

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Washing machine ???

15 locks / 5 miles

We eventually got our courier parcel about 10am this morning and the courier had been trying to deliver it to the gift shop which is part of the marina complex.
I pointed out that the parcel was addressed to Narrowboat “Gypsy Rover” and we were only moored about 15 feet from the shop.
Words fail me!

As soon as we had the contents of the parcel on board and disposed of the rubbish we pulled the pins and were away. HOORAY.

The first 5 locks were nothing new as we had been through them on several occasions before. When we got to Winkwell we stopped at Middlesex & Herts boats for another tank of calor gas and a long throw windlass for Dot.

Next on the list was the swing bridge next to the boatyard. Dot took great delight in closing the road and operating the bridge to let me through.
When we were talking to Maffi on n/b “Milly M” last week he had warned us about a fallen tree just past bridge 145 which somebody had trimmed back just enough for boats to pass but it was a very tight squeeze.
After this was Sewer Lock 58 which as the name implies is alongside a sewerage plant. The discharge from the plant is pumped straight into the canal with the effect that you see in one of the accompanying photos. One way of getting the boat washed I suppose. At least the odour in the air was quite pleasant, not what you would expect from such a place.

At the Rising Sun lock we got into conversation with 2 gentlemen who turned out to be father & son. The son was on holiday from Brisbane, Australia and due to fly home tomorrow.
They were making the most of the fine weather and having a stroll along the canal with a few pub stops along the way. As we were getting ready to leave the lock the elderly gentleman said he had never travelled on a narrowboat on the canal so who are we to deny such a gentle hint. We gave him a ride up to the next lock and he loved it. Such a small gesture but one I am sure will give him long lasting memories.

As we had left Apsley a day behind schedule we pressed on even though we had decided from the beginning that we wouldn’t be busting our boilers and breaking any records. Even though we had travelled further than planned we moored up at Berkhamstead which was one of our scheduled stop over points. We are now moored above lock 53 alongside a Waitrose supermarket on British Waterways 14 day moorings which also gives us easy access to the main shopping street.
We will sleep well tonight.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Brassed off and wet

Moored outside Apsley Marina

We have been patiently waiting outside the marina for the courier with our self pump out gear from Denham Yacht Station which was supposed to have arrived this morning. Fat chance. I have rung DYS twice now, the first time the courier said that he was here at 8.59am and couldn’t find anybody. Yer right! The second time the courier said it was still on the truck and would be delivered by 5pm, the only thing they forgot to tell us was what day cos it still ain’t here.
On the good side we have now refuelled from Candle Bridge Carrying Co who arrived early this afternoon. The downside to this was that the heavens opened up and we got soaked.
While trying to fill in time I refilled the water tank and checked all of the batteries so we should be all set to go as soon as the parcel arrives, although time is running short as we have to be through the Ivinghoe locks 32 and 33 by the weekend due to them closing for maintenance.
I struck lucky today because I went up to Homebase for a few bits and pieces and found that they had a special on Skil power tools. I had been contemplating buying a jigsaw from their in house brand range for ₤12. The Skil special was buy 1 get 1 free so I hunted around the store to find the display which was nowhere near the power tool dept, typical. The items on special were a drill and sander neither of which I wanted but at the bottom of the display were angle grinders and jigsaws which was just what the doctor ordered so guess what I bought. The 2 tools cost me ₤29.99 which was marginally dearer than their own brand but when I take them back to NZ I will be able to get them serviced.
Dot popped into Home base about an hour or so later only to find that the only items still left on the shelf were the drills so who’s a lucky fella then. Timed that nicely didn’t I?

Monday, 12 February 2007

We have moved

1 lock / 1/2 mile

We have not moved far, only down 1 lock and moored outside the marina in preparation for Candle Bridge Carrying Co arriving tomorrow with diesel and calor gas. We are also expecting a courier deliver at the marina as well.
Other than a shopping spree this morning and reconnecting the horn this afternoon it has been a quiet day.
As it was a fine afternoon there have been plenty of gongoozlers wandering around here looking at all the boats. The tow path between Hemel Hempstead and Kings Langley is very popular with walkers, trampers and runners and is well patronized on fine days.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

We have light.

Moored near Lock 67 at Apsley

The weather cleared up mid morning so it was back to work to finish what we started yesterday. Connecting up the headlight was easy and putting the mounts on the front of the cratch for the TV aerial went quite smoothly. However the air horns that I want to fit may be a bit of a head ache so I have left that temporarily until I can sort out the wiring.
I have now made a small shelf for the radio to sit on in the dinette; this has been varnished and will be fitted tomorrow when it’s dry.
We said bon voyage to Maffi on “Milly M” this afternoon as he was pulling the pins and heading south. Lady Capels lock is supposed to re-open tomorrow so he will be able to get right through to London. We will probably meet up with him again on the Oxford canal or the Kennet and Avon canal if it re-opens this year. For those that don’t know a weir has collapsed on a property owned by the singer Kate Bush closing the canal. British Waterways have the responsibility to repair it which we understand is a real expensive job. So re-opening the K & A is a $64000 question at present.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Like threading a needle.

Moored near Lock 67 at Apsley

The cratch windows are now in place and look good. Our own little conservatory, which gets quite warm even with just a little winter sunshine.
The next job is moving the headlight and horn which means a re-wiring job. The holes in the bulk head where the old horn was fitted have been enlarged to take extra cabling and coax for the aerial. Of course Murphy’s Law has to come into the equation in that the internal holes don’t line up with the external holes. This is where I have to feed curtain wire (stiff but flexible) into the hole and Dot has to try and grab the end of the wire as it goes past the internal hole. Not easy when you are head down, bum up in a cupboard or trying to grab the wire under the gunnels where there is just enough room for your hand and you cannot see what you are doing.
Of course once the curtain wire had been fed through, we then had to tape 2 cables or the coax cable to the curtain wire and feed it back from where it came from, without the cables becoming detached from the curtain wire. Lady luck was on our side today as both tasks were successfully completed first time, much to our relief.
The other part of the job required me to get on the bow and get into the gas locker to complete the connections but as it started to snow quite heavily again which then turned to rain this has been put on hold until the weather improves.

Friday, 9 February 2007

White out conditions

Moored near Lock 67 at Apsley

The weather forecasts over here are certainly accurate. Yesterday they forecast snow that would arrive about 6am. Well at 5 am it was already a couple of centimeters deep.

When we finally managed to crawl out from under the duvet the snow on the boat was 9 centimeters deep. Needless to say I had to go for a walk and photograph all this virgin snow before people started to disturb it all. Mind you everybody that I saw out in the snow had a camera looking for the best pictures or scenes.

As luck would have it we had made a doctors appointment for today in Hemel Hempstead.
We had checked bus timetables and took a gamble that they would be running.

At the bus stop we spoke to an elderly couple who were trying to get to the hospital. They had seen buses going past while they were waiting for a taxi at home, this didn’t appear so they thought they would try the bus. However a friend saw them as he was passing in his car so he stopped and picked them up. About 25 minutes later there was still no bus but another car pulled up and it was the same gentleman who had picked up the other couple. They had been talking on the way to the hospital and they asked him to go back and pick up the 2 Kiwi’s at the bus stop.

Now that has restored my faith in human nature.

Bless their cotton socks.

On the other hand in the waiting room at the doctors we read a sign which stated “68 patients hadn’t bothered to show up for their appointments in December.”

There was a whole load of other statistics’ which showed how much valuable time was lost in
doctors time and day surgery etc. What is wrong with these people, they complain about the health system and yet they haven’t got the common decency to ring up and cancel the appointment and let somebody else see the doctor.

Come on people wake up and smell the grass. Admittedly today would have been an exception as 3 of the 5 doctors in the surgery couldn’t get to work either but hey it doesn’t snow everyday.

That’s my moan and grizzle for now.

To view more snow pictures taken today look here

Thursday, 8 February 2007

The Pictures Tell the Story

Grand Union Canal Freezes

Moored near Lock 67 at Apsley

Oh boy, what a morning. The weather man got it right this time as we awoke to a -3.6c deg and frost. It wasn’t until mid afternoon when I went for a walk that I found that the pound above us had frozen over and was still frozen.

This stretch of canal has no water movement hence the freezing. Where we are there is a weir which keeps the water flowing which stops it freezing.
We have now fitted the glass to the cratch frames but have got them laying flat on the floor until the silicon sets. I was concerned that if we put them back too soon the weight of the glass might be too much for the silicon and the glass might fall out, so better safe than sorry.
The next task is shifting the horn, headlight and TV aerial. This is proving to be quite a problem tracing wires etc. I had to take off 3 trim panels in the lounge to get to the headlight wire but have now got it sorted.

After enlarging the hole where the horn was originally I have now fed a curtain wire through and taped the 2 sets of wiring to it and tomorrow with Dots help hopefully we will be able to re-route the wiring and reconnect everything.
Tomorrow (Thursday) should be very interesting because the weather man is predicting up to 6 inches of snow across large areas of the country which will bring the country to a standstill. The photos both show the ice still on the surface of the canal at 3pm in the afternoon. What about tomorrow? well.


Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Waitangi Day New Zealand National day

Moored near Lock 67 Apsley

The weather man got it nearly right as we awoke to -1.6c deg and a white frost this morning.
By the time Tim arrived at 10.30 to fit the covers it was a beautiful but cold day.
We are very pleased with the covers and have already noticed an improvement in the temperature inside the boat with the added draught protection of the covers.
We were very impressed in the way Tim very meticulously fitted all the hooks, studs and fittings ensuring that there would not be any leaks caused by his workmanship. We would have no hesitation in recommending him
( to anybody wanting a new or replacement cover made.
Now all I have to do is fit the glass panel in the cratch frame and that’s another job finished. There is also some touch up painting as the cream trim will be changed to burgundy to complement the covers. Of course there is a few other trims to be painted to match, such as plank, pole, hook and hatch. The roof and side panels will eventually be light grey.
But of course Rome wasn't built in a day and it's all coming together nicely.

In the meantime I have made a start on touching up the varnish inside the boat. The original varnish was sprayed on and apparently was a watered down water based varnish which has seen better days.
Tonight I noticed that the dining room radiator was colder at the top than the bottom so I bled the air out of the system again and it has made a huge difference. Obviously this is going to need to be a regular chore every 3 or 4 weeks.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Contact made

Moored near Lock 67 Apsley

Tonight I finally made contact with a cousin (Anne) in Canada using MSN Messenger. We had tried to contact her when we passed through Canada last October without success. It was great to establish contact and have a good natter even if it was in written form.
The boat is now ready for the covers to be fitted tomorrow morning. Tim should be here around 10.30, just hope it stays dry for him to fit them. The Met office is predicting an over night temperaure of -4c but the temperature at the moment (9.30pm) is still 7.9c so perhaps they have got it wrong this time.
In the meantime I have been replacing a length of skirting board that has been water damaged and swollen up. I took the replacement piece from inside one of the storage units and replaced it with flat board. Unfortunately the replacement skirting has turned out to be quite a bit darker than the original but most of it will be hidden under a radiator so it won’t be that obvious. I Popped in and saw Maffi on “Milly M” and caught him as he was putting away the vacuum cleaner. Despite the common misconception, it goes to show men can do housework. He was having a clean up as he was expecting visitors. Typical.
Now we are thinking of moving off from here on the 12th but BW has notified us that a stoppage that was to have started today has been postponed. It depends on the new start date as to whether or not it will mean we will have to leave sooner than planned. Time will tell.

This photo shows the front cratch frame which will be covered tomorrow and we shall look quite different.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Sunshine and lots of it.

2 Locks / 1 mile

After a fairly heavy overnight frost we awoke to another beautiful day with clear blue skies and sunshine. This precluded any work being done outside the boat for quite some time until the frost thawed and the boat dried. Unfortunately the boat didn’t dry until quite late so any idea of painting again went out the window.
Yesterday we did a trip down to the marina for a pump out and refill the water tank which must have been close to empty as it took for ever to fill. As there is nobody moving around on the canal at present we were lucky enough to return to our original mooring.
As we are going to leave Apsley on the 12th we had a brainstorming session on what we needed to purchase while we are moored very close to the shops. We decided on buying some vinyl (lino) as Carpet Right warehouse is in the local complex. We will put this in the kitchen, bathroom and both entranceways as it will be easier to keep clean. The salesman cut it in such a way that we have 2 small rolls which if I don’t get the time to deal with it immediately they can be stored in the front locker on top of the water tank.
Now there is an event taking place in NZ that we would have liked to have been part of but that was not to be so


Friday, 2 February 2007

White Rabbits

Moored near Lock 67 Apsley

Welcome to the 1st February. Today has been another beautiful fine day and warm temperatures. While waiting for the dampness on the boat to dry I went to see Maffi ( n/b Milly M) and took my hammer with me as he wanted some nails extracting from a piece of timber. This took all of 60 seconds and then we spent the next half an hour chatting over a coffee. Life on the cut is like that.
Once the boat was dry it was full speed with the paint brush to make the most of the weather. I have completed the first top coat on all area’s I am working on, so if the weather is good again tomorrow I will have everything finished in time for the cratch and stern covers being fitted. I should mention here that I would probably have finished sooner than I did but working on the boat alongside a very busy and well used tow path attracts a lot of gongoozlers that want to stop and chat. I suppose flying a NZ`silver fern flag off the stern doesn’t help either.
Dot has been busy making the new roller blinds and they are now ready to be fitted to the rollers. She has one other project that needs altering which will get sorted tomorrow. All in all another very productive day.
After refueling on Tuesday I topped up the diesel tank to see how much we had used in nearly 2 days. With the engine and central heating both in use we are using about 5 litres a day. This will decrease once the warmer weather arrives.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

What a day.

Moored near Lock 67 Apsley

The day started with bright blue skies but a bit chilly. It soon warmed up sufficiently to think about doing a bit more painting. I want to repaint the area’s that will be covered by the stern and cratch covers so that I don’t have to take off all the fittings later when I repaint cabin sides.
Tim Garland from Milton Keynes rang to say the covers are made and he will be over on Tuesday 6th to fit them. Better get my bum into gear and get the painting done.
The Temp agency rang me as well to tell me that the company I had been working for wanted me back from the 12th Feb to the end of the month but I had to decline the offer as it will seriously affect other plans we have made for later in the year. We hope to leave here on the 12th and start moving north. We can’t wait to get moving again, but being at Apsley since December has certainly worked in well with our plans. We may consider Wintering over here next winter.
Dot has now made contact with Glenda, the wife of the marina warden (Peter) who has offered assistance with getting the new roller blinds made for the kitchen and bathroom. She is busy measuring and cutting the material ready for sewing tomorrow.
While having a late lunch a narrowboat came through heading south. The boat was “Milly M” which we recognized as fellow blogger, Maffi, . We had been following his website for quite some time while he was in Saudi Arabia and his boat was being built in Yorkshire. A similar situation to what we had been through with “Gypsy Rover”. We went and introduced ourselves and spent probably an hour or more looking over each others boats and chatting about narrowboats, canals and things in general.
Maffi is the second blogger we have now met personally.
We have just read Granny Buttons on the topic of pump out versus cassette toilets. We have a pump out with a cassette toilet as a backup. We plan to get a self pump out kit so that if there are no pump out facilities available there are always Elsan dump points. We can then pump out into the cassette and dispose of the waste. This could be a saving of about 250 quid a year to a continuous cruiser so a self pump out kit would pay for itself in a matter of months. These are currently available from Lee Sanitation or some chandlery’s make their own. We are waiting to find a marina with one in stock to purchase. Pump outs are often hard to find when you want one.
The first photo shows the elaborate and different footbridge across the canal at` Apsley Marina and the second our new blogger mate Maffi's boat outside the marina.