Thursday, 31 December 2009

A Reasonable Success.

Our Stormguard Double Glazing film has proved successful reducing condensation to approx 5% of what it used to be. The windows not being totally air tight are allowing some moisture born air into the space between the glass and the film but overall we are very happy with the results. Saves Dot a lot of time each morning not having to wipe all the condensation off them.

565864HBO111111X Following various other boater blogs it appears that we are not too badly off where we are. We are getting reports of boats being frozen in with ice up to 4 inches thick. We know there is ice both North and South of us but nothing where we are.There has been a few boats,both private and hire, passing through in both directions so the canal must be reasonably navigable but we will stay put for a while longer and see how things transpire.

We wandered into Rugby this morning after missing the bus by a minute or so to try and sort out our 6 months prescriptions that we had received from a locum at our doctors surgery earlier this month. Our usual doctor is unfortunately retiring and made it very easy for us with our prescriptions.  We had one chemist close by who refused to fulfil the prescriptions but we had great success with Boots in Rugby.  We have to return next week to collect the remainder and then we can be off cruising again. (weather permitting!)

Happy New Year to you all


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Christmas has been and gone.

We never did get that white Christmas although I believe that there were some areas with snow further north.  We trust that everybody following our blog has had a relaxing Christmas and haven’t been over indulging too much. Our Christmas was a quiet affair with daughter Tracey and phone calls to and from family and friends in New Zealand.

Boxing day was a different story with Tracey’s friend Greg and his 2 son’s Kieran and Tayne arriving. The latter 2 only being 9 and 6 respectively certainly made a difference to the activity and noise levels in the boat but they generally amused themselves with their Nintendo DS’s supplied by Santa or watching a DVD in the lounge. We had hoped on doing a cruise to Hillmorton and back but after a short trip up to the Rugby Arm to wind and take on water our hopes were dashed. Where we had been moored at Brownsover there wasn’t a single piece of ice anywhere but where the canal is sheltered it was still frozen solid. Past experience of cruising through Ice has put us off this practice unless totally necessary, so it was back to where we had been moored at Brownsover until conditions improve.

Recently we have been talking to Paul on Nb Piston Broke and Derek on Nb Uccello about secondary glazing because this time of the year condensation on windows is a real pain. Paul has been experimenting with plastic mouldings and Perspex which can be re-used but they need to be a firm fit and air tight. Derek however had found a product called Double Glazing film put out by Stormguard. This is a single use product that is placed over windows using double sided tape and a hair dryer. At £6.39 a box from Homebase it’s a 10th of the cost of Paul’s version. Derek had already done his boat with reasonable success so we thought that we would have a go. Having more window area than Derek I purchased 2 boxes. It transpired that the film from one box was more than adequate but I had to use all the double sided tape from both boxes. It does say in the instructions that more tape might be needed so why don’t the manufacturer's supply more? Still I believe you can get a wider tape used for carpets but that might be too strong when it comes time to take the film off again come Spring. It might take off any paint or varnish that it touches but that is an ongoing job anyway re-varnishing the woodwork. All we need do now is sit back and see just how effective this Double Glazing film is, we will keep you posted.

Friday, 25 December 2009

A White Christmas – I don’t think so!

Brownsover 002 How does the old saying go? ‘Red Sky at night, Shepherds Delight’ ( A fine day tomorrow for Christmas Day, we’ll see.)

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas to you all

To all our friends, family and readers, we hope you all have a fantastic Christmas.

Merry Christmas 2009

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Snow and Ice.

We have now been iced in for three days in a row. With the occasional flurry of snow just to keep a white outlook the temperatures are hovering between -6.00C to +2.00C so it could be a White Christmas.

Sunday night we had a dinner party with Derek and Carrie from Nb Uccello. On the menu was roast Lamb with roast potato's,parsnips and carrots together with Brussel sprouts garnished with bacon pieces and Carrie made a delicious Banoffee Pie! Yummy. All this was washed down with a couple of bottles of Australian wines, unfortunately we couldn’t find any NZ wines but at least we are supporting the Pacific region.

Monday saw Dot heading into Rugby for some retail therapy and a haircut before meeting Tracey at the railway station, so we are more or less set for Christmas. A visit from the Diesel boat, Gosty Hill later today will see us organised into the new year.

Only a few bits and pieces such as dairy and fresh vegetables to get tomorrow, we don’t fancy shopping on Thursday

Sunday, 20 December 2009

We got that one right.

Every time the boat moved there was a graunching noise so we knew we were iced in before we even got out of bed this morning. Our weather station told us that the temperature had been down to – 6.10C overnight. Our decision to move yesterday proved to be the right one.

Today has been glorious with the sun streaming in through the windows which has helped heat the boat saving us some diesel. Even though the outside temperature never got above 20C it was quite pleasant outside mainly due to a lack of wind. As I write this the barometer is dropping and the temperature is now 0.30C with more snow forecast for tonight.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Locking in the Snow!

 3 Locks, 3.58 Miles in the snow. Now moored at Brownsover.

Hillmorton 006A week before Xmas going down  Hillmorton Locks and it's snowing.Hillmorton 007

Winter arrived with a vengeance last night. Howling winds to send us off to sleep and a smattering of snow to wake up to. With all this in mind we decided that we would be wise to move up to Brownsover or Newbold where we are closer to civilisation should the canal freeze over. Tracey is due to arrive on Monday for Christmas so we wanted to be handy to the bus stop.

Hillmorton 009 Derek gets a helping hand while his helper waits for her boat to arrive.

We waited until mid morning in the hope of a rise in the temperature, some hope there, before casting off and guess what, it started to snow again and quite heavily. Dot opted to drive while I did the locks and she complained that at times she couldn’t see where she was going. After going through the Hillmorton locks we stopped to top up the water but had to wait in the queue as 2 other boats were already there. They apparently had to defrost the stand pipes before they could get any water. I will now have to get into the habit of draining our water hose after each use to ensure we don’t have any problems on this score.

Hillmorton 011 That snow is getting deeper.

As we have a visitor over Christmas we called into Clifton Cruisers for a pump out even though we didn’t need one at this time but there again, if the canal freezes over we could find ourselves in dire straits if we didn’t. With Christmas greetings exchanged with Paul, his family and staff it was off to Brownsover in the hope of a mooring. We needn’t have worried because as we turned the final bend who should we spy but Carrie and Bungie (the dog) walking along the towpath. Derek was back on Nb Uccello moored up just around the corner and we have moored in front of them. (They are faced the opposite way after arriving from All Oaks Woods just before us).

Hillmorton 012 Yes, that's the sun up there trying to put in an appearance.

After a late lunch it was off to Tesco’s for some immediate requirements and a check on the special deals on offer. No doubt we will be paying them a few more visits before Santa arrives. Tonight looks like it’s going to be the coldest night so far with a temperature of –1.10C at present and still dropping.

Hillmorton 014 Just as well he's wrapped up well.

 2034 locks, 4042.26 miles, 76 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday, 18 December 2009

‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’

Hillmorton 002

This is what we woke up to this morning, only light compared to other parts of the country.  We may get that White Christmas Tracey has been longing for yet!

Brrrr, It’s getting Chilly out there.

0 Locks, 6.71 Miles. Now moored above Hillmorton top lock.

Well yesterday I managed to service the engine between showers and Dot got back from Rugby after her swine flu jab just on dark. This morning with a change of plans as to when our Xmas visitor was to join us we left Braunston on a beautiful sunny but cool morning. Stopping off to fill the water tank, we only travelled as far as bridge 89 before we spotted Paul and Lynne on Nb Piston Broke. We had been trying to meet up with these guys for a while so we could see what Paul had been doing with an experimental secondary glazing to reduce condensation on the windows. I will have to see what can be done on Gypsy Rover because our window profile is different to what is on Piston Broke.

After nearly 2 hours of idle chat and comparing idea’s we had to leave Paul and Lynne as the weather was starting to make a turn for the worst and we wanted to make Hillmorton today if at all possible. With the thermometer dropping, it was only 6.40C when we started off, and huge black clouds massing to the South we were keeping our fingers crossed. We did have one brief shower of hail which was a surprise because the nearest cloud appeared miles away and a snow flurry which was even briefer just as we arrived at our current location. By the time we had completed our chores of battening down for the night the outside temperature had dropped to -1.60C where it has stayed for the last few hours. 

2031 locks, 4038.68 miles, 76 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Change of Scenery.

Everything went well last night and there were no further hiccups with the Mikuni central heating unit so we were very cosy. Just as well because the weather forecast for the rest of the week is cold, frost and SNOW, yer right, I’ll believe that when I see it.

This morning we reversed back from the workshops to a mooring outside the marina. I’ve laid some more floor tiles and Dot has been organising a bus trip to Rugby tomorrow as the Doctor has contacted her for the Swine Flu vaccine (one day only) and Specsavers have her new glasses in store. Checking the boat log book it seems that the engine is due for a service so I will amuse myself doing that tomorrow. Ain’t I a lucky fella.

This afternoon we went for a walk to find the bus stops and post some mail and I found a depository for waste engine oil.That means I will be able get rid of the latest batch of used oil plus the last lot that has been cluttering up the engine hole for 3 months.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Gremlin in the works

3 Locks, 11.55 Miles. Now moored below bottom lock Braunston.

Try as I might over the week-end the Mikuni central heating unit just wouldn’t play ball. The Fuel pump was working but I did find a bit of muck in the filter. I did get it running but only with huge plumes of white smoke. Phone calls to Mikuni Heating for advice and 2 phone calls to marine engineers to find somebody familiar with this particular unit left us no option but to head for Braunston. We stopped off at Brownsover for water and a quick trip to Tesco’s, and a quick stop over at Clifton Cruisers for mail.

We were amazed at the amount of boats on the move today considering the miserable conditions.We actually made good time and reached Braunston about 3pm. Justin from J G Marine arrived back from an emergency call out not long after we had breasted up against a new boat outside his workshop. Nicely timed.

Justin ran the unit to see what was taking place and then set to pulling the unit to pieces. He eventually emerged from under the deck saying that other than 1 too many insulating washers on the glow plug everything appeared fine. The proof would come in a test run. We started the unit up and it eventually kicked into life with a huge white cloud of smoke which is what happened to me at Newbold. Justin recommended that we just leave the unit running and see what happens. It took over half an hour before the white smoke stopped bellowing from the exhaust at which stage we put it through it’s paces to ensure it was cycling properly. Bingo! Everything worked properly.

We came to the conclusion that if I had left the unit running for longer when I got it started at Newbold on Saturday it would have come right. The reason I stopped it was because we were moored by some houses and the smoke was drifting across to them and I didn’t want any irate neighbours. As for the extra insulating washer, that’s what was supplied with the new glow plug so I just fitted it. Still, I can’t complain because Justin only charged a pittance. Due to the late hour and the fact that it was getting dark it was agreed that we stay put for the night and Justin could check in the morning to ensure we experience no further problems overnight. I don’t know if it just imagination but Dot and I both seem to think that the radiators are hotter than they have ever been. See what I mean about Gremlins!

2031 locks, 4031.97 miles, 76 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

‘I Dreamed a Dream’ – Susan Boyle

Wow! What a Dream? From Middle aged Spinster to Worldwide Superstar overnight.  For my birthday last week my daughter Tracey bought me the debut album of Susan Boyle.  I have been following her progress from the first audition of ‘Britain's Got Talent’ earlier in the year.

Newbold 007 

Her phenomenal career launch has been amazing.  Her name became known around the world virtually overnight.  Last night we watched the program of her year and the launch of this album.  Go girl what an amazing voice.  To watch the program yourself, watch here.  Her idol Elaine Paige sang the much awaited duet with her last night.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Wouldn’t you just know it.

Today Dot went into Rugby while I got stuck in with laying more floor tiles. It was a beautiful day with the sun streaming in through the windows keeping the boat warm so I was blissfully unaware of any problems. Not long after Dot returned she complained about the temperature in the boat. By this time the sun had disappeared so I assumed that was the reason for the temperature drop. However upon checking the status of the Mikuni central heating unit it was showing a malfunction. DAMN.

A trip down the engine hole where I changed the glow plug, refitted an electrical connection that didn’t look too healthy, checked all the fuses all to no avail. Pondering our predicament over a cuppa I had the thought that it could be the fuel because the unit was making the initial start up OK but cutting out when it kicked into full power mode. A phone call to Rose Narrowboats more or less confirmed my suspicions and some hints on what to look for were forthcoming, but by this time it was too dark and cold to be outside so it will have to wait until the morning. We are now looking at the possibility of a blocked filter in the fuel pump or the pump has died. Watch this space.

In the meantime we are running the engine for as long as possible to be able to use the electric heater after that it’s going to be a case of wrapping up warm or going to bed early. 

One bonus to today’s events was the sighting of several Redwings feasting on the berries on the Hawthorn bushes opposite our boat. Looking very similar to a Thrush they have different facial markings and the red under their wings hence the name. Our bird guide tells us they they migrate here from Northern European breeding grounds and winter over here until early spring.

Stacey to win X Factor this week-end. Go girl go.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Another Plaudit for British Waterways

On our travels down from Hawkesbury Junction a couple of weeks ago we were concerned about the condition of bridge 15 on the Oxford Canal as we don’t recall seeing it in such a sorry state. There was also the case of a tree down across the towpath near bridge 19 which although not impeding navigation would require attention. An email was duly sent off to BW thinking that is the last we would hear of the matter.

Shock horror, 3 days ago we received a email from Robert Drinkwater in the Milton Keynes office to say that BW were monitoring the bridge on a monthly basis but the bridge is privately owned and therefore not BW’s responsibility. They are in negotiations with the owner over the bridges condition and usage which the owner can choose to implement or ignore to everybody’s detriment.

So if you happen to pass under this bridge near Ansty make sure there is nothing large and heavy about to cross it before passing through the bridge hole.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Well Done British Waterways!

0 Locks, 2 Miles. Now moored at Newbold.

Would you believe that at the weekend we relicensed online with British Waterways as our licence expires at the end of the month.  As it would go to our mailing address in London we thought that we had better give them the 15 days that BW say it takes to relicense, this would ensure that hopefully we would have our new licence prior to Christmas.  Well this morning Tracey rang to say our licence had arrived in the mail this morning.  How about that?

First of all thanks to Les on Nb Valerie for putting us straight over the mysterious happenings at the Newbold water point. It transpires that the new water main wasn’t entirely a waste of time because they extended it along the towpath to the existing water point and changed the connections over cutting off the main from the pub. Simple really when you think about it.

It was such a lovely day for a cruise we couldn’t say no. It was a case of multi tasking with charging the batteries, doing a load of washing, getting a pump out and topping up the diesel. The latter 2 were done at Lime Farm Marina which is a port of call we have not used previously but will do in future.  We then returned to Newbold and are now moored where we were previously. (just facing in the opposite direction).

It was a bit embarrassing regarding the diesel because I had over estimated the usage thinking that we could probably take on approx 30 litre’s. Instead we only managed to squeeze in 13 litre’s. The Mikuni central heating unit has obviously not been working as hard as I had imagined therefore less consumption, still that can’t be a bad thing. Mind you there are frosts forecast for the next few days so that could push the consumption up.

While in the office at Lime Farm Marina I noticed that they had a brochure from the Australian Canal Society. It transpired that one of their regular moorings is let to a member of the A.C.S. and Lime Farm were proposing to advertise their 2 berth hire boat in the A.C.S. magazine. Makes sense really because it is difficult to get enough people together from that side of the world to say hire a 4 or 6 berth boat. It is a nice looking boat as well.

2028 locks, 4020.42 miles, 76 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 10 December 2009

What a waste of money.

Oxford Canal 032 Gosty Hill's mascot “Bosun”  at Brownsover Park, Rugby last week. Note Nb Rock and Roll in the background unfortunately we didn't have too long to talk to Carol and George due to Dot’s imminent departure for London, maybe next time.

Well that’s us all up to date with Doctors check up’s, annual blood tests and bi-annual eye sight tests. The latter of course means new lenses all round as our eyes are not what they used to be but they are healthy which is a small blessing of a kind. Once we get Christmas done and dusted and we can see how the weather is looking to pan out we can start thinking about getting back into cruising mode.

Now earlier in the year we made a comment about a new water point being installed at Newbold apparently due to a disagreement with the pub owner from where the current supply is connected. When we left Newbold to start our 2009 cruise the new water point was just awaiting a tap and a lock and it would be up and running. Upon returning to Newbold we were surprised to find that the new water point has disappeared and the old one is still in use but it does have 2 taps fitted on the outside allowing 2 boats to use the facility simultaneously.

The non existent tap would have cost thousands to install because it involved a 300 yard trench to be dug, a new connection from the water main in the road and the relative bits and pieces on the towpath, all for what? NOTHING. I don’t know who paid for it all, BW or the water supply company but what a waste of money. We found that one reason for the change could possibly be the the Barley Mow pub has recently changed hands and is under new ownership.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Birthdays come and go!

Yesterday was my 6? birthday, (and I don’t feel any older) so yes Derek and I are both Sagittarians (The wanderers of the Zodiac) and we have certainly done our share. Since we left Newbold in February we have done 441 locks, 676 miles, 19 tunnels, 87 swing bridges and 15 lift bridges.  Boy have we been busy.  We visited the following canals including the North Oxford, The Coventry, The Birmingham and Fazely, The Ashby, The Trent and Mersey, The Caldon, The Macclesfield, The Peak Forest, The Ashton, The Rochdale, The Bridgewater, The Leeds and Liverpool, and The Aire and Calder and Calder and Hebble Navigations.  Is that enough for you?

Off course this is not taking into account our trips down to the Isle of Wight for a week and our week in Marjorca later in the year and numerous trips to London to see Tracey and my sister Mary and her husband Tony who flew over in September,  It makes me feel tired just thinking about it.

I think we deserve a little rest before continuing our travels.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

I’m back from London!

0 Locks, 1.26 Miles. Now moored at Newbold.

I have now returned from four days in London, I do love London it is one of my favourite places in this country.  Buses and trains became a blur as we travelled back and forth from one side of London to the other over the four days. With an average of 10 different journeys a day I can only say “Thank goodness for bus passes”

Derek has been busy while I have been away working on the boat, completing the replacement of new skirting and new vinyl tiles in the kitchen.  Looks good too. 

As there was a pile of laundry needing washing and the sun was shining this morning we decided to head up to Newbold for the weekend.  After filling up with water we had a quick chat on the move with Lynne and Paul on Nb Piston Broke, hopefully we’ll catch up for a longer chat in the next few days.  We have made appointments for new eye tests on Monday in Rugby so those passes will come in handy again.

2028 locks, 4018.42 miles, 76 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 54 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday, 3 December 2009

October 2009

The summit 014

In October we crossed the summit of the Rochdale Canal and was it a day to remember.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

September 2009

Saltaire 001 In September we visited Saltaire World Heritage Site, the brain child of Sir Titus Salt, a man ahead of his time and modern town planning originated from his designs.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

August 2009

Gargrave 009

In Gargrave on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Dot couldn't resist taking this photo.

Petition to Downing Street

Just noticed that the link on Nb Piston Broke is not working so here is the correct one. We have signed the petiton several days ago and 10,000 names have been added since. Come on guys add your names NOW.