Thursday, 29 December 2016
Saturday, 24 December 2016
|River Trent with weir to the right|
The biggest challenge now, is whether we can keep up our considerable mince pie consumption.
Thursday, 22 December 2016
Instead we will spend the day in Alrewas, strapped to our Christmas tree to prevent it blowing away. Captain thought we needed to put wax in our ears too, but I think that's a slightly different story.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
Thursday, 8 December 2016
Thursday, 3 November 2016
We have been very poor at blogging lately, and it is true that we have done no boating since our August Birmingham trip - unless you count a hop over to the pump out. We have been enjoying our new marina at Kings Orchard. We have been there regularly exploring our Staffordshire roots in the flat arable countryside that surrounds the canal. We have also had a few credit-card busting jaunts over to the massive Ventura shopping Park at Tamworth and taken Princess Lucy (and her mum and dad) to Qmin our new favourite Indian restaurant in Lichfield. Whilst Captain will tell you it's been all work work work, this is slightly misleading.
|Here is a picture of Mr Jones doing his |
impression of an adorable little puppy - and
not the monster that he can be,
Saturday, 27 August 2016
It is such a contrast to the bright lights of Birmingham's Brindley Place but that's one of the joys of being on the tiller. It has been a fabulous trip and full of surprises, not least how quiet it can be in heart of a city.
It feels like time to pack up and head home to the tumble dryer. However not before a thorough fettle of the boat and a final visit from from family.
Thursday, 25 August 2016
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Time to cast off.
Saturday, 20 August 2016
We visited today and there are more fish in there than a Blackpool fish bar. Big ones, little ones, frogs, star fish, rays and a pair of otters. Everything you might find in the Oceania of the world. It's brilliant fun and Princess Lucy couldn't have squealed any more if she'd tried.
Friday, 19 August 2016
|Millers Daughter is just visible in between the|
centre and right tower blocks
The gift shop and the 7th floor Garden views of the city (and of our boat) were very popular. But is this what all libraries must aspire to?
Wednesday, 17 August 2016
|Millers Daughter (far right) below library|
|New St Station. Two points if you spot Captain |
and Jonesy in the reflections
Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Monday, 15 August 2016
|Moorings for the night on the Digbeth Branch|
Sunday, 14 August 2016
Saturday, 13 August 2016
|Dog and Doublet with Millers Daughter in the distance|
"Don't you get bored doing this?" First Mate asked.
"No, I've always got spare sherbert to keep me going."
Friday, 12 August 2016
|Millers Daughter at Fazeley|
Tuesday, 9 August 2016
We eagerly anticipate our first decent length cruise since buying the boat and our summer holiday plan this year will be to get to Birmingham City Centre, with a couple of nostalgic visits along the way from the time when First Mate worked at The University of Birmingham. Her first office being in the glorious Arts and Crafts building called Winterbourne, a house and gardens so beautiful that they are now open to the public. On the other end of the spectrum, we will also take the real Princess Lucy to Cadbury World to discover how something that really doesn't qualify as chocolate has got away with calling itself chocolate since 1824.
Fitting an automatic washing machine would be more difficult on the new boat, taking up far too much storage space. So we turned to my personal copy of the 'Aylesbury Canal Society Launderette list.' (£4.50 including postage see here) We concluded that (a) spending a day in a launderette is not much fun and (b) launderettes are now about as common as shops where you pay for fish to nibble at your feet. Some of them seemed to involve a trek to the Andes.
So, a quick and dirty solution was found... Enter the £99 compact Twin Tub.
|Is that Audrey Hepburn? Who knew she was|
such a role model, anorexia excepted.
She tested it at home and it washed and spun very efficiently (3.5kg load is its capacity). Yesterday we took it to the boat and tested it on the 'Modified Sine Wave Inverter' and it worked fine. Captain then, after some nifty work with a saw, stashed it under the sink.
The picture here shows the pure joy that can be experienced (and I'm sure First Mate will have that same experience) in owning and operating a twin tub.
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
We had actually already been to the local pub on the boat, but that was a very short run, and this was a whole three nights away with a smattering of locks (four), a very bendy and busy canal, and a good chance to test our skills (or lack of) and to test the boat's systems properly.
|Chertsey heading in the direction of the South Pole|
On the same day, we set off slowly back towards King's Orchard, mooring overnight along side the cool, refreshing and tranquil Hopwas Wood to get a few little boat jobs done.
We used to moor on the Peak Forest Canal and we were always slightly amused by the 'Danger Giant Hogweed' signs at New Mills, but as nasty as the Hogweed can be, the large red signs informing us that Hopwas wood was a military firing range added a different angle to the word 'Danger.'
We were fairly pleased with our first outing. We didn't hit anything despite not being able to see the bow, the batteries performed well, the calorifier surprised us - still delivering piping hot water at midnight and after a evening shower! The black water tank filled at an acceptable rate, and the fresh water tank lasted 4 days (despite being 120 litres smaller than the boat builder claimed.
Back in King's Orchard Marina, Jonesy was knackered and seemed more settled. So after a nice walk, a play session of fetch, and wolfing down his dinner, we put the radio on and crept out to Lichfield for a cheeky curry.
|A bewildered Jonesy waking up|
Monday, 18 July 2016
First, and as mentioned in our last post, our surveyor pointed out that the pipes leading to and from the holding tank were old(ish) and letting out a bit of a pong.
Having trawled the forums (including the yachting one ... them yachting people know a thing or two) the consensus was that white plastic pipes are not so good and the more expensive butyl rubber ones are the ones to have. So £175 later and with a slightly conscripted neighbour, we set about changing them. Most yachting people suggested double jubilee clips, so given the nature of the fluid involved, I did as I was told. It was all done in around 3 hours, which considering the route of the pipes, was pretty good going.
|Note the Tecma wiring colours: blue for the water solenoid |
and brown for the macerator. What else would you choose?
So armed with two 40 amp 12 volt car relays (ebay) and a two way rocker switch (RS Components) I connected an extra switch which could manually control how much water went in, and how long the macerator was on.
I'm still not sure the holding tank is going to last as long as our old dump through, but it should be close.
Now that is a weight off my mind, and I promise the next post will be about roses, lavender, baking bread and grinding coffee.
Saturday, 9 July 2016
I lost count of the number of car loads we moved, and this time last week we had keys, and heads full of codes, to three marinas. How this came about is a long story and rather like General Relativity, it is something I did understand, but probably best if I don't try and explain it to anyone else.
The news is that Princess Lucy, our trusty and slightly rusty 45' boat, faithfully restored over for the last four years, sold quickly so we must have got something right. We have been busy moving in to our new purchase that is both longer and newer and with a much more working class name: The Miller's Daughter. Perhaps this aligns better with our working class roots - maybe it's a class thing?
|Scrum at wine bar|
We are delighted with the new boat, but sad to see the old one go. We said bye bye to Princess Lucy last week as we moved the final car load. The sideways rain ensured our departure was hurried, and removed any opportunity of over emotional farewells.
We have now moved away from Mercia with its 600 and something berths to the much more tranquil King's Orchard. We found that we prefer rustling broad beans from the adjacent fields to the swish wine bars of Mercia - perhaps it's a class thing?
Hopefully regular updates will now resume. We are working towards our summer Birmingham/ Wolverhampton trip. That will be if the Captain has worked significantly further down his job list.
The list comprises dozens of fairly straightforward jobs, In fact the only nasty one is changing the plastic toilet piping which is permeating horrible odours. The surveyor kindly told us of this, pointing to the pipes passing through the back of the wardrobe.
'you may find yourself standing alone in the bar,' he joked.
'I won't be there,' I replied, 'I'll be in the broad bean field.'
He looked puzzled.
Captain seems to find it amusing to call the pipes Sanitary Hose - but maybe that is a class thing.
Sunday, 8 May 2016
Can this really be the same town of our formative years? It seems to have gone all middle class on us. Apart from prevalence of dog faeces in Shobnall field recreation ground, you might be in Henley on Thames.
There is a wild flower meadow and a woodland trail that surely never existed when our chief entertainment was sliding down a 90 degree mud bank. It all looks rather lovely in the sunshine and with the park on tap, you'd have to conclude that it's a great mooring.
We didn't sample Burton's real claim to fame, pubs and beer, but stayed on board and had home made pizzas with family. It's now very hot on the boat snd we are all in repose in front of a fan before we move through Dallow lock, Horninglow Basin and back to Mercia tonight.
It was snowing at home in The Peak District last week and it's difficult to imagine we are in the same country.
Friday, 25 March 2016
|Menai Suspension Bridge |
from our holiday cottage
The last time it happened was in 2014. We were holidaying on the Crinan Canal and staying in the lock keeper’s cottage next to the Crinan sea lock. On that occasion, he had too much sunshine and saw too many boats. And so we were soon drowning under piles of motorboat magazines.
Captain now has a whole new language and Cardinal buoys, high water slack, tidal streams and The Swellies (which our holiday cottage overlooks) are now all part of our everyday conversation.
|Swellies Rock (submerged) |
just before high water slack
Moving from the relative luxuries of a narrowboat to any sea boat is tricky. We are used to hot water, heating, a multifuel stove, being able to stop almost anywhere, with that anywhere, usually outside a pub.
This will all pass soon and he will be back to planning our August passage to Tamworth, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Thursday, 17 March 2016
Something blew us off course as we were walking past the romantically entitled Service Block 2, when First Mate stopped, and put her nose in the air.
"Probably the Elsan disposal point," Captain suggested.
"That looks like a chip van," First Mate said.
"That looks like a chip van to me too," said the Captain.
"Is it here every Friday?" First Mate asked.
The truth was, we were in shock and we needed time to process this information, so we carried on with Jonesy's walk. On the walk we hatched a plan. If the chip van was there on the way back, we would speak to them to find out what, when, how, and maybe why.
Can you guess what happened next?
Yes we did. First Mate was soon checking the dates on the curries, buttering bread and warming plates as Captain was despatched to the small queue forming in anticipation of its arrival. And then it came tooting its little horn all the way around the Marina. What joy as we unpacked the fragrant parcel of freshly fried fish and chips, mushy peas and, of course, Chip Shop Curry Sauce - a truly British invention and a work of genius.
PS. I didn't take any photos at the time, the above pictures are from the TV series 'Your Cheatin' Heart' by John Byrne. The top picture shows the late Tom Watson.
Monday, 1 February 2016
Just wondering whether those lads we saw with a can of matt black spray paint had anything to do with it.
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
On our December journey from Furness Vale down to Burton on Trent, we had the misfortune to lose two windlasses! The first was lost by the First Mate, and this was due to her negligence and incompetence. Two days later, the second one was lost by the Captain, but this was, well, just one of those things - it could happen to any Captain.
But then Captain actually got a bit panicky, as if this new rate of loss continued, we would be opening paddles with adjustable spanners by the time we got to Fradley!
We were in Rugeley, and whilst First Mate fought with the Christmas food shoppers in Tesco, Captain happened upon a wise man. He appeared on a boat in the mist (don't know his name - but he made fenders and that sort of thing.) Under his cratch cover he had gifts of frankincense, myrrh and windlasses. The windlasses were secondhand, as he had some secret for rescuing them from the deep, probably (I imagine) like trout tickling.
Two for a tenner seemed like a good deal, and Captain went away happy. Although to quote one of the many memorable lines from The Life of Brian: "don't worry too much about the myrrh next time."
But they were green! Now that just seemed wrong. Captain is someone who already spends too much time around locks looking whereabouts in the grass it was that he left the windlass, and green ones would make that even more challenging.
So, armed with some (slightly borrowed) British Rail Signal Red, Captain today set about putting this right. Note the inclusion of the lump hammer, as that too has a very annoying tendency to hide in the long grass.