Sunday, 30 January 2011

Thinking time

Just read takeys blog  about deciding to close it down and I am thinking about creating a web site and getting rid of blogspot, not the content, just the blog set up.  This will give me more options to design my own pages with a unique web address and my own email structure.  The problem is that to do so will cost, about £5 per month where this, as you know, is £0.  I suppose its important to make the right decision for the right reasons, more thinking required.

Now then, no boating this weekend but I expect to be up on her on Friday, probably tootling down to Swarkstone overnight Saturday.  No news on the skin tank thoughts, I was hoping for a quote but hey ho.

I have noticed how cost of 2nd hand boats have dropped quite considerably, which I reckon is good news as it will encourage more from the younger side of life,  a heady mix is a good thing in my view.

The Elvis test has not yielded much so far, perhaps once google has cyccled through a bit.  I have decided to mention Elvis on more posts, including some hidden content such as ELVIS has left the Building!!
Hidden in white so it does not bother the purists.  Not been a very decisive day so far, only got as far as going to the bottle bank with two months worth of wine.  Oh, I forgot, decided to make home brew from kits - wine and beer.  Should hopefully reduce costs, lets see.

I am also tinkering with the idea of moving lola to Shardlow perhaps, a tad closer and will allow me to access the beeston canal and the erewash and the GU.  If I can get an electrical hook up then maybe.  Mercia is just out of most Marinas class with good access, plenty of room for cars, totally excellent engineering services etc.  Shardlow would allow easier access, making painting and other work more accessible.  A difficult decision but one that needs to be made at some point.  I can always take her to mercia when work is needed on it - I have found Justin and co at Aqua Narrowboats quite exceptional for good service.  Oh you should also see there sponsor hire fleet, beyond doubt the highest quality I have ever seen.

Another option is Pilings Lock Marina, prices look ok too so I may well look to move that way.

Just did a bit of research on Pilings, a certain possibility

Friday, 28 January 2011

Cooling and is Elvis Dead or Alive?

Well, I have checked the cooling issue - or not as the case may be.
All seems fine, my worries about temperature seem misplaced.  However, the engine makers did say a second skin tank would do no harm.  I have decided to find out how much it will cost and may have an external tank fitted

This one looks tops, I am keen on knowing the cost so I can provision one if needed, a consideration is dealing with blacking post fit, may as well re-black the whole thing, or get someone to do it.
Whilst I am working full time (plus) its difficult to do these jobs myself.

I hope aqua can do it if needed, I cannot praise their attitude (and reasonable costs!) enough.  I have decided that if it needs it then it will be done sooner than later, so I will give it another couple of weeks and then decide mid February.

Don't worry about the Elvis bit - a test to see what the hit rate changes to! - see

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Out at last

Ahem, we went out! Mercia to Burton (turning at Shobnalls) and back.

The engine is well powered and seems a good match with the prop.

Only one issue, which I guessed might occur, the temperature got up to 95c.  I reckon I need a second skin so I will make enquiries.

More later, just wanted to share my good news.

Ok here is more.

We left at 10 am and headed into Willington, hats off to the livaboards there, way to go guys.  the engine started no probs, a little white smoke and then clean thereafter.  Passing Willington we opened her up to our normal cruising speed, or so I thought.  I looked around and noticed a wash so I slowed until the wash was gone thus not contributing to erosion of the bank.  We passed a place which sold wood - all gone, not a bit of wood to be seen.  We went up at Dallow Lane lock, a boat in front of us  "Gone Roaming". 

Popped along to Shobnall to turn, some bozo with his head in the bow locker was moored across the winding hole.  So I turned the boat around and he got some of the wash, only after I gave him the opportunity to move away.  Some people!  Got back to Dallow just right, a boater was about to come up but had not emptied the lock.  Instead, kindly and correctly opening the gate for us.  He was single handing so we waited up to allow the crew to do the lock for him, one good turn deserves another. 

We then went to a pub which I shall not name, about a mile from Dallow Lane.  The food was rubbish, oh go on then it was the Mill House at Stretton Park - don't bother.  Next time we shall try The Navigation, a tad closer to Dallow Lane.  It was just before the pub that I noticed the temp was a little high, so just as well it got time to cool down.

I emailed the engine fitter and he wants to speak with Engines Plus before we go for a new skin tank - these guys take their job seriously, hence my complete support for them.

Got back to Mercia just before 4pm and rather than reverse in we just went straight in bow first, I just could not be bothered to muck about, the shoreline will reach so whatever.

We might go out next weekend but we will see how it all goes.  Because we have a house, it needs some tlc  - because its worth it.

I forgot to mention that Angus family came with us today, it was nice to have them onboard for our maiden engine voyage. 

Forgot to add, saw Granny Buttons mooored in Willington.

Anyways, heres a few photos

Heading to Willington


River Dove

Saturday, 22 January 2011

A Quick Fix

Popped over to the boat for a quick fix with my youngest daughter.

we are having a day trip tomorrow so I decided to put the fire in for a wee warm and put some water in the tank. This also helps to balance/trim the boat.

I also checked the diesel level and ran the engine.  I decided to give it a wee burst on the mooring, wow!  I put it into forward and the wash created was amazing.  Still cannot get over how quiet it is.  Once I have new deck boards, with sound insulation fitted, I reckon it will be hard to hear it from the outside.

Not sure if I have a leak in the bathroom (oh err missus), could have been condensation but the accumulator does need replacing.


Well, the chest is clearing and the boat is gonna get a run out tomorrow, come what may.

Not sure if the leak is sorted or if the accumulator has been replaced but they are minor distractions.

I reckon a pop up to Horninglow Basin should do it.  Ideally, I want to be sure that the boat can cope with river conditions, but I will leave going to the Trent for a few weeks.  Some years ago we tripped up the severn to Stourport.  I remember we need a fair bit of power to run against the wash, i need power enough to repeat this.  I quite fancy a look at the Chesterfield Canal  sometime, we will see.

I will try to record the noise and measure various bits for reference.  of course, I (or me mate Angus) will take photos of all we see, including any midgies (my reference for gongoozlers).

If we make ok time, I might even go to Shobnall.  Acutally its not about time, its about Angus getting out of his pit at a reasonable hour!  Such a lazy arse, they don't seem to get out of bed til after 10am, and they have an 8 year old dynamo!

I was up at 6.45 this morning, not for work, it was to get Johanna to rowing training.  Its getting easier now as the light is improving, I love this time of year, still cold but warm at times too.  And it justs gets better, warmer and lighter.  I reckon I suffer from SAD a tad, not much but a tad.

The dog is on track, so far.  A dog has been selected for pairing with a bitch some people we know have.  The deed will be done when she is in season, hopefully a fox red female will result.  Does not really matter to us, a labrador dog is all we want.  Then its cage and obedience training mixed with canal training, although the dog will not be allowed in until maybe next year so it will be fun with a puppy (with life jacket) on the boat knowing how they like to play etc.  i reckon that this will keep the girls entertained, walking her etc.  the big shed is to be cleared to suppport a day bed and warmth for her.  Our back garden is well secure so she can have the run during the day.  In any event she wont be on her own very long really, initially she will be kept in with some toys until Jo gets back from School.  the dog should be with us in July/ start of august so we will ensure that the summer hols intersect delivery.

I cannot get my new camera this month, maybe next, its going to be a Nikon D90 if your interested, with a second lense and some filters.

a few more piccies

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Still no go

Ah well, the drama turned into a crisis, as usual, and I have a chest infection, so the nice heavy duty horse pills are now being supplied.

The cough is a bark but at least I know it will clear without any infection.

Hopefully off to the boat on Sunday to do a quick rip (= slow dander) to either Barton Turns or Shobnall or, if we do not have the time, Willington winding hole.  I reckon it will be Shobnall, but thats a two hour journey each way, so we will see how much time we have and how much Angus is prepared to give to crew her, perhaps a bacon and sausage sandwich will help the decision!  I suppose I could do the run to Swarkstone, slightly quicker, but speed is not really the issue.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Oh, how I coughed

Well, the cold did me in.  No trip to the Willington winding hole and here I was all set up to record engine noise etc.  As I blog I am overheating with a coughing fit.  Another week of this and I will pop to the doc for some stuff or whatever because I have a habit of turning a cough into a crisis.

Was a shame I could not venture out and test the engine, but good things come to he who waits.

When leaving the boat I decided to part winterise it and I think the accumulator is shot, more work for Aqua, still they do a good job, the new interior engine housing is class.

Time to fill in the gearbox and engine warranty cards.  What fun I had finding the engine number and stuff, numpty wife comes out to help - in her slippers!

These were soon changed to shoes and into the engine bay she went to get the info on the prm and the engine.  Not sure we got the engine number properly but enough numbers were written down for them to link to their records.

I have partially re-planned our April two week holiday to assist daughter number one in getting to Peterborough for rowing training with Nottingham Rowing Club by doing the Leicestershire Ring  We will go, slowly, from Willington to Fradley on Saturday 16th April , down the Coventry to Hillmorton where Jo will be discarded at the Royal Oak pub on Wednesday 20th April which is on the A428 Crick road and links nicely to the M1 for her onward journey by car to Peterborough.  This rowing is great for her, improving her fitness and giving her more social options, rather than just school friends.  We pick her up the following Easter Monday afternoon.  Where? we dunno yet, but probably near Leicester - hopefully before Foxton!.  This gives Jo almost two holidays, well deserved to a hard working 13 year old who has just shown me some outstanding school scans (scans? these are regular reports on her educational targets).  It also gives daughter number two some mum and dad time.  Mind you when one of them has been away for a couple of days and returns it is clear how much they miss each other.

Well, enough rambling for today.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

No go

Ah well, a combination of a cold from hell paired with some windy gusts meant we could not get out of the marina without an ill looking steerer and plenty of potential for embarrassment in the wind.

My temperature, like the weather is unseasonally high, no point in pushing it.  If it improves overnight we might go to the winding hole and back, but I reckon not.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Back, at Last!

Bakc on the boat after over a month.

Still in the marina but engine is running to heat the water, squirrel is on to heat through as the boat was very cold and felt damp, but that was just down to condensation and the weather conditions we have been having, have you noticed how cold it has been of late - lol.

Needed a new chimnley, because when I picked up the old one it just about disintegrated.  I also had to clean the flue but that was an easy 5 min job.

The engine is very, very quiet with this new hospital silencer.  Of course, a new engine will tend to be better than the previous, I reckon anyways.  What is very noticeable is the lack of vibration, so much better.  A near neighbour said he saw the boat being returned to the mooring and the engineer returning it shot it back in.  Neighbour said the power was obvious, even he was surprised.

So tomorrow if anyone sees Lola (still got county brooks plates at mo) tearing up the T and M past Willington,  please understand I am still getting used to it!  Nah, I will be usual slow and considerate self, safe in the knowledge I will no longer be creating a queue behind me.

I need to get it warmed through before the grand inquisitors get to the boat (my girls), as any suggestion of anything below 18c is met with instant disdain and much huffing and puffing.  At least the internet is working for them and water should be hot soon.

I have learnt a lot so far, still much to go. Just found I have a slow leak somewhere in the bathroom - doh, we will manage till Sunday and I will then drain the system for Aqua to look at in the next week or so.
Piccies to follow as I forgot my camera connection to the laptop.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Off out

We are heading to Branston this weekend, just an overnighter but our first engine test trip.

Usual complicated stuff with our children.  The current plan is for me to go earlier in the day (Friday) to ensure all is prepared, water flowing (in the right places), water heated up, food onboard, boat warmed through.  Now the children follow with swmbo (she who must be obeyed) around 5pm Friday.  Friday night in the marina.  Saturday morning we transport older daughter to rowing practice on the Trent.  She returns about 12 noon whereupon we make our get away to Branston, hopefully by about 4pm.  Then its off to the local, the Bridge Inn for a pint and an italian meal.  With the weather forecast I reckon we might make it there dry, a little wet on the return Sunday morning.

Only problem is I have a wee cold and a horrible chesty cough, very deep and painful.  The cold is easy to deal with, but the cough needs monitoring given I am asthmatic.  A bloody pain cos my peak flow (fellow wheezers will know) is not far below normal.  I hate wheezy coughs, if I smoked, fair do's but I do not.  Ah well, lets hope the boat makes up for it, it usually does.

So, see you on the cut - so nice to say that again!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Warming the boat up, or not!

I drove to Willington this morning.  It was a particularly difficult drive coming the morning after the street belated christmas party.  Yes, we are of the rare breed where the street has an unofficial street committee and we have regular street parties and such like, we have even bought a party tent.  And back to Willington.  I was really looking forward to getting my boat fix.  I did not have the keys to the new engine but hoped that they would have been left onboard.  I was going to take the boat on the cut to the willington winding hole with Angus the trainspotter.  I went early on my own to make sure all was ok before going back for Angus.  I passed Willington long term moorings and it was evident nothing had moved yet, ice was still much in evidence.  On getting to the marina I soon discovered that the boat was still in the dry dock, all locked up.  So no boat fix, miserable I is, and all I am getting to do here is watch my youngest and missus do wii dance!.  However, the weather is forecasting a fairly good thaw so I should be able to take family to Branston next Saturday am, if there are no stoppages that is.  I suppose I will have to make do with wandering around the forums.

Here as a few piccies of past trips.

Branston on the T&M

The tow home

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A quick check (cheque) of the boat

Went to check the boat over today prior to parting with my wonga.

All is fine apart from a bust mixer tap - nothing to do with the work, everything to do with the big freeze.

The engine is soooo quiet now, I had to have the deck board lifted to prove it was a proper engine and not a tape recorder!  The hospital silencer really does make a difference.  I will do a little more sound insulating by having fitted, or fitting, new deck boards.  I will be interested to find out how quick the domestic hot water reaches temperature from cold.

The power seems the business, no vibration, yet.  I had the engine run pretty high and it seems to have been bedded in very well.  The new housing (picture below somewhere) is excellent work.  Now I need to be very clear, it is truly excellent, not good, ok or very good.  Problem is the box puts the rest of the boat to shame in terms of quality wood and workmanship, still I now have a target.  I reckon each year I will renew a section:-

2011 - dinette double and pram and cratch/cover
2012 - kitchen
2013 - double fixed
2014 - who knows!

I appreciate, and recognise good workmanship, and that is what has been delivered.  I am a very critical person when I need to be and a very good customer when it is deserved, whilst I need to do a run out, I can say, well done Aqua Narrowboats.

I checked out the ice at the marina, still well loaded but clear areas of breaking up.  I reckon it will take another week of this thaw to enable movement unless we have an escape.  Now lets be careful that any escape does not damage our friends in the plastic ice-cream tubs, or anyone/thing else for that matter.

Now then, Tom Rolts book.  I have only read a few pages, Chapter 1 to be precise, but his passion is unmistakeable.  I am learning things at every page.  As someone inclined to academic learning this is a truly enjoyable read.  I am already saddened that I have not met a working boatman (in the historical sense) as the memories and first hand descriptions would have been excellent to record.  What I will not use are the phrases "hold in" and "hold out", cos i will be skippering and steering myself.  I will let you read the book to find the answer to the phrases.

Later guys

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

You have to laugh

Or at least I do.

Who else would buy a boat, have a new engine fitted and then not be able to move it out of the dry dock because of the coldest December in 120 years!  Ho, Ho bloody Ho.

On a more genuine note, I feel for all those trapped where they do not want to be, my sincere sympathies.

My In-laws bought me a years subscription to Waterways World for Christmas, that should keep Granny Buttons happy for a wee while.  Then I started to think about copies that need to be sold, advertising to be sold to make it a wealth creating activity, no answers, just thinking.

I bought my first copy of Canal Boat today, not a bad read either - still adding these useless year planners though, what a laugh.  I may just buy a subscription myself.

I was wandering through my pile of photos, strange is it not?  Buy a boat and you instantly become a photographer and log cutter upper.

Anyhow, I found this photo and it reminded me of happier days.

And then this one

If the owner of the house above owns the freehold, does that mean s/he can charge to go through the tunnel?  Just a laugh (only just). Note the usual over exposure, this will be corrected for future piccies as I am now going to a camera club and am learning.  Only been once so far but I have now decided to join, the only problem is that it competes with circuit training on a Tuesday, hmmm where I should be now, oops!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

web and blog stuff

I recently recieved a mail asking why I followed so many blogs, simples - they all tell a different story and I get knowledge and ideas from them.

The latest is to enable google analytics, thanks to  NB Waiouru.  I will await, with interest, the report results.  I seem to be discovering new (to me anyway) NB blogs every week.  By far the most interesting this week was Granny Buttons attempts to escape Mercia Marina (as this is where we are moored) - saved a cold journey to check on status.  Although mercias own forum also provided information, Andrew provided pictures - thousand words and all that.

A question I have for anyone to answer is, as a newbie owner is the current freeze exceptional, semi exceptional, or, usual? I suppose a better place for this question would be the just canals forum or canal world forum - both very useful and I search both often for ideas/answers.

Whilst my Sign -Writing skills are weak, I have decided to paint Lolas name on the bow, port and starboard, and remove the old name plates.  I would quite like to find some new plates so will need to do some googling.

Given the current 10 day forecast from my iphone app (accuweather), which is not that accurate, it seems that the thaw could be some while away.

Ah well.