Monday, 8 January 2018

Fantasia II on test -- and Salford Quays

The February Canal Boat is out and includes my boat test on Fantasia II by Aintree Boats.

There's also a four page article about our trip down to Salford Quays last September.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Jescka on test

The January edition of Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test on Jescka, a short and not very wide widebeam.

Monday, 13 November 2017


A quick trip up to Shardlow today for the second boat test in two days. The M1 was uncannily quiet, and we were uncharacteristically efficient in getting the test done, so we seemed to be finished quite early. The local swan came to say hello through the side hatch.

I went back to Briar Rose to pick up a few things, then headed home.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Kings Bromley

A long day today. I finished my night shifts this morning, and drove up the M40 for a rendezvous with Andy the photographer at the Bicester Park and Ride. We then went in his car to Kings Bromley for a boat test. The weather was sunny, but with a bitterly cold wind. The marine is much bigger than it looks from the canal, and part of it is through a very tiny bridge.

We were done by about one o’clock, so headed back to my car. I’ve come to Briar Rose for the night, as I’m much too tired to drive home, and we have another boat test tomorrow.

Briar Rose was pretty cold, so I have the Eberspacher on and the fire alight, and i’ve also run the engine a bit to make sure the starter battery gets some charge, and (as I’ve got a couple of radiators on) to help heat the water.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Sonoma on Test

The December issue of Canal Boat is out and includes my boat test on the Finesse boat, Sonoma.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Dredging on the Mac

This morning I left in the dark, and it was dark again by the time I got back. In between was a drive up to Cheshire for a boat test. The weather wasn’t as dull as forcast, and the prodicted showers never arrived. We’d planned to trun the boat at the winding hole by Bridge 20, but it was being dredged; fortunately there’s another one a mile further on. Just beyond Bridge 20 is where the dredgings were being dumped. As we came back, the process was in full swing, with a full pan being emptied.

A digger was getting the silt out, and putting it in a machine just over the hedge which sifts out all the debris. Then the silt was beimg sprayed all over the field. The whole area looked a complete mess! Still, the Macc badly needs dredging, so you can’t really complain. Apparently all the dredging gear got stuck in a bridge hole on the way up, rather making the point.

Ian was doing the photos today, and we went to the nearby Miners’ Arms for lunch afterwards. The food was pretty good, but there seemed to be a bit of a staff shortage, with things taking quite a long time.

Tomorrow morning, another early alarm as I’m due at work at 6.30.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Kingfishers and other things

I mentioned during our September trip that I’d seen far more kingfishers than ever before — some days so many that I stopped counting them. So when the wildlife expert Chris Packham was in at work a few days ago, I took the opportunity while he was waiting to go on air to ask him why there appear to be so many this year.

He said the main thing that dents their numbers is a harsh winter — sixty per cent can be lost in a really bad one — but the past few years have been very mild, so their numbers will have been maintained. In addition, they breed very quickly, with pairs having two or even three clutches of eggs a year. They lay eight to ten eggs, and if all goes well, they’ll get six or eight chicks to fledge. That makes September prime kingfisher spotting month.  Chris also said that it’s very difficult to tell a mature adult kingfisher from a young one because they grow to full size quickly (they’re smaller than you think) and they get their adult feathers quickly too.  He said wrens follow a similar pattern, with their population taking a big hit in a hard winter, but numbers bouncing back rapidly over the next couple of years. Interesting stuff.

I’ve driven up to Briar Rose this afternoon, as I have a boat test tomorrow. It’s been much sunnier than forecast all the way up — and we could do with the same tomorrow, which isn’t forecast to have much sun at all.

I thought I’d better put aome water in the tank, as the last time we filled was in Braunston a couple of days before the end of the trip. It was really very pleasant out on the well deck, looking across the marina.