Sunday 31 March 2013

Easter Cruise - Day 5

I had a lovely evening catching up with Alison and Nigel, and meeting Alison's dad, over drinks and dinner.  I walked up to the top lock and joined them on-board for a couple of glasses and wine and nibbles, and we then moved onto The Navigation for dinner.

This morning we woke to another sunny start, and a partially frozen canal.  I gave Adam his birthday present - an unpainted Buckby style watercan.  He had said sometime ago that he wanted one, and seemed very pleased with it. He is planning to paint it in Briar Rose's new colour scheme - I'm sure pictures will be posted once it's complete.

After breakfast we wandered up to the top lock to help our friends, Alison and Nigel on NB Old Peculier, down the locks.  We had a very good run down - most of the locks were in our favour, and we buddied up with a hire boat crew who had not done locks before, and seemed pleased with the help and advice.

Adam had to leave us before the bottom lock to head to work today.  Once we were through the bottom lock we stopped for coffee and Easter treats, before Alison and Nigel continued on their way.

0 miles, 0 locks. (31 miles, 4 locks)

Saturday 30 March 2013

Easter Cruise - Day 4

As planned we did go to The Galleon for dinner last night.  The pub itself was nice, and our starter was good, but the main course was really nothing special.  We skipped desert at the pub as we had a the left overs of the previous nights Hot Cross Bun Bread & Butter Pudding to finish.  As birthday dinners go it was a bit disappointing, but still nice that neither of us had to cook.

And in case anyone is wondering it is Adam's birthday on Easter Sunday.

The canal had frozen over again last night, but it was a gloriously sunny start to the day.  We set off about 9am, ice breaking up to Cosgrove lock.  We waited for a boat coming down the lock, and left the lock gate open as there was another boat approaching.

Adam was working in London today, and needed to collect his car from the marina, so we stopped opposite the marina and parted company for the rest of the day.

I then carried on to Stoke Bruerne, where I am now moored by the bottom lock for the next couple of days.  Most of the journey was sunny with scattered snow showers.  Ideal Easter boating weather. I winded before the lock, topped up the water tank, and then moored up for the day.  A quick bite to eat for lunch, followed by doing a couple of chores this afternoon.

This afternoon has been wonderfully sunny, and really quite pleasant in the sun shine.  Having said that it's just been snowing as I write this, so my hopes of some sunnier weather have been dashed.

I am due to meet ex-fellow owners of NB Debdale this evening - Nigel and Alison.  They are due to arrive above Stoke Bruerne this afternoon, and I'll be helping them down the locks on Sunday morning.  It will be great to catch up - plenty of boating tales to be shared I am sure.

6.5 miles, 1 lock. (31 miles, 4 locks)

Friday 29 March 2013

Easter Cruise - Day 3

Good Friday, and it was more like mid winter when we woke up. The canal was frozen, and thanks to frost on top, the ice looked like Tarmac.

As we we having breakfast, two boats came along, breaking the ice, which meant we didn't have to. And by the time we set off at 9.30 the sun was out.

Before long we were at Fenny Stratford Lock, which looked a lot better in the sunshine than it did yesterday.

Then starts the long run through Milton Keynes. I actually quite enjoy it; for one thing, there are dozens of bridges to tick off, and they're of all different ages and designs, from little foot bridges to dual carriage ways.

Just before Campbell Park, we pulled alongside Beverley and Ascot and bought a bag of coal. The cold means we're getting through it at quite a rate.

At Giffard Park, Adrian jumped off to get some milk from the shop there. We considered stopping for lunch, but decided to eat on the move; we felt that if we stopped we might not want to get going again. It was probably a wise move, because it clouded over and became much colder -- although since then the sun has come out again.

On the approach to Bridge 68, there was a great judder from the engine, and we knew we'd got something round the prop. A blast of reverse didn't clear it, so we resolved to sort it out when we'd stopped. We moored just past the aqueduct, and had a look down the weed hatch. A big plastic coal bag came out.

We planning to walk back to The Galleon later, for an early birthday dinner out, because I'm at work for the next three days.

11.5 miles, 1 lock. (24.5 miles, 3 locks)

Thursday 28 March 2013

Easter Cruise - Day 2

It was lovely and sunny this morning, but it was cold overnight as there was patchy ice on the canal.  After porridge for breakfast, Adrian went off to Tesco to see if they had a computer cable.  We've brought a printer from home, but it won't work wirelessly without a router.

Mission accomplished, we set of at 8.45.  In places the canal was clear, in others it was a bit slushy, and in a few places the ice was thick enough to crack and make quite a noise.  It was more like boating in January than Easter.  We stopped at the services at Giffard Park to take on water and get rid of rubbish, which included a few boxes from things we'd brought up yesterday.  While the tank was filling, Adrian went to the nearby Rohan shop to get something to keep his neck warm.  They had a sale on, so that was even better.

We continued through Milton Keynes, then turned into the marina for a pump out.  We had no idea how full the tank was; we haven't pumped up since 27 June last year, but on the other hand, we haven't spent as much time on board as usual.  Still, it's a big tank, and it took quite a while to empty.

We set off again and had a cup of soup on the move.  We soon arrived at Fenny Stratford Lock, and I jumped off to swing the bridge out the way.  The rise seemed particularly small today, certainly less than a foot.

We carried on a little further, until we reached the winding hole just past Bridge 98.  We turned, came back through the bridge, and moored in a nice open spot overlooking Waterhall Park.

In the afternoon, I checked the batteries and topped them up as necessary.  As I was doing so, Armadillo went by.  I waved through the engine room porthole, but perhaps not surprisingly, Graham and Jill didn't see me.

10 miles, 1 lock.  (13 miles, 2 locks)

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Easter Cruise - Day 1

I was on a night shift last night, so I drove up to Thrupp Wharf from London this morning after work. I stopped on the way to buy some coal, as I didn't think there was much on board, and we were likely to need it. Even so, I arrived at the boat at about 9.30.

I unpacked the car, lit the fire, and started de-winterising. We don't actually bother doing much winterising, as we normally use the boat much more during the winter than we've done this year. I put the shower mixer bar back on, turned the water on at the stop cock, and turned on the water pump. I was hoping it would run for a bit, then stop. But it ran and ran - so I knew something was wrong. But it wasn't a burst pipe; it was the tap in the galley. Even when I turned the taps off, water still came out. Clearly there had been some frost damage, and a new tap was on the cards. I got back in the car, went to B&Q in Milton Keynes for a new one, and returned to the boat.

I resolved to sort things out later, and set off from the marina at just before 11.30. The sun had been making brief appearances all day, but as I started the engine a light snow flurry began. Even so, it was good to be moving - and I'd put on several additional layers.

At Cosgrove Lock, a boat was coming up, so I hovered in the middle of the canal while I waited; going onto the lock landing would just have got in his way. As I was going down in the lock, a Wyverne hire boat arrived to come up, so I was able to leave the gate open. Below the lock, the moorings were busy, and the sun came out.

Towards Wolverton, there's been extensive work to trim back trees on the offside. It makes the canal about twice as wide as it was before. When I reached Wolverton, I moored up. The station is by close, and Adrian was due to be coming up from London after work.

Once I'd moored, I started on the first of the day's projects: replacing our satellite tv system with a freeview one. The double boosted ariel is mounted on a wooden broom handle which sits in some fittings that that always been on the front of the cratch board. I wired everything up - and got no signal at all. I re-made one of the connections, and the tv found some 130 channels. Unfortunately, when it came to actually watching them, no signal could be found.

I decided to leave it alone for a while, and headed to Tesco for a big shop. I had lunch in the Costa cafe, then did the shopping - which was a struggle to carry back to the boat. As I walked, I took note of the direction of the area's tv ariels. When I got back, I pointed the ariel in the right direction, did a rescan, and the tv worked perfectly.

Now it was onto the tap. Getting the old one off was tricky, thanks to the confined space under the sink. I decided to reuse the copper pipes, as they were bent slightly to fit, and had connection fittings already in place. In the end, in spite of the difficulty of working in such a tight space, the job was done relatively quickly. The new tap is the same shape as the old one, but in a different finish: brushed stainless steel.

I had time to put the satellite dish and box, and the old tv, in storage under the dinette, then to make the bed and have a general clear up, before Adrian's train arrived a couple of minutes before 5.  I walked round to the station to meet him. It's just a few hundred metres from the moorings.

It's been a busy day, but a productive one.

3 miles, 1 lock.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Baleine on test

The April edition of Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test of Baleine by Oakcraft Narrowboats.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Knowle and Thrupp Wharf

To Knowle on the Grand Union just outside Solihull today, for a boat test.  It was pretty cold when I arrived, but the sun was out and it soon warmed up, although it stayed quite hazy.

On the way home, I called in the check on Briar Rose.  We haven't been up since our brief trip out between Christmas and New Year -- which I think must be the longest time since we've owned the boat.  Everything looked OK (although I didn't turn the water back on).  There was still enough credit on the electricity, and the engine started first time.  It was so sunny and warm I could quite easily have come up with a reason why I needed to go for a little cruise, but in fact I got back in the car and headed home.

Monday 4 March 2013

Thames sightseeing, and a canal fix

Yesterday we had a day of sightseeing in London -- doing some of the things you don't have time for when you work there.  We started by walking down to the river and catching the Clipper from the pier by the Globe theatre.

We headed east, past the Tower of London, and the docklands.

Further east, we saw a couple of floating docks, both with boats in them.

At North Greenwich, we got off the clipper and walked over to the Emirates Air Line, the gondola across the river.

It's a great trip over the river and back (we didn't even get off at the far side!) and the views are spectacular.  This is Bow Creek (with almost no water in it), and the Olympic Park beyond.

Back on the Greenwich Peninsular, we had a look round the O2, where neither of us had been before, then caught a bus into Greenwich where we had lunch.  Then we caught the DLR to Stratford, because we wanted to go to the viewing gallery at John Lewis, to get a better view of Olympic Park.  There's a lot of work going on to transform the site, including taking down the wings of the aquatics centre, which housed thousand of extra seats.  Some of the best views were actually from the train.

As we were having tea in the John Lewis cafe, we sent a text to Sue and Richard from Indigo Dream, because we knew they were afloat this weekend.  Arrangements were made to meet up.  We took the DLR to Bow Church, then walked to the Lee Navigation.  At Old Ford Lock we spoke to a woman who'd just been threatened with a knife by two men on bikes who tried to snatch her phone.  We carried on walking, probably for a mile or two, before we spotted Indigo Dream approaching and we could thumb a lift back.

It was great catching up with Sue and Richard again, and meeting Greygal and Andy for the first time.  It was almost 6pm by the time we got back to Indigo Dream's mooring at Limehouse, and we headed back into town on the DLR.