Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Short blog today

Sheila's OP appointment is mid afternoon, so I doubt if we'll be back in time for the regular blog slot.

We had a pleasant end to the afternoon yesterday; we did indeed manage to meet up with Richard as he had a quick tour of the Boardwalk with Darren the waterway manager for this area and Robert, of course.

We had a good chat and Sheila took the opportunity to complain about the state of the Macc this year. Richard indicated that they are going to have another blitz on the offside vegetation once the wildlife have settled down for the winter.

Back at the boat, we met up with Elanor and Sally. A good run in the field was had by all.

I'll hopefully blog again tomorrow at the usual time; my eye clinic appointment is in the morning.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Taking advantage of the sun

We had a bit of a lie-in this morning, but then Sheila pointed out that the present weather is ideal for painting jobs and the like, and that we really really needed to get some wood treatment on the cratch board before the winter.

So as soon as breakfast was done, I set to and stripped off the fittings. Whilst I walked into the village for some perishable supplies, Sheila got on and masked off the adjoining surfaces and put the tunnel light in a bag.

On my return, it didn't take long to rub down the wood and use a tacky rag to clean it off. A coat of Ronseal Five Year wood stain was then applied. This left most of the wood looking fine, but it was apparent that the most exposed surfaces, those on the forward faces, would need a second go. The Ronseal is recoatable after four hours.

I spent the time sorting out the Acceptable Use Protocol for the new BOG website, and in catching up with the Indy. Meanwhile, Sheila was not idle; being Monday, there was a load of washing to be done. Several loads, indeed.

The second coat of Ronseal has now been applied. It will be touch dry by the time I've finished this, so I'll be able to take off the masking tape and refix the hinges. I won't actually put the doors back on or the cover back over until tomorrow however, to give the whole thing a chance to dry hard.

Jo James has just been round to say that Richard Parry is popping in; we might go and see what he makes of the Boardwalk.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Summer again?

It's been a superb September, very dry, not many windy days and often sunny. Although Thursday was cool, breezy and damp, as if the Indian summer was over, and the choice was “fleece or waterproof” when we went to Derby, the warm almost hot weather has returned since.

It's warmer outside now than it's been all day; even a sweatshirt would be too much. This made for pleasant working conditions when we were helping with the scrub bashing in the copse area by the canal. Since it was scheduled to start late morning, we'd grabbed the excuse to have a cooked breakfast in the Willow Tree first.

There was time between that and the volunteering to fix the fire extinguisher brackets. Needless to say, the screw holes for the old ones didn't match, but it wasn't too much of a problem to sort that with the aid of the trusty cordless drill/screwdriver.

After the work was done, some of us sat around outside the Still Waters shop consuming ice creams before retreating to our boats for a break. We've been quiet since then.

During the day we also bumped into Ian, Alison and Katy off Nobby. The boat is now on brokerage with ABNB, they having completed their planned five years aboard. It's a striking boat, well cared for and in the impressive Northwich tug style. If you wanted a new one like that, you'd have to wait quite a while and pay a good deal more than is being asked for Nobby.

Tomorrow, a day for doing stuff on the boat, methinks, like sorting the bow locker.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Another productive day

After a lazy start this morning, I set to and did some stuff to help Des with his sterling work on the new Braidbar site. That all went just fine, so I did some other bits and pieces on the Mac Mini while I had it going. Sheila had the laptop booted as well, to do some banking and related tasks, so it was quite a session dedicated to IT.

After this we ambled round to the office to hand in a letter to go in the outgoing post and looked in at Midland Chandlers on the way back. The fire extinguishers are due for replacement and we wanted to figure which of various discount options would be best. As it turned out, they presently have a deal whereby you can trade in the old extinguisher for a fiver off the new one, a saving of 25% and the best on offer.

Otherwise, the Freaky Friday coming up soon would have been good with 20% off.

We weren't long back when Elanor and Sally arrived. Sal was bouncing about having sussed that it was training class day. She clearly enjoys it...

We had time to have lunch before they returned, Sal still trying to bounce but now very tired. After a good chat, off they went and we took our extinguishers along to change. It's recommended that you change them every five years, as the powder tends to cake down in the cylinder so that not much comes out when you use it.

Naturally, the new beasts don't fit the old holders, so that's a job for tomorrow.

Just as we got back, David from Critical Point, tied just down from us, came along for a chat. He's a follower of this blog and has just been blogging about his own trip here.

So, another good day and the prospect of the same tomorrow. The volunteer work starts at half eleven, so we'll need a cooked breakfast first...


Friday, 26 September 2014

Busy, busy

It's been a pleasantly busy day here; lots of talking and stuff done as well. But first the Squirrel...

Regular readers will recall that I found some graphite "blacklead" and used it to improve the appearance of the Squirrel. Before we'd had occasion to light it, we had the chimney collar replaced and I used a bit more to cover the area which had got messed up.

The night before last, it got cold enough to justify lighting the stove in mid evening. All was well at first, until a fine smoke began to fill the saloon. It wasn't leakage from the stove but the new coating conditioning and eventually was thick enough to trigger the smoke alarm in the study bedroom. We opened up doors and hatches and closed down the fire, but there was still quite a bit about when we wanted to go to bed.

In the end, I closed the intervening doors and put the alarm in a sealed map case in a desk drawer. In the morning, all was well and still quite chilly. So I relit the stove and a bit more smoke formed once it had warmed up.

By the time we came back from Derby, it had cleared completely. So the moral of the story is, having applied Hotspot Stove Blacking to your Squirrel, take care to the light the stove at a time when you can let it burn up with plenty of ventilation.

Our main event today was a meeting with Dominic, who is writing a book on retiring early and the virtues of alternative lifestyles when you do so. That went very well; he's a nice guy and we had three hours of nattering information exchange. We look forward to seeing the final result and we'd be very happy to help in any other way.

Thanks for the bottle of wine, too! That's a man who understands boaters.

Before he came, I had a go at the isolation transformer. Unfortunately, the lead John told me about on Waimaru was the wrong way round, a 13 amp plug to a 16 amp socket, so I'd bought a 13 amp trailing socket in Wilko yesterday and made up a lead this morning.

I plugged the shoreline into the transformer, the new lead into the output and the circuit tester into the socket. All was well, three lights meaning that power was there and at the right pins. So I plugged the transformer output into the connector on the boat.

Those with any experience of engineering will know what happened.

Yup, it all worked as if there had never been a problem. Usual story, take everything to bits, find nothing wrong, put it back together, test it step by step and it's as if nothing had ever been wrong.

I'm not complaining, far from it, but isn't it weird how often that happens?

This afternoon saw a long phone conversation with Des about the new website (he's working wonders) and a gentle stroll round the marina, stopping for several useful conversations en route.

Tomorrow, Elanor and Sally are coming over to the dog training session and then to see us. On Sunday, we're doing some scrub bashing type volunteering over on the towpath. Looks like we're still keeping busy...

Thursday, 25 September 2014

So far so good

Things are pretty good here and all went well this afternoon. I'm guessing you don't want the essay on the difference between Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty (ALT) and Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) but basically ALT is the older technology whilst SLT is quite new and wasn't available on the NHS until recently.

As the name implies SLT is more precise and so has far fewer side effects. This in turn means that I don't have to go back again until next week, just to check that all is well, and again in five weeks to see if the pressures are any better. SLT can be applied several times and between one and three treatments are usually needed.

Although I've not got much blurring, the commonest immediate side effect, my eyes do feel very tired, so I'll leave it at that for now, except to say I do know how lucky I am to be a beneficiary of the NHS.

I try and remember to tell you about the smoking Squirrel tomorrow...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A quieter day

Sheila had a hair appointment this afternoon, but apart from that we had no specific commitments, so were able to have a lazy start to the day.

This morning was spent changing the cruising mooring lines for the short marina ones and seeing if I had a lead with a round blue plug on one end and a normal 13 amp trailing socket on the other. I need it to test the isolation transformer output. I don't have one so will pick up a socket in Derby tomorrow.

(Yes, I know that you shouldn't have a 16 amp rated plug on one end of the lead and a 13amp socket on the other without including a fuse, but this is purely for testing purposes. I don't have a multimeter, which would be the other approach. Any plug inserted into the socket will have a fuse in it, naturally.)

We popped into Waimaru to check that all was well after John and Nev's somewhat hasty departure; it was.

After lunch, John rang to ask me to turn off the gas cylinder, so I nipped back to do that whilst Sheila was away.

Since then, we've had a quiet afternoon; we went into the lodge to put a couple of pans back that Sheila had rewashed and to collect a box of latex gloves I'd left in there.

Tomorrow, it's into Derby to get my eyes seen to. I've no idea how I'll feel after, so don't be surprised if there is no, or a very brief blog. If necessary, Sheila has editing rights here so can blog on my behalf if it comes to it.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Settling back down

We're getting back into the routine of living in the marina; the Ocado delivery turned up just fine not long after ten.

At the time we had just finished helping John and Nev tie Waimaru on Y4; a family emergency means that they've had to return home. We hope everything gets sorted for them soon; at least it means we'll get to see them again. It was another great night last night, anyway.

Helen came round for a coffee after lunch and brought us up to date on what's been happening whilst we were away.

Elanor and Sally are coming over at six to get some exercise.

I don't often use the blog to plug restoration projects, but the Lichfield and Hatherton is one that we think well of, so I thought I'd give this a mention:


Lloyds Bank - Community Fund 2014 grant

The Trust has applied for a grant up to £3,000 towards extending
the Heritage Towpath Trail along the Lichfield Canal.

The Trust is now one of four contenders in the local group: the best good cause gets £3,000, 2nd £2,000, 3rd £1,000, 4th £500, determined by the extent of support by public vote.

Voting is very simple by going to https://lly-cf.com/LNC and click ‘VOTE FOR US’.
You might be able to cascade it to others through Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

Also, one can send a text message ‘VOTE LNC’ to 61119.

Those in the Lichfield area can visit Lloyds Bank branches in Lichfield, Rugeley or Uttoxeter and place as many plastic tokens as possible in the collecting box in the bank.

before the closing date of 10th October 2014. Thank you!

Bob Williams, Director
Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust Ltd.
Phone: 01543 671427 Mobile: 07973 293834

See you tomorrow!

Monday, 22 September 2014

A good weekend

I didn't get round to blogging yesterday because we'd met up with the Campbells on Waimaru for a cup of tea and what with one thing and another didn't finish with them until late. They'd worked up from Shardlow during the morning and we rendezvoused with them by Potlock's Bridge in mid afternoon.

After tea and goss on board, we all came back to the marina to examine the Boardwalk, take a look at the outside of Walnut Lodge and we ended up on Sanity Again for a glass of wine. When the idea of meeting up had first been mooted, we'd hoped that the Bistro would have started trading, but that's not going to happen until early next month now.

So I broke out some supplies from the store cupboards and we ate on board.

All in all, a very good day.

We're meeting again at half ten in the Willow Tree for hot chocolate so I thought I'd get a quick blog post done to both catch up and anticipate not being able to do one later.

Apart from socialising, the two main tasks today are the Monday wash (Sheila) and getting the Owners' Group database as complete as possible ready for the transfer to the new site in its new home.

Back again tomorrow...

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Home again

The problem with having a busy day, indeed a great one, is that it's hard to find the energy to blog about it!

Waking early, at five in fact, we had a leisurely tea in bed then got breakfast in time to get going at seven. This had the advantage of doing a lot of boating before pretty well anyone else was on the move.

It's such a well known run we can almost do it in our sleep; just as well, probably, in view of our dozy state.

By nine things were getting busier as we got towards the end of the locking. Sheila had run a washload as we went so as to have stuff ready to tumble on our arrival. It was around half twelve when we arrived; the dog training class was in full swing in the heritage field on the left of the access channel as you enter the marina.

I'm pleased to say that I managed the turn in, with Sheila's expert help, without hitting anything and embarrassing Sally. The approach to the pontoon wasn't quite as good, but you can't have everything. By the time we'd got tied, Elanor and Sally had joined us. After a late lunch, we got out the isolation transformer and connected up the shoreline.

Nothing happened. This was a bit ironic – I'd been a bit worried that the batteries were still taking a lot of charge from the alternator before we stopped and now I couldn't get the charger powered up.

By a process of elimination it emerged that the transformer wasn't performing at all. I've connected the shoreline without it for the time being – we can rely on the galvanic isolator for the moment. A phone call to Braidbar on Monday, methinks.

The batteries have finished charging in the usual way, so I was worrying to no purpose.

Situation normal, then.

We've given Sal a run in the field with her new toy; she likes it, but was too weary to play very much after an hour's training. An ice cream was very welcome, though.

The Boardwalk is looking great; a couple of the shops are already open, and much shop fitting is going on in the others.

Once our visitors had gone we popped into the office to sort some stuff and get an electric card.

Now for a quiet evening and hopefully a good night's sleep.

Tomorrow, we should have a rendezvous with John and Nev on Waimaru, a happy thought.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Cloudy in Alrewas

Having heard the referendum result and drunk a cup of tea, Sheila got us on the move whilst I got ready to face the day.

We got to Woodend lock a bit before eight; on the way I'd spotted a blunt brown head swimming across the cut. About halfway across it dived and a trail of bubbles showed its further progress; undoubtedly a vole returning to its burrow. I suggested to Sheila that the presence of voles might lead to the woods being classified as an SSSI, thus making the HS2 route avoid it, but she reminded me that there's an SSSI at Polesworth which hasn't saved it.

I think we crossed with boats at every lock between Woodend and Bagnall; indeed there was a queue below the latter. It did mean that there was plenty of space in Alrewas when we got here.

The radios showed their worth here: I'd taken over steering and Sheila walked on to find a good space just above the river lock. As we arrived, Peter and Janet were just moving Sanity into the lock.

The weather has turned cool and damp: I reckon we may have to light the Squirrel this evening.

Tomorrow, we'll have a final long day to Mercia: Elanor and Sally will be dog training as we arrive, probably.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Busily to Handsacre

As I said yesterday, we planned to wait a bit before setting off this morning so as to get to Rugeley when there would be some space. Accordingly we got away just before nine. I was feeling pretty bleary, frankly, having had a lousy night's sleep, so it was just as well that the route is not very challenging.

Typically, the boat which had been tied in front of us and which had set off before us had got one of the spaces just before the bridge, so it looks like we needn't have hung about. No matter, we had a useful couple of trips; one to the bank and assorted other shops in the centre and the other to Tesco.

We even found a replacement throw toy for Sally in a pet shop, a frisbee type thing. We thought about a large Kong, but had a feeling that either she already had one or else that it had been tried and found wanting.

As usual, Sheila started off steering whilst I put away. This proved a good move on my part; she had quite a bit of fun getting clear of the moored boats in the face of oncoming traffic; at one point going hard astern resulted in a horrendous clonking from the prop.

I had my share of this later, getting Sanity Again stemmed up on the offside at a subsequent bridgehole. After all this we had a decent run through to Handsacre, arriving just before half twelve.

I'd already scoffed my pasty, but ate the rest of my lunch whilst Sheila got hers. The tiller had been shaking quite a bit for the last section, raising the concern that either we had something on the prop or, worse, that our stemmings up had put a ding in one of the blades.

So down the weed hatch I went; all was well, I'm glad to say.

There was plenty of room at Handsacre and we've spent the afternoon quietly. There's always a decent 3 signal near Rugeley; handy as we've both upgraded the iPads to iOS 8. Two features of interest to us – the new way the keyboard handles predictive text, much more like the Android system, and Family Sharing which will let us read each other's iBooks for example.

Tomorrow, a solid day's boating to come. An early start and right through to Alrewas.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Gently to Taft

After yesterday's long (for us) trip, a much easier one today; it's just a couple of hours from Tixall to Taft Wharf, so we had a relaxed start and set off at eight. We could have left it later still, but queues can build up at Haywood and Colwich locks.

The strategy worked well. Sheila did the big sweeping turn on the Wide and half an hour later we were locking down at Haywood. It was a pleasant chug to Taft, with traffic building up all the while. There was plenty of room when we got here at ten, just in time for a coffee before taking advantage of the dry weather to wash the starboard side.

As we finished, we got into conversation with Colin and Jan on Polako who were engaged in similar titivating activity. It turned out that they know Graham and Carolann on Autumn Years and were planning to meet up shortly.

Truly the cut is one extended village.

After our morning exertions, we've been taking it a bit easier this afternoon. Peter and Jan on the other Sanity passed by; Peter had popped to see us last night at Tixall when they were moored at the far end of the wide from us. Regular readers (as they are, indeed) will recall that their Sanity is moored on Finch pontoon at Mercia, but we've known them since our own days on the Braidbar Sanity.

Like I say, it's a village community. Later on, Stephen and Jayne on Dolce Far Niente went by, but we didn't get a chance to speak.

Sheila's got some more crochet done and I caught up with IT stuff. Tomorrow, a late start again; it's about an hour to the Tesco mooring in Rugeley and we don't want to get there until some of the overnighters have had a chance to set off and make room.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hooray, it's Tixall!

We did a solid morning's boating today, over four hours, which is a lot for us. Having stopped half an hour short of our planned destination at Burston yesterday, we needed to add that to today's run. So, having woken a bit early, we had tea in bed then Sheila started boating before seven whilst I got breakfast.

We swapped over and Sheila had eaten by the time we got to Phoenix Sandon. The bottom gates there were leaking something horrific; it looks as if the cill is getting ready to give up the ghost, so don't be surprised if there's an emergency stoppage before long. As soon as Sheila shut the top gate Sanity Again started her descent without any paddles being drawn.

Apart from that, it was a classically good bit of Autumn boating. It was rather misty murky but not unpleasant and we toddled along, the washing machine chugging away and familiar landmarks appearing then being left behind. We'd been going over two hours before we saw another boat moving.

Weston lock was against us, but a boat was just leaving Hoo Mill as we came in sight. By the time we'd locked down, another boat was approaching, making up for the hard work Sheila had put in at the previous two locks.

We knew we needed to water either here or else at Spode House the day after tomorrow. There was a boat on the water point as we arrived, but they promptly let go and boated off, leaving us in possession. Filling the tank now means that we won't need to do so again until we get back to Mercia. Similarly, Sheila has now done enough washing to last until then.

A handy mooring at the Haywood end of Tixall was free, the sun was out and a gentle wind blowing. We rigged the whirligig to get the washing dry and settled to a half hour's constructive loafing (Sheila: crochet, me: surfing Canal World; it's a hard life).

After lunch we walked back to the Farm Shop to buy a cauliflower for this week's veggie meal.

Since then, more crochet, catching up with stuff to do with the Owners' Group, reading the paper.

Tomorrow, on to the Pig Farm Taft Wharf.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Working on down

Today's plan: go shopping at half eight then start down the Stone locks, arriving at Aston Marina after the office opened at ten. Almost all of this was successful, I'm pleased to say. Admittedly, we didn't find another throw toy for Sally. The hardware store here had previously supplied one of her favourites, a mini tyre tire (it's American), but which we finally had to throw away as she'd managed to chew it up too much. They didn't have anything like that today, so it's back to the internet, I guess.

We worked down Stone, meeting several boats on the way, including one rather disgruntled one. They'd planned to get a pump out at Stone Boat Building, but that's not available on a Monday, so were now having to go all the way to Etruria for one. I'm not sure I wouldn't have reversed back to the wide bit above Yard Lock, winded and gone to Aston, rather than thrash all the way up Stoke with legs crossed.

Aston Marina was a salutary experience; gosh, we're glad we're in Mercia. Given that the whole thing was dug out to order, why on earth have they made such a pig's ear of the layout? Never mind that entrance is a pain for a full length boat, almost all new marina entrances are. There's nowhere to moor near the office and in order to use the pump out you have to tie with the boat in the mid-marina bridge hole.

Where there is a paucity of mooring rings.

I then trekked back to the office, several minutes walk, and paid the usual £15 for a token – it's a DIY pump out. I got back just as Sheila finished sorting out the pipe work. Final irritation: there's no pause button on the machine, so rinsing is a bit hit and miss.

Mind you, the pump is decently powerful and ran long enough to empty our very full tank. Once it was pulling mostly air we turned on the water hose and ran water through the tank, rocking merrily all the while. It's left us with a tank about as empty as Andy achieves at the Trading Post by rinsing with watering cans full of cut water.

It was handy to use today after being let down by Black Prince the other day, but I'd rather carry on to Great Haywood another time.

By the time we'd finished it was nearly lunchtime, so we left the marina and tied on the towpath just beyond. The afternoon has been spent catching up with IT jobs, mainly.

Tomorrow, a fairly long run to Tixall for the night and a chance to get some nice veg from the Farm Shop.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Stoned again

Yes, obvious, I know, but I'm feeling relaxed, though not under the influence of psychoactive substances (yet, beer o'clock is later). Indeed, it's been a relaxed sort of day; leisurely start, read emails in bed, eat breakfast, set off for Meaford top.

The weather was pleasant without being exciting and we got to Stone without much incident. A boat we crossed with at Meaford bottom said that the Stone moorings were quite busy, so we've stayed at the top, tied just short of the lay-by full of old boats.

The only fly in the ointment was a Black Prince seemingly full of first timers, who managed to give us a rap as they went by, zig zagged about all across the cut further down and finally got into Stone top lock. It quite reminded me of our first trip hiring, when we managed to batter our way up the southern GU from Iver on the Slough arm to Marsworth top and then back down.

At one point we ran the boat up a small stream on the offside and later on one of our companions nobly rescued a dog from the lock on the River Chess branch into which it had fallen.

It promptly bit him.

All this was in 1975 when they still gave you a shovel in case you couldn't find anywhere to empty the Elsan bucket (and it was a bucket. "Bucket and chuck it" wasn't a misnomer in those days. And folk wonder why we've got a pump out...)

But we didn't do what the lockwheeler of this Black Prince did, which was to draw a top paddle without checking that the bottom paddles were down. He stood looking at the water running merrily through the lock for a bit whilst all we moored boats started to lean over as we found the bottom.

We've been walking about with a bit of a slope on all day as a result, though the pound is slowly coming back up as excess water comes down Meaford.

We've had an amble down the flight; quite a bit of space down there now, naturally. Some boats must have left after a weekend sampling the cosmopolitan delights of the birthplace of the Trent and Mersey. (Well, that's what Stone claims for itself and it's true in a way.)

Tomorrow, we'll do a bit of shopping then lock down to Aston marina to get a pump out. It's probably going to rain...

Saturday, 13 September 2014

At Barlaston

We've had a good run to Barlaston and a good lunchtime meet with Peter and Jan. We'd planned to try the Plume of Feathers, but their kitchen was closed, so we went to the Duke of York up the hill in the main village instead.

That was very nice, big emphasis on steaks, though. Good beer too.

After Peter and Jan had gone, who should turn up but Ann off Copperkins II, whom we know well from our OwnerShips days. We ended up on Copperkins drinking tea and nattering with Ann, Iain and their three collies who joined in enthusiastically.

We're not long back from there. Mobile signals are poor here and I'm having to work with the bow doors open and the 3 phone dangling in the cratch. It's getting a bit cold, so will leave this for now.

More tomorrow, hopefully.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Through the tunnel

We've been through Harecastle so many times now (at least twice a year for the past ten years) that it holds no terrors for us, but it's still nice to get it done. There are some key points on the canal system that effectively divide it up, and Harecastle is one of them. South of it is definitely not the same as north of it.

As a result of the tragedy earlier this year, they've tightened up on the safety briefing, but not introduced any further requirements. This seems sensible; it was, after all, the first death in the tunnel in living memory. If there was one requirement they might have added, it would be to have a light of some sort facing forward from the steering position, so that the changes in height remain visible after the tunnel light has passed under them.

We were the middle one of a convoy of three; I would happily have been at the back this time, as the following boat had a mega-powerful light which blinded me every time I glanced behind. You just do not need that much candlepower; it's pitch dark in there with no competing illumination and twenty or thirty watts is ample to show you the walls and roof.

Ho hum, never mind.

We've tied just short of Etruria Marina. We had planned to get a pump out in the morning, but Black Prince don't do them on Saturdays because they are turning round hire boats. They aren't open on Sundays, either.

Looks like either Aston or Great Haywood will get our custom; we've got several days space in the tank yet.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

An easier day

With a shorter, lock free run to do, we were in less of a hurry this morning. This was just as well, as, after waking at six and reading for a bit, I dozed off again and didn't come to until twenty past seven.

So it was a case of tea whilst getting dressed, scoff breakfast pronto and then head over to the water point by Bridge 68 to fill the tank. The pressure is really good here and we took on three quarters of a tank in the time it took to make and drink a mug of coffee and deal with some email.

Off we went again, Sheila steering and your correspondent dividing his time between looking out, pottering in the cabin and, later on, doing the washing up. Sheila was well on form, handling the tricky bridge hole at Congleton High Town with skill and aplomb despite the anxious looking privateer hovering on the towpath just the other side. She then cleared the aqueduct without touching the sides, too.

Our original plan had been to return to Scholar Green, but with no shopping to do there was no reason not to stop at the peaceful visitor moorings by Bridge 86, the ones we know as the Little Moreton Hall moorings as you can walk to that spectacular National Trust property from here.

The sun has come out, Sheila has started a new crochet order and I've been loafing, quite frankly. Oh, except that we counted up the money raised by the charity auction. Once I've banked the cheques, the Anthony Nolan charity will be better off by over £1200 plus the Gift Aid.

Tomorrow, Harecastle and Etruria.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Better Bosley

After our slow run up Bosley the other week, today's was very straightforward, with no particular hassles at all. Starting off not long after half seven had meant that the road over the swing bridge was quite busy, but no drivers gave Sheila grief this time.

We'd managed to get a washload started before we reached the flight, so it was well finished by the time we reached the bottom.

It still took over four hours for the run, a long day's boating for us, and it was most of one o'clock by the time we'd tied at Buglawton. We've stopped one bridge earlier than usual, before 67, as the towpath between 67 and 68 looked a bit full.

Peter and Gill on Cala had been following us down the locks and passed as we were tying. Have a good run back, you two, and see you next year :) .

After lunch and a bit of a doze, I walked to the Co-op to get some meat and stuff to keep us going until we can shop at Etruria. I find that you can only leave the towpath at bridge 68; neither 66 or 67 have access, so the only obvious route to the shop is from 68 and down St. John's Road. Looking at Google maps just now, it seems there might be an alternative from 65, but the route through the housing estate is a bit more complex. Something to try next year, maybe.

It will involve walking downhill to get there and a bit of a slog back up with the shopping no matter which way you go, but then shopping from the Macc almost always does...

Tomorrow, we have an easier day to Scholar Green, before the passage of Harecastle Tunnel on Friday.

Incidentally, why are the Midlands canals built to a 7 foot gauge? Because James Brindley didn't fancy excavating Harecastle to 14 foot wide, which would have involved moving four times the amount of spoil.

(No, don't worry, Braidbar Owners, this will not be the basis of a quiz question next year ;) )

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

And off we go

We'd decided to come right on to Lyme Green today, a long day's boating by our standards, so got up in good time. The water tank was still three quarters full, no need to top up, and by half eight we were saying goodbye to folk after a brilliant weekend.

I reversed Sanity Again out of the yard and winded her without bumping into One Day which was on the water point. Sheila took over for the long chug. Water levels are a bit better than they were on the way up, thank goodness. There's a bit of traffic around but not enough to be a problem.

It was four hours steady plod to get here; soup was taken en route and a late lunch consumed.

We've had a walk up to the Co-op for some perishable bits and pieces this afternoon.

Tomorrow, on down Bosley to moor at Buglawton again.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Back again

As usual, we've had a great weekend. The weather was a bit damp on Saturday, but never enough to be a problem. It was dry most of the time with occasional bursts of Scotch mist and an odd bit of drizzle.

After a slow start, we ended up with about the same number of visitors as previous years and one build slot was booked on the day. It seems likely that at least another couple of slots will be taken up in the next few weeks, so a good result from Peter's point of view.

The socialising went with a swing, too, and even the quiz was kindly tolerated by the long suffering members. Best of all, the charity auction raised over £1000 on the day, a figure which I know from experience will rise when I take into account the effect of folk rounding up their payments.

Yesterday was more relaxed; Des and I did a presentation on the work we've (well, mostly Des) have been doing towards a replacement for the highly unsatisfactory Yahoo group service, we discussed an Owners's Group flag/ensign/burgee and finally had a session of Boaters Question Time.

The afternoon was very relaxed and we finished the day with a Chinese meal for those still around.

Today, we've taken down the marquees whilst the final jobs were done on Sanity Again. The major item was replacing the cracked chimney collar. This involved some serious banging and drilling by Andy to get the old one out but it's done now with the exception of some reblacking.

Tonight we'll have a final meal in the Boar's Head and set off back tomorrow.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Lots done, still stuff to do

As I expected, we've had a very busy, not to say wearying day, so just a summary tonight. In keeping with this, the weather has stayed summery too.


We've put up the big marquee and the new slightly smaller one in front of it. They look pretty good together and should give us even more floor space than last year. This is just as well, as even more folk are coming.

After lunch, I had a go at cleaning the Owatrol off the slide, where it had made the paint look very dingy. Neither grade of Finesse It would do the job and in the end I borrowed some cutting compound from Peter. It was a case of working inch by square inch, but we got there in the end.

Since then, we've been relaxing in the marquee with various of the owners. Shortly, it will be time to get changed and head down to the Boar's Head for dinner, happy thought.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Getting there

Today we have received the Ocado order in good time, engaged in a lot of conversations about the weekend arrangements and, this afternoon, washed and polished the port side of the boat.

The new polisher worked very well indeed, though holding it up gets to be quite hard work after a bit.

Graham and Victoria on Sapphire have returned so the group at the Trading Post at tea time is now spreading over several tables.

We're both pretty tired this evening, not to say aching in various places, but it's all worthwhile.

Buffalo stir fry tonight, the last quiet meal on the boat before it all kicks off in earnest tomorrow.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

And on and on

The weather has made a major improvement; warm, sunny, hardly any wind, it's just been great. We've finished washing and polishing the floor so the interior of the boat is now just the way we want it.

All we have to do now is clean the outside...

This afternoon we had a bit of a change as Sheila took some time out to plant up a strawberry pot with pansies. There were plants left over so some were added to a couple of other pots in front of the bungalow.

We've now got the necessary six boat lengths occupied on the Deeps; hardly any of the boats are in the right place, mind, but that's a problem for Friday.

Peter and Gill have arrived on Cala and have gone straight into the yard to have some work done tomorrow. There's a distinct sense of momentum building up – in many ways this is the most fun bit, before it all gets too frantic.

Tomorrow, we must try and get the port side washed at least. We've also booked an Ocado delivery for mid morning, hopefully the last bit of stocking up before the weekend.

As usual, I can't guarantee regular posts until about this time next week. I'll try and blog when I can but don't be alarmed if you don't hear from me every day...


Monday, 1 September 2014

Pressing on

It's been another busy day and the weather is indeed improving, though it was still pretty horrid first thing.

Having put on full waterproofs, I walked down into Poynton for meat, cash and other stuff. When I came out of Waitrose, I wasn't sure if I'd missed the bus, so hung about at the stop for a bit in hope rather than expectation. This strategy paid off; I had missed it, but Johnny from the yard was on his way back with the butties for the mid-morning brew and picked me up.

Many thanks again, Johnny.

This meant that I got back in time for the morning coffee and chocolate session. Sheila, meanwhile, was running a washload in the bungalow and refixing the signs that had been taken down by an unknown hand over the weekend.

Dolce has come out of the yard and is tied on the Deeps, so the Braidbar collection is growing out here.

After lunch, we made a start on washing and waxing the floor. In fact, whilst Sheila started, I cleaned round the Squirrel plinth. When she'd done her bit, engine room to study bedroom, I followed on with the wax. Finally, I got to try out the polisher we bought from Halfords the other month; with the finishing bonnet on, it did a great job of buffing up the wax.

We were resting after all these labours when Graham off Priscilla II turned up and came to the Trading Post with us. Whilst we were all there, Austin and Liz off Just Siviting arrived. Both these boats are presently still on their moorings in Victoria Pit, but will be coming to join us on the Deeps tomorrow.