Thursday, 22 June 2017

A catch up and an operation

We knew Helen and Andy from Wand'ring Bark and the Jam Butty were down south, so had been trying to meet up with them. It didn't quite work at the weekend, but it did today. Adrian was due at midday at a hospital in Wimbledon, for surgery on his neck; for months he's had a prolapsed disc, and the solution was to remove a bone spur from the affected vertibra. As Helen and Andy would be near Hampton Court that morning, we arranged to pay them a visit. They were moored just above Molesey Lock, and we found them without difficulty. It was great to catch up and hear about their life afloat; they needed to be off by 11, and so did we to get to Wimbledon, so we went with them the couple of hundred yards down to the lock (just to say we'd been boating today!). A boat was coming up, so we jumped off at the lock landing.

At the hospital, Adrian was soon in his room and answering the same questions multiple times. He had visits from the surgeon and the anaesthetist, and about 2pm was taken off down to the operating theatre. While he was having his surgery, I walked down the hill to Wimbledon village, where every shop has a green and purple flag outside.

I had a late (and Wimbledon-priced) sandwich in a cafe, then decided to walk back a different way, taking in the All England Club on the way.

Back at the hospital it was a while before Adrian was out of the recovery room and in the High Dependency Unit for a few hours of post op observation. By the time I left, the anaesthetist and the surgeon had been to seem him, and both were happy with how it had gone ("a bloody good job", was the surgeon's verdict on his own work), and dinner had arrived. He's now back in his own room being served tea on a tray with a doily.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Two in one day

An early start this morning, heading up the M1 and across the Derbyshire Dales to the Macclesfield Canal for a boat test. Unfortunately the more pessimistic of the weather forecasts turned out to be also the more accurate, however we did the best we could with the conditions.

That one was done by lunchtime, so we headed off to Mercia Marina for the second boat test of the day. Frustratingly, the sun was shining from Macclesfied southwards. At Mercia, we headed straight outnon the boat to make the most of the sun, only for it to cloud over a bit. Of course the sun returned as soon as we got back. With that test done by about 4.30, we treated ourselves to tea and the Willow Tree Cafe, along with a piece of courgette and avocado cake -- mostly because it sounded so weird.

It was a bit like carrot cake, with neither the courgette nor the avocado coming through particularly (which may be a good thing). It was also gluten free, and surely at least one of your five a day.

It was nearly 7pm when I got back to the marina. I considered driving home this evening, but I've already done 270 miles today, so I'll get up early and head back in the morning.

Thursday, 15 June 2017


Work today. This is really just to log another night on board.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017


I need to be up in the midlands on Friday (assuming the AccuWeather forecast is more accurate than the BBC one), and my shift times this week meant it made more sense to come up to Briar Rose today than tomorrow. I arrived a bit before 5pm and found the boat sweltering inside, so I flung open the side doors, the windows, and the Houdini hatch. The boat next to us is still out and so is the one beyond, so a duck was making use of their jetty for a bit of a spruce up.

It'll be an early night tonight as I've been up since 4am, and need to be on a train from Wolverton just before 6 in the morning.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Blisworth Tunnel Boats on test

The July issue of Canal Boat is out, and includes my biat test on a spec boat by Blisworth Tunnel Boats

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Post-Crick: Day 8

I was hoping to get a bit of exercise today, having spotted on the Waka Huia blog that Marilyn and David planned to go up Hatton Locks. I contacted them and offered to swing a windlass, as Hatton is only about an hour's drive from here. I was off in good time, but when I arrived at the car park discovered a text to say they'd decided the weather wasn't conducive to locking. It was the right decision, with heavy rain and strong winds. I drove down to the Cape of Good Hope to find them -- possibly earlier than expected -- and was plied with tea and cheese scones. M&D are travelling with Mick and Julia on Unknown No 3, whom we met last September when we shared the Buckby Locks with them; they came in too, and it was good to catch up with them.

After a good couple of hours I headed off, but couldn't resist a look at Hatton Locks. The place was deserted, which is unusual. I went for a bowl of soup at the cafe at the top of the locks, and they were having a vey quiet day too.

Just a couple miles away is Kingswood Junction, so I drove up there and had a walk around. Here there were a couple of boats on the move in spite of the conditions, which were still pretty grim.

Having arrived via the M40 I decided to return using the M1 (to make a ring, I suppose!) and head cross country. I realised as I passed theough the outskirts of Rugby that Newbold wouldn't be far off my route, and I suspected that Bruce and Sheila on Sanity Again would probably have decided to sit out today as well. I was right, so I knocked on their roof. More tea and more enjoyable conversation.

While I was in Newbold the sun came out, and the drive back to Thrupp Wharf was very sunny indeed. As I got back to the marina there was clearly a heavy shower on the way, with the sky black one way and blue the other.

Sure enough, I'd only been in a few seconds when the most torrential rain came down, blown horizontal by the wind. A couple of minutes later the sun was out again, but if anything the wind has strengthened, making waves on the marina and buffeting the boat.

I spent some time trying to stop a drip from the heated towel rail. It's never been right since it was installed at Calcut, BLS had a go when we were in for blacking a couple of months ago, and Dave tightened up one of the joints yesterday -- but there's still a drip. I undid the joint, managed to catch almost all the liquid from the rail, and remade the joint using some PFTE tape supplied by Mick. The joint is much better -- but there's still a drip, as it's coming from above. I'm wondering if it's been from there all along. I'm not sure what to do about it, either way.

Tomorrow, work then home.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Post-Crick: Day 7

I was in several minds about what to do today. I pretty much finished writing the boat test last night while watching the Manchester concert, so I wouldn't need to spend today writing like I'd expected. Also the forecast for today and tomorrow wasn't great, to say the least. I decided that I'd find out what the situation was with our broken Eberspacher boiler, and that would determine what I'd do: if it was ready to go back in, then I'd stay up here; if it wasn't going to be ready today or tomorrow, I'd head home.

I spoke to Gary at Boating Leisure Services, and the Eber was indeed fixed. It had had a number of things wrong with it, and each part would have been expensive to replace with new, so they've raided their extensive collection of bits and pieces and replaced all the parts with second hand ones. He said it might run for another ten years -- or it might not!

I said I'd return to the marina, as it would be much easier for Dave from BLS to visit. So I walked up and set Cosgrove lock, then set off from my mooring. I could see another boat coming along the straight section from the aqueduct, so once Briar Rose was settled in the lock I closed that gate and opened the other one. I recognised the bow as a Wyvern hire boat; it took ages to arrive, then a crew member jumped off with a rope before the lock and tried to wrap it round a bollard, even though the helmsman was trying to get in the lock. There were two Australian couples on board, who rather gave the impression that the couple of days they must have taken to travel from Leighton Buzzard had tested their friendships! Still they took the locking very seriously, and were keen to pick up tips. They stopped at the services in search of a rubbish bin, and I carried on to the marina. There was a stiff breeze blowing but it wasn't in an unhelpful direction, so I was soon in our berth and secure. Fortunately, two boats on the outside of us are out, improving the view no end.

I made some check calls on the boat test, and also managed to set ul a couple more for later in the month (weather permitting). After lunch, Dave turned up with the Eber, and installed it back into its little cubby hole at the stern.

Dave is one of only about eight regional Eberspacher gurus around the country, so he really knows what he's doing. He was telling me that the idea is that engineers who are having problems with Ebers come to him for advice; if he's having problems fiximg something, he can go straight to the mother ship. He was also telling me about someone who took his Eber to an engineer who wasn't really sure what was wrong it, and who kept replacing perfectly good parts -- running up a four figure bill -- and still not fixing it. this chimes with something I heard a little while ago (it might have been at the Crick show) that Eberspacher are increasingly annoyed about unqualified people working on them, because their mistakes give them a bad name. So the lesson is, make sure whoever works on your Eberspacher knows what they're doing.

It was about 3pm by the time Dave left. Andy the photographer had sent me a link to the ohotos from yesterday, and I really wanted to download them -- but not on our mobile connection. So I drove to Tesco where there's a BT hotspot. I planned to have a tea at Costa there, but discovered I'd left my wallet on the boat, so I sat outside on a bench -- for 15 minutes! -- while the photos downloaded.

In spite of the forecast, it's hardly rained at all today. It has been very breezy, though. I have arranged a bit of exercise for tomorrow, but more of that then.

1 mile, 1 lock. (86 miles, 44 locks)