Our Nige

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55 years old. I work in registered care as a care assistant and have my house up for sale and when sold will be buying a narrowboat of some kind to live on. Been a bit of a dream of mine for many years. Don't know for certain if I'll like it but I'm really looking forward to it and think that I will. I have been looking at boats and reading and talking to people over the last 6 to 9 monts and sometimes I feel like I might know what layout I want. I will be on a restricted budget of about 25 to 35k and will be looking for advice and tips to help me make a fair start on the water.

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Steppin’ Out; World tour 2014 day 2, Burton to Alrewas, nice people.

Hi it’s been a warm and lovely day with a few people restoring my faith in the human race.

P9030614Rudely awakened by the building site, opposite where I moored last night, at 7.30 but hey ho it’s a nice morning. A cup of milky coffee and grapes, yoghurt and honey for breakfast. After which I trot off to Shobnall marina and purchase a couple of the chains with rings on for mooring up. Inquired about boat blacking and he has a slot in November which should suit. Must remember to ring him back tomorrow to book it.

Off up the jolly old cut and Branston lock where a boat was moored on lock moorings but he’d come through and I’m sure he was just getting on board and he went back and opened the gates for me. What a P9030623gentleman. I thanked him profusely. Only about 1/2 mile further along and a father with his two kids were fishing and the young lad about 10 or 12 thanked me for slowing down. Some nice youngsters about but we don’t always notice them like we do the others.

Through Tatenhall lock where I was helped by the guy coming down and then down to the noisy part where the canal runs alongside the A38. It’s quite strange how the wildlife and the plants and trees still seem serene, gentle and soothing even though the noise is loud. You can still hear the birds and the ducks just pay it no mind at all.

Through Barton Turns lock and then on to Wychnor lock which if you look as you approach it you can see the water getting clearer as P9030633this is the last lock before the river Trent which feeds the lowest bit of the Trent and Mersey. I like the bit after the lock as the water is clearer still. Some nice linear private moorings top side of the lock. Then the dangerously exciting bit as we cross the Amazon river. Oh sorry it’s the Trent and actually not a problem at all apart form me having a blond moment as I’m crossing and had a momentary panic attack as I couldn’t see where the exit from the river was. I shouldn’t really be out on my own.

I hadn’t been under way much more than 3 hours and I could feel myself wanting to nod off. Moored up and went up to the lock and started opening one of the paddles to let the water out and never noticed a boat coming down. Good job he shouted. I just wasn’t with it. Obviously I closed the paddle and helped them through. So remember don’t shout at all the numpties as they P9030631might just be having an off day or it might actually be me.

Alrewas is a very picturesque village with some nice and expensive houses overlooking the canal. I found a mooring next to the church and graveyard so should be quiet over night. There are 4 pubs in Alrewas I believe and I’ve sampled the beer in 2. The George and Dragon and the William IV both are nice and friendly pubs. They have a good, proper butcher on the main road through along with a post office and a couple of small supermarket shops. Not a bad little place to stock up if your provisions are low and you’re down to a couple of cream crackers and a sliver of dry cheddar.

That’s it for tonight as I’m tiring now and need to grab a bite to eat and early night.

Take careP9030634

OurNige

Photos; 1 approaching Tatenhall lock.  2 approach to Alrewas bottom lock.  3 a lovely part of Alrewas.  4 my mooring for the night Steppin’ Out being the one with the hood.  5.  Looking down towards Alrewas bottom lock.

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Steppin’ Out; 2014 world tour, day 1, Tuesday. Willington to Burton.

Hi to all of you. Sorry I haven’t been on as much as I aught to be really but I’m having a couple of weeks out and about as I’m on holiday from work. How Paul manages to post every week and work is quite amazing. Dedicated.P9020585

I intended to set out about 12 noon or 1 o’clock ish. However I didn’t crawl out of bed till 9 this morning. I opened the back doors and leant on the steps and saw blue sky and a mirror like surface to the waters of the marina. Doesn’t get better for the start of a cruise. But I have a few things to do before setting out. Coffee and cheese and garlic on toast for breakfast. Lovely. Check my account to make sure the first quarter of my mooring fees have been taken out and how much that leaves me. Too much money in my account. Now that is an expression I hardly ever use, so using my super Shirley Coombes power of deduction and logic I realise “shuuuugar something is amiss” and as sure as eggs is eggs it is my mooring fees that haven’t come out of my account. I check my mooring ropes in case the office have been round and cast me adrift for none payment but no I’m still firmly attached to the jetty.

P9020588New gas bottle required as I haven’t replaced the empty one from about 3 months ago. Bad habit. Change gas bottle as soon as it is empty so you never run out of gas, simple. So I pop round to the shop and office and part with just over £500 in the space of 15 minutes. I’m sure it takes me longer than that to earn it. The office staff are great here and I write them a cheque out for this quarter while I get the standing order sorted, which I thought I’d done but obviously hadn’t.

It is still a rather nice morning and getting very warm. I’m even working up a bit of a sweat just wheeling the gas bottle back and dropping it back in the gas locker and screwing everything back together. It is now gone 11 am and slowly creeping towards noon. Right time for the monthly shower and then off to Aldi to purchase all manner of goodies.

The plan for the day is to meet up with my neighbours who have left the marina and are heading off shortly to live in New Zealand and this was why I was hoping to leave by about 1 o’clock which really was not looking likely. Returning from the shopping it was now 2 o’clock so a possible 3 o’clock start. Fill the water tank while storing all the provisions in fridge and cupboards. Tighten the stern gland greaser then drop the pram hood. Boy do spiders like pram hoods and windscreens. A nice variety of them too, some rather large and some a bit smaller and a variety of marking too.

Now to say goodbye to the neighbours which takes up another 20 minutes at least. They are good neighbours though.P9020591 Then “Cast off fo’ard, cast off astern me hearties” and away we go round to the pump out which is at the exit to the marina to keep a watch on what once went in but is now coming out. You have to watch what’s coming out to somehow make sure all the lumpy bits get removed from the tank, don’t you. Sorry if anyone’s eating. You will be glad to know I don’t have any pictures of this.

So, finally under way at about 3.30 and it feels good to setting out on my holiday even though I have a few things to do. Willington had a few boats moored up which it always has but was very quiet really for Willington. The sun was shining and it was nice and warm too. Not too many boats moving  so made good time.

P9020601I saw something I may never see again just before the aqueduct over the river Dove. There was a good size splash in the water about 30 yards in front of the boat and I though oh is it a heron diving for supper but as I got nearer this sodden little thing climbed out of the canal and ran off up the tow-path. It was a squirrel who I can only think tried to leap from the trees one side and had miss judged it. Obviously squirrels can swim. Brought a smile to my face.

No further excitement and just enjoyed the pleasure of cruising in the warm and sunny weather. Finally got to Burton and John and Em’s boat was there but they weren’t. Well I was about 3 hours late so a nice salad and when they returned shared a bit of wine and a gin and tonic or two and passed the evening in a very pleasant way by actually talking to each other. I have noticed that boaters do tend to use this rather old and out dated form of entertainment more than some of younger and land bound folks. It’ll not catch on again though.

I shall try and add a bit more watery content to tomorrow’s blog.

God bless you all.

OurNigeP9020602

Photo’s are; my back yard at Mercia.  2 is leaving the marina just before entering the canal.  3 is the centre of Willington.   4 is Dallow lane lock and 5 is a nice stretch in Burton close to where I moored for the night.

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In praise of Pram Hoods and Cruiser Sterns

005I have been aflost now for about 14 months and I love the cruiser stern with it’s pram hood and thought it time to put a post on my blog in praise of said Pram Hood. I’ve been very lax of late, thanks for any concern but no it’s not a bowel problem  it’s just finding the time. I take my hat off to Paul, especially, and some of you other bloggers who post more regularly, but the time it comsumes is alarming so Paul very well done to keep the newsletter going every week and the quality of the writing and content.

My pram hood is wonderful. In the winter I have somewhere to get into while I sort my keys, somewhere to put wet and soggy things while I get sorted. My phone signal is appalling inside the boat so it’s somewhere to stand with only one coat and pair of gloves needed to make a december phone call and of course it’s somewhere to put things you might need that you don’t want in side and to store your coal.

In the summer it makes for a lovely conservatory where you can sit with a nice glass of Talisker single malt and listen to the 007rain or provide a little respite from the hot burning sun. It makes a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by when moored up after a long days cruising. I’m not sure that actually makes sense when you think about it so I won’t think about it. I think?

I would however have to AGREE with Paul about being careful when cruising. I’m fortunate that the design of the pramhood is such that the side doors are full length and don’t leave a bit at the bottom to climb over. It also only takes 5 minutes to drop it down and at most 10 minutes to put it back up again and I never travel with it up even if it rains. I don’t think it would go under the bridges here anyway but visibiliy and overall feel of whats happening around you is greatly impaired with it up and getting at the centre ropes easily is a must, as Paul and others have said, 006especially when single handed. There are 2 large side pieces which when removed leave just the top and the frame. This is good in summer as it keeps some of the rain off but allows air to flow and acts as a sunblind should we have a few hot days too. The top unclips from the windscreen, I have a wooden windscreen which is quite rare I think as I haven’t seen another one so far, and then it and the tubular frame just drop nicely down to the taff rail where it is held in place by 2 arms which hold it off the tiller so it moves freely.

Before I got my own boat and was trying to understand what I might want a friend of mine took me out on his trad stern to wind round and take it to be blacked and the only way to travel with him and talk was to stand on the gunnells up the side of the boat. This gave me the only hard 010opinion I made of what I wanted. No trad stern, so unsociable and a lot have the door at the side so you have to duck down, bend and twist to get in and out. I’m getting older and not so bendy now days.

I’m quite happy with my own company but when having friends on board there is lots of room for 2 people and not bad with 4 people. Brian who I bought the boat off did a bit of customising on the stern and put a seat across the taff rails so you can sit in comfort to steer and he also made a short tiller which is great, especially when sat down as it doesn’t throw you over the side when manouvering. It also means there’s more room for other people. There is plenty of places to put and store anything you might want while travelling solo. I would recommend that you think about what you might need while travelling and especially what you might need in a hurry, mooring pins and armco fastenings and hammer to hand is useful.

The cruiser stern also gives another little benefit, or it does on mine though I’m not sure about all cruiser sterns, I have what I 013like to call my cellar. The engine sits very nicely in the middle with plenty of room all round. I have a small generator on one side with the anchor next to it. There is just my ash bucket really on the other side of the engine. Then there is the shelf made by the swim which has a bag of coal, a bag of sticks, a folding trolley, various paint tins, some weights to ballance the boat, a bucket to mop up with, some spare bits of pipe, a couple of lengths of chain and a few other bits. The battery bank sits on the other swim shelf. It really is amazing how much storage space is down there with out any of it going anywhere near the engine or exhaust.

My boat is only 50ft long and it has no well deck or cratch area as there is a dinette built right into the bow. The only thing at the front is the gas locker. The cruiser stern is about 6ft long and I love it. It makes accessing the engine and engine compartment very easy indeed. The social aspect is for me a big part too but I enjoy it even when on my own. The pram hood makes it a useable space in the winter, no matter what the weather, to store many things including  the coal and a few logs amongst the other jumble.

Oh and a cautionary tale regarding trad sterns. My friend who I mentioned bought his boat new and had it done how HE wanted. Trad stern with a nice little cratch space in the bow but he liked to be on the move 5 or 6 hours a day when they went out, it was a leisure boat rather than a liveaboard, but his good lady got a bit fed up of being inside and on her own and reading while they were cruising and then became a bit disinterested in the boating and was “encouraging” him to more work  on the house and garden etc. Reading somewhat between the lines and in these cases you’ll never know the full story but it seems to me he may have shot himself in the foot with his trad stern has he has just about sold his boat now and isn’t looking for another one yet as far as I know.

So make sure you’re both happy with whatever layout of boat you choose bacause as with so many of the options regarding boat structure and fit out there are just about as many opinions as there are options so it’s about finding what’s right for you. I side with the cruiser or semi trad stern myself and here’s a nice little quote by some clever sod to finish with.

Every thing you hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything you see is a perspective not a truth.

Stay safe and enjoy the sun and the boating too.

Nige

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What it’s all about and Willington pubs too.

Good morning everyone and with the sunshine streaming through my windows and warming my legs up as well as the cockles of my heart it feels good so thought I’d share my ramblings.

P3090040As you may have spotted yesterday was glorious so after checking my oil, water and gearbox fluid, on which I have a small drip come leak of which I’m keeping a close eye on. I decided it was time for a little mosey on down to Stenson to see how the gearbox acts under pressure. All looked quite good on my return with a couple of drips after about 3 hours cruising.

It was just so lovely to be out in the sunshine careering along at speeds of upto 2mph at times. As Paul said in his newsletter the sunshine just makes you feel like boating. There were quite a few walkers out with their dogs, it’s a well used bit of towpath round Willington, a popular place. There wasn’t many boats about really, I think I saw 4 others. It just felt lovely to be in the sunshine with a few ducks, robins and I saw the Oyster Catchers we have here at Mercia which were feeding in one of the many large puddles in one of the fields. Didn’t know we had oysters in the fields but I’m no orthadontist anyway. P3090042Thoughts of the summer were stiring and thoughts of painting the boat, I’m veering towards doing a cheap job myself as there are other things which are higher up the list of requirements if and when money is available. Must book in for a blacking.

Days like this are what makes it all seem so wonderful even if not all my life is quite how I’d like it but then………… Returned to the marina and call in for  a pumpout while I’m there then back to my mooring and a chat with others all enjoying the sun and the warmth. My thermometer on the back of the boat read 21C at one point and wasn’t in direct sunshine.

After lunch and resting a while it was time to sample some of Willington’s night life, and actually be a part of it too, as they have an open mike night which is now at the Rising Sun. I’d not been in before and it’s quite nice. Only went in the bar where the open mike was but a proper bar with a proper pub feel to it. Nice and clean with plenty of wood and a good selection of real ales, friendly staff and a friendly atmosphere.

P3090047Gordon, who lives at Mercia, had talked me into going up as he more or less runs it and sets everything up. I had been threatening to get out and play more at open mikes and folk clubs. I’ve become quite settled over the winter with just not doing a great deal and going to bed early but it was a good night and Ken and Keith a couple of my neighbours came up too. Some good performers there and I got to do 5 songs and had folks singing along with Paul Simon’s Mrs Robinson, Me You and Julio, then Lay Lady Lay, Light my Fire and threw in a Fred Astaire, I Won’t Dance and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. One or two thanked me and said they hoped I come again which made me feel good even taking into account the level of drinking which had taken place.

There were probably at least a dozen of us from the marina there all told and I assume the others were regulars and locals and all seemed friendly. A good night was had by all.

We discussed the building progress of the new shops and bistro which is taking place at Mercia and think it will makeP3090056 a social difference having a bar on site so there is a meeting place and people will get to meet more of the other moorers.

Right time for some studying as the Cheltenham Festival starts tomorrow and if I’m going to throw my money away on sick animals I will do it scientifically after spending hours working out why this horse can’t lose and that one can’t possibly win only to find out how wrong I was. No I won’t be putting my boat on any horses only small stakes but for me it’s the highlight of the sporting year.

Have a great time in the sun while we’ve got it and write you all soon.

Our Nige

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Just a lovely day.

Good morning to you all and today’s weather looks like being the same as yesterdays, warm, dry and maybe a little bit of sunshine too.

Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 034Yesterday was my first day off of four, I work 12hr shifts 4 days on 4 days off, and lounged in bed till about 7.30, I know I’m an idle person but somedays you need a lie in. Isn’t it nice now it’s beginning to get light by 7am and it’s not dark till 6pm gone, wonderful.

Breakfast consisted of red grapes, natural Greek style yoghurt drizled with local honey given to me by Jamie one of my work mates who keeps his own bees. I have a lot of common tastes but I think this is a breakfast fit for Royalty.

After breakfast I practised a little guitar, Paper Moon, Cheek to Cheek and a couple of my own songs then wandered up to the facilities block with my rubbish and ash bucket with just a couple of T shirts on as it was really warm, especially for the middle of winter. As I got to the top of the steps I turned round and looked out over the marina and again thought how lucky I am to have ended up here with this life style. Maybe I’ll be bored and fed up of it in a couple of years who knows anything for certain but…..

Having deposited the ash and rubbish and walking back listening to the birds, some singing and some just chirping I thought I should learn about the different bird calls so I could tell which birds they were.Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 017 They still sound beautiful even when they are unknown. It was one of those days where I just felt quietly at peace with most of the world and my self too. So much so that with the warm spring like weather that after checking my gearbox for oil leaks, I changed the drain plug washer last week has it had perished and was leaking, putting fresh news paper underneath to see where if there are any more leaks, starting the engine up to charge my batteries I then got the sandpaper out and sanded down the wordwork in the bathroom ready to undercoat. I’m glad there isn’t a lot as after a couple of hours I get fed up and my enthusiasm and attention to detail tend to wear off. I did stop a couple of times but only to take my washing up to the laundry room and then again to change said washing to a drying machine.

The sun kept popping out and everywhere seemed so peaceful and quiet. Even when people are walking about and chatting it still seems so quiet and unintrusive especially when compared to out in the world. One of the other things I notice and love but keep forgetting to mention is the smells. Maybe it’s just me, no I don’t mean it’s me that smells, but the smell when you walk down the pontoons, the mix of water, wood the reeds and other things unkown which lend, to me anyway, a scent that says home. The different smells of the smoke from the chimneys and the one that Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 035brings back memories for me from 40 odd years ago is the smell when opening the pram hood, when returning home, of the canvas and diesel from the engine sat beneath the stern, reminds me of the broads holidays we had when I was “no’buralad”. That’s were my love of boats started. With a broads cruiser and cruisers still hold a lot of charm for me though mainly the real wooden built one’s not the plastic one’s so much but there isn’t the space inside like there is in a narrowboat.

After a couple of cream crackers with cheese slices, the rubber processed cheese type, and a cup of coffee for lunch I checked the news paper under the gearbox and not a dop. However checking again this morning there is one tiny drop on the paper but not from the drain plug and not in enough quantitiy to be really concerned but will keep an eye on it. Finished the sanding and tidied up then changed out of my working clothes and decided a little reading would be in order.

I’ve got back into reading more since I’ve been afloat and don’t have a TV. I know I can watch online but I’m not really a TV fan anyway. I like books that have a spiritual and philosophical type of bent, I like Philip Yancy a good Christian writer but quite unorthodox. I’ve read a few by M Scott Peck who is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist and a very intersting writer he is too and some old things from my hippy days by Kahlil Gibran, Paulo Coelho and things of that ilk. But I also like Spike Milligan and Bill Bryson and I’ve just started getting into Stephen King after I found out he’d written the original book which they made into the film Running Man with Arnie in. There are a few holes in the plot at times but I have to give him his due I find him a really good story teller. I’ve only read a few but once I’ve started one of his they are very hard to put down and whether they are of critical aclaim or not a good story to lose yourself in is the mark of a good writer and I like things with a horror/Science Fiction feel to them as they make you think a bit sometimes.

I had a royal breakfast then a frugal dinner and now it’s time for a common tea of haggis, mashed potatoes and a tin of processed peas absolutely lovely it was even thought the haggis is a tinned variety from Aldi. It isn’t quite as good as a sort of proper one in a bladder but very eatable all the same and I’m afraid I love processed peas. I wouldn’t touch hardly any other green stuff when I was growing up especially cabbage and brussels yuk. My mother must have felt like throttling me at times. Mashed potatoes with salt while cooking then mashed with butter and milk and then whipped up with a fork to make them light and fluffy. Taken with a glass of Morrisons vintage still cider from the box, a cheeky little number.

Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 057A check through my emails and an hour trolling through ebay and things then a glass of Talisker, my favourite whisky, and back to Cell by Stephen King which took me a couple of hours to finish it and then to bed.

Not a very exciting day by everyone’s standards but I really enjoyed it. I stopped here and there on my travels and had a chat with people who’s paths I crossed some I knew and some I didn’t. I watched a moorhen walking down a jetty and looked up at the birds flying above and wondered if that one was an oyster catcher, we have some at the marina, or was it just a gull, I saw a cormorant glide up and perch on top of the electicity pylon in the next field which has a huge 100yd long puddle beneath it. The sun shone at times and we only had one short bout of rain which was quite heavy and coincided with Keith my next boat neighbour cycling home from work. The only rain we had all day caught him. I tried to suggest that maye that was lucky but his reply wasn’t really printable.

Anyway that was yesterday and I’m finishing this as the light is nearly gone today and it’s getting very close to 6 o’clock. The days are drawing out I’m glad to say. Oh and the pictures don’t really match with the post as they were took around Christmas time but it brightens up the post does a few photos.

Take care

Nige.

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Winter pleasures

Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 027My first winter afloat and  so far it’s not been a really cold one but still it is a test of coping with the dark nights in a confined space and keeping warm.

Keeping warm? Friends still ask if it’s cold on a boat and I suppose it’s a fair question seeing how we are sat upon the Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 108water in a steel tube but the truth is from the other direction. I’m sat here with my fire just ticking over and it’s showing 21C on the thermometer. I must admit when looking at boats I wasn’t to bothered if it had a coal fire or not but now I’m in the midst of winter and have got the hang of keeping the fire in for 14 hours or sometimes a little more when I’m at work and how much better it warms up the boat than the gas central heating I would certainly recommend one to anyone buying a boat to live on.

Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 029I know there haven’t been too many frosty mornings but when you step out or open the curtains and the jetties are covered in frost and the sunrise is lighting the sky it is really a joy to behold. Even opening the canopy at 5 am to go to work there have been mornings when I’ve looke up at the stars and the moon shining on the water and realised I am one lucky man and it’s still a pleasure and a privilege come home sometimes and just stop and look out over the marina and think “I live here. This is my home”.

I nearly got knocked over by a kingfisher as I was walking on the jetty to my boat and it just flew past me and shot off. They really are a wonder to behold and this one is a regular visitor to the marina. The colours are just so vivid.

I don’t think there has been much that has got me down, maybe a little down with being in a small space with the Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 076curtains closed and seeing no real daylight when I’m working. I work 4 on and 4 off doing 12 hour shifts. However the days off are great to get a few jobs done. I’ve just installed a new LED light fitting to replace one of my old 2D flourescen tubes which are starting to act up a little and be a bit dim. They might be the original fittings I think from 20 years ago when she was built.

Frosty morn 12 Jan 14 108It’s a bit frightening really this DIY stuff has I’ve avoided it and never wanted to have anything to do with it till now and yet I’m starting to look at jobs and think well I might have a go at that and then spending time thinking how to accomplish it. I talk to people about these things and learn what I can from their wealth of good ideas.

I’ve learned more this year about engines and stoves and windows and lighting and other mysterious stuff than I ever did in 10 of my previous years. It may continue too as it does also save you some money. Never a bad thing is that.

Right time to pout another whisky and then an early night and see what tomorrow brings.

Take care out there.

Nige

 

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A Near Death experience, CO alarms a must and a costly mistake.

Hi everyone no I’m not writing this from the other side. This is not a ghostly missive but maybe it could have been. Here are a couple of reminders for everyone about CO alarms and chimney cleaning and a slightly embarassing not knowing your boat’s electical system as well as you should.

Firstly I was rudely awoken by the shreiking of legions of the damned at 1.30 am Saturday morning. Leaping out of bed I discovered it was in fact my Carbon Monoxide alarm which I hastily took off the wall, stuck my finger over the speaker while I worked out how to silence it. In my half comatose state I opened a couple of windows reset the alarm, opened the fire up a little as I thought if  it burns hotter it might stop the CO production and crawled back into bed. It went off again in quite a short time so I leapt out of bed again and opened some more windows and the houdini hatch too and went back to bed again after resetting the alarm. This time it stayed silent.

003In the morning I let the fire out so I could check the stove. I had done a thorough clean of the stove and chimney in the late summer to make sure everything was ok for  when winter set in. My baffle plate doesn’t come out as it is an integral part of the stove so it’s not easy to clean but I had done it at the end of summer. I got my hand in and felt on top of the baffle plate and instead of a smooth metal plate there was what felt like cold molten rock which on the right hand side had formed a stalagmite type structure from the baffle plate to the roof of the stove. Oh bugger I thought, this is fairly solid. The only thing I could get in to chip away at it was an electrical small screwdriver. After about 10 or 15 minutes I’d broken a few pieces off when it cracked and the mass of it then came loose to shouts of joy as I was beginning to think of other ways to get at it. It was about 3 or 4 inches across and about an inch high overall with a bit of it joining up with the flue. Now I have only had the fire on regularly for about 4 weeks or so and I never thought that it would want checking so soon but I will let it out once a fortnight or slightly less and check the baffle plate.005 I then borrowed Tim’s chimney brush, it really is wonderful having good neighbours, see second half of post too, and gave it a good sweep out.

If I hadn’t had the Carbon Monoxide, CO, alarm what would have happened? Would I have woke up to find myself deceased, kaput, an exboater, regretting not having strangled a few worthy people before departing for the ultimate cruise. It might just have been a bad headache and severe tiredness but then would I have put that down to carbon monoxide or just being under the weather and stoked up the fire and gone to bed early again. It makes you think. Well it has me.

The costly mistake was a few weeks ago, infact probably about 4 or 5 weeks ago, my batteries finally gave up and after taking one out to check the colour of the spyglass hole and it was white which means it is no more. I took it round to Midland Chandlers and they checked it and it was an ex battery as where the other two when I took them out. 3 new batteries where needed which cost £240 give or take a few sheckels. They did ask about the charger which I said must have been working ok as I’d not had any trouble before. This was partly a lie but in fairness it was what I believed.

After installing the new batteries the battery level indicator read about 80% yeah. However now that I’m not out and about as much as I was and the nights longer I kept more of a watch on the battery levels which dropped fairly quickly. Now a chance conversation with one of my neighbours, Ken, about battery levels and as he know a bit more than me he asked about a charger. So we had a look round and in the engine room and checked the inverter as they can be inverter/chargers. Mine isn’t. Ken fetched is volt meter and the batteries were at  a reading of 12.09  volts which is about 25%. Not good so the engine was run for an hour or so which boosted them up to a more healthy 50%. Good neighbours are worth their weight in brass fittings.Anyway after a search and a bit of reading of the Adverc battery management manual I don’t have a battery charger so through my ignorance it has cost me £240 before it should have done.

I’m certain Brian who sold me the boat  must have mentioned it but at the time of picking her up there were so many things he went over with me before we set out that I obviously didn’t latch onto it and assumed when plugged into shoreline power that my leisure batteries were being topped up. So if you are thinking of buying an older boat check this out as it isn’t a great problem if you haven’t got one it’s just a problem if you don’t know you haven’t got one.

Now I can spend the winter deciding wether to install a battery charger for hook up or to invest instead in some solar panels to charge them up.

I have so much to learn and only one life to do it in, well as far as we know.

Take care out there.

Nige

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Steppin’out; Solo Jolly day 7 Branston to Mercia marina.

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A bit chilly this morning and put the central heating on to warm things up. Quite a few boaters up and about early and not all of them very curteous as they were passind a good line of moored boats. Some of the boats and some of the people looked like they should know better. Can’t go by looks though can we? This boating is not exactly hardship avenue while out cruising is it? I sat with a coffee studying the form for todays losers at Market Rasen and Newmarket then had a long conversation with my brother on the phone. It comes under “best of both worlds” I think and I’m not knocking it.

Off we go then heading down to Branston lock. It’s certainly just a tad up from breezy I think so paying more attention. I had a good line coming in to lock mooring area behind a boat already there and just as the bow got to the bank and I started to bring the stern in the bow shot off with a mind of its own. With the bow on the other bank now I could revers and try to give myself enough room to turn and point back to where I want to go. This time with a little more force and the chap from the moored boat came and took my middle rope and we got moored up.  Another came in behind as I pulled down once the first boat went in and we all came to lift and drop paddles and things. While there a cruiser came and he had a hell of a job mooring up too. Looks like being an interesting sort of day.

Solo Jolly day7 002Down and then on towards Burton with fields spreading out towards the hills and then you turn a corner and a great big square wharehouse built of sheet steel, as they do nowadays, is staring back at you. Another one on the other side of canal and the A38 to pass under and we are back in Burton. As I approached Shobnall marina at a sedate pace as there were boats moored someone was coming out so I had to sound the horn as I was about 10 yards from the entrance. They did stop and so no accident.

Meandering through Burton by canal isn’t too bad as it keeps to the outskirts and goes by Shobnall fields where there were at least 3 youth football matches in progress.Solo Jolly day7 003 Now we come to Dallow lock which will be my last of the journey. Solo Jolly day7 004The lock was full so only had to open the gate and enter. There was a Stenson day hire boat moored right up to the lock on the downside lock landing area with three couples in and one of them fishing. I decided to just say nothing as explaining they shouldn’t moor there might get heated and I didn’t fancy the hassle. I’m a coward really. As I came back to close the gates another boat approached so I waved to see if they were going through and no response. I stood waving with both arms above my and shouting hello loudly. I figured they were going through so opened the gate I’d shut and walked back down still waving and shouting and being ignored and I was virtually back to them before they acknowledged by existence. ” oh we were looking to see if they were going through” indicating the hire boat, which is fair, but I just wish people would respond when you’re waving and shouting. It’s my age, where are my pills.

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To say how windy it is today there are lots of boats out and about which makes it a bit tight in places and I slowed down and a couple of times stopped and hovered to make life easier for all of us. Would a thanks mate or  a thank you be too much to ask?Solo Jolly day7 019 This makes up for yesterday I guess when all seemed to go right. However I passed one boat where it was narrowed by a tree and there is a very narrow bit of canal, looks like it might have been a bridge at some time, with a boat the other side of the narrow who did stop for me even though it blew him onto the wrong side of the canal and I thanked him profusely.Solo Jolly day7 013

There is a narrow bridge just before you enter Willington and met two boats coming through so a bit more hovering then through and on to Willington. I had had a boat behind me for a while and he was still there as I got to the marina entrance which is tight on a good day in this direction. I had the one behind and one coming up infront and thankfully the man coming out of Mercia was stopped in  pound just after the entrance so I could turn in and only bumped once. Home or very nearly now and as I entered the marina proper you could feel the wind coming at you. I negotiated a couple of turns and ran down the farside of my bay and turned in and was doing alright till the last minute and hadn’t quite got it right so bumped my mooring partner not too bad but not as gently as I would have liked. Good job he’s a nice man.

Solo Jolly day7 023Strange really but it does feel like I’ve come home and it does feel like I’ve been on holiday and thankfully it feels like I’ve had a good time and for a weeks holiday I’ve spent nothing really. If you ignore the boat running costs which you pay anyway a holiday like this is dirt cheap. I may have spent less than normal as I moored out in the wilds four nights and after all the fresh air each day I was a sleep quite early. I should be out night clubbing till all hours when on holiday, I’m only 56 I’m still young. Ok well maybe not and maybe I’ll do the boring stuff next time too.

The last picture is a cheat I will admit as I took it one night about 2 or 3 weeks ago so it’s not actually this outing but it is taken off the back of my boat where I’m moored and so it is home.

038I look forward to my next outing and must post a bit more regularly than I have been doing.

Thanks for following and your comments.

God bless

OurNige

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Steppin’out; Solo Jolly Day 6 Fradley to Branston

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What a beautiful morning to wake up to. Came as a bit of a surprise as I was expectin the same as yesterday. Took my rubbish to the bins and used their toilets then cup of coffee and mop out the engine and bay and decided to fill my grease gun and tighten the stern gland while I was down there and it was about 11 gone when I set off. Had to wait for the first lock but then help on the second lock  and we are off.

Solo Jolly day 6 012Down to Common Lock where a lady who had walked it to the butchers in Alrewas was coming up with her dog and we got chatting, she was one of those really nice people who brighten you’re day up and make you feel better just for bumping into them. She volunteered to shut the gates for me so another job saved. She looks a bit blured on the photo but she  wasn’t quite as blurred as that in person.

Then Bagnall lock as you get to Alrewas and I was also going to call on the butcher there as they are supposed to be veeery goooood. Someone coming out of the lock as I got there so straight in and then moored up a few yards after coming out to wander down the high st and try to find the butcher. I found the PO first which was good as I had a couple of items to mail that I’d sold on ebay and she told me the butchers was just a few yards after the pub and not to get side tracked.

Solo Jolly day 6 014A very good butchers it appears to be. I picked up a lettuce and some toms on the veg and some smoked bacon and a home made pork pie but checked out what else they’d got. Good assortment of home made pies, scotch eggs, cooked meats and a few dishes with like stir fries in them where the meat and spices and bits were already in. Their meat really did look the business. I can’t stock up as I don’t have a freezer but it’s close enough for me to go by car from Mercia.

I thought I’d better stop by the George and Dragon in the interest of information for my blog so I had just a half of Burton bitter. The pub is old and lots of wood with a friendly feel to it. They serve meals there and the smell was very tempting. It was about 1 o’clock when I was there and it was quite busy. A good selection of hand pull beers and the Burton bitter I had was very nice. I shall be calling again when looking for a place to eat and will overnight at Alrewas next time I’m out and about. Moor at bridge 48 and just walk into the centre of town. The road is very quiet and this was Friday but the post office is there then the pub and the butcher and there could be a coop a little further down the street too. Oh and there is a chemist as well.

Off we set again and it’s a nice little village, you get the sense that you need a bit in the bank to live here, and down to the lock before the river section and a boat coming up. A nice couple with their grandkids I think and he stayed behind and did the gates for me as I was on my own. All the friendly people seem to be out today.

Solo Jolly day 6 022The river section is were the canal joins the river Trent for about a hundred yards and then turns of at the weir down into Wychnor. You can get stranded when the Trent is in flood as it can be closed to navigation. There is a notice board at Fradley junction saying whether the river section is open or not. The water is much clearer through Wychnor as it’s river water not canal water and after the first lock it is still nice and clear. It’s lovely being able to look and see the weeds under the water bending with the flow, the slide as the shallow bottom at the sides slides down as it comes out to the middle. Plenty of tall reedy grass at the sides aroung Wychnor. I like it up there and more so as it moves furhter away from the A38.

Wychnor Bridges lock and someone coming through again. My timing is good today or someones looking after me. This time they were a couple who had bought the boat yesterday. I passed some tips on as not to rush and not necessarily to tie up in a single lock and not to worry if they hit something so long as they hit it slowly.Solo Jolly day 6 029 I’m not sure how much they took in. After I was in the lock and ready to open the paddle to empty it I had another lovely lady come to help me as she and her husband were coming up so a lot of work saved again.

Solo Jolly day 6 033Here is were the canal meets the A38 and runs side by side for a couple of miles. It’s still lovely and picturesque but very noisy as the traffic speeds past about 15yds away. Not much further to go when you get to Barton Turns lock and a cruiser coming out as I get there so just hovered and went in. As I was leaving the lock another nice man asked if I wanted the gates shutting. I replied yes please and asked if he was coming down and he was just walking past and offered. If only the world was like this all the time. I shall wake up soon and it will all have been a dream.

Tatenhill lock and no one was coming through, no one to help me. What is the world coming to? I shall have to complain to C&RT or someone. It is a lovely looking lock and yet over the hedge is a huge factory yard so it’s on the edge of an industrial estate yet feels, apart from the distant road noise, as though you’re in the middle of nowher.Solo Jolly day 6 036

Now I want to find a mooring and there a few boats moored alongside Branston water park nature reserve and I find a piece of empty armco just about the right size to fit Forty Winks in so I reverse her in and tie her up and settled for the night. My last night of freedom. There is a pub just down the towpath which does pizza and pasta but I’ve already got my faggots in the fridge so faggots, chopped toms with cinamon and bisto, mushrooms and onions for tea it is.

I have now eaten and returned to work on the blog. It was just what the doctor ordered well probably not the faggots as they probably have a lot of fat and preservatives in but they were nice. I’ve just looked out the side hatch and it feels like a summers eveing. Lights down by the pub, just the faintest feel of a breeze, the water flat calm. The night is dark and a few clouds but no moon yet. After a week out and a day like this I could almost think about living on a narrowboat. I shall have to give it some thought.

Solo Jolly day 6 037This is tonight’s mooring with the sound of the A38 droning noticeably but not too disturbingly. The Trent and Mersey canal from Shardlow upto Willington follows the A50 then the A38 takes over till you get to Wychnor Bridges where they part company, thankfully. But canals were built to carry freight and they follow roads and train lines so we have to grin and bear the times when they are side by side or closer than we would like.

Oh a passing comment on the tradition of partaking of a glass after mooring up once the travelling day has been completed. No it doesn’t matter what time it is. Today I had a glass of Talisker whisky which is distilled on the Isle of Skye and is the finest tasting whisky that I have pertaken of, well so far but there may be better, it danced on my tongue while my taste buds sang halleluiah.

There may be people with more money than me, infact there are lots of people, but on a day like today there aren’t many that are richer than me. Thanks to all of you who shared it with me in person, a few minutes here and a few minutes there and thanks to all of you reading about it. Hope it entertains you, relaxes you or brightens your day just a little.

God bless you.

Last day tomorrow.

OurNige

 

 

 

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Steppin’out; Solo Jolly day 5, Great Haywood to Fradley.

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Hey what happended overnight? It’s about 10 degrees cooler than yesterday and it’s a good bit breezier too. This is going to be a little bit of a different day to last few but never mind. There seems to be a few folks up and about and they seem to be in a hurry too. Thanks to Pearley for the courtesy article which explains about tieing up properly. The forward rope out front so it pulls forward and the stern rope out back so it pulls you backwards really does make a difference when people go past too fast. I’m not being thrown about as much.

Today I’ve had to put on two t/shirts and a fleece and my hat now the temperature has gone down, I have still got shorts on but I wear shorts virtually all year round. Ok so some of us are a little different this allows you normal people to feel a little superiorl.

Off down to Colwich lock and having got in the lock met by a nice lady coming the other way and shared a really nice conversation.Solo Jolly day 5 003 She was a lovely lady to start the day off and on leaving the lock her husband a pleasant chap too with one of those boats with the engine Paul was talking about a while back where they fire about once a minute. Makes my Kubota engine sound like a two stroke. Nice boat too, see picture.

Through Colwich again which is a picturesque type of place then back out into open country side. Now I’m going through the same places that I came through on the way up so I shall have to think of new things to say and makes sure I don’t use the same photos or you’ll rumble me. It is a bit breezy and it’s pushing the boat about a little as well making me keep the collar on my fleece turned up and my hat pulled well down but it’s dry and the sun is trying to shine. I’m not encountering many boats so I’m just plodding along at 3 mph ish.Solo Jolly day 5 010 I’m only heading for Fradley which should be about 11 miles and only 3 locks so no rush. Bridge 68 is the turning point where the open country changes to a few trees and then turns towards Rugely and the aqueduct over the Trent that says you’re there.

the first part is nice houses and gardens that slowly sort of turn a little less nice then becomes the town centre where there is plenty of mooring but today most of it is taken which makes it quite narrow and would have made life interesting if I’d have met anyone coming the other way but I didn’t. Rugeley merges with Mossley and a Solo Jolly day 5 029working factory then down to the Ash Tree pub and Ash Tree boat club moorings, Hawksyard Priory golf club and moorings then the Armitage tunnel, with no roof. Solo Jolly day 5 016

Coming out the other end you fall upon the Plum Pudding pub with moorings and lots of tables outside. I must try it next time I’m up this way as it does look like a nice pub. Then the alotments. Now being of a sound mind and steeped in logic and a Physics O level I understand totaly about water finding it’s own level and Archimedes and all that jazz but from Hawksyard priory I have had the feeling that i’m going uphill and I’m enclosing a photo to back up my theory.Solo Jolly day 5 021 Look at the boat and the bank is nearer the gunwhales at the back than the front indicating that is indeed on an incline. Your honour I rest my case.

Now on to Handsacre which boasts some nice properties at the side of Solo Jolly day 5 024the canal, again only a few boats compared to the number of properties. A left turn, under a bridge and back out amongs the fields and trees. A mile of lovely scenery and just before Kings Bromley Wharf I pass a couple hosing down the frontage where it looks like they’ve been concreting, they are stood next to a concrete mixer, and we pass pleasantries and they look as though they’ve earned their supper. Kings Bromley Wharf with a big sign up saying “No Winging”. Is it me but why are people so mean and mardy when there is ample room to wind. On the roads you see signs no turning. What mean people are they that don’t want to allow someone to use their space when as far as I can see it will do no harm what so ever. Is it just me?

Solo Jolly day 5 020Down past Kings Bromley Marina, a seperate enterprise, and onto what is at the moment one of my favourite stretches of canal. Lovely tree lined canal. Lots of Oaks and Silver Birch lining the banks and then a slight left turn and a long straight with Ravenshaw wood on one side and open fields on the other. This was where I overnighted on the way up, a lovely place. Woodend lock followed by a sharp left and the top lock at Fradley junction is in the distance.

A couple of locks and I’m moored up in the middle section. Nip to the loo and check out the showers. These are BW and are in very good order, no problems at all. After a shower it’s up to the Swan pub for a couple of pints and I chose to have the lasagne which came with chips, side salad, garlic bread and I had a side order of onion rings. The lasagne was very nice, probably microwaved, the onion rings were possibly the best I’ve had in a pub anywhere but the chips were frozen and I do love chips where some one has peeled a real potato the same day as they are fried, but that’s what you get in some places, they were ok. I didn’t leave any so they couldn’t have been too bad.Solo Jolly day 5 041 Bar staff and a lady I took to be the Landlady were good and the customers were friendly. I felt welcomed and at home within a few minutes. I had the Thatchers Gold cider which is nice and they had a good selection of real ales on too. The menu isn’t extensive but enough choice and with vegetarian options. A few people said the Sunday dinners here are wonderful and it get’s packed apparently.

Solo Jolly day 5 036A couple of pints and a meal. Watched some good sized carp taking bits off the top of the water then back home to write my blog. They have a folk night here on Thursdays but I’m tiring so I will miss it tonight and have to call round by car another time and join them. I lit my first fire of the week tonight as it was dropping a little cooler as I came back from the Swan so I am now well warm and cosy.

Falling asleep over the computer so it’s time for bed.

Night folks and tomorrow we can do some moor.

Nige

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