Better Out than In?

We may be sliding towards the end of October and the “fun” of living on a boat in winter but the sun is still out and even though our friend couldn’t make this weekend, we planned to go out & lo, it came to pass.

The Open Road ! Very quiet this time of the year.

Steve’s lacquered bear is keen to be out!

Ah, these guys are back. Doing their bit for mooring nicely – not doubled up or moored near a bridge, oh, they are doing both! As usual.

Viv drives – wearing her new knitted poppy – thanks to Jude Calver on nb Black Bart, see RoxyChicKnits to get yours!

I call this the lightning tree – as it dregs up that awful song!! Architectural though, isn’t it?

These guys are cute and were hiding at the bottom of the field. Might be me but I couldn’t help but think of what food to get for Christmas . . . .

It is almost Hallowe’en –  Or is that a spooky reflection causing Steve to look ghostly?

Another Victor Meldrew moment for Steve (and others it seems) as they do insist on mooring tooooo close to the winding hole (over on the right). Long boats have to turn early but that would mean smashing your stern into this ickle boat . . . steel v. fibre glass?

Meanwhile, whilst the temperatures head south (1 degree tomorrow), we have the stove glowing nicely . . .

And Viv makes her sherry trifle – using two jellies (strawberry & then lime) to create a kind of Tequila Sunrise effect! All part of our calorie controlled diet, honest. We can share . . . if you come out this way? But be quick . . .

Our favourite spot! Betwixt bridges 27 & 28.

Summer Lingers but a friend returns

I know a song: “There’s Something wrong with the Weather!” – this warmth continues with temperatures exceeding 17 degrees here. A walk up the Hemplow Hills & the marina Kingfisher seems to have returned!

Toby seems to have a new lease of life – very bouncy & active!

Can the same be said about Viv? Well, we are trying – with longer walks.

A brief flash of blue – and a small bird sits opposite our kitchen window. Yes, the local kingfisher has returned.

Didn’t hang around for long but nice to see him back. Oh, he’s moved to Mr Crabtree . . .

And a very short video . . . they do bob you know!

Early Autumn

After the trip to Whitstable, we were then off again, this time to Viv’s folks in Barry, Wales. Just for a few days. Staying in the local Travelodge – which wasn’t bad at all.

Then back on the boat – Viv paints the design on the cratch table – which needed redoing.

The weather remains amazingly warm & sunny, so off to the Jubilee Park in Crick to walk Toby

Lots and lots of berries about

 

Autumn colours

Can you spot the Boggle?

He does love a ball game

The mornings are getting colder and the leaves are dropping

Still amazed at the abundance of berries – here’s a bush with just sloes

These are spindleberries – they were used in the hand spinning of wool.

And after the walk – the pub! And another Church End brew on today:

Starting to get brilliant sunsets but also misty, foggy mornings

The Old Boiler

 

Well October has come around so quickly. It was only July when we visited Mum and made the bold decision to go for a new boiler (old one was 38 yrs old!!) plus a new big radiator for the big lounge. The “stuff” was to be delivered on the Monday morning, with the men arriving around 12 to begin to take the old out & put the new one in . . . sort of went to plan. The radiator didn’t turn up. Not until Wednesday in fact! Still Mum was glad to have us around and to leave Steve to chat with Paul the installer, all about the new smart pumps, modulating boilers, 3-port valves and the posh Internet ready thermostat – yes, Steve can access it and control it from his computer!  Time for more shopping and the odd pub visit . . .

View from  . . . the bedroom and yes, you can see the sea.

Back to the Tankerton Arms for a beer or two . .

Nice selection – inc a dark beer – Sleep Delays?

Yes, a lot more pipes and bits on show!! A smart condensing boiler but so many pipes, pumps and controllers!!

We wanted to find a country pub, that did good food, gave us a nice ride out and let dogs in . . . We found the Duck Inn, Pett Bottom! Only 12 miles away but middle of nowhere! Wonderful food – a real gastro-pub. See the Duck Inn

Good real ale, a big gin menu and the food was really excellent.

I’ve been expecting you . . . .

Quite hidden away but quite a gem . . the hot October weather was a bonus! In fact, too hot to cause the new central heating to come on!!

 

Remedial Painting & Home

 

A bit of a wet day, Monday. So we stayed put until it cleared after lunch and then set off. Bit unusual for us. An afternoon cruise. It was still a bit drizzly but we chugged on into Braunston, took on water and optimistically waited for another boat to turn up, to partner us through the 6 big locks. But alas, none came. It was a lovely quiet day, so very unusual for Braunston – this national hub of the waterways. So, we did the locks ourselves, nice and slow. A few boats came down and so all the locks were set in our favour. Met a hire boat with a Toby lookalike who was also a name-a-like – Toby! Yes, Toby3 as we had to call him. We ventured into the tunnel – again all on our own, which was nice. On past the Norton junction and up to Welton Hythe to stop for the night.

A misty, murky Braunston

Nice new armco at the Norton Junction

Up through the Watford locks – luckily the first boat and so up we went and on to the marina at Yelvertoft – quick pump out, well it has been 6 weeks! And on to bridge 27 for some remedial painting.

It is a lovely spot – it ticks all the boxes – the right orientation for the solar energy, good phone signal, 4G signal & TV reception plus a pocket wood for the dog and just quiet.

Steve dons his coveralls to do the bitumen painting – what a gay figure in his green crocs, red vest and bandana hat!

Time for some Tai Chi?

This boat, Dane, was sort of afloat when we arrived but it was leaking badly and slowly sank. A shame the owners have left it this way.

We were joined by Gail & Jess on Sleepy Otter, chance to do some catching up over a cuppa. Simon steamed along too – so more cuppas required! Cosy.

Hmm, that mouse from some years ago, ate lots of our stuff, including Steve’s coveralls – hence the odd air conditioning he now has!

Gail gave us some high temperature silicone sealant for the chimney – did the job. Cheers!

Nice, shiny and re-blacked boat – all the “lock rash” covered over.

Recoated blacking

Steve volunteers to go into the gas locker and paint it with more bitumen

Gloomy but worth doing

Here’s the before picture . . .

And here’s the after picture.

We introduced Gail to Paellero – a Spanish spice mix for making paella and she adapted it for her veggie dish. Looks good & tasted good too.

Saturday and back “home”. Breezy but we got in, backwards with no hassle. Time to plug things in, put ropes away, change gas bottles and go down the Wheatsheaf for lunch.

 

Homeward Bound

 

On from Springwood Haven and down to Hawkesbury junction or Sutton Stop as it’s known. A day or two here – visit the Greyhound. Meet up with simon again, then on to Rugby to restock.

Busy, noisy but plenty of space at Hawkesbury junction

Steve cycled down the canal to bridge 6 – miles – to visit Tesco’s – a barn of a place. Had to wait (10 mins) for the staff to fetch the bottle of Laphroaig, as the case was empty. Checked there was a bottle in there but I didn’t’ check it was the right one! Got the cheaper and not-so-nice bottle of Select rather than the 10yr old! Doh.

One reason we stayed, apart from eating & drinking at the Greyhound, was to see the Coventry Morris men perform. And very good they were too.

A good “side” as they call them – stick dances and even a sword dance plus some clog dancing from two ladies.

And, how to find your boat in the dark – leave some lights on!

Next day we’re off. Simon has his first go at the junction – a complete U-turn required here!

Not quite round in one but it is his first time. Won’t mentions Steve’s last attempt!

Down the North Oxford Canal now – quite a pretty route.

Tried to moor up  at the familiar All Oaks Wood visitor moorings but it was full – and quite a few of these “continuous moorers” were there. CRT did clear these away last year but it seems a few are back. Starting to rain. We tried 2 spots, trying to squeeze inbetween boats but no go, then the prop got fouled by a polo shirt. Luckily we managed to fit in at the end after one boat left. Not a good day. Simon also couldn’t get in and pushed off – in the rain!

Next day we went off to the Rugby moorings – no pix here, well not very scenic but lots of opportunities to go shopping – M&S (twice), Tesco, FatFace (10% military discount!), TKMax etc – such fun. At least the boat is stocked up. Thanks to Viv’s Sparks card, she had lots of 10% off this and 20% off that, so our fridge is now bursting. Plus some more gin (Jensen’s – a new one and very nice) and another whisky for Steve, some compensation for the Laphroiag! A bottle of Kilchoman (only in M&S and on clearance so 20% off, hurrah!).

Simon had tried Rugby but got stuck on the water point. Forcing him to shop at 0500 the next day in the 24hr Tesco (real fun?) and move off to near Barby.

We passed him and moored at one of our all time favourites – bridge 87, Willoughby – just outside Braunston.

Viv does the very fiddly job of preparing fresh thyme for tonight’s meal (Wok’ed lambs liver with thyme & lime juice – Ken Hom recipe)

Our mooring – alone now – there were 6 boats around us this morning.

Very rural spot

And an abundance of these chaps! Viv made a pot of jam earlier this year and she makes two more pots today! Plus a few spare to go with the M&S ice cream, cream and meringues!

Just seen a boat “A Frayed Knot” go by, shouting, another RNSA member? And I said yes! The first I’ve seen, he said! His blue ensign flying from the back of his boat. Must get a burgee . . .

 

 

Elastic Trickery & the crew from Empress

 

Here’s our quiet mooring for a few days – but what has Toby seen?

 

There’s the sound of a Rushton Hornsby 2-stroke engine coming our way. It can’t be? It can be. It is . . . Simon & Toby2 on Empress.

Simon’s done about 3/4 of the Leicester ring and decided to moor up behind us.

Time for a celebration – Cava, vino & Thai green curry plus ice cream! And a screening of Dr Strange, in 3D no less. Well, you have to push the boat out sometimes!

Sunday – time for a long circular walk with Viv & the dog. Down to the river Anker (swim, swim?) and round up to Tuttle Hill and close to the spoil heap from the quarry, quaintly named Mount Judd. Nice views back to our boats.

There’s Simon’s  Empress with Adagio round the corner. Lots of solar today – with the new fuse, it seems we are getting much much power now and the voltage seems to go a lot higher, meaning both gauges now increment and reached 100% in the afternoon – brilliant.  Might move on tomorrow or not.

Here’s a view looking back over the marina from bridge 27.

 

All Tanked Up

 

Spoke too soon – had to get the T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops back out as the weather has returned to (slightly) Scorchio!  Just as well as we’re due to have new batteries and sit out for a few days at Springwood Haven – a few miles north of Nuneaton. So, it was a sad Goodbye to the Ashby Canal and up the Coventry. Boy was it busy – boats in front, boats behind and plenty to the side as we bimbled along on tick-over. We arrived around lunchtime and Steve went over to Springwood Haven to meet Kevin of Onboard Energy, who said we can move into the marina early tomorrow, in order to “do” the batteries.

Bridge Zero(?) – the end of the Ashby – turn left normally here but we turn right.

A nice green area just to the north of Nuneaton

Meanwhile, Friday morning looms and Steve’s all of a quiver – he does fret so but then this is a big day for Adagio – we really depend on these mega, humungous leisure batteries. Above and to the right, is the slightly smaller starter battery (which had to come out too) and to the left is the 65kg 200Ah Victron AGM battery!

Here’s the other two – a bit easier to get out but all the wires had to come off first. And remember which way they went.

Bit of a pickle isn’t it? Big thick cables carry the main supply in and out, whilst the smaller cables are usually things like the solar input or voltage monitoring. The gadget on the right is the Victron BMV-712 battery monitor!

One battery out . . . just two to go . . .

Here’s the famous Kevin – using a sack trolley to bring the brand new and boxed batteries.

He must have some muscles – he didn’t need much help in manoeuvring these beasts into position. He’s done this before. The whole operation plus the rewiring, checking and replacing all the gear (washing machine etc) took four hours. But at last it was done and after lunch I went to pay – £422 each those batteries!!  But they should last for another ten years and NO maintenance. Kevin also lowered a cable out of the window so we could plug in the Victron charger/invertor – to reconfigure it to the new system. Great. 660 Ah to play with now. Woohoo!!

We just drove around the corner 200 yards and re-moored, pretty close to last  night. With oodles of sunshine forecast for the nest 3 days, we’ll stay put and Simon (Empress & Toby2) is not far away and intends to visit later. Good oh.

Another curious boat – Darth Wader, very good.

 

Goodbye flip-flops, shorts & T-shirts – Hello new batteries!

 

After two days at bridge 19, we decided to move off to bridge 3 – nearing the end of the Ashby. There was a bunch of kids – could only have been around 12 years old – chucking stuff off bridge 19 onto passing canoeists and boats. They were spitting onto the crews below too! What is it with kids today, eh? Our neighbour on Nuffield, went off in pursuit but they had bikes and legged it. Little charmers. We’d sent an email to Kevin at Onboard Energy re new batteries but have heard no more.  So time to chug on – engine purring nicely, no problems! Viv was driving for a bit, so Steve sat up at the front, making a fuss of Toby.

Goodbye to bridge 19 – sans les animaux!

Here’s the small wharf south of Hinckley, with a small lake and the Sea Cadets next door.

The Ashby canal can be shallow, narrow, twist & windy but also has some nice wide bits.

At bridge 15 – the Lime Kilns pub and the busy A5

Marvellous stone bridges but most seem to be cracked and looking like they’re about to collapse.

Well, stopped just after bridge 3 – nice spot. Trains in the distance but otherwise quite rural. And just as soon as we stopped, Kevin phoned – he had our number, for we were on his database! Yes, he has the batteries and can fit us in on Friday. Yippee. So that’s good news – just 2 hrs chugging, turning right instead of left and we can moor at Springwood Haven.

Definitely Autumnal – a heavy dew on the boat but a pleasant start to the morning. We met the boat “Boo” with the two spaniels. We last saw them at Springwood Haven where they were waiting for a new engine to be fitted. All done now and they are out testing it.

 

Woe ! And thrice Woe!

There are highs and lows with boating. This weekend saw a few lows for us – near to tears at times. You heard, last time, that the solar controller was not happy – it saw a very low voltage (8 volts and not 12) and so shut down. The batteries are very old (10 years) and are becoming more and more senile. With the new Victron battery monitor, we can estimate that they are only at about 50% of their original capacity (600 Ah down to 300?). And it doesn’t take much to eat into that .  . .  the fridge eats about 4 amps continually and then we do watch TV, run videos etc . Several mornings now we’ve heard the “baby crying” – the new gauge gives off a pathetic beep-beep, when the voltage gets to 50% (12.2V). And then the engine – our mainstay, started to throw a wobbly – it sounded like it was about to choke and die!

Fortunately, via the rather nerdy but nice, “12 volt boaters” group on FaceButt, they suggested that all was not lost – check all the connections etc. And so Steve did and found that the main fuse was all corroded:

It must have been a combination of high current (the recent hot weather – lots of sun) and high temperatures (ditto)! Once this had been bypassed, all was well and the controller burst back into life.

Meanwhile, Sunday was very very very wet but the clouds parted and it dried up for the latter part of the day and so we headed off to StokeFest – a music festival.

Oh and on the way, two more blue plaques!

Not that well advertised but we walked the mile so to the Rec. ground – following the sound of the throbbing music

Yes, the official sign!

What did we find? A big trailer with kids playing stuff and a field, sporadically filled with folk. Thankfully, with the rain holding off, more people turned up and it looked like it was all keyed up for “kicking off” . . .

Not sure of the band but they did do a pretty fair rendition of “Mr Brightside” so fair play to em.  Meanwhile, Steve had discovered the beer tent . . .

As Homer Simpson would say . . ” Hmmm, Beeeeeer!”

Hmm, much better than his “Duff Beer” – say it slowly?? What the Fox’s Hat

An excellent beer and at £3 a pint, mustn’t grumble!

Viv’s favourite! And is that her posing ??

Sorry Gail, but here’s a very non-veggie pic of a whole pig! The crackling was marvellous but we didn’t buy any, it was time to head for home and leave the kids to it.

Next day. Fuse problem solved. We refuelled at the Ashby Boat Co. and took on water etc Then the engine misbehaved. Causing Steve to utter expletives but to gradually reverse back to the boat yard . . . he had previously undone the agglomerator (lovely word – look it up) and we reckon, with hindsight, that he hadn’t quite tightened it enough, allowing air to ingress. Engine no like air – want diesel. OK lesson learned. Great most problems solved we moored just a mile or so further on near to Hinckley.

 

Gluttons for punishment, we then set off for Hinckley, just the 2 miles there and back, to pick up dog treats (previously ordered online) plus a wee Tesco shop too.

By the time we had got back – many hours later and two rather necessary showers . . . we were in need of some refreshment/nerve restorer.  Sorry, Jenny but your promised magnum of Arabella, Shiraz Viognier has to be opened!!

Needs must and I must obey the Admiral (aka Er Indoors)’s instructions!

And very nice it is too . . .. . .ZZzzzzzzz .  ..