Chinook

Beer

Time to brew the second of my beer kits from Love Brewing. An American Pale Ale, made with Chinook hops and West Coast USA yeast. It fermented with much gusto – the loose hops going in on Day 5 and the whole brew was done on day 8! From an original gravity of 1060 down to 1010 – making the beer around 6.5%.  What’s more it even tasted pretty good, even at this yeasty, cloudy stage. It’s in the barrel and now we wait for a few weeks or maybe just days!

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All things included, it’ll work out at around 60p a pint. So if we consume the whole 40 pints we’ll save £120 – in theory!  We’ll have a tasting session with friends & neighbours soon.

Chores!

There’s always sommit to do on a boat. Viv’s always saying “It’s much more trouble than a house!” and she’s probably right. Last week I took out the laundry basket from it’s little niche, next to the shower and discovered a wet wall and some mould. I still reckon this Aqualine boat has poor insulation.  It’s not the water coming through but the warm, moist air in the boat condensing on any (and every) cold surface. I have stuck carpet tiles on most of the problem areas (from the floor up to and beyond the waterline) and will carry this on later.  Meanwhile, it’s back to covering all the wood with Osmo (wood protector) followed by Osmo (Polyx Oil):

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Northampton

 

Cold, wet n windy but let’s go out! Heard about Northampton marina and also wanted to see where CRT (Canal & River Trust) ends and EA (Environment Agency) starts. So we drove down to Northampton – about 20 – 30 mins away. Parked in Morrison’s and walked around to the river Nene.  The marina seemed to be on an island, so no vehicular access.  It all seemed quite pleasant but speaking to some of the inmates, if you had a car, you had to park it in the multi-storey for £10 a week.  Hmm, not for us but nice to visit another marina and walk along the river.

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Quite a pleasant waterfront but some signs of decay.  The riverside walk carries on, past the giant Carlsberg brewery, where, opposite is the final lock of the Northampton arm (CRT territory).

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A cold and bitter day but at least we have seen more bits of canal/river.

 

Saga Run to Battle

 

With the promise of a whole day of sunshine albeit with temperatures only reaching a meagre two degrees, we set off for one of our “Saga Tours”. The plan was to drive to Sutton Cheney – about 40 mins away and a place we sailed past on our trip up the Ashby canal ( see blogs passim). We parked at the wharf, which last time was very busy with boats doing three point turns – now it was all frozen but there were still lots of walkers and cyclists, all gathering at the cafe.

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The area is famous for its Battle site – we walked from the wharf, through Ambion woods and up to the visitor centre on Ambion hill.

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Splendid walking with rock hard ground – however, one of us is always keen for a walk, no matter what the weather:

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We were impressed at the lengths they had gone to, giving presentation boards everywhere. The paths were well laid, making walking easy even in wet weather. This delightful circle had thrones for the various proponents of the battle . . . King Richard III, Henry Tudor etc (well, Earl of Richmond at the time)

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The local Council had organised a new dig to find just where the battle really was and they proved that it was further away, over at Dadlington Hill – lots of cannon balls unearthed (see all those black spots in the top right of the left hand panel!)

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All this for a crown . . .

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We walked on, passing lots more panels and even odd listening points where you had to hand crank them in order to power a short recording.

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We walked from the wharf (top right) and did the whole yellow route, passing Stenton railway station – now just a heritage line, running steam trains (also see blogs passim when we visited Shackerstone)

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As we mentioned before – all the pathways were well laid and a pleasure to walk

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Back down to the Ashby Canal

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And on to the George & Dragon  in Stoke Golding for lunch!  Game pie and some of their excellent beer! Dog friendly, real fires and real ales!

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All Frozen In

 

Well it is the depths of winter. We’ve had several days of below zero – ice forms – then melts again – today it went down to minus 3 or 4 or . .  had ice on the inside of windows (but not the 2ndary glazed ones) for a while. Marina frozen over – even the crows were bemused . .

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We had a good time out at bridge 27 and even managed a wee song on the way back – published here by request! Post Hogmany and pre-Burns night!!

 

Feliz año nuevo

 

Well, we always planned to go out more on the boat in the winter and so we set sail for oceans distant and got as far as Bridge 27. That’ll do. Very quiet, no one else here – no noise, no smoke . . . lovely.

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We enjoyed a great New Year’s Eve in – a very cheap option – with pigs in blankets, garlic & ginger green beans plus patatas bravas with a crisp Albarino to finish. TV was rubbish apart from the fireworks. It was great to see John & Christine earlier together with Tilly – for a walk in the walks! But Sunday was a wet and grey day. Still, we had more festive goodies to consume (blinis, onuga caviar, creme fraiche and then a smoked salmon & king prawn salad with Cava to drink . . . nice).  We had to run the engine as the Near Year’s Eve consumed lots of juice. And then Monday saw a shock – ice! All around us:

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The other side of the bridge was ice free

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It is only thin but will still scrape off the precious bitumen paint!

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One upside of this clear & bright day is that the solar panels were treated to 200 watts and over 14 amps was pouring into the batteries – brilliant!

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Several boats went thru later – showing it wasn’t too thick but I think we may stay out . . . more walks in the woods for Toby

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Christmas in Whitstable 

Having spent the last three Christmases on our little liner, it was high time we returned to the bosom of my family and tackled the M’s 1, 25 and 2, to spend a few days with Mum & Dad in their bungalow in Whitstable. It’s always a lovely break with good food and drink plus wonderful walks with the dog, down to the beach vía Admirals Walk or along to the town. Past colourful beach huts and oyster fisheries. We did venture into Sainsbury’s but this was a living hell with long delays to get in the car park and to exit! Still, once down town, i did manage to buy some local fresh cockles. However, I was tempted by the intriguing sign . . 


Viv and Toby outside the Whitstable Oyster Co. at Horsebridge. Showing all the discarded oyster shells.

Viv and Toby outside the Old Neptune.

Scenes of the beaches at low, spring tide. Showing the oyster nets.

Coventry

 

Looks like the best day of the week, so a Saga run is due and we’re off to Coventry.  Never been before and it’s only 40 odd mins away. First stop – the canal basin.

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Not a brilliant place but seems plenty of room to visit.

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Our history is a bit rusty but we know there was a medieval city and of course, it suffered heavily in the Second World War.

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Found some nice gardens (Lady Herbert) and then on to the cathedral

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Past the transport museum and a statue of Frank Whittle

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The old and the new:

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The maze of shopping malls ensnared us but we broke free and walked past the magnificent Council House with angels high up on the roof tops – were they weeping angels? Did they move?

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Finally, dodging all the Christmas market fayre we found our second target: Lady Godiva!

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Well, not all of us dodged the markets – Steve just had to have a sausage ( a Krackhauer?)!

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We walked our socks off – round and round. Trapped once in-between shopping malls because dogs weren’t allowed through. We reparked the car in the multi-storey – bad move, dog was trapped – no stairs! Help. We gave up on the city centre and retreated to Coombe Country park and chance to let Toby off for a proper walk. Can’t say we were impressed with the city but will go back once Christmas is over.

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This is quite a contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city – quiet and dreamy parkland. Well laid out with dry footpaths and well marked routes. A huge lake and plenty of wildlife. The house is a big hotel – very impressive.

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I spied an egret through the reeds

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Above all, Toby was pleased and really enjoyed the walk. My FitBit gave a tally of over 20,000 steps for the day – maybe a record.

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Lots of photographers turned up – nothing special – just waiting for the sun to get lower to get snaps of the tree!

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Which were well worth snapping!  A grand day out and we’re totally cream crackered now but really enjoyed it.  Must mug up on the history next time and the car parks too!

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Yelvertoft Christmas Gloom

 

Do you remember last Christmas? ( see   http://vivatek.co.uk/its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like  ) . Illuminations everywhere? I know Len & Sue have moved on and the Anders are away but there’s just four boats with lights and that includes John & me . . .

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Still, we have our wee tree up with it’s blue lights, le Bear Polar is in the cratch and the usual if slightly camp, pink n purple lights are in their same place.

 

14th of Dec now and there’s more than 7 boats with illuminations!

Minus Three Degrees in Yelvertoft

A good test of our insulation, heating system and the new windows as we get the first sub-zero temperatures of the winter.  Lots of “country-wise” signs of a hard winter coming – profusion of red berries etc. We’ve both got this rotten cough virus – yuk – phtuwie! Still, the weather does mean gorgeous sunny days:

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All the pontoons have been salted!

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Very still, very bright. A flock of wind turbines turn ever so gently.

On a sour note – the never-ending saga of the secondary glazing goes on . . . we discovered when removing the panes, that the steel strip, attached to the aluminium window frames, has started to rust! Well, they are steel and we did chop them up to fit. We could paint/varnish them but since the test window with it’s two lots of mag tape, seems to be working, we’ll order some of that and re-do the 6 windows with the type B mag tape.