Thursday, 31 January 2008

The clean up and the waterheater.....

So Comet was ours. Only problem was she was still with uncle Ray at Streethay. Now this was still winter and we therefore chose the coldest snowiest day to go and collect her and bring her back to Hunts lock The only bonus was that there were no other boats moving. One must have gone before us we did not see as the ice was broken, a bonus as we had just had the hull blacked!

Tit on the tiller

Rachel, much more photogenic

What did not go down too well was Rachel leaving the flask full of hot coffee behind at Streethay.

We had a loveley cruise back, stopping off at the cafe at fradley for COFFEE and something to eat while we thawed out. When we returned to the boat the snow was making its full and splendid appearance.

One thing that I do not miss from Comet was her tarpaulin back cover - it took ages to fit, in the snow and with cold hands an even more 'enjoyable' experience.

We waited for the weather to improve before the next visit, armed with cleaning stuff, the Dyson (John had left the honda generator on board) and spent all weekend cleaning her. She had a complete declutter as well, all bits that we could not see a purpose for were disposed of (I think she was a couple of inches higher in the water afterwards.

One disapointment was lighting the boiler and finding the heater spurting water. We did not test it when buying the boat as the water tank was empty. I am sure this was a winter pipe fracture and John the seller was not ware. Bugger !

A post to the canal world discussion forums helped as some kind soul posted the best price for a replacemnt water heater. I contacted Ray again who booked us in and used the contact details to order the heater from Ireland.

My first single handling was taking Comet from Hunts lock to Streehay. I was a little nervous as it was my first time and on a relativly unknown boat (in locks). I should not have worried, the good folk at Canal world gave advice, some contadictory, which started an argument which I left them to finish having gained the good advice.

A week or so later I parked my car at Fradley and cycled the 3 miles, ½ flg to Streehay to pick up Comet and pay an £700 plus bill. I was starting to see how expensive ownership was in comparison to Ownerships

So once again Comet was back home, this time in cruising order... so time for her maiden cruise with us aboard......but that will have to be the next installment.


Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Marinas marinas everywhere......

This story appeared in my local post is less about the problems the marina construction is causing (although the problems must be a frustration to the locals, especially as such a large project has missed such an important facet of disruption to the locals). My post concerns the number of large marinas on the T&M and this one is adding to them.

Mercia marina

Barton turns

Kings Bromley marina

Greay Haywood Marina

Canal planner says 43 lock miles covering all 4 marinas. Bank holidays at Fradley are going to get very entertaining, gongoozlers paradise!


Tuesday, 29 January 2008

First ever lock....

Sarah from NB Warrior blogs about her first lock.

Ours was ......

.........Marbury lock No10 on the Llangollen.

We took a mid week hire on an Alvechurch boat, Nutcracker 45ft cruiser stern. I recall the family had their first lock instructions, and the lads totally ignored them and mucked about as they do at that age..14 and 11.

This is a favourite picture from the holiday

It is 1927 days from that first day we ventured onto the canal (used this tool)
Or 5 years, 3 months, 9 days including the end date
Alternative time units1927 days can be converted to one of these units:
166,492,800 seconds
2,774,880 minutes
46,248 hours
275 weeks (rounded down)
On reflection that is a short amount of time when I consider the quality time we have enjoyed on the canals.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Comet - the survey

Green as grass new boat owners (subject to survey) we had some work to do..... the survey.

I was aware of Streethay as it is was boatyard of choice for Granny Buttons (well for winter 2007) that is. This this was a good enough reference, so I contacted Ray who owns the yard and asked for advice on surveyors. He gave me a name of Mr Balliol Fowden - quality name and quality chap. Paperwork was emailed across and a date was arranged, a quick call to John, the owner, and all was set to take Comet from Hunts lock to Streethay. This was another first for us - the Coventry canal.

We met up with John at Streethay on Sunday 21st January, we left a car there and drove to Fradley. Comet was pointing Alrewas bound so John suggested reversing Comet to Junction lock - I did suggest turning (I am not comfortable with the term winding) Comet below Hunts lock, but he did not think she would turn (we subsequently turned Comet there a few times) We got some strange looks reversing Comet through Fradley junction, John on the tiller and me on manual bow thruster (the pole at the bow.)

I recall it was a lovely cold but sunny day - we had a nice cruise down to Streethay where we moored up and returned to Fradley to collect the car.

24th January 2007 ( so much canal time since then) we had the survey. I was there with my camera, worried sick that they might find something 'bad' .......

Crane ready, boat being brought into position.
Balliol had done much of the inside and engine survey while in the water (not him Comet of course!)

Up she comes - they had a couple of goes to make sure they had the balancing point right

Ray, checking the boat was sitting rights before the crane let go of the strain (or at least I think that is what he was doing, could have been taking the strain himself !!)

It was very cold so the guys were well wrapped for the lift.

You can just see Balliol under Comet ultrasounding the base.

Bottom line was she was in very good condition for her age - basically excellent hull, but future scope limited by the GRP shell.

On review I think we got a good speedy survey. It certainly helped sell Comet later that year - but that is another story....

There was not anything that was a shock and nothing from the survey to fairly use to lower the price. We left Comet at Streethay and had her engine serviced and bottom blacked while she was out of the water.
I met John on a truly wonderful warm winters day at Fradley (I think he was having second thoughts at the time due to the fantastic weather and the setting). I passed a bankers draft over, he gave the paperwork, receipts bills etc, signed a bill of sale and we were canal boat owners on the 2nd of February 2007
Next installment will be the boat clean, boat cruise, and the first costs of boat ownership....

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Tess - update

We (the family) visited Derby RSPCA on Saturday and we are now waiting for a home visit which, if all's ok, will mean Tess wlll be with us shortly.


Sarah and the colander conundrum

Some moons ago, Sarah (NB warrior) planted a seed of doubt in my mind about drainer drying colanders. Ever since I ponder the drying performance of my colander. For a variety of reasons (too deep and intense to detail on this simple blog) I have taken the courageous decision to dry in the upright position !

Proof positive............

Bonus day

We invited our friends Graham and Mandy onto our boat for a trip to Bagnall Lock and back today. We traded the sunshine for the wind and were gratefull to do so. To enjoy such warm 'winter' sunshine was a privilidge for sure.

No other boats on the move on such a fine day?


Thursday, 24 January 2008

My reward (and a mouse update)

Spent the morning in the garden fitting fencing to make the garden Tess proof. My reward (I am on a days holiday after all) was an afternoon on Waterlily.

This is from the stern looking back to Hunts lock with Mable in the foreground. The fire is lit and the coffee is on, very pleasant. We are very lucky to have such a nice mooring.

Only one boat on the move today, Challenger boat 16 - good to see that the owners are still able to enjoy their boats. (Granny's post on their demise)

And the mice - the traps are still set so it looks like there were two first time buyers on my boat. Sad to have to exit them the way we (me and Granny's buttons)did.

Take care


Last poo post, says it all really

Couldn't resist this one....

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Nev gets flippant over the dog poo do

Carrie from NB Blackbird made a serious challenge to the priorities we (boaters) seem to associate with dog poo. I made a somewhat flippant response, I did not wish to dismiss the points made. In fact I agree that there are many other priorities in life, and we should where possible do our bit. I do my bit, and part of my bit is getting frustrated about lazy dog owners.

You can do something about it

Putting in my postcode (home not boat) came up with the following:-

Recent problems reported near here

No problems have been reported yet.

Closest problems within 6km

Massive pothole! (0.9km)
Two further lights out (No numbers) (1.2km)
Street light flickering (No Number) (1.3km)
Amber light (1.4km)
Test message via (1.8km)
Abandoned Fiesta (1.9km)
Fridge (2km)
Litter from local shops (2.6km)
Burnt out car (2.6km)

Recently fixed problems within 6km

Road full of leaves (5km)
Light 112101 is out (1.3km)
Please remove graffiti (5km)
Street lights 112095 & 112096 (1.2km)
In private garden (3.9km)
Recycling facilities (3.3km)
Graffiti (2.3km)


Not quite time to get a choc ice or a G&T ...... I have started to write up the next installment on our purchase of Comet - but for some unexplainable reason the pics I want to include are on my work PC and I'm not at work today and tomorrow ;-)
So I will provide you with a little update on the dog preparations, I kid you not....
Today I have been fitting a 'back gate' - part of the fortification of our garden for when Tess arrives - or chronologically speaking when the RSPCA person arrives to vet us and the security of our garden. Tomorrow it is fencing the far end of our garden. You see how lucky you liveabords are, such a large garden and someone else looks after the fences for you !
I can't fault them (RSPCA), a family visit to the branch to meet Tess to show the whole family commitment on Saturday, then a home visit to check to see we are who we say we are and we have garden and house wise what we have told them. If only all people were vetted in the same way before any dog ownership, maybe we would not have so many 'rescue dogs'?
To keep a very tenuous canal link here is a picture of Prince with our friend Carrie (his owner) on our shared boat in 2006. We took Sylph from Hockley Heath to Stratford and back - a fantastic cruise.

Prince has a fascination for ducks - he would seek them out and just watch them at every opportunity, a variation on the herding instinct I think.

Take care


Monday, 21 January 2008

My oath (oaf) to dog poo..

Dog poo is on the menu on a couple of blogs today....

I will be shortly owning one of the poo generators - see

So, to show my commitment to the issue....

I agree by almighty God
To pick up the poo
The whole poo
And nothing but the poo
For ever and ever

Would you want to know ........

Maybe some advice on a dilemma?

We brought Waterlily from Whilton Marina (no link - I'll explain why in a future post) The lady who was selling her was doing so as she had lost her husband and could not/did not want to carry on boating. It was sad as it was obvious the couple had looked after the boat very well. It was seemingly prepped for a new seasons cruising that was never achieved.

All of our contact was via the brokers so we never met or spoke to the lady.

The question is do you think she would appreciate a letter telling her who we are and where Waterlily is now? If it were me I think I would want to know what happened to my boat and that someone was looking after it and enjoying it in the same way I did.

What do you think?


Sunday, 20 January 2008

And now the good news

In a earlier post I blogged about adopting another dog. I commented that since we had to have our last rescue dog put down, we have both not wanted to go through the hurt we suffered after Cindy's passing. We discussed it and decided it was basically a selfish response - especially when there were so many rescue dogs needing a home. Alongside this the pleasure of ownership will completely outstrip the eventual pain of loosing a pet.

So we went to 'have a look' at the local RSPCA today. I know - completely impossible to look especially if you see a dog that you know you could help. One such dog was there today.

Her name is Tess and we have offered her a home. She is a lovely little 8 year old terrier, who it seems has not had the best of chances to date. Her 'story and description' from the RSPCA is as follows;-

Tess is a female, 8 years old dog, who was brought to us on the 31st of December 2007.

Tess is an 8-year-old black-and-white crossbreed terrier. She was brought to Derby RSPCA Centre when her last owners were no longer capable of coping with dog ownership. She is by nature a friendly dog, but has been rather shaken up by her recent experiences (less care from her owners, then losing her owners and her home altogether) and is understandably rather wary, nervous and jittery at present.

Because she is so unsettled at the moment and preoccupied with her circumstances, she doesn’t seem to interact very much with the world around her. She currently shows no interest in other dogs and even ignores cats and small furry animals altogether (though this might well change if she found herself living under more relaxing circumstances). She can even seem completely indifferent to people sometimes, no matter how friendly and well-intentioned they are. She is strokeable, but always tense.

Tess needs a calm and very loving new home where her owners will allow her the time and space to adjust to a new environment and a whole new life. Gentleness, understanding, patience and compassion are what Tess needs to be shown, so she can relax and wind back down at her own speed without feeling at all pressured.

She would be suitable to live in a household where any children are aged 15+ and are kindly and sympathetic. She will of course need plenty of exercise. Tess is at heart a friendly little dog who simply needs a warm and caring ‘forever’ home now where she can gradually turn back into the happy and relaxed little terrier she should be.

She shows not interest in cats which is good as Tamsin our rescue cat needs to be considered. So we have an appointment with the centre next weekend when the whole family has to meet Tess. If that's OK then its a home visit - I think the RSPCA do it right - plenty of focus on our suitability for Tess.

It may be a couple of weeks before Tess is with us. I'll keep you posted.

I think dogs and boats go together so well. Last year and the year before we had Prince, our friends John and Carrie's dog on our shared ownership boat - he loved it. I think dogs are a natural introduction and get people talking.


First the bad news (for the mice)

Went to Waterlily this afternoon and the traps had done their job. Two quick kills, these traps are very powerful, I'm pleased to say (please because it makes me (and Andrew's Buttons) feel better.

The family have suggested I should have used humane traps (these are the three in tears over Geoffry) I contend 24 hours stuck in a little box on a cold canal boat, then released into the wild to find a warm space for the night (I know I am anthropomorphising here) would be worse than the instant end they received.

Anyhow the traps are reset - I hope I do not find any more visitors !


Saturday, 19 January 2008

Care to translate........

Its now late - I have been up since 7, worked for 11 hours and have started to drink some wine so please, bear this in mind for this post.

See my paradox blog below. I am not intelligent in an academic context. In replying to an email from Sarah from Warrior I used the term, I was ' in the shadow of giants' - a reference to my immature blogging in comparison to the list to the right of this post. In using the term I did a search on 'shadow of giants' and picked up this gloriously rich text from Amazon

Editorial Reviews of " Standing in the Shadow of Giants: Plagiarists, Authors, Collaborators (Perspectives on Writing: Theory, Research, Practice) (Hardcover)"

Book Description - Who's cheating whom in college writing instruction? This book argues that through binary privileging of the "real" author (the inspired, autonomous genius) over the transgressive writer (the collaborator or the plagiarist), composition pedagogy deprives students of important opportunities to join in scholarly discourse and assume authorial roles. From Plato's paradoxical dependence on and rejection of Homer, to Jerome McGann's dismissal of copyright as the "hand of the dead," Standing in the Shadow of Giants surveys changes and conflicts in Western theories of authorship. From this survey emerges an account of how and why plagiarism became important to academic culture; how and why current pedagogical representations of plagiarism contradict contemporary theory of authorship; why the natural, necessary textual strategy of patchwriting is mis-classified as academic dishonesty; and how teachers might craft pedagogy that authorizes student writing instead of criminalizing it.

About the AuthorREBECCA MOORE HOWARD chairs and directs the Writing Program at Syracuse University.

Now I respect his paragraph for the rich and varied words it uses to help describe the book. Normally I would spend some time putting the words I do not understand into MS Words synonyms feature but I think you may be able to do better, Sarah (Warrior)and Andy (Khayamanzi), step from the world of academia and give it a go, in fact anyone - can you put this paragraph into one sentence?? Maybe Andrew could work his marketing magic on it??

I promise, I'll post the survey stuff (Canal related) and maybe a mouse (mice) update tomorrow - or later today as its once again gone midnight !

Good night


Warning - some canal boat stuff......

Going back to my very first post............

Monday 1st January 2007.

I (we) have done the hiring thing and were happyish shared ownership boaters. We had a desire for our own boat, but a timeline for it. We also knew that moorings were as important as the boat for our type of ownership - day and weekend breaks and longer visits as and when family and work allowed.

We knew where we wanted to moor any future boat - either Fradley junction or Kings Bromley marina. Both identified on a round trip to Burton and back from Stoke in the summer of 2005. In fact for the summer of 2006 the Swan at Fradley was my Friday evening after work local - a walk by the locks in early evening then a shandy (I was driving) at the Swan. The atmosphere and tranquility of the junction when all the visitors have gone and just the boaters remain is/was intoxicating and very special to me.

We had made an offer on a boat called Longfellow in 2006 that was moored at Fradley (third boat down on Hunts lock moorings) but missed it as the other buyer took it without a survey !

Sorry about the poor pic, but that is/was Longfellow July 2006 ish

So, Fradley being one of our two mooring locations it was always a favorite walk. With a belly full of over indulgence we went for a walk to Fradley and low and behold saw Comet for sale....

I took what I thought was a picture I could enlarge when I got home of the telephone number that was in the window. This piece of cunning logic was flawed by an out of focus picture ! No problem, an email was dispatched to Chris Wells (no relation) who lives aboard NB Belle about four boats down from Comet - in fact I think Chris and Stella had only just taken Belle to their moorings

Chris very kindly emailed me the number the next day and the call was made.

John Hall the owner was recovering from some 'out of date' food poisoning so he could not meet us for nearly two weeks. We did arrange an appointment time of 12.30pm on the 14th January 2007.

This gave me plenty of time to think of all the things that I should be looking for and questions to ask. The 14th arr rived and with excitement and we travelled again to Fradley.

I do like it when you see something you know you want/need to have/are going to have. (Rachel my wife, our present house and our present boat all fall into this category) The inside was nice, well laid out. We both liked John, we 'trusted' him from first meeting him which is a good feeling. Long and short of it we offered him the full asking price subject to survey. He had let us know someone else was viewing after us so that is why we offered what we did - we also considered the boat worth the asking price having viewed others that were well over priced for what was being offered. We did feel a little sorry for the couple who were sitting on the Hunts lock gate, looking excited and expectant, as we left the viewing, knowing that they were going to be given the bad news Comet had been sold.

We went to the Swan to celebrate with a carvery and a couple of pints of Pedigree.

So we were boat owners (pending) on the 14th January 2007

The survey to follow !


Paradox and the mouse (or mice)

I was going to title this post "irony" but I looked it up using Microsoft's Words synonyms tool and paradox is better, I feel more comfortable with it. I, being a little less well endowed with the fuller brain capacity, do struggle with spelling, grammar and punctuation - you may have noticed, so I do like to test myself with words every now and again.

Anyway, the traps are set, me and Andrews buttons are complicit (another quick check on word suitability, wrong word but I have typed this now so it stays) Andrew's buttons (bugger, it that the right place for the apostrophe,) and I have been used to lure my unwelcome visitors to a quick end. At the same time my wife and my sons, 16 and 19, have been in tears today as we have had to put the hamster (Geoffrey) down, or to sleep, whatever you prefer - are there too many comma's in that last bit?

It is almost funny, but I can't laugh. I am paying a nice well trained vet to end one rodents life yet tempting others to a untimely death - what a paradox - great, got there in the end.


Rain rain go away come back another day....

Just keeps weeping out of the sky. Not good as I'm working in it tomorrow (university awards day)

I am aiming to get to Waterlily tomorrow (today - I really must get to bed earlier) to check all is OK with all this rain,and set the gadgets of death, for a follow up Sunday visit.


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

One final thought......

I have been seriously thinking about adopting another dog. Cindy our last rescue dog died a few years ago and she was such a lovely dog I never felt she could be replaced. However I read John and Cathy's sad tail about their cat Box having to be put to sleep and it brought it all back - I'm not sure I could have that experience again.


Best intentions


I intended to start my last years boating blogging tonight as per my first post, however I got side tracked into installing Vista onto my main PC. I have installed it before but removed it as it was very resource hungry. Having upgraded my PC just before Christmas and also been using Vista on a laptop recently I did not like using two different operating systems (for leisure, I have to use XP at work)

So no canal blogging tonight - I have a late meeting tomorrow so I will get a chance to post about our first meeting with our first fully owned boat 'Comet' some point tomorrow - or later today as it is past midnight now,


Monday, 14 January 2008

Mice part III

Wilco's made the decision for me - advanced trap (I can't resist a gadget !) They did have poison but I did not want to encourage the flys....
The 'advice' says use chocolate, so I have off loaded some of the responsibility and eased my conscience. So its me and Andrews buttons (and some self responsibility from the mouses for pooing in my pan cupboard) - at least they will go with a nice taste in their mouths :-(
I feel bad already !

What I LIKE about the blogs on the RIGHT.....

For the owners of the blogs on the right, please do not be offended as I explain why I like your blog - and why its there, my reasons for liking it might not be your reasons for writing it, let me know if you disagree......

Warrior - I like the blog as its regular, not always canal related- some interesting other thoughts. The canal content detailing the build of Warrior was informative and inspirational.

Snecklifter - One of the daddy's - not a blog, but the first site that I regularly read and was well updated. The areas travelled and the archives makes this a site to recommend. I can't wait for the book?

Sanity - Another well updated site with some nice personal detail and comments. I like the live aboard blogs - I like to dream and put myself into some of the locations and situations.

No Problem - Excellent for all the reasons above. Sue updates very regularly and is so positive about life and the day to day dealing she has on the cut. One of my real favourites. My satellite set up is based on Sue's advice - thanks.

Narrowboat Bones - Ms Bones posts are entertaining, often funny, some observational always a good read. Ms Bones is a working live-a-board so once again one to relate to, but not so easily as Andy's below because of the seemingly quirky lifestyle (no offence intended MS Bones, I do not want to end up in one of the bags below the water line !)

Khayamanzi - another live aboard and a personal insight on living (and working) aboard - it gives some confidence that if I dared I could do both.........Well written Andy, thanks.

Hadar - An newer blog for me, but very open and honest. Like Sue's blog the passion and the enjoyment of living on the cut flows from the blog. Well updated giving a real sense of living day to day on the cut.

Granny Buttons - Inspirational, first port of call every day for me. Andrew takes some fantastic images - mainly in the dead of night (I can't believe he has not attracted police interest yet in his night time prowls) . I have one of his pictures (with his permission and credited to him) in my land living room. Excellent canal related news articles.

So keep it up people, there are others that I will add as I go along. Keep blogging I say.......


Mice part II

We took the opportunity of a few hours on the boat yesterday (Sunday). Our original intention was to cruise down to Alrewas and wind, however when we arrived the wind was blowing well and rain was its companion.

So the fire was lit, the DAB radio was wired in to the 12v rather than inverted via the transformed (I cannibalised an old transformer with the same plug so I have still got the PURE transformer in case I ever use it at home).

Rachel started to prepare some food and found mice droppings in the pan cupboard. Now I don't mind sharing my accommodation but I think it is just poor show to poo in your landlord pot cupboard and not pay rent. So they have to go....... but how?

I thought about dragging the fixed double apart as on further investigation they had eaten the plastic cover that hold the bedding etc. Very antisocial and got my gander up I can tell you. But I am not keep on small things that run quick and bit when challenged, so it has to be a trap.

We have had mice at home and have used the humane traps. Problem is once set they need checking every day otherwise they turn from being humane traps to little torture chambers. My preference was for the 'little snappers' I can set them and leave them to the next visit - not too long otherwise our other guests - the house fly’s will do what they do best - you can imagine I'm sure.

So it’s off to Wilkinsons after I have posted this and they will decide for me based on stock. I'll let you know what we opt for and how successful we are.

I'm a little annoyed as I went to some trouble to rescue the last lot who live externally on the boat, this lot may not get the same treatment.


Sunday, 13 January 2008

Mice - part 1

Had the opportunity for a couple of days on our boat just before the New Year.

We stopped at Fradley to water up before mooring back at our home moorings. As my wife lifted the hosepipe case, out jumped the first stowaway, who jumped straight into the cut, and then managed to find a hole in the wharf wall. On further inspection stowaway no2 was still holding firm in the hose case.........much banging of the hose case and prodding with a small stick eventually persuaded stowaway number two out who followed no1 into the cut - this time swiming away from the boat across the cut.

When he/she got to the other side the steep sides meant a holding position on the side of the canl was the best he/she could achieve. So I was dispatched with landing net over to the other sire of the cut to complete the rescue and introduce the 2nd stowaway to the Fradley nature reserve.On further inspection of the bow my stored groundbait and various plastic bags (for the chimney and for wood off cuts) had been eaten away. It appears mr and mrs mouse had set up home for the winter in my nice dry bow complete with cratch cover and food supply.

Groundbait is now stowed in the engine bay. (I hope the two stowaways got dried off before the night set in.....)

Never occured to me that the wildlife would join us on the boat.


An unusual approach


So you have found your way to my blog, let me know you have visited and how or why you got here.

The main reason for the blog is to give something back into the world of canal related blogging. I read many and over the next few weeks they should appear as a link on this site.

Now the problem, I do not live on my boat, which means limited canal content, so we'll see how it goes. The reason for the title ...... well I (we) have had a canal boat for a year now, so I intend dragging my previous canal cruises and related activity from the grey matter and detail it here.

My biggest challenge will be to get a mention on the top canal blog - Mr Andrew Denny’s, who blogs about canals extensively and sometimes blogs about his own boat - Granny Buttons. I'll leave some canal related words about to see if he picks them up... !! See how good he really is ;-)

Back soon with today’s story - then back to last year to start the proper blog.

Don't forget to leave a comment