Thursday, 31 December 2009

Ralph Freeman writes about heating your boat...

I have just finished reading Ralph Freemans latest update on Narrowboat world. Ralph is always a good read in my opinion and this update has a really useful piece on heating your boat. He certainly picks the pro's and cons of the main types of heating very well.

I have thought about some form of extra heating for hot water and the couple of rads I have aboard. However having read Ralph's thoughts I think I have the best option (Back boiler Squirrel). I have blogged before on the joys of a wood burning stove aboard a boat - one thing I did not realise is that excessive wind outside can draw the fire even with the vents closed off. One thing to be aware of in the future and good reason to have ash ready to dampen down the fire.

I have also read of ash being put on top of the coals at night to keep the fire burning slow overnight. Both good reasons to get an ash can.

On our Ownerships boat we had both a solid fuel stove and gas heating - the gas made us lazy and we did not use the fire as much as we should have. We also had to replace the gas at what is now a high cost.

We have a couple of fire bricks in our squirrel, I have never removed them, I presume if I did I'd have a bigger fire = hotter stove? Last week when aboard I put the temp gauge from my multi meter on the stove and it showed 71c with the inside boat temp being 21c. We have never cooked on the stove - not a lot of room but something to try if we can get 71c from it?


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Now Halfie now.............

Getting a mention on Granny Buttons is seemingly worth 10 places on the UK Waterways counter, so come on Halfie do your thing with the top 30........ ;-)


Recharge ... its the only way to operate

Having recently posted about my batteries (electricity is the next most popular topic after toilets for boaters) I reflected once again on living aboard. Seems to me recharging has massive advantages for boaters - in fact a good proportion of boaters live and freeze by their batteries. There are some that hook up with all the issues of galvanic isolation but in the main and through the year we rely on recharging our batteries. We do this with the help of our engine, mines a Beta Marine and therein lies the benefit. When cruising I will be recharging like mad....
  • Laptop
  • Torch
  • Radio
  • Boat batteries
  • Two way radios
  • Phones
I have just brought a 1 million candle power (?) rechargeable torch from Halfords for £9.99 that comes with a 12v charger as well as a 240v wall wart. Plus my lads got me a nice portable DAB rechargeable radio for Christmas.

I have been thinking of getting a new telly for the boat but the ability to use my 17" laptop on batteries for TV and DVD's stopped the purchase - just another use of the free power whilst cruising......

One thing though I never have understood how extra load on the alternator increases the fuel consumption - is that a fact on a boat as well? The benefit must outweigh the small cost, but I'd still like to understand the impact.

So recharge, recharge I say and buy a Smartgauge so you know what the heck is happening with your batteries without the need for scrabbling under the deck boards with a multimeter.


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Maintenance update...

Just as soon as I posted this I had a problem with my electickery on board. Not a big problem but one that took a couple of attempts to sort. I went to charge my laptop and the inverter was not working. Suspecting a blown fuse I opened up the inverter (not to be recommended) but could not find a fuse. I then went to the box the previous owner had kept with the instructions and there was the spare fuse and instructions on where it went (in the cigarette charger plug) That was sorted with a smile and telly for the night via programs I had downloaded to my laptop via BBC's Iplayer while at home and then played back via a pc cable to the telly.

I have now found the manual for my engine that tells me a I need a recommended 25% mix of antifreeze against coolant to give me protection to -12c I will check what it is at present via the last RCR service record and also I'll but a tester from Halfords (I can check the cars at home as well) Hopefully it will be ok and if so I'll flush the system in the summer for next winter. Thanks to Paul from NB Piston Broke for his advice which pushed me to find out the service book.


Monday, 28 December 2009

Engine hours

I have been checking back on my blog posts last year and I was efficient in posting my engine hours when we were on the boat on the 27th December 2008. We were on the boat at the same time (well we came a day early this year) just a year ago. The engine hours count then was 134 and by the time we leave today it will be 285 - so we have run our engine for just 151 hours this year. I can imagine that compares very poorly to the likes of Bruce on Sanity and Sue on No Problem.

A couple of other observations.....

We ran out engine yesterday to charge the batteries and got them up to 95% on the smartgauge. This morning they were at 45% I don't think we have ever dropped such a large % which I have to assume means they are perhaps on their last legs. By July we will have owned Waterlily for 3 years and the batteries were not new when we got her (I think one might have been as I found a receipt for an third leisure battery to be fitted when the previous owners has the 150 watt inverter fitted. I recall reading it is never a good idea to add a new battery to old ones?)

I'll see how the batteries fair over the spring and summer but it could be when Midland Chandlers open at Mercia in the spring we will be a customer for three batteries. It would make sense to have them fitted at the same time as Waterlily is at Aqua for her new coat.

We fitted the engine counter early in 2008 so the 134 hours last year plus a bit before the engine counter was fitted means we are close to matching the same engine hours over two years!

Now I am going to look back on when were were aboard and where we went in 2009...


Sunday, 27 December 2009

Granny is met at last........

Yesterday we were just getting ready to go for our walk from Waterlily down the Coventry when a boat glided past towards Hunts lock. I looked out and clocked Andrew on Granny Buttons on his way through Fradley

We have exchanged emails but never met so it was nice to talk to Andrew.

He had a efficient crew so we carried on with our walk stopping to snap GB coming up to Junction Lock. Andrew told us he was heading towards Great Heywood which was fortuitous as the Coventry was very much iced up

We received the full Granny welcome of two bags of Buttons that only lasted enough time for the photo below (It was Rachel's packet that got scoffed !!)

It was nice to see Andrew on Granny Buttons on his travels again after two months of marina moorings, and I look forward to his travel log.

Now at least I can add him to my bloggers met on the cut list on the right.....


Saturday, 26 December 2009

All systems working - boxing day aboard

We have finally got to Waterlily - work, decorating and Christmas preparations seem a distant memory now - thankfully.

My concerns over Waterlily and the hard frosts were unfounded as all systems were soon operational and no obvious impacts of the severe freezing weather are evident. I have to presume we have lost a bit of blacking from boats moving and dragging some of the ice against our hull but such is life.

The fire is warming us after a nice walk to Fradley village (with a bit of Geocaching on the way).

I have to presume much of the boating traffic is on the Trent and Mersey as the Coventry is still iced over. While the T&M is just sporting floating ice - some of it is very thick.

If you zoom in on the front of the boat it looks like the bow wave was frozen in action....

We came back as the sun had gone down and the cold was reappearing after a reasonably warm day.

We will be doing a lot of nothing tonight and enjoying every minute of it.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Leia update

Leia will be two early in the New Year. She is a smashing little dog and loved by all the family (even the cat I think) She is coming to the age where collie's tend to quieten down just a bit, but she still has her moments.

The reason for the post is that I have found a great photo of her 'dressing up' and living up to her name....Nev

Monday, 21 December 2009

Les on NB Valerie reminiscing post - Motorbikes and sidecars

Les on NB Valerie reminiscing post about his childhood is a good read - click here to read it if you have not already.

One reason I blog is to put stuff on record, so I can recall it, I think Les's post is excellent for this reason. I was looking for a photo of Leia by the fire on Waterlily when I found this old photo...

One of my favorites of my two lads in the sidecar I used to own when they were little.

Sidecars were a standard form of transport for the family in my dads era, so I am pleased I have this photo to recall how I used to move the family !


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Anonymous says I should be worried..... now I am!

Anonymous says I should be concerned about the antifreeze level of protection in my engine, so my concern levels have gone to up a degree or two right now and a visit is pending with a stop off for one of these little essentials.

I can't recall precisely what the RCR engineer said last time the engine was serviced. I know he checked the level of protection but whether he said it was OK to -5c -12c or -20c is lost to me. Better to be safe than sorry. Whilst the engine is under semi trad boards and with a decent cover over the stern the engine hole does have vents to the outside so the cold air can penetrate.

We don't winterise our boat because we use it over the winter, in fact I think I prefer winter cruising - just that this year other stuff has got in the way. I cycled past local pub last week and they were burning a boating mix for sure of house coal and wood because the smell immediately took me back to the cut. I can understand people wanting the cleanliness and convenience of a diesel stove but the smell alone of a wood burner does it for me every time.

Plus Leia likes our wood burner....

Anyhow...........decorating calls !!!

Take care


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Worried about me boat

All the decorating at home is taking its toll. We have not been to Waterlily for such a long time. Now I see on Metcheck it is going to be -5 today.....

I love proper winters. I don't mind being iced in - especially as next year in the spring we will be having a good reblacking so the ice should be not a problem.

Decorating takes soooooo long - especially as we try and do it properly. Good job there is limited scope for wallpapering and painting on a boat.

It would also be this year that we have not had the engine serviced so I am a little concerned about the protection level of the antifreeze - should I be worried ? Also should I be adding anything to the central heating water to stop that freezing?

Today is the last big push on the decorating and if we get it right we will be getting the house back to rites tomorrow. I'm off work for a couple of days next week so I may just drop all the Christmas prep (we still have not got a tree up or written a Christmas card) and visit the boat. I was thinking of dropping a days holiday ad going into work but sod it - all the same old same old will be there next year !!

Have a happy safe and peaceful Christmas whoever you are and wherever you are,

Take care


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Painting - sorted

At last we have paid a deposit to have Waterlily painted next year. Having had bad experiences of winter painting with our ownerships boat we want to ensure Waterlily is painted when all chances of frost have passed. Not sure of the exact date but we want it to be done April time so we have a nice shiny boat to scratch during 2010.

We are booked in to Aqua Narrowboats at Mercia Marina. This is good as it will mean a short days cruise to get her to the paint dock.

Justin has been very helpful and projects the right image - not the normal canal business attitude. He answered a request some time ago about boat painting when he was setting up his business when he was getting boats painted on the Soar - he has done well in a short time.

Colours are being withheld so it will be a surprise..... hopefully not too much for us.

We just need to get aboard - plenty of costs going out but no enjoyment by being on the boat. I spy a good opportunity coming up.

Take care


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

sharing internet

One for Andrew on Granny Buttons I recall he evangelised about common shared internet and he said he would make his wireless open access in his new abode.

Well if you are a BT customer you can subscribe to

BT and FON

This allows you (or BT) to set aside a link into your wireless in exchange for being able to use other peoples wireless who share the same vision. Bit like file sharing but for Wifi use. I think it is a great idea and have joined and opened up just a little more of the information superhighway on the A6 in Derby !!

Anyone who lives near a canal like Andrew should consider this as it will provide a piggyback wifi option. I'll be trying the system out tomorrow as I'm currently engaged in Jury service and the only wifi I can get in the court building (jury room not the court of course) is a FON wireless signal.

Happy Browsing.....


Sunday, 15 November 2009

Still afloat

I rewarded myself with a ride over to check Waterlily this afternoon. We have not been aboard since the 24th October which is too long. Lots of stuff on at the moment which is keeping us away from Waterlily.

Still she sat waiting patiently for us. A little dirty inside - the effect of four people and three dogs cruising in autumn with muddy towpaths.

Only one boat on the move while I was there and he was single handing late on into the twilight. I didn't walk up to the centre, but if it was anything like last year it would have been quite empty.

Fradley 19th November 2008

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Wised up to these people ?

Marketing types - these are the buggers who convince us we want 'stuff'. They are the modern age snake oil sales people.

I have fell for their tricks and clever positioning of stuff for many many years. Not now - no now I try and adopt a marketing phobic stance when it comes to things I want. Rather than convincing myself (with the help of the snake oil people) that I need something to enable my life to be that little bit better.... I now look for the reasons why I should not have it.

It is working, maybe its just my impulsive nature but everytime I get the urge to spend and acquire I check myself and them reward myself - spirituly for not falling for the marketing trick.

One of the biggest rewards is looking forward to the time I have to get rid of the thing I am thinking of buying... it does work, try it !!

We can live without stuff and our lives and the environment will be so much the better for it.


Plus my boat and house will be that bit more organised and less cluttered ;-)

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


I thought it might be a nice option to look at the various layouts of marina's on the system.

As my boat is moored on the Trent & Mersey I started there. However I was disappointed to only get as far as the new Mercia Marina before google maps and ran out of recent images. Mercia is still the trout lake and there is no sign of Great Heywood marina at all !

So these few will do for now - still interesting to see the different layouts. - can you ID them - pretty easy really.

I regularly consider going into a marina. Its interesting that when we first looked there were waiting lists for most - now all seem to have vacancies - even Kings Bromley which is still one of my favourites.

The cost puts me (us) off as does having a potential view of someone else's boat from 6 inches away. At least we have a view 24/7 on our linear mooring.

So we don't have water and electricity to our boat, but as I've blogged about before that would be too much like living at home. I like being on my boat to feel like a balance of resource use v's comfort and cost. After all when we eventually do go extended cruising we will not have the connections and have to protect and be aware of our resources.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Biggest Midland Chandlers on my doorstep

What good news - the biggest Midland Chandlers is being built at Mercia Marina - 10 minutes from my front door !!

Read the Derby Evening telegraph story here

The grass roof is a nice touch. See my upcoming post about marinas - by the time the new build is up Google may have at last got the latest images loaded so I can actually see the marina.

My shopping list for when it opens is ......
  • Bath (after I remove the pump out loo)
  • Decent cassette toilet to replace the pump out one
  • Fresh water gauge
  • Larger inverter
  • Espacher or some form of water boiler / heater
But the boat needs painting first


Engine hours

For my records really - We filled up at Streethay with 262.7 on the engine hours clock.

I had a big bill as we filled up plus 2 x 20 litre Jerry cans gas and a pump out. A Nicklesons brought the bill to about £140 !

I'll top up the diesel tank next time aboard to keep the condensation at bay.


Sunday, 25 October 2009

What a difference a day makes

Friday late afternoon - warm sunshine

Saturday late morning - rain and wind

We can't complain, Friday was fantastic and the cruise back to our mooring on Saturday was really peaceful in the warm(ish) autumn rain. It was pretty uneventful until we got to junction lock.... we arrived just before an ownerships boat reversed back into the junction and winded to go Burton way and then a boat came onto the junction from the Coventry. Kept the many gongoozlers happy.


Friday, 23 October 2009

Out in fantastic autumn weather

A last minute change of plan meant instead of North Wales we got onto Waterlily with the added bonus of friends John and Carrie from Scotland plus their two collies joining us for an overnighter.

We got to the boat just after lunch time Thursday, previously John and Carrie had been with us going south through Burton and onto the other Weston on Trent. We thought we would show them the other side of Fradley for this trip.

As it was a last minute plan to meet up we needed more food so we took Waterlily down to Alrewas to shop and wind.

The weather was very changeable and we started off in sunshine but ended up getting back almost in the dark and having sat out heavy rain in Alrewas.

There was a perfect rainbow behind us as we came back up the cut.... shame I did not have a wide angle lens.

A beery night ensued, with poor John and Carrie not getting too much sleep thanks to the smoke alarm and Co2 detector giving out low battery warnings.

Today (Friday) was perfect autumnal cruising weather and we made the most of it by cruising up to Kings Bromley marina and winding.

This is where we are now..... very rural and quite - just heard an Owl and while I was fishing in the last light a Kingfisher did a fly past. Perfect

Rachel and Leia at Woodend Lock

John very expertly skippering Waterlily. He did perfect wind - skills not forgotten from our trip a few years back to Stratford.

We walked John and Carrie back to Fradley and now having fished showered and eaten we are relaxing in a lovely warm boat. Leia is absolutely knackered - she has just slept all evening - see the little video for the reason why !!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

What a load of cr@p

I have ..........

It is 'I' rather than 'we' I'm ashamed to say.

In March I set a rather late New Years resolution to declutter I had an initial spurt but living got in the way, the way it does. Anyhow this week we have been off and been working through the house. We spent a good couple of days in the garden and then the shed(s) and garage got sorted. We now have a skip full on the drive waiting to go.

It even extended to the office and computer when the rain came. I not have quite a few items running on eBay if anyone is interested, including a nice little 12v Pace satellite box - just like Sue's from No Problem

It is very therapeutic, and I still have not replaced my wind up alarm clock - this is my reminder to use what I already have rather than buying more 'stuff'.

I'm starting to not like 'stuff'

It is the reason I like the boat. No space for excess, everything has a place (within reason) My garage/shed on the boat is a little smaller but gets me by - I do have a tool box in the wardrobe !

Hopefully get on the boat at some point this week - I might try and return to a hot fishing spot I found when we came back from Leek earlier in the year.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

Two wheel credentials plus spot the boaty birthday present

After reading Halfies blog about his bike and blogging myself about my preferred transport here I'd like to present my garage of two wheel exotica....

Two things to note....

Spot the alarm so no trying to nick my P&J's

Spot the birthday present from Rachel to me - boaty for sure.....see who's quickest to spot it !


Here it is.....

Jointed tiller arm for the semi trad back end - no more limboing under the tiller to get off the boat.

Friday, 16 October 2009

It's the journey not the destination

How true of narrowboating. When I tell people at work I am going to Leek or Macclesfield for a holiday they look at me as if feeling sorry for me.

Owning a canal boat is about the journey -that's what makes so many blogs interesting. There is so much to see and at a pace to enjoy it. It also says something about me I think - my other modes of transport are motorcycle and bicycle, both in my mind more about the getting there than the there itself.

It gets bigger - get the beer out or light the spliff, this is meaning of life stuff. People should live their lives as if it is a journey, experience all that they meet and embrace it. All too often we are sold the destination which is in many cases unobtainable crap when we get there and detracts from enjoying the journey of life.

I have the ultimate respect for those who have taken the decision to follow their instincts and take to the cut full time, I'm sure at times there is doubt the decision was the right one - especially in the middle of dark wet winter, but then again those doubts would still be there if the decision had not been taken.

On a related note I spoke with some liveaboards while watering up after out last trip out. They were slowly heading back to Milton Keynes for the winter, the reason - it never got really dark - around there there is so much light pollution and it helped apparently over the winter. I never really thought of it like that - I'd like to think I'd embrace the dark, but only if I felt safe wherever I was moored?

Have a good weekend


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Bloggers KPI....

Key performance indicator - 10,000 hits in 20 months. I do like to think some people read my ramblings and the fact I have hit this milestone is pleasing and most agreeable to me.

Andrew on Granny Buttons recently blogged about blogging and cited 100 active boat blogs, at the same time I was musing over the fact my blog roll is getting more and more stagnant. There have been some good bloggers just stopped but more importantly many seem to be getting less frequent. I'm sorry but that is just not acceptable. I need to read about people on the cut, I don't mind if it is of the got up, cruised, saw some stuff, went to bed type blog I like reading and thinking of you lot out there enjoying the canals, vicarious canal cruising is what I need. Its great that Bruce in Sanity has taken to posting pictures, I like to see as well as read (something about a picture being worth a thousand words... ) please make them clickable so I can see all the detail.... I think I'm getting very demanding.

I have to agree with Andrew on the range of topics and general good read, plus photo's on Halfie's blog Always a regular read and a regular blogger to, imagine what we'll get when Halfie get his own boat...Plus now I find out he is a keen cyclist. That's right up my street having got rid of one of our two cars which means I either have my motorbike or my cycles. I really must get my Brompton onto the boat.

Nev take a bow

I have in the past taken a small swipe at the arguing that goes on over on the forums.

To add balance there are some genuine people on there who do want to help. Follow this link and be amazed how the internet plus willing people can make a difference.

When Holly the hire boat was stolen they also geared up an went looking and I think it was one of the members who spotted the boat being painted and she was recovered.

Just think what a word we would live in if everyone did a bit more to help each other out.

If one thing comes from the period of austerity that we are headed for/in now I hope it is a different focus - one that is more neighbourly and less "I'm all right Jack" less political correctness and a less litigious society. If these things come out of the recession at least I won't feel so bad having left my children this mess by my excesses.

Off for a rest now.....


Monday, 12 October 2009

Seasons on the cut

I am restless - not being on my boat but reading some of the excellent blogs of the continuous cruisers enjoying autumn on the cut.

It got me thinking about the seasons of the cut and which is my favorite. It has to be autumn, as the canals take on a serenity that matches how I like to feel. No hustle and bustle, no loud talking as people sit out late into the evening, peace and quite. I also like deep winter, not the wet and cold type but the deep frost and clear crisp days with wood smoke rising straight up from boat chimneys, but then there are frozen canals, great until some intrepid boater comes bursting through

I like summer the least mainly because the canals get so busy - I suppose this links to my last post about why I like boating - I like the solitude. I think this could be a reaction to my day job.... I may need the services of a clinical psychologist ...Mmmm well there is the cheese boat, the fudge boat, how about the clinical psychologist's boat Bruce?

No photos recently so I have indulged myself with a few from our recent trip down the Birmingham and Fazely canal. In reverse order....

This is on the last leg from Streethay to Fradley Junction. The leaves were filling the canal and coming down like confetti - just does not show up so well on the photo.

We were just past Whittington on the Coventry, these cows were enjoying the canal, but not one was displaying a license !

Drayton bridge - the theme park was opposite. Next spring I'd like to use this as a reason to get my lads aboard for a trip to the theme park.

Now to sort out my remaining Caldon canal cruise photo's


Sunday, 11 October 2009

Sneeky hour blogging

Slow slow quick quick slow.... on the blogging front.

60 plus hours working this week so I finished a little earlier and took the bike out to progress the boat painting investigation.

Stenson boat builders had gone home at 3.40 pm so they missed out on over £4,000 worth of business. I called in to Aqua narrowboats and had a great chat with Justin (who responded to my questions about boat painting just after we brought Waterlily - and that was when he did not paint boats)

I liked his friendly approach and he recognised Waterlily and my blog - first one ever to do that so another tick in the box. Biggest thing was I did not get the feel this was a business working on canal time, more a business that understands what a customer looks like - I hope I am not disappointed if we go to Aqua for the boat painting.

Watch this space...

I carried on enjoying riding my bike and called at Waterlily for a check and drink and to blog as I had the time.....


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Why boat ?

Not sure the grammar of the title is correct but hey ho.... Why do we go boating might be more correct.

Can't recall who's blog it was that got me thinking why I have a boat, but I reflected on what aspect of boating ticked my box.

I am not an engineer so the oily bit it is not

I am not a historian or particularly interested in history so the history of the cut is not it

I am not an evangelist for restoring canals either (but I appreciate the work that goes into this)

My boat is not an old working boat restored or even a new boat built to look like an old boat

I do not dress up like a boatman of the 18th Century

I do it because it enables me to meet people and visit my country see my country see the industry go fishing drink beer and wine but above all I relax on my boat. I don't even have to move it to feel good about it. The fact I am able to spend close quality time with Rachel, working as a team depending on each other for living is fantastic

Unrelated but an significant factor is I like the feeling of being independent of the expectations of society..... sounds daft but the fact we could cut and run no debt some money in the bank no job to give me anxiety is a real factor in why I enjoy my boat.

what about you ?


Friday, 9 October 2009

Old boats v's new boats

I'm not sure if I had the money I'd buy one of the apartment boats that seem to fill the boat mags and the shows.

Reading one of my many canal mags just released from the plastic I picked on an article about the Crick boat show (yep a bit behind on the reading) and was struck by the samey look of a lot of the boats.

Our boat is tidy but dated - I suppose it was the apartment boat of its day on reflection, but I like to feel I am not in an apartment or house but on the cut when aboard my boat. I like to have to put coal on the fire wash the pots by hand and do my number 2's in a bucket (ok not quite a bucket) It all adds up to feeling like I am away from the other life (not that that is so bad)

I have seen some boats that are built to look old which I suppose should my lottery tickets come up this weekend would be on my shopping list - ..... mmmm no I think I'd still go second hand.


Monday, 28 September 2009

Just nice people on the cut

You hear so many tales of anger, selfishness rudeness from people blogging or in forums I thought it needs balance

I have been out for a long weekend (details to follow) and I have met only nice, friendly, happy boaters plus cyclist and walkers and fishermen (no fisherwomen). People tend to only report the bad... so I am reporting the good.


PS - Closest we got to bad behaviour was three lads12 years old I guess near Drayton bridge on the Birmingham and Fazely canal - one was leaning over the bridge holding something as we went under the bridge - I thought he was going to drop something on us - turned out it was his phone camera - cheeky bugger was taking a photo looking down Rachel's top !! Can't fault his endeavour, most probably his mum and dad have the Internet blocked at home !!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Birmingham and fazley canals welcomes Waterlily

One son now at Uni and the other one in London for the weekend gave us free reign to head off to pastures new. We have passed Fazely junction many times when on the Coventry canal knowing it is the link to all things industrial heritage in Birmingham. We do not have the time or planning to venture into Birmingham on this trip so we winded at the bottom of the Curdworth flight.

We took the decision to cruise to the winding hole (well hidden until you are on it) to note down possible mooring for the night and today as we were not intending moving. We spotted a perfect mooring by the aqueduct next to Fishers mill bridge. We noted just one boat following us and there were no other boats moored at all...... yep they also spotted the best mooring and when we arrived back they were smack in the middle of the armco. We could have dropped in but with no other boats at all about we dropped just the other side of the bridge onto pins....

Rachel working hard..... I did set the fire, yes first this season, plus made us a nice curry.

Its very quite - both towpath and canal - nice. Only problem is the fishing is pants , two hours last night and not a nibble.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Water moving under our base plate....

So three weeks and no posts, just been so busy.

We did go over to Waterlily last weekend but one and actually moved Waterlily.... well down to Bagnall and back just to put some charge into the batteries. It was good to move the boat even if it was only a jog to the shops and back !

There were still plenty of boats on the move which based on the nice weather was hardly surprising. We will be off again this weekend for a trip for R&R that will include gas diesel and a pumpout - shame for swan line at Fradley who won't get my business after charging 20 quid for a pump out last time we used them!


Monday, 31 August 2009

Busy Bank holiday at Fradley

We are starting to get stir crazy.........we decided to stay put during the school holidays and have had some relaxing weekends on board. We came back on board yesterday just for an overnighter and boy is it busy ..... it never gets manic here as the locks pulse boats both ways but there is a steady stream of boats and three moored opposite us last night indicating that all the Fradley centre moorings had been taken.

This has made our decision to stay moored more sensible but we really want to get some water under the boat now. Before that we have to get our youngest Callum off to Leeds Uni - then we will most probably head for a new canal to us - Birmingham and Fazely (I think) for a break to the water park near Drayton Manor.

After that I'm not sure - I'd like a autumn cruise but we may end up bringing Waterlily back to Stenson for her paint job.


Monday, 17 August 2009

Cruising time soon and a paint job

We took a decision after our trip up the Caldon to sit the summer holidays tight. We have had a complete reversal in recent years from only being able to cruise during the kids holidays to not now having to. We like autumn and winter cruising so it suits us even more.

Its been quite busy at Fradley over the last few days. I wonder how many are heading for a four counties disappointment with the Shebdon embankment stoppage.

All the jobs I had ID'd to get done did get done while aboard. I really enjoyed my couple of days pretending to be a livaboard. We are a bit hemmed in at the moment as BW saw fit to tender a 62 foot mooring at 71 feet so whilst we have not had to move the new boat is right up fender to fender with us. Hopefully in a few weeks when a 45 footer moves on we may get a little more space..... unless BW decide to tender that one ?

We have made a decision on getting Waterlily painted in the New Year. Just got to save up for it ! I think we will be going local for the paint job but that will have to be negotiated - watch this space.

We have a colour scheme from a photo of another boat that hopefully will make the job easier to describe.


Friday, 14 August 2009


Well not in the literal sense.....but it occurred to me after Rachel left for work today that I do not have any form of transport available to me. I have a Brompton but that is at home in the garage. I have a job logged with one of the joiners at work to make me a nice wooden box for my bike so I can keep it on the boat. I think this is a job that needs doing sooner rather than later.

I have a list of jobs to do today...

Walk Leia
A geocache task to do
Poo cassette to empty
Some DIY on the boat
Get the gennie out and give the boat a good vac out - that might be a job too far for my ribs....

Lets see how I do


Thursday, 13 August 2009

Mobile internet geocaching and towpath conversations

So we are on the boat again. I'm taking some leave so Rachel came to me tonight after work and will do the same tomorrow.

Plenty to say but seemingly little time to say it.

1. I now have fast internet on the boat thanks the Chris from NB Belle He advised Orange were the best for this area so I have experimented with their freedom contract (I can cancel giving 30 days notice) and am typing this with 3g+ connection and streaming music from spotify This has been a bit of a holy grail for me so I am well pleased - I can stream my sky subscription to my computer plus use BBC's iPlayer

My youngest son and his girlfriend drove me over today - that makes me feel old already. While we were fishing I mentioned a geocache across the cut that I was going to find in the morning so he and his girlfriend nipped over with my phone using Geoscout and promptly found it. It did not take him long to download a slick iphone app for geocaching.

Finally an observation - people do not realise now much you can hear across the cut. Last time I was aboard a young couple came by having a very big argument about their relationship. Today the same, another couple having a heart to heart - at least this time the lady wasn't crying. So be aware its not an ocean !

Finaly finally I saw three shooting stars tonight - part of the comet passing through. You can't beat the countryside for viewing the sky at night.


Saturday, 8 August 2009

Rib's 'n' bees

Waterlily has bitten back - again.

When I was aboard with a few mates towards the end of last year I managed to crack a rib or thought I had - it was dislocated cartilage. Painful and took months to get right. Last night whilst on the boat for a simple overnighter I caught a fine roach and instead of using my landing net I tried to hand the fish out and out all my weight onto my ribs and heard the same crack and now I am in pain again. Problem is last time I managed to overdose on anti-inflammatory's and ended up on tablets to repair my stomach lining Pillock or what !!

Bees..... when we got to Waterlily last night we could not work out why only part of our mooring had been strimmed by BW. Then I noticed the bees nest entrance in the ground was covered in white powder. I suspect they disturbed the bees and they came out to protest. Instead of moving on the BW workers must have dusted the entrance and killed them !!

Bees have been in the news recently due to their decline so I am amazed BW have such an anti nature approach. I feel an email to BW is necessary.


Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Favourite weather

Topical as we are having a poor summer so far. It got me thinking about what is my favourite weather. This has to be thunderstorms. I walked to the local shops from my place of work recently in a thunderstorm. There was a clap of thunder right overhead - it was so powerful and just above my head - great.

Its the expecation - dark clouds, distant rumbles then a few blobs of rain then a full show of wind lights sound and water.

Best I had on the cut was during our hire boat days when we were chased by a storm that eventually caught us on the narrows just before the Plum Pudding at Armatage. I got so wet just mooring up.

It goes without saying wind on the cut is my least favourite weather !

The Photo was taken walking back just after the storm to my workplace.


Monday, 27 July 2009

Time and Inspiration

Well no posts for over three weeks - that's bad.

Why, just very very busy at work, and at home plus needing some inspiration for Waterlily. That sounds bad doesn't it I think my affair with Coopers Pride has dented my appreciation for Waterlily - that is even worse !

We were aboard for an overnight on Saturday and then off to see relatives Sunday PM so we did not get much time aboard. I was tired when we arrived (I'd ridden to Peterborough and back to buy a new crash helmet) so that did not help my enjoyment and it rained most of the time we were aboard Sunday.

My fibromyalgia gives me what is called cognitive dysfunction or more commonly called brain fogs. Bloody horrible feeling of distance from reality and lack of ability to concentrate or in this case my interpretation is an inability to fully appreciate my lovely boat. Anyone out there willing to exchange bodies for a few weeks !

I will do a bit of a catch up - if for no other reason than to give me a record of what we have been doing. We did have a lovely weekend on the motorbike visiting down south where Rachel was born and spent the early years of her life. I'll blog about that before the end of the month

Anyhow - that's me back in the blogging swing and it feels a little better already. Now to catch up with Sue, Bruce and Andy and all my other favourite bloggers listed right of the post.

Take care


One other thing - we were woken at about 3am on Sunday morning as a cruiser came past and up the Fradley locks. I envy people who dare cruise in the dead of night, it is one of my newly added things to do before I die- cruise over a Summer nights full moon.......

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Leek reflections

I have taken a fair amount of stick for my weeks holiday destination - Leek via Stoke on Trent. The joke is on them really as we had a great time. I love this country and the people and places.

The weather was good and the fishing better, some beer and no work - do I really need much else plus the carbon footprint of my holiday must be one of the lowest around ?

We made Burston at about 4.15 pm - so that was about 10 hours - I think the most we have ever done is 14 when we brought Waterlily back from Whilton. The engine never missed a beat just a couple of turns on the greaser half way through and all was fine.

The mooring here is really one of my favourites - made so by the Greyhound pub about 10 minutes walk away. We met Charles there and had a really nice meal. I then took Leia a walk and found a really nice trail - I must consult memory map more and do more walking like Sue of No Problem - the fishing gets in the way....

The above was taken on my phone at just after 9pm - most nights I could fish to 10pm.... This is a lake just off the T&M I did not quite get the time to investigate more but a reason to revisit.

The final couple of days to follow.


Thursday, 25 June 2009

The longest day.....

Well for this trip and for a while. We set off from the bottom of Stockton Heath locks this morning at 6.15 am and a boat had already passed us.

The plan is to get to Burston on the Trent & Mersey - the Greyhound pub to meet up with our next crew mate, Rachele's dad. He likes to get aboard so a short two day cruise back to Fradley will be his part of the trip.

We left Leek 'basin' yesterday and took a beautiful cruise down the Leek branch of the Caldon - it is to be recommended and we will certainly cruise this route again. I'd like two weeks to allow shorter cruising days and also get to froghall - we have been there before but the Churnett valley is beautiful.

Leek end of navigation was a little of an anti climax - Leek certainly does not embrace the canal . There was moorings for about 5 boats and I expertly reversed Waterlily into the only spare space - when we left there was space for three boats. It was very quite and peaceful on the moorings and Leek town centre can be walked in about 15 - 20 minutes.

I'll post some photo's when I get back but for now I'd better take my turn on the tiller. I was going to say we are approaching the less nice parts of the Caldon as it goes into Stoke - but as posted before this part of the canal is much improved and I think the locals are doing their bit to keep it clean.


O a persona PS - both my sons passed their driving tests this week - one day apart - I am really proud

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Cruisng times

Maily for my own reference when we do such trips again....

From Fradley to Kings bromley 3 hours

From Fradley to Great Haywood 6 hours

From Great Haywood to Stone 5 hours

Stone to Barleston 3 hours

Barleston to top of Stoke locks 4 hours

Etruia to Stockton brook - 2 and a half hours

Caldon is so much improved

Not need on the Caldon for a few years - it was the first trip we did on Sylph our shared boat.

The few miles out from Etruia id so much improved. Very little rubbish in the canal and the tow path must have had millions spend on it. Only thing it needs is some cutting back, not a big problem as we did not meet many boats.

We are moored just below the Stockton Brook locks - beautiful and peaceful. Leek today and hopefully some pics later.....



Been a friend for the last twenty years. We have shared so any joyous moments together. Ever reliable, very capable. We have been on many of the boat trips plus some other weekend rambles. I'll miss Rod.

So I have got to find a tackle shop to buy another one. Snapped in half as I was trying to clear a tangle. O well $hit happens as they say. On the same day the tip came of one of the small whips I use for fishing so I am down to a 4 meter pole - still caught some nice fish including a good 5 pound bream from Great Heywood on Saturday evening.

The car broke down on Friday night as I was on my way to the tackle shop - £350 cher ching !!

My wind up radio id fubar'd as well ........

I'll post on where we are later....


Sunday, 21 June 2009

How I'd wished I'd not said that

This time last week I took a ride out on my bike to Stone As I type this we are at Stone on Waterlily. It is a wee bit busier than last week.

Yesterday it was like the M1 boataway from Kings Bromly to Great Heywood. THREE boats overtook us yesterday - I must be the slowest boater on the cut - yes I do slow down for moored craft - am I the only one ?

Today has been a bit easier - apart from the plum who darted out within a boats length of Rachel so he could get to Hoo Mill lock first. It just meant he had the lock to do on his own as I sat and watched him - I think he got the message.

Anyhow I'm about to be a single hander as Rachel and her mum do Stone while I take Waterlily up the locks.

Hopefully onto the Caldon towards Leek tomorrow after dropping the mother in law off at Stoke ,


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Cost of living aboard part II

I recently blogged about the cost of living aboard see here

I have found a really good discussion on the topic from the canal world forums - you can read it without fear of being flamed by some of the less than friendly subscribers.


I shouldn't be so hard on the forum -I have got a lot of good information and advice from them. Just know that it can be like the school play ground in there sometimes.

Back to the point..... £600 is the starter for ten. That is cheapish?? I suppose it really depends on how you want to live/can afford to live. I remember when we were first married how we saved for stuff and mended and made do..... now we don't because we can afford to buy replacements or buy something (not quite a boat I might add) without a lot of thought to our ability to afford it.

Food for thought and a good source of comment and information,


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Not sure you have noticed but......

By not moving pictures once I have inserted them (I move the text around the pictures now) - my pictures are clickable.....

This one was taken on our Ashby cruise in April - this is the Coventry not the Ashby. I took it because the gent on the boat Rachel had just passed was cruising in a bowler hat, click the photo and you'll see.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Giving up blogging

Two very able and enjoyable blogs have stopped/disappeared over the last couple of weeks.


Ten Bob Note

I understand Jo is taking a break but Ernie has given up citing it was taking too much time. At the same time Andrew on Granny Buttons is considering email bankruptcy Blimey - is this the same theme as those who retire from work and then come back and tell me they do not know how they did it all while working..... the time is filled with emptying the poo tanks, getting freshwater and cruising - I really hope it is (add fishing in there a well as this will take up a lot of my time should I ever get free from the rat race)

A the end of the day it depends what you blog for, I do it for my own pleasure and as an on line diary almost - certainly not for the readership as my readers are like hens teeth.... but appreciated all the same (thanks mum)

One thing is for sure there are many bloggers out there blogging about their lives afloat or their dreams of getting afloat or those like me dithering and wishing to make the move permanent.

Take care bloggers, resting bloggers and ex bloggers alike !


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Quite T&M at Stone

The weather was too nice not to be on the motorbike today so I snuck off on my own for a trip to Stone.

Stone is a place I think I'd like to retire to or move to. It hasn't had the wannabe city makeover that Derby has. So many of our cities are the same now. One thing about travelling on a boat is you get to see some untouched towns - long may they last.

One thing was obvious was how quite the Trent and Mersey was today. The 48 hour moorings above star lock were empty when I rrived and there was only one boat on the 12 hour shopping moorings (where we broke down last year !)

When ever we have been through Stone it always seems busy. I didn't check the 14 day mooring below Star lock though.

I have to have a canal fix and today was it. On the way back I called into Mercia to make arrangements to cruise on Coopers Pride. Ian seemed busy so I'll leave the arrangements to email later.......

We are off again on Waterlily next weekend with crew changes a plenty... more to follow.

Enjoy the sun, I am typing this in my back garden on my wifi on my diddy Sony.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Snap decisions

We took a snap decision late yesterday to come to Waterlily for an overnighter…. We were at the local Sainsbury at about 6.30 and were sitting down to a nice Indian (2 for eight quid offer) by about 8pm.

This is one of the great things about our mooring we can be aboard within the hour and it still feels like we are on holiday.

We went for a lovely walk after our meal down the Coventry and we met our first boat - Comet. She is for sale but with no price. It looks like Josie who brought her from us still lives aboard – there were plants on the stern. She looked n good condition (that the boat not Josie, but we did not meet Josie as the boat was unoccupied. It nice and a little humbling to know a boat we did not think we could enjoy holidaying on has been someone’s home for the last two years. It certainly gives another perspective to our thinking on upgrading Waterlily.

We woke to rain on the roof and now as I’m typing this its lashing down and there is a great thunder storm overhead, sheet lightening and long rumbles of thunder – great. I love extreme weather, especially when we do not have to cruise in it. I have the fire lit (how daft would that have been last week when my car temp sensor was recording 32c !) coffee on and an internet connection.

Re Cooper Pride, I did get a call from the boat yard last night with some details on the Gardner engine …….


Just had a massive clap of thunder – the storm must be right overhead now !

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Advice..... update

I posted this a week or so ago..... clickity

I am still waiting for the information followup about the boat so no progress.

Whenever I have brought a car or bike I get follow up calls - normally unsolicited, so to have strong interest in a £60,000 boat and get no follow up calls - even though I have asked for them to pass me info is a surreal experience !!


Is living the dream better than the dream?

In continuing my voyage of contemplation I keep coming back to Christmas.

Not because I feel that Christmas on the cut would be nice, more my recollections of when a lad of Christmas day being such an anticlimax.

The anticipation in many instances is much better than the event and I fear this would be the case with spending a significant time on the boat.

At the moment I always look forward to getting aboard, I wonder how much of that enjoyment would be lost.

I heard on the news recently that a Spanish company was offering 5 year breaks from work on 30% pay with a guarantee of your job back I might start canvassing for that !


Thursday, 4 June 2009

Who do livaboards need to rely on?

Reflection.......on wine so be aware ! (Written last night and edited sober today.....)

Sometimes my head just isn't big enough to hold all the thoughts I have so I am relieved to be able to talk them out (poor wife) or type them out - the latter in this case.

One of the biggest issues of living the corporate dream is the reliance on so much and so many.

The bin man
People on the park (who complain)
Mortgage rates
etc etc

So it got me thinking who would I need to rely on if I was a liveaboard.......

My Boat
My wife
My dog
British Waterways
Dongle service providers -Internet
Boat yards
God - if (s)he exists for the water

Not a lot else really and do you know why - because if you don't like it just move on.......

So I have realized if you live on a boat you have to cruise....?

So much in life is complicated by other people, in most cases they just get involved when you don't want them to

The job stuff - now that is the difficult bit. Jo on Hadar commented on one of my other ponders about this subject she and Keith accept the simple life. Clickty I have to assume in my case simple would be cheap.

Real life example, as I typed the last sentence, I took a glug of red wine and promptly spilt it down my work shirt, result, the need to buy another work shirt, if it was a T shirt then I could still cruise in it - in fact it would be a well regarded boaters uniform shirt as I think most boaters like a drink....

So what keeps me from taking the decision to change a lifestyle............

...........that'll be money, very difficult to keep moving and pay the bills unless you are a lottery winner, retired or just have a lot of money (which I don't) Could be an option to be a boat husband, I think the T&M has just enough cruising distance to not make me a bridge hopper but allow my wife to keep working and commute back to the boat......

More wine I think.


Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Ay up me duck .... and 3

We have had a close neighbour for the last 4 weeks.

I am sure she chose our mooring because of the long grass, so she must have been surprised as we were when BW cut our gras (thanks BW) but you might have imagined they would have left her some cover - they strimmed upto her nest

Anyhow on arriving to test my new 3 dongle today I noted the empty nest and saw her proudly taking her new brood for a swim/paddle/float or whatever ducks do.

So a happy ending

The three dongle - another happy ending I am typing this with a reliable if weak connection with the modem on the roof - I haven't got my tripod as per Halfies post and when I do I'm going to try the pringles can approach to get a directional ariel..... but its a lot better than it ever was.


Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The sky highway - safer on a NB?

Took this shot from our upper landing window last week....... flightpath crisscross

It is topically sad that air travel does have a risk - one that we are less and less aware of. I know when we recently went to America it was a surreal experience, so much comfort and 'taken for grantedness' that we boarded flew for 8 hours and landed whilst being exposed to some very inhospitable environments and stresses and strains on the machine.

It certainly puts our narrowboat holidays into some perspective !

Monday, 1 June 2009

Oh no 3 again but this could be useful?

I have blogged about 3 a few times, poor service not Mac friendly and a connection like a whores draws......

I recently got directed to this link clickty which is a 3 modem for a fiver.

Always a sucker for technology and the dongle is the later type (MF627) from the white jobbie that I have tried before so I went for it.

BIG difference is that this new one plugs in and installs the Mac software no problem - something the first one just did not do.

I used the sim I have plenty of credit left on rather than registering the one that came with it. But read the web site and it gives good advice on getting unrestricted data access. I'll save it for when my prepaid data amount runs out.

I'm using this one (at home) easily - big test will be to take it to the boat which in the interests of mobile dongle testing I'll do tomorrow.

I have also brought a 5 metre USB off ebay for a couple of quid that will get us some outside coverage if we need it - I'll report back in a couple of days


Sunday, 31 May 2009

I know where I'd rather be....

We have just come back form a 130 mile tour of Derbyshire (Staffordshire and South Yorkshire to be precise) with 20 or so like minded riders from the Honda Deauville owners club.

Below is yours truly next to my P&J

It was a really nice day out covering a route that took us from Cromford to Hartington to Buxton and Glossop, then back via the snake pass Chatsworth and Chesterfield.

It was a great ride through some truly fantastic scenery.

Sitting here with a pint reflecting on the day I fired up Bruce's blog on Sanity and thought whilst today was good I think I'd rather have been on the canals.

Yesterday whilst looking at Coopers Pride I was talking to someone in the office at Mercia marina who I know and he talked about the significant impact on his thinking and his life the purchase of his narrow boat had on him. I know exactly what he was describing and it gave me a lot of comfort that it can be so - canals, boats and the whole pace of life associated with them can change your outlook on life. It reassured me as I'd been thinking (and no doubt blogging) to this end ......

I don't feel guilty I now accept that it is normal to have such a life changing perspective - an Epiphany I think they call it ! - or here.....


Saturday, 30 May 2009


So we are looking at another boat...... clickty

Totally disloyal to Waterlily - but we would like bigger and more able to accommodate visitors. Our parents aren't getting younger and it would be nice to offer them breaks on a bigger boat. Technically it is an eight berth ! I can't see us ever accommodating that many but you never know.

It has a lot going for it - it is the boat I am aiming for in layout and size so it is perfect apart for arriving a little early and also it needs a paint job - I am destined to commission a NB paint job.

I have been on it twice now. The Gardner is very imposing. I think the next stage will be/should be a trip out to get a feel for the way such a boat handles - 62 foot on a speed wheel is something to think on...

Any advice ?


Friday, 29 May 2009

RIP Common sense

Can't detail the reason for the post, but it's my blog and I want to remember this day.

Work at times can be so sh!t it beggars belief !

Interesting canal stuff tomorrow


Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Paying it forward and Kiva

I'm a great believer in 'Paying it forward'

I asked that my help to NB Dobbin be paid forward. I think the world would be a much happier and friendlier place if more people helped without regard of payment and that their efforts are magnified forward by the recipient. Pipe dream I know but it makes my conscience a little clearer if I can help others.

I'd like to plug KIVA as a excellent example of helping others. I like to give gift certificates as presents - when you explain it to people they are all very pleased to have their present paid forward in this way.

Take care


Thursday, 21 May 2009

Serenity prayer

I recently posted about the cost of living aboard.. clickty My post was based around the cost to keep my car on the road for a year. A few days later and my other car (brought for one of my sons) needs a new clutch and some work on the brakes Cher-ching that'll be £400 quid please sir ! He reminded me it was not his car until he passed his test - thanks son.

There is no more obvious cost saving living (and cruising) aboard than loosing a car or cars. Well over a thousand pounds before depreciation kick in.

I really need to stop thinking about these things.....

Got me thinking of the Serenity Prayer,

God grant me the serenity;
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

This is the entire prayer:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Not to sure about the second half but the first seven lines are very applicable to living afloat.

Interesting this prayer was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous - say it all really, pass the gin please mother !