Monday 31 August 2009

Typical Bank Holiday Weather

Saturday 29th August

We didn't set off from home until Saturday morning to avoid Friday night Bank Holiday traffic (& festival traffic around Leeds). We called in at Barton Marina at Barton Under Needwood for a 'nosey-around' as we had not visited this marina since it first opened. The marina is now more of a base for retail therapy than a traditional narrowboat centre but well worth a look. Arrived at Gt Haywood around 12.00 Noon just in time for the Belgian Grand Prix qualifyers. The wind was gathering speed and it began to rain. After the qualifiers we therefore decided to have a ride down to Trentham in the car for a walk around the shops as the weather was not very conducive to cruising. A trip to B&Q at Stafford on the way back also prompted me to make a start on altering the rear electric cupboard door. The original door was full length which meant that, in order to open the door completely, the rear steps needed to be lifted out . A situation that quickly becomes frustrating. By teatime I had already removed and altered the door to make two independent doors of the original single full height door. After tea they were swinging and ready for magnetic catches and brass knobs.

Sunday 30th August

Although a bright morning it was still quite breezy and we had already decided Saturday night that we were going to visit Lichfield in the morning. We hadn't been to Lichfield before and were well impressed - a lovely city with real character. Made better by the bank holiday as most shops were closed and there were very few people around. Called at Ammerton Farm Shop for some more retail therapy on our return to the marina and despite my regular rants about shops selling Christmas gifts in August I bought Christmas presents for my two nephews! That has got to be a first - me buying Christmas gifts ahead of Elaine. Watched the Belgian Grand Prix and chilled out in the afternoon reading the Saturday and Sunday papers and Elaine started to plan out next cruise (up the Ashby), as we have another 10 day holiday in a fortnight's time.

Monday 31st August

A lazy start - had cooked breakfast, killed a few wasps and packed the car. Filled up the fresh water tank, and dipped the diesel, ready for a quick Friday night departure next time. Set off for home about 1.30pm.

Sunday 23 August 2009

A Quiet Weekend on a Busy Canal

Travelled down to Great Haywood on Friday evening for a weekend on the boat. The roads seemed quiet for a Friday night in the holiday period - we soon realised why! Everyone was on the canals. The Trent and Mersey was extra busy as a result of the breach on the Shroppie which has temporarily closed the canal forcing everyone to use the T & M.
We opted to stay in the Marina on Friday night and I used the time to fit the runners to the under dinette freezer that I had fabricated in my garage the previous week. The easier access to the freezer is a huge improvement (according to the galley girl - Elaine).
Freezer runners now installed!

Saturday morning was an early departure from the marina and we opted to keep off the "four counties ring" and travelled South from Great Haywood towards Rugeley. Although we had initially intended travelling a little further we actually chose to moor before the winding hole north of Rugeley, almost as an 'emergency-stop' manoeuvre, as we passed narrowboat Tramper. Tramper was the next boat to be fitted out by Anthony M after ours and we were keen to meet John and Moira and see how they were enjoying the boat. It was great to chat with John and generally 'chew the fat' on the towpath comparing boating bits and sharing experiences. Naturally, It wasn't long, walking up and down the same length of towpath, before we realised I had stood in dog s***! This was shortly followed by John discovering he had stood in it as well. Despite thorough searching of the grass I still couldn't identify where the offending parcel lay! Later (to Elaine's joy), I discovered (by sense of smell) that I had transferred it to most of the boat's accessible areas; gunwales, fore deck, aft deck, bow, saloon, galley, etc, etc. This resulted in almost a full internal and external valet - how popular I was!!!

Narrowboat Tramper

Sunday morning started with a beautiful sunrise and almost still condititions. We took off early, winded north of Rugeley, by the time we returned to Great Haywood in true 'Sods Law' fashion the wind had picked up making for a more interesting arrival at the Marina. Thankfully our berthing was made easy by the fact that our neighbouring narrowboat Kaspra was still out cruising resulting in a full 15ft gap to hit with a 6ft10inch boat - even I could do that in the wind. We watched the Grand Prix and had lunch before heading home for the week.

Early Morning - North of Rugeley

Looking forward to the bank holiday weekend.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Weekend Entertainment Courtesy of Victron Energy!


Arrived at the boat Friday evening to find the domestic batteries were flat despite a landine connection to the marina. Fridge and freezer both fully defrosted and any remaining 12volt power was weak. A great start to a relaxing weekend. Soon identified the cause as being a faulty connection on the battery thermostat that in turn was falsely registering high battery temperatures (when in fact they were stone cold) which was then preventing the inverter from charging the batteries. The kit is far too clever for it's own good.

Although the electrical equipment on board was soon operational, (just in time for Coronation Street) the process of fully recharging the batteries would take a little longer and re-synchronisation of the battery monitor and inverter would not be done until Saturday.


Up early to check on charging progress and to make a call to our boat fitter - Tony Walker (Anthony M). Who needs River Canal Rescue when you can rely on a boat fitter like Tony! He was more than happy to take our 'may-day' call and talk us through the re-synchronisation process over the phone. (Thanks Tony - who needs enemies when you have customers like us).

As we still needed to remain connected to the marina shoreline power to complete the battery charging process, a trip along the canal was off the agenda this weekend. As the freezer was now empty (all contents in the skip) I decided to use the time to begin the installation of a sliding runner system for the under dinette freezer. The first job in this installation was extending the wiring. This was soon completed following a quick trip to Midland Chandlery at Penkridge for the correct connectors and wire. All measurements were taken for the joinery alterations that I will be fabricating at home and fitting next weekend. By 8.00pm we were all charged up and set off for a short walk around Gt Haywood. We walked over to Shugbrough Hall via Essex Bridge (the longest packhorse bridge in Great Britain) and decided to see if we could circumnavigate the Shugrough Estate returning down the Staffs and Worcester Canal. This turned out to be an easily achievable acomplishment on a nice day in the Summer but not so easy at night in the Summer! The walk took us via woodland tracks, over railway bridges, past a reservoir and along narrow and busy country roads before we reached the Staffs & Worcester Canal; all without a torch and appropriate reflective clothing - very unprofessional! Finally we arrived back at Great Haywood at 10.15pm (having travelled 5.5miles), for a well deserved Boddingtons!

Essex Bridge - Great Haywood


A quiet morning doing a few DIY jobs around the boat before packing to head home.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Base Camp - Accommodation

This weekend we arrived at the Marina Friday night using Escapology to break our journey to South London to visit Family.
An early Saturday morning departure from the quiet and idilic marina (despite the drizzle) was a stark contrast with the crazy 'nose-to-tail' traffic of the M25 that we encountered within a couple of hours of our departure. Nobody needed to remind us where we would rather be!
If it wasn't for the fact I was making a visit to see my newly born nephew and his brother I would surely have turned back. Although the journey was difficult (even for a car buff) the visit was priceless. The boys are marvellous and I am naturally very proud of them both.
However difficult it was leaving them behind (at circa 5.30pm) the journey up the M40, M42 etc. was rewarded by a glorious sunset over Tixall on our arrival back at the marina.
Priceless accommodation! - better than any hotel!
Sadly, this was only going to be a flying visit as we are both back at work tomorrow and therefore left for home late this afternoon.