Sunday, 19 February 2017

Long Itchington

We’ve been moored in Long Itchington for the last couple of days waiting out the weekend, not that there has been many boats on the move.  Below Radford Lock there is an unusually shaped boat on an off-side mooring.  We first saw it in the Braunston area three years ago and it appears to now have a permanent mooring.

IMG_1412The apple tree beside Bascote staircase locks was bare (Jan checked).  We managed to scrump a bucket of apples here two years ago!

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We had a rather tasty lunch at the Two Boats Inn. Jan opted for the liver & bacon with black pudding on mash whilst I had the gammon.  Jan assures me her meal was very good.  Appearance are obviously deceptive because I thought it looked offal. <sorry, couldn’t help myself!>  

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In an effort to remove the tension in my calves and back from cuddling the engine I went for a local walk.  It might also assist in fitting back in to my trousers.  I walked back down the towpath to the CRT services at Bascote and disposed of our rubbish.  Then I decided to follow the alignment of the abandoned Weedon & Leamington Railway.  My intention was to head south-east to the ‘Model Village’ marked on the map.  The path was straight and level which is an obvious clue as to its previous life.

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Much of the route was through a cutting which prevented me from seeing much.  I then started to loose interest.

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If there is a need, then I’m prepared to get my feet wet.  This path was turning into a drain.  Eventually I reached an armco culvert which was obviously built after the railway was abandoned.

IMG_1416It was here that the path and I parted company.  I scrambled up the bank and walked a short distance down the A423 to the ‘Model Village’.  This proved to be rather disappointing.  Just a line of 1930-40? double storey houses.

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I turned back towards Long Itchington noticing this rather interesting car parked outside the cafe.  I’ve never seen one before.  Is it a production model or a DIY?

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The route took me past the Two Boats Inn and I did notice most of the moorings were now empty.

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The route into the village took me past Cole Craft where we bought our two-pack epoxy blacking last September.

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This time I managed to get a rather better photo of the Tudor style house on the corner.

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It has an attractive rustic look but I fear it needs a significant amount of money spent on it to stop any further deterioration.  A quick stop at the Cooperative for bread and then I continued out through the village to complete a circuit arriving back at the abandoned railway alignment.

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This end of the route is part of the Sustrans National Cycleway and is in much better condition. 

IMG_1423On the move again tomorrow.

Thanks for the correction Halfie!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Major Service

It was time to once again call in that portly, grey haired elderly man to do a 750 hour service on Waiouru’s engine.  Being a major service the engine, fuel and air filters would all need to be replaced.  A very small portion of silicon grease also has to go into the dripless stern gear.

P1030752These filters were purchased directly from Beta Marine when we were in Gloucester last year.  The small blue tube is the original tube of silicon grease.  Only a tiny amount has to be inserted into the stern gear.  This was the first job because it’s the most inaccessible.  Do the difficult jobs first so the task gets progressively easier.

bilge There is a small grubscrew with an Allen key head that needs to be removed to gain access to the stern gear.  There are two circular carbon disks around the prop shaft and the silicon provides lubrication.  I’m going to have to find the energy (and flexibility) to clean and repaint this area in the summer.

The next task was to change the gearbox oil.  There is a drain plug underneath the gearbox but I’ve discovered I can’t use it because the area underneath is so restricted the full container of oil oil can’t be removed.  My method is to use a cheap suction pump to remove the bulk of the oil through the top dipstick hole.

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Our suction pump.

I can usually only get half the old oil out through the dipstick oil.   I then remove the drain plug underneath and empty the last of the oil into a plastic 2 litre ice cream container.  The container is then emptied using the suction pump.

The oil is easier to remove if it’s hot so I run the engine for an hour before starting the service.  Working draped over a hot engine isn’t much fun and to protect myself (and the engine) I cover it with an old towel.

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Whilst the last of the old oil drains from the gearbox I usually check the two fuel pre-filters.  They are actually aggrometers <sp>.  The fuel is made to spin in a cyclone action which forces any foreign object heavier than diesel to fall to the bottom whilst the diesel continues to the engine filter.  We have two pre-filters because I became slightly paranoid about ‘diesel bug’.  The first prefilter had a very small amount of watery jelly in the bottom.

P1030763The second was clean.  If course neither of these pre-filters can collect very fine foreign matter which is why the engine fuel filter was also changed.

fuel filterThe fuel filter spins off and a replacement then spins on.  The new filter then has to be primed (filled with fuel).  Repeated depressing of the black knob on the top of the fuel filter housing fills the filter.  There is also a ‘bleed’ bolt on the side to remove any air.

The Beta 43 has a manually operated oil pump on the side.  I have a short length of plastic hose which attaches to the pump outlet.  The other end goes into a collection container.

oil pumpSometimes the pump won’t prime.  If this occurs I raise the container end of the hose higher than the pump and pour a small amount of used oil down the hose.  This seems to lubricate the pump glands.  Once the engine oil is removed I spin off the oil filter catching any oil with a paper nappy (the cheapest we can buy).

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I never thought I’d be using nappies at 66!

The replacement oil filter spins on, but not before I’ve placed a smear of oil on the rubber seal.  It also pays to check the old filter has it’s seal otherwise you can have two rubber seals on the filter which will mean it will leak! (voice of experience).

Pour in the new oil.  We use Mobil 15W-40 1000 Super Multigrade.  The Beta manual states any 15W-40 oil will do but I consider the oil is a vital component in achieving engine longevity so we are prepared to pay slightly more for a quality oil.

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The next task was to replace the air filter.  It’s a relatively easy task.

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Clean air is also healthy for the engine!

Whilst the oil is settling in the engine I check the two alternator belts and adjust if necessary.  Once I’m satisfied there is oil on the end of the dipstick I start the engine and run it for a couple of minutes to allow the new oil to fill the new filter and reach every part of the engine.

The engine is then turned off and the oil allowed to settle.  Whilst this is happening I usually check the electrolyte levels in the battery cells.  It’s also a good time to check the engine mounting bolts and give the whole area a visual inspection.  The engine oil is checked again and topped up.  It usually takes another litre.

I then run the engine again checking for leaks around the oil and fuel filters.  After watching and listening for several minutes I’m usually satisfied the service is complete and I can clean up.

No doubt any of our readers in the northern hemisphere would have read or heard about the heat waves in Australia and the forest fire in Christchurch, NZ.  It’s actually very hot over there at the moment.  A friend sent a photo which really portrays the dire situation.

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Friday, 17 February 2017

Leamington Spa

More correctly, Royal Leamington Spa, derives it’s name from the River Leam which runs through the town.  There’s nothing spectacularly interesting about the history of Leamington Spa until the early 19th Century.  At this time the rise of the wealthy upper middle classes in Europe resulted in an increase in interest of the alleged medicinal value of bathing in mineral waters.  Spa towns became very popular.  Some of the more well known English spa towns include Bath, Buxton, Droitwich and Leamington. 

The explosion of interest in Spa’s resulted in Leamington Spa growing significantly.  Many of these new buildings were built in the Georgian style during the Regency era of architecture.  The Parade is probably the easiest location to see Georgian buildings.

IMG_1407Whilst the Town Hall (1884) is interesting, it’s Victorian rather than Georgian.

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Adelaide may have it’s bronze pigs but Leamington Spa has gone one better and has bronze elephants!

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We’ve previously visited and blogged about Leamington Spa so I’ll confine myself to mentioning the Jephson Gardens which form a linear park on the bank of the River Leam.  Once this is where the wealthy went to ”take the air” and be seen.  Much like Bath or Hyde Park in London.

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Main gate entrance

When first established, the gardens were in private ownership and there was an entry fee.

Opposite the gardens is the Royal Pump Room and Baths.  A spring was discovered on the site in 1811 and by 1814 the baths had been constructed.  There were 17 hot baths and 3 cold.

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Interest in “taking to the waters” started to decline around 1840 and by1860 plans were afoot to close the baths and demolish the building.  However rather than this happening a group of local businessmen bought the baths and expanded them.  The baths limped on in private ownership until 1868 when it was transferred into public ownership.

The railway station is definitely not Georgian or Victorian.

IMG_1399It’s brutal (I learned that word from watching Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs!) appearance looks very Stalinist.  A quick internet check revealed it was built in the late 1930’s.

We headed out of Leamington Spa noticing that the workers have completed the residential development adjacent to the canal at Tachbrook Road Bridge.  It was just a noisy construction site when we last passed by in September 2016. 

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Shortly afterwards a passing runner calledl out he was a blog reader!  Hell we are constantly surprised by the number of people who read these incoherent ramblings! 

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We were in open country to the east of Leamington Spa when he returned and then boarded a moored narrowboat.  So now we have met blog reader Roger from nb Paneke.

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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Boats in the night and Time stood still

It must be change over day!  At 1.15am we were awoken by the sound of a passing boat.  Upon looking out the window I saw an old ‘springer’ heading towards Warwick.  The steerer was all wrapped up because it was rather cold and wet.  I guess there was enough light from the street lighting adjacent to the canal because he didn’t have his boat headlight on. Going back to sleep proved rather difficult for both of us and consequentially we were yawning for much of today.

Jan actually woke me at 7.30am but on looking at my watch it was 11.58.  It’s been 11.58 ever since.  My watch was purchased in Banbury back in 2007 so it’s probably not surprising that it has finally stopped.  It’s solar powered but then I realised there had to be a rechargeable battery inside otherwise it would stop during the night.  I will probably try dismantling the watch to see if there is a battery and whether it can be replaced.  No point in buying a new watch if it only needs a £1 battery. The problem will be my eyesight.

We noticed an unusual building behind Aldi.  On first glance I thought it was a mosque, but the domes are the wrong shape.  Next I thought it might be Eastern Orthodox.  But the ribs on their domes tend to have a spiral effect.  So it has to be a Sikh Temple……. and I’m right because it is the Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and WarwickConstruction started in 2008 and was completed in 2009 with money raised by the local community.

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We didn’t have a camera with us so I used the phone camera.

This is the temple that was in the news last year when there was a protest outside over a mixed marriage ceremony that was being conducted inside.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Valentines Day

Guys, sometimes it pays to avoid adverse consequences by ignoring potential trouble. 

I suspect a former colleague is still attempting to remove an egg whisk and cork screw from somewhere very delicate!

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Leaving Warwick

It was time to leave Warwick, although I did notice one other building before we departed.

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Obviously some type of legal connection.  And then I noticed the name of the street.

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The day started cold but by midday we didn’t have the stove running.  The first part of the cruise was very short because we needed to stop above the Cape Top Lock and add some water to our half full water tank.  Whilst waiting we took the opportunity to do some exterior boat cleaning.  Jan worked Waiouru down the two locks which means we must now be in the bottom pound.  From here on all the locks will be up until we reach Hillmorton.

I don’t remember the new housing development between the locks when we came this way last September.It’s amusing to think 60 years ago no one would want to live next to a stinking, dirty ditch and now it’s a prime location! 

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We arrived at the Tesco moorings to find only one moored boat, and that left within 15 minutes of our arrival.  There was a large CRT presence with a working party cutting back the towpath vegetation.

Jan did a big shop and then I went for the last of the heavy items.  It will be another short hop to Lidl and Aldi tomorrow.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Humble pie

I had to eat a large slice of humble pie today when UPS delivered the replacement laptop battery to Keith & Jo (nb Hadar) just after 9am.  I was able to trace the delivery on the UPS website and it was in Gateshead early Sunday morning.  By Sunday afternoon it was in Preston and then in Tamworth when I looked at 8am this morning.  The delivery was much faster than I’d anticipated and I’m also very grateful to Keith & Jo for allowing me to use their address. 

The battery installation instructions stated the battery would only be 30% charged due to international regulations on the transport of Li-on batteries.  The battery contains a miniature circuit board which is supposed to “learn” when it’s fully charged.

I laid a hand towel on the galley bench and set out the tools I would need to replace the battery.

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I needed a small cross tip screwdriver and a plastic card.  Don’t use a credit/debit card because it might be damaged during the process.

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The new battery rated at 44 Watt hours.

The first step is to remove all the screws from the base.  Then use the plastic card to”pop” the clips holding the base to the body.

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It’s then a case of removing the old battery and replacing it with the new one before reassembling the laptop.

IMG_1396The laptop has to be placed on charge until the battery is full.  It will need to go through at least three full cycles before the memory recognises it’s true state of charge. 

Today wasn’t all about the laptop.  We went into the Saltisford Arm for a replacement calor gas bottle and a pump-out.  It’s a month since we last pumped out at Hawne Basin and the tank gauge was on quarter full.   At this time of year we think it’s a good idea to have a large reserve in the tank just in case we get frozen in.  On the move again tomorrow!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Radio and the Battery

I know….. I’ve kept you in suspense for 24 hours waiting to find out about the radio I set out to buy at Aldi.  After walking up and down the aisles three times I came to the conclusion all the stock had been sold.  Well it had to happen at some stage.  Then as I approached the checkout I noticed six of them stacked in the last basket.  So Jan didn’t miss out after all.

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Once back on Waiouru I started doing some work using the laptop.  Usually the battery starts to go flat after a couple of hours but to my surprise it seemed to be holding up remarkably well.  After an hour the battery symbol at the bottom of the screen was still showing 94% charged.  And then the laptop just died!  Pushing the ON button wouldn’t restart it.  Eventually I turned on the inverter and plugged it into the 240V charger.  The laptop then started but the symbol at the bottom of the screen stated “No battery found”. 

I’m not about to spend £400-600 on a new laptop so the obvious solution was to buy a replacement battery.  Of course the battery is inside the laptop which means it will need to yet again be pulled apart.  The thing I hate about buying computer components via the internet is you often don’t know where the supplier is located.  Every website I visited didn’t state where they were based.  Some stated they had a UK warehouse and many of them stated 2-4 days to deliver.  I’ve been caught before, ordering from the internet with the supplier stating they had a UK warehouse and leaving the impression they are a UK company.  Eventually I discovered they were in Thailand and didn’t even have the part in stock.  However I need the battery and placed an order.  Within an hour I received an email accepting my order and providing a transaction number, along with advice the battery would be delivered on Monday.  Thirty minutes later I received another email.  This time from UPS advising they would be delivering my package and I would be able to track its progress once they received it.  It’s all very positive….. but I don’t trust them.  I suspect I’m receiving emails from an automatic computer system.  I’ll start believing the replacement battery is on its way when UPS send me an email advising they have it.

Today we walked into Warwick with the intention of having lunch at the local “spoons”.  It was  rather cold today and we were both therefore rather pleased to eventually reach the warmth of the pub.  Only to discover it was packed and every table occupied.  There were people standing around waiting for tables.  Even the locals appeared puzzled with the situation.  We decided to leave and wander around the market returning later after the crowd had thinned. An hour later the “spoons” was still full.  However we managed to grab the sole vacant table for two by the front door.  It soon became obvious why the table was vacant.  Every time someone entered or left a cold blast of winter air would wash over us!.  At least it forced us to eat quickly!   Actually we’re getting tired of “spoons” microwaved food and have decided to vary our eating venues in the hope of a little more variety.

Now tucked up inside the warm saloon with the fire going.     

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Radio

Jan noted Aldi were selling a retro radio that she rather liked.  The nearest Aldi is in Leamington Spa and I decided it might be an interesting walk.  I could have used the towpath but it’s currently very muddy in places and we’re also very familiar with the route.  An alternative was to walk south through Warwick and then turn east.  This would taken me away from the canal and perhaps see something different.

We’ve visited Warwick Castle on two previous occasions but this is the first time I’ve been able to view it from the SE.  I neglected to take a camera so the photos in this post were taken using the phone.

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IMG_20170209_120433These were taken from the middle of the bridge over the River Avon.  If my memory hasn’t failed, there is a castle hydro power station on the river at the base of the castle.  I think it was first built as a mill and then converted.

At the eastern corner of the castle is one of the old town gates.

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A brief search revealed this is East Gate with St Peter’s Chapel on top.  The gate was reconstructed in the early 15th century and the chapel had to be rebuilt in the late 18th century.

Opposite was a narrow lane with some interesting looking houses.

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Walking up the hill into the town centre I noticed what appeared at first glance to be a covered pedestrian walkway through a building, and then I realised it was the entrance.

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My next thought was that a some point the road had been widened up to the building.  Now I suspect part of the building was demolished during the widening.

Further up the hill is the Punch Bowl pub.  Nothing particularly interesting about it until you read the writing to the right of the entrance.

PANO_20170209_121706Untitled-1I hadn’t heard of the ‘famous’ Warwick tunnels.  Upon reading the Punch Bowl website <here> it appears the current owners also can’t find the tunnels! Smile