Friday, October 31, 2014

Administration day and another boater meeting.

After a visit to Braunston’s butcher and being relieved of some of our hard earned coins we returned to Waiouru to spend much of the day catching up on administration.  Living on a boat isn’t one long holiday.  Bills have to be paid finances attended to and we still have a house with a tenant that requires attention.  One passport also had to be sent for updating.  There’s no rest for the wicked!

However there was still time for another couple of chats with Mick and Pip (nb Lillyanne) before they departed.  It was 23 August when we first met whilst moored at Rodney on the Leeds – Liverpool with us going in opposite directions.  Actually we had each covered a similar circuit but in opposite directions.

Just on noon there was a toot from a passing boat which Jan identified as nb Doo Lalli Ali With Chris and Alison aboard.  We last saw them at Calcutt on 7 May last year.  <blog post here>

And a photo from that meeting.

There was time for a chat with them before they headed up into Braunston for a fish-n-chip lunch.  From the conversation I gleaned this year they had gone as far north as Marple and were on their way back to the marina after visiting the Thames via Oxford.  Lovely to catch up with them… albeit briefly!

Oh I finally managed to dispose of the waste oil from the last two engine services. Some of it we’ve been carrying since we left Rugby in late May.  Braunston Marina has a waste oil collection tank which is free to use provided you dispose of the containers.  So we are now 20kg lighter in the stern. Smile

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Bow Thruster Battery Bank

I failed to mention in yesterday’s post that I almost asphyxiated myself removing everything from the bow thruster locker in an effort to find the source of the smell.  Now I realise what submarine crews have to contend with.  It wouldn’t be a pleasant way to die!

The defective sealed battery was venting quite badly and I needed to get it out of the locker and off the boat.  Raising the cratch cover allowed more fresh air to circulate and by working swiftly I was able to disconnect the terminals.  But not before turning the Bow battery isolation switch off.  Just to make sure there was no shorting of cables I seriously taped the ends of the removed cables.  The battery was then placed on the towpath where it continued to vent and cool.  By this morning it was as dead as a dodo. 

We headed towards Braunston just before 10.00am and moored on the Midland Chandlers customer mooring.  Obviously batteries were high on the shopping list but I also wanted a couple of replacement fenders and a chrome cupboard hook to to replace the one broken on the rear cabin doors.  The swindlers had batteries in stock and before purchasing I made sure they would take the old batteries as part of the purchase.  When one battery fails it’s best to replace all the batteries in that bank as the faulty battery can have affected the others.  Consequently we needed to replace both batteries.  They have a dual terminal setup with both threaded and non thread studs.  Fortunately the swindlers had suitable replacement batteries in stock and they would also take the old batteries.  I assume these get recycled for the lead.  I was rather pleased when the sales assistant told me he would give me a 20% discount as I was buying two.  The rest of the morning was then spent replacing the batteries.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a simple job of taking the old out and replacement them with the new.  The new didn’t have exactly the same terminal layout and I had to modify the timber battery case.  This required the removal of part of a timber lip inside the case and the only saw we own has a very fine tooth 6” flexible blade.  However by taking it slowly I got there in the end.  Once the batteries were secured I turned on the isolation switch and Jan tested the electric pole.  We were back in action.

Everything was re-stowed back in the locker and we moved off to find a vacant mooring just beyond the first entrance to Braunston Marina. Mick and Pip (nb Lillyanne) are in front.  We first met them when going in opposite directions on the Leeds – Liverpool Canal a lifetime ago!  Jan and I thought they were around Birmingham and got a surprise to see them in Braunston.  Mick is still attempting to resolve their problem of insufficient heat getting to the calorifier.

In the afternoon I wandered around to Tradeline Rope & Fenders to purchase another two of their excellent rope shackles.  We used one to secure the centrelines to the roof and appear to have misplaced our spare.  At £4.50 each I find them good value for money and it saves the paintwork on the roof.

Next stop was the chandlers at Bottom Lock where I managed to purchase a replacement chrome cupboard hook for the rear cabin doors.  At £11 it wasn’t cheap but we need it otherwise it’s very difficult to secure the doors in the closed position when we’re both on the stern.

Last job for the day was to have another play do some serious investigating into the TV signal reception. Braunston probably isn’t the best location to do this as I’ve noticed the surrounding houses have aerials pointing at 180deg to each other.  If I can’t solve the conundrum here then we’ll have another look at it when moored in a more exposed location.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hillmorton and what’s that smell!

After disposing of the rubbish responsibly and doing the last of the food shopping we slipped our mooring and headed south in grey but fine weather.  Jan got to see the small changes at Clifton Wharf before we passed the golf course moorings which to our surprise, had only one boat on them.  Shortly thereafter we met our first moving boat.  It was Pip and Roger on nb WindsongThere was only enough time to call out before we had passed going our separate ways.

The water pressure below Hillmorton Locks is always poor so we had lunch whilst the tank filled.  To our surprise there were two volunteer lock keepers operating the lower lock.  Apparently this ceases at the beginning of next month.  One of them recorded Waiouru’s boat index number which will mean an update to the CRT boat movement database.  In response to my query the lock keeper told us the work on the top locks had been completed with the top gate on the left lock being replaced and the bottom mitre gates on right also being replaced.

You might be able to see the 2014 plaque on the top beam

The mitre gates also look new as they are unpainted.

Jan thought CRT had also replaced the paddle gear as it appeared to wind very easily.  I also initially thought it was new as I didn’t recognise the design.

Then I realised the paddle gear on all six locks was the same and deduced it was highly unlikely that all of them would have been replaced.  It’s more likely we’ve become used to some rather “rough”paddle gear during this year’s cruising and had forgotten just how good the Hillmorton Locks are maintained.  It is one of the major arterial canals will approximately 10,000 boat movements annually.

We hadn’t gone more than a kilometre when we noticed a foul sulphurous smell like rotten eggs.  Jan thought it might be something the farmer had sprayed on his crop whilst I thought some errant boater had emptied their cassette into the hedgerow.  Suffice to say the smell disappeared.

It started to drizzle on the approach to Barby Straight and then settled into light rain.  At the end of the straight we decided there was no need to cruise in the rain and started looking for some piling to moor against.  A kilometre after Barby Straight we found a vacant spot and moored.  Jan went inside whilst I erected the TV aerial, stove flue and pram cover.   A shout of alarm from Jan drew my attention to a potential problem inside.  The boat stank of rotten eggs!  Logic kicked in.  Possible causes

  1. Passed that smell and odour was trapped in the boat.  Highly unlikely
  2. Leak from domestic battery bank.  Checked batteries – all OK.
  3. Leak from toilet tank.  Checked tank – no leak.  Took cap off pump out point and had sniff.  No… ours doesn’t stink!
  4. Plumbing issue with blockage and gas build up.  Run water through galley sink and hand basin.  No problems.
  5. Hose disconnected to shower pump and grey water emptying into the bilge.  Check hose and connections all OK.  Run water through shower – all OK.
  6. Check smell from filled water tank and water pump.  Everything OK.

By now the smell was starting to dissipate and I was thinking we might not have a problem.  Were we chasing ghosts?  Jan was convinced the smell was stronger in the bedroom and cratch.  I checked the side locker and diesel tank.  No smell!  This left only one other place.  The bow thruster locker.  It’s the last place I want to check because it’s stuffed full of junk essential items you might require at some future date.  Who wants to empty their bow thruster locker in the rain.  So I started removing everything from the locker and was almost overcome by the fumes.  Eventually I was able to get some fresh air into the cratch and remove enough of those essential items to see a vapourish gas leaking from the bow thruster battery compartment.  After unscrewing and removing the lid I could see one of the batteries was venting (they are sealed lead-acid) and was quite hot to the touch.  We had found the source of the smell.

I turned the bow thruster isolation switch to OFF and disconnected the battery before carefully wrapping the bare cable terminals in insulation tape.  The battery was then removed and placed on the bank.

I wonder how long the battery has been slowly failing?  At least we are close to Braunston where there are three chandlers.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blackpool

Youngest son had advised us he was coming to London to attend a wedding and asked if we’d like to meet for a day.  We; of course; agreed and asked what he would like to do.  “Well I haven’t seen Cornwall!” 

Somehow we couldn’t see ourselves going to Cornwall for a day in autumn!  “Where else would you like to go?”  “I haven’t seen Blackpool!”   It wasn’t on our bucket list, but then there are obviously thousands of people who do like to go. I collected a rental car from Enterprise in the morning and we all headed north.  The journey took longer than anticipate.  Apparently Liverpool and Blackpool aren’t the same place!  OK, my excuse is that one of the disadvantages of using a satnav is you only get to see a very small portion of your overall journey!  Anyway, suffice to say we reached Blackpool around 1.00pm.  I know we had turned our clocks back one hour in the last couple of days but I hadn’t realised that going to Blackpool meant it needed to be turned back another 40 years.  The beach looked grimey and the sea was grey.  The waterfront was crowded with amusement arcades full of chinese made junk. 

Blackpool has its own version of the Venetian Gondola.

There must have been at least two dozen of these going up and down the foreshore.  My assumption Is the following is a Blackpool pimpmobile.

I don’t believe I have sufficient courage to be seen in one….. unless blind drunk!

The most dominating feature in the town is the tower.  Opened in 1891 after the mayor had visited the grand exhibition in Paris and had seen the Eiffel Tower.

Whilst it is open to the public you can see it’s currently under restoration. Daniel and I made a bad decision and decided to go to the top.  To my surprise there was a long queue at the ticket office.  Eventually we purchased tickets and walked to the fourth floor where we discovered another queue for the lifts.  After 15 minutes the queue reached a board announcing from this point it was 60 minutes to the lift.  We had made a serious error in judgement and they had our money.  Reader you might be forgiven for thinking Blackpool Tower is owned by an American entertainment company because from this point onwards there were various stops where the queue was distracted from the waiting.  It also enabled crowd control by breaking the queue into groups.  I hated the waiting.

Eventually we reached the top.  The lift opens out onto a foyer with a glass floor which you can see in the photo below.  Not knowing where they had purchased the glass (China?), what thickness and how it was secured I sensibly refused to join the masses who walked out onto it!

There were two higher levels open to the public but they were only accessible via a spiral staircase.  I noticed only 25-30% of the visitors bothered to access these top two levels.

Some nice original ironwork.

Daniel starts back down to the main viewing level.

Trying to find something to eat proved to be somewhat of a disaster.  Daniel wanted a restaurant that served a nice fish dish.  However the whole area was 90% fish and chips with the remainder being kebabs or hamburgers.  In the end we went into the Wetherspoons on the beach front only to discover their menu was also mostly fast food.

I wouldn’t want you to think I have nothing positive to write about Blackpool.  I did gain the impression that Blackpool was attempting to reinvent itself and throw off its past as a cheap holiday destination.  But I think it’s going to take some time.

You might have expected the journey home to have been quicker, but we got ourselves caught up in two separate traffic jams.  The last was a major one on the M6 which had us stuck in a queue for 40 minutes before being diverted onto secondary roads. Canals are so much easier.  It was a long day!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fury

Being Sunday we needed to look for a suitable location for lunch.  In the end we decided to walk to the Thai restaurant in Rugby and partake of their Sunday lunch smorgasbord.  It’s not cheap, but we both like Asian food.   Albeit, it’s western style Asian food!

The route took us down the side of Tesco where the trolley shop stewards were having a meeting about the previous night’s events.

It must have been a humdinger of an affair because over the far side Bob and Alf were trying to get a paralytic Trevor back on his wheels.

Yesterday I mentioned Homebase was moving to a new location behind Range.  I managed to take a photo of the site today from the top of the pedestrian bridge over the railway line.

There is a sign stating the opening is in Spring 2015 which leads me to believe the building will probably be a simple steel framed structure with a concrete base and clad in metal sheeting.  In other words….  a tin box!

Clocks went back an hour overnight.  That obviously didn’t include my automatic watch because we arrived at the restaurant an hour early. Sad smile  Time was wasted usefully employed browsing through Asda and the shops in the mall before returning to the restaurant for lunch.  It’s obviously very popular with the local Asian community as they didn’t have a vacant table for two without some serious searching. 

It seems slightly strange to enter a Tudor style building and find the interior decor Asian.  My days of being able to stuff large quantities of food down my throat appear to be over.  Meanwhile Jan liked the food so much she subsequently had it again.  Nothing against the food… it’s our stomachs.

In the late afternoon youngest son and partner arrived on the train to visit us and we all went to the Steam Turbine pub for dinner.  both Jan and I sensibly ordered a small meal and still struggled to eat it!  Daniel and Joyce gave a good account of their recent 7 week backpacking holiday through South America before we headed to the nearby cinema.  Jan wasn’t interested in the film and went back to Waiouru to watch Downton whilst Daniel, Joyce and I stayed to watch the latest Brad Pitt film, Fury.  It’s based on events surrounding an American tank crew in the last days of WW2.   I thought Brad Pitt acted rather well but I didn’t find the film that interesting.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Too late and two faults

An extended shopping trip today.  Well it was rather a case of three shopping trips to get everything back to Waiouru.  Our first trip included walking to Homebase, Rugby in search of a new water hose.  We arrived to find the shop both closed and empty.  When I walked past yesterday afternoon it was open.  They must have closed and emptied the store during the night.  A member of staff appeared and confirmed Homebase had closed.  It will reopen in early 2015 behind the Range store. (Jan thinks it will be behind TK Max – time will tell which of us is right) We were 14 hours too late!

The FreeView signal was still poor with a lack of channels and most of those we did find were pixellated.  After some fault finding I determined that we either had a poor signal or the powered antenna was failing.  The quality of the signal has been erratic for some time so I guessed made an educated deduction based on available evidence that the problem was the MoonRaker DTV1000 antenna.  It’s four years old and we decided to replace it whilst we were close to Maplin.  Another shopping trip to buy the antenna after which it was fitted.  This rectified the problem with the small TV in the bedroom but the main TV still had a problem.  After swapping the coaxial cables between the TV and NMT I deduced the problem was a break in the coaxial cable going to the TV.  Back to Maplin for a replacement cable.  It looks like this has solved the majority of the poor TV signal, although we do appear to be in a slight dead spot.  However we still have the dot.  Mentioning the dot….. We managed to record a program from the FreeSat box to an attached thumbstick.  The captured data had a file extension of [filename].ts which wasn’t recognised by any of the media programs on the laptop so I renamed it to [filename].mpg.  This enabled me to strip out the Ads and convert it to avi format.

At one point Jan glanced up and was convinced she got a glimpse of Derwent6 passing!

In the afternoon Jan managed to combat load the supplies into the pantry and freezer so we are good for at least another couple of weeks.

I keep looking at the rust and scrapes on the rubbing strakes and telling myself I should really get on and do something about them………. tomorrow……. if it’s fine!

Friday, October 24, 2014

On the move and some changes

After a discussion last night, this morning we decided to wind (turn around) and head back north.  Actually we didn’t go very far north, just far enough to top up with diesel before winding again and returning south to Newbold.  We took 107 litres into the two domestic tanks and 40 litres in the propulsion.  My rough calculation suggests our average daily engine diesel usage is four litres and we usually run the engine four hours daily so you can work out the hourly consumption.

After topping up the water tank at Newbold we moved down to Brownsover mooring on the towpath side where to our surprise there were only two other boats.  A poor DTV signal had us retune both TV’s without success.  I then checked the TV signal cabling and it looks to be fine.  Either we have a poor reception or the powered antenna on the roof is getting older than us.  If we can find a location with good coverage and the signal is still poor then it will have to be replaced. 

I wandered down the towpath to Clifton and then back via Rugby.  Clifton Cruisers has changed ownership since we wintered over there.  Some of the transportable buildings have gone and the area is being used to store or maintain boats.  There were also a couple of moored Black Prince hire boats so I assume it is a new Black Prince base.  There doesn’t appear to be any vacant moorings and boats were even moored two abreast at the wharf.  I wonder how many boaters will stop for a pump out or diesel?

I’d heard the retail park opposite Tesco and adjacent to the canal was being redeveloped and being nosey went to have a look.  All the buildings up to Homebase have gone.

Halfords is still there.Well it has to be there because I bought 10 litres of engine oil and took it back to the boat! Smile Tomorrow we will walk to Homebase and see if they have a good quality water hose.  One that doesn’t kink!  There will also have to be at least two trips to Tesco.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sorted!

Yesterday I managed to get the TV and FreeSat box working on 12V.  However in doing this I had to use the HDMI and 12V power cables from the Network Media Tank (NMT).  The HDMI cable runs through the roof between the insulation and the ceiling lining.  Whilst I installed a conduit through the ceiling along with a spare draw wire during the fit out I wasn’t convinced the large plug on the end of the HDMI cable would fit through an already crowded conduit.

I couldn’t get to sleep last night because of this conundrum.  The last thing I wanted was a stuck or broken cable and I certainly didn’t want to remove all the trim and pull down the ceiling lining.  Then at 12.30 it dawned on me.  Why do I have to keep the NMT with the FreeSat box.  If I moved it to the same location as the TV it would be located very close to the TV (HDMI requirement) and the Empirbus node (12V power supply).

So that is what I did today.  Out came the head torch and toolbox.  A few hours later the job was complete.  There was even time to walk into Rugby and get my haircut by the nice lady who has a very reasonable price for oldies like me!

Oh….. initial indications are I might be was right about reduced battery usage on 12V.  The batteries were reading 93% charged this morning.  Usually its 82% or less.  I’ll have to monitor it for a few more days to confirm the idea is a success.

The last job has been to search e-Bay for another DC-DC step up converter.  There’s a supplier in Hong Kong selling them for £3.52 including postage.  I just need to obtain a UK delivery address.  Nothing is impossible!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pheasants and some TV Modifications

There obviously hasn’t been sufficient walking of late because my belt has been let out another notch.  After dinner yesterday evening I went for a stroll down the towpath.  It was actually after dusk and I could hear what appeared to be pheasants in the trees on both sides of the canal.  Knowing the camera lens takes a reasonable photo in the dark I pointed it at the trees and pressed the shutter.

I knew they were up there somewhere!

At the end of a straight I could see light streaming from the cabin window on a moored boat.  The camera photo almost makes it look as if it was daylight.

You can see the light spilling from the right cabin window on the nearest boat.  That’s almost all I could see with the naked eye.

This morning we took advantage of the sunshine and moved further south.  I reversed into Lime Farm Marina with the thought of topping up the heater tank.  The only people around were Debbie & James (nb Lois Jane).  Debbie was the first to appear calling out “Hi Tom, it’s me, Debbie!”  Of course I recognised her having been one of their blog readers for quite some time! James then appeared but it wasn’t a long chat as we were hovering in the entrance with horizontal steel rods sticking out of both side of the bank just waiting to take off our two pack blacking.  James & Debbie are having some modifications done to L-J, but they can blog about that! 

We went on past Amada Boat Hire (also closed) and filled up the water tank at Newbold before moving on to moor around the corner.

In the afternoon I decided to make a start on modifications to the TV setup.  Many modern TV sets now use much less electricity and frequently have an external power adapter (brick).  Our Samsung is no exception and after having a good look at the power ‘brick’ I realised the TV runs on 14V DC and uses 58 Watts.  It is consuming about 4.2 amps.   I’ve previously looked at the Victron Battery Management Meter and know the Victron inverter uses 5 amps even if every 240V appliance is turned off.  That got me thinking about converting the TV to run directly off the batteries.  However the problem was that the FreeSat box also required 240V to operate.

Today I collected a replacement 12V FreeSat box.  Moreover this box has two USB ports for external hard drives or thumbsticks.

USB port and 12V socket.

2nd USB port on the right side

This FreeSat box can record the TV program to the hard drive or thumbstick connected to the USB port.

Connecting the FreeSat box to the boat 12V supply was easy.  I just cut off the power brick and wired the cable into the Empirbus system where it’s already digitally fused.

The TV was slightly more complicated because I needed to increase the voltage from 12 to 14.  However you might recall back on 18 April 2013 <link here> I wrote a post on how I’d made up a converter for the laptop which increased the 12V to 19.2V.  After checking the rating of the converter I realised it would work with the TV.  This afternoon I cut the end off the TV power cable off the ‘brick’ and then dismantled the converter before connecting the TV cable to the secondary side.  Then I changed the output to 14V by adjusting the small screw.

Now the TV and FreeSat box are working directly from the 12V supply and we have saved at least 5Ah. 

There are two outstanding related issues.  The HDMI cable that runs from the FreeSat box through the roof to the TV has a broken internal core which means you have to be very careful not to move it or else the signal is lost.  It’s a pre-existing fault which I’ve been too lazy to fix.  It will be one of those cold and wet winter day jobs.  The second issue is the Network Media Tank.  I disconnected it to use its 12V power socket for the FreeSat box.  It’s not a big job and can also be done on a miserable day. 

All of these modification now mean the only time we need to run the inverter is when we need to use the washing machine or the vacuum cleaner.  And I should really make up another DC-DC power converter for the laptop seeing I’ve modified the original converter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Walk Pt2 and what storm?

After exploring the Tump (motte) I followed footpaths in a north-westerly direction towards that large industrial complex. The route took me through almost flat countryside, some of which had recently been planted and green shoots were already appearing.  Despite the signposts directing me to walk across a newly sown field I just could not bring myself to trample down some hard working farmers crop.  Still, the detours added to the length of the walk.

On reaching the industrial complex I discovered who owned it.  We currently don’t need to purchase a car, however I wonder if they give a discount for door sales?

The factory is at point “B” on the following map extract.

A – The Tump.  B – Rolls Royce.  C – Coombe Abbey Park.  D – Long footpath

It was not long afterwards that I realised I was almost at the outskirts of Coventry and I could probably walk to the Canal Basin.  However I turned south continuing through the fields until I hit some woodland. 

To my surprise the paths in the woodland were in excellent condition and after walking without seeing anyone I was surrounded by walkers.  It wasn’t until I reached the noticeboard beside the lake that I realised I’d walked into some type of country park via the back door.  When I reached the centre it became even busier.  By now I was wondering if I’d have to pay to leave via the main entrance.

It wasn’t until I returned to Waiouru that I was able to find out some information about Coombe Abbey Hotel.  The grounds are known as Coombe Country Park and are run by Coventry City Council.  Coombe Abbey was founded as a monastery in the 12th century but changed to royal ownership after that fellow Henry decided to start his own church.  In 1771 Capability Brown redesigned the gardens.  Brown developed a new English style of garden which was extremely popular with the ‘landed gentry’ of the day.  He designed over 170 gardens.  His style appears to have been to make an artificial environment look natural.

Coombe Abbey was owned by the Earls of Craven until 1921 when it was purchased by Coventry City Council who opened it to the public in 1966.

Opposite the main entrance gate is a long and straight footpath (point D on the map above).  My guess is this was once a main arterial route for estate workers heading to the main house.

The route back to Waiouru took me around fields of corn which were being harvested.  There was a steady stream of tractors and trailers moving between the harvested and the storage silos.  This resulted in me having to make a number of detours to ensure I stayed away from their route.  One unexpected benefit from this was I came upon an apple tree growing in a hedgerow that was laden with small, ripe apples.  No good for eating but they will go well in jam or a pudding.  I stopped to pick a bag before continuing.

After a shower I stripped everything that was loose off Waiouru’s roof and carefully laid it beside the boat placing something heavy on top.  The idea was to avoid any damage during the forecast storm.  Jan and I then went foraging for sloes in the local hedgerow.  We must have picked a kilo which Jan intends to use to make sloe jam.

Well it rained during the night but we awoke to a clear blue sky.  I telephoned Jaq & Les who are further south and was informed they were getting a right old belting from the storm.  So here’s a couple of photos of our mooring!  

OK…. there were a couple of clouds  Smile

Obviously you have to know how to pick your mooring.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Blue Moon, The Full Monty and The Tump

The weather didn’t look too bad this morning consequentially a walk was planned for the local area.  This time it was to the west of the canal and on examining the map I was surprised to see how close we are to Coventry.  The walk ended up being about 18km, but more on that later.  On my return to Waiouru I was in need of a hot shower.  Jan had already run the engine to top up the batteries which meant there was plenty of hot water.  It was a great shower… bliss!  However on exiting the shower I realised I’d left my change of clothes in the adjacent master bedroom.  Realising that there were no bungs in the bedroom portholes I made a dash for the bungs and bent over to slam one into the towpath side porthole.  No passing walkers were going to catch me without my trousers!  Reader you can imagine my surprise when I turned around to see a female face looking though the canal side porthole.  I now hate boats with quiet engines.  As for the look on the lady’s face,  well it was; of course; admiration!  She got blue mooned and the full monty.  It either made her day, or she won’t be looking through portholes for some time.

Back to the walk.  Bridge 34 is looking rather sorry for itself.  There is a large crack from the parapet to the arch.  Water has obvious got behind the parapet and the side is starting to bulge.  Some repair work has been attempted with short sections of plastic pipe being inserted into the base of the arch in an effort to drain the water.  This is unlikely to be anything more than a temporary measure.

The planned route had me skirting around the northern edge of Brinklow village.  On reaching the outskirts of the village it was possible to look back over the fields and see Waiouru in the distance.

There she is….. right in the middle of the photo.  What….. you can’t see her!  Notice how the surface of the fields look like grandmas pantyhose.

Off to the right was a hill that dominated the local terrain.  It was almost a perfect inverted cone shape and looked artificial.  Nature doesn’t usually produce a feature with straight edges.  Deciding to divert from the planned route I walked to it and found Brinklow “Tump”. 

You can see the round knoll in the above photo.  This is actually the motte of a Norman castle.  A motte is an artificial mound of earth upon which a wooden or stone keep would be constructed. This particular site consisted of a motte and bailey.  The castle had at least two rings of protective ditches.  These can be better seen from the top of the motte.

Google Earth provides a good top view of the motte

Commanding views to the north from the motte

And just as good a views to the west.  I suspect the distant high ground is near Ludlow where there is a location named “Richards Castle”.  It would make sense of the few Norman lords to ensure they had selected commanding features on which to build their castles.  The locals have named the motte “The Tump”.

Brinkow’s St John The Baptist church with a large factory in the distance which is my next walking waypoint.  The origins of the church date back to the 14th century and it may have survived because Brinklow is located very close to the Fosse Way thus providing it with regular communications whilst other nearby villages fell into decline and have now disappeared from the map.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Late Start and unusual boat

It was Sunday…. “ET phone home”.  Not much has happened to dear old mum during the week.  She did run out of her pain relief medication at the end of last week and didn’t get to see the doctor for a new prescription until Friday.  The drugs must have almost been flushed from her system as she had some powerful dreams during the last two nights.

We pottered around on the boat until noon and then went to the Greyhound for the Sunday roast.  The meals were of the usual high standard and we staggered back to Waiouru with bloated bellies.  The plan was to take advantage of the good weather and move to a mooring near Brinklow Village.  The weather forecast is for high winds tonight and tomorrow so we don’t want to be moored near or under any large trees.

On leaving the mooring at Hawkesbury Junction we noticed the name of the boat moored two in front of us.

The Tui is a native New Zealand song bird.  Often you hear their warbling before you see them.  They are of the honeyeater family and feed on the nectar of the native plants. As such they are an important pollinator of native trees and shrubs.  During WW2 the members of the NZ Women’s War Service Auxiliary in North Africa and Italy were commonly known as “Tui”.  The Royal New Zealand Navy has had two ships named Tui.  The first was a Bird Class minesweeper which saw service during WW2 and the second was an ex USN oceanographic ship which the RNZN had from 1970 to 1997.  I actually worked on HMNZS Tui in 1970 when attached to the navy.

There were several mothers out with their new-borns on the western side of Ansty.

Yes… I’m pretty and I know it!

Last time we passed this way earthworks were being undertaken on the edge of the canal just after Bridge 26.  I said to Jan at the time that it would make a good mooring but looked more like a boat ramp.

Perhaps it is a small private mooring?

As we passed the long line of moored boats on the approach to Rose Narrowboats it looked like a boat from the opposite direction might be going through the narrows where the pedestrian swing bridge is located.  After a considerable amount of manoeuvring they did open the bridge and proceeded towards us.  It was a bit of a squeeze but we managed to cross.  Then we realised another boat was coming through the narrows.  We couldn’t loiter on the water point to let the boat pass because there was a hire boat moored on it which was NOT filling with water!  The other steerer must have decided a cross over was not possible and reversed back out of the narrows allowing us through.  Then another boat appeared behind the boat that had reversed making the area rather congested.  We made it through the narrows at a very slow rate as the water was more “leaf soup” than water.

Looking back as the 3rd boat goes through the narrows

“Leaf Soup” was an issue throughout most of the cruise requiring bursts of reverse to throw them off the prop.  Approaching Bridge 34 we passed another rather interesting boat going in the opposite direction.

I’m not sure what style of boat this is?  It doesn’t look like a narrowboat or a narrow dutch barge!

We managed to find a good mooring beyond Bridge 34.  A gap between the trees on the offside has allowed the dome to find the dot and we have a hedge on the towpath side which will hopefully provide some protection from the forecast bad weather due tonight.