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.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Time to leave and a known boat

Our time in Coventry Basin was up.  No other boat had appeared since our arrival and we were the only private boat in the basin.  We had a few concerns about being moored there on a Friday night but all was well.  Perhaps due the the frequent showers!

After doing all the pre-start checks we headed…. nowhere.  Until I had made another of those interesting trips down the weed hatch to remove a large number of dead urban jellyfish from the prop shaft.  It was a slow trip back to the moorings opposite the Ricoh Arena in an effort to avoid accumulating more of those pesky jellyfish.  When there are no leaves on the surface the water is quite clear.  It’s amazing what people throw into the canal.

At the Ricoh Arena moorings the edge was so shallow we couldn’t get against the bank.  Jan had to get off at the bow and I jumped from the stern.  It was sprint around the aisles with me pushing the trolley and Jan holding on for grim death.  I’m not much of a browser in supermarkets.

Jan stowed all the vittles whilst I steered Waiouru to Hawkesbury Junction.  There were patrons outside the Greyhound so I made sure I didn’t stuff up the turn.  We haven’t seen a moving boat for two days and yet we met one at the stop lock.  It was in our favour so we went through and then moored on the water point…. but only to fill the tank.  A boat appeared from behind whilst the tank was filling and Jan said she thought she recognised it!

Jan wandered back to confirm her distant observation.  She was right!

Parisien Star her new owners are still enjoying her.

Once the water tank was full we crossed to the other side of the canal on a good 7 Day mooring.  We’ll be here tomorrow as the Sunday roast at the Greyhound is beckoning.  We’ve been spoilt this week.  Four meals at the Greyhound!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lightening Trip

After travelling at 4mph for the past six months today’s land based trip to Birmingham seemed to pass very quickly.  There were two clear options.  Either use the senior’s bus pass and travel from Coventry to Birmingham free or purchase a £5.30 return rail ticket.  The rail journey would take 25 minutes and the bus 1 hour 25 minutes.  Being retired and with plenty of free time I chose the latter option.  These buses usually wander all over the countryside passing through small villages which meant I’d get the scenic route.  The bus pass can’t be used before 9.30am Mon-Fri and the timetable showing the nearest bus to that time was at 9.28am.  Obviously I’d have to plan to depart on the next bus after 9.28.  There is a regular service between the two cities which meant there wouldn’t be much of a delay.  Unfortunately the online timetable appears to be obsolete because I watched the next bus go past me as I was walking to the Coventry bus station.  But then I’m retired with time on my hands.  Eventually I was able to board the 10.15 bus.  The other geriatrics were just flashing the driver (I mean flashing their bus passes).  However when I tried it he noticed I was a foreigner and directed me to place the card on the e-reader.  Sorry Berkshire Council, I think you are going to receive a bill!  My fellow OAP’s couldn’t manage the stairs which enabled me to grab a top, front seat.  Great views but the seat steadily became more painful to sit on as time passed.  A very thin foam swab!  The circular route went through a number of local villages, including one that had a war memorial to the cyclists killed during WW1.  I hadn’t realised cyclists were used during WW1 and was surprised to read on Wikipedia <here> that the first cyclist units were formed during the Boer War. They were quieter and easier to maintain than horses.

The route took us through Birmingham Airport and Small Heath; where we had attempted to purchase our boating boots last year; before finally reaching Moor St Station.  I then walked across the CBD, stopping at Tesco to buy some lunch, before reaching Old Turn Junction.  My destination came into view and it’s interesting to see the NIA minus most of the scaffolding.

I heard a boat horn as I reached the Malthouse Pub and arrived in time to see a well known boat making the turn towards Sherborne Wharf.

Paul,  You never know who is watching from afar!  Smile

I was turned back by one of the construction site safety supervisors when attempting to enter the NIA from the south side.  He informed me I could gain access to the exhibition from the north side.  Walking around to the north side and I still couldn’t find the entrance.  Tried the west and east sides without any success.  By now I was thinking of mentioning to the exhibition management that they need to improve their signage.  Finally I asked one of the construction workers how one gained access to the Caravan and Motorhome Show.  He told me it was being held at the NEC. “Where’s that?”  “At Birmingham Airport!”   Oops…..  I must have passed it whilst on the bus. 

By now the stomach was asking the throat if it had been cut and so I found a vacant park bench beside the Town Hall and ate my chilled Tesco sandwiches.  Across the square some Scandinavian tourists were being photographed.

I wasn’t going to allow the day to be a failure and walked back to the bus station to catch the No 900 to the NEC.  The driver very kindly point out the stop.  After alighting I climbed the stairs and then commenced a very long walk to the relevant exhibition hall.  I was on my own and was anticipating having the exhibition to myself.  It was quite a shock to eventually reach the show and discover a seething mass of humanity.  It covered 12 halls and it was packed.  The South Australian camping and caravan show would occupy less than 5% of this floor space.  Fortunately I had my joggers on and was able to elbow my way through the ambling would-be grey nomads. 

There were so many caravans and motorhomes you would either need to have done prior research and produced a shortlist or be prepared to spend several days here.  I particularly wanted to look at fifth wheelers.  There’s only one UK manufacturer and they have a rather nice unit.

However it has two disadvantages, weight and price.  £56,000 for the base model is rather expensive.  At 3200kg kerb weight it’s also heavy.  Finally, the sales rep put me off by “winging” answers to some of my technical questions.  Yes, I had actually done my research on this aspect of the trip!  Note to myself:  If I do this again allow a full day!

The journey back to Waiouru was uneventful, but at least more comfortable, as the seats had better padding!  Jan had more success and managed to buy in the Coventry Market the enamelled roasting dish she has been looking for.  A very good price too!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

To Coventry Basin

A number of boats passed us early this morning and by twitching the curtains it was possible to identify them as probable live-aboards doing a 14 day shuffle. The morning was looking very promising and Jan suggested we move whilst the sun was wearing its hat.  Time to leave Hawkesbury Junction!  Nothing on the exterior of the old pump house suggests anything has happened in the way of restoration since we were last this way.

Attempting to find more information about the engine pump house I read it was built to drain the local collieries and the water was emptied into the canal.  However two sources stated it was built to provide water for the canal with a 100 year old engine being installed in 1821.  The engine came from one of the local collieries and was named “Lady Godiva”.  The pump extracted water from an underground stream.  However this water source eventually proved inadequate and a deeper shaft had to be dug in 1937.  This required a second and more powerful pump.  In 1913 the water table dropped further and the pump house fell into disuse.  The second pump was scrapped during WW2. “Lady Godiva” remained in place until 1963 when it was moved to Dartmouth, the birthplace of Thomas Newcomen (designer of the pump), as the centrepiece of a memorial museum.

Looking back.  Pity about the cable in the foreground and the high transmission pylons in the background.  Abracadabra

That looks much better! Smile

The canal to Coventry Basin is mostly good cruising however there are a few places that need the attention of a dredger.  We decided not to stop at the Tesco adjacent to the Ricoh Arena.  Something we might do on the way back.  The water point is located just prior to the basin and one boater appears to have scored the best mooring in the area.

Can’t do much better than bollards and your personal tap.

Actually it’s not quite as bad as the photo suggests.  There is a second tap with room for one boat to moor.  On entering the basin we discovered there were only two moored private boats and one of these belongs to the boater looking after the moored Valley Cruiser hire boats.  So it’s just us and one other boat in the basin.

In the afternoon we walked to the nearby retail park to see what was available.  There’sa large Morrisons supermarket, Staples, PCWorld, MacDonalds, etc but nothing that interested us.

Left arrow – retail park.  Centre arrow – Canal Basin.  Right arrow – Sainsbury’s supermarket. 

We wandered back to Waiouru via the city centre stopping at Sainsbury’s to purchase a few items for dinner.  We need to take the trolley back and do a larger shop.

With 24/7 CCTV coverage of the basin it’s unlikely we’ll experience and problems.  Actually it was rather quiet when I wandered around to take some early evening photos.

It seems a canal engineer’s working day is particularly long!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Local cruise

The day started with a few hours of tidying up the boat before our visitors from yesterday returned for a short cruise on board Waiouru.  We decided to go back to Marston Junction as the trip would include some countryside and pass Charity Dock. 

Mel took the tiller after I’d winded at Hawkesbury Junction and did a very good job for his first time.  However he quickly returned the tiller to me on arrival at Marston Junction and almost as quickly reclaimed it after Waiouru had been winded.  He made an excelled job of getting the boat back against the edge on the mooring.

We then all retired to the Greyhound for a slightly late lunch.  David and I tried a half of the Shipwreck Coast.  Obviously this English beer is an acquired taste.  After saying our farewells we returned to Waiouru to find the Smartgauge had an E03 error on the display.

The error message means there has been high voltage reading on the batteries.  It’s the second time the error message has occurred since fitting the reconditioned 175A alternator.  My guess is the Smartgauge is correctly identifying the high voltage produced by the Sterling PDAR.  The PDAR has a software routine that regularly forces the alternator to produce a short period of high voltage to de-sulphate the battery plates.  Well I hope I’m right!

There has been a change of plans and we have decided to go to Coventry Basin for a couple of days before proceeding further south.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Overseas Visitors

It’s been a busy day, hence the late post.  We were both up early and before 8.00am had moved down to the water point at Hawkesbury Junction.  A boat was already using one of the taps and fortunately our hose was sufficiently long enough to reach the other.  However the pressure was woeful and it took almost an hour to fill the half empty tank.  The boater moored behind us approached me and asked if he could borrow our gas spanner.  He went on to explain that he hadn’t actually lost his because he knew where it was…. at the bottom of the canal!  I suggested to him that it was moments like these that you need a powerful magnet.  He then told me he had a powerful magnet but it was with the spanner because the string broke!  After all that excitement we moved off the water point finding a good 7 Day mooring just before the junction.

At 11am the first of our overseas visitors arrived.  David and Lynne are currently in the UK on holiday having just completed a transatlantic cruise.  Whilst they live in Australia they are dedicated cruise ship devotees.  We all retired to the Greyhound Inn for a few drinks whilst waiting for the second couple to arrive.  Mel and Sandra also live in Sydney, albeit they originate from the UK.  The way Mel tells the story was part of his marriage proposal included an overseas honeymoon.  What he didn’t tell Sandra was he’s done it on the cheap signing them up as £10 poms.  He claims that the plan was for a two year working holiday before they would return to family in the UK.  Well the two years ended quite some time ago and it appears they have no interest in experiencing UK winters.

Whilst Mel was raised in Colchester I suspect there might be some Scottish or Yorkshire blood in his veins.  When collecting the rental car he decided the cost of renting a gps was unjustifiable and consequentially he and Sandra made the 11am meeting at 1pm. 

Jan, David, Lynne, Sandra & Mel in the Greyhound with Hawkesbury Junction in the background 

After a delicious late lunch  in the pub (Jan and I both had the pie) we all retired to Waiouru where the boat was given a thorough inspection.  David & Lynne had last seen her two years ago when we were living aboard in the tent at Aldermaston.  It was a first visit for Sandra and Mel.  The plan is for them to return tomorrow and go on a short local cruise.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bloatware

WARNING – Nerdy non boating post

I get rather annoyed when you purchase a device such as a mobile phone, tablet or pc which is full of “Bloatware”.    Bloatware is defined as:

software whose usefulness is reduced because of the excessive disk space and memory it requires.

or

unwanted software included on a new computer or mobile device by the manufacturer.

Several months ago I removed all the bloatware from our new laptop.  It took me a couple of hours, but that was actually easy compared with the task of removing the bloatware from the new Samsung Galaxy S4 phone.  Much of today and part of yesterday was spent stripping out all the un-necessary “crud” (unwanted applications) that filled the phone storage space and slowing it down.

Whilst Samsung would tell you they pre-install these applications for your benefit, I’m convinced they actually get paid by these third party application providers to install them on every new phone.  They also make them very difficult (but not impossible) to remove.  Our phone came with 16GB of total storage.  However more than half had already been used by these unwanted applications when it was taken from the box.  After several hours I’ve reduced the number of non essential applications from 286 to 56.  The used storage space is now just over 3GB.  Google was my friend, but you do need to be careful as it contains a large amount of conflicting advice. 

I didn’t remove this bloatware to recover the storage space, but rather to reduce the risk of inadvertently giving away personal information.  Many of these applications want my location, my email address, mobile phone number, ability to track me, waist size, inside leg measurement.  Well maybe not the last two!  Having harvested this information they sell it to people who want to bombard me with fantastic offers.  Frankly I want the phone to make phone calls, and send the odd text message.  Google maps helps me move around cities and the camera is good for the odd photo.  But I’ve never taken a “selfie”!  I use the alarm clock and the calculator. Even do the odd bit of surfing the web.  I don’t need Samsung Hub, Samsung Wallet, Google play, Google+, BBC News, The Weather, A health monitoring program, voice recognition, etc, etc.

The only good thing I can say about the entire process is it filled in a miserable wet day. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Maps and a misty start

Blog reader Gerry on NB Dash left a comment asking where I obtain my maps from.  I use six different types of maps and five are free. 
For canal cruising we use Paul Balmer’s excellent canal maps (Waterway Routes).  They provide all the detail we need to safely navigate around the network.  These are the only maps which have to be purchased.
For casual walking around the area in a city I’ll use Google Maps.  As we don’t have a data plan on our android phones we tend to download the required portion of the map and use it offline.
I use Google Earth to check some of my planned longer rural walks to ensure the footpaths actually exist.  It can also give me a better idea of the terrain.
I like to upload missing data to the Open Street Map project.  What I will do is look at the online Ordnance Survey (OS) website map (free) of the area I’m in and check what footpaths are on the OS map but not on the OSM.  I then make a trace of these missing paths and upload them to my gps.  When I’ve walked the paths and captured the data on my gps I upload the paths to the OSM website.
If I need to find a post code I use the Post Code Finder website.  By zooming in on the area of interest I can see all the relevant post codes.
The maps I use for general browsing and planning my routes along with vehicle routable (voice direction) come from Talky Toaster.  The owner of this website uses the OSM data to produce maps for Garmin Gps devices.  I use his maps on my handheld Oregon GPS and Nuvi car GPS.  If you only want to view the maps on a pc then it is also possible to install his map onto a Windows or Mac pc using the Garmin BaseMap program.  Both the BaseMap program and the Talky Toaster maps are free.
This is how you do it
Download the BaseMap program from Garmin here and install it only your computer.  Go to the Talky Toaster website and scroll down the list of maps until you find the follow version.
“Mapsets For Use With PC ONLY (MapSource or BaseCamp)
140816-British-Isles+Contours-Routable-MapSource.zip”
Download the above zip file and install it.  Talky Toaster provides some additional instructions on how to install the mapset in his FAQ section here.  Scroll down to paragraph 2A.
I find the combination of BaseCamp and Talky Toaster maps have more detail than Google Maps.  I also find the map layout much easier on my eyes than the electronic Ordnance Survey maps.

Change of subject

As usual, Jan was up with the sparrows and thought the condensation on the porthole glass was unusually heavy.  It took a few seconds to realize that there was nothing wrong with the double glazing, it was very misty outside.  Eventually she woke me (still waiting for that cup of tea and biscuit in bed…….. a small voice in my head tells me it’s going to be an unusually long wait) and I made the weekly call back to dear old mum. 

Meanwhile Jan could hear a thumping noise and looked out the window to see a working boat appear from the mist.
Eventually I stuck my head out the rear doors to have a look.
Nope… not much to see around here!  Jan managed to take a photo in the mist of an elderly, fat, grey haired, nefarious individual interfering with our bow rope. 

I didn’t see him, however Jan rather cruelly suggested he look similar to me!

We decided to move to Hawkesbury Junction and headed off very slowly in the mist.  Visibility was about two boat lengths and after crossing with the first boat decided to turn on our headlamp to provide some early warning of our approach.

There were a couple of suspicious characters on the bow of a boat at Charity Dock. 

These don’t look like the actions of normal people.

Blog reader Ade had sent me an email in which he mentioned his interest in following the canals on Google Earth and that he had seen an old arm at Bedworth.  He also sent a link to some information.
The location of the arm can be see on the following to extracts.  The first is from Talky Toaster’s OSM and the second from Waterway Routes gps canal maps.
Looking at the names of the surrounding location in the first map give a hint that this area used to be mined.
Ade’s link had a photo.
Basin Coventry Canal Coal pit fields Bedworth, 1968.
Above photograph by Geoff Edmands, from the Nuneaton Local History Group Collection

And this is what the entrance to the arm from the Coventry Canal looks like today.