Tuesday, 28 February 2017

On the move

The weather forecast for today was for intermittent showers but we decided to move anyway.  It was a case of slipping the mooring ropes and slowly moving forward around the corner to the CRT services.  Where we managed to slip in behind a boater who was occupying one of the best moorings in Braunston.


Some boaters have unusual rubbish….. a bath and a mattress?????


It was a rather quiet cruise to Hillmorton passing four boats going in the opposite direction.  We’ve now cruised this length of canal so many times it has become rather boring.  However we will always associate the moorings at Onley with Les & Jaq Biggs.  It was here that we finally got to meet them having read Les’ blog for several years prior.  A gentleman who we will sorely miss! 


The construction of Dunchurch Pools Marina looks to be nearly complete.  The design was for 550 moorings which means it will be rather large when completed.  Hillmorton Locks are already the busiest on the inland waterways and I would imagine the queues in summer will get even longer! 


Light rain started to fall as we approached the moorings above Hillmorton Top Lock and we decided to stop for the day.  Our timing was almost perfect as the rain started to hammer down whilst I was in the middle of erecting the pram cover. Smile

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Braunston Walk

What a difference a day makes.  We awoke this morning to a colder but calm day with some sunshine.   I decided to take a local walk to get some exercise and see how the local countryside had coped with yesterday’s storm.

I’ve previously walked to the west, east and south, so this time I went north.  The first part of the route followed the towpath towards Hillmorton.

Braunston WalkThe spire of Braunston Church is the most recognisable landmark around here.  Or perhaps it’s the most recognisable landmark to boaters!

P1030776About 2km into the walk I came upon some temporary plastic green mesh fencing. Upon looking further I noticed what appeared to be a repaired hole in the canal bank.


This was opposite the plastic mesh fence.  There’s also a culrvert under the canal nearby.  I suspect a hole had appeared in the canal lining and the water was escaping into the culvert.

P1030778The culvert is on the other side of the gate in the above photo. 

I turned right onto Longdown Lane crossing the canal and heading uphill towards Barby Village.  As I gained height there were good views north towards Hillmorton and Rugby. 


I think those are the two high apartment blocks in Rugby and the water tower at Hillmorton.

Further up the hill and looking south-east I noticed the home of a poor English farmerSmile


This is Frolesworth Lodge Farm and there’s something fowl about it. Yes, it’s the home of free range turkeys in Leicestershire.

Another right turn and I could leave the road to follow a public footpath across the fields back to Braunston.


I had to use the camera zoom to close in on the church.  It was here that the path came close to a farmhouse and I could see the farmer working on the greenhouses in his backyard.  He commented that the weather was better today and I asked if he had experienced any damage.  That’s when he showed me all the glass panes in his two greenhouses had been blown out.

After that it was an almost straight walk back to Braunston.

P1030783Jan had the Hurricane heater on and we both indulged in an early hot shower before dinner! 

Friday, 24 February 2017


I woke up three times last night.  Each time it was midnight….. Yes, the wristwatch has stopped again. Obviously I’m not very menacing!

Having a watch that doesn’t work can lead to obesity.  We had a good breakfast and started settling down inside the cabin to sit out Doris when I glanced at my watch and realised it was midday.  Whilst I didn’t feel hungry and we only seemed to have breakfast in the very recent past, I decided to eat.  Oh, then I remembered the watch had stopped!  I nearly had a second breakfast.  As part of my weight loss program the watch has now been taken it off.

So what happened to Storm Doris.  There was some rain and wind but nothing major.  I ventured outside to check everything on the cabin roof.  One inflatable fender had moved slightly but apart from that we were unaffected. 

Two boats went past during the day.  They weren’t hire boats so I guess they had to get back to their moorings.  It must have been interesting steering in some of the more exposed section of the canal.

I spent much of the day designing a bed using Google SketchUp.  I made our first bed and will be making our next one as well.  It’s going to be a soft-sided waterbed on a pedestal.

Bed drawers3

The bed will consist of two longitudinal box sections made from dressed pine.  Having it in two sections will make it easier to move.  There will be four large drawers on either side and one huge drawer.  The large drawer will be used to hold recently dried laundry.  The warmth from the water bed heater will air the contents of all the drawers.  Whilst the lattice framing will be made from pine the exposed exterior will be clad in Jarrah and Red Gum.  Both are Australian hardwoods.  So hard that I’ve burned a saw blade trying to cut Jarrah.

BedendThere are no colours in SketchUp that match Jarrah & Red Gum but you can get a rough idea of what it will look like.  The next job is to make a material and timber cut list.  At least this will keep me out of trouble.  

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Laptop and the watch

It appears I have been neglecting some of our readers.  Whilst this blog uses Google Blogger I don’t directly use the program.  All the posts are written using Open Live Writer (OLW) and are directly published into Blogger from OLW.  We get automatic email notification when a reader leaves a comment.  It was only by chance that i happened to load the Blogger dashboard today and discovered a number of unpublished reader comments for which no email advice had been received.

I’m going to directly respond to each here. . 

John I agree with your comment regarding the location of the pipe chicane.  Perhaps it was just too hard for them to carry the pipe and tools!  Or perhaps they didn’t want to kill a cyclist. Smile

Jo, as always, we enjoyed yours and Keith’s company.  Hope you enjoy Gloucester!

Davidss, I think we might be onto a winner with the radio.

KevinTOO, yes Halfie also sent a link regarding the unusual vehicle.  I thought it might have a motorbike engine but it’s an electric car manufactured in Norway.  Frankly I think the vehicle’s range is too limited for it to be very popular.

OK,back to the laptop battery.

You may recall recently the laptop battery died and I had to replace it.  The accompanying instruction stated that it might take up to three full cycles for the laptop to register the new battery state of charge.  That appeared to happen!  For three days the operating system reported there was no battery detected.  Despite this message the laptop would run on the battery.  But I didn’t known how much charge was left in it.  On the fourth day the laptop wouldn’t start on battery power and neither would it charge on 240V.  Houston we have a problem!   My first thought was It a dud battery and then perhaps it’s a laptop problem.  Look for the simple things first!  I pulled the back off the laptop and disconnected the battery power cable.  With the back off I plugged the laptop into the 240V and turned it on.  Once it started I turned it off and disconnected the 240V cable.  I then pushed and held the power button for 20 seconds on the theory that this would dissipate any residual power in the system.  I then reconnected the battery cable to the laptop and plugged in the 240V before turning the laptop on. Success!  The laptop recognised the battery was attached and started charging it.  Problem solved.  It’s interesting just how long the laptop will now run on this new battery.  Around 4-5 hours.  I hadn’t realised just how degraded the old battery was before it died.

Logically my solar powered wrist watch must have a rechargeable battery inside, otherwise it would stop during the night.  There are four tiny screws holding the back panel on the watch and I guess there is a rubber seal inside.  I do have some jewellers screwdrivers and a magnifying glass courtesy of Poundland.  However I don’t want to take the back off until we are closer to a town where I might be able to purchase a replacement battery.  I’ll also need some needle nosed tweezers to pick away at the insides.  If I fail to fix the watch then I won’t have lost much as the watch is currently a cheap paperweight.  

Subsequent note.

The wrist watch must have been reading this draft and been terrified by the thought of me opening her up and performing an organ transplant operation. The watch has started working again!

They heard we were coming…

An overcast start to the day but with a storm forecasted for Thursday we decided to move to somewhere less isolated.  Jan had read that Braunston was full, however she hadn’t anticipated word of our impending arrival reaching moored boaters. We must have passed 5-6 boats leaving Braunston after turning to port (left) at Napton Junction.

The cruise was both familiar and uneventful. Actually we recognised many of the moored boats from previous cruises along this stretch of the canal.  There were a number of unusual or interesting boats with this next one particularly catching Jan’s eye.


We turned to starboard (right) at Braunston Turn Junction and decided to cruise as far as the entrance to Braunston Marina where we would wind.  The idea being to see what moorings were available.  It turned out there were plenty of vacant moorings (our impending arrival had preceded us!).

Dredging has been undertaken locally as there was a dredger moored in the entrance to the marina.  It appears the marina has been dredged because what looked to be ‘tailings’ have been spread on adjacent vacant land.


We cruised back to a vacant mooring just before the Boathouse pub.

I went off to buy some more Alpha Red Craftmaster paint whilst Jan put the joint of pork and vegies on to slow cook.


Obviously she wouldn’t attempt to cook them this way whilst we were on the move. However I have to tell you that the cooked Asda pork joint was delicious.  You could almost cut it with a fork!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Down the Hatch

An Anglo-Welsh hire boat slowly went past us at 7.30am this morning and the crew gave a very friendly wave as I peered out the porthole. “Bugger!”  I thought, now all the locks will be against us!  Later in the day we received an email from Linda & Jerry Anderson whom we met last year when going through Harecastle Tunnel.  They were on the Anglo-Welsh boat moving it from Tardebigge to Stockton.  And the locks weren’t in their favour either!

We worked up the first two locks of the Stockton Flight stopping at the water point opposite the Blue Lias.  Jan already had a load of washing going in anticipation of filling the tank.  There is good water pressure here, but despite that it still took 20 minutes to fill the tank.  We must be clean people!

Around the corner are the remaining eight locks of the flight.  They are close together and we couldn’t see anyone coming down.  We’d gone up the first two and I was setting the third when Jan called out advising a boat had appeared at the bottom.  We decided to wait for Nick & Anne on nb Down the Hatch to catch up. With two experienced crews the locks went much faster. 

Anne mentioned Nick used to read the blog.  However Nick told me he only looked at the photos (must be some Australian blood there!).  Actually Nick told me he used to look at the blog when he was trapped in an office.  I can relate to that having done the same thing for two years waiting for retirement.


Nick & Anne on NB Down the Hatch.

We met a single handed boater coming down at lock five and then a second boat at the top lock.  Fifteen minutes later a working boat selling fuel appeared travelling in the opposite direction.  I enquired about some diesel (we like to support working boats) but was told he had no diesel for boats?????  


Work on the arm at Willow Wren appears to be continuing.  We wonder if they intend to develop it into a marina?


nb Down the Hatch turned into Ventnor Farm Marina whilst we continued on to Calcutt Bottom Lock.


There was a strong cross wind below the lock landing and opposite the entrance to Calcutt Marina.


Jan went up to the lock where there was a crew attempting to lock down and turn into the Marina.  They were struggling because the wind kept blowing them against the towpath.  I cheated and used the bow thruster to get off the edge.However I still “crabbed” into all three locks.  The water level in the pounds between the locks was a good 18” down. 

We stopped cruising for the day above the top lock and spent the afternoon tending to a few chores.   It turned out to be a good decision as there was light rain mid-afternoon.

Monday, 20 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!


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!>  


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.


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


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.


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?


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


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


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


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.


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!

Sunday, 19 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.


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.


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).


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.


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


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.


Saturday, 18 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.


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


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.


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.


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. 


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! 


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.