Sunday, 7 December 2014

All Sorts

The title was going to be ‘Wing walls, flying boats, tidying up and poo tanks’ but that seemed to be a bit over the top but none the less that’s what has been happening over the last few weeks.
Most of the work at home has been to tidy up the garage/workshop so I can actually work in there. Its been OK up to now with the fine weather because I could work outside with the larger projects. Fortunately all the bigger machinery is on wheels so it can be shifted about.
Been doing quite a bit with the Grantham Canal Society lately. A work party down at Woolsthorpe clearing scrub from the off side of lock 17 and one at Harlaxton clearing self set trees and shrubs from between towpath and canal but cried off early because my new safety shoes were giving me grief. Think they will be for the bin unless I can find a way of spreading the steel toe cap.
Some of the lads have been re-pointing the top wing walls at lock 17 and have done a marvellous job in very dirty conditions. Making temporary dams so that the pointing can be done right down to the canal bed.
Ralph hard at work. As you can see even with the pound drained there is still water about. They have only been able to dam off a small section at a time yet have managed to work all the way round. Hats off to them.
At the same time the society has become the proud owner of the weed boat ‘Osberton’
Leaving Rugeley
Now in Woolsthorpe depot in readiness for repainting and reassembly. If anyone out there is feeling rich or would like to help raise funds to assist the society with this project have a look on the website Better still come and give us a hand.
I know blatant begging bowl stuff, but it is in a good causeJ
On the T-A front, the water tank has now been drained down with the intention of lifting the top to recoat the inside once it has dried off. And a new sender unit has been purchased for the black water tank after the old one let us down last time.
No more floats and arms it is all done ultrasonically. Progress innt wonderful.

Monday, 17 November 2014

In A Whirl

Lots going on at the moment but not a deal with T-A. Been down to the boat a couple of times to clear the roof and start getting ready for winter.
The main event over the last few weeks has got to be our day out in London. Starting out at St. Paul’s and walking down to the tower along the embankment with its views of the shard and HMS Belfast.
Only one picture of the poppies at the tower as there have been so many shows on TV.
Look beyond the red and see the hoards of people surrounding the moat to get a view –they go all the way round.
Just as we were going in a warship came through tower bridge so I wanted to get a picture of the bridge raised.
But all I managed to get were the crowds.
Inside the tower fortunately for us was a lot less crowded but no less amazing.
Apart from the usual there are various sculptures all over the place.
Look closely and you will see they are made from just chicken wire – amazing.
The main project is clearing out the workshop so I have enough room to work inside during the bad weather. Otherwise I has been doing some of the autumn jobs around the garden.
On the Grantham canal front there have been a couple of work parties doing a bit of tidying up and sorting out.
At long last the information board for Clarks bridge is back in place.
There seems to be a few canal developments as well, but more of that in the future.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Discovery Day

Hard work but it was well worth it.
Some of the motley crew taking a lunch break after putting up the marquee on Saturday
John, Tony, Mike, Bob, Rosemary, Bob and Ralph.
Not all of them by any means but Tony and Rosemary are the main organisers and have done sterling work to make the day a success once again.
A misty start to a long day and the WWI field kitchen is being lit in preparation to provide vegetable soup for the workers.
‘Ay up me duck’ (AKA Tony) ready to meet the public and promote the Dirty Duck race.
The mayor of Grantham enjoying the Lancashire clog dancing.
 He and the mayoress really seemed to get involved in all the events and there were plenty of them. (No not mayors)
And they’re off!
The duck race started at 2.22 and of the 200 ducks taking part I had the dubious honour of winning the booby prize for the last duck over the line. A water pistol to shoot my duck.
Lots of entertainment, stalls and interesting displays I haven’t been able to mention but it certainly was a grand day out. I hear the boat trips were all sold out but didn’t have a chance to get up to lock 18.
Rain forecast for Monday so everything was cleared away and the depot was left as if nothing had happened. A pint of shandy in the Dirty Duck and home – totally Christmas crackered.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Trip Diary (Part 2)

Saturday 27th Septmber
Huddlesford to Branston Water Park. A longer day than planned. Slow run back to Fradley  where we stopped off for water before the swing bridge. Back onto the T&M and making better headway stopping for lunch at Alrewas and to give the dogs a break. Carried on to Branston Water Park but this may not have been a wise move after seeing all the rabbits and squirrels running around. This means the dogs will not be allowed to run free.
11 Miles  9 Locks
The obligatory photo.
Sunday 28th September
Branston Water Park to bridge 24A.
Plenty of boats moving today, even had two pass before 07:00. Had a lazy start and set off about 11:00. The last two narrow locks negotiated with ease as boats coming through in the opposite direction, not much traffic going our way. Presumably it’s hire boats and people having to get back for start of work on Monday Stopped off at Stretton bridge 29A for some fresh supplies. Another rural setting tonight in earshot of the railway but nothing to be seen.
7 Miles 2 Locks

Tonight’s mooring
Monday 29th September
Bridge 24AWillington to Aston lock
Fairly early start due to weather forecast being a bit  uncertain for the afternoon. Stopped off at Stenson to exercise the dogs and met up with a lovely couple on an old (1928 I think she said) ex working boat called Mecca. Shared the next three locks with them, planning to stop in the next pound down but ended mooring  just above Aston lock as we could not get anywhere near to the side.
11 Miles 3 Locks
Tuesday 30th September
Aston lock to Zouch. Once again we were luck with locking partners all the way to Kegworth Deep lock on Water Vole. Only Zouch lock was negotiated on our own. It’s amazing how good company can speed up and make the journey even more enjoyable. Passing a boat on the Soar above Kegworth Deep got a call from the lady on board that she follows the blog. Well, I was so gob smacked I forgot to make a note of the boat name – Sorry.
We have had so much glorious weather on this trip that it looks like we will be home two days early. Had a couple of days built in to allow for days not fit to travel (Us being fair weather boaters) but none have been needed. The slow cooker has been on all today so it is stew tonight. Had been planning on a pub meal on the way back but early running has put paid to that. But there is always tomorrow.
11 Miles  7 locks (Not counting 4 open flood Locks)
Wednesday 1st October
Back to Pillings a day earlier than planned. Had thought about a stop over at Zouch but the black water tank has decided otherwise. Gauge shows empty but tank is definitely full. The gauge has never been reliable and I suspect the original wiring configuration may be the cause of its failure.
Pump out and back to our mooring for lunch. Load up dogs and washing before getting away home.
Thursday 2nd October
Catching up with the gardening, things are still growing well with all this fine weather.
Since then it has been a case of doing a bit more woodwork and more catching up in the garden.
Today and from now on it will be going like the clappers with everybody else trying to Help Tony and Rosemary set up for the Grantham Canal Society Discovery Day at Woolsthorpe depot behind the Rutland Arms (Dirty Duck) pub on  Sunday 12th October. Lots to see and do  see website for details
Book your duck for the famed duck race.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Trip Diary (Part 1)

Sunday 21st September
First day of our trip away. Loaded up boat and ran Pillings Lock to Zouch for night stop and meal at Rose & Crown for our wedding anniversary. Plenty of compliments on the way about the boat and one chap in a canoe even asked if the boat was electrically powered. Gave the engine the once over in view of the recent service to find everything OK. Nice short run so we could go for a meal to celebrate our anniversary but unfortunately no meals owing to staff problems. Ah well fish and chips back at the boat. Slept like logs.
6 Miles 2 Locks
Leaving Zouch lock
Monday 22nd September
Another glorious day, Zouch to Aston lock on the Trent & Mersey. Not a lot to report other than it was a thoroughly enjoyable cruise. Good luck with the locks being able to share or having boats emerge or arrive to save on gate openings.
12 Miles  6 Locks (Not counting 4 flood locks)
The Trent above Sawley locks
Tuesday 23rd September
Aston lock to Willington. Set off for a short day about 09:30 following a CRT tug and work boat. Had to take it steady as we seem to be dragging bottom in places on this pound. Caught up by a charming couple at Weston lock where the CRT men kindly waved us through.. As we were taking our time they went ahead and we stopped to let the dogs off and managed to go hard aground doing so. Sods law prevailed with two boats either way as we were trying to reverse off. Shared the next two locks with a single handed tug who upset Karen by insisting on opening the gate paddles well before the water was up to the cill and these locks are over 10ft deep. Stopped for the night at Willington next to the Derby – Birmingham main line but this didn’t keep us awake. Found the local Co-op andmanaged to get some shopping in..
9 Miles 3 Locks.
Stenson lock
Wednesday 24th September
Willington to Alrewas. A gentle trundle down 4 ½ miles to our first narrow lock in Burton set the scene for the day, still scraping bottom in places. Stopped for water at Barton Turn not so much that we needed it but to pull the bow down in the hope of raising the stern and by and large it seems to have worked unless the following pounds are that bit deeper. Moored up this evening just after Bagnall lock. Can’t get over how fine the weather is for this time of year
13 Miles  7 Locks
First Narrow lock under bridge 32a in Burton
Thursday 25th September
A nice slow start to the day. Karen went shopping in Alrewas and came back full of praise for the village, especially the butchers. While she was away the top got dropped and the towpath side of the boat got a quick sluice down. Up four locks and hard left at Fradley into the Coventry canal. Took it slow again to stop the back end dragging in some of the shallow bits. Touched a boat coming the other way at Bell Bridge after running hard aground on the inside of the bend even when a boat width off.
Noticed a fluctuation in the water gauge as we approached Streethay Wharf. Karen reports no taps dripping so we stopped for lunch just after the bridge beyond the moorings. Passing Streethay saw ‘Centurion’ the boat I did my RYA course on last year.
During lunch I inspected the water system and found a dripping pipe at the water pump. Soon sorted but needed to get about ten gallons of water out of the bilge. Set off again making better time as the pound seems deeper since passing Streethay.
Started looking for a mooring  after Whittington but it all either seemed too narrow  or too open in the breeze so kept going until the wooded area just after Tamhorn Park Bridge. The off side warns for firing range, so must not upset the neighbours but it is so quiet  and peaceful here in the trees. Just sitting here listening to the birds and the breeze in the trees and bit of classical music in the background. Karen is busy at the breakfast bar drawing leaves and hawthorn berries. The dogs have run themselves to a standstill and flaked out. No TV reception but what the heck. Chilling out or what?
9 Miles  4 Locks
Tonight's mooring
Friday 26th September
Tamhorn Park Bridge to Huddlesford via Bonehill Bridge Winding hole.
Late start to the day as we were still chilling and only intended to get as far as Huddlesford for a meal at the Plough where we had dined with old friends Tony and Lesley some 6 years before when we were on a hire boat trip. Both of us had the steak and ale pie which was very reminiscent of the Crossroads at Weedon some 30 years before.
8 Miles  0 Locks.
A view that may jog a few happy memories J
More to come.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Well I’m playing catch up again. Since the last entry some more work has been done on the new door tops but not a lot.
The new design incorporates an outward sloping surface with raised ends to ensure rain is kept to the outside.
When up the top has alip which stands proud to run off any water from above.
Still lots more work to do but you get the general idea.
Popped out to Hickling to see what remained of the base for the information board and found it to be rotted so will need replacing also. While out that way I popped into Bassingfield for some timber to convert the old gas storage(We had 4x47Kg bottles for the heating before mains gas arrived in the village) into a paint store to free up more space in the sheds.
In between bouts of woodwork and gardening there have been work parties happening on the Grantham Canal around lock 17 at Woolsthorpe which has started leaking into the lock keepers cottage garden if left full. First job was to clear the access from an adjacent field to allow us to get equipment and plant in.
Next clear off the slime off the brickwork to see what was what,
 and it would seem there is a lot of re-pointing to be done
I have since heard that the mortar is badly degraded and the wing walls may need some serious work.
On top of all this T-A has had her first 250 hour service. Yep she is 5 years old but not seen much use. Owing to the lapsed time all filters and oil replaced and everything given a good going over. Got a trip planned and we don’t want too many problems do weJ
Following days spent loading up and getting ready for the off.

Monday, 8 September 2014

On A Whim

Another pottering about week. Met up with Scott from CRT on Monday, seems like one of the information boards on the Grantham Canal is in need of repair and it has been suggested I might be able to do something with it. Turned out that it needs a new frame after the old one has rotted off at the bottom.
Doing a bit more work on the wheelhouse doors and finally ran out of sapele that I could use so it was over to Market Harborough to get some more on Wednesday. Got a couple of 8 foot 15” x 2 ½” boards   I also picked up a piece of white oak that should do for the notice board frame.
That little lot should keep me busy for a while. J
Looking at the weather forecast we decided, what the heck, lets have a couple of days out on Trudy-Ann so Thursday saw me taking down bedding and the like before doing a bit of hovering round the house (eek) ready for Friday.
Friday morning it was just a case of load up the dogs and fridge stuff and we were off.
No big licks just a gentle cruise down to Zouch sharing locks with another couple. Moored up using the new fenders as the stone edge here has a noticeable slope.
And they worked a treat.
Karen gave the old girl a good scrub down while I touched up the paintwork scraped at Holme lock.
In the mean time the dogs were having fun romping up and down the towpath.
Finished the day off with a first rate meal in the Rose & Crown. This is the life.
Saturday dropped through Zouch lock to wind and back up to moor so we could give some TLC to the other side before another gentle cruise back, this time sharing locks with one of the Pillings day boats on a birthday treat.
Roll on the time when we can do this on a regular basis.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

It's All Go At The Mo

Tuesday was spent vainly trying to catch up with some of the jobs around the house and garden.
Wednesday morning doing the regular trip to the butchers and into Melton for a restock on dog food and household stuff. In the afternoon disappeared into the workshop cutting timber for the wheelhouse door tops. Not been to Market Harborough just yet, working on the principal that when I run out of wood completely I’ll have a better idea of what I need. At the moment I’m recovering odd bits of usable timber from under the benches.
Work party with GCS on Thursday surveying the self sets. For my part walked from lock 16 to Casthorpe bridge (Br 64). Plenty of work to do here as we have the go ahead from CRT to remove all the self sets and scrub between the towpath and canal over autumn and winter. Most of the sets are young ash, sycamore or willow, not very big but just too big to pull out by hand.
Friday. Working on the new wheelhouse door tops and popped over to Screwfix for some new hinges and the like. Trying to get a outward sloping angle so that water will drain from between the top and bottom sections. This is proving to be a pain. If it was just a case of running it through the saw it would be no problem but the bottom section is raised at each end so it must be cut by hand. I’ll post a picture when the hinges are fitted and both parts can be seen together which should make more sense.
Out with the GCS again on Saturday, tidying up the depot and then joining the work parties out at Casthorpe bridge doing the preparatory work ready to start sapling removal in earnest as soon as we pass the official autumn threshold (Sept.1)
Clearing out the yard this morning (I seem to have been making a lot of sawdust just lately) and splitting a few logs ready for firewood. In the afternoon it was over to Newark for the CRT open day at their dry dock.
Good to see these gates are well watertight.
It is the bow – honest!
Thoroughly interesting and well worth a visit. Dropped off to have a look at the work CRT are doing, repairing the lock chamber at lock 11 near Cropwell Bishop.
Pointing up
And replacing brickwork as required.
It’s great to see.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Fruitful Weekend

A few bits happening on the boat front at the moment. Apart from the varnishing side I’ve decided to rehash the wheelhouse doors. The big mistake I made with the first build was to measure the originals and use the same dimensions, but as you can see here the door is an inch shorter than the frame.
The plan now is to make the door bottom 1 inch taller but that means that the tops have to be an inch shorter. The reason for doing this is that the door top has to be narrower so as not to catch when it is folded down and the result is a hole each side of the door when the wheelhouse is up. Not much to worry about but it is annoying me and it does allow some water to get in especially of the wind is from the side.
What with this and making new shutters for the front windows at home there is a shortage of sapele so it looks like a trip to Market Harborough next week to get some more. Doing all this cutting the table saw blades seem to be running rather hot indicating they are losing their edge. Tried cleaning and a quick rub up with a hone but not a lot of difference. Rather than buy a new set I’ve ordered a machine specifically designed for sharpening circular saw blades. It’ll be interesting to see if it is any good when it arrives.
The past couple of days has been out with the Grantham Canal Society running trips for the public over the bank holiday weekend. This time we were running from Woolsthorpe to give the regulars a change of scenery from Harlaxton. Loads of bodies on Sunday and certainly more than I had expected today.
Unfortunately not such good weather as yesterday but most people still wanted to sit out in front to enjoy the ride. Plenty of positive feedback and enquiries about becoming active members.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Surprising Update

With the last blog entry I copied a link to Maplin customer services (Got to increase the ratings somehow) as it seemed only fair to let them know my comments.
Had a response within 15 minutes and further e-mails through the week-end. The upshot being my complaint is being taken up with the store manager and a donation is being made to the Macmillan charity. Quite a positive result all in all.
Otherwise it’s still a case of harvesting and varnishing. Plums are in full flow at the moment so if plum juice has the same effect as prune juice we should at least be regular in our habitsJ

Saturday, 16 August 2014

A Bit Of A Surprise

Still pottering about with a couple of trips down to T-A to bring back bits of the wheelhouse woodwork for varnishing.
Yesterday with Karen having a bit of time off work we had intended to take the boat out so we could get alongside to touch up those annoying scratches but the weather forecast made that rather pointless.
Instead we opted for a meal at the Otter on the way to Kegworth which was first rate as usual and then on to Pillings Marina. Going through Loughborough I decided to pop into Maplin to stock up on some lithium batteries  but ended up picking up a few extra pieces  as well.
One of which was this weather station that was on offer.
Down at T-A just a quick visit to remove the cabin doors for varnishing and home.
First job was to set up the new weather station. Opened the box to find that most of the components were missing!!!!
A quick check to make sure I had the receipt and repack the box(or is that repack the packaging). Now it’s getting on for 4 o’clock on a Friday and so it’s a mad dash for the twenty or so miles back to Loughborough to try and get this sorted out.
Arriving a Maplin it was identified that I had the box for the display model. Rather than an apology I was asked why I hadn’t noticed it wasn’t as heavy as it should be. Jaw hits floor – perhaps I should have compared the weight of all the boxes in the stack. Anyway replacement was issued without question but the to my amazement the empty box was again added to the stack on display!!! I don’t suppose there is much storage space in the shops but this is ridiculous.
Another twenty miles home, hopefully not taking my frustration out on other drivers.
Today  the weather station is up and working well, cabin doors have been rubbed down and had a coat of Impreg in preparation for varnishing while Karen has been sorting out the garden.
Just came in to order some circlips off the Beal website and to rub salt into the wound found that CR2032 batteries that I bought in Maplin for £3.99 each are available for 45p so I have ordered 5 at the further reduced rate of £2.20 and am interested to see how they perform.

Saturday, 9 August 2014


Or should that be a blinding flash of the obvious?
After scratching the new paintwork I’ve been wondering about ways to keep Trudy-Ann from rubbing against the bank. Well last week I ordered a new wheelbarrow wheel to replace the one ravaged by hawthorn cuttings and as soon as I saw it I ordered two more.
I’ve seen wheels used elsewhere but they always seemed too bulky and soon showed signs of rust, these seem to be made for the job.
Otherwise there has not been too much happening over the last few weeks other than some enjoyable days down on the Grantham canal. It may be classed as a remainder but it still sees plenty of use
In the garden all the fruit seems to be about two weeks ahead of the norm so it has been a case of lots of picking, freezing or juicing. Certainly getting our five a day at present.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Slowing Down Continued

Work party over and only a day late we’re back.
Yesterdays work party consisted of clearing the weed from the by-wash at lock 16 and doing a bit of strimming around the depot while others carried out some work on Centauri and other stuff up at lock 18. WRG and CRT reps arrived to set up for next week, which looks like it’s going to be a busy one. The plan being to prepare a hard standing  site at lock 15 ready for the plant and machinery needed for the restoration. It sounds like it may be heralded as the new way forward with Grantham Canal Society, Waterways Recovery Group and Canal and River Trust all working together to improve our waterways. If this all comes to fruition don’t forget you heard it here first. J
Today just a quick trip to T-A to retrieve bedding and the like that may become stale if left on board and a few catch up jobs around the house.
Back to the trip.
Monday morning saw us away through the Beeston and Nottingham canals through to the Trent. I must say I was impressed with the state of the waterway having expected to find it like Leicester but it turned out to be a pleasant run without that run down feeling. A quick stop at Sainsbury’s on the way through for Karen while I dog sat.
Getting back out onto the Trent we passed Lock 1 on the Grantham canal.
It’s a shame that this lock will never be used again but if all goes to plan the new route will come out further downstream and below Holme Lock and the watersports centre.
A lot bigger that what we are used to but one reason for this trip is to see how we would cope with the larger locks if we want to go through to York in the future. After mooring we walked up to the lock and spoke to the lock keeper who was most helpful and explained the best practice for navigating these locks and pointed out this was the deepest and the following locks would only drop us about seven feet whereas this was 14. Through Stoke lock and moored at the pontoons at Gunthorpe bridge. Friend Ian Joined us and treated us to a meal at the Unicorn, a very pleasant way to spend an evening.
Having lost so much time to rain at the start of the trip we decided to turn back the following morning (Tuesday) rather than go through to Newark. This run was to be a new experience for us as well, owing to the fact that we had the headroom to run with the wheelhouse up.
Leaving Gunthorpe.
Just a short run and night stopped at the moorings above Holme lock
Chose the higher mooring as the preceding lower bank has a concrete shelf protruding under the water. Perhaps not the best decision because the new paintwork got christened even with loads of fenders. L
Ah well it had to happen some time.
Spent the evening watching canoeists practicing
And trying to take arty photo’s
On Wednesday it was  steady run back to Devil’s Elbow because Karen wanted to get some wax on the other side of the boat before I scratched it any more.
This seems to be the dogs favourite spot.
Back to Pillings on Thursday to tank and pump out (Which we can do at the same time now that the openings have been separated) before mooring up and home.
A good relaxing break – but why do weeds and grass grow twice as fast when you are away?