Thursday, November 30, 2006

Diesel heating

We have stopped at Devizes Marina to have a new boiler fitted. The initial examination of our system revealed that our 'Bubble' diesel fire, with 'back boiler', is not capable of heating the radiators and domestic hot water. The little central heating pump is noisy and if it fails we would not be able to have the fire on! The radiators are not very warm at the best of times. Our fire is however adequate for 'space' heating. The solution is to have a boiler fitted in the engine bay, disconnect the 'back boiler' and remove the noisy pump. The new boiler will heat the radiators and hot water. It is also automatic in that it has thermostatic control.

Diesel fires on boats suffer from one major problem which is a short chimney. No amount of adjustment will improve the way it burns diesel. If the chimney does not draw enough air through the fuel burns yellow and at worst is smoky. If we fitted a taller chimney we would be able to get under the bridges!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Maintaining Navigation

With a reduced income perhaps British Waterways should consider where our money is spent. More on maintenance and safety, less on expansion. It's PRIME 'directive' is to keep the Navigation open.

* A smart public house by a derelict canal will not be profitable.

* Adding extra length to a canal is pointless if boats cannot get there. It seems silly to make the Caldon Canal longer with that low tunnel which stops many boats getting through. With the SSSI demanding limited access to the Montgomery Canal why make that longer?

* It would be great to get the Wilts & Berks Canal and the Cotswold Canal restored and open but not if the existing canals go in decline.

The canal system really needs continuous maintenance to keep the 200 year old system open. Dredging, tree trimming and cutting back vegetation will all help keep the Navigation open. Regular replacement of lock gates is also essential. Keeping lock keepers and length men to look after the system will help prevent future major disasters.

As seen on TV

As seen on TV. Ann putting up a poster at Pewsey Wharf.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Boaters protest day

We have joined a gathering of boaters Pewsey Wharf on the Kennet and Avon Canal.




Protest at Pewsey

Boaters are united in their cause despite the rain. We have been protesting against the swinging cuts in grant by the government which threatens the very existence of all our restored waterways.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Keeping going

There are a number of lock gates being replaced east of Crofton. A lock near Newbury, now closed till the 3rd. December, prevents us going back there for diesel. We have got on over the summit and down the west side heading for Honey Street where we can fill up with diesel again. The next will be at Devizes 14 miles and no locks away. Meanwhile we have had another Tesco delivery so are well stocked up for our winter cruising. Always plenty of water taps where we can fill the tank. We have travelled mainly during the dry mornings and have found many of the Visitor Moorings along the way are partly occupied with boats as 'winter moorings' so space for us is limited there. However it is possible to stop almost any where on the way but the tow paths are getting quite muddy with all the damp weather.

West end of Bruce tunnel

Bruce tunnel. 

Just done another update on our website.  More pictures on the K n A canal, east side, have a look.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Geo Cache ?

Would you believe it? Boxes of 'items' are hidden all over the countryside in the UK and in other countries. They are located by knowing the map grid reference number or GPS number. Having a GPS locator is almost essential but some clues are provided to find the hidden box. You have to log on to the internet to get the information. Go to and register as a user. Ann and Sue are registered as 'the narrow boaters'. When you find a box it will contain a log book into which you log the fact that you have found it. There are different size boxes. Some are just big enough for the log book and others are big enough to contain 'swops'. Usually small plastic toys and trinkets which you san exchange for something you have. If you are lucky the box will contain a 'Travel Bug' or 'Geo coin'. These items have a mission attached and if you take one you are obliged to follow its instructions. Some of these that we have found have come over from America and Iceland! Once you have registered your visit and done a swop you must hide the box exactly where you find it. Then log in to the web site to register your find.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Family at Kintbury

All facilities here for us boaters and a car park for visitors. Chris and the boys arrived after a calm short journey. The first thing Josh said to me was "I love you grand dad". Then he woke up Ben telling him "We have arrived". Our grandchildren were so good they were offered some sweets! Once on the boat we got the kettle on and made a refreshing drink for them all. Ann had made some vegetable soup which went down well. It was fine and sunny so we then all took a walk round the village. Past the church where Jane Austen had known the Reverend Thomas Fowle and his family. Then on by the allotments where the villagers were busy tending their crops. Telling our grand children about the carrot tops and other good food grown here. Back at the boat we set about moving up a few spaces as some boats had moved away. Just a short trip for the boys which then enabled the satellite dish to get a signal through a gap in the trees. So the TV kept them quiet for a while. Then the toys came out and we did puzzles and drew some pictures while Ann made some supper.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A reply from my MP

I had written to him about the cut in grant to BW from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). BW are considering reducing the amount of maintenance and their workforce due to this loss of revenue. We are very concerned because BW are even considering closing some canals. So here follows some of the content of the letter:-

I fully understand the concerns about this situation and, as a result of receiving previous similar letters to your own, I wrote to the relevant Minister at DEFRA, Barry Gardiner MP, and will ensure that his response is sent to you as soon as it has been received.

Also, the following are questions and answers between MP's in parliament for 6th November:-

The Parliamentary Under - Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs is Mr Ben Bradshaw MP

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: ……Public funding for Britain's inland waterways has increased substantially since Labour came to power.

Michael Fabricant: ……How can he reconcile that with cutting 180 staff from British Waterways?

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: ……the Department is having to make difficult and painful decisions,…..

Mr. Bob Laxton:- Will my Hon. Friend assure me that any future savings in grant aid to BW next year will not use as a base line the 15% budget reduction undertaken halfway through this financial year?

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: All decisions about next year will be made in due course.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: …..Will the Minister explain why BW's budget was cut this year?

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: ……for a number of reasons,….

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: …..It is the reasons that I am after, because it is bad enough that cuts of £200 million are being made, but it is even worse that Ministers do not seem to know why……

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: ……About £10 million of the money……preventing outbreaks of avian flu,…..The rest is needed for other reasons that have already been made plain in numerous answers to questions from Hon. Members.

The truth and nothing but the truth is what we expect from our MP's who are there to represent us.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Website Update

For those boaters intent on going to the I W A gathering next year at  St. Ives on the River Great Ouse.  I now have several pages of pictures showing you the way.  Down on to the Nene at Northampton and on to Peterborough.  Then on the Middle Level through March.  Finally onto the tidal Great Ouse to Denver and all the way to Bedford.

Go to , click on Rivers, and select Nene, Middle Level then Great Ouse.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Locked in a lock

' A pair of continuous cruisers were stopped by BW in a lock '.

After a few days we moved on up and into Hamstead Lock. Then realised that the gates were padlocked shut so we could not leave. That was at midday so we waited for a BW man to let us out. It was locked to prevent boats going down to the next lock which is now closed for repair. There are several boats still down there between the locks unable or not wanting to move up. Meanwhile Ann made some soup for us all.

Hamstead Lock, K n A Canal

Monday, November 06, 2006

Kennet & Avon Canal

Have been moving early most days to get past Benham lock before it closes for repair. Passed by Reading Marine still busy with their old hire boats and after a few stops we got to Newbury. Got another gas bottle and filled up with diesel and water there. The chandlery is now full of boaters goodies and it was difficult not to spend some money there! This is the last 'staging post' this side of the summit and the tunnel. The next one is 27 miles and about 20 locks away. About 5 moving days but we are now desperate for a rest! If we are lucky a diesel / coal supply boat will come by.

Greenham lock

The K n A was one of those 'remainder' canals so British Waterways were only required to maintain the navigation. Back in 1997 the National Lottery fund handed over 25 million pounds to lift the status to a 'cruising' canal. A lot has been achieved but mainly at the western end. Many old lock gates at the eastern end were not replaced with that money. Now at last we see that several have now been replaced. Just in time before they collapse! Benham lock is about to have the gates replaced, now thankfully behind us.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Website Update

Go on have a look. 'Rivers' now include Nene and updated Thames. 'Boat Systems' Electric's updated. Some other subjects added. Been spending some time sorting and adding those pictures which is why I have not done a blog lately! So click now!

We have got on to the Kennet & Avon canal for the winter months.