Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Colwich lock?

The lock is open and boats have been through but those that have come up to Great Haywood report ‘no change’. The bottom gates still need two people to operate them. So I wonder what BW tried to do while it was closed to navigation.
Objections are being made about BW plans to close facilities at Marsworth on the Grand Union canal. Apparently the workshops and facilities are to be demolished and a number of houses built on site. What, I wonder, are boaters to do with the contents of their ‘black’ cassettes and not being able to top up with fresh water. I see an environmental problem happening if it goes ahead.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Winter blues

The lack of sunshine is SAD. It may be sunny now but the days are so short. Nothing to talk about but the weather! Thankfully we have not suffered like others near rivers reminding us about our adventures on the Nene. It must be real nasty to get flooded yet again. For us it is another sunny day and the solar panels are putting a little power in. While we are hanging around it seems that engine charging for 2 hours midday and an hour in the evening keeps up with our demands.
Ann walked across from our Tixel Wide mooring and got the bus to Stafford, returning later with more goodies. The local butcher had some venison for sale so we made a stew which cooked on the stove all day. It tasted so good, just pure red meat and very good value.
That lock between us and Rugeley at Colwich should be open soon and many boats are gathering to get away. We keep getting stoppage messages and really wonder about the government’s commitment to the waterways. There are too many failures of the system being reported lately. The winter months are when British Waterways have planned maintenance to carry out but that is not enough it seems. Our waterways need respect and support from all of us. When that major failure occurred on the Shropshire this summer we were surprised how many towns and businesses suffered from the lack of boat traffic. Now we hear about a large hole in the Caldon canal near Stoke on Trent and yet another failure on that popular Welsh canal. Some are putting the blame on Badgers making their sets in the bank!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Biting the bullet

I had the misfortune to possess Vista having replaced a dead computer. Vista was inconsistent, and slow. At first it refused to talk to my trusty Lexmark printer but was persuaded to behave after some Google help! Despite continual updates there was no apparent improvement. Occasional failures requiring reboots and at least one reformat made me think about alternative operating systems like Linux or Mac. My essential T Mobile USB modem worked a treat and could behave on a Mac but not on Linux. I understand that the USB modem supplied by ‘3’ works with Linux.
Vista seemed top heavy and tried to load everything in memory before being ‘strangled’. Much time and effort was used just sorting out the operating system! Now I am not saying that the change I made was the preferred one but was the most economic and worth a try. MS 7 installed in just over an hour and a half and boots up in less than 2 minutes! No time now to get a cup of tea after pressing the button! My USB modem installed OK and was soon down loading the inevitable updates. MS could not find drivers for my Lexmark printer so I found one myself.
I then fed in all my documents and pictures. One nice feature is the desktop background full screen slideshow. I got Google Chrome downloaded because it is better than I E. I begin to suspect that 7 is a simplified Vista! You never know, another bullet could be bitten if Google’s OS comes out next year!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Places to go and things to do

We had time to stop at Rugeley which is just as well because Ann had tooth ache. The local Dentist was able to take a look and provided antibiotics after some treatment. We walked round town doing some shopping but sadly found it lacking. Several shops had closed down including Woolworths which is still empty. Banks, building societies, card shops and low cost stores are open. Morrisons and Wilkins are quite busy. Charity shops are providing worthwhile goods. “In fact I have replaced my winter coat and disposed of our video recorder.”
It was not far to Great Haywood, only seven lock miles but we had to get past Colwich Lock. The lower gates were always hard to open or close because the balance beams are too short. In fact the locks up from Fradley were just as difficult for the same reason. Longer beams would provide better leverage. They all needed two people to operate them. It will be interesting to see what British Waterways can do about it because a bridge across the lock gets in the way of longer beams!
We now have some time in one area to explore due to the stoppages. We are limited to about 9 miles going north on the Trent & Mersey and three miles west on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire. Turning points mark the limit before the stoppage because we need to be able to return to Great Haywood. There are no turns south before that lock so cannot go that way.
We are not too down hearted because boating facilities are available and the village has a Post Office, shops, butcher and even a medical centre within walking distance of the canal.
We got the hourly bus to Stafford. It took a bit longer than usual due to an accident which meant that the driver had to go a different way. We walked across town to the station and got all our tickets for the train home at Christmas. After a bite to eat at a cafe and some shopping we returned to the boat just before it got dark. Shugborough Hall will be having a firework event over the weekend so we moved north to get away. Molly gets so upset with the bangs and whistles, even the TV had to be turned down or off when fireworks were on that as well!
Now we settle down to shop on line, write and post Christmas cards, wrap some gifts and play games! Ann so likes that Nindendo DS with those games and brain training that she could not wait to use it. And wot fun it is too, even I had a go!