Friday, January 29, 2010

Never tempt providence

I should never have said ‘Some welding outside has successfully sealed the leak’! It rained enough next day to prove the statement wrong. Two steps forward and one back. If we were to dwell on the negative aspects of boating we could get depressed, but as it is there are far more positives to keep us motivated. It was all sorted later and we actually moved out with a full tank of diesel.
We had been in Great Haywood Marina since before Christmas so getting out was quite an event. Took on water at the junction and found a space for a few nights. Next day the patrol officer knocked on the boat asking when we are to move. “Only just got here” I said. “But you’ve been here since November according to my records” he said. “I’ve been stuck in ice in the marina since before Christmas” I explained. These patrol officers don’t check when you are not there, but to be fair they did not call while the boats were stuck in ice. There is at least one boat with an overstay notice and most boaters have now moved elsewhere.
Snowdrops in Great Haywood
So we have moved away, out to Tixel Wide moorings where we found a few other boats. On the way the wind kept pushing us onto a shallow edge so it took some effort to keep going. Then we had to find a gap in the trees to see the satellite TV signal.
While eating a late lunch we saw a Kingfisher catching his. ‘Now that made it all worthwhile.’

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So far so good

Work has been progressing all week now on our boat. We were so unhappy with the result of last year’s alterations that we resolved to have them out and start again. But first an annoying leak had presented itself coming in from the enlarged sliding hatch. Much of the wood ceiling needed to be replaced. Some welding outside has successfully sealed the leak.
We have always been considering how to improve the ‘engine bay’ with more shelves and space for coats and now the engine controls are better placed. Just the varnishing to be done.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Boater’s community

The ice is looking like soft mud. Various objects are slowly sinking through creating small holes. No boats have been allowed to move about in the marina so it is still solid ice. The wonderful community of boaters on the canal are about to move off in various directions. But not before Ann took the girls for a long walk with other dogs from Matilda Rose and Caxton.
It was some time last month that we booked in for some alterations and remedial work at the marina. Work was due to start on Monday but there is a delay due to the ice. They seem to want to put boats in and out of the water before starting on us. Now 3 men on a boat are now trying to move it but the part broken ice is still at least one inch thick! It is getting quite noisy inside with all the ice banging along the side. Now we see waves on the water again.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Two staying guests

Ann went off to Stafford on the bus and came back with Lucy and Meg. I went to meet them at the canal bridge with Molly. We all walked back through the snow covered ground. Next day it rained in the morning so now we can see the green grass again.
View from our window
The sun is shining, the ice is turning to slush and the temperature has reached 10 degrees centigrade for the first time since the middle of December.
We took the girls out for a walk round Shugborough Park which proved to be very wet and slippery in places.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter chores

Our boat is moving again. Not forward or backward but just rocking side to side. The ice has let go. It has been covered by a blanket of snow which has all but gone now leaving strange patterns on the surface. When it was covered in snow it looked like the rest of the land except that it was flat. We have read about people risking their lives by trying to walk across the canal or even throwing sticks on to the ice for their dogs. We can’t help ourselves talking about the conditions, a common enemy perhaps. Those of us that are wrinkly can recall previous cold winters like this one. We would drive around with a spade, an old sack for grip under the wheels, a flask of tea or hot soup and clearing our own paths and pavements.
We have done the hazardous deed and filled the diesel tank from a collection of containers. Had plenty of old cloth and detergent on hand to prevent spillage and a large funnel to guide the liquid into the small tank hole. We have been lucky with that other liquid, water, as our hose pipe is just long enough to reach a nearby unfrozen tap. All the taps on the pontoons have been turned off while the temperature was below zero. Boaters have had the daily chore of fetching heavy gallons of water half way round the marina and down the towpath.
Most days we have walked out to visit other boaters on the frozen ‘cut’. Jo and Lesley from Caxton met us in the Cafe by Great Haywood lock. We all had a good natter about life and future plans before going back to Caxton. Another day we went to Rock n Roll in the marina.
It seems that our alternator has been having a hard time with the washing machine. The boat was built with the washing machine already installed so you would think that the engine power system was designed to cope. Not so apparently. Most boaters have larger engines, higher output alternators or mains generators for their washing machines. We will have to rely entirely on the domestic hot water provided by the engine for our washing. The trick will be to turn down the temperature which turns off the electric heaters after filling with hot water.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Many boaters are just keeping warm and safe in their boats during the unusually long spell of wintery weather. The temperature has been as low as minus 20 centigrade in some places and the canals have been frozen for nearly a month. There are many worse off than us with the usual supply boats stuck in the ice like the rest of us but life must go on.
After getting back to our boat we set about getting the systems up and running again. Electric on, radiators on, light fire, water on, gas on, kettle on. While drinking that welcoming cup of tea we kept our coats on because it was colder inside than out! I then walked to the shops in Great Haywood to get milk, bread and some vegetables. Then we placed an order to Tesco for a full stock up delivery later and the van arrived next day direct to boat despite the icy conditions. Porridge most mornings keeps us warm inside during the first few cool hours before the sun comes up.
The bus to and from Stafford is running OK so we met our friends there for lunch in Wetherspoons, the building being a grand old cinema. Walking about town was just as tricky as on the towpath. A boat called Rock n Roll is nearby and we invited George and Carol for a drink on board and we discussed the various challenges set before us.
Chapter 14 of our book ‘Life With a Narrowboat’ is now published and can be found at