Saturday, November 27, 2010

Welcome company

Rock n Roll has stopped by. We exchanged stories of our travels since we saw them last. The ice has arrived and we not to go any further. Just up and down the lock to fill up with diesel. Gailey Marine let us have it at the zero rate as we were ‘residential’ and not planning to move for a while. Otherwise it would have been at their ‘commercial’ rate with the added duty.
It got misty in the evening then in the morning we woke to see a thin layer of snow and the canal water had turned to slush. Water passing through the lock is keeping the thick ice away from our mooring. The sun cheers us up while the sky is clear and does its best to melt the ice while staying low in the sky.
Bird feeders are hung on the hedge so several birdies are getting their breakfast.
Despite the threatening conditions we do seem to be able to make the best of it while living on our boat. Keeping in touch with other boaters by phone, email and blogging helps to pass the time and enables us to keep track of each other.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cooking for Christmas

Ann has made a rich fruit cake baked in a square tin. Got the marzipan and icing to do. Homemade puddings are the other tradition in the family circle although not many get to stir the ingredients and make a wish these days. Made enough for three bowels wrapped up with grease proof paper and cloth and steamed overnight on the stove. The pudding is consumed at Christmas having been steamed, decorated with holly and burnt with hot flaming brandy. Brandy butter was the preferred topping.

For various reasons we find ourselves a long way from the family at a time when we feel we should be much closer. Meanwhile we will decorate the boat and enjoy meeting other boaters on our travels. It is getting colder in the evenings and there is a threat of icy conditions coming early this winter. We have stocked up while at Penkridge and moved on a bit to be near a diesel supply. Now is the time for porridge in the mornings and stew in the evening. Stew is slowly cooking on the stove.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The chimney

Geoff on Seyella had found some useful advice on the net suggesting that a tall chimney would help our diesel fire draw better. The recommended length of flue should be 10 feet from the flame which would mean 4 feet above the roof! We only have about 1 foot 6 inches so we can get under bridges. Many years ago I had made our chimney out of rolled up ‘liners’ with Vic’s help. The great advantage was a double skin to keep the gasses warm. That worked a treat most of the time. The ‘down draft preventer’ as supplied with the boat was simply not enough and was not much good in strong winds.
Our chimney fitting is only 3 ½ inches diameter so readymade chimneys were hard to find. When at Crick we had asked to have one made but the maker was reluctant to help because it was an oil fire. Midland Chandlers had a 28 inch chimney but although the inner liner measured 3 ½ inches it would not fit. So I have got a 28 inch liner which drops over the existing chimney. For use when we stop of course. Will let you know if it is better after a windy day!

A need to move on

If we stay in one place too long we get itchy feet. We have done what we needed to do here and if we stay much longer the roots will grow. We have about a month to go somewhere and back before leaving at Christmas.
Kingfisher at Great Haywood
It was one of those magic moments, a chance meeting of boaters at the watering hole. We had just backed up to the facility when Derwent 6 arrived. We both filled our tanks and gathered round cups of tea at the bow of M 2 L. Then the owners of Sanity Again stopped to say hello. So there we were Chas, Ann, Del, Al, Bruce and Sheila all in one place a moment before moving off in different directions.
We turned across the bow of Derwent 6 to get under the junction bridge and there was Geoff with his bag of shopping and Meg about to walk back to their mooring at Tixall.
Balloon at Tixall
We stopped there as the best of the day had passed and we were eating lunch at 2 pm! We got away next day and did 12 lock miles to arrive at Park Gate for the weekend. It was a bit misty as we left but calm dry and warm during the trip.
Boat at Tixall Lock

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hanging around

The red diesel fuel we are obliged to use in our boat tanks is usually ‘gas oil’ with a red dye so we can pay less duty than that for road use. New EU regulations will require a change to ‘road diesel’ with the red dye. Road diesel has less sulphur in it and it also has some ‘bio’ content. Many boaters are concerned about the effects on their engines. Ours is a Beta 38 and this is what Beta told me:-

As far as the engine is concerned, they have been developed for ultra low sulphur fuels, so that they comply with the stringent emission controls, both in Europe and America. The bio content has also been taken into account, as all the emission restrictions have been mapped out for the future in a timetable based on the fuel specification. So the engine is fully capable of running with this fuel.
The storage could be a problem as the bio content can lead to higher bacterial growth, and higher water absorption. I have been talking to a filter manufacturer who has developed a large capacity high water absorption filter system, and should have details shortly. I don't think that it is all doom and gloom, as the lower sulphur content reduces the need to use low quality non detergent oils we recommend now.
High quality oils that contain detergent tend to wash down the bores, thus picking up the fuel residue that builds up the sulphur content in the oil, this can produce a weak sulphuric acid that attacks the bearings.
Don't forget that the fuel change is being done to lower harmful emissions. Kindest Regards, John Lusty, After sales, Beta

So it would seem we should consider changing the type of lubricating oil we use in our engines.

We managed to back up to the water point the next day. Got more diesel and moved out to Tixel wide for a while. It is getting cooler now so we have the fire on longer. Our tank will soon need topping up every 2 weeks. One very windy night the fire went out and issued forth its smelly fumes. We woke up and turned off the supply. Several attempts to relight it next morning failed due to the windy conditions. Put the radiators on to get warm. Smoky oil is not at all pleasant and at least set off the smoke alarm. We wonder if oil fires are worth the hassle because they also produce a lot of flaky carbon deposits that need scraping out. If the truth were known a much taller chimney is required. But then we would not get under those bridges! We moved into Great Haywood after breakfast to get some shelter from the trees. The wind reduced a bit and we were able to light the fire again.
We have been on several bus trips into Stafford to do some ‘Christmas’ shopping. Street decorations are now appearing to brighten the place up. Our friends Geof and Mags offered to look after Molly while we were away.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Move away for a while

With limited time on the moorings and the prospect of local fireworks at Shugborough Hall we moved away. Molly does get so upset with the bangs and whizzes that we have administered some calming herbal remedy which seems to work for her. We got all the way to Acton Trussel, turned and found a mooring before Deptmore Lock.
The lock keepers house now belongs to the farmer and is being renovated to be lived in again. British Waterways have been selling off some of their property and their attempt to make money by running public houses near canals has in fact made a substantial loss.
We are in open countryside for the weekend where we put out the bird feeders but only a few birds found it. Despite the remoteness we did hear and see some fireworks in the distance. We celebrate the fact that an attempt to blow up the houses of parliament was prevented. It was quite cold n damp that weekend so we had the fire going most of the time.
On Sunday we once again enjoyed our roast lunch with minted lamb and watched the racing on TV.
Monday was awful with wind and rain but we had to get back to Great Haywood for dental appointments, tesco orders and post due on Tuesday. A few hours driving the boat dressed up in waterproofs proved to be purgatory by the time we arrived. Thank goodness for the mooring space found near the lock. Due to several low bridges we are not able to put up our biminy which would have protected us from the weather.

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not

It was a bit windy when we needed to move backwards to the water point where we pick up our tesco order. We did not get all the way there. Luckily another space was available and a kind boater moved his boat forward to let us in. It then took two journeys to get all the bags over the junction bridge and on to the boat. Then it rained. We have had so much rain lately that the river Trent is well up and flowing fast here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Been away on another planet

Taxi’s, trains, cars and busses got us off the boat and away down south. We packed some bags and took the dog. Have we got all we need? Can we carry it all? We had moved to Great Haywood Marina and filled the diesel tank. The fridge had to be emptied, turned off and defrosted before we left.
There were several good reasons for going. Ann had a hospital appointment, more house clearing and sitting in for our grand children. Their parents could then get a night out with friends. We also paid visits to friends and family, walked in the forest and saw ‘Despicable Me’ in 3D. Many items from the home were distributed among the family. That is a very hard thing to do with so much to consider.
While we were away our cooker was sold. Amazingly we had met the buyer when at Dudley. We returned the hire car having done over 300 miles on a full tank of petrol. ‘Enterprise’ took us to the station and on the way we saw that several cruise liners had arrived in port. The train was packed with many people standing in the isles with all their luggage. Made me wonder why the luggage could not be put into a dedicated coach like they would have done many years ago. We were lucky to find our reserved seats were still available for our journey, but even we had our bags on our laps!
Once back at Stafford we got a taxi to take us back to Great Haywood Marina with a bit more luggage than we had left with! Just could not face moving the boat out so we paid for another night. Even then it took several days to get back into our boating routine.
Great Haywood is a wonderful little village where we have now booked appointments at the medical centre and the dentist. Restocked the fridge and enjoyed a few quiet meals together. It is late autumn of course so we enjoyed a walk along the river with the sun shining through the golden leaves.