Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Let Yellow be the Colour

Monday 18th July to Sunday 24th July 2011

7 Miles – for this week

Totals: 649 Miles, 591 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 11 Swing Bridges

More work, less miles, but a few other things have dominated this week.

It has been an interesting study in the movements of boats, especially when you do not move yourself and just how many boats do not slow down.

When you are moving yourself and then moor up I believe the tendency is to think that a boat going past is going much faster than they should be – simply the change in your speed (down to zero) suggests that the other boat is going too fast.

Having had the chance over the last few weeks of not moving so much, I have observed the following

• Hirers do not speed by as much as we would believe – in fact they are most likely to slow down.

• Older people (over 70) in their own boats are less likely to slow down

• People do not understand that you need to slow down long before you actually reach a moored boat – many wait until they are actually at the moored boat before they slow.

• Day boats rarely slow down

I was actually hit twice by passing boats during this time – one was a hirer, going slow and before I had a chance to say anything they were apologising profusely; the other was a boat owner with a particularly smug looking better half – they couldn’t have cared less – I have your boat name.

Moved onto the Ashby Canal, so at least I made a decision on that one, but again I have moored up at a place where it is very peaceful, very tranquil and again has good TV reception.

There were two events this week that would normally be described as good news but which have a much greater impact.

The first is that the reason for Diane having to return home has finally been resolved and essentially in her favour; she now has a great weight taken off her shoulders and there is much relief in the household.

An agreement and significant settlement with the hospital (where she had been employed), 10 minutes before the case was to go into court, allowed them not to be told by the court that they were wrong and should have been ashamed of their treatment of her.

Now we only need to wait until the legal people finalise all of the paperwork and then she will be able to return to the boat.

But she can now start to plan her return and also arrange for our dog to make the trip – it will be a little while yet, but the end of this unnecessary saga is almost upon us all.

The second is that after a 20-year dream, Cadel Evans has finally won Le Tour de France with a performance of such magnitude in the individual time trial as well as two heroic performances on the previous two days on Galibier and Alpe d’Huez. For anyone who has followed this event for any time they will be aware of his struggle and seeing the two climbs will also know how good they were.

Let yellow be the colour.

One very piece of sad news has come from Al and Del on Derwent 6 – Del’s dad, Len, has now been diagnosed with a tumour on the brain and has limited time.

Our thoughts are with everyone there.

Late news: I know that there are a number of people that have followed the trials and tribulation of the build of NB Waiouru but for those who haven’t please have a look at their blog to see how badly things can go.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Holy Merde Batman

Monday 11th July to Sunday 17th July 2011

8 Miles, 5 Locks – for this week

Totals: 642 Miles, 591 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 11 Swing Bridges

I would not have really thought it possible but I have travelled even less this week than last and it is entirely work related – well almost – I have still done a lot of work, spending a lot of hours getting the project finished a week ahead of schedule; but I have also been quite satisfied with spending extra days in places where, well to be frank about it, the TV reception was very good – Vive le Tour!

I even managed to get an oil change done in that time.

Moving on from Atherstone last week I made it to the top of the flight with the help of quite a few people, although I was a bit nonplussed by one guy – who was helping me with his wife and when I got off the boat to help with the gate was a bit upset that I spoke with an “old” lady and her grand-daughter whom I had met about 20 minutes earlier down the flight – this guy had a go at me for not helping him – not much I could do – the lock was still filling (they are slow to fill on the flight) – he did later apologise putting it down to being a bit cranky, but it just took me bit by surprise.

Moored up just after bridge 33 with lovely views over the valley (if you are on the roof and can see over the hedgerow), but it was a very pleasant spot to stop – so I did.

Finally I needed to move for water and decided that I would just go a few miles down to Nuneaton.

Like many other places, Nuneaton doesn’t project itself as a spot to stop, but it is a very pleasant place with good shopping and markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays – quite big markets in fact – but woe and alas – not a very good picture on the tele.

So I had to move and just a mile down the way – I had so many services on the TV that it took me 10 minutes just to scroll through them and that is only the normal digital ones – no satellite.

Only problem though is it about a 2 mile walk into town – most along the towpath and I continue to be utterly amazed at the amount of people who walk their dogs and leave the excrement on the towpath – now I know that there are a great many people who always do the right thing but believe me it was very much a case of watching closely where to walk – much more difficult to find a place to step than not to step.

Stone the crows Batman - it was disgusting.

It is either Hinkley or Curdworth where I have seen stencilled on the footpaths a ₤1000 fine for people not picking up after their dogs – the enforcement officers might not catch everyone, but it would make you think about it before leaving it.

Where to next – no idea – I will think about it tomorrow (or maybe the day after)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

By Dickens !! – It’s a Tale of Two Pubs

Monday 4th July to Sunday 10th July2011

11 Miles, 8 Locks – for this week

Totals: 634 Miles, 586 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 11 Swing Bridges

This has been a unbelievably busy week and I have at least one more ahead of me – I can hear someone say that those figures above do not show that it has been very busy at all and you would be right.

Let me rephrase it – It has been unbelievably busy at work this week. With more than 300 documents to get written for a customer in less than 3 weeks – it has been a very busy week – hence the lack of miles and locks but not the lack of things interesting.

I moved on Monday down to Fazeley Junction and then locked myself away for a full two days to get this work started – only interrupting to watch le Tour and for meals.

After this it was further movement down to the Samuel Barlow pub and whilst work took an absolute priority, there was time to wander over to the pub and catch up with Paul and the boys, hearing about the Working Boat Rally to be held there on this weekend – sadly I would not be there – work was a priority and I removed myself from all temptation.

The pub has just got busier and busier and speaking to Paul he is not sure why, but all of the boys had no problems in explaining it – Paul is a very engaging guy (being an Aussie would it be any different) and his style has been very well received as well as his cooking.

But still the two days I was there was very good – catching up with Swifty and Robbie as well as Tim Davis (the Harbourmaster) – I will be back again soon.

Just a bit further down the cut and I moored again for a couple of days just above Lock 8.

My only problem, apart for the workload, was a diminishing space in the grey tank and therefore a need to find a place to have a pump out – this was achieved on Sunday morning at Barry Hawkins Boatyard where the lovely Jane (Barry’s wife) was able to help out – pumpout achieved and replacement gas battle in hand - I only needed to go up the one lock and moor up – afterall it was Sunday and the traditional roast beckoned – this is all under the general heading of research.

Whilst Diane is away I needed to keep the information going into the book containing knowledge of “all things Sunday and roasts”.

Of course I must say that I had a lovely phone call from the very wonderful “she who must be obeyed” to see how I was and I suspect to find out how the list of things to be done was progressing. Such a wonderful lady – always concerned about my health and well being (and how much I can get done).

I have been to and moored in Atherstone on 2 previous occasions and by pure coincidence both were Sundays – The Kings Head provided a very good meal (2 courses) on both occasions and one was extremely tempted to continue with the run of success, but in a town with 9 pubs it would be remiss of me not to seek out other establishments which could be of equal standing or maybe better.

To this end I was prepared to go further afield, and after purchasing a newspaper, I decided to try The Red Lion, based on no other fact than it was the closest pub to me after I bought The Sunday Times.

It was very well appointed inside and I bought a beer and sat down to contemplate the menu and the sport pages with equal attention. Soon enough the decision was made and the order placed.

I was engaged in relaxing, having a drink and reading the paper – glass emptied, another ordered, back to the paper – suddenly I realised that it had been an hour and a quarter and the starter had not appeared – I looked around and others who had not long been there before me were finished. Second beer finished and my response to this was to vote with my feet – went up to the bar paid for the second beer and said that was all I was paying for – certainly not for the meal that hadn’t exited from the kitchen and then I was out of there.

Down the road was a less salubrious hostelry – The Clock - into which I entered; ordered a beer and 2 course meal (they apologised for not having the mashed potatoes – I was very “disappointed”) – sat down at the table, reopened the paper and within a few minutes a well endowed plate appeared with a well presented and extremely satisfying main course; a little longer for the dessert, but this really wasn’t a problem - no complaints with this at all – we can certainly add this to the “will visit again” list.

There is no doubt about it – pubs are certainly like books – you simply cannot judge them by their external appearance and like the Dickens classic these two certainly could have been in two entirely different cities.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Alone Again (not naturally)

Monday 20th June to Sunday 3rd July 2011

46 Miles, 48 Locks, 2 Tunnels, 2 Swing Bridges– for this fortnight

Totals: 623 Miles, 578 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 11 Swing Bridges

I have been a bit slack this fortnight and Vivienne will not be happy at all with me

She has now left me - Diane has returned home to Australia.

No, she hasn't had enough of me just yet; this was pre-planned - there are things that she needs to finalise back there and then she will be back

After our long haul into Birmingham we spent a few days moored outside the NIA – some will say that we had overstayed the allowed time – but I will say that whilst it says 48hr moorings it also says that 5 pounds will be charged for each extra day – so not limited to 48 hours – that is only the free period, and as no-one came around to charge us the fee, then all I can say is that is their problem.

We did put our time to use – doing the 3 canal loops remaining off the New Main Line – all were very clean and no problems encountered.

On the minus side we had two incidents whilst moored – the first was a young guy hovering around the boat and then decided he wanted to see what was on the top of the boat and stepped up onto the gunnel – I had my eye on him, but Diane yelled out to me to check him out – I was on my way already – ready to take the hockey stick and ask him what he was doing – but on her voice he beat a hasty retreat.

The second was a group of touristy types wanting to have photographs taken of each other, but not respectful enough to understand that stepping onto the back of the boat without asking if it was OK first was likely to get people a bit upset about their impudence – explained to them that it was similar to me trespassing on their property and that they needed to ask first – not sure they really understood the cranky old b____r.

We made our way out of Birmingham via the Farmers Hill Locks and then the Ashton Locks to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and moored up at Minworth Greaves.

That simply is one of the problems going into Birmingham – it takes such a long time in and also going out with so many locks and miles to go, but the centre is very much worth all of the effort.

The pull of the Dog and Doublet was irresistible and further encouragement from she who must be obeyed did not get any resistance from me that we should moor up after just 2 hours.

We made our way to the junction but not before we pulled in for a pump out and for fuel at the Fazeley Mill Marina – just too darn friendly they are there. We asked about shopping there and were told about the retail park up along the road from Bridge 76 (heading north) – with Sainsbury, M&S, Homebase, ASDA and Halfords we were set, but it is a bit of a walk from the canal – but well worth the exercise.

That same day, we thought we would move away from the junction a bit, but the shallow edges meant that we didn’t moor up until we were at Hopwas – the neighbourhood looked a bit dodgy with Piston Broke (Lynne and Paul) as well as Tranquility (Betty and Graham), but we thought that we should be friendly to the locals – went to the Tame Otter for a meal with all of them – a very good night and good food.

Saturday was a day out as we ventured into Lichfield on the bus – just about 25 minutes and we were in the centre of town – we have been to Lichfield a few times before and we very much like the town – no exception this time.

We had planned to move onto Fradley Junction a day earlier, so it was on Sunday that we were off early as SHE wanted her Sunday roast and The Swan was a suitable place to get that – turned out to be a bargain – very good servings of roast and veges, and then there was dessert and coffee/tea included – all for 9 pounds.

With the countdown for Diane’s return to Australia well and truly into single digits she wanted very much to have a final run of locks and so we headed off early up to Alrewas and back to Fradley – 3 ½ miles and 10 locks on a very hot morning, but we had needed to wind somewhere so it all worked out pretty well.

All that was left to do now was to head back to Hopwas where we had arranged to be picked up for the car hire on the Wednesday – so we managed to get another shopping trip in – with the aid of the car we could get a fair bit more than usual.

You can never be sure about travel times on the roads, or at least we find it difficult to guesstimate them, so in our usual routine we headed off for the trip to Manchester Airport fairly early, but in the end we managed to not have to waste too much time at the other end; before we knew it, it was time for Diane to go through passport control and within an instant she was away.

She got home OK and whilst a bit sleepy for the first day, she seems to be back to normal (almost).

In the meantime I stayed at Hopwas for the weekend – the start of le Tour and coverage on ITV4 had to be worked in with a bit of work and some work on the boat as well a visit to the Tame Otter (again), but it will be 3 more weeks of le Tour and hopefully we can get Cadel Evans onto the top step in Paris.

Saturday late afternoon, a tap at the window and it was Elsie (and Ben) from nb Bendigedig to have a chat – Eric strolled up from the boat shortly after; Sue and Richard from nb Indigo Dream came by a little later, so we all had a good bit of a chat about the usual sorts of things that are spoken of.