Thursday, 31 July 2008

Another week ........

Another week has flown by, Eric has returned to Manchester - he did seem to enjoy his stay & it's very quiet on the boat now. Thankfully his train journey home was uneventful which is more than can be said for our travel during the previous week!

As I said in last weeks post, our plan to go to Weston Park Museum in Sheffield was scuppered on the 1st attempt by a derailed train in Doncaster Station so on Thursday we tried again - got to just outside Doncaster before coming to a halt (again!) & we were informed that there was a signalling fault just south of Doncaster. After 30 mins or so (which might not seem a long time but the train was quite full with a lot of children aboard & very hot) we moved into the station - we sat tight & eventually were told that the train would be going direct to Sheffield without stopping - which it then did & all in all we arrived in Sheffield only about 45mins later than planned.

The weather was hot & sunny & really Sheffield does itself proud as the 1st thing you see when exiting the station is a water feature consisting of a water fall down a flight of steps, a fountain & this amazing wall of water flowing over a wall of steel. A perfect place to sit & eat a picnic before finding a tram to take us up to the Museum.

wall of water

Weston Museum is well worth a visit - they have put a lot of effort into organising child friendly interactive activities, just up Erics street. The cafĂ© wasn’t too bad either!

The Museum is set in Weston Park which is adjacent to the university & being a lovely sunny
graduation day there were lots of proud parents dressed to the nines taking photographs of their graduating offspring in their gowns & mortar boards.

Weston Museum

Onto boaty matters…
When Spike did the service last week he suggested that we have a flexible coupling fitted which according to the blurb -
“Transmits propeller thrust to reduction gear but cushions shock loads from contact with underwater debris or disturbed water. Interrupts shaft transmitted noise and vibration. Allows angular misalignment of propeller shaft.”
Seemed like a good idea after the problems of last week when he found the sheared off coupling bolt - So one was duly ordered & Spike fitted it on Monday.

I spoke to James from The Canvas Man this morning, our cratch cover is due to be fitted next Tuesday. Watch this space for pics of same.

As readers of our blog will know, we had to abort our 2 week cruise to Skipton in June due to a family bereavement, so after much prompting ( nagging!) from yours truly Mark has rebooked some leave - 1st & 2nd week in September. It goes without saying we are looking forward to heading up onto the Leeds & Liverpool. The Yorkshire Dales are amongst my favourite places & it will be very special to get there by (our) narrowboat.

Another thing I have been trying to get sorted are the rails on which the hatch slides. On Poppy they have just been painted which is scraped each time hatch opened or closed, allowing rusty patches to form - which seems like a design fault ( or cost cutting on Liverpool boats part ?) anyway I have been looking around to see how others solve this problem - the boat moored next to us has brass strips fitted to the rails whilst the next boat down has some sort of plastic or Perspex strips, on thinking that the brass looked a good option I had no idea where to get some from so posted a message on Canal World Forum & Gary Peacock at Ledgard Bridge was good enough to reply telling me that they stock them.
All this was several weeks ago so this morning I pulled my finger out & ordered 2 - not really cheap at £35 but worth it if they solve the problem.

Meanwhile on the cat front...

Poppy continues in her efforts to reduce to vole & mouse population - I really wish I could find a way to stop her antics but realistically she is only doing what comes naturally.
When my neighbours see her headed back to the boat from the undergrowth they have taken to shouting to warn us if she has some ‘prey’ enabling me to fending her off before she deposits it on the boat !

Soona couldn’t be more different, she used to be quite standoffish before the move aboard & spent a lot of time up on a shelf in the utility room whereas now she never goes very far from the boat, usually can be found on the sofa, comes to me often for a stroking session & hasn't the slightest interest in catching wildlife - apart from catching the odd fly if it's close enough.
I think she has become more affectionate because being at home all day I am spending more time with her, & whereas Poppy used to play with her occasionally she now ignores Soona completely, just hissing at her should she come too close. ( Poppy having more important stuff to do now she has become a hunter!)

Soona has always had an odd little habit of what I call thumb sucking - she will tap your arm with her paw until she is stroked & after a few mins she sucks the little pad above her paw ( I don’t know its proper name) I attempted to upload a short video but the connection is too slow, shall try again if I get a faster connection. So here's a pic of my lettuce crop instead!

Weather - warm, very wet & humid.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

A big splash

As I have been entertaining grandson Eric for the last few days the blog has taken a bit of a back seat so I’m taking advantage of a bit of a lull in the proceedings whilst Spike gives the engine its 50 hour service & Eric is laid on the bed happily thrashing some monsters on the play station.

To catch up - last Friday was cold & wet so in an attempt to provide a bit of cheer ( & dry the washing ) I lit the stove late afternoon, which of course meant by mid evening we had the doors open until quite late to cool things down !

We usually shut the doors no later than 9pm in an attempt to keep Poppy in otherwise she will stay out until the early hours before meowing to be let in, meaning one of us has to get up, but Soona, who doesn’t usually go abroad of an evening, decided to wander off & was nowhere to be seen come bedtime.
Mark had gone out for one last look before giving it up as a bad job when I heard him say ‘she’s here’ followed by a large splash then a shout of ‘get a towel!’ Mark had spotted her on the gunwale & called her & she tried to do an about turn but fell in. She swam the few yards to the pontoon where Mark was able to pull her in - I didn’t manage to get a pic as she let me give her a good towelling before dashing under the sofa. Next day she seemed fine & none the worse for her ducking. Well at least we know she can swim!

Alot of fuss about nothing

Saturday was fairly uneventful, I popped into Doncaster to meet Eric off the train. He is staying for a week & has been given the title ‘trainee cabin boy’ . His training is going well & he’s quite competent now at making the morning tea. He has also been in charge of the camera this week.

Sunday saw us setting off at 9.30am in cool, overcast & windy conditions accompanied by a couple of light showers. We were headed for Pollington for an overnight stay to give Eric a taste of narrow boating.
Arrived at Stainforth about 11 am so decided to spend an hour or so reading the papers then go to The New Inn ( excellent grub) for lunch. Unfortunately, when we strolled in at 12 we found the ‘Sunday menu’ had no veggie options, back to the boat for beans on toast then & maybe more luck for an evening meal at The Kings Head in Pollington.

One of Eric’s arty pics

The footbridge on the New Junction just before the Aire & Calder

Once on the Aire & Calder it was into a stiff headwind

There was plenty of space on the visitor moorings at Pollington but unfortunately someone had a bonfire going in the paddock behind the moorings with thick smoke blowing right through the moorings so we did a quick wind and found a nice spot a couple of hundred yards back down the canal. I telephoned the Kings Head to check if any veggie meals - ‘sorry finished serving food at 3pm’ hmm…
So whilst Mark & Eric let the cats stretch their legs I rustled up a curry. Poppy was in her element & shot off up a nearby tree whilst Soona just poked her nose out for a quick peek.

Poppy in hunting mode

Mark was stressing that Poppy would run off/get lost/ be eaten by something big & hairy etc etc as she came down the tree & shot off to explore, but needn’t have worried as an hour or so later she came to the side hatch & let me bring her back in.

Next morning the weather was a bit brighter & less windy for our journey home. We were determined to have at least one meal out so planned to stop off at The New Inn at Stainforth for lunch.
Mooring up outside in bright sunshine the picnic tables looking very inviting, ideal for a sandwich & a half pint of hobgoblin ale. Whilst reading the menu a member of staff came to tell us no food on Mondays as its deep cleaning day for the kitchen. Hmmm. Can you see a pattern here? But she did tell us that the chippie was open round the corner, so chips on the boat then back to the pub to eventually enjoy the hobgoblin!

Eric spotted this BW barge sporting his name

By 3pm we were back on our mooring, Mark quite competent now in his boat handling managed it very smoothly.

Nothing much more to report on the boating front other than whilst I have been typing this Spike has done the service & we are still awaiting a visit from The Canvas Man to complete our cratch.

Eric wanted to visit a museum & yesterday we had planned to go to Weston Park in Sheffield. We caught the 9.38 train from Thorne to Sheffield but didn’t get further than Doncaster due to a derailed freight train in Doncaster Station so we are going to try again tomorrow, last chance before he goes home on Saturday. Shall have to make our own morning tea!

Friday, 18 July 2008

It never rains but.........

Spike turned up bright & early with the extension cables for the inverter& by 11am it was all fitted & working. He was just finishing off when he noticed one of the coupling bolts had sheared off & was lying on the floor of the engine bay.
Much humming & hawing followed & after a good poke around Spike found several engine mounting bolts that were loose which had allowed the engine to get slightly misaligned. Bit annoying to say the least - we were aware that the engine needs a service at 50 hours at which point the mountings are all checked but we had only done 40 hours so really should not have happened - anyway Spike managed to sort it, realigned the engine & put a new coupling bolt in.

So at 3pm with a stiff backwind we set off for Keadby, a uneventful journey but it was just nice to be out of the marina & in open water.
The wind didn't pose too much of a problem until we reached the Vazon swing & railway bridges as once through the swing bridge the sliding railway bridge is almost immediately in front of you & its a matter of holding firm until bridge is opened by the operator in the nearby signal box. The wind was attempting to blow us into the bank but luckily we weren't waiting too long before it was slid open & we went through without too much bother.

Approaching the Vazon sliding railway bridge, which, according to Nicholson's guide is one of only 3 in europe - the bridge opens by sliding sideways.
Looking backwards at open bridge, you can just make out the swing bridge in the background.

Poppy enjoying the view as we are cruising along

Once moored up we popped along to the Barge Inn which we had been told by neighbours at Bluewater is under new management & does some good pub grub - unfortunately for us the chef is on holiday but they managed to rustle us up a jacket spud, which was ok & treacle sponge with icecream, which was delicious!
Back to the boat where Mark found the sat signal on 1st attempt ( he is a telly addict!) also good 3g & t mob reception.

Opposite the pub are the long term moorings where the Spider T is berthed - she is featured in this months Towpath Talk. A Humber Super Sloop that was built in 1926 & saved from the cutter’s torch by Mal Nicholson who has transformed her into a designated vessel of National Historic Ships Register.
Thursday dawned wet & grey so after a leisurely breakfast we donned our waterproofs & set off back. We took our time, having a couple off stops for coffee & lunch. The rain was not too bad until we were got to Moor's swing bridge when the heavens opened - we decided that being nearly home we'd keep going - so we were like drowned rats by the time we did arrive back.

Possibly because of the rain there was no 'welcoming committee' watching us getting back into our berth which can be a bit stressful but we ( well Mark anyway!) are much more confident in our handling now & she was slotted back in very smoothly.
Then a hot shower to warm us up before a much needed trip to Asda in Doncaster to stock up the food cupboards.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Lazy Days

Nothing much to report, have been quite idle really, read a couple of books & just pottered about keeping things ship shape but without too much effort! Thank goodness the weather is a bit warmer. On Sunday we had planned to do a walk but it was such a lovely day we just sat out the back with the sunday papers soaking up the sun - not like us really as usually we have something planned or something crops up so it made a pleasant change ( & set the tone for the week - for me anyway!)

The new inverter is nearly installed - It wasn't totally straightforward, Spike had to drill bigger holes as the cables on the new inverter are fatter than on the old one & we need some extra cabling which is on order & will hopefully arrive tomorrow.

We are going up to Keadby& back Wednesday -Thursday as Mark has a couple of days off & we had thought that if the inverter was fitted we'd have been able to give it a test.
Depending on what time the extension cables are delivered ( & if Spike has time to fit them) we will either have it up & running or go anyway without it connected - I'm sure we can manage without TV etc for one night.

Looking forward to the weekend as grandson Eric (12) is coming to join us for a week - Mark is hoping to get some time off so we can have a night or two out of the marina & give Eric chance to work a few locks & earn his keep! Hopefully we will have a working inverter by then.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Sunshine & showers

Nearly mid July but I lit the stove yesterday afternoon as it was cold, damp & thoroughly miserable so it's nice to see a bit of sun today & I've been able to put some washing out although keeping a watch out as still a few clouds on the horizon.

Soona on the sofa enjoying a spot of sun

There has been no sign of the little white duck since Thursday morning & the group she had been with turned up an hour or so ago but she wasn't with them. I can only speculate as to what has happened to her - hopefully someone else will have rescued her and taken her for treatment although one of my neighbours Phil, used to breed ducks & he assures me that they can recover quite well from injury just left to their own devices so either way hope she's okay.

Mark fitted the new whale gulper pump on Thursday & for someone who used to avoid anything remotely DIY I am impressed! What a difference - even before it packed up the old pump was slow, very noisy & took ages to clear the water, the gulper makes short work of emptying the shower, is much quieter & you don't have to worry about letting it run dry so all in all I'm very pleased.

The fuse holder has arrived this morning so hopefully Spike can find a few minutes to fit the new inverter next week, Mark thought about having a go but looks like it might be a bit complicated with the fuse ect so will leave this one to the expert.

The sun is still out so I think I'm going to take my book ( a Ruth Rendell - I love a good murder/ mystery) & sit out the back & read for a while - well until it rains anyway......

Thursday, 10 July 2008

A Ducks tale

11am & just sitting out on the back having a coffee with Mark before he went off to earn a crust or two when some splashing & squawking heralded the arrival of large flock of ducks including the little white one. As I pointed said duck out to Mark I realised something was amiss, she (?) had a chunk of wing missing and her back & side was blood streaked.

I got the RSPCA's emergency number off their web site & they dutifully took all the info, I did say that I have a large net ( just in case one of cats falls in - not been used ... yet) & I could probably scoop her up & pop her in a cat box till someone arrived but was advised not to.
I kept a watch out & she seemed to be swimming & eating okay & eventually the whole group went out of the marina up the canal as usual.
3pm the inspector arrived & no duck. I explained about my offer to catch her & was told that I should have! Ah well ... anyway she said when (if) duck returns if I can scoop her up to take her to the local vets & they will take it from there. I showed her the pic & she thinks duck is a cross breed. So watch this space for tales from the canal bank!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

How much!

The new inverter according to the instructions, needs an inline fuse so I emailed Sterling to ask what fuse we needed. Back came a prompt repy that we need a GANL 300amp.I managed to find one a car audio site at £9.99 + £2.50 p&p which was duly ordered & came yesterday.
Showed it to Spike who is going to fit the new inverter & he told me I also need a fuse holder, he did warn me that they seem expensive for what they are, probably about a tenner & that I could probably pick one up at our local chandlers.
So I pottered off to said chandlers & yes they had one in stock at £19.60 !!! & I nearly bought it except that I couldn't pay by card as their machine was playing up & didn't have enough cash on me. I later checked with the car audio site & they have one for £9.99 + £2.50 p&p so one is now on order. All told the fuse has cost £24.98. lets hope it does the job!

A job I have been putting off has been sorted this morning & as is often the case didn't take as long as expected. The 'glory hole' is the space at the front just in front of the water tank which is handy for storage & also houses the cat litter tray( which they access through a modified step)
It had never been painted & was covered in a coat of powdery & flaking rust, so I grasped the nettle, scraped off & swept up said dust - filthy job - & then painted it out with hammerite. Actually only took me a couple of hours & very pleased with result ( should have taken a 'before' pic !)Hope Poppy & Soona appreciate my efforts!

This duck was in a large flock of mallards that turned up yesterday afternoon looking for some grub, not sure what breed he/she is - had a look at the RSPB web site but found nothing similar.

Must get a decent book on British birds.

The forecasted rain isn't here yet so have just put some washing out, which will no doubt hasten its arrival.......

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Pumps & vets

Mark got straight onto the shower pump this morning - he found that by removing the shelf he could just about manage to get at it, on removing the cover found 3 small screws loose round the impeller which had bent & damaged the impeller. Very strange! how on earth had they got in there? they obviously aren't part of the pump - anyway the pump was reassembled ( minus the screws!) but still dead as a doornail. We are assuming the motor has probably burnt out.

Last night I did some research ( read some postings on Canal World Forums!) & the conclusion we reached was that if our pump has died we will replace it with a Whale Gulper 220 which would seem to be a better option than our Johnson as it does not need to be de-clogged or hardly ever -and will run wet or dry, if you believe the blurb.
Selby Boat Centre has them in stock at £83 so Mark will pick one up tomorrow & then hopefully that will solve that problem.

Took Soona to new vets this morning - had her glands emptied ( sank her teeth into my hand but who can blame her!) She also needs antibiotics but as I explained to the Vet it is practically impossible to get her to take tablets so he gave her an injection that lasts 2 weeks. She seems much happier now & at £43 not too expensive.

One thing I hadn't mentioned in yesterdays catch up was that we are having a cratch cover made. We opted for The Canvas Man as there are quite a few examples of their work around the marina & everyone we have spoken to is happy with the standard of workmanship.
Chris came a few weeks ago & after discussing various options we decided to have a framed cratch. James came last week, fitted the frame & took a pattern for the canvas which should be ready in a couple of weeks or so.

A few weeks ago after a sunny day Mark popped in to Argos & picked up a couple of 'director' style chairs so as to sit out & enjoy the sunshine. Hah!! what sunshine? But on the few occasions that we have been able to get them out Poppy, as you can see thinks they were a brilliant idea!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Catch up

A wet & windy Sunday afternoon whilst Mark watches the Grand Prix is an ideal time for me to bring the blog up to date.

20th June In Paignton, Devon attending the funeral of my brother Martins wife, Julie. She had died very suddenly from a heart attack aged just 49. She brightened the life of everyone who knew her & will be very sadly missed.

23rd June saw us leaving the marina on a cloudy & breezy Monday morning, eager to leave familiar territory behind & explore new horizons & when we moored up at the visitor moorings at Pollington at 3.30pm it was with a smug sense of achievement.
About to pass under M62- many times driven over it - 1st time under!

Our1st day out had taken us from the Stainforth & Keadby up the New Junction & onto the Aire & Calder, Mark had done most of the steering whilst I did the locks & assorted swing & lift bridges. I took the tiller now & again on the ‘easy’ bits but not for anything more complicated!
But on the whole we felt we were handling Poppy a lot more confidently especially given the stiff breeze.
On arrival at Pollington in warm sunshine Poppy (cat!) was desperate to explore - she had spent much of the day trying to see out & was not the least bit phased by it all whilst Soona spent a lot of time under the sofa snoozing.
After a scout around the immediate area we took the decision to let them out ( before feeding time!) & Poppy really enjoyed stretching her legs rolling around in the dust & making short forays into the undergrowth. Soona eventually made her way off the boat ( she doesn’t do anything in a rush!) & enjoyed pottering but not brave enough to follow Poppy further afield.

So all in all not a bad 1st day- happy cats, a good signal through the T. Mobile dongle plus Mark got the sat logged on - so Sky + & beautiful surroundings, just perfect. Hmmm..
So with cats fed & back on the boat we took a stroll to the George & Dragon in the village which according to Nicholson’s did food. Not any more they don’t! Never mind - plenty of grub on board so we headed back for tea aboard.
An hour or so later the TV died as did all the 240v electrics - the inverter showed low battery which seemed odd as we had done 4-5 hours or so cruising but it was a lovely evening so we made use of the picnic table to play a few hands of gin rummy & we decided not to worry too much & to see if the next days cruising sorted the inverter out ( we are still very much newbies & find the electrics a bit confusing & I find the more I read up & the more I talk to other boaters the more confused I become!)

On the Aire & Calder we passed a few working barges most carrying sand & gravel or tankers carrying oil, great to see the navigation being used for its original purpose.
The Humber Princess

Tuesday morning & off by 9am when lock keeper arrived on duty- lock can usually be self operated but a fault at Pollington ( & also Whitley ) meant having to wait for lock keeper.

Once through the lock we set off on our 2nd day, stopping off at Ferrybridge for lunch, the inverter was checked again & still not working showing red ‘low battery’ light so we were beginning to think that possibly the inverter was at fault. After a bit of head scratching we thought that we’d press on - after all it just meant no telly, no fridge & no computer,not the end of the world really is it?.......
So on to Castleford where we planned to spend the night & by 6pm we were settled in on the visitor moorings having topped up the water, emptied the loo & eaten a meal when a phone call from my brother meant that we would be on our way home due to the passing away of my mother.
We winded & set off back stopping overnight at Ferry bridge & pressed on next morning, arriving back in Thorne at 7pm.

The inverter situation is not quite resolved yet. I asked Spike ( chap at Bluewater who knows about these things!) to have a look and after some tests he declared it not working. We have now bought a new one, a Sterling 1880w which will be fitted when the fuse ( GANL300 evidently!) arrives.
The boat builder, Lainy Cain has offered to refund us for the defunct inverter so we shouldn’t be too much out of pocket.

7th July
It is now Monday afternoon, still wet & with the odd clap of thunder but it never rains but it pours ! Because the shower pump has thrown a wobbly …arrggh!
Not sure why, quick check on Canal World Forum ( mine of information!) & seems that clogging up with hair ect is favourite. Unfortunately the pump is in a awkward spot tucked away in a corner under the kitchen units.
I think I am going to have to squeeze myself in there & take it apart but will try to have a word with someone who knows about these thing 1st! Need to learn how to do it as from what I have picked up from the forum shower pumps usually need cleaning out now & again.

Plus I have had to book Soona into the vets tomorrow, she has had anal sac problems in the past, the last time being about 3 months ago before we moved from Hull & she is showing symptoms again. It will be the 1st time at this vets so I am hoping they are as good as the previous vet we used in Hull - one thing is for sure - it won’t be cheap!