Sunday, March 31, 2013

On home territory.

A pleasant couple of days cruising on the T&M. The weather has been cool, but the sun has shown its face and the wind has been light.

We left Alrewas on Saturday morning breaking a wafer thin skimming of ice and were soon on the river section to Wychnor. A breakfast break at Barton before heading through Burton on Trent where we called in at Jannel Cruisers to pick up a bag of smokeless fuel. A few changes since we last called in, including a cafe. 

We moored up mid afternoon at Findern behind Nadee Indian Restaurant in lovely sunshine. We didn't eat there on this occasion, but we can certainly recommend it for a meal. One of our favourite local such establishments. Instead, we ate on board and welcomed our good friends Dave & Sally over for a few evening drinks. We were accompanied by some very loud Bhangra music from a function at the restaurant. It even had the windows vibrating !! 

This morning we woke to the canal being quite solidly iced over. We took a walk down to Stenson Lock coffee shop and enjoyed a latte and by the time we got back to the boat a few had started moving and breaking the ice. We left just after midday and soon encountered some valuable Health & Safety advice from an elderly lady enjoying a walk. "Don't fall in it's icy. You'll catch hibernation" she said. I know what she meant...I think ?? We enjoyed the trip down to Shardlow. We know this section intimately. We often walk the dogs along various stretches and John grew up fishing at Stenson, Swarkestone and Shardlow. Louises uncle and aunt live in a house that backs onto the canal just above Weston Lock and she spent a lot her childhood here too. 

Moorings at Shardlow were full so we carried on and moored just above Derwent Mouth Lock before taking a walk down to Sawley to check on river levels...everything just in the green and falling which is good news. 

I was shocked tonight as we walked through the fishery beside the M1 (for which I have had a ticket for 35 years). Like boaters, there are varying types of anglers. Personally, I like to out think fish and be active in catching them, altering tactics according to conditions etc. Over recent years the carp angler has gained popularity, especially those who sit in a tent and wait for a bite alarm to tell them a fish has taken the bait. Not much skill in that is my humble opinion, but to see the 'bivvies' by the lake with a digital TV aerial protruding out of the top is a whole new dimension !!! 

Tomorrow our peace will be shattered as our youngest son and girlfriend join us for a few days. It was nice while it lasted...

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's green for go.

At last we are out and about in 2013. The winter break has finally come to an least time wise. The weather looks to be set reasonably fair for the next week or so, and with the snow finally disappearing, we are looking forward to our first trip of the year.
In view of the recent weather, we have no schedule for this trip. We didn't know whether the rivers would be at an acceptable level, so had a couple of ideas in mind. On the way down to the boat this morning, we called at Alrewas to check on the water level and were pleased to see the boards well in the green...decision made. We would head towards home (Derby) and see where we end up. 

River level at Alrewas

We left the marina around midday and headed for Fradley. It was pretty quiet for a Bank Holiday. The Swan was a tempting proposition for a brief stop, but we continued through the locks towards Alrewas. The clouds appeared this afternoon and the temperature dropped in the cold wind with the odd brief snow shower and so we decided that Alrewas was far enough for one day.

A pleasant walk in the village with the dogs and a lovely homemade curry for tea with the stove roaring and a bottle of wine. 

How we have missed the boating way of life.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

From hero to zeros

A day of highs and lows if ever there was one. Today we have driven to Market Harborough, one of our favourite towns on the canal system. The purpose of our visit was to watch our youngest son Luke play rugby. We set off in plenty of time so that he could get some driving practice on the way, which meant a lengthy but scenic route from Derby as we couldn't use the motorway with him being a learner, but we eventually arrived unscathed. 

We had some time on our hands before kick off, so Louise and I took the short trip to Foxton Locks with Jasper and had a pleasant walk and dodged the showers. We really enjoy the location when we are cruising, but have never really taken the opportunity to have a good look around and it was nice to be able to do so today. There were a few boats moving and we couldn't resist the temptation to open and close some lock gates to help others through the locks. A coffee and a sausage bap were welcome refreshment at the cafe at the top of the flight before we headed back to the rugby club.

View from the top of Foxton Inclined Plane
Even a bit of blue sky making an appearance
What a treat we had in store. Playing on the adjacent pitch to Luke were Market Harborough Vets against Olney Vets. Not the vets that fix your dog or cat, but rugby 'vetrans' for which you must be above the age of 35 to qualify. On any other day not a fixture which would normally catch your eye....just a bunch of ageing blokes rolling around in the mud you might think. But today the pitch was graced by none other than our 2003 Rugby World Cup winning captain, Martin Johnson. He had turned out for Market Harborough and although not as quick as he used to be, it was fantastic to watch him involved in a game at grass roots level. Oh how we could have done with him in his prime today in Cardiff !! Ten years is obviously a long time in sport as today his side lost 10-0.

The great man himself
Lukes team faired much better with a decent victory by 21-13 before we retired to the clubhouse in expectation of a Grand Slam performance by England. Jonno left half an hour before kick off - maybe he feared the worst was about to happen, but not even he could have predicted the outcome as England were comprehensively taught a lesson by the Welsh. Our eldest son Liam was actually at the game in Cardiff where he is at university. At 5pm, when the game kicked off I was very envious, but in light of the result I'm now very pleased I only had to suffer it on the TV. What a deflating end to what was otherwise a lovely day.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Not quite the weekend we planned

With a forecast of blue skies and even some sunshine over the weekend, we decided to head of down to Kings Bromley this weekend and bring Blue Moon out of hibernation. We arrived early on Saturday afternoon with the intention of heading out of the marina and enjoying a meal at The Old Peculiar at Handsacre. First, we had to at least partly fill the water tank and refit the water pump which I had removed over winter. Unfortunately, having connected the pump and turning it on, it just kept running and running.......problem !!

Water was running from the taps after clearing the air in the system, but after a while, the pressure relief valve on the calorifier was kicking in and water was flowing nicely out of the side of the boat....well at least it wasn't flowing inside I suppose. No signs of any leaks around the calorifier, but to get to the valve and check it means dismantling the bed. Our trip to Handsacre was now abandoned.

We have wonderful neighbours at the marina and we all muck in to help each other. The conclusion after much head scratching was either a faulty valve on the calorifier or a problem with the pump which was just a year old. We eventually settled on the pump and the pressure switch within as we had unusually high pressure on the taps. So the pump was disconnected and then we all decided to head for The Swan at Fradley for a lovely evening meal and a few beers......result.

As we didn't have use of the water system, we decided to return home for the night and were through the door of Midland Chandlers at Willington at 10am this morning, leaving shortly afterwards with a replacement pump under warranty. The replacement pump connected, we switched on and hoped our collective diagnosis was correct. What a relief when the pump switched off - problem solved.

We spent the rest of the day doing some spring cleaning and I changed the fuel filters. Very happy to see no trace of the dreaded diesel bug after winter. Everything seems ready to go, just a shame we couldn't manage it this weekend. At least next weekend the stoppages at Woodend Lock and Haywood Lock are scheduled to have finished, so let's hope for more good spring weather and no more technical gremlins.