Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Still Manacled to New Bradwell, Local Exploration & I'm being Spied Upon!

Checking Google Reader just now revealed that the scallywags on NB Albert have been taking sly photos of Wils! The rambunctious swines! Of course I am extremely flattered, this is a first for me, a post in someone else's blog with not only a mention of Wils, but a photo too! COR! It must have been taken the day before we moved south (slightly).

Thank you NB Albert!

I did glance over Kingfisher Marina for signs of you but I couldn't find you!

Being stuck in a boat in the ice in Milton Keynes has, it turns out, many up-sides. Like discovering a beehive in the woods with lots of fallen comb...


And numerous creepy logs...


Ok, so in truth I'm a little bored. ALL the washing up is done. The floor is swept. The doilies are aired. The T'ang Statues in the East Wing are dusted. Really, the deeds perpetrated by boredom on a dirty boat are quite unimaginable.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Halted by Ice Again!

An early start saw me stoking the fire that had stayed in overnight (HURRAY! I'm getting good at this...) and taking on coal and fuel as soon as Yardley Wharf opened. Then onto Cosgrove, and the sun was shining! I had planned to stop at Cosgrove, but upon arrival there at 11am, it seemed like the right time to go still further. Not to mention the fact that I had no internet signal, and nothing else to do...

So I pushed on towards Milton Keynes in the sunshine, the view over the aquaduct just below Cosgrove was amazing.

I approached the second aquaduct, over the road, and saw the figure of my mum walking towards me along the towpath! Thus this photo was possible:

Wils at MK Viaduct Jan 10 003


All went wildly awry, however, not long after that. It turns out that a short stretch of the canal in New Bradwell is shaded so perfectly that no dent has yet been made in the ice there! So here I am! Another in a growing number of boats held up on one side of a very thick (and equally short) stretch of ice!

Tomorrow I go out in the morning with a very large stick or a brick on a string to see whether it could be sufficiently broken up from the bank...Here's praying for sunshine and extraordinarily localised global warming for once, industrial lasers accidentally misdirected onto the canal here from the Super X-Ray Deathbeam Satellite, or just a duck with a hairdryer, the usual...

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Iceman - erm - Goeth?

To echo the sound that seems to be resounding around the system at the moment - I can add the Yardley Gobion stretch of the Grand Union to the list of locations no longer in the grip of ice! So tomorrow will start with the replenishing of fuel/water/coal supplies, and then moving on to Cosgrove.

I recently added the finishing touches to the Winter 2009 Issue of The Buckingham Navigator, which will be available on the Buckingham Canal Society website soon. I will link to it when it's available.

Glad as I am to have fluid surroundings back again, I'm not so happy with what the ice seems to have done to the paintwork on the stern... Blacking the hull isn't too far off so I can probably touch up the paint then. It's certainly warmer onboard, down to just three layers of clothing already, I mean it's practically a heatwave...

Now to analyse the finances, prompt payment for a license is due soon! Can it really have been a year already? Nearly!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Floor & the Ceiling are now Precisely Where They Should Be! Musing on a Route for 2010... & Many Photographs...

I'm happy to say that work has been progressing well and as a result of which the new floor is now down in the saloon! Which means I have the use of the table back and I have the ability to have guests to stay! Including couchsurfers, to whom I will be opening my doors (bow and stern) very soon, perhaps once the weather warms up a bit.

I came across two seperate references to the retreat of the ice in the canal blogging world, so here's hoping we will be able to move again soon! Saying that, I have no doubt that as the weather warms up and the hire/summer boaters begin to creep back into view, some of us might even look back fondly on White January...

In other news, I'm sorry to say that Jem will not be returning to boat life with me. As part of her ongoing recovery she is completely engaged down south indefinately.

As everyone else on the system seems to be saying at the moment, what else is there to post online but more photographs of the snow?! So here goes!







I'm engaged most evenings poring over the waterways charts by candlelight, my compasses grasped in hand, quaffing rum and waiting for the ice to clear... (What? That's mostly true...) Having covered the Southern Waterways with the exception of the K&A and the disconnected sections, I'm thinking that a journey of epic proportions in a north-westerly direction is the thing... Perhaps the word I'm looking for right now is:


Monday, 11 January 2010

Yardley Gobion Wharf: Then & Now!

My mum took both of these photos in another of the worst winters in living memory, the dreaded winter of '81. I thought that, given our current white-out, and the fact that I'm moored right on the spot - what better time could there be for another Then & Now?! So here goes...

(Note the fact that there's no Kingfisher Marina in 1981! Other than that, not much changes on some parts of the cut in 30 years or so, eh? Why should it?)

Yardley Gobion Canal Bridge 1981


Yardley Gobion Canal Bridge 1981 no.2


Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Back Onboard! Snowbound for sure... Making hot water bottles for the engine...

So now I'm back onboard the good ship after the frolics of Christmas and New Year, both of which were supremely good fun. All of my hoping that the coldest weather was behind us seems to have been in vain! It's snowing real powder snow, here at Yardley Gobion right now!See?!


Mum and I arrived at the boat this afternoon, armed with supplies including petrol for the generator and some food, which is always nice... After puncturing a four-pinter on I-can't-fathom-what, and duly spraying milk all over the bedroom unwittingly, it was time to begin the fun of coaxing the engine back to life after more than a week of sitting idly in sub-zero temperatures. Oil topped up, electric keys plugged in, raw water valve opened - I thought it prudent to check in the water filter for signs of ice - and ice there was! Not a solid lump but a strange 3D latticework of the stuff... I squeezed a couple of the water lines and heard a disconcerting crunching sound...

I attempted to turn over the engine, but something was wrong - I noticed that the water pump belt was not moving! So next job was to get into the impeller housing and -

Okay, fast forward to the juicy bits because you're a busy person, right? You don't want ALL the details!

Short version is: I had to resort to using a hot water bottle to warm up most of the water lines around the engine! In the end it worked just fine, and despite grumbling at the beginning she was ticking over happily within seconds, while Mum did sterling work getting the stove going.

We bought a bag of coal, which is doing wonders in the stove this evening. It's my first night with coal on, and what a difference! It seems warmer throughout the boat, and requires far, far less attention than relying solely on wood. Wood which has sap in it, sap which runs down the flue and stinks!

Officially they're saying it's the coldest winter in the UK for 30 years, which makes it the coldest winter I've ever lived through! And it's turned out to be the winter I'm on a narrowboat... HURRAY! If it's this desolate and wonderfully bleak opposite a Marina with a village nearby, I can only dream what it must be like for the lucky souls moored out in the wild stretches of nowhere! The lonely stretch near the north end of the Oxford Canal springs to mind... 

It seems like everyone else blogging from the canals is going nowhere either! We're a community of stationary nomads for now... I hope everyone on the system can easily access water and similar essential facilities. I'm lucky enough to be directly opposite the wharf here so facilities could hardly be nearer. If this continues for much longer we'll be saying to each other; "Ahhh, I remember when those thin bungalows at the bottom of the hill used to MOVE!" And our Grandchildren (of the post-apocalyptic-winter generation) will scarce believe us. 

Tomorrow morning I'm on an adventure with my camera, so expect a photo-laden post tomorrow! Now I'm off to explore exceptional whisky and science fiction at the same time.

A couple of recent photos, just 'cos...