Wednesday, 28 April 2010

New generation of boaters.

Just a very short and sweet blog tonight. The early morning peace was broken this morning at just turned 6.30am when Dawn’s mobile started ringing. It was Sarah, the youngest daughter , to say that her contractions were every 3 minutes and that Kev was about to take her into hospital. By 8.40am it was all over and my second grand daughter, Bethany, was born. As soon as I got back from work we were off up the hospital to visit and at 8lbs 7ozs she is both bonny and beautiful ( just like her Gramps!) and so here she is and I’ll let you judge for yourselves.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A sobering Sunday

Joyful nights bring sorrowful mornings, as I mentioned in yesterdays blog, we were off out for the night last night, I only wish I had only had two or three Guinness but when your in good company and it’s going down so easy- well what more can I say. I did not get breakfast on until turned 10.00am then we chucked a few things in the car and headed off down the moorings. Weather wise, the morning had started out promising but as the morning rolled on and into afternoon, the clouds started gathering and then about 4.00pm it started raining. It’s amazing, as I mentioned earlier, Minnow had been coated in lime by a farmer liming his fields up at Hoo Mill and at the time I said that what it needed was a good downpour of rain. Well it hasn’t for the last fortnight and so we had decided to wash the cloths down with a hard broom, a mop and a hose pipe, before taking them off for the Summer, we both set to scrubbing and swilling down until all was clean again. While we waited for the cloths to dry I filled a bowl with water and washing up liquid and washed down the off side of the cabin and scrubbed all the lime dust of that as well then swilled it off with the hose pipe. I was just coiling up the hose pipe to put it away when the first couple of rain drops fell – I don’t believe it-

This putting the cloths on, and taking the cloths off is an annual event for we fully cloth the boat in winter just to keep the rain out so we don’t have to pump out so often, then take them off at this time of the year for boating an empty boat fully clothed is not a method of boating to be enjoyed.

The only problem with clothing the empty hold up is it can lead to randomly storing allsorts under the cloths like “where shall I put this” “Oh just stick it under the cloths. Which while the hold is clothed up ain’t a problem, but when you take the cloths off and all is on view to every passing boat then this accounted for the afternoons work. Moving empty diesel containers, bags of coal, batteries, a sack truck/trolley, two generators, timber and a host of other various items. While I did this Dawn set about the bow cabin top with her plane blade and removed all the lifting varnish then scrubbed it all off with an old toothbrush. All in all another satisfying day getting lots done. Unfortunately the rain stopped us putting the first coat of varnish on the bow cabin and the second coat on the back cabin as well as some red oxiding I wanted to do, but, hey ho, there’s always next week and so as always till then’

Don’t bang ‘em about.


Saturday, 24 April 2010

A satisfying Saturday

As I had mentioned in a previous blog, the cold weather over this winter/spring had taken it’s toll on the graining varnish on the cabin top and Dawn spent time over Easter peeling off all the blown varnish. The weather forecast for the weekend was for hot dry weather so, an ideal opportunity to get a coat of varnish on it. Got down the mooring about 9.30am and started by washing down and scrubbing all the marks off the graining on the cabin top, as well as all the ‘farmers lime’ from the weekend spent up at Hoo Mill. With that done, I had to leave it to dry completely, which would not take too long in this weather, and so I turned my attention to the engine. On the journey up to Hoo Mill the gasket between the cylinder head and the hot bulb had started to blow a little bit but nothing to worry about as they do tend to do this. On the way back it started really ‘blowing smoke’ from out the engine ‘ole doors and so I decided to fit a new one while I waited for the cabin top to dry.

Removed the oil rod from the top of the spindle and raised the spindle by hand screwing it out, loosened the nuts holding the spindle flange in then carefully pulled the spindle out of it’s mounting. Slackened the fuel supply pipe and rotated the spindle and pipe out of the way of the engine. Disconnected the in/out cooling water pipes followed by the two nuts holding the mounting onto the top of the hot bulb.


Lifted the flame hood off out of the way then proceeded to remove the five nuts clamping the hot bulb to the cylinder head.


With both the flame hood and the hot bulb off the engine I took advantage and gave them a quick paint over with Calfire stove paint prior to fitting them back. While the flame hood and hot bulb were drying I got back to the cabin top which by now had completely dried. For the next hour I gave the whole of the cabin top a coat of International yacht varnish. Now with the varnish wet I returned my attentions back to the engine.


I greased a 3 foot length of asbestos string which is used to produce the gasket by spirally winding it in a coil on the mating surface, the grease simply to hold it in place while you mess.


With this done the hot bulb was bolted back on followed by the flame hood. While I had the spindle assemble out of the engine but still connected to the fuel supply I cleaned the carbon build up off the end of the spindle and cleaned the hole in the end using a set of gas welding nozzle cleaners. Having cleaned the nozzle I then loosened the fuel supply pipe and rotated the spindle assemble back and placed it loosely into it’s mounting before tightening up the fuel pipe. The spindle was again lifted clear of it’s mount and a small oil jug placed under the nozzle to catch the diesel as I gave the lifter several pumps just to check the spray pattern with the spindle both raised and close. All was fine and so the whole lot was put back together.


With this done I once again turned my attentions to the cabin, this time the cabin sides, well one cabin side as I sat on the edge of the wharf and proceeded to scrub down the cabin side with a sponge and soapy water followed by a coating of Auto Glim car polish and a good buffing. By the time my arms were aching and it was getting on for 3.30pm and I needed to get back as we are out to a show night at the Power Station Club tonight at six, A Take That tribute band (I’m only going for Dawn’s benefit) still I suppose I could end up having a couple or three Guinness.

Till next time

Don’t bang ‘em about


Friday, 23 April 2010

Eggstrodinary free food

The one thing I really love about this time of the year is ‘eggs’ especially duck eggs and goose eggs. I know some people say that duck eggs are too strong for them but if you’ve never tried a goose egg – yummmmeee.
To give you some idea of size that’s a cracked goose egg and a hen egg in it’s shell in this bowl and as you can see the goose egg yolk is bigger than the whole hen egg! Unlike a duck egg they do not have that strong flavour and are more like a hen egg, and I’m not on about those pale insipid things one buys from a supermarket but proper free range hen eggs that have lived on a wide variety of wild growth etc. with their bright yellow yolks. Some good friends of mine, from the days when I used to do a lot of match fishing, operate, manage and fish a local lake where there has been an ongoing problem over the years with Canada Geese, hundreds of them who all nest on the two small islands in the lake and each year swell their numbers by breeding about fifteen to twenty broods of goslings, usually about over a hundred, that is until the last couple of years since they have been ‘managing’ the geese as well, that is after a little tuition by yours truly. Canada geese are strange animals as if one is sitting a nest of six to eight eggs on average and you take them all leaving one in the nest, they will lay another clutch. So the method is this, the fishermen have a small fibreglass dinghy which they use for maintenance and an emergency boat, which they row over to the islands and take all but one egg off each of the nests and discard them as it is not known how long they have been laid. The egg that’s left is marked with a felt pen. They return a couple of days later and take all the newly laid eggs removing the one marked with the felt pen and discard it, then they mark another fresh egg with felt pen. The geese then conveniently lay again in time for another egg gathering. The resulting eggs are shared out between several of us. The season usually last a couple of months and as Dawn doesn’t like them I get them all! The only thing with them is, like duck eggs, you have to cook them well so I either have them whipped and as an omelette or as a fried egg cooked both sides and when I say a fried egg, they are usually about six/seven inches in diameter (on the plate that is not the egg) with a yolk about 2½ inches diameter!

Writing this has started me off so I’m thinking of a goose egg for supper, so till next time,

Don’t bang ‘em about.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Tea and a chat

Tonight we spent a very pleasant hour or so with our neighbours to be up at Keith Balls yard at Stretton on the Shroppie. Dawn and I went there to visit Sarah and Jim and their big Woolwich motor boat Chertsey which is undergoing a major improvement program including new back end bottoms, some patching to the footings etc., some reinforcing of the usual lace like sections on the knee’s, replacement engine, hull blacking and red oxiding inside. Well I must say, most impressive it all was as well. We sat in the cosy back cabin drank beer (well I drank tea!) warmed by the ever reliable Epping range and chatted about a variety of subjects, all canal related and mainly about Chertsey as I was keen to find out what their intentions were for her ‘restoration’. The funniest moment of the evening was when Keith went off to get chairs for me and Dawn to sit on in the yard. He came back with two white plastic patio chairs, an aluminium mini work bench and an old folding wooden deck chair which he proceeded to open, put down and sit on. There was a loud crack and Keith ended up full length on his back lying on the yard floor on top of the smashed deck chair. “at least I now have some wood for lighting the range” was Sarah’s response whilst the rest of us just fought back the tears of laughter. No camera so no record I’m afraid. By 9.00pm we made our farewells agreeing we would see them again soon and headed off home.


Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Know your Knobsticks

For some time now I have been thinking about having a go at painting Knobstick roses. This was the knick name given to the more realistic style of roses painted for the Anderton Company by Bill Hodgson. I have never received any tuition as such but simply picked it up over about the last 50 years during which time I have simply listened, looked and tried. Some of my very early attempts were very poor when I look at them now but I was only a lad.

Later flowers and scene’s are, I think of a more acceptable standard like this bucket I painted last year

So anyway back to the practice, starting by forgetting anything I had ever learned, for the style is completely different. I studied what images I had and what were available on tinternet, which I must say was very limited. I painted a couple of practice boards a dark green undercoat, which gives an ideal surface as it isn’t a high gloss surface making it readily accept the flat colour paints.

After some practice the above was my first real attempt. My good lady wife said they were OK but thought that they looked flat, that the centres did not appear raised and so with that said it was back to the practice boards along with a few changes to the techniques I was experimenting with for the next couple of weeks.

With the two full weekends we have had it was not until tonight that I was able to complete my latest attempt which I must say I was quite happy with and certainly something I can work with- my good lady wife- she say’s there OK but remains, as always very non-committal. Peoples views would be appreciated, and be honest, don’t worry as I take constructive criticism well!

Till net time

Don’t bang ‘em about


Sunday, 18 April 2010

A Days boating with Andy and Laney.

After last weekends bash we had to get Minnow back to Kings Bromley and so we got up this morning and had a bit of breakfast then dropped Dawn’s car off at the moorings then shot over to Hoo Mill in mine. A cupper and a chat and we were ready for the off when Andy and Laney says “we’ll come to the windin ‘ole with you” which as it turned out they did and on to Haywood lock before Laney went back while Andy was enjoying himself so much he came all the way back to Kings Bromley with us.

The canal is populated by ‘arseholes and nice people. Thankfully there are more nice people about but we met one of the others today who keeps his noddy boat immediately before the winding hole just north of Ingestre Bridge No 78. As I stuck Minnows bows into the winding hole I saw the ex Staffs & Worcs Directors inspection boat Lady Hatherton who held back and waited. We winded Minnow and headed back down the canal on dead tick over as there were both moored boats both sides of the canal and Lady Hatherton approaching which we passed and said our hello’s then as we passed the moored boat the owner said something about the motorway being just down the canal. Fortunately for him I did not hear or understand what he was on about otherwise I would have stopped Minnow and ‘had a chat with him’.
Above Haywood lock a hire boat decided that he would like to push me out of the way as his wife signalled it was clear for him to pull out of the trees where he had temporarily moored, then changed her mind and panic had set in and he went all over the cut, much to the amusement of Dawn and Laney who had fits of uncontrollable laughter. As we cleared Haywood lock I handed over the tiller to Andy who enjoyed getting his hands on a working boat again.

The rest of the trip went without anything happening just enjoyable boating all the way back to Kings Bromley. After locking up the boat we took Andy back to Hoo Mill and collected my car. An evening with TV and Chinese take away on the cards for tonight!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Boats, booze, bar b que, and bands.

The weather forecast for the weekend was for some much needed sun shine and so my first job on Saturday morning was to get myself to my good lady wife’s hair dressers for a much needed hair cut to get rid of the Winter fluff if the weather was going to be as good as forecast. It is very true to say that in general people married to a painter and decorator live in very poorly decorated homes, people married to car mechanic drive round in poorly maintained cars and those married to hair dressers are always in need of a good haircut!

After getting my hair cut I drove over to Hoo Mill and arrived at the site at about 11.00am to hear the strains of Brian Wells' 89 key Gavioli fairground organ playing away to some of the resident moorers etc. who were sat in the glorious sunshine on bales of straw. I walked over to the boat to be greeted by Laney who told me of the plight of the boats. The local farmer across the other side of the canal to the boats, on the towpath side, had limed the fields opposite and all the boats were completely white over. I started by wiping everything off with a dry cloth, thinking that if I tried mopping it this would just turn it into white sludge that I would just spread all over the cabin. Dry wiping, in fact, did very little other than move the dust about and so I decided to try the mop with plenty of water. I mopped the cabin top and gunnels which eventually removed most of it, what it could really do with is a good old down pour of rain to wash the lot down, but not this weekend. Next job was to polish all the outside brass work including mushroom vent, chimbley bands and chain etc. So that after an hour sporting clean brasses, klaxon and water cans, Minnow didn’t look too bad.

Finally I laid a fire in the range for although it was warm now, I knew it would chill later. So with this done it would just need a match putting to it when I left about 3.00pm to collect Dawn. With all my jobs done, I wandered off across to the marquee to find Andy to see what needed doing. Helped Andy with remaining jobs such as the electrics and setting up a sturdy table structure to support the Burco water boiler for tea’s and coffee’s for the ‘old ‘uns’. With this done I then filled the boiler up and switched it on to boil.

By two thirty there was nothing left to do so I left to head home, get changed and collect Dawn who had been at work. After a shower and a change to more suitable clothing we put a few things in the car such as my pewter tankard to drink out of (only plastic pint pots at the do) two folding camping chairs, milk and bread and bacon for breakfast and headed off. Got back down to site about 4.30pm to the smell of roasting pork and the fairground organ playing. By now both working boats Trout and Dove had arrived along with about 50 other friends and family of Andy and Laney. We met up with the new friends we had made off narrowboat Acer, moored in front of us, which they lived on at Hopwas with pet ferret Colin. For the next hour or so people milled around talking and tucking into the food and drink, whilst we were being entertained by a very talented young pianist who entertained us playing an electric key board until about 8.00pm when main band came in and started setting up on the brilliant stage that Andy had built out of large baulks of timber and thick sheets of plywood painted in black and white squares! While they were ‘tuning up’ they put some CD’s on the PA system just to get people in the mood, who were still eating and drinking. ( did I mention the three barrels of real ale that Andy had put on)

At about 9.00pm the band were ready and started the first of three sets they were to play. Well what can I say. The Rude Boys, an 80’s tribute band who did three ‘sets’ covering Ska and reggae in the first set, 80’s chart music and rock in the second set and right up to the latest Muse, Cold Play, Greenday, Keiser Chiefs etc.for their last set taking us up to about 1.30am (I think, not sure, did I menshun tha three barrels uv bier Andy put on, hick))

Went to bed after the band had finished, about 2.00am and collapsed into a deep ( drunken stupour) sleep. Abruptly woken at just after 8.00am as John and Jenny Jackson left with Roach, just got up long enough to put my head out of the hatches and squint out of one eye, then promptly got back into bed. Up at 9.00am for coffee with bacon sandwiches at about 9.30am. Faced the rest of the world by 10.00am when everybody who was about was a little tender. Sat out in the sun shine for an hour for another fairground organ recital including such rousing numbers as 633 squadron, The Thieving Magpie, several marches and more, including another rendition of Andy’s favourite, The Phantom of the Opera.

At about 12.00am more fresh food was piled out in the annex to the main marquee Pork and crackling, various cold meats and salad, chicken dippers, hot boiled skinned potatoes etc. Etc. which was eagerly tucked into by those who had the constitution. At about 1.00pm we were to be entertained by an unnamed duo (guitar and female vocals for some chill out music from writers like Bert Baccarat with hits from such artists as Dusty Springfield, Paul Weller, Dionne Warwick, and Barbra Streisand, to name but a few. The day for us finished about 4.00pm when we made our farewells and left for home. (to rest and sleep)

All in all it was a great weekend with around a hundred people there mostly like minded people who were into old things [(well the men anyway) (and I am not referring to the women before that’s hinted at)] and talking of old things the main things there to look at included:-

Working boats

Trout with her Kelvin J4

Lily with he 20hp Bolinder,

Minnow with her 9hp Bolinder,

Dove with her new Armstrong Sidderley AS2,


A 1940’s Foden lorry

Two showman’s caravan’s

A Romany bow top caravan

An 1895 fairground organ

A 1972 Mark 1 Ford Escort

sorry about the lack of photos only Dawn thought I'd picked the camera up and I thought she had!

All in all it was a fantastic weekender and all our thanks go to Laney and Andy for all the hard work and effort they had put in and also for inviting us all. I am sure this has the makings of an annual event and I’m sure as the word gets out more and more will want to attend.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Hoo Mill 'ere we go!

As I said in yesterdays blog, we have been invited to a weekend bash up at Hoo Mill next weekend and so we took Minnow up there today. I had a doctors appointment at 10.15am first which I did not get out of the surgery until after 11.00 then came home to pick Dawns car up so that we could leave mine at Hoo Mill for when we got there. After dropping my car off, we returned home and picked up a couple of things then we were off down the moorings. I put the lamp on the Bolinder and by 12.30 we were off reversing back to the entrance to the marina to wind. The wind was blowing a gale and with the boat clothed up for the winter the journey was a nightmare with Minnow ‘crabbing’ along all the open stretches like Taft Farm and approaching Shugborough. As we approached Hoo Mill Lock, we were greeted by Laney who had heard us coming and she had run down to help us through and tell us where to moor. By 4.30pm we were tying up alongside Andy and Laney’s 60’ livaboard and spent the next hour drinking coffee and catching up on gossip with the main topic of conversation being Andy’s forthcoming ‘weekender’ Some other working boats are expected including Trout, Monarch, Dove and England as well as some old cars, lorries, a tractor, a restored fairground organ, and in the marquee Andy has built a temporary stage for the 70’s Ska band and a rock band called Guinness Pigs, as well as the three barrels of real ale he has resting. Am really looking forward to meeting up with old friends and having a laugh including Viv Scragg off Monarch and Andrew & Andrea off Dove, I’m sure I will be reporting more after the event but, as always

Don’t bang ‘em about.


Monday, 5 April 2010

A Weekends Work

Friday: Started day off by popping down to Homebase to get sandpaper and a tin of black smooth Hammerite paint. Got down to the boat by about 11.00am and spent the rest of the day down there doing various jobs. Started by fitting the Klaxon to the back cabin slide, looked very nice, then went on to paint the internal exhaust pipe with the Hammerite paint followed by giving the chimbley another coat of paint. While I waited for the exhaust pipe to dry I put the lamp on the Bolinder and ran it up for about an hour. This put some heat in the exhaust pipe which dried it so I gave it a second coat. After the engine had cooled, I set about polishing all the brass fittings/pipe work on the engine so now it looks really smart, seems a shame to start it and dull the brasses! I finally set about making a cardboard template for a cover to the blowlamp.

Saturday: Gave internal exhaust pipe a second coat of black along with giving a coat to the exhaust ‘titch’ after this had dried, I gave the top band of both the cabin chimbley and the titch a couple of coats of white paint. Being as the sun had come out to play, I spent the afternoon rubbing down the last three foot of the top planks as the painted diamonds had become tatty and chipped. High light of the day was a woman fell in the cut off a passing boat!

Sunday: After cooked breakfast at home went down Minnow whilst Dawn set about starting to remove perished varnish from the cabin top, I painted half the engine ‘ole floor plates followed by re-painting the diamonds on the end of the top planks.

Monday: Made bacon and sausage sandwiches to take with us so made quite an early start. Started by wandering over the site to see if I could find something suitable to make a chimbley extention. Found a large empty paint tin which the bottom was cut out of and split down the side. With that done I finished off painting the engine ‘ole floor plates then painted all the ‘red’ bits on the Bolinder while Dawn finished peeling the varnish off the cabin top.

On arrival home, there was a note in the porch off the owner of another Josher motor boat called Lily, inviting us to take Minnow to his 50th bash next weekend where there’s live music, a marquee, a hog roast and a number of other working boats, so looks like we will not be doing work on Minnow tomorrow, but taking her up to Hoo Mill instead, ready for next week end.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Pets 'R' Us

I know that yesterday I said that I would not be blogging until after the Eostre break, but I have snatched a few moments to put this one together. I am thinking of putting a large illuminated sign on the roof of my bungalow which reads “ Eat At Joe’s” for, of late, we seem to be attracting a lot of waifs and strays. Two weeks ago, on the Saturday afternoon, Dawn returned from work and as she pulled up on the drive, saw through her rear view mirror, what she thought was a feather fall behind her car as she stopped. When she got out of the car, there on the drive, was a budgie. Quick thinking, she took off her coat and threw it over the budgie catching it. .The budgie was then picked up and brought into the house where, after calling me and explaining, a suitable small cardboard box was quickly prepared with holes as a temporary home. A telephone call to her sister, who lives a few doors away and who happened to have a spare bird cage, was made and the budgie was given it’s new home. On the Sunday a trip was made to the local ‘pets at home’ where a new large cage, feeders, toys, bells, mirror, swing and food were purchased (free budgie – I’m all for that, £50.00 for setting up house – not so sure) Settled in his new abode the budgie is giving hours of entertainment with it’s antics and loves to ‘squawk’ along with any music that’s playing and, strangely enough every time the Dyson is switched on! It appears as happy as Larry and reacts as if it’s lived here all it’s life even taking to it’s new name of Joey, (even though it’s a hen bird).
Last weekend an almost identical event occurred, when \dawn got out of her car, hopping about on the drive was what \Dawn at first thought was a sparrow, which made no attempt to fly off as she approached. She walked straight up to it, bent over, and simply picked it up. Coming into the house she said “your not going to believe this by I;ve caught an unusual sparrow on the drive, I think it’s injured though because it did not fly off”. And so the empty ‘spare cage’ which had not yet been returned to her sister as she is in America golfing, was purloined as a ‘temporary house’ for the sparrow while it gets better. When released into the cage I could see it was not a sparrow but in fact a canary that was absolutely flown out and exhausted. Fearing another expensive trip to Pets at Home, I said “doesn’t look very well, don’t think it will survive” and so for the moment anyway it is reduced to living in it’s ‘council house’ and not a ‘luxury detached desirable property with extensive facilities’. (Although I’m sure that is to come)
We also have two stray cats which regularly visit for feeding as well as our own tortoise shell cat and yellow Labrador. Dawn is, and always has been a bit of a sucker for a sad story as far as animals are concerned as over the years we had taken in many unwanted animals. I have said before that Dawn own’s a hair dressers and customers regularly come in with a “you don’t know anybody who wants a kitten-puppy etc. And so in the past we have taken in a pair of Dutch rabbits, a guinea pig, gerbils, hamsters and the list goes on, even the two cats weve had and the Labrador are from rescue. We often take unwanted blankets, duvets, towels etc. To a local dogs/cats home in Penkridge where she insists on looking at all the residents ‘while were there. Poor old George is now a pensioner and 13 years old and showing the signs of old age with deafness and arthritis setting in. Already Dawn is talking about a puppy!