Thursday, 30 September 2010

Things that became apparent part 2

Old fools and Bolinders.

Something that those of you who know me really well will have heard me say before is that a Bolinder’s engines are great, in someone else’s boat! It is certainly a love hate relationship. Sunday we had a great day with the Bolinder skipping along all day and with Minnow flying through the deep water of the BCN and down the twenty one then along the twelve mile pound. Day two, again we were flying until we hit the problems I’ve already blogged about with low pounds. Hovering about mid channel at Shutt Hill lock for ages while other boats were fannying about and the Bolinder went out. Jumping down into the engine ‘ole to re-start it and it finally had its revenge and kicked back and copped me good and proper. This is the first time it has copped me properly in the whole of the four years we have had Minnow. As I have had a full knee replacement about five years ago, this was very painful and I was really struggling to bend my knee to lift my foot onto the flywheel pin to kick it off. Dawn tried but to no avail. She has made several attempts over the last three years to kick start the Bolinder and she just can’t start it. For one she is quite short and struggles to get her leg up high enough to get her foot on the pin and also she is frightened of it and one thing you can not afford to be is scared of a Bolinder or they will kick back and have you every time. (This time it kicked back on me because I think it was very hot and I probably should not have primed it before kicking it over again) we spent the next two hours below Shutt Hill lock after me bow hauling Minnow through and waiting for the pain to subside in my right knee. Dawn’s topic of conversation (and for the next couple of days was all about Minnow. The result of these long and drawn out conversations are that certain things have now been agreed about Minnow’s future and some of the salient points to come from these discussions were:

1. Dawn can’t master the change of direction of the Bolinder and get it to come over in reverse.

2. Dawn can’t work boat through locks etc because of above

3. Having a titanium replacement knee it’s getting too painful to just kick it over.

4. Silly old farts like me should realise I’m too old for all this palaver.

5. Dawn wants something that starts with a key/button!

And so this brought Dawn and I to an agreed decision on Tuesday night as to the future of Minnow.

We have had the boat for 4 years. It took me the first year to get the Bolinder running something like (with a little help from Joe Hollinshead of cause) but in the last three years we have thoroughly enjoyed four to six weeks boating every year covering well over 500 miles and 400 locks each but now the time has come to pass her on to her next custodian. I have already said that I will never be without a boat again and so we are on the lookout for something suitable and we are going to be putting Minnow up for sale. Dawn thinks something suitable will have cookers, shower, flush toilet etc. etc. when in reality it will most likely be a Grand Union, as I have always wanted a pair of Little Northwich boats, but I also like Woolwiches as well Big and Little!


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Things that became apparent part 1

British Waterways.

As I mentioned in my last blog we had quite a struggle from Gailey lock down to Tixall lock with some low and some very low pounds and when you are grinding your bottoms away as you plough a channel along the whole length of a pound then it does get a little annoying to say the least and, I might add not for the first time for at least the last four times we have gone this way we have had to plough our way through. The problem is not ‘ as suggested on two occasions by BW staff’ “someone left a paddle up last night” but in fact a complete lack of maintenance. The gates at both ends of Tixall lock are leaking like a sieve and it takes two locks of water to fill the chamber and you don’t have to draw a paddle to empty it. The top gate is leaking all round and water is even pouring from underneath the ‘babby’. This is bad enough but to infuriate even more BW have got a tug, hopper and dredger spot dredging all along this whole stretch instead of fixing the leaking gates, and to infuriate even, even more the dredgings are being placed on the offside edge of the canal only to immediately start to wash/slip/slide back into the canal and within a few months will be back into the channel again. Early Monday morning we saw a BW employee with a black bag and an litter picker walking the pound at Boggs lock. While I accept that stretches of canal through towns/cities will suffer from litter louts but this is a stretch of canal miles from anywhere, in the middle of the country and not suffering with litter. The second irritating BW staff usage was just along the Staffs & Worcester from Hayward Junction where an employee was observed cutting waters edge reeds down with a petrol strimmer on a little used stretch of towpath and which were not causing any inconvenience anyway. I am sure that the working hours of these five members of staff along with the dredger,tug, hopper, fuel, wages etc. etc. could have been put to much better use. My final moan is regarding overhanging vegetation. When oh when are British Waterways going to start serving notices on home owners who allow their trees to block the canal navigation. On the stretch of the Trent and Mersey just between kings Bromley and Brindley bank are several examples where huge weeping willows hang right down to the water and block over half the width of the canal, the problem being for deep drafted historical craft you have a choice either go through the green curtains not being able to see through or past them or go round them with the risk of grounding. In this instance I have noted the exact positions of these offending trees (houses in Leyland Drive, Poplars Road, Little Brickyard Gardens and 153 Armitage Road which only took ten minutes on 'Google earth' and 'street map') and am sending a letter to BW’s area manager warning him that now that I have brought these risks to his notice and that he is aware of them, then any accident or injury resulting from these overhanging trees will be his responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Ok so whinge and moan over until the next blog!


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Good food and shallow pounds

Another wonderful weekends boating. NOT! Started off great and ended great but the middle bit – We had booked a couple of extra days off work to bring Minnow back from the Black Country Museum. Left the museum at just after 8.00am and ‘bonked’ round to the top of the 21 by half ten. 1.0pm saw us pulling round the turn at Aldersley after having a bad road all the way down the flight as we were following another boat and did not pass anyone coming up the flight . By half two we were mooring up outside the Fox & Anchor where we spent an enjoyable evening, me with a beautiful tender shoulder of lamb and Dawn with her usual Beef and Guinness pie, little did we know what sort of day lay ahead of us. With the lamp on at 8.00am we were away by quarter past and were making the turn at Hatherton by nine. All went well until we came down Gailey lock wnen we were greeted with the pound running about 4inches low, but that was nothing for every pound from here to Tixall lock were all running at least this low with a couple at least nine inches down and the pound running down to Otherton lock about 12” down. It was such a relief when we eventually got through Tixall lock and back to a reasonable depth. The second night we tied up at The Radford Bank for one of our regular ‘value for money’ carvery. We were away by 7.50 the next morning and were making the turn at Great Hayward Junction by 9.50am. By just after 1.00pm we were back at our mooring and tying up. Loaded the car and headed home after collecting my car from the Black Country Museum. Apart from a trip up to Norbury at the end of October this brings our 2010 boating season to an end and once again we have enjoyed ourselves but a couple of things have become very apparent to us which I will blog about over the next couple of days. One is to do with the inefficient use of moneys/labour by British Waterways, and then second to do with old fools and Bolinders, so till next time as always

Don’t bang ‘em about


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Homeward bound

Oh well, here we go again. At present Minnow is at the Black Country Museum and over the next couple of days we are bringing her back to her moorings at Kings Bromley where she will be prepared for the winter season. I have taken her top cloths across to Tarpaulin Supply and Repair Co Ltd in Birmingham to have them altered as they were too wide and overhung the gunnels and have arranged to pick them back up next week, so next weekend I shall be clothing her up to keep out the Winter weather. After that the only other action we have planned is to Take her up to Norbury Junction for the end of season open day at Norbury Wharf Limited on the 30th October where there will be opportunity to see all the facilities they have on offer for docking,blacking, painting, maintenance etc. and a beer tent. There are a few other folks we know that will be attending as well so a good day/night should be on the cards. (Did I mention there was a beer tent.)

It will be an ideal time for us to catch up with old friends and have a good old chin wag probably in the beer tent. After this little 'jolly' it will be back to her moorings for some serious Winter maintenance. So if any of you see me over the next couple of days give me a shout/wave/nod but whatever you do
Don't bang me about

Monday, 20 September 2010

More beer an bostin company

Oh what a wonderful weekend we’ve had, two whole days with people ‘spakin proppa’

It was Tipton Community and Canal Festival a lovely event based around the canal either side of Owen Street bridge at Coronation Gardens and what used to be Mitchards coal yard. It is only a very small event in canal terms but quite a big event in Tipton’s calendar. Working boats in attendance were Atlas and Leo, Ex Cowpar Swallow, NBT pair Nuneaton and Brighton, (which I must say were looking quite respectable), DCT’s display boat Saggita, Alan Stevens tug Caggy, BW’s heritage tug Nansen and Minnow, as well as The Cheese Boat, two trip boats and many other private modern boats.

Minnow was at the museum so we went over on the Friday night, had a lovely fish and chips from the Britania chippy on Tipton cross roads and spent the night on the Tunnel approach moorings. As there were several other boats on the moorings I thought it best not to start the Bolinder up too early, so I put the lamp on at about 8.00am, kicked her off and tootled around to the rally site. Passing through Coronation Gardens one of the guys off a moored boat shouted across “are you stopping or passing through” I told him I was stopping so he stated to moor alongside Leo and Nansen so I went down to Factory Junction, winded and came back alongside Nansen, moored up and stopped the Bolinder. All weekend we were in good company with Joe Hollinshead keeping me well amused with his anecdotes and humour while he entertained the locals with his fender making. On Saturday afternoon we were visited by a group of friends and, while we were chatting the heavens opened up so I said quick come in our back cabin out of the rain. And so we tried to break the world record for ‘number of bodies in a Josher back cabin and managed to squeeze six of us in. Unfortunately for Trish, Dawn was cooking butchers home made faggotts and so had banked the fire up and she ended up sitting opposite the Goodwife and ended up with a nice rosy red face.

Saturday evening we had arranged to meet up with old friends and retired boaters Henry and Phyllis Johnstone, Horace Foster and Trish and Steve.The evening was spent with this motley crew in the ‘Fountain Inn’ home of the Tipton Slasher and at 11.30 we all made our way back to our boats. Unfortunately for Dawn and I, for security reasons, the access gates to our part of the site had been locked and this called for me to scale the iron railings. Unfortunately Dawn could not make it over the fence and so I had to go down onto the boat and shaft her over to the towpath side for Dawn to get on. The next morning she collared hold of the security man and had a word in his ear! As the day wore on the crouds started to drift off and we decided to make our way back to the museum and so the lamp was lit, Bolinder kicked into life and we made our way back to the museum where our car was parked and then home for hot shower oan food. The week end had lots available to keep people interested for as well as the many trade and charity stands there was Beacon radio intermixed with live bands, gospel Choir, Bangrah dancing, a brass band, as well as burger stand, Afro Caribbean curry & chicken, and much, much more.

On the whole there was something for all the family and a bostin day out, certainly a venue we will go to again but till then

Dow bang 'em abaht


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Water pumps, generators and Beer.

Well finally got time to sit down after a couple of hectic weeks/weekends boating. I really don't have much to say about our journeys as they have been very well reported on Chertsey's blog. But here's a few additional bits of info. Spent the first weekend getting from Kings Bromley to Top of the Wolverhampton 21 (always has and will be my favourite flight of locks) spent next weekend from top of 21 round to Windmill End for the 25th Black Country Boating Festival and as always a cracking boat gathering/ fair /wake etc. Marred only by the amount of time I had to spend in the engine 'ole messing with the water pump spring on the Bolinder. Mark Mayo off another Bolinder driven Josher, Adder, came to the rescue with a new spring, thanks Mark. This was then followed by the starting recoil handle on the generator breaking, luckily someone at the show had a genny for sale so that was replaced otherwise we would have not had any lights for the return journey through Netherton Tunnel (my favourite canal tunnel) Highlights of the weekend - Meeting up with all our old friends like John Blunn and Mavis, John and Marion Thornett, Henry and Phyllis Johnston, Horace Foster and Trish, Dave Newell off Stour as well as new friends such as Blog watchers Les & Chris H (very nice to have a chance for a chat) and Ian 'the swanman' who I spent an hour with chatting about Alfred Matty's boats used on the Albright & Wilson chemical run. The beer tent, again as always, was brilliant with some excellent beers of offer at sensible prices such as Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild at 6%, Stout Coffin, Black Ram Stout, Black Swan to name just a few of those I can remember drinking. Another memorable event happened on the Sunday morning when we were all serenaded by the atmospheric sounds of Glen Miller 78's played on a wind up gramaphone on the cabin top of Dove. He has the exact same wind up as I have at home which I am now tempted to take to the boat next time we are out and about.
Minnow is now round at the Black Country Museum as we are taking her to the Tipton Community Gathering next week end and meeting up with Henry and Phyllis, Horace and Trish for hopefully a repeat of a pleasant nights entertainment, drink and good company, so until then
Don't bang 'em about
PS for any one who's interested the new set of cloths that Andrew has had made for Dove by Sam Noon look very good indeed very tidy and well made.