Saturday, 23 December 2006

Merry Christmas

And more

Tuesday 12 Dec

There is a re-run of TO FAT TO WALK on the TV. Whilst I have to laugh at some of the antics the participants you have got to give credit to those that took part. To walk the length of the country, in their condition, shows great courage and determination.

However I am on a crusade of my own. Part of my journey includes hauling a 20 ton boat behind me. I no longer stay on the boat to get into or out of a lock, Sometime when the pounds are short it can be easier to bow haul and good exercise. The advantage being I have lost a stone up to the time I moored at Market Drayton. I probably should have had a medical check-up before I started but if it hasn’t killed me yet I don't suppose it will.

Wednesday 13 Dec

If you were to address a letter to the Milly M, Bridge 63, Market Drayton; would you expect it to be delivered? No! Neither would I, but sure enough I did receive a Christmas card today. The best the Post Office could do was delivering it to No.1 Canalside. The kind gent who lived at that address came along and handed it through the kitchen window.

Friday 15 Dec

So with the canal now open again I am on my way. I should have got up earlier and got past the site of the stoppage but having been sedentary for the last three weeks so I slept in. Ho hum! I managed to get to the top of Tyerly Locks and if lucky will make better progress tomorrow. Inshallah!

Whatever you think of Boy George he was a great singer and is a great stylist, but what was he thinking wearing that money sack on his head recently on the Jonathan Ross show. Definitely loosing it.

Saturday 16 Dec

Did well today, we got as far as Gnosall. When I say we I mean the three boats that have been travelling the same strech of canal more or less from MD and funny enough we are all newbies. Stuart has been on a sail-a-way for a month. And Ike along with two buddies is on a 70 footer. Ike, Carl and Pig are quite professional when it comes to the consumption of the ale, for medicinal purposes you understand. It was a long night!

Sunday 17 Dec. 06

Early start today I was up just after nine which surprised me. Stuart is staying put for a few days to work on his boat. Ike Carl and Pig set off about half an hour before me. Arriving at Wheaton Aston Ike was filling his water tank and chatting to other boaters. With his tank full he carried on to fill his second tank………….? After a while the boat started to list, which even to Ike who had not been on the boat long was unusual. To cut a long story short there was no second water tank. The second connection was just fitted and not connected to any thing. The boat had been filling up under the flooring causing the list. Had this happened to me I would have been in tears. Another boater came to Ike's aid with a hand pump which was utilised to pump the water to the back of the boat and then bilge pumped out.

A tale of woe for all to heed, especially if you buy a second hand boat, make sure you know all there is to know about the boat. Get it in writing. I am thinking if Ike had been told there were two water tanks he would have good reason to expect recompense.

As an aside Ike looked very much like Noddy Holder and Pig was a fair facsimile of a younger Barry Manilow. Carl looked like Carl.

I left Wheaton Aston with Ike and his friends pumping out his boat and travelled on to Brewood pronounced Brude. The towpath here is muddy and the mooring is abysmal. With only an 18 in draft I still cant get close to the edge. It's a good job I have a couple of ten inch wheelbarrow wheels to float between the boat and the bank. Ho hum!

Every day I see Kingfishers. Sometimes just a fleeting glance, sometimes I watch them flying away from perch to perch. One today flew along the side of the boat level with the top rail straight at me, I could have caught it had I stretched out my hand. I have been within a few feet of perching birds without my camera, but today both the bird and the camera were close by. Not the best pictures of a King fisher ever taken but so far the best I have taken.

Oh well time for bed said Maffi.

Monday 18 Dec.

Sometimes it amazes me how things connect. In Market Drayton I met Alan Smith and Diane Daly. This morning in the hedge row where I moored last night was this.
I know it was the same people even the boat name was the same. I can't help wondering what the story is, but more so I can't help wondering why I moored where I did. I passed under bridge 14 and couldn’t find a space so I reversed back through the bridge couldn't moor close to the bridge the edge was collapsing. Back down a few boats and I was able to find a space. There in the hedgerow I saw the board.

Anyway, off I went on my journey. I managed to get stuck in the stoplock where the Shroppie meets the Staffs and Worcs. I couldn’t get the gate to open properly. I had to lift the fenders eventually. Now I know there are those that say not to travel with the fenders down, but in the 8-9 weeks I have been out and about I have not had a problem. Just this one lock.

Chatting to a local at the lock I decided to overnight at Compton Lock. A couple of miles down. There is a good chippie next to the bridge. I am not sure I would have liked 'Oddfellows' (a theme pub) but I did like the 'Swan' a coaching house for 230 years. The Swan is a very friendly if old pub.

Tuesday 19 Dec

I reversed all the way back to the Birmingham Junction before winding and travelling north up the S & W. I need to catch a bus back to Market Drayton for a dental appointment, I have decided to hire a car instead.

On the way to Gaily I passed ******* marina. There I saw nb JAMPAK which belongs to a friend of mine Rosie. Rosie wasn't at home. I shall however take a photo of Milly M with JAMPAK in the back ground and email it to her.

Christmas is nearly upon us yet again. Kim is coming for the day to cook my Christmas dinner so following my dental appointment I need to find somewhere to spend the day. I am supposed to be getting all the necessary goodies. If I am true to form I will screw it up so I need to stop near a pub serving Christmas dinner, just in case.

Wednesday 20 Dec

Very early this morning I was disturbed by the sound of bubbling water. I thought someone was in trouble in the water. I opened the side hatch to see, to help, and witnessed the courtship and mating of a pair of swans. They didn't need any help from me. I had not really realised before what a privilege it is to be on the water. God bless Mag-light.

Before setting off this morning I sat with my morning coffee watching TV. Princess Nikki is a pointless person. Who is she? Why did her parents let her live? Today they had her collecting rubbish, colonic irrigation and working on a sewerage farm. She was insulting to the workers and ignorant of other peoples lives. Some people are simply a waste of the earths valuable oxygen.

Back at Autherley Junction I noticed some yuk venting from the side of the boat. "Oh", I said that’s what that vent is for ewugh! Time for a PO. Chatting to the chap from the boatyard I mentioned that I needed somewhere to leave the boat tomorrow while I was away to Market Drayton for a dental appointment. Very kindly he said I could moor with his boats on the other side of the canal. Sorted!

Thursday 21 Dec

Away to MD early. Bus to Wolverhampton, train to Shrewsbury, bus to MD. On the return journey the driver from MD to Shrewsbury was so bad I fetched up my lunch. When I say bad driver I mean really bad. Even when I got on the train, in Shrewsbury, the passengers on the train noticed and commented on my green complexion. Once more I threw up on the train. It wasn't until I got back on the boat that I started to feel better.

Friday 22 Dec
I still wasn’t 100% when I started out to tackle the Wolverhampton 21 in the morning

Nonetheless after a couple of locks I was OK. 21 locks in 6 hours, not too shabby. I met three boats coming down so all the locks were set in my favour. I suppose I should have stayed at the top of the flight, but I continued on and moored up by the Boat Inn at Coseley about another 4 miles along the BML. The Boat Inn has closed down 'yah boo suks'.

I would love to go down the Dudley tunnel then up the Neatherton tunnel but need to be at Gas Street Basin on Crimbo Day and I really must get to Milton Keynes before the stops start next year.

Saturday 23 Dec

Friday, 15 December 2006


Well I should be leaving MD today, but I got up late and it is raining. I might make a dash for the top of Tyerly locks a bit later.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006


Tuesday 12 Dec

There is a re-run of TO FAT TO WALK on the TV. Whilst I have to laugh at some of the antics the participants you have got to give credit to those that took part. To walk the length of the country, in their condition, shows great courage and determination.

Wednesday 13 Dec

I phoned BW this AM to enquire about the stoppage at Shebbdon Embankment. It will be finished on Friday as per the plan, so I can move on.

At PMQ's to day a question was asked about funding of BW in the light of DEFRAS cock up. Tony Baloney side stepped with bull about budgets and working within them.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Red Diesel

Oh dear it would seem the battle has been lost, at least temporaily.

Question is how do I get heating diesel at the reduced price? Which I presume I am still entitled to.

Of course this situation is not helped by the fact that our Government have little or no idea of just who it is that owns the boats.

I suppose if nothing else this will cure to Erbspacher HYD 10 problems that some people appear to have.

December trials

Friday 08 Dec

Today they lit the Crimbo lights in MD. I could hear the carol singing from my boat, a mile away! As is the norm at times like this there is nearly always an MC who thinks he is Bruce Forsythe, and this was no different. What didn't surprise me (and why should it?) was, this guy wasn't funny at all, not even a glimmer of a smile. If I tell you I am funnier you will know that this guy was flat as a cow turd. So much for MD culture.

If you walk into town from bridge 63 or 62, when you get into the centre the Crown is on the right as the road turns to the left. The Crown is an old pub. There are numerous black/white pics on the walls of the pub in days gone by, an era when horses were the major cause of pollution. It was closed for a while, but re-opened six weeks ago by two partners who are making a go of it with the help of the local drinkers and a few boaters. Drayton being a market town Wednesday is a busy pub day as is Saturday. They have a lot of competition, there are 9 pubs in the centre of town. They do have an advantage at the Crown, they not only serve drink, but tea coffee and a small but adequate menu. I don't think many of the other pubs serve as much or for so long and some no food at all, but then there are a lot of take-a-ways in town. The staff are very friendly Sean & Sarah are goods host and they deserve success. The chef/partner Gareth, is ex-navy. He came to the pub business from the Prison Service though not as an inmate.

Last night I met Alan Smith and Diana Daly and their 6 month old baby Talula. They are old hands at boating and live on nb Anne Marie at bridge 65 Victoria Farm moorings. I got some good info about the bandit country and about free food on the cut.

Saturday 09 Dec

I am fed up balancing the TV on the ironing board, shelves are a must. Utilising a standard shelving system I duly drill through a mains cable, doh! Not too much damage fortunately only the outer insulation was cut away. This I cured by sliding some spirap along the cable to cover the damaged insulation. I am lucky in that I really don't need to do any more improvements.

Sunday 10 Dec

Morrison's is a very handy place to top up on supplies and of course the Crown is on the way back so I topped up on Foster's. Tomorrow my licence papers will turn up, redirected by Kim to the Post Office in town. So no longer will passing boaters look at me like a sponging leper.

Monday 11 Dec

There ya go all duly licenced and legal.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006


It has been two weeks since Peter came to sort out my heating system. I have used it every day for varying periods and have had no problems with it so far.

As I understand it Eberspacher are very specific about the installation of the heaters and not every installer follows the plan.

Those of you who have Eberspachers installed will be interested to hear that Eberspacher have now a dedicated engineer for narrowboats.

And into December

Thursday continued

I also went to the dentist, which was strange being as I only went to get an appointment yesterday.

Friday 01 Dec

So I'm a Celebrity…. has finished. I still have to ask, Who is Matt? Fair play, you have to give it to him after he ate all that crap in the Bush tucker trial, but I think over all Jason or Myleen should have had the crown.

On the subject of the bush tucker trial, I don't doubt that all this 'food' is edible and if you were starving you may well eat some awful stuff, but why, I ask, would you eat a Kangaroo's arse or a crocodile's dick? It seems to me that if you have those bits to hand that the rest of the animal was somewhere in the vicinity. Let's face it would you let someone take your arse or dick without a fight! No? Nor would I!

Candy came.

Saturday 02 Dec

Away up the canal to the Wharf Tavern. Last week I reserved a table for an early Crimbo dinner. Given that Maffi has a birthday tomorrow this was to be my b'day dinner. On the way up, at the top of the flight, I met Martin Shorthouse, a contributor from CWF, on his boat Octarine.

It was a windy night and despite mooring up tight the boat moved quite a bit.

Sunday 03 Dec

It always amazes me that boats attract so much attention. On the way back to MD we dropped down the Tyerly locks. By the time we got half way down there was quite a collection of gongoozelers. Most wanting to help, two young lads hitched a ride down. I don't think anyone noticed I got stuck on the rocky bottom above the bottom lock. There seems to be very little water in the canal along that stretch.

Monday 04 Dec

It can be really helpful when people help with opening gates, but it can be a bit annoying when you are on your own and people assume that they must help. It can throw the 'plan' right out of tilt. At one lock a few weeks ago as I was thrown off my stride by helpers, I lost my map over board. Not directly their fault, but their help steered me away from my plan and I lost the sequence.

It has been 6 weeks since I registered Milly and still I have no papers. BW get your act together! It cannot take so long to fill in the forms and issue the papers and plates.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Engine an' stuff

Well, well, well what to say. Today Lyle turned up to service my engine. Hooray! All good stuff. I also got my anchor and my curtains. The Proptector didn't show, grrrrrr.

As curtains go they don't really cut the mustard. The fabric is nice but I have 7 windows and only received curtains for 4. Each curtain is nearly 4 ft long. When you consider that the windows are only 4 ft wide then you will understand that the curtains are far too wide for the windows and I think a bit too short. So tomorrow I will look for a tailor or seamstress to cut them down to size or make up some more or maybe I will look for vertical blinds.

It's a larf this boating thing init!