Sunday, 3 July 2022

More cheese anyone

Finally got the crew back on the boat, so cruising could now finally get started. Nope, the first mate had booked tickets for the Love Cheese Live Food & Drink Festival at the Staffordshire Showgrounds at the weekend. 

But before that we helped our mate Gordon celebrate his Birthday

Lots of cheeses for the judges

Beer and cheese pairing.

The main hall.

We wandered around sampling cheese from different regions, my favorite cheeses are strong cheddars, blues, and Camembert (left out of the fridge for a few days). I expect I tasted at least 15 different varieties, don't tell my doctor.

We came away without purchasing any that we sampled, no fridge space you see, but a couple of Kantaifis made their way back to the boat with us. 

Monday, 20 June 2022

Wales to IOM TT

At the end of April, our daughter brought the Little Manxman over to see us and we rented a bungalow in Wales for a week.

Where has my sand castle gone, that will be global warming.

Getting to know a Welsh free ranger.

In May we went home for the TT festival, we enjoyed the bikes, atmosphere, the racing, Red Arrows and one evening we had tickets for a Pink Floyd tribute act (Pigs on the Wing)at the Villa Marina. 

The Red Arrows buzzed our house on the way to display in Douglas harbour.

I was out on my bike as often as I could, these days I can no longer endure the head down arse up wrist ache of a 150hp Fireblade(I'm nearer 70 than 60 now), this has been replaced by a sedate 47hp Honda 500X. The buzzy twin is great fun to ride and has a comfy riding position. Best of all I am getting an indicated 95.3 MPG.  

I keep off the course as much as is possible preferring to bimble along the backroads and lanes, I did do one lap of the TT course with a few other bikes in honour of all fallen bikers, especially for my old mate Ted who passed away in hospital last year. Ted had been a regular visitor at the TT and Manx GP in the past and enjoyed marshalling at Kepple gate.

German, Dutch, French, Italian and Spanish bikes are in the mix for the lap.

First day of practice.


Ballaugh bridge Senior race day

In between race days a quiet stroll around Sunset Lakes

I'm back on the boat now waiting for the first mate to return so we can get cruising.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021


 I decided to give the engine a degrease and touch up with Vetus yellow engine enamel paint. 

I removed the two alternators and the air silencer box (no air filter on this Vetus). While the box is off the housing that fits onto the air intake manifold is open, to stop any debris from entering the engine I covered it with a nitrile glove. 

After the clean up  I replaced the alternators fitting two new fan belts for good measure. I started the engine to check they were both working forgetting about the nitrile glove. There was an ohhhhhsssshhiiiit moment as the glove was sucked into the engine and blocked fuel to a cylinder. 

After taking advice the general opinion was 

1. Run the engine, the glove would eventually burn up in the cylinder and come out of the exhaust as ash. 

2. Try and get to it by removing the inlet manifold.

I leaned towards the latter. Removing the manifold looked problematic as the fuel injector lines run over the top of it. It eventually slid backwards from under the fuel lines by removing the fuel filter housing.

 I could just about feel the glove in the port of the number two cylinder but couldn't see it. I used a pair of 90-degree angle pliers and gently pulled pieces of the glove out. I reckon about two-thirds of the glove has been removed the rest is truly stuck around the valve. To get the rest out would involve removing the head which is far too much of a faff so I'm going to revert back to option one and run the engine until it incinerates what's left of the offending rubber.

First I have to wait for a new inlet gasket to come from the Netherlands.

Repainted the manifold while it was off the engine.

The gasket duly arrived, after fitting it I started the engine and after initial lumpiness, the engine smoothed out and all was well.

Note to self

Use something more solid to cover the inlet in the future.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Coach lines

 Managed to get the coach lines painted, I used Craftmaster Alpha Red instead of the Manchester Red they were originally painted 

The old red.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Power tilt

 Since leaving the wet dock we have spent a few days at Tixall Wide.

 I tilted the solar panels for the first time since they were fitted eight years ago. From March to October, the sun gets high early enough that the panels always get the leisure batteries up to 100% charge each day without inclining them, the hook up in the marina combined with a Mastervolt charger looks after the batteries during winter. 

Tilting them towards the low sun today increased the input from 5amp  to 12amp  - quite a difference. 

The panels are 125W each which is quite small watts compared to new panels of the same dimensions that are on the market today, the five 135amp leisure batteries are six years old, cheap Albion wet sealed units that appear to be as good today as the day they were fitted.  They are around the 12.8-volt mark (give or take 0.1 of a volt) first thing in the morning. 

 I don't use an expensive MPPT controller but a PWM which is supposedly 30% less efficient but more reliable (old tech) and maybe kinder to the batteries.  

When there was a break in the downpours we have been experiencing lately I had a circular walk from the Wide down past Tixall Lock and Robbie's mum's gaff to Tixall Bridge, then took Holdiford road over the railway line to an entrance to Shugborough estate, through the grounds, passing the Hall, crossing Essex bridge and on to the Trent & Mersey towpath, left at Haywood bridge and back home. Approx 4 miles.

In Shugborough Estate


Saturday, 2 October 2021

Wet Dock

We booked a week in the wet dock, primarily to redo the dark blue panels on FL's flanks, but we changed tack as getting the windows out/in plus the number of coats req'd for the job in a week would be a rushed affair and we couldn't extend our stay.

So the new plan was to repaint the roof and the light grey on the sides, Craftmaster has stopped manufacturing this light grey colour as it fades pale blue within a year making it difficult to do touch up repairs, so we repainted it in a Graphite grey a colour with a bit of depth to it. The roof was painted ubiquitous raddle red.

We were lucky to get into the dock a day early, most of this day was taken up removing mushroom vents chimney collar rear doors and sliding hatch.

It was a lot of hard work to prep for painting even with the hire of an industrial sander and extractor. It was a tad disheartening getting a gloss coat on then flattening it off the next day. 

Sue was an expert at getting the undercoat and gloss coats on FL's sides rubbed down to a flat finish by hand. Working together I rolled the paint on while Sue layed it off, this worked well - we could get the roof done in ninety minutes.

Overall we are pleased with the finish we have been able to attain. A few runs but hey my name is Andy but not Russel.


The blue on the rear doors was done too.

We will book the wet dock for two weeks next year to remove the windows and paint the dark blue panels, the coach lines I can redo anytime.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Grumpy Gits

It might just be a coincidence but we seem to be meeting a few more inconsiderate or grumpy people on the cut this year. The friendly greetings from passing boaters are mingled with the dour face of a helmsman who can look right through you or doesn't want to make eye contact. Boats are left in all sorts of inconsiderate ways, in winding holes, lock moorings, water points and blind bridge holes occasionally when there's a 100-metre straight length of Armco free behind the boat.

One of my rare opportunities to help out at a lock was met with leave that effing paddle alone, on questioning his approach to a fellow boater he said he once had a bad experience with a helper raising a paddle too quickly. 

Another guy thought it better than let his crew off on the lock landing he would try and rest the boat against the lock gate and have his poor wife walk down the gunnel and scramble onto the gate. He misjudged his approach and bounced back off the gate, weakening it in the process no doubt. Why! there was a clear lock landing for his missus to disembark safely. 

I pulled over to let a boat pushing a sizable bow wave pass us, he passed on full tilt without eye contact, I shouted "you're welcome, we aren't in any hurry". He growled, "neither am I".

Could this increase in curmudgeons on the cut be a result of the pandemic and peeps who would rather be lounging on a beach in the Med have seen the glamourisation of the canals on their telly - bought a boat and now regret it.  

I wish the TV producers would give one of these celebrities a full cassette to trundle down the towpath to empty only to find the elsan cesspit is overflowing and the next facility is another six-hour cruise away. Or leave them for a week stuck on the wrong side of a lock malfunction having to fetch water in bottles from a tap a mile away. Or waiting for hours for their turn to fill the water tank from a dribbling tap. Just to give the programs some balance for wannabe viewers. 

Seems there aren't enough boats for sale to keep up with demand at the moment consequently prices are overinflated, even heard of gazumping and people offering £5000 over the asking price to secure a boat. Bloody madness. 

Anyway, it's now 3pm, I've been told by my carer it's time for my nap, apparently I become a  Grumpy old b**ta@d this time of the day without one.


Friday, 10 September 2021


Stopped in Norbury for a couple of days, we treated ourselves to dinner at the Junction Inn I had the Junction pie. 

We had a 07:30 to 08:30 slot booked for a Sunday Sainsbury delivery.

After the driver had trundled the groceries from the pub car park the 200yds to FL on his sack truck we set off for a four-mile cruise, stopping en-route at Gnosall to top the water tank.

We bagged a secluded mooring on pins {minus the Shroppie shelf}, lovely and quiet apart from the feathery tweets in the trees, the kingfisher splashing, ducks quacking, the cows lowing as they march to and from the milking sheds ...... and the sound of my angle grinder on the roof!

Turnover Bridge.

Oscote Barn Bridge.

Cowley Road Bridge.

View from the moo-ring.

Rye Hill Cutting Bridge

It only took 20 mins to get rid of the rust spots, I would never use the grinder if we had neighbours.