Monday, 14 December 2015

Boaters party Weekend.

It was a cheer filled weekend with our boaty friends. To a man or woman, great company, the laughter and smiling muscles being stretched to their limits.

Friday - drinks in the Exchange

Saturday - dinner at the Radford - table one.

Table two

Sunday - breakfast in the Radford.

We will be heading to Birkenhead and the ferry back to the IOM next weekend.

We were last on the 'Rock' last New years eve, since then we have visited Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA, Italy and Scotland but we enjoy the waterways most of all.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Blood Brothers

Since the last installment we have had a few named storms first up was Abigail who tried in vain to rip the solar panels of the roof, geese were surfing on waves whipped up by Barney, and Clodagh lashed FL clean with driving rain. The steel accommodation tubes have had a real buffeting at the pontoons.

We have had a cinema visit to see the latest Bond movie which was ok but why do cinemas feel the need to have the sound turned up to excruciating, I left with the need for aspirin.

Another trip to Twickenham this time to see some premiership action,  a double header -  Saracens v Worcester followed by Wasps v London Irish.  40,000 spectators, which is half full for Twickers, meant a little more elbow room in the bars, and food outlets. After the games the usual crush for the trains was eased also.

Glyn, Chris, Sue and me.

Blood Brothers was another outing we enjoyed at Windsor Royal Theatre, a great show we last saw in the West End 25 years ago.  Maureen Nolan (one of the sisters) played the birth mother, the two actors portraying her twin son's from 7 year old's to adulthood were outstanding. A great night out if you like to laugh and quietly shed a tear or two.

There was a dusting of snow when Roly and I helped the 'Pasty Boat' down the Meaford locks. 

Gordon at the tiller, Dot's inside warming the pasty's... mmm.

All the known crews that have booked in for the winter have now arrived, so the social calendar will begin to fill, to start the Christmas season off Sue has organised an 18 strong boaters dinner for the 12th.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Locks , miles & boozers

We have kept FL attached to shore power in the marina. Since the last post we have slipped back into marina mode easily, water or power conservation is not required, outings to the pub with friends on a Friday and a car in the car park.

We've also had a couple of do's to attend, we had planned to cruise in between these events that needed FL tucked in safely while we left her for a few days, but the weather hasn't been friendly enough for us to leave the cosiness of the basin.

Halloween and Bonfire night have been and gone (do English kids still get taught about Guy Fawkes these days?), Christmas and New Year will whizz by the same way and winter will be in full swing, hopefully it won't be as hard as the weather 'experts' are predicting for those hardy boaters choosing to cruise that time of year.

So as we are not cruising I shall probably put the blog to bed unless anything interesting crops up.

Totals for year:

Miles 761
Locks 364
Diesel £391.91
Gas  2.5 x bottles = £70

Favourite pubs 2015:

  1. The Boat Inn - Gnosall
  2. The Greyhound - Hawkesbury Junction
  3. The White Horse - King Sutton
  4. The Swan - Fradley Junction
  5. The Trout Inn - Lechlade

Favourite Tipple 2015:

  1. Tatton Brewery Best
  2. Marston IPA
  3. Brakspear Bitter
  4. Joules Pale Ale
  5. Hydes Finest

56 pubs were visited all were waterside or village located.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Heartbreak Hill.

Friday we were up early, it was chucking it down when we left the marina at 07:00. We took the car to Hassall Green and walked down the sodden towpath to meet with the crew of the 'Pasty' boat. Our offer of help had been readily accepted to help our friends passage up the remaining 18 Cheshire locks.

It was mostly dry and I had an enjoyable morning working the locks -  sustained by Dot's world-famous pasties. 

Back to Stone where Sue had her barnet cut before we joined Richard & Sharon in the Exchange for an early doors ale.
Gordon & Dot leaving the last lock..
Saturday it was The Final and what a great final it was as the two of the greatest teams in Rugby Union went flat out for the win. The All Blacks were just too strong despite a gutsy Wallaby comeback in the second half.

Sunday started foggy which cleared to a warm sunny afternoon only for the mist to descend later in the day. Hopefully, it will clear tomorrow for a trip down the motorway for a friends retirement do.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Freaky Friday

It was Freaky Friday at Midland Chandlers which meant there should be bargains to be had, with the promise of 20% discounts a Mondeo full of boaters left the marina for MC's Penkridge warehouse.

I was going for a looksey not really needing anything in particular, but I had that nagging feeling I would miss out on a cheap gem if I didn't go along. I walked up and down all the aisles more than a few times perusing the shiny bits to find a discounted pearl.

Tempting as a new automatic bilge pump was I left it on the shelf, we had discussed about getting a freezer installed but this needs some more thought. On the last shelf of the store I spied a 19" LED. TV/DVD player, we'd been thinking about replacing the one in the bedroom as the picture on it is poor, a quick check on the internet to make sure it was a real bargain and it was in the boot. We stopped off at the Greyhound for a pasty & pint on the way back to the marina.

Our daughter and friend stopped off on their way down south from the Isle of Man ferry at Heysham, arrived at 02:00 leaving at 12:30 after a sleep and some breakfast. They were off to a Bob Dylan concert at the Royal Albert Hall -  didn't realise youngster were into his music. Interestingly Bob started this 'Never Ending Tour' in 1988 when he was just a youngster aged 47.

Watched the NZ v Sth Africa game on TV during the afternoon, a great game with a narrow victory for the All Blacks 18-20.

Sunday - Had the stove lit first thing, chilly start to the day with temperatures not expected to reach double figures. Did some brass polishing before settling down to the rugby semi-final- the Wallabies proved too smart for the Pumas during their 15-29 win.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


I got 45 quid for the old batteries at the scrap yard this morning.

We won't now be taking FL to Stourport this year because of lock maintenance closures, today we went by road instead. The Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal links with the river Severn at Stourport. The river Stour also flows through the town.

The old wharfs and basins that stored the output from the Industrial Revolutions heartland via the canal are now mostly redeveloped .......quite tastefully in some places.

We had lunch in the Windlass cafe followed by a stroll around the basins and river bank.
Clock Warehouse in the background.

Staff & Worcester canal

Lichfield basin

Stourport bridge over the Severn.

Upper basin

Narrow lock 

Wide lock to the Severn

Lower basin.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Battery power.

I was only mentioning to friends last week how well FL's battery bank has performed, they were two years old when we first got the boat so 4.5 years old. (They were Numax 110Ah maintenance-free items). Today they decided to die, no noticeable gradual decline in performance, they just went kaput and wouldn't hold a charge at all, even when connected to shore power using the inverter's charger.

So it was off to Midland Chandlers where we bought 5 x 113 Ah Lucas batteries badged Albion, a 20% discount meant we actually got one free. It took me a couple of hours to get the heavy lumps of lead exchanged, they are maintenance-free so I won't need to contort my skeleton into the engine 'ole to top them up.

During the exchange I have managed to lose my rechargeable inspection lamp, funny how things disappear on FL, sometimes they turn up at a later date sometimes they don't -  a mystery.

I will take the old units down to a scrap yard tomorrow to recoup some of the dosh.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Turn around

We enjoyed the Radford so much last night we were back there again this morning for the breakfast buffet, orange juice instead of Guinness at this time of the day, other patrons were indeed having a Guinness with their scrambled eggs.

We were going to Stourport but a change of circumstances means we need to head back to Stone. We can do Stourport another day, the cruise from here to Stone will be enjoyable. I rang Stafford boat club to get permission to wind at their arm (always best to ask stops you getting moaned at) which shortens the journey to the next winding hole by two miles and one lock.

Once about turned we retraced yesterdays cruise and slipped into Tixall Wide to moor. We will watch both the quarterfinals of the RWC.

Nice residence 

Autumn scene

Friday, 16 October 2015


We spent a couple of days at Tixall Wide before moving west through Tixall lock, the bank has collapsed in places along the lock landing, the armco is damaged and twisted to do maximum damage to blacking if you aren't careful getting the lock wheeler ashore. It's a pleasant autumn landscape with a few expensive looking properties dotted along the offside bank.

We moored up for a planned rendezvous with Sharon & Richard at Radford Bridge, we are going for a Happy Friday drink at the Radford pub. Before setting off for the pub fuel boat Halsall was on his rounds, we took the opportunity to grab a couple of bags of coal and brim the diesel tank.

Fuel boat Halsall

Sue and I had a carvery at the Radford, Sharon & Richard came for after dinner drinks Where we had a good old boaters catch up, the Old Speckled Hen they poured me was cloudy, it was exchanged for a glass of Guinness or two. Later Phil & Lynne came to meet us with adorable pooch Freddie but the establishment wouldn't let Freddie through the door (not even in the public bar upstairs).

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Birthday Girl.

Another cool bright day to enjoy from the tiller, Anglo Welsh base was too busy to pull into as we took the right hander off the T&M and on to the Staffordshire & Worcester canal. The alternator is behaving at the moment so we carried on to moor at Tixall Wide.

It's the lock wheeling galley slaves birthday, I was trying to think off something to make her day perfect, the bottle of bog blue she unwrapped didn't go down too well... oh well... at least she didn't need to hold her thumb on the gas switch while she cooked the bacon this morning.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Moving on.

Two more jobs to do before we left the marina.

First was to finish off the raising of the dinette with Oak facing boards. With the extra inch thickness in the new cushion's the seats have been raised by nearly 6" and are a lot more comfortable to sit at. 

Some rubbing down and sealing required.

Heartbreak Hill Grill was sorted by fitting the new thermocouple. The thermocouple is a sensor that switches off the gas supply to the grill when it detects the flame has extinguished. We have been using the grill for the last 3 years by holding the gas switch in while food grilled- a royal pain. Now the grill stays alight as it should, it was one of those jobs I kept putting on the 'back burner'.

The old Thermocouple.

Today we untied FL from the pontoon and turned left out of the marina, a cold but bright day with little wind made for a pleasant cruise. It is good to be out on the cut again, Sue got her muscles working again at the locks while I took in the scenery. The stove has been lit each night as the temperature drops at dusk.

Longish horns
The leisure battery warning light came on an hour into the journey, tightening the fan belt didn't fix the problem this time. I have a spare alternator to put on but the pulley needs to be removed, I thought the new pulley would need a workshop with the proper tools to get it off -  this proved right when I asked Colin a marine engineer liveaboard to get it off today. He tried his best but to no avail, I will go into Anglo Welsh's workshop at their base at Great Heywood tomorrow.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Weekend in Manchester.

Saturday we enjoyed the England Uruguay game at Man City's Etihad stadium, disappointingly both teams were already out of the competition, this didn't stop the teams getting a warm reception onto the pitch. Old boy Mick Easter and new boy Jack Nowell bagged a hat trick of tries each during an open attacking game.

The Webb Ellis cup. .

Sunday morning we had an interesting  visit to Bernard Lovell's telescope at Jodrell Bank before Sunday lunch in the Hollybush in Salt.

Christine, Glyn, Lovell & Andy.

Lovell telescope.

Friday, 9 October 2015

A gaggle and a great clock.

It's turned back to summer the last couple of days, the paint brushes are out to do the port roof rail, the rear sliding hatch is off, rubbed down and a couple of coats of undercoat applied. I left the hatch of over night and secured an umbrella in its place, luckily the night was dry and windless - outside at least.

The marina is full of Canadian geese, they leave the marina noisily around 16:00 and return just as loudly at about 10:00 . I counted around 180 of the birds on the water.

Tuesday we had a ride over to Telford for no other reason than it has a Debenhams, Sue had wanted to return an outfit. Telford has a modern shopping mall at its centre with an entertaining clock in the main gallery you can see it in action by clicking here

Telfords clock.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

X-Rays & Anti climax

I forgot to mention our friend Christine who had an xray on her arm in USA after a fall,  where they found nothing amiss and gave her some anti inflammatory pills, she had it re x-rayed in the UK on return from holiday where they found that it was indeed broken..........Good old NHS.

The weather has been crap over the last couple of days, and this morning it is water pistoling down. So we are staying in the marina until after the weekend, we have tickets to the England v Uruguay match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, which will be a bit of an anti climax now!

Have been to a joiners to get some hard wood to face of the soft wood I used to raise the dinette unfortunately The lengths are 5mil to thick so I will be taking them back to get them run through their planing machine. Another task for today is to replace the themocouple in the oven as the grill wont stay alight.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Stone food and drink festival . Don't mention....

.....the Rugger.

I have finally finished painting the roof ... hooray. I counted the cost of all that paint + :

Primer £79, Undercoat, £74 Top coat, £80, brushes rollers white spirit, masking tape & sanding sheets £45

Total = £204  -  I have still got half a tin of primer and a tin of undercoat left over.

Not cheap but cheaper than hiring a professional.

I used Craftmaster paint which seems a little thicker and flows better than International paint I have used in the past.

The job done looks OK, it will keep rust spots at bay for a good few years. Now I have done the job once I think I could probably make a better job of it next time.

I've started on the starboard roof rail, both the brass bolts holding the centre line cleat snapped when I removed it. They drilled out easy enough but will have to tap some new threads before refitting.

Aston Marina grounds are being used as a park & ride for this weekends Stone Food & Drink Festival ,handy for moorers too. We had a look around the marquees, over 100 food and drink outlets, most were doing a good trade.

 A few different breweries were represented including our favourite the Titanic.

Titanic wasn't busy at 11:00am

A brew for breakfast maybe

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Rugby World Cup foreigners.

We have been enjoying the Rugby World Cup, Japan had an excellent day against Samoa. I noticed that Japan have some players who don't look like they come from the land of the rising sun. This got me thinking which team has the most foreign born players in their squad.

Image result for rugby world cup images

I thought it could be NZ as they have had the pick of the Polynesian countries, but no, it is Samoa who have 13 foreign born players, NZ only have 5.

Samoa        13 all born in NZ
Tonga have 12
Wales         11
Japan          11
France        10
Aussie          9
Italy              9
USA             9
Canada         5
Ireland         5
NZ               5
Romania      4
England       3
Fiji              3
Namibia      2
Georgia       1
Uruguay      1

The only team with 100% true countrymen playing in the world cup is Argentina where all 31 players were born within its borders.

You can find out how individual players are eligible to play for their chosen countries

Just watched the Scots loose to the Boks. I'm now getting nervous about the England V Aussie game which starts in an hours time.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

More paint.

Sue's choice of colour for the roof was the original light grey, mine was for raddle red so a compromise was for a bit off both.

The section under the solar panel box's is now raddle red. I have to give the grey another coat and the roof is finished. Then the roof rails will need redoing and I can put the paint brushes away for this year. The hatch slide still needs painting but that can wait....possibly.

The solar box's got a rub down and a couple of coats of Ronseal.
Watched Wales beating Fiji this afternoon in the RWC, a great game with both sides throwing the ball around like a 7's game. Looking forward to the England v Aussie game on Saturday, bonus points may decide who goes through in the pool.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Tampa to Stone via Somerset.

We saw the blood red moon from 42,000 ft, well not so much blood red more of a tomato soup colour. Holiday over, it was now time to get back to the boat from LGW via Somerset to collect a chair we had stored there.

We left Somerset at 04:30 and were having a coffee in a Stafford Costa just after 07:00 while we waited for the Radford Bank Inn to open at 08:00, there we partook of a breakfast buffet for £3.99.

Back on the boat it is a fine day -  I removed the solar panels and boxes, rubbed down the roof and gave it a pre-coat. The chimney collar was rubbed down and a coat of stove enamel applied, next job was to put the secondry glazing  back up, it only seems like a few weeks ago it came down when in fact it was 7 months ago.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Stone to Tampa via Somerset.

I haven't posted for a while so here's a quick update.

I finally managed to get a top coat on FL's roof before depositing the wrinkly back in Somerset.

We needed a bit of a holiday after three weeks of the being in close confinement with MIL, so we made our way to Gatwick where we got in the pointy end of a plane bound for Tampa - we are relaxing in the peace and quiet with our pals Glyn & Christine. Who on the first day were beginning to turn into the holiday company from hell.

On the way from Tampa airport Glyn managed to slam his fingers in the boot of the hire car and on our first night out Christine tripped over and cracked her elbow on the curb.

A pair of crocs
Christine got sorted out at the local walk in centre while Glyn required the help of the odd job man at the hotel with pliers and hacksaw to remove a ring from his swelling appendage.... Glyn is bemoaning the fact that his golf swing will be affected - his ability to hang on to a cold bottle of Coors lite has not.

Floridians bless them don't know the Rugby World Cup is on -  much less that the USA have a team competing in it. There is absolutely no mention of it on any of the channels available in the hotel (very insular our hosts are). We did find a paddy pub - Mickey Quinns - who obliged us to switch from baseball to the rugby so we could watch England v Fiji, we will be back there for the Wales game

Cormorants are friendly too.

Taken on a sunset dinner cruise out of Clearwater.

To my Canadian audience (Stuart & Co) normal service will be resumed shortly.