Monday, 30 August 2010

One of those mornings today that lets you know that Autumn isn't too far away.  After the rain in the night, the sky had cleared to a beautiful cloudless blue.  Ideal to see a familiar area at its best, and fresh enough to really enjoy a brisk dog walk along the towpath.  There wasn't time to apologise to one lady we met with her moored boat and menagerie, so I'd better do it now.  I'm sorry, I had no idea that some of your chickens were loose on the towpath.  (For the avoidance of uncertainty, I would like to confirm that no animals were harmed in the making of this movie.  One or two may have been a bit startled.)
Edited to say: Braunston Manor in the picture is for sale, apparently, if seven figure prices aren't too scary.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Back to Braunston

A short morning cruise brought us back to the delights of Braunston.  We had a walk round the village shops and pubs, and heard that the Braunston Festival had been washed out as exhibitors left after some torrential rain around lunchtime. That was a shame as the afternoon was sunny and reasonably warm, so if they had hung on it might have all been OK.  We also got a kit to refurbish the old Floking water pump, (note to self: Midland Chandlers only sell Shurflo spares, but these seem to be identical to Floking spares). 

Unusually we had found a free mooring just opposite Tony Redshaw's workshops, not far from the Boat House.  After a meal there in the evening we got back to the boat before the next band of weather crossed in the night.  If it hadn't been  for the gusty wind and rain I might have slept through the noise of the extractor fans from the pub kitchen, (they go off around 11.30), and the sound of birds grazing the algae on the hull.  I think perhaps the floodlighting from the pub allows the ducks to party on algae all night.  Still, a nice mooring in the middle of things to watch the world go by.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

An entirely unremarkable day

Just after lighting the stove last night I closed the door and noticed that the glass was cracked, leading to a hasty removal of fuel that hadn't caught yet to keep the size of the fire to a minimum.  What remained burned off fairly quickly, and looking at the cold stove in the morning the cracked glass was now two pieces.  The nuts and studs holding the glass in were too corroded to shift, so we'll have to get someone to sort it out.

On the upside, we were able to quickly fix a leaky water pump as we had bought a spare after the old one started to sound as if it was struggling a while ago.

Cruised on into Rugby with an idea of visiting the pub near Tesco, having passed it many times, thinking that as they had a canalside garden, we could take the dog.  However, access to the garden was via the pub only, and no dogs allowed in the pub.  Turning back we reached Hilmorton at the same time as one of those long heavy showers.  Quite spectacular though, and as Billy Connolly once pointed out, there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Grand Union, Bridge 101(ish)

Great to be out again, (along with half the world I suspect, who we expect to be meeting later), for a few days over the bank holiday.  This bridge near the Puddle Banks had been looking fragile for a while, then BW had work boats moored there for a few months and lots of work seemed to be underway.  The picture is the finished product - not so much repaired as scalped - perhaps the arch is strong enough now that the parapets have been removed.  It doesn't look the same though.  We'd thought about mooring in Braunston, but since it was early and the weather was good we decided to turn left and head toward Hilmorton. 

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Stormy weather

Saturday morning was spent changing the antifreeze in the central heating - ten or eleven litres or so, more than we thought - and rewiring the battery bank.  We had thoughts of a little trip out to Napton for the night, but the progressively more torrential showers put us off a bit so we just stayed in the marina.  Saturday night there were huge storms and a lightning strike somewhere in the marina.  There were some dead fish in the water, and lots of power supplies tripped on the jetties, but apparently no damage.
That was until we came to pay for a refill of diesel, when the computer in the office wouldn't work.  I was attached to this phone socket which looked as though it had taken a hit - the line comes into the office from a nearby telegraph pole.  So unfortunately we couldn't pay for the diesel right away as they can't take credit card payments without a phone line for verification.  This was at least a different problem than the one we thought we had when the engine stuttered and died after the short run from our mooring to the diesel pump.  It wouldn't restart, which was a disappointment to say the least after last week's work.  After a few moments of despair I remembered that I isolated the supply when we left the boat last week in case there were any leaks that I hadn't spotted.  Funny how engines work better with a fuel supply.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Damned lies and statistics

We did have Google Analytics set up to see how many people were viewing the blog and where they came from.  Then I saw that Blogger in draft offered a similar service.  Since the notes said that the two tools used different methods to monitor, I thought I'd look at a comparison between what they said for the same period.

They weren't kidding that the results differ - for the same period more or less Analytics showed 554 page views while Blogger in Draft showed 237.  And the sources of visits (for Analytics - second table) and pageviews (Draft - first table) were also somewhat different:

There are enough discrepancies between the two to assume unreliability for one (or both) - like several pageviews from China but no visits.  It is a bit surprising considering the two tools are provided by the same company!

You can also see information on terms typed into search engines that sent people to you.  I can't help but think that the person in Moldova who wanted a photo of a Karakul sheep may have been a little disappointed.  So on the off chance that they come back...

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Zen and the art of canal maintenance

 I wondered what looked different about Stockton Top Lock, and it took a few minutes to realise.  While most locks have a vertical line between black and white paint, Stockton's beams were already painted in a gentle curve.  However, this year the paint job has a definite yin and yang appearance.  (Admittedly that's a Taoist concept and not Zen, but I've never been one to let the facts get in the way of a pun).  Here's another picture from late 2008 of the same lock from the other direction to show the difference.  Or to put it another way that was Zen this is Tao.  Sorry, I'll get my coat. 

Monday, 9 August 2010

Engine woes averted (fingers crossed)

I didn't mention that despite giving us no problems for most of our June trip, we had some issues with the engine on the way home. Less than half way through Blisworth Tunnel the alternator warning light came on and the engine was just managing not to stall whatever position the morse control was in. So we stuttered along hoping for the best and thinking "it's early, someone will be along to give us a tow" but eventually got out to Blisworth with the problem easing. By the time we found somewhere to moor it was running fine and beyond a little water in the trap no problems. So we set off North for the three hours to the Buckby flight and two hours to Norton Junction. I remember thinking it must have been a one off, and that we'd be pretty unlucky to have cruised for that long and then have the problem repeat in Braunston tunnel. Guess what.

By the time we hit the locks it was fine again. Just as well as we needed to negotiate the slim channel left by all the boats moored for the historic boat gathering, and then cruise on into the sunset to find a mooring.

It happened again the next morning for a section of the trip, then fine again. So time for a look at those great sources of advice the Canalworld Forums and Tony Brooks website.

Last weekend, having concluded dirty fuel picked up on the trip was the problem, we returned to the boat with a first aid kit of fuel transfer pump and replacement filters. I guess we pulled out about a litre of dirty water accompanied by some cloudy diesel before getting to dimishing returns with far more diesel than water coming out of the pump. New filters, and, for the moment, she is running fine. Although I have to give the health warning that whoever wrote the instructions "hand tight plus half a turn" had somewhat stronger hands than me. Or perhaps they weren't dangling head first from the deck boards trying to tighten greasy metal filters with one hand at full stretch. Anyway, all components in, no leaks, previous spills cleaned up, we decided to celebrate with an evening at the Boat Inn after a proving cruise. Next job - change the central heating antifreeze and corrosion inhibitor as it is starting to look a bit rusty in the system reservoir. If only I'd paid less attention at school I might have picked up the skills that would be useful to me now a bit sooner!