Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Friday, 30 December 2011

We have now officially started our winter cruise

We have now set off towards our winter cruise. We are currently at Margaret's sister's in Reading for the weekend, before she takes us down to Southampton on Tuesday. There we meet up with friends who are making their own trip from Southampton to Brisbane to visit friends, travelling on P&O Cruises MV Aurora. We meet our own friends, who arrive from Australia on Tuesday evening, and board MV Oriana ourselves on Thursday to travel East, calling at 38 ports in 25 countries before arriving back in Southampton in the middle of April. Hopefully the weather will be better than it is here. Our first call will be Oporto, before moving on to Naples, then Malta, heading through the Suez Canal towards Australia, before heading back across the Pacific and the Panama Canal to join the Caribbean and the Atlantic towards home.

The above image is MV Oriana berthed at Curacao in the Caribbean, last year. We will visit here again this year, but many of our ports will be totally different, and many through Asia that we have never seen.

If I can get hold of economic internet access I will post updates here.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Managing communications whilst abroad

I posted a while back that I had acquired a CnM Touchpad 2, which is a cheap Android tablet clone, using the Android 2.1 operating system. I bought this for the sole purpose of being able to communicate with those at home while we are out of the country during the coming winter. My main concern was that I didn't want anything with me, such as my laptop, which is an expensive piece of equipment. The Touchpad fits the bill, but also brings with it many shortfalls in its use. It has limited connectivity to mobile broadband dongles, being compatible only with a few on a list printed in the instructions. The file handling systems are also very basic, and take time to get used to. Having said that, all I require of it is to send and receive emails, post to Blogger via email, access Facebook, and store images from both my camera and Nokia phone. Whilst abroad I intend to connect to free wi-fi hotspots, and hope that this year that will be helped by the fact I now use BT Broadband at home, which gives me access to thousands of free wi-fi hotspots around the world, using their BT Fon and BT Openzone access points. I did investigate taking my Three Mi-Fi dongle with me, but they charge 1.75 GBP per MB for data roaming. Another alternative was using a company called ABroadband, who sell data worldwide at a flat rate 0.53 Euros per MB. This is somewhat cheaper, but still far more expensive than my home service. They also want 99 Euros for their micro sim card and a Mi-Fi dongle linked to their service. I managed quite well last year using the free wi-fi available at town centre cafes etc. I hope I have now mastered the Touchpad enough to do what I want to with it, and this will be the proof. I have written this post as an email on it, attached an image, and hope it works!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Canal Cruising Indian Style

Margaret has been back from her Indian adventure for a couple of weeks now and things are starting to return to normal. We also have our own boat back, which we will now visit only a few times before the full onset of winter. The last part of the holiday in India consisted of a stay at the Vivanta by Taj Kumarakom followed by a drive to Alleppey with a cruise and overnight stay on a houseboat or kettuvallam. These were originally used to transport rice on the backwater canals, today they are mostly used for leisure, although the canals are still used in all aspects of daily life from washing, bathing, and transport.

Monday, 31 October 2011

The current state of the market

I constantly monitor how things are doing in the new boat sales and used brokerage market. Associated businesses continue to cease trading, (so it is now even more important to ensure your money is safe when embarking on any large purchase). However, the current situation seems to be that if you are in the market for a used boat, now certainly appears to be the time to buy. On the other side of things, I pity the poor seller....

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Will soon be back to normal

I arrived home from Spain last night, and Margaret arrives home from her India trip on Friday. We have both had a great time, and in particular, I have met some new friends who are living a life which I envy, spending the Winter in the Spanish sunshine. For those who continuously cruise on the canals, I can highly recommend it - moor the narrowboat for the Winter and head off to Spain in a caravan or motorhome. Here are some images from my own trip. I will provide an album link at the end to Margaret's album as she has so many images. Many of the later ones are from the canals of the Kerala backwaters of India.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

I am now in Spain

Sorry no photos as I am on limited internet access in Spain, and Margaret has had no access to any signal since the 17th October in the Kerala Backwaters of India. I have heard from her by 3G email and they are fine, enjoying their tour, and generally having a great time. On my side of things, I flew out to visit friends in Andalucia, Spain, (£55 each way on Monarch Airlines). They are a part of a large British (and Irish) community here who all gather to spend the Winter in the warm Spanish sun, and generally have a great time. I have been joining in with activities such as cycle rides, and social evenings, and we all went out to lunch (13 including me) at a local Chinese restaurant yesterday. The weather here is hot, clear and sunny, with a midday temperature of 32 degreees today. I could get used to this! - Peter.



Monday, 17 October 2011

Munnar - Hill Station in the Indian State of Kerala

We have now arrived in Munnar, a hill station in the State of Kerala, surrounded by tea plantations. Since our arrival towards lunchtime it has been raining, although it didn't spoil today's planned activity, which was a hands on experience washing down elephants. Tomorrow we do some sight seeing. Unfortunately, being a remote area, there is no internet connection here, so I have been unable to post images from today's activities, although to give you an idea of what the location looks like, the following images are generic, courtesy of the Wikimedia image file library, and are subject to the Creative Commons share alike licence.....

   Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.
More info and images at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munnar

Munnar Hill Station (c) <kcbimal>

A nice view of Munnar (c) <Coolmallu1>
Mattupety Dam (c) <Ekabhishek>



Sunday, 16 October 2011

Cochin, a look around

Today was spent looking around the main district of Cochin, Southern India. Our hotel is situated in the port area, so today we were given a tour of the town by our driver. Here are some more images of local points of interest....

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Cochin - Southern India

We have now moved out of Mumbai and started our tour of Southern India, flying down to Cochin this morning. We have arrived at our beautiful hotel, and have our own driver, complete with Toyota for the duration. I still haven't worked out what side of the road they drive on here yet, as it seems it is just whichever side there is a space, and will get you to your destination the quickest. Footpaths are not out of bounds, and traffic signals are advisory! Here are today's photographs......

Friday, 14 October 2011

More from Margaret's India trip

Today is the first full day in India, without the need to sleep off the flight. It will be another flight to Kerala tomorrow, but here are today's pics.......

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Margaret's India Trip

Not much to report on the boating front, but Margaret has now arrived safely in India on her trip to visit our daughter there. Here are some photos. They are travelling to Kerala in a couple of days, an area full of canal networks. They have booked a short time on a crewed boat, so I will post pictures of that as it happens.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

UK Roadside Cameras - A Guide

Another post not at all related to canals or boats, but to transport in general. This time I hope to guide the reader through some of the technology now being used on the UK highway network which could catch out the unwary visitor to our country, the result being a heavy cost in fines to set aside the cost of your holiday here...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

UK Motor Insurance - What A Rip-Off!

This post has absolutely nothing to do with canals or boating and is nothing more than my own rant - but many more people might have no idea what is happening in the UK motor insurance industry - they will now. There will be no names mentioned, just facts about my own recent experiences that have cost me dearly.......

Deciding on a diesel boat heater

During the summer I was forced to consider replacing the central heating boiler on Kelly Louise because the Alde gas fired unit had sprung a leak, and, due to my own circumstances with this particular installation, there were all sorts of problems associated with rectifying the situation. Once I had decided to go for a brand new installation I conducted much research into the pros and cons of individual systems that are currently available, both in fuel type and brand. After deciding to replace with a diesel fired unit, I then researched the various brands and the (many) reported problems that had been associated with this type of heating in general. My final decision to buy was made, based on many factors which included cost, accessibility to a company who could complete the whole job that I required, and the reviews relating to the individual brands. Although this is my own personal opinion, I concluded that the Hurricane heater was probably the best option to fit, but due to cost, and the proximity of a supplier who could complete my own particular job, I chose to fit a Webasto Thermo Top C unit, which, so far, has worked very well. Here are some of the reasons I found along the way, why there have been reported problems associated with diesel boat heaters........

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Lancaster Canal


Back in 2005, after a break of boat ownership for many years, we decided to buy again. We were unsure what area of boating to pursue at that time, and decided to buy a used cruiser, that was capable of both river estuary cruising and wide canal cruising. As well as providing a relatively cheap entry back into boat ownership, it also gave us time to decide whether we both wanted to make the leap, and major investment required into a more substantial boat, and also provided time to decide what type of boat to buy.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Other boating interests again!

With little to write about narrowboats and canals at the time being, as we prepare for the winter, here is another attempt I made at video production back in 2007, (due to a still unresolved Blogger issue with uploaded video, where videos stop working after a few hours, I have had to replace it with still photographs, so my apologies for that). This is pre-narrowboat ownership, and I took the footage whilst driving a fast powerboat on a 30 knot passage from the coast at Rock, Cornwall, up the estuary of the River Camel to Wadebridge, having passed the helm to a friend. Not the easiest thing to do at speed, and it turned out a little grainy, but I think that gives it atmosphere, although the impression of the actual speed got lost. The water had calmed somewhat once in the estuary. It would have been impossible to shoot the footage in open water due to the swell at the time, which was around 4 feet, although not choppy at all.

Motoring down the Camel Estuary from Rock

Inside Padstow Harbour from the boat

Padstow Harbour

Port Quin (next door to Port Isaac) from the boat.
The boat is made by Cranchi, an Italian company, is fitted with a single large Volvo Penta diesel linked to a Volvo Penta stern drive, and is equipped with VHF radio, a GPS plotter and all other relevant safety equipment, and is owned by my brother. This particular journey takes you down the coast from Port Isaac (the location of the Doc Martin TV series), past the "Doom bar" sandbank, aptly named and is itself the location of many a shipwreck due to its hazardous and constantly moving nature, into the inlet of the estuary (where this clip starts), past Padstow Harbour, and up to Wadebridge. At low tide, the river at Wadebridge, under the A39 road bridge, dries out.

Happy memories!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Time Travellers

This time last year, on 23rd. September, we boarded MV Oriana at Southampton to join her world cruise as a means of travelling to Australia to visit my cousin for the first time, our first foreign holiday in over 7 years. We spent 6 weeks aboard ship, travelling West, first to Madeira, before crossing the Atlantic to our next port of call, St. Lucia.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Canal transits with a difference

During our winter cruise we will transit both the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal. Both have long and varied histories which are just as interesting as the inland canals of the UK, and both came about as a result of Victorian ingenuity, and the need to provide a commercial waterway in order to reduce transport costs - in the same way that our canal system was developed.


The Suez Canal

Although the Suez Canal wasn't officially completed until 1869, there is a long history of interest in connecting both the Nile River in Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. It is believed that the first canal in the area was constructed between the Nile River delta and the Red Sea in the 13th Century B.C.E. During the 1,000 years following its construction, the original canal was neglected and its use finally stopped in the 8th Century.
The first modern attempts to build a canal came in the late 1700s when Napoleon Bonaparte conducted an expedition to Egypt. He believed that building a French controlled canal on the Isthmus of Suez would cause trade problems for the British as they would either have to pay dues to France or continue sending goods over land or around the southern part of Africa. Studies for Napoleon's canal plan began in 1799 but a miscalculation in measurement showed the sea levels between the Mediterranean and the Red Seas as being too different for a canal to be feasible and construction immediately stopped.
The next attempt to build a canal in the area occurred in the mid-1800s when a French diplomat and engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps, convinced the Egyptian viceroy Said Pasha to support the building of a canal. In 1858, the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company was formed and given the right to begin construction of the canal and operate it for 99 years, after which time, the Egyptian government would take over control of the canal. At its founding, the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company was owned by French and Egyptian interests.
Construction of the Suez Canal officially began on April 25, 1859. It opened ten years later on November 17, 1869 at a cost of $100 million.
The Panama Canal

Entrance to Gatun Locks
Completed in 1914, under budget and ahead of schedule, a canal was first attempted by the French and Ferdinand de Lesseps, in 1879, who attempted to build it without locks in the same manner that he had success with the Suez Canal. However, the plan of digging a ditch through the isthmus failed due to insects, tropical rainforest and disease. In 1889 the canal company folded after the loss of 20,000 lives during the attempt.
It was John Stevens, America's greatest railway engineer who came up with a workable plan. This was to dam the Chagres River to create the Gatun Lake. The dam would create electrical power to operate the lock gates and locomotive mules, gravity directing water into the locks. Three locks on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides, raises ships which are in effect sailing up and over Panama. The plan worked. Another part of the success of this plan was the initial eradication of yellow fever and a serious campaign to make the zone liveable before work began. Dr. Gorgess had eradicated the yellow fever mosquito from Havana, Cuba, and he was called upon to work in the canal zone before construction started. The area was cleaned by insecticide and soap, with fumigating teams working around the clock. The programme called for new sewers, screens on all windows, piped water, paved streets, swamps drained and bush cleared. The plan worked, and today the canal zone is free of risk from yellow fever.
The current size of the locks restricts shipping to a maximum size, and suitable commercial vessels are built to a standard known as Panamax. However, there are new locks currently under construction which will allow larger ships to transit. These will be known as new Panamax, but there are already ships in use that will be too large even for them.

The cost of transit to a 69,000 tonne cruise ship such as Oriana, with a 20% premium to allow her schedule to be maintained with priority, is in the region of $240,000.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Looking forward to our winter cruise

While Tom and Jan (narrowboat-waiouru), are away cruising our boat, and hopefully having a great time, we are busy with preparations for our own winter cruise. Regular readers will know that this year this will again be on Oriana, a P and O cruise ship, on which we will circumnavigate the world between the beginning of January and the middle of April 2012, leaving from, and returning to Southampton. I know that many readers are interested in the specification of Kelly Louise, by the number of views that page gets, so, if anyone is interested, here is the specification of Oriana.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Functioning or Not Functioning - That Is The Question

Or to explain in more detail, did the electrics faults I rectified on Saturday, fully solve the mystery, or is there more to consider? Why would I ask that? Well - first I will again briefly explain what the equipment is, what the faults were, and when they first showed themselves......

Thursday, 15 September 2011

This is sods law at its best.

Isn't is strange, when sods law cuts in, it usually hits with a vengeance? When we had the Webasto heating fitted at the end of June, I also decided to replace our (small) domestic battery bank, as they were original to the boat build, and now approaching six years old. I checked the condition of them just prior to taking the boat in, and one was absolutely fine, but the other was not, although the related equipment, such as our Sterling 1800watt inverter was working as it should, as was the charging system through the Sterling Pro Digital Alternator Regulator. As soon as I picked the boat up, after the work, I noticed that the charge lamp on the volt-meter for the domestic side, was flickering on tick-over, and the associated warning buzzer was chirping. This would cease as engine revs increased, and would stop altogether when the engine had run a while. As we were not going to be using the boat after this, until Tom and Jan, who write their blog Waiouru, were to take her over for a while towards the end of the year, I didn't investigate any further.

It was at the end of August when Tom came aboard, and he found that the inverter was also not working, but alarming, showing it was not receiving sufficient 12V supply. This was strange, as during the process of checking the batteries earlier, I had also tested the inverter, and it worked perfectly. Our small domestic batteries were sufficient for out needs, and would last one overnight stay, without any further charging, so I expected the new batteries to be slightly better. We also have C-Tek multi-stage chargers, of the correct size for our batteries, which are connected directly via fuses, and were showing the batteries fully charged. Nantwich Marina, (formerly known as Nantwich Canal Centre), who completed the job of installing the Webasto and the new batteries were contacted, and they kindly arranged an "after-sales visit" to the boat by a technician, in order to diagnose the cause of the problem. This is what he found:

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The baby boy is growing up!

Back in March I reported that we had become grandparents when our son and his wife had their baby son, Ethan, see: <The baby boy arrives safe and well>

This was him then, in the maternity ward at Wigan:



They are currently enjoying a holiday in <Padstow> Cornwall with him, their first holiday as a family. This is him now:


Doesn't it make you feel old!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Kelly Louise Autumn Takeover.

We have now officially reached the end of Summer. We had already made our plans for this time of year, and Margaret is going to visit India during October, and I have decided to visit an ex-colleague, who shares his time between the UK and Spain, spending the Summer in the UK, and the Autumn and Winter in Spain. I will spend a week with them in Andalucia during October, flying Monarch at £110 return to Manchester! Then we will both be out of the country together for the remainder of the Winter season.

As it happens, this coincided with the requirement of Tom and Jan, who write the blog Narrowboat Waiouru. They needed another UK base while they waited for their own boat's build completion. The obvious thing was to use Kelly Louise.

Kelly Louise is a basically fitted boat, with very simple equipment set ups, which is exactly how I want it, and doesn't mean she is uncomfortable. But, Tom has specified his own boat on the other end of the scale, with technology right up there with current availability. I have asked him to write about how they get on with her on his own blog http://www.narrowboat-waiouru.co.uk/ . This should make interesting reading, so click the link and read how they are able to make comparisons about life afloat with the basics against their own expectations of how it will be with their own boat in the future.

I will update my own blog with posts from the Indian canals around the Kerala backwaters, Spain, and our Winter cruise on Oriana, depending on whether I can find suitable Wi-Fi, as usual!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Cruising Plans

Here we are approaching the autumn of 2011, and we haven't yet managed our usual long summer cruise, as our elderly dog was showing signs of deterioration towards the end of his long and happy life. We would normally leave our home mooring during the last week of July, and cruise with no particular end. This year, we had planned to visit the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals as part of this. But, as we didn't want to find ourselves in the middle of nowhere with our ailing dog, and no access to a vet, we decided to postpone this years event. As it happened, he passed away a week last Thursday, in his 15th year with us. R.I.P Pepper.



However, we do have future plans to cruise, and on canals, but with a big difference..............................

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Trafford Centre - Manchester

Jillian is still visiting, so today we had another day out, this time to The Trafford Centre, which is not only easily accessible within 15 minutes from home off the M60, but also from the banks of The Bridgewater Canal.....

Monday, 15 August 2011

This is boating Jim - but not as we know it.

Our daughter Jillian is currently home with us visiting from India. She leaves us again on Thursday to call on London before flying back. She indicated that she would like a day out, so today, looking like the best weather option we visited one of my old haunts - Windermere Lake.......

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma and a compass

It was my birthday during July. Amongst the usual crop of chocolates, socks and underwear, I received an item which is of much interest to me. Earlier in the year, whilst we visited my sister-in-law, and her husband, we visited an antique store in Henley-on-Thames. We both saw, picked up, and inspected a beautiful hand held pocket compass, in the design of a pocket watch, and in a shiny brass gilt case, complete with its own, apparently age related leather pouch. I commented on how beautiful it was, and how I would love to own it.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Living with the Webasto central heating

It is now several weeks since we received the boat back with its newly fitted Webasto Thermo Top C central heating, so I thought I would report on how we are getting along with it. Before I do, I would just like to congratulate Navigation Narrowboats, the sister company to Nantwich Marina Ltd., who fitted my new heating system to the highest standards. They have just had the first ever back-to-back win of the Lionel Munk Trophy for the best commercially built boat 2011 / 2012 at the IWA Festival with their boat Oakmere. Well done, read about it here...2011 IWA Festival Award Winners


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

7" Android Touch Tablet 2 - currently on offer at Maplin

I decided to treat myself yesterday! When my smart phone contract runs out at the end of the year, I am going to give up the £35 / month no limit data allowance, and revert to my simple Nokia GSM, which I installed with a Vodafone Simplicity pay as you go sim card, with passport activated, which gives UK rates in 35 worldwide countries including Australia and New Zealand. Last year, on our trip down under, my contract 'phone cost me an arm and a leg, and I had used my capped data roaming allowance in the first week away, where this little Nokia, with its WAP Gmail and Facebook for everyphone applications, cost next to nothing to run for the next 12 weeks we were away from the UK.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Caveat Emptor - LET THE BUYER BEWARE.

Events that I have been aware of for months now have come to the knowledge of the general public this evening. A decent and respectable family, who are visitors to our country, and had enjoyed many a canal hire boat holiday in previous years, had decided, after their retirement to enjoy our canal system in their own boat. They did all their research, took the advice of others who had experience, and eventually ordered their narrowboat to be built to the highest specifications. What they didn't bargain for was meeting what, in my opinion, must be the most despicable behaviour from a "company", (and I use that term loosely), that is (still) operating within our marine industry.

After ordering their boat from Ben Harp Narrowboats, Tom and Jan, who write the blog, NB Waiouru, found that all their careful research came to nothing in the end, when things went very wrong. What they came up against was behaviour that can only be described as criminal. In my own page "Pre-Purchase Information" on this site, I have outlined from day one the need to take all reasonable precautions when giving your hard earned cash to a boat build or purchase. This case brings home the absolute need to follow my advice. Please, all readers who may be considering buying their first boat, take notice of Tom and Jan's story. You can read their blog here: http://www.narrowboat-waiouru.co.uk

After many months of legal wrangling and weeks of court hearings Tom finally took possession of his own boat today. This is how he got it back......


View the rest of Tom's album of horror photographs here: NB Waiouru

Tom, we wish you the very best in the successful future completion of your boat, and hope that you can now join us in the very near future cruising our beautiful canal system. We also hope you have the foresight to recognize that not all "Brits" are "tarred with this brush." I take my hat off to you both - you have conducted yourselves magnificently throughout this mess.

Friday, 22 July 2011

The RHS show Tatton Park 2011

One of the highlights of this weekend was to be a visit to the Royal Horticultural Society Tatton Park Show, which we did today. There is nothing that can describe this event better than photographs, so here they are....

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A new interest to keep me occupied!

We haven't visited the boat for the last two weeks, the first was due to me being right in the middle of my hay fever season, and the second was that our daughter, who is currently working in India, had been called back to her company HQ in London for a month, so she took the opportunity to visit us at home for the weekend. I have been on an economy drive though. Part of that, I am sure will be of interest to some who have similar interests in narrowboats, and that is of quality engineering, the kind that you simply don't get any more, in the form of a 20 year old Mercedes Benz 190e...........

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Yet another plumbing leak!

So far this year, amongst other problems such as flaking paint after the winter, and faulty lcd hour meter displays, also after the winter, we have had more than our share of leaks in the plumbing system. I meticulously drain the water system before the winter lay up, so I can't blame the problems on freezing. The first ones I noticed, early on, were identified as loose joints in the HEP 20 fresh water system piping joints. The problem showed up when the water pump started to run, for only a few seconds, every couple of hours, indicating that there had been a drop in pressure. The leaking joints were found under the bathroom floor, and had damp patches under them. I dismantled each joint, checked the components, and re-tightened them, and the floor around them dried up. Then of course we had the leaking Alde central heating boiler, which turned out to be a major job. Last weekend, the water pump started to operate for a few seconds every couple of hours once more. Not again!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

At last! We have a boat again.

Last Thursday we received a call from Nantwich Canal Centre to confirm the boat was ready for collection after its minor refit. We arrived there Friday morning, and were met by Clinton, the company operations director, who arranged for someone to attend at the boat with us, first to approve the job, and second to be shown how all the new equipment operates. I really can't fault this company (other than perhaps the long wait for our initial appointment, due to them being so busy).

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Changing scenes

We visited Nantwich Canal Centre today to enquire about progress on our central heating repair. NCC is of course based in Nantwich Basin, on The Shropshire Union Canal. I visited this place during a hire boat holiday in c1972, and took a photograph whilst there. Today, I took another from the same spot, have a look at the differences.....

Nantwich Basin c1972

Nantwich Basin 2011

As for the repair, I am told the parts are now in stock, and work will be done during the coming week.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A day out around Manchester

Today we met up with Tom and Jan, writers of the blog Narrowboat Waiouru, who are now over here in the UK. The weather performed for us, and was warm and sunny for the whole day. We had a look around the Portland Basin Museum, <Click>, before heading out of Ashton-Under-Lyne, towards Huddersfield and The Hartshead Inn for lunch, <Click>.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Central heating boiler repair update.

Clinton at Nantwich Canal Centre contacted me today with estimates for work to get things relating to the boat's central heating up and running again. He gave me a guesstimate for a repair to the existing Alde boiler, which included making good any joinery that was disturbed in the process, at £872 including VAT. This includes only a guess at what the problem may be, once they get it out, at £200 for parts. (I had also asked for the leisure batteries to be replaced, and these are included in this price).

The other, more definite estimate was for a brand new Webasto diesel boiler, plumbed and fitted into the engine bay, and then connected to the existing central heating / hot water system. The gap where the old Alde had been in the back cabin would be reconstructed to include a doored storage space by their on site boat fitters. The leisure batteries would also be replaced, as I had requested. The total cost for this was given as £3,200 including VAT.

This is a link to the Webasto Marine Division website: <Click>.

This is a link to the Alde website: <Click>.

All things considered, such as we still don't know the exact cause of the Alde boiler leak, the fact that there is evidence of other corrosion on the front face of the water jacket, and the cost of running the thing in terms of gas, even when it is up and running, I decided to go with the new Webasto. The new boiler will run three domestic radiators and / or hot water via the calorifier.

Clinton is now making enquiries regarding parts deliveries, but the boat will be with them for the next couple of weeks.

Bearing in mind that Nantwich Canal Centre is my most convenient location to get the repair done, (I just don't have the time or the inclination to take the boat all over the country in search of other estimates). And, NCC only supply the Webasto as their favoured diesel fired boiler option, (I could have gone for a new Alde 2928 at a lower price fitted, or even had the old one repaired.) Have I made the right choice? I am sure there is a lot of opinion out there.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

There are professional fit outs, then there are professional fit outs!

Nantwich Canal Centre use a quote in their advertising that is taken from Red Adaire, the US oil field troubleshooter. It goes like this: "If you think it is expensive to hire a professional to do the job - wait until you hire an amateur." Today, during my attempted solution to a leaking central heating boiler, I found this couldn't be more true, and the following should be a warning to all those who are in the market wanting to buy their own narrowboat.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Home alone!

Today is the day we decided that I would come down to the boat alone because we have arranged to have the central heating boiler serviced, and a leak behind it repaired tomorrow.


The boiler is the slimline Alde which stands just to the right of this bulkhead, and is the full height of the space and about 5 inches wide, very compact, but not that gas efficient. Fingers crossed that the leak is just a plumbing joint as I suspect it is. While I've been here today I also took care of an engine bay inspection, battery and coolant fluid levels checked, as well as engine oil. All was well except one of the leisure batteries required a water top up, so will now have to be monitored. When I had replenished it I put the smart charger onto recondition mode. The bank charged up to full OK.

I will report how the service call went later in the week. Margaret, who is still doing a temporary teaching contract, will join me for the weekend on Friday evening. In the meantime, where's that lager kept?

Friday, 3 June 2011

No boating this weekend!

The bad luck bug seems to have struck again, this time in the car department. Margaret has her own little yellow Peugeot 107, which is great around town, and, importantly in this day and age, does over 60 m.p.g. It is now 5 years old and has 45,000 miles on it, but seems to have become a little unreliable. Earlier in the year the clutch went, no drive at all, just like that, at 40,000. It was repaired without any problems, but a search of the Internet forums indicated that we were not alone in experiencing this problem at such mediocre mileage.

The other day, whilst out on a trip to Settle, a grating noise could be heard from the engine department. The car continued to run OK, and a quick look under the hood revealed nothing untoward, so we continued our journey. A few miles down the road, the battery warning light came on, quickly followed by the flashing STOP warning lights and the coolant temperature warning light. Another look revealed a missing alternator belt.

Having managed to get the car safely home, I again searched the Internet forums on "shredded alternator belt Peugeot 107" and found that literally hundreds of owners had suffered the same problem, all as a result of a failed water pump. All occurrences were around the 50,000 miles mark, which is where I suppose ours is.

A visit to our local garage was met with "oh another one of those" when I explained the problem, and of course it was! When the owner contacted his parts supplier it was a case of "we have sold dozens of those, I think they have modified them now".

So, this weekend, the car is in for repairs instead of us boating. This one will cost approximately £100 for a genuine (modified) Peugeot pump, £15 for a drive belt, and two hours labour. If you have a Peugeot 107 with mileage approaching 50,000, beware! And to make matters worse, the weather has turned again, to hot and sunny!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Problems problems problems!

Another bank holiday weekend, and this time with the more normal weather we have on these occasions - cloudy, occasional heavy rain showers and a high wind, which seems to have been a feature of the Spring weather this year. That makes cruising awkward, as soon as the ropes are cast off, the boat is off across the canal without any input from me! We had the high wind on the Sunday cruise back from Wrenbury last time we were here, and putting the boat accurately through bridge 'oles required full concentration.
I have already mentioned that the Alde central heating boiler seemed to have developed a leak behind it. There is a damp patch on the floor around it, and the header tank drains over a few weeks. I first noticed that in March, and went on the Alde website to find our nearest service centre, as I thought it might as well have one of those at the same time as the repair. Our nearest service centre happened to be Nantwich Canal Centre, but they were fully booked up, with the nearest appointment for a service visit being 9th June. I reluctantly accepted that, as we aren't using the central heating at the moment, but who would have thought they would be so busy?
We now have another problem, this time it is the Morso Squirrel stove. We use this more than the central heating, and I always keep it well maintained, cleaning it after every use,and check it over regularly. When we arrived this Friday, I noticed that the cast iron nozzle that joins the flue pipe to the top of the stove, has developed a hairline fracture. Why this has just appeared, when the thing hasn't been used in months, I don't know, but will have to be fixed to minimize the risk of a carbon monoxide leak into the living area. At least it appears to be a straightforward job, if the screws will undo. The part appears to be readily available, and costs around £35.
I don't know whether it is due to the boat reaching a certain age, (it was first used in 2004), but this year seems to have been one problem after another.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Day 5 Tylney Hall hotel and the Basingstoke Canal.

Tuesday was day 5 and the last of our long weekend break. On our way home from Berkshire we had arranged to meet my family, whose wedding we attended on Saturday. We met for morning coffee and a walk in the grounds at Tylney Hall hotel before moving on towards the Basingstoke Canal and lunch.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Day 4 The Thames at Marlow and Henley

Monday was day 4 of our long weekend in the south east of England. After a fairly relaxing day on Sunday, with a morning visit to The Reading car boot sale, Monday saw a day out around the River Thames, first at Marlow, then on to Henley.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Our second wedding of the year

As I said, this weekend was to be spent attending our second wedding of the year, instead of visiting the boat. This time it was in Hampshire. The venue was the Hook House hotel. <Click>.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

A weekend of rain after a month of sun!

This weekend had been pencilled in since the beginning of March. Friends who used to be work colleagues, and who I hadn't seen in over 12 months had been invited to spend the weekend with us. It was arranged that we would meet at our mooring, have a buffet lunch on the boat, before cruising to Wrenbury. Dusty Miller on Urbanspoon

Monday, 2 May 2011

Satellite or Freeview?

I have talked previously about the problems associated with travelling narrowboats and digital TV reception. I had decided on Digital satellite reception, initially using the free to air stations, then latterly, using the Sky freeview stations, through an old Sky digi-box I already had, using their freeview card, (which has to be purchased). This weekend that decision has had to be changed.....

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Hack Green Secret Bunker

Right at the side of The Shropshire Union Canal, at Hack Green, lies a hidden secret. This is a concrete under-ground bunker, that has played an important role in the defence of Britain from before World War 2, right up until 1993, when it was finally declassified and decommissioned. It is now a tourist attraction, and was the place we visited today.......

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Family History - Warwick Brookes 5/05/1808 - 13/08/1882

**I now have a website dedicated to The Brookes' of Manchester at: http://brookes-of-manchester.blogspot.com

In my last post I briefly mentioned our research into my family history, and that I was of Cornish descent on my mother's side, from humble copper miners. The history on my father's side is much more interesting. We have discovered a famous Manchester artist, (my Grt. Grt. Grandfather), with links to royalty and the then Prime Minister, W.E. Gladstone, a pioneering Manchester photographer, his sons, an actor, who later became an army Captain, a London MP, and their sister, who married a famous Victorian body builder, Eugen Sandow......

Monday, 18 April 2011

This is Audlem part 2 - The Village

If you have toured the UK by road you will have visited major towns, perhaps London, Bath, or Chester. Although each of these locations is also accessible using the inland waterway network, unless a tour of the UK is made using those waterways, you will miss lots of Britain that isn't visible from the more normal routes, including country villages that are off the beaten track. The reason for this is that the network, particularly the canals, travel through the country using corridors that have possibly not changed much in the 200 years since they were built. One of these villages is Audlem, located at the side of the Northern reaches of the Shropshire Union Canal.....

Sunday, 17 April 2011

This is Audlem part 1 - The canal

Oh what a lovely weekend again. It gets better, this weekend we have clear blue skies, sunshine and warmth, - all together! Having completed the fitting of the laminated glass to the cratch during Friday, (we came down Friday morning this week), that left us the weekend free to explore again. This week we chose Audlem, a country village by the side of The Shropshire Union Canal, about 10 miles south of Nantwich. I will cover our visit in two parts, one about the canal, the other about the beautiful village that it runs through. This is part 1....

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Antique nauticalia?

While we were in Nantwich town centre on Saturday morning, we visited, as usual, the indoor market. This houses many interesting stalls for the both of us. I enjoy the car spares, antique toys, and hardware. Margaret has different interests in the antique ceramics, haberdashery and bags. However, we both always head straight for a stall that sells general antiques and collectibles. Margaret looks at, and sometimes buys, jewellery, and I have in the past been given a beautiful 1908 Waltham Traveller pocket watch, which was in mint condition, in its own velvet lined original case, and in full working order. This was my Christmas present a couple of years ago.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Our weekend in pictures

We knew it couldn't last! We woke up to another glorious morning today, but then, just as the forecasters predicted, the clouds and rain came in. So, we decided to pack up and come home after a late breakfast. A benefit is, that I was able to go straight round to the glass merchants at home, and obtained a piece of BSI Kite marked laminated glass, cut to size, ready to install in the cratch next week. Cost? £32 all in, I was pleasantly surprised. As I forgot my smart 'phone / camera that uploads directly to my Picasa Web albums this weekend, here is our weekend in pictures, now I have been able to upload directly from the SD card from the cheap digi-cam we keep at the boat....



Sunday, 10 April 2011

The return of The Red Melon!

Ok, I know I have talked about The Red Melon Indian Restaurant on more than one previous occasion, but we have just arrived back at the boat from an absolutely fantastic meal there this evening. This was totally different, and as such I believe it more than warrants another mention.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

More painting than Picasso!

Here we are again back at the boat, and this time for an extra long weekend, maybe 'till Tuesday, to make up for lost time over the last few weeks. Spring has really arrived now, with beautiful sunny weather and warmth! However, I don't know whether it may be due to the very harsh winter we had, when the boat was covered with snow and ice for months, but this year the paintwork on the horizontal external surfaces is bubbling up and parting company with the undercoat, now the sun is on it.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Spice Village Indian Restaurant, Tooting.

Before moving on from my last post about our London visit, and back to canal boating, I will take a little more time out to review an Indian restaurant down in Tooting which we visited while we were in the area. The restaurant was The Spice Village Curry House, 32 - 34 Upper Tooting Road, Tooting, London SW17 7PD.....

Monday, 4 April 2011

That was the week that was....

...The end of a busy two weeks that has kept us away from our boat. This weekend saw us visit London again to catch up with our daughter, who flew in from her job in India for a flying visit to meet her new born nephew Ethan, and also a trip for us to the O2 arena, <Click> to see Peter Kay in The tour that doesn't tour - tour, in Manchester, London! We finished off with Sunday tea with Margaret's sister and her husband at their home near Reading. This is how it went.....

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

An afternoon at ITV studios, Manchester.

I am sorry, but here comes another posting which isn't related to the boat, but what we have been up to in between! Today, at Margaret's request, we found ourselves together once again at the ITV studios in Manchester. This time it was the recording of three episodes of the Channel 4 afternoon TV programme Countdown with Jeff Stelling, Rachel Riley and Susie Dent. Today's Dictionary Corner celebrity was Carol Smillie.....

Monday, 28 March 2011

Visit to Wigan Maternity Ward.

And here is baby Ethan starring in his first movie........


Normal service will resume as soon as possible!

The baby boy arrived, safe and well!

For all the maternal types, the baby boy I mentioned yesterday, arrived safe and well this morning. He is Ethan Patrick Berry, born during the morning of 28th. March 2011, birth weight 7.5lbs. Mother and baby are very well. Our first grandchild.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Three weddings, a trip to London and a baby boy!

You may have noticed that my blogging this week has been of a more, shall we say, diverse nature, rather than of time spent with the boat. The reason for this is that we have reached a time in the year when we knew we would have other events to keep us busy at weekends.....

Friday, 25 March 2011

Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal

Are you interested in history? I am, and always have been. I grew up in Bolton, Lancashire, close to The Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal. It has been disused as long as I have known it, but I have played on it, taken photographs of it and generally wondered how it might have been when it was working, since my childhood. It remains today in relatively good condition, and one day could join the growing number of restored canals.....

Thursday, 24 March 2011

How do I calculate my energy requirements?

If you have read my previous posts on my own boat specification, and selection process, you will have seen that there are many things to consider when either buying a narrowboat, or specifying one to be built, in that it is important to have a specification that will suit your intended use. The subject I will cover here, in a very basic form, is electricity generation, storage and usage, and the equipment needed to satisfy the way in which you want to use your boat.........

Monday, 21 March 2011

Narrowboat hull maintenance

Readers of this post might also want to read this later post: Narrowboat Maintenance.

Once again, this is for the information of those who are reading this and may be researching the costs of ownership and what work is required in routine maintenance. If you already own your own narrowboat, you will probably learn nothing here, as you will already be aware of the hull blacking process!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

This is Wigan.

Following on from my last two posts which referred to Wigan, this one now gives details for the boater who may not yet have sampled the delights of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. I will describe the journey through Wigan from the bottom end of Wigan Flight, at Wigan Pier. This is right in the town centre, and to get here from the main canal network, you will have travelled up The Trent and Mersey Canal, joined The Bridgewater Canal, and then The Leeds and Liverpool Canal main line near to our starting point....

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Summat to Ate accessable from The Leeds Liverpool Canal

In my last post I made reference to the dialects used around the UK and in particular Wigan. At the end of the post I referred to a restaurant in Hindley, near Wigan, called "Summat to Ate". For those who live outside the area its name is also reference to the joke I mentioned about Lancashire, specifically Wigan dialect. Tonight we visited the restaurant, and here is our review........

Monday, 14 March 2011

The boat that Guy built, and the English language

The new BBC tv series, "The boat that Guy built" is receiving a lot of interest among those interested in British canals presently. The series, which so far I personally find interesting, is not so much about canals or narrowboating, but more of a celebration of Britain and her achievements during the industrial revolution of the 19th century. The presenter, Guy Martin, goods vehicle mechanic, and world famous motorcycle racer, is something of a character, and perhaps seen by the series producers as some kind of Fred Dibnah replacement. He does however speak in a very broad accent, which doesn't suit a worldwide audience, as I have read about in one or two of the blogs I follow......

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Our own lambing live in Nantwich.

Well, the weekend turned out to be much better than we thought it was going to be on Friday. Today, Sunday, we have had sun and clear skies all day, and dare I say warm! It is poor old Scotland who got the heavy snow again. This weekend Margaret talked me into visiting Reaseheath Agricultural College, who were holding a lambing weekend......

Friday, 11 March 2011

Modern versus traditional methods used in fitting out.

Well it is weekend again, and again it is cold and dank, with snow again forecast in northern areas of the UK. It was touch and go whether to visit the boat or not, but I love being there and tinkering around. This was my latest project......

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Why not take a canal hire boat holiday?

I am aware that there are readers of this blog who do not own their own narrowboat, or have never hired one for a holiday. There are also readers from outside the UK who don't realize what a holiday on the British Canals could be like, or how they would go about actually doing it. Here I will hopefully get you interested.....

Sunday, 6 March 2011

This is Wrenbury

We have just arrived home from our weekend at the boat. This week our place was Wrenbury, a typical English Country village at the side of the Llangollen Canal on the Cheshire/Shropshire border. The Llangollen Canal is probably Britain's most popular, so many of you will have already come across Wrenbury on your travels. If you haven't yet, then here it is......

Thursday, 24 February 2011

All work and no play! (Or the joys of ownership).

We are nearing the end of our first stay of the year, and it was never about taking the boat out, but more of getting it fit and ready for that, maybe next week.......

Saturday, 19 February 2011

This is Nantwich

We are here! We have now opened the boat for the coming year and are staying all week, wondeful! While we are here I thought I would post my latest blog all about Nantwich, our nearest town.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Liverpool Boatshow cancelled

The inaugural Liverpool Boat show, which was planned to start on April 29th for ten days has been cancelled.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

My boating history.

If you have read the "About us" page on the tabs above, you will know that my interest in boats started with my brief ownership of a Norman 20 in 1974. Strictly speaking though, my interest was stirred by a hire boat holiday in 1972 with friends, and then continued through the '70's with various types of boat....

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Will soon be able to start proper cruising posts as Spring arrives!

Not much to report at the moment, as we haven't visited Kelly Louise since 16th January. She is in the good care, while we are not there, of the landowner who allows us access to our mooring. He has a direct view of her from his lounge window, and he is very conscientious when it comes to his moorers.

Friday, 28 January 2011

What will be the impact of UK digital TV on the boat?

For anybody who doesn't yet know, the analogue TV signal that we have all been using successfully for decades, will be switched off countrywide by 2012, and the frequencies sold off to be used elsewhere. What will the impact of this be to the boater?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

How I solved my own mobile Internet signal problems

In my previous post, I related my own experiences of low signal issues attached to using 3G phone and mobile Internet equipment within the confines of the steel boat.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The ins and outs of mobile communication aboard

Have you noticed, that now we all have these so called "smart" phones that the quality of service is often not as good as that of your old 'phone, when in the boat, or out in the country, and wondered why?

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The long British winter

We visited our mooring today, and found that work had started on the nearby bridge over the canal, which is a couple of hundred yards away.

Monday, 3 January 2011

James Cusick's Blog: Peter's story

After we returned from our first P&O Cruise in December 2010, I wrote an article for the James Cusick Blog that was published on P&O Cruises website at the end of that month. It related the excellent experience we had on that occasion, and ran for a year before the blog was replaced by one with a more corporate identity in November 2011, and has only recently been removed. You can get to the new blog HERE but my contribution from 2010 no longer exists.

However, this is the unedited version I sent them for publication........

At the beginning of 2010 we were lucky enough to be able to take early retirement. All our working lives we have had to watch as other members of our family took time off to visit our relatives in Brisbane, Australia. I was a supermarket manager, Margaret was a secondary school teacher, both in the Manchester area UK. As such we could never afford the time, so when we knew we would be free, I started to plan our own visit. We have never cruised before, so this was all going to be new territory to us, although we share an interest in the British canal system and its heritage and own our own narrowboat. We might get as far as Birmingham during two weeks cruising our own boat. The Oriana World Cruise was to take us much further afield, to many different countries and will be a very "hard act" to follow!

Aboard Oriana approaching St. Lucia
We have never cruised before! That was my first statement when I first enquired about using a P&O cruise as a means of getting to Australia to visit relatives.

Paddling in the Caribbean at Isla Margarita
We had always planned to visit my Australian cousin, although we always intended to follow convention, including a long and tiring flight there, followed by the usual holiday, and a return flight home. Whilst I was researching this trip, it occurred to me that I could use a leg of Oriana's forthcoming World Cruise to get us there relaxed and in style. I decided to proceed with the idea and started to put my package together. My planned trip would start in Southampton, cruise to Brisbane, utilizing all the facilities that this beautiful ship has to offer, then, on arrival, start our "holiday within a holiday", eventually flying home via Abu Dhabi.

Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, visited en-route home
During this process I had no trouble at all putting my own itinerary together. Everybody involved was more than helpful, and I eventually had the holiday of a lifetime to look forward to, which included a cruise to Brisbane, three weeks holiday in Australia, including short breaks in The Whitsundays and The Sunshine Coast, followed by a four day stop over in Abu Dhabi on the way home. As it turned out, everything worked like clockwork, and everything went exactly to plan. As I wanted to include the stay in Abu Dhabi, I decided to book my flight independently of P&O, but I must say I found them extremely helpful co-ordinating the cruise booking with my flight booking. The P&O booking representative stayed on the 'phone until I had confirmed my flight booking on the internet, before confirming our cruise booking. I also pre-booked three excursions which I definitely wanted to include, - afternoon tea at Reids Palace, Madeira, Pearl Harbour and The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb! All we had to do now was wait until September when it was time to embark and sail off into the Southampton sunset.

At the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge during the climb, Oriana in the background
Brisbane River South Bank
Lorikeets at Lone Pine, Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane
When the time came, we hired a car to get us to Southampton the day before embarkation, dropping it off near to the cruise terminal. We then walked across the road where we spent the night in one of the many first class hotels in the vicinity, discovering that there were many other guests there who would be joining us on our cruise. The check in at the cruise terminal was well organized, with different time allocations, and we soon found ourselves aboard, our luggage waiting for us in our cabin, and ready to explore our home for the next six weeks. We found the internal fittings of the ship to be of "jaw dropping" quality. Everything we found was in first class condition and very luxurious. The departure from Southampton was not to be missed, with lots of flag waving, pyrotechnics and tickertape. When all the excitement was over and we were underway, we made our way to dinner, where we found we had been allocated a table sharing with two other couples, both Australian, who were also disembarking in Brisbane. It was obvious that P&O had also paid attention to detail here too, as we would share the table for the whole trip, allowing us to form lasting friendships. Both couples eventually arranged to take us out for days once we were in Australia, their home.

Panama Canal Locks
Crossing the equator party
It would take too long to describe the cruise in detail here, but what other holiday offers you the opportunity to see Pacific sunsets at sea, wake up in different countries, with new places to explore, have dinner in a first class restaurant overlooking Sydney Opera House, be offered world class entertainment nightly, and finally arrive at your destination completely relaxed and ready to start your next "holiday".

Watching the cliff divers in Acapulco
Downtown Honolulu
In Port at Samoa

We may have never have cruised before, but we will certainly be doing it again, and with P&O..............sometime soon!

Not quite related to canal boating, but this is what we did for 3 months of 2010.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The very last Freeman 24 ever made

In response to questions I have received about our previous boat, the Freeman 24, being the last one built, I will describe why.....