Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May snow!

Yesterday morning was dull and very windy, so there was no way we were even going to attempt any painting, apart from my quick touching-up of the hull where the paint had been applied too thinly the day before. After that, we returned to the marina. The sun came out, but the wind remained ridiculous.
Sunset the night before
This is the May snow! Hawthorn (May) petals coming down in a steady flurry
Dappled sunlight in the woodland - magic!

This really is a very beautiful stretch of canal

These cows are not lying down because it's about to rain. They were too hot!
And still the snow...

We're going back to the house tomorrow, probably until Monday. When we get back, Grace will be completing the roses and castles here in the marina, and then... We'll keep you posted!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

And the beat goes on

Well, it’s Sunday evening, and we’re still here, still painting and still doing other stuff. We’re having fabulous summer weather, getting very hot as the day moves on, but often cold at night. We’ve woken to 12 degrees some mornings – that’s inside the boat – but it doesn’t take long for the sun to warm us up, and there’s always the Alde boiler to run the central heating for a while if we want. We’re not complaining.
Maximum at the top, minimum at the bottom, current in the middle
We’re surprised that it’s so quiet here. We’ve not had more than two other boats with us on this long stretch of lovely moorings, and sometimes we’ve been totally alone.

This is what we wake up to every morning!
My painting jobs are finished for now, apart from the taff-rail, which needs a second coat of paint, and the starboard side of the hull, which doesn’t need much done to it and is waiting for us to turn the boat around so that I can do it. Grace has to have completed her port-side painting. That’s going really well, but there's no hurrying it. The heat is something of a problem to Grace. The paint just doesn't apply well if it's too hot, and it dries too quickly. Work can only be done when the sun's not on the painting.

While Grace is doing that, I’m doing lots of small jobs that have been awaiting my attention for some time. It’s very gratifying to get them done – sticking doors, dull brass, blinds that need cleaning, pictures to hang. And vacuum cleaning needs to be done daily! CRT have recently cut the grass here, so there’s a fair bit of it on the carpets by the end of each day.

The engine needs a bit of attention, but I’m not the guy to give it. But I know a man who can, and I’m in touch with Colin to arrange for him to take a look. The problem – minor at the moment – is a weeping of coolant from between the top and bottom halves of the exhaust output manifold. At least, I think that’s what it is! It does have the exhaust pipe coming out of it, after all! A gasket needs to be replaced perhaps.

My new book’s growing fast, and I’m really, really loving writing it. It’s not a travelogue like the first two “feet” books. Nor is it a practical book like the third. This one is fiction, not so much about boating, but rather about two people and a dog who live on a boat. Confused? You’ll have to buy it, though I have little idea of when it’ll be ready for publication.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A picture's worth a thousand words...

...and my blog posts are rarely that long, so today you're really getting a bargain!

Painting continues - the well-deck is pretty much taken up by arty stuff.

The Castles part of the Roses and Castles are taking shape on both sides of the cabin.

The hull above the rubbing strake (which will be covered when the hull is zinc-sprayed in July) has been newly painted on the post side and prepared for final coat on the other.

On Wednesday, we headed out to Foxton Locks, mooring first under the cow-parsley before bridge 60...

 but moving up closer to the locks after we'd had a late lunch at the Foxton Lock Inn.

Frankie and Andy came to see us on Thursday, and we enjoyed a good several hours with them, mostly in the Inn!

On Friday, we winded above Top Lock, and chugged back towards our spot at Welford Junction.

The May blossom was glorious in the sunshine.

The new North Kilworth Marina now has an impressive entrance, but still has a long way to go before completion.

Yes, Welford again - services and shopping - then back to our painting place.

It's Royal Wedding day today, and the canal's been very quiet!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

It has to be done!

You know what? This painting the boat business can get really quite tedious - but it has to be done. So I did another day yesterday of cleaning, sanding, white-spiriting, priming and painting, while Grace did the equally exciting castle-painting.

Monday was infinitely more exciting. After a morning of the painting routines, we took off up to Welford.

We moored at the wharf up at the end, and walked up to the village for more shopping - I'd been too weighed-down with essentials (bread, milk and wine) to carry more when I went there the other day. With two of us, and the boat so much nearer, we stocked up more completely this time.

Then we moved up to the tap and filled our water-tank, and disposed of disposables.

And returned to where we'd come from!

Back to the grind the next day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Making progress

On Saturday, Brandy Girl left before we were even properly up and ready to work. Temperatures were rising already, and there was less wind than the day before. So, more of the same - preparing the hull for painting, and painting the roses and castles. When I'd done as much as I could on the hull, I took the windows out to give the frames a proper cleaning, and scrubbed the other side of the cratch cover of the build-up of algae. It was so satisfying to see the green stains disappear!

In the afternoon, I walked up the Welford Arm to the village shop, which proved to be rather better than expected. Google Street View showed it as being a tiny independent "store" and sub-post office with a sign outside saying "Newspapers, Ice Cream", suggesting a rather limited stock. I told Grace that I wouldn't be buying a newspaper.

In fact, the shop is a Springfield's, and it has a fair bit more than newspapers and ice creams. It turned out that the things I did buy were all rather heavy, and the walk back down the Arm provided what might be called "good exercise"., but the ice-cream boosted my energy before I started back.

I love the Welford Arm, particularly around the lock, which I think looks quite magical in the right light.

This little fellow was scratching his behind on a barbed-wire fence, and making a noise very similar to that uttered by a person thoroughly enjoying scratching a persistent itch on their back.  A sort of "ooooooooooooo!" in a deep horse voice.

Then it happened. The rain which, according to the BBC weather forecast, was only a 12% chance event, suddenly descended on us. And Grace's paintwork was still wet. I hurried to get the brolly, then sat on the gunnel next to the endangered castles holding the umbrella mostly over them, and getting quite damp myself. Grace kindly brought out a folding chair, which made my protection job more comfortable, though no drier. After about twenty soggy minutes, she returned with a cut-open plastic bin liner, some Gaffer Tape (see page 9 in "Hints and tips for life with your feet under water"!) and a handful of clothes pegs, with which she contrived to construct a very effective bivouac over her art-work. I had thought that the clothes-pegs were for hanging me up to dry.

It rained for hours on into the night, but we woke to a sunny Sunday. And guess what? More of the same. Progress was being made, but when the sun was out as it was on this day and had been so much on previous days there was a limit to the hours available to us before it was striking the side of the boat we were working on. At one point, we decided we had time while the paint dried on the starboard side to spin Kantara around and continue on the port. This involved reversing up to the Junction, winding, then reversing back. We'd never done that before!

Plans were made to meet Frankie and Andy at Foxton on Thursday, so that gave us two more days here to do as much as we can. There will be the option to stop here again after Foxton. We shall see.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Operation Paint

When I went for a walk first thing on Thursday morning, the swan's nest was deserted, and there was just one egg lying on it. Not a good sign, I thought. I wandered around the edge of the marina pound, but saw no sign of them. A bad sign.

A couple of hours later, we headed out of the marina for the start of Operation Paint. And then we saw the swans, mum and dad teaching six fluffy cygnets how to feed from the rushes and weeds along the canal just outside the marina.

We headed down to the moorings beyond bridge 27, where the bank is low and the situation is ideal for work on the hull. We passed only a few boats on the way, NB Sovereign from Yelvertoft being one of them. There was a fairly even mix of owners and hirers, but nothing like the numbers we'd seen over the Bank Holiday weekend. The sun was bright, the wind a bit chilly, but boaters were in buoyant mood.

We were surprised to find our stretch of moorings empty.

We had lunch there, and would have stayed, but for the total lack of phone and internet signal, and we needed that, so we moved on to Welford Junction. Again, there was no-one else there, at this very popular spot.

The bank is low here, too, the towing path wide, and signals are strong. Perfect! Down to work! I started preparing the hull for painting above the rubbing strake, de-rusting the scrapes and scratches inflicted upon it over the past couple of years of cruising. Having already drawn the outlines for the castle image on the cabin side, Grace started to apply paint. Roses will be added when that's completed. It's a long, slow job.

It was a silent night - apart from a firework display in a nearby field, which was a bit puzzling, because the nearest housing on that side of the canal is over a mile away.

Friday morning was bright and breezy windy really pretty windy. Grace carried on with the painting while I completed the hull preparation, then cleaned that side of the cratch cover. The past months of wet weather encouraged the growth of a lot of algae, and it's not easy to remove.

When I'd finished on the port side, we moved up the few hundred yards to Welford Junction, where Grace battled the wind to turn Kantara around and return to the same spot, now to work on the starboard side. While I was scraping and rubbing, along came a couple who recognized Kantara, turned to me and asked, "Are you the author?" Barry and Pam of NB Brandy Girl are an American couple - though Barry was born in Yorkshire - who have read and really enjoyed my books. They told me of their amazement; they'd only just been talking about me as they turned the bend in the towing path. Then they saw the boat! We chatted for some time. They're a lovely couple who enjoy the canals for part of each year, returning home to the States for the remaining months. Brandy Girl's home marina is in Crick, and they'd be returning there soon for the arrival of a crowd of friends and family that number more than their boat can manage! That's going to be interesting!