Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
People are always curious about boaters. Quite often we get questioned by bystanders at locks. One Indian family up the Lee navigation were amazed that people could actually live on a boat. "You mean you sleep on it? Out here on the river? At night? Do you have a bed?" We gave them a guided tour and they were amazed. "Look, a toilet. Look, a cooker and a sink!" Kath is now getting quite good at guided tours of Herbie. Sometimes we give rides between locks and occasionally let them steer. I think BW should pay us PR money.
Then we get the questions about where the canal goes to, why they put in all these locks to slow us down, how much it costs to moor up overnight, etc etc. The one comment we nearly always get is "Oh it looks such a lovely relaxing way to travel". Well it can be, but I wouldn't exactly call a day working 15 Grand Union locks relaxing. Actually, I see it more as a way to keep fit!
It is rather nice being envied. Although I sometimes add "You could have one too if you work hard for thirty odd years and save up." Anyway, it's all a question of priorities. I expect they have newer cars and nicer houses than we do. Half of the cars on Top Gear cost as much or more than Herbie.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I don't think we'll be going anywhere but it'll be nice to get some respite from family duties. One thing I will try to do is to check that the plumbing on the boat is as frost protected as we can get it. When we leave the boat we always turn of the water and open all the taps, and drain down the heat exchanger in the gas water heater, but that only offers limited protection.
This time I want to look at the plumbing to and from the hot water tank. Ideally I'd like to be able to drain the tank itself if we ever get a really cold spell. I know there's a drain tap on the floor of the cupboard by the back steps. That is probably the lowest point on the boat so that might do it if it's in the hot water circuit. Even if it is, collecting several gallons of water from a tap an inch off the floor might be fun!
We'll also reinstall our removable secondary double glazing which Roy, the previous owner made. It really works well, especially at eliminating condensation on the windows.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
For now, however I'll be concentrating on basic shapes, proportions and neat brushwork. I reckon that will be challenge enough.
Friday, November 21, 2008
1. I don't like the font - next time I'll use something with more exaggerated serifs and wider uprights
2. I forgot to use masking tape at top and bottom of the red lettering to get nice sharp edges
3. My vertical lines are wonky - next time I'll use a marl stick (one of those sticks with a cloth knob on the end) to steady my hand
4. I used whatever paint had to hand so the pale shadowing on the uprights doesn't stand out well enough against the background (a piece of painted hardboard)
Never mind, it's only a first practice, and I've already learned a lot of lessons. I was generally pleased that I took trouble to work out letter spacing OK, and I liked the long hair chisel tip brush I used.
In real life the signwriting would need to be about twice the size which I suspect might make it a bit easier. However the big disadvantage of doing it for real is that you have to work vertically sitting or kneeling on the canal or dock bank. I aim to do a lot more practice before I would dare try. Anyway, I'm enjoying it.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Grapes at Limehouse - a unanimous decision. It's a pub you want to take your friends to, and it scores on character, location and quality of food and beer. What else is there to say?
The Best Pint Award is always going to be more contentious, so the Award will be based on my personal choice, although I suspect Phil would back me up as he waxed lyrical about it on our recent trip. There are lots of good beers, but occasionally you get a pint of a generally good beer that is in absolutely tip top form, and such was the case this time. Even one of the local regulars in the pub was singing the praises of this particular barrel. So the big prize goes to a pint (well more than one actually) of Fullers ESB served at the Black Horse at Greenford in October. Stunning.
A really really good pint like this must surely rank alongside the very finest of wines. The difference is I can afford to buy the beer whereas a bottle of wine of that quality would cost about twenty times as much.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I‘ve decided not to commit yet to the full job until we’ve practiced on a relatively inconspicuous bit. When we get a spell of decent weather I’m going to have a go at the rear doors and the inside of the semi trad stern walls. I reckon the painting is relatively easy once you get good surface, but it’s the rubbing down and levelling that will be hardest. I don’t suppose we’ll get the right weather for it for a while but that’s the plan.
Meanwhile I’m going to practice sign writing. Oddly enough I’m less scared of that than the plain painting of the flat surfaces. The people next door at home have just had their kitchen ripped out so I’m off to scrounge some cupboard carcase offcuts for something to practice paintng "HERBIE" on.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
I suspect Andrew on Granny Buttons might agree, as he wrote in praise of these moorings (and Hertford) only the other day. Our runner up was Limehouse Basin, which is a great play to stop over because of the surounding history and geography, but mooring up against a wall two feet higher than the boat, precludes bankside picnics etc. What is more, at Limehouse you are only supposed to stay for 24hrs (although a friendly word with the lockies will often secure an extension).
At Hertford, on the other hand you can stay for (I think) a fortnight, the grassy bank is well kept and has good mooring bollards. The river itself is very clear and the abundant ribbon weed looks pretty waving in the gentle current, and amazingly seems to avoid tangling round the prop. The people on the allotments and the locals out for a stroll along the bank all seem relaxed and sociable, and the nearby town centre still retains independent shops and a bit of character. As to pubs, there is the excellent Old Barge which I can reveal will be a nominee for Best Pub. (coming soon).
Well done Hertford.
*Of course, this applies only to places we have stayed this year.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Bridges at Richmond
The Desborough Cut between Walton and Weybridge
Lush greenery everywhere on the Wey
The meadows at Guildford
Interesting that all three nominations this year are on rivers rather than canals.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
What makes a really good overnight mooring stop? Here are some ideas, although a couple are mutually exclusive
Safety and security
Nearby facilities - good shops, pub etc
Other boaters for company
Reverse gongoozling (people watching)
A good bank side to sit out on (no dog poo)
Good walks nearby
Hertford visitor moorings - safe, quiet, but with a couple of other boaters and occasional passers by to chat to, attractive enough, a good grassy bank, a very good pub (the Old Barge) and handy shops
Paddington basin (not the Basin itself but just round the corner near the Station)- safe, loads of reverse gongoozling, more pubs and shops than you could shake a stick at, a "patio" to sit on, and easy access to the rest of London on public transport
Just outside Thames lock at the entry to the Wey navigation - like a private garden, safe and quiet, immaculately kept, but nothing much to see.
The bottom of Hanwell flight by the Fox is good but fails the dog poo test
Monday, November 03, 2008
We've been trialling Bio Magic, and alternative to the usual bue formaldehide toilet fluids like Aqua kem and Elsan fluid. Bo Magic is clear and odourless and claims to work by supplying the natural bacteria in your poo with lots of oxygen so they can break it down quickly and without odour. I'm not sure what the chemical formula is. The bottle just says the contents are water, oxygen and nitrogen. Anyway it claims to be perfectly safe, non staining etc etc and it very probably is.
We tried it in an effort to be environmentally responsible and to get rid of the chemical smell of the blue stuff. Previously we had tried Aqua Kem green which was frankly disgusting.
We've now used Bio Magic a number of times and here are our conclusions. I should add that we are using it in a cassette toilet.
Does Bio Magic work?
Yes it seems to. Everything is odourless and it really does breakdown the tank contents in a matter of a couple of hours. Even the loo paper. All you get when you empty the tank is liquid, so the tank cleans out easily. For the foreseeable future, we'll keep using it.
The downside? Well the resulting liquid is brown and not pretty blue but I can live with that as it all pours away so easily. You need to thoroughly clean out your holding tanks before using the product so that the bacteria aren't killed by formaldehide residue. Our impression was that Bio Magic worked better after a few cycles. The bacteria run out of oxygen after three days so if you don't empty the tank before then, you need to add another dose. Bio Magic is quite a lot more expensive than blue stuff if you buy it in small quantities. We will be buying it in the larger sizes from now on as they are much cheaper and it claims to have an indefinite shelf life. You can get the cost down to below 10p a day this way.
Has anyone else out there tried it? I'd like to know how you got on.
Finally I should say that we have no connection whatever with whoever makes or sells the stuff.