We had a visit today from Captain Ahab, akka Andrew Tidy, a fellow blogger, of Nb.Wand'ring Bark. Andy visited us in Brum last winter when we stuck in ice aboard NB. Caxton and spotting that we were heading his way with Yarward, made contact and arranged his personal boat review...
Many of you will also know that Andy is standing as a candidate for one of the boater places on the new Canal and River Trust board... If you haven't voted yet...Andrew TIDY is the name!
The 'blackbird singing in thedead of night' ( a Beatles song for those too young to recall) woke Lesley sleeping in the dead of night....
Looking out of the porthole this morning I spy a large expanse of ivy-clad wall, the perfect spot for my McCartney impersonator..
Anyone got any Agent Orange in their garden shed?
Lazy start; after 8 months of non-cruising we seem to have got this indolent habit off to a fine state, no rush to do anything so despite getting out of the sack at seven we didn't pull pins until eleven.
Does it matter?
Nah of course not.
(This will be music to the ears of Graham and Jill of Nb. Matilda Rose, our normal usual travelling companions who have got the travelling chill-pill way ahead of us.)
Off we goes and with the Wast Hill Tunnel of just around the corner from our mooring I stayed aboard hoovering and stuffing bedding into the washing machine. This was the first time we have used the washing machine and tumble dryer on the generator. We watered at Kings Norton where I got off with the dogs and walked them into Birmingham.
Here she comes..
There she goes..
The Rail Station at Bourneville in the Cadbury colours
Passing through Worcester Bar
Moored up - where we were for eight weeks last winter in our previous boat Caxton
Joe recorded last week's episode of Question Time (QT) hosted by David Dimbleby. As Saturday night viewing offers on the box didn't appeal to either of us we opted to watch QT.
The usual mix of politicians and journo's with a historian thrown in this time to give balance, audience questions covering the Greek financial /Euro crisis, Syria, do we or don't we intervene, work experience for the young unemployed and the latest Banker bonus's.
If you put two politicians from difference persuasions in front of a camera they usually try to score points off of each other, fail to answer the question and generally irritate the socks off of me and this week was no exception. The balance in the program is the other panel members, real people with real experience outside of the Westminster playschool.
The conclusions that I drew from the debate was that Greece is very close to revolution having been set up to fail and with its people facing a type of post Versailles Treaty like the Germans after WW1. Syrian 'freedon fighters' were not going to see European assistance on the ground but look out for the Russians reining in Assad in the near future.
Work experience for the young unemployed was an excellent idea and it was VOLUNTARY. The rates for people getting a job after taking part were statistically very high and therefore a success and it beats sitting at home alone and demoralised playing on your XBox.
And on Bankers bonuses....
They are every ones whipping boys still....
Someone has to be I suppose.
The following was sent to me by my Brother - I thought it made interesting reading whereas others may find it gets under their political collar so to speak...
An economics professor at a college in the USA made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan"..
All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
The Sun put his hat on yesterday, what a grand day it turned out to be! I headed off across the fields here at Hopwood leaving Joe doing...things. The boys and I walked down to the bridge you see in the photo below where we climbed/jumped the style there and set off on our meanderings. The dogs went on leads as we walked through field after field of ewes and their new born lambs.
On entering a field set to a cereal crop I loosed the boys and crossed the field looking for a style or post or gate to indicate the route of the public footpath - Farmer-boy had not reinstated the path after sowing his crop - we came across the notice below in the centre of the crop
Looking up the field you can see the grass runway running through the crop. Later during the day we saw the aircraft take off and land.
Shotgun victim - a recently killed fox slung over the sheep fencing. My initial reaction was that this was a pointless death but then thinking about it, perhaps the lambs are at risk from Mr Fox ...? Do foxes take lambs?
We walked a couple of miles of country lanes, only saw two cars
Back at Yarwood, Joe wires up the satellite dish and receiver things...
I climb on the roof and polish brass
Fletcher watches me work
and then both Floyd and Fletcher take themselves off to bed - it's a hard life
I woke yesterday morning and had a thought, the one-a-day ration came early....
We could give Stuart, our boat builder, a call about getting more ballast off of Yarwood, us being at Hopwood would enable him to get his van close to the boat. Stuart happily agreed and said he would be with us in a couple of hours. Joe then reversed Yarwood onto the water point, we filled the tank and washed down one side of the boat before reversing through the bridge onto a mooring near a lay by. We were just tying up when Stuart arrived.
They, Joe and Stuart, started by moving the washing machine and tumble dryer to get at the ballast beneath and then moved backwards into the saloon to get at yet more ballast. I removed myself and the dogs for an hour, leaving them to it.
Exit tumble dryer, the floor is about to come up to get at the engineering bricks beneath.
Stuart removed bricks and Joe loaded them onto the adjacent van. We have now removed upwards of one and half ton bringing the boat up two/three inches. I measured the draught (how much Yarwood sits in the water) and we are now at 25.5 inches.
Ballast gone, we moved off again northwards and moored beyond the official visitor moorings away from other boaters because we now planned to use the chain saw and cut up the wood we had gathered on Tuesday.
Joe preparing the chain saw for its first outing for some time...
We spent a couple hours in the glorious sunshine cutting wood, talking to passersby and their dogs and clearing up towpath and boat.
Log basket full
Sunset over the cut as we walk to the pub
And after all that was done and boys had had another walk Himself decided it was time for a pint at the Local, Hopwood House, and I of course had to support that decision and accompany him...loyalty or what?
Yesterday we had the floor up in the back cabin, removed the multitude of items stored beneath the floor and hunted out the last of the ballast there, 47 engineering bricks. 250 or so bricks had already been removed a couple of days after launch as Yarwood had gone into the water a bit too stern down.
We have stacked the bricks on the tug deck temporarily until we can responsibly dispose of them - anyone need any bricks??
The next job was to trim the boat again and Joe did this by sticking a spirit level on the steerers step at the back (side to side) and moving a couple of the 56lb weights we carry for the purpose.
While Himself was rummaging under the floor boards I tackled a bit of brass cleaning, one tunnel lamp. I must have been inspired by Halfie's post of this morning on Brasso!
After lunch we decided to move Yarwood along to the visitor moorings away from the mild but persistent traffic noise of last night and while Joe set up the TV ariel I took the boys for a walk.
We also ran the genny today for the first time today using it to top up the battery bank, run the dishwasher and the vacuum cleaner (much mess mucking out the ballast). We were very pleased, and relieved, that the genny can barely be heard from outside the boat, the cocooning and hospital silencer doing the job of suppressing the sound. Our aim when having the genny fitted was obviously to supply Yarwood with the power we want but also that it didn't disturb others; that seems to have been achieved....
We left our mooring at Alvechurch this morning, exactly one month after Yarwood's launch. We have had a rather extended stay, partly to facilitate our move from Caxton to Yarwood and partly to use the time with a car to visit family, but largely because of ICE.
Moored as close as we could get to the wood supply
Still we are away now and the first port of call was the south side of Shortwood Tunnel where a nice man had left us a supply of wood. Getting Yarwood moored up to pick up wood resulted in our usual 'mooring quarrel', so things haven't changed in the last eight months, but that behind, us we loaded with a supply of timber and set off south again to wind (turn) the boat. I then took the helm until we got back to Shortwood Tunnel where I promptly chickened-out and handed over to Himself, getting off at the next bridge hole with the dogs, I then walked to Hopwood where we have planned to stay for a couple of days.
The stay hereabouts gives us the opportunity to adjust the trim of the boat - more ballast to be removed - chop the wood, wash the boat and try out the bloody great cocooned genny in the hold.
I know I am getting close to resuming our roaming lifestyle because when I took the boys for their first walk yesterday I spotted an enormous pile of freshly cut wood, freshly cut wood left along the towpath no less! Wood is now FUEL to us again and so today's plan of action, now we are minus the car and on the move again, is to visit this fuel dump and have us some.
The sun popped out to give us a pleasant sunny walk back to the boat.
Today Yarwood has been paraded for an article in Canal Boat Magazine (May edition I believe) but the view from a forward porthole this morning was not very encouraging... it had started to snow! Fortunately it didn't come to much and the sun soon took hold of the day which was very handy for David Oakes the photographer.
David, on the towpath, getting ahead of Yarwood for some more shots while Adam Porter brings the boat along behind
David waiting for the sun to come out from behind a cloud while Joe 'hovers' Yarwood
Once all the outside photo's were taken it was time to moor up again and for David to capture the interior shots while Adam takes copious notes ahead of writing the article. Once done it was time to head to The Weighbridge for a well derserved Sunday lunch.
Yarwood is on 'test' today. Adam Porter and David Oakes are visting us here at Alvechurch to carry out a boat test assignment for Canal Boat Magazine. I will publish photo's of this later today for now I need to find the polish and duster....
Wally dugs, Glaswegian (Joe's original home) for Staffordshire Dogs like these below. I returned to Yarwood yesterday afternoon bearing gifts from Mater for Yarwood's saloon. A couple of small Staffordshire dogs. There Victorian mantleplace ornaments that graced millions of homes from the Victorian era right up into the last century and they are now gracing my home...
And, a little ornament that used to reside on my much loved Nan's dressing table. If I recall clearly there used to be two of these little chaps/girls but sadly only one has survived.
I have left Himself to get on with a few modifications aboard Yarwood and taken the opportunity, and the car, to Essex to visit Mater.
The thaw should be complete by the end of the week by which time I will return to Alvechurch, allowing Joe to then take the wheels back into storage and come Sunday we should be resuming our travels, Birmingham bound.
Credit where credit is due, BW have responded positively to my criticism about the state of Tardebigge Service area.
I have asked for a deep clean to be done on the area, as well as sending your email to the mooring officer who will contact the owners of crafts who have a mooring at the site regarding the issue of dog fouling.
South Wales & Severn Waterway
And my response...
Deborah I am impressed, thank you for taking positive action.
Thank you for your email, if you can provide me with the name of the craft that is allowing the dog to foul the towpath then the mooring department can get in touch with the boat owner about this but without this information there is very little that can be done. To process this further it would be useful if we could have dates and times.
British WaterwaysSouth Wales & Severn Waterway
Can you hear the wringing of hands, oh dear, oh dear?
Thinking that there might be a better course of action I helpfully reply....
Yes, I can see that dealing with this issue is problematic.
I didn't actually witness a dog fouling near the water point, nor did I witness said dog climbing off of the adjacent boat to the water point and defecating, the evidence of this practise however was all around my feet
If it was you or I that was moored permanently by the water point and another boater brought their dog to defecate on the piece of grass outside of your/my boat don't you think that the practise would have been halted?
It is evident that the moorer adjacent to the water point is using the scrap of grass as their own private garden...with all that entails.
So what options might there be to deal with this disgusting situation?
•All moorers ( BW know who they are) could been written to about a problem in the area with dog fouling - the letter doesn't have to accuse, just state the problem.
•The area should/must be cleaned up and an eye kept on it.
•A notice about dog fouling posted with a contact number for anyone witnessing it happening
•A dog poo bin erected possibly?
I fully appreciate that BW haven't the resources to change the behaviour of all the people that use the canals and rivers but this IS clearly solvable, it really is. BW wringing their hands because I cannot hand you the culprit isn't going to clean up the area where boaters moor for fresh water and sanitation services and leaving this situation unchecked when you have been made aware of it doesn't cut it frankly.
Perhaps the local Lengthsman's input might help....
Having experienced an extended icebound stay in Birmingham last winter, eight weeks if my memory serves me well, I gained a sense of what our second city has to offer. With this in mind I headed off to the superb indoor market adjacent to New Street Railway Station on Saturday to buy some ribbon from the haberdashers stall.
When I returned to Yarwood I threaded ribbons on the ribbon plates and yesterday Himself hung the plates on the front bulkhead in the saloon.
London Bridge - my present from London - with horsedrawn vehicles and top hatted pedestrians and sailing vessels in the Thames
The coronation of Queen Alexandra in 1902 (110 years ago)
The Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 (110 years ago)
Last week we were joined aboard Yarwood by our long term friend, Valerie Ann. Val is recovering from a shoulder replacement operation and joined us for a few days non-cruise, given the ice, before she returns to work next week. Now Val is not one of your hardy souls and despite the stove running full blast and the central heating going for large sections of the day she felt a tad chilly - I on the other hand was gently broiled!!
Valerie Ann, and glass of vino of course...
We have stayed iced in with sharp drops in temperature overnight. The frozen water pipes of last week have not returned however so Joe's insulation measures have obviously worked well.
A couple of sheets of Kingspan have been purchased and cut and fitted to the hold hatch cutting down heat loss and reducing any potential 'drumming' caused by the genny when we use it.
And today I drove over to Brierley Hill to Dave Moore's home to pick up our newly painted water can.
Heady with my success at fixing our saloon fire yesterday, and with Joe away in Lincolnshire, I went rummaging in his tool store and found a hammer! Equipped with this crude but effective tool I set about decorating the back cabin.
I had bought some crochet-lace from Evelyn of Lockside Antiques and set about fixing this in the traditional manner to soften the cabin a little.
Having adorned the back cabin with crochet work I then set my attention to starting to get the ribbon plates up around the stove. I had more plates to add but Fletcher and Floyd were becoming impatient with my decorating and rather insistent about going out for their walk, so a task to be continued...