Friday, 25 November 2011

Update 3 All was going well until there was a loud ‘crack’

(19th, 20th & 21st Nov 2011) Dawn and I had been invited to a 50th birthday party from Sally off our moorings.  It was being held at Weston village hall so, to save either of us driving I suggested that I took Darley up to Weston on the Saturday morning and we could stop on her overnight and bring her back on the Sunday, jobs a goodun!  I loaded the car up with clothes, food and dog and headed off up the mooring at about 10.30am.  With everything loaded I lit the range and headed down to Haywood junction to wind then off I went passing Haywood marina, then as I approached Hoo Mill lock the bottom gates opened as a boat came out leaving the lock ready for me to slip straight in After locking up Hoo Mill and creeping past all the moored boats above, I was out in open cut and hammered off through Pasturefields and Ingestry finally holding in on the lock landings for Weston lock at about 11.45am.  As I came under Brinepit bridge and up the steps to the lock their was a boat going uphill as well and just waiting for the lock to fill.  As it filled I stood chatting to the couple off it who were interested in Darley as he helped out with the Camden Community boat Tarporley.  I spent the next 5 minutes educating him in the recognition of Grand Unions and the difference between Tarporley, A large Northwich and Darley, a large Woolwich.  After they had left, I closed the top gate for them then turned the lock. With bottom gates opened I headed Bck down under the bridge to bring Darley up.  Another boat was approaching the lock landings as I pulled into the lock, almost stopping Darley in the tail of the loack, then slipping her ahead on tickover and jumped off to work the lock.  I drew the ground and gate paddle then sat on the balance beam to wait for the lock to level.  As Darley was still in ahead on tickover, as the water levelled, Darley started to nudge the top gate open. By this time the woman off the boat below had walked up to the lock and stood close by and started talking about Darley and how nice it was etc. etc. I dropped wound both paddles down just as Darley’s engine ‘ole was approaching the top gate and stepped onto the counter and put her in astern.  With this done I turned and stepped off the counter onto the lockside copings ready to close the top gate behind me, I did not even notice the 40mm step in the surface of the sandstone block as I was still talking to this woman but I certainly felt it.  I stepped with the edge of my boot just on the edge of the step which caused my ankle to crank over followed by a loud crack as I followed through ending up in a heap on the lockside and in severe pain.  The woman was most concerned asking if I was alright and should she stop the boat.  All I wanted to do was wee myself and swear, but I did not, I managed to get up and hobbled back onto the back end as she said she would close the top gate for me.  I only had another 15 minutes to go so I carried on until I approached Touchwood, Monarch & Grimsby tied outside  the Saracens Head.  As there was no room, I dropped through Weston upon Trent Bridge and tied up on the pilings.  The guy I had been talking to at Weston lock had also moored outside the Saracens head pub and he walked down and shouted for me to throw him my middle rope and helped me to moor up.  When once ties up, I struggled into the engine ‘ole and stopped the ‘cement mixer’ then just sat on the back end boards.  Already my ankle had begun to swell, then Si came walking through the bridge ‘ole to me and said “we’ll fetch you back later if any of them move” “If I can manage” I replied as I hobbled to the back end.  He asked what I done and I told him I had fell at Weston lock and sprained my ankle.  He invited me back to Browny’s boat as they were just about to have coffee and bacon sandwiches.  It took me about 5 minutes to hobble the 100 yards to the boat.  With coffee drunk and sandwich eaten I hobbled back to Darley and Si came with me as he had breasted Grimsby up leaving me space to put Darley.  We reversed back through the bridge and moored next to their boats,  I went into the back cabin to put my foot up.  I phoned Dawn to let her know I was here and what had happened.  She turned up at about 7.00pm with a walking stick for me and boy was I grateful.  Suitably washed and changed I hobbled a little better with the aid of my stick to Dawn’s car which she drove us all down to the Woolpack pub on the village green for a couple of warm up drinks before we went to the party where we got seated on a table with a couple of other couples off the mooring and Tery and Tina who I bought Darley off.  Drinks, hog roast and a chat saw the evening pass until it was time to leave and we then popped back to the Woolpack pub for the last couple of drinks to end the night off.
Fun at The Woolpack.
 Viv drove Dawn’s car, as she only drinks orange, and took us all back to the boats where we were soon in bed and with the pain suitably anesthetised by Guinness, I was soon off to sleep.  Next morning my ankle had begun to go black and the swelling had increased even more, but after Dawn had cooked Sausage sandwiches for everybody we were soon off up to Sandon lock and the winding hole for our return journey.  About 2½ hours later we were tied up back at our mooring and returning home.   Without the benefit of ‘anaesthetic’  I did not have a very comfortable night and kept waking.  When The alarm went off at 7.00am I tried to get out of bed but struggled to put any weight on my foot at all so Dawn said “I’m taking you up the hospital.”  She got up and got dressed then assisted me to get dressed, assisting with jeans and socks etc. then bundled me into her car and took me off to Stafford A & E.  I can only say that all the staff concerned at the hospital could not do enough for me being most helpful and within 1½ hours I was getting back into the car and on my way home absolutely plastered!  An X ray revealed that I had fracture my Tibia with a clean break through just above my ankle. 

My temporary leg plaster
Six weeks in plaster was the prognosis which means I will be in plaster for Christmas boo hoo and no boating for the short term.  And so it is that I am now confined to barracks unable to do the most simplest of things for myself until I go back next Monday and have a walking plaster fitted.  Still should give me plenty of opportunity to update my blog regularly and of cause I must make sure that I Don’t bang it about!

Update 2 Cloths , strings and huge bangers.

(12th & 13th Nov 2011.)  Spent all day Saturday in the garden so of no interest here! Sunday morning we were up quite early and by 10.00am we were off down to the boat as there were quite a few jobs I wanted to do in preparation for the winter (being as Darley has a Petter PD air cooled engine no need to winterise that, Hooray!) When we got to the moorings, Dawn went into the farm shop and came out with homemade ‘farmhouse sausages’ (mmm very tasty) and a small, still warm, crusty bloomer ( mmm very very tasty)  Dawn disappeared into our ‘galley’ under the cratch and set about cooking breakfast, while I started stripping out all the cabin brass and lace ready to bring home and clean, wash and polish.

All the cabin brass polished at home
 With everything packed away into a large plastic ‘recycle’ box Dawn called to say breakfast was ready.  These sausages were huge big fat buggers and full of meat.  Dawn said that no fat came out of them at all while being cooked.  We sat in the back cabin and stuffed our faces while Bruce drooled.  Suitably fed and watered, we then set about clothing the boat up to keep out rain and leaves.  Dawn spent the next hour sweeping the hold out, again, as we moor with the bows under a huge willow tree the hold was full of wet leaves. I placed the top planks on top of mast and stands then got the top cloths out and put them on the bank ready.  Next I got out all the uprights, 14 in all, from under the cratch.  Have never understood why there were 14 of these on Darley as you only need six, a pair positioned in the middle of each room, I was soon to discover why.  On close examination they were of three differing lengths, 4 short, 4 medium and 6 long.  Upon trying them none of them fit as the longest were too long and the medium too short.  The next hour was spent adjusting their length and re cutting the vee to fit.  With these all fitted my next stage was to untie all the knee strings holding the side cloths rolled up.  Upon unrolling the side cloths for the first time since purchasing Darley, I discovered that they did not have any strings tied to them so my first job was to find some suitable rope, tie and splice side cloth strings, 20 in all. At this point Dawn had finished sweeping the hold and came to me asking “is there anything I can do” I just answered “can you splice? I spent the next hour teaching her to splice some ends of some scrap tatty ropes I had whilst I made up the side cloth strings out of anything I had to hand.

The temporary set of side strings
 The result of this was that I didn’t get the side cloths up until late on , so with no time to put the top cloths on we just loaded them back into the hold and finished for the day.  On getting home I ordered 100 mts of 8mm Hempex from Rope Services which arrived by the middle of the week and so I spent the next night splicing up 20 new side cloth strings.
SIDE CLOTHS : (Originally canvas but nowadays mainly man made material) Approximately 3ft wide Tarpaulins running the length of the hold with  one edge fixed to the gunnels with oak strips, the other edge having brass eyelets every yard. Thin ropes, called strings, are spliced through the eyelets on the one set of side cloths which are passed over the top of the top planks and through the eyelets on the opposite side then back up to the top planks where they are tied off securing the side cloths.
UPRIGHTS:    Lengths of 3x2 timber with a vee cut in each end, one sits on the top of the gunnel and the other on the edge of the top plank, which work as a diagonal brace between the top planks and gunnels half way along each room.
ROOM:            A working boat’s hold is divided into four rooms sectionalised by the cross beams, so from the bows to the mast, mast to the first stand, stand to stand and from the stand to the back cabin.

Update 1 Nightboating, fireworks and eating out

(5th, 6th & 7th Nov 2011)As both Dawn and I were off work on the Monday we decided to have a week end off boating and we decided to surprise our good friends Viv & Si off Monarch and Grimsby and Keith Browne off Touchwood a motorised BCN day boat who we knew were tied up at the bottom of Stone.  This also gave Dawn the opportunity to do something she had not yet tried, Night Boating. Saturday morning I got everything ready and loaded into the car including food, drink and clothing so that when Dawn came home from work we could head straight off.  Dawn got back just after 1.00pm and after a quick call to Aldi for extra shopping we were on the boat and heading down to Haywood Junction to wind by 1.45pm.  I love Winter boating! Mainly as there are very few others about most of the hire boats are back at their hire centres and most of the private boats are back in their marina’s for the Winter, just leaving the ‘live a boards’ and the hardened cruisers.  As we locked up through Weston lock the light was just starting to fade and by the time we got up to Salt Bridge it was dark and time for the headlight.  As we passed the small online ‘marina’  above Weston lock the residents were just preparing for their bonfire party and had built quite a large bonfire on top of which was an excellent ‘Guy’ in the form of Osama Binladen which had me in stitches much to the amusement of the 20 or so assembled in a gazebo sat on white plastic patio chairs.  As we passed I shouted “you gonna burn him then?”  which amused them even more.  Soon we were locking up Sandon lock then bouncing our way along the terrible pound up to Aston lock with it’s really shallow scour from the lock by-wash. Half hour later , at about 7.00pm we were pulling alongside Gimsby at Whitebridge Park and mooring for the weekend right next to the Scout headquarters where they were holding the official Stone bonfire and fireworks display..  Our timing was perfect as the bonfire and fireworks were at 7.30pm so, when once the boat was sorted out we all stood on the towpath and had a ringside view as the huge bonfire was ignited and for the next half hour over £5,000 worth of fireworks lit the sky above us, they were awesome.

The awesome firework display
 By 8.30 all had finished so we made our way up the canal to Stone bottom lock and The Star pub where there was an open fire (after we had lit it!) and the beer was good and the company very friendly, only complaint was the service tended to be a bit slow, but apart from that a good night was had. By 11.20pm the barman was after our glasses so we drank up and left not wishing to outstay our welcome.  On spilling out onto the towpath, we were serenaded by the sound of a live rock band at the pub just up the road, The Swan, and so we followed our feet across the lock and up the road to enter into a packed house which was absolutely jumping.  With drinks from the bar we secured some seats and enjoyed the last half hour of the show.  I stuck to the Guinness but Browny had some Black Rat cider at 8% which looked like Orange juice! While the rest stuck with the Old Rosey (Jim & Sarah off Chertsey and Bakewell would have loved the choice of about 15 real ales on offer)  We finally left the Swan at about 1.00am and tottered back to the boats agreeing that we would all go up to Wetherspoons for breakfast the following morning.  Sunday morning came quite late for us all, due to the previous evenings frolics, and so it saw me cooking bacon butties and coffee for everyone as we had decided to have dinner at Witherspoons instead.  At about 11.30am we all headed off up into the town and went into Wetherspoons for our Sunday roast and value for money I must say.  A choice of roast beef, pork or chicken Yorkshire pudding, seasoning, roast potatoes, carrots, peas, cauliflower and a pint for £6.50.  Suitably fed we stopped on for a couple of pints (well it would be rude not to) then we ambled back through the town down to the canal, stopping of in The Swan for a couple of pints (well it would be rude not to) then on leaving there we crossed Star Lock and popped into The Star for the last couple more pints ( again very rude not to) finally heading back to the boats at about 6.30pm where we all assembled in Browny’s boat for a Spag Bog cooked by Viv.  Then, suitably fed again we were up and off again going back to The Star for the rest of the night for a quiet evening chatting and having a laugh with the locals and other customers.  By 11.00am on the Monday morning we were up and off, winding just below the bottom lock and heading back to our mooring at Great Haywood having had an extremely enjoyable weekend in good company.

An overdue update

It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged and I have quite a bit of catching up to do, no excuses! What will follow is a set of updates one after the other but I have entered them as separate blogs just for ease of reading.  I have started each one off with the date as the blog relates to, hope this makes sense.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Just a quickie tonight. Last weekend, while Dawn and I were being shown round Chris Shenton’s boat, Nod, moored next to us at Great Haywood, we got to talking about the graining on the inside of his cabin and he informed me that  J H Ratcliffe’s had stopped making their wood graining undercoat and that he had had to use a cream gloss paint to do his, and I must say it looked good. After, when I got home I thought I would Ebay for this product on the off chance that someone was selling off any stock that they had as I would have bought it and stock piled it for future use.  Needless to say I had no luck but while I was browsing Ebay with all sorts of different ‘Graining’ ‘woodgrain’ ‘scumble’ type products I came across a very interesting item, which I though to myself I will have that if it comes at a sensible price.  Well it arrived today and I can only say I am over the moon with my new purchase and I am sure it will give me hours of fun for only £23.40. Here’s what the advert said:
Nice old set of 12 carbon steel graining combs in original purpose made compartmented tin, there are 3 each of 4 widths 1 inch 2 inch 3 inch and 4 inch and have tooth counts of 6, 9 and 12 teeth to the inch.Faux woodgrain finishes were very popular in the 1930's this set looks to have come from this period
And here’s what they look like

Even came in their original sectionalised tin box, what a bargain! So if you pass Darley on her mooring and all is quiet and there’s a distinct smell of graining paint, Don’t bang ‘em about