Friday, April 8, 2011

ok Ok OK I will do a blog!!

So what happened to me?

The canal was totally covered with duckweed.  The swans and ducks had a field day.  Its a wonder that Dash didn't go for a walk on it :-)

In November I was in Lincoln and about to move to Bardney and the winter mooring I had paid for.

I had recently (then) bought a VW T25 Campervan.  My idea was to moor the boat in the secure area and then I could go over to the continent and do some travelling.  Might have even got to Spain or Italy but the best laid plans etc.

Off we go to Bardney....Oh no the damned engine won't start. Fumbled about as it seemed that the electrics were playing up and the engine did start when I moved a cable on the coil but just the once.  I had a word with Bob the mechanic and he would get me a replacement. Fitted it on the engine but still no joy.  We then took off the starter motor and Bob took it away for testing and it looked as though the exciter was the problem.  It was just a coincidence that the engine started last time. Order a new starter which would be a week or so coming.

By the time the starter was fitted the weather had turned very nasty and the canal iced over.  I was stuck in Lincoln.  At one stage I was without any power at all - no lights, water, radio, no mobile, no internet access and I was running out of fuel for the stove.  I had a pile of logs on the roof but it was so cold that I couldn't shift them no matter what I did. When you get really cold your appetite goes and all that is in your mind is keeping warm. At one stage the temp inside the boat was -10. In the end I managed to get some fuel from a petrol station  This I suppose was my lowest point.

By the beginning of December the ice had thawed enough for me to break through and head down-stream.  In Stamp End Lock there was a sheet of ice covering over half the water surface.  I chipped the edges off and moved it back into the lock, opened the gates and pushed it out into the river.  I was now able to enter the lock and move on.

All was fine till I reached a little after Fiskerton Fen.  At the point where the route of the old River Witham leaves the canal the EA was carrying out work on the sluices.  One of them had been lifted out and all the water was going down there.  This meant that no water was going down to the lock to thaw the ice out and a sheet was right across the canal.  When I hit it the boat just bounced off and careered into the bank.  Looking closer it was about four inches thick and there was no way I was going down the last couple of kilometres.

With the ice restricting the width of the canal all I could do was to point the bows at the ice and leave the engine running ahead while I went to the bows with the boat-hook to break the ice till the boat could be turned around.  I had to leave the boat in ahead because of the speed of the water going down the sluice.

After an hours work I could head up stream again and moored at Fiskerton Fen.

This is a 24 hour mooring but as I couldn't go any further I was out for a fight if anyone picked me up on this point.  Luckily the mooring is well away from the road and miles from anywhere but is not secure so didn't like leaving the boat there for long periods.  I bought some new locks and fitted them so that it was a bit more difficult for someone to break in. The ice came and went and the temp dropped to -15 at one stage.

I spent Christmas with my favourite girls and had a lovely time.  Its this year that Izzy is going to be aware of what it al means but she did have lots of fun playing with the wrapping paper and the boxes the gifts came in. :-)

As you can see Izzy does love books.  She has almost as many as I do these days. :-)

Big sister took the role very seriously and tested all Izzys games for to make sure they worked properly :-)
Periodically I would go to Bardney to see if it was free of ice but it seemed it would last for ever.  Speaking to someone that lives on their boat there.  The bottom of the ice could be seen and it was reckoned to be up to a foot thick in places.

I finally managed to get to the mooring at the beginning of February.

During the time I was hanging about I did make a couple of trips away. One to Wales and the other to Southampton.  Both very enjoyable.  

I had come across a flat for sale in Cleethorpes. Had a couple of visits and although it was not where I would have chosen to live the locals are friendly and the price was very right.  It needed work to be done - a lot.  I think it had been rented out at some stage as it was severely lacking in TLC being spent on it.  A broken window but it is double glazed, broken fireplace, new loo cistern, damp in a couple of walls and general decorating.

From the time I said I will buy it to the exchange of contracts was 14 days.  I hardly had time to turn around.

Now I have an address there is the problem :-) of mail.  Today I received a letter saying thank you for buying a TV licence and another saying I am breaking the law by not having one. 

So what now?

Firstly I am not happy with the solitude of life on the boat.  Most of the people I have met on my travels have been wonderful. Always ready to help another boater and have a chat. But I guess I am the sort of person that likes to share and that is what life is all about - sharing. The other problem is being on the move - no address and this cuts out a lot of things from voting to free bus pass. It is also impossible to work with the need to move the boat every few days.

Over the next few weeks I will move my clutter to Cleethorpes and the boat towards Thorne.  At Thorne I will look at the possibility of selling it. There will be chance while I am there to get the boat tidy and finish of the jobs with the occasional trip to Doncaster etc. 

After a few days in Cleethorpes to do some work on the flat its back to the boat for the move now that the Winter Mooring has finished. As I walked to the boat a boater asked if I had been back for long.  No just about to move said I.  well I would postpone it as yesterday the wind got up and blew a fine dust off the fields.  It covered the boat both inside and out.  Every surface was covered in a film of dust and in the bows it was several millimetres thick. Three days later I am still finding bits that I have missed.

At the end of the straight is the line of Old River Witham.  This is where all my troubles started in December. All the sluices are fixed now

A little further on and its Fiskerton Fen.  Here the boat was moored for what seemed like for ever.

My favourite sculpture  on the WaterRail Way is the pair of cows that are made out of scrap. The artist has got the shape spot on.

For most of the journey to Lincoln the cathedral is in view and never gets any nearer.

And there are real cattle to look at too.  Mind you there totally ignore you as you go past.

I stopped at Washingborough and  got the bike off the roof and began the 10 km back to the Bardney mooring where I had left the van.

Another nice sculpture is this one but I did prefer her when she was a blonde and less weather beaten :-)

Arrived at the path going down to the lock absolutely knackered.  I am definitely not used to bike rides.

and there is the camper waiting for me to collapse into it. Stowed the bike and drove to Lincoln.

I parked in the Siemans carpark as its a weekend and began the somewhat shorter bike ride to Washingborough.

Once back onboard and a cup of tea later set of on the final stint.  Bit of a surprise here as the BW had been out and removed the willows that had been growing on the right-hand bank.  This almost doubled the width of the canal.  It was sometime a bit exciting as you met other boats coming towards you. Not any more :-0

A couple of bends and bridges and its Stamp End Lock.  I aim to stop here for a while and take some more clutter off the boat.

Moored up.  The view from the side window.

and the view from the bows.

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