No Direction

No Direction is our 70ft Narrowboat which is now home to my wife Jayne and myself, it was launched on 4th February 2008.

We spend the Winters in a Marina and cruise in the warmer weather.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Boating in Cold Weather, No Thanks.

Other boaters tell me, and I read on other blog sites about the joys of Winter cruising, no crowds, plenty of mooring space, beautiful views on frosty mornings, nice and snug with the fire going, so, why are we not cold weather boaters ?.

I have just returned from cycling to Alrewas to get a loaf and newspaper, its about 4 miles along the Towpath from Kings Bromley, I passed a couple of hardy winter cruisers, big thick jacket, gloves, balaclava with a red nose poking out, I don't know if they were enjoying it or not, I hope they were.

I don't think it's the actual cold that puts me off after all I spent 30 years working in cold damp garage workshops, I commuted by bicycle for 10 years in all weathers and enjoyed it, but both of these required physical effort which kept me warm, standing on the back of a Narrowboat requires next to no effort and I get cold, an hour or so steering and then inside is OK but on 3 occasions when I have needed to meet a boating deadline in winter I have been frozen, so perhaps these experiences have put me off winter cruising for life. 

Last January we decided that we would have a Pram Hood fitted to the rear of No Direction, this involved 2 trips from Kings Bromley Marina to Staffs Canopies  at Milford Wharf on the Staffs and Worcester Canal, the first visit was to have the tubular framework fitted and templates cut, the second was to have the cover fitted, Jayne ducked out of the first visit so I was single handed, the 3 locks on route helped a bit but after the 13 mile trip I was very cold, on the second trip Jayne was onboard so at least I was kept supplied with tea and soup but still froze.

Tim Salt from Staffs Canopies fits the hood.

Staffs Canopies haven't got a website so call 07730614227 or 07761432092

We always said we would never have one of these but now wouldn't be without it.

The other time I froze was in February 2008 when we needed to get our old Narrowboat April Rose from Kings Bromley to Wigrams Turn Marina for it to be sold on brokerage, strangely enough Jayne ducked this one as well so I was accompanied by Phillip who I used to work with, we planned was to leave Kings Bromley early on Friday and be at Wigrams on the Sunday so that Jayne could pick us up in her car.

The deal was that Phil would have a days holiday to help, in return I would pay for all food and drink, we got to the Anchor Inn at Hartshill on Friday night, I very cold, Phil had just worked the 11 Atherstone Locks so was OK, Saturday morning there was a very thin sheet of ice on the cut, that day we took it in turns to steer for an hour while the other thawed out by the fire.

Saturday night we arrived at Braunston in the dark, the only space available was by a sign which said "No Mooring", pretended not to see it and sprinted up to the The Old Plough

Sunday was sunny, problem was we were frozen in, with Phil on the front with the pole breaking the ice we managed to get to the entrance to Braunston marina where we could wind (turn around) a maneuver easier said that done in ice, as we passed the moored boats at 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning pushing sheets of ice into them and making an awful noise some very angry faces appeared at their windows, it's a good job I can't lip read.

So we will leave the Winter cruising to those who enjoy it and keep out of their way, call us Butterfly Boaters, we only come out in the Sun.

Mountain Biking up on High Street, Lake District 2009, the cold doesn't bother me cycling.

View from the top, worth the effort.

Monday, 15 November 2010

"3" Wireless Modem.

We had been looking into getting a router for our "3" mobile dongle so that we could leave it out in the Cratch where the signal is better and use the Laptop in the boat without the wires everywhere, the dongle is normally velcroed to the inside of a window, so when we found that "3" had launched a combined dongle and router we upgraded to one.

It does what is says on the box.

The dongle is charged from a mains adaptor which has a USB port or from a USB port on the Computer, it lasts about 5 hours between charges, their is provision to connect a lanyard  which we use to hang it in the Cratch, it seems a bit more powerful than our previous Dongle and works better that expected.

It comes with 2 charging cables 1 is 190mm and the other 1200mm
We had also been looking at various Aerial options but as the reception is better I think we can forget that now. The range between the Dongle and Computer is, 10 Metres or 30 Metres when plugged into the charger, as with all Mobile Phone things their will probably be something better in 6 months time.


Halfie has left a comment asking about price, which, I should have included.

We have had a Contract with 3 since April 2008 and therefore qualify for their Loyalty bonus of 50% discount so we pay £15 per month for 15GB, but look on the 3 website and try haggling.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Be Careful with Eggs.

We've been back in the Marina for over a fortnight now, so a lot of boat washing and touching up of paint has been done, we are also catching up with which boats have gone since with left for our cruise and the new one's that have arrived.
Jayne has resumed her Volunteer work at the Sutton Coldfield branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society on Mondays. I am back to doing a bit of van driving 1 or 2 days a week when needed..

On October 6th we saw a report on Channel 5 news about Britain's largest egg producer, Noble Foods, they supply Supermarkets with a brand called "Happy Eggs", and are accredited to the RSPCA Freedom food scheme, their advertisement portray hens living in nice clean conditions with plenty of room to roam outside, read the report and judge for yourself.
The two supermarkets we use in Lichfield are Morrison's and Waitrose, after the report was screened Waitrose removed "Happy Eggs" from the shelves however they were still for sale at Morrison's, 3 Emails to Morrison's Customer Services has resulted in the usual PR waffle.

When we are at Kings Bromley Marina we always get our eggs from the Lady who lives on a Narrowboat and runs the chicken farm between Fradley Junction and Alrewas on the Trent and Mersey Canal, the Chickens are out in the fresh air scratching around as they should be.

Their eggs taste better.

You can see the farm and her boat on the offside (opposite to Towpath) between Common Lock and Bagnall Lock.

Being members of the I.W.A. we receive a news letter from the Lichfield branch, it appears Tesco's are planning a new supermarket alongside the Canal at Rugeley, the Branch has requested that if planning is granted then it should be on condition that the shopping trolleys are the £1 in the slot type to try and prevent them ending up in the Canal, however given Tesco,s history I doubt it, (Google Tesco Trolleys there are some amusing sites.)

I''ve noticed a  4 minute video on YouTube, access it via Friends of Raymond website, I'm on for about 2 seconds, fame at last, I'm the one with his glasses balanced on top of his head, if I had a pound for every time someone has said " your about to loose your glasses" I'd certainly be able to spend more time in pubs, as it is I've only lost them once in about 30 years, they fell into the water as I was on the back of the boat, I managed to retreive them using a bit of wire coat hanger fixed to a long cane. 

We have just got a new "3" Broadband Modem, this one is also a wireless router so it can live in the cratch where the signal is better and we can both use our laptops at the same time, sad I know, more on this in the next blog, when ever that will be.