Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Talking turkey

Well talking the end of the turkey - last meal today, creamy turkey risotto and that will put an end to the Christmas feasting here in Caxton it's back to bread and dripping next week.  Smiley faces today though, rain last night and a thaw has set in, could we be moving some time soon? Please...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

With your permission..

With your permission cousin Daphne, I am publishing your lovely bespoke Christmas card showing Caxton moored here in Birmingham and using it to wish all of our readers, fellow boaters, prospective boaters and land lubbers a very happy Christmas from the Caxton Crew.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Back to Brum's icy embrace

BCN Main line - Vincent St. Bridge
As I was about to return the hire car early yesterday morning, the gas supply failed at my Mother's home leaving her without heat... I fixed up some temporary heating with electric fan heaters, insisted that she put more clothing on and then call her gas supplier and tell them that she was 80, alone and COLD!!  Off I went to deliver the car back to the hirer and get to the station. I called my brother to alert him to the situation with Mum and then called her when I got to London.  The gas company had promptly got someone out to her and he had fixed the problem by replacing the regulator so all was well - thankfully.  I got myself London to Euston and managed to get on an earlier train.  One hold up when we approached Berkhampstead because someone had collided with a bridge but we were soon on the move again.  Snow was falling again as I reached New Street station Birmingham and there was plenty lying about as I walked back towards Caxton's mooring.

BCN mainline
And here we are, our wintery mooring in Brum, Caxton to the left (front of the queue) MR behind us.  Four inches of snow on the roof, showing how effective sprayform insulation is!

Happy Birthday Mum!!

Cathy, Me and Mum
My Mother reached the age of 79 on Friday last.  Her close friend Cathy had arranged to take her out to lunch and I arrived just in time to play taxi driver. We often go to lunch together when I am visiting but this was a bit special as Cathy has been house-bound following a hip replacement that didn't quite go to plan.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

I knew you would..

I knew you would come up trumps with suggestions for a suitable drydock so this is by way of a thank you.  I will be going through the list of possibilities when I get back to Brum - currently in Essex visiting my mother as I won't be with her for the Christmas.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Dry dock required for liveaboard?

We are looking for a covered dry dock that will allow us to black Caxton's hull and continue to live aboard - any ideas folks?

Christmas plans scuppered!

We have finally given up on our plans to join family in Norfolk for Christmas.  We have been hoping that the ice would thaw sufficiently to enable us to get Caxton to Hockley Heath on the Nth Stratford canal where we were booked in for the holiday.  Caxton would have been secure and on shorepower while we went away.  Now however we will have Christmas on Caxton as we have had for the last two Christmas's and try and see family in the New Year when we are released from the ice.  It's not altogether a bad prospect we have enjoyed our boaty Christmas's to date though spending time with my family would have been a bit special as we are so rarely together at this time of year. 
We managed to move Caxton today and get water, the centre of Brum being almost ice free though all routes out are still solid.  I have booked train tickets and a hire car for the weekend so I will leave Joe and the dogs in Brum while I travel to Essex to see my Mother who will be 79 years young on Friday - a birthday lunch the order of the day of course..

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Not so much a North Atlantic Convey..

The Away2Service coal boat was going to attempt to break through the ice to reach us with supplies of coal and diesel on Thursday afternoon but they couldn't make any headway.  Instead the diesel was decanted into gerry cans and wheeled down the towpath to us.  Sixty litres for Caxton and another sixty for Matilda Rose saw us topped up.  However, the coal supply was loaded into the Company's small day boat and they set off through the thawed Sherbourne loop to reach us from the other direction.  They nearly made it but their tiny boat wasn't going to make much impression on the ice so Matilda Rose was pressed into action, Joe on the bow with a boat pole and Graham at the helm.....

He's watching MR approaching him through the ice...Is that a look of trepidation on his face? 
I was on the bridge telling the supply boat when it was safe to emerge, MR having done its work of breaking a 'road' through for them.
Success, the coal is delivered and off-loaded through Caxton's well deck.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Water Tank Filled!!!

Boaters will understand my glee today at having a full water tank and, ... all the laundry done!  With the kind assistance of a residential moorer here in Birmingham we managed to throw hose across the cut to a water supply and fill the tanks of the three boats that are marooned here together.  I will pop around with a bottle of wine tomorrow as a thank you.  With our water conservation regime we should be fine for about two weeks before we need to fill the tank again though perhaps by then the winters grip will have diminished somewhat...who knows?

Friday, 10 December 2010

Anyone got any salt?

Still iced in here in the centre of Brum.  The temperature has risen over the last two days and we are due a further two days respite before we plummet back into the minus figures. The ice has thawed around our boats but the towpaths and canal bridges are in a very perilous state. Apart from Gas Street and Brindley Place these paths have seen no salt and you take your life, or your bones anyway, in your hands trying to negotiate them and walking the dogs has become a bit of a trial in these conditions.  One reason given for not treating the walkways is 'elf and safety'  - raised eyebrows indeed.  Apparently if you treat the paths people will walk on them - novel activity I know -  and if they then fall over they could sue!!
We have arranged for diesel and coal to be delivered to the boats this afternoon - and hope that the coal boat will break up the ice enough for us to maybe move our boats and get through to the water-point at the Mailbox.  The likelihood of getting out of the City before Christmas, as we had planned, is quite remote however.  The thickness of the ice on the BCN Mainline and the Birmingham & Worcester canal will need a sustained rise in temperature before it is navigable.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Joe Blog's


One of the advantages of being in and around Birmingham are the excellent transport links, so I managed to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone.

My laptop, now 3 years old, came already loaded with Vista and has been getting on my tits nerves as I could possibly go and make a cup of tea waiting for it to boot up. I don't have the need for a new machine so thought I would do something about it by buying a new Hard Disc Drive and do a clean installation of Windows 7 in an effort to cut out as much of the dross as possible by keeping the old drive in a caddy.  In the not too dim and distant past I frequented computer fairs and bought components from ads in Micro Mart to build my desktop PCs. So I raided the piggy bank and bought Micro Mart (I know you can read them F.O.C. in Smiths but sod the expense). To my surprise the ads for components are few and far between.  Is it that PCs are now so cheap people don't build their own plug and pray PCs anymore?  So I had a look online for Computer Fairs and to my delight there is one held at the National Motorcycle Museum on Saturdays. I managed to buy all the bits I wanted for the laptop relatively quickly and reasonably priced.

This left me plenty of time to amble round the museum. I must admit that the majority of bikes I have owned were Japanese and the museum is solely for British bikes. However, it is well worth a visit as many of the machines on display show a lot of technical innovation.

I been allowed to post a couple of photo's: The BSA Bantam is a D7 which is the same colour/model as my first bike. The tank and exhaust tailpipe shapes are slightly different as mine was an older version. The others are of a race bike ridden by Barry Sheene who did a lot to promote bike racing to wider audience.

Armed with Vouchers

Monday was the 2nd anniversary of Nb Matilda Rose and Nb Caxton travelling together so we took ourselves out for a celebratory meal.  Armed with our Tesco Vouchers we wandered into Brindley Place Birmingham, the cafe culture land adjacent to our mooring, and opted to dine in Cafe Rouge.  We were all agreeably pleased with our choice, enjoying a well cooked meal and excellent service from the restaurant staff.

 No posh frocks I'm afraid...
Our lovely waiter and photographer...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Second outing, second win!

 Sunday evening we were invited to make up the numbers on a Pub Quiz team so the four of us, Graham, Jill, Joe and myself, trooped into the City centre to a pub called The Wellington, a fine real ale venue.  Along with Eva and Colin, of Nb Funky Fish and Paul of another boat whose name escapes me, we became team,
Funky Mr  Caxton.   As the evening progressed we found ourselves in second place behind the Landlord's team but the last round of questions saw us triumph over our rivals much to the delight of the Eva, Colin and Paul - we were pretty pleased as well of course...
L-R Paul, Eva, Me, Jill, Graham and Joe.  (Colin is taking the Pic)
The WINNING team - Eggheads look out...

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Land of Hope

Land of Hope and Glory, a bit of Jerusalem and a Rule Brittania and we were away last night - Last Night of the Proms, Birmingham fashion.  Jill, Graham and Myself took ourselves off to the Birmingham Symphony Hall to hear the British Police Symphony Orchestra.
Elizabeth, our Diva of the night leading the audience - well actually the audience were ahead of the game and leading her  if truth were told.  A very enjoyable and uplifting evening and my first experience of hearing a live symphony orchestra, pleb that I am...

They came bearing gifts!!!

Amanda and David
 David and Amanda, blog followers, narrowboat researchers and prospective liveaboards, called on Friday to say they were going to be visiting Birmingham at the weekend to go to a 'Meatloaf' concert, did we need anything?  Well actually yes we do, or rather, not US, but the dogs! Could they get us some dog food please?
They arrived on Saturday weighed down by two large sacks of the preferred doogie dins, bless them.
Over lunch we had time to catch up with what was happening in our respective lives and Amanda got her all important narrowboat-fix.
David and Joe
After lunch aboard Caxton we ventured into the City, fought our way through the throngs of happy Christmas shoppers, lost Joe, found him again and visited the wonderful The Old Joint Stock inn opposite St. Phillip's cathedral.  Lovely to see them again and Fletcher and Floyd are truly grateful, thanks!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Anyone for ice?

 I walked the dogs alone the BCN main line towards Wolverhampton this afternoon - she's iced !!

 A frozen canal 'motorway'..

2 inches thick maybe more..

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Can't think of a better place to be iced in..

Location, location, location and we have a great one if you are going to be iced in.  The centre of Birmingham has an awful lot going for it and it seems our stay here is to be extended by the winter conditions.  Like everyone else we are iced in and are now in water saving mode, alternatiing days of showers and strip washes, no laundry being done and the collection of three litres of cold flow water from the shower before the hot stuff arrives.  This water we use during the day to cook with and fill the dogs water bowl; waste not, want not.  The first question we always asked is "Is the boat cold in winter?" and  I imagine we are not alone in that regard. Of course the answer is a resounding NO!!  We are as cosy as can be with the multi-fuel stove keeping us warm all day.  We keep the stove in overnight and turn on the central heating in the morning for about 45 mins, this gives us hot water and warms the whole boat again before the stove takes up the strain again.

I took a walk to find Edgbaston Reservoir today to find alternative routes for walking the dogs.  This is a feeder reservoir and feeds the BCN main line at the Icknield Port Loop.

There is a path around the perimeter of the lake and plenty of wooded verges for the dogs to have a rummage on.
Above - a concrete pontoon in the lake with its resident gang of cormorants

The sailing club
This is a view from the reservoir embankment looking towards the mainline.  In the centre of the shot you can just make out the Ickneild loop.