Wednesday 25 February 2009

Back to our boat owning beginnings....

Yesterday we accompanied Ali and Neil to Midland Chandlers at Penkridge to choose some of the fixtures and fittings for Windsong - wall lights, bathroom basin etc. It also gave us the opportunity to get a few things that we needed at trade discount. We bought an eco-fan, a sea-searcher magnet, a long throw windlass for me, and some piling hooks, along with the BW keys and, of course a floating cork ball keyring (can't possibly go boating without one of those!)

As soon as we arrived I had this horrible, wobbly feeling in my tummy. We started our boat-owning career from this very spot about 12 years ago - well, Teddesley's yard next door, actually. To cut a very long story short, we had bought our very first second hand boat from a broker a little way further along the Staffs and Worcester, and were having it re-fitted by a bloke (who shall remain nameless, but with the initials LL) who was recommended to us by the broker. LL was renting space from Teddesley to do the work. We should have been warned by the very reasonable (cheap!!) price he quoted us, but, as complete novices at the time , we had no real idea idea of the cost of this sort of thing. Suffice to say, he did a bit of work, and then did a runner.

The first we knew of it was when Teddesley's manager (can't remember his name) phoned us and informed us that LL was removing stuff from the boat, and we'd better come. When we arrived, he'd already legged it, taking everything movable off the boat, just leaving the bulkheads, plumbing and gas fitting etc. We were gutted!!! All we could think of was to get the boat away before he came back for more. He had even taken the start-up battery, so Rog went and bought one at Midland, and off we chugged - down the canal to our already arranged (luckily) mooring at Hatherton. When we worked it out, we hadn't lost any money, because all we had given him so far was the money to re-plate the bottom, which we know for a fact that he did, the rest was payable on completion. We suspect that he owed loads of money to Teddesley, and that they were about to take him to court and that was why he'd done a runner. We bought all the stuff and finished the boat ourselves.

It nearly put us off boating for life, but after we had fitted it out (not very professionally!) we were in love all over again. We loved our old Harborough Marine ex-hire boat named, by us 'Teasel' (Greygal - note the Swallows and Amazons connection!) but had to admit defeat and sell her several years later when she really did become a hole in the water that we poured money into. We had many enjoyable holidays on her though, and certainly learned a lot about boating, and about boat design.

We have cruised past the spot numerous times since that horrible day, and I always get that sinking feeling when we do! Perhaps it will go away when we are at last 'living the dream'. I do hope so.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Finding Sid the Slug....

As planned we went over to Foxton Locks to have our first go at Geocaching. We fired up the Garmin and set off along the towpath below the locks as instructed, and who should we spot but Hadar! Unfortunately there was nobody home, but we took a pic anyway.

We continued on our merry way, and a few minutes later the Garmin gave a loud beep - we were there! We had a root around and found the first cache quite easily. It was in good order, and well hidden from the casual passer-by. After checking that nobody was around, we signed the book, and had a good rummage around the contents.
We found Sid the Welsh Travel Slug, who is travelling around from cache to cache, looking for watery places to stay and decided that we would move him to a new home, so Rog put him in his pocket. We also had a look at who had found the cache, and discovered that Sue from Nb No Problem had been there.
After returning the cache to it's hiding place, we retraced our steps to see if we could find the other one on the towpath somewhere near the top of the locks. Of course, we had to stop and have a latte from the cafe at the top, and do a bit of gongoozling while we drank it. We got chatting (as you do) to a lovely couple on Nb Shimshams as they exited the top lock. A beautiful Braidbar Boat - No 101. Lovely to meet you both - sorry, forgot to ask your names - hope to see you again at Crick.

We then carried on to find the next cache. Again it was quite easy to find if you were looking for it, but well hidden from the muggles. This time we took nothing and left nothing - we had decided that Sid could do with a new watery home somewhere over this way - he hasn't travelled this way yet, so it would be a new experience for him. Sue had also found this cache - we're right behind you, Sue - Swallows and Amazons Forever!

After replacing the cache where we had found it we returned to the cafe - by this time our tummy's were rumbling, so we sat and had a lovely Cornish pasty for lunch. We were joined by a very cheeky robin who hung around until I tipped my crumbs on the ground - he obviously knew that it was a good spot for an easy meal.

We enjoyed our first taste of Geocaching very much, and plan to go and find a nice new home for Sid during the week.
Update on the new walking boots - my toes didn't drop off, and I didn't have to change into my trainers. I wore thinner socks today and they were a little less tight, so I will let them stretch a bit before I try them with the thicker socks again. Phew, what a relief, I haven't wasted £90! I find it a nightmare to buy any shoes or boots from an ordinary shop as I'm a size 5 EEE fitting, and 'normal' shoes just don't fit me. As it was I had to buy the boots in a size 6, but they seem fine.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Trains and Boats and Planes.....

Well, not really! No trains, a good few boats (mostly splitters, Tupperware boats and gin-palaces) and no planes. We decided to brave the National Boat, Caravan and Outdoor Show at the NEC in Birmingham on Thursday. I've never seen so many caravans and motor homes in all my life! And very luxurious most of them were too! If we weren't such boataholics, we might seriously consider buying one.

We had a look in a few narrowboats on show, and I have to say that several of them didn't impress us at all - the external paintwork on one (naming no names!) was absolutely dreadful. The standard of finish on the carpentry also left a lot to be desired. We did think the Alvechurch boat was quite nice, and we also liked the Ownerships boat (we always have a look at those wherever we see them, as we used to own a share in Nb Kinver - and we sometimes meet up with people we know)

We really went to the show to see if we could get a good deal on a TV aerial and a Kerston satellite dish but were disappointed. RoadPro didn't have any dishes with them, and we have seen the TV aerial that we want for the same price in the local camping and caravan shop. We will now buy the dish from the Internet, it's cheaper than RoadPro anyway.

We did, however, get a bargain - two thick fleeces with quilted, padded linings for boating in cold weather - a mere snip at £14.99 each. Rog also bought a Garmin Oregon hand held satnav, complete with maps at a bit of a discount - yet another gadget for him to play with. We've been reading on others blogs lately about GeoCaching, and it sounds like fun, so we thought we'd give it a go. This is it below.
We are going to go over to Foxton Locks tomorrow, weather permitting , to do our first one. There are two over there, within easy reach of the towpath, and not too far to walk. That's important because I want to try out my new walking boots, and to start to break them in. I wore them to take Cassie for a walk this morning, and my toes were numb by the time I got home, so I need to stretch them a little bit. We are, however, going to take the little rucksack, then I can put my nice comfy trainers in it, and change into them before my toes drop off!!
Will blog again tomorrow or Monday and let you know how we got on.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

More cupboards....

Now the snow has gone we were able to make our fortnightly trip (a week late!) up to Beacon to photograph progress - not expecting to see a great deal because of the weather. We were very pleasantly surprised. Neil, the mad boatfitter, is so dedicated that he walked 5 miles to work on the first day of the heavy snow because he knew that he wouldn't make it by motorbike! The man deserves a medal!
The small dressing table in the corner of the bedroom

It will hold the dirty linen bin

The vanity unit in the bathroom awaiting the basin - here resides the tank for the vacuum loo

The bulkhead between the galley and the saloon - note the beautifully rounded corner

The L-shaped dinette taking shape - we decided that it would make the saloon look bigger than a 'Pullman' type

Rog's beloved 'Smart Gauge' battery monitoring system

The batteries are in place

The Webasto central heating boiler
Not a great deal else to say this time - except that we will probably accompany Ali to Midland Chandlers one day next week to choose some bits and pieces.

Saturday 14 February 2009

In the wee, small hours.....

Here I am in the wee, small hours, it's almost 2am, and I can't sleep, so I thought I'd just do a quick post to keep the blog alive as it's a week since the last one.

Just a quick update on the '3' situation and the bank situation that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

We have at last got the new phone and the mobile broadband dongle! '3' still managed to bugger up the order, even after they received a bank statement that was to their liking - they had the cheek to tell Rog that although we had passed the credit check, we had failed their 'internal' check - whatever the hell that means!!! Rog took umbrage at that and asked to speak to someone more senior, who, of course, was not available. We then, strangely enough, got 2 emails telling us that they were sorry for the confusion, and that the phone and the broadband had been approved and would be on their way to us the next day. Funny, that!!!

We then waited only 2 days for the phone, which came recorded delivery, and another week for the dongle (which didn't). It got stuck at the post office because they couldn't deliver packets because of the snow! Oh well, all's well that ends well!

I had to phone the bank yet again to ask them to re-fund the two charges they took out when we requested the statement. This time I spoke to the deputy Manager, who did the refund while I was on the phone. I did mention that I thought that a goodwill payment to cover the cost of the 9 phone calls we had to make would go a long way in restoring our faith in their customer service, and she said that she couldn't authorise that, but she would speak to the Manager. Yes, you guessed it, no payment has been forthcoming!

More photos next week as we are visiting Beacon on Tuesday.

Thursday 5 February 2009

"It's Snowtime"'.....

We awoke to 5 inches of snow this morning, not totally unexpected, but very unwelcome (we don't often get snow here, it tends to miss us!) I had a hospital appointment in Peterborough this morning which I have waited months for, and I had to cancel it as we can't get out of our road! Oh well, nothing life threatening, I'll just have to wait for another appointment.
Cassie enjoyed it though, and rushed around like a thing possessed!

The birds won't get much from the feeder - we will have to knock the snow off and re-fill it.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

I might look thick but I can add up.....

Selling all this stuff on eBay neccessatated a trip to Staples today for packing supplies. I picked up a 4 pack of Scotch tape - £6.07. Single rolls were 97p!!! Strange, I thought, they must have made a mistake on the price labels on the shelf - so I went and asked the girl on the till to tell me how much each was.

"Oh, there's 20% off those today - the 4 pack is £4.85, and the single roll is 78p. So, having left my brain in bed this morning, (my excuse - I have got a rotten cold and am not feeling at my sharpest!) I said I'd have the 4 pack. It was only when I got outside that I thought " Hang on a mo, how much were the single rolls" So I went back to check. Yes, the single rolls were 78p! I said that I'd like to return the 4 pack and take 4 single rolls please.

The girl was not pleased, huffing and sighing - talk about stroppy!!! I tried to lighten the atmosphere by making a joke, but she wasn't having any. So then another lady came over and said to go over to the till and she'd do the refund for me - she was also hatchet faced!! I asked why they were over-charging for the 4 packs and she just shrugged. So in the end, I gave up, accepted my £1.73 refund and left. What a bloody cheek!!!

Be that a lesson to you all - do the maths when buying multi packs! The same thing happened in Asda last week, a 'Saver' pack of two packets of digestive biscuits was 50p more than buying two single packs. I wonder how many people have been conned like that!

There is a little message on the bottom of my Staples receipt " We care what you think! Take a short survey and be entered into a monthly draw, just log on to
You bet I will!!!!