Saturday, 25 April 2009

Finally we Meet Mr Granny Buttons Andrew Denny.

This weekend we haven't been up to The Robber Button. Last night was a massive charity night that my parents had organised for MacMillan Cancer Support. It started with a series of karaoke talent nights in various pubs and clubs around North Birmingham. Then last night it was a Gala night with the winner winning £500. A band came down from Manchester and did a great spot a guy bought his karaoke gear down for the singers. All in all it was a great night, even though I hate karaoke with a passion. A lot of money was raised which is what it was all about.

So today we decided to go into Birmingham City Centre and have a walk around the canal, I remembered that Andrew Denny from Granny Buttons was in the area and checked Google Latitude and he was about. I text him and we arranged to meet up for a pint and a chat. What a nice hour that was, great to meet up.

I am hoping that we can get to TRB next weekend and maybe even take her out for a little trip?

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Nice weekends and crappy boat handling

My friend Ed thinking

I arrived at Great Haywood Friday afternoon to do a few jobs on TRB, there are always a few jobs to do, I don't know why, but there are. So I set about fiddling and fixing, Mrs EB arrived at around 6pm and I made coffee, we listened to The Now Show an excellent half an hour, then we tootled off to Stone by car for a curry. Castle Balti I think it is called does a fine curry and has large portions. On our way there I received a TXT from a friend to ask if his family could visit TRB the next day, I check with Mrs EB and I called him back.
The Day crew working the lock

Saturday was a little over cast and quite windy to start off with but that burned off, our friends arrived and off we set, well if only it was simple. I was having one of those days, I tried to help J&J move a boat, but for the life of me I couldn't turn it in the wind, setting off with TRB I had problems getting out of the marina. Later that afternoon, turning at the winding hole above Sandon Lock a BW Boat was moored on the winding!!!! so that proved a nightmare, then getting back into Great Haywood I missjudged the turning and that was as messy as it could get...with someone asking if we needed help. I don't think I could have been more embarrassed if I tried.....
Some of the day crew resting after a little liquid lunch

Well apart from all of that we had a wonderful day, some great company and some good unwinding time with a family I think are wonderful. It gave us time to talk time to laugh and time to just be with friends.... excellent. We went to Western first for a pint and then up to Sandon for the winding, its a nice few hours 3 locks and wonderful countryside and lots of peace and quiet.

More days like these please without the crappy me bits.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Easter weekend was taken with commitments to our Church and on Bank Holiday Monday with a wedding... We did manage an over night stay on Good Friday evening which was just wonderful. When we woke on Saturday morning the weather couldn't have been any better but we didn't really have the time to go out, we did pop out in the car for an hour.
I am so looking forward to an extended stay on board but time and other commitments seem to be against us that moment, so I am living vicariously via everyone's blog's keep them up with your travels!!!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Boat Handling and Dr Who

Easter is up on us, and I guess its the first big break when boaters will brave the canals of England, the schools are on holiday and the hire boats are all polished ready to go. We wont be going out as we have commitments else where at Church. Though a night on board will be had on Friday and maybe a lazy day Saturday. The problem with not having a TV on board is I am a massive Dr Who fan and Saturday evening is a one of the 4 Dr Who's of this year, I will record it, but I know all too well come Sunday morning at Church everyone will be talking about it and all will be told from how handsome David Tennant looked to the SFX and even the plot will be discussed (we do go to a lively and full Church of about 400 people...) So if I don't watch it Saturday there will be no point. Sorry about that waffle, back to the blog about boat handling...

When we bought TRB in September 2007 we had a one day boat handling course (our only real handling upto that point) and then we were left to it. I do find it kind of strange, if you have any other motor propelled vehicle you have to have a test, you don't have to have lessons, but you must pass a test, but not for the inland waterways? Anyhoo we had the one day boat handling and off we set. Mrs EB had to go back to work on day 3 so I was on my own and was not happy when I ended up bouncing TRB around a lock. For a time after that first trip I didn't enjoy steering TRB but I pushed through it and now I love taking her out and seeing the beautiful English countryside.

I have taken TRB out a few times over the winter and this has proved to be invaluable in the learning curve on boat handling, it has been a slow process learning how to manoeuvre a 57 foot boat backwards whilst steering and using the wind to get her into her mooring. But over the winter that is what I have done and I am proud to say I can now do it and in the strong wind coming from either direction, using under steer or over steer. It isn't always the prettiest sight to watch, but I do it without damage to either the Jetty, my neighbouring boat or TRB.

The day TRB was put back in after the blacking was windy and no one was around so I spent half an hour just playing, using the wind to blow me whilst I tried to manoeuvre around and into mooring letting it blow me sideways and back and forth, at one point a couple of asked if I needed help, I just said no thanks I am playing with wind, and they just said oh OK and looked at me as if I was simple and had been let out for a day to play on a boat.... then one of the Jon's of Jon & John the marine engineers asked if I wanted help, when I explained I was playing using the wind, he said bloody good idea, no one is around, get the experience!! You can't really practice at our marina as it is a busy and lively place most times and where we are moored we are on the path to the diesel and pump out and we are next to the marine engineers (a fortuitous spot) so boats are usually going past all day from morning till dusk. So I took the opportunity when I had it and played for a good half an hour and well worth it I think.

Well as the Hull is now blacked and the inside is ship shape I need to go up and really give TRB a jolly good wash and wax and get the winter grime off, I did give her jolly good wash and double wax with a friend before winter set in, but she is looking a little jaded now and needs a loving wash and she will be ready for an enjoyable year tootling around.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Boats and Modems and Sound Technology

We are relatively new comers to the boating world, TRB is our first boat and we wanted it to be a real home from home, so we wanted it to have what we have at home apart from the TV. I love modern technology and think we should embrace what we like and leave what we don't. I have worked in Recording Studios, Production Houses and Radio Stations for a long time and I find I get withdrawal symptoms if I don't have a computer to play on for more than a few days. I love the internet, I don't read News Papers, it's yesterday news and tabloids are so obsessed with 3rd rate celebrity wannabe's and sex I just can't even look at the front pages in news agents. So I read and get my news online, and I use various websites to stay in contact with people.

So when we eventually found the boat of our dreams, certain things needed looking into.1st did it have 240v as well as 12v, did it have a good shower and a pump out loo and a good galley to cook in with plenty of space!!! (I know, but it does). Could we actually have our own space? and is there a decent dongle modem that would give us the internet at a fair price when we cruised. We don't want a TV but we did want a sound system to go with our IPods that would sound amazing and not cheap and thin...

We found T Mobile had the best coverage and gave you unlimited internet access (fair usage, not sure what that is, but we never get charged any extra) we do find we spend most time out of the 3g area but that's OK. After a lot of searching we found the perfect sound system for an IPod. Now I am very hard to please with sound systems, I don't care what other people have but I like to have a good sound. The Fatman ITube Carbon was what we settled on with some Tannoy Mercury F1 Custom Speakers and it does sound really amazing. I am able to plug my laptop into it when we watch a movie on my laptop. I need to get some sand filled speaker stands as I am losing some bass through the floor into the bilge.... but that is a small issue.I guess we all have our own idea of what sounds good and what we like, I know this little beast of an amp is truely amazing, the valve amps soften the clinical digital sound of the IPod and make anologue recordings sound truely awsome, I was listening to some Abba tracks and they just blew me away, Led Zeppelin come to life and a live blues album I recorded a couple of years ago is stunning. Movies sound fantastic and have that cinema feel with the bass and middle sounding larger than life.

So we are happy we have all we need really, well apart from enough time onboard to enjoy it all.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Boat Licences and non payers

When I am out and about on TRB (something we don't do enough) it really cheeses me off to see boats with an out of date licence or no licence being displayed. Why should they not pay to use the waterways when most others do? I know having 2000 miles of canals is hard to police, but our Marina is inspected regularly (I remember it being done twice in as many weeks around October 2008, we have strict rules at Great Haywood Marina about having insurance, Boat Safety and water licence). It seems to me the canals just outside are not inspected at all? I have seen long term moorer's at various points on the Staffs & Worsc and on the Trent & Mersey without a current licence being displayed.

Now reading an article on Granny Buttons about the Oxford it seems just maybe BW are actually doing something about it. It would be a good thing for BW to get something done about it, it would actually make finacial sense to have all of the revenue come in wouldn't it? So wouldn't it actually pay them to hire a few more staff to walk the tow paths of our wonderful heritage and actually find the licence dodgers and either get them to pay up or take their boats and and sell or crush them? If these people actually thought they might just be caught they would do something about it, but as the chances of being caught is about the same as winning the lottery they take the chance.

Sorry rant over

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Some photos from Wolseley Bridge & Tixall Wide Trip

A few photos from last weekends trip to Wolseley Bridge with Mrs EB's sister Liz. We had a marvellous time.

Great Haywood Junction heading to Tixall Wide from Wolseley Bridge

Heading back to Tixall Wide2 Grebe on Tixall Wide

Mooring up before Great Haywood Lock

Cows crossing a bridge behind us (EB and Liz)

Little Haywood Lock
Spring has finally Sprung
How beautiful is England!!! who needs anywhere else?
A swan nested at the winding just after Wolseley Bridge