Tuesday, 30 August 2011

First Trip Day 1 Fazeley to Fradley Junction

Saturday up early, horses sorted, packed, off the Fazeley to pick up boat and head back to Shardlow. We left Jans truck at Shardlow with the plan of leaving my car at Fareley until Tuesday, all organised, all going well? We arrived at Fazeley Mill Marina and set of down the 100 yrd long jetty to the boat. NO BOAT!!!! Panic!!! IT WAS ALL AN ELABORATE SCAM!! Then Jan spotted the boat moored on the other side of the marina. So we reloaded all our stuff back into the car and drove around to the other entrance and try again. The boat was tied to a rotting plank behind a large bank of brambles and nettles. Thirty minutes later, scratched and stung we manager to get to the boat and move it to the car. Another hour we are loaded, fueled and ready to go. Spot found her bed so all was ok with salty dog. We are off!!

The journey was relatively uneventful considering it was our first time on our own. This was helped by the lack of locks on the Birmingham Fazeley. After two sudden cloud bursts I remembered I had pack an umbrella! Managed not to hit anything and gradually grew in confidence over the day. By the time we reached Fradley Junction we were knackered mostly due to concentration rather than hard graft. We moored with about a quarter of our length on a water point but we had no strength to move and there was enough room for two 70ft boats so we staggered to the Swan had a couple of pints and stuffed gammon egg and chips down us and were in bed by 9:30.
More tomorrow

Monday, 22 August 2011

Tilly May is ours!!

Arrived at Fazeley Mill Marina about 11:30 to pick up keys and take over boat. I would have been earlier accept for the traffic, miles of cars queuing through Tamworth, Why? I found an alternative route to the marina via the next junction on the M42 and discovered the reason for the traffic. Hundreds of cars full of kids with faces squashed to the windows queuing to get into Drayton Manor Park, the entrance to which was two hundred yards from the marina!
The boat looked just the same as it did on Saturday but today it was ours, this introduced feelings of excitement and dread. Dave and Elaine had left a good luck card and I had taken a radio with me, other than a few items of cleaning products, the boat was empty.
Called at the Co-Op on the way home and started to accumulate the essentials such as salt pepper tom sauce etc, £70 later and I haven't made much of a dent in the list.
Talking to Dave on Saturday he said that the marina used to be a fishing lake and that you can still spot a few carp drifting around the boat. Somewhat of an understatement! The marina is full of fish big enough to eat Spot!
Back tomorrow with a boot full of stuff and my mate Colin. The list of people who want to look around is growing by the day.
Had a call from the vets on the way home, he said that they took a swab when they operated on Spot and the results said she had a fungal infection in her lung so had to pick up another set of pills. Poor Spot rattles with pills but I think she is on the mend.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Training at Fazeley

We had a fantastic day yesterday. Dave and Elaine offered to take us out on the boat before we took her over on Monday. We had the full tour, cut off valves, engine maintenance, heating etc etc, most of which I have already forgotten. We then took the boat out of Fazeley Mill Marina, turned right onto the Birmingham & Frazeley to Frazeley Junction then right onto the Coventry. Dave did the first lock at Glascote, then stepped away and said its all yours. Jan and Elaine did the locks I managed not to hit too much so within an hour or so I was feeling pretty comfortable. After a sort stop for a ham sandwich we winded just past bridge 63 and retraced our route back. All went well until I forgot to turn back onto the Birmingham & Fazeley was happily heading off to Fradley Junction. Dave saved the day and managed to spin her around using the bow thruster. Back to the marina at about 5pm so we were only out for 4 hours but we were both knackered. If this is how life is going to be we are going to love it!! Dave and Elaine are a really nice couple, they made use so welcome. I am sure they are sad to part with La Vuelta she is such a lovely boat.
I will be back at Fazeley on Monday to take over the boat and say our goodbyes, and start to kit her out ready to set off of Friday to her new home at Shardlow. 
I'm like a small boy on Christmas Eve!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Today it the start of my second childhood

You may have noticed this post is timed at 5:17am. Why!
That would be the big kid in me surfacing after years of repression. Today we go to Tamworth to spend a few hours with Dave and Elaine, the almost ex owners of Tilly May. They have kindly offered to show us how all the bits and bobs work and to take us out for an hours or so to get used to the boat.
The plan for the next few days is to take over Tilly May on Monday (giving Dave and Elaine time to move off). I have next week off so will pop down to Tamworth and get her kitted out for the trip back to Shardlow and just spend some chill time with her. On Friday Jan will joint me and we will bring her back over the bank holiday weekend. Amusing we do not sink her, back to work until 12th Sept then 2 weeks cruising around the Leicester ring. By the time we are back in Shardlow Jan will have either fallen in love with the way of life or drowned me in the cut.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Almost the demise of Spot!

What a week! Just when everything was going so well with the boat, life is great and the deal is done, when Spot starts to cough. Well to tell the truth she has been coughing for a week, the vet said it was a virus but gave her some antibiotics just in case. After a week she is going down hill so general anaesthetic x-rays and endoscope. Dam fool dog has only gone a sucked 3 grains of wheat down into her lung! Major panic!
You will be pleased to know Spot is now home recovering, and hopefully her collapsed lung will re-inflate over the next week, fingers crossed.
We have a much improved dog, she scoffed a large bowl of chicken and veg which is more than she has had in the last 2 days.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

All systems go!

Just read the report from the survey and it all looks good. The surveyor (Steve Hand) has listed some minor problems but the boat is in great nick so its all systems go. Jobs done yesterday:
1. Sorted mooring at Shardlow Marina. I called in last week and told them my situation so the put the last 45ft mooring on hold for me until the boat had been surveyed. The mooring is on the far side of the marina by the river so will be quiet, but still close enough to the Old Marina Bar to stagger (more in the bar later).
2. Phoned ABNB and Dave the boat owner to sort out completion date. Not that simple as Dave and his wife return to Spain at the end of Aug and we need to arrange 3 days to get the boat back to Shardlow. The plan is to complete on Friday or next Monday which gives we a few days to ensure we have everything we need on the boat before our first trip the Shardlow the following Friday.
Things to do today:
1. Go to bank and sort money transfer
2. Sort out boat insurance to start Friday

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Spot the dog

Keira is our 8 year old Large Munsterlander, she answers to a number of names but mostly I call her spot.
A fun loving vocal dog that would much prefer to be brown not black and white and will take every opportunity to turn herself brown. Spot meets narrowboat will be an interesting interaction. Spot meets canal will be a problem I have no doubt!

The Large Munsterlander is one of several continental breeds of versatile hunting dogs. Although the breed is one of the last of the German breeds to gain official representation by a separate breed club, the Large Munsterlander was recognised as a colour variant of the German Longhaired Pointer prior to that time. The breed first gained official recognition in the Munsterland of northwestern Germany in the early 1900s. However, the forerunner of the modern Large Munsterlander can be recognised in artist's representations of hunting scenes as far back as the Middle Ages.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Boat

We found the boat on the ABNB website, she is a 45ft cruiser stern reverse layout narrowboat built in 2005 by Trent Valley Boats. She is due out of the water next Tuesday for a full survey, all being well that will be the deal done. She is currently moored in Tamworth and will need to move to her new home at Shardlow Marina, two miles from our home. Photos to follow when the deal is done.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

We have taken the first steps. We have had an offer accepted on a narrowboat.
How much do we know about narrowboats and canals?
Lots in principle, bugger all in practice!
These are the voyages of the narrowboat Tilly May and her inhabitants Big Chris, Jan and Spot the Munsterlander.
To boldly go ........