Saturday, 31 March 2012

Now I'm as green as the next man but......

I Set off across the fields opposite our house on the morning wander with Spot. Normally this takes the form of me following Spot for an hour or so then plotting a route back to base and a nice cup of coffee. Today, however was different! The field look different! On closer inspection a large chunk of land (about 50 acres) that had been ploughed and harrowed over the last few weeks, now looked like it had been rolled with a heavy roller. 
In fact a chap on a large John Deere tractor was indeed rolling it with a large heavy roller.
Ilene, the woman who keeps her horses in the next field to Jan said she had seen this big machine rattle and bang slowly across the fields with what looked like a big hedge stacked on top of it. The penny dropped! The fields had been planted with willow!
We already had two fields planted in willow last year so I knew what it looked like, so a quick kick at the ground revealed a 4 inch piece of willow pushed in the ground.

I don't know if you know about willow, but any piece of fresh cut willow pushed into the ground will root and grow into a tree. The machine they use takes long thin willow sticks and cuts them into 4 inch bits and pokes them into the ground, job done.

The instigator of this act is East Midlands Airport. They plant the willow to coppice  and burn in the green heating system for the terminal buildings.

Area of Willow Plantation
The planting of willow coppice in Castle Donington  is ironic because 200 years ago Castle Donington was famous for its osier beds (willow plantations), which were used for basket making. Back then folk had the good sense to grow the osiers down by the river on the poor soil where nothing else will grow, and use the good soil, on the well draining sandstone for crops. In fact this area was also famous for it market gardening because of the good soil.

Today, all the small market gardens have gone, driven out of business by the low prices of the supermarkets selling imports, however the good soil was still used for growing wheat, barley, beans, and rape.
This week 50 more acres of prime agricultural land stopped producing food to produce "green" fuel. At the same time our government tell me that they need to build a distribution centre on another 100 acres of prime agricultural land in the next village to distribute the imported food we need because we don't grow the stuff locally any more.
Is it just me or is this an example of the complete lack of common sense? 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Brass Mushrooms

One more week and the paint job should be complete. After seeing the sign writer and ooowing over the paint job on Saturday I thought it would be a good idea to take the brass mushrooms home to give them a good shine before refitting. I am sure they have never been cleaned from new as they took me 5 hours to get looking good. I dont think my arm as ached that much since I was a teenager!!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Visit to Tilly May

Today was our first chance to see Tilly May in her full livery, she is not finished yet but one side is done, which was enough for us to decide we had made the right choices. The teal, dark blue and cream work well together, although the photos is not an accurate reproduction of the colours you can get a good idea of how she looks. The depth of shine and quality of the finish is fantastic. Considering all the issues we had with micro blisters and rust, the extra work and cost in taking her back to metal was the right choice. Darran and Andy at JD Narrowboats have done us proud.

Monday TM will be spun around so the other side can be finished before she comes out of the water for some work to the tiller bottom bearing and a repair to the bow thruster. We expect her to come out of the water next weekend so the sign writer can do his stuff. Darren put us in contact with Mike Norton whom we met for the first time today. 

Nice chap, very talented sign writer with a wealth of ideas for TM. We have agreed a design which is more artwork than I initially thought, but Mike had so many good ideas we got a bit carried away.
It is hoped that all will be finished two weeks today so looking forward to a run out on the Sunday.

Finally one other importance piece of information.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Of Mice and Men and GU Stoppages

Looks like my initial plans for the spring will have to change! After last summers water issues on the Grand Union Leicester Section I thought we would go up the Soar and do the Foxton but early while there was water, then head west. Not any more. Kings lock will close mid April and we cannot leave until May. Ha Ho still plenty of water up north. If you haven't seen the restrictions look here clicky

Paint Problems!

TillyMay is in wet dock look very sad. After a closer look at her paint it was decided that the micro-blisters under the paint could only be sorted properly by going back to metal. It turned out the original paint was applied to a damp surface and each of the micro-blisters contained rust. Fortunately only a fine layer and no pitting but what a job for the chaps to do. So the poor girl sits in wet dock with all the windows and brass removed pained in battleship grey. Ha Ho, it had to be done and better now so she will be at her best when we depart in May. I will post some photos latter.