Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Another DIY blacker had hired a pressure washer so Jim set to straight away with that, and a wallpaper scraper, to get the green weed and mysterious stuff off. We had completely forgotton about the anodes, until we saw them. They are well worn, but should have another year's life in them, so we are adding another set in the hope of not getting Warrior out for another four years. I have my doubts about anodes, to be honest; it smacks of voodoo to me. If they're doing what they're meant to (and I'm sure Moomin will explain this to me on Sunday, with diagrams), why isn't the prop covered in magnesium? Also, they make the paint come off in their immediate vicinity. I find this rather disturbing. But anyway, anodes we had to have, so yesterday, after putting the first coat on, we set off to Limekiln Chandlery in Wolverhampton, where we had been recommended that they were cheaper than Midland Chandlers. Never one to turn down the opportunity to visit a new chandlers anyway, I grasped the opportunity. At £36.25 each for the biggest ones, I think they were a good price, but I can't honestly remember what they are elsewhere. It was a nice shop and the man behind the counter was very helpful and obliging. There was a very nice brass drawer handle on display that I wanted for Chertsey, but there were none in the box - without demur, the man unscrewed the one from the display, and threw in the screws too. The brassware was very reasonably priced as well.
While Jim was washing the hull, I swept the chimney for the French stove in the saloon - for the first time. Thanks to its marvellous design this was a straightforward task. I was glad that I hadn't bought a special chimney brush, as the one I had worked really well. This was sold for cleaning behind radiators, and is like a big bottlebrush on a flexible handle. I bought it for the purpose of sweeping the top of the oven in the back cabin stove, but it was useless for this. However, the bottlebrush bit can be bent into a circle or spiral of exactly the right size foe any chimney, so by attacking it from the top and the bottom (there is a nifty access point in the bottom of the pipe)I was able to remove a good ash drawer full of soot. I lit the fire on Sunday evening and kept it in until this morning - could have kept it going even then, but for a misjudgement on my part. I've even been able to start closing the damper a bit to help it stay in. What a marvellous stove it has turned out to be. I also swept the chimney of the back cabin stove, but as you may recall, the soot and bits from that land on top of the oven lining from where they are very difficult to remove. I quite fancied poking the hoover tube down the chimney, but it has a long rigid straight bit attached to it that won't go round the bends, and that I couldn't get off without breaking it. Another hoover, perhaps.
So, we got it washed off on Sunday, first coat on on Monday, and second coat mostly completed this morning before. a. it rained, and b. I had to go to work. And that was the 20 litre (not quite full) tin all used up. We reckon we've put it on so thickly that, coupled with what's already on there, that should be enough. It's now got until Sunday to dry out while we busy ourselves with other little tasks, and a visit from the Moomins and from Bill and Michelle.
Meanwhile, I go back tonight to Stafford (lucky Euston is so handy for my office - it's quicker to get here from there than from home, albeit more expensive)with a big pile of marking and a glimpse of that other world out there.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Warrior will be going back in the water next Sunday, and leaving immediately in Jim's race against time to get through Billing Lock before it shuts for a month on November 2nd. To aid him in this mission he has recruited a crack team of CWFers, including rjasmith, Moominpapa and PJ. Hooray for CWF!
Friday, October 16, 2009
How wonderful it is though, to be able to just thumb off a quick text (is that a verb? It is now) and see it magically appear on the screen a few seconds later. I do like texting. I read another article the other day about how when it was first introduced, people thought SMS would never catch on - but whyever not? It's so much better than phoning - neat, concise, and doesn't interrupt anyone's day. You can send people photos! It's like magic. Truly, if you had told me when I was fifteen that such things would be possible, I would have fainted in delighted amazement. Young people today, they don't know they're born.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Plan your cruising with our regularly updated listings of stoppages and restrictions.
Occasionally, canals, rivers and towpaths are closed for maintenance work. We list all stoppages on British Waterways and Environment Agency navigations as soon as they are notified to us, but emergency work may cause sudden closures.So naturally I checked this page before we made our plans to black Warrior next week before heading back to Bill Fen.
I selected 'River Nene' and 'stoppages' and put in the dates 25th October to 10th November, and I got this result (which is what is still coming up as of this morning):
There are no stoppages reported at this time
NAVIGATION CLOSURE NOTICE
Section 15 Anglian Water Authority Act 1977
DATE OF ISSUE 1 October 2009
LOCATION Various River Nene Locks (see below)
TYPE OF RESTRICTION Navigation Closure
DURATION Billing Monday 2/11/09 to Sunday 29/11/09
This makes rather a big difference and looks like it will now mean a complete change of plan. Thanks to Lyn the information arrived just in time to stop us getting stuck.
So Waterscape claim to list all stoppages on BW and EA navigations as soon as they are notified to them, yet, on October 16th are still not showing stoppages announced by the EA on October 1st.
It would surely be better not to have stoppages search page on the website at all, than to have one promulgating misinformation.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
But (and all apologies to Dr - or is it Professor - W_______ - J____ ), I have today received the endorsement to end all endorsements, which is now proudly displayed on the masthead. Granny Buttons says nbWarrior is on his 'must-read list' and that my 'posts are always informative as well as entertaining'. I think always might be putting it a bit strong, but hey, I'm not going to argue with the capo di capo of waterways bloggers. Naturally this inspires me to ever greater efforts. In the meantime, however, I shall just sit back and watch the ratings soar...
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Marathon uploading session tonight; lots of photos from these four days that seemed worth putting in the album. With the passage of time, I can't quire recall some of the details... surely that unidentified enormous lock must be Cromwell Lock, gateway to the tidal Trent? Any details filled in gratefully received.
The first four (well, two and two halves) days on the Trent were full of surprising interest, and the unexpected, like the Beeston Cut and the glories of Newark. See it here.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
This is apropos of nothing, really, but I realise that it's been a while since I last posted, and there's no excuse, really, other than things are hotting up a bit at work; I've got plenty of photos and things to write about.
And today I am going to write about enamel; more specifically, domestic enamelware. I've always has a bit of a soft spot for it; its simplicity, unchangingness and evocation of another age. Also I think I just like it. I have been very pleased to see that Southern Railways have either gone back to, or are still, using enamel for their signs at stations (even if the usefulness of the signs themselves leaves something to be desired).
Anyway, I have a lovely brown enamel kettle for Chertsey, and I shall not rest until I have found an enamel teapot too (not hard, in fact, thanks to the nostalgie de boue retro-boom; I just have to select one) even though I shall probably never use it and they're not very practical anyway.
But at the Black Country Museum the other week I saw something I'd never seen or heard of before - two examples, in fact. See in the photo, that red and white tile effect on the floor under the fender - that's enamel. It's genius; it's gorgeous and I want one.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
And yet, according to the NTSH account, it is not by any means all decay and decline. Certainly there is a distinct lack of modern glitz, the superficial flim-flam of the 21st century. But the market is well used, apparently, particularly so in the recession - but by the poor and the working class - not the sort of people any local authority wants as part of the image of a world class city which they are all meant to aspire to now. What the fuck does 'world class' mean, anyway? I don't know; no one knows, but they all want to be it.
I love market halls. Brought up a southerner, I knew nothing of them. The Queensgate Market in Huddersfield was my introduction to the species - a radical construction of concrete parabolas which achieved listed status while I was there in the teeth of those who believe that anything concrete should be pulled down or blown up ASAP. And what a place it was - everything you could possibly desire under one roof, from continental delicatessen to oversized thermal undergarments; from broken biscuits to old fashioned hardware (and enamel teapots, of course), from Nehru jackets to coffee in the Tudor style coffee shop with genuine polystyrene oak beams; each packed into a tiny open fronted retail unit. Where else would I have got a giant sink plunger for Andante's toilet; a hot steak slice for 74p, yards of cotton lace, and those rubber spouts you put on the taps...
The very beauty of these places is their utilitarian nature; their lack of image. They're there to sell you stuff you need, not to persuade you into wanting stuff you don't with oh-so-tasteful displays of twigs, pot pourri scents and Farrow and Ball green paint. They don't need to be fashionable or trendy, because they serve a purpose and provide a genuine service. Ironically, when many of them were built in the brave new world of the 50s and 60s they were cutting edge, the modern alternative to outdoor markets and Victorian buildings, But the fact that they haven't evolved since then speaks volumes about what we must now call their 'fitness for purpose'. But is the fact that they work enough? Can such a phenomenon survive in a world where more than ever style is elevated over substance, and nothing exists unless it has a 'brand' and an image?
Some people say the north of England is better than the south because the people are friendlier, or because the scenery is better. Both are likely true. But if you asked me the one thing that makes the north great, it's market halls.
Friday, October 02, 2009
So excited were we by the previously unguessed-at qualities of pressurised paraffin, I started looking into the possibility of finding a Primus stove. What I did find was a world of paraffin websites and even a forum... and many of them were selling - or talking about - the Monitor Wickless Paraffin Stove. So I sent off for one from Parafinalia (because they were the cheapest, plus you have to love the name), and it duly arrived. And this is the wonderful thing - it was manufactured (in Birmingham) and packed, all wrapped in brown paper and corrugated card - in 1956, and untouched since then until I unpacked it and put it together in all its shiny brassy glory.
Now those of you who know me will be truly astounded that I am prepared to even stay in the same room as something which is not only full of flammable liquid, but on fire and pressurised to boot, because all my life I have been the most enormous coward about such things. But I now embrace them with the zeal of the convert. Pass the meths....
The first couple of times we tried to light the Monitor ended in failure, and plumes of sooty yellow flames. But this was because we had been too cowardly, and tried to light it outdoors, where the draught blew the meths flame about and stopped the vaporiser preheating properly. Once we took it inside (wet tea towel at the ready, admittedly) it lit perfectly first time, and has done now four times in a row. You can tell when it's lit because it makes the most fantastic jet engine noise (just as well as the flame is nearly invisible and it gets bloody hot), and when you look up underneath it it looks like the burner on a hot air balloon, a jagged jet of flame suspended in mid air. (You can tell I've taken to this in a big way, can't you).
And what's more, it works. I've made tea on the kitchen table with the new enamel kettle, and this morning Baz made fried eggs and fried bread. We even started experimenting with altering the flame, which is done just by adjusting the pressure. Paraffin - its the future!