February is not the greatest of months for cruising, and we have done little. It is, for us, generally a highly variable month and this has been no exception. We alternate between the cold, raw and wet of UK winter, and clear times when the sun sends the temperature inside the boat zooming into the mid to high 20s (Celsius), but still giving nights around freezing.
It is also time for the guessing game, just how many bags of coal do we need to see us through the rest of the winter. We are down to 5 as I write, that equates to two and a half weeks of 24/7 heat.
Then there is planning. We have decided to have a down year, the boat is now 10 years old and it's probably a good time to do the refurbishments to give us another ten years. So our plans this year involve such enthralling tasks as dry docking, replacing all hoses on the engine, and replacing the anti-freeze. Most of the work is engine and hull related, we are not planning on any major changes to the layout of the boat. So cruising will, primarily, be that needed to support the work on the boat.
The only fixed point will be mooring the boat up for a month while we go off to Canada to see our daughter, and her new house, and I suspect, helping to re-furbish that as well.
Talking of refurbishment, the Gongoozlers Rest has also finished it's make over. It is a café moored at Braunston that does the most enormous breakfasts. It has a different concept of an “all day” breakfast, eat one of theirs (if you can) and you will feel full all day.
You have to ask permission to go in so you don't spill the cooking
I am told there is another boat café on the system, but I've never come across it. Incidentally, at the Gongoozlers you can order the extra large breakfast. I have never even heard of anyone doing so.
So I delved into my supply of photo's to see what might interest/amuse as I haven’t been taking many recently.
First a picture of an “upside down” warehouse.
This one was on the rive Lea but there are a few about still. Basically a loading/unloading place for cargo boats. Luckily, practically all attempts to revive cargo traffic fail as it's just not economic to do so (and has not been since the railways started moving goods cheaper and quicker than boats). Those few schemes that have been started have normally ended up costing millions, or ended in tears, and have been justified as “greener” options. Naturally I take this personally as it's my money they are squandering.
Mind you there are some people who like to save money, I'm sure that this is nothing short of licence avoidance as the water levels were quite normal at the time.
For those people who examine photos for hidden messages, I assure you that there was not a penguin swimming in the area, it's just a reflection in the water at the bottom of the picture.
Mind you parking does cause problems, even for licensed boats. So called rallys bringing out the worst. This is a reported picture of a “work boat” rally. As you can see they are the most considerate of people to us passer bys. I hardly ever ever see such boats moving in the winter and consider them fair weather boaters.
This is an odd picture I took last year, I can only consider that it is some form of proof that people are now physically larger than they used to be. Or alternatively, Why houses cost more these days than they used to.
And a last picture from Wolverton (an old railway town). It shows a seat made from railway sleepers. I tried it out and it was pretty uncomfortable, as indeed the shape would indicate.
So I was left wondering why they bothered.
Now let me introduce you to canalview, it's a bit like streetview in google. My budget is slightly more limited than google's but the principle is the same.
The main camera for canalview
It gets mounted on a mast (made of beech) and the view you get is from about 4” higher than my eye level.
If you have 5 minutes you can watch the first video I made featuring the urban metropolis of Milton Keynes. Just relax, there are no frightening scenes, no violence, and no wildlife was harmed in any way during the making of it. Do turn the volume right down (we actually have a rather quiet boat). Even turned right down you can still hear the birds twittering.
Hopefully it gives an idea of canal cruising, and if people like it I will include more (and hopefully get much better at it). We do have moments that are more interesting, but not many. Feedback appreciated.
Ok, this is the first cruising notes produced on my new laptop. It was not possible to transfer the “cruising notes” group from my old computer and only one person responded to my “happy birthday to The Beech Nuts request” which would have allowed me to easily rebuild the group on this machine. If you get to read this, then you are one of the names I spelt right. I suspect It could take a few months to get everybody “back on board”.