Saturday, 30 May 2009

Success and a vandal

There hasn’t really been much to report recently as we’re not out cruising.

I have however, finally, managed to sort out a collection of bits of plumbing that manages to drain the bath fairly reliably. This has been a bit of an ongoing problem since I got the boat with the original drain pump proving to be incapable of coping with copious quantities of GSD fur which is a feature of my boat. I’ve tried various other pumps and filters but up until now haven’t had something that reliably empties the bath in a reasonable time. The best of the attempts was an old water supply pump but it finally reached the end of it’s life. When in Braunston last week I decided to try an Impeller type pump with an automatic switch to avoid my leaving it running. So far this seems to be working ok and doesn’t seem to be clogging with fur. A whale Gulper would probably be the best solution, but that would need 3/4” pipework but the boat only has 1/2” up to the skin fitting and to change this would mean removing a panel, which would lead inexorably to my ending up completely refitting the bathroom which, whilst necessary, isn’t something that I want to get involved with just yet. Of course I could well be writing about how much of a failure this has been in a few days, and wielding a crowbar in the bathroom.

Meanwhile, Lyra has entered a chewing phase. When she arrived there was some minor chewing but she seemed to have learnt the difference between toys  and my stuff. That is apart from her attack on my teddy bear which I have had all my life, but that was my fault for leaving an excited little dog alone whilst I said goodbye to my, and her, friends who had visited us. Bear is now safely in a cupboard awaiting major surgery, just need to find somewhere that restores bears.

03052009196She did seem to have given up chewing my stuff partly as I removed most things from her reach. A few days ago I made the mistake of not hiding my boots from her before falling asleep in front of the TV and woke up to the sound of chewing and a boot with much of it’s sole missing. The last couple of mornings she has been doing battle with her nemesis the vacuum cleaner and has chewed a wheel of one of it’s attachments and the plug off the power cord. Her latest victim was the charger for my cordless drill. I’ve had to tell her off for this, much as I hate doing so, so hopefully this phase will pass soon and she will stick to chewing her toys again.

Nothing I have is really that important and the pleasure that having her around more than makes up for any naughtiness that occurs.

Half term is over now, so it may be safe to go boating again next week, if the weather holds it will be nice out there.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Back Home

Woke this morning and put the kettle on to find I had run out of gas. This was actually quite convenient as I have no virtually no food in the fridge and it was in need of defrosting. As it was about 6.30 I thought that changing gas bottles would be a bit antisocial, so I got my backup stove out. Whilst waiting for the kettle to boil I flicked trough the copy of “Canal Boat”, that I got at the The Boat Shop before leaving Braunston, only to find the warning about the portable stove that I was using from the BSS office. It seems to me that the problems that have occurred are due to people not reading the instructions.

So, having survived making coffee, it was walk time. It was soon apparent to me that the pound below the top locks was very low, and according to one of the resident boaters was because someone had left a paddle up the night before and it would cause problems for anyone trying to navigate.


When I got back up to the top locks a hire boat was about to go down, so I advised them to run a bit of water down. By the time I had got my act together to leave, the Mikron Theatre, who had done a show the evening before, had come up on Tyseley and had run a lot more water down so the pound was back to a reasonable level. A good run down the locks followed by pleasant cruising in lovely weather soon found us back at Brinklow Marina.

Lyra enjoyed her first trip on the boat, though I don’t think she’s ready for long flights of locks yet, but is happy to be home. She had a good play this afternoon with Simba and some of her other friends.


Thursday, 21 May 2009

I feel slightly cheated

Heading back down the Oxford today the boat felt sluggish and unresponsive (or should that be more sluggish and unresponsive than usual?) and I was convinced that there must have been a nice collection of rubbish on the prop. So and early lunch was declared at Willoughby, and then I headed into the murky depths. Access to my weed hatch isn’t too easy as my boat doesn’t have one of those nice hinged decks that many seem to, so I have to lie down and fight with the weed hatch. For some reason the boat doesn’t seem to suffer too much from prop fouling so it is not too frequent that I have to fight my way in.

The water was too murky to see what was there so I had to feel my way down. And what was there? Absolutely nothing, not a single plastic bag or length of rope, just a shiny prop.

Other than that it was a fairly uneventful day, but the highlight must have been meeting Panther at the moorings on Barby Straight. I love seeing old working boats out and about, and even with my limited knowledge I can recognise Panther with her distinctive bow.

Finished up above Hillmorton locks this evening, it was another late start as I had a none too successful shopping trip before leaving. More on what I did manage to get sometime in the future, once I know whether it does solve an ongoing problem. As I couldn't get some things that I wanted, I might now end up heading for the Crick Show sometime over the weekend.

I could be wrong, but .....

I think that's a comfortable dog

Posted by ShoZu

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Uphill into a new county

Well, a new county for Lyra as we have ended up in Braunston this evening. A late start due to indecision on my part, but I eventually decided to see how she would react to locks. The plan was to lift her onto the roof and then ashore once we were in the locks, which worked quite well, but she wasn’t keen on getting back onto the boat before leaving the locks. As we entered the last lock she chose to go inside and sit in the engine room so travelled up indoors. If she’s happier doing it like that it’ll be fine with me. We had a quick stop at the moorings above the locks so she could have another walk, she enjoys walks so much it might help that she understands that even locks mean that she will get one.

So we headed onwards, and onto my current least favourite stretch of canal, Barby Straight. It just seems to go on forever and is mainly in a cutting so there aren't even nice views, and for much of it the drone of the motorway is present. Whilst the shortenings were of benefit to the profitability of the Oxford and therefore keeping it in existence for us, the original route would be more interesting.

A stop at the moorings just past bridge 80, which were surprisingly empty, for lunch and and early stop at Braunston completed the days travels. The early stop meant that I got round to changing the oil which always seems to take an age, plus removing the horrible mixture of oil water (mainly condensation) and general rubbish from the engine bilge.

Tomorrow we will turn round and start heading back to Brinklow, partly as I don't want to do any more locks than necessary, but also to get off the canal before the school half term. I can cruise pretty much whenever I want so try to avoid school holidays, there’s no need for me to add to the congestion that occurs.

I haven't got a very good signal tonight so no pictures.

Upwardly mobile

Posted by ShoZu

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Food, more food, new friends and rain

A pretty disjointed day today as there were a number of things to do on the way through Rugby. After the obligatory walk and breakfast for Lyra, and a few cups of coffee for me we managed to get away by 9am. About 20 minutes later we were mooring for the first stop at Brownsover. I needed some stuff for when I get round to doing the oil change that is due on the boat, so left Lyra whilst I did this shopping. Nothing was destroyed whilst I was away which was an improvement over the night before when I forgot to hide the boat keys from her and so woke to a pile of flakes of cork ball.. Then it was shopping for her so we took the long way round, via bridge 59. A few tins of food and some storage bins for her proper dry food are now on the boat.

The next short hop was to Clifton Cruisers as they stock the Arden Grange food that Lyra is used to. I think she’ll stay on it as, if only for the advantage of being able to go boating for essential supplies. By the time I had come alongside, Ben was there to see who was visiting his boatyard. Once I had got the food, Lyra got the chance for a good talk with both Ben and Heidi. When it was time to leave, having pushed the bows into the channel, got onto the boat and put it in gear, I realised that there were more paws on the stern than usual, Heidi’s front paws having joined us so she had to be returned to shore.

Another short hop found us at the bottom of Hillmorton, mooring again as it was by then time for Lyra’s lunch. During the next walk, up the flight, it absolutely chucked it down with rain so we both ended up soaked. Lyra also managed to coat one of her ears in grease from the paddle gear on one of the locks. Further heavy showers, with added thunder and lightning, meant that i gave up the idea of any further boating. It has turned into a lovely evening now.

The forecast for tomorrow looks much better so hopefully a decent days boating will be possible. Still haven't decided where to head towards, that will be a decision for the morning.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Lyra goes boating

The wind dropped a bit this afternoon, just enough for me to take the opportunity to get across the marina for a pump out. There was only 1 rule that I set myself when I moved onto the boat - That I wouldn’t just empty the holding tank and then return to my mooring. For various reasons I haven’t always managed to keep to this rule, but it did mean that I went boating every month last year.

It was hardly an epic journey today, only getting as far as Newbold, but the late start and wanting a gentle introduction for Lyra made for a short trip. She seemed quite content on the back of the boat and pretty soon was looking to see what was coming up.18052009247 No attempts were made to jump ship at bridge holes, and she also stayed put when she saw other dogs on moored boats and the towpath. The increase in noise when in the tunnel also didn’t worry her.

We are moored on the 48 hour moorings just south of the tunnel which means that we’re a fair distance from the towpath. Lyra found jumping from the boat to the towpath easy, but was less keen on the jump back onto the boat. The jump was, however, preferable to the plank which she refused to go near. That’s something that we will have to work on.

The presence of ducks on the towpath was a good test of whether she would remember that she isn’t allowed off the boat unless she has her lead on and is invited off. She was very interested but behaved impeccably.

18052009256 I’m not sure what we will end up doing tomorrow. I have some shopping to do and then we will head to Hillmorton, but I’m not sure if introducing her to locks is a good idea yet. She would probably need to wait in the boat and she still seems a bit wary of the engine. So we might just wind there and head back towards the Coventry.

More pictures at

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Closer to cruising

Well today I finally got round to introducing Lyra to the concept of there being a noisy diesel engine in her new home. She was a little surprised when I started it, and didn’t want to be in the engine room whilst it was running but would come to the door if I was there. She also happily settled on the back deck close to the source of all that noise.


I was a bit concerned how she would react but feel that it was a successful introduction. She also tried her life jacket on for size, and seemed comfortable in it.

13052009239 So now all I really need is for the weather to improve a little and we can try going somewhere. I’m not too worried about cold and rain but the wind does make manoeuvring around the marina quite “interesting”

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


Not for Lyra and me, but thought I would post this here as it is in support of Dogs Trust


"In June 2009 my trusty hound, Patch, and I are backpacking from John O'Groats to Lands End. We will walk over 1200 miles in about 3 months without support - I will be carrying my own tent and supplies and will be unaccompanied."

Read more about the walk here:

Monday, 11 May 2009

The Boat

Well I’ve had my mention on Granny Buttons so I guess I had better get on with writing some more stuff. Thanks Andrew.

The boat isn’t anything particularly special, being a 52’ Mike Heywood Trad from 1988, but it was the first boat of the many I looked at which prompted the reaction “I could live with this”. It has some nice features like the stable front doors, but also some things that I will get round to changing one day, including the name. Getting round to doing the jobs is always a problem for me but at present the priority must be the paintwork. Judging by the way that it is peeling I am drawn towards having the boat shot blasted and starting again from bare metal. I also want to get her out of the water again soon for blacking which will be a good time to change the name.

PICT0219The picture of the boat is from February 2007, with it not looking quite as scruffy as it really is, coming back up the Claydon flight after having spent a few days iced in just below this lock.


I did actually get near to the canal today as I thought I should see what Lyra thought of tunnels and was in Newbold anyway. She didn’t seem concerned at all. I think that her first trip out on the boat will be in that direction, as we need to get her some more food and the nearest supplier is Clifton Cruisers.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Lyra Swims

Friday, 1 May 2009


I don’t know much about Lyra’s early life, she was born in Northern Ireland and I do have a date of birth last August but I’m not sure if this is accurate or an “official” birthday. In January she had vaccinations at a vet and then spent some time in Kennels in NI. Having failed to find a home she then made her way across the water to the Dogs Trust in Kenilworth, arriving on 26th February, which is coincidentally 6 months from the DOB on her papers. She was rehomed once but that didn’t work out for her.

So then I turned up at DTK, unsure what I was looking for. There, in one of the kennels was a little GSD who so wanted to be outside exploring and playing but I made myself look round all the residents but couldn’t find anyone who appealed more than the little GSD. Her details said she was good with other dogs and people, important for a boat dog as she will have to share her garden with others.

I decided to meet her and that was it, I wanted this little dog to come and share my life. I would have brought her home with me but there are procedures to follow. I spent the next few days making sure that everything would be OK for the home check, which went fine.

So last Friday she came home. She was unfazed by the pontoon but wasn’t immediately sure about jumping into the well deck, but by the end of the day she was fine with that. A quick explore of her new home (it doesn’t take long to explore a 52’ boat) and she settled down as if she’d always been here.24042009147

She’s been here a week now and has really settled in well, she loves the field here at Brinklow and has made friends with lots of the other dogs that keep their boats here. She’s generally very obedient but does get distracted by all the exciting things that are going on around her. She usually still has her lead on when out in the field, but just dragging behind her and I think that we should look into going to classes, if only to retrain me as I do find myself expecting her to react to things like Katy used to.

There has been a little unauthorised chewing but I expected that, nothing of any great importance has suffered.

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.