It's ages since I posted - oops.
So, my gears cutting in and out and delays in being able to move off each time led me to finally get my engine looked at. I was nearest Oakcraft boatyard at Weedon Bec and what a lucky thing for me that was. I met Steve Furniss who, I have to say, is just such a lovely guy. He exudes kind honesty and genuine consideration for his customers. I'd asked for the engine to be serviced too, as I've been busy at work. As well as fitting a new gear-box and plate, and giving the engine a full service, he did a couple of jobs on the engine that anywhere else would have charged me extra for. It was very reasonably priced too.
I very cleverly left my spare boat keys behind at the boatyard. It was my own fault but Steve drove them over to me and even trudged along a muddy towpath in the rain to find my boat!
Do look him up if you're on the Grand Union and need expert, friendly narrowboat services.
Contact: steve (at) grandunionnarrowboatservices.co.uk, phone: 07572 158923
Well it's grotty old weather but the stove's burning away nicely. Hope you're all keeping warm!
I was moored down in Brentford and, as always, noted down my date of arrival and when my 14 days would be up. On the 14th day, I finished work and got back to the boat around 6pm. It was spitting and dark so I moved the following morning. When I'd moored up again, I happened to check my emails and found a message from CRT, saying I'd overstayed and faced financial sanctions. There were plenty of spaces in the basin so no-one was inconvenienced.
The next time I moved on was 13 days after mooring up and the mooring warden was there, noting down my number as I locked up through the Hanwell flight. No eye contact, no friendly chat. How things have changed since my ealier years of boating. There seems to be an assumption of wrong-doing. The Brentford arm itself feels quite hostile to boats anyway, with dredging not done (went aground in the middle of the canal on one bend and couldn't get into the side at all where boats used to be able to moor up) and litter-clogged locks. If the aim is to discourage boats from visiting Brentford, it's working!
So, after much delay, Blackbird has had his bottom blacked. It was done in the charming little dry-dock at Bates Boatyard, above the Marsworth flight near Tring and a very reasonable price it was too. The dry-dock featured in the old film 'The Bargee'.
I also had to get the hull surveyed for insurance renewal as Blackbird is about 28yrs old now. I must admit, I was a little nervous at what state the hull might be in as I haven't done the blacking for about 4 years but the surveyor said it was in good condition and the anodes still had some life left in them too! The only work he did recommend doing was to have new outlets to my 3 sinks welded as the steel was eroded under each outlet. The boatyard did the work promptly so I wouldn't have to pay for an extra day in dry-dock. I was away when the boat needed to come out the yard and they moved it for me to somewhere convenient. So yes, I'd definitely recommend Bates Boatyard for good friendly service and reasonable rates. I also like that all their prices are on their website so you can work out up-front what it's going to cost.
Ever since Sarah from nb Chertseyposted about the Sheffield University webcam, that watches over a nest of Peregrine falcons, I've been hooked. It's only been about 5 or 6 weeks since they hatched out, but it looks as though they are about to fly. In fact I've just checked back to the page and one has either taken off, fallen off or is hiding off camera! Hope it reappears! Here's the link: http://efm.dept.shef.ac.uk/peregrine/