Friday, 31 October 2008

Leafy prop

Coo - aren't there a lot of leaves about and don't they love to cling to the prop! I couln't get out of a lock for a good while because I was clogged up with the things, even though I must say, they are beautiful. I'll add some photos another time.
I had a few lovely days while my daughter came to stay. I got through nearly half my wood pile because I wanted her to be all cosy and warm but now it's just me, I was straight out again gathering wood and only having the stove going morning and ok, late afternoon and evening ;-).
I watched a second coal boat go by yesterday and hope I can manage without buying any coal at all this winter. So far so good but I know it only takes a few very wet days and being in a tree-free area to bring you to cold desperation!
So, I've had a whole month of rainwater-harvesting now and collected 188 litres from my 50 square foot rain roof (so that was 47 litres/week for Oct). I'll keep counting to get some idea of an average over wetter and dryer months. Touch wood, it seems to be working ok.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Real boaters

I posted before about a friend's involvement in a project to sail two boats to occupied Gaza and thereby break the siege.
Now, the President of the UN praised the Free Gaza boat project at the UN General Assembly.
The full speech can be found at
Here's an excerpt:
"Gandhi’s and King’s successors in the twenty-first century have carried out further experiments in the power of nonviolent truth to achieve justice and peace in every corner of the world—including, in the last two months, Gaza.
The Free Gaza Movement has succeeded in breaking the siege of Gaza by nonviolent direct action. After sailing from Cypress, 44 activists from 17countries landed their two small wooden boats at Gaza Port on August 23, 2008, where a beleaguered people welcomed them. This nonviolent initiative allowed Palestinians to enter and leave their own country freely for the first time in over 60 years. As Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories noted, it is now a question of whether the courage and commitment of the Free Gaza Movement “can awaken the conscience of humanity to an unfolding tragedy”.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Cave woman

Someone who I wouldn't like to meet in real life, once told me on a canal forum to go and live in a cave and eat mung beans. Well I'm fairly partial to the odd mung bean and now I find I'd like to live in a cave! This discovery came after I visited the Holy Austin rock houses at Kinver. They're amazing and not at all how I'd imagined them. I love the organic feel of the rounded edges of stone and the way people hollowed out shelters for sitting, stabling their ponies, storing food. There were some windows with glass and a huge hearth that reminded me of country houses in southern France where I used to live. When I told my mum about them she said I should apply to be a resident hermit.
Most surprising was a statement from someone in 1969 who had lived in a rock house, I think until the mid 1930's. She said the houses were warm in winter and cool in summer. Sounds like the perfect dwelling for the climate changes to come.
The gardens are being used to grow veg and there's a lovely orchard where I saw a man working. I asked if the fruit trees hadn't fruited this year as the trees were bare but he said they had all fruited and been harvested. I was so happy to hear this after seeing so many fruit trees in gardens I pass, groaning with fruit rotting on the branches. I have to resist the temptation to jump over their fences! I always wish people would gather the fruit and put it in boxes outside their gardens for passers-by to have, if they don't want to use them.
Ahhh... think I'll have happy cave dreams tonight.

Friday, 10 October 2008


“Whoever is to blame for this week’s scenes on world stockmarkets, only the most churlish anarchist would welcome them.” - the Guardian, 1st October 2008.

Ha - how very true!

I love what Schnews had to say on the financial crisis:
'Blimey... you spend 15 years struggling against global capitalism and then the bloody thing collapses of its own accord.'

Monday, 6 October 2008

Hi family!

The last 2 winters, I managed to be one lock ahead of the stoppages on the Oxford canal and just moved on up a bit more as they advanced. But it's good to know they won't torpedo me if I get caught in-between ;-)

Here's my paper bag method which I'm still using so I guess it does the job ok.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Winter stoppages

I belatedly discovered from another, wiser boater, that I wasn't going to receive a Winter Stoppages booklet through the post. I've just been slowly meandering but having had a look online at Waterscape, realise I need to make a decision about where to head. It seems that much of the Staffs & Worcs canal will be out of action at various times. I had thought of heading back up the Shroppie to the Llangollen which I'd missed out on over the summer but see that Audlem and Adderley locks will be shut at the start of November. I don't want to sprint up there early cos I'm meeting friends near Stourport in a week or so. And maybe there are stoppages on the Llangollen, I haven't checked yet. Hmmm.... decisions.

If a continuous cruiser gets blockaded in by stoppages, can they get fined or something I wonder?


I've never really minded rain and like hearing it on the roof when I'm cosy and dry inside of course. But now, everything's changed! Harvesting rainwater is exciting! To me at least ;-)
I reluctantly poured my first 20 litres of rainwater over the side (it felt so wasteful) because I hadn't fixed up proper filters and because the water had accumulated over 3 days in a plastic jerrycan without the opening being sealed around the feed-in tube. But I sorted out these things yesterday and last night it rained and rained and filled to overflowing my 20l container so I added it into my main water tank. That's it. I'm now using my rainwater system at last!
I'll carry on collecting the water in the container for the rest of the month to be able to see how much I get in a damp month.
There's a responsibility though. I'll have to clean my filters often (simple cloth ones) and keep the guttering free of leaves and check for bird poo etc and make sure I always fill my drinking -water filter at night. But I like having that responsibility, like maintaining the compost loo and trying to grow and foraging things to eat. It gives me the illusion of being in control of my own life!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Mmmmm :-)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Collecting rainwater

Well, I've started collecting rainwater. To begin with, it's travelling, a la Heath Robinson, through a filter, funnel and tubing for wine-making, down into a 20l container in the well deck. This is because I want to do a proper assessment of how much water can be collected from the surface area I have at the moment. I've set up 50 square feet (5 x 10ft) of corrugated roofing so far, (although I could have more if I wanted). I'll count the litres collected in October and then also in a hot month. (So far, Day 2 and 15 litres, what with rain showers both nights).

So the water runs towards the front of the boat, where the water tank is. Eventually, the water will run directly into the main water tank and be run out of the taps as usual. For drinking etc, it will go through my British Berkefeld ceramic water filter.

I was able to skip some of the materials: the huge palette, the guttering, - the stronger wood supports were begged from a BW yard, smaller batons found in a skip at Market Drayton. Unfortunately, after months of trying to find some large, heavy-duty canvas tarpaulin that wouldn't blow away, tear, droop into puddles, and after experimenting with other methods, I had to give up and buy the bloody plastic roofing. I'm not proud of that but hope it will last me well and not blow away and that it can also be used as a sort of little green house as the raised end allows quite a bit of room for plants. At the moment though, it's keeping my wood beautifully dry which is so important. There's nothing worse than running to light the stove on freezing winter's day, only to find your wood got a soaking the night before!