Friday, 26 November 2010

Fire & ice

The first icing on the canal cake for me this winter, though I expect they've already had plenty up at New Mills, where I moored last winter. The sun's up now and everything looks frosty lovely. The swans gathering around the boat for scraps, sounded like they'd brought armoured reinforcements as they crunched their way towards me.
I've cut up plenty of that salvaged wood though I'd urge anyone thinking of buying a 'value' bow-saw to opt for the pricier version if they can! I have a good 'Stanley' bow-saw but often can't find the 21" blades for it. I made a disastrous attempt to sharpen the old blade, the slightly off-set teeth (to avoid getting the blade wedged in the wood) got flattened and it's very hard work with it now. So, I tried and failed to find a new blade and ended up buying a B&Q value bow-saw for about £7, with 24" blades that can be found everywhere. Trouble is the handgrip is designed to give you blisters, even when you wear gloves!
When I collected the wood, I forgot to say I was warned against some pieces because the builders said it was tanninised and would give off toxic fumes. I took their advice, although I don't know if it going into landfill is much better as the toxins will surely leach into rivers/water supplies eventually. That reminds me, Tony from nb Universe wrote an interesting post on burning pallets. I suppose a lot depends on just how desperate you get when the ice sets in.
I'm moored at Apsley now and Simon and I went for a cup of tea and a chat with Frances and Alan from nb Lazydays Always good to meet friendly interesting folk on the cut. Warms you up like a glowing stove :-)

Friday, 19 November 2010

Berko & Hemel

Sounds like a firm of solicitors but that's what I heard boaters refer to Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead and I see there is actually a cafe called 'Berko's' there. Plenty of big locks with heavy gates, a manageable electric swing bridge at Winkwell (i usually dread them) and a very old, cosy pub on the canal called the Three Horseshoes. Found a big pile of sawdust for my compost loo, the owner happy for me to take two barrowfuls away. Full of wood, diesel, gas, water and sawdust, I feel ready to face the winter now ;-)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Take as much as you want...

..said the nice guys at the building site. ;-)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Days out, days in.

Today was a blustery day with leaves gusting around everywhere. If I'd stayed inside, I'd have battened down the hatches, lit the stove and done quiet, hibernating things. But there are going to be stoppages soon so I needed to get off the Ayelesbury arm (too tempting to stay hidden among the rushes for months on end!) and I ended up doing 19 locks today, before the light went. I just got to the Wendover arm before it got a bit too dodgy to be walking over lock gates without being able to see where the gate ended and the water began.
There were so many leaves in the locks that I had a job getting the boat to move forwards out the locks! They bubble up around the boat like leaf soup.

I liked this plaque at the foot of a young oak tree on the marsworth flight.

Yesterday, in contrast, I came back from days out in Brighton and London to snuggle under duvets, with my hot water-bottles and my latest find - a big old kettle, on the stove.

I'm so pleased with it. And only £3 at a car-boot sale. It was originally £5 and I managed to haggle. I never haggle! But I don't feel bad because I bought it from someone who looked like they had plenty of money. Ok, I recognise that I have some guilty feelings to think about here: I always get annoyed when I hear about people holidaying in India or Namibia or somewhere and boasting about beating some poor bugger down on a sale, when it's a matter of peanuts for the buyer.
When I offered £3 to the seller of the kettle, she said "yes ok, you look like someone who will use it" I suppose this means I didn't look like someone with a posh cottage (ie three labourers homes knocked through) who would stick it on a dresser to look olde worlde. She was right, I think it will be in very regular use!