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!