Sunday, 30 April 2017
By blogging every day of April I am now within one of 2014's annual total. Only in 2010 have I ever posted every day for a month - when I did it for nine months straight, then tailed off, exhausted, to eight posts in each of October, November and December.
From there it is only another 21 posts to equal 2016's total, so that should be achievable by the end of May, and only a further 16 to achieve 2013's 116 posts by the end of June - with a bit of a head start in hand towards the next target.
The next highest year is 2012 with 162 posts, so I reckon I could be there in another month with enough of a head start, but let's say August to be on the safe side.
Then a further 35 posts takes us to 2011's second highest total (197). I reckon I'll be there by the end of September.
Then it'll be a big final push to get 100 more posts in before the end of the year to equal the highest posting year so far - 2010, with 297. That will be quite a challenge as 2017 didn't get off to the most productive start, but I am making up for lost time now, and if I can keep this up, then who knows. Just keep reading and I'll try to keep writing.
Saturday, 29 April 2017
In many ways it was a very sad, run down, place. In the high street, even the HSBC Bank had a landlord's possession notice on it. Attempts at retail-led regeneration appeared not to have been successful:
House prices are not particularly low, and in fact there was a lot of new building too, suggesting - from my Newhaven experience - that Brownhills may be serving as a dormitory for Birmingham and that its residents are doing their shopping elsewhere. That elsewhere may even be Walsall, which (and we shall proceed there properly in due course) didn't seem to be doing too badly in its retail centre.
Enough of retail depression, I hear you mutter. Show us some boats! I think we put on a pretty good show:
The local Brownhills Bob blog was appreciative, and posted a nice montage of photos (in which Chertsey features quite heavily. Another roving photographer, Roger Dutton, sent me this photo he took of Jim putting a final polish on the paintwork:
On the other side of the canal from the road, Tesco's and the high street were the extensive woods and common land. We took Ricky for a walk there and were immensely impressed with it. And we were amazed, on our return at dusk, to meet at least half a dozen red deer:
Friday, 28 April 2017
The high point of this waterway should have been the previously mentioned Black Cock Bridge, and here indeed is a photo of it.
This is one of the many photos Jim took of it, but unfortunately none of them shows where it was jacked up (although I saw the gaps in the brickwork very plainly).
Thursday, 27 April 2017
Because I went a-searching for Black Country delicacies that I might be able to rustle up instead, and the best I could come up with was faggots with grey peas, and groaty dick. Which frankly sounds more like a cautionary tale from a fire and brimstone Southern Baptist than a tasty menu.
Wednesday, 26 April 2017
We stopped above Rushall locks at Longwood Boat Club and in the morning I was delighted to see the Jam Butty (whose name is actually Montgomery) - the amalgam of a pre-existing modern butty stern end with a fore end made of iron BCN boat to make a really cute butty that fits in a lock behind the 42' Wand'ring Bark. Captain Ahab's posts on how she came into being can hopefully be found here.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
This one tickled me for no apparent reason:
This one for a more obvious reason:
And this one, which has to be my top favourite, for its admittedly puerile charm:
In case you're wondering at the omission, I didn't get a photo of Black Cock Bridge - I was too busy trying to get Jim to photograph the jacking points in it that Captain Ahab had told me about, where it had been jacked up successive times to compensate for mining subsidence. Unfortunately Jim didn't have the first idea what I was shouting about, so I've no photos of them either. Also, I'm not that puerile...
Monday, 24 April 2017
Perry Barr locks was another place we had been warned about, but had no trouble either way from anyone. Indeed they were nice locks in mostly pleasant surroundings, marred only by the amount of rubbish - tyres being a speciality - fouling the gates.
The cutting at the top of the locks was beautiful with spring flowers
There were some serious cycle path works going on, for miles.
appears to be being funded by Birmingham City Council. I only hope that they become well used, and bring more people to the canal.
On the way to Brownhills, we turned off at Rushall Junction
No longer afear'd, we tied up by Piercy Aqueduct for the penultimate night of the trip. A lovely rural idyll...
And finally, a scene from Perry Barr facing downhill.
Sunday, 23 April 2017
Now, rural idyll is all very well, but when I'm boatibng I do like a bit of post-industrial. I feel a bit bad about this, because post-industrial represents the graveyard of dreams; it usually - and definitely here - means poverty, unemployment and worst of all, loss of purpose. Buildings can be repurposed, but all too rarely are - and more rarely still, sympathetically. Can people be repurposed so easily? Ask a miner who's got to apply for jobs in a call centre.
First, here's one of my favourite bridge signs:
But here is another interesting bridge - Erdington Hall Bridge:
Saturday, 22 April 2017
met some lately at Ryders Green (where we didn't venture) but our experience was very positive and trouble free. We saw motorbikes haring up and down the towpath in a couple of places (well, wouldn't you?) and met a few young people and even fewer drunk people, all of whom were friendly and willing to be helpful. I suspect there is something in the theory that they're all inside playing on their 'netboxes', as someone put it. Also I suspect it's very much a matter of luck. Despite high levels of poverty, deprivation and unemployment, there clearly still aren't enough feral youths available to be everywhere, so whether one encounters them - even in habitats where they have previously been spotted - is largely a matter of luck, and finding them is much rarer than not finding them.
Moored in the Dog and Doublet pound was this rather lovely converted BCN boat (a Bantock perhaps?)
Curdworth Tunnel comes complete with all the warnings about wearing lifejackets, turning off the gas etc, despite the fact that I've been under bridges that were longer. It also says maximum beam 6'11", which I can confirm is on the conservative side. This is where we stopped at lunchtime on Tuesday April 11th.
Friday, 21 April 2017
I've downloaded and looked through my photos from the trip (well, the ones on the camera anyway - there are still the ones on the iPhone from when the camera wasn't to hand). I've enjoyed playing with the SLR again and I'm even considering getting another lens for it. At the moment I have an 18-55mm and a 75-300mm - but guess what - I really miss the 50-75 range. With my previous camera I used a 35-70 nearly all the time.
Thursday, 20 April 2017
And we didn't even leave until half past nine! There have been hardly any pubs on this trip, but if we leave out the Barlow (because it is now our local and we're in there all the time, and we know what's good about it) the Dog and Doublet wins hands down, and would have done even against stiffer competition than the appalling Plough. The food was decent, the beer was ok, if limited (but so it is at the Barlow - in fact, only Doom Bar on tonight) but it was super dog friendly. When we were last in there the landlady asked if Ricky would like a meat pudding that a customer had left. This time they happily brought a dog dish so that Ricky could eat the fried egg that came with my mixed grill, and the landlady later insisted on bringing him some water - which he promptly made us look bad by drinking with alacrity. So from a very limited field, pub of the trip is the Dog and Doublet at Curdworth.
We had a trouble free final run back, tonight in the Barlow; tomorrow back in Sheffield having a bath and watching the snooker.
It's been another excellent trip - even Jim has enjoyed it, which I suspect is because of the shorted days. I shall write at greater length and in cool recollection about it all over the next few days.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
For the first time this trip we've ended up in the pub at the end of the day and what's more, feel like we deserve it. It's been a good day's boating - no problems, plenty of water, no rain, no wind and relatively mild.
We fished a few bits of rubbish out of the cut, including a double air bed part way down Perry Barr. I have perfected my technique for going downhill in the locks like Curdworth where they have single gates both ends. The button and one of the tip cats are both lifted (as well as the front fender of course) and once in the lock I take the tiller bar off. Once the lock's empty and the boat starts to drift back, I pull the swan's neck right round so that the rudder's at right angles, an then hold on to the protective steel plate on the top gate (what's it called?) to stop the boat drifting forward again as Jim opens the gate. In some of the locks we need every inch; others seem a bit longer.
We stopped in the pound just above the pub because I thought there might not be any space there - I was misled because we'd see about four other boats today and after yesterday that seemed a lot! Anyway, my mixed grill has arrived so I must finish.
Location:Dog and Doublet, Curdworth
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Well, last night was certainly not one of restful and refreshing sleep. One of the throbbing nitespots on Walsall's hip and happening waterfront was pushing out rampaging disco beats until two fifteen in the morning (I checked the time every time it looked like stopping; there were quite a few false alarms but a there was nothing else to do, really). The lack of restfulness was compounded - if compounding were necessary - by my decision yesterday morning finally to cave in and light the stove. It takes a good two days to settle down to a consistent gentle heat, so I was also boiling, and had to have the slide open a fair bit for ventilation as well, which didn't help with the noise levels. Under cover of the disco, all kinds of ne'er do well-ing could have been occurring, of which I was mercifully unaware. However, it didn't, and once the music did stop, there was no rowdiness, just the noise of a couple of cars taking the revellers away. I suspect that in fact there might only have been two carloads of revellers; certainly in the hours of daylight the local joints did not appear oversubscribed. Other than being alternately too hot and too cold, then, I did subsequently get some sleep. In fact I was so dead to the world that I apparently failed to hear Emu's Bolinder backfiring no fewer than three times as they sought to make a quiet early getaway. By the time I emerged, the piri piri chicken place had already set in motion its loop of irritating Euro-pop, and a number of our comrades had already slipped away.
I however wanted to visit the Walsall New Gallery first - accounts differ on whether it is facing imminent closure through lack of funding, and having visited Walsall once before and. It gone in, this time I really wanted to. Also, I wanted to get a souvenir mug for the trip, as the event this time did not supply one. Well, I was to be disappointed on that score - good gallery, rubbish gift shop - mostly generic arty gifts, rather than Walsall-specific ones. I got a postcard tho to send the folks at work.
And then we were off. This time we turned left onto the Walsall Canal, and what a sad rubbish-strewn waterway it is. No wonder the people who came that way arrived in a state of depression. We ploughed through, and it got a little better. I made a lovely turn at Walsall Junction onto the Tame Valley Canal (mind you, these BCN junctions do seem generous; I suppose they needed to be for a string of joeys to negotiate them), and the Tame Valley, at this end, was a welcome contrast - straight and deep, and relatively less littered. On a different trip I might have bemoaned it as boring, but in this context it was a positive pleasure. Around two we passed Rushall Junction so are now retracing our steps, having done a little ring (a ringlet?) of the Tame Valley, Rushall and Walsall canals. We will also have done the whole of the Tame Valley and Walsall canals once we get back to Fazeley Junction.
Tonight on the recommendation of Renfrew's Cap'n Pete, we have tied up by the Piercy Aqueduct, about a mile short of the top of Perry Barr. Both sides of this canal have a towpath, but this side definitely has an offside feel (i.e. no vastly expensive cycle track) and Ricky has set to with abandon to first dig up, and then flake out on, the grass. It's a lovely pastoral contrast to Walsall Town centre - although I have to say in its defence that firstly Walsall was a lot less depressed and depressing than the impression I had previously formed, and secondly, that we had no trouble at all from any people there - indeed they were most friendly and interested. I'm not sorry that tonight will be quieter, all the same.
Monday, 17 April 2017
And here we are in Walsall, after a remarkably pleasant and uneventful journey. We were in the middle of the convoy which left Brownhills at half past nine, with Richard Parry on the lead boat, Warbler. Being in the middle was definitely a good place to be; the boats in front found the problems first, and the ones bringing up the rear (after a diversion up the Cannock Extension) ran out of water.
Although it was shallow much of the way, and much of it litter strewn, mostly the surroundings were quite green - much of it former colliery land I would guess. The Walsall locks were not at all unpleasant - and, Jim reports, easy to work. I had trouble getting into a couple, which is odd, going downhill - I think there might have been rubbish stuck down the sides.
We are know tied up in Walsall Town Basin, having only got stuck on the bottom a little bit in the Town Arm. If the noise is anything to go by, Walsall is a vibrant and happening place. The gallery - which I am keen to visit - is closed until 10 am tomorrow. I had a quick look around the shops and the pedestrianised centre is certainly less depressed than I recall Walsall being from my last visit - although I suspect I was looking at a different part of it then.
About twenty boats were planning to make this trip; it's raining now so I shan't go out and count them, now that all but one have arrived.
Ah, the quiz. We came second to last, but with a quite respectable score of 88 out of 125, which is 70.4% and thus a First, which is fine by me. The winning team got 117 which is pretty amazing. There were an awful lot of BCN questions which I was no use with at all. All in all the Brownhills gathering felt fairly low key. This might have been something to do with the weather not being very conducive to sitting around outside, or the community centre being so far away, and even to it not being dog friendly. We're all shut away inside the hold again now as it spits with cold rain outside. I gave in this morning and lit the stove, so I will be boiling tonight and this is probably the last place I want to sleep with the slide open! The Basin is right in the centre of town, surrounded by eateries and bars. Mostly the people have been very friendly, and there was a lot of interest at Brownhills from passers by.
Location:Walsall Town Basin
Sunday, 16 April 2017
This afternoon at the auction I made four purchases, and spent a total of eight pounds. The most expensive purchase was an empty five gallon Morris's oil tin, at £4, to replace the one Jim threw out.
A couple of boats have already left, but most of us are hanging on for the ceremonial convoy into Walsall tomorrow. If you don't hear from me tomorrow night, send out the search party.
Location:Still outside Tesco's in Brownhills
Saturday, 15 April 2017
Last night I did go over to the community centre for the talk and film show. The talk was quite interesting, with a lot of then and now photos, but as most of them were of parts of the Wyrley and Essington I haven't yet visited I didn't get as much out of it as I might have done.
This morning was sunny but with a cold wind. First I headed over to Tesco's to get the pork scratchings that I'll be taking back as my regional holiday treat for my workmates. Then Jim went off down the high street to find Ricky a new bed. His old back end/car tatty bed got caught in the rain last night, and he had recently torn the cover, so we decided the time was right to replace it. Once the new, bouncier, bed was in place on the back end, he didn't move from it for hours.
One thing I noticed was that among the small proportion of Brownhills shops that were still in business, there were three carpet shops, all offering discounted roll ends and remnants. It struck me that it would be a good opportunity to get a bit of carpet to fit the middle, 'saloon', section of Chertsey's hold (the section - or 'room' - that is traditionally called 'back of the mast'). The next bit back ('back middle', if I recall correctly) which is the kitchen, has had nice black and white checked vinyl for a couple of years. (The other two 'rooms' are fore end (currently the bedroom and stores) and back end (shed/patio/conservatory), and the divisions are marked by the cross planks.) So we measured up and set off in search of a bit the right size.
We were quickly successful (and I also got a nice little mat for the back cabin) and returned with a roll of speckly brown shouldn't-show-the-dirt-too-much carpet. To lay it we had to move the wooden bench that is full,of tools and stuff, so that provided the opportunity for a bit of a sort out. The carpet was actually laid rather more quickly and painlessly than I had anticipated, and has transformed the appearance and feel of the boat.
After a late lunch I took my melodeon over to Flamingo for Cath to give me some tips about playing the chords and basses - I am getting on quite well with working out melodies but this is the big challenge. It was fun experimenting and starting to work things out and I have a couple of new tunes to try before Braunston. When I came back Jim was entertaining Enceladus Sarah, and Rosie and Buzz had settled down beautifully with Ricky.
I've given the talk a miss this evening and am conserving my energy for tomorrow's tat auction (to which we actually have something to contribute this year) and tomorrow evening's quiz.
Location:Still opposite Tesco's in Brownhills
Friday, 14 April 2017
I went and looked up and down the high street this afternoon, and it's a heartbreakingly sad place. The shopping precinct, a big regeneration project opened in 1997, now has all its shops boarded up. I was involved in local regeneration projects in the nineties, and can all to easily imagine how hopeful and excited they must have been when their funding was approved. But it does strike me that if a place needs economic regeneration because the people who live there have no money, providing retail outlets, the success of which is largely premised on people spending money, isn't very logical.
There has been intermittent rain this afternoon, and it is raining fairly consistently and heavily now... shortly however I *might* go and try to find the community centre, and catch the talk on the BCN. Oh, and the bar of course. Sadly our social venue this year is not dog friendly, so we are taking it in turns to Ricky-sit.
Location:Brownhills, outside Tesco
Thursday, 13 April 2017
What looked like a couple of hours on the map turned out to be a four hour slog through a mainly very shallow canal occasionally augmented with rocks. But the end was in sight so we soldiered cheerfully on.
Before we left I caught up with Captain Ahab loading the Jam Butty, and finally got to see that delightful craft in the flesh (having played a small part in introducing the Captain to its rear end and thence to its creator).
We were pretty much the first boats to arrive at the site of the gathering, and following a brief encounter with another rock, managed to get in reasonably close to the bank. There are moorings on both sides and at first the offside looked more attractive, but we couldn't get in there and we just might be better off where we are, as there are a lot of dog walkers the other side. Also we have Tesco's.
We wended our way over the footbridge to take Ricky for his evening constitutional and found a path weaving through extensive woodlands. It was lovely and to be honest not what I had expected of Brownhills. Even more surprising, on the way back, just as it was getting dusky, we saw a group of deer - I think they were female red deer - feet from the path. They seemed not at all nervous end even when Ricky barked they only retreated a few yards.
Jim is now happily reading the Walsall Express and Star, which is apparently big on domestic murders.
Location:Brownhills, outside Tesco's
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
Now that's more like a half decent day's boating! The weather was ok for most of it - mostly bright, but chilly and with enough wind to be a nuisance - and only started to rain just as we tied up. The stone throwing youth of whom we had heard such horror stories completely failed to materialise, and apart from large amounts of rubbish in the canal - including at one point an armchair - I was afraid Ricky was going to make a leap for it - it was not at all unpleasant. Once past the three locks at Minworth, the rest (13 at Perry Barr and nine at Rushall) had double bottom gates, so the fenders could go down again.
Stanton came through last night and tied up a bit beyond us, but later joined in our convoy. In front of us were Atlantic, Eli, and Stanton, and after a bit, behind us, Oberon. We stayed evenly spaced through the locks, and each boat back set for the one behind so we got through pretty efficiently.
The only issue was a shortage of water in some pounds, along with the aforementioned rubbish - we occasionally bounced over something on the bottom. At a couple of locks - particularly the middle of the Perry Barr flight - we had to wait for someone to let some water down before Stanton could get in. Overall these were nice enough locks - though you'd have to ask Jim really as he did them all!
As well as the rubbish, once we were on the Rushall canal I spotted (in separate places) two dead Canada geese. I've never even seen one dead one before, so I wonder what all that's about.
It should only be a couple more lock free hours to the rally site at Catshill Junction, and Jim and I are hoping to investigate the delights of Brownhills tomorrow.
Location:Long wood Boat Club
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
Last night we popped into the Dog and Doublet and it wasn't bad. Atlantic as well as Eli have now caught up with us and I hear that Stanton and Renfrew are not far behind.
We set off this morning after ten and did the remaining eight Curdworth locks and the short Curdworth tunnel. The sign at the tunnel entrance said maximum beam 6'11" but Chertsey held her breath and all was well. There were volunteers at about half the locks and they were cheerful and friendly and helpful. It's a squeeze lengthways getting Chertsey into these locks because they have a single bottom gate, needing 7' clearance to shut it. Hence the front and rear fenders are all up which makes going into the lock fun. I have been doing ok though, and they are not too violent at filling.
We tied up in time for lunch and I finally got a first coat of paint onto the table cupboard so that Keith's beautiful painting is surrounded by something a bit better than splodgy blue undercoat. Jim has polished up a cup handle that came with the boat but not attached to anything which will grace it nicely.
Then we went for a walk further up the towpath then back into the village for a paper and an ice cream before coming back for a little more light polishing.
This morning just beyond the pub pound there was a lovely long straight stretch of grassy towpath so we took Ricky for a run - probably the longest straight gallop he's had. He did seem to enjoy it.
Monday, 10 April 2017
Another ridiculously short day, which even with the addition of three quarters of an hour stuck to the bank at Hopwas, still saw us tied up by two.
But first, back to last night. We made our way over to the Plough at the appointed time, only to learn that our reserved table was not yet available - we were invited to buy a drink and wait until it was. But the place was packed and there was nowhere to sit and precious little space to stand. The Plough sells itself as being a dog friendly pub, but in fact dogs (and their owners) are corralled into a small part of it, and there was barely floor space for Ricky and Mr Jones and the sheer concentration of dogs as well as people made it all quite tense. Even if they did deign to find us a table there wouldn't have been room to breathe and certainly not for the dogs to lie down without constant fear of being trodden on. So we took the decision not to grace them with our presence, and instead repaired to The Boat That Will Be Called Princess Lucy II for takeaway pizza, fetched by the Captain and Jim from Papa John's in Lichfield. It was very nice pizza, and we had a much better evening, for much less money, than we would have had in the Plough. So that was last night.
This morning we set off at 8.30. Although the sun was shining it was distinctly chillier that the last couple of days, with a cold and worrying breeze. Since last year and the virtuous example set by Cap'n Pete, I have been assiduous in slowing down to a quite excessive degree for moored boats - and it does seem to make people happy even when it clearly has no actual physical effect on them - but today I realised that that way might lie trouble. It's hard to know whether people who moor opposite open fields would prefer me to go by them a bit faster than they might usually like, or to be blown sideways into them... The inevitable happened just as we approached Hopwas Woods, but the person whose boat Chertsey got too friendly with was absolutely lovely about it. We couldn't get off the bank after getting past him, so tied up (unnecessarily) for a cup of tea and a bit of a think. After that we got off with the help both the nice man and Jim, with a long shaft at each end of the boat, at the second attempt.
We dragged along the rest of the way; it felt really shallow, which is odd as I don't remember that from coming the other way on Saturday, and the pound wasn't noticeably low. After a while a boat caught up with us, and it was Colin and Annie on Eli. They too are heading for Brownhills and we have both stopped at the Dog and Doublet where we plan to pop in later. They stopped on the Services at Fazeley Junction while we turned off onto the Birmingham and Fazeley canal for the first time, with Jim at the tiller for the first time this trip and me with my big camera out. The B&F seems very pleasant so far. We got slightly stuck going into Curdworth lock 9. We flushed out backwards I had a poke with the long shaft behind the gate and dislodged a small accretion of something. I don't know whether that made the difference or Jim just came in more determinedly the next time, but all was fine. These locks are short and we've had to lift the rear fenders to get the bottom gates shut.
Annie and I spent a while poring over maps while Jim and Colin pored over the engine, and we think we have planned the rest of the journey... a really really short day tomorrow, a long day (at last!) on Wednesday, and possibly another really short one on Thursday to get us to Catshill Junction - all to avoid overnight stops in places deemed unsavoury by various people.
People spend fortunes to have slightly scary holidays in places like South America and South East Asia, but we can do it right here.
Location:Dog and Doublet, Curdworth
Sunday, 9 April 2017
It's an odd thing, this not hurrying. Having time to stop and sit around. Read books. Go for walks. We have a relatively short distance to go, in a relatively long time, for us.
Today was another lovely hot sunny one - and I have really caught the sun. We set off just before nine, and were tied up in time for elevenses. Jim did some more polishing and we dressed the boat up, just for fun, and in honour of a visit from the Princess Lucies this afternoon. Ricky had a great time catching up with Mr Jones and tonight we are off to the Plough for dinner.
Last night we had butter beans and spinach in tomato and roast garlic sauce, with brown basmati rice.
We spent some time this afternoon poring over Nicholsons 2, planning our journey into the mysterious badlands of the Tame Valley canal, the Rushall canal and the Daw End branch. Oh, not forgetting the Birmingham and Fazeley - all new territory for us.
Saturday, 8 April 2017
But it was worth starting the engine, because it has been such a beautiful day. I got to Alvecote about ten, and unloaded all the provisions from Bluebird. Chertsey was looking smashing after Jim's week of hard work - brass sparkling and paintwork gleaming.
We're aiming to get to Huddlesford around mid morning tomorrow as we reckon that'll be the best time to find a mooring at what I believe is a popular spot.
And now we are tied up listening to the birds singing with Hopwas Woods on one side and the River Tame on the other enjoying the evening sun.
Friday, 7 April 2017
Tomorrow we'll be setting off, for Catshill Junction on the Wyrley and Essington, via the Plough at Huddlesford Junction, where we'll be meeting up on Sunday night with the Princess Lucies and Mr Jones. It seems quite strange that the trip will be such a short one - three short* days, even taking in the detour. If all goes smoothly we should arrive in plenty of time for the Brownhills gathering. I shall try to do a daily, pictureless, log post, to illustrate and expand upon on my return.
* The Chertsey guide to cruising days:
10 hours = a day
12+ hours = a long day
8 hours = a short day
6 hours = half a day
< 6 hours = is it worth starting the engine?
Thursday, 6 April 2017
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
But now we're at Alvecote, and the obvious place to go for blacking is the dry dock at Grendon. And boy, does Chertsey need blacking. If I tell you it was last done in 2010...
In another new development, we won't be doing it ourselves. I have mixed feelings about this. I don't really have the time to spare to do it, and I'm not all that enthusiastic about exposing myself to more nasty potentially carcinogenic solvents than I have to - but at least when you do it yourself you know how well it's been done. I've never worked in a dry dock though and I don't think I fancy that much either.
So, I have booked Chertsey into Grendon dry dock at the end of May for someone else to pressure wash and black the hull. We're hoping to be able to time a trip to have a good look between those processes, and decide whether to have it done again with Comastic (more expensive) or if it's sufficiently sound to put bitumen on top - you can put bitumen on top of Comastic, but not vice versa. Hopefully we won't find any nasty surprises (although I still go cold when I think about Plover dragging us off that bridge pier on the Soar).
I'll have the tunnel bands done as well - and in proper red and white this time. Martin meant well when he painted them to match the livery (it isn't as obvious in the above photo as it is in real life), not realising we'd only just done them, but I've never felt that it looked right.
Tuesday, 4 April 2017
It was less than four months this year that the stove had sat unused, but it has still sprouted a bloom of rust - and needed a damn good clean anyway following being used in our autumn and winter boating. I've seen it worse, but the procedure's still the same.
First a good wire brushing to get the rust off the surface, then a soft brush to get rid of the rust and dust and ash. Then I cleaned out the firebox and the insides - I didn't brush the chimney this year as it has actually had very little use. Next, apply Liberon Iron Paste all over. Forget Hot Spot and even Zebo and Zebrite; Liberon Iron Paste is the stuff. I rub it in with a toothbrush, which on one level is not terribly efficient, but it is the best way of getting it out of the rather impractically tall thin tin without getting my hands absolutely covered in it.