Les Lobbs Diary
"A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly."
Starting this month, I'm going to place single music videos in blank
spaces throughout the pages. When you click on this gramophone
icon you will find a track, then click on the button at the bottom of
the page to return here. If you have any requests, please let me
Right then, let's hope that we've seen the last of the April showers, so that we can get cruising soon. It's
not so much the rain that affects us, as the biting wind, which makes handling the boat so much harder
and more uncomfortable - our days of splashing about in oilies, with water trickling in your neck, are
long over. I hear on the radio, that police in P'boro are clamping down on illegal parking, and they are
even ticketing people for dropping off passengers on the zig zag lines in front of schools; what's the
world coming to! If we can get a dry spell, we hope to put the new locker panels in place today; it will
be interesting to see what essential piece of equipment has hidden itself away in the bottom of the
lockers. I expect I will get the usual comments like, "when are we going to use that thing?", and, "what
do we need all this rope for?"- can't have too much rope, that's my motto.
pm - The lockers are done, and the old panels in the van, ready for the tip. I have also
been persuaded to take some of our old braided mooring lines back to Devon (She thinks
I'm daft; I know what she has planned, dump them at the tip with the old panels - we'll
see!!). We're still getting soaked with all this liquid drought - it's pay-off for the sun we
had in Portugal. I wish I'd saved a couple of jibs from Karen Marie, if this wind keeps up
we could have saved quite a bit on diesel.
The engineer from Barrus arrived, on time, and fitted the new fuel pump; the engine is thumping along nicely now.
We've asked Paul over for a meal tomorrow evening, so this afternoon we went shopping for a lump of dead lamb - it
never seems worth cooking a joint for just the two of us. Head of housekeeping found a butternut squash, which we love,
cooked like roast spuds, and some flat beans and carrots to complete the main course; pudding is a surprise, or could be
a shock, depending on how it turns out. If the weather stays OK (it's a good spring day today) we might head off on
Friday, although we still haven't decided which way to go; it may depend upon the wind, and which way it blows the
bow when we exit the marina!
Paul came round for dinner yesterday; and we spent a very enjoyable evening, chatting and sampling some of the old
Bordeaux wines that we brought back from France. This morning dawned fine, if a little chilly, so we set off just after
8am. The T&M has a good water level and the locks all worked OK, so we had a steady run to Stone, where we are now
moored up. As Dawn closed the top gate on the Hoo Mill lock, a mink hopped onto the gate beam and crossed over, then
calmly strolled along the side wall of the lock, before disappearing into the bushes. Perhaps I shouldn't say it, but the
engine is running well, and after shedding all the winters growth off the prop and rudder, she handled well - it's always
a bit sluggish at the start of the season as we are low in the water, because of the full diesel tank.
Here's another good one from Roger:
Last night I reached for my liquid viagra and accidentally swigged from a bottle of Tippex. I woke this morning with a
Westport Lake T&M
Head of acquisitions got lost in Stone yesterday, while buying a loaf of bread; I thought she'd jumped ship! This morning
was dry, so we left about 10.00 and had an incident free trip here, just north of Stoke on Trent. We pass a variety of
factories etc. on this stretch; there is the Wedgwood Pottery near Barlston and then a factory making wheels and axles
for trains, just before Stoke. We considered going through Harecastle tunnel today, but I think we were both ready for a
warm, and a cuppa, so we'll trot up there for the first passage tomorrow morning.
Yesterday we had a "day off" and got some painting done around the forepeak area. There is a pair of Canada geese
opposite the moorings at Westport, and we watched them parading their chicks, in the hope of free food. An early
6.00am start this morning, in the hope of getting to Stone before the rain arrived; if we had left at 5.00, we would have
done it. There were more boats moving today, but no lock waiting in our direction. I managed to Skype G&T, who are
coming to UK later this week, so we'll have to arrange a meet somewhere. Now that we have run the engine for a while,
I must speed up the tick over a little, when we get back to the marina.
Rather than do the whole trip from Stone to Gt Haywood in one day, we stopped for lunch at Weston and, after a post
lunch nap, decided to stay the night there. This morning was fine and sunny, so we had a slow cruise - there are only
two locks - to our berth at Gt Haywood. Unusually, there was no wind, so I came creaming into the entrance and made a
complete balls of it, having to throw it in reverse and bouncing off one of the rubber fending strips - I sneaked a peek
and could see nobody watching, though I expect it didn't go unnoticed. We have bitten the bullet this afternoon, and
bought a calorifier; this couples to the engine to give us "free" hot water. Tomorrow we will try and mount it under the
bed, plumb it into the hot and cold water and connect it to the engine; there is also a low wattage immersion heater,
which we can use when we have shore power. The engine has a double thermostat, which sends the hot water from the
engine through the calorifier until the cylinder is up to temperature, then the second stat opens to let the water flow
through the cooling tank.
When we see a duck, goose or swan with chicks, do we all count them.
06.00 - By the sounds on the roof, it seems as though we are going to be blessed with a little more rain today. Yesterday
was a real busy day; we cleared the bed out of the way and put the calorifier in place, so we could work out the pipe
and fittings we would need, then off to B&Q. The hoses to the engine were straight forward and easily done, as was the
wiring for the immersion heater; the old gas water heater was then removed, to give us access to the connections we
would need into the hot and cold circuits. The fun then began, because the original pipework was obviously installed
before the bedroom wall was fitted; we cut a hole low down (under the bed height) to give us access from the bedroom.
The pics show our chief engineer, plumbing section, utilising the hole to fix the pipes in place. Last night we tried the
immersion heater and were rewarded with a really hot shower at a pressure Karcher would be proud of. Today we will
open the engine valve and fill the coil, so that we can use the engine to heat the water; we also have to cap off the gas
inlet pipe for the old heater, and fit some protective lagging where the hoses go through the engine room bulkhead. I
must fill up the cupboard, left vacant by the old gas heater, with tools, before the head of housekeeping stuffs it full of
essentials, like clothes and bedding. There is a saying that a boat is just a hole in the water that you pour money into -
could be some truth in it!
Use the letters from
the word below, to fill
in the blank squares,
words both down and
14.00 - The first job today - well it was the only job really - was to shelve out the "new" cupboard; a fiddly area with lots
of sticky out bits , but we did it. Then came the negotiations - I have the bottom shelf for my electrics tool box and the top
shelf is for towels and bedding. I turned on the calorifier circuit at the engine and, after half hours running, it was hot
enough for a shower; if it does that on tick over, with no load, we should be able to steam clean after a days cruising. We
are left with the usual bag of bits we didn't need, so it's back to B&Q to exchange them for some vent covers, for the
inside of the old gas chimney hole. When the weather is more settled, we will swap the old chimney (it's the black one,
next to the ladder, on the main photo) for a low level vent, which will make the roof a lot more rope friendly, and let us
move the pole rack to a more central position. We now have a gas water heater which we don't need, so if anyone wants
it, give us a shout.
P.S. - I have a bruise on my shoulder, for putting up the above photos of the engineer - there's no pleasing some people,
you teach them everything you know, and let them put it into practice, and what do you get ..... bruises !!
The weather is improving, just an odd light shower now and again, but mostly sun. I ventured into the engine room this
morning and changed the fuel filters; I don't like to change them at the end of the season, because I imagine all the nasty
bits sinking to the bottom of the tank over the winter, and then getting sucked into the filters when the engine is first
used, so, after a few days cruising, they should all be in the filters I have just changed. While I was there I completed the
protective lagging for the calorifier hoses, so, jobs a good 'un and we should be ready to roll when we get back to the
boat next weekend. We are hoping for good weather and light traffic tomorrow, when we journey to Taunton. The gas
water heater has gone; Paul, our neighbour at the marina, is having it fitted into his boat.
Sorry for the delay - my host has been having server problems -- all fixed now.
Our wish was granted, we had sunny weather and not too much traffic, on our journey down to Taunton. There are major
road works near the M5/M4 junction at Bristol; these are to last until spring 2014, so there are going to be a lot of
unhappy holiday makers in the summer months. We have booked in at the Dyers Lane campsite until Saturday morning,
when, all being well, we will go back to the boat.
I have a little Satnav
It sits there in my car
A Satnav is a driver's friend
It tells you where you are
I have a little Satnav
I've had it all my life
It does more than the normal one
My Satnav is my wife
It gives me full instructions
On exactly how to drive
"It's thirty miles an hour" it says
"And you're doing thirty five"
It tells me when to stop and start
And when to use the brake
And tells me that it's never ever
Safe to overtake
It tells me when a light is red
And when it goes to green
It seems to know instinctively
Just when to intervene
It lists the vehicles just in front
It lists those to the rear
And taking this into account
It specifies my gear
I'm sure no other driver
Has so helpful a device
For when we leave and lock the car
It still gives its advice
It fills me up with counselling
Each journey's pretty fraught
So why don't I exchange it
And get a quieter sort?
Ah well, you see, it cleans the house
Makes sure I'm properly fed
It washes all my shirts and things
And - keeps me warm in bed
A cute poem from Peggy
This one is especially for Barry >>>>>>>>
Another busy day - kids to school, then over to Lisa at Barnstaple, for Dawn to get her
neck & back sorted. Barnstaple has got a new system to lengthen the life of the road's
surface, they just put signs at the end of them, banning cars and motorbikes; after 2
circuits, and no nearer the Osteopaths, Dawn walked in and I waited at PC World for
her. Next stop was at Mums, for a bit of lunch and a chat, and then back to Taunton,
to take the van into Chelston, for repairs to the trim which we damaged in Portugal.
By this time Ashley was ready to be picked up from school, with Alex next, after his
rounders practice --- busy life being a grandparent!
I've just found this classic clip from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore >>
We had a call from Chelston yesterday, to tell us that the Hymer agents had sent the
wrong trim, but would rush the correct one there by courier; this afternoon we called
in and it hadn't arrived, so we took the van and will have the trim fitted in October.
We've done all the odd jobs and only have my hospital appt tomorrow, then we can
get off to the boat, early on Saturday morning. There are not many on this site at
Taunton, and not many camper vans or caravans on the roads either - not really
holiday weather. Gloria tells us that it is scorching hot again in Portugal; we can't
wait to get back, our tan is almost gone, sob, sob. No word from G&T yet, I suppose
they could still be on the M25.
This morning we went to Tiverton hospital to see the surgeon; he has put me on his
list for a complete knee replacement, but I need to have a full leg Xray (hip to ankle
in one pic) and Tivvy can't do it, so I must wait for an appt from RD&E at Exeter. We
are going up to the boat tomorrow as planned, because the appt could be anything
from a few days to a few weeks away; the main thing is I'm on the "list".
It was a good run here this morning; we left Taunton at 06.00 and got here at 09.00, with the only traffic build up being
near the M5/M6 junction. The weather hasn't got any warmer here, so the first job was to light the stove and get the kettle
on. G&T may visit us early next week, so we'll stay at the marina until then, because it is easier for them to park here
than meet us on the cut somewhere. When the boat has warmed up, we have to fit a lagging jacket on the calorifier and
tidy up the "hole" we cut in the bedroom bulkhead.
Paddy shouts frantically into the phone "My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart!"
"Is this her first child?" asks the Doctor.
"No", shouts Paddy, "this is her husband!"
A dry morning!! so we removed the old gas heater chimney,
and fitted the low level vent in its place. The vent came with
self tapping fixing screws; these are not very good on steel
as thick as our roof, so they went for a swim and we drilled
and tapped for a better fixing. The roof looks a lot better,
with the pole rack more central, and we should get less
problems with ropes, which used to snag on the old
chimney. The lagging jacket fitted the calorifier well and
finished the job off nicely, and we seem to have as much
space under the bed as before; I have my suspicions that
things have been thrown away without me knowing.
G&T arrived safe and sound on Tuesday evening and, as
it was the hottest day of the year so far, head of catering
had fixed a beef stew - it was champion. Yesterday we
tootled off towards Stone with Trevor "having a go" on
t'tiller; we stopped under some trees and had lunch, and
then turned at Aston marina. The boat is getting very
sluggish on the tiller, so I think we had better get her
lifted and her bottom pressure washed; it looks like the
hanging gardens of Babylon below the water line.
Today G&T are off shopping and we may pop into
Stafford to get some new bedding, after I've had a chat
with the workshop about getting the boat out. The pics
on the left show Trevor bringing her into a lock and the
lock crew eager to shut the top gate.
On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all
day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who
comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life
span of twenty years." The dog said, "That's a long time
to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you
back the other ten?" And God saw it was good.
On the second day, God created the monkey and said,
"Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For
this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span." The monkey
said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty
long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like
the dog did?" And God, again saw it was good.
On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You
must go into the field with the farmer all day long and
suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to
support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a
life span of sixty years." The cow said, "That's kind of a
tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How
about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?" And
God agreed it was good.
On the fourth day, God created humans and said, "Eat,
sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give
you twenty years." But the human said, "Only twenty
years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty
the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and
the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"
"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."
So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep,
play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we
slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten
years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the
grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the
front porch and bark at everyone.
Life has now been explained to you.
2 pics showing a mornings progress; from "whats this
do?" to "look I did it myself!"
Yesterday was perfect weather for alfresco eating, so last evening, we ate at one of the picnic tables set around the
marina and had a very enjoyable evening chatting and watching life on the boats. There is a lone lapwing here, which
picks that time of day to swoop around making his strange call; the Canada geese have chicks which they bring down to
the water just before dark, for safety I suppose. Admin is still abed so I don't know what she has planned for today.
G&T set off about lunchtime yesterday and should be in the wilds of Norfolk by now; just hope they don't have language
problems with the natives there. With all this sunshine, we have got fed up waiting for the hospital to send an appt, so
we are doing the 4 counties ring while we wait. The banks are lined with hawthorns in full bloom and backed with fields
of buttercups, they look very pretty. We've already heard of a couple of cases of lock rage and there are hardly any boats
about yet. We should clear Stoke tomorrow, giving us Monday for the tunnel and the start of heartbreak hill. The boat is
coming out on the 6th June to have her bottom cleaned and a new bearing fitted to the rudder, so that gives us a return
date to aim for. Poor old Roger in Portugal has got Shingles; I don't envy him in those temperatures, must itch like
buggery. Jane - I'm using the info you gave me and it works well, thank you very much.
This one is for spotty Roger >>>>>
This morning we went through the Harecastle tunnel in our
fastest time yet - 29 minutes. Despite the heat, we made good
progress and arrived here, 16 locks later, at 12.45; we got a
mooring as far away from the motorway bridge as possible, so
should have a peaceful night. After we stopped, a layer of
light cloud came over, making it a lot more pleasant to sit out;
I think we both nodded off, but I don't think the crew will
admit to it. The yellow iris/flags are just coming into flower
and really brighten up the margins, a pity the flowers are so
short lived. I spotted something I wasn't expecting, a couple
of oyster catchers, flying along the canal side; there are lots of
cygnets and goslings about.
We've just finished our fish & chips, and we're
pogged. The start time today was 05.30, in a light mist
with the sun trying to break through, and we arrived
here at 10.30; that's good going for 15 locks and 8.5
miles. There were several dead fish on the last stretch
and a boater we met had contacted the environment
agency; the water levels are good and there are no
signs of contamination, so no obvious reasons.
Middlewich has posters advertising a beer festival in
mid June, so we'd better make sure we are nowhere
near here then. My Xray appt is on 8th June, which fits
in well with the boat being pulled out, and means we
can drive back to Taunton on the 7th.
Another early start, 04.45, was rewarded with a glorious
sunrise, see pic on left, and sightings of a fox and a couple
of kingfishers. After leaving the Middlewich arm, we hung
a left onto the southbound Shroppy; our intention was to
stop at the bottom of Audlem flight, but it was packed with
boats for a music festival this weekend, so we carried on.
We are now moored just above lock 3 on the Audlem
flight, which leaves us 7 locks to do before Market Drayton;
head of purchasing wants to stop there and browse - last
year the browsing led to 2 pairs of shoes, but she's earned
it today, with 18 miles and 17 locks completed. The
weather has the feel of thunder (for 'stenders viewers that's
funder) about it, and we have had a few more drops of
Gripe of the week
We Brits are a strange lot; because of the upcoming diamond jubilee of our Queen, there
are Union Flags, most probably made in China, flying from buildings, cars, boats etc. I ask
several people why they are flying the flag and usually get answers like "proud of my
country" or "proud of my Queen". If people are that proud, why the *?%$ don't they know
which way up to fly it? I bet if you asked citizens of any other country, they could tell you
how to fly the flag of their country, but you ask a group of Brits and I doubt you would find
one in ten who could tell you how to fly the Union Flag correctly. Grumble over.
There was a light drizzle in the air when we set off at 05.00, it gradually increased after we left Adderley top lock, until it
was quite steady when we stopped here. We stopped at the services on the way in, to top up with water, and I shared
grumbles about the dog poo around the locks with another boater, his wife said "please don't get him started again" - he
was still muttering about it when they left. There was a space in the line of moored boats when we approached the town
moorings, I said it was too small for us, but the crew insisted we would fit in - we got in with loads of space to spare!