Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumn Days Cruise - days 3 and 4

Here we are at Hawkesbury junction, somewhat knackered after a long day at the tiller under the burning sun.  Somehow it seems more tiring when there are no locks to do.  We just had the three Hilmorton locks first thing this morning.  In spite of the restrictions we got down the locks without any significant delays.

Yesterday, coming North from Braunston we came upon our old friend Leon on Nb The Old Bovine, the fist time we had seen him since his lovely wife Ray (Rae?) died six months ago.  He is bearing up well and it will come as no surprise to anyone who has met him that he is still putting his heart and soul into renovating the boat. Inside it is nothing short of wonderful.  Traditional fittings, gleaming brassware and perfect traditional decoration everywhere.  It's a real showpiece.  Not only all that but the boat has been lengthened (again!) and is now the full 70ft.  Wait - There's more!  The OB now has a new engine.  Not just any old engine but a brand spanking new Russel Newbury!!! (for those who don't know RNs are something of a Rolls Royce, being hand built today in the style of the old boat engines.)  I suspect this is Leon's present to himself after the terrible loss of Rae- and why not.

Badsey's cafe was good.  Food actually cooked for you and not just warmed up.  After I told them I was born in Badsey they showed me a book about the village containing an old picure of the 1892 Badsey Rangers football team with my grandad in the front row!  They very kindly ran me off a photcopy of the picture.

The Greyhound beckons, so I'll conclude with a few pics from today.

Fist, Herbie in the psychedelic Newbold tunnel

Next a picture of Badsey outside the cafe.  She has been repainted in post war austerity colours following her previous paint job being damaged by a spray of hydraulic fluid!

Finally a snap of one of the few places where we stayed cool today!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Autumn days cruise days 1 and 2

That Mr Berners Lee seems to have forgotten Warwickshire when he invented the internet.  The signal here is awful, so no pics today. I'll try and paint a word picture for you.

Looking out of the window this morning at across the canal at Napton I can see the customary gang of mallards, mostly still asleep, half a dozen wagtails wagging their tails, a few magpies, some unidentifiable seagulls, probably albatross or gannet I expect, some rooks above the trees up by the windmill giving grief to a poor buzzard looking for rabbits, and a bunch a shaggy looking ponies.

The sun is shining and the sky is blue.  I'm going to complain to the met office.  I've spent all this money on waterproofs and packed bags full of jumpers and warm shirts and now they do this to me.  Yesterday my scalp got sunburnt.  I've noticed that since they moved their HQ from Bracknell to Exeter, the weather has gone very wierd.  They seem to have lost all control.  Were it not for the hedgerows bursting with haws and the leaves turning gold, you would think it was a June morning.

Our trip so far has gone completely to plan!! Better in fact, since we arrived at Watford locks and went straight down without having to queue.  Not that our descent was rapid, for we were following a hotel boat and butty.  The butty had to be manhandled through all the locks.  Well, woman handled actually.  The poor girls pushing and shoving were looking knackered.  I expect they had to rush in and cook lunch for the customers as soon as they got down the flight.

Evening no1 saw us above Braunston locks having had a scary trip through the tunnel.  We met no less than six boats coming the other way, some of them on the bendy bits where you haven't a clue where the sides are what with the oncoming boats blinding you with their spotlights. Rick will be delighted to know that as we passed one of them their was a loud crack and  their skipper shouted "There goes another fender".

Dinner at The Admiral Nelson was disappointing and the beer was no better.  Such a pity for a pub in such a great lockside location.

Yesterday we descended Braunston locks (no keepers in sight) paired up with a hire boat and it all went very quickly.  There were pairs coming up the other way so no water was wasted save that from some very leaky gates.

A quick walk up to the village for supplies at the shop, then a bite of lunch and on in the hot sun towards Napton.  Lots of boats moored up on the way with their crews sitting out sunbathing.  Can this really be the end of September?

Dinner last night at the Folly was lovely, as was the beer.  Such a nice atmosphere too.  That's how to run a canalside pub.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How I saved two shillings

press gang
In pursuance of His majesty’s Order in Council dated the sixteenth day of November 1804, We do hereby Impower and Direct you to impress, or cause to be impressed, so many Seamen, Seafaring Men and persons whose Occupations and Callings are to work in Vessels and Boats upon Rivers, as shall be necessary  to Man His Majesty’s Ship under your Command, giving unto each Man so Impressed One Shilling for Prest Money.

So says a press warrant issued to a ship’s captain in 1809.

Well we have a lot of locks to do, so I thought an investment of two bob was worth it and sneaked up on Rick and Rainman. But they were not Impressed.  As luck would have it, they made the mistake of Volunteering, so saving them the indignity of having a shilling coin slipped into their beer mug.  In Rainman’s case it might have been a bit of a problem because he only drinks Coke. 

There is a downside. After further historical research I now find that as they volunteered, I am bound to protect them from their creditors if their debts are less than £20.  It’s a risky business being a boat skipper.
Now after even more historical research I find that they were exempt anyway, being either under 18 or over 55 years of age. Probably the latter.  Actually it was appropriate then that when I sneaked up on them I fooled them by describing the voyage as an “Autumn Days” cruise on behalf of Help the Aged.  After all I am fairly aged and could do with a bit of help.

Rick will be crewing us up the Birmingham and Fazeley into the city centre and Rainman the Grand Union section including the Hatton flight.

“One volunteer is worth three pressed men”  they say, and I’m sure they’re right.  The cruise is now fully booked, especially as we are likely to have further guests (Bob and Margaret) at the closing stage.

Now, where did I put those hard tack biscuits?

PS I just re registered with the UK Waterways Ranking site (having somehow lost the link before) and now I start again from the bottom of the list.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Undeferred Gratification (or deferred penalty)

It’s a good idea on a cruise to get all the hard work out of the way near the beginning. Not this time!  We’ve ignored all the rule again and put together a cruise which is a doddle at the beginning and tough going towards the end.  We never learn do we?

Our Autumn cruise starts next Monday and if we don’t chicken out or miss any turns it should take us to the middle of Birmingham and back.  We’ve never got lost on a canal yet, but maps of canals in Brum make me think it’s possible!

Here’s our route, starting and ending at Crick.


As I mentioned the other day, we will detour to Napton and Coventry on the way out. We’ll be going along the blue lines, not the grey ones.  Thin lines are canals with narrow locks and vice versa.

We should be able to do the whole thing inside 3 weeks without killing ourselves so long as we don’t get held up by restrictions or the Great British Weather.

Up as far as Tamworth (Fazeley junction), it’s a doddle.  A leisurely wander through the countryside mostly. About 30 locks I think.  Then it starts to get tougher. 38 locks in 2 days to the National Indoor Arena in the centre of the great metrollops.  Then the route back home is 79 locks, including the Hatton 21 as we descend towards Warwick.

As far as Tamworth, we know the route because we did it as part of the Leicester ring this summer.  Brum and the homeward route is unknown to us though.  As you can see we had a choice of routes south.  I had no idea which to choose, so I posted a question on Canal World Forums and within an hour I got lost of helpful replies. Well, helpful except for the fact that as usual no one can agree. It seems it’s horses for courses.  Anyway, as we like doing narrow locks, we chose the Stratford canal route.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Journey planning to find the slowest route because of a village name

At the weekend we're off on our early autumn cruise.  I love trip planning, but this time I have an unusual problem because we want to keep going but go slow.  The reason is that for week one, our son Peter will be with us.  He will want us to do some boating each day, but we don't want to get too far too fast because:

a) we are planning to drop him off at Coventry at the end of the week and Coventry is realistically only three shortish days cruise from Crick, and
b) we are very keen to visit Badsey's cafe at Hillmorton ( only one and a half days out) and they don't open until Wednesday.

"What's so special about Badsey's?" I hear you ask.

Well for a daft reason really, although they do have a very good reputation for food.  You see I was born and brought up in the village of Badsey in the Vale of Evesham, and in a roundabout way the cafe is named after the village.

Actually the cafe is named after Badsey the old working boat moored outside. But the old boat, built in 1936 is a GUCCC Town Class boat, which means it's one of a series of boats named after towns and villages. I read somewhere that in order to find place names they looked at railway station names, which is a bit odd because our station was named " Littleton and Badsey" as we shared it with another village.  I can remember as a child lying in bed at night listening to the clang and clink of the goods wagons as they were marshalled in the goods yard a mile away, loaded with fruit and veg from the local growers.  All a bit academic now as that nasty Dr Beeching did away with the station a long time ago.

Incidentally, I am proud to say that Badsey has probably the best village web site in the whole of the UK and has won awards for it.  The local history society has built a massive database of all the buildings, people, trades and events in the village going back hundreds of years.  When we are doing our genealogy, Kath is green with envy because the Badsey society has saved me months of digging.  Take a look at  You'll be impressed. For especial delight,  I can  recommend the pages on Asum Grammar - the local dialect in which I am still fluent!  A prize for anyone who can translate Thee sist that chippa guz-gogs dussunt?

Anyway, I digress. How do we start at the weekend and delay our arrival at Hillmorton until Wednesday?

Firstly by not leaving until Monday, because Peter has not yet been to Crick so we can spend Sunday showing him around the marina and the village.  Secondly by doing a detour down to Napton en route.  Peter like his mum and dad has been known to enjoy the odd pint, and the Folly at Napton sells a particularly good one.


Monday, September 19, 2011

On optimism

I like to think of myself as an optimist, but some people leave me in the dust in the optimisms stakes.

On Saturday we took Grace to the Foxton Locks Festival.  She had a great time because a large percentage of the entertainment was for kids.  Fairground rides, bouncy castle slide, pets corner and all that stuff. There was a sizeable craft fair too.  Lots of people were there and I dare say that the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust made a few bob out of it.

What the trust wants to do of course is to restore the old inclined plane, abandoned in 1928, so that it can lift boats, sideways in a rolling tank, up and down the steep hill.  It should look something like this.

IMG_9926 (1024x667)

Scary stuff if you ask me! You can see the currently operating staircase locks and their side ponds in the background.

Well after spending a £3m lottery grant it now looks like this:

In at the top

IMG_9940 (1024x676)

Down the plane (or what is left of the old concrete foundations)

IMG_9942 (1024x683)

and out at the bottom.

IMG_9923 (1024x683)

Er, still a bit to do then.

Don’t get me wrong.  I can well imagine how much work it has taken to get this far.  The place used to be overgrown with trees, the bottom arm had no landing stage, the top arm was derelict, and they have spent a fair bit on creating the excellent on site museum.  What worries me is that (if I have understood the documents correctly) they are looking for another £11m to finish the job.  I don’t know about you but if it has cost £3m to get this far, is another £11m going to be enough to rebuild the tracks and the machinery and all that?  The way costs usually escalate in these schemes, I reckon they’ll need a great deal more.. 

Everybody these days seems to be looking for another Falkirk Wheel (that cost £17.5 m by the way).  Is this the one?  Can they do it?

Only an idiot would say yes.  But then, only an idiot like Tom Rolt thought that England’s derelict canal network in the 1940s could be restored, and here we are cruising about on it.  Idiots all over the country are bringing bits of waterway back to life. 

I think I wish them well, although personally speaking, I just love going up the staircase locks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Helping the Thames breathe

Poor old David Walliams had a tough time swimming the Thames didn't he?  Although the Thames is supposed to be clean these days, it was clear from his experience that there is still enough pollution around to make you ill if you fall in.  Pollution  and low water oxygen levels go hand in hand, so it was interesting to see this boat when we were on the tideway last week.
They tell me it's an oxygenating barge.  I never knew such things existed, but it looks to be a serious piece of kit.  Apparently this has been going on since 1989. A quick check on Google reveals that they have two of these boats.  This one, Thames Vitality, plus another called Thames Bubbler.  That might give a clue to how they work, presumably by blowing oxygen bubbles into the water.  It seems that these boats are deployed as needed in order to protect fish and other marine life when  oxygen levels reach low levels.

By the way, following my scary picture of Nb Leo's bow dipping into the water last week I heard from her skipper Kathryn who revealed as I suspected, that standing 60ft away on the stern she had no idea how dodgy things were up front.  If she had, she might have closed the front doors!

Here's another photo taken at the time.  I guess she faced at least twenty such waves.

Leo,  who Kathryn tells me was built by Orion, has lovely lines and I reckon that although the bow and gunnels are low to the water, the good shaping of the bow kept the water away from the well deck as I think this photo shows.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Inside an ignition switch–(anoraks only)

Well that title ought to put off most readers, but if you are still with me and have an interest in such things, then read on.

I pulled apart Herbie’s faulty ignition switch to see what was wrong with it.  Don’t do this yourself unless you are replacing the switch because the first thing that happens when you prise off the back is that a few little springs and ball bearings shoot out, and you’ll never get them back in the right place!

If you have a boat with a BMC or Beta etc engine then you may well have a similar switch.  Its a Lucas one but our replacement although identical was made by Durite.


Here’s the back plate

P1050716 (1024x768)

Flip it over and you see this

P1050718 (1024x768)

Note the cam like notches in the centre of the plastic which looks like they might hold the fixed switch positions against the little springs and bearings.  Practically no wear on the contact discs though.


Looking inside the body of the switch we see this


You can just make out the wear on the 3rd and 4th stud contacts.  Not much, but apparently enough to stop the glow plugs from working.  It gives the impression that in some positions, the switch hasn’t been turned far enough.  Do you see what I mean?  It looks like it has only been contacting the edge of the stud.


Anyway, the new switch was easy to get and at £16, not too dear, and fitting it took a couple of minutes.  Herbie’s starting is transformed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh lucky man

After a free ride up the Thames with Indigo Dream, then a good evening ( and a tasty chilli) on Briar Rose hosted by Adam and Adrian on Saturday evening at Norton junction, we ought to be due a downturn in our weekend luck, but not yet it seems.

Yesterday (Sunday) was yet another good day.  We are up at Crick aboard Herbie. At 9am Rick arrived ready for us to attempt to find the fault in  Herbie's glow plugs circuit.  In the event it took us only a few minutes to deduce that the ignition switch was at fault.  The full current to the glow plugs wasn't getting switched through.  So we jumped in the car and drove 15 minutes to Wharf House chandlers at Braunston where we got a replacement switch for £16.  Within the hour we had the new switch in and the plugs were working. Job's a goodun! That left us time to replace a fuse box which had a broken piece. A fiddly job with all the wiring in a small space, but it worked.

This was very good news because we were in time to drive over to Rick's house where Marilyn made us BLT baguettes and we watched the Monza Grand Prix. Then returning to the boat I rigged up our new telly aerial and that worked fine too.  What's more, after a very very windy night it still looks very solid.

 I'm getting nervous now.  Something has to go wrong soon.

At this point I was going to show you photos of the inside of the ignition switch because I found the design a bit surprising.  However, the network here is too s,low for uploading pics at the moment, so I'll do it when we get home.

Toodle pip.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A picture show of a rare and special cruise

Roll up, roll up. See twenty narrowboats in a pickle, one nearly going under, a rather fine picture of the backside of  Richard (skipper of Indigo Dream), and some HUGE lock gates.

Q. What’s the difference between herding cats and organising a formation cruise of narrowboats?
A.  Not a lot

I don’t think the Red Arrows have anything to fear from competition from narrowboaters.  Yesterday’s mini rehearsal for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Thames flotilla showed how hard it’ll be.  21 boats formed the flotilla.  I’m now told it’ll be 1000 next year!!!

I think the Red Arrows have it easy.  They have

  • Identical machines that tend not to break down,
  • pilots who are trained and know what they are supposed to do,
  • regular practice,
  • no weird obstacles or traffic in their way,
  • no tidal currents to negotiate
The boaters have

  • a motley collection of craft, some twice as powerful as others
  • a motley collection of skippers, some more experienced than others, but all never having  done it before
  • a complicated succession of bridges each with different rules about which arch to go through
  • other craft getting in their way
  • sudden vicious tidal pulls near large immovable objects in the water
It was of course great fun. 

We entered the Thames from Limehouse lock in groups of 3 or 4.  Limehouse lock gates are not what narrowboaters are used to.  They just open ‘em up and let the water find its level.   Hang on to those ropes!


And no, these are not the big ones I referred to in the intro.  No where near!

Anyway, what could go wrong with Richard at the helm.  We were quietly confident.


 Conditions were benign and even wash from the Thames Clippers didn’t seem too bad

Under Tower Bridge (they didn’t need to open it for us.  Pity!), and on to Westminster where I had the privilege  of steering us past the mother of parliaments


Then supposedly off up the river to our rendezvous point at Barn Elms.

Problem 1, a Port of London Authority (PLA) boat arrived to say that the tide wasn’t yet deep enough at Barn Elms and ordered us to tie up to a big barge in mid stream and await further instructions.  Turning round to face the tidal current, we suddenly realised how strong it was.  When you are going with it is seems gentle, but when you face it, it’s scary.  We lashed up tight and waited nervously at the barge for quite a while before we were allowed to move on.

Arriving at Barn Elms we met problem number 2.  We were supposed to moor up alongside a wall, but at our designated spot there nothing much to tie up to except a tree growing out of the wall.  How many boats carry a pruning saw?  Well Richard’s does!  He set to work chopping off the tree while we enjoyed taking embarassing pictures of his backside, and we tied up to a rusty old bold sticking out of the stone work.


At last came the moment to set off in formation.  The leading boats shot off leaving the stragglers struggling to catch up, but eventually we got into some sort of shape.


Then came problem 3.  How do you go four abreast through a bridge when the arches aren’t wide enough.  Mild panic ensued whilst people made their choice of arch and the formation went to pot.  It wasn't exactly helped when one of the boats lost power while approaching the bridge pier.  The choppy conditions had stirred up the muck in his fuel tank and blocked his filters.


Getting back in shape wasn’t easy and sometimes the boats alongside us didn’t belong to our row.  There was a a fair bit of bunching and stretching just like on a motorway.  Coming towards central London we occasionally looked fairly ship shape.  Then we hit the traffic.


The skipper of the Clipper (it rhymes!) was OK but the City Cruises boat on the right cut right across our path.  I believe he was due to get a telephone bollocking from the PLA last night.  The formation went even more pear shaped after that incident and it was all a bit confusing, not helped by vicious cross currents around some bridge piers and large metal buoys.  There were a couple of near misses.


On through central London where we began to notice it was getting somewhat choppy.


Just how choppy it got you can see here!  How NB Leo with her lovely sleek low bow kept afloat is a mystery to me.


Mercifully, no one sank but we were beginning to feel queasy!

Under Tower bridge where the flotilla looked reasonably in order and gongoozlers waved


and on to Limehouse reach where  the leading half of the flotilla was released whilst the rear half  practiced an emergency stop under the guidance of the PLA boat Impulse who had escorted us throughout.


The idea was to assume that there was a bomb on a bridge or a big boat sideways on in front.  On the signal we all stopped and (most of us) turned back upstream.  Quite what would have happened with a thousand boats coming down behind us with their view obscured by flags and bunting, I’m not sure, but the PLA seemed happy enough.

And so on to our destination.  The mighty West India dock at Canary Wharf.  As lock entrances go, this one takes some beating.  in the picture you can just make out a boat going in under the white bridge.


The lock gates are pretty big too.


Here we are, safe in the dock.


Quite a day eh?

Many many thanks to Sue and Richard for their hospitality and for bringing us back alive. Today they do it all again but with a lot more boats.  It might get on the telly or in the papers, so look out for it

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Treats in store

First the bad news. Tomorrow we have to rise at 5am !!!!!!!

Well you might too if you had the promise of a narrowboat Thames cruise from Limehouse to Wandsworth and back.  Sue and Richard on Indigo Dream are participating in a rehearsal for next years Queens Jubillee flotilla of 500(?) boats and with typical generosity have invited us to join them.  How nice is that? Only 26 narrowboats will be going out tomorrow, and a larger group of allsorts on Saturday.  We’re just going for the Friday

We have to be at Limehouse soon after 8 pm and that means an early train for us.  The strange thing is that to make a day of it, and avoid the tube which Kath hates, we plan get down river from Waterloo station by using the Thames Clipper boats.  Which means that before we start the narrowboat trip we will have already done a lot of it by Clipper.  Is that daft?  No, no at all.  Zooming down the Thames at speed in a 200 seater speedboat is entirely different from standing on the back of a narrowboat at 5mph.  Wandsworth is well upstream of Westminster so we’ll get to have a good long view of all the sights both out and back.  And there’s something special about being in a flotilla of 26 narrowboats.  Apparently we will be returning downstream in formation and going into West India docks.  Brilliant.  Must charge up the camera batteries.

Then more treats.  We plan on Saturday to go up to Herbie at Crick for a few days.  We’re hoping to meet up with Adam and Adrian of Nb Briar Rose for a drink on Saturday night, then on Sunday Rick and I hope to play with the glow plug wiring to get them working.  My cup runneth over!

Monday, September 05, 2011

TV aerials

At home we have a place where things pile up ready to take out to Herbie on our next visit. Currently it contains some bedding and a couple of new toys.  These are a shiny new socket set with lots of extension bars in the hope that some impossible jobs become a bit less impossible, and a new TV aerial which arrived today.

As recommended for boaters by the very wonderful which I blogged about some time ago, it is a log periodic aerial which looks like this


(yet another picture of our landing carpet).  You can see how it has two rows of sticky outy bits (SOB’s) one above the other, and that the SOB’s are staggered.  I don’t have a clue how this works as you may gather from my technical description.  Anyway when we get out to the boat, hopefully next weekend, I’ll stick it up and give it a go then report back.

PS you may or may not know that depending whether you are pointing your aerial at a main transmitter or a relay, the aerial should be mounted so that the SOB’s should be either horizontal or vertical accordingly.

I just remembered.  SOB’s are probably called elements.  I think.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

By popular demand

A comment has flooded in from a Mr Trellis of Brinklow marina complaining that I had not posted a photograph of myself “back in the day”.  Those of a nervous disposition look away now.


You see, there was no need.  I haven’t changed at all. 


O.K. I have put on a bit of weight since

Saturday, September 03, 2011

What do you do with a wife who likes rust?

Kath is amassing a collection of bits of rusty iron, supposedly for some rust dyeing process for her textile work.  Bits of farm gates found on a walk in Shropshire, a bolt from a broken groyne on a beach at Folkestone, and so it goes on.  Not only that but we keep having to stop the boat to take photos of rusty old boats with dodgy paintwork we she uses for “inspiration” for her designs.  Here’s a typical one.


Up the Coventry canal she was really taken with Charity Dock- right up her street




Actually it did have some lovely quirky bits




It’d be nice to have a stroll round.  I bet the elfin safety people would have a fit.

Although Kath sometimes drives me nuts, I must like something about her because tomorrow we will have been married for 35 years.  Here she is back in the day, as they say.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Oooh, er... Aaah

I just got all excited.  Aldi is selling this
for £2.99.  Neat idea, a magnetic brush holder.  " I must tell everyone" I thought.  Then I thought for a minute.  Most good quality brushes have the metal bit made out of stainless steel. And most stainless steel is non magnetic.  Maybe I'll get one anyway because cheap stainless may be magnetic so it might work.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Rick the confessor

I know the secrets of the confessional are supposed to be sacrosanct, but hey, I need something to blog about. 

Herbie rests tonight back home in Crick, having been under the command of Rick since Monday for a short trip down past Braunston and back.  This evening Rick rang me up to confess in anxious tones to the list of damages inflicted.  Nothing serious at all, just normal boating scrapes, but he and (especially) Marilyn, feel the weight of remorse.  Listen Rick and Marilyn, I worry much more about you stressing than I do about the loss of a fender and a small easily patchable scrape of the shoulder of the cratch cover.  These happened in Braunston tunnel where they met another boat coming the other way at the point where the tunnel makes a dog leg. 

As to the demolition of the end of our mooring pontoon at the marina I just wish I had been there to see it. Actually I exaggerate, he merely dislodged a couple of the batons which make up the end of the footway.  Rick kindly went to the harbourmaster Gary and nervously informed him of the damage, and all Gary did was say it happens all the time and not to worry, he would send someone out with a hammer and nails to replace them.

Lastly on the matter of the destruction of an over bridge and four lock gates at Watford . . .  alright, I made that bit up..

Having hired many a boat in the past I can recall rather more serious misdemeanours, especially on Broads sailing boats.  Broken bowsprits, lots of scrapes, and a spectacularly broken mast when towing a dinghy under a Ludham bridge.  We lowered the mast on the main boat but quite forgot the little sailing dinghy we were towing.  I can still hear the crack now!  I think that over a number of years we have lost our damage deposit more often than not.  Rick has already paid in advance his Herbie damage deposit over the years, mostly in jars of his matchless pickled onions.

Apparently my shiny new glow plugs aren’t working.  Well that is to say I think they are OK, but the wiring to them is not.  I’m not entirely surprised as although I replaced them recently ( they were on special offer at Calcutt) I suspected there might be other reasons for the old ones not functioning.  I’m quite looking forward to playing with my multimeter over that one.  It sounds tricky but inexpensive.