Wednesday, 29 September 2021


Mancetter Marina doesn't have a diesel pump, but they will sell it to you by the 20 litre can. I envisaged an army-style jerry can with a spout and decided it was worth it, so I got from Amazon a large rectangular funnel designed to help put diesel into tractors, etc. Today Kathryn came across with the cans, and they turned out to be plastic containers without a spout. Tricky!

But all the activity attracted a crowd of neighbours. Anthony (NB William Gladstone next door) got an absorbent mat from the stock they have for their puppy, and then kindly volunteered to do the pouring.

Others stood around offering advice to do with avoiding spillage, cleaning up any that did occur, and alternative methods of transferring the fuel that they knew about. It certainly was harder to do it cleanly than I'd thought it would be.

Getting a fresh container halfway through, Anthony caught with his foot the windlass I'd put down to stop the kneeling mat from blowing away. It dropped straight into the water. Anthony was embarrassed. But since he'd already earned Honourable Mention Of The Day, he was immediately forgiven and, anyway, I recovered it later with my magnet. That was why I'd used a steel windlass, not an aluminium one.

Why fill up with diesel when we're just about to go home for the winter? One good reason is that a full tank acquires less condensation, offering a bit more protection from the dreaded "diesel bug". The other, of course: who knows what the price of diesel is going to be when we are next needing to use some?

If I'd realised the complications, I might just have taken Erin Mae down to Springwood Haven Marina, 40 minutes away, and filled up there.

But then we'd never have had our neighbourhood get-together around Erin Mae's filler cap!

Tuesday, 28 September 2021


We'd known our neighbours on the other side were returning to base at some point, and today they arrived. They slid into their berth with nary a tickle on Erin Mae.

Looking pretty traditional, and even more so at the other end.

So I did some internet searching – but this boat didn't look like anything in the historic boats register that answers to the name of Venus. A chat with our new neighbour David cleared it all up. The boat is a replica, built about 13 years ago. And built, intriguingly, by whoever used to own the basin which now hosts this marina.

We chatted about Hartshill Hayes (yesterday's post), which David thought sounded promising for dog exercise, and about the panic-buying threat to either of us getting down the A34 this week without having to call out the emergency services.

And then we both got on with our jobs, because it's raining again!

Monday, 27 September 2021

Hartshill Hayes

Wondering about a possible day out from the marina in the car, I went to the National Trust website. Nothing within the sort of distance I wanted to travel, given the need to conserve fuel in the car. So I resorted to Google Maps, and found Hartshill Hayes Country Park, a local authority area of mostly woodland about 3 miles down country roads from where we are. No-brainer!

Car park is fee is £2.50 for the day (very reasonable), card only for payment (very sensible). Three attempts and two cards later, the machine still wouldn't connect to an authorising bank. Thought I'd write a note for the windscreen, should we go for a walk. Then the rain started. Stopped. Started. We ate our sandwiches in the car instead of at the picnic table.

An employee appeared, so I went to discuss the payment issue. He thought I wasn't doing it right (I was) and suggested putting the card into the reader instead of doing the contactless thing. The machine still wouldn't authorise payment, so he said I could have a freebie! Went back to the car for coffee. I'd brought a thermos, and a cafetière with the coffee in it. Shame I'd forgotten to pack the mugs.

Hartshill Hayes is a very nice country park, and no doubt the views you get if you walk around the paths are absolutely stunning. There's a children's play area, and a tea-room open on Saturdays and Sundays. But as the rain started again, we went off to Dobbies for a coffee.

I expect we'll be back.

Sunday, 26 September 2021


It's a year since Mancetter Marina opened, so they decided to have a celebration. There was cake.

There was a BBQ, salads and puddings,

all organised by Kathryn, the excellent marina manager.

There were (in the end) lots of marina users, enjoying the food and the Pimms.

There were gate-crashers,

though, to be fair, they passed with a cheery wave and didn't stop.

And there was music.

Jim (guitar and lead vocals), Ben (fiddle, bodhran, vocals) and Lloyd (banjo, vocals) form Finnegan's Revival. From which you might think they were brought over from Kerry, but they're actually from Polesworth. And very good they were, playing and singing a selection of mostly Irish tunes, including "King of the Fairies" and "Rattling bog" which I hadn't heard or sung in decades. 

 It was a good opportunity to chat with some of the other marina clients, including Kate, who lives on NB Sunflower. We had a very enjoyable time. 

Saturday, 25 September 2021

William Gladstone

Our new neighbours (that is, we're new; they were here first!) are the proud possessors of NB William Gladstone. It's a 1970s boat, rescued, extended from 60' to 70' and fitted out by Richard Poole, from whom Anthony and Emma bought it when they decided to become liveaboards. Today they had visitors, and went out for a cruise.

Only trouble is – they're going to miss the marina BBQ, held to celebrate a year since it was opened. Good food (we hope) and an Irish band. Mancetter is reputedly the site of Boudicea's last stand – perhaps there's a Celtic connection there.

William Gladstone was apparently very disposed to help Ireland, and in favour of home rule, etc. So it's a bit odd that he should take off as soon as the Irish appear. More on this tomorrow, I think.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Ground control

A call today from Jon, who's doing bits and bobs in the bathroom of our bricks and mortar in the New Forest. Like, replacing everything and fitting a shower enclosure instead of a bath! An update and progress report, and to check agreed procedures for problem-solving. Great to have a friend who you trust in the trade – we've known him for 35 years since 'e were a lad, and were happy simply to give him the house-key when we came up to Erin Mae and let him get on with it.

At the time of the call, we were in Dobbies (Atherstone) Garden Centre, which appeared to have become about 50% Sainsbury's. Very confusing, but also very convenient as we needed to buy a pudding to take to the marina's celebratory BBQ tomorrow evening.

This spaceship is now going nowhere, of course, but is doing so fairly successfully. It's almost time to pull the plug on this blog for the winter, but there should be just one or two more entries to make before I do so.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Song books

We had planned to be at the Autumn get-together of the Boaters Christian Fellowship at Fazeley this coming weekend. In fact Jan, the chair, had asked me to lead some singing of worship songs on Saturday morning, with my guitar. And mentioned that James and Hazel Bell, BCF members who also work with Canal Ministries, had compiled a book of worship songs specially for boaters. It wasn't certain at that point whether they'd also be at Fazeley, but then it transpired that they were on the South Oxford, and they passed us at Fenny Compton. The box of books was duly transferred.

In the meantime, however, various things were going on which resulted in (a) us transferring our home base to Mancetter Marina, and (b) it becoming likely that we wouldn't ourselves make it to Fazeley after all. Our plans had back-fired and the books were in the wrong place!

But then it also transpired that Andy and Sue Smith, also of both BCF and Canal Ministries, would be coming to Fazeley from the Ashby Canal. A phone call, a few arrangements, and at 5 p.m. yesterday I was sitting on the service wharf at Mancetter, with a box of books, as NB Spring Water came round the corner from Bridge 34.

It was nice to see Andy and Sue again – not that we know them well, but we've spent time with them at other BCF events.

We're still not certain whether we ourselves will be at Fazeley at the weekend. But at least the song-books will be. Wonder if anyone will use them!