Monday 18 November 2013

Delights and calamities

900 year old Christchurch Priory must be one of the most delightful settings in the whole of the country for a graduation ceremony. Grand enough to inspire a bit of awe, small enough to ensure that those at the back can see those at the front as hands are shaken and awards conferred, and to allow eye contact between the leaders and the led. We had a good time on Friday evening as the last of the Moorlands students to whom I had been personal tutor (with the single exception of the one who is, shall we say, delaying completion till next year) donned their robes and graduated. We sang some good stuff, ably led by the Priory organist for a couple of hymns, and by the college band for the rest – and the acoustics respond well to enthusiasm. The Rev Jonathan Woodhouse QHC, chaplain-general of the British army, was the preacher – a seemingly unlikely choice until we found out that he played football with the college's principal when they were both doing their own theological training!

Saturday started early as we were due in Alfreton, 4 hours away, by 11 a.m. for the annual get-together of the Boaters' Christian Fellowship. This year we'd decided to join the BCF, so thought we'd go and see how they did things. It was a fun day with 100–150 people there. Time for an efficiently-conducted AGM, some excellent country singing by a publican from (I think) the Erewash, plenty of shared food, lots of time to chat with other boaters; and finished off with a service at which the singing was led by a bunch of musicians who thoroughly enjoyed getting together as a scratch band for the occasion (yours truly on the keyboard).

Then it was across country to spend the night on Erin Mae, and put together some final data on overnight battery voltage loss before taking the batteries back to the supplier for checking. But when I opened up the rear doors it was clear that something was amiss. The electrical panel on the left is usually full of light, but only one of the indicators was on, the one for the starter battery. In the cupboard, the Victron charger was on, but the leisure batteries were not doing anything. By torchlight I got to the battery compartment, and found that they were registering just 0.5 volts on my voltmeter. I lit a fire while we considered our options – we had no water, no central heating, but I didn't wanted us succumbing to hypothermia while we pondered. The duvet is wonderful, but the temperature in the boat was about 6 degrees, and only crept up 2 or 3 over the next twenty minutes. In the end the thought of light, a hot shower and a cosy bed won out, and I managed to book us into the Stafford Central Travelodge.

By the time we checked in it was about 11 p.m. Chris, the amiable chappie on the desk, found us the best room he could, and up we went. The door was opened by a card key, but we were a bit loaded. I had visions of dropping the card inside the room, and then allowing the door to shut while I reached back to pick up the case. However, we made it inside without mishap, and began to unpack. Then my best beloved called out that there was just a single bath towel in the bathroom. So we went downstairs again to see Chris. We both had to go, because the key-card was also the light-switch. We needed the card to get around the building, but that would have left the one remaining in the room in the dark. Chris invited us to follow him to the laundry room, and supplied the necessary towels. Back in the room, my best beloved called out that there was no soap in the bathroom. Ah – this was beginning to sound like Gerrard Hoffnung's story of the bricks. Down we went to see Chris, and back to the laundry room. He enquired whether we had enough mugs and plastic cups, and decided to furnish those as well, just in case.

We had a good if somewhat over-heated night, went across to Frankie and Benny's for breakfast, and rang Clive the electrician, even though it was Sunday. He was elsewhere and we exchanged messages but had no voice contact. In the end we decided that the fuel to come home was cheaper than another night in the Travelodge, so back home we are. So much for all those plans to get the batteries to Evesham. We need to find out what's going on before we even think of taking them back.

Isn't life fun!


  1. Oh no, that really is a serious pain! Hope you get it sorted. And there was I , going to ask you about the wonderful gizmo that super charged your batteries. We topped ours all up before coming home and we were surprised how down the levels were. Note to self...check more frequently!

    1. The crazy thing about this is that Erin Mae was hooked up to the mains. To me the whole thing is inexplicable. We're still waiting for Clive to give us his diagnosis.

  2. By the way there is a little bed and breakfast place in Rockhouse Drive up the road from the Clifford about a hundred yards.Quiet! and it's a private house but very pleasant and nice people,en suite, good breakfast. I'll give you their card next time we meet up!