Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Survey Day for Serafina

We have been floating around Stoke-on-Trent for the last three days now, waiting for today. We've found things to do, as you can see from our previous post and today was no exception, we started the day off with a trip back over to Market Drayton for breakfast. After breakfast, and with the rain ever present, we took a walk through the street market and then headed down to the tow path for a walk along the canal. A little later on we arrived back in Stoke, where we went over to the Royal Dalton and Wedgewood shop to pick up a few bits and pieces.
That was the morning gone, we headed off to Longport for our appointment with the Marine Surveyor at 1 o'clock. Serafina had been pulled out of the water earlier in the morning, not quite ready for the survey, since they had forgotten. We caught the surveyor with his legs hanging out from under the bottom of the boat, he was checking the thickness of the bottom plate.
Overall the survey went pretty well, his first comment was, 'she's not a bad boat!' There were a lot of little things that need to be done before we would be prepared to accept her, the stand-out being that the engine has smaller than was advertised. However, the engine still falls within our initial specifications of what we were after in a boat, so it does give us plenty of room for further negotiation on the price.
We now await receipt of the surveyor's formal report before we go further. In the meantime, we are heading back up to Scotland for a few more days.


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

From Crick back to Stoke-on Trent

We finished off our third day at the at the Crick Boat Show with a couple of lectures. I had to convince Rachael that it was a good idea to go back to the boat show for a third day, especially since it had rained overnight and was raining lightly when we left the hotel. We had had enough of the mud and slush even after a bright sunny day the day before.

I had lined up three or four lectures over the three days but this hadn't materialised so I convinced Rachael that we should attend two lectures today and then we could head off to Stoke-on-Trent. I could see the keenness in her eyes when I mentioned that the lectures we were going to were 'Diesel engine maintenance' and 'So you want to live on a narrow boat'. We nearly made it through both lectures when she passed a note to me which read 'Kill me now'. We promptly left and headed for Stoke, confident we had all the information we could.

Tuesday at Stoke-on-Trent, Rachael was in her element, we toured four different pottery outlets. The Wedgewood and Royal Dolton Outlet seemed to be her favourite. This turned out to be a scouting trip for some new crockery that caught her eye, thus keeping the credit card account in tact; for now.

We are back at Stoke-on-Trent ready for the boat survey tomorrow (Wednesday), we will let you all know how it goes in our post tomorrow.

Crick - Day three

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Crick Boat Show

We booked our tickets to this three day event nearly six months ago not knowing what to expect but having high hopes. The first day was certainly an eye opener!

We arrived at our accommodation, the Olde Coach House in Ashby St. Ledgers, dropped our bags and set off for Crick just to see where we were heading the next day, expecting that there would be large crowds.  Crick turned out to be a small village near Rugby with little more than a Co-op supermarket, post office come general store and two large marinas, surrounded by farms. This definitely wasn't what we were expecting when we signed up to go to what is considered the premier inland boat show in the country.

Up the next day bright and early, sat eating a full English breakfast (included in room rate so had to eat it), listening to the rain absolutely bucketing down...could be interesting! Arrived at the Boat Show right on 10 am and was ushered into the local farmer's paddock along with around several thousand other cars, just next door to heaps of large tents. There was already mud everywhere, we were shoulder to shoulder with thousands of others all looking for a dry spot out of the mud but so much information and so well organised despite the rain and the mud.

We saw some beautiful boats, collected a lot of valuable information and ate some nice local food. Beer was good too!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Shugborough Estate

Rachael and I knew there would be a little time to fill in while we waited for all the preliminaries to be completed on the boat. We came prepared with our National Trust of Australia member cards which have reciprocal rights here in Great Britain. Today we went off to The Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire.

Shugborough was the home of the ancestors and finally the 5th Earl of Lichfield, Patrick Lichfield until his death in 2006. The main part of the Georgian Mansion was built in 1693 and has quite extensive renovations and extensions over the last 300 odd years. I must admit that the inside of the mansion was quite extravagant.

The working early 18th century Georgian farm was pretty interesting. I was watching the cheese making and it's amazing how quickly you forget about the past. I asked about refrigeration and the cheese maker, who was in costume and character, said 'what is refrigeration'.

Rachael managed to find the Tea House for English Tea to finish off the day.

If you would like to know more about Shugborough go here. I have added a few farm animals for Hollie and Ruby.



Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Been shopping!

Well, it's taken a little while but we think we have found the one! Rachael and I have looked at quite a few boats now, something like two each day for a few weeks. We've been following the same process each day, scour the classifieds each evening, in the morning ring the brokers or owners to see if they are still available and to find out the information they have failed to mention. We then head off across England to view the selected boats.

You are probably thinking that it doesn't sound too difficult and most of it isn't, until you try and find most of these marinas. We forgot to ask for directions the first couple of times and then we learnt! The marinas are usually down a little lane somewhere, under a railway bridge and left at the such and such farm gate; truly!

Anyway, we found Serafina at Stoke-on-Trent. It's a 57 foot, traditional narrow boat. It's a four berth with a full kitchen, saloon, dinette and main bedroom. For the more technical readers it has an Isuzu 43 HP engine and a PRM150 hydraulic gearbox. The next step now is to pull it out of the water and have it surveyed from top to bottom, that happens next Wednesday. Here are a few pictures for now and we will know much more next Wednesday.




Monday, 19 May 2014

Shrewsbury Stop Over

Staying in Shrewsbury at the moment, a beautiful, very old town. Rachael and I went strolling in the large pedestrian area this afternoon and took a few photos.

It seems that Shrewsbury was an old market town, hence the photo of the old Market Hall. There are a lot of old Tudor buildings around and in fact, our hotel 'The Old Post Office' is one of the oldest. I thought it was, as the name suggests, an old post office but after doing a little reading over a drink or two we find it was an old posting house for horse drawn coaches. Up until as late as 1900 it was stabling thirteen horses.

We're spending three nights here, it's a convenient central spot to go out and view some boats we've chosen to have a look at.

The Market Hall

Old Post Office Hotel

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Getting our feet wet

When we decided we would go back to Europe and the UK in 2014 we booked a week on a narrow boat cruising the English canal network. By the way, a week cruising on a narrow boat doesn't mean covering vast distances, overall I estimate that we covered around thirty miles for the week or about thirty minutes in a car!

We hired 'Peeress' from Maestermyn Cruisers, a 45' cruiser stern narrow boat, we thought would do the job. I must admit it wasn't as comfortable as described on the company website but it got us around to where we wanted to go. We cruised part of the Llangollen and all of the Montgomery canals, the Llangollen is a World Heritage Site and had some outstanding points of interest, least of all the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Our cruise has just finished and now we are down to the real business of looking for a boat to buy.

I have included a few photos from our cruising week.