Banbury, 0.25 miles, 1 lock
The sun was shining this morning which lifted my mood after last night. I had several jobs to do today, the most important of which was to sort out the glowplug issue, so after getting dressed I went into the engine room to get some kind of feel for what the problem was. There are numerous wires coming off the starter battery but one specifically goes to a box marked "Glowplugs". I assumed that this was the fuse for the glowplugs and was probably a good place to start. Inside the box there was a strip of thin metal stretched between two terminals. It looked intact, but just to check I put a meter over it. Yes, no problem there. I figured the problem was to do with the relay that activates the glowplugs because it's that 'click' of the relay that wasn't happening. There were likely to be several wires related to the operation of the relay, for example there might be one off the keyswitch. Starting with the glowplug fuse I followed it down to a large green cylinder with wires coming off it. This was obviously some kind of power distribution thingamajig and possibly even the relay itself. Hanging off it, not connected to a spade terminal, was a black wire. Surely it couldn't be as simple as a wire come off? After pushing the wire back onto the terminal, I turned the key to halfway and...click! The glowplugs activated and after 30 seconds of giving their cheery warmth into the engine block, the engine fired up straight away. I was saved!
After this triumph, I decided to celebrate with breakfast in the BHS restaurant, which Oothoon was effectively parked next to. Not bad for the price, especially given that one of the options available was bubble'n'squeak, but the mushrooms were tinned rather than fresh and the coffee was disgusting. Still, it cheered me up even more.
Even better was that when I got back to the boat, I realised that the fire was burning. I guess my last attempt to light it last night must have worked, so I filled up the coal scuttle and put a bit more fuel on the fire to stoke it up.
Next was shopping. I unpacked the shopping trolley I bought yesterday and tried to figure out how to put it together. Putting the wheels on was easy enough, but there's a brace thing that goes inside the bag and I couldn't figure out how to fit it in and get the bag into the frame of the trolley at the same time. Then I saw the instructions on the floor. A quick read of these and it all sorted itself out and was dead easy really.
With my trolley assembled, it was off to Aldi, which looked to be a shortish walk away. It wasn't. It was a long walk away and past a huge Tesco Extra. Never mind, the walk will do me good. Aldi was its usual self, except that there was no grapefruit wheatbeer, nor generators, nor funny soups. However I did find Poppin' Chicken in the freezer compartment, which was basically the same as the stuff I'd made using the Fajita kit the other day. Aldi also sell Burrito kits, so between them I should be able to recreate the stuff Paul and I had last week.
The walk back was much easier than normal, thanks to the trolley. It isn't steerable, so going round corners requires you to tip it back slightly and swivel it, but I schlepped at least 16 litres of water, milk and orange juice back, not to mention soup, veg and sundry other things. That would have been impossible for me to do otherwise, so I'd say the trolley is a great success in that regard. Less successful, however, is getting it back on the boat. Because it's heavy and has sticky-out bits all over the place, it's tricky to get onto the boat. Also once it is indoors, there's no easy way to collapse it, so it sits there fully assembled, taking up a lot of space. Not so useful. Maybe it'll be less of an issue once the front cabin isn't full of junk.
Now that I was back and all the shopping was unloaded, it was time to do the next chore: filling the water tank. This required me to get Oothoon through the hydraulically operated lift bridge in the centre of Banbury, where the lift mechanism is on the non-towpath side. There's a bollard, so you can moor while you do it, but I couldn't reach the bollard because the restaurant boat Rosamund The Fair was moored outside Tooley's boatyard. I could have tied up to her, however that would only have got me access to inside the boatyard, which isn't helpful. Standing on the prow, I was just thinking that the only solution would be to go right up to the bridge and climb onto it, when fortunately a passer-by offered to lift the bridge for me. I handed him a windlass and off he went, while I scuttled along the gunwale back to the cockpit. Once through the bridge, I tied up at the water point and had my windlass returned.
Filling with water took ages, so I took the opportunity to take the (full) loo down to the Elsan point by the bus station and empty it. I then did the same with the first of the rubbish bags, closing the bottom gates of the lock and opening a top paddle to fill it. Just before I took the second lot of rubbish for dumping, I had the bright idea that I'd unwrap another set of LED lights and chuck the unwanted packaging. Picking up a conveniently placed Stanley Knife, I cut down into the plastic blister pack and straight through it into my left thumb. I was a bit shocked at this, but it was a nice clean cut and after washing it, I pressed the two halves of the cut together so they could heal. I left them like this for a while until they didn't come apart, then carried the rubbish down to the bins. I left the LED lights in their blister pack.
Once the water tank was full I disconnected the hose, unmoored and headed for the lock. A woman who had been down to empty her elsan offered to open the top gate for me, so I got in the lock, closed the top paddle and opened the bottom paddles, all using my right hand. I was waiting for Oothoon to descend into the lock when another passer by offered to open the bottom gates and close the paddles, so I got back aboard. Once through the lock I realised that my hand had started to bleed again and that I was in no condition to operate a boat. I pulled over to the visitor moorings just past the lock and tied up—not easy when you can't really use one hand properly.
After cleaning the cut again, I realised that I didn't have a suitable plaster to go on it, so I wandered back into town to get one. In Superdrug they sell umpteen types of plaster, including transparent, waterproof and 'silver' anti-bacterial. In the end I went for Spray Plaster, which is an aerosol that you spray over the wound and it forms a kind of clear protective skin that disappears after a couple of days. It has the advantage of being waterproof and flexible, and you can spray it in awkward places, which I could see might be useful. After applying it, I popped into Costa Coffee for a Gingerbread Latte to cheer me up.
Returning to Oothoon, I realised that the fire had gone out. Maybe that coal this morning was a little too much for it. I remade it and it fired up straight away, which was good. Paul called to say how exhausted he was after getting up at 5:30 this morning for work and how he was going to have dinner, a beauty bath, then bed. I pottered around for a bit then made poppin' chicken fajitas, which were almost as good as the last lot, the difference being that Herr Aldi's Fajita Kit hasn't quite the same salsa sauce as the Old El Paso one. Very nice nonetheless. Hopefully my hand will have healed a bit by tomorrow and I could try to head off again. I've now only got a few weeks left before the stoppages start in November and I really need to get a move on.