Friday, 19th December 2008: Christmas at Cropredy!

'Alnwick' is currently moored at Cropredy and we shall be spending the festive season aboard or visiting friends and family. We have no immediate cruising plans and, during the Winter, we intend to spend much of our time attending to the many maintenance tasks that add to the joys of boat ownership - more of which below. It has been sometime since we updated this website and it is our plan to update our archive, during the next few weeks, with details of our travels and what we have been doing since we set off for the Saul Festival in June. In the meantime, there has been one important addition to the website; we have (at last) added a gallery to show pictures of 'GC' when he was at the Great Central Railway - you can view it by clicking on the link below:

GC's Great Central Railway Gallery - 1999 to 2002

We have also updated his webpage and hope to add a second gallery with some of his boating pictures in the near future. If anyone reading this has pictures of 'GC' that we could use, either while he was at the railway or subsequently, we would be most grateful if you could email us. Similarly, it is always a pleasure to hear from his old friends.

The photograph of Jane (above) was not taken at Cropredy! We escaped for week's holiday in Italy at the beginning of December where we found the weather pleasantly warmer than it had been here in the UK. The photograph was taken on the terrace of our hotel, the 'Grand Hotel Aminta', which is perched high on a hillside above Sorrento. It was our first visit to Italy and the traffic, especially in Naples, came as a bit of a culture shock! Nevertheless we had a very pleasant time and thoroughly enjoyed the outstanding scenery and excellent food. A few further photographs of the scenery around Sorrento, Capri and along the Amalfi coast are included below. We also visited the railway museum at Naples (Museo Ferroviario Nazionale di Pietrarsa) which is housed in the former Pietrarsa locomotive works near the southern terminus of the nation's's first railway. Sadly it was something of a disappointment because one of the buildings containing large exhibits was unlit and we were not able to enter the buildings containing small exhibits and models. Also, most of the exhibits that were on display were without any form of helpful information to assist us with identification and interpretation but perhaps that was because we were there out of season.

Pictures from our holiday in Italy - click on any image to view a larger version and brief description.

Back to the subject of boat maintenance; a current headache is the unexpected early demise of our bank of four Elecsol 125 cabin batteries - these were bought new in October 2005 and, until August 2008, they provided excellent service - so much so that, during that time, we were happily recommending them to our friends. Since August they have gradually failed and are no longer capable of holding their charge for more than a few days. As soon as the first pair died on us we replaced them with identical products at a cost of £250 but these, also, are now showing similar symptoms and it may have been a mistake to mix a pair of new batteries with the two older ones. The manufacturer's website, www.elecsolbatteries.com, boasts that these products are guaranteed for five years so we contacted the company to see if a partial refund or discounted replacements could be obtained under the general terms of that guarantee. Unfortunately, after several phone calls which all met with unkept promises to phone us back - we have decided to replace the batteries with another company's products. We find it hard to understand how any business can choose to provide such poor customer service during these difficult times. With so much talk in the media of a 'credit crunch' and a pending 'recession', we might, at least, have expected that they would have been pleased to help us to replace their prematurely expired products. The electrical system on 'Alnwick' is extremely basic and uncomplicated but, as on all boats, reliable batteries are essential, especially during these long winter nights.

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© Graham & Jane Oliver 2008