Rain was forecast for this afternoon, so I only wanted to go a few miles to Napton Junction, where the Grand Union and the Oxford canals part company. We tuned down the Grand Union heading towards Warwick, and then moored up just before the Calcutt locks, a flight of three. After Paula’s Big Adventure, which she can tell you about herself, we went down the locks, and moored a little past them. The rain was still due in an hour or two, so I settled down for a nap while Paula changed the latches on the kitchen cabinet for better looking ones that you don’t have to bend over to open.
When I woke up, Paula had chilled off and asked me to show her how to light the propane central heating system. We both tried for about ten minutes, and I gave up and decided to light the stove instead. This can burn wood or coal products, but did not seem to want to keep either alight for long. The wood burned
When I was a kid, the main source of heat in our house was coal burning fireplaces. We had a separate building across from the back door, a small brick shed called the coal place, to which we would have coal delivered by the hundredweight to stay warm in the miserable British winters. Most of Britain was heated the same way, which resulted in massive air pollution. The traditional pea-souper fogs of Victorian London, were in fact mostly smog, and thousands of people a year were dying early of respiratory problems.
The government stepped in, and phased out the use of raw coal, and gave people grants to install central heating and switch over to smokeless fuel. Smokeless fuel is basically compressed coke, like large barbecue briquettes, but made out of coal rather than wood. Anyhow, that is what I was trying to light. Eventually I worked out that you have to open the door on the ash box all the way to increase the ventilation to get the damn things to light, and then close it again once the fire was warmed up.
Firelighting achievement unlocked. Pretty soon we may invent the wheel.