caledonia glass – illia price

roving canal traders

illia price - caledonia glass

Illia Price - Caledonia Glass

I've lived aboard my beloved narrowboat since August 2014. Previously I was buying, renovating and selling on houses in order to own my own outright. I also worked on major renovation projects for other people, mostly as part of a team. I'd lived in Scotland (various parts) for 30 years before moving to the Midlands in 2012. In my time I've also been a Signmaker, a plasterer and a groom (horses) as well as doing several more menial jobs to earn a crust.

My main source of income is my industrial engraving business which I started in 1986 with a small bank loan and a second hand manual engraving machine. I specialise in producing botanical garden labels and am a well known supplier in horticultural circles. My labels are used in many major UK horticultural institutions. I also send them overseas, from Jersey to Japan. These days I have modern computer driven engraving tables and associated equipment, all housed in a cosy garden office.


I got the idea to live on a boat when I saw one for sale whilst walking along the towpath around Alvechurch.

After much research I discovered the rules and regulations would allow me to live aboard as a continuous cruiser.

While I was finishing my last house I read everything I could find about narrowboating method and etiquette.

When I was ready to buy I searched online.

My boat was the only one I actually went to see, being the right size, with cruiser stern, within budget and in need of refitting which I wanted to do to my taste. And I liked the look of her.

The boat was at Aldermaston and I needed to get her back to Alvechurch ASAP to get on with the ever mounting engraving orders.

I'd only briefly steered a narrowboat before so I booked a one to one helmsman's course for the first day of my single handed journey.

It gave me the confidence to tackle the 130 miles of river and canals and as many locks without any major mistakes. It took me 12 days, with two lost to breakdowns.

life changing experience

It was one of those life changing experiences and I loved most minutes of it!

Since then I've refitted the interior. Put in new windows etc. Had a new engine and back decks fitted last winter. This winter it's overplating after which Caledonia will probably outlive me. She was built in 1974, a 48' Fernie (very similar to a Harborough Marine but with a steel top)

I cruise many miles and commute to work during the milder months. Over the winter I cruise, take a mooring in the Midlands, or have the boat out of the water for Winter Works.

caledonia glass is born

I've always been keen on crafts and love glass in all its forms.

I decided to have a go at decorating with lead and glass paint a few years ago for Christmas presents for the family and got hooked!

Soon my boat was full of it so I applied for a trading licence which was granted. To my surprise others liked and bought it. It's now become my spare time passion, seeking out interesting items to decorate and planning what design to use. Most of my designs are inspired by nature.

Since I became a canal trader I've been welcomed by other floating traders and made some fantastic friends. I feel it's important not to copy something another boater does and I'm confident I have a unique product.

I sell as much as I can make in my spare time, attending some of the wonderful canal festivals and floating markets during the spring and summer months and at land based craft fairs in the run up to Christmas.

I also like to go to a Christmas floating market if I can. The atmosphere is generally great.

I don't sell online or post glass out as I just don't have the time (or will) to administer it.

I like to cruise in a different direction each year if possible, though the Midwest is a firm favourite so far (Shroppie, Llangollen, Trent &Mersey, Macclesfield, Peak Forest, River Weaver and the delightful Bugsworth Basin).

I'd like to get much further afield eventually...


Illia Price, trading as Caledonia Glass, has been a member of Roving Canal Traders since she began her canal business. She creates beautiful works of art using lead and glass paint, and it's a great testament to her skill as a boat designer (and her boat handling skills!) that she can carry so much glass aboard a narrowboat without breaking any of it!

Follow Caledonia Glass on Facebook to find out where she is trading. Illia will only sell from the towpath or land based craft fairs; she is unable to accept online orders or post items out.

the vine inn, rugeley

pub of the season - winter 2019 - 2020

the vine inn pub & brewery, rugeley

The Vine Inn in Rugeley

The Vine Inn, Rugeley is a real ale drinker's delight with its own micro brewery on site producing a core of their beers along side seasonal guests and the ever present bass.

Situated across from Elmore Park just of the town centre its frequented by many locals to the area as well as people travelling in to sample the ales and a wide range of spirits that are also infused and made on site. Just a short walk from the canal next to the picturesque St Augustine's Church moorings or a little further along by the local Tesco, many boaters find refuge in The Vine whilst using the launderette just to the rear of the pub. With a welcoming atmosphere and approachable staff, the pub has a real community feel and is dog friendly to boot.

Vine Inn, RugeleyFrom the front the Pub is a sprawling building with the brewery situated to the left and a small court yard at the front with two imposing grapevines and old English ivy present in keeping with name. Once you come into the pub the first room you come to is the main bar, a spacious room with a traditional bar and scrub top tables. Locals are stood at the bar laughing and joking with the bar staff. Other groups of various ages are scattered amongst the other tables and the open fire roars setting a warm friendly atmosphere.

Behind the bar there are some 12 large kilner taped jars labelled with such delights as Christmas pudding gin, cherry rum and raspberry vodka. A glance at the hand pulls shows 4 of The Vine’s own beers all lined up in uniform on the hand pulls are a vanilla porter, grapefruit IPA and a ruby mild with their guest ale of single hoped summit, but the knowledgeable staff are quick to inform that the pecan porter  provides the aromas coming from the brewery.

To the left of this room is a smart little restaurant room where the chef is adding the finishing touches to the room by placing a mirror on the wall ready to open up his new venture in December. To the rear is a large pool room over looking a lovely courtyard style beer garden complete with a large covered area.

A member of bar staff affably offers a tour around their small brewery which is a 2.5 barrel stainless steel brew kit with all sorts of smells emanating through the steam. Through the steam is a store room full of barrels and hundreds of boxes of bottled beers as well as gins, the head brewer Chris states it is all ready to go out to the local Christmas markets in the neighbouring towns.

fun with beer barrels at the Vine Inn & BreweryLandlord Oliver Westwood and his team (most of which have been there a number of years which is always a good sign) have been at The Vine since 2005. Under his tenure the micro brewery has been added and a great deal of improvements have been made he says. “The Vine Inn is a labour of love for me and the staff. It was always my father's local and he even had a stint at running it as a tenant when it was a punch tavern pub. When it came up on the market as a freehold we just had to jump at the opportunity to rescue her. Since then we have replaced roofs, installed a new garden, taken out miles of Artex, re wired every room and generally worked on years of neglect at the hands of various pub co’s and breweries. We still have a long way to go but have a great vision of what the pub can be to secure it for generations to come”.

Kitchen logo for the Vine Inn, RugeleyThis is evidenced in the work to the kitchen, which is now producing bar snacks and sharing platters and other delights into the restaurant room and bars. This whilst the function room is also being upgraded to host live music and entertainment after a long hiatus. Oli enthusiastically tells us he already has a commitment from the local blues club to use the space on a monthly bases for a rock and blues night. He’s hoping to attract more local musicians to host residences here in 2020 to turn the 16th century function room into a lively little venue.

This is not to say The Vine isn’t worth a visit in its current state which is that of a traditional active community pub. The future seems bright for this pub and we can’t wait for our next visit to see what’s new.

Oliver & Sian WestwoodOli and Sian welcome you to the Vine Inn & Brewery in Rugeley. The pub isn't quite by the canalside, but certainly worth the short walk.

You could hardly get a better review than this : 'They have a few brand names on tap and in bottles. But the highlights are the guest ales that they brew themselves. These are always very tasty beers. And now they do a range of fruit infused spirits too. Add in the friendly staff, and you'd be mad to drink elsewhere'.  When we are up on the Trent and Mersey, we shall certainly be looking in!

Tel: 01889 574443; Visit, follow and like on Facebook

piesse of piddle

waterside pub of the season - autumn 2019

piesse of piddle, wyre piddle, river avon

We are back again at the Piesse of Piddle, one of our very favourite pubs of all time, and one which has been recommended to us by a good many boaters over the years. And it is a pub which needs a mention, because it is not in many canal and river guides.

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tv on board

tv on board

with cello electronics - the only uk manfacturer of tvs

Cello Electronics have a proud tradition of UK TV manufacturing and have been pioneers in the development of low voltage, well specified 12 volt TV’s. More recently they have re- introduced the Ferguson Brand on TV’s and remain the only UK manufacturer of TV’s.

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mad hatter

roving canal traders

lorraine stevenson - the mad hatter

I first started boating in 2003 when I sold my house for a killing, bought my first boat and went boating as a single handed woman.

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diesel bug – a layman’s guide

what is it? and how do we get rid of it?

what is it?


Diesel bugs are microbes that live at the interface between water and diesel fuel.

In some places it’s also known as diesel fungus or the diesel virus.

The presence of Diesel bug in your fuel tank can be a potential risk to your engine’s fuel system, can cause serious damage and eventually lead to engine failure.

If the fuel stored in your tank has been subject to variations in weather and temperature or your fuel has been stored for long periods without usage, then there is a considerable danger that your fuel may be contaminated.

contamination from water


The most common contaminant is WATER, usually building up from condensation.

Because biodiesel is hygroscopic (it attracts water molecules from atmospheric moisture). It is vital that the utmost care is taken to reduce, as far as possible, any contact which the fuel may have with water or water vapour.

Fuel containing any amount of water could seriously damage your equipment’s fuel injection system and would make it more prone to breaking down.

contamination from bacteria & the dreaded fuel bug

Sulphur free diesel containing biodiesel will also be more prone to bacterial contamination than normal mineral diesel or gas oil. This fuel has inherent bacteria and the presence of any water accelerates the growth of microbe colonies which are able to breed and multiply and will eventually completely plug and block a fuel system (see picture below).

This ‘bug’ will form a layer between the fuel and the water and as it breeds it produces waste which is usually  evident as black sludge and slimes or dark lumps. These eventually fall to the bottom of the tank and encourage further problems with the potential to cause severe damage through further blockage of fuel filters and increased corrosion.

symptoms, tests & cure


Your engine will stop, will let you restart, will carry on for a very few miles, then stop again.

Some diesel tanks have a tap at the bottom, which will allow you to run out a little diesel, or run off any water present. (The water sits at the bottom of your tank as it is heavier than diesel). An easy way to check for water contamination.

There are many products to help you test for diesel bug, and many that will go some way towards eliminating it. We would have to recommend our own products, such as our Diesel bug Testing Kit, & Diesel bug Killer. We would also recommend having a Fuel decontaminator fitted (removes any trace of moisture) and a fuel polishing system which would clean and polish your fuel while the engine is idle.

Ian Currie is the owner of Fuel Guard, and has 25 years of experience  associated with heavy trucks, earth moving, plant hire, construction, marine and the agricultural market -specialising in fuel, lubrication and filtration systems.

Call: 01908 230 579 Write: Email Visit:  Website Link

co alarm testing

carbon monoxide alarm testing

since april 1st 2019 the BSS mandate is that all boats with an accommodation space must have a co alarm fitted

a step forward, but...

co alarm battery testing

test button test

the test button on a CO alarm only tests the battery, circuit and horn.

Detectagas® test

a Detectagas® test is sensor inclusive and the only way to fully ensure that your CO alarm is still sensing gas.

Detectagas co alarm testing
warning sign for carbon monoxide

silent killer

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. Breathing it in can make you unwell, and it can kill if you’re exposed to high levels. Every year there are around 25 deaths from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales.

how to test your CO alarm

Having a carbon monoxide (CO) detector in your home can help protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning, but only if it works properly. Checking your detector regularly will help make sure your family is safe. You should test the sensor on the unit annually with a calibrated test spray, and check the alarm circuitry once a month by pressing the test button.

carbon monoxide alarm testing
Detectagas Carbon Monoxide tester


  • Simple to use

  • Entirely safe

  • Sensor Inclusive Test

  • Calibrated Test Gas

  • 11 Tests per can

  • Low cost per test

  • Sensor tests all CO alarms

  • manufactured to BS EN 5029

GasSafe Europe logoFor trade enquiries please contact:
Gas Safe Europe Limited, 1 Daniels Court, Gas Lane, Mold, Flintshire, CH7 1UR

Call: 01352 860 600 Write: Email Visit: Website Link

batteries – a brief encounter

batteries - a brief encounter

a guide to leisure batteries

size matters

When it comes to choosing leisure batteries for your narrowboat, you need to check the existing batteries for size and amperage rating. If you're living on the boat you will be reliant on the batteries, so it's very important to choose the right ones to power your everyday accessories. The physical size is crucial when choosing a battery. The bigger the battery, the bigger the ampere hour rating.

choose the right type of leisure battery

Narrowboats tend to use unsealed batteries as most designs have the batteries located near the engine bay. Excessive heat will cause evaporation and therefore unsealed batteries, even though most units are maintenance free, can be replenished with fluid to prolong their life. However, most leisure batteries are sealed units these days but are perfectly fine to use.

The most common leisure / deepcycle batteries used are listed below and they range from 110ah - 230ah.

There are 3 different grades of Leisure Batteries, Wet Flooded Lead Acid (the most common and cheapest), AGM Leisure Batteries and GEL Batteries. The pro's & Con's are described below. The physical size is crucial when choosing a battery. The bigger the battery, the more ampere hours (capacity).

standard wet flooded lead acid leisure batteries

Pros: These are the most common and popular type of leisure battery, sealed or unsealed. They are reasonably priced and can be used on most applications.

Cons: You should really only drain these batteries down to 40% of their capacity, so for example, if you had a 110ah battery, you're only using 60% of its capacity. They also drain quickly and take longer to recharge.

agm leisure batteries

Pros: AGM batteries have come down a lot in price over the last few years. They are becoming more & more popular for use on Camper Vans & Motorhomes which is understandable as AGM batteries are sealed, non spill-able and emit minimal gases.
They drain at a slower rate, so will last longer between recharges.
You can also use 80% of its capacity and they will charge almost 3 times faster than a standard flooded type battery.
AGM batteries have high cranking ability, so can power Caravan Movers and Outboard Motors. AGM batteries can also perform more cycles.

Cons: There aren't really any cons regarding these battery types. They used to be expensive and were limited in size variations. Now, there are many different sizes to choose from.

gel deep cyclic batteries

Pros: Gel Leisure Batteries are pure deep cyclic. These can be drained almost completely flat and still recover.

Suitable for deep discharge applications such as catering equipment, security cameras etc.

Cons: Sadly Gel batteries are very expensive, we only supply the best product brand of Gel which is Sonnenschein. The leisure Gel range we supply are not really suitable for starting applications but you can buy Gel batteries products with starting use.

Starter Batteries

We also supply engine starter batteries. Again starter batteries do vary in size and amplitude.

A deep-cycle battery is a lead-acid battery designed to be regularly deeply discharged using most of its capacity. In contrast, starter batteries (e.g. most automotive batteries) are designed to deliver short, high-current bursts for cranking the engine, thus frequently discharging only a small part of their capacity.


At Advanced Batteries, we sell all the top leisure brands like Numax, Lucas, Varta, ABS Leisure and Trojan. You can choose from sealed and non sealed units and we can supply a range of flooded lead acid, absorbed glass mat (AGM) and even Gel type batteries. We are always ready with battery advice, so do get in touch.

Call: 0800 195 9897 Visit our Website: Advanced Battery Supplies

electric boats

electric boats - the way forward

the history, challenges, and future of electric boats

Electric boats (EBs) are a lot more diverse, complicated and varied than cars, because they have to tackle some very tough conditions, but they share some common features. This brief introduction considers the history, challenges, and future of electric boats and shipping.

the history

Historically, both electric cars and ships date back to the invention of batteries and motors in the mid 19th Century. In those days, water transport - on rivers, canals, lakes and oceans - carried most of the world's passengers and cargoes. Muscle power, sails, and later coal/steam power, were the main energy sources, and all three had significant disadvantages, being highly labour intensive. The commercial development of electric boats included small and medium-sized passenger boats, small ferries, and even canal barges like streetcars that used overhead power lines.  But, just as with early electric cars, poor range, lack of charging facilities, and slow speeds were key disadvantages.

The high energy storage density of oil, and the internal combustion engine put an end to most Electric Boat development by the early 20th century. Nevertheless, throughout the last 100 years, the need to power silent hybrid submarines and undetectable torpedoes ensured that battery and motor development continued, culminating in nuclear-electric submarines capable of travelling under the frozen ice of the Arctic to meet the threats of the cold-war era. Meanwhile, using manned and unmanned electric submersibles, exploration continues of the mysterious depths of the oceans.

Specialist solar racing boats may use foils to reduce friction, and can travel on pure solar power at speeds of up to 30 mph. There are annual student competitions in the USA and the Netherlands. One such craft, an experimental offshore trimaran, will attempt a cross-channel record in August 2019. Broadly speaking though, whether conventional or highly specialised, all these kind of smaller EBs are roughly equivalent to electric cars: they are designed to transport small numbers of people safely, and make use of widely available components and materials, batteries, chargers, controllers, motors, and so on.

the challenges

Like an electric car, a conventional modern electric boats can be either pure electric or hybrid.  The huge advantages to the boater on the water are the quiet motor and lack of smell from fumes, and there is no risk of fuel spillage either. What's more, unlike converting a car, a boat conversion can be as quick and easy as replacing an old petrol outboard engine with a modern electric alternative: simplicity itself. These light craft are ideal for fishing, leisure or exploring nature.

The most popular types of electric boats are small dinghies, canoes, rowboats, sailboats, speedboats, or inflatable ribs powered fully or partly by a simple outboard trolling motor or a more powerful outboard linked to a battery pack. They may also use wind or human-power as a main or supplementary power source as and when needed or available. The battery pack might be integral to the outboard (if it is lightweight like lithium) or separate if using heavy lead acid.

More sophisticated, specialised and larger EBs generally use a built-in (inboard) propeller and motor - and the electric motor itself may be built into a pod underwater to keep it cool, or placed inside the hull and cooled using some other means. Conversion to inboard electric of e.g. a heavy canal narrow boat or yacht is not cheap, and is still fairly rare, but is becoming more popular for environmental reasons.

Some more advanced larger electric boats and ships also combine wind power (conventional cloth or solar-impregnated sails and/or small wind turbines), solar panels, nuclear, hydrogen fuel cells, diesel, biofuel or petrol generators. Multiple power sources are not unusual, for example the yacht Electra, moored at Bute, uses sails as a primary power source, supplemented by a plug in 10 kWh l-ion battery and Lynch motor, solar panels, a small petrol generator for emergencies, and a regenerating propellor for use when the boat is under sail. Modern sailing and motor boats need a steady source of low-voltage electricity for navigation, radio and instrumentation, as well as for lighting and other functions, and they may be at sea for long periods of time without access to shore facilities, so every kWh gained or saved really counts. These small currents can be mission-critical on a yacht undertaking a long passage, or when the wind fails.

the future

As battery prices reduce, and if there were political support through e.g. diesel scrappage schemes and VAT incentives, it would be relatively easy to replace most small-boat inboard and outboard engines with electric power as and when existing fossil-fuel units wear out and need replacing. It will probably happen eventually anyway.

But the climate emergency we now face sees heavy marine oil as the major problem, and there are increasingly urgent international measures and directives to reduce reliance on dirty oil. One large cruise ship can produce as a much particulate matter as 1M cars, and according to Channel 4's Dispatches, the air quality on deck is as bad as our inner-cities. A wide number of measures are being developed to tackle this, including modern wind-assisted ships, conversion to gas turbines, sustainably generated hydrogen, hybrid-electric propulsion as used by some modern cruise ships and even plug-in ferries.  Iceland’s first electrified ferry, a 70-meter long vessel, will be powered by a massive 3,000kWh battery pack with a diesel generator that will serve only to supply backup power. Despite the considerable engineering and financial challenges, with good planning, much of Scotland's ageing ferry and marine offshore fleet could be replaced with hybrid-electric by 2035.

Robert Malcolm Kay, is General Secretary of the Electric Boats Association, 'connecting people with an interest in promoting electric boats and ships since 1982'
photos by kind permission of Torqueedo: inboard and outboard electric motors
Further reading: 'Electric Boats and Ships' by Kevin Desmond: published by McFarland, 2017: a definitive, lively and well-researched history of electric boats to the present day.

Call:  08707 605 846  Write: Email  Visit: Website Link

the all new canal turn, carnforth

pub of the season spring 2019

the all new canal turn, carnforth, lancaster canal

This is the first edition of the all new CanalsOnline Magazine and we could we find no better way to start the pub of the season than with the All New Canal Turn in Carnforth on the Lancaster Canal. This is where we sat and agonised over all the changes to our website, and it is due largely to the pub managers and staff that we remained sane ( if not strictly sober).

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