Saturday, 31 March 2012

Into Year Six

As incredible as it seems to us, today marks the beginning of our sixth year as liveaboard boaters.  Where have the last five years gone? 
My old mum (fount of old-fashioned words of wisdom) used to say that the older you got the faster time passed!!!!!  How I used to laugh!
When we started this venture I had my sights set on ten years so, that still being the case, we are half way there! 
Even after five years we feel we still have so much to learn and so much left to see and do.
We have met lots of lovely, interesting, like-minded people and seen lovely parts of both rural and industrial Britain we never knew existed.  Yes, there have been challenges and yes, there have been lows as well as highs but ………. regrets?  NoteNote  “Too few to mention .”  NoteNote
Martini glass Here’s to the next five years!  Martini glass

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Strange Goings on ……

Last night 8.15pm – distinctly dusk.

The boater moored opposite us proceeded to dismantle his 12 foot high TV aerial, lay it flat on the roof of his boat,  put on his jacket, start up his engine, turn on the front headlamp and …………… head off South!

Later – 11.15pm – distinctly dark!  Very dark!

He went passed us heading North, radio blaring!

What was all that about then?

bull 002 (800x600)

Our impressive neighbour of the previous night had been no problem at all!           

Today  We have been submerged in retail therapy endurance.  Pet stuff, food stuff, drink stuff, D.I.Y. stuff, kitchen stuff, this stuff,  that stuff,…………….. enough stuff!!

Tomorrow our friends Jane & Ron will be travelling back from Lincoln and are going to come and find us for an impromptu visit. We then hope there will be space enough for us to moor for the weekend at Oaks Wood near our friends Lynn & Paul n/b Piston Broke.

I need to recover from all those shops!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Slowly does it.

Is it really March?  In Britain?  The weather is fantastic.  I know all us boaters should be praying for a large delivery of the stuff we float on but ………….we are just making the most of it like everyone else.

Today we have moved on – just a bit – to Hillmorton.  Lots of boats continue to come out of hibernation and boaters are busy washing, polishing, brasso-ing, painting …………. it must be the weather!!  I’m exhausted just watching!  We do have a god reason for going slowly – Maggie has an appointment at the vets on Wednesday.  After that we can get a move on.

On our way today we came across our friends Liz and Dave n/b Horus – they have got themselves a really lovely private mooring at Barby.  We saw it up for sale this time last year and thought how nice it is – quite a bit of well-tended garden adjoining the march 2 016 (800x600)mooring, good road access and plenty of room to park a vehicle (they have a large camper!), their very own shed (I know it’s sad but I have grown to appreciate sheds much more now that we no longer have one!) and a lovely view over open fields.   At the back of them Barby marina is being developed and I know that financial problems have been involved involved but once things are sorted out it looks as though it will be a very nice marina.  Boating services will, therefore, be readily available and, as Dave said, the marina being there adds to their security.  Good for them!  Moorings like this don't come on the market very often.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.

Out and about walking with dogs, the wildlife has been interesting …………….march 2 009 (800x600)

Alpacas never fail to make me laugh!march 2 013


Maggie failed to spot all the bunnies in the field behind where we were moored!


You have to laugh:  A new, free boating magazine has come into publication.  I think it’s got a really good name – The Tillergraph – as opposed to The Telegraph – clever eh?  Anyway, I really enjoyed an article written by another liveaboard in which he rightfully points out that we need to encourage more younger people onto the cut.  He said,

 “The only place you’ll find more pensioners gathered together is on a bus, waving their free passes.” 

Oh, how I laughed out loud!!  I enjoyed his article in it’s entirety but this bit amused me the most.  John does have his free pass but has yet to use it!  I think I’ll send him off in search of a decent dongle!!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Billeted in Braunston

Thumbs up   Meg’s car has been safely delivered back to it’s garage.  It was really good to have the use of it over the Winter months.                       

Thumbs up   The dentist is happy – for the time being at least!!

Thumbs up   Thanks to Rodney we have been safely delivered back to Braunston where we have been ‘hanging around’ since Sunday.  I think this is possibly the longest we have stayed out on the cut in any one place!

Thumbs up   Last night we went for dinner to ‘The Boat’ at Braunston – really good meal.  Business was thriving – ‘Two for the price of One’ obviously works.

Thumbs down   Internet connection at Braunston is rubbish!  Couldn’t even send and receive e-mails easily!  (We have now moved on to Willoughby Wharf so that Rodney can get onto our boat for his supper tomorrow night – all very important!!)

Thumbs down   The salvage operation involving the hatch cover on Rodney’s boat has proved to be more complicated than originally anticipated.  It needs to be wooden in order to lessen the weight and the last one had gone badly rotten – it would seem that the paint was at fault allowing moisture to get into the wood.  Anyway, a new cover was cut and partially painted back in Staines (upon-Thames) and John was going to help  fit it  BUT ….  it turned out to be 6” too narrow and 8” too short!!  Off to Homebase then to start again!  So far, no-one has accepted responsibility for the inaccurate measurements!  Now there’s a surprise!  Things are now well underway, however, and, hopefully, with lots of the right sort of paints applied, this slide will last much longer than it’s predecessor.  lambs 005 (800x600)

Thumbs up   The ‘Woolly Jumpers’ in the field opposite have kept us well entertained.  They form gangs amongst themselves, charging about as if  playing ‘It’,  jumping high in the air, practising head-butting and having a thoroughly good time.  We nick-named the two main gangs ‘The Montagues’ and ‘The Capulets’!  These little lambs might be short-lived but they make the most of the time they do have – a lesson for us all there.

Thumbs down  The other woolly jumper – the one I decided I would have a go at knitting myself (due to the “You’re never too old to learn” theory!) is also in need of some degree of salvage!  Part of the pattern is quite holey but ………….. I definitely have holes where there should be no holes!!  My trusty salvage expert (that’s you dear, kind, dependable, skilful Mrs Richardson!) is heading this way!  Something for you to look forward to, Sandra!!!!!!!!!!! xxoolambs 011 (800x600)

Thumbs up   Crochet for the windows is all done and, when one finds they’ve run out of dingle-dangles …..

And, finally, just a couple of interesting sights out and about:-

lambs 008 (800x600)      lambs 010 (800x600)

*Very topical flower container ……  and ……*serious paintwork protection – good idea considering the price it costs to get it done.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Done & Dusted

Three days of upheaval but we now have a Hurricane heating system on board and it’s a serious bit of kit!  The programmer seems very complicated and I’m sure it will take time getting to grips with it.  That poor engine room!!

calcutt 008

Everyone at Calcutt Boats were friendly and efficient.  The part of their marina that was extended seems a nice place to moor – lots of surrounding open ground, reedbeds and trees.

So, we also now have a dismantled Eberspacher packed in a big box taking up space in the back cabin!  Tcalcutt 003here must be someone out there who, like we were, is in need of working replacement parts.  E-Bay perhaps?

Whilst in Calcutt we were confronted with a bit of nostalgia.  17 years ago we hired one of their boats to go down the South Oxford.  The boat was called “Wild Hemlock”.

I wonder if, all these years later, this is her?  At the time we thought she was fan-tas-tic.     

So, the next important thing on the agenda is to get Megan’s car back to Stanwell.  Once we have accomplished that we can begin to make our way up the Coventry towards Fradley Junction.

Following a big meeting of BW officials earlier this week Waterscape has reported restricted passage times on many of the major lock flights.  Large, clear notices of ‘do’s and don’ts’ have been attached to lock beams – all about what to do in order to preserve precious water supplies.  Central and Eastern regions seem to be the worst affected – so far I have not read anything about further North or West – Hatton?  Tardebigge?  Lapworth?  Fradley? for example.

If the Calcutt locks were anything to go by today I think there will be numerous incidents of disharmony (cross words!) over the cruising season!  Operating the flight of 3 locks, (5 boats going up and one down) 2 lockfulls of water were needlessly wasted because we all needed to look further ahead than we normally do and be prepared to wait a little longer than we normally do.

My brother has been discharged from hospital.  Needless to say he is delighted to be home again but also very anxious because he now has the sole responsibility of looking after himself once again and things remain anything but normal!  There are still problems with both his wrist and his shoulder and he has to organise pureed food for himself.  Radiotherapy and chemo treatments begin next week.

Moored up here at Bridge 103, there is a lot of boat movement.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Poised for Upheaval

On our way to Calcutt we stopped at The Puddle Banks in Braunston.  From an outlook point-of-view it’s the nicest mooring spot in Braunston.  From a mooring point-of-view it’s definitely not!!

Because of a concrete shelf that runs along the edge, this is as close as we can get to the bank!  There’s only one spot where it’s possible for a deep drafted boat to get flush to the bank and the chances of finding that available is always negligible.puddle banks 004 (600x800)

Anyway, this morning we were awoken by the sound of seagulls here at Calcutt Marina.  They like the area of the small reservoir just behind.

So, why are we here?  The story so far …..

Ever since we have owned our boat the Eberspacher heating system has been temperamental!  When it works, it’s brilliant – lovely hot radiators and lots of hot water in no time at all.  BUT …. it’s an old model and spare parts have become increasingly difficult to obtain – not that there are many left TO replace!!  The irony is – since replacing the burner fan last November, the system has been working perfectly!   You know what they say:-

  • if it ain’t broke, don’t mend it    and
  • better the devil you know than the devil you don’t

However, rightly or wrongly, the decision has been made to have a completely new and different system so, here we are at Calcutt Boats poised and ready to have a Hurricane installed.  If it’s a mistake, it’s going to be a very expensive one!  On the other hand, if all works out well we will wish that we had done it years ago instead of spending so much on replacement Eberspacher parts.

The truth is, I think the Skipper just wants a new and younger model!!

Inevitably, we’re going to be upside down and inside out for a couple of days but all in a good cause.  I shall just keep well out of the way!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Just Like a Couple of Chickens!


hen 2           rooster

No prizes for guessing who the little fat one is!!

Yes!  For the last 5 months we’ve been like caged chickens!  Happy chickens in a very nice ‘cage’ and next Winter we will no doubt be very pleased to return to said ‘cage’ for all the comfort and security it provides.  However, as from today, we have become ‘free-range’ once again - back-yard scratchers no less, able to mooch about when and where the mood takes us …………… within reason!  (and dependent upon water levels!)                                                                    

It didn’t take long for my very own ‘Rooster’ to get back into the mode of posing at the tiller and doing manly things!!

departure 024 (600x800)                           departure 036 (600x800)                        departure 040 (800x600)

Being ‘free-range’ is certainly a more precarious existence but not only does it offer many more opportunities for both physical and mental exercise but also a chance to re-ignite that sense of adventure!!  That sense of freedom!!!                                                                            Of course, we are now also back to monitoring amps and seeking good T.V. and Internet signals when mooring up!

With the re-opening of the Braunston locks after scheduled maintenance work, there has been a surprising number of boats on the move – both private and hire.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to hear that we have not come far - only to Norton junction!

BUT …………. we’re definitely on the way to somewhere:-

departure 019 (600x800)


Descending the staircase locks at Watford.  A queue of boats were waiting to go up.

departure 021 (600x800)

Posh new path along the length of the lock flight.  Some plonker is bound to cock the lock sequence up & wash it all away again!  Tarmac???

departure 026 (600x800)


Now that’s what you call a hair-cut!!                                                                                   .

All that firewood!

Anyway, onward to Braunston tomorrow.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Positive Mental Attitude!

It’s not easy is it with so much gloom and doom being reported in the media every day but ……………. the sun is shining and we are one day nearer to leaving the marina and beginning this season’s cruising.

In actual fact, for the last month at least we had hoped for heavy continuous rain!

M for Mental?  In this instance, no, because the water levels on the canals remain in peril (according to the media and tow-path hearsay) as do the levels in the reservoirs.  Boaters are obviously concerned about cruising this year. 

P for Positive I feel sure that some restrictions will have to be put in place – restricted use of locks for example and ensuring that we share locks whenever possible – but I also feel sure that keeping navigation channels open will be of prime importance to those in charge.     

 A for Attitude! For sure too, it will be crucial that we are all patient, understanding and co-operative.  Easier said than done, I know!What a rotten situation for the new Canal & River Trust to be born into!

The Canal & River Todds and ss 004 (800x600)rust? 

The Boating Fraternity know all about this but for those of you ‘land-lubbers’ who don’t – as from April, British Waterways will no longer exist.  Their responsibilities are to be transferred to a new waterways charity called ‘The Canal & River Trust’.

There are going to be Trustees, 13 waterway Partnership Boards around the country, a Council with elected members (4 members elected by boaters) and Advisory groups.  LOTS of change then.

In theory, it should give boaters a better chance to influence how the waterways are run.  We will see – change can often be un-nerving especially when it means that costs of things soar.  As a passing shot B.W. have just increased their charges for electricity and pump-outs by 47%!!

I have recently heard that the place of my birth and up-bringing is now officially ‘Staines-upon-Thames’.  I feel more important already!!  In May 2012 there is to be an official celebration.  By all accounts its going to be a big event – there will be representatives from royalty, (Kate would be good?!), the Government and the City of London.  To all my mates back in Staines (upon-Thames) – I look forward to hearing all about it from you!

Last weekend it was really good to spend time with my friend, Joan (we grew up together!) and Bailey. march 005 (800x600)

How he has grown and what a handsome boy he is!                                              march 004 (800x600)     

My brother, Graham, is doing well but his ‘release’ from hospital keeps getting delayed as his wrist has become infected.

Things are settling down more for Megan in Alicante but ………….. that’s today!!