Tuesday, 28 July 2015

STREAKY GREY CLOUD WITH FLIRTY BLUE BUBBLES

Dog-eye view

We happily moored up on the Rowington Ridge for a couple of weeks.

Blue Sky!

The prime mooring was ours and we had no need to rush away. The best location for a peaceful rural stop where there is space for the Band saw to be put to use without getting in the way of the Towpath users. Captain Chris put on his ‘Carpenter’s’ Cap and fabricated two boxed bench seats for the stern deck which makes a better social and functional area for us. 

Comfortable under Canopy covered stern at The Navigation Pub, Lapworth

Now it gives us even more appreciation of the space and is inviting to use. Yesterday I even sat down and played my uke followed by my guitar! No excuse, now, to get in some practise!!

Tiling complete

There is a never-ending unwritten list, in my head, of finishing works to do on board DB. For me it mainly involves sanding, filling and painting etc., I am 2 small strips of wallpaper away from finishing my first ever attempt at wallpapering. I think the effect looks good and I know it will be better next time. The Bathroom doors are in situ and I need the thumbs up to get on with the painting. When the almost completed stage is reached it is easy to turn a ‘blind’ eye to finishing off. I know in the background there is my concern that when the DB works are finished the ‘urge’ to ‘do another’ will rear its head. The story of our life together, so I’ll just take my time.
Rowington Ridge

Rowington Ridge

I have invested in a modern wrist worn pedometer known as MiFit that syncs with an App on my Mobile phone. I am trusting that it will accurately measure the number of kilometres (kms) that I walk each day by counting my steps. It also measures sleep hours and I am particularly interested in my nightly deep sleep hours. I have bought a MiFit for Chris as well and we seem to walk a similar number of steps each day. Now our thoughts are moving to counting how much ground Della covers! That would be interesting.

Wheat Field walk

Since I started wearing my MiFit band, a week ago, I have walked more than 40kms! Someone asked me if I felt under pressure to walk now that I was wearing the 'band'. I think it motivates me to walk to achieve my 8000 steps per day goal and it is interesting to get objective 'feedback' at the push of a button. It interests me to know how many kms I walk and I will not feel guilty when I need a new pair of 'Trainers' (I remember the days when they were called 'Sand-shoes' then 'Gym-shoes'!)

Rowington Ridge, terra firma with our mooring....yay

The blue sky of summer has petered out and I think there is truth in the British weather lore proverb if it rains on St Swithins day (15 July) then it will rain for 40 days. It did drizzle briefly in the morning of 15th July, this year, and it has rained just about every day since then. Lucky we live on an Ark!

There is no rush to move on. We are fortunate to have a capacious water tank and even 16 days after topping up DB, DB was not thirsty. However, we decided to move from the Rowington Ridge, fill up with water at Tom O’ the Wood, keeping the Canopies up all the way passing under 4 bridges to The Navigation Pub in Lapworth.

We gave in to the chill of summer-not, the other day, and lit the fire on July 26th. And we were not the only ones!

 
26/07/2015







Thursday, 16 July 2015

WHEN L.O.L LEFT THE LADY AT THE HATTON LOCKS



We were rested and ready to move on to Rowington, Warwickshire. The weather forecast looked promising to head up the Hatton Flight and we thought we’d spend the night, before, moored at the top of the Cape Locks outside the Cape of Good Hope Pub in Warwick. A lovely summer’s evening chillaxing in the Kiwi owned and staffed Pub.
Beer for Della

In the morning someone was releasing the metalwork securing the tables and chairs. I suggested to the someone this could be  the "Unchained Melody.”
Cape Lock

With little Canal traffic on the move, I was hopeful a Narrowboat with at least 2 people aboard would come up the Cape Locks and we could team up. The first 2 boats were travelling together, holiday makers, so when the next boat arrived, on its own, I nabbed them and we agreed to ‘team up’. The woman, holding the windlass, spoke about her respiratory difficulties and said that if she was going to ‘flake’ her husband would take over the Locks. I believed her and off we went. We didn’t have to break any records and we followed the holiday-makers who were ahead of us.

The holidaymakers were entering the first of the 21 Hatton Locks when we arrived. Moving in behind us was another pair of Narrowboats. The first 5 Locks went smoothly. The holidaymakers lost all but their remaining two windlasses in the Locks. Some of the crew from the 2 boats behind us were being over-helpful trying to work our Lock for us. I agreed they could help my ‘friend’ who had breathing problems but I was not happy with them taking control of our lock operation and the pressure they were putting on us.  One of the boats was a ‘Skippered Narrowboat Charter’ boat and I am assuming they had a deadline to meet. Well their logistics should not be my problem.
Photo archived from 2014! No time to take photos 2015

The holiday boats, in front of us, stopped for lunch giving us a clear run ahead up the remaining 10 Lock rise to the top of the Hatton Flight. It proved to be a tough run for me. There was no sign of anyone in charge of the Locks or C&RT Volunteers in ‘high vis’ clothing. The only sign of C&RT was a tent set up to attract people for donations. I was ‘cream-crackered’ 4 Locks from the top and the C&RT tent people were reluctant to help saying they haven’t had training and weren’t wearing life jackets. My breathless ‘Lock’ partner appeared late enough to be able to use her challenged breathlessness to talk with the C&RT representatives. No sign of her flaking.

We did get to the top. I breathed from the bottom of my lungs and kept my mouth shut. What joy to get away from the gongoozlers and moor up at our favourite spot in rural Rowington.

Rowington

 I think when the time comes to do ‘The Hatton’ again we should breast up with a willing boat that gives us all, at best, 3 fit people to work the Locks. Third time up the Hatton, for me, and I’m over it, for now. A double dose of Ibuprofen was needed the next morning.


I think I spent the night dreaming Locks.


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

FEELING HOT HOT HOT

Solar Panels Amping up

It was the hottest day, this summer and we cruised down the Stockton Locks, 8 Locks + 2 more near Itchington.
We teamed up with a boat we had been following, at a distance when we left our mooring and they had turned out of the nearby marina, that morning. We had hoped they had seen us and it turns out ‘He’ had but ‘She’ hadn't. By the time we turned up, they were about to enter the Stockton Top Lock and ‘She’ had negotiated with the boat,going down, the next Lock to join them.

“Whatever”, I said. “We can wait for another boat.”

He had words with Her and they agreed to do the flight with us. The day was warming up and I was 'dripping' by the end of the 10 Locks. The paddles are hard to wind, back to counting 23 rotations! There are no C&RT Volunteers on this flight of Locks.  We gave ourselves a short recovery time to eat and hydrate. Mr ‘He’ and Mrs ‘She’ were going to move later and we’d share the next 10 Locks if they turned up. 

We cruised at 'tic' speed, which is slower than walking pace, best not to rush and we knew there was a fast flow water point at Bascote Bridge. Ideal for using the shower while the tank was filling with no need to restrict DB’s on-board water use.  Our water tank will hold 1250 litres water, when filled. With sensible water use, we shouldn’t need to fill up the tank for at least 14 days i.e. don’t leave the tap running ever, plan your activity with water use, keep an eye on the Bow water mark as the lighter shade of black becomes greater as the Bow rises with the reduction of water in the tank. (Not rocket science!)

Again it takes me back to Portugal days when our water supply came from our Well until that was buried in the floods of 1997 and we had to put in a bore hole. All in all we couldn’t take water for granted and nor can we with living on a Narrowboat. We do appreciate C&RT for keeping water points free and accessible.

Tank filled and freshened up, off we went to begin the cruise through another 10 Locks. I was up to continuing to the end of this ‘workout’ and the draw card was the thought of at least a week in the Royal Leamington Spa area. We got to the Radford Bottom Lock and found a shady mooring.  Looks are deceiving and DB lurched each time the Lock emptied.
Blackberry promise

I felt I had earned my Rum o’clock that evening but we had no coke! A cyclist stopped as we were mooring up and she informed us, as she left, the nearest supermarket was close but far away by foot. Chris took off to Radford Semele to see if he could find a village store. In the meantime, the cyclist reappeared with 2 bottles of coke. If you are reading my Blog, kind lady, “Thankyou thankyou.”

Then there was this chap wearing a high-vis waistcoat who implied that he was the self appointed monitor of the nearby Locks and that there was a problem with youth emptying the ‘pound’ between the bottom 2 Locks. He said he owned a transport company, he owned lots of houses, had an Elm tree that was blocking his driveway, he was waiting for his Narrowboat to be returned the following day... His story was too fabricated to be believable.
Poppy field near Radford Semele

We moved to the Lidl mooring the next day where we spent a week tied up on mooring rings. Great moorings and freshly baked continental breads from Lidl are irresistable.  

We were in no rush to move but some bored youth persons, one night, took a dislike to my plants.  

Time to go!





Monday, 13 July 2015

I’M ON TO IT



There were three things happening during our time moored at Braunston.  

My birthday arrived, on the same date each year, and it is worth mentioning breakfast at Maria’s Kitchen a Portuguese Cafe in Daventry. A special morning with the proprietors bringing me a piece of cake with a lit candle and singing me “Parabens a voce...” the full Happy Birthday song in Portuguese. There are more words to the 2 verses than the repetitive “Happy Birthday to you...” English verse and the first verse translates


‘Congratulations to you, this dear date, The very best wishes, all the years in your life.’

It brought a tear to my eye!




That evening we went to the Little Braunston Lock-side haunted Admiral Nelson Pub for dinner. Fabulous for the location (Braunston flight Lock Number 3), the service, top food and they were dog friendly.

The second thing we had do, while moored in Braunston, was de-clutter and re-pack our ‘Life Laundry’ that we had stored in our Caravan located nearby. I’ll briefly impart our caravan history.

We have owned 4 caravans over the last 20 years.
The mighty caravan in Portugal

The first caravan was purchased, 1995, when we lived in Portugal. While not being aesthetically pleasing, it had a couple of attractive qualities, the first being its small gas fridge with an integral smaller than small freezer. The valley we lived in did not get electricity until 1998 and we were not going to spend a load of money on a big gas guzzling fridge / freezer. The fridge was moved into Rose Cottage, our nest. The bonus with the caravan was it became a spare bedroom. The caravan was sold some years later and the fridge, I have no idea what happened to it.

The next two caravans were bought in England. It made economic sense to fill a container with a couple of caravans and ship them to New Zealand. Another story but we did use the larger caravan as a spare room before we sold it and the other!

Number 4 caravan was purchased, last year, solely to store our treasures a.k.a life laundry that would not fit on DB. We have found a place for our ‘laundry’ and as I write this it is being delivered to EspaƱa por favour, where later in the year the winter sun beckons us.

Number 4 Caravan now has a new owner. The day of the box collection, someone appeared at the caravan and made some comment about its appearance. I retorted with “It’s younger than you!” He laughed and bought the Caravan. All’s well that ends well.

Our caravan daze are over.
Add caption

There was one remaining thing on our ‘To Do List’ to be done whilst moored in Braunston. It was to visit friends in London. This happened to be the same weekend as The 2015 Historic Boat Rally was happening on the Grand Union Canal in Braunston. We were on a 14 day mooring on the adjacent Oxford Canal and we had our car so why not drive the distance. It took us 2 hours to drive to London; it would have taken us a good 2 weeks by boat. A no-brainer, although the traffic on the motorway is mind blowing in comparison to boat traffic! We left DB for a couple of days in Braunston, she gets enough positive eye candy feedback, and watchful eyes to keep a watch on her! 

We momentary ‘land lubbers’ had a splendid weekend in London. We were staying within walking distance of the River Thames and Della loves the park walks as do we. Always keen to cast an eye over the mighty Thames, we walked to a bench seat, close to Marble Park, overlooking the bank side where we could check out the mostly motley display of moored ‘Tupperwares’. How can they be fit for prime moorings? I know aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder and it is not my role to judge the non-movers and shakers. Blah blah. 
Drat that rat!

I spotted a water-rat on dry land reaching for the sun so I pointed it out to Della. With no hesitation and in “I’m on to it” style she disappeared chasing the rat down the steps to the River Thames. I heard a splash bigger than any water rat could make. Chris and I walked in the direction of the steps and Della appeared shaking water off her drenched body. We laughed and she was like it was all in a day’s work.


Back to Braunston and in time for one last Historic Boat rally view.

Which is the oldest?

Monday, the next day, a glorious day weather-wise we moved on to the straight and wide Grand Union Canal below the Calcutt Locks.

Water the Allotment






Dog tired.

So quiet, so pretty, so sunny.

Need I say more

Sunday, 5 July 2015

BACK TO THE START

Welford Lock

We have not noticed much in the way of Canal traffic on our move along the Grand Union Canal -Leicester Section. In fact I wonder, in Canal time if boat congestion ever happens? Thoughtlessness, yes, in the shape of 2 privately owned Narrowboats moored on the Grand Union on the towpath side of a ‘winding’ hole. Am I the pot calling the kettle black in a small world? Yes but no but..because we were considerate with our encroaching mooring on the Winding Hole, the night before, at the end of the  Welford Arm. We knew there would be no traffic that night and we had cruised off at ‘sparrowfart with the plan of being the first, and as it happened the only boat waiting at the Welford Lock.
Welford Arm meets Grand Union. Turn left!

We moved slowly at ‘tic’ speed most of the way from Welford to Crick, where we spent the night. I wanted to have my birthday in more social surroundings and we were headed Braunston bound to moor up for a while which would, also, give us close access to our Caravan which has the remainder of our life’s laundry. That’s another story.
Navigator luxury

Crick is known, by Canal boaters, for its annual Boat Show and Waterways Festival held every May Spring Bank Holiday weekend. We bought tickets to visit this Boat Show while we were dreaming of having a boat built for us. We drove to Crick, that year, and it was dreadfully wet without even going in the water. Not really our cup of tea but a good visual informational recce to check out engines, boat paraphernalia and to source out suppliers as well as identify other solutions which wouldn’t empty the Bank in our vision of a future DB. I know some boats are eye candy and flavour of the month but I believe that with time, patience and the skills of my husband we have come up with the bespoke winner for us in DolcieBlue.

Crick Canal side, for visitor mooring, is a cyber hole for internet access and with our, almost, daily need for internet connection we were ready to move on almost as soon as we tied our ropes. Awaking, next day, to the early morning bird song I got up and made a pot of tea. While it was brewing I walked Della for her morning constitutional along the straight towpath. Della is a joy throughout the day, always more than ready for action and we are rewarded with her zest for the small things in life. Once her business was completed she hot pawed it back to DB then ran back to me then back to DB and so it continued in rapidly decreasing lengths. Doggy breakfast for her and the final check on the Boat headlamp for us, in the form of the mobile halogen torch temporarily in place for the two tunnels on our route that day.

Crick Tunnel approach

Engine running and mooring ropes coiled up we were off the short distance to pass through the 1528yd leaky Crick Tunnel. The tunnel is wide enough for 2 Narrowboats to pass. It is likely boats will make light contact. It feels good to meet the light at the end of the tunnel.

Under 2 miles from the Tunnel portal the Watford Locks appear. There we were met by C&RT Volunteer John who facilitated our happy descent of the 7 Watford Locks of which 4 locks make up a staircase. John worked with us and had confidence that we could manage without being overbearing with his help. He reiterated the painted paddle workings that applied at the Foxton Locks “Red before White”. I told him the colour combination was a different story with Wine and it goes like “Red after White, you’re all right. White after Red, you’re dead.”
We were out of there and on to Norton Junction, the Mainline Grand Union Canal, 2 miles away, where we turned to starboard. I suppose what happened at Norton Junction was a case of 2 boats meeting at a T intersection. Should have been straightforward but the ‘ancient mariner’ heading in our path was not clear about his intentions and he throttled back which meant we had to and so did the boat coming up behind who indicated he planned to turn to Port. There was little in the way of indicative arm movement or acknowledgement from the ‘ancient mariner’ which would have clearly stopped any guesswork. Ancient Mariner finally pointed his finger desiring to turn into the Grand Union Leicester Section, we needed to turn into his path on the Mainline and boat behind us needed to turn the other direction onto the Mainline. We all needed a helpful little gendarme on a parapet to wave a gloved hand. And dreams are free!

Braunston Tunnel approach

Could all this hot air be responsible for the wild wind blowing into our path? Well the wind was a blowing when I was behind the wheel and while I could avoid the bridge arches I’m sure a cabin height branch scratched 53ft along the side of DB. Not the end of the world. I handed the wheel back to Chris as we approached the 2042yds of Braunston Tunnel. Again, we hoped that we would not meet oncoming traffic but the it was constant with Narrowboats heading the other way. We collected some tunnel wall mostly dust and crumbs and etched a few more marks on to DB. Oh well we got to the Braunston Lock Flight and went through the locks unpaired. Remember we are back to the widebeam canal and the locks can hold 2 Narrowboats. The Canal had a boats heading in our direction so, in that way, the locks were mostly getting set in our favour. I helped a woman who was steering her Narrowboat and travelling alone with her 2 Amazon Parrots (caged) with prime viewing on the Bow. We were waiting for her to move up the Lock so I said I’ll open the gates if she wants to get back on her boat. She did, full of thanks. I had a few minutes to chat with the parrots. The chatty one started it with “Hello” in parrot squawk vernacular. “Hello” I replied. “Hello” it replied. “Bon Dia” I said, testing its Brazilian Portuguese. Parrot was speechless then “Hello”. End of small talk and time to open the Lock gates.

We arrived at the mooring for the last Lock and there were 2 boats breasted (that is tied together) in the Lock and works going on to try and fish out the mooring rope, on one of the boats, that had got wrapped around its prop. Probably not the best place to linger but it was under the supervision of a C&RT Volunteer. We breathed and paced and soon indicated we wanted to get down the Lock and find moorings. Word had it that Braunston was the site of a Boat Festival and moorings were going to be restricted.



There were signs up advising of mooring restrictions but we were OK for a night or two. Rest came easy and we were happy back from where we had started in April.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

I’M GLAD I’M NOT A KHARDASHIAN

Turning off the Grand Union into the Market Harborough Arm

We were at Market Harborough with 6 days to spare before our friends from Malibu arrived. Their itinerary meant we needed to ‘ang at ‘Arborough. Last year the mooring time limits, at Market Harborough, were flexible with the C&RT Enforcement Officer. This year we didn’t see any sign of the Enforcement Officer and we stayed put in ‘our’ ideal mooring for more than 48 hrs hoping to be able to see him. The moorings were never full to capacity.

Nb Tupelo, the Ice-cream Boat moored up behind us, almost a year to the day when we first met, and we were mutually overjoyed to meet each other again. They report ‘Sarah’s Hokey Pokey’ Icecream has been a big success and has had positive comments from all including visiting ‘Kiwi’ customers. The day Nb Tupelo winded at Union Wharf cruised past us, they shouted out for our attention and put 2 pottles of their Lemon Curd Icecream into a fishing net they held out for me to reach in and grab. How kind!

Nb Sundowner, a time share boat, moored up near us and I had an albeit brief speed chat with the woman on board. I cannot remember her name but we are both from New Zealand. We both trained as Occupational Therapists (OTs) within a few years of each other. She worked at Christchurch Public Hospital and was OT on the Orthopaedic Ward prior to moving to England in September 1984. I worked at Christchurch Public Hospital as OT on the Orthopaedic Ward from September 1984 until I moved to England in February 1985. We had never met before until, by chance, now. That, to me, is a small world.


Della is such a sociable dog and sees almost anybody and everybody human as a petting machine. She does socialise with dogs and likes larger dogs and Miniature Schnauzers. Della is always keen to go out for a walk whether it is a short or long walk. If she has had enough walking she’ll plant her legs until we turn around or change direction. The Waste Disposal Area (aka Rubbish) at Union Wharf Moorings is a walk past a Cafe/Restaurant and people may be seated outdoors. So we are on the rubbish run and Della walks up to people, at a table, on the terrace for Afternoon Tea. A woman asked me what Della’s name is. I told her and she said her name was Della, as well. It’s not a name often heard. I explained we formed Della’s name from the Portuguese word Cadela, which means ‘female dog’. Yeah right we couldn’t go round calling her ‘Bitch’. 

As Della and I moved to continue our walk I asked the human Della if she would like to come for a walk as well. We both laughed and Della-dog and I continued our walk.
Almost ready to move from 'Arborough

The Malibu connections, four ‘old’ friends of ours, turned up as planned and were at DB, on time early morning on the 15th June, ready to cruise DB to Welford which included The Foxton Locks, 2 staircase flights of five locks each. It is not common to have more than 2 Locks forming a staircase. 

At the Foxton Locks there is a Passing Bay between the 2 Flights. A staircase Lock means that the emptying Lock will fill the Lock below and raise the boat in it to its level and the gates will open allowing the boat to move between Locks. Adjacent to each Lock is a water pound and the working of the Lock paddles has some influence on the pound and the Lock. All I remember is ‘Red’ paddle before ‘White’ paddle. The Foxton Locks are a popular gongoozler ‘hang-out’. There were at least 3 C&RT Volunteers to assist with safe boat passage on the day we were there. We were the only boat in the pound at the bottom of the Locks and, as there was no Lock Keeper or Volunteers at ‘ground level’ I needed to climb to the top of the Flight to get the OK to get  started up to the Passing Bay. There was one boat beginning its Lock descent as we began ours. We now had a Volunteer to assist our progress and we were at the Passing Bay in record time. The Boat coming down must have been making a meal of it and had completed 2 Locks when we tied up at halfway.
A last year at Foxton Locks photo. 

And so began the LONG wait. I’m sure the Chief Chap, which is the one in charge, lost count of the boats coming down. After what seemed like a lot of boats coming down and still there was another one entering the top staircase, I went to the ‘Head Poncho’ to see if we should set up our mooring for the night. I know I was getting snarky and he responded
“You were lucky I let you come up to the midway point. If I had known how long your boat is I would have kept you at the bottom. It’s six boats going down then six boats going up.”
I thought, size doesn’t matter, and was tempted to say “How many is six?”
We offered a couple of gongoozlers the opportunity to experience the feeling of a Lock on the rise and they waited, on board, until we got the all clear, from above, to move up the last staircase. They couldn't thank us enough, very cool.

Yes we got to the top of the Foxton Flight and still had enough of the day left to get to Welford, at the end of the Welford Arm off the Grand Union Canal. Alan, our cheerful Lock Volunteer had found out the Welford Lock would be open between 1500 – 1700hrs. Thanks Alan. The beam on one of the Lock Gates had broken when some ‘Walkers’ had posed for a group photo standing on the Gates.
We throttled up on the Grand Union as time was not on our side, now. We passed through the 1166yd Husband’s Bosworth Tunnel which brought squeals of joy from our friends as they looked for all creatures’ great and small stalactites.
One friend asked “Is there a Wife’s Tunnel?”
Mates

Soon we turned to the Welford Arm and through the Lock just before 1700hrs. The end of the Arm was nearly full and there was no mooring room for our size. We could have squashed in if Boaters were more thoughtful and adjusted their moorings when boats leave meaning there is no gap between boats. We winded and had to moor with our ‘Nose’ pointing a little into the Winding bank.
Matey, in front of us, fitting out his boat on a prime 48hr mooring site said “It’s a winding area.”
I said “Yes, I know.”
He said “It’s a Winding area.”
I said “Yes I know, there are no other moorings and the Lock is closed now so I don’t think anyone will be winding this evening.”
He said “It’s a Winding area.”
I wanted to say “And how long is your 48hrs.”
I kept my mouth shut.


Cheeky Mooring

That evening we had a fabulous meal at The Wharf Inn, close to our mooring, a fitting end to another memorable day. 

Who needs reality TV? 

Our reality

A brief history

This is a blog set up by Chris and Sarah so family and friends can catch up with their travels on the British waterways in the summer of 2011. In 2010, I went to England with the idea of getting a narrow boat built. I had specific requirements so I thought that a new build may be the way to go. I e mailed to numerous boat builders, a great percentage of whom ignored me. The problem of having a family name of Laycock is that hotmail and a few others think that I am a porn star. At an early age you learn not to put C Laycock on your school books. But I guess that my nephew Paul did worse. Anyway I spent a very pleasant few weeks driving around the beautiful English countryside visiting boatyards, marinas, boat builders and just a few pubs. I had narrowed it down to two builders and in the last week I was in Devizes Wiltshire when I came across "Avalon Mist" 54 feet of throbbing neglected narrow boat. The past owner had lost interest, hadn’t maintained her and to add insult to injury had been made redundant. After a very short negotiation I was able to buy her for a pretty fair price. On the day the sale took place I had to beg her to take her trainers and a few rather suspect items of clothing, in other words she left everything. Lock stock and barrel.

Soon after the purchase I flew to California to meet Sarah and have a short holiday. Once back in NZ I started to try and organize works. The first thing that I learnt was that the marina does not allow any contractor on site, only their chosen ones, the excuse given is a concern about insurance, the suspicion is, graft, pay back, baksheesh, call it what you like. It is possible to take the boat off the marina to have the work done, but not really practical.

The first job to be tackled was to “winterize” the boat, i.e. drain off all the water, check the anti freeze in the engine and central heating and fit an automatic bilge pump.

No real problem there except communication, the mechanic just didn’t answer e mails. Difficult to do business like that.

The nice marina lady had a quiet word with him, and things did improve, thanks Debs you have been a star through out . He later confided in me the reason for this was that he was dyslexic, apparently a malady [he] claims affects a lot of mechanics.[It turns out that he is a great mechanic and a nice guy to boot].

That goes pretty high on my list of lame excuses, the top one being a really nice Irish guy Pat, who I had employed as a carpenter years ago when I lived in London. He was always a bit late for work, when I finally collared him about it; he said he could never decide what to wear to work.

Nice one Pat.

I digress, the boat was winterized, which was just as well as it was a cold one and the whole marina froze over.

Next job was to have her taken out of the water, have the hull stripped back to bare metal and have a bit of over plating done. There were a couple of areas where there was pitting, and I though if she’s out of the water, may as well do the job right, so a small amount of over plating and then the hull was blacked, and the engine bay partially de-rusted and then back in the water.

Seems like a good job was done, I had the marine surveyor who had done the original survey, check out all the major works and give me written reports and photos, so all good except once again communications.

I then came across a great guy, the partner of the woman who runs the marina and a carpenter/narrow boat fitter outer .He replaced the stern deck and did a great job, also did a great job on de-greasing, de-rusting and painting the engine compartment. A job I should have done myself, but I just didn’t fancy it, not only that be was great with communications and chasing other people up

So that takes us up to present.

There needs to be a bit of electrical work, not much. The outside is badly in need of paint, Sarah and I can do that and a bit of a tidy up inside, and then she will be a really nice boat.