Sunday, 19 June 2011

Girl Talk

Sarah writing 18 June 11:
Well the dream is now an actuality! Before I swan off into rhapsody of wow fab love the lifestyle, a few words to say about the past days. Jetlag, sleeping pills and the knowledge of an ageing brain have made their impact in my comfort zone. I forgot that this is a massive move and only in the movies can you write the way you want the story to go! I know sweet FA about boats, and what I should be doing. I’m really not keen on being told what to do but I forget that most people don’t like to be told what to do unless they ask for it (and in my world I’m the best in giving advice….apologies to those who have been on the receiving end of my overworked tongue)! Anyway my comfort zone has been flashing red lights and I have been slow in getting over it. The past days have been busy with getting our living space in order (ie the berths in Avalon Mist). And, yesterday, we pumped out the toilet tank into the canal. The fish were hungry and not discerning. It meant we had to take Avalon Mist to a more private area so that was our first move along the water (or should I say our collective first movement in the water). On the way back Old Man River’s brother had a go at me for poking my pole into his boat! Well his boat shouldn’t have been in our way even though he was parked, I mean moored. I practiced my language skills and found the right word when I got to F. But, today, we have finally motored out of the marina and chugged (the word sounds like a train) along the Kennet & Avon Canal, in the opposite direction that we will be heading. It is brilliant to finally be away from the marina and tied up to the side of the canal, by way of banging metal holding pegs in the ground and attaching ropes fore & aft (see nautical not naughty terms are being used!) I have chosen kitchen duties as my area of concern, along with those neurotic activities that domestic goddesses have in their make-up.
I also have my Op Shop 2nd or 7th hand guitar half restrung and I’m liking the warm sound that it is making. The Uke is still sleeping but will be out soon.
If you got this far on my blog then I can now tell you that we didn’t empty our toilet tank into the canal!
I’m thinking of our little Della Bella (there are so many placid dogs around) and I know Della is being loved and looked after by Jeanette. (Thank you Jeanette& Jim). I’m also thinking of our families, particularly those in Christchurch. Our thoughts and love are with you.
Now we saw hundreds of crows at dusk circling above us (reminding me of Daphne du Maurier novel“The Birds”) finding their nests. I’m wondering if any of you “Twitchers” out here know if birds find that all trees from above look the same N’EST-ce pas!


  1. Wow! Can't wait to see piccys and hear more as you travel. We will live your UK summer vicariously through this blog. :-)
    Love Chris, Sandy and Girls xxx

  2. just been looking at photo of Chris. What a sight for sore eyes. Havnt seen you since i was 15 n you scandalised my gran by walking barefoot around Morecambe.{ Im 60 this year} Hope you are both keeping well and enjoying your hols afloat.
    Love to you both


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.