Sunday, 7 August 2011

Captains Log Earth time 05th August 2011 A week in which sees Admiral Florimondo Blondini become a pensioner.

Well a week into being a pensioner and it is not all that I imagined. First day as an OAP I went down the park with a bag of sweets, something that I am led to believe that male pensioners do. Not really that successful, mugged by fat spotty teenage boys. I am told by those in the know that a kitten or a puppy is the way to go. .I will give some thought to that.
Sarah has kept you all up to date with travels etc so I will fill in some facts for the bead counters.
Diesel is sold in two prices, propulsion and domestic. Propulsion has duty vat etc etc .Domestic only has etc etc. And of course the prices vary, so Yorkshire man that I am I get Sarah to call marinas and get prices. Of course they don’t want to tell you because they know that they are the most expensive on the cut, so they fib, which caught us out at first, but once bitten as the saying goes, so we filled up near to Rugby who told us that it was 84p.p.litre for domestic and 110p for propulsion
We put in 149 litres and told them that it was 40 % propulsion and 60% domestic, it seems that they only sold 60/40 and that was 110p p litre ,only a 15 quid rip off but a rip off all the same.
So some hard facts………..
We spend on average £4.50 a day on fuel, that gives us hot water, electricity and if we choose propulsion for about 10 miles.
Good value.
Food is cheap, especially if you are a good shopper, cheese gets a special mention as we have to resist the urge to buy every thing, so much variety and well priced.
As usual booze is our biggest expense, wine £4.00 upwards , spirits similar to NZ, beer in the pub, cheaper the further you get away from London, last night under £3.00 a pint.
Toilet pump out £10.00 - £15.00 every two weeks [depending on bran and ale intake] water free, waste disposal free, B/Waterways £700.00 per annum rates zero, fun 100%.
So it all seems good, weather very English, but I have only had the full wet weather gear on twice.
Countryside is just Oh so magnificent, sitting writing this as dappled sunlight filters through the trees on to the Grand Union Canal , and the Huddersfield Choral society sing Jerusalem on BBC 3. Why is Jerusalem so damned moving to us Brits??
Boaters come in a huge variety, from the somewhat feral, living [one assumes] in things that very vaguely resemble boats, and cooking in galvanised buckets on the edge of the woods, to the floating white plastic gin palaces on the River Thames with names like Jon Sebastian Bijou Charles 11 who would really rather not share locks with you [or the planet I suspect.] We narrow boaters who are obviously a cut above all the afore mentioned call them Tupperware boats.
I love our twice/thrice weekly visits to the pubs, beer is to my liking and first mates, people have a sense of humour and are keen to laugh, even at themselves.
The negatives……….The weather……….but then Spain is only a few hours away……….. But mostly customer service….seems like the Brits just don’t do it, mind you I cant remember that they ever did.
Tattoos , like everywhere are immensely popular and one seldom sees bare skin, which in a lot of cases is a blessing., obesity not as bad as I had imagined, but then we are not quite in “Chips and curry sauce” territory yet. This morning we are moored on the outskirts of Warwick, in a sunny and not that unpleasant industrial hinterland, the reason for this being that we had a full day in Leamington Spa yesterday, very attractive city, great floral displays and parks and of course the home of tennis [1872 Maj Henry Gem].
We were a bit late leaving Leamington and then passed both a canal side Lidl and Tesco, so once we had replenished stocks and returned to AM it was just starting to rain and the gin flag had been flying for some time and El Capitano was parched, so any port in a storm as they say.
Today is a walk /cycle to Warwick, visit the castle, and hopefully the “Cape of Good Hope” [highly recommended] at some stage.
Tempus fugit

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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.