Monday, 30 April 2012


30th April   

There is a sense of fulfillment in our world. Della has arrived safe and sound just as we had left her as promised by Jeanette, her Carer, and George, her Exporter. Della is now a tangible part of the Avalon Mist Adventure. We have pictured having her on AM and now she is here!

It was human to visualize her voyage to the UK. We are forever grateful to Jeanette who cared for Della as her own, and followed up with sending her to us when the day arrived. Thank you Jeanette. Della appeared in front of us at the Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow Airport – a bundle of joy. She did what we wanted to do to her – she bounded between us with joyful squeals and kisses. Four hours later we were back on AM.

Della dozed, for most of the car journey, on my knee. The last ½ hour she was alert and looking out the window, with interest, and took in the moist smells. It was raining! The predicted drought may be over. Della tentatively walked the slatted L-shaped pier to AM. She followed our instruction…’stay close’ …..’careful’….  Chris has secured orange plastic thick mesh fencing around the edge of  AM’s stern (rear end of a boat). She went down into AM at the Stern end. We opened the door, and she stepped – no missed the second step – I mean slipped down into AM.

Anyway Della is now on board and has settled immediately. Her new bed, given to her by Sonya and Ian, is well padded and looks like the most comfortable ‘chair’ in the room. “Possum” and “Ballduck” are nearby, but she is not taking much interest. Routines are getting established.

The layout of the Marina gives us a 1 mile walk door to door and there is a well marked path down to the Trent and Mersey Canal. So we will all be doing walks galore. Today we drove to find the woods covered with bluebell carpets. We let Della off the lead and she tiptoed through the bluebells! Back at the Merina I took her into an adjacent field, without the sheep, and gave her a workout with the ball thrower. Well that was my intention but she was keen to see what was happening back on the boat!!

1 comment:

  1. She's gorgeous, those photos you showed me, slap em on ere!!



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.