Sunday, 22 December 2013


Music of the Night

It is ‘the best’ having DB a mere 2 boat breadths away to port, from AM, rather than at the end of the muddy field on the Cut. Chris is busy, daily, moulding DB into our new home-to-be. We have many helpful people in our midst and we are reminded to keep a smile on our dial as the boaters give us well meant advice. If only they knew the paths we have ventured these past 21 years!! It is good to be reminded that we as fellow helpful souls need to wait until we are asked for advice!


DB’s bathroom is now a room defined by 2 bulkheads. Today I lifted Della up to show her how a dog can be swung in our new bathroom. She wasn’t aware of any danger and enjoyed being able to view it at our level. The bathroom has a hip bath, bit like what we call a ‘shub’ in NZ and we’ll put in an over- shub shower! (try saying that quickly!!) Our new front loader washing machine, 420mm(d), will have pride of place in the bathroom and be positioned for its ballast quantity! The Twin Tub days are over and the little 'smiley lids' will move to a new home. 

As I am on a laundry rant I have had a couple of altercations in our Marina Cell Block Latrine Laundry. Don’t get me wrong, the Laundry is fantastic unless you become targeted by a moorer who sets her personal timer to a minute before your load of washing in the Dryer times out. The Cow is there watching ‘0’ show on the machine and pulls my tumbled washing out and is in the process of filling the Dryer as I walk through the door! She has done this to me twice. I had to express my dislike, in strong words, at her behaviour. She tells me it is her right to remove my washing if I am not there! So you can guarantee that there will not be a third opportunity arising for her. Now I put in 50p more which gives me 25 minutes more to ensure that my clothes are almost baked. She lucked out her last visit. Laundry etiquette rules!

Back to DB. The Morso Squirrel multi fuel burner (multi meaning wood and coal) is a success. A discretionary adjustment measure ensures that the fire will perform well from first light. For the sake of Bureaucrapracy the discretionary measure will be revoked for the purposes of honest form filling. We are stocked up with kindling, thanks to fit out scraps, and coal and now we have bags of mini logs. In former days, in Portugal, we would have been trawling our hillsides for firewood. We did the same, sometimes, in NZ looking out for the Council felling trees. Now we remember the way we got warm is to gather, saw and chop wood. Now we just buy a bag from the shop. There was a damaging strong wind, recently, which felled a few trees. I was tempted to take AM out on the Cut to gather some logs from the towpath but it is not our priority these days!

DB is plugged into the electric meter and we have a couple of halogen lights indoors and the power tools no longer require the generator.  We have a little yellow vacuum cleaner, Argos special, which glides over the floor, weekly, to make a tidy work space. Constant use would be frowned upon. I misplaced my trusty sander so, with encouragement, splashed out on a new one thanks to the ease of online shopping. The wonder tool arrived a couple of weeks ago, and in my spare time I have been sanding! It doesn’t sound like fun but it is rewarding to see that with the right density sanding paper and a sander fit for purpose that I believe I have 79% possibility that I can get the ceiling panels looking good.

In the New Year I am hopeful that I can spend more time working on DB and that I can keep the blogging update regular for a few weeks!!

              Happy Christmas and a shining warm 2014 filled with Love, Happiness and good Health 


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.