Thursday, 26 May 2016


Alrewas and we have potentially 14 day mooring to hang out on here. Not sure if we’ll stay that long but it is a peaceful and friendly spot to stay with lots of walking available, chatty villagers, gongoozlers and boaties. We have had three days of sunshine, enough for me to forecast the beginning of the long hot summer ahead! Well I may as well spread the news for free, there are people who get paid and trusted for talking codswallop!
Della keeping her Team together

Every day the engine needs to be running, if we are not on the cruise move, for 2 – 3 hours to charge the batteries and generate hot water into the Calorifier for the shower and dishes. When, on a rare occasion, we are plugged into electricity we get hot water by switching on the immersion heater.

While the engine is running I like to use the available energy to ‘do the laundry’. I only use COLD water! I don’t want to create an obsession with laundry, I've been told, unofficially, that I am borderline neurotic but a small wash seems to make economical sense. Today is a cardi(gan) and a jersey (jumper not cow!)wash. Currently I’m up to date with day to day clothing and Manchester. Factoid: Manchester, a term still used in Australia for linen and towels. In 'the old days' Manchester was written on packing crates of cotton goods exported from the cotton factories Manchester, England.
Washing joy!

I am very happy with my narrow (not deep) Indesit washing machine. It fits in the bathroom perfectly and does not need to be hidden away in a cupboard. I am proud to have it on display!
An abridged, I say abridged as I am now no longer a spring chicken, history of me the Washer Woman goes like this:

70’s -The semi not -quite-automatic agitator washing had to move the dial to fill, then move dial to agitate, then move dial to empty, then move dial to rinse...... This high tech operation was followed by putting the washing through the mangle/wringer. There was no Health and Safety apart from common sense. Feed the wet washing through the mangle, and dry your hands on a towel rather than flatten them through the wringer. Take your flat pack laundry outdoors and shake items to bring them back to life to dry pegged on the Hills Hoist. An iron was necessary, in those days.

Early 80’s – I bought a quality F&P (Fisher and Paykel) top loader, on ‘lay by’ If you couldn’t keep up with the repayments then it was 'bye bye'. It was expensive but it was a lifesaver then, it did the work while I could stay out of the way!

Mid 80’s London and I met the Front Loader. I borrowed but didn’t beg or steal. I could watch the washing works,the reality tv of its day, while I had a cuppa and a natter sat at the kitchen table.

90’s Portugal. It was basic, I started washing laundry on the rocks down in the river.  The early days of the ‘Good Life’. It wasn’t long before I became the proud owner of a concrete tub with an integral ‘washing’board. I remember we left it at the roadside while renovation works to our donkey stable aka house-to –be began and once we had a solid ground space outdoors we moved it down. It really is another story. We didn't have water, on tap so to speak. Our valley did not get electricity until 1998. Think about that!
Para enxugar ropas com mano

The advantage with hand washing was that on a building site I always had clean hands whatever dirty job came my way. The rotary clothes line was a bargain purchase from Argos, it wasn’t up to the weight of the washing and one winter’s day it collapsed under its heavyweight! Bugger and blast. Repeating the washing task was more than a chore!! Wet clay soil should remain on the ground and not infiltrate clean wet laundry.
Milennium... I had an Ariston front loader washing machine. Electricity had arrived, for us, in 1998. We’d moved up the road, to a new home rebuild and my pay off for moving was an automatic washing machine to take me through more building site days. I had plenty to do that didn’t involve labouring with hands-on washing!
2005 NZ 9kg top loader machine. Big beast, much bigger than what I needed but the price was tempting and included a clothes drier. I didn’t need a dryer and I used it rarely. I like hanging my clothes outdoors on the clothesline. Hill’s Hoists have been overtaken by plastic fantastic rotart clotheslines.
England and Nb Avalon Mist....intitially I returned to hand washing or Laundrette, if found. Then I discovered the little twin-tub, light enough to carry to the Bow and powered when engine on and we were cruising. Small enough to manage 4 tshirts, knickers and socks etc., better than handwashing.
.... Mercia Marina. Great equipped laundrys with appliances that take coins. No tolerance from management to hang washing in view of humans, therefore dryers in constant use. Occasional altercations with other boatees who forgot to remove their laundry from the dryer or washed their laundry onboard and then used 2 of 3 dryers!! Get my drift! doesn’t get better in England than this. No mess Charlie and we stay clean and mean.

Comment from the ‘Cut’ in Alrewas.
“You still doing the washing? We passed you at Stenson!”

Country walks

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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.