Tuesday, 30 May 2017


Seven months reads a long time but it feels like it has floated away now we spend our first full day on the Staffs & Worcs Canal ( Staffordshire & Worcester Canal for those uninitiated to shortening the long words) after reversing out of our home marina, Ashwood Marina yesterday.

In brief, follows a pictorial history of my 7-month peregrination. My feet were involved in the daily dog walks in Spain, then traversing the International Airports particularly Gatwick and Dubai and only mentioning Alicante, Brisbane, Auckland, and Melbourne because they were in that long haul can of worms. Long haul travel does not hold its appeal for me, anymore, but the light at both ends of the tunnel is well worth it. I’m Kiwi and I hold my homeland dear. I am a 5 year old water gypsy and I love sharing this and EspaƱa with Chris and Della (our ‘chica guapa’).

Caged sunset, Spain Dec 2016

Snow falls in the aptly named Costa Blanca Spain, Dec 2016. 

Our view to Salinas de Torrevieja
Nice hat. Water gypsy and Uke chica. Spain Jan 2017

Hanging out at Lo Pagan, Spain Jan 2017

Glimpse of the Med., Guardamar del Segura March 2017
Stormy weather at Dubai InternationalAirport. A leaky pane dripped on me!

Anyone for cricket. Mirimar, Wellington NZ

Predator-free fence!

Sumner, Christchurch NZ

Hokey Pokey Icecream yumyum

Leg of Lamb

Tui tv in Waitati

Koreru (wood pigeon) surveys food for grabs!

Dunedin Harbour from the Albatross Observatory April 2017 
Observing a Royal Albatross chick  April 2017

Bungee Jump. I heard a squeal! Waiau River near Hanmer Springs NZ

Is that the propeller disintegrating? Flight ChCh to Tauranga and then came turbulence!

Probably that way! Walking Mauao ( Mt Maunganui/Tauranga) NZ May 2017

I'm on the one in the middle!! May 2017

I arrived back in England, a week ago, it was a gruelling 30 hours from Auckland to London Gatwick followed by a further 5 hours to get to NbDolcieBlue. There is no romantic fantasy in that but “YES” to my reality. Dream on....

DB is fit for purpose. DB is lovely. DB is real. DB is my home with Chris and Della.

Going up!!

Now begins our adventure of cruising 2018. You know nearly as much as me about that now!


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.