Tuesday, 29 May 2018


Shobnall Fields

In my world, I get close to going around the bend on the straight and narrow. I live the dream life as a water gypsy, and then out of nowhere, I change direction. We have the best life and are very happy with our random world but..... I have been thinking of the many adventures I have taken along my way in my life that could be viewed as a dream. But that is book material and one day I must write it. In this world of lies damn lies, I stand honestly in that I haven’t had to fake my dream. I am living it with our choices. I am so fortunate.
Shobnall Fields

The joy of cruising along nature’s blooming botanical garden has opened my eyes to beauty on the Cut. Our gardeners do a wonderful job keeping the towpath accessible and maintaining clear signposted mooring sites. A couple of days ago we were moored at Shobnall Fields in Burton-upon-Trent and had moved to the ‘other side’ to paint DB’s starboard gunwale. The grass had been recently mown and I didn’t expect the gardeners. I had been painting for about 10 minutes and I heard the sound of a big petrol lawn mower. I grinned gritting my teeth as hi-vis wearing earmuffs appeared. He turned his mower engine off and smiled as he walked past saying “I could see you were painting so I’ve stopped mowing near your boat.” Ditto when ‘Strimmer-man’ appeared. It is heart-warming that the gardeners have their mind working over matter and can be considerate humans.

We moored up in Alrewas and the grass was recently cut. The moorings are clearly signposted to the length of stay. We were on 14-day moorings, to begin with, and there were mooring rings we could tie on to.  48 hr moorings were signposted from the Footbridge to the Lock.  Matey, in a small Nb moored literally a stone’s throw from the canal bridge, tucked in no moorings land, i.e the 48 hr sign was not indicating that small space was signposted. Helpful-me told him it was 48hr mooring. He said “No it’s not it’s 14 day mooring and anyway my car has broken down and I need to be moored her so I can get to work.”  I, being helpful, suggested he phone C&RT and speak to the Enforcement Officer.  I said I have always found them very understanding in cases like this. He responded that he has not found them helpful or understanding and he didn’t want anything to do with them. He said they only check  boats every 14 days around here which brings me to conclude that he takes his boat away for a few hours and brings it back again to ‘his’ spot. I realised that we wouldn’t agree to disagree and I was wasting my time. Good for him having his boat, sad for him not taking responsibility.

We were all young once, now we are on the count to being a long time dead. I was young once, the girl is still inside me and happy memories are remembered. I trained to become an Occupational Therapist so I could start my travel the world dream, it was called ‘O.E’ (Overseas Experience).  

When I left NZ in 1985 I didn’t have much money. NZ had moved on from being ‘the land of milk and honey’ and the economy was struggling after Britain joined the EEC.
That meant as soon as I arrived in London I had to get work. I had the support of my older brother and his wife in the early days to get my bearings and it wasn’t long before I moved into a ‘flat’ with friends and friends of friends. We colonial people in my crowd mostly were Kiwis & Aussies. I moved into a flat (Flat =group home = rented house). There were 6 of us as permanent transients in the Flat, a house in Golders Green and we knew that to get along with life in the big country of England we needed to be responsible and pay for the accommodation and utilities, we needed to eat ‘healthily’ which meant taking our turn cooking meals for the large group of people. We put money into a kitty for food and groceries. We wrote on the blackboard (it was and will always be called a blackboard, for me cos it was a board painted black and we used chalk and sometimes drew pictures) shopping lists with food we needed to cook the meals we wanted to cook. We filled in the days of the week calendar written indelibly in chalk on the blackboards with the day we would cook. Sometimes we would team cook. None of this Come Dine With Me carryon, every day was a feast. We all took responsibility in giving our share of rent money etc to the nominated person in the group who managed the bills. Life skills developed trust and appreciation, respect and responsibility. We shared our home with ‘Dossers’ young people like us who were on their overseas experience. Dossers, maybe 2 or 3 would stay for a few days pay a few quid, not loads of money, and their financial ‘donation’ would be put towards the Utility Bills and the money grew so we bought equipment like a record player/tape deck etc. We had a good life and we knew how to PARTY!
Now I am swiftly leaving my years of ‘Muddle-Rage’ and moving to my 3rd Age. My memories are still alive. We grabbed opportunities when we were young and made sure we could meet our needs.  Now I have decided to go back to work but not in a way that I have to be consumed with it.

On the Cut, we lead a ‘random’ life. We are so fortunate but our dreams move on to new dreams. The Seven Year Itch.

During the meanwhilst, we are off to London, that country down South where the word has it on the cut that London Boaters double or triple breast up. I don’t like the sound of that. Not my choice.  I’ve lived in London in a ‘Flat’, last century. That was my time and that was a good time.
I’m a bit pissed at the Michael Fish-ism. I was in London when the non-forecast cyclone hit on the night 15th / 16th October. Meteorology hasn’t changed this century. I was in Portugal when the heavens opened and our valley got decimated from 5 hours of torrential rain, lightning and thunder. Now in the UK, we are warned that we have ?% risk of rain. Why don’t they say we have ?% chance of sun rays. That could be known as mindful weather.

Back to here and now.

Lots to blog, I think. Cptn and I will share the Locking and the Helming to London and beyond. I’ve gained my ‘H & L’ competency.  

Here we go!!!

Coventry Canal

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.