Sunday, 10 March 2019


Los Montesinos and view to  Salinas deTorrevieja

OK, I'm back!

The winter that was spent, by us, in Spain leaving DB to rest in Ashwood Marina while we spent mostly dry days land based in Los Montesinos, Costa Blanca, Espana por favor. Our lifestyle over there goes pretty much as follows...waking up to Blue Skies, walking Della daily along the Med and stopping to drink a cortado €1,20 (beach price) or €1 (Los Montesinos). I met up with my band of merry men (Ukeoholics) and playing our Ukuleles almost every Tuesday, fun in the sun.

Buenos dias

Time flew and we made the decision to sell our furnished currently listed with some local Inmobiliaria (Real Estate Agents), mainly because the random fireworks freak Della and it is heartbreaking to watch her shake uncontrollably taking her an age to restore to her normal chilled self. She is 12 years old and we want her to enjoy her later years and we endeavour to keep her health optimal. 


We humanise our feeling for her and I am not slow to say “Cupboard love is the best love”.
I never got ‘a-round-tuit’ to write Lady Lock-n-Lol while I was in mainland Europe but I thought about it and here is a snippet from dry-land...

We met a couple of Brits who were thinking of buying a villa in Spain and they were reluctant to rent a car and drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road. It reminded me of my hesitation taking the wheel
Many years ago, meaning into the ultimate decade of last century, I stated I would never drive on the other side of the road thinking that way I was making a defying death decision (could that be written as 3D?). I remember it was my first long distance motoring trip with Cptn in his Renault 4 F4 Van, in our halcyon days together, from Portugal back to England via Spain and France. A couple of times I almost grabbed the bull by its horn to risk driving but a passing view of crushed metal put me off. It was a bleak thought driving on the wrong side of the road using a Right hand drive meaning the passenger had the clearest view ahead. I got over that driving pause within months and I proved to myself that I was fit with my hands safely holding the wheel. I still recite the words of Keith, a DJ at Algarve KISS FM radio station, in my memory bank ‘Keep tight and stay on the right, if you want to stay alive don’t drink and drive.’

1993 We were living in Portugal and our wheels were Cptn’s trusty RHD blue Renault 4! There are many stories to tell in this adventure but I’ll stick with ‘a rotunda’ (the roundabout). Portugal 1993 it was early days in the Algarve for the, now ubiquitous, rotunda. Using a rotunda was rare and Portimáo had just one that I recall and it was hard to avoid. There was no Google to search for guidance using a rotunda in Portugal, then, but word of mouth and hand gestures were used. “The car travelling on the Rotunda has to give way to traffic entering the Rotunda.” How could that work? And driving on the Right means traffic flows anticlockwise! I couldn’t make sense of it then. I can only remember it as an accident waiting to happen. Thankfully the rule changed and traffic on the roundabout has priority.

Moving on 25 years, roundabouts in Europe are a way of life. Spain has numerous roundabouts, la rotunda, and work well. My Bugbear is drivers, particularly in la Costa Blanca not signalling intentions on la rotunda. In England the car indicator is used to indicate as you are going around the roundabout and indicates when you are going to turn off the roundabout. I use the Indicator, what else is its purpose other indicate what I am doing, important road safety. Undoubtably I have car Indicator experience and I believe in the Indicator. On the Walk-Della schedule we have a few beach locations to drive to, and we “go over” (speaks our SatNav) the roundabout at least  10 times to the beach. I have gained experience of Spanglish protocol using the Rotunda, if you are from Britain you will probably indicate your intentions from entry to departure of la Rotunda, quickly you’ll adapt to only signalling when you are going to leave the Rotunda. Maybe you’ll stop using your indicator altogether. If you adhere to the spanish Rotunda rule, you will drive on the inner lane, if there is one, until your exit is close. It works when you are aware of how it works but the danger point is entering the Rotunda. Drivers are not 100% reliable in indicating they are leaving la rotunda. Picture this; you are waiting to enter la rotunda. There is a car on la rotunda and it doesn’t signal to leave la rotunda but it exits it. You could have entered la rotunda if it had indicated it was leaving before your point of entry. Another car on la Rotunda appears and is not indicating it is leaving but it probably is so you begin to make a move. “STOP”. The car signals it is leaving la rotunda at the next exit! Confused or bored with my Rotunda-broken- record, I will end by saying don’t let me put you off driving on the other side.

The rain in Spain.....

The SatNav made me laugh on our drive back to Blighty when she spoke French in a literal way, locations were announced in ‘franglais’ and to make this simple imagine how she pronounced Angers and Le Mans.

How do we get out of here?

So our winter in Spain is done and dusted and we are back on DolcieBlue. Soon we will be living on land in Kinver but we have agreed to keep DB under our ownership until we are ready to sell her. She is such a lovely home and means of travel in a small country. I cannot say goodbye to her just yet.


 “You know if I needed a place to stay you said you’d put me up.”
“I said I’d put up with you!”

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.