Friday, August 31, 2007

today's insanity

This morning I set off from Weybridge to return to the boat and hopefully pick up my car. I was going to pack and tomorrow I was going to drive to a location, abandon my car and head up to the banter in Napton. How much of this did I do? well.... I boarded the train in Weybridge.

As the train raced through the countryside and I was reflecting on how it seemed inappropriate to go home half way through my holiday, so when I got to Reading I left the station for a walk in the country. I asked the nearest bus uniform containing a person and asked which bus would take me into the country. He pointed and I boarded the bus and asked for a ticket to the country and was given one - no questions asked. Lovely.

We raced through the town, but when I looked out of the window I failed to see any of the country... no rolling hills, no wild flowers and no stone houses. Hmmm I thought... perhaps I should have been more specific. We passed a sign for Theale.. hmm I thought (again) - Milly M is going to Theale. I asked the driver where we were and where he was taking me to 'the canal' he said 'you can get to it through Theale'. Ah, I thought. I asked the bus where the canal was, and eventually a lady told me, but I had missed the stop... but the lovely driver stopped anyway. Splendid.

I strolled along the canal (when I found it!) and enjoyed the wild flowers, the fishermen, the beautiful winding water and the woods alongside it. I walked for a while, and then decided to stop to do some writing (what was I thinking? Mostly 'la la, lovely flowers, la la nice woods, la la aren't holidays grand!'). As I rested some boats came through the lock and I asked one of them how far Aldermaston was (which is where Maffi had said he was earlier)... I told them I was planning to surprise Maffi and Co. (see there was a plan eventually) and they told me to hop aboard and they would give me a lift. Canal people really are fabulous! Jim and Diane on Spirit of Gizmo were a lovely couple, but I only managed to chat for a short time before I heard Milly M's horn beeping (I swear Maffi is the only boater who beeps when he comes around a corner), and told them his boat was approaching. It took Maffi a while to spot me on the back of the boat, but a smooth transition took place, and I am now aboard Milly M.

Next time I go for a wonder I really ought to make sure I have some clean clothes! As I was walking along the canal I was rather dismayed as I could smell the vial odour of rotting bones (moi) which is what persuaded me to stop walking in the first place. I boarded the great ship, raided Maffi's wardrobe and I am now chilling out, taking air and enjoying my million dollar view across the river to sign which tells me guard dogs are on the looses - KEEP OUT!
Tomorrow I shall return to Oxford, pack and go to the Napton Banter, but for now I will enjoy the sun set, the quietness and the peace. This is what we call bliss.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Damson Gin

We collected some Damsons when we were out for a stroll in Great Bedwyn and I brought some of them home. Here is aglorious picture of my damson gin, NOT something that has been rescued from a patient!

Chartwell House, Kent

Today I went to Chartwell house, the family home of Winston Churchill:

At some point during Churchills career when things were getting tight, they wondered whether they would be able to stay on at Chartwell. A group of annonymous friends grouped together and bought Chartwell and gave it to the national trust with the condition that the Churchills could stay there until they died. The house rests on a hill overlooking the countryside which is purely made up of trees:

I really liked this:

Kennett and Avon

The advantage of having friends who live on boats, is that you get to go boating on different waterways without having to take your own boat there!
On Saturday I headed up to Devizes to meet up with Maffi, Kim and Jim for a couple of days boating - here is Maffi approaching while we watch from the bridge:

On Saturday night we stopped at Honey Street and I dealt with the heron Maffi had saved for me. On Sunday we headed off quite early. Jim and Kim hadn't really slept as it was so early so we were away by 9. Kim does fabulous bacon and cheese sandwiches!

On our journey we passed the Sustrans boat and gave them a wave. I think I saw them in Thrupp earlier in the year?

We stopped at Wootton Rivers to meet some of Jim and Kims friends, I had to leave early for an afternoon snooze! I had intended to pop into the church to play the piano, but sadly it was locked. In the afternoon we passed this suspension bridge and made for Bruce tunnel:

passing some gorgeous scenery along the way:

and waited so long for some of the locks to fill that Kim and Jim took a nap themselves:

I have never been through a tunnel and I was delighted as it loomed. As soon as I came out of the tunnel I thought of some fun stuff we could have done, but instead I managed to take a picture looking back:

We stopped at the top of crofton locks and it was with great relief that wide beam passed us by -we had followed them and passed them during the day, but the father was shouty and really spoilt things for us. The children were adorable despite their grouchy father.
My car was still not fixed which means I needed to look up trains to get to Moleys for supper on Monday evening. Moley is from the canalworld forumand is doing a splendid job on his boat, this guy has serious talent! Luckily Maffi has a new T-Mobile connection so I was able to use that, but unfortunately it looked like it was going to cost me 70pounds!!! I think I may have got that wrong; since then I have looked up a few prices and the website has changed since I looked at it a few months ago and I may have been mistaken. I didn't know that then, and I said to the Moles that I couldn't make it. I was disappointed, but Maffi Kim and Jim said I could stay on Milly M for a bit longer, so that was good.
On Monday morning we set off down the crofton flight and had planned to go to the crofton pumping station, but the steam engines were suffering so we decided to give Wilton Windmill as miss too and head on to Great Bedwyn where we had a lovely luncheon. In the afternoon we strolled down to the stone mason museum and on to the church - which was open and had the most delicious baby grand in it. I tinkled the ivories for a bit and then went back to the boat for an afternoon snooze. I really miss the piano. In the evening we went for a stroll and found some sloe berries, and were given some russet apples and damsons by a kind inhabitant of the village.

Just before this lock (I forget the name) there were some plum trees, sadly they weren't that great.

I love this picture - the last lock before Hungerford, Marsh lock. It has a swing bridge across the middle of it, and if you look carefully you look carefully you can see bits of the swing bridge that look like chimneys on Maffis boat making it look like a steamer:

we met some fishermen on the way, and they were really good fun and there was good banter as we passed along the row. The first guy wanted us to speed up past the last two, then one of them said don't talk to the next one, he just wants money - when we passed the next guy he said 'lend us a fiver'. It was great - here they are:

Hungerford is a pretty town. On Wednesday morning I took the train back to Oxford on the off-chance the car was ready and in order to take a trip to the Dorset steam fayre. I had planned to spend a bit of time down there and knew the train times, but sadly it wasn't to be. My car wasn't ready, and although I knew the train times, and was able to stay on site, I decided to do other things. I have a few things I need to give some time to, so I did that instead.


I have just noticed that some of the links I had are not there any more! I expect I lost them in the 'revamp' (black to white!) a few weeks ago. I shall endeavour to put them back... ooops!

Boat Pole

weeping cross noticed that I had had my pole with the hook pinched and bought me another one - as it happens my pole wasn't stolen but was hiding, but Weeping Cross gave me the new one anyway and I must say - it is GORGEOUS! 8ft long, ash, and he had to wittle down the end (with a stanley knife) to fix the hook onto it. A question remains, shall I paint it, or shall I varnish it....

Place your bets....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Public Transport

I arrived home today for a brief interlude on the boat and looked out of the window just as a familier boat went past - Du Morvan, I used to moor next to them. They moored alongside and we had a catch up on all the news. It was really good to see them.

I have fitted a new lock to the front doors and promtly locked myself out. OOOPS! Thankfully I had the side catch open. I must sort out a way to make sure that doesn't happen again!

Most of my holiday plans have been scuppered as my car is in the garage being fixed and waiting for parts, so I am exploring public transport again. Sigh.

I had a lovely night last night with Maffi, Kim and Jim. We went to the white feathers in Hungerford for a meal. The dog took a complete shine to Kim. Jim is excellent on the guitar and if you can persuade Maffi to sing, I quite like it.

Transporting a heron on the train is a sure way to get a seat to yourself. When I boarded I put the bucket on the opposite seat, but a chap at the next stop growled at me and looked down his nose at me as he indicated he wanted to sit on the seat with the bucket opposite me rather than the 5 other available seats in the suite. I was rather annoyed, so I took the bucket off the seat and placed it under the table by his and my feet. He looked triumphant at first, but gently began to look a bit pale.
I am not normally that mean... honest!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Solar Panels

Grey Wolf asked me the other day how my solar panels are coming along, so I thought I would put in an update. They are truely fantastic! I have one 85w panel provided by sustainable-systems in Oxford, and it is providing all the electricity in these summer months to keep my batteries topped up and run my 12V fridge. I did find that there wasn't enough juice going in during the duller rainier days, so I have added another battery to my bank, making it 3, and have shortened the wire from the panel to the batteries as it was excessively long and some current would be lost through voltage drop.

Boating Holidays

Last year I decided to take the boat out on my first official boating holiday, but unforutunately broke my thumb after a boaters banter which re-routed my holiday into various hospital waiting rooms, and launched me into the realm of the one handed boating - which the River Wey is NOT designed for.

This year I have taken a few boating trips and during the current visit to Maffis boat I have closely examined a dead heron; drank beer at lunchtime (and promptly had to sleep it off); followed a wide beam down the canal with a VERY shouty father and 4 delightful kids whose names we knew before we saw the boat; eaten delicious food and played the piano in a local church. This, I think, can officially be called a boat holiday, and perhaps my first. I am now trying to pluck up the courage to return to the thatched cottage behind the mooring to see whether they will sell some of their delicious garden apples to me. I did go earlier but their dog looked like it was going to devour me so I bravely sloped away.

We should be in Hungerford tomorrow, where Maffi claims he will have his hair cut - I am rather dissappointed as he is looking more like 'cousin IT' from the Addams Family as the hours pass. Kim has baked some cakes, and although I haven't seen them yet I have heard exclamations from the kitchen commenting on how they are sloping to one side... I like the idea of using baking to check the distribution of ones ballast.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bones is Happy!!!!

Today is the second day of my holiday and I have just spent the last few hours in the field with some pliers, a knife and a bucket, and am now the proud owner of a herons neck, head and leg! HURRAHHH!!! Maffi knows how to make this girl happy.

I would stop to chat, but I am off to skip some rigadoons.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Recycling Pee is Green!

Miss T left a comment on yesterdays post with a link from the new scientist: Pee-Cycling. I have taken on whitewaters comments (and from now on will fine him every time he pees over the side of the pontoon) and will save up pee for disposal in the bushes. I wonder if I could study the affects of male and female pee on the environment?

As it happens, I have found the bucket makes my loo look so comfortable I am barely able to adjust my habits.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sea Lavs and White Water

White Water tells me that my grand idea (inspired by the lovely Ali) could be regarded as pollution, which is why sea toilets are sealed up. Now then White Water... are you sure? What is the incurred fine for chucking my buckets contents overboard, and why is that any different to peeing in the shower (of which I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of doing at all ever...blah)? It all ends up in the same place. Or, is it volume that we are concerned about, if that is the case, what is the maximum amount of urine (oh dear, that sounds less refined than pee) one is allowed to chuck overboard at any one go?

Miss T and A pieeater speaks have commented on the 'bucket, but their alarm seems to be concerned more around dinner preparation! Does this tell me something about where land dwellers prepare their meals?!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Peeing over the side.....

This week I visited Ali from canal world Forums for a fine cup of coffee and discovered a rather fantastic solution to the inappropriateness of young ladies using the outdoor lavatory for a pee; a bucket. I am of course, a fan of natures lavatory, but it does become rather inappropriate when it is sunny and there isn't anywhere appropriately secluded lacking various forms of harmful foliage. An asset such this is essential when living afloat because the loo fills up rather more quickly for ladies compared to gents (due to reasons already mentioned). In addition, when only pee is contained in the bucket it can be lobbed over the side – which I assure you is a far more refined gesture (for me at least) compared to trying to pee over the side. The actual loo is reserved for times when reading may be appropriate. I am now, I know you will be delighted to hear, the owner of a lovely new blue bucket.

The other advantage of the blue bucket is it makes the loo itself seem so much more attractive, and anyone that knows about these things will realise that that is a miracle!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Vagabonds - my imagination!

My pole with a hook on the end has not been pinched at all! It was hiding......

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I love boating

and the boat houses I see - this one seems to be getting more and more plasticated....

and the houses that poke through the woods

I also passed the Morris day out at Radley College

Boats are great!

I keep taking pictures of this one - I am captivated by it:

New Spoon

Lock Boy made me a spoon!!! It is from silver birch... GORGEOUS!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Weekend: Saturday

I had a royal visit from the parental unit this weekend which I thoroughly enjoyed, parents are smashing people and I recommend them to everyone.

On Saturday we strolled around Lechlade where I bought another pewter tankard from a junk shop, and after raiding the local supermarket for nosh we went to Coleshill to examine the ruins there. Sadly there were none, so we had a picnic in the churchyard and Dad blagged the key to the church tower and up we went to view our surroundings:

There is something very satisfying about climbing up through the bell tower.

After dining we headed over to Buscot Park (home of the faringdon collection) to look around.

It is a fabulous place to visit! The house is very homely, and the gardens sport fabulous views inter dispersed with lovely 'rooms'

and the kitchen garden is a mass of flower beds with veg and fruit growing amongst them



I surveyed my boat roof this morning and noticed that my boat pole with a hook on it has GONE!!!!

Vagabonds I tell you.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sweet Sympohony

I am sitting on the viranda. The sun has gone down leaving an orange glow over the jagged rooftops of the houses surrounding this stretch of water. The cool air is gliding over my back and the birds are close by.

Coots can really get on ones nerves after a while....

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friends are Great!!!!

On tuesday evening I visited weeping cross and took my washing with me. Unfortunately I forgot it when I left on wednesday. Last night I went to a dinner party with Miss T and Pie Eater which weepingcross was also attending so I asked him to bring my washing with him. The conversation went something like this when weeping cross arrived at the front door to be greeted by Miss T.

Weeping Cross: here is bones' washing
Miss T: lovely, I'll put it on later
Weeping Cross: no, it's clean
Miss T: oh right, you'd better put it upstairs.

This tickles me pink, I wonder how many people think it is normal for someone to take someone else's washing to a dinner party AND for the host to think that is perfectly normal, and offer to do it later. Brilliance!

In the meantime I now have a bag of lovely clean washing. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I have been very lucky and the floods in Oxfordshire have not affected me, but many homes will take months and months to put back into order, I can't imagine the devestation that it has caused, not just here but in other areas across the country. Mark Paris tells me that even Thrupp lost a couple of cars in the flood - staggering, and many places will have suffered in ways I could not imagine.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The sunken boat

When I was coming over Folly bridge on the bus last week I spotted a narrowboat that was clearly half sunk. I was delighted to see that Gypsy Rover
had documented it, and you will be pleased to hear that it has now been lifted

Poem: Distant Land

Oh distant land
Where the sun rises high
Where the birds sing of freedom
And the stars hang from the sky

Oh distant land
Where dreams come true
A child’s playground
Under the sky so blue

Oh distant land
Where the deer frolic
Where badgers dance
From which fear is abolished

Oh distant land
Where do you hide yourself?
Where can you be found?
Oh distant, distant land

More Pictures

The best place to keep CDs is in the bathroom:

and candles should always be kept in the middle of the floor..... Actually, this is the dining room, it was full of papers etc but I decided that looked too messy!

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Bathroom

The bathroom is coming along nicely. I did a bit of clearing over the weekend:

and lock boy sat on the front of the boat making spoons:

Pictures: The boat

I have finally tidied the boat and it is suitable for the camera! I was pleased to find Bones still afloat when I arrived back after the floods

And there was no water on the floor:

To one side of the door I have a bookcase:

and to the other a cupboard.

when I sit on my sofa I see this:

Friday, August 03, 2007

new look

In a fit of pique I clicked a button and we now have a new look on the blog... I wonder if my feeds still work?! I notice the guestbook has gone, I must find another.


Last night I trundled home and decided that it was time to tidy the boat up so I could take some pictures (and put everything away of course). Why on earth I felt that grouting the tiles in the kitchen was part of this I have no idea.

The boat is messier, and I now have grout in my hair. Another day looking delectable for Dr Bones!!!!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

After the Caen Flight

Once we had all disembarked after our grand voyage down the flight we staggered to the nearest table at theBarge Inn, Seend and spent a couple hours of much needed relaxation. I spotted some members of the BSA Owners Club and quizzed them about the forks on my Bantam which I have been having trouble putting them together. Bottle headed home along with Jims parents and a couple of others, and the rest of us took up a table in the pub. John and Fiona from Epiphany joined us for a pre-dinner drink during which Neil from canal world and of the basingstoke canalpopped in. Neil saw Maffis boat moored up whilst doing a recce (as in reconnoitre) for his family holiday next week and decided to hunt him out. I was convinced that Neil didn't actually exist after several failed attempts (and near misses) to meet up. It was great putting names to faces. The food at the Barge Inn was absolutely gorgeous and we all had a fantastic evening. We were so exhausted we couldn't stay awake and quickly turned into bed afterwards.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More Photos: Caen Hill

Maffi did some locks too:

and then a crowd formed to watch:

but it was fun too:

and the BW guys keeping an eye on the flight go up and down on quad bikes...

I love this picture of Bottle and Maffi

Bottle is from Canal World and came along to give us a hand. THANK YOU! I took this near the end of the day, and he was still smiling!

Last day in the *house*

I have now completed the full 2 weeks in my land lubbing empire and shall return to the narrowboat of peace and tranquility this evening. The cats are still alive, and the house is still intact. This has to be a triumph. Within days I was provided with a mouse offering; a welcome from my feline freinds, but this morning I had another - a vole this time. Is it that they want me to stay longer, or is it a hint - you have arrived, you have conquered, and now it is time to leave. I suppose they think a vole will make me pack my bags before they catch any other endagered species.

House dwelling has been fun, and the setting delightful. I have been surrounded by peace, quiet and woods, hotwater, space and high ceilings. I now have seriously itchy feet and want to return home, go cruising and sit on the bows with a cup of tea.

Home is good thing. I know someone who owns a house and doesn't feel it is 'home' indeed, he says he doesn't really have a place called home. What does home actually mean? I have always felt that home is where I am, in this respect I am very very lucky. Even when I had no-where I still found myself 'at home'. Perhaps it is a state of mind?

Over-all I have enjoyed house-sitting. It is an honour that someone would welcome me into their home when they are away.

So - the land dwelling is going to return to the water-rat lifestyle, and I look forward to catching up with new and old chums.

The down side of house-sitting is that i have missed the experience of being flooded. All experiences are interesting, but I suspect the novelty would have worn thin!

Sunday: Scouts, Water and laughter

After a delicious meal at the barge Inn in Seend on saturday evening I found myself unable to stay awake and turned into bed rather early. Arising on Sunday I continued to read the book (Richard Peltzer) I had found on Maffis shelf, and then sat outside drinking coffee and generally being lazy. In flight entertainment for the occassion was provided by some canoeing scouts and their leaders. The whole view reached its peak when one lady fell in the water and promptly capsized the boat tipping her paddle companion into the drink. Unfortunately I and Maffi found this side wrenchingly funny although Maffi does have a little more decorum (honestly!) than me and managed to stifle most of his laughs. Even if he hadn't my rip roaring gfwars would have drowned him out. We watched eagerly as the other scouts took it in turns to fail to pull the lady from the water (the younger lady was dragged to dry land fairly easily). In a moment of mercy (see, we do have them!) Maffi and I decided to assist. As we strolled over, one scout told us that the problem was french scouts and English scout leaders and a "language barrier". Maffi and I made our way through the crowd, bent over and hauled the women onto the bank with a 'voila' and left. Unfortunately none of the party found any of the incident even slightly amusing. I think they were having a long long day!

The two women were re-installed into their freshly re-floated vessel and took to paddling. Unfortunately it took them a while to get the hang of it (did they ever) and spent quite a long time going from one bank to the other. Every time the boat hit the bank, or the boat (on opposite sides) the younger of the two exclaimed that it was impossible. They kept at it though - good on them!

There is nowt so fun as messing about in boats, and I think these two french scouts should receive a medal for doing it so splendidly!!!!!

Saturday: Caen Hill

Having discovered the sheer quantity of locks at Caen Hill I felt rather faint, almost as faint as when I discovered that the flight was two hours away, not the original 40minutes I had assumed. Not only that, but I had promised Maffi I would be there by 10. Those of you that know me, know that mornings (or even daylight as my boss suggests) are not my forte.

I was however delighted to discover that I was not the only member of crew.
Here are some of us in the first lock: Jim (on the right) is already overwhelmed and we can't see all the locks yet.

and loads of locks and more crew: Jims dad is doing a runner on the side:

and his mum is keeping Maffi company on the stern:

When near the bottom I took a photograph looking up the flight.....

I disappeared into the kitchen to make some delicious sandwiches for the faithful crew. Bacon, or Bacon and egg were on offer and I found some bread on the side which I used.... it was only later that Maffi asked me which bread I had used and pointed out that that was the one for the ducks and was a bit mouldy...OOOOPS. I did wonder why no-one wanted a second sandwich - sorry guys!!!!!!

and then I took to the stern while the boys worked hard, and everyone else sat on the boat (recovering from lunch I suppose):

and I tried to get Allan wet

We were only too pleased when we made it to the pub and could relax. Milly M looks totally exhausted in the trees.