Sunday, September 30, 2007

Do I look Amused?!

hrmph. I decided that today would be the day to change the oil, and all the filters. The oil and the diesel went beautifully well until I tried to the bleed the system, and I am now intensely irritated - not only did the engine STILL not roar into life, but I managed to crack the union joint on one of the injector pipes. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Now I need a new one.
Am I amused NO. I have ripped my trousers and have two bleeding knuckles (albeit on different fingers), I stink of Diesel and have oil in my hair, I also have a sore neck and am in foul humour.

This I am sure you will agree is exactly the sort of condition any host should be in when looking forward to an evening with some friends (and I am cooking!). I hope they don't breath wrong else the dragon within me will be unleashed.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Oh I do so love cheese, and I have recently heard of a cheese festival taking place over the weekend. I thought about going on Sunday with Miss T and Adam, but I really do need to go to an art exhibition to see Sue's paintings, change the oil and filters and the diesel filters on the boat, so it looks like I have not got time to go... or at last that is what I thought until Miss T and Adam told me they only plan to go for 2 hours.....

shall I go? How can I resist?!


This boating lark is a bit nippy at the moment so I have had to dive under the bed and get the thicker jumpers out, and the thermals. I love this fresh mornings with the crisp air, and the way the dust settles on the water; delightful!

I wonder when it will be cold enough to light the wood burner, I am looking forward to some warming winter stews! I really must get some coal......

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stuart: A Life Backwards

On Sunday evening I watched the television adaptation of this book by Alexander Masters. I had read a review of the book, and was looking forward to reading it, so you can imagine how delighted I was when I noticed it was on TV, especially as I was on Maffis boat, and he has one. You can see the review here

Although the story is not a happy one, homelessness rarely is, it has a delightful charm about it, and is full of humour. I like this unlikely match between violent alcoholic and writer, and the very idea that these two people had a friendship; both from wildly different backgrounds and futures, but ultimately able to appreciate and love each other as they shared the present. You can't help but love them yourself.

I spent many a time with the alcoholic homeless people of Cambridge, and to revisit that scene, albeit by television, I found rather moving.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Keeping Up Photos

So, I spent 4 days aboard keeping up and here are a few pictures. The Grand Union Canal is often likened to a motorway, but I think it is a pretty stretch with plenty of variety. I was particularly amazed at how countryfied Milton Keynes is.

Along the way we spotted plenty of topiary:

There were some lovely stretches of water:

too many views like this:

but plenty of tunnels!

lots of old working boats, some of which were left to rot. I suppose some people take on more than they can handle:

and when we relaxed we ate trifle and did this:

On the final stretch I looked back and took a photo of the happy couple:

Thanks Guys.

Monday, September 24, 2007

lovely people

I was stumbling home after work and spotted someone vaguely familiar cycling down the towpath, and low and behold it was Phil Nixon. Phil is such a lovely chap with a gorgeous family all of whom have shared many a happy moment on the previous boat I lived on. As we were chatting over some tea on the front deck, a chap walked passed and asked me where he could get some water for his batteries. As his empty container was the same size as the full one I had on my boat, I offered him that, but he said he needed more. I directed him off to Halfords and off he went. Sometime later he returned, stopped and reached into his bag and gave me a box of chocolates. How delightfully charming people can be. I was so chuffed! He told me he had stopped off at the station to buy them as a thank you for offering the water I had. I am touched. How lovely.

It was great seeing Phil after so many years. It was good to catch up, and it was just like old times. With good friends the passage of time is an irrelevant continuum. I love it.

Poor Maffi

On Friday night Maffi's hot water tank burst, and as there are no isolator switches along the system, he is now living on his boat without any water at all. To top it off, he has suffered some loss of vision in one eye and has a hospital appointment tomorrow to sort it out. I am sure you can picture the scene: One eyed maffi with blurred vision trying to fill up a water container from a towpath tap and then poor that into his kettle..... His loo also uses water to flush, so even using that can be a bit interesting. He tells me he has two containers with different coloured lids, one is for drinking water, and the other is not... I wish I could remember which was which.

So, his boat is still under warranty - hurrah you think, but there is no sign of it being fixed YET. The event happened on a Friday evening and typically people don't work at the weekends. The boatyard were on the end of the phone on Saturday morning, and as yet there is no news. I wonder how long it will go on for? The manager did mention he would be coming down himself to fix it.. all the way from Mirfield... hmmmmm.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

bones wants to party

This morning I have awoken, written letters and minced my way around a delightfully tidy boat marvelling at how delciously homely it is when you don't need a pitch fork to get from one end to the other. All I need now is a party to show it all off.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Triumphant Pirate of the Waterways

Today I am a triumph! In true pirate form I have conquered the waterways and have reversed to the end of the oxford canal!!!! HURRAH! I shall sit here for a while and be QUEEN.

AND Maffi and I have just pulled an aluminium glorious bicycle out of the canal.

tripple hurrah!

Talk like a pirate day.

I hope you are all speaking like a pirate?!

Thank you lock boy for reminding me!!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Mornings are not my forte. This morning I arose, picked up my car zoomed to my bicycle, parked up, donned my helmet and mounted my velocopede with tremendous enthusiasm and excitment. I wizzed through the streets of of town enjoying the crisp air and the buildings stretching up to their full height as they lean against the glorious blue sky. Wonderful. Unfortunately I have used up all my vigour and have arrived at work a wreck.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Painting in the wind and going for a swim.

Painting in the wind is not a good option! I am now the proud owner of an appalling paint job on the roof, but I am not at all bothered because it was fun doing it, it looks FAR better than before, and at least it will protect the steel work!

I managed to get one coat on before luncheon with Miss T, Adam and Lorna, and then we headed back to the lock to get a lift up the river to my boat. Some kind hire boaters obliged - they were excellent company for the short ride!

When we moored my boat up Maffi went up the front to manage the rope and fell in:

After a quick snooze, Tony and Mo from Elemiah stopped by - it was lovely to see them again after so long (I am using Tony's old sink in my bathroom). Mo cooked a delecious trout supper and we had a fabulous evening chilling out!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Roof Painting

Today I am painting the roof of my boat… imagine my horror when I opened my delicious cream paint tin, expecting a slightly off white, and found it was YELLOW!!! Anyone that knows me knows my passionate loathing for this particular colour (although I can always make exceptions for motorbikes…?).
I am moored in a delicious field with beautiful views across to some trees. The sun is shining and tranquillity is my friend. There are no other boats, except Maffi's and that is blaring music out to keep me motivated. The scene, as I am sure you can imagine, is sheer perfection.
As I sat on the roof starting to paint it gently dawned on me that choosing a windy day was not the greatest idea, but I have started so finish I must. Thank goodness cows are heavy… I could do with one to weight down my paint tray.

I have a dinner invite at Miss Ts and the lovely Adam.. I am going to look delicious with my yellow stripy hair and Pollock - style arms.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cheek of it!!!!!

I have, for some time now, been working on my bathroom. I have a gorgeous sink, funky but not wonky shower tray, a blue bucket, and a lavatory in a splendid room with light vinyl on the walls and black vinyl on the floor. It is a complete palace and fit for a king. I still have to sort out a bit of trim, a little 'trim' to cover the wayward edging, but other than that I find the entire space a huge triumph. Or at least, I did!

Recently Miss T visited Maffi's boat and ever since then she has been harping on about his bathroom, and the open plan (whatever that means!) lavatory blah blah blah. I did not take to heart her lack of enthusiasm for my own bathroom until Maffi and I were with her at the local boozer where she had the CHEEK to suggest it was a building site (GASP!) Not only that but Maffi Agreed... and THEN he wonders why there is no future between us......... tsk.

Is it that obvious?

I had a lovely message from Honey Rider earlier today observing that "my deliriously happy banter currently has an undertone of sadness and melancholy about it". Not only did she write the observation, but went on to offer me time out aboard her great ship. Boaters really are kind people.

Indeed, it is true, my mind has been spinning and I really must get myself back onto an even keel! Perhaps someone has put something in the water of late, as honey rider seems to be having a rough ride of it too.

These summer months are always a funny time for me - I normally put it down to too much sunshine and not enough rain, but that would be ridiculous considering all the flooding we have been experiencing of late!!!!

I did awake this morning and gaze across the misty water towards some grazing cows with the river winding its way through the countryside in peace. I hope this is a sign that life will be returned to normal!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bleeding Hearts

Despite the trials and traumas in life, there is an immense amount of beauty:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cleaners of the Mind

I often remark on how fortunate I am to have such lovely friends, but it was pointed out to me this morning that I have not mentioned some dear and fabulous people who get me through each day, laugh at me and give me so much advice it would make the mental health system look inadequate. When they knew I had a blog, I was told in no uncertain terms that they were to remain 'unmentioned' but I am told this no longer stands. Now they have computers they can keep an eye on what I write, and thus want a mention. So ladies, and Nathan, here you are.

I have known them for several years, and we have spent many a time sitting on the steps of a building stroking our preverbial beards discussing the life the universe and everything. Indeed, this group of friends have seen me through thick and thin, put me straight, held their head in their hands in dispair and although they are fabulous listeners they are pretty good at telling me how it is. Such wisdom cannot be found in books, such patience cannot be bought, and such kindness cannot be earnt. They are unjudgmental and have a wicked sense of humour. What a fabulous group of people.

Angie, Michelle and Nathan - you are all absolute gems and I mean every word of it. Thank you!

Monday, September 10, 2007


Hurrah! I have a winter mooring. Yipeeeeeee

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Henry Hollingway

During my trip with Keeping up I met some lovely boaters, some infuriating boaters and some rude boaters. The real joy was when I went down to set a lock and found Henry Hollingway and his wife in it. After a few hand signals I knew what to do and they let me lock them through which I did whilst chatting to them; what an interesting couple. As they left I knew I had experienced a rarity, that of 'real boaters'

The argument of 'real boaters' and 'maintaining tradition' is an argument often heard along the cut. Boaters get upset with each other about what is and isn't 'real' and there seems to be some sort of class system where everyone thinks they belong more than the next person. My interaction with the Hollingways demonstrated to me that the lot of us haven't got a clue. The real boaters are those who probably don't know about these ridiculous classifications, they are ones who move through the locks like birds through the air, and are at one with the waters, in a way only the fish know. Saying that I am a real boater in the sense people talk of it would be like someone in a council house buying a complete Georgian silver service, hosting a dinner party and declaring themselves aristocracy. we are all boaters who appreciate the canals, who have a way of life that is nothing short of beautiful, but lets not pretend we are something we are not, let us all embrace some reality of who we are. The canals are entering a new age (and have been for decades), and we are part of it. We should uphold it and not get submerged in looking down our noses. The history is part of who we are, but we aren't the history we are tomorrows history.

rant over.


alot of updates today, so I have done a maffi on them and split them up into days...

Sunday 9th September

After a long journey home I am now on Maffis boat enjoying a million dollar view ac cross Christ Church Meadows in Oxford. He is sitting outside playing the guitar and I am taking the opportunity to catch up on my blog. I find it so peaceful here and really value the time out that Milly M provides, it is safe, quiet and tranquil.

I have been on holiday for two weeks, and I have found it rather stressful as there has been so much personal stuff going on that I can barely see two inches in front of me. However, messing about in boats is the perfect remedy for a tired and weary mind, and I am just left to thank Maffi Kim and Jim for the cruise on the Kennet and Avon. Spirit of Gizmo for the short cruise and cheery chat, and to Keeping Up for the Grand Union experience. I have had two weeks of being spoilt rotten, of talking through endless situations either in my head with good company, or with the company. Once again I realise I am so fortunate to meet such lovely people - not bad for a loner.

Saturday 8th September

A rather rocky start to the morning with various correspondences which were nothing short of upsetting, and downright wrong. What makes people think they can tell you how to live your life, and give you a synopsis of everything you are doing wrong when they haven't even asked what it is you are doing. Something I learnt when I was very young was don't mess in other peoples relationships. I think that is why I try to be honest with my beloveds and tell them everything that is going on. I am sure my friends are just trying to be helpful, but I wish they would rely on two sides of a story before jumping in with both feet.

The wedding on the other hand was an absolute delight. They are beautiful people.

I had a surprise visit in the evening from someone who wanted to give me a hug. What a lovely thing to do. I don't think he had quite realised he was coming to a vipers nest, but we did get the opportunity to talk which is something that we haven't done for a very long time in person. He usually relies on letters, and as you know carrier pigeon isn't terribly efficient when addressing lifetime matters!

Friday 7th September

Ah, to be in the countryside! I am sitting with a case of insects with a sea picture at the end of the table and a statue sitting next to a delightful grandfather clock. I am at home, and it really is old england - I was born in the wrong century! Elaine and James are getting married tomorrow and have turned the garden into a delightful woodland setting for the reception. I love those two, and can't think of a better couple, tomorrow will be a true celebration.

Thursday 6th September

We picked up my fixed car (finally) and dropped it off in Eynsham and then back to the boat for some rope throwing lessons before set off down the river. The trip was surprisingly smooth, Weeping Cross has had an interesting few months and is a changed man, I found it difficult to get my head around as he was really very good with the ropes and the boat. After Kings Lock we were on unknown territory and Weeping Cross took the tiller and I swept the roof as we glided through the countryside. By the time we arrived in Eynsham I was exhausted, I waved good bye to weeping cross and went over to Maffis to chill out. I am off to stay in a lovely village tomorrow and will be attending a wedding on saturday. Life seems to be running very fast at the moment, I can barely take it in.

Philip Hanson on Chota Memsahib II was moored opposite Maffi and came over in his tender to say hello. I love meeting people who read my blog, it proves that someone other than my mother reads it regularly (and I don't think even she does!)! Philip was an interesting chap, and it was lovely to talk boats. Thanks for popping over - it is a shame it couldn't have been for longer.

Pie and fine wine for supper.

Wednesday 4th September

hmmm... am I ever going to walk again?!?! Weeping Cross has arrived for the evening and I can barely function. Tomorrow we are taking the boat to Eynsham to get it blacked, I am grateful for the help.

Keeping Up

I spent the beginning of the week, after our banter, on Keeping up cruising along the Grand Union Canal. To say I was apprehensive would be an understatement. I have never been on the boat with Allan and Debbie, and they had never spent longer than a few hours with me, and even then in company. We set off from Milton Keynes, and I knew I was onto a winner as there were no locks! I sat on the back taking in the winding countryside marvelling at how green it was. The amazing thing about this stretch is that it is actualy in town! Many a time I have driven around the torturous roundabouts of milton keynes reflecting on the firey pit of hell, and as I cruised along the waterways I realised I was sadly mistaken about this city - it is truely green.

The lack of locks lasted for quite some time until we arrived at Stoke Bruene whereupon I grabbed the windlass and started the flight. Luckily we managed to pair up with another boat, but unfortunately they weren't terribly efficient, and if there is one thing Debbie doesn't like and that is people who are slow on the locks and too precious about them. Debbie is definately welsh! I can say that because my mother is too. Although the members of the hire boat came a cropper I did as I was told and survived untouched. The blisworth tunnel was a true delight and by the time we moored up in Bugbrooke I was on top of the world. Bugbrook is special place to me, and I spent a great deal of time there, and in Northampton during my teens and received some fabulous guidence and 'time out' from the people there.

On monday we set off up the Braunston lock flight and paired up with Leo and Sarah on a hire boat. They were an adorable couple and great company. Near the top of the flight Debbie and I bought some pints in and Sarah joined us while we waited for Allan and Leo to come into the lock (yes, we did take a pint down to the boys!) The Braunston tunnel was another triumphant experience for me. I really like the tunnels!

On tuesday we made up to the Bascote locks and paired up with a single hander. Debbie thought he would be an ideal chap for me, but I thought there was too much lace in the windows for it to be even viable! A bit later on single handers girlfriend rocked up. Debbie still called him my boyfriends girlfriend - they are funny! We did 22 locks today and I am shattered! We stopped before the hatton flight in a lovely pub and met up with Blue String Pudding from the forum. My delightful cousin popped in, and we went outside for a chat. Cousin and I have a lovely habit of pouring out our troubles and finding eachothers hilarious. He is a good man.

Wednesday morning and the hatton flight was upon us. I didn't realise we would be doing so many locks on our trip! Debbie was very sweet and kept a full supply of trifle (for which I have a superb apetite) on board, and fed and watered me in such a fashion I felt totally spoilt. We eventually made it up to the top with the help of the Suggs who joined us for the morning (they were holidaying in Napton) After the hatton flight I headed home whereupon I passed out.

Due to one thing and another my muscles don't work properly so I was impressed I managed all the locks without passing out, but it did take a couple of days to recover.

The grand union is a beautiful stretch. It is often called the motorway of the waterways, but I don't think it is, it is littered with history, fabulous boats and stunning countryside. Allan and Debbie are easy company and spoilt me rotten for the entirety of the trip, something I was really greatful for. I appreciated the time to think, to relax, to chill and sleep. Although Debbie can be scarey, she has a heart of gold and is a very loving thoughtful person - she just tells you how it is, and that is something I have always respected and enjoyed. I was truely blessed. This probably sounds soppy, but it is the way it was.

I shall post pictures when I extract them.

Friday, September 07, 2007


After a hair cut in Theale, Maffi and I trekked across to the train station to head to Oxford where we were going to meet John who would take us the rest of the way to Napton for another CanalWorld Forum banter.

Once in Oxford we were distracted by some excellent buskers and there was very little time for me to pack for my four day post-banter adventure with Keeping Up

When we eventually made it up to Napton, we made our way to the canal and found some banterers loitering on a lock beam - I will download the photo when I work out how to get it off my phone!

I really enjoy the banters we have, it is a good opportunity to meet new people and generally chill out - I have made some good friends through them.