Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another Bright Idea

So, here I am aboard Milly M. As the water levels are rising, and the carpark etc of my mooring is inclined to flood, AND because I need to be in London tomorrow for a conference, I thought I would visit Milly M. The idea was the water levels would be better than at my mooring.... hmm. I am not SO sure this was such a good idea - I had to paddle to the boat. Maffi is trying to make me feel at home and is ironing my shirt - apparently I can't 'possibly' go to a conference looking like 'that'. So there he is, in the other room with the iron. He has been chatting to it for a good 10minutes, and recently started complaining at it. Then, in a moment of inspiration, he decided it might help if he switched the iron on. Bless him!

Earlier, having announced that he would have a boat guest for the night - me - I decided to take him to the local pub for a nice meal in exchange. I am still trying to convince him that part of a lovely meal involves sitting in the car park for an hour waiting for the AA man to arrive to get the key out of the door lock. For some reason it stuck in there. I blame Maffi - he was the one holding the key when my boot lock broke as well. Anyway, it only took an hour for the AA man to arrive, and then only another hour for him to get the key out. Then another hour for dinner to arrive and that was after we managed to get someone to take our order!)

The man is jinxt.

A Bit Damp!

It is a bit damp around here at the moment. Maffi tells me the water has gone up an inch in the last hour, and is rising. It is over the edge on his mooring - time to invest in some wellies!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cropredy Folk Festival

I am thinking I might pop along to the Cropredy Folk Festival this year. I keep meaning to go each year, but never quite make it! I always baulk at the price, but considering it is several days of live music, it really is a bargain.

I love live music, but I loathe crowds........

Is anyone else going?

The boat is going to be big

11foot big to be exact, and 4 foot wide... hmmm... best not think about it until I have finished it!!!

I met my delightful Godchildren on the way home, and they rather liked the idea of a trip out in my rowing boat. Their mother didn't object too much to me building it in their garage either - hurrah, although the garage is SO full I am not sure it will be possible!

I suggested to the two delightfuls that as a special treat I would let them row me up and down the Thames while I sat back drinking champers and munching grapes whilst issueing instructions.. they were ever so excited!

I must look up the laws on child labour!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Iris to Misterton

Iris is for sale (pdf file here), and the owners have jumped up to life aboard something a bit bigger - Misterton

What IS for tea?

On Saturday morning Halfie and Jan arrived baring many things, including a pheasant which was still warm when they picked it up on the way to me. I have been looking forward to a pheasant supper all weekend, but first I needed to hang the bird to tenderise the meat. I hung the plastic bag up in the bathroom, then hung my darling boat-mate from his tender little feet to tenderise him. I then learnt that one has to hang such game from its neck, so I turned him around wiped his nose (which rudely dripped blood over the lavatory), and returned him to his place - hanging from the centre of the bathroom. I was growing rather fond of my centre piece as the weekend past, and yesterday I decided that today would be the supper I was drooling for.

Although I have done various things with various birds and rabbits, it was a while ago now, and all I can remember about the pheasant was it was hung for 3 weeks and that I am also not that keen on it. The taste is very strong for me, and not always something I enjoy. That is why I decided on a lighter flavour for the meat this time and decided to hang the bird for a few days rather than a few weeks.

So, today I picked up my pheasant from the bathroom and took it over to Maffis' boat; it seemed only fair that he should share the deliciousness of this gift as I am sure it was meant for both of us. I looked on the Internet and decided to skin the bird. It would be easier, tidier and quicker than plucking. It was.

I read a few bits on the internet and appointed Maffi as cheif gutter, he would do one end, and I would do the other - the neck. He actually managed to get the majority of the innards out after just a few attempts and counselled the pheasant throughout the proces; apparently, he said, we were hungry.

Maffi wasn't at all impressed as dinner gradually unshaped itself into heart kidney and other strange colours, and I think his desire for dinner was waning as rapidly as mine.

We looked at the mess, as that is what it was, and decided we would not have pheasant for tea.

I think I need more practice on road kill - skinning and gutting really does put me off my supper.....

Diesel bank holidays and 10p

I just love 10p - see here and see here but I am not sure I love it THAT much - last bank holiday the diesel price at Redline outboard services in Abingdon was 75p a litre. This bank holiday I noticed that in the same place it has gone up to 85p a litre. That's a whole 10P! I know I love the 10p, but surely that is taking the biscuit - or is it.

Boat Plans

The boat plans for the rowing boat I am going to build have arrived. All I need to do now is find somewhere to build it!!!!

Time to hunt for a garage... I feel a door knocking expedition coming along....

Anchors and their chains

I have always found it hilariously funny that some boaters have a wonderful anchor attached to a beautiful piece of chain, and NOT attached to the boat. It tickles me pink as I picture the scene; a poor distressed boat where the owners think the best thing to do in a moment of crisis is to throw a huge lump of metal over board. That it isn't attached to the boat drums up the most wonderful mental images!

Interestingly, I have never met anyone who doesn't have their anchor attached to a chain, then on to a rope, and tied firmly onto their boat. Or at least, I THOUGHT I hadn't!

See here

tee hee

Can you Do it?

Halfie can whistle a melody and hum the bass at the same time!


What a wonderful weekend. Halfie and Jan were fantastic company, and arrived with lots of wonderful gifts, including a pheasant for the pot! Thank you guys!

The pheasant is currently hanging and will be skinned and eaten shortly! Yum.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday Morning was a bit Windy!

Wind one way, current the other, engine sounding like the local hardware store had taken up residence!
Clifton Hampden lock sported Ian Macdonald - the same one that fitted out part of the boat featured in canal boat magazine two months ago - Rocket. Lock Keepers are fascinating.

Lets keep them and their cottages! see here, here and here

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Plough, Long Wittenham

The Plough at Long Wittenham lies at the bottom of the navigable stream to the west of Clifton Hampden lock. The Plough has a mooring of its own, and the gardens stretch up to this characterful bar with a welcoming atomosphere, that has thus far avoided modernisation. It being Sunday we were all rather keen on a Sunday roast, and we were not disappointed. It was delicious, filling and the gravy did not come out of a packet. Wonderful! Pudding was even more pleasing, and four happy punters strolled up the village to St Marys afterwards.
The mooring is delightful, peaceful and quite rural, a perfect setting for Croquet - although we didn't have the energy for it after a long day out, and the promise of cheese awaiting.


After a delicious fried breakfast we set off to Clifton Hampden for a late luncheon. It wasn't long before my engine sounded awful so I dived into the bilges to see whether I could spot the problem; sadly not. We moored up at Clifton Bridge at Halfie and Jan took a stroll around the local area. As far as I can gather they explored most of Oxfordshire in the space of two hours, during which I failed in most of my engine jobs. It sounded slightly better, but the starter motor was still loose, and the rattling was still there. We decided to press on regardless and headed towards the lock. We turned off to the left to take the stream down to the Plough in Little wittenham. I have been intrigued by this stream, but until now had never ventured down it. The mooring at the end of the navigable stretch rises up to the Plough past a tree with woodpeckers nesting, and not the green ones!. Unfortunately we only heard, rather than saw the woodpecker. Evening song at the church was at 6pm so we went a little bit before hand so I could exercise my fingers on the ivories. Sadly no piano, but fortunately an organ, albeit single register.
Evening song was a collection of local ladies and a laid back traditional affair. I groaned when I heard we would have a CD of the organ, but it really wasn't that bad! There were mainly women at this service, and not very many. It is a shame really, these quiet traditional services, regardless of your beliefs, are fantastic for taking time out of the day and reflecting in the peace and quiet.
We pootled home for some delicious cheese and settled down to another relaxing evening.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday Days Lock

There is a beautiful mooring just above Days lock with a gorgeous walk over to Dorchster (apparently!). Many years ago, before boating adopted me, I dined in Dorchester and strolled over to the lock across fields and barrows. It was beautiful. We moored up at the lock and Maffi and Halfie set to lighting the BBQ and cooking award winning sausages from East Anglia - they really were amazingly delicious.

The sunset was fabulous too!


full steam ahead. I just LOVE steam... so you can imagine my delight when I spotted this boat:

and even more delighted when I spotted another! The second one was diesel and the first was coal.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tawny Owl and Chris and Ken

Chris n Ken sent me a tawny owl head. It has been in the back of my car for several months, and then in the engine room. When I thought it might be about ready to open up, I unwrapped it, took off the feathers and hey presto! It has a slight break in it (which is probably how it died), but it is fabulous! THANK YOU!

Which reminds me

John Prine Lyrics: People putting people down.

People who are sad - sometimes they wear a frown
And people who are kings - sometimes they wear a crown
But all the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down

People without love - sometimes build a fence around
The garden up above - that makes the whole world go 'round
But all the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down

So cold, sometimes it gets so cold

You may love your wife - you may lose your family
You may lose you mind - just to keep your sanity
But the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down

People that are glad - sometimes they wear a smile
And people without dreams they walk the extra mile
But all the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people dwn
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down


Spotted this on Victors Witterings on narrowboat world I realise we live in a free country, but is it really good citizen ship to have a go at individuals in such a way? Perhaps I am reading it wrong, but I don't like it, it upsets my pink fluffy nice view of the world.


"Ruffled feathers
OH DEAR, oh dear, I seem to have ruffled a few feathers with my 'Chester' piece. Especially those of one, Andrew Denny of Granny Bloomers. The poor lad was most put out at my picture of his boat where it shouldn't be, but was good enough to tell me it had no licence either. Missed that, dear Andy. So have included as a special favour to you.

Upon which, poor Andy went into orbit I am told!

Strange fella
WE BOATERS tend to rub along, but dear Andy just doesn't, for I know of a few who can't stand him or his utterings, me I must admit, included.

Not only has he the habit of 'lifting' other people's work, but should anyone have the tenacity to write something to which he takes offence, off he raves, leaving little to actual fact.

My including that small piece about his licenceless boat—though it was he who told—really lit the blue touch paper, so me, our Thomas, narrowboatworld, its design and all who sail in her came in for his delirious rage.

One cannot but help feel sorry for him. You shouldn't let such little thing get your knickers—or should I say bloomers?—in a twist, dear Andy.

More Birds

A red crested Pochard:

And more pictures of my favourite bird - the Grebe. I just LOVE the chicks lizard like head!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Honey Ryder is FOR SALE

Honey Ryder is for sale
see here

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I thought I was going to a conference this weekend, but I am not - it is on a different weekend (DOH).

To Crick, or not To Crick, that IS the question.

Lift Pump

My lift pump is leaking diesel. What shall I do about that then?

The Concert - Saturday Night

Having arrived at Folly Bridge with JUST enough time to extract a shirt and some smart trousers, along with my delicious long black coat, I dived into my gear and whizzed off to Christ Church Cathedral to meet up with theweepingcross, and John, to hear Dame Gillian Weir play Messiaen.

I had heard of Dame Weir in combination with Messiaen in reference to a local artist who knew a psychologist/neuroscientist, who was interested in the fact that he used Messiaen to inspire his art. Thus I jumped at the chance to hear her.
I am not too sure what I think about Messiaen, I like some, and some I just do not get. It is rather like musical modern art. Anyway, I decided an evening of it would certainly make my mind up one way or the other.

I realised as I sat down to the concert that I had failed to extract my nice trousers, but rather the ones with a hole in the knee. Every time I crossed my legs some flesh peered out. It was only later, when I apologised to Weepingcross for my trousers, that he told me I looked absolutely fine but smelt of diesel.

The program was inter dispersed with Bach, and I was rather amazed at just how similar the two composers were. So much so, I rather lost track of which we were listening to! I don't think I had heard any of the Bach pieces before, and I certainly hadn't heard the Messiaen ones (I do have a CD of his work, but only the one).

I thoroughly enjoyed spending the evening with Weepingcross and John, I particularly enjoyed eyeing Weepingcross' cuff links - the spiderweb ones with spiders that wiggle every time he moved!

As for the music, I thought it was rather like a farting competition at a children's party. It was however played absolutely beautifully!

Bones does NOT have wind.

I was moored up in a mooring minding my own business when my neighbour came along and suggested that my boat smelt a bit. Maffi was with me at the time, and giggled, "a bit?- it STINKS" he said. I was not convinced, but my neighbour agreed. At that point the mooring warden came along and stood at the end of my boat and said "I can smell gas". Now, I KNEW it wasn't gas, so I said "it isn't gas". "No" said Maffi "the front deck just isn't well ventilated at the moment.

So, there I was, in the middle of three people one of whom thought I had wind, TERRIBLE wind. My neighbour knew better because I had already asked a chum to ask her whether I could leave my other heron in her garden. She wasn't too keen, so I left it on my boat - hence the stench. I wasn't sure whether to fess up to the real cause of the smell, and decided not to.

I took action instead, and turned the boat around, so the pointy bit was out in the water and the blunt end was moored up (for those of you not in the know, pointy and blunt are well known nautical terms of the forgotten era of Zar). Bad smell cured (for the passer by at least!).

So, this weekend I decided it was probably time to do something with said corpse. As Maffi was loitering around when I passed his boat, I decided to invite him along for a cruise. He could steer the boat, and I could do the 'biz' on the front deck.

What a lovely trip into Oxford we had. Just above Abingdon Lock we moored up for about 5minutes watching a grey wagtail hover just above the water. I presume it has a nest under the moorings there. Hovering birds are absolutely mesmerising to watch.

I sat on the front of the boat for what has to have been the longest time ever. It is so beautiful, so quiet, and so gorgeous as you cut through the water. If you ignore the 17tonnes behind you, you can actually imagine you are on a chair whizzing through the aqua. Bliss.

We arrived just in time for me to scoot off to a concert for the evening.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I am greatly blessed with my wonderful friends, and of late I have been given some wonderful presents by them. Here are some piccies:

I always used to wear a cross, but I lost it. After a while I bought another one, and that fell in the bilges. So I have been without one for quite sometime. replacement. I find a strange comfort in having a cross around my neck; something to hold in times of trouble, something to ignore; and something to cover my bare neck. I have missed my old ragged cross.
I was really pleased and very grateful when WeepingCross arrived on saturday with an Olive Wood replacement:

And then, another message on my shout box - a skull! Thanks Kim.

I have also been given a book called Archaeology of the Canals by PJG Ranson. I do approve of having two middle names. Thank you!

Maffi was in the local market and came accross a picture of two of my loves which he purchased for me; Steam trains and steam ploughs:


Just for Eric

Eric left a message on my shout box, and I have promoted him to being the voice of the masses. I just KNEW you would want to see a picture of my new mean motor machine. So, by popular demand here she is:

Not QUITE so big as my last bike:

But FAR more suitable for commuting.


I think this is called Balhalla, but someone said it wasn't a 'B' but a 'W' so I am not sure. I don't often see boats that send me weak at the knees, but I thought this one was particularly spesh as it lay in Abingdon over the weekend:

It just holds so much mystery.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Apart from a concert tomorrow evening I have suddenly found myself with a free weekend. What a strange and unpleasent surprise.

Exploring the Back Waters

There are many interesting backwaters along the Thames, and the Canals, and I have been rather frustrated not to be able to go down them in the boat. If I were as brave as the TNC I probably would have done, but I have never found much delight in getting stuck.
As a result I have decided that the best thing for exploring them is a rowing boat. The problem is that I don't have one, and they are incredibly expensive. After much thought, I have decided I will build my own. Normally I wouldn't do such a thing, but having witnessed the fabulous efforts of lock boy last year, I think I shall!

All I need now is somewhere dry to build it...!

Continuous Cruisers NABO

Epiphany No Problem have commented on NABO's questionnairre There are two questions to be answered, and well worth a tripette. I wonder how many times each person can vote...

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Not Concussion

I walked into a door yesterday and had a HUGE bump on my head. It has gone down a bit now, but I have a rather large headache! Good news is, I don't have concussion! Hurrah.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Motorbikes and Weekends

I picked up the bike today! The delight of having decided to do something, and actually done it is a marvellous feeling. Indeed, several of my friends have remarked on how good it is that I have spent a vast amount of money in such a short period of time on something for me! The bike is definitely going to make the commute to work less tiring, and it was lovely being out on two wheels again.

I had a fabulous weekend with Phil and Trish Hanson who I met briefly last year. They cruised up from Surrey on their Narrow boat and stopped in Abingdon for a couple of days. I took the opportunity to moor near them and joined them and Maffi for a BBQ and some chatter on Friday evening. We had a lovely time and they absolutely spoilt me rotten! They are wonderful people, very amusing, very relaxing and very welcoming! I really have met some fantastic people on the waterways.

I have a busy week with work this week, but part of it involves a trip to Derbyshire, so I am going to go and torment Lock Boy for the night - I am rather looking forward to using his bath. He tells me he is out fishing today, so I am rather hoping he will return home with some delicious catches for us.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

fishy football

Finally the world has decided fish are intellegent... or at least that goldfish are. I am not sure how intellegent football is, but this fish seems to be hitting the news recently.

When my fish arrive (I still don't have them... I need to think up another name for the second one) I think I will see whether they will play the harp for me.

Busbridge Lakes

Weeping Cross went here yesterday... it looks amazing!!!!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Project Management

This weekend I decided to rebuild the engine room. I did do this more than a year ago, but having had some work done on re-routing the exhaust and diesel system, everything is arranged in a much better fashion, which means I can put new lower flooring in. This I know will please many of my friends whose legs don’t seem to extend at the angles and length mine do (the ability of which, on my part, is simply a survival technique coupled with practice). Maffi seems to be hanging around the area, so I decided I would try a new approach to DIY and try a management strategy. This involved lots of strolling around, giving out tools and extensive ‘hmmm’ ‘ahh’ ‘erm….’ Noises whilst making measurements and watching Maffi do the work. I really think this technique could work for me. Having said that, it took him quite a while to realise that sawing some 2x2 to a correct length needs a saw rather than extensive chatting to people walking past. We eventually made progress, and most of the wood has been sawn and painted to the correct requirements. I even managed to sneak in the obligatory afternoon snooze for well over an hour! Unfortunately I need another piece of wood, so the project is going to be extended beyond the previously anticipated day to tomorrow.

I am not sure whether project management is for me or not, I am absolutely exhausted, the boat is a tip, and I have had to cancel a trip to see Weeping Cross in order to ensure that the boat is converted back from workshop to living quarters of neuroscientist extraordinaire before I go back to work on Tuesday.

I really do think I could do with a full set of staff.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Licence Fiasco

There is often a licence fiasco when people apply for Gold Licences at the beginning of the year, and the delay and hassle of getting BW to post mine out was not unique. I was pleased when it eventually arrived in February. I was not so pleased when someone from the EA pointed out that my licence plate didn't have my boat name OR registration number on it, and nor was it registered with the EA. I emailed BW who have printed out the signs again and the correct licence is now in my posession. Unfortunately when I asked them to sort out the registration so I appear on the records as legal for the EA they (BW) told me that when my licence was issued the paper work was sent to the EA. If there is a problem the lock keeper is to phone the BW office, and they can confirm that I have a licence.

What a complete fiasco for going through the locks... and I wonder if BW are specifically employing someone to receive calls from lock keepers, out of normal office hours, confirming that people like me are legal. Surely a postage stamp is cheaper?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Retail Therepy

I am told that the ultimate way to cheer oneself up after a stressful week is to go shopping. Unfortunately I have never really enjoyed shopping unless it is for nuts, bolts, screws and other useful things.
Taking these two things into consideration I thought I should embrace retail therapy in style and buy something useful. I currently walk down the mooring to the car, which I park at the bus stop, I take the bus, and then I walk from the bus stop to work. This takes quite some time, and with the rise in fuel prices and the ozone-unfriendly-one-person-in-a-car syndrome I decided I was using too many forms of transport, and using too much valuable time (about an hour) travelling to and from work, which door to door by car takes about 20minutes.
It was pay day yesterday so I pootled along to one of my favourite shops to have a look around, and this morning I parted with my pay cheque and bought a new toy. I pick it up tomorrow.

I am not sure what affect retail therapy is MEANT to have, but I am feeling rather shocked, anxious, and a little unsure about my bank balance.

The last time I embarked upon such an expensive shopping trip was when my university fee's went into my bank account. I went out the following day, spent them, and then had to explain to the College that my fees were actually sitting outside in the form of a deliciously wonderfully shiny fabulous Bandit 600cc Motorcycle. They were surprisingly supportive.
I haven't gone QUITE so over board, and have purchased a 125Cc instead.

I think it will take me most of the year to recover from my shopping spree, but at least I don't have to worry about having a horrid week anymore, I am in shock!