Friday, November 28, 2008

Thank You

As the day comes to an end I would like to thank everyone who has offered me birthday wishes and sent me cards and parcels. Thank you for making my day special - it has been fantastic!

Big big smiles are radiating from the good ship Bones this evening.

What do you recommend...

.. to fix scaffold planks onto the front deck gunwhale without drilling holes in the steel?

I just LOVE birthdays

I have been counting down the sleeps until my birthday ALL WEEK, and finally it has arrived - AND on a Friday too! Hurrah.

I had a fabulous pile of presents on the table this morning:

and some balloons on my door at work:

I have been spoilt rotten! I am now the proud owner of

A new button
The Piano CD
Black Candles
Packet of Paskett notecards
Fire starter
Dawkins Delusion
Some gorgeous badges:

Gothic Duck Keyring
New lock for my front door
T-shirt hoody
DIY book:

LOADS of cards
and dosh!
AND lots of text message greetings!


Thursday, November 27, 2008


This feather was taking a rest on a footpath off the Rochdale Canal in September. I like feathers, they are like friendship, so delicate yet so strong.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wildlife Survey - yeah right.

Martin Clark drew my attention to the BW wildlife survey of 2008, and observed that once again, there are no canada geese on the waterways. On closer inspection I see the survey is done by volunteers, but have you seen the questionnaire? In my opinon (and I was chairman of the uni wildlife society once)it is AWFUL. Spiders aren't mentioned nor honey bees (which feed on the wild flowers along the towpath), and there is no reference to waterlife at all - come on, are there REALLY no fish in the waters, or waterboatmen or any other waterborne wildlife? Is the Mallard the only duck we are interested in? Good grief, this is not a wildlife survey, this is a tick the boxes and make it up over dinner survey. I was always under the impression that a wildlife survey gives an indication of the natural habitat and diversity across the country, and the influence of seasons and man made stuff on it. Not only this but Dr Mark Robinson, British Waterways’ national ecology manager, says:

"Over half the population lives within five miles of one of our canals or rivers so we’d like as many people as possible to visit their local waterway this summer, whether by boat, foot or bike and tell us about the wildlife they see there. We need to know what’s there so that we can protect and look after our waterway creatures, for example installing bat bricks, bird boxes, otter holts and soft banks for water voles"

SUMMER? What about spring, winter and Autumn?

I think a survey is a great idea, but the guidence questions are pointless, they need to be more varied and far far better!!! I shall have to take part in the survey for next year (now I know about it), and I hope you all will too... and fill in that other species box and tell us about the interesting wildlife you have in your area.

More on the piano

I pootled into Oxford today and was delighted to see this busker:

Nicholas Gill has modified his piano so he can lift it onto the piano wheels single handed. Not only that, but this particular piano is a lindeman, built in the 1960/70s and instead of being cast iron, it is made of tubular steel, making it particularly light weight. I now have my eyes open for a lindeman, should one turn up I will install it into the boat.

Nicholas Gill plays with CotswaldAcoustics


Some time ago Saltysplash gave me a keyboard to use on the boat. Last week PJ from Ocelot gave me some batteries for it and a charger, and today the extra two batteries to run the keyboard arrived...

Music will be flowing from the towpath in no time at all! Having said that, I was hammering away in the engine room once to the background drone of the BMC1.5. It was fantastic - the music was stunning (even if I say so myself), then I switched off the engine and realised how bad it really was... then I realised everyone on the towpath could hear...ooops! Might be time to get some earphones!

The Bed Design

LuckyDuck has posted the information I need for my new bedroom on their blog. Yesterday we moved some of the stuff from under the bed into storage, and after the weekend I will start on the bedroom with a vengeance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Moorings and sheds

Moorings are like hens teeth, yet I seem to have a plethera of them at the moment! Last week I signed on the dotted line for a new mooring on the canal. This means I can give up my Thames mooring, which is all good news as the canal is cheaper to moor on. I also have a winter mooring, so with two moorings I am feeling like a Queen!

I have also been looking around for a shed, and last night Tim dropped the key off for my new shed - I am particularly delighted with this because it is free - the deal is we clear it out and we can use it until April. It leaks, but as Tims side-kick said, it only leaks when it rains. I am going to use it to store things while I am re-doing the bedroom, something that is very valuable when living on a boat as storage space is at a premium, and were I to empty the boxes from under the bed into the dining room I wouldn't be able to use that room at all (or get to the bathroom).

Bones is a hive of activity at the moment, and with lots of things to look forward to I have that lovely feeling of 'new beginnings'. Splendid.

Side Hatches

As you know my bedroom revamp is well under way. The Mole has given me some advice on how to treat the rust, so I have ordered 2litres of Vactan to treat the ceiling and walls for rust, and LuckyDuck are going to send me photographs of their bed that rises up to reveal a wardrobe, chest of drawers and a desk. When the bed is 'up' it will cover the window which will also block the light coming into the room. As a result, I am going to fit a side hatch (or rather side doors) to the other side to add more light. I have been liaising with Martin the side door man, and on Saturday he is going to come up, and we will fit the new hatch. I am told it is a quick process with his pre-fabricated design, and should be easy to do in half a day. Martin is arriving at 9am. To say I am excited is an understatement - not least because I get to play with a new tool - a tiger saw I think.

It will be a fabulous day, not least because the end of it will be marked by a boaters banter. I love these occassions where we all meet up and natter.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Muses: Solar and Wind

There is no denying that winter is setting in, and the promise of an Indian summer seems to be disappearing into the distance as the Siberian winds loom across the fields towards NB Bones.

My solar panel isn't doing a great deal at the moment, and I am seriously thinking about installing a wind generator so I can have power during the winter months. The first boat I had had a Rutland 913 and I LOVED it; there was something rather welcoming about seeing the blades spinning round as I came home in the evenings. When I first moved aboard, I noticed that my wind generator seemed to work better than others, but I think this was because the pole it was mounted on was so much higher than other examples of the same generator. As the years have gone by, I have noticed other people extending their poles and this has certainly made a difference to their generators - they actually turn now!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tranquil Mornings

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another Successful day

This morning the alarm went off at 7:50AM - not my favourite time of day, but himself wanted to go to an Economics lecture (the result of a senior moment near a lamp post displaying the advertisement for it), so off we went. The morning started triumphantly as the door to my boat closed behind me and I realised the keys were still inside.... OOOOOOPSIE

We enjoyed pootling along on the motorbike through the quiet streets of Oxfordshire, and arrived at the lecture location in plenty of time. I decided to park on the street. I was going at snails pace as I turned the bike in the curb, and then out again to line it up for the perfecting parking spot. Unfortunately the bike hit some leaves, and time promptly slowed down as the bike toppled over with me still holding on to the handle bars and Maffi holding on to his knees. We fell so slowly I was wondering whether to book some tea for the journey down, and Maffi said he was thinking 'oops' then 'ah, it is ok' then 'ah, it isn't' then 'hmm we have landed'. It was rather like a comical cartoon moment in my mind. Neither of us were hurt (I scuffed my knee), and I think the combination of top box and handlebars stopped the exhaust, tank or us getting damage. It was all frightfully graceful - good job too as the economics lecture was full of all sorts of north Oxford toffs.

The bike doesn't have a scratch on it, and Steve came to the rescue by bringing his spare keys up - hurrah! Thank you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I dont know whether you remember that weepingcross gave me a lovely wooden cross.. it has had an accident; how cross making...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Glorious Rain

The other day I was having tea on Ocelot when the tell tail sign of dancing fairies on the roof indicated it was raining. I lept out of the boat and looked down the canal and saw this welcome sight.

I then turned the other way and saw this:

and this:

isn't it glorious when the rain comes - this country is so blessed by the transformation from moody skies and dark atomospheres to glorious views of blue sky peering through within moments!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

To Strip, a bit.

This morning I discovered that I could undo some screws in the bedroom whilst enjoying the luxury of my bed, using my nice long handled screw driver. Having started, it seemed rude not to finish, so I dismantled the rather large and unpleasant wardrobe over the end of the bed, Maffi finished it off and took all the rubbish to the bin (I am poorly).

The bedroom looks much better without the cupboard

but the ceiling doesn't look as though it will be much fun!

TV technology

Last night Maffi and I went over to the Ocelot Picture House to watch Bourne Identity with PJ and Dennis. Dennis very sweetly snored all the way through (but with his eyes open) while the rest of us glued our eyes to the TV and sat back and enjoyed... until.... a little way into the film the TV went blank. It would appear the good ship Ocelot was having an electrical crisis... not to worry. Within in no time at all PJ had retreived a spare battery from the cellar, wired up the TV to it, and balanced the precarious connections on the back of Dennis' basket. I did wonder whether Dennis might move and cause a short circuit, but he didn't.

Friday, November 14, 2008

To strip, or not to strip?

Hmm... were I to strip my bedroom this weekend, where would I store everything? It really is about time I tackled the lining on the great ship, not least because it is about to fall off!

The bedroom is 6ft long, and in that space I would like to fit a wardrobe some draws and lots of storage - if you have any unique, different or successful ideas on how i can best do this please tell me about them!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The lock and the canoe

If you read my column in the magazine this month, you will see that I almost had an 'issue' at Abingdon lock.

Here is the picture I took of the offending vessle that turned the whole lock around JUST FOR HIM!

That IS interesting....

Someone who lost their eye is looking to regenerate the world she should see: through a camera.

Here is the link

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Maffi in his infinite wisdom locked the car with the key inside... DOH! I found this hilariously funny until I realised I had lost the spare key... but being a resourceful women I called upon the three musketeers, and we marched down the towpath armed with a coat hanger to retrieve the key.

After much struggling interspersed with Maffi taking pictures and PJ suggesting the pub might be warmer I decided to go back to the boat and look in one LAST place for the spare key... I found it! Hurrah.

If you ever misplace your keys then might I suggest it may well be hiding amongst the wood in the bedroom?

Thank you Jane!!!!

Last night there was a knock on the roof, and there was Jane holding two oars which she gave me for the dinghy!

I was both surprised and delighted!!!


P.S. doesn't the saucepan lid look like an eye! I like that.

Still Annoyed

I have still been unable to speak to my Drs surgery about the mess up they have made over the last few months, and to top it off the other professionals now tell me they haven't referred me, but they have written a letter to the GP and they can't tell me what it says. Why was I getting everything I needed in Surrey, and now I am getting nothing? Grrrrrr.

I am sure this is normal practice but pl--ea-se!


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Medical hilarity - Bones gets cross

Several months ago I had to move my care from Surrey to Oxfordshire which made me most cross. The struggle I had registering with a local GP was nothing short of comedy – trying to get this particular surgery to accept my work address was a battle and a half. It was only when the people in Surrey called the surgery, and I used my title that I actually got anywhere at all! Until then the surgery kept trying to send me off to the homeless centre for my medical care. I am not the first, and I doubt I will be the last, to struggle with GPs and living on a boat – but I do know, from previous experience, that living on a boat does not exempt one from care! Anyway, enough of that….

Since enrolling with the GP 3 of the 4 doctors I have seen have exercised nothing but neglect. First of all my medication was reduced without any reference to my notes, and not only that the information I was given about the symptoms I would experience, or things to look out for was none existent - being the sensitive soul I am I had all the side effects and had no idea why I was so poorly and confused. The second Dr said it was a bit irresponsible of the first DR and promised to refer me to the proper centre for care and follow up. She didn’t. I then went to see another Dr who I thought had actually been to medical school… but he gave me a new prescription for the wrong medication.

I spent the whole of yesterday afternoon chasing up this problem and sorting out the medication, a whole afternoon of wasted time. I asked to speak to the practice manager to complain, but she was away, I was told she would call me today to organise for me to have a chat with her. She is meant to be calling as a matter of urgency… it is already mid morning and still no call. I asked who her boss was if she doesn’t call and that is the senior partner, who was the fourth Dr I saw… I was rather impressed with the fourth Dr so there is hope yet.

Will I change surgery – I think so - but not yet!

I just don’t see why getting medical care is such a catalogue of disaster. The stress and strain of the last few months where I have had to transfer from exceptional care in Surrey, to non-existent care in Oxfordshire is outrageous.

I think it is time for heads on plates.

Rant over.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

And so to Alnwick

All week Maffi and I were were looking forward to a weekend away with Graham and Jane from Alnwick who very kindly invited us over for supper and some good cheer. Leaving everything to the last minute I quickly looked up directions before we jumped in the car and headed north. Not only was Maffi map reading (which isn't his forte) he was reading my directions scribbled down on the back of a piece of paper, and writing isn't my forte! I had carefully written down the road name, but not the village, and the general directions involved taking a 'slight right' followed by another right in order to arrive. It was pitch black, and I only wish I could describe our journey as we tried to read instructions, spot roads and drive safely! It was with relief that we found ourselves in the right place!

We were welcomed so well by Graham and Jane that we instantly relaxed and turned almost sleepy! I had a deliciously hot relaxing bath, Graham told us all about trains (which was rather apt as we had been to Didcot that morning), and Jane performed magic in the kitchen. I was delighted to see that they have a piano!!! I was overcome with shyness so I didn't play anything special, but I did do a few bits to exercise my rapidly decaying fingers.

Sunday morning saw us in Cropredy church followed by a delicious Sunday lunch (more magic from Jane) and homeward bound.

Thank you guys for an absolutely fabulously relaxingly much needed splendiferously wonderful time.

Didcot Steam Pictures

This engine is being commissioned on Sunday as part of the remeberance service

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bones does a good turn...OOOPS

PJ is away in Seville and returns at some unhelpful hour tomorrow morning. In order to ease the pain of arriving home to a cold freezing boat in the middle of the night I offered to light his fire this evening so it was all delightfully warm.

So, Maffi and I set off to the great ship OCELOT, cleared out the ash and interspersed some fire lighters, twigs and coal before chucking in a lighted match. I don't really like fire lighters, but they are a quick way to get things going, especially when the head chef of the evening has promised sausages for tea. We waited until the fire was roaring, turned down the oxygen intake and left. Feeling hopelessly jealous that PJs boat was warming up, I decided to make sure my boat was doing the same. I strolled out of Maffi's boat only to be greeted by pillows of smoke embracing the cold autumn air to the dulcet tones of a high pitched screech - sounding suspiciously like a smoke alarm. I hammered on Maffi's boat, told him there was a problem, and the two of us dashed up to OCELOT thinking we had set it on fire!

The key was retrieved, the doors flung open, followed by the windows, followed by the side hatch followed by a sharp intake of air and a queer look at each other. After a bit of twiddling we discovered another air vent on the stove, shut it down and breathed a sigh of relief.

I don't think I like doing good turns...........................

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday at Didcot

On Saturday morning at some unearthly hour my chum from the Steam Plough Club rang me to let me know the committee were going to have a look around Didcot Steam Railway and I was welcome to join them. So... off we went!

I have never been to the Didcot railway centre because I thought the track was small and the trip would be pointless - how wrong was I! We had a glorgious morning looking around the engine shed, examining the engines, seeing the boilers, watching the restoration and working party as they worked around these glorious engines. It really was an amazing morning. I was particularly struck by the structure of the carriages, rather like an upside down wicker basket!

Pictures to follow.....

Bill Heine

On Friday night we were invited to the Ashmolean Museum for the launch of Bill Heine's new book:

You can read more about the book here

It really was a wonderful evening!