Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cogitating Ballast

My boat used to have a through kitchen, i.e. there were units on each side.  In a moment of moments that I tend to have the kitchen copped it and the cupboards and cooker ended up on one side and the fridge on the other. This has left the boat rather unbalanced;l especially after another moment I had several years ago which ended up with the batteries and calorifier being on the same side (crazy!).  The same side as the solid fuel stove (which I am not moving again!)

I solved the resulting lob-sided problem by moving all the books to the lighter side and distributed them down the length of the boat. This works reasonably well, but I would now like all the books in one place – the sitting room. The only side they can go is the same side as all the other stuff.  I am toying with the idea of putting the chairs (which are lighter than the books) on the other side (the same side as all the other stuff) instead of the books but that means they are on the same side as the solid fuel stove which will make staring at the fire in winter dull… not to mention the close proximity of the chairs to the fire which may make the fire in winter far more exciting than I would hope if a chair caught fire.

So. What to do?  I was thinking of putting ballast under the front well deck on the lighter side, but as someone pointed out – my drain holes are low enough as it is so weighing down the front is not necessarily a good idea. I could put ballast in the engine room, but I wonder whether I should distribute the ballast down the length of the boat or not, and what sort of ballast.

The sensible thing would have been to take up a lot of ballast when I replaced the sitting room floor following the dry rot… but it all looked so neat and tidy under there so I left it.

Now I have written all this I think had better check that the chairs on the heavier side really would be too close to the fire, I bet they wouldn’t be.. and staring at books in winter is no bad thing – it means the kettle on the stove can be reached without standing up……

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Today I decided I would try and make fritters. They turned out to be less fritt and more er. 

Fritters are a wonderful way to use up veg, says Elizabeth, so I thought I would give it a go – not least because I sampled hers when I was in Braunston and loved them.

Whatever my friend Elizabeth does in her kitchen is totally unreproducible in mine (and this is not the only example – don’t get me started on pasta sauce!). O.K. so I had a slight ingredients crisis and added black pudding and bacon in replace of  the egg and porridge oats but even so...

I was quite proud as I made myself busy in the kitchen, but when I went to serve it up and stood back the whole thing looked really quite unpleasant.  Everything in me was screaming ‘move away from the mosh’ (anyone who has dined regularly on the good ship will have experienced this on several occasions). Not being one to be defeated I solved the problem by wrapping the lot in big floppy lettuce leaves. Genius.  Even if I say so myself.

I think I might be onto something here because wrapping ones food up in greenery adds a certain touch of class. It was all quite palatable.

Braunston: Sunday

I got up on Sunday morning having slept rather weather well which is most unusual for me. I had plans for the day but after painting a panel for under the gunwales I wondered why I was sitting in the shed with a tin of paint when I could be up at Braunston chatting to people and watching boats so Boots and I set off in the car for a half day out.

The day started with this model boat again. I was really captivated by it:


Elizabeth looked great:


The bows looked great!DSC09821

A piece of picturesque polling:DSC09832

some stylish cruising:


I love the view up to the church:


and George. OH YES! I just love this boat.DSC09836DSC09842

After putting the worlds to rights with Neil I was beginning to over heat and so was Boots so we went and joined the Casper Clan who had a fantastic spot by the marina bridge in the shade. Andy and Lyra looked very chilled out:


The loaded boats looked fantastic:


Archimedes going through


watched by yellow bear!!


and Alan and Cath on SickleDSC09849   DSC09831

Andy and Dave living it large on Jaguar:DSC09830

What a fantastic weekend!  A huge thanks to Chertsey yesterday  for sharing the parade with me!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Braunston: Saturday

I have been looking forward to the Braunston Historic Boat Show all year. It is a show about boats and people, unlike many shows which are about commercialism.  I arrived to see this wonderful model cruising around. I loved it, not least because the engine noise changed as the boat slowed down.



There were loads of boats and as a result the parade was rather full. Thus it took much longer than anyone expected.  The canal looked fantastic:


I was ballast for Sarah and Jim on Chertsey which was great fun. I love the line of expressions here:


and here – same boat different party….DSC09809

Liam was looking good on his boat


and Jules had a great hat:DSC09799

After the parade I caught up with a few more friends before the drive back home.  It was a great day. I hadn’t intended to go on Sunday as well, but I did.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Just stuff


I returned home to discover the estate across the water had changed and Lo there was Rowan.


The skipper looked far to jovial and there were strange things going on with the front but I thought nothing off it and went for a walk with the dogs. Dogs are funny. They start by staring at you wondering whether you are EVER going to catch up:


but they soon flake


When I came back I noticed Rowan had done a poor show of Camouflage.



I am off to the Braunston Historic Boat Rally tomorrow. I had a great time last year. I mentioned to Boots that it was time for the Rally but he didn’t seem keen to come so he is going to stay with Molly and Maffi.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


After Sandford lock the river winds its way through the countryside for about an hour (or is it 45minutes) until the next lock at Abingdon. Before the bank rises up to the impressive Palladian villa at Nuneham House and Park (a fine example of a revival villa from the 1700s which is now a Brahma Kumaris retreat centre) there lies the Radley College boat houses.  A walk through the old village of Radley and over the railway line (which is on the mainline, Radley bagged the station after Abingdon said they wouldn’t have such a thing) will take one to the church.DSC09761

Radley church, St James the Great, was built in 1290 and still has the original wooden pillars:


A walk around the back of the church will allow one to  peer through the hedge at the Rectory.  Originally a hunting lodge it is seeped in history, and one certainly gets that impression when looking at it.  It has royal connections as Henry VII used to visit it (maybe he still does).


On the other side of the churchyard lies the Old School house:


The church yard has some interesting grave stones.  I often wonder, as I visit the graveyards, who the people were when they were alive, and how they died. Especially the younger ones.

I am often reminded as I walk around reading the gravestones of some lyrics by the Smiths. I was given the lyrics long before I heard the song:

“So we go inside and we gravel read the stones All those people, all those lives where are they now? With loves, and hates and passions just like mine. They were born and then they lived and then they died. It seems so unfair, I want to cry. “

The stones rarely give anything away. In this churchyard a stone does. A 28year old who drowned whilst bathing at Sandford Lock


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boats high and dry on the Thames

NB Harnser first posted about a boat that got stuck high and dry on the Thames followed by another boat.  I have just read that it is still there on NB Dogma’s blog…. I am intrigued. You can read about it and see pictures here and here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Weekend: Lapworth

The weekend started well with a fantastic evening in the Jolly Boatman with nb Petroc.  We certainly made up for not meeting together when they were here a few weeks ago as this was the third time of meeting…although I had to share them with Maffi. We had another enjoyable evening full of laughter.  Gill and Geoff’s daughter Emma arrived to join the hilarity at 9:30 and Boots took rather a shine to her.  At the first opportunity he climbed off my lap and sat on Emma.

After a sleepless night I set off on Saturday to a Canalworld Forum banter. I arrived met up with Casper and his daughter and then walked down to meet NB Alnwick.  We had thought we would meet them half way up the Hatton Flight, but by the time I arrived in Lapworth they were already at the top.  We had a great time chugging back under the power of a K3.  Boots took a shine to the bed ‘ole


but was soon extracted to join us on the bow.IMAG1674

There were a few hairy moments when the boys drove us into the bushes (these deep drafted boats often get into trouble in the shallows and the answer is more power…apparently… ) – it was great fun.IMAG1675

Alnwick is a handsome boat.IMAG1678

The banter went incredibly well, there were loads of people, some of whom I had met, and some I hadn’t and did… the organisation was incredible and Richard and Sue hosted a breakfast on their boat Tawny Owl for about 24 people! I liked the rope work on their kettle:


In the morning Boots and I were delighted to see the rain and went for a wet stroll along the canal. We started with the lapworth flight


The towpath is in excellent condition and there are several ‘things’ to read whilst walking along to draw the passer bys attention to the history of the waterways.

I liked this lock:


which sported one of the many information plaques


The plaques weren’t just about boaters.  There was information about the people that designed and built the canal those that made the bridges and many more.

I arrived home early afternoon and slept.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Friends and Narrowboat Leaf

On Thursday I noticed some old friends, Dick and Chris, boating past on their boat. I leapt out to say HELLO and we had a little natter before they pressed on to moor up. They actually stayed here for a few days but with one thing and another I didn’t get to see them. I popped along this morning but it was a bit early so I rushed around after I returned home from work this evening to see them but I was down cast to see they have moved on. 

A day after the arrival of my friends I was once again throwing the back doors open when I noticed one was a bit stiff.  I peered out further and found a mug sitting there with a note.

“A present from Fran and Lance on nb Leaf. We felt it would be more appropriate for you to have it”

What tremendous kindness.


When full of tea the back lights up:


THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

Thrupp lift bridge takes a thwack

I was just getting ready to take the dog out for an evening walk before meeting Petroc in the local pub when I heard the unfamiliar banging in of pins. This is an unfamiliar sound because there aren’t any moorings near us. It turned out that a hire boat had decided to moor up in the winding hole… unusual, but why not – there wasn’t any space anywhere else and it wasn’t my problem. Besides, were a 70ft boat to come to wind they would all have sorted it out together.

Just as I got off the boat I saw another hire boat embraced in plumes and billows of black smoke failing to stop at the lift bridge.  Fortunately the guys on the front ducked just in time or it could have been even more unpleasant for them. The boat did damage the bridge, but the bridge still works.



I knew something was up (despite the fact that some of them found it funny) and on closer inspection it turns out that not only was the engine misbehaving (they said it wasn’t right when they left the hire base) but there was very little power. No wonder they couldn’t stop. They breasted up to the other boat and headed off into the village and then on into Kidlington as out local shut at 10:30.

I was asked by one of them to be a witness to the events, but as I didn’t really want to give my phone number out I said no.  Had they asked me why I would have explained that I had already decided to phone the hire company. I did and told them what had happened, gave my number, and told them that it seemed to me the boat wasn’t actually able to stop.

There wasn’t much need for me to be a witness as there were millions of them.  They didn’t take it too well - one of them in particular was really rather unpleasant to me even in the middle of the night.  However one can’t expect an entire group of young men who have just ploughed into a lift bridge, have a broken window and a genereally had a rather unpleasant  first-time-on-a-boat experience to have impeccable manners!  Some of them were quite lovely – I know this because I had a conversation with them several times in the middle of the night as the party spirit had overwhelmed them but not the rest of us on our boats.

The company came to do engine repairs while the crew went off for breakfast.  The engine repair man left but they still weren’t happy, the bilge pump was going like mad and the water pump was on it’s way out (the two were, as far as I could gather unrelated..)  They looked rather down cast which was unsurprising really as their weekend really hadn’t gone that well so far.

When they came back yesterday they were in good spirits… not least because they had managed to get the hire company they hired from to swap their boat for an Oxfordshire Narrowboats boat. Much more swanky!!!!  I asked them how they managed that and the retort was ‘oh the other one was sinking’…. considering their bilge pump was going for it when they left Thrupp I would love to have heard the whole story… but they had the wind to tackle, a bridge to get under and a holiday to continue so I waved as they sailed off into the distance. I was very pleased to see them looking so much happier!

Friday, June 10, 2011


There are times that sitting, resting and being just bring the most wonderful rewards. Last night it was the sky and the light.

One of the fields near me has been cut leaving a golden covering. To one side of where I watched Boots playing the sun rested on a Cotswold stone house that sat beneath the moon. 1


On the other the sun gently disappeared behind the trees. It was beautiful, quiet and restful.



Thursday, June 09, 2011

Molly and the biscuit

Molly visited Barney last night. They were find outside until we had cheese and biscuits