Thursday, December 31, 2009


I had a lovely bicycle, the gear ratio was just right.  I say had because it has been stolen. Blast.

bad day

This morning it was time to really tackle some of the engine room issues that I have been putting off.  The starter solenoid was one of them.  I lifted the engine boards and the engine puffed some smoke at me – off with the engine isolation switch and a good inspection of the problem which greeted me enthusiastically by coming off in my hands:


the state of the cables tells it all isn’t it bad! The bit at the bottom of the picture that looks like a square nut is actually meant to be IN the solenoid itself…and isn’t so, the thing is really past it (or it is now!).  The cables are attached to the top of the bolt and you can see how bad the nut looks. Oh dear.

The starter solenoid is attached by two bolts, one is inaccessible.  It looks as though the only way to get the solenoid off is to remove the starter motor. This is NOT an easy job as I discovered a couple of years ago when I had to remove it

To withdraw the starter motor this is the procedure (and only do it when you have to)
Split the flexible coupling using a socket set.
Remove the nuts on the 2 rear flexible mounts.
With a mini jack (small scissor jack) under the gearbox, jack up the back of the engine.
With a medium sized socket set with a 6-8 inch extension, undo the 3 bolts. The top one is the only one you need. The others are only there for show.
Hey presto the starter motor falls out.
If you get another one, you will need to file off the corners for it to fit back in the slot.

Not a happy bunny. I really SHOULD pay more attention to my engine, it is the crux of the boat but it is just so inaccessible.  WHY put a starter motor UNDER an engine on a boat – we can’t get to it!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Boots and the other compost heap!

Boots thought Christmas had come early when he came across the other compost bin; quite a treat!


Picture Book: A walk in the ice

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Front Doors

In 2007 I posted about the trouble I was having with my front doors. I said I had done a temporary fix. At the time I only intended to leave it a few months before fixing them properly, but in true boating style a few months led to a few years and finally in November Kedian Engineering came and replaced my front and back doors. By the time he came, the old doors really had had it and leaked ferociously – you can see why!


The new doors are excellent – solid steel deliciously lined with ash trim. Kedian is the place to go for new doors – I have new back doors too!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hasn’t he changed

This is the photograph I had of Boots just before I met him


and here he is now: DSC05760



Obviously the setting has changed, but if you look at the pictures he has posted to Granny and Grandpa, you can see how much he has changed.

When I picked him up he was 18months old… or so we thought as his birthday is written down as 1/1/08. However, in that time he has grown a few inches in height so we think he must have been younger, possibly not even a year old.  I wonder when his birthday actually is or how to make a good guess?  It certainly explains why Martin used to shake his head at some of his behaviours saying ‘he should have grown out of this by now’ – it would seem he shouldn’t have, but he is starting to.

River Wey

Yesterday morning I parked the car up at Farncombe boat house and took a stroll along the Wey.

Catteshall Lock:


The very first boat I lived on was an ex-hire boat from Farncombe boat house.

A forum boat I think:


And this is a common sight on the river:


I tried to ‘do' the Wey in 2006 but I broke and crushed my thumb just before coming on the navigation and I didn’t get very far at all.  James and I struggled with the lock paddles (I was one handed and it was really rather hard if not impossible) so we borrowed a friend Adam to help us for the day. We made it to Pyrford and decided that as we would have to come back on our own we ought to stop there – just has the Wey gets interesting!  Here is the good ship at Coxes Lock… it was in its old livery!Coxes%20Lock

This year I think I will ‘do’ the River Wey and take the boat all the way down to Farncombe but no further.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


In supermarkets they have a chocolate stand next to the tills, or some offer that you can’t resist as you stand waiting in the queue to pay. Indeed, the whole shop is full of these tempting offers designed to  make you add more things you don’t need and never will need into your shopping basket.  I am usually quite immune to these sorts of stands, particularly in supermarkets, but not in some shops… or so I discovered.

On Thursday I popped into the motorbike shop on my way home to see whether they had some nice warm gloves as my hands freeze on the bike.  A friend recommended Frank Thomas gloves were and as he is a commuter who travels down the motorway on his bike and never suffers cold hands I thought I would give them a go.  This shop didn’t have any frank Thomas gloves so I went to leave… and spotted a rather delicious motorbike in my price range.  The following day I picked it up:bike

I traded the AJS in.. it looks rather lost!


That is what happens when glove counters are surrounded by motorbikes….

And still no snow…

But we do have ice, a very thin layer on the cut, and a very thin layer on the inside of my window when I woke up this morning.


Winter is well and truly here.  I have always liked winter, the frost balancing on the end of the grass after a heavy night swaying under the clear blue skies, I think that living on a boat really does allow one to appreciate it fully.  It is by far the best season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Imaginary Overhead Cables…

This morning I spotted two men putting these signs up, there is one either side of where I moor


I was puzzled because above both of them is this:


No overhead power cables… and I can’t actually see any from either post!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear Uncle James

I have been working on my application for the job you advertised. In preparation for my application I have collected some photographs:


The successful candidate will be able to show:

  • Slavish devotion to his/her master

I can be both slavish

slavish devotion

and devoted


The successful candidate will be able to show

  • A silent tread

I tread so silently that even Molly doesn’t hear or notice me:


The successful candidate will be able to show

  • A Preference for the shadows

I am quite good at this, I got up here so silently even the shadows didn’t hear me – here I am looking for them (because I prefer shadows):


The successful candidate will be able to show

  • The ability to remember things everyone else has forgotten, in particular the location of interred cadavers

I am good at communication – particularly with the well known cadaver the purple hedgehog which needs to be put in its place from time to time - something everyone else forgets to I am good at remembering things too. Although I don’t tend to need to remember, I just to do (because I am brilliant).


He/she will ideally possess:

  • A degree in necromancy, witchcraft, or similar

  • A voice resembling the late Peter Lorre

  • A limp

  • Own cloak of secrecy

Accommodation provided in church cellar. Gruel and rat allowance. Terms on application.

I don’t have a degree, and I don’t talk much, nor do I have a limp, but I do have a cloak of secrecy –

Here I am taking a walk in the park:


But I can also use it to cover my nose:


I also think I might like rats as they smell so nice.

I don’t need accommodation, but I think mum and I would like a cellar. Mum says you can’t put a cellar on a boat, so I thought we could keep it on the toe path.

Lots of Love

Yours Sincerely

Mr Boots

(minion in waiting)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dear Granny and Grandpa

Mum is busy. Busy busy busy.  She goes to work, comes home and then sits and reads or writes. She says it is all part of her job and she has to write a grant proposal which apparently takes time. So does playing ball, but I suppose it doesn’t take the right sort of time. To be fair she does come home early sometimes – like today, but only because her patient went home earlier than she expected and not especially to see me.  Coming home early means we go for a walk but then she does more work!.  It seems that jobs are important. I need a job.

I THINK I might have found the perfect one:




to prevent an absentminded incumbent from being repeatedly humiliated

in the management of a not overwhelmingly busy parish.

The successful candidate will be able to show:

  • Slavish devotion to his/her master

  • A preference for the shadows

  • A silent tread

  • The ability to remember things everyone else has forgotten, in particular the location of interred cadavers

He/she will ideally possess:

  • A degree in necromancy, witchcraft, or similar

  • A voice resembling the late Peter Lorre

  • A limp

  • Own cloak of secrecy

Accommodation provided in church cellar. Gruel and rat allowance. Terms on application.

Apply to: The Rectory, Swanvale Halt, Surrey

I am going to work on my application tonight and apply and I like rats.

Lots of Love

Your devoted Grandson Boots

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Caxton and Matilda Rose and the encounter

Narrow boats Caxton and Matilda Rose are currently around Macclesfield and on Sunday they decided to start moving. With four crew and a car, 2 went off on the boats and 2 went off to get the car.  I love their account of an encounter with another boater, I am not sure whether it was meant to make me laugh, but it did. It is written in such a way to generate the most wonderful ‘i love life’ cartoon strip! Humans are funny (and not in a malicious way). You can read it here and the account starts in the second paragraph. I hope it makes you smile too.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Time to retire?

I often wonder (at times like these when I need to apply for more funding) what I would do if I wasn’t a scientist.

I haven’t got the faintest idea. Maybe next December I will find out.



Boots and the Chew

Boots seems to be settling into Boat life very well indeed. He loves his walks through the woods and over the fields, and over the last few months has got much fitter. Most of his behaviour has calmed down and he is getting better and doing what he is told (although it is very much in HIS time).  What he hasn’t stopped doing is chewing.  He doesn’t chew all the time and thus I call him an unreliable chewer – not least because I can’t pin it down to anything particular. He will chew whether he has been walked, or not, whether he has eaten, or not. I also can’t pin it down because he never does it when I am there. He will sometimes chew if I am out, or if I pop out, but it is just so random. It was suggested that it could be too much protein in his diet.. but it doesn’t seem to be related to that either.

I have some chew deterrent spray for my new chairs, but you can see here what he did to Maffi’s chair. He has done similar to one of mine (but ‘only’ chewed the corners of that).

He has toys to chew and they get changed regularly.

The thing is, I could stop spraying the arm chairs to see whether he has stopped chewing, but that could be a disaster… so do I spray everywhere I go.. or…

The idea that he might be getting bored is possible, but he has plenty of toys, gets lots of exercise and when he chewed Maffi’s chair Molly was on board. He likes Molly.

Does anyone have any ideas? 

Monday, December 07, 2009

new cooker

I purchased a new cooker a couple of weeks ago, just because I felt like it.  I am now selling my old one. It is a New world 50TWLM and at 4 years old I think £150 ono is a reasonable price if anyone is interested send me a message!

Helene of Troy

I love this boat, indeed, I love any boat with three workshops, but Helene of Troy is the only one I actually know of. It is FULL of fantastic things. I was rather chuffed with this picture I took on the way into Bakers Lock. I took it on my phone:06122009749

Shipton Lock gets worse every time I go through it, and once again it isn’t on the stoppages list. The bottom gate is notoriously difficult to open, and today I noticed the leaks are even worse. This is the bottom gate with the paddles CLOSED.


The lift bridge below the lock is getting heavier, Maffi wrote about it here.

As a single hander I really struggle with Shipton Lock and dread going through. I wish they would do something about it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


It was my birthday a week ago, and despite suffering from the lurgy I had the most amazing time. Not only was I given lots of presents, but I was given lots of cards too. Not only that, but everyone who came for the boaters banter wished me a happy birthday! There were 46 of us in the end chilling out in the boat inn in Thrupp.  Zoltan cooked some lovely food for us all and everyone had a great time. Unfortunately I was a bit poorly so I turned in at 8:30.  Everyone had a great time!  Maffi mentioned my birthday on his blog, but what he failed to mention was that it was his birthday last Thursday. In true form, and respect for the gender issues, he bought me an angle grinder, and I bought him a cast iron saucepan.

I spent the day poorly, but being totally spoilt. Thank you to everyone who came along for the day, and who sent me greetings! Thank you!!!!!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Bones and the Mental Health System


OK, so the title is a bit grand, but anyone who knows me knows better than to get me started on the mental health system… I don’t stop and I stand on the soap boxes of all soap boxes.  Something that drives me potty about it (amongst all the things that drive me potty about this impenetrable system) is that I would like to change it, but I can’t.  When I see things like this in the news my blood boils. I just hope that someone somewhere dares to believe in this girl, and the others caught up in the system.  Often people don’t know what to do, what to say, what to think and often say nothing. Nothing, to me at least, is a thousand words a thousand of the wrong words.


I had better stop before I start….

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Good Times


I was looking through some photographs today and came across this one. I remember this occasion fondly. I think Warrior are the only two people that can sit and enjoy a BBQ by the river despite the weather! (if you look at the water you can see just how heavy the rain was!).


We all had a fantastic evening!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Dear Granny and Grandpa

Birthdays are fascinating:


I did wake up eventually though! DSC05731

It was a rather fantastic pile of presents: 28112009722_1

Look there was even one from me! (aren’t I clever).


Mum had loads of  really lovely presents and heaps of cards, but I know she liked the present I got her best. It was what every mum needs. A lovely purple squeaky hedgehog. It took me ages to choose it, I am looking after it for her.

We have new front doors lined with wood. They are really lovely and mum put some varnish on them before she went to work the other day. She left the pot of varnish on the side of the kitchen so I decided to do a bit of varnishing myself in my basket.  I only spilt a few tiny drops on the floor  and there was plenty left by the time I got it to my basket workshop. I varnished my bone, and then the bottom of the basket and then I drank the rest. I did rather a good job (even if I say so myself). Even Mum was amazed that I didn’t spill more on the floor.

Mum was a bit poorly last week but is feeling a bit better today. She is very boring when she is poorly because we have to walk slowly up to the bridge and then have a rest while she huffs and puffs and leans against the nearest leaning against thing. Fortunately Uncle Maffi has been taking me out with Molly or I would have gone spare.

I am looking forward to seeing you soon. Mum says we are coming to do some digging. I am looking forward to sitting in the compost heap.

Lots of Love

Your devoted grandson.

They will not grow old

As I write this a young man from the village I grew up in is being buried. He was in Afghanistan for 2 weeks before he was shot. We are told the armour he had was suitable, but we know he was waiting for the new stuff that was meant to be there before he arrived.  I am not political, I don’t know why, and perhaps that makes me so, but there is nothing quite like the death of a young man to bring home the vileness of the war. He walked the streets I walked, read the books I read, was taught by the same teachers who taught me, played on the same swings, shopped in the same shops. A boy when I left,  a man when he died and now he grows old no more.  The streets will never feel his feet, the air will never hear his laughter but by God I am proud. I have no right to be proud of him, he was not mine; but he was one of ours.   As I write this, I am in the tea rooms warming my hands on a cup of tea eating soup and enjoying the English soil beneath my feet. Given to me by young men and young women.  May our boys who gave their lives rest in peace and rise in glory.

I don’t want to be proud of our young man as I think of his tomb, I would like to shake his hand and thank him – but it is too late.

Join the British Legion. “We help serving and ex-Service personnel and their families. Not just those who fought in the two World Wars, but also those involved in the many conflicts since 1945 and those still fighting today. “