Ducks in a row…

10 Dec

Always good to get one’s ducks in a row and these guys certainly seemed to have nailed it.

On the other hand…

That’s just showing off!

More than I can say for the power company here – Eskom.

They are calling it load shedding, a term I’ve not heard since the 60’s. Back then, it made the tele picture go wobbly, but here the power goes off completely, twice a day…

But Terry is, as ever, prepared. Except when his marvellous tip-you-up chair gets stuck in the fully reclined position! But he remains cheerful as we discuss the headline: Old man trapped in electric chair..

The cuts usually last a couple of hours each and this is happening all over South Africa. Word is, years of little or no maintenance is to blame and has led to such drastic measures.

There’s also some shocking allegations being bandied about. I’ve read that over a 14 year period, production has remained flat, employment increased by 50% and the average annual salary quadrupled.

Interesting way to run a business.

All the more reason to get out and about…

Schoenmakerskop.

I think that translates to shoemaker’s town, so Northampton on sea..?

Hardly. It’s one row of houses and a café. There’s plenty of parking, strategic seating at viewpoints and good steps down to the beach. I gave them the swerve though, bearing in mind the company I am keeping.

So, I’ve been to the beach, sort of, but not felt the sand between my toes. Yet.

Another drive out…

To a wild flower reserve – sadly largely charred after the wild fires. There’s every chance this will regenerate though – see here for how – just not the best time to visit.

Great views though…

Van Stadens bridge.

We took the pass, which winds you right down to the bottom of the gorge, so you look up at this bridge (the main freeway) before climbing out the other side. Breath-taking stuff.

Closer to home…

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The sparrows are nesting.

And, as I type, it’s raining fairly hard – that’s always welcome here – thunder and lightning too. I love a good storm.

Be interesting to look at the rain gauge tomorrow and see just how much we got. Sounds significant to me.

Never seen these in flower before…

And the obligatory sunset…

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Over the estuary.

From planet John…

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Lotus bud.

And…

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Loving this.

Both from a visit to a garden somewhere near Stellenbosch.

In John’s own garden…

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A Moonflower.

If you don’t like creepy-crawlies, look away now…

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Scorpion. Found under his grandson’s cot! They do live in the desert mind at Touws River – or Toast River as I like to call it.

Puff Adder…

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Shedding its skin.

Oh so cute…

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Little stripy mice.

Cape Chameleon…

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Found at the nearby dam…

 

At a local steampunk museum…

 

I so want to go there.

Remember Zola…

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I promised an after shot but not quite there yet, so this is during…

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Much more like it. Now that’s attitude.

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Good work Helene.

A lovely African image…

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Louis, happy in his work. Nice half lap joint, using machete only.

This post wouldn’t be complete without…

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Pilchards. But not as we know them.

I must now get my own ducks in a row and pay some attention to that little project of mine. 

Tick-tock.

 

Moving on…

30 Nov

And we are off. Port Elizabeth, here we come..!

Pretty much a whole day’s driving at 411 miles – or 662 klicks as they say in South Africa – a good 7/8 hours on the road. But actually quite pleasant when there’s two of you to share the driving.

The scenery is stunning…

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Along the garden route. Freeway all the way.

But it’s even more interesting when this is one’s mode of transport…

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Yep, it’s a FIAT. And we all know what that stands for.

OK – Fix It Again Tomorrow, for those of you on another planet.

John bought this from a friend, who didn’t want to sell it to him – because he was a friend. That should tell you something. Undeterred, John resurrected it from the dead and has been carefully nurturing it ever since, diligently checking over and replacing parts as and when.

He calls it the Mighty UNO. It’s way old and one has to really know how to drive to make it go, unlike the cars of today that practically drive themselves. (Some of course actually do.) It has a manual choke and a gearbox of the stick-in-a-bucket variety. Fortunately, I was brought up on this type of vehicle, back in the day, and actually enjoyed driving it. Just like old times..!

Anyway, John will offload me at his dad’s house in PE…

johns-dads-placeWhere I shall be staying until the new year. John, on the other hand, beetles back to continue working on his own place after a couple of days respite.

To the front is the Swartkops river estuary…

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estuary stitch

Glorious by day and night.

Lots of wildlife…

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A Goliath heron.

A postcard depicting the bay here…

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Bluewater Bay. The sailboat belonged to Terry – might well have been him sailing it.

Some local fishermen trespassing on the private jetty/parking…

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Not knowing they are on candid camera…

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Annoying the hell out of Terry.

Sorry, I missed a trick there. Top left shows a tray for birdseed, which attracts loads of our feathered friends and great to watch from the comfort of your armchair. Trust me to snap the tele when the tray is empty – of seed and birds!

And there’s a huge nature reserve at the back. I’ve never been here to see the aloes in bloom but am told they are quite a sight. Oh, and a beach just around the corner that I still haven’t been to – Indian ocean so the sea should be warm. Soon, soon.

So why am I here? Well it’s one of those win-win situations:

John’s father, Terry, is a spritely 92 year old who lives here alone. He is razor sharp in the brain department but, since hip replacement surgery following a fall that also mangled his shoulder, and recent trauma to his leg, he needs a little help with a few things: socks and shoes, monitoring blood pressure and medication, help with phone calls – he’s very deaf (a trait the John has inherited, though I think his is more selective). All pretty minor stuff really.

He can still get up and down the 39 steps that lead to the street…

With support – mostly moral. Can’t see them all here, but you get the picture.

There’s tortoises hiding in there too…

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Which dement the dog.

Terry makes his own bread (delicious) and here he is…

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Boxing up meals, cooked earlier, ready for the freezer. I should really take a leaf out of his book.

He has a maid/carer – Evelyn – who comes in three times a week, which is great ’cause on her days I also get served breakfast, elevensies and lunch; my bed made and washing done. I could get used to this.

There’s also a garden boy – Peter – who pitches up on Sundays to keep everything neat and tidy…

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This pic shows a fully equipped workshop and above, Terry’s late wife’s art studio that is accessed through the white gate seen in the other pics…up yet more steps.

She was a very talented lady who produced some lovely work…

Beautifully African and atmospheric. I like.

And there’s a driver – Carl – a phone call away.

Plus plenty of friends; some already having paid us a visit – curious to meet ‘the barge lady’. Hope I didn’t disappoint.

He no longer drives, because of the shoulder, so some chauffeuring is required. For instance, we went to the Armistice service at a local chapel…

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Looking smart complete with medals.

We go to his weekly Pilates session with the lovely Maria…

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Which he has been doing for the last twelve years – he started at age 80. I think it’s what keeps him so fit and enabled him to recover so well from surgery.

I am also having sessions now in the hope it will do similar for me…some hope! But Terry is quite tickled that I’m joining in.

We took the dog to be groomed…

Tiger – before and after.

And to the vet. But that’s a whole other story!

There’s also shopping and general day to day stuff. But I see my role more as that of companion, someone to chat to/watch tele/share jokes/stories with.

He has some jolly good stories too, being RAF and widely travelled. He’s lived in some exotic locations, including Malaysia (where John was born) and Libya (where John did some schooling). And he’s done some amazing road trips. I am finding it all fascinating. And, despite moving out here in the 60’s, he stills sounds like the Londoner he is. No trace of a SA accent.

Turns out, we rub along quite nicely and both enjoy a gin and tonic/glass of wine as well.

So, apart from a drinking partner, what do I get out of this little arrangement?

For starters, there’s free lodgings, which are very comfortable, and where  I have been allocated the master bedroom. This comes complete with en-suite (resplendent in 1960/70s avocado), adjacent office and private lounge with views to die for…

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I also get the run of the rest of the house and garden and the use of a car…

The Conquest: probably even more ancient than the Uno but meticulously maintained and still going strong – well, it is a Toyota!  Even if it does only have four gears.

Quite a popular model here…

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Though the later models are called Tazz.

And for my old buddies from Daewoo days…

There’s a fair smattering of these about – old and new.

It is of course summer here with temperatures in the mid to high twenties at the mo…

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In the shade

Probably going higher in December and January. And if I can miss much of the British winter, that alone is pretty much back of the net for me.

But there’s another thing. I have the opportunity to spend time turning an idea for a novel into the first draft of a book. So I have work to do. That’s the plan anyway. Starts with a vengeance this week. Really.

Crikey…it’s Thursday already! And I’ve been here a whole month.

To date, I have become a little embroiled in the daily life and ways of South Africa, which is largely the same…only different.

This is a yield sign…

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A stop street

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And they call these robots

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Their cell phone towers get disguised…

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This one masquerading as a lighthouse. I’ve seen ones up country done up like fir trees. Gets my vote.

The ‘lighthouse’, and sea beyond, is the view from the local shopping centre where you find these…

They are called trolley porters (says so on the back of his overall, but BB not quite getting that in shot) and are most helpful. When they’ve loaded you up, they take away the trolley too. No coins in the slot malarkey here..!

I’ve not yet managed to master this method of transporting goods…

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A fine example of head carrying.

This is still called a bridge…

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I just like it.

And it seems their policeman also take naps in the road…

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And I’ve already said about the brand names…

A couple more I spotted.

Oh, and the laid back cat at the hardware store…

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I could go on (and on and on…) but won’t. Expect I’ll be back before too long with loads more to tell you though.

But I must get busy with that book…

BFN xx

Best laid plans..

13 Nov

No matter how well prepared we like to think we are, the best laid plans can – and often do – all too soon turn to rat shit. And my meticulous travel plans did just that.

Nothing life-threatening you understand. It wasn’t the eleven and a half hour flight that was a problem, no that went according to plan, even though the only available seat was in the middle of the middle section of the plane, despite going online in advance to choose my preferred position: left hand window, from where the view on approach to Cape Town is stunning.

I’d been allocated 32E and ‘Would I like to change this?’ Well of course I would. But the only option was 32E, everything else had been taken. The plane was absolutely full . So 32E it was.

But it wasn’t that.

I think my problem started with my choice of hand luggage…

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Amelia. Well-loved but totally impractical…doesn’t do up or stand up – and apt to tip over when propped under the seat in front.

As well as the usual paraphernalia required in-flight, I also packed into Amelia a small toiletry bag with items essential for my survival during, and immediately after, said 11.5 hour flight. I put a lot of thought into the contents of this and they served me well and kept me comfy while on board.

Long story short… I didn’t have it when I got to John’s place, my first stop on this trip to SA. Bugger. Must have been tipped out as we landed, but the airport said it wasn’t in lost and found when I rang later. Double bugger.

It’s not as if I couldn’t buy replacements (not exact matches but similar) but some were slightly treasured items – like old friends – and, call me stupid, it just rattled me.

Still, mustn’t dwell.

Two mountain passes and about an hour’s drive gets us to John’s place…

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He’s now living in the old house, which is at least 200 years old and being refurbished now that the tenants have finally pushed off.

It comes complete with hot and cold running water, a bath and a flush toilet.

Most important is the fencing, which will provide a measure of security…

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As well as improving the look of the place – in my humble opinion.

Gates too…

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With a little help from John’s slave. Justin.

Land cleared and earmarked for campsite…

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Water is connected…

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Remember the bus..?

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If not, go here. And here.

Also due an update and destined to become available for rent. Currently home to John’s slave.

John has rented some land to Helene the ‘dog lady’…

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Who has built a house there for herself and her dogs of which, I am told, this is just a small selection. She rescues, cares for and re-homes dogs in need.

Her latest challenge…

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Poor bloody thing. She’s promised me an ‘after’ shot.

The plan is to do more of this – quick-build houses and letting out – to provide the John with an income/retirement fund. I believe it’s a sound plan and am most impressed with the work so far. It really has come a long way since I was last here.

John’s carpentry skills coming in handy indoors too…

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And an eye for the right piece of wood…

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On which to hang the coats.

Happy family…

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Ginger you’ve met before. Here. Nushka has the mange, poor thing, and is being fostered and cared for by John, under Helene’s supervision. In the short time I was here, I saw a great improvement. Weekly dipping and daily foot spraying, as well as a good dose of TLC, certainly doing the trick.

When I first arrived, the mornings and evenings were chilly so we needed a little fire…

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Fortunately we bought one of these…

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So, when it warmed up, we didn’t have to light the fire to boil the kettle or cook.

And it did soon warm up – 30C + – though the thick walls of the old house kept it nice and cool indoors.

There’s always the solar cooker…

solar cooker

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Which really does work. I’ve seen it.

We did a little foray to the village shop for provisions. I just love the names…

But this really caught my eye…

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Remember when cigarette companies could still display their own distinctive branding on the packet? Well they still do here.

And, at R43, my old brand selling for less than £3 a packet (more like £11 in the UK) makes me almost want to start smoking again! Almost.

As much as I love it here in Bot River, almost like a second home, my visit to South Africa this time is about something a little different. I have work to do and will be staying in Port Elizabeth with John’s dad for most of my time here. But more about that next time.

I’ll leave you with a few random shots from hereabouts before I move on.

Avocado grown from a stone…

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He’s grown a lot of stuff from seed and, I have to say, the garden is looking lovely.

A dung beetle doing its thing…

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You can take the girl out of the boat… But she still ends up talking shit.

Some bamboo that he planted is now coming in handy to make all sorts of stuff. Like a bird feeder…

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Which was well frequented. Of course my pictures of all the pretty and unusual birds are all rubbish. I’ll keep trying.

A receptacle for my rings…

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And somewhere for my pens…

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There is also a rather splendid, if a little phallic, salt pot he crafted but the pic has disappeared. Oddly.

A tiny snake…

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Found on top of the septic tank.

John also caught two Puff Adders while I was there, which he is keeping – securely. There is a video that I don’t have so will spare you that. They are very attractive creatures as well as being highly venomous. I keep my distance!

A full moon rising as the sun goes down…

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Interestingly, the sun and moon track right to left here as opposed to left to right in the northern hemisphere. I suppose that makes sense but it came as a bit of a revelation to me.

A sunset seems like a fitting end to this post so ‘totsiens vir nou’ as they say in these parts.

Coming soon…

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Not long, I promise, I have rediscovered my writing rhythm.

Wind in the Willows..

22 Sep

You, as precious and perceptive readers of this blog, will have noticed how windy it’s been of late. You know only too well. That is, of course, if you are in the UK.

It has played havoc with my hairdo…

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Not that you’d notice.

Had a go at ripping my car door off its hinges and swung my TV aerial round a full 180 degrees. Considering this was held by three wire stays and numerous magnets, was no mean feat.

What you may not know is that four trees have fallen into my little river over the last few days, at least two of which have blocked the navigation. Fortunately, none has done damage to boats/people, not that I know of anyway.

Unlike this poor couple..

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What a nightmare. One that I have, yet again, escaped by the skin of my teeth.

In case you didn’t know, I moor beneath a very old, fragile looking willow. One that looks like it would fall over if I exhaled sharply in its vicinity. One that disintegrates when pushed against as Hobo leaves her mooring, and one that creaks in the wind at the best of times.

It’s more wobbly than whomping…

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But, against all the odds, it remains upright.

When I say upright…

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As upright as its ever been in all my years of living underneath it. We (that’s the royal variety) do what we can to keep it from being top-heavy, as you can see here.

One the whole, I don’t like the wind. Not if I’m outdoors. But if I’m all cosy inside, I love to watch its effects on the water, the plant life, wildlife and the clouds. I like that it rocks the boat, making windchimes out of my hanging utensils and the crystals in the window sway and sparkle. It reminds me of how safe I feel  (despite the threat of my feeble tree) and gently rocks me to sleep.

This year’s wonderful summer has come to an end and we’ve slipped into autumn, even though my diary tells me it doesn’t become official until the 23rd.

The autumn equinox…

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Nights are drawing in already, leaves are beginning to fall and it’s all downhill from here. There’s definitely a whiff of wood smoke in the air – there is around my boat anyway. I’m not one to tough it out till it’s ‘acceptable’ to light one’s fire. The first hint of a chill in the air and the old Morso gets fried up.

And yes…

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It’s blazing away now.

I’m mostly only burning those 99p a pop faux logs at the mo, usually more than enough to take the pain out of a chilly morning/evening. Last night though, I did add a proper chunky real log – one foraged by the John last year – and regretted it a couple of hours down the line, having to open doors/hatches to avoid overheating/paint blistering!

We’re not yet at that burning 24/7 stage and, hopefully, I’ll miss most of that.

Did I tell you I was going to overwinter in South Africa..?

Sure I did.

 

 

I do love a list..

12 Sep

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No, not that sort of list.

A list of what to do – must do, could do, should do. A list of what to take – must take, might take. And a list of what to get – most items here followed by a question mark at this stage. All growing by the minute…

Woman Reading Long List

As a wannabe spontaneous person, I guess that’s a huge fail. But, in my defence, I am planning a three month excursion to the southern hemisphere and have to be prepared…

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Third world. Don’t you just love it?

I’d already started the process of renewing my passport, it expiring in September, not realising I’d need it so soon but knowing I couldn’t not have a current one. Turns out this was a good move as, whilst the online renewal process is agreeably simple and speedy, the courier designated to deliver the finished product wasn’t.

Living on a boat/being of no fixed abode has its challenges and getting one’s mail is one of them. No friendly postie for me. I collect my mail from the Post Office, which works wonderfully well. Usually. When it comes to ‘signed for’ items, life can get a little complicated and, depending on the individual tasked to unite you with your precious/ID sensitive package, can be fraught with frustration. And it was. Very.

After several abortive attempts to meet with this (non) delivery person, I did what I had to do and arranged to collect from the local DX depot. Simple. Well it was, if you don’t count the numerous phone calls to the passport office (@ 35p per minute on the mobile) and those to the courier.

Still, mission accomplished. I have my new passport…

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Shame it’s not the new British version as promised with the exit from the EU but hey, let’s not go there. And no, you’re not getting to see the photo!

Tick-Box

Another item on the list (must do) is to ensure my drug dependency medication needs are catered for, so a trip to the surgery and pharmacy required. Now sorted and another box ticked. Going well.

Well it was. Opposite the chemist shop in Sawbo central is a trendy little boutique with all sorts of desirable things in its window…

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It’s the kind of place that never displays the prices so I’ve always avoided it like the plague. Like they say, if you have to ask…

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But yesterday there was a couple of lovely, loose fitting, linen frocks hanging outside with big red sale tickets attached. End of season and just the job for my upcoming trip. My ‘what to get’ list includes ‘clothes?’ and, before you could say that now was the perfect time to bag a bargain, I’d been sucked in and handed over the plastic to pay for both of these. Plus a (not in the sale but just what I’d been looking for forever) top.

But, no guilt here. I am so worth it.

The ‘get Hobo ready for winter’ list has morphed into a ‘prepare Hobo for abandonment’ list. And I do feel guilty about that. But, willing neighbours/friends have offered to be there for her/care for her, so I am reassured on that front.

My immediate neighbour will take on the role of looking after of my feathered friends…

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Feed the birds, tuppence a bag. For the Disney fans among you.

Takes me back. In another life, when I had the pub, we hosted many impromptu jam sessions. All sorts of musicians would turn up, from far and wide, and strut their stuff…

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As time went by and sobriety went out the window, the local musos would progress from classic rock and blues and turn to Disney. They’d belt out tunes from the likes of Mary Poppins and Jungle Book and we’d all join in. We all knew the words. Let’s go fly a kite… I’m the king of the swingers... and many more. Good times.

Ha ha, got you! Bet you’re all singing now!

Back to the future, said neighbour will take me to the airport too – probably just to make sure I’m really gone. Seriously, I’m always blown away by the kindness of boatie folk, yet never surprised. Looking out for each other – it’s what we do. And I love that.

Something I must do, sooner rather than later, is to order some currency…

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Right now, I can get almost twice as many Rand to the Pound than when I last visited.

My trip may be a month away but, as you know, time waits for no man. Or Boatbird. Before we know it, I’ll be winging my way to sunny South Africa, ready or not for what is to come.

Get to it BB.

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Get those boxes ticked.

Wait and See..

5 Sep

A much used and predictable response to numerous questions posed to parents by many an impatient child I suspect…

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It certainly featured highly in my youth.

Now I’m a grown up – allegedly – I realise why straight answers are so infuriatingly elusive. I simply do not know what will happen in the future. No-one does.

Whilst we may sometimes have a jolly good idea/strong gut feeling of the outcome of those what if/when/how/who posers, as adults now realise that nothing is set in stone. No-one knows when the fickle finger of fate will come into play and put the kibosh on all those well-crafted plans. Happens all the time.

But that’s not to say we shouldn’t make plans. I do it all the time. Sometimes in order to realise a goal, find a direction or purpose or, as often as not, out of necessity.

I’ll give you a for instance.

As a liveaboard boater, with winter looming large, I have to plan for the worst. This entails ensuring my cosy cocoon stays so…

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Meaning I need to prepare my metal tube for whatever the elements may throw her way. Sealing areas that could spring a leak…

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And checking my trusty multi-fuel stove over and repairing/replacing/refurbing as necessary being high on the to-do list.

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Chimney swept.

After…

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Chilly morning/evening…

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Never. Not on my watch.

Estimating how much fuel to order to see me through the dark, dank days is really just a guess, albeit after 12 years of the lifestyle, a slightly educated one. But, given that coal bought at the summer price (delivery before October) is £2 per 25kg cheaper, I simply can’t afford to wait and see. It’s a no-brainer.

This time last year I ordered 50 bags – a huge outlay – but, as last winter went on forever and ever, there remains only five or six bags left over. It’s not all about the saving made though. If we have a lot of rain (more than likely), the approach to my boat will without a doubt be soggy  and waterlogged, meaning my marvellous coalman will be unable to deliver right to my boat. I’ve done my share of hauling coal in the cold and wet and, trust me, it’s not happening again. Ever.

I don’t do cold, so have placed the same order this year. Sorted. Well not quite…

Turns out I have the opportunity to spend three months this winter in South Africa, where it will be summer…

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After careful consideration – yeah right – I have decided to fly south. Yay! Back of the net! But what about all that coal?

Already taken care of my friends: 20 bags to one neighbour and 10 to another, leaving me enough to deal with any unseasonal coldness before or after my trip. Simple.

It’s a well known fact that I’m a little prone to over-thinking. But I’m learning that there really is no point. We cannot predict what will happen along this rocky road/choppy water we travel and most things can be undone/re-hashed or suitably circumvented with a handy plan B.

As plan B’s go, this one is probably one of the better prospects…

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This trip will take on quite a different meaning and shape to previous travels, but I’ll get into that another time.

Suffice to say, it could be useful and helpful to others and, if I get my arse in gear, productive and possibly profitable for me.

But who knows how it will all pan out? What will unfold? Who knows?

We will just have to wait and see…

 

 

 

Out of Africa..

3 Aug

Since we are having such a wonderful summer, I thought I’d write a bit about South Africa where it’s winter.

Not that the winters there are anything like ours. It’s often warm and sunny during the day though chilly at night. There may be rain – with luck – which is always needed desperately. And, of course, the days are much shorter.

That said…IMG-20180702-WA0002.jpgIMG-20180702-WA0001.jpg

They have had snow in the Karoo!

Blooming now…IMG-20180623-WA0006.jpg

Jade plant – AKA money plant.IMG-20180802-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180730-WA0004.jpg

IMG-20180730-WA0002.jpgIMG-20180715-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180730-WA0003.jpg

Wish we had colour like that during our winter!

Remember this..?WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.33.51

Claw marks of a leopard.

Then came the footprints…IMG-20180721-WA0002.jpg

So John’s youngest put out bait, by way of a dead sheep, and set up a camera.

And…

IMG-20180722-WA0004IMG-20180722-WA0005The beastie itself. What a gorgeous creature!

In other wildlife…IMG-20180629-WA0000.jpg

Aw!

And if you zoom right in on the second pic…IMG-20180603-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180527-WA0000-2.jpg

You’ll see this little sparrow loves to check himself out in the mirror. Might be a bit blurry.

Funny. John said he’d spend hours at it!IMG-20180722-WA0001.jpg

Kingfishers – African style. Again, you’ll need to big it up.

But it wouldn’t be Africa…IMG-20180715-WA0001.jpg

Without a spider.

One of the views from John’s place…IMG-20180704-WA0000.jpg

And another…IMG-20180618-WA0000.jpg

After the rain.

And the lower slope….IMG-20180616-WA0004.jpg

Of Table Mountain.

These giant cones…IMG-20180624-WA0001.jpg

Have their uses…IMG-20180621-WA0002.jpg

Nature’s fire lighters.

Looking cosy.

And finally…IMG-20180802-WA0004.jpg

Seen in South Africa but true the world over.

 

All Good Things..

25 May

Seven weeks of living out in the watery wilderness has come to an end…IMG-20180507-WA0000.jpg

We’ve chugged up and down this lovely little river, moored at various middle of nowhere locations, walked the towpath and discovered the footpaths through the adjacent park and got to know the regular dog walkers and runners.

We’ve heard and seen all sorts of wildlife, some – scarily – on board… IMG-20180426-WA0001-1.jpg

The web of a funnel web spider in Hobo’s engine room!

A more conventional outdoor web…IMG-20180507-WA0001.jpg

A toad on the towpath…IMG_20180510_103931.jpg

Mother and chicks…IMG-20180514-WA0000.jpg

Cows…IMG-20180418-WA0002-1.jpg

All of these will benefit from zooming in.

There was a snake on the towpath on one of my walks but it was far faster than me, slithering into the safety of the long grass before I could even think about grabbing the camera.

No amount of zooming will help here. Another of many of my marvellous pics that got away.

John calls this Queen Anne’s lace…IMG-20180513-WA0000-1.jpg

But has always been keck to me.

It (and the nettles) has grown madly while we’ve been out. Hobo was visible from way back at one spot but completely hidden a few weeks later – at first scaring the hell out of me, thinking she’d gone on without me!

We’ve even carried out some exterior boat maintenance.

Before…IMG-20180328-WA0000-1.jpg

After…IMG_20180525_150424.jpg

It’s far from finished but I’m happy with the story so far. Making a start, as always, was the hardest part. The rest I can do in bite-size pieces – as and when – starting with the hand rails I think.

Now I’m all for a bit of serendipity and synchronicity, and my next little tale is certainly a bit of both. John got chatting to a dog walker one day who introduced herself as a cat magnet. Knowing I was hankering after a feline friend, he called me to come talk to her. She’s involved with re-homing rescue dogs and cats and said she’d keep me in mind.

That very evening we had a visitor…IMG-20180510-WA0000.jpg

She was very hungry and, after wolfing down a can of tuna, became very affectionate and soon made herself at home…

Do click on any image to big it up.

She helped me with the writing…IMG-20180429-WA0007.jpg

Making the bed…IMG-20180429-WA0001.jpg

IMG-20180429-WA0002.jpgA bit twitchy at times…IMG_20180428_133325.jpg

But mostly quite content…IMG_20180428_220630.jpg

She slept at the bottom of the bed every night, waking me by pummelling my stomach and head-butting me at an ungodly hour each morning to be let out.

She spent the day playing in the woods…IMG-20180509-WA0002.jpgIMG-20180509-WA0001-1.jpg

Returning intermittently to feed – and I think to check we were still there. We speculated as to where she’d come from. She seemed very au fait with boat life – had she jumped ship? But surely her human would be looking for her – but no evidence of this: lost kitty posters, concerned person calling her name. Nothing.

I messaged the “cat magnet” but it was not her doing. A puzzle.

And a dilemma. It seemed wrong to leave her when we left and wrong to take her with us. Such a gorgeous creature…IMG-20180429-WA0006.jpg

The cat – just in case you were wondering!

As ever, doing nothing proved to be the best plan. One day, a chappie pitched up looking for her. He’d been moored nearby and noticed she was missing when he’d moved his boat further downstream. We told him we’d met her and said she’d be in the woods so he called her but to no avail.

I then called out “come on then”, she appeared from nowhere, avoided her human and jumped aboard Hobo! It was like she had made a choice. Well they do say cats choose their owners. Of course, I had to let her go. It was heart-breaking!

But that’s not the end to this story. John walked down the towpath that night and saw her on the roof of “her” boat…IMG-20180504-WA0001.jpg

It wasn’t until he arrived back at Hobo that we realised she had followed him. It was quite a way and in the dark. Unbelievable!

Kitty-cat moved in with us again. Double dilemma – now that we knew where she belonged. Again, any decisions were taken out of our hands, she was collected once more and her boat moved further away. I  am resigned to never seeing her again but live in hope that the “cat magnet” will come up trumps and find me one of my own. Till then though, I miss her. Every day.

And so, all good things have come to an end. John’s gone, cat’s gone, I am back on my mooring and looking forward to the next time. Maybe in the autumn.

But I have lovely memories of a lovely time, lovely little trip, lovely company and lots of lovely photos.

And a cupboardful of lovely cat food.

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Grind..

24 Apr

The long overdue maintenance begins…IMG_20180418_172747.jpgIMG_20180418_172441.jpg

It’s horrifying to see how much rust is bubbling under the paintwork so just as well we’ve made a start.

We’ve established a system. I go first with the chisel and expose the problem areas, then John follows up with the noisy machinery and grinds it out. This is followed by painting on a rust treatment, which is wiped off the following day.

It was great when we started  and can’t think of a better place to be to do this job. But now looks cold and mis for the foreseeable. Typical.

I’ve now sourced the cream topcoat, so all we need now is the weather to behave again.

We chug up and down in the meantime; for fun, a break or to load fresh supplies and unload rubbish/waste.

Harlow Mill is a good spot…IMG_20180418_113517.jpgIMG_20180418_113627.jpg

With a water point too, which is handy.

There’s also a useful little road that gets the car right next to the boat…IMG_20180418_113637.jpg

Perfect.

But the main road is too close so we choose not to stay here. Easy peasy – swing her round and back upstream to somewhere quieter…IMG-20180419-WA0000.jpg

That’s more like it.

You’ll notice the chimney is smoking. Thought we’d moved into warmer times but, sadly, fire-free days didn’t last long. One day to be precise!

Still, at least the towpath has dried up nicely now – I’ve even shed the boots.

One woman and her dog…

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There’s also a lovely lady who comes by picking up litter. Good job that woman.

Also plenty of joggers/walkers and a cyclist or two. A few boats come by – but not many.

Sunrise…IMG-20180419-WA0001.jpg

Sunset…IMG-20180418-WA0000.jpg

It’s a hard life.

We nipped back upstream yesterday evening, through the lock to where we could turn her – I did a splendid job if I say so myself.

Back into the lock, which is the ideal place (close to where our cars are parked) to load new gas cylinder and offload a full carzy, which I shall drive to where my home mooring is and empty it in the appropriate place -just in case you thought it went in the river or down a lucky rabbit hole…

rabbit hole

I wouldn’t!

Very useful operation and a lovely little jaunt.

Bit short on pics this week but we have been busy. Hope to soon be able to update you with some impressive paint job type shots before too long. Will of course depend on the weather.

But here’s three John took early one morning for me to stitch together…

m. mist 2_stitch

Back soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down River..

14 Apr

Sunset lock didn’t disappoint…IMG_20180403_194110.jpgIMG_20180403_193402.jpg

 

IMG_20180403_193524.jpgStunning.

So we had an extra night there.

Next morning saw us back on the mooring to top up, tip out and replenish supplies. More coal and gas was loaded aboard and I (reluctantly) shopped to fill the fridge and cupboards.

A couple of days later we were off again. You can’t beat that feeling when you slip the mooring – freedom. And a sense of not knowing where you’ll be at bedtime.

Through a couple of locks, stopping just below the second one. There’s great parking close by for the car but, sadly, poor phone signal and no WIFI.

We’re now moored further down at a lovely middle of nowhere spot…IMG-20180412-WA0000.jpg

Did you spot Hobo?

Ah, there she is. Such a welcome sight when you’ve trekked from the car…IMG-20180412-WA0002.jpg

Yep, there she is…IMG-20180412-WA0001.jpg

Home sweet home.

With good phone and WIFI but can’t tune the tele in. Still only a 15 minute stroll along the towpath to the same secure car parking. Who needs the TV anyway?

You might notice that we have had a go at the roof and side. Big improvement but more to do. Mostly John’s good work because I had to go and see a man about a car…

IMG-20180410-WA0000.jpg

Such a sad day.

Bye-bye Battlestar, my trusty steed for twelve years. Gone. She was still going strong but wouldn’t have gone through another MOT without costing me a small fortune, so I did what I had to do.

She fetched more than I thought she would – looking after me till the end. I now have an older smaller job that goes like a rocket, a mere 41k miles, showroom condition – a bargain at just £200, including 12 months ticket, new battery and full tank of petrol!

Brothers have their uses.

Back to Hobo, from the little bridge just downstream…IMG-20180410-WA0001.jpg

I’m liking it here.

I have good neighbours…IMG_20180414_153549.jpgIMG_20180414_153618.jpg

And the garden is great…IMG_20180414_153647.jpgIMG_20180414_154048.jpg

With extra water features.

Of course, the towpath is a bit muddy in places, but then so is my home mooring.

Being Lea Valley, there’s lots of walking roads…

IMG_20180414_153755.jpg

And the dog walkers are friendly.

Today the sun came out and it was really warm. What a treat. I even let the fire go out – first time for months!

It’s lovely to be able to roll up the canopy and open up all the doors and hatches. I was even moved to sweep up the mud, mop the floor and shake out the mats. It doesn’t seem worth the effort when it’s raining all the time. Try as much as you like, taking off the boots in the cratch, the mud and muck still sneaks indoors.

I’ll be spring cleaning next!

We are planning on doing some bodywork to the old girl while we are out. I’ll show you what we get up to when we get to it.

She’s done really well, considering her last proper paint job was twelve years ago. 2006 was a big year for me – new home and new car.

I want to get her gleaming again and have a cunning plan for some snazzy new signwriting. All will be revealed in due course.

But now seems like a good moment for a G&T…

pexels-photo-616836.jpeg

Cheers!