Archive | November, 2013

And when we Weren’t Messing About on my River…

26 Nov

We took a ride over another one. A big, important one.

Remember this ?

We said we would do it.

The cable car over the Thames…029Here we go…030So pretty at night…034And that’s where we land…037Except we did the round trip.

Only takes about six minutes in total, no queues and £6.40 return (with Oyster card).

Very pleasant.

A couple of drinks by the river afterwards rounded our day in town off nicely, having earlier visited the British Museum along with TJ and Uncle Mike. We kept him on a lead this time so couldn’t lose him – you’ll know what I mean if you read the earlier link.

We we saw a lot of this…013

And this…021This…023Am liking the dogs.

Could this be the first gay man…?024Rosetta Stone025Interesting stuff but far more than one can do in a day. It never ceases to amaze me how much time is spent getting about in the city – don’t get me wrong, it’s fun – and I particularly liked the Docklands Light Railway ( a first for me) and the view it gives of Limehouse Basin.

To misquote someone or another… ‘You can take the girl out of the boat but you can’t take the boat out of the girl’.

So we’ll just have to go back. Maybe take in a show – I vote we go to see Stomp.

Always wanted to. Tis on the list.

Train back to Dagenham, where Mike lives, and then on to a pub that served food until 11pm – can you believe that? As it was by this time gone 9, and we weary travellers all starving, it was a great find.

The first pub we tried had packed up food early but a couple of locals (brilliant characters – Irish) pointed us in the right direction.

Meals and service all good, so thank you gents.

And thanks to Mike and TJ too who, as well as steering us safely through the London Underground between them, also treated John and me to supper.

Nice one boys.

What a Difference a Day Makes – The Sequel

25 Nov

Too good to be true wasn’t it..

BB waxing lyrical about the new mooring position. Serves me right. A week down the line and am told by the powers that be… “You can’t stay there”.


After a scrap in the car park calm, controlled conversation with she who must be obeyed (The Farm Owner), several points were agreed.

* The white cruiser would be moved to the ‘council end’.

* A 20ft narrowboat would be brought back to replace said plastic.

* Hobo could sit in space remaining and wood/scaffold poles/clamps were available for jetty building.

Having paced it all out – again – John decided this would work and only went and offered to move all the boats about, volunteering BB and Hobo for tug services.

Firstly, the little cruiser was towed behind Hobo and dropped off up the other end. I must confess to a perverse kind of pleasure in getting this particular craft out of my immediate vicinity and seemed fitting that Hobo was the one to have done this.

Then we carried on up river to a point where we could turn Hobo about and back again, taking in a little Autumn colour on the way…001

to pick up the short narrow.

We decided that breasting up was the best towing option this time and once strung together… 006we headed back to the allotted spot…010

under close supervision…011So we behaved. Naturally.

Boats untied from each other, little boat secured and then.. Yay! Still enough room for Hobo. So far so good.

Sadly, boarding was going to be a pain once more. Back to walking the plank…004

Yes, by now the old rotten jetty had been ripped up and recycled so my long awaited new one was now urgent.

And, lucky me, the very next weekend John and GI Joe come to the rescue…010They get some valuable advice from my pop-up neighbour…003What a super day for it – just look at that sunshine..!!

Joe gets physical…001and busy…007Bit worried about John though…009

Looks like narcolepsy to me…008On the other hand, it could be fatigue or hunger so BB got busy with the bread and the bacon and kept the cups of tea and lucozade coming. Or it could just be acute boredom.

You decide..

Joking aside, they both worked like n*gg**s.

But I can’t say that word.

Getting there…017Cute little 20 footer isn’t it? And much easier on the eye than a neglected old cruiser.

Before you know it…022I have a jetty – no it’s a deck. Hell it’s a dance floor..!!

You will have noticed that I am back under that wonky tree. Oh well, what’s the worst that can happen..?

I am delighted. This has surpassed all my expectations. Thank you men, ever so.

Another session is planned to finish off – daylight hours being a bit precious – I am to have a gas/coal/wood store too. Never bin such times.

I did a bit of titivating today…001Just need to add some winter colour to those pots now.

Table and chairs..? Patio heater..? Rocking chair..?

The possibilities are endless.

What a Difference a Day Makes..

13 Nov

Cue for a song. Another one.

On reading my previous (miserable) post, a friend said “things can only get better” – think New Labour battle song – and I am happy to report that they did. More than one can say for the new labour years.

John responded to my distress call (waking up in tears just isn’t me) and pitched up with Joe (ex US marine with muscles and a thoroughly nice guy) around mid morning on Monday to put Hobo and me in a better place. Physically for Hobo and mentally for me. I think another day on the tilt and without the views I normally enjoy would have seen me rubbing poo in my hair, self-harming in some way or possibly picking a fight with one of the rare breeds that live hereabouts…002No of course I don’t mean the neighbours. BB is not like that.

I don’t care if what they both really wanted was a boat ride, it was well worth it.  A boat ride is always good, even though it was raining and, in this case, stage one in my recovery and gradual return to feeling like the old me.

We donned our wet weather gear and paced the riverbank in an attempt to work out where/how best to place Hobo, then retreated inside to have a meeting about it over coffee/beer. And a warm up/dry out.

With plan firmly established, we set about starting to get Hobo out of her corner. Instantly a neighbour appeared (he must have been hiding in the hedge he was there so quick) enquiring what we were up to and, once up to speed with our little plan, pitching in to help like boaters do.

First job – get the nasty plastic boat nice little cruiser out the way and hauled back as far as poss, which just happened to be under my old wonky willow, no harm intended. Then the neighbour loosed the ropes on the boat I’ve been living in the shadow of, Joe pushed Hobo’s stern out with the boathook and John reversed us out into the river.

And me?

Supervising of course. Not used to the luxury of an extra pair of hands but I could get to like it..

Plenty fending off and then, forward gear engaged and we are go. Already I feel better…untitled - Copy

To put Hobo where she needed to be we had to turn her, meaning at the very least a trip through the nearby lock to find enough width (just below the lock there’s a good place to spin her round).

Our American friend, already taken with the whole narrowboat thing, was loving going down the river on my home, loving having a go on the tiller and a very useful addition to the crew at the lock.

Once through, we parked on the other side and BB built some bacon sarnis. Nothing quite like it when out on the river, even if we were only half a mile away – still feels like the middle of nowhere and freedom.

The light misty rain became heavy drizzle and threatened to do worse so we did our turn and headed back to the mooring. The neighbour did that amazing appearing act again and helped with the ropes, I inched Hobo into the bank towards the spot we’d chosen, dropped off a crew member with a rope then backed her up till she was where we wanted her.


She floats, is level and doors and drawers behaving properly. I can walk in a straight line and things have stopped jumping onto the floor.

I have views to river and land – even a jetty tailor made for rear entry/exit…001Bonus.

In fact I’d go as far to say that she is in a better spot to what she was originally.

OK, having done the risk assessment, front boarding is a little challenging…003Especially when carrying and even more so when the river comes up. Health and Safety would have a field day.

But John is on the case and promises to re-appear soon with wood, wire and the handsome hunk from NY State  (I promise to do pictures girls) to improve this. Easy enough he says, start from the highest point on the bank and build up to the level of the gunwale.

I am keen, given some dry daylight hours, to have a good old clean up, throw out and pretty up. Home sweet home.

So, as I write, I am a very happy boatbird once more and was busy clicking earlier as the sun went down…002And the moon got up…004It’s also good to be able to keep an eye on the coal mountain…001Transported from the yard where the coalie left it and neatly stacked. Saves me from hauling it, painfully, one bag at a time. Thanks again chaps.

This morning the sun shone into the boat and reflected rainbows, from the crystals that hang in the windows, all around the boat. I opened the side hatch to see the river right there and Hobo gently rolled as I moved about. Harmony, balance and my sanity restored.

My world, as it should be.

Where’s Hobo..?

10 Nov

Not here…008On closer inspection of the jetty…007You will see why. Well and truly buggered, for want of a better (printable) word.

I am on a promise, so to speak, and so have agreed to (temporarily) move into a currently, unexpectedly available spot – long story.

A promise of a new jetty, work to be carried out by the hired help at the farm here, under the close supervision of the farm owner – a fearsome lady, not to be messed with. She and I have agreed what needs doing and come up with a plan that suits us both. Between you and me though, I feel the need to keep a close eye on things just in case the temptation to cut corners gets too strong – if you know what I mean.

Hobo’s well-being is vitally important and directly linked to mine. A fact I have known for some time but that has been impressed sharply on me the last few days, since the move. At the moment, Hobo is not happy so neither am I.

So where is she..?011Looks fine on the face of it.

Certainly a good sturdy boarding platform..001But.

You may have spotted that Hobo has a boat on the outside, preventing me from seeing the river and depriving BB of those all important shafts of sunlight – especially precious at this time of year when there is so little of it.

So I don’t get to see the ducks, don’t get rainbows bouncing around the boat, can’t watch boats passing and wave to their drivers. Even first thing when I pop out the cushion from the bedroom porthole it’s depressing. All is see is another boat – no view of the sky, sunshine, rain or whatever. No way of knowing what goes on in the great outdoors, which is something I enjoy contemplating from my bed. Normally.

And as if all that isn’t bad enough, Hobo is aground. Not only is she not floating, which feels weird when you are used to the boat moving gently beneath you as you walk about, but has the effect of making me stagger sideways (floor not level) and anyone watching would think I was drunk – as if. Perhaps I should drink more…

She is listing to port. Quite badly. Enough to swing the stove door shut so, as I fill the shovel with coal, the way into the fire is blocked by the time my shovel-bearing arm gets there. So a simple one-handed job becomes a bit of a schlepp, almost now needing a third hand in order to complete such a simple task. Don’t forget the stove door is bloody hot so you don’t really want to be touching it. I have a system, which suits me, of placing the scuttle on its side on the deck above so I can dig in for a scoopful at a time. I have a friend who can launch a full scuttle at the small opening and deliver a load of coal right where it needs to be. I tried it. Just the once – never again.

So anyway, at Hobo’s current angle, my cleverly placed sideways scuttle rolled to the edge of the doorway, delivering its load (nicely damp coal and dust) right  onto my steps, lounge floor, behind the chair onto the rug. Mess doesn’t cover it.

The cupboard and fridge (also on the starboard side) do similar – as in doors swinging wildly open if I am not careful – and drawers opposite have become difficult to open (pulling against the angle) but slam shut in the blink of an eye…. Mind those fingers!

And it makes it even harder to get out of bed.

This all sounds pretty miserable I know. Of course there is a short term solution and John and I plan to turn her around – hopefully tomorrow.

Her bow (which doesn’t sit so deep in the water) should float and come to rest against this other little jetty…006The boat that was here before, being about 10ft longer than Hobo, would have sat nicely between the two platforms, held off the shelf and would have floated. The hope is that Hobo will too, albeit too challenged in the length department to rest on both. We can only try.

As there’s no sign of furious activity in the building of my new place either, it could be that John and his new-found ex US marine friend – of good solid strong stock by all accounts – end up doing it.

And, as if I haven’t whinged enough already, my current location is as far away from everything as it possibly can be. So even further to haul stuff – shopping, coal, carzy, water hose (now doesn’t reach so have to gypo a couple of short lengths together in order to fill up) and myself – dog dirt alley being currently at its finest just now. Boggy and muddy, not to mention cold.

Oh woe is me.

I do always try to look on the bright side (cue Eric Idle, secured to the cross – sorry if you didn’t see ‘The Life of Brian; you missed a treat and won’t know what I’m on about).

There is a lovely canoe stored in the nettles…003002Which might just have to go walkabout if I am here much longer.

No doubt some of my gloom can be attributed to not being out there on the river – free and footloose And also the onset of winter. The leaves are at last turning and doing their spectacular thing but once they are gone we have those so short days, bitter cold, rain, snow, ice and so much mud to look forward to.

I’ve been trawling through my pictures lately, especially the southern hemisphere ones, one way of getting some sunshine and open spaces…100_1603100_1730SA Summer 2011 and 2012 008Oh… big sigh.

Normal service to be resumed soon I hope.

I will, as ever, keep you posted on (hopefully) tomorrow’s successful re-positioning. It won’t entirely solve the sunlight issue, though should help a bit but, certainly if it re-floats me and my boat, I shall be a whole lot happier.