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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…

IMG_20180420_143548.jpg

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!

 

Making the Most..

3 Apr

Such a lovely spot…IMG-20180330-WA0002.jpg

Especially at silly o’clock with the mist. Needless to say, John took this one while I slumbered on.

We decided to stick around for a day or so. Can’t beat a bit of secluded riverbank. So quiet.

Apart from the odd train…IMG_20180330_153730.jpg

But that’s being in the south east for you. The railway is never far away.

Zoom in a bit…IMG_20180330_154728.jpg

A solar panel. The John, a firm fan of foraging, fancies harvesting this for Hobo’s roof. Bit naughty though.

I am planning to go solar this year – the bought and paid for variety of course. Be a great addition to Hobo’s equipment. Free power – why wouldn’t you?

This is Woody Woodpecker’s wood…IMG_20180330_153817.jpg

Just to complete the picture. See that rain bouncing off the river?

We studied the weather forecasts and decided that Sunday would be a good day to move on. No rain as such on the cards, so we headed upstream.

Just three locks and a steady tootle saw us in Bishop’s Stortford by early afternoon.

There’s a sanitary station there; not the nicest of places but handy if you have a full carzy and/or an empty water tank. Water was OK so I dealt with the former – get all the good jobs me!

To be fair though, John does do the carrying before he beats a hasty and leaves me to do the deed.

Not far from here is the end of the navigation, requiring the boat to be turned. There is a good winding place there, although you end up turning against the flow (quite strong after all the rain) so easier said than done.

There’s also mooring here and a waterside café so you are in the spotlight a bit – at the mercy of the dreaded gongoozlers who, no doubt, would all do a better job!

John drew the short straw but did a damn good job without incident, accident or damage – always a bonus!

Bishop’s Stortford is a nice little market town but, after being in the middle of nowhere for several days and nights, felt like the big city, so we skedaddled right out of there.

The Stort is a fairly unbusy river at the best of times but we’ve barely seen another boat on the move…IMG-20180401-WA0001.jpg

And that suits us fine.

Easter is traditionally the time for boats to start moving again but I think the weather has kept them away. Inclement weather has its uses.

Hobo is running well and we are having a lovely time. Believe it or not, the weather is dry as predicted and not too cold, providing you wrap up well.

The obligatory lock shot…IMG-20180401-WA0002.jpg

Well, Boatbloke has to do something while he waits!

The river must be quiet – we actually managed to tie up above Tednambury – aka sunset lock. A spot that’s previously always been taken…

IMG_20180403_141504.jpg

An old picture from a previous cruise, taken from inside the lock, illustrating the reason we call it sunset lock…

100_1594

So this is where Hobo has been sleeping.

And this is where the John has come to rest…IMG-20180330-WA0003.jpg

A tropical flower.

And me? Mixing the G&Ts of course!

John went off to work this morning and spotted this on the towpath…IMG-20180403-WA0000.jpg

Local wildlife.

My immediate neighbours are a little less delicate…IMG_20180402_153257.jpgIMG_20180402_153232.jpgBlimey, another boat…IMG-20180402-WA0000.jpg

Bloody bad timing! They are going to get very wet working that lock in this lot!

My aft view…IMG_20180403_141545.jpg

And portside…thumbnail_IMG_20180403_161032_stitch

Tomorrow we will slip through the lock and, providing we can still get under the very low railway bridge, be back on Hobo’s mooring in half an hour or so.

Supplies will be replenished – coal, gas, groceries etc – then we’ll be off again on Thursday/Friday.

See you then.

 

 

Snakes Alive..!

21 Jan

Warning: This post does include shocking images and live snake footage, so not for the faint-hearted.

But I’ll start you off gently with some prettiness…IMG-20180110-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180115-WA0001.jpg

IMG-20180115-WA0000.jpgSome mild scariness…IMG-20171229-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180103-WA0000.jpg

And some too close for comfort wild fires…IMG-20180111-WA0000.jpgIMG-20171230-WA0000.jpg

Just over the road. South Africa of course.

But back to the snake story. Our man in that other, warmer hemisphere did say there were a lot of snakes about…IMG-20171129-WA0001.jpgIMG-20171211-WA0000.jpgIMG-20180118-WA0000.jpgWhatsApp Image 2017-11-10 at 17.27.45

You may need to big up some of the pictures though to actually see them.

Most of these pics were sent to me with a caption – can you spot the snake? Wasted no end of time / gave me hours of fun. Hope it does the same for you.

You ready for the big one?

Sure?

Sure you’re sure?

OK, here it comes…

 

Bet you didn’t have one of those in your Christmas tree..!

John is well known for his snake handling ability and often gets roped into catching and removing unwanted ones. He’s very fond of them and always returns them to somewhere suitable for the snake and far away from where it wasn’t wanted. So, be assured that no snake was harmed in the making of this video.

Loving the health and safety footwear.

Now, in order to soothe your nerves, I shall break with tradition and bombard you with cute, cuddly cat images…

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-10 at 17.26.54IMG-20171208-WA0000.jpgIMG-20171221-WA0000.jpgIMG-20171218-WA0000.jpgIMG-20171217-WA0001.jpgIMG-20180115-WA0002.jpgIMG-20180111-WA0001.jpgAnd a couple of battle-scarred ones…IMG-20171224-WA0001.jpgIMG-20171224-WA0000.jpg

Aw..

Meet Ginger. Thought to be feral and refusing to be sociable with other humans in the neighbourhood, but succumbed to John’s cat whispering technique.

He likes to hang about with John in the bus and garden and even goes walking in the bush with him.  A great companion.

I want one now! A ship’s cat.

I always said I wouldn’t; litter trays and all that on a boat – no way. But, if anyone knows of a boat trained/water-loving/ever so cute one that is able to swim and use what would pass as a cat-flap on board and just happens to be looking for an exciting new home…

Hobo and I are surviving all that the elements can throw at us – even the wind which can be a bit wild on a boat – especially if everything isn’t tied up or nailed down. But I learned that the hard way. It’s amazing what can be blown off the roof if not suitably secured!

We were separated, Hobo and me, between 23/12 and 02/01 while I did a house sit. A nice little earner and some unaccustomed luxury for me, but poor Hobo suffered and was freezing cold and damp on my return. A few kind words and a roaring fire soon saw me forgiven though.

And, in case you were wondering, all the weird shit seems to have stopped now. Bugger, shouldn’t have said that out loud..

This was the culprit that took out my 12 volt…IMG_20171223_132252.jpg

A burned out in-line fuse located at the back of the fuse box which, despite all my investigations and those of helpful neighbours, proved elusive. I ended up fetching a friend from Huntingdon who knows Hobo’s wiring intimately and, indeed, fitted it in the first place – a belt and braces measure.

It took him all of two minutes to uncover AND fix. Thank you Steve. It’s so good to have normal service resumed.

And, in other news…

Mud. That’s pretty much it.

 

 

 

 

Vernal Equinox

20 Mar

I couldn’t wait for spring to begin

When daffs are yellow and mood is mellow…100_0650

The days are longer, the sun is stronger

There is no doubt  that the mud will dry out…006 (14)

Meaning less welly boots and lots of green shoots

Now it’s starting to start and lifting my heart

Restoring some pep; a spring in my step

Boats reappear as they do every year…004

What could be wrong with floating along?

And I really oughta get out on the water

I’m longing to cruise and shake off the blues

That come with the weather and being a’tether

There’s no earthly reason with the new season

That Hobo should be still stuck on the quay…022

So let’s be a boater and fire up the motor

Chug off down the river the tiller a’quiver

So there’s cleaning to do; much maintenance too

But won’t let that delay, me getting away

I’ll dust off the crew, boatbird’s cap too…Picture of me 1

It’ll be great, me and first mate…DSCN1437

Back in the groove and back on the move.

Ran out of rhyme…

So here’s to spring – says she, glass in hand. Happens every year but still I marvel at lighter mornings and longer days. It never ceases to delight.  I think it’s all those gloomy, short days and lack of daylight that, come March, has us longing for change.

And the mud. Anyone who lives or spends time in the countryside will appreciate how it can get one down.

In my case, there’s the trek from boat to car (and vice-versa) across what I lovingly refer to as dog-dirt alley. Wet winters mean constant mud, bogginess, flooding at times and forever climbing in and out of wellies.

No matter how hard I try, the gloop always wheedles its way into the car, onto the boat and somehow gets onto my clothes too. The thought of going out and back without having to don/shed layers of clothes and changing in and out of rubber boots fills me with joy. Can’t wait.

Last Thursday was the first time in ages that I went out in normal footwear. Didn’t last but, hopefully, a sign of things to come. Soon.

Mustn’t grumble though. The old Morso Squirrel stove has, as usual, served me well, kept me warm and cheered me up. It’s also pretty damn good at boiling a kettle, simmering soup/stew, toasting crumpets, warming the wellies and drying the washing overnight…

Toasy

But every silver lining has a cloud – it also makes a lot of mess so soon I shall have to start on the spring cleaning. Washing ceiling, walls, curtains – anything that doesn’t move really. I did buy cheap, throwaway mats this time so once the weather properly improves they are all in the bin.

So I shall be busy, one way or another, but be back soon.

Ijsvogel

27 Nov

Pronounced I-c-e-v-o-g-u-l and translates to Icebird for those non-Dutch speakers among us. It’s the original name of the little boat and not one that John feels he could live with. I think, he being a tropical flower, it’s the ice part he has trouble with.

Tradition/superstition has it that it’s OK to change a boat’s name when out of the water so, if he ever makes up his mind which name that might be, it won’t bring bad luck.

Remember when we waded on board in those early days of just having acquired the little boat… ?100_3100

Well amongst all the watery wetness, we found a handwritten letter from the first owner to the one before John…001

How lovely, what a find, and joins up a few dots. There were also some old photographs of her build, launch, test run and subsequent trips on the water. Shame about the missing engine room pic – would have answered a few questions. Water damaged and curly edged, we rescued these and stowed in a safe place – ie Hobo – until such a time that we (I) could be bothered to scan them on to the computer.

Having found that time yesterday afternoon (and shelled out on a new printer/copier/scanner to replace my old defunct one) I am now in a position to share these with you.

It’s quite something to have just these few pics – a little bit of her history.

This one shows the armature construction in April 1976, according to the back of the snap…IMG_20141126_0007

Sadly, many of the build shots were too damaged; hard to make out from the photo so wouldn’t scan so well I figured.

These show her being loaded for transport – November 1976 – to the river Kennet…IMG_20141126_0006

IMG_20141126_0005The hull, engine and cabin completed.

And her trial run on the Kennet…IMG_20141126_0002

Also November ’76. What a beauty and cutting along by the looks.

The sharp end is quite different now…IMG_20140530_133436

Much needed extra cabin space having been created by the previous owner. This makes the bow tiny from the outside – barely standing room – but does make a much more usable space inside…

As she is now…IMG_20141117_210515
IMG_20141126_180045

A lovely space for the John. He’s gradually putting his stamp on it by adding a desk, restoring the little stove which works very nicely..IMG_20141126_180110And John’s hand-crafted chimney doing the business…
IMG_20141124_090507

And will look the business too, once he adds the copper strips.

There’s many ideas/good intentions/plans/stuff still to do in the cosmetics department but all this has to take a back seat until the major things have been dealt with. Notably the engine and hull.

Much has gone on that can’t be seen: like pulling 12 and 240 volt wires through, connecting (after first unblocking) the fuel lines and painting the under-bed storage spaces white – and filling them with stuff. It makes such a difference when you are looking for something under there.

And of course, that perennial problem with boats, finding somewhere to put everything. Just his tools would fill an aircraft carrier. Twice over.

But it’s coming.

On this one, back in the day, the sailing mast is visible…IMG_20141126_0003

And here in use for a family trip on the river Kennett, summer 1977…IMG_20141126_0004

You’ll note that windows have been added by now.

Much of the work that John is gradually now doing is of the not very photogenic variety. As in the engine. He’s found a couple of snags – things sticking that shouldn’t stick and bits that should be bolted on that aren’t. He’s just discovered that it’s the fuel pumps that are jamming up the works, so they’ll be taken to bits now and inspected.

He’s very methodical and takes great pains, which is good, to ensure all is as it should be before he winds her up. Thus avoiding any calamities. Both dying to hear her going though and hoping that the Lister sounds good and is as bombproof as we think it is.

So, we have the proof that she floated and ran once upon a time. Lets just hope she will again. Soon.

At the End of the Day…

14 Nov

The end of this day…100_2389

Looked a whole lot better than the beginning.

A beginning that saw me – wellies on and hood up – squelching through the mud down at dog-dirt. In the rain. It was that wet sort of rain, falling steadily, just as I was off to my little early morning job. Nice.

I have no picture of this morning. Not inspired to capture this particular element as I was being attacked by it. And it was before 07.30 and I’m really not at my best then.

To make up for that, here is another shot of last light tonight. Ever so slightly different view…100_2390

From my front door.

Nothing more than that really. Just wanted to share the moment.

Walking on Water

7 Jul

Hobo, the John and BB are now back on the riverbank and once again floating/walking on water. So to speak.

Marvellous. All is as it should be in boatbirdland and life carries on as (I almost hesitate to say) normal.

I may have told you that John is doing a little work on the farm here and, being multi-talented as he is, his daily tasks vary enormously. Just the way he likes it.

It could be anything from rowing dinner across the river…010 (2)

 

012013015To the Highlands that live over there…017

To pulling a boat out and up the slipway…IMG_20140628_103816

And parking it. Somewhere amongst all the other projects that live on the hard.

Or it might be building a donkey shelter…002

Very friendly donkeys who just love their new shelter…IMG_20140703_185331

Which doubles as a scratching post it seems.

Or dog kennel/run…025

This is his first; the second even sports a porthole. They just get better and there’s more to build. A career in canine architecture.

All made from old wood that has accumulated here over the years. John loves to work with old wood and is making good use of everything that can be found here – sometime he’s re-cycling parts of old wooden boats that came to rest here.

I like that thought – their lives to continue and remain useful, albeit in another guise.

And BB?

Just the usual and when I’m not out at work I’ve been sky gazing…001_stitch 002

009Been some interesting ones of late. Incredible.

Feeding Swannee River…017018015016

He will also take food from your hand, quite gently, but a little tricky to photograph.

Or practising Pilates. Or strumming my guitar – or trying to.

Or cutting the nails of my left hand in order to be able to hold down the strings. Yes, I’ve sacrificed a very handy set of (fast-growing) tools to this cause so I must be serious about it.

BB has also been tending the garden…004

Which has been a picture, with the flowering beans and marigolds.

Sadly, the radishes pretty much all bolted. Shame as they are my current obsession and I go through 9-10 supermarket packs a week! Will keep trying.

I’ve eaten the first of the courgettes…006

Yummy and more to follow.

And the broad beans look ready now…005

The colours have been glorious…009

Just waiting for the nasturtiums to do their thing…014

They’ve started…013

012Funny, I thought I bought red ones.

And Gerry, as ever, stands proud on the bow…015

And his brother…010

Trailing from the roof. Waiting for a neat John- style box to live in.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers…011

For John.

Loving the old clay pot (a slag-heap find) complete with moss.

I’ve also been watching the little birdies…017

Which of course do a disappearing act the minute I even think about thinking about switching on the camera. They have been here though – trust me, I’m a boatbird – now we’ve sussed out how to magpie-proof the fat balls by putting them behind bars.

Does anyone know what this is…?100_2226 100_2227

Not just an ordinary dandelion. Seen at the seaside.

Or this…?IMG_20140627_142334

A most unusual poppy, sprouting magnificently from the muck heaps.

All that AND I’ve managed to put in a few hours on the little boat – MAINSTAY/TITANIC/GYPSY/PHOEBE whatever, still can’t choose. Pics and progress report to follow in the next update. Suffice to say that she’s coming along and proving to be a super, comfy, functional space that is very… John.

Speaking of concrete boats…

A very good friend of mine informed me that there was a community of concrete boat liveaboards at Burnham-on-Crouch. So, always hankering after a visit to the Essex coast, off we trotted by way of research.

Never one to give a bum steer, my old mate came up trumps again.

Though they were all on a completely different scale to our own little version, there was something about them… 100_2222

Individual…100_2224

100_2217 100_2223 100_2220Rustic…100_2216

This one had gorgeous gardens…100_2221

Fore…100_2219

And aft…100_2218

And charming…

100_2215A work in progress with tricky boarding. From instantly hating it, this one has become my favourite. Don’t ask me why.

Take a closer look at that jetty…100_2215

The more observant ones among you may have noticed that not all these boats were concrete – the odd steel one having snuck in.

We had hoped to pick the brains of the occupants but saw no-one about. Must have all been passed out inside out at work. It was a Wednesday afternoon; I suppose most good folk would be.

We spotted another project…100_2225

Beached across the water.

We’d also wanted to see where the Chelmer/Blackwater joined the sea so, after a quick bit of smartphone googling, we headed off to Maldon. A lock-side pub called to us so we sat awhile there before strolling along the beautiful, clear river, taking in the different craft moored there, the wildlife and generally breathed it all in.

Aaaah! Lovely day out.

Back at the funny farm, I’ve made a fabulous new feline friend but more of that in the next post.

Oh alright then…

008

Just a taster.

 

 

Bottoms Up!

30 Jun

Hobo has a very nice bottom. It’s official.

Three weeks ago now, we had the old girl pulled out of the water to have her bottom re-blacked. The last time this was done was four years ago now (and four years before that, just before I bought her). This is probably twice as long as recommended but, I’m happy and relieved to say, that she has fared well – despite mental pictures of lace curtains that haunted me as the day approached.

But none of that – she is fine and in very good shape.

Her first two ‘outings’ were at Welford’s dry dock where I believe they did a splendid job. This time, Welford being so far to cruise to when you are constrained by having to go out to work, it seemed favourite to make use of the facilities here – ie the slipway with its bomb trolley, as John calls it, and the  excellent workmanship of Andy and Jess.

We’ve witnessed their handiwork on many occasions; business here picking up no end since they took on this service. No surprise really as they do a brilliant job.

I was at work when they decided to pull her out and couldn’t wait for me to get back – time and tide waiting for no man (or even boatbird it seems)  – other boats already lining up to take their turn. So I authorised John to skipper the operation to drive her up the slipway. Not that I had any fears on that score; just a bit miffed to miss the event.

Perhaps as well. I can turn into a real old woman when it comes to Hobo’s well-being. And driving into the yard to see her sitting safely atop the trolley on the slipway was a huge relief…003

As Jess made a start on scraping off the sludge…001

Andy pronounced Hobo a very well made boat and her hull in great condition. Music to my ears.

I always thought she was a good boat but there’s nothing like hearing it from someone that knows about these things and is totally unbiased.

They set about grinding her back to the metal, observing strict health and safety regs of course…011

Even the, now eight year old, anodes had stood up well…010

But I decided to add four new ones…008

As I didn’t think they’d go another four years.

On closer inspection, there was one place that caused concern, this being on the waterline where the red stripes around the stern…004 (2)

As much as I wanted to keep this traditional cream over red design, I conceded it would be prudent to lose this to further bitumen. Really quite nasty pitting so best get rid.

Protection over cosmetics every time.

And here it is gone…007 (2)

After all, I can always re-instate it at a later date if I feel so inclined.

Actually, I’m quite liking the green stripe that has been used for masking – called frog tape and apparently brilliant.

On the bow too…009 (2)

We shall see. More work to bring the superstructure up to scratch first though.

I’m getting more and more ideas for decoration and I reckon, by the time Hobo is tiddled up enough and ready for some artistry, I shall have a plan.

The truly marvellous thing when it comes to slipway versus dry dock is that boatbird can still live aboard while work is carried out, courtesy of some giant steps…002

The noise and dust is a bit of a pain but that stops in the evening so not all bad. I do struggle to walk half sharp when she’s not floating though. Feels so weird.

We were so lucky with the weather – the whole three days were glorious, sunny and, most importantly, dry. Well done, for once, to whoever arranges the weather. Just check out that sky…023

Not forgetting the good old digger that pulled her up and kept her there…024

My rudder and propeller. Before…009

And after…008 (2)

Minus the tangle of wire/weed/whatever.

The team in action…001 (2)

Supervised by the John…002 (2)

Looking good now the paint is going on.

Notice which gender isn’t standing around/watching/chatting?

That said, they both grafted furiously. Indeed, once we saw how hard they worked, any guilt at not having done it ourselves (and saving loadsamymoney) simply evaporated. We conceded we are just too old disinclined to undertake that level of physical effort.

A view from afar…

018

Because I can.

There’s even a short/boring/vaguely amusing video of Hobo as she comes off the slip – I was present for this – but I’m too mean to upgrade this site so it can’t be shown here. Maybe I’ll just post it on fishface instead.

There was a bonus too. My kitchen sink has been bloody useless decidedly inefficient since day 1. Any waste drained (or not) into the u-bend then into a thinner pipe, which actually went uphill – I may have mentioned this before – a right royal pain in the arse.

Being on the hard was the perfect time to work on her so we did just that. With Andy’s advice and a borrow of his tools, John drilled another hole (eek) in Hobo’s hull (lower and larger than the previous one) to take a 38mm skin fitting, this being provided by a kind neighbour who just happened to have one going spare. This then linked to a larger hose, pointing downhill, we did away with the u-bend altogether and BINGO – the water now actually drains away. Quickly.  Along with any gunk I happen to carelessly throw down it.

And John has plumbed it in such a way I even have more under-sink cupboard space, which on a narrowboat is back of the net.

All in all a pleasant experience. And you can’t always say that about routine maintenance.