About Bloody Time..

30 Mar

I’m not about to share with you just how long it’s been since Hobo was let off the leash but, trust me, it’s far too long.

I worried that Hobo had become known as HMS Neverbudge..!

I could offer all manner of excuses/reasons but I won’t. Let’s just say that life got in the way. Like it does.

The good news is…IMG-20180327-WA0000.jpg

We are out now and loving it!

State of that roof!

But that’s a part of why we needed to get off the mooring – to find a spot where I can clean off the winter’s grime.

OK, so we only cruised about an hour – including a lock…IMG-20180327-WA0003.jpgIMG-20180327-WA0002.jpgIMG-20180327-WA0001.jpg

Before we lost the light and moored up – probably less than a mile from base, but that’s really all it takes. A new view from the window and a new perspective on life.

If you ignore the roof for a mo, John has kindly captured Hobo’s good side. The other one, that sleeps under the willow tree, is pretty grim.

There was the odd battery drama in the days leading up to our escape, but hey, all sorted soon enough…with a little bit of help from my friends. Hobo’s engine sounds as sweet as a nut, no doubt enjoying a run as much as me.

Yes, so the John is back for the time being and we are making the most of it. Or we will, if the rain stops for long enough!

It finally cleared up late Wednesday afternoon, turning into a super evening. We decided to tootle a little further downstream, then turn and see how far upstream we could get before we lost the light.

This is the spot…IMG-20180328-WA0000.jpg

Where we moored on Wednesday evening. Gorgeous eh?

Gotta get on that roof and scrub…

I saw a barn owl in flight soon after we tied up, and heard the woodpecker hammering away in the wood, just out of shot to the left, on Thursday morning.

How good is that?

Friday afternoon now and still here. Still raining.

Maybe move again later, if the weather improves. Or maybe I should spray some fairy liquid on the roof and make the most of the rain…

There’s a thought.

Be sure to let you know when/where to next.




Time for a re-boot..?

19 Feb

I may be being a little bit previous and don’t want to jump the gun or do whatever the opposite of hedging one’s bets is (rash? intrepid?) but am considering a re-boot here in Boatbird land.

That’s not anything to do with computers by the way – far from it. No, it’s a simple waiving of the wellingtons in favour of something a little less rubbery and cumbersome. The replacements will still have to be sturdy and functional. They’ll still need to be waterproof, so the Uggs are out and, preferably, something that the jeans will tuck into the tops of. Mud is, at the moment, still an issue here at dog-dirt alley, albeit receding slightly.

BB has a very suitable fur lined leather pair, which fit the bill quite nicely. They are waterproof, moderately trendy and dead comfy. If only I could remember where the hell I put them! They won’t be in deep storage at this time of year but clearly out of sight and in some clever hidey-hole on board…somewhere. I shall have to go hunt the boot before I can re-boot.

OK, so we’re a long way off from plimmies and flip-flops but, forgive me, it’s a big deal for the riverbank boat dweller, even the merest hint of not needing to be constantly constrained by sensible footwear that you have to be forever changing into and out of. Or, in my case, be stylishly sporting down the High Street here in Sawbo central.

You cannot fail to have noticed that the last few days have been positively spring-like. Apologies to those of you living in a less clement part of the UK, that is the north and west, but here in the south east, at least, it has been glorious – off and on – and I’m struggling to contain my optimism. I’ve even been out without a coat…

The bulbs I stuck into boxes in autumn are shooting and hope to soon have some spring flowers adorning the deck, not to mention some pics worth taking.  Amazing really, considering the local wildlife were having a field day digging them up as fast as I could put them in.

Speaking of wildlife and pics worth taking – South African style…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.33.51

Leopard claw marks. Close to where John had been exploring – in the wilds of Toast River.

He found a  natural spring…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.29.30WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.30.21

And…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.28.10WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.38.51

Back in Bot River…WhatsApp Image 2018-01-22 at 17.45.41

Edible fruit that no-one knows the name of.

Big game…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-02 at 16.43.18


Birdlife…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-16 at 16.12.55WhatsApp Image 2018-02-16 at 08.52.18

Buzzard and heron came calling by the bus.

A baby weaverbird…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-16 at 16.20.28WhatsApp Image 2018-02-16 at 16.12.12

That flew into and couldn’t get out of the bus.

Birds love to feed on John’s sunflowers…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-15 at 11.33.00

And drink at his bar.

Obligatory cute cat pics…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-15 at 12.02.43WhatsApp Image 2018-02-15 at 11.09.47

More wild fires…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-05 at 17.33.29

This one too close for comfort – just across the road.

Ash on the steps of the local store…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-05 at 17.35.25

Damage to local scrappie…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-05 at 17.33.06

Cape Town and thereabouts…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-18 at 16.09.23

Disused quarry.


What’s Hobo doing there? Surely not rushing!

More like art…WhatsApp Image 2018-02-11 at 14.16.12

Love this.

And that’s all from the SA album for now.

Finally, back on the water, I so want one of these…


And have challenged John to make one for Hobo’s stove.


Writing course tutors urge their students to bury newly written work for a day or so before submission/publication; editing then being more objective.Being the good little student I am, that’s what I did with this post. Which is just as well because it has rained all night and day, so it seems I was indeed being a little rash and it looks like I’ll be booting up once more…IMG_20180219_153733.jpg







In the wellies.


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 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


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.






21 Dec

Tell me now, just what IS going on?

It’s happened before. And it’s happening again – right now.

You ever have those times when everything conspires to confound you? Sure you do.

Those times when everything goes awry and life’s normal rhythm goes to pieces and stuff breaks/stops working/blows up in your face.

It started with the specs: the ones I now know I can’t do without – despite constant denial on my part. They fell in half. So now I can’t see sharp to do almost everything I need to. Great. But, with a little help from my friendly optician and the Royal Mail, a temporary repair involving a drill, paperclip and super glue was expertly effected.

Then it was the car’s engine management light. Last time it came on it signalled a hole in the radiator – lots of steam and drama. This time though the temperature gauge stayed dead on normal so I bravely/stupidly continued on my 90 mile journey (to the wife of afore-mentioned optician and my dear friend), with one eye glued to said gauge. And at a considerably slower speed than my norm. Not a good feeling. Made it though. The next day we travelled into Leicester for eye test and to order new specs – stronger lenses required – and to acquire  new frame for current lenses, which will act as a spare pair in the future. Good plan, even if the horse has bolted.

And the EML went out yesterday as mysteriously as it went on.

Next up was the big freeze, which stopped my propane gas regulator from working. No gas = no oven or hob and no hot water.  So cups of tea or coffee/hot meals/showering out of the question.  It didn’t last long but is now wrapped up and covered to prevent any repetition.

Yesterday morning  saw a total 12 volt failure on board, meaning no lights or pumps. Shame it had to happen as I was all lathered up in the shower though… When the water pump packs up it means the water boiler stops working so the shower goes cold and then stops altogether. And, as if receiving a cold shock and being unable to rinse isn’t bad enough, the pump that takes the water out of the shower tray doesn’t.

But BB is a coper, so I cope. Last night I had a lovely candlelit boat and music playing. The TV and radio are powered by 240 volt but the booster required to get a half decent signal is – of course – 12 volt. The Squirrel stove is powered by coal so I was warm and cosy and, as a friend pointed out, G&T’s require no power to produce…

I resolved to investigate the lack of 12 volt this morning in daylight and couldn’t be arsed last night in the dark. And I was feeling mellow with all the candles/G&T/music etc. I will report my findings when I find them… I am off to the engine room in a mo.

I am left wondering what’s next though.

Well, for a start, today is the Winter Solstice and that can only be good news and  more worthy of celebrating than the C word in my book. Could be the pagan in me or maybe perhaps the fact that days will now start to get longer, a minute a day and rising to two minutes plus come January. And that can only be good.

So happy solstice shipmates!

An arrival..

29 Nov

As we pulled into Hartford Marina I, at the helm, was nervous…

I knew a few people there and felt under pressure to not look a total twat be in control, appear competent, to glide serenely by.

There was a small plastic boat in front of the arrow that showed the way to the sales pontoon, where I was to report, so I chugged unknowingly down a blind alley. On trying to turn around I, to my eternal shame, bashed one of the moored boats, panicked, leaned on the throttle and fled.

As I was explaining to Lorna how I missed the big red arrow, we passed said yoghurt pot on which a man was fishing. He laughed and said it was he who’d inadvertently sent me the wrong way…and sort of sniggered.

So, rather than a landing, it was an arrival – as they say in aviation circles. My only hope was that everyone was comatose/out to lunch/gone fishing or seriously not paying attention. (No-one ever mentioned this incident but I suspect it was very quickly the subject of the towpath telegraph.)

We eventually tied up in the appropriate place where  a friend and new neighbour was waiting to greet us – I’d texted him our ETA – and his young daughters presented me with a card and bottle of sloe gin. What a welcome!

I checked in and was given a choice of two berths (adjacent) so decided to decide which one when we got there and crashed slipped into the one that was easiest to negotiate. No more heroics today. A neighbour appeared, grabbed the ropes and tied us up. We shook hands and he offered help if needed – now or at any time.

How nice was that?

Little did I know that within the hour I’d be knocking on his boat because all my electrics had failed. He was as good as his word and sorted it out. My batteries were dead and I would need to buy a battery charger, which he would fit for me.

We’d had problems during our journey there. We’d cruise all day but the lights would dim soon after we moored up. I should have twigged the batteries were knackered but, like I said, I was a complete muppet novice.

Rewind a little to when Lorna and I stopped in March on the Fens. We went to the Tesco Express there for top-ups and look for candles. Couldn’t find any so Lorna suggested I should ask. Having already come to the conclusion that we must look like a couple of dykes on a dyke there was no way I was asking for candles!

Funny looks all around as we collapsed in fits of giggles. Fen folk can’t help looking funny – don’t be rude! We didn’t immediately take to March but I’ve been back to the Fens many times since and love it. Old-fashioned shops, totally barking charming people and those great big skies.

Marina life was great. It was like a village down my pontoon, a real community; friendly and helpful. Despite my car being parked only a hop, skip and a jump from the boat, it could take hours to get home. That’s because everyone chatted to you. And by the time you did get to the boat, it was only to fetch a chair and a glass because you’d been invited to the pontoon party.

Drinking and boating do seem to go hand in hand and some were better at it than others. I won’t name names but they were the ones who (if they were lucky) fell in the hedge on the way back from the pub/club – or the lake if they weren’t. But there was always someone on hand to fish them out or check they’d made it safely back to their boat after a session.

Bit of a theme emerging. But it’s not all about the booze. Really.

Every time I entered the marina on my return from work, one look at the lake and my shoulders dropped down from around my ears and, more often than not, audibly sighed. And it didn’t take me long to figure out that work was getting in the way of my life. I actually enjoyed the boatie chores, even the more unpleasant ones. It all made me feel so alive, in charge of my own destiny and much more in tune with nature and the elements.

That first summer was hot hot hot and people jumped off their roofs and swam in the lake. Evenings were abuzz with folk who chatted for England, BBQ’d, strummed and sang, making the most of those long, hot, sultry evenings.

The flip side of this was the winter, though even this was special for me. I learned how to keep my woodstove going 24/7 and that if you had a brilliant neighbour as I did, he’d rev it up when he returned from work (around 4pm) so it was toasty for me when I got back around 7pm. He even put a kettle on top so there was boiling water ready for a cuppa.

We became good friends and often cooked for each other, swapped stories and had many a good laugh. He taught me tons about boat life, maintenance, safety, how to tie knots and which to use where.  He worked on my boat as and when necessary – electrics, plumbing, stove and flue work and even fitted a new kitchen for me. And, in Billy-no-mates times, he’d crew for me.

I think it was the winter of 2009/2010 when the temperatures really plummeted. Minus 17 at one point. Water taps on the pontoon froze for days…


And I became adept at water conservation. Who needs to wash anyway?

The marina became magical…

Austere beauty at the marina63Iced in at the marina

And, to the untrained eye, boats looked cold and icy…

Winter in the marina-but cosy inside

But look close to see swirls of smoke from the chimneys and know that those in side were cosy and snug, so warm in fact that sometimes doors and hatches were thrown open and clothes discarded in order to cool down. True. Ask any liveaboard. And the smell of wood smoke is right up there with freshly cut grass and coffee brewing.

I always felt safe and secure on Hobo but new noises would  dement me until I could identify them. One that took me a long time was the ducks nibbling on the bottom of the boat – I was convinced for ages that I had hobnail – booted rats in the bilge or a body banging against the hull.

That winter we were all frozen in with sheets of ice inches thick…

Swans and their cygnets walking on water

Giving rise to another previously unheard sound. It was a weird one, sort of underwater and echoey. Spooky. It wasn’t until I spotted a chap across the water attacking the ice with a pole that I cottoned on. He was breaking up the ice so it didn’t damage the hull. Strange how sound travels under water.

The Great Ouse is a fabulous river for cruising; all the way to Bedford upstream and Denver Sluice downstream, with many, many lovely stops along the way. Truth is you don’t have to go very far at all to be somewhere completely different with lovely views, pubs, villages and walks. But that’s the beauty of boats. They move.

There are several tributaries – the Lark, the Little Ouse/Brandon Creek, the Wissey and the Cam – all ripe for exploring. Which we did. But that’s for another time…

For me, those four years in that marina were an ideal start to life on board. I made good friends there, who educated and nurtured me. I was safe, happy and had found the perfect lifestyle for me.

Until I got the urge that is to let go the ropes/unhook the umbilical …

Unplugging the Umbilical

And head for the big,  wide, watery world out there.

P.S. Great that so many of you wanted to hear more of my early adventures. Thank you both.


Boatbird’s beginnings..

22 Nov

I’ve never talked here about my previous life on land, before boatbird was born and, don’t worry, I’m not about to now.

It’s just that this picture popped up on my facebook page today…


You know how they do – ‘your memories on  facebook’, ‘we care about your memories’. Blah de blah. I do remember the occasion but choose to forget that chubbier version of me.

FB says this was from ten years ago but I dispute this. It was eleven years plus –  July 2006 to be precise. I remember it well. Moored outside the pub at Littleport, where we met up with my brother for lunch/to show Hobo off. It was such an exciting time for me, having just bought my boat and in the middle of an incredible journey to move it to its new mooring.

I knew nothing about boats then, let alone how to drive one. Looking back, I was lucky not to have bought a heap of junk, but I just knew I wanted to embark on this way of life. At least I was sharp enough to know I knew nothing, take some advice from boatie folk, which mostly consisted of ‘Stop thinking about it. Just do it’. And, courtesy of my niece, hooked up with a colleague of hers who might be able to help me move her.

Lorna came to meet with me and Hobo, had a chat, a nice lunch at Welford Wharf and a mini cruise along the Welford arm. We all hit it off and, despite my obvious ineptitude, she agreed to help and a date was set. July 1st it was!

Exciting times!

I furnished Hobo with what I thought was necessary to see us through the two week journey, booked the time off work and was totally puzzled by studied the river maps kindly provided by friend Malcolm.

Tools and equipment were acquired, largely by guesswork, and included new ropes, a big pole and a cupboard full of booze. My niece had told me that Lorna like the odd glass of something alcoholic but, as she hadn’t specified exactly what, I bought a  shed load little of everything.

We met at the boat on the day, went off and did a huge food shop and readied ourselves for what was to come. The Wharf manager fuelled her up, Lorna carried out the pre-flight checks while I panicked watched and learned.

It was a very steep learning curve for me but Lorna was a good teacher and I soon became proficient on the helm, at the locks and emptying the carzy.

I was blissfully ignorant Everything was new to me  – a great big adventure – and I loved every minute.

Our route took us down the Welford arm and onto the Grand Union, then the Northampton arm to the River Nene…

A friendly wave on the NeneThat perfect mooringSwans and cygnets


The Middle Levels…Floods Ferry sunsetFlax field at Floods FerryMarmont Priory-sunset

The tidal crossing from Salter’s Lode to Denver Sluice and the Great Ouse…

Ouse-Pike and EelOld West-StreathamThe old bridge at St. Ives

It took us thirteen days in all to reach Hartford Marina near Huntingdon – Hobo’s new home and my new life – a journey that takes about an hour by road.

But what a journey it was. A journey in every sense of the word – physical, emotional, educational and then some. Those two weeks at the beginning of July 2006 were in the middle of a heatwave and we burned to a crisp tanned beautifully, arriving at our final destination looking like we’d just come from the tropics.

Malcolm popped up randomly during our journey, always at the end of the phone and ready to provide us with anything we needed: more booze/chocolate/name of local boat mechanic/whatever. He once walked for miles in the rain, to a particularly inaccessible spot, to deliver a case of Bud. What a hero!

Lorna and I also became firm friends on that trip. The booze cupboard was a resounding success and inspired themed evenings: beer night/gin night/Pimms night/cocktail night etc. We really did get regularly shitfaced have the time of our lives and made memories that will haunt us forever last us a lifetime.

This is but a small excerpt of life before this boatbird became fully fledged…

Did you know....

But there’s much more to tell if you want to hear it…



Bongo Bongo Land..

29 Oct

No, not me. I’m not in Bongo Bongo land. Not this time. John is doing solo.

Shame. You know how I hate it here on the river. But BB is toughing it out, womanfully enduring all that this awful lifestyle throws at her: cold/damp/cramped/miserable. Rueing the day…

Stop this silliness. You know I’m only kidding right..?

OK, so some of his pics make me a tad envious…IMG-20171022-WA0004.jpg

MoonAnd hanker for those – oh so – wide open spaces.

But then, I rather like my unique view of the moon…IMG_20171029_173625.jpg

Through the round window.

And it only takes one good English sunset over the river…


To make it all alright.

I confess to some nostalgia when I see the old bus…IMG-20171011-WA0000.jpg

IMG-20171020-WA0000.jpgReal rustic charm.

But my coal mountain…IMG_20171006_103653.jpg

Trumps his woodpile.

Yes, it is hot there but still needs a little burn up…Toasty at Toast Riveer

Of an evening.

This taken at the house of the first-born. As are these…Flea's place

Spot the dog

IMG-20171022-WA0001.jpgComplete with living roof.

And a solar cooker…IMG-20171022-WA0000.jpg

In which they bake bread, believe it or not.

Some local flora…

black-eyed susn

Black-eyed Susan.

pride of madeira

Pride of Madeira.weaver bird tree

And a Weaver bird tree.

As far as neighbours go – here vs there…

Nothing in it.

He’s been busy clearing the land at Bot River.

And…water tank

Working on the water supply.

As has his mate Ian…IMG-20171022-WA0002.jpg

Maybe not so practical, but interesting.

John is in PE just now with his father, who is doing very well.

As are his nasturtiums…IMG-20171023-WA0000.jpg

Clearly, I can’t compete…IMG_20171025_151752.jpg

Gives me loads of joy though.

He is planning a fishing trip.

In this…IMG-20171026-WA0000.jpg

Good luck with that.




Must-haves for a boatbird..

3 Sep

Totally top of this boatbird’s list of must-haves is a working wood stove in winter…


And sometimes not necessarily just in winter. Call me a wimp but I don’t do cold so the trusty hot box was fired up earlier this year. In July ffs.

On a more seasonably warmer day when the burning cupboard wasn’t required, I heard the unmistakable sound of the door popping open. Odd; especially as I was nowhere near it and neither was anyone else. Spooky.

And, annoyingly, it would not stay closed. Consensus is that old age and heavy use (allegedly to the point of blistering the external paintwork) had worn down the latch…IMG_20170903_154704

To the point that it won’t… latch that is.

The baffle plate also needed replacing, the flue pipe needed re-sealing where it enters the stove via the collar, chimney needed sweeping and the whole lot would benefit from a stiff rub down and re-paint.

Given the chilly evenings, it needed to be pretty soon.

I’ve been onto Jones Boatyard, my trusty chandlers, who were as usual most generous with their time and knowledge, helping me with the diagnostics. They may be in Cambridgeshire – an hour’s drive away these days – but still top of my pops when it comes to a bit of old-fashioned service.

They’re here

They agreed that it was a wear and tear issue and ordered a new latch, to be delivered to them the next day. I tootled off up to St. Ives on receiving their call to collect this and other parts I’d ordered – and pick their brains some more.

I took the door assembly with me because I could not see how the hell to remove the old, dysfunctional latch, let alone fit the new one – even drew a blank on You Tube. Their boat-dwelling stove expert took one look and declared it was welded in by years of heat and gunk, would need to be punched out and (big thanks to the river gods) that they would do this for me if I could leave it with them… of course I could.

Perhaps predictably, was the phone call a couple of days later to say that they had broken the glass. Whilst they’d be happy to fit a new one free of charge, the door was so corroded that it wouldn’t ever seal properly and – long story short – I needed a new door.

Yeah right, I hear you say and my initial thoughts too, but I trust these guys. Whilst I didn’t have spare cash for this, or particularly want to spend unbudgeted £100’s, it was a no-brainer. As sure as metal will rust and wood will rot in this watery world of ours, a poorly sealed stove will kill you.

So, I may be a little poorer but have a beautifully functional stove door, complete with glass that’s cleaner than I can remember my stove glass ever being. The baffle plate is fitted, chimney swept, flue pipe sealed and all is now repainted and smarter than smart. And, most importantly, is safe and good to keep me warm and toasty for years to come.

If you’re paying attention, you will have spotted that I now have knobs that don’t match but, fear not, I still have the older round one and may or may not swap it back. The look is important to me but the newer more cylindrical one does seem to have more leverage, so we shall have to wait and see which will win out – aesthetics or OCD.

Now, as the season changes and all our thoughts turn to making winter as comfortable and bearable as possible, I must build the coal mountain…


And amass wood…


Keep warm and stay safe boatie folk.


I can feel a fire coming on…


Here and There..

28 Jun

I did promise you I’d get out and about to take some pics – better than those in my last post. I don’t make many promises but never let it be said that I don’t keep the ones I do.

One of the ways I spend my time these days is to act as companion to a lovely lady in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She’s great. She’s a happy soul, laughs a lot…



Does arty crafty stuff…


And of course, I get to play too…


She enjoys gardening, wildlife…

IMG_20160902_124512IMG_20160705_160815 (1)And loves to walk in the great outdoors. This is good for me because it makes me do these things too.

We’ve had some lovely walks along the river…

IMG_20170324_160500 (1)

Through Hatfield Forest and around local parks, days at the seaside…

100_3019100_3020100_3021100_3023IMG_20170407_163830100_3022 Frinton-on-Sea, don’t you know.

We’ve visited the likes of RHS Wisley butterfly house…


100_2981100_2968100_2963Damned difficult to capture these flutterbies.

And RHS gardens at Hyde Hall…


100_3038100_3039100_3030100_3026100_3055We’ve painted by numbers, done colouring in, sang and danced to Buddy Holly (her favourite) laughed together at the smelly tele, had pub lunches and afternoon teas…

IMG_20170407_155706 It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.

Recently, we went along to Audley End. It’s only about a twenty minute drive away but I’d never, in all my seven years here, ventured there. There’s a miniature steam railway there so, wanting a ride on the puff puff, I headed that way first. We hadn’t even got out of the car (luckily) before it chucked it down – a thundery downpour that came from nowhere – so we made a dash for the tea room. Like you do.

We emerged when it was over but, by this time, my charge has lost the will to accompany me on the chuff chuff and wanted to go home. Well, the seats would have been wet anyway. I’ll be back someday soon for a ride and a listen to the toot-toot,  with boatbloke maybe, who loves steam engines and stuff…


As you can see.

By the time we’d walked a few steps, Karen had clean forgotten she wanted to go home so we crossed the road and entered the grounds of Audley End House. Being the muppet I am, I’d brought the National Trust cards – it’s an English Heritage site – but the young girl on the gate let us in anyway. Without the card it’s £19 odd each, with it it’s free, so thanks again that girl.

Karen has been here before and went romping off up the drive…


Before I had chance to re-stow the wrong cards in my purse. She’s a fast walker, unlike me, so I have to work hard to keep up. Story of my life.

We were fairly late arriving so didn’t do the house; instead wandering around the grounds…



There’s various different areas…


A smart henhouse…


With handsome occupant…


And interesting buildings…


Housing stuff like this…

Sadly, we didn’t complete the tour because Karen’s new shoes were hurting. I’ve been there (often) so we retraced our steps…


Back to the car and home.

So there’s the here and here’s the there…


South Africa. There’s snow on those mountains…


Oh yes there is.

Safe in the knowledge it is cold there, I can bear being here, enjoying the heatwave. Well I was.


John has flown south – people to see, places to be – but has sent a few images. Stunning as ever.

There’s been nasty wild fires at Knysna…


Just when he was staying with his friend there. 150 properties were destroyed but fortunately Rudi and his property were undamaged, despite it getting uncomfortably close.

Back at the bus…


John is maintaining his usual levels of luxury and technology…


To be fair, he did fit the whole bus with LED lighting the other year. Annoyingly, this has has been nicked while John’s been in th UK, making him very cross. Hence the candles.

I’m glad to say he has installed a wood burner…


For heat and cooking. Needs must.

Beats the before picture…


He’s driven the long road to PE a couple of times to see his dad, 91 next month, and doing just fine.

That’s the here and there then.

Where to next?

I vote for a boaty mc boat post. See what I can do.



Hooray Hooray…and a Bit of Banksy

1 May

Hooray hooray the first of May, outdoor sex begins today!

A lovely little ditty that was told to me back in nineteen hundred and frozen to death by a little, wrinkled old lady who used to frequent my pub. She looked frail but boy had she lived. Still drinking/smoking/swearing hard – way into her seventies – she was possibly my favourite punter.

And I couldn’t resist sharing this with you on this first of May, or Beltane if you prefer.

Of course, May 1st follows April 30th, which you may or may not know is my birthday. It’s a tradition of mine to book a few days off around this time because, depending which days it falls on, gives me lots of time off without spending too many holiday days.

Clever eh?

So I am slothing for a few more days and loving it. It’s a good time to take the boat out…well it would be if boatbloke hadn’t buggered off to South Africa. Lone boating doesn’t appeal to me; I find the locks hard work and it just isn’t so much fun somehow.

Never mind, plenty of other mischief I can get up to…

I love a bit of Banksy, don’t you?


100_3059I saw this calendar (the only one left) just as I was leaving the local craft shop in December and thought what an excellent stocking filler it would make for someone.100_3060

But you know how it is when you really like something you’d bought for someone else and it just sort of doesn’t get wrapped up and ends up becoming yours?

Don’t lie to me now, I know you’ve done that too.100_3062

Anyway, being a new month, I turned the page in anticipation this morning…100_3063

May: my favourite month. It’s like the start of a new year for me, being the day after the birthday, nature is performing well and the weather is usually on the up.

That said, I like anything new. New shoes. A new day; a new month; a new season; a new year.


OK, so my indoor photography is a bit shite but you at least get a flavour.

100_3067They might not be his most famous ones.100_3068

But I find myself looking forward to seeing what’s next100_3069

100_3070And that’s what passes for excitement on the good ship Hobo.

OK, I promise I’ll get out and take some proper photos for the next post.