Tag Archives: boating

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…

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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.

 

 

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

Aw.

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.

Graffiti…

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…

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

Footnote:

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?

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.

 

 

 

 

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…

12

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.

 

Must-haves for a boatbird..

3 Sep

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

thSGS943WL

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…

th05XAHVK1

And amass wood…

WoodPile

Keep warm and stay safe boatie folk.

100_1527

I can feel a fire coming on…

 

Out of Hibernation..

1 Apr

Clocks on, longer days, sun out and temperature rising. All of which make Hobo and me happy bunnies.

And of course, Mother Nature has a thing or two to say…100_3004

This is what I see as I come home. Dogdirt Alley at its best.

Not just the daffs, but the May blossom in the distance is marvellous.

And on the way out…100_3005

These ‘fried egg’ ones are my favourites…

And – keep it under your hat – I’ve nicked a few for the inner ship…100_3011

John found these on his travels…IMG_20170330_095115551 (2)

A chocolate box shock.

Magnificent Magnolia…IMG_20170330_100333106 (2)

And a bit of everything in Upwell/Outwell…IMG_20170313_161245684

I’m never sure which is which.

Not that it’s been a bad winter, but the onset of spring always fills me with joy and energy. I feel like I’ve been bundled up and shut away for months.

So I’ve started to tackle the giant cleaning task that is Hobo post winter – inside and out both being grimy. Sleeping under a tree means she gets a coating of green on her roof and cabin sides…100_3008

As you can see here.

Though the lovely Emily is doing her best to distract you…100_3007

Isn’t she gorgeous? Also needs a clean.

A stove that burns 24/7 leaves a smoky/sooty film inside. Everywhere. Call me a lightweight, if you will, but I’m not quite ready to stop this yet. I don’t do cold. Time is near though when I will let it go out and find those firelogs brilliant in the interim…100_3018

You simply toss the whole lot in the stove, set fire to the packaging for instant heat that lasts about two hours, so perfect for those chilly evenings/mornings. They are available in all the cheapie shops and only £1 each (funnily enough) from the pound shop.

In any event, it will have to go off soon so I can clean and paint it!

And just about everything else needs painting too. It’s not that I’m at all houseproud or anything, and more than happy to turn a blind eye to a bit of muck; bugger I’d be forever cleaning otherwise. Life is way too short and, besides, I hate cleaning.

It is a little harder to ignore though, now I’m sporting spectacles full time, I can actually see it.

It’s a job to be tackled in bite-size pieces – the hardest part is making a start. Like a lot of things. And, like the proverbial banging your head against a brick wall, it’ll be good when it stops.

Shame there isn’t a floating car wash type arrangement. Or an army of offspring I could bully into helping.

I’m not the only one getting stuff done…100_3015

Smart new gates for the yard.

My neighbours are back…100_3003

Dinkeys. Bit manky looking but really friendly, nice creatures.

Talking of donkeys…100_3016

My smart new butch barrow, which is more than good enough for carzy carrying and, indeed, pretty much anything else. Good investment.

Apart from the change of season giving me the will to get things done, I swear I’m walking differently too. More upright and shoulders back – now unecessary to hunch against the bitter wind and/or rain.

I expect its not so different for the house dwellers among you, although I doubt you have far to walk to your car from your home… out the front door and straight onto the drive, mostlike. Whereas, I for one, have a field and a muddy yard to cross before reaching mine – also thoroughly grubby and muddy inside and out.

And those of us who cruise continuously will, more than likely, be faced with the towpath trek with all its associated hazards… but that’s another story.

We boatie folk are more in the line of fire from the elements but, you know, that’s fine by me. In my view, a whole lot better than the alternative.

Nene-course it will

Each to their own.

Saturday’s Child

7 Jul

Boatbird’s been a bit boring of late. No adventures. Nothing to rant about.

Not even a boat trip – and that’s unforgivable, the weather having been so glorious. Still, watch this space, I can feel a move coming on.

I blame being born on a Saturday. You know the old rhyme…

Monday’s child is fair of face (not me then)

Tuesday’s child is full of grace (sadly not me either)

Wednesday’s child is full of woe (gladly not me)

Thursday’s child has far to go (er..nope)

Friday’s child is loving and giving (well…)

Saturday’s child works hard for a living (yep, that’ll be me then)

But the child who is born on the Sabbath day

Is bonny and blithe and good and gay (thankful for small mercies then..)

It’s true, I was born on a Saturday and, whilst I don’t work that hard these days, I do still have to work. Back in the day though, I lived and breathed work – couldn’t get enough of it. Glad I got over that.

I’m from a generation that was brought up on the promise of retirement and a state pension at age 60, a bus pass and winter fuel money. Sod’s law came into play though: the rules were changed and goalposts moved. As it stands now (and I’ve no faith that it won’t alter again) I shall have to wait another six or seven years.

Hey ho.

Lucky for me, I am still in touch with a lot of my old buddies from school, who also fall foul of retirement rules, so some consolation in all being able to bitch about it together.

We’re planning a bit of a get-together in Southwold very soon, which I’m really looking forward to and hope to record our antics here, so look out for pics of all us old dears. To be fair, and I may be a little biased, I do think we’ve all fared pretty well – have to see what you think.

We have done some of this though…001

And this…002

And harvested some of these from the roof garden…006

You know, they taste like real strawberries. Funny that. I suppose it’s the lack of a billion air miles and hours of chilling as they travelled.

I’ve really enjoyed the sunshine, the heat and being able to unbatten Hobo’s hatches, open the boat right up to catch a through breeze. Can’t beat it.

But otherwise I’m back to scratching my head and devising get rich quick schemes once again. I don’t even want to be rich – just have enough to keep me accustomed to the manner in which I wish to live.

As in not having to go out to work. Which allows more spontaneity, more fun, more adventures, gives me more time to do more of what I want to do.

Write/paint/draw/play music/read and generally mess about on the river.

And, more to the point, not having to drag my sorry arse out of bed in the morning until I’m good and ready. I like to take my time getting into the day, nice and easy.

And I’d like to pay a lot more attention to Hobo. OK, she’ll never be one of these shiny, highly polished, tidy, really smart boats – she’s lived in 24/7 and not a weekend/holiday boat that gets lavished with attention just after she’s taken out of the cotton wool for her annual airing.

That said, Hobo is a great boat and I love her dearly, but she would benefit from some time spent on her.

001 (8)

Time. What no-one ever seems to have enough of.

Could be worse…

I could be living in Greece or – heaven forbid – be living in a house.

Moving Bella – Day 2

5 Jul

On Sunday at silly o’clock John and I pitch up for more crewing duty. We wanted to get an early start but Reg ( a man after my own heart and not an early riser) would join us for lunch at some point further down river –  exactly where yet to be decided.

Dave didn’t get a lot of sleep it seems – too excited. How well I remember that feeling – the first night aboard my very own boat – even though it was six years ago now. Seems like yesterday.

Another lovely day, less wind, so let’s get going says John – tea/coffee on the move. The first lock of the day is just around the corner so John walks on to set it filling while Dave and I slowly trickle Bella forward. Gates are still shut when we arrive so my pupil, given the choice of tying up again or hovering, chooses the latter – good man – and pulls it off like a pro.

Just three more locks put us on the Lea – a much wider river where we should be able to ‘put our foot down’ a bit.  And with luck/the law of averages we might just get a few locks set in our favour – to date they’ve all been against.  As we turn on to the Lea, the first lock looms and…yes!  A boat just coming out so, at last, straight in we go.

We trundle on with Dave mostly at the tiller, me and John enjoying the view and recognising places/landmarks along the way. Funny, it feels so familiar – like home ground – well I suppose it sort of is now.

One lock in particular sticks in the memory – Carthenagena – see below for why. Someone clearly loves this place. It makes for a lovely sight on approach and, whilst I do appreciate the feat of engineering involved and their serious old age, a pleasant change from the norm.

There’s a few live-ons hereabouts and I suspect it will be down to them –  frustrated gardener/s in their midst maybe.

You may have noticed, though probably not, that I have re-arranged the roof. I can’t bear stuff that gets in the way and is a trap for the ropes to tangle on so John has shifted the plank and poles all forward. Much better. I do so hate a cluttered roof.

We soon reach the agreed rendezvous point, The Crown at Broxbourne (or Frogspawn as we like to call it), so we pull in and wait for Reg. The delicious aroma of roast pork wafts its way through the garden and down to the river and succeeds in sucking us in. We are still only three so call our no. 4 who is still in bed on his way, stuck in traffic so don’t wait. The pork by now was disappointingly sold out so we did a deal and had the beef for the same price. The waitress sold us cauliflower cheese as an extra (we’re all big fans) but the chef must have run out of cheese as there wasn’t a trace. So, cauliflower in white sauce then.

They were very busy and there was a bit of a kerfuffle with the old dears at the next table, complaining we had been served out of turn ahead of them, which in truth we had been. Thankfully, their meals turned up quick quick so any awkwardness was avoided but it makes me glad I’m on the receiving end of service these days. I remember all too clearly how difficult the great British public at large can be from my years at The Star.

By the time we were all fed and beered it turned out to be a longer than planned lunch break. We would be running till late though….OK justified.

As we leave The Crown and round the bend we dodge hire boats, rowers and pedalos – blissfully unaware of our existence.

John just loves to invite people aboard for a ride (usually from one lock to the next) and a nosey downstairs inside the boat. And today was no exception. He spotted a couple of lads on bikes (Orthodox Jews from America on a visit it turns out) and has them stow their bikes on the (previously decluttered) roof.They were a nice couple of lads and, once I managed to convince them it wouldn’t end up on Youtube, let me take their photo.An unusual look but each to their own. They seemed to enjoy this little interlude, especially when let loose on the tiller, although a teensy bit puzzled by the accomodation. But, I think we may have made their day…happy to oblige.

The river had been quiet but then  we found the gongoozlers..It wouldn’t be the same without them and John does love to chat…And I love the way the kids are so fascinated…

Anyway, before you could say clutter up the the roof again why don’t you, John has found more bikes for temporary stowage thereon and  victims enthralled passengers to entertain till the next lock.A very snazzy number in pink..And its proud owner.

We’re not opposed to a little child labour help along the way, kids are so willing and eager to take part. “G’wan…put your back into it laddie..”

From the serene…To the beautiful…To the downright….There was the obligatory shopping trolley… if you look hardA fight with a fish…That the fish…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           finally won.

And I witter on about a cluttered roof….. !

An interesting abode and check out the plantlife.

The pylons march along with us..And cyclists are ever present on the splendid towpath that is newly ‘done up’ ready for the Olympics.John went for a spin with a local lad on his old tub..As he went to turn around..Before he joins us…In the lock.Reg misjudged the speed of the boat as he jumped on the roof…But he moved a bit smartish when I told him about that bridge coming up.

And he was feeling the cold at Enfield..

Or perhaps just trying to blend in.

We ended up at Tottenham Hale at 7.30pm. Dave’s friend was training in so this was a convenient stop, though John and I would have liked to have carried on a bit further – keen to see how our money had been spent in the name  of the olympics since our last visit to this neck of the woods.

Still, we’d had another brilliant day and made pretty good progress, considering.

We had planned on a day three but when we rang in the morning, Dave was full of confidence, had a mate with him and it was raining…..

So we had a lovely lie in instead.

We are in constant touch by phone/text and our man’s doing fine, just like John said he would be. My Mother Hen instinct wanted to give him another day or two but it really wasn’t necessary. By last night he had reached Hemel Hempstead on his way up the Grand Union. Even managing to do locks on his own now. Clever cloggs.

He was due more help from other friends today, swelling numbers again to four, and hoped to reach Stoke Bruerne by Friday with enough time to spare to take in the museum there.

We are hoping to hop aboard again along the route – maybe the Nene and/or the Denver crossing – and will tell it here if/when we do.

I know he has a birthday coming up in a matter of days so would like to think we’ll get an invite to the party, which will take place on a river somewhere soon…