Tag Archives: narrowboat

Cranes and Boats and Planes

5 Aug

Fun on the farm last week…048

…with the help of this bad boy.

A total of seven lifts scheduled, the sequence carefully planned and starting with a move for none other than…002

…the little boat.

Here goes…005

Up…006

up…007

around…008

and away…009

To her new spot…011013015

And John wasn’t at all worried…010

As you can see from his relaxed demeanour.

Space now…021

…for two narrows to be inserted.

First…027

Over…029

And down.

Next up…030032036

Not without a scary moment…039

But on the ground…041

Safe and sound.

One for the back of the truck…052

…and away to the field.

It was getting late as the dutch barge was lifted…062

The full moon showed up…057

Here she comes…066072

Pretty eh?

A wide beam was due out too but was getting dark…076

And cold.

So the fat boat slept in the slip and BB headed for Hobo and the removals were completed the next day.

Thirsty work…IMG_20150731_085204

The little boat is now shored up…054055

In her new, bigger, more open spot. With garden…047

And – allegedly – the best blackberries for miles around.

There’s now lots of grinding and scraping going on and many new faces about. It’s good to get to know these new folk, all with their own stories, and watch the progress made on the boats.

In two or three weeks the crane will be back to lift in those who are heading off – back to their former lives or, in some cases, pastures new.

Which has concentrated John’s mind somewhat. As in trying to get the little boat to a stage where it will be ready for the water, thus sharing the cost of the crane-in. This mainly involves making sure the hull is watertight and the engine runs.

He’s almost there with the exhaust now…001

Just needs to connect up inside.

Ideally would like to get a coat or two of paint on and fit the lovely old rope he’s sourced, by way of a bumper strip. Thinking this will look the business.

Everything else can be done when she’s afloat – assuming she does float. Indeed will probably be a better way to work on the interior; only then will we really know how she sits and therefore how stuff needs to be. She looks level as she sits on the hard but, judging from the ghost of the waterline that can be seen, it will be a very different picture when afloat: the sharp end will sit way up in the air while the stern lies low in the water…IMG_20141126_0001

A bit like this, only more so. We think.

You may remember that some time ago we invited suggestions for a new name for the little boat here. Thanks to all those who offered alternatives, even if we never really made a decision.

I, for no real reason, googled her original name the other day and was asked if I’d like the page to be translated. I said yes and what do you know…the Dutch Ijsvogel translates to Kingfisher, which we didn’t know – but like – so seems we’ll be sticking with that.

In English or Dutch?

I favour one language on one side and the other on the other but we shall see. It’s all up to the John of course – as is whether or not she’s ready for the splash when the time comes. There’s a bit to do before then and, when one has to go out to work, time may be tight.

John is keen to get her in the water though. And what a day that will be..!

PS: For the plane spotters among you, this is a McDonnell Douglas MD11F…041

Bought and upgraded by Boeing.

The farm is under Stansted’s flightpath and we always know when one of these cargo planes, often FedEx, is coming as they are very low and noisy hand-flown and have a very distinctive sound. Screechy I’d call it.

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.

What If…?

16 Apr

This age-old question has once again popped into my mind after reading a letter in the April edition of Towpath, which was written with reference to the C&RT’s new rules for boaters without a home mooring.

…There are the CCs who move a couple of hundred yards back and forth. And there are the genuine ones who do cruise around the country. My question to the Canal & River Trust is: If only 50% of all these CCs want a home mooring, where are they? There are not enough home moorings available in my area of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal for a quarter of these…

Good question. And in no way limited to the Leeds & Liverpool.

You can be sure that this applies to many parts of the network; not least the London area. And this is where I’m at these days. So yes, where are these home moorings?

Strikes me there’s plenty of potential in and around the capital – I’ve spotted many likely sites when passing through the city. Old disused wharves that have fallen into disrepair, silted up basins that are chained off and now collecting junk and all manner of derelict industrial sites – a landscape resembling that of the post-apocalyptic…

google image

google image

Frankly, it seems such a waste when they could be utilised for the purpose of creating a place for an affordable home – a floating home is still a home – without major expenditure.

So I too have a question… Do new home moorings count, within the realms of Westminster/local councils, as providing new/affordable homes? I somehow doubt it.

But what if they did?

Would this not be a massive incentive to the powers that be to provide more home moorings – if it counted towards their targets? If I know anything about officialdom, it is that it performs much better when there is something in it for those with the necessary sway to make things happen.

It’s all over the news; how far short we are falling in the provision of homes in the capital but no-one seems keen to build them – especially the smaller homes that singles and couples so desperately need. A floating home (in my view preferable to the bricks and mortar variety) in the London area is an affordable option – possibly the only one.

And boat homes can be very green/eco-friendly, with many now using solar/wind power, so a smaller carbon footprint. They require little – if any – additional infrastructure, with occupants disposing of their own waste/rubbish to one central point and generating their own power. I may be naive… but could the rules not be changed so that one new (sensibly priced) home mooring = one new affordable home? Why not?

Why ever not?

New Life, Neighbours and News

11 Aug

BB has new neighbours. Just across the river.

Five black fluffy moorhen chicks…003

A delight to watch.

And as they grow older and bolder, they come a whole lot closer to my boat…014 015 016 018 019 020 022 023

Which is great.

They even venture onto my ‘lawn’ now…001 002 004 007 008 010

Tempted by scraps.

Mum even gets up the tree…004

Stealing food from the little birds…001 004 005

Who normally dine here.

I never knew that moorhens could climb trees. We live and learn.

Against all the odds, the moorhen five has survived intact, to date, I’m pleased to say.

We’ve done our bit by throwing bread on the water (or the lawn), which one or both parents make a dash for then feed to their young…001

Beak to beak.

Sometimes the fish beat them to it…002 003 004 006 007 008

But a delight to watch whatever. Well, it keeps me off the streets.

And there really is no place I’d rather be.

Another new neighbour…IMG_20140709_113437

Peter, a thoroughly nice chap, is doing up an old Broads cruiser, which he aims to sell on when finished. He’ll be looking for a narrowboat next. Good man.

Some of the old neighbours are getting a little naughty – escaping and giving me the fright of my life the other morning as I stepped off the boat. Not what I was expecting to see…001 003

Mooching right by my jetty.

John saved the day though, chasing them away…002 004

Otherwise I’d have had to phone work with, possibly, the most implausible excuse for lateness/absence ever.

Notice how the camera shake disappears as the Highlands do likewise.

Now this sighting had me puzzled for a while…013

Is it a bird…?001

Is it a plane…?002

No, I think it’s…012

The John…!011

He’s been hacking back the willows and feeding the goats…009

Who love it…008

As do the horses…007

And now of course they love the John.

He got the call the other day when the goats escaped. All he had to do was wave some willow and walk in the direction they needed to go and they followed him, right back home. Pied Piper or what…?

You need to know – or I need to tell you – that I do get out sometimes. Maybe not enough though.

John and I accompanied a friend into the big city last week to look up the house where his grandfather had lived.

We frittered a whole £11 each on a day’s travel pass, which gave us unlimited travel to, from and around the city for the day. I thought that was excellent, given that from here to Stansted (a stone’s throw) on the train is £12!!

Anyway, we found the street in Islington…GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

But, sadly, the house is no more. Swallowed up by the City of London University but we think the house would have been about here…GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

A most enjoyable day though, culminating in a visit to a pub…GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

By the canal wouldn’t you know…002

Regents Canal, to be precise, one on which John and BB have cruised Hobo a couple of times now. Nice.

Just can’t stay away from the water – or the pub for that matter.

Here’s one of John and friend – also a John so we call him Shirley…001

Only because that’s his surname you understand. My two handsome escorts for the day.

As I’ve been writing the weather has been busy…004001_stitch

Storm’s a’brewing.

And as you know, I’m easily distracted – especially if it involves moody skies, thunder and lightning, rain, high winds, blue skies and sunshine. Well, today we’ve had the lot, about in that order.

Speaking of distractions…

014

This is right outside my window, the one right in front of my chair. I didn’t think they’d ever get this brave but sometimes it’s good to be wrong.

I’m still waiting for the woodpeckers to arrive here. They’re about, I’ve seen them on the wing, but so far they haven’t stopped by here. Perhaps they like a different sort of food – wood maybe. Will have to experiment.

So who spotted this in the background of one of the earlier shots…?011

Clever John has made a sawhorse, which he is putting to good use making lots of Morso Squirrel sized nuggets ready for colder times. I’m busy stacking this to dry out. Word is this can take a couple of years but I doubt it’ll hang around that long. Besides, these are small logs – weeny ones – so won’t take as long. Well that’s my story.

Lucky for me, I had some prepared earlier. Yes, I had to light the little stove last night – just a little fire to take off the chill. Maybe it was yesterday’s storms but it seems to be degrees cooler – today too – please don’t tell me it’s autumn already.

Anyway, it did the trick and warmed up Hobo nicely. Just the job.

I hope to be able to write more of the little boat soon. It’s coming along, bit by bit, and John is devising and making some pretty neat storage solutions. But there’s never enough time is there?

We are also part way through re-working Hobo’s engine room – a job we’ve talked about so often. The woodwork (cupboards etc) has always been a bit wonky and just removing a couple of screws saw the whole lot collapse. But that’s a good thing. We can set about implementing our long awaited plans for smarter storage – start afresh with a better idea.

The stern gland greaser and bilge pump switch are both inaccessible so will be moved and the 12 volt wiring and fusebox need work – lots of work – by way of a damn good tidy. Good housekeeping really.

I’ve been threatening forever to clean and paint all those black holes one finds in engine rooms with white/silver in order to light up the space and make it more usable. It will also make it easier to find those things one inevitably drops in said awkward places.

Now  the floorboards are up and the whole room has been emptied of clutter (a task in itself) I have no excuse and tomorrow and Wednesday are my days off so looks like I could be busy.

I’ll try and get some before and after shots, which might make a little more sense of what I’m on about here and, you never know, you might find some of it useful.

I’m thinking…100_1161

Again. I do hate to feel cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up River

8 Jun

I’ll have you know that right now I should be busy with the painting. It is neither raining nor windy, I have bought more primer and there are no other pressing issues.
No excuses then.

So why am I on here and not on the roof or dincing along the gunwale and just getting on with it..?

Well, it’s like this..

My new neighbour, who is re-fitting his boat and has been threatening to give me the guided for some time, invited me aboard earlier to show off his handiwork. Be rude to refuse and anyway, BB was curious. So he talks me through his efforts so far, as we clamber over tools and discarded materials during the tour. He's doing a great job, I have to say, and has come up with some ingenious solutions to the old storage/accessibility problem.

Then of course it was time for coffee so, after the reciprocal tour of Hobo, we do just that. A bit of a natter then he's back to work and I decide it's time for lunch.

By this time, I've lost the will to work and really just want to tell you about our mini cruise to Bishop's Stortford on Monday/Tuesday. And besides, the sun has done a disappearing act and it feels a bit cold outside..

Monday, you may remember, was a glorious day – perfect for a bit of boating, so we took the old girl out. She's moored facing downstream and Stortford is upstream so an about-face was required. Normally, we'd chug round the first bend and go through the lock, below which there is water to spin her round. This time, however, we decided to back up past the slipway and turn her there.

Backing a narrowboat is never easy (they don't steer well – if at all – in reverse) so much fending off as concerned neighbours watch and snigger silently assess our manoeuvring skills, awaiting the imminent and inevitable bump. It is a contact sport though and nobody minds. Much.

That said, we did a pretty good job, once we sorted out our communication deficiencies, and didn't disgrace ourselves or do any lasting damage. Unless of course you count my shattered nerves…

We remember to crouch low, so as not to knock our heads off as we pass under the railway bridge, after which the countryside opens up for us. Buttercups in the meadows, May and Chestnut trees in full blossom – it all looks glorious. After the first lock the river gets very windy, snaking this way then that, pretty as a picture.

Can’t say the same for this bridge though…
100_1589
whichever way..
100_1590
I look at it..100_1591

It just doesn’t do it for me.

See the Chinese to the right of the picture? We got the wave and usual questions about the boat – at least I think that’s what they were saying. I don’t speak Mandarin or whatever it was they were speaking. But lovely smiles.

The things you see when you don’t have your canoe…
100_1592
Perfect for a paddle.

I liked the look of this rustic bridge though…
100_1593
Much more my style.

We took our time, not that there’s ever any rushing on the river, but an even slower than normal tootle. Simply enjoying the moment, no mission to be on and no place on earth I’d rather be.

Even in chilled tortoise mode we are soon at Stortford, only four locks and as many miles (ish) away from base. We turn again, tie up, do lunch and stroll into town for some charity shopping and fresh bread.

Hobo looks good from the bridge as we return, the angle hiding any nasty bits that I’m working on (or not as it happens) and spurs me on to continue the great spruce up. Just not today…

A quick cuppa and we’re off again.

On the way up we’d seen a pile of nicely sliced and stacked willow left by the BW workers that had lopped off overhanging branches. They looked dry so we thought we’d hoover them up on the way back. I nosed Hobo into the bank and the ever agile John leapt ashore and hurled them on board. It was easier getting off than back on but he made it without injury or taking a dip so a good result. You can’t have enough wood so tend to scoop up any that presents itself.

After another snack stop we decide to continue by way of a sunset cruise. We were aiming to get through all locks then park up for the night, leaving a short jaunt back home for the morning.

I light the fire and John chops the newly scrumped wood into stove-size pieces as we wait for the lock to fill…
100_1596

See the join on the roof..? That’s where I got to before the paint and the weather ran out.

Then I look astern and take in the sky…
100_1595
Wow…
100_1600
Double wow..
100_1601
So good, I did some stitching, like this…
100_1602_stitch
and this…
100_1605_stitch
by way of the panoramic.

Into the lock and as Hobo and I sink down, so does the sun.
100_1613.

Fabulous.

We camped out on the lock landing (naughty I know) but didn’t really think anyone else would be coming through now..it was dark. And we’d be gone in the morning.

I’d been roasting a bit of John’s home-reared pig as we cruised. Just the job for supper after a beer or two. We toast our toes by the fire as the newly foraged wood burns hot and bright. The perfect end to the perfect day.

A short, slow hop in the morning sees us back on the mooring in time to get back to the real world. John to the farm and me off to earn a few more pennies.

So we hang up the ropes…

100_1594

but hopefully not for long.