Tag Archives: photography

Wait and See..

5 Sep

A much used and predictable response to numerous questions posed to parents by many an impatient child I suspect…

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It certainly featured highly in my youth.

Now I’m a grown up – allegedly – I realise why straight answers are so infuriatingly elusive. I simply do not know what will happen in the future. No-one does.

Whilst we may sometimes have a jolly good idea/strong gut feeling of the outcome of those what if/when/how/who posers, as adults now realise that nothing is set in stone. No-one knows when the fickle finger of fate will come into play and put the kibosh on all those well-crafted plans. Happens all the time.

But that’s not to say we shouldn’t make plans. I do it all the time. Sometimes in order to realise a goal, find a direction or purpose or, as often as not, out of necessity.

I’ll give you a for instance.

As a liveaboard boater, with winter looming large, I have to plan for the worst. This entails ensuring my cosy cocoon stays so…

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Meaning I need to prepare my metal tube for whatever the elements may throw her way. Sealing areas that could spring a leak…

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And checking my trusty multi-fuel stove over and repairing/replacing/refurbing as necessary being high on the to-do list.

Before…IMG_20180817_122939.jpg

Chimney swept.

After…

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Chilly morning/evening…

thSGS943WL

 

Never. Not on my watch.

Estimating how much fuel to order to see me through the dark, dank days is really just a guess, albeit after 12 years of the lifestyle, a slightly educated one. But, given that coal bought at the summer price (delivery before October) is £2 per 25kg cheaper, I simply can’t afford to wait and see. It’s a no-brainer.

This time last year I ordered 50 bags – a huge outlay – but, as last winter went on forever and ever, there remains only five or six bags left over. It’s not all about the saving made though. If we have a lot of rain (more than likely), the approach to my boat will without a doubt be soggy  and waterlogged, meaning my marvellous coalman will be unable to deliver right to my boat. I’ve done my share of hauling coal in the cold and wet and, trust me, it’s not happening again. Ever.

I don’t do cold, so have placed the same order this year. Sorted. Well not quite…

Turns out I have the opportunity to spend three months this winter in South Africa, where it will be summer…

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After careful consideration – yeah right – I have decided to fly south. Yay! Back of the net! But what about all that coal?

Already taken care of my friends: 20 bags to one neighbour and 10 to another, leaving me enough to deal with any unseasonal coldness before or after my trip. Simple.

It’s a well known fact that I’m a little prone to over-thinking. But I’m learning that there really is no point. We cannot predict what will happen along this rocky road/choppy water we travel and most things can be undone/re-hashed or suitably circumvented with a handy plan B.

As plan B’s go, this one is probably one of the better prospects…

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This trip will take on quite a different meaning and shape to previous travels, but I’ll get into that another time.

Suffice to say, it could be useful and helpful to others and, if I get my arse in gear, productive and possibly profitable for me.

But who knows how it will all pan out? What will unfold? Who knows?

We will just have to wait and see…

 

 

 

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…

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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…

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottoms Up!

30 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I decided to add four new ones…008

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

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

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

Protection over cosmetics every time.

And here it is gone…007 (2)

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

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

On the bow too…009 (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rudder and propeller. Before…009

And after…008 (2)

Minus the tangle of wire/weed/whatever.

The team in action…001 (2)

Supervised by the John…002 (2)

Looking good now the paint is going on.

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

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

A view from afar…

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Because I can.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Hills, Views, Caves, Stones, Bones and… a Space Turtle?

2 Mar

Our roving reporter is on the case again, sending more shots from his latest visit to the the west coast of South Africa.

They went walkabout into the wild and wide open spaces…100_2720_stitch

Around and about the area where Geoffrey currently lives and works.

They went up in the hills…Southern skies lodge from the hill opposite

And above the Rooibos tea fields…rooibos 1_stitch

They walked and climbed in the sweltering heat, which he said reached a staggering 47 degrees C on occasions, swimming in reservoirs to cool off.

John said he thought it was a bit hot!

They kept an eye open for caves, knowing the signs and getting a feel for finding them…100_2813

Large…bushman's cave

A bushman’s cave.

And small…caves, large and small

Complete with bones, this one. Click to enlarge and have a poke around.

They had a sleepover in one of them…100_2804

Cosy.

A room with a view…

100_2779Especially on a misty morning…cave 2_stitch

Wow.

But sadly no paintings to be found.

Been said John’s a bit of a caveman. Like father like son, I’d say.

Geoffrey douses the fire…

dousing the fire

Where they cooked up sausages and drank  beer. No stomach churning bush tucker trials here, though it’s hardly glamping.

There’s lots of these…100_2761

And these…100_2774

Not sure what either are called but some are found only in this area.

And here’s the space turtle…

Rocks eroded into wierd shapes, space turtle

Or, if your imagination is a little jaded, rocks that have eroded into weird and interesting shapes. 

I don’t expect there’s too many of these about. What do you see?

Speaking of rocks…100_2493

A rare collection of treasures…Nature table R

I imagine the bulk of these were collected by the boys but if I know John, he will have had a hand in a few of them.

He loves all that archaeological stuff. Hand axes, digging stones and so on. John just has a knack of stumbling on these relics and cannot go anywhere without bringing back nature’s souvenirs.

He will spend hours perusing these in museums. We have some fun days out.

We have some back at the bus too – spoils from previous years – obviously irresistible to the John.  

Even back in the UK, we’ll go for a walk and he’ll end up with a pocketful of bits and bobs. Sometimes he even picks up washers, nuts, bolts, rubber bands or other such useful items, which he hands to me like presents to be cherished. And I do,  of course.

Maybe it’s a condition with a name – like Tourette’s. But quieter.

Bless.

Unlike me, John is very much a morning person and captured this…Klipspringer at dawn

Klipspringer – a small African antelope – at dawn.

Some of the panoramas are 2/3/5 or more pics that I’ve stitched together. That really is such clever software.

Now John knows I can do this, he is taking snaps with stitching in mind and I look forward to the next batch.

This one has to be my current favourite…view 1_stitch

Stunning.

Don’t forget, you can click on any of these images to bring up to full size. A further click will enlarge that particular area of the photo, should you wish to see even more detail.

Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

10 Feb

Just to let you know that the river here is almost back to normal, thanks to a couple of dryish days and some pretty efficient draining onto the land.

I’m making the most though ’cause it’s not going to last – yet more Atlantic lows waiting in the wings, bringing a possible further two inches of rain or so and yet more windy wind.

But you know all that.

And my own personal ark will continue to protect me.

Anyway, I went out today in brilliant sunshine, without the usual bundles of warm layers and serious waterproof  gear. It was heaven. Gorgeous. Not even a breeze.

But every silver lining has a cloud and, just as I arrived back, it chucked it down: cats, dogs, stair rods – you name it. Terrific. A short sharp shower, just enough to make me nice and wet before I’d made it across dog-dirt and on to the boat.

By the time I’d changed out of my totally unsuitable clothing and slipped into something more comfortable – and dry – put the kettle on and made up the fire it had stopped. Typical. Should have waited in the car.

Anyway, good time to nip out and fill the coal scuttle.

And there it was… 001

003

Whoa, never mind  silver lining, how about that?

Had to be stitched…002_stitch (2)

Bugger, didn’t even see it at first.

That twirly drier taking centre stage. How could I possibly have missed that?

But, with careful cropping and more patience than a score of saints,  it was wiped…002_stitch

How good is that?

It’s a bit of a cheat, but hey, why not? We have the technology.

Missing the Boat

24 Jul

This bird has become separated from her boat. How careless is that…?

It is in truth a planned separation and my version of gameful employment. I am house sitting. Or to be more precise; cat sitting.

I have been left in charge of a superb home and garden for 10/11 days. It really isn’t any hardship as said house comes complete with (amongst other things) a bath,  piano, comfy sofas and a summer house; all of which I have made good use. Hobo is quite well appointed but, apart from being a summer house in itself, does not offer any of the other three – which I miss from time to time.

So I’ve wallowed in luxury in the bath (and been re-vitalised in the ‘knock your nipples off’ power shower), indulged my love of the piano (though sadly very rusty) and sunk into the sumptuous sofas as I veg in front of Sky TV on a big screen.

And I’ve enjoyed playing house.

As for the cat… she is a delight. Very vocal but endlessly affectionate. I am revelling in the love and cuddles.

Its been a long time since Lottie (my own long-dead kitty) has curled up on my lap, head butting me if I dare to stop stroking for even a second, and filling the air with much contented and very loud purring.

I like to think we’ve become firm friends, though it could just be she is missing her proper ‘mum’ and I will be consigned to history as soon as the lady of the house returns.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

Next door’s cat also comes a calling, allowing me a stroke or two, and is in fact keeping me company right now

as I type in the shady and cool sanctuary of the summer house.

I estimate that this place is about fifteen miles north of London. From the back of the house, across the fields, the city skyline can be seen clearly – Canary Wharf, The Shard, St. Pauls and so on. Quite a sight and, in my opinion, even better at night when all the lights are a-twinkle.

So, all in all, I am in a good place. I’d show you more but it’s not mine to show…

But I do miss Hobo and have snuck back a couple of times just to drink her in. This is truly my space – I feel it the moment I set foot aboard – and where I am meant to be.

I busy myself for a couple of hours, getting on with painting the hatch replacement that John has made. He makes – I paint – he fits. The stern hatch has always been pretty horrid; a dip in the middle gathering water, which means rust…

…see what I mean? How bad is that.

So John has crafted a new one from wood, which I am busy painting. Red. Or it will be when finished.

And there will be glass recessed in for light in the engine room below. Can’t wait for it to be fitted…it’s going to be good!

Inbetween coats, I continue to prepare the roof – now with the aid of my trusty mouse. We’re getting there.A quick look round sees ‘Gerry’ is fine

The daisies from HMF are positively blooming…And the new herb garden is doing OK.John’s nest boxes looking good…Late additions so no occupants…Maybe next year.

So now my current asignment draws to a close and the house owner is expected back tonight.

I am gradually clearing out my stuff and cleaning up after me. Eradicating all trace.

It’s a lovely home and has been an absolute pleasure. But I will be happy to be back on Hobo. Soon soon.

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…

Up on the Roof

24 Jun

While I beavered away at my ailing roof, there was plenty of opportunity to take five as my feathered friends put in an appearance to show off their new-born..As well as the duck chick eight there was the moorhen chick one..Cute or what..

I hope they all make it. So many times over the years I’ve watched this daily parade as they grow up; their numbers diminishing  each time I see them. One day there’s eight, then seven, six and so on – it’s sad. But that’s Mother Nature for you and I suppose the mink has to eat.

While I was attacking the chimney, down on the decking, I had another visitor..I first spotted it as it slithered out of the long grass towards me. I reckon it came to see what all the noise/vibration was about as I hammered away at the tarred chimney. I backed off, trying to do stealth and grab the camera but failed miserably and it disappeared back into the jungle – quick quick. A bit like when you suck spaghetti into your mouth – gone.

I did get lucky though, as you can see, and managed to catch it swimming.

After pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t in South Africa, I concluded it was probably a grass snake though I know there are adders here. They have been known to bite the horses and dogs and, depending where they have been bitten, sometimes fatally.

Speaking of jungle....this is how it was; the before shot if you like.

Since then there’s been a mowathon and a strimfest down at DDA. Normally, my little patch gets forgotten and is left to go wild but this time I smiled sweetly at the man in hard hat and goggles so now it looks like this..and this..Much better. Now just add table and chairs..

On John’s farm there’s some lovely big cable drums I fancy for the use of – just have to transport one here. Would make a natty little picnic area don’t you think? Together with the veggie/herb boxes that are planned, will make a regular little garden. We’ll get there. Probably just before I move on.

As predicted, work on the roof has come to a halt. Too wet, too windy and not to mention too bloody cold. Still, I’ve made a start and they say next week might be better. The next stage involves power tools, grinder and sander, so noisy and messy. It’s an essential part of the process but one I don’t look forward to and will be much happier when I get to the painting stage. That I don’t mind and find therapeutic even.

My internet threw a sickie, just as the weather took a turn for the worse, and stopped me in my tracks. Couldn’t work outdoors. Couldn’t work indoors. Bugger.

I went down the troubleshooting route and through the help menu but it wasn’t having any of it. Two days later I admit defeat and get in touch with 3 – my service provider. My Indian friend on the phone talks me through various ‘fixes’ but to no avail. He eventually lets on that there had been some ‘issues’ with the local mast and credits me for a full month’s usage. He reckoned all would be fixed by today (and hey presto it is) so not bad –  a full month refunded for 2/3 days down time.

Frankly though, I’d rather have the access. Being able to see that I have e-mails but unable to reply (or even unable to read them sometimes) is so frustrating. And, of course, it kept me away from here. All of a sudden, there’s 101 things I need to do on the internet and can’t.

Hell, I almost had to resort to doing some housework…