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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

We did it

Very glad to report that our little adventure on to the tidal Thames from Limehouse to Brentford went ahead as planned apart from a few minor hitches. Firstly I undid the ropes too early in the lock at Limehouse. How was I to know that they keep opening the gates a little bit. I saw the gate opening and thought we were away!
 It is really quite daunting when you hit the open water after the lock. It feels like you are at sea and when you are in a boat that has the seaworthiness of a brick, you feel a little vulnerable. Hence, when we hit some choppy water between bridges and the stern was out of the water so you could hear the propellor whining, a bit of a panic ensued! Thankfully this didn't last long and the rest was plain sailing. The only other awkward moment was when we went through the wrong arch of a bridge and was flagged down by the river patrol for a telling off. Oh and we didn't realise you had to book your passage through Brentford lock but the kindly lock keeper let us through anyway. (After a bit of banter when he pretended he wasn't going to let us in!)
The weather was chilly and drizzly to start  but actually this was a bit of a blessing as it meant that there were not too many big tourist boats on the river and we practically had it to ourselves. We passed a few of the high speed catamaran shuttle services but after a while they dropped off and the river was ours apart from the odd rowers practising around Putney bridge. 
At Brentford we caught up with Richard on Tin Tin who we met in July in Camden   After a glass of champagne and a cream cake we were on our way again. Love this life!!
Completed the last leg of the journey into Uxbridge in total darkness. 11 hours and 13 locks and about 30 miles. Not a bad day:)




Tuesday, 1 October 2013

It's now or never ...

Here we are, moored up in the surprisingly spectacular limehouse basin, awaiting the incoming tide tomorrow morning. We've just been up to the bridge and I have to say the water looks frighteningly choppy. Just trusting that the lock keeper won't let us out if its dangerous. We had to bite the bullet and buy an VHF radio but at least we know that help will be in hand if we run into difficulties. John is preparing the anchor as we speak and then it's off to the Narrow for a bit of Dutch courage! 


Monday, 23 September 2013

It's been a long time

Keep getting told off for not writing blog so here we go ...
We came to realise that we have been on the rivers lee and stort since the beginning of the school holidays ( not that that means much to me now:) A total of about 9 weeks so far  and still here. Partly due to having visitors and its a nice place to cruise and partly due to having to leave the boat for over a week to help Dominique and Jamie being their boat down from Nottingham. A bit of déjà vu going on there! However we did come by a different route and I have to say it was a lot easier (or maybe we are just a bit more experienced now). We also got to see some different canals and can tick a few more off the list! Happy to say that they are well settled on their boat now and hopefully confident with handling her.
Also lovely to see Laura home from America for a week or so. Actuality a bit longer than planned due to American embassy not getting her passport back to her on time!  
We have also come to realise that we are going to have to hole up for the winter months. We would be happy to keep going but there are stoppages on the canal in winter and boaters are discouraged from moving about too much so we are looking at staying at apsley marina for dec jan and feb. 
John is about to have an arthroscopy in his knee. He has had problems since before the Milton Keynes marathon and hasn't run since. With any luck this operation will give him a new lease of running life. He is missing it dreadfully:( 
I'm sure I have left out loads of events over the last few weeks but come the winter I will have loads more time to write. 
Happy new year to any Jewish friends reading this. We met loads on the river today having a day out with their families.:)




Sunday, 11 August 2013

And another thing...

Another thing I  love  about this life is the way you can start a day with no fixed plans and things just happen. Like today we started the day with Helen (of Pelham)  on board , heading from Stanstead Abbotts to Hertford. Helen was born and bred in the village and relived her childhood jumping off the bridge (mentally!) and finally went through the lock on a boat after a lifetime of wondering what it would be like. Then Carol came along with husband John and a cream tea! Later we stumbled across the Hertford acoustic club. What a friendly, welcoming and supportive bunch of people. This is the kind of day we had envisaged but could not possibly plan. . It just happened. 
Along the way in Ware we came across the gazebos. I have been to Ware loads of times but the view from the river is a totally different experience and I had no idea that these beautiful buildings existed and that they are unique as a group in the whole country. 
Also saw some kind of grebe. Maybe someone can identify the correct species. My book was a bit vague!



Thursday, 1 August 2013

Loving this life

Just cooked dinner for lovely friends from Furneux (Marie Sue and Denis ) and now sitting on the deck with a glass of red thinking that it doesn't get much better than this. A few stars are beginning to make an appearance, the night is still and warm and fish are literally jumping....you could write a song about it:) 

Something puzzling me - where have all the male ducks gone?? Lots of youngsters who are clearly going to get male markings but where are the dads? I'm sure I could google the answer but would much prefer someone to tell me. 

Nearly at the end of a week in Stortford and having a great time catching up with friends in the area. We've had one or two rainy days this week but that has given us time for hobbies and I'm quite pleased to have finished some cabin lace for the saloon windows. It's a traditional design from the old working boats and although we're not really into the whole castles and roses look, I quite like this and the sense of achievement is satisfying. 

John has done a few jobs today!


Thursday, 25 July 2013

You meet all sorts..

I've been very lax about writing the blog and already forgetting what we have done and people we have met so now attempting to recall the main events of the past week or so. 
Not exactly a highlight but quite spectacularly, John had severe sunstroke. Bad enough for me to call NHS direct for advice, who sent out a paramedic to check him out. His temp was 39.6. All he really needed was a cool shower, paracetamol and rehydrating. Quite scary and made us realise how exposed we are to the elements and taught us to take better precautions. Another new mantra.. Put a hat on!! This all happened with John's grandson, Charlie aboard. Luckily he slept through the whole paramedic episode. 
The next day saw another first. John (still slightly wobbly from sunstroke ) took an unexpected head first dive into the river at broxbourne. We can laugh about it now:) 
Without going into too much detail, John has also had a spectacular bout of gastro enteritis! Probably enough said about that !!
Yesterday John had his flight in a helicopter alongside a spitfire (his parting gift from work) quite an experience for him. 
We have been meeting all sorts of people along the way. A young lad yesterday fishing for crayfish which he sells to restaurants. Today we met a man who paints canal ware and we stopped for a quick lesson with Angie and the girls. This led to meeting Dudley who has some private moorings a mile from bishops stortford. A strong possibility for somewhere to hole up for the winter. 
Looking forward to meeting up with friends from little Hadham tomorrow and boat hunting with Dominique and Jamie at the weekend. It's all go!


Monday, 15 July 2013

Everything takes so long...

Everything takes so long but we are becoming used to it and trying not to get too frustrated. The plan today was to start heading across london and up the lee and stort towards stortford and my lovely FP friends. But we needed a pump out (man's work..I have nothing to do with it!) and water and the only convenient place was 3miles west at Little Venice. This took about 3 hours! Then we got distracted by the delights of Paddington and have been here ever since. You might think I am being facetious but actually it  is rather nice. There is a hidden world by the canal that most of us never see or appreciate. Ok there are some rough spots but so far we haven't felt too threatened or uncomfortable. 
Strolling around the nearby streets we became aware of a multitude of camera crew them realised that maybe Kate is about to give birth at St Mary's. We are so out of touch with news that she may already have popped!!
These hot summer evenings are delightful but makes us drink too much. 
Cheers one and all :)




Friday, 12 July 2013

Friday night

Another Friday night in Camden and we are bracing ourselves for another wild night. Not for us  of course but its a warm night and drinks are flowing upstream so expecting riots later. John may sleep through it all though after a couple of hours of "happy hour" earlier:)
Some technical problem today. The bow thruster stopped working but john has successfully repaired it, probably saving several hundred pounds. Dominique and I have been busy making hair accessories which we are displaying on the boat. One yummy mummy bought one saying it  was "good provenance" 
For anyone following this and wanting to comment .. I think I have downloaded the necessary to make this possible if you have a google account. Don't ask me about the other options!!!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Life in Camden town

What can I say. A place of contrasts. Lovely, friendly and quite peaceful during the week but come Friday night all hell breaks loose. Security men appear at the doorway of every pub demanding 3quid to get in and turning you away if you are wearing flip flops. So we beat a hasty retreat to the comparative tranquility of the boat for a jug of pimms! Much more civilised.
We have moored up in a cracking spot about 100 yards from the lock  at Camden and there is a constant stream of tourists walking by the boat, many of whom take photos of us and the boat. John has been strumming but so far no one has thrown any money at him, however I have sold a few crochet coasters that I've been making. One young girl bought them as a souvenir as it was the only thing she could find that was genuinely  made in England!
Lovely to have some more visitors. Mollie last week for a couple of days, then Hannah , Stephen , Natasha and Dominique.
We managed to fill up with water this morning without losing our prime spot by getting up at 6 and back by 8 before most boaters have surfaced. That means we should be able to stay in camden for another week maybe. It's good fun and a good week of weather ahead. Cheers!


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Almost there!

Nearly 2weeks since we got back from the states and we can finally say that the boat is looking really good. Just needs a final wash down and polish tomorrow then photos will be taken. Meanwhile we have been getting to know some of the locals. Tony and Eve who have been on the canal for 36 years. Tony is now dying from cancer in his neck and has been given special permission to stay in the same place. Then there is Mike and Ian who look identical but are not related. Mike found John's glasses (he left them by the lock the day before ) and by a string of happy coincidences he was reunited with them in the afternoon ! We bumped into them again later that evening with their dogs and Stellas! And we got chatting.
Still in Harefield and it was lovely to see Ronnie and Denise on Monday night for a few beers, food, chat and a quick crochet lesson for Denise. 
Probably moving down to Denham tomorrow for a change of scenery. It will be nice to get moving again.  Photos on blog tomorrow I hope:)

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The wanderers return

After a wonderful stay in the USA we are back on board and almost ready to set off. The boat is looking much tidier after its mini makeover (despite some frustrating weather) and we are feeling quite proud of her now. Due to lots of social commitments in July we have revised our plans. Probably staying in the  south on the Thames/ Kenneth and Avon canals/Oxford canal until winter sets in. Although these ideas are constantly changing!
Since we have been home we have had some memorable days. Father's Day on Sunday was lovely for John with both Sarah and Dominique on board not forgetting mollie! Lots of beer, fun, laughter and a little chug along the canal. 
I know I have attached 2 of the same photo but can't seem to delete it! Oh we'll. . It's a good one:)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Another week passes

Work is progressing on the boat but slowly. Lost a whole day to rain but had a shopping day instead. We finally got John's iPad. He settled on a mini after much deliberation but has had no chance  to use it so far as the signal is so weak here on his network. 02 is even struggling. 
This week's visitors have been rob and pat Mann, Phil and Suzy, Colin and Julie, Fred and  I think that's it. 
Boat painting is a new and challenging experience. Firstly it's a moving target! Every time another boat goes past or someone moves on the boat the whole boat shifts and you have to go with it. We were painting red stripes standing on the gunwales and hanging onto a rope on the canal side! Other problems are dust debris and dead insects. Makes it quite hard to get a nice smooth finish. However , it's already looking much better. Back to work now. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Practical matters

I am writing this in the launderette in pinner!  This is how we roll. Although we have a washing machine on board, things like bedding are difficult to get dry, especially when you look at the week ahead weather wise. But enough of our laundry problems. 
Had a brilliant weekend at the rickmansworth canal festival. I had no idea how big it is. Hard to believe that it's been going for 20 years and for 15!of those I have lived in the area and never been. The canal people certainly know how to party and it would have been rude to not join in. Great to see Hannah and Stephen for drinks and a burger.  Bumped into some old friends (Lynette and her lovely family) and some friends (Helen, Marie and Natasha)from Furneux who made a special trip to see the boat and catch up. 
On Sunday we had our first kids on board. Lots of baby animals to keep them entertained. We were quite surprised and pleased by how much they enjoyed it. 
Lots of priming, painting and polishing to be done on the boat this week. Was hoping for sunshine and warm weather but clearly that was a wish too far. Before and after photos coming soon. In the rickmansworth area for 2weeks now and always ready to welcome visitors especially early evening for a potter up and down. We are moored on the towpath near batch worth lock almost opposite tesco. See you soon:)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Wildlife!

A miserable day weather wise which was brightened up by some memorable wildlife moments. A sky full of swifts by the reservoirs at tring making the most of a swarm of gnats. A duckling stranded in the canal abandoned by its family, which eventually scrambled up the bank and chased after its mother( bad mother!). A heron diving for a fish right in front of the boat. A swan fast asleep on it's nest . Unfortunately too slow with the camera to capture these magic moments but there is a video clip on Facebook of the swifts. One of those occasions though when you really needed to be there. It was like a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds! 
15 or 16 locks today -?lost count. Shoulders aching and soaked but being revived by costa 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

More visitors

Today we welcomed Miriam and John aboard who brought with them a picnic of smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels and a bottle of wine. Very nice too:) pity the weather closed in on us, so not much chugging today. In fact we haven't been very far at all in the last few days but have now decided to head for rickmansworth for the canal festival this weekend. Quite a few locks ahead in the next couple of days.
13th may
Only travelled 6 miles today but 10 locks so feeling a bit tired. We were held up for about an hour by workmen at a lock but somehow it didn't matter. Just put the kettle on and offered them a cuppa.
Now that John has reached 60 he thinks our conversations have become more anal and we call them 60plus chat. Today's 60chat was about the colour taupe. Mainly because John has a pair of taupe socks sold to him by a chap in Cornwall in a "proper" shop in Penzance. it seems that the colour taupe is very hard to define. Try googling it if you are bored:)



Thursday, 9 May 2013

A day in the smoke

We both had appointments back home today and despite allowing loads of time to get there we made each one by the skin off the teeth due to traffic, arrived stressed and found ourselves wondering how people cope with this on a daily basis. Not so long ago this was our daily routine and it is truly not missed. We were longing for the sanctuary of our boat by the end if the day ( not to mention the thought of a couple of drinks at the pub)
Looking forward to welcoming some more guests aboard tomorrow.. John's friends Rob and Paul.. And heading a bit further south. Planning a trip to America at the end of the month and hoping to have the boat in the apsley/kings Langley area so anyone who would like to take a turn keeping an eye on it and/or making use of it would be most appreciated.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Life in Fenny Stratford

A very strange place. What used to be a little village is being swallowed up by the sprawling growth of Milton Keynes. It has a interesting mix of shops- nowhere to buy food, but it does have an enormous gay, transvestite, lesbian bar called Pink Punters, a sex shop, 4more pubs ,2 wool/craft shops and a huge ironmongery, so something to keep us both happy!!
Life in the water is so tranquil. When I was cooking there was a tap on the window. Not so strange you may think but it was on the canal side. 2swans thought my food smelt ok and decided it was feeding time. They kept on tapping until I fed them. There are lots of ducks , geese and swans with young broods. Yesterday I saw 3adult geese with chicks. It looked like 2females and a male. Is this normal behaviour? Or is it just because this is Fenny Stratford:)

Monday, 6 May 2013

You win some...

Marathon day for John. Things didn't go as well as hoped mainly due to a dodgy knee but he is in one piece and very merry as we speak! It was very lovely to welcome aboard a few more guests. Thanks to Sarah and Mollie, Steve and Terri , Fred , Angela and Jim for their support and for sharing a few beers. Hope they all enjoyed a little chug along the canal. Cheers everyone :)



Sunday, 5 May 2013

And on the 8th day.....

We welcomed our first visitor aboard. Nice to see Gill Grocott for a glass of wine, lunch and a gossip. Other than that it was supposed to be a rest day but we found ourselves (John especially) rubbing down paintwork, polishing chrome, t-cutting, rust treating , priming....there is a long list of things to do but we can already see what a difference it will make. We will probably stay around here (Fenny Stratford) for a few more days after the marathon and crack on with the work. Anyone within striking distance is more than welcome to visit. We are moored near the lock. Over the swing bridge and turn left. Ours will be the bright shiny boat :)

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Not such plain sailing!

If anything could have gone wrong today it did! A very strong wind caused a couple of very tricky situations. At one point the boat was at right angles to the bank with John trying to pull it in. Not very elegant but we weathered the storm.
On a more positive note we have met some lovely people, bought fresh lamb from a farm and have arrived in Milton Keynes a full day ahead of schedule. A rest day tomorrow before john's marathon on Monday.



Friday, 3 May 2013

Plain sailing

A beautiful stretch of 23 miles of lock free canal today between Foxton locks and Watford locks. Two quite long tunnels though which are interesting if you meet a boat coming the other way. John avoided a head on collision with a boat coming into the tunnel which hadn't slowed down at all on the tricky approach!
Having an easy day gave us a chance to think about how we would like the boat to look and we have decided to introduce some red to the colour scheme. Quite looking forward to being a bit creative.
Next stop Stoke Bruerne after the Blisworth tunnel which is over a mile and a half long!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Well that was hard work.

1st may
Kilby bridge to Foxton locks. 10miles and 22locks. 8hours
An exhausting day however the flight of 10 locks at the end of the day was not as bad as we were anticipating, given that there is a lock keeper to help a bit. Well earned pint or two at the end of the day.
Although we are happy with the boat internally we have come to realise that it is looking a bit unloved on the outside compared to many of the boats we are passing. It seems that people spend the whole winter getting their post pristine for the boating season. Probably going to spend some time working on it after the marathon before we head north. So we will keep heading south after Milton Keynes.

A beautiful day weather wise. We went from 3layers yesterday down to a t shirt for some of the day today. Sunburnt noses!



Tuesday, 30 April 2013

First mishap

Some of the locks are quite scary and you have to cross the gates to do the paddles in the other side with maybe a 15 drop with only a little bar to hold on to. So I was a bit hesitant. After being called a bit of a fairy I was quite amused when John tripped on the gunwale , dipped his feet in the water and scraped his bum on the wall, but managed to scramble back onto the boat. Sobered up though when we realised how serious it could have been as he was between the boat and the wall of the lock and might have been crushed. More care needed. 3points of contact at all times is the new mantra. 8.30hours cruising and 16locks. Ouch!!

Monday, 29 April 2013

More fenders needed!

Day 2and we are just north of Leicester in a village called birstall. We have improved since day1. Much better at managing locks Not exactly a well oiled machine yet but getting there. We have been helped along the way by a guy called jason who has had his boat for 30 years. It's much easier going through the locks in pairs, sharing the work.
People are friendly so far and willing to help out. John has also done his good deed for the day by rescuing a cycling helmet from a very steep bank. So steep that we had to get a rope for him to climb back up.
24 locks tomorrow. . Better gather strength!







Saturday, 27 April 2013

New beginnings

I wonder how many of us could condense their lives and possessions down to two car loads. It makes you really think about what you can and can't live without. As we packed each item the question asked was"does it deserve boat space?" and if the answer was yes, the next question was"where will it go?" Very pleased to report that everything we brought on board now has a home and there are even a few empty cupboards! Off to buy a folding bike and an iPad now:)