Sunday, 28 November 2010

Surprise, Surprise

Leaving Yelvertoft on Friday we passed n/b “Intrepid” another Les Allen boat.  She was built in 1992 - 4 years earlier than “Ellen”.  Her new owners have just had her re-painted and she looks really, really good.

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Quite a rare occurrence:- one     Les Allen boat passing another. 



Again we had to break ice all the way to Crick where we snuck into the marina earlier than originally intended.  We are now moored up on the same pontoon as Rodney!  Each year we have got closer!!  I think we did this just in time as, on Saturday morning, we awoke to snow.

We had always intended going to the pub for a meal on John’s birthday.  The plan was that we would go aboard Rodney’s boat for nibbles and to watch “Strictly” first but, when we arrived, Surprise, Surprise our friends Anne, John and Gill had driven up from Staines and were sitting there waiting for us!  The evening took it’s course and we had a really good time.  Apparently, this had been plotted long ago!  Where would any of us be without friendships like these?   

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It was a very cold night – the temperature on the thermometer on the back deck registered minus 12oC!     

Maisie made sure she was OK though!



So, tomorrow we are going back to Staines to begin organising ourselves for what lies ahead in the next few months.  “Ellen” will be hibernating in Crick marina and, as we will not be cruising, I will only add blog entries if I think they will be of particular interest. We have a long list of boat-jobs we want/need to do but accomplishment of these will depend upon how much time we actually get to spend on board. Typical that, just as we need to leave the boat unattended, the weather has turned really cold because, in conditions like these, John is always anxious about the possibility of pipes freezing up etc.  We will (all being well) leave the marina at he beginning of March ready for next year’s adventure.  Two old/ancient (when does ‘old’ become ‘ancient’?)  ladies must take priority at the moment but ………….. I have got a skeleton plan for next year’s cruise in mind.

We wish everyone out there a Happy Christmas and New Year and thank you for following our exploits and leaving your comments.    

A xxoo

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Log Stock and Two Smoking Chimneys

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The weather-people have got it right this time – it has turned really cold.  In fact, this morning we awoke to being frozen in!  The picture below doesn’t do it justice but that is not open water – it is ice!

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We are moving on up to Yelvertoft and, as I write, John is breaking the ice. Not so good for the blacking and inside it sounds terrible!  No other boats are in any rush to be cruising.

Now that a bag of coal costs 50% more than when we first started this venture, we have relented and have been experimenting with burning wood to supplement our resources.  You can always spot a liveaboard boater by the piles of wood either on the roof or in the cratch or both!  In comparison to others we have seen, our little stock of wood is nothingwooding 014!

However, John was not nick-named “Woody” at college for nothing!  His sawing skills have always been excellent!  I’m sure he envies the boaters he sees with chain saws, however. 

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(For those of you who might not know – amongst other things, he used to saw up bits of wood for a living – first as a teacher and then as a kitchen and bathroom fitter.)

Theswooding 003e partners-in-crime are just intent on hoovering up fallen hawthorn berries. Thank goodness that, as yet,They don’t appear to be causing any upset tummies.


Rodney is coming up to his boat for a few days so we will be spending some time with him.  The plan is that he takes us back to Staines on Monday and then we need to try to sort out what is happening with both mums.

I had to go for a little extra lie down earlier this morning when I received a text from my brother saying that finally he has put me on the insurance of his car.  There must be a hidden agenda?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Retail Therapy required.

I need cheering up!

I need a bit of retail therapy!

So……………. I have set myself the task of thinking what birthday present I could get for the male boater who definitely doesn’t have everything!  You know, that male boater who is reaching a SUBSTANTIAL age on Saturday!

I thought that if I looked at the ad’s in a well-known boating magazine I could get some ideas.  WELL!  It’s incredible what amazingly interesting things can be purchased for boats and boaters these days!

How about a new Alternator Regulator?  Mind you, not any old Alternator Regulator ……. It would have to be an ADVANCED  Alternator Regulator and ………….. definitely a PRO DIGITAL Advanced Alternator Regulator and it would be sub-standard if it was not also a UNIVERSAL Advanced Pro-Digital Alternator Regulator ……….in fact an Inter-active, Programmable, Self-Diagnosing Advanced Pro Digital Universal Alternator Regulator.  WOW!!  Maybe not! ££££££££££££££££££££££££££ 

WHAT!!??  I have trouble understanding the mechanics of my faithful little carpet sweeper.  My ELECTRIC carpet sweeper.  My RE-CHARCHABLE Electric carpet sweeper at that.  And it’s a lovely shade of GREEN!

Oh, S** it!  I’ll have to go to M&S like everybody else and buy something that I have (believe it or not in 43 years) NEVER bought for him before – pants and socks!!  They are very necessary and …… they can be as interesting as I care to make them!!  Whilst there I’ll pop into Wilko’s, Paul, and splash out on the recommended gaffer tape- I might even get some for myself as well!  Do you recommend the tape being applied across the cheeks or round the legs?  Does it come in an assortment of colours?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

This, That and the Other!


Boating news.

We are currently moored at the top of the Foxton Flight having reached here early Friday morning.  The Foxton Locks comprise 2 staircases of 5 locks each and are a really special canal feature. The whole of the Foxton area is, in fact, an enormous attraction and there are always lots of people milling about.

We first came here in “Ellenlatest 010” New Year 2006 and since then the area has been considerably tidied up and developed to attract more visitors. It has worked!

There are now excellent information boards and brass plaques, good pathways and the Inclined Plain has been cleared and a viewing point installed. 

 latest 011Maggie, of course, is only interested in seeing a rabbit!


Between 1900 and 1911 boats were able to go up and down this Inclined Plane in apparently 12 minutes instead of having to go up and down the locks which took a lot longer and became a major bottleneck.  It would be a huge attraction if the Plane could be put back into working use but I feel sure the cost must be prohibitive.

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Today, at popular times of the year, boaters frequently have to wait in a queue to go up or down the locks.

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Tomorrow we will begin to head back to Crick.  The plan is to get the boat into the marina sooner than originally planned so that we can get back to Staines together as there are domestic issues to address.  (See below)    Next Saturday, however, John reaches a SUBSTANTIAL birthday and we are hoping to be able to mark the occasion with a small celebration before getting bogged down with other things.

The Weathermen/women have not lied this time!  It has become MUCH colder!  We have lots of jobs we want to do on the boat over the winter – we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Domestic News

Both our mums have spent this week in St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey.  They have both had falls!  During the week we have received mixed and confusing reports.  Reports have been a mixture of:-  very dramatic, very gloomy, emotionally charged, opinionated, and, thank goodness, some calm, level-headed and balanced.  We were given the sensible advice that we needed to go and see for ourselves so that we could make up our own minds regarding the situation.  So, on Friday, with more than a little help from a really good friend, I went to the hospital.

John’s mum is medically fit and well but she is wobbly on her feet, has lost self-confidence and gets confused about things.  She is receiving occupational therapy and it remains to be decided whether she goes back home with a care plan in place or has some recuperation time in another local hospital first – either Ashford or Walton.  She is 89.

My mum?  Well!  At 98 years old she was completely coherent and aware of what was going on!  Of course she was not happy about being pulled around but, according to the Doctor, she was getting stronger by the day and he felt there was no reason why, with additional care put in place, she could not go home quite soon. My brother went very pale!!  The Doctor spent a long time clarifying for me what had happened to date.  She has a chest infection and a urine infection to clear up before anything can happen.  I have spoken to her about considering going into a home and she was calm and thoughtful about it.  We will see.

Even worse – as I was travelling back to Staines John received a phone call telling him that David, Lesley’s last partner, was also in St Peter’s Hospital having had a bad stroke.  Ben and I went to find him but I’m really sad to say that he was in a coma and had been since he had been found by his son on Tuesday.  David is only in his early 70’s and has always been so fit.  A salutary reminder to us all of how fragile life is and how important it is to make the most of every day we have.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Life on the Cut Goes on ….

But slowly!  Oh, so slowly!

Last weekend, in pouring rain and howling gales, we reached Crick.  Quite surprisingly, there was a fair bit of boat movement still going on.  Meg came up for the weekend and we took the dogs out on our favourite route past all the deer.  It was really muddy but a good excuse to dress Megan up, yet again, in a silly hat!!   (No picture allowed – I’ve been threatened!!)

One BIG improvement since leaving Crick last March is the re-vamped Co-Op.  It’s SO much better.  I now won’t feel the need to keep dragging John off to Tesco’s at Rugby every week!

On the Sunday, just before Meg left to drive back to Reading, our computer went ka-put!  Completely!  This computer has been the cause of many heated moments over the last year so ………………. on Monday, in pouring rain and howling winds, John (hero that he is!) got on the bike and cycled to Daventry to Louis’s shop as recommended to us by Lynne and Paul.  Yes, he ended up buying a new computer as, apparently, at four years old, the other one is obsolete!  I really don’t like this age of “When something goes wrong, throw it away and get a new one".” But there we are!  I liked our old Dell ………….. when it was behaving itself!!     John’s latest mission now is to purchase an extension aerial for the dongle so that, hopefully, our internet connection consistently improves.  Just goes to prove how powerful advertising is!!

We are now moored up at the Welford Arm in beautiful sunshine and John has taken it upon himself to repair another window sill – that will just leave two to do.  Megan is coming again on Sunday and I have a surprise for her – a new hat!!!  We are aiming to move to the end of the Welford Arm as she will be able to park her car there.  On Tuesday she has to go to Bolton to research a proposed new distribution site so, being with us, she will be half way there already.

Just an observation:-  As we passed the new marina at Yelvertoft we noticed that it is already about 2/3 full with boats.  Apparently, about 18 boats left Crick to go there but those spaces appear to be filled already!  On passing Welton Hythe last week they also seem to be fairly full!  Where have all these boats come from?      

Yet again I say, “Recession, what recession?”

Braunston toCrick 2010 006Taken from the galley window.  Indulgence!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Yes, It IS a Dog's Life

If a survey was undertaken to establish how many boaters were dog owners I feel sure the % would be high.
It's not only human boaters who enjoy and value the open countryside and freedom to roam.  Yes, in terms of canine life-style, being a 'boat dog' must rank highly!

This week Maggie and Maisie have discovered two boats they REALLY like.  The first is 'The Bacon Boat'.
Of course it's not REALLY called that - it's really called 'Gongoozler's Rest' and it's the Cafe Boat moored just outside Braunston Marina.
The Proprietors prepare all sorts of gastronomic goodies to tempt passers by and seem to do good trade.
Every time we have passed Maggie and Maisie have been irresistibly tempted by the wafting aroma of cooking bacon and have wanted to peer into the hatch!

THEN - they discovered 'The Biscuit Boat'!  Of course it's not REALLY called that!  It's really called 'Theathenia' and is owned by the lovely Jude and Chris.  Jude and Chris lost their two dogs ( Bulldogs called Megan and Chelsea) two years ago and have resisted getting new models!  They can't resist furry
passers-by, however, much to Maggie and Maisie's pleasure and good fortune.
Anybody's for a biscuit!

"Where's she gone?  Isn't there any more?"

"The only down side of being a 'boat dog' is that every now and then the human crew insist on dressing you up in a silly scarf!"
"This is all very well but I really wanted a red one!".

Historical Research
The Braunston Puddle Banks.
Thanks to Peter from the Braunston Village Website:-

The Oxford Canal was one of the earliest canals to be built.  The route from Coventry to the Thames was opened in 1790 but within 15 years it was suffering competition from the Grand Junction Canal which offered a shorter, quicker route to London.  Some sections of the northern Oxford Canal were shortened - in total - by 14 miles in the early 1830's.  In 1829 an improved embankment was built at Braunston over the River Leam.  The dug out channel was filled with puddling clay and, apparently, a herd of cows was used to puddle the clay in preparation for lining the channel.  The observant locals hence called the area the
'Puddle Banks' - obvious really!!

There you go!

Tomorrow - we are going to tackle the Watford Flight and get ourselves back to Crick.