Monday 31 December 2012

Another ark U-turn

Rain yet again today. Ark plans retrieved from back-boiler. Spoke too soon yesterday. Dizzy spells (fuzzy-headedness) have returned with a veangence today but I have managed to remain upright so far, although St Georges have agreed to another head-scan ( to see if they can locate a brain?) and drug regime review in the hope they can prevent me falling off the boat. Canals are generally only 4 feet deep so do not present a major problem but locks are something far more dangerous. I have visions of looking like a lifeboat skipper or scuba diver when onboard. Next blog next year. Hope it is a good one for you.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Ark U-Turn

Woke this morning to sunshine and blue skies. Ark plans put on back-boiler.As it is our 4th granddaughter's 2nd birthday today we ventured over to Birmingham for her party. A good time was had by all. Passing over Birmingham for the first time in sunshine I was struck by the vast number of chain-store warehouses in the city. If the government are serious about solving the country's obesity problems the thought occurred to me they could blockade the roads around Birmingham and prevent the distribution of clothing. Residents would then be unable to buy new clothes and would have to resort to old garments long-lost in their wardrobe, most being too small, necessitating losing weight or going out naked. Health-wise I am reasonably OK with fuzzy headed periods being few and far between. Happy New Year to you and remember to keep chasing your dreams.

Saturday 29 December 2012

Water, water everywhere

It's still raining but aided by gale-force winds for a change, concocted to stop us getting bored I suppose. This boating idea is becoming more relevant and foresighted by the day. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but we should have aimed higher at the design stage to allow space for two of each animal, a real Tardis. We have sorted-out a cat flap and the subsequent security issues it raises. We just need to run it past Stensons in the New Year. Our cats are both female which does not bode well for the species. A fellow Christmas night victim today pointed-out the cannabis factory closed the day after the "party", which is a shame as my near-ready banana crop is now suffering with the cold and I have no way of saving it without the free heat and light supply from next door. What comes around goes around. We are beginning to plan for the official launch day (when TARDIS TWO can be sailed-away as a complete mobile home). Who to invite? Where can they stay? Dress code? Any vegetarians? What does everyone drink? What size life jackets? Children's oxygen tanks? Once the full completion date is known by us you'll be the next to know. Do not book anything for early February 2013.

Friday 28 December 2012

Thermal underwear

Yet another wet day. We are already discussing who will be steering if the weather in 2013 is as bad as 2012. The original thought was to moor-up on wet days and move on fine days, but taking that literally means we may as well stay static in a marina - not what we intended at all. Lynne has already offered to steer on sunny days above 18 degrees, which seems to leave a wide variation for me. By way of enticement one of my Christmas presents from Lynne was a set of long-leg/long arm thermal underwear in brilliant white. Very fetching and extremely warm. Photo's were taken of my modelling session but they will only be released to the world if sufficient requests are received. Our next boat project is to find a secure boat cat flap for MCC to fit. A visit to PETS R US is planned. We might be getting old but we still know how to enjoy ourselves.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Rats/morons desert sinking ship

Post party it is strange the house next door has been empty and spookily quiet all day, evening and night.(not that i am complaining) Which is a pity as it would have been interesting and extremely satisfying to confront one of the morons in the cold light of day when they were sober and off cloud nine. I need to apologise for using rats in the title as they are far too intelligent to get involved in such a stupid escapade. Can you imagine a group of termites deciding to hold a noisy, all-night party in a communal mound and hope to survive? Which is the more intelligent species on earth? Humans or termites? I rest my case. Nothing nautical to report except to say it is still raining.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Goodwill to almost all men

If your Christmas day was half as good as mine you had a good time, that is, until 10pm. I had heard of New Years eve parties but never Christmas day parties, until yesterday. Next doors' event started at 10.00pm and continued unabated until 6.00am. What made it worse was we could only hear and feel the base and beat, without any of the words/melody (?)together with some extremely loud expletives,laughing,shouting and running about, generally up and down stairs. We had tea and coffee at 3.00am, tea,coffee and biscuits at 4.00am. By this time we considered we and our three guests had suffered enough,Lynne bravely knocking on the door and suggesting, very calmly, they turn down the noise as the rest of the street were attempting to sleep. The young lady, equally calmly, said she would see what she could do. Almost immediately the noise stopped but only long enough (I guess)for her to convey Lynne's request to the host, for him/her to totally ignore it and up went the volume even higher. A non-999 call followed with the promise of a visit from the boys in blue, which we assume happened as the beat (excuse the pun)and swearing ceased at 6.00am. Whatever the revellers were on should be bottled and sold in all party shops. Their stamina was something to behold. We assumed there must be a link between alcohol and a harvest from the cannabis farm in their rear garden greenhouse.We all enjoyed yet more tea and coffee before retiring for our long-overdue sleep to emerge, red eyed and shattered, at around lunch-time. It is raining again but the Co-Op car park has once again drained, leaving a thick layer of mud behind. At his rate we'll be able to moor TARDIS TWO outside our house.

Monday 24 December 2012

Woodstock nostalgia

Do you ever get a day when a very old tune, often with fond memories, sticks in your brain and remains on "replay" whatever you do? Yesterday was mine. "Lay down" by Melanie - how obscure is that? Whatever happened to Melanie? Who cares and who the hell is Melanie, I hear you say. Lynne went last-minute food shopping in M&S at 01.45am (yes, you read that correctly) whilst I wisely stayed in bed quietly humming the aforementioned one and only Melanie hit. However, I did help her unload the car (Lynne - not Melanie) this morning at a more civilised hour. As you can imagine it is another slow news day as regards the boat so all that remains is to wish you a very happy Christmas and remind you to keep chasing your dream in 2013.

Sunday 23 December 2012

Technophobia day

Tardis Two Stats: Length 62 feet Reverse layout Semi-Cruiser-. Weight 20 tons approx- Engine Shire 50 hp Double silencer- Steel Plate thickness Bottom 10mm Hull sides 6mm cabin sides 6mm roof 4mm- Diesel tank 250 litres- Bow thrusters Sleipner- Windows Double glazed. Chrome surrounds- Chrome mushroom vents- Toilets 2*.. Shower 1.. Galley at rear Hob/double oven cooker 1- Microwave 1- Fridge 1- Freezer 1- Washing machine 1- TV 2- Kingsize bed 1 + bed-settee 1- central heating x 3 radiators via diesel boiler * original spec 1 toilet in shower room adjacent front bedroom. Now second toilet at rear for easy access from stern. It's stopped raining!!! whoopee.

Friday 21 December 2012

Sponsored Santa

After the big event yesterday today is a slow news day (as they say in the newspaper industry). They get over it by having a front page full of Pippa Middletons bottom, but you'll be pleased to know I have no access to the aforementioned extremity. Instead I'll relate a strange happening we experienced last Sunday but failed to report at the time. Having driven home from London in record time we got stuck in a traffic jam entering the village, of all places. All of a sudden a Father Christmas on a mountain bike came towards us from the village and disappeared down a side road, quickly followed by another, and another, and another etc. etc. A Mother Christmas even put in an appearance. Their bikes were caked in mud, as were their legs and feet. One enterprising Santa dismounted whilst crossing the bridge over the river Soar and proceded to dunk his bike in the water several times. Fortunately the river was not in flood at the time but Santa eventually climbed aboard his spotlessly clean bike and followed the others. Ultimately we discovered the jam was caused by the water board digging a hole in the village centre, as they do. Later the same day we escaped the village via another route heading to Bradgate Park (similar to Richmond Park but with more challenging terrain). On a roadside verge we passed a sign stating: "Beware. Santa's in road" and, before you rush off and look, it does not appear in the Highway Code. The reason for the excess of Santa's was a sponsored Santa bike-ride through Bradgate Park and local roads. For the record, the flood plains are still flooded, houses near the river are sand-bagged and the Co-Op car park is two feet underwater again, although there are no cars stranded therein as happened last time. The Soar is extremely full but not overflowing yet and it has stopped raining. Following our adventures yesterday we fully expect Toyota (a local firm)to change their advertising rear-screen stickers to; The car floating in front is a Toyota. Royalties will be claimed.

Thursday 20 December 2012


Launch weather was abysmal. Rain,rain and yet more rain. The flood plains were, well............flooded, as were all roads to Stensons. Somehow the car got through at least proving the doors are water-tight. Tardis Two stood in all her glory on a giant trolley next to the canal ready to be pushed-in by a fork lift truck (who said romance is dead?).She slowly entered the canal via a ramp, eventually floating off the trolley. We had forgotten the champagne so it was a good job the Queen did not have a wasted journey. T2 floated perfectly and was pulled gracefully into the floating fit-out bay where the welders hurredly searched for leaks but none were found.The engine and bow-thrusters are already fitted so all that's left for after Christmas are windows, doors,all the home comforts and us. The best Christmas present ever. Top that. Forcing the car through yet more floods (only deeper) we made it to the Dragon for a celebratory meal and small alcoholic beverage to remain within drink-driving laws. Quite rightly it is an offence to drive a small car after drinking but I'm not sure the same applies to a 20 ton narrowboat?

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Narrow cats from Stensons

As the day of boat "launch" looms excitement is growing. I wonder if they'll gift wrap her in giant sheets of Father Christmas paper and tinsel? The event is actually a "float" rather than a "launch" as Tardis Two has still to be fitted out and painted, but I suppose they have to check all the under-water welds are secure prior to completing more work on her. Also she will not gracefully glide down a giant chute into the water after a bottle of best champagne has been broken on her hull. I'm not sure but I think she will be craned into the marina and pulled into the fitting bay. Somewhat less romantic, but not to worry. I'll let you know tomorrow. Many months ago I emailed Terry Darlington of "Narrow dog to Carcassonne" and "Narrow dog to Wigan pier" fame requesting he, his whippet Jim and/or long-suffering wife Monica performed the launch ceremony for us, but he is a busy guy and recently suffered a stroke (I think) so I'm not surprised I have not heard from him. Pity, but hey-ho, life goes on.If you get the chance and can get used to his unique writing style both books are highly recommended as entertaining reads, but make sure you read them in the order listed above as there are several links between them. Check-out his website. We have often discussed obtaining a whippet for our travels but have finally settled on our two cats as adequate substitutes, providing they like boat-life somewhat better than Jim.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Feeling my age

Our youngest (21) son has arrived for a few days relaxation, overdose on Top Gear and have three tons of washing done. It does nothing for my ego having to admit my youngest child is 21, believe me. The local hairdresser asked me if I had the day off work last time I went for a haircut. to which I answered "I'm retired". You don't look old enough to be retired she said. Needless to say she now regularly cuts my hair (all 2 of them). I left the shop with a broad smile and inflated ego. I recommended Specsavers. I found myself talking to the dishwasher this morning, it having been disabled for a couple of days Sad,eh? The TV having power was very timely as Reading v Arsenal was on Sky last night. I know this is not the time to gloat but the score was 2 - 5. No boat news today.

Monday 17 December 2012

Power struggle

For those of you waiting for a blog yesterday as promised, sincere apologies. This was caused by reasons beyond my power (pun intended).Having restored light to our living room the electrician left us fully functioning electrically. That is until late afternoon when the power points to the right of the house suddenly stopped working, Christmas tree and all. Despite our frantic efforts no fault or reason could be found , so we connected the fridge/freezer back to power via an extension lead to the left side of the house, which we subsequently abandoned for our planned weekend trip to London. On return all was well (or half-well) until power was suddenly lost to all electric points, computer and all. The fridge/freezer was connected back to power via an extension lead to our next-door neighbours shed and we retreated to bed, awaiting another visit from the electrician today, who soon traced the fault to the junction box. A quick repair and off he went again, leaving us fully powered and re-connected to the world, so here I am. I cannot avoid mentioning the Watford gap phenomina ocurred yet again yesterday when the temperature increased one degree. The good news is the boat will be floated for the first time on Thursday. From the welding shed it will be launched and floated (hopefully)into the fit-out bay. We intend to be there!

Friday 14 December 2012

non-cruising day

It started raining during the night and never stopped all day, but it was mild. A reliable source down south told me it was foggy and cold. In both cases it was a non-cruising day for those boats not in a relative rush, generally hire boats with tight schedules attempting to get as far as possible and return in a limited time. A major advantage of boat ownership. A second advantage allows you to criticize hire boaters at all times. Living room light working, aforementioned precipitation prevented repairs to shed socket and security light. No blog tomorrow as I'm off to London again. Back Sunday if not trapped by snow, ice or fog

Thursday 13 December 2012


After my raptures about northern weather yesterday I awoke to a very cold white frost at midday. I blame it on the extreme concentration of driving in very thick fog.It was too late for brunch but I managed lunchfast before tackling a couple of electrical jobs. First the non-working security still doesn't work. Then the non-working lounge still doesn't work. Electrician booked for tomorrow. A blog reader has queried why this one refers to a boat in the title but carries very few boat references in the text. Apologies for that but as soon as TARDIS TWO is launched in the New Year boat references will be posted daily. Today the completed hull sides and internal cabin have been insulated with polyurethane spray foam. The cabin floor base has also been fitted. I am constantly asked if we have planned a route and my answer has always been, "we'll go in the direction the boat is facing when launched". No route has always been the plan but we have been requested to stay in or near the boatyard area for 2 to 3 weeks just in case anything needs tweaking. Someone mentioned the Leicestershire ring, which looks appealing, taking in Burton-upon-Trent, Tamworth, Nuneaton, Leicester and Loughborough, taking approx 70 hours cruising, 101 locks and 5 tunnels.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Boat, Sky and Birmingham

As you can see, the wait was well worthwhile. She now has a cabin and roof and looks magnificent. A real boat. Marian is to let us know when it will be floated into the cabin fit-out bay so more photo's to follow. Wilf the welder, who has lived on a boat since the year dot stated the first five years are like a holiday and it gets better from thereon. The Sky man (David Bowie 19??) called this morning to reconnect our TV and told us he had lived on a boat for much of his early life whilst instructing us on the easiest way to have Sky on the boat. Small world. Retrospective thoughts on Birmingham: Basically a knot of motorways with the occasional high-rise flats and factory units to enhance the aesthetics. Who in their right mind would authorise the iconic Fort Dunlop to become a Travelodge? However, once off the motorways it becomes an almost "normal" city. On the plus side it has a fine array of pylon designs and much time is spent actually in the cloud formations. One roundabout is apparently adorned with large chunks of recycled steel railway bridges. Our visit coincided with the presentation of two rainbows so the downsides were minimised. Apparently it has the best curry houses in Britain, but I have yet to test that accolade. In the old mods and rockers age some of my friends made a regular pilgrimage to Birmingham from London on their tiger-tailed mopeds just to sample the curries, so who am I to argue?

The Tropic of Watford Gap

From Birmingham yesterday lunchtime we headed down the M40 to Chislehurst in freezing fog, unable to see the car bonnet let alone any road signs or markings.Worse was to follow. Arriving at Chislehurst we realised the address and postcode of the WWF Christmas get-together location remained at home in Anstey. All the usual landmarks were lost in the fog and we passed the war memorial and christmas lighted houses from several directions before finally being blocked by a farm gate at the end of a very slim track where we sat for several minutes considering our options, one of which was to return home. As I was attempting a 17 point turn my mobile rang. It was the frantic owner of the lost venue who provided her postcode, quickly put into our sat-nav. Within minutes we arrived at our destination very late, exhausted to the point of collapse,in need of food and drink. Having spent a very pleasant evening updating news and putting the world to rights we again headed off into the even thicker fog hoping to locate our son's flat in Chessington where we intended spending the night before our return home this afternoon. The fog had gone and been replaced by a spectacular white frost, making cars, trees and lawns resemble a traditional christmas card. The temperature when we left was 0*Centigrade but slowly climbed as we headed north reaching 4*C at Watford Gap. Before we moved everyone down south warned of arctic conditions in "the north". Either we have been lucky or they were being less than honest as we have enjoyed warmer temperatures, lots more sunshine and no snow to date. Immediately we returned to Anstey we stripped off our thermals and put on our designer sunshades again !

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Bus crash mystery

After the excitement of yesterday and a really oddball dream (more about that later) today will be spent travelling to Chislehurst, Surrey (famous for caves)to attend the WWF Bromley Supporters Group annual Christmas get-together. From the mid 70's to the early 90's I was the Bromley group secretary, responsible for membership, newsletters, coach trips and regular wildlife films and/or talks by well-known wildlife personalities, in addition to manning stalls at fetes and other events raising money for the WWF, this being the time of "save the wales"(as in mammals,not country) and "save the tiger" campaigns. WWF was, and is, a well-respected conservation organisation which tends to deal directly with Governments to set up nature reserves, national parks and programmes to protect wildlife and habitats, as opposed to Greenpeace who tend to take direct and more spectacular action to achieve the same goals. Opposite ends of the spectrum. As you would expect, I remain a member of both. Back to the dream: For some unexplained reason I was driving a red London Routemaster double-deck bus when I came across a crash between two motorcyclists on a roundabout. All roads were blocked. In a valiant attempt to maintain my bus schedule I opted to take an unofficial route the wrong way round the roundabout where traffic congestion appeared less. Needless to say I hit several cars and ended-up T-boning another Routemaster.Luckily a lorry mechanic was on board with his toolkit and we decided to dis-entangle both buses by removing the bodywork. Thereafter I was able to drive the chassis, without bodywork but including passengers, to the local bus depot, only slightly later than scheduled.An analysis of said dream would be of great interest !!.

Monday 10 December 2012

Sunday 9 December 2012

Hurricane in Wind Farm

Nothing nautical today as we spent our time exchanging tumble driers with friends. Or rather, we dumped our clapped-out victorian version, as used by Queen Victoria, in their skip whilst moving their unwanted newer version into our shed. Good swap,eh? The remainder of the day was spent rushing to a hospital in Birmingham where our newest granddaughter was being cared-for by our wonderful NHS.She was taken in last night due to breathing difficulties. On arrival we were greeted by Sienna in an oxygen tent with various monitors and machines attached to her, apparently suffering with bronchiolitis, a virus infection( !!?!!) common in very young children. She looks to be improving by the hour.The unfortunate illness just before Christmas is as welcome as a hurricane in a wind farm.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Boat takes shape

Following yet another lesson from my computer expert friend I now hope to complete my blog daily which should alleviate the need for you to plough through the previous 955 days on a daily basis. The photo above was taken several weeks ago but due to my pre-Terry ignorance I was unable to upload it previously. Tardis Two is actually more advanced now, but until our next visit we are not sure to what degree. Hopefully I'll be able to post an up-to-the-minute photo.Watch this space.

4th to 6th Dec

4th December 2012.  New York or Willington?     We had arranged to meet two long-lost friends from Burton on Trent for lunch at the Dragon. We avoided passing the boatyard on the way there to uphold our decision to delay our next visit for another week or two, principally to avoid further disappointment and frustration at the slow rate of progress to date. Lunch was a relaxing and enjoyable affair, catching up on lots of news and gossip missed over previous years. On leaving we were greeted by a 60ft tall plume of water emanating from the centre of Willington. A gongoozler taking photographs confirmed it was from a water main damaged by a JCB digging a trench. We joined the spectators and were soon presented with a high-speed display by a fire engine and several police car crews who very quickly dealt with the water and the resulting traffic jam. It was reminiscent of an American movie where every car crash in New York results in a fire hydrant erupting. Do American drivers habitually aim for fire hydrants before crashing or are they strategically placed to protect pedestrians and shop fronts? Free car washes?   We had the choice of going home the way we came or passing the boatyard, the latter being very tempting. However, we somehow resisted.

5th December.  A very cold but sunny day. The rest of the country have had snowfall, so we appear to be lucky in the East Midlands. Everyone who made contact today fully expected us to be trapped in head-high snowdrifts, being north of the mythical Watford Gap. The response from all tempered on bitter disappointment. We spent the day painting the hall, lobby, porch (or whatever you care to call it - we certainly haven’t decided yet) then shopping yet again for little embellishments to further enhance our fresh, new environment.

6th December.    Pylons and clouds. Prior to our move to Anstey we were made aware of the UK Pylons Appreciation Society. No kidding!! Members must spend lots of time in Leicestershire as the place is full of them. Shortly after our move the chairman (actually a woman) of the UK Clouds Appreciation Society appeared on a news bulletin for a reason that now escapes me . Because of the wide-open spaces, farmland and spectacular views in Leicestershire some of the cloud formations to be seen are stunning. Both societies appeal to our warped sense of humour and much time on car journeys is devoted to taking the urine out of them. We often comment on wonderful cloud formations, allocating totally inappropriate names for them, none of which I intend to reveal in print. We are often in ecstasy  when a particularly fine cloud formation can be seen over an imposing line of spectacular electricity pylons. If anyone has details of how to contact cloud or pylon society members please let us know so we can alert them to any particularly exciting combinations spotted. Still no snow, though. We will keep alert for any sightings of snow-bearing cloud formations. What next? A public convenience appreciation society with George Michael as chairman? A Richard Branson appreciation society? Who would be chairman I wonder?  Answers on a postcard.


Monday 3 December 2012

Slow Boat Round Britain: Thedream of retiring and living on a narrowboat en...

Slow Boat Round Britain: Thedream of retiring and living on a narrowboat en...: The dream of retiring and living on a narrowboat endlessly and randomly cruising the 2000 miles of canals and rivers in Great Britain owes...(See September blog for full introduction)
December 2nd
Apologies for the missing week or more, partly due to myself, Lynne and two friends (ex-friends?) attempting to transform our living room from blitz to livability. A very successful operation.
The terraced house dates back to 1897 but now has an ultra-modern 2012 style living room with power points and light switches where they should have been in the first place. The two styles manage to complement each other despite the age difference. A bit like the old house taking in a toy-boy!       
Talking of relationships, mine with the computer, any computer, is fraught with problems based on total ignorance, a more plausible and real reason for the blog  absence.