Thursday 31 January 2013


Blue skies, sunny and windy this morning, not that I actually saw much of it sleeping till almost lunchtime. The rhino is bobbing about. Our only-just ex-student youngest son descended on us last night, together with a complete wardrobe of dirty clothes. The washing machine is glowing red whilst the drier resembles one of those huge power station cooling towers, complete with plumes of steam rising several hundred feet into the sky, blocking out the sun for everyone in Anstey. The plus point of all this turmoil is the drier steam pipe finally permanently being fixed through a new hole in the shed side, rather than poking out of the door whilst in use. Since getting our new drier I had intended completing the job but the high pace of retirement prevented it. Another step back into middle class! For those of you living abroad, the class system is still alive and well in Britain.I suspect we are probably in the old-gits class at the moment, retired, old and insignificant. I am not sure what class we'll be in once on the boat. A large tupperware sea going gin-palace would certainly raise us to upper class, but where does a narrowboat fit? The gin-palace owners will call us bargee's whilst the middle classes will call us quaint. Both classes will call the narrowboat a barge, much to our horror. To us a barge carried coal or other industrial substances before the railways made them obsolete. We defend narrowboats and their owners to the hilt, which I guess makes us bloody canal snobs? We've promised ourselves, as boat owners, we will not look down our noses at hire-boats and their crews, as used to happen to us during our floating holidays. I certainly consider my boat handling skills match theirs. It is always a laugh watching the faces of a tupperware boat crew as we draw our narrowboat alongside in a lock.....sheer horror, as they quickly hang old car and bike tyres,fairy liquid bottles,inflated condoms etc over the side. 20 tonnes of steel versus a few ounces of tupperware equals no contest. I'm still trying to get my head round this boat owning lark. Trying to convince myself it is a reality, the fulfilment of a long-standing dream. Trying to believe we've achieved it with little or no spare money, largely thanks to Lynne and her infamous accountancy skills. We're broke again now. Materially rich, cash poor. But what the hell? At MCC I become an excited schoolboy with £20 pocket money in the Cadbury, Bournville factory shop. It is difficult to maintain this excitement away from the boatyard but I'm getting there. Depression, what depression? Launch is getting so close. Our Naval insurance company still owes us final settlement for the car, over a month since the accident and are still P*****G us about, although a noteable large improvement in their service means they phone us rather than visa versa at 8 pence a minute. If the Titanic owners insured with the naval company they should receive the cheque within the next few days.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Who ate all the pies?

Ignore the string of 100 watt bulbs, not part of the final internal decorations. Note the light blue exterior undercoat (2 layers)and the dark blue exterior top-coat (3 layers) Not sure what the official colours are but in car jargon they will be something like Arctic satin and Midnight blue. The interior ceiling is complete, as are the lower walls. What can't be seen are the completed electrics, central heating and fresh water pipes. The rhino was busily shaking his head and the cloud formations were wizzing past all day. In hindsight my dodgy spell yesterday was less of a dizzy spell but more of a fit. Not good news.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Rhino's & Status Quo

overcast day with warmer winds. I know if it is windy outside before I get out of bed because the Black rhino's head poking out from the house chimney opposite moves up and down. The perfectly shaped rhino head, complete with ears and horns is, in fact, a branch of a very tall pine tree growing in the garden of a very large house behind the terraced houses on the other side of our road. I would guess the large house once belonged to a factory owner or brewer, of which there were many in the village during recent history. When I get a chance I'll attempt to identify the pine species from closer range, otherwise I'll have to lean out of my bedroom window armed with powerful binoculars and suffer getting strange looks from the locals. I know it is a black rhino because it has a pointed lip, of which I have observed over many years at Port Lympne Animal park in Kent, one of two parks operated by the Aspinal Foundation breeding endangered species for return to the wild. Species successfully returned over recent years include black Rhino's,Western Lowland Gorillas,Wild Horses,Wolves and Pythons, to name but a few. Howletts and Port Lympne animal parks are well worth a visit. There are possibly more black Rhino's in Kent than Africa. The MCC visit was truly exciting today, particularly as the boat rocked for the first time when we were aboard (not as in Status Quo but as in Ferry on a rough day).The outside hull has been undercoated, the bow end topcoated, the ceiling completed and the electrics,plus central heating and water pipes fitted, as will become immediately obvious to you in tomorrow's uploaded photo's. Our Dragon loyalty card held over £7.00 before being emptied and added to today, a sad indication of previous activities. Following heavy recent rains flood plains, but the roads to and from Stenson were thankfully passable. The return journey yet again punctuated by boat-blind searching, this time at Low Woods Furnishings, Belton. Exciting for Lynne, but mind blowingly boring for me.I have never seen so much material in one place before, with the exception of my first girlfriend ready for a mid-winter walk. However these things must be done by all boating pioneers apparently (blind hunting, not winter walking). Having bleated on about not having a dizzy turn for over a week this evening I had the mother of all turns, although I knew what was going on throughout. Lynne asked my name and date of birth, both of which I got right. Otherwise it was a good day. I'll keep my bloody mouth shut in future.

Monday 28 January 2013

Brass monkeys

Summer-like weather with sub-arctic wind. A quiet day other than yet another visit to the doctor's. a new one this time. A young lady who knows her stuff and verges on the zany. I like her. Updated my drug dosage on her computer and changed my anti-indegestion tablets (yet another drug to combat the side effects of another drug). She offered to do my counselling to get me off the happy pills, which suits me. Should be a laugh and an immediate pick-me-up.She is still awaiting the letter from my consultant which I know from experience takes at least 3 weeks. (a one-finger typist like me?).Once received counselling commences. I can't wait. The naval insurance company are sending a £100 cheque as compensation for their incompetence,bloody-mindedness and stress creation (not their words of course). Still waiting for the final settlement cheque. An insider confirmed no company operates multi-car policies without major hash-ups such as ours, the computers and staff just can't cope. A lesson learned the hard way but worth noting if you're looking for insurance. I intend avoiding a multi-boat policy for Tardis Two. Boat builder visit planned for tomorrow so watch for more photo's once I work out how the hell to transfer them to the blog again, so it may take a day or two.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Katie Price/Dragons Den

Almost summer-like today with the exception of a very cold wind. One of our cats has taken to attacking the kitchen door to get our attention early in the morning, looking for breakfast. I was woken at 5.00am by scratching and banging, none too pleased. If the same happens on the boat I wonder how good cats are at swimming? The early start gave me the opportunity of watching the Australian Open final live on BBC. None of those annoyingly loud adverts endlessly repeated between games and sets. Playing Djokovic must be like hitting balls against a wall equipped with reflexes. Whatever you do the damn thing comes back, only harder. Murray played well, bless him. On another day he'll win, wait and see.(How long have you heard that?) After the game I went for my usual shower and made my regular mistake, only this time with my feared result.To reach the shower room we have to cross the back bedroom which has a large window giving good inward views from Woodgone Street. At night it is not a problem with the curtains shut, in daylight it has all the makings of a problem with the curtains open. Since living here I have escaped being seen,often conscious of having a narrow escape. This morning was an exception when confronted by a young mother with a pushchair walking up Woodgone Street. I am unsure if her expression was of surprise or admiration, but we both ended up smiling. I have often considered renting our back bedroom to Katie Price and make my jogging route up and down Woodgone street. Being retired often results in my waking wondering what day it is, let alone time and date.The delivered newspaper confirms the day and date, the kitchen clock the time. The thought occurred to me someone should invent a clock that confirms all 3 requirements, but I'm now told one already exists. Bang goes my planned appearance on Dragons Den asking for £40,000 investment in return for 2% of the company. Talking of Dragons Den, has anyone else noted how often they appear in adverts and on so-called entertainment shows? The only missing link seems to be Debora. I think she would do well on "Live at the Apollo". I used to know someone who's job it was to switch-on adverts for Sky at the appropriate moment during live broadcasts. It sounds a doddle but you have to concentrate at all times. He failed to do so one day, covering a last minute winning goal in a cup final with Fairy Liquid. He no longer works for Sky. I have now gone a whole week without a dizzy spell which is a great relief and indicates the changes to my medication are working.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Watford Gap termination

Rain overnight with blue skies and sunshine this morning, leading to wonderful cloud formations later. Some snow remains in Bradgate park. The pylons remain as ever.....pylons. Today I sadly discovered the Watford Gap phenomena will no longer be investigated due to the Rio having no outside temperature indication. Short of opening the window and sticking my head out of it for a mile or two either side of Watford Gap I can think of discovering temperature differences in no other way. In any case the chances of Eddie Stobart removing my head would be too high, although on the plus side it could reduce my tumour problems. Today was spent boat-blind material hunting yet gain, firstly in Loughborough and then in Leicester, again highlighting the difference between chalk (Leicester) and gorgonzola cheese (Nottingham). Still no success. What's more, both journeys were successfully completed without the aid of a sat-nav. Now that's progress. Lynne was offered the job in Nottingham but declined on the grounds of the extensive commute each way, the extremely low temperature in the shop and the high cost of car parking (£10 for 3 hrs). The offer was therefore changed to 3 days in the Leicester shop and 1 in Nottingham. Again the offer was declined. Lynne has a limited range of wedding thermal wear. We aim to visit the boatyard early next week and post more photo's.

Friday 25 January 2013


Lynne got the job but declined on the basis of commuting and parking problems (parking would have cost £15 per day). An alternative option has been offered involving part of the week in the Leicester store and one day in Nottingham. The jury is out on that one. A cheque arrived from the naval insurance company - not for the right amount - but what else did I expect? Another cheque for the shortfall will follow apparently. We intend retaining our personal registration plate and have all the necessary paperwork with the exception of The Kia Rio logbook, currently with the DVLA in Swansea. Once in our possession it should be a fairly painless process (famous last words). Healthwise it is a fairly good day so far.

Thursday 24 January 2013

Zombie day

After a really good day yesterday an urgent need for sleep decended at 8.00pm. I then slept soundly until 6.00am. I got up feeling worse than the evening before and retired to bed yet again at 9.00am only to be woken by Lynne in a panic at midday. She had belatedly discovered her interview was today at 2.30pm, rather than tomorrow. Feeling a bit less zombie-like I offered to accompany her for support. A bit like having John Prescott supporting you on an English teacher interview. After first views of Nottingham it is easy to understand why Robin Hood chose to live in Sherwood forest. In comparison Leicester looks like Venice. However, after walking around for a while impressions greatly improve. It even has London Taxi's and 24/7 McDonalds, plus trams. What more could you wish for? Small historic shopping malls hide dozens of quirky shops selling everything from paintings to hand-made jewellery, whilst the high street and larger, modern shopping malls house all the usual stores on a grand scale. Lynne's interview went well, result pending, tempered only by the long commute both in time and distance. The naval insurers this morning upped their offer yet again. The latest being £1000 more than their original offer,virtually matching my initial valuation. Everything comes to those who wait. On the boat-front MCC have agreed to fit the tv aerial wiring ready for our recently discovered boat TV expert to connect everything up once the boat is complete, a decision we are pleased with. Meanwhile Lynne and a friend have opted to make the blinds themselves, thus saving a small fortune. Both the aforementioned decisions should make closing the gap between available funds and final boat price easier.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Spring arrival?

It snowed again overnight but it virtually completely disappeared by lunchtime and it is much warmer. We went shopping for boat blinds and returned home with a folding table and chair set,as you do. Lynne has elected to make the blinds herself, with the assistance/guidance from a friend, due to the ridiculously high prices in the shops.In addition we purchased a very tasteful bunch of false flowers (difficult to say, even when sober). The naval insurance company phoned twice today which is double the number in the previous month. The price is rising.Lynne has an interview at a wedding shop in Nottingham Friday in the hope of closing the financial hole we have dug ourselves. No funds = no boat.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Another one bites the dust

No more snowfall but lots still laying around. Roads clear. We have just lost our second car within a month. Sadly the Kia Cee'd was returned to the hire company, somewhat grubbier than when collected but nothing a high pressure hose couldn't tackle. As previously stated we loved the car and the hire company staff were pretty brilliant, which takes me to the other end of the spectrum - our naval insurance company. After three weeks and daily "chasers" they have finally acknowledged I crashed a car, not a moped. Their latest offer has increased by £650 but, having waited this long I told them I'll wait a little longer for a more acceptable sum. All the staff spoken to have been the essence of politeness, unfortunately none of them having a clue what is going on. Health-wise today is the first of my new drug regime (the first day of the rest of my life) and so far - so good. Long may it last. The receptionist at the car hire company lives on a 70ft narrowboat, permanently moored near Leicester, so we had lots to talk about. Everyone we have met living on a boat, without exception, have loved it, which only reinforces our belief we have taken the right direction.

Monday 21 January 2013


Our trip to London was uneventful. The roads there and back were clear of ice and snow. We even had a spell of sunshine,blue skies and cloud formations. The grey blankets of snowy clouds for several days had caused me to be like an alcoholic trapped in Saudi Arabia by an air controllers strike! The snow-clad pylons had compensated somewhat but I missed the fluffy clouds. The hospital consultant contradicted the previous diagnosis of my problems being caused by the anti-depression drugs and upped the anti-seizure drugs instead. The result to be monitored and addressed at another appointment in three months time. In the meantime he has arranged for me to see a shrink (I can't spell the official name and don't have access to a dictionary,apparently still stored in a removal box somewhere).Hopefully this will address the root reason for my depression and allow me to drop the happy pills, once and for all. Those of you who know me will welcome the intervention of a shrink. My Watford Gap theory was blown out of the water today. On the way South the temperature increased by 4 degrees and decreased by the same amount on return. The naff village christmas tree has finally been removed, presumeably to the Teletubbies set

Sunday 20 January 2013

Head and Shoulders

Another day of dandruff sized snow, but this time almost like rain,too mild for it to settle. Roads clear. No ice. Our trip to London looks to be on, although more snow forecast overnight. Some good news on the boat front. Stensons have arranged to collaborate with Travelsat (Martyn Hicks) on fitting the TV aerial to Tardis Two. Hopefully if the thaw continues we'll be able to visit Stenson later in the week when I should be able to update you via photo's. I had two quite hefty dizzy spells yesterday but fortunately indoors, so no harm done.

Saturday 19 January 2013

Sky news

Some boat news for a change. Flicking through January's Canal Boat magazine (for narrowboat fanatics only) I discovered an article by a guy called Martyn Hicks who now specialises in supplying and fitting TV aerials and Sky dishes for mobile homes and boats. This whole subject I have found mind-boggling with so much kit about and differing advice from whoever you speak to. A quick phone call later and the mist began to clear, plus the cost of the aforementioned bits of kit miraculously shrunk by 50%. Martin offered to work with MCC and charge us directly for his input on the TV setup, an offer I have conveyed to MCC and await their response. On the subject of magazines, The Tillergraph is a free publication available from most marinas and chandlers, or get it free on your Ipad newsdesk app. It is a good read for boaters and non-boaters alike. Cleared 2 inches of snow off both cars today and left them ticking over for a few minutes. To shatter the image of us being well-healed, the hire car is thanks to the generosity of a benefactor and the cost of the "new" car will be partly covered by my insurance payout, assuming the naval company get around to providing the money sometime. I'm writing to the Managing Director today outlining my experiences with the majority of his workforce. It will be a long letter. For a million reasons (including the car incident) we are short of the funds to cover the last boat payment. The best laid plans of mice and men. As a consequence Lynne is having to look for short-term work locally in an attempt to cover the shortfall, bless her. (I am banned from working by Lynne,family and doctors) I might buy an lottery ticket or two over the next few weeks but past experience does not inspire confidence. These things always work out, and have to, if a dream is to become reality.

Friday 18 January 2013


Blizzards outside today. Very fine snow, a bit like dandruff, which conjures up visions of a fleet of RAF in-flight refuelling tankers flying above the clouds spraying Head and Shoulders. Job done. No more snow, or even the wrong type of snow for the rail companies and airports. Everyone in the streets having shiny and manageable hair. One advantage of snow is that new dog crap on pavements is easily avoided. The hidden ones are frozen solid and not harmfull to shoes and carpets. Apparently we had an earthquake yesterday morning, only 2.9 on the scale. The earth didn't move for me but it takes above 4.5 to do that, I'm told. The naval insurance company still has not made a realistic offer, after 3 weeks and 11 phone calls. Spoke to Jonathon this morning who would not be pressed on when an offer would be made, but made the usual comment that I would be contacted later today. However, he did comment I had been waiting a long time. I joked my car would soon be a classic and he laughed. It was interesting to hear someone who works in such a tardy company can still retain a sense of humour. Once again a good nights sleep and a relatively clear head today- Whoopee-Do.

Thursday 17 January 2013


Heavy snow outside with loads more forecast. Having insured our new car we spent today arranging breakdown cover (tempting fate?) There is a wide choice and a wide range of prices, which makes Club Toyota membership look even more of a bargain considering the brilliant services they offer. However, I'm sure Toyota would notice if I tried to register a Kia for membership. We have also found an AA service for boats which we aim to join, given our very limited mechanical knowledge.The limit of my expertise is changing batteries in a TV remote control. We assume the rescue service arrives overland, otherwise the wait could be life-changing, particularly if a food supply is out of reach. Today I realised yesterday's blog singled out Michael Caine, neglecting stars of the other films mentioned, so for pub quiz fanatics I can convey the following information: Dustin Hoffman (Little Big Man), Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves)Peter Strauss (Soldier Blue) Robert De Niro (The Mission) Kenneth Branagn(Rabbit Proof Fence) I'll expect 20% of any winnings please. Had a good night's sleep with no lurid dreams, thankfully. My conclusion for a cause rests with the medication. I take 7 tablets mornings and 3 nights, the majority to alleviate side-effects of the others. Only one controls seizures, the major reason for taking any drugs at all. As mentioned previously the small print on drug leaflets listing "possible" side-effects are mind-boggling, reading them is probably best avoided but magnetic all the same.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Michael Caine

It's freezing here.Shell seem to have caught a cold in the arctic. Oh dear. What a shame. If you are waiting for boat news leave the blog now as there isn't any, sorry. I had a sleepless night and managed to have a dream whilst still awake. I was trying, once again,to get my head round this brain tumour thing. Over two years ago they discovered it after a seizure, caused by it putting pressure on my brain, which presumeably means it must have been growing? It was then decided to give me annual scans to "keep an eye on it" but it hasn't changed yet, although experience leads them to believe it will. Only the timescale is unknown. However, the original brain surgeon I saw after my first scan(brilliant man but somewhat loopy)mentioned 3 to 10 "normal" years, but failed to define what happens after that......I changed consultants. The second one,equally as qualified but the right side of sane confirmed "something" will happen but only after an unpredictable time.In the meantime they'll scan it annually and "if anything happens" they'll zap it with chemo or radiotherapy. If they spot it changing early enough they can stop anything happening, which is very reassuring.When pressurised he informed me it could become cancerous or, because it is on the right of my brain, various functions on the left of my body may deteriorate (!!?!!) Again very reassuring. It's like standing facing a herd of galloping buffalo and the ranger stating, "nothing will happen to you until after an unpredictable time." Back to my awake dream. I was Michael Caine (Zulu) facing the massed ranks of zulu warriors sweeping over the ridge, all intent on killing me.I shot lots of the front row, only for the second row to take over, then the third row and so on. The odds on me surviving were small. Get the link? Similarly I was "Little Big Man" defying the might of the US army, but again overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Get the link again? The dream went on to include "Rabbit proof fence" (how the aborigene race were treated by invaders plus "Soldier Blue" and "Dances with wolves" (my desert island choice)the slaughter and treatment of native American indians, plus "The mission" ditto for South American indians. Get the link again? One individual against an endless number of unknown enemies. My tumour cannot be removed as it resembles a small amount of ink being dropped into a glass of water. The centre remains undiluted whilst the outside filters outwards into the glass (or my brain in this case). A few days ago I doubled the strength of happy pills (under medical supervision)but have reverted to my original dose today in the hope of happier dreams and some actual sleep. If you look at the small print on the leaflet in pill boxes most anti-depressants can actually increase "depression and suicidal thoughts". I rest my case.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Multicar policy

Today we became a multicar family. Our new car is now parked next to our hire car outside our house (too many ours?). The new one you'll be surprised to know is insured with a non-naval company...LV. Unfortunately it is not possible to know how competent they are until after we claim, unless they are recommended, as these were.Time will tell. I've been asked what a Kia Rio looks like as there are not lots around and anyway you wouldn't have noticed. It is about the size of a Ford Focus, but prettier (not difficult). Do you remember those lunchtime school kickabouts when the best footballer and the school bully set-up rival teams for an imaginary FA cup final? They would stand in front of the rest of the school,all trying desperately to get noticed, and each would be picked based on their ability or relationship to the "captain" until the smallest two pupils with glasses remained and were reluctantly picked as goalkeeper. The Rio would be fourth from last being picked in the above scenario. Not outstanding in a crowd but reasonably good looking, competent, reliable, honest and able to more than hold their own in a hostile environment. (Not unlike myself really). Lynne had a test drive to the petrol station and pronounced her satisfaction with it (the car not the petrol station). I have sent my old road-tax disc back to the DVLA for a refund, but there are sufficient get-out clauses in the small print to indicate the money will stay in Wales for a while before being transferred to Westminster servicing our national debt. By way of self publicity I feel obliged to ask any Telegraph readers to dig-out last Saturday's copy wherein Jessica Gorst Williams fills half a page on our lengthy battle with the Spanish Bank, together with a particularly pleasant photo of Lynne and I reclining on our sofa in our new home. To be honest we were expecting it in this coming Sunday's edition so were somewhat caught on the hop by the early publication and had to bribe our local newsagent to retrieve a copy before being pulped. Whilst on the subject of mortgages I googled Henley regatta to find out if we could moor Tardis Two there this year. A couple of days sunbathing, sipping Pimms and scoffing strawberries and cream seemed appealing,but the cost requires a huge Bank loan or a mortgage so we may resort to mooring somewhere near Oxford for free and hike as necessary, not easy after several pints of Pimms. If anyone in Henley has a 62ft space at the bottom of their garden please get in touch.

Monday 14 January 2013

Consumer advice

Today I awoke to a white carpet (in the garden, not the bedroom) with snow still falling. It continued till lunchtime by which time it was around 2cm deep. We had previously decided to take the TV bracket over to Stenson today, but conditions made us reconsider so we opted for a trial run to the Co-op as our youngest son has threatened to descend on us for a few days and he can eat for Britain. We made it without problem so Lynne felt confident enough to head for Stenson. The back roads were reasonable and the motorway clear. Dropping the TV bracket off at the workshop all 5 staff were working on Tardis Two. "You've risked your bloody life to drop off a bracket?" said John and we could not argue. The sun came out and our trip home was almost snow free, although we noticed a number of potholes in the M1 reminding us of motorways in Cuba where numerous potholes could swallow a car. Lynne has fallen in love with the Cee'd and is dreading giving it back. Our "new" car should be delivered as conditions allow, but Thrifty will not permit early return of the Cee'd without financial penalty. Lynne is pleased. I made my 11th phone call to the naval insurance company and spoke to the 11th staff member today. You would think by the law of averages I should have spoken to the same person at least twice. Stacey, Mellisa, Nick, Tim,Joyce,Cara, Sarah, Nigel, Keith, Renatto and another Nigel were all very polite but unsure of anything going on at the time. Apart from losing my car for 3 days it was actually written-off twice to cover the extreme delay, firstly on 4th January abd secondly on 11th January apparently. Having finally been given the relative email address I sent at least 6 adverts/prices for similar cars, all considerably more than their paltry offer. I aim to send the service history via email this evening and I am cosidering charging for their work personally undertaken. From recent experiences I would offer the following advice:.............Avoid Spanish banks at all cost..................Avoid naval insurance at all cost..........Buy a Kia Cee'd (as long as you don't mind not having a kitchen sink.......................From previous long experience.............Buy John Deere tractors (expensive but worth it to quote Za Za gabore)..................Get your liveaboard narrowboat from Midland Canal Company, Stenson, at John Lewis and/or in Leicestershire. On our first visit to the Old Hare and Hounds (we still have not found the new one)Lynne left her keys on the bar with her key-fob bearing the words "I never say no". By the time she had returned to collect them at least half the pub had seen and read them. To this day the regulars still comment on the key-fob every time we visit. Fame for Lynne at last.

Sunday 13 January 2013

A car and a moped

Having de-bugged my computer I was able to scour the internet for more second-hand cars.We carefully planned our route to minimise mileage and time. Having de-snowed our hire car we set off.It did not take too long to find a gem within our budget. Having got the Kia bug our search centred on Kia cars and dealers.We ended the day owning an immaculate Kia Rio, a CEE'd predecessor.Tomorrow we'll arrange insurance for it (but not with the naval company) and sadly arrange to return our hire car, which continues to be brilliant. Another phone call to the naval company is planned in a further attempt to convince them my written off vehicle was a car and not a moped, as their offer seemed to assume. We are gradually collecting vital nik-naks for the boat. Yesterday it was a TV bracket from Currys and today it was a hob from IKEA (we old-uns know how to live and enjoy ourselves). The hob turned out to be too long in reality so it is back to the internet on that one. Today has been another good one health-wise. The loss of driving,drinking,(not together, of course) cycling, rowing and bungee jumping (I jest)is enough to make anyone depressed but at least the boat on the horizon makes life worth living.

Saturday 12 January 2013


The computer gremlins/leprochauns struck again(depending if you believe it was nasties trying to stop normal life progressing or others just having a laugh). To bring you up to speed my trip to St.Georges hospital in London resulted in a scan confirming my tumour had remained static for the past year (nothing to worry about), therefore my dizzy spells and blank moments are due to the coctail of drugs I am taking so another visit has been scheduled for 21st January when my drugs/dosages will be reviewed and adjusted as necessary. The trips to and from London were courtesy of a hire car - A Kia Cee'd - which we have fallen in love with. It has everything but the kitchen sink on board and goes like a dream. Final internal plans for TARDIS TWO have been agreed, as has the final price, now including an anchor (essential for river use)outside paint and logos etc. Completion date has inevitably slipped to end of March. As previously mentioned we mucked MCC about for over a year, missing two slots with illnesses, house sale and financial problems so the agreement was for MCC to fit our boat in-between their outstanding orders, completion dependent on overall work progress and staff availability, so we cannot complain. On the plus side April is a good time to start cruising with the whole summer ahead, promising sunshine and very little rain (?) The Naval insurance company eventually got around to making me an offer on my written-off car, almost exactly half what I expected. After the inevitable "discussion" the officer suggested I should find adverts of cars for sale identical to mine (including mileage)at the price I want and email them to him. Unfortunately he was to text me his email address but seems to have forgotten. Yet another phone call on Monday, my 10th to date! We are currently scouring the locality for a small automatic car and have arranged to view two Kia Picanto's tomorrow. Following an offer of two weeks holiday for him and his wife on our boat another Kia salesman has promised to let us know as soon as a suitable car is traded-in. We met him this afternoon and already he has phoned twice with possible alternative Cee'd's which we are considering. The trip back from London again triggered the Watford Gap phenomina,only this time slightly further south at Northampton. The temperature suddenly increased two degrees but my theories were crushed when it fell by two degrees again as we reached Leicester Forest East. Health-wise I have had no dizzy spells or fuzzy moments for a couple of days, but I've felt encouraged and disappointed too many times to assume it is a permanent improvement.

Tuesday 8 January 2013


As you can see,TARDIS TWO now contains enough bricks to build a house when and if we ever decide to return on-land.This afternoon we plan to revisit Stensons to finalise colours, where we want the TV, fitting the cat-flap,security arrangements and licencing procedures/timetable. All exciting stuff for us, boring for you. Sorry.We are collecting a hire-car this afternoon to facilitate finding a replacement for the Yaris and our trip to hospital in London. The naval insurance company are still faffing around and are as useful as a chocolate teapot.A settlement offer is not now expected until Wednesday (another 6 day delay from their original promise). Two things the last year has taught me are not to have any financial connection with a Spanish Bank or to use a Naval insurance company.The latter are fine as long as you avoid an accident, which sort-of defeats the reason for using them. Take my advice, avoid at all costs (excuse the pun).

Monday 7 January 2013

Spike Milligan moments

From my comments a couple of days ago you will realise my knowledge of beetles is fairly limited. Two species are embedded in my brain, Stag and Dung. Stag beetles are relatively rare in the UK and their whereabouts should be reported at the first opportunity. This I did when I discovered a considerable number hiding in a private swimming pool pump house whilst working in Surbiton, of all places.Many years earlier, whilst helping-out on a farm near Lusaka, Zambia I offered to accompany three of the staff into the city on a daily egg-delivery run. The rear of the Mitsubishi pick-up truck was loaded with eggs and me, whilst the three staff knowingly occupied the cab. I quickly learned why all open-air pick-up truck passengers face rearwards, having quickly shipped mouthfulls and eyefulls of flying insects. Thus, facing backwards I and the truck headed for the city at around 40 mph, while unbeknown to me, a flying dung beetle was heading the opposite way at a similar speed. An adult beetle is roughly the size of a golf ball and almost as tough. Needless to say beetle and back of head made contact at a combined speed of 80 mph, the impact embedded in my brain (but not my head) to this day. I somehow remained upright and fortunately the eggs survived, as did I. By the way, the commencement of my tumour was tracked-back to a mini-stroke around 1999, not monitored by the NHS. Thus the Dung beetle was totally innocent. The title of Dung beetle in a sandstorm can be blamed on one of my Spike Milligan moments, more frequently occurring as I get older. As an example, Spike's gravestone is emblazoned with the words " I told them I was ill". We spent today visiting our stricken Yaris and our progressing boat, together with two daughters and three granddaughters. Emptying the Yaris of all personal possessions, number plates (we are retaining our personal number) and tax disc was very poignant. However, our damage was only a fraction of that to an adjacent sports car. I think it was a Lotus, the only visible recognisable clues being the hub-caps.Strangely it made us feel a whole lot better and pleased to still be alive. TARDIS TWO has gained a little weight over Christmas with the necessary ballast added. The Bubble Inn kitchens were having a hygiene inspection so we were all forced to once again visit the Dragon, which left very little time to discuss colour schemes and other vital issues with Eddie and Marian. We aim to go back tomorrow after picking up our hire car ready for the hospital trip on Wednesday.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Belated 2012 review

Today is Sunday and necessarily quiet. A good time to look back over my 2012. Following forty seven years of non-stop working, some active, some sedentary, my mind and body told me it was time to pack-up, which is exactly what I did, having first ensured my son Tom could and would continue my business. At the same time I retired from rowing and league ten-pin bowling after many years and no outstanding achievements. I once had a ninth share of a shield when I formed part of a scratch mixed vets crew from Molesey and Kingston Grammar School clubs at Molesey vets regatta. Against all odds we managed to win, largely due to an extremely complex handicap system. Apart from the presentation I have not seen the magnificent shield since, but I'm sure it looks great in someone's trophy cabinet. Having formed Blind Ali ten-pin bowling team many years ago and subsequently lurking in mid-table every year we managed to win the 2011/2012 league. Again a trophy eluded me as I had moved North prior to the presentation. Therefore my trophy cabinet remains empty despite previous spells in football, badminton, bowls, tennis, table tennis and swimming (not at the same time), interspersed by diabetes, lymphoma,a mini-stroke and a brain tumour. Who says exercise is good to maintain a healthy body? For post-retirement 2012 details see my September introduction blog. All in all 2012 was a mixed year, the highlight being commencement of the boat.It certainly went out with a bang! We plan a visit to see TARDIS TWO tomorrow so should have a progress report for you.

Saturday 5 January 2013

sand storm dung beetle

I have some good news and bad news.......No, that is a lie as I only have bad news.Sorry. Today my little Yaris is no more, merely a statistic on the DVLC computer, Having been written off as economically irrepairable, I am still awaiting the settlement terms from my naval insurance company. I suppose if they are used to dealing with those huge sailing ships, contactable at Dover then not again for several weeks until they arrive in the America's (if they do not fall off the edge of the World) then fast communication is not their forte. The Yaris has been part of our family for over 10 years so her departing to a scrap heap is a very sad affair. A replacement will be sought once we know how much we have to spend. The choice will be down to Lynne as I have already decided my driving days are over (apart from TARDIS TWO of course).My scan and drug review cannot come soon enough as all day my brain has felt like a dung beetle in a sandstorm. I spent the day (sunny and warm)in bed, emerging for a light breakfast, lunch and tea. Having caught up with the sleep I missed last night the fear now is I may evolve to be nocturnal.

Friday 4 January 2013

Eureka !!!

With no sign of the carrier pigeon I rang my naval insurance company at 10.00am this morning who confirmed they still know where my car is and an estimate had been received at 0830 this morning, which has been passed to their assessors for a decision. Due to the Christmas and New Year breaks the assessors have a considerable backlog of work but a decision is anticipated today and I will be notified accordingly (I'm not going to hold my breath). I am now on very friendly terms with naval insurance staff Mark, Stacey, Mellisa, Nick and Tim. Blue sky and sunny again, a good cruising day. We plan to cadge a lift to Stensons at the earliest opportunity.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Knotted handkerchief time

A very warm and dry day for the time of year. I could have been on Skegness beach in Burmuda shorts and knotted hankerchief in true British tradition, if only I had a car. With no call from my naval insurance company I contacted them late afternoon to discover progress, if any. They confirmed they had found my car at the Nottingham garage (where it should have been almost a week ago) but had yet to obtain an estimate for repairs. Urgent contact would be made and I would be called back. Unfortunately the carrier pigeon has yet to arrive so I guess it will need a further call from me in the morning. Serves me right for having the audacity to claim for an accident. 2012 has been confirmed as the wettest on record for the UK, confirming the brilliance of our boat-building decision.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Lost. Silver and answers to name of "Herbie".

I spent this morning (it's raining again) trying to locate my car. I could not get through to the garage in Nottingham to whom the car should have been transferred from the recovery depot in Coalville. I then phoned my insurance company - linked to the navy - who confirmed it should already be in Nottingham but they would check and let me know of any progress. As you would expect, my next attempt at getting through to the Nottingham garage was immediately successful. However, the young lady had no knowledge of my car or its whereabouts, nor had they been authorised by insurance to collect it. In desperation I then phoned the recovery depot who confirmed the car was still with them. Another call to my insurance company confirmed they had yet to arrange transfer of my car to Nottingham, apologised for the obvious oversight but promised to keep me updated thereafter, which was very reassuring and confirmed the urgency of their actions on my behalf.I wonder if their speed would increase if they were chasing late premium payment?(not applicable). Boat news will probably be in short supply this week as any visit to Stensons is out of the question. Bradley Wiggins I am not.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Liverpool Care Pathway

Hope the New Year has been good to you so far. It is sunny with blue skies this morning which bodes well for the year? Having got my head back into gear I can report an incident which occurred a day or two ago on the way home from Birmingham. Following my first (and only) seizure I ceased driving for a year, resuming without problem four months ago. According to Lynne a few miles from the end of the M69 I became more vacant than usual and slowed down. She asked me to pull onto the hard shoulder from the slow lane which I did but unfortunately misjudged the distance to the side crash barrier and hit it, very slowly. A call to Club Toyota (membership highly recommended for Toyota owners) resulted in a recovery truck, Police, Highways Agency and an ambulance arriving within minutes. All were very efficient and supportive. Both Lynne and I were ok but we were bundled into the ambulance, vital checks completed and delivered to Leicester Royal Infirmary where we waited over two hours for the ambulance crew to officially transfer us to the hospital's care. At the same time there were at least eight ambulance crews similarly held-up. What a waste of vital life-saving services. As the only A & E department for in and around Leicester the place resembled Wembley stadium minutes before the FA cup final.Eventually I had vital checks completed by the triage nurse and I was initially parked in the corridor again before being moved further along and almost in the treatment area. I was getting concerned I was already on the Liverpool Care Pathway, apparently a system whereby (mainly old) patients cease being given food, water, treatment or drugs thus saving the NHS money and beds. Authorised euthanasia. I was eventually released with instructions to contact my hospital in London for further review at the earliest opportunity. A successful search for a cash machine allowed us to get a taxi home. Subsequently "my" hospital in London arranged another brain scan and medication review, largely to address my concerns regarding stability on the boat.Falling into the canal is one thing, being only four feet deep, but the same happening in a lock could prove fatal. Phone consultations indicate the problems could be stress and drug related (anti-depressant and anti-seizure)so doses and types may need tinkering with. Apart from that I am OK. The car was originally taken to a garage in Coalville, near here, but is now in Nottingham for assessment by the insurers engineer. No news yet. Luckily all we need is just around the corner, shops, restaurants,pubs, countryside, but getting further afield may prove less easy. Last night failed to produce the expected party next door so New Year has been stress-free so far. Long may it continue.