Thursday 28 February 2013

six steps forward,three steps back

Sunny with blue sky and no clouds. Bad day for CAS members.Sorry. Following my long period of relative healthyness life took a turn for the worst yesterday. A restless night, floppy arms and five evening dizzy spells (fuzzyheadedness). Not good news. The only plus point being locating Walkers crisps. Having done a bit of homework it appears Golden Wonder and Smiths morphed into Walkers, hence the monopoly (excluding own-brands). But I diverse. No walk today for obvious reasons but I'll try to contact relevant experts in an attempt to find if my current troubles are merely a passing phase or something more serious. No doubt I will be asked to undertake yet another brain scan at St.Georges hospital, Tooting at great expense and time which will reveal nothing has changed and the advice again to "just get on with things", which I intend to do anyway. I've not got this close to the boat to give up now. As usual Lynne acts as my pillar (in every sense of the word) throughout each episode with the result I do not hit the floor or any other damaging obstruction. I'll pass the time with a spot of gardening and admiring the pylons yet again. Boat day tomorrow to update progress and see if we can get some idea of final price now all the pluses and minuses can be taken into account. Hopefully we'll then get some idea of our financial shortfall and how to rectify it. Blog title? Must be something to do with my age.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Gary Lineker

sunny today. I realised I have not reported on the rhino lately. He is OK but now has his mouth permanently open as if bellowing at something in the village centre but I have not seen lions or poachers there. Having previously mentioned I have not suffered any dizzy spells (or a fuzzy head as my doctor calls them) during February yesterday I had two, on top of which my left arm ceased to function twice on different occasions (roughly equivalent to dead-leg I suppose). A rough night followed. I felt OK this morning so completed my walk, but this time over a different route past the Anstey Nomads football "stadium", through a vast and very hilly country park to the Walkers crisp factory in Beaumont Leys, a long-held ambition of mine (sad eh?). Fortunately Gary Lineker was nowhere to be seen and unfortunately the factory does not "do" tours for the public, only schools and reps from other companies. I might print a business card for Golden Wonder, Smiths or Porky's pork scratchings to sneak my way in. Or I could find my old school shorts and jacket, I suppose. Overall I reckon the walk extended over five miles but was completed without problem, although I did suffer a dizzy spell whilst drinking my coffee at home afterwards.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Bedsit Disco Queen

Wet and cold today. My teeth passed their MOT with flying colours this morning. Some minor cosmetic work, no fillings, no pain. What always concerns me with dentists is how they disappear out of the room when taking xrays. If it is that dangerous what happens to the patient? The boat blind saga continues. The trial run yesterday was a success with one roman blind completed without major problem. Hopefully the completion rate will improve by time the thirteenth blind is done, otherwise we may be sleeping/showering/answering the call of nature in full view of the towpath for a month or two. Once the Yaris was scrapped I informed Club Toyota of the sad news and yesterday I received a cheque for the remaining unused membership period. A simple process done without hassle. Spanish Bank and Naval insurance please note. The next Tardis Two tasks to be addressed are registration, licensing and signwriting, plus juggling our ever decreasing funds. The latter being the most daunting. I have just finished reading Bedsit Disco Queen (how I grew up and tried to be a pop star) by Tracy Thorn. (Tracy who? I hear you ask.) Now 45 and mother of 3 Tracy began her pop career thirty years ago in the Marine Girls punk group before spending eighteen years as one half of Everything But The Girl,releasing nine albums and selling over nine million records. There are many ups and downs in the book with violent lifestyle swings from luxury to squalor and back again. If you like those type of stories you will love this. EBTG first came to my notice many years ago on an EP (remember those?)entitled "Covers". The exact opposite of punk. As part of the blind-making team I was despatched to a little knitting wool, knitting pattern, patchwork quilt cloth shop in the village, to purchase four meters of blind cord. The shop appears to have changed very little since victorian times, as has the stock. A little old hag appeared from the back like someone from the Hobbit or an old Dracula film. Long, knotted grey hair, cauldron coloured face and an oversize browny green hand-knitted sweater. Eventualy she found what I wanted and I quickly escaped via the victorian door, somewhat larger than the door frame, requiring considerable strength and/or bulk to close.

Monday 25 February 2013

Tardis introduction service

Drizzle and cold today. Still managed my walk though. We are trying to coordinate the finishing touches to Tardis Two. We have a few large, heavy items (currently in storage at home) to MCC. A friend with a vintage campervan (for the want of a better description)has offered to provide the transport and muscle required. One item is a box containing a folding table and four chairs. The other is a mattress, but not any old lightweight job. We changed our decrepid old mattress in our previous home several years ago and invested in a Harrison hand-made one containing six thousand springs (no kidding) The cover is made from wool sheared from their own flock apparently. Although expensive it is the most comfortable mattress we've ever owned. As we will be living on the boat we decided to buy another. Because of the weight and the fact it cannot be folded we suggested they build the boat around it, but they refused as they could not guarantee it's condition on boat completion. It has been a consistent joke throughout the build process and the MCC crew still don't believe us. We cannot wait to see their reaction when it arrives although we are fairly confident it will get through the rear door and to the front bedroom, hernia's permitting. Today is blind practice day. Lynne and friend Sue aim to settle on designs and manufacture. We should have some idea of timescales too. We are already organising trips to important events during the summer. Going anywhere requires considerable forward planning due to the four mph top speed. Crick Boat Show is from 25th to 27th May and is a must for the narrow boating fraternity, but interesting for others. It is for the real ale, black or green wellington brigade. Crick is on the Grand Union Canal above Watford Gap so the weather should be warmer than down South, although it usually rains. Avoid high heels (women and men). Other than windcheaters and waterproof footwear dress style is optional.Road access is available. Henley Regatta is from 3rd to 7th July. Racing from 0900 to 1930 approximately. For the men striped blazers and straw boaters are not essential. Dark blazers, chinos with a shirt and tie are required. For the ladies, dresses should be below the knee. Hats are recommended but not essential.Trousers and/or jeans are a no-no, as are wellies.Henley is for the Pimms brigade which,if properly prepared, offers refreshment and virtually all your 5 a day requirements. Henley is not as posh and stuffy as you would imagine. It offers a very good day out and the chance to bump into eligible olympians. We also have a couple of weddings to attend mid-July in South London which will involve cruising on the river Thames and the Grand Union Canal.

Sunday 24 February 2013

We are the champions

Cold with no snow today. A few days ago I mentioned my team, Blind Ali, winning the KC4 bowling league championship. By way of proof I have added a photo of our open-top bus parade through Tolworth Broadway.Several thousand fans, garbed in black and white, lined the broadway (according to an estimate by David Blunket)but were well constrained by police in riot gear. The bus was kindly arranged and paid for by our Irish sponsors The Shergar Meat Company. Most of the parade was in very warm sunshine but ended early due to a mighty thunderstorm, quickly clearing the crowd without incident.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Stenson Magnet

Eskimo weather again today but with dandruffy snow this time. The magnet that is Stenson operated again, drawing us over, this time with friends from London. (that's our excuse anyway). Of course nothing had changed since yesterday but we did have a chance to spend some time on Tardis Two alone, testing shower doors and drawers etc. In the next bay is a completed New and Old Boat Company Aqualine example, due for display at the Crick show in June, from which we gleaned lots of useful ideas and comparisons. Our friends were impressed with the room and light in Tardis Two and somewhat in awe of the Sixty two foot length. The "discussions" over toilet sinks and Galley-tops appear to have been settled. After lunch at the Dragon (again) we headed home in ever-increasing snowfall. Our next visit is scheduled for Friday the 1st March, ever closer to boat completion.

Friday 22 February 2013

Bog standard

Eskimo weather today. Before travelling to the boatyard we had a "lively discussion" regarding central heating on the boat. The "normal" radiators (which I prefer) are already in place but Lynne belatedly decided she would prefer the continuous floor-level ones. Having reviewed our limited funds I think the discussion ended in my favour. A great start. Things did not improve when we arrived due to two swans attempting to climb the steps as we wanted to descend. After a lot of aggressive body language and hissing (by the swans) we managed to enter the boat shed. The bed base is now fitted with space for four large drawers at one end and further storage space beyond the water tank with level gauge fitted. The shower cubicle is fully fitted. The diesel gauge is also fitted and the engine is ready to run. Another "lively discussion" ensued regarding a handbasin in the rear loo. Mick the fitter confirmed a handbasin was not on the specification due to restricted room. Lynne's recollection of the outcome of our discussion with Eddie and Dean a few weeks ago regarding the late addition of a rear loo was that a sink was possible. My recollection was somewhat different. To cut an extremely long story short Mick obtained a price for fitting a handbasin. Bearing in mind some hull and plumbing changes would be necessary the price is considerably more than we can afford. The swans had moved so over lunch at the Dragon further "discussions" were had. I am VERY happy with progress and fittings. I have a working engine and bow-thrusters, fuel and water tanks both with gauges, a multi-fuel stove and a bed. The only thing missing is a magazine rack in the loo. (a man thing). Women couldn't give a stuff about such things and worry over the curtain/blind colour and style, handbasins in toilets, revolving clothes lines, draining board design and where the ironing board will go. (a woman thing). We discussed our specification (which falls approximately within our budget) but agreed a higher spec would inevitably cost more than we have, ("Simples" the meerkats would say) The remainder of lunch was quiet, as was the journey home. We have friends visiting from London tomorrow wanting to see the boat so I'm hoping for a cheerier trip.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Road Block

It actually stopped raining before we reached Manchester yesterday. Our son lives in the "posh" part (as you would expect) No roundabouts adorned with scrap railway bridges, streets of neat houses not overshadowed by warehouses or factories. Quite pleasant really. My afternoon exercise today consisted of a walk to and from Thurcaston, a very small village two miles away. A church, pub and primary school but not much else. Not sure where the primary school pupils come from. Bused in from Leicester? The TV news reported Beachy Head has been road-blocked in an attempt to stop hundreds of Arsenal fans joining the CAS queue. We have another boatyard trip planned for tomorrow so should have some Tardis Two news and photo's for you.

Wednesday 20 February 2013


We're off to Manchester today. As I write it is inevitable our son is rushing around cleaning the house, stuffing piles of dirty washing into the machine and generally panicking. In true Manchester tradition it is raining, but even then it is bound to outshine Birmingham in sunshine I suspect. Something I meant to say about Bradgate park is that it contains many large and beautiful specimens of Monkey Puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana for you botanists out there). On the botany front I notice the cannabis factory next door has been rebuilt but not replanted yet. I have no idea what the crop schedule is for cannabis but I suspect the likely targets are the end of the rugby season (too soon?) or next Christmas/New Year (too long?). I'll google it to allow us to be away on the boat for the likely party dates.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Beachy Head

I can think of only one word to describe Les Mis........Magnificent. It is easy to see why packed audiences gave it a standing ovation. Our mid-Monday afternoon audience of twelve old fogey's had a problem standing, let alone ovating. Today is a warm and sunny day with clear blue skies. Good enough to cause a huge queue of cloud appreciation society members at Beachy Head. I undertook another of my Bradgate Park walks today, just to prove my increased fitness. This time I repeated my first venture through the park,past the house and round the lake/reservoir which was still frozen after last night's sharp frost. Around the park is six miles, but I'll do that in the car. This morning I went for my exploratory chest Xray in an attempt to find a reason for my ever-present cough.On arrival We paid for one hour of parking and laughed about how often we would need to feed the meter. Amazingly I was in and out in less than twenty minutes,job done. No waiting for hours in one waiting room only to be moved to another and so on. Glenfield hospital, well recommended.Results in ten days. We received yet another cheque from our naval insurance company. This time for £50 as another apology for their incompetence. That just about covers the cost of our endless phone calls to them at eight pence per minute. Healthwise I feel good today after a slight blip yesterday, for some unexplained reason.

Monday 18 February 2013

Les Mis

Another sunny day. Living north of Watford Gap is not half as daunting as we were originally warned.The Royal "we" decision to make our own boat blinds is on again, having been through times of doubt but the timescale is now very tight. I am half expecting another change of mind as the time pressure increases. Watch this space. We intend to use up more of this valuable time by going to the cinema this afternoon to see Les Mis, having missed the live version on-stage during it's fifty years run in the West End. Funny how you miss seeing things when they are on your doorstep.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Comings and Goings

Glorious sunny day today. The Coventry clouds were stunning, enhanced by the sun shining through and around them. A cloud appreciation society Bafta. I learnt another tip for supporting ten pin bowling today. When the ball first hits the pins shout "come on" very loudly, which apparently helps them fall over. A timely "go on" and a "come on" equals a strike, but you must keep your comings and goings in sequence. Surrey thrashed a couple of shires in the morning but everything went pear-shaped after a Nando's lunch. The final was in a sort-of round-robin format, far too complicated for my small brain on a Sunday afternoon. Suffice to say Surrey did not win. Something I miss London for sprang to mind this morning. I used to enjoy the M25 (sad eh?) as it went past Heathrow airport. Whilst in the inevitable traffic jam you were entertained by the whole range of modern passenger planes taking off or landing, from the massive to the small and everything in-between. In comparison East Midlands airport is a tiddler, with the infrequent appearance of a B737 or A300. Once you've seen one of those you've seen them all. Luckily traffic on the passing motorways seldom stops, otherwise you'd fall asleep.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Match of the day

Lots of results today and I don't intend to mention the Arsenal versus Blackburn FA cup match. Surrey girls beat Staffordshire and then Yorkshire to progress into tomorrows semi and then hopefully final. Surrey boys also won both matches and play again tomorrow. A word of advice for new bowling supporters. It is vital you loudly shout "Go on" as the ball reaches half way down the lane. This apparently causes more of the pins to fall over. On our way back from the boatyard yesterday we went cross-country and admired the incredible countryside, lots of it still underwater. At one point we saw a large flock of sheep stranded on an island in the middle of a large field/lake. We also saw pigs and cows but no horses. At Stenson they are currently working on five narrowboats including ours, two in the metalworking shed, two in the fitting shed and one in the paintshop. The guys must get confused? Hopefully we won't end up with a gin-palace. Apparently the Chinese are jumping aboard the horse-meat wagon by selling quarter panda's.

picture update

Top photo is engine control panel, minus the fuel guage, left photo is of me looking smug, right photo shows the boat from bow end with the bedroom drop-down TV , shower base and toilet, towel rail, radiators and early stages of galley cupboards/drawers. The battery bank is also fitted but no photo's this time I'm afraid. Today is sunny with wispy white clouds, ideal for the drive to Coventry. Health-wise the past week or two have been pretty good and certainly the best for many months. Less grumpy spells as the weather presenters would say. Thanks to the blogspot crew for suggesting a way round my problem of photo non-posting and the annoying/frustrating....(add your choice of angry words)fault of freezing mid-word or sentence. Apparently lots of their users have identical problems but they are working hard to fix it, bless them.

Friday 15 February 2013

More progress

Blogspot is suffering problems with publishing new posts and uploading photo's which they are aware of and attempting to rectify, so apologies for the lack of pictures today and the shortened blog yesterday.If blogspot solve the problems today hopefully I'll add photo's tomorrow. Someone brighter than me (not difficult) suggested the aerial I supposedly spotted on Big John is more likely to be a lightning conductor, which makes a lot of sense. Today's visit to the boatyard revealed more progress as follows: Pull-down TV in bedroom ceiling fitted, as are the radiators, heated towel rail, one of the toilets, the shower base, engine control panel and throttle,fuel tank and filler pipe , battery bank, TV in lounge and drawer unit in galley . More topcoat first layer also completed. Tomorrow we're off to Coventry to watch our youngest daughter bowl for Surrey County in a competition. She also bowls for the Metropolitan Police team and in a local league. Having spent many years tranporting her to and from tournaments around the country I finally decided to try ten-pin bowling myself and joined a local league. As they already had eleven of the twelve teams needed I was posted into a "blind " team to make up the numbers. With only one person in the team and the other three made-up of average scores it was no surprise we finished bottom at season-end. The following season I shoe-horned three friends and family into my team which we christened Blind Ali, finishing mid-table in the league for several years (like pre-Wenger Arsenal). After many more years and personnel changes we won the league in 2012, immediately before my reluctant retirement caused by my move. Similarly with Joel I spent many years ferrying him to and from rowing regatta's. Molesey School Rowing Association unusually had eight good boy rowers join all together and purchased a very old and battered octuple from a local club for them to use. From day one they were very successful, winning the National Schools Head at Henley and virtually every head race and regatta entered in the first and subsequent years. On the back of this success Joel won a rowing scholarship and place at Pangbourne college. During his time at Molesey Boat Club I foolishly commented to the Head Coach there should be a parents versus boys race at some time. He agreed and tasked me with arranging a parents crew, which I managed to do. One of the coaches kindly (foolishly?) agreed to teach us how to row and prepare us for racing. Before long we were competing in the National head of the river race over the Oxford and Cambridge course, neither winning or coming last. The parents versus boys race never took place! I subsequently transferred to the Kingston Grammar School Vets Boat Club (KGSVBC for short).where my rowing career was to continue for a further two years, competing in a number of head races, the Boston marathon, several charity marathons and local regatta's without winning any trophies, apart from an eighth share of a shield at Molesey Vets head. The move to Anstey also triggered my reluctant retirement from rowing. hence commencement of my walking career.

Thursday 14 February 2013

Eating less pies

Happy Valentines day for all romantics, or for anyone not Boo-Humbug. As part of my get-fit, lose-weight campaign (see Who ate the pies blog) I got dropped off near Old John again for a walk home.The snow has gone so I climbed up to the old building, carefully avoiding deer droppings and bogs (there's a pun in there somewhere). Would you believe Old John has what appears to be a radio aerial on top? The last few feet to him resembles the north face of the Eiger, but the views are worth the effort. Some idiot has placed a wind farm on the park edge, ruining the view to the Walkers crisp factory. A few yards along the ridge is a war memorial for the Boar war to World War One. A few poppy wreaths are still there which conjures up an image of makeshift Stenna Stairlifts on remembrance Sunday. There can be few memorials in such a spectacular setting. I went cross country to a nearer park gate to home avoiding some ankle-breaking holes too small for a warthog or rabbit but too big for a rat. Groundhogs live in the USA don't they? Before I left Chessington I used to ten pin bowl once a week and row twice a week on top of working so I considered myself fairly fit, hence the new walking bug. We aim to visit the boatyard tomorrow so expect some boat news.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Warm Tilt ?

Our trip to London was uneventful, other than meeting three of our siblings in one day, which was great. The journey home this evening was initially in heavy snow, then heavy rain. Only one accident was passed on the motorway, surprisingly involving a white van, but several looney's were encountered, icluding two with no lights and several changing lanes without signalling or having a space to move into. I noticed in a newspaper today the BBC have edited one of David Attenborough's comments for repeats of his latest masterpiece "Africa" whereby he mentioned that due to global warming over recent years the temperature of the continent has risen by 3.5 degrees (note the decimal point)which is apparently untrue. This is a big admission by the BBC who have been publicising global warming since almost before it was first thought of. A fellow wildlife front-man, David Bellamy (remember him?)has not worked for the BBC since he denounced global warming as "balderdash" many years ago. Who am I to say if global warming exists but I wonder what the BBC would have made of the ice age, had they been around at the time? In the meantime we are pressurised into recycling at least half of our waste so it can be transported to and landfilled in India or China who,along with the USA, are the biggest Carbon producers on earth. Also to reduce our "carbon footprint" (???) we are rushing into more nuclear power stations, even though we have no idea what to do with the highly toxic nuclear waste currently in temporary storage. Meanwhile Brazil, Malaysia and the Congo, amongst others, are "harvesting" rain forests at a rate beyond belief. Then we wonder why the world's climate and weather patterns appear to be changing. I read a theory by some scientist or other who stated as fact the arctic is shrinking whilst the antarctic is expanding. He suggested perhaps the earth has tilted on its axis. Interesting eh?

Tuesday 12 February 2013


Completed my walk home from Old John, having been dropped off at the nearest entrance to him. There was still a small,steep hill up to him and I was prevented from getting there by a steep slope covered in frozen snow.Maybe next time? The walk home along the road(over four miles) was largely downhill which sounds easy until you realise you have to walk leaning back at forty five degrees. Going uphill you lean from the waist at forty five degrees which is more natural. By half way I felt knackered, but being passed by two jogging old fogeys in shorts and trainers with mud up to their nether regions gave me fresh wind.I passed a buzzard eating breakfast in a field (Findus lasagne?)and lots of wildlife.Linford Newtown is twinned with Bradgate,Iowa and Anstey with some unpronouncable place in France. I've never understood this twinning lark. Do they have identical DNA? I guess it gives councillors a free jaunt every once in a while and helps tourism here when the jaunt is reciprocated. We're off to London this afternoon for Lynne to have her hair cut,as you women do. Staying with our son and partner overnight before returning home tomorrow, weather permitting.

Monday 11 February 2013

Swiss alps

Snowing again this morning. Roads OK but everything else covered. The flood plains Bradgate park resembles a scene from the Swiss alps, very pretty but only from a respectable distance. Booked a dentist appointment this morning having filled-in the medical form. Ran out of room in the section headed: List drugs currently taken.Also received confirmation of my wish to join the organ donors scheme. Not sure anyone would want to receive one of my organs but I've listed Brain as first option! We now have 83 photo's of the boat with a few weeks still to go before completion. Anthony Armstrong Jones eat your heart out. Back to the subject of fenders I noticed a boat to the rear of the Dragon with old one litre plastic milk containers, but on closer inspection they were full of water and retaining a large tarpaulin over the boat. It appeared vintage (the boat not the tarpaulin) and I can only assume the roof was less than waterproof. With really rough winter weather forecast for the next few days I can only hope Stenson remains reachable, but I'll phone to check before venturing over. What with my dentistry needs and Lynne's required new glasses funds are somewhat restricted until the end of the month, and we still have Valentines day to cope with, even after 25 years. Donations in pounds rather than Euro's please.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Old John Outlawed

The plan today was to cadge a lift from Lynne to the Bradgate Park gate nearest Old John, discovered yesterday by accident (we got lost). The idea was to introduce myself to my older namesake and walk home from there, a long way but all downhill. The relentless rain was heavy so my plan never got off the ground. Lynne refused the lift on the basis she would not assist me getting pneumonia and then having to nurse me through the next few weeks.Following a lengthy spell of strained silence Lynne suggested "going for a drive" to which I agreed. Where we were going I never asked, nor was I informed. Half way down the M1 I assume we would be visiting my sister in Hertfordshire or the children in London. Turning off at Luton confirmed it would be a visit to my sister, by which time the heavy rain had become wet snow in large dollops. Two hours and several cups of tea later we were on our way home, still through slushy snow which, amazingly was settling. I fully expected it to stop at Watford Gap but it continued to the Leicestershire border, by which time we were communicating again. I should mention the foot in the wine chiller photo yesterday was mine, placed to give an idea of scale only.(my feet are size nine).

Saturday 9 February 2013


Snow, rain and mist this morning, all at the same time. Old John was completely lost in the mist until mid-morning when things brightened up a bit. We delivered the TV to MCC and got the chance to be on Tardis Two alone, which was nice. The picture above is of the markings in the galley where our underfloor wine-cooler will be fitted. With that settled and the TV on site all the important features are now in place. Standing on the stern of Tardis Two (where the tiller will be) and looking along the boat made me realise how big the damn thing is. It will be fun getting her round the canal system!We confirmed our next visit late next week with Marian before reluctantly retiring yet again to The Dragon. Margaret was unable to join us this morning as she was snowed-in. She lives in the middle of nowhere near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, which appears to be suffering far worse weather than us "up north". My hike round Bradgate park the other day resulted in no major aches or pains, thankfully, although my knees have a protest every once in a while. Having realised the distance covered I'll cycle next time. The blog title? Another of those song-stuck-in-my-head days yesterday, this time "Give a little bit" by Supertramp. My love of twelve string guitar riffs ensures this one rises to the surface regularly between the Eagles and Led Zeppelin, so don't be surprised if they appear in future on another blog (but not together).

Friday 8 February 2013

Real progress

As the title suggests our visit to Stenson today was very rewarding. I've finally been able to accept that Tardis Two definitely exists and is mine. Top picture is of our bedroom. The mattress fills the entire width and underneath the bed will be the fresh water tank. (Note: It is NOT a water bed). The next picture down is of the galley where the cooker, fridge, sink,freezer and microwave will be fitted. Photo three is of the multi-fuel stove in the cabin corner in front of the shower room and toilet. The bottom picture gives an idea of the final external colour scheme, currently on one side only. Apparently they finished the external refurbishment of a 10 year old MCC boat and took the opportunity to move Tardis Two into the empty paint bay where they gave the port side (bow side to any rower) a first layer of top-coat. You will note how light the interior is, particularly when you consider it is currently housed in a shed. You will also note most of the lights are now fitted. Lynne had a long discussion with Mick the interior fitter regarding kitchen layout and agreement was reached, I think. All in all we left for the Dragon two very happy people. MCC have requested we take the boat TV over tomorrow which will give Margaret and Bob the chance to see progress on Tardis Two after many weeks. Our trip to the Dragon proved eventful as soon after arriving I discovered my syringe and needle were missing from the diabetes kit bag. The barmaid informed me of a chemist in the village centre but unfortunately it closes for lunch. I waited (in the pub of course) and returned at opening time. The chemist staff were happy to help and sold me a pack of 10 syringes and needles for £1.99, no questions asked. Apparently that is the correct price, which surprises me given the rip-off prices normally charged to the NHS by drug and medical equipment suppliers.Thanks to the chemist and patient Dragon staff I was able to have a wonderful lunch before returning home virtually floating on air.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Old John

Correct personal number plates fitted today by the same dislexic Halfords employee, not well, but fitted all the same. Having lived here for over 5 months I finally decided it was time I visited Bradgate Park. Equipped with walking boots and warm,waterproof clothing I set off on foot to the park entrance nearest Newtown Linford from where I continued walking through the park to Cropston, past the original Bradgate House dating back to 1490 (but now in ruins), past the old stable buildings (now a cafe and toilets)and around what appears to be a lake when in the park, but turns out to be a reservoir for the Severn Trent water company when viewed from outside. It looks polluted (brown scum on the edges)but I assume the water is pure once it reaches our taps. The park is vast, dominated by Old John on top of a very large hill (or small mountain if you are from the Netherlands). Due to the very wet conditions I did not attempt climbing the hill but I am reliably informed Old John was originally a working windmill dating back to 1749, later partly retained as a memorial to old John the miller, tragically killed by an accident involving a large bonfire on the site in 1786. There are several herds of Fallow and Red deer in the park, two fallow bucks having a practice fight whilst I walked closely by. I'm not ashamed to admit my legs ached badly by the time I made Cropston, fully two miles from home. A quick phone call ensured I was rescued by Lynne in our new number-plated car and whisked home before the pouring rain could cause any problems. I would love a deep,hot bath to ease my aches and pains but, as we don't have one, I'll settle for a shower and a long rest in my luxurious swivel chair. We aim to visit MCC again tomorrow when I should have some boating news for you.

Wednesday 6 February 2013


Sunny and pleasant day but with the same freezing wind. Received all the necessary paperwork from DVLA to change the registration number on our "new" car today and another obsolete number to allow the naval insurance company to scrap the Yaris. Having informed insurance of their "new" Yaris number we went to the nearest Halfords with said paperwork and credit card to arrange production and fitting of plates. The young assistant was very helpful and informative. Having taken our order and payment he requested we look around the store for 15 minutes whilst he made the plates. Spending 15 minutes in Halfords is not very exciting when you don't need to buy anything. One bike looks much the same as another and the same applies to spanners. However, after 15 long minutes we returned to the desk to be presented with plates, brilliantly made, but with the wrong figures and numbers. He apologised and arranged for us to return tomorrow for our new,correct, plates to be fitted. It is typical of us to encounter the only Halfords dyslexic number plate assistant in the country. Charnwood council rang to confirm our partying neighbour had received a verbal warning to avoid upsetting the street again and this action could escalate to an ASBO if other offences follow.To be fair we have had no problems for weeks and the cannabis factory appears to have disintegrated in recent winds.

Tuesday 5 February 2013


Overcast with an arctic wind today so tasked myself with changing the landing light from very basic to very high-tech. The new light (or lights)work and I am still alive so consider it a job well done. Red tiles behind the multi-fuel stove being fitted to Tardis Two today. We aim to visit MCC later this week and expect to see considerable progress on the interior. Lynne is currently "practicing" on a replacement Roman blind for our bathroom at home so I'm not sure if it will have any impact on "our" blind decision yesterday. In the time it has taken me to produce this blog it has started snowing in a big way. Large flakes and lots of them. Time to panic buy at the Co-Op.

Monday 4 February 2013

Rockin' Rhino

Extremely windy today but with sunshine, so no complaints from me. The same cannot be said for the rhino I suspect. We (the royal "we") have made a decision regarding the boat blinds. Having considered having roman blinds made and fitted (very expensive), buying material and making/fitting them ourselves (long-winded and still relatively expensive) we are back to square one......venetian from B&Q fitted by MCC. Not our preferred option by any means, but practical and within our budget. I had one of those song stuck in my head days yesterday. This time it was "Do you know the way to San Jose by Dionne Warwick, God knows why 'cause I hate it. Anyway,it got me thinking of songs to play whilst cruising (not recommended as we're supposed to quietly blend into the countryside) but hey-ho. My best idea was the Tea for the Tillerman album (Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam 1970) Sailing (Rod Stewart)The boat that I row (Lulu) When the boat comes in (trad folk song)My heart will go on( theme from Titanic by Celine Dion 2009)and Raindrops keep falling on my head(B.J. Thomas 1970) YMCA by Village people.( you're all asking what the hell does that have to do with boats, apart from one of the group being a gay captain?). A couple of years ago I took part in a sponsored row with Kingston Grammar school rowing club raising money for a new boathouse and Cancer Research. I was in an old fogey's mixed eight which was accompanied over the entire 80 miles down the River Thames by a very attractive schoolgirl eight who sang YMCA, with all the actions, in every lock. sometimes with at least one of the girls standing up in the boat(not recommended).They were still singing at the finish after 80 miles and two days of rowing, which was more than I could do. I'll add some more tunes to the list as and when I think of them. Healthwise I've had a very good week or more. Watch this space.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Fort Hanook

Overcast today but rhino still. Our settlement cheque finally arrived from the naval insurance company, hopefully our last contact with them, but unfortunately two of our sons remain with them till August, so our chances are small. Both are under strict instructions to avoid accidents at all costs or preferably not drive at all. Thr UK's car accident rate would fall considerably if they were all with the naval insurance company. Think of the discounts they could offer and Government savings on the ambulance service. Yesterday was my first time being driven past Fort Dunlop and I noticed the original huge sign only faces the motorway when approached going North, which is not too bad, but coming back the other way in the dark a tiny Travelodge sign is all that can be seen. Fort Travelodge does not have the same impact really, although marginally better than Fort Hanook I suppose? Driving through the infamous "wrong way down a dual carriageway" junction I was informed it was originally a roundabout, so I owe the Birmingham traffic department a partial apology. The original plan was correct but some pillock felt compelled to ruin things after the event. Bernie Eccleston? Eddie Kidd? The local undertaker?

Saturday 2 February 2013


Sunny today, even in Birmingham where we enjoyed a fun day with two of our grandchildren. Tiring but enjoyable all the same. On the way over we took the wrong sliproad at spaghetti junction, much to our horror. We got back on track but only after a thrilling few minutes bringing back memories of the Nemesis ride at Alton Towers. Once tried - Never forgotten. All doing nothing to raise our overall impression of Birmingham. The rhino was very serene this morning, surveying the plains to the horizon, only in this case flood plains (dry) instead of serengeti.

Friday 1 February 2013


Sunny and reasonably warm today. Glorious fluffy cloud formations enhanced by the sun, as are the pylons. Makes you want to join an appreciation society? Contain your excitement and Google it today. I owe the gin-palace owners an apology. It occurred to me after writing yesterdays blog these tupperware contraptions are actually launches and, of course, they would never be seen on a canal, being too wide, too tall,too fragile and too up-market. Sea-going radar is useless on canals. Also nothing as horrific as old tyres would be used to protect tupperware sides, even against barges. Gin palaces tend to have state-of-the-art fenders in colours matching/complementing the tupperware or elaborate and expensive plaited rope versions. Gin palaces and narrowboats tend only to meet in locks on major rivers, such as the Thames. Gigantic river locks still cause considerable anxiety to gin-palace first-officers as the large and fast waterflow gives ample opportunity for close encounters. Whilst on a naughtical theme, our naval insurance company has still to provide full payment for our written-off Toyota. Yet another letter of complaint due. Today we swopped registration numbers from one car to the other, thus memories of our beloved Yaris will remain for many more years, as will our unique personal number. The local DVLA office and staff were not as intimidating as expected whilst all the paperwork (lots and lots of it) was in order. Our son and washing have returned to Manchester until the clean clothes supply fails yet again.