Wednesday, 3 March 2021

2006: 2 - Andante's big adventure

I bought Andante early in 2005, from Mike - who gave me my first ever narrow boat steering lesson. It was February when we viewed the boat in Newbury, and so cold that the surveyor couldn't test the gas system because it was frozen.

Andante was to be my Huddersfield pied-a-cut, but because of closures on the Thames that year (to Mike's great disappointment) she had to make the journey there by lorry. Thus, following the end of my Huddersfield contract, and the purchase of Warrior, when the time came for Andante to leave Huddersfield this was my first and only opportunity for a proper trip on her (we'd previously made a brief foray which terminated at Brighouse, en route to Sowerby Bridge). 

More significantly, despite having been boating for a few years and having just purchased our third boat, this was our first experience of canal boating. So where better to start than the Huddersfield Narrow, with its 74 locks in 19 miles. Looking back, I think that perhaps at the time we didn't appreciate just quite what a momentous trip this was. We haven't crossed the Pennines by boat since, nor boated so far north.

We went through Standedge Tunnel, which we're unlikely ever to do again.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

2006: 1 - Restoring Warrior

For anyone who hasn't ventured into the Warrior blog, this was where I started. Blogging, that is, not boating. Warrior was in fact my/our third boat in a three year whirlwind romance with the waterways, beginning with Helyn (22' fibreglass cruiser) in 2004, complemented by Andante (32' R&D) when I needed somewhere to live in Huddersfield, and culminating in 2005 with Warrior when we knew we were in this boating lark for the long haul.

Warrior was purchased in autumn 2005, but it was spring 2006 before we were able to think of moving her from the mooring at Golden Nook near Chester. Warrior is a beautiful and very solidly built tug, whose main attraction was a 1937 three-cylinder, marine, National engine. That needed a very expensive rebuild.

The summer of 2006 was spent working on an engineless boat on the bank, shotblasting, blacking, blacking some more (I still have scars), painting in temporary Craftmaster raddle all over, and completely ripping out the interior and doing amazing things with pitch pine, quarter-sawn oak and French enamel stoves, whilst the engine sat in Daventry and kept Russell Newbery solvent for one more year.

The trip from Goldon Nook to Stretton was enlivened by meeting a great many old boats going the other way, en route to Ellesmere Port for Easter, whilst nominally in control of a boat firing on about one and a half cylinders and with a very temperamental reverse gear; we followed up with what, with hindsight, was possibly the most momentous event of 2006: we went to Braunston. And so the seeds were sown of the obsession that led to the purchase and subsequent eleven-year (and counting) ownership of Chertsey.

(Fast-forwarding five years, I reckon we must be nearing the tenth anniversary of Adrian and Linda purchasing Warrior - I always felt less bad about abandoning her for a Big Woolwich knowing that she went into such good hands.)

Monday, 1 March 2021

Looking back

April 1st will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the day I started blogging, sitting in my office in the Ramsden Building at the University of Huddersfield (it was the one at the front with the stained glass alpaca window), before returning for the night to Andante, moored on the towpath at Aspley Basin. The impetus for starting the blog was the purchase of Warrior; the inspiration Granny Buttons, alongside the hundreds of other waterways bloggers who came and went over those early years. 

One of the best things about having kept the blog(s) - 2424 posts and counting - is being able to look back and be remind of things I would undoubtedly have otherwise forgotten, and relive my journeys, both literal and metaphorical, in the world of boats and boating.

March, therefore, will be a month of repeats, as I select a couple of key events from each year to look back on - to reminisce, and to reflect - taking me hopefully ever nearer the day I'm back on the boat, and the boat back on the cut.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Tea total

Cups of tea in February: 263 (average of 9.4 per day)

Online meetings in February: 58
(average of 2.07 per day, or 2.9 per weekday - there were none at weekends. It felt like more.)


The moon as I left for a brief stroll this morning

The sun as I returned
And some things I saw along the way
Crocuses on the frosty grass


A frozen puddle in a football pitch. The grass was frosty but the ground beneath soggy.
And a luridly-lichened fallen branch.

Saturday, 27 February 2021


Aeons ago (ok, in 1993), when I sat on the Environmental Health Committee of Lewes District Council (when councils still had committees), every meeting would end with an agenda item about reports of notifiable diseases and zoonoses.

There never were any. Happy days.

Cups of tea so far this February: 253
Online meetings so far this February: 58

Friday, 26 February 2021

Yorkshire Tea

 One thing I really don't want to run out of. 

Cups of Yorkshire Tea so far this February: 244
(Cups of any other kind of tea: 0)
Online meetings so far this February: 55

Thursday, 25 February 2021


The office houseplants are still doing very well.
Be honest, how much thought have you ever given to how plants transport water around within themselves?

Cups of tea so far this February: 235
Online meetings so far this February: 53