Here are the two things I asked for for my birthday:
A Beatrice paraffin stove - with a wick, so it's easier to light than the primus. I'm sure it has its downsides (slower, sootier) or it wouldn't have been superseded, but I'm pleased to have an alternative (or two, even, as I got an extra bonus one). And...
An Acme wringer - a mini-mangle to complete Chertsey's laundry facilities. I've tested it and it's very impressive.
Those were what I asked for. I also got some things I didn't ask for.. A Canon digital SLR camera (thank you Jim) and an iPad2 (thanks Mum). It's been a very generous year and I'm a very lucky birthday girl.
Chertsey went into the paint dock on Monday and I've just been sent a few photos of progress so far. I guess those of you who are interested and don't already know can start to guess at the livery now... Those of you who do know, sssh....
I love to sit inside watching a good downpour. My favourite spot is sitting in the back cabin, by the nice warm stove, with the slide pulled over but the back hatches open, watching the rain shine the boats, wash the hedges and buildings and replenish the canal.
This on the other hand is the view from my office window... I wish I was on the boat!
When Eloise came to visit us at Braunston, the sun was beating down and her mum and dad were not best pleased that she refused to keep her hat on. Ah, I thought, what she needs is an old fashioned bonnet that ties under the chin (nice wide straps, not nasty cutting elastic). I wondered whether one of the craft stalls would have one for sale, but no. I found the next best thing however, on the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Trust's stand - a diy bonnet kit, which I purchased as Eloise's (first) Braunston souvenir present.
Well, today I finally got round to making it. The kit came with plain white fabric, which I didn't really fancy, so yesterday I bought something a bit prettier, a nice old fashion printed cotton, and used the white pieces as a pattern. The instructions were mostly easy to follow, though I was glad I had some experience of sewing, putting in gathers etc as they were not very detailed. It was quite fiddly, because it was so small, but the finished product was quite impressive with all its frills and furbelows.
Naturally, Eloise still didn't want to put it on, so here is Tweenie the teddy modelling it instead.
On Friday we went over to Bill Fen to prepare Warrior for the handover to Adrian and Linda, the new owners. It was sad to be saying goodbye to a boat we'd put so much into, but it also felt right passing it one to someone else who'd fallen in love with it at first sight, just as we did.
Perhaps unwisely, we left the final pumpout until Saturday morning, only to discover that the weed in the marina made it impossible to reverse. So Warrior's new owners arrived to see us poling the boat across the lagoon (and wondered if we'd taken the engine out!) and then became better acquainted with the rather arcane Bill Fen pumpout than they had perhaps intended.
After Jim had gone over everything again, and I explained where I'd hidden the fire extinguishers, it was time to take our final leave.
Over to you Adrain and Linda, and I hope you have many happy years cruising on Warrior.
(and let me know if you want to take the blog over - I'm sure it can be arranged as it's on a separate account from this one!)
Hectic times at work as we enter the season of exam boards and discover things that should have been done four years ago need doing NOW, tracking down marks in a system generously described as Byzantine, rounding up people and mollifying external examiners... And of course all go on the boat front too which means for the last few weeks my feet have hardly touched the ground between weekdays at work and weekends boating.
This weekend again we shall be off, firstly to Bill Fen, for the handover of Warrior to Adrian and Linda on Saturday. On the way we shall stop at Craftmaster's new works at Over (very handily placed) and collect the paint for Chertsey. Then after the handover we'll leave Adrian and Linda, and Warrior, at Bill Fen and drive over to Alvecote to drop off the paint with Martin, and just maybe have a pint or two, but then it's home again on Sunday ready for work bright and early on Monday.
Do you recall we had a bit of a car saga just before setting off for Braunston, the first time, necessitating another few hours on the phone swapping the insurance around. The problem was that Fang's (well, when you've got three cars that are essentially the same, you have to differentiate somehow, hence Bluebird, Fang and Tufty. In the past there have also been Trusty Volvo, Thrusty Volvo, Rusty Volvo, Snowball, the Silver Beast and the Flying Brick. And there was Crusty Volvo, but that was an honorary title for the CF Dormobile camper)... Fang's automatic gearbox's high pressure oil cooler pipe had sprung - or decided to reveal - a leak.
Chances of repairing it: nil. Chances of getting a new one: nil. Chances of getting a second hand one: slim; it's a vulnerable and unwieldy bit of kit which is unlikely to survive long at a car breaker's. Nothing ventured, however, and Jim rang up Braden Motors. We've dealt with them before for both new and second hand Volvo spares and have never been disappointed with their efficient, cheerful and friendly service. This time, their chap (it might have been Terry) said he'd have a look, and when he rang back to say yes, he'd found us a set, I agreed there and then to buy it, and gave him my card details. Then when Jim got back from the shops I asked him how much he'd been quoted. No idea, he said, I didn't ask.
The next day a parcel arrived from far-off Hackney. A big cardboard box which must have been 5' x 2'6 x 8". In it were two long, spindly, oil cooler pipes, lovingly packed, and an invoice for about twenty quid, plus six quid p&p. Absolutely brilliant.
So as it's nice to be able to say good things about a company and its service, I thought I'd write this to say how super Braden Motors are.
Yesterday we arrived uneventfully at Alvecote, and spent a lovely evening chatting with Viv and Simon and a couple of other people, and a total of five dogs, all of whom were very well behaved and lovely (and that from a hard line cat person).
We've been allocated a pontoon in the marina, as part of the boat gathering that's taking place this coming weekend, although hopefully soon after we will be moving down to the dock for Martin to start painting.
As the bank is quite low here, and the fenders fly over it, I've used a rudder string to hold the rudder to one side, safe from banging into the bank if the boat moves. People sometimes wonder why there's a hole in the top of the rudder. This is one answer. It can be used to help lift the rudder if it needs to be reseated while the boat's in the water, though I wouldn't want to have to do that.
Because we are in Atherstone, home of Nightingales farm shop, purveyors of the finest pies in the land. But not for much longer it seems, at least not from the current premises. We took a stroll into town this evening and there was a notice in their window saying that they'll be closing the shop in October because of a 52% rent rise. Out furure hopes must now be pinned on farmers' markets.
So, we have made it this far. We tried hard to be good and come by public transport, but dear me, it was hard work. Firstly I had to go into work on the way to (start to) sort out a minor crisis, so so much for the plans to go via Watford Junction. I had to buy new tickets via Euston and hopefully I can reclaim the cost of the unused ones under Southern's 'Rainy Day' guarantee, despite the constant blazing sunshine that has turned my nose quite red. That meant we were late for the one bus from Long Buckby to Braunston. Why, you might ask, did we not get the train to Rugby where we would find buses galore? It's the old skinflint thing again; the Network Card area stretched as far as Long Buckby and no further; go there and you get a third off the fare, go to Rugby and pay full whack for the lot. However, having arrived at Northampton, realised we were going to miss the bus, having phoned two local taxis neither of which was available, I purchased from the guard two singles from long Buckby to Rugby and we continued on to there. Having gained the bus stop outside Rugby station, I was so befuddled by the incomprehensible information therein, that I was obliged to telephone Amy Duck, whom I knew had made the journey last weekend, for advice as to where to catch the bus. She said we should walk up a long hill to the toen centre (well, a parade of shops) and get one from there.
She was right (of course) hurrah! And eventually we were on the right bus. The driver seemed rather a surly chap as he took our fares, but there was a smile and a kind word for all the other passengers, who all knew him by name (Trevor) and regaled him with tales of their day. A local bus for local people, we concluded. It was a pleasant journey though, and we arrived in Braunston at about six - having left home at half past ten. It is indeed true that narrow boating is all about slow travel.
And since then, we have spent two days getting from Braunston to Hawkeabury, and thence tonight to Atherstone. Onwards to Alvecote tomorrow, after a quick review of the shops here.
Another (the first being Mike's brand new iphone being handed in to the police after he dropped it on the towpath there) nice thing happened in Nuneaton today (this is specially for the Wotevers). As we passed some of the many allotments that line the canal here, an old bloke chucked us a bag of potatoes he'd just dug up. Isn't that lovely.
It's been a beautiful evening here and I'm still standing outide writing this at nearly ten pm (BST, unfortunately). I've been sitting listening to the birds - really listening to all their different sounds. It's as exotic to me as the sounds of a tropical jungle, as all you can hear at home are the monster herring gulls. And I've been looking at the trees and hedges; so many shades of green and different varieties of leaf. The flowers are gone from the brambles, and little green blackberries already starting to form.
We are meant to be going back to Braunston today, to take Chertsey to Alvecote, where Martin (Kestrel) is going to do the paintwork. We weren't planning to do the painting until next year but made a snap decision at the weekend after talking to him and looking at the work he'd done on Stanton and Admiral, among others, which we were pretty impressed with. Being a skinflint, I have already purchased out tickets to Long Buckby, going via Watford Junction. Not only is this cheaper, but it cuts out the tube, which is a boon on a hot touristy day.
The best laid plans etc etc. Before we go, I have to sign off some results at work. These were meant to be available on Thursday, but still haven't arrived. Had I but booked tickets via Euston, I could have just nipped out en route and attended to this - now I will have to see if I can change the tickets, but first I would really want to know that the damn things were there for me to sign!
Then, to add to the excitement, we are planning to catch a bus - yes, a bus! - from Long Buckby to Braunston. I have a feeling this may turn out to be a rather fraught day.