... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Saturday 31 December 2011

To market, to market

This morning we finally got around to visiting the much feted Penkridge market. It may not have been at its best or busiest this time of year, but was a trifle disappointing simply because we had been led to expect great things. Lots and lots of the sort of clothes you only see at markets; lots of work clothes and warm fleecy shirts, some hardware, one veg stall and a very big, very flash meat lorry. We decided that on the whole we would be better off carrying on getting our veg at Coopers in Brewood.

I lifted Chertsey's mattress up this morning to give it an airing and was somewhat horrified to discover just how wet it was underneath, where the foam mattress lays on the solid base of the bed flap. When Ed was here he explained how on Bakewell, he actually replaced the flap with a slatted section when using the bed regularly. I didn't want to start taking Chertsey apart like that, but it gave me an idea, so for today's project, Jim made three slatted sections that sit on top of the existing cross bed, designed and made to allow the maximum circulation of air underneath the mattress. All is now in place and tonight I will test it for comfort. The weather has been so mild that Chertsey's stove hasn't been lit for a few days, which probably didn't help the condensation situation.

Tonight, in anticipation of Chertsey's cloths finally being finished before too long, we watched 'Topcloth and Tippet', a DVD showing Atlas and Leo being clothed up, paying particular attention to the knots.

Many thanks for all the comments about the Paloma. For simplicity's sake, it will probably end up being a new Morco, but we will have a look at the Paloma man on ebay once we have a better internet connection.

Friday 30 December 2011

Social whirl

Today we had a visit from the Moomins, Simon and Ann, who moor at Bill Fen. We had mulled wine (a special version with port and ginger wine to eke out the red left over from Christmas dinner) and buns from Jaspers bakery in Penkridge, followed by lunch at the Bridge. This pub is under new management again, and appears to be a Marstons house now, which I don't recall it being before. Sadly the Old Empire wasn't on, but that might have been a bit much at lunch, so I had Cocker Hoop. Despite being a Marstons pub, it isn't one of their chain eateries, and there was a new chef just in post. The prices were very reasonable with many main courses under £6 and the most expensive, the rump steak, at £8.90. We all agreed that it was pretty good too.

Moomin also very kindly listened to our noisy Victron and diagnosed a likely cause, told us how to get the dongle to work (by getting a later version of Ubuntu), and even downloaded for us, via his phone, the plug in we needed to play DVDs, so we then spent a happy hour this evening watching a couple of episodes of Porridge. This really does seem to have stood the test of time; I couldn't believe it was made in 1974. I appreciated things about it that I hadn't noticed first time around, like the wonderful architecture (I must look up where it was filmed), and the fact that Godber (I always had a soft spot for him; I wonder how many people can remember what they were doing when they heard that Richard Beckinsale had died? I was in a science lesson) was from the Black Country.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Una Paloma blank blank blank

When Ed visited yesterday he brought with him a spare Paloma from his shed. Although it was tatty on the outside when we got the cover off its innards looked like new, and certainly in much better condition than the leaky one we've got, so it was with high hopes that Jim set about swapping them. No easy task of course, with both gas and water connections, and the flue to line up, and the whole thing mounted with very awkwardly placed screws. On top of that, the water connections were slightly different and had to be adapted. Still, after a couple of hours it was done, and with some trepidation Jim opened the isolating valve and I switched the water pump on... to find even more water pouring out than the old one, in exactly the same place. Bugger.

It'll have to be a new one then... Deja vue here; exactly the same happened with Andante. As Palomas are no longer made, pipes will have to be moved to fit a different model. On Andante we went for a Morco, but I never liked it; it never lit straight away when you turned the tap on, but after a brief delay, caught with a little whoomph outbof the hole in the front case. I never liked that for reason. On Tarporley they have a Vaillant; until I saw it I hadn't realised that this company, who make high quality domestic boilers (I've had one and was very impressed with it) also made LPG water heaters. But I've had no luck tracking down stockists - can anyone help me with that? I imagine that a Vaillant, if I can track one down, will, like its domestic counterpart, not be cheap, but could be worth paying extra for. Failing that it looks like a Morco or a Rinnai - does anyone have any recommendations?

Wednesday 28 December 2011

A visitor

Today we had our first visitor on Bakewell - the boat's previous owner, who came all this way to give us the paperwork and a spare Paloma to replace the leaky part. It's always weird going back to a boat you used to own, once someone else has taken it over, but I hope Ed felt that Bakewell was being well cared for. We were actually late for our appointment with him, as we spent too long in Midland Chandlers selecting a reading light and a new switch for the shower pump.

This afternoon we finally made the decision to throw out the very venerable gas fridge and replace it with a 240v one. I have nothing against gas fridges in principle but this particular one was very old and not in good condition. A new, decent, gas one would be rather expensive, and they do (I am told by Carl the caravanner) get through gas at a fair rate. Previously we have had 12v fridges, on Andante and on Warrior, and have been very happy with them; Andante's was bought second hand and Warrior's came with the boat. For Bakewell, the far greater cost of a 12v fridge just doesn't make sense; in the absence of an engine, the battery can only be charged through a 240v shoreline anyway, so our ability to use a 12v fridge when away from shore power would be so limited as not to be worth the extra cost; we might as well make use of the shore power directly when it's available, and do without (which we know from experience on Chertsey we can) when it isn't. So we have been down to Comet in Cannock and ordered a nice Lec fridge with a four star freezer compartment, for keeping Jim's wonderful hand made bread in, and we shall be collecting it on Monday.

Willow, by the way, has been going out and successfully coming back for a few days now, albeit only when we're around and only while it's light. The fresh air and exercise seems to have improved his appetite; inconveniently his taste for the outdoor life leads him to spend much of the night pacing about, waking Jim up, and pulling all the curtains and blinds about. Yesterday he encountered Charlie the whippet for the first time. Luckily his instinct wasn't to run, but he retreated to the gunnell (so he's already sussed what is his territory), stood his ground and hissed. Later he did make a run for it and scaled a weeping willow at warp speed, but he got himself down again without a problem, so that's another escape option open to him if need be.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Most overrated? P.D. James

Just why is Baronness Phyllis Dorothy James so highly regarded as an author of detective fiction? Her plotting is mediocre and her plots outlandish; her characters are ciphers who strain credulity and are completely unengaging, and her dialogue clunks with exposition, moralising and amateur philosophising, while her hobby horses gallop all over the page. In P.D. James world, in 2003, women wear woollen blouses, police officers discuss whether they think a couple are 'going to bed' (for someone who is so coy about sex, she mentions it frequently, mostly quite gratuitiously to the plot) and everyone has a gas fire.

Now I've got that off my chest, I'm going to see whether 'Death in Holy Orders' can possibly be as bad as 'The Murder Room'.

Monday 26 December 2011

Meek and mild

I realised this morning that yesterday was the first Christmas day since 1984 that I spent without an offspring or two in tow. They seemed to manage ok without me.

Meanwhile, I have Willow to worry about. He went for his first outing yesterday, stalking about very cautiously, and dashing back to the boat when startled, which must be a good sign.

Today he was more adventurous and stalked further afield, but still keeping us in sight.

He had his Christmas dinner yesterday, and seemed to enjoy it. We were able to open the table out in the back end (usually a sort of office) to have a proper sit down dinner.

And then he had a nap.

Today we set to work on Chertsey. The cloths are apparently finally in the process of being made, so we need to clear the hold out to provide access all the way along each side for fitting them. So, Jim having mended the bilge pump, he finished pumping out the hold, and then we tackled the tent, or shanty town, as it had become, where Jim (and latterly Paul) had been sleeping. For 20 quids' worth from B&M bargains it has done a good job, albeit shored up with further layers of heavy duty polythene. Then we dashed back in to listen to Brain of Britain and to be horrified and depressed at the declining standards of general knowledge exhibited.

Meek and mild of course has been the weather. I wonder what will become of the hard winter that was forecast earlier in the year.

Sunday 25 December 2011


From all aboard Chertsey and Bakewell

Saturday 24 December 2011

Winter raincoat and winter warmer

It would have been better to have done it on Thursday, before yesterday's downpour, but today Jim sheathed Bakewell's cabin in heavy duty grey polythene, to keep the rain out for the rest of the winter. It should still be well enough ventilated to enable it to dry out, especially as there is (whisper it) a radiator in there, discreetly tucked behind the stove, which while it never gets quite hot, being at the far end of the system, keeps a decent background warmth, and in any case, the back cabin is well ventilated to the rest of the boat.

The heating system on Bakewell is simple but extremely effective. A back boiler on the squirrel towards the front of the boat heats a pipe that runs its whole length, culminating in that radiator, and a calorifier, so we now have constant hot water too. It's all done by gravity/convection, so requires no electricity. I'm only afraid we might get used to this soft life.

Today we picked up our Christmas dinner - a local gamey meaty treat - from the very local Whitegates Farm Shop. This looks like a brilliant place - we have popped in before and hadvsome fantastic stuff. But it will remain an occasional treat. Tonight it's another veggie/vegan recipe; one of my favourites, and loosely inspired by the steak and mushroom pudding my mother used to make (I suspect my father refused to eat kidney), only without the boiling. Or the steak.

Sausage and mushroom suet crust pie:

Fry (in an casserole dish) one chopped onion, and add six or so sausages (I like Cauldron), cut into bite sized chunks. Fry these gently until they're browned. Then add some mushrooms; I used a 500g pack of chestnut ones, cut into similar sized chunks to the sausages. Continue frying until the mushrooms start to soften. Then make the gravy. The easiest way I find to do this is to add some boiling water to the pan, just enough to covet the contents and let it come to the boil. In a cup, mix up a crumbled Oxo cube (it's ok, even the beef ones don't actually have any animal in them) and a couple of teaspoons of Bisto with cold water, then add this to the pan and stir it quickly in, keeping stirring while it thickens and comes back to the boil. You can then let it simmer a bit while you make the pastry. Oh, and add a dask or two of Henderson's relish if you can get it (thanks Adrian and Linda!)
or Worcestershire sauce if you're not too precious about the odd anchovie.

For the pastry, mix 8oz self raising flour with 4oz veg suet and a big pinch of salt, then add enough cold water to bind it together. Roll it out and shape it to fit the dish, cut a steam hole in the middle and lay it on top of the filling. Bake at mark 5 for about 45 minutes until the top is golden, and serve with steamed greens.

Friday 23 December 2011

Welcome to my lovely home

Part 1: The Kitchen

In the first of a new series, Willow shows readers around his luxurious new floating home.

We have hardly had to do anything to the kitchen, says, Sarah, Willow's housekeeper. We have filled up the cupboards with Whiskas and Go-Cat (leaving room for a few chick peas), and have added toggles to stop the drawers flying open. In the longer term, we need to repair or replace the Paloma, which appears to have suffered frost damage while the boat was unoccupied, but the previous owner has a spare which he has promised us. We will also probably replace the fridge, which is rather ancient and unhygenic looking. Whilst we've nothing in principle against gas fridges, and on a boat without an engine they are probably a very good idea, we are considering 12v or even 240v, as I suspect that most of the time we are on the butty we will have access to shorepower; i.e. we will probably not be dragging it around on our travels. But we have the winter to consider that. None of this is of much interest to Willow, however.

The kitchen is bright and airy, with a two large windows, a houdini hatch, and a hardwood door leading into the cratch, which Willow soon hopes to be able to open for himself, as he has carefully observed that the top half opens independently. For the time being however, he prefers to observe his domain through the window.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Hot and cold

Another successful day (boring, boring) with the exception of trying to go to Penkridge market and discovering that it's held on Wednesdays and Saturdays; I don't know where we got the idea it was Thursdays. Funny place, Penkridge. Lots of hairdressers and not much soul, although there is a splendid bakery, Jaspers, where a vast array of wonderful and very reasonably priced cakes, buns and pastries (and chocolate coated flapjack) may be purchased. Other than that, I prefer Brewood.

Now it is my wont, come bedtime, to retire to Chertsey's back cabin, where, having previously lit the fire and set a kettle of water on the stove, I enjoy the ritual of washing in the handbowl, the cabin by now being marvellously warm. Last night though this proved a little too successful; the ambient temperature was so mild, and my fire so successful, that it was far too hot to go to sleep until well after midnight, and only then after lying with the doors open for a while. (Not that I am complaining about the mildness mind; far from it. And today was beautiful, and we finally got Chertsey's hold pumped out and the willow leaves swept off both boats).

Tonight I am trying a different tack. A mild night is forecast again, so I haven't lit the stove - instead I shall rely solely on Lionel the hot water bottle (in the form of a lion; rescued from a jumble sale floor for 10p and as loyal a bedmate as anyone could wish for). Of course the proof will come in the chill of the morning, but I will try and toughen up (I was once described by an old lady with whom I worked as a 'hot house flower' and I don't think it was meant as a compliment).

The whole of Bakewell is tidy now, and there are still some empty cupboards! Hooray! And as tonight's impromptu plant based dinner was such a success I couldn't resist photographing it, and here it is.

Spinach and chick pea curry:
Fry two sliced onions until soft, add two dessertspoons of curry paste (Madras in this case) and a bag of spinach, roughly chopped. Stir in a drained tin of chickpeas. Cook gently until spinach has gone all soggy. Stir in three quarters of a tub of left over hummous (optional). Serve with brown rice and a drizzle of tamarind sauce (Smethwick impulse purchase).

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Willow notices the outside world

Another very successful day today as we are really starting to get sorted out and settled in. The problem with the Victron was nothing to do with damp after all; it seems as if the unit was detecting a drop in the 240 voltage and trying to switch to the inverter, but because the battery was flat, this was setting off the alarm and resulting in the fluctuating voltage in the boat. Whether this was a genuine problem with the 240 supply (we were at the time plugged into our neighbour's rather Heath Robinson arrangement) or a fault with the unit, I don't know, because now the battery is charged it might be doing it every five minutes and we wouldn't notice. I thought there was something wrong with it again this afternoon, and was all set to panic, but it turned out that the bulb had gone in the lamp I was trying to switch on... Never forget to consider the simplest explanation!

This morning began with a visit to the wonderful Kelsalls, builders merchant and ironmongers extraordinaire, for various supplies, and then Jim finished building his bed, immediately creating masses of storage space underneath it, which meant that we could unpack even more bags. I also shipped a lot of my stuff across to Chertsey. Then we got some pictures up, and I set about the Christmas decorations, viz. a bunch of holly with some LED lights and some baubles on it. Very trendy even if I do say so myself.

(grainy iPad photo)

Willow, mainwhile, seems to have settled in straight away and got down to some serious sleeping. I don't know whether it's the trauma of the journey of just delight at having got the undivided attention of two humans, but he's a different cat; docile and affectionate... We're keeping him in pro tem, partly so that he gets used to it, but also so as to avoid a run-in with the whippet currently living next door. I'm not sure who would come off worse but suspect it might not be pretty. However, it was only a matter of time before he noticed that there is a world out there, so we are very assiduously keeping the doors shut for now.

Monday 19 December 2011

Farewell to Newhaven

I moved to Newhaven on December 13th 1986. It was to be twenty five years and six days before I left, at midday today. More than half my life spent in a dying town. When I moved there Newhaven had a thriving fishing fleet; a busy freight port; a number of major manufacturers, including the Parker Pen company; a sandy beach, and, in the town centre, two butchers, two greengrocers, a wet fish shop, and a marvellous rambling independent hardware shop/ironmongers. Not one of those still exists.

So, today was the day we finally packed up and left, pausing only to spend forty pounds on a new travelling basket for Willow, having got tne old one out and realised that he would barely squeeze into it, let alone have a reasonably comfortable journey. So it was off to the new out of town pet emporium to be fleeced for a couple of bits of moulded plastic and a metal grille... because he's worth it.

He complained a bit on the journey, but not much, and once we got onto Bakewell, immediately identified the armchair nearest the stove, settled down in it, and hasn't moved since.

As for us, well, it was dark when we arrived so our activities were somewhat limited. Jim began by dismantling the bunk beds in what is to be his room - a perfect 6'6 x 4' - discovering in the process that they had probably been assembled first and then had the room built round them. A screwdriver proved inadequate to the task and a saw had to be deployed, resulting in more firewood.

The other significant task was to plug in the 240v landline, whichnwe have never used before. We used the inverter last month when we were moving Bakewell, and the 240 circuit seems fine, but there seems to be some sort of problem with the landline/charger, which we suspect is down to damp, the electric cupboard being located against the wet back cabin bulkhead. So it's been an evening by torchlight, but both Bakewell and Chertsey's back cabin are now lovely and warm and things will hopefully soon all be dry and aired.

Tomorrow we go to Brewood, as locals this time rather than visitors, to set up a poste restante, and to find the vegetable shop that Futurest blogged about a few weeks ago. Then we will investigate the electrics, and unpack and sort stuff out. Once it's tidy, I might even get out a few Christmas decorations.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Looks like I get two votes!

Thanks to Alan Fincher for tracking down this rather obscure FAQ about the forthcoming C&RT Council elections on the Waterscape site.

Unlike some other bloggers, I was aware that the elections were being conducted by the Electoral Reform Society (it does say say so on the invitation to stand which was sent out a couple of weeks ago) and having participated in many elections organised by them in the past, I have no worries that the election will be fair and well organised.

I am also pleased to see that the election will be conducted by Single Transferable Vote. Back when I was a member of the Liberal Party and the Electoral Reform Society, I recall that our rallying cry was somewhat slow to catch on: What do we want? Single Transferable Vote in Multi Member Constituencies! When do we want it? Well, once the House of Commons has been reformed, constituency boundaries redrawn, and the voting punlic educated....

I am not as pleased as might be expected to see this:
'... For fairness and practicality, the election is on the basis of one vote per licence.' People who jointly own a boat should '... agree how your vote is used with your partner'

In the interests of practicality, maybe; it is hard to see how anything else could be done. But fairness? That airy statement about agreeing with your partnerbis far too glib - partners often disagree about many things, and this may call forth conflicting personal loyalties. And what about shared ownership boats, where there are not just two partners, but a dozen or more.

And this seems to confirm what I had wondered about - as the holder of two licences, it would appear that I (and indeed Alan Fincher!) get two votes. This of course would far more easily be overcome, by limiting any individual licence holder to one vote.

All this earnest discussion, of course, presupposes that the Council itself, and the four 'boaters' on it, will have a significant role. We probably might just as well argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Friday 16 December 2011

Vote vote vote!

So, returning to the subject of boaters' representatives on the C&RT Council, what would I, as a voter, be looking for in a potential representative?

Well, first off, they would need to be a boater - not just a boat owner or a licence holder, although those are the minimal conditions for standing - but a boater who gets out there and boats, over a wide and varied area, throughout the year, giving them a good overview of the practicalities of negotiating the system.

Second, ideally they would be doing this in a full length boat, and a reasonable deep drafted one too. Only then will they have a real understanding of the issues affecting the full range of boaters - moorings near bridgeholes, lack of dredging, falling water levels - for which full length, deep drafted boats (like what I have got) provide an early warning system for everyone.

Third, they should be canal boaters. I like rivers as much as the next person (well, as long as they're the Trent), but rivers, on the whole, look after themselves, or, where they do require intervention, it is generally obvious what form this should take. Canals and their infrastructure however are wholly man made and frequently require decisions to be made that have far reaching effects. My ideal representative will love canal boating because of its unique nature and will be committed to respecting and retaining its industrial history and heritage, rather than trying to turn it into a linear nature park.

Fourth - although really this is a sine qua non - they should be an effective political operator, with a good understanding of how organisations, funding bodies and government work, the skills to maximise their impact on behalf of boaters and the ability to punch above their weight.

Finally (for now) they should hold the view that the waterways of Britain are first and foremost there for navigation. In the case of canals, they exist first, second, third, fourth and ad infinitum, for navigation. Fishermen, walkers, dogs etc etc, are all welcome to piggy back on this, but never, ever at the cost of compromising that primary purpose to any degree. It falls to the boaters' representatives to defend this position, because no one else will.

So, what are you looking for in your reps? And don't forget to enter the 'guess the length of the ballot paper sweepstake'. I wouldn't mind some suggestions as to what a suitable prize might be either.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Election time!

The current hot topic in the boating blogosphere and the virtual Canalworld is the forthcoming election of four boater representatives to the Council of the new charity, the Canal & River Trust (very important, that ampersand, because other wise it would form the acronym CART, and that would never do).

Now the first thing to say, is no, I will not be standing; I think there will be plenty of worthy candidates without me plunging back into the murky and shark infested waters of electoral politics. My experience thereof though does lead me to wonder about a couple of points. The first is that with only ten proposers needed for a nomination, no deposit required, and approximately 30,000 people eligible to be candidates, the ballot paper is likely to be a very long one.

The second thought is slightly more complicated and intractable. In most elections, candidates are limited, in the interests of fairness, to a single manifesto statement (in this case, a very brief one of 150 strictly enforced and very precisely counted words). In internal elections in which I have participated (for example, party selection processes) any additional attempts to communicate with the electorate were deemed grounds for disqualification. In local and national elections, this is effectively imposed by very strict limits on candidates' spending - the exceeding of which can not only lead to disqualification, but a prison sentence.

Limiting candidates' communications with the electorate can be controversial - for example, in that internal party election I argued (unsuccessfully) that the ability to communicate effectively and garner votes was an important factor in selecting a candidate, and candidates for selection should be allowed to demonstrate this. But the counter arguments also carry weight: limiting everyone to the same number of words or the same level of spending means that no one should gain an unfair advantage from being able to afford to print more leaflets, or having friends in the press.

What happens to this principle however in the internet age? The prospective candidates whom I am already aware of are either high profile bloggers or prolific contributors to Canalworld, or both - that, by definition, is why I am aware of them - whereas there will be other candidates whose names I shall see for the first time on the ballot paper, and about whom I shall know no more than they can express in 150 words. Those I do already know, I happen to think highly of, and will very likely vote for. But does that mean that the other, lower profile, candidates have been unfairly disadvantaged?

Disadvantaged they will have been, without a doubt, by not having a pre-existing base of support and established platform to communicate their message; but is that unfair? Or might we say that someone who has already proven their ability at communicating with a large number of people, and who has been and will be in contact with a broad range of fellow boaters, is by virtue of this likely to be a better representative?

In the meantime, shall we have a sweepstake on how many candidates there will be for the four boater rep. positions? I'm going to pluck a figure out of thin air and go for thirty eight. Leave me your guess in the comments, I'll record them all, and the one nearest the actual figure gets a prize of some sort.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Still in limbo

Or Newhaven; there's not a lot of difference. Slipping precipitously down the charts too I see, no doubt as a direct result of nothing exciting happening. Suspect it might well be Sunday now before we make it up to the boats; we could be finished here before then, but I have to be in Brighton on Saturday night so there's not much point in going up and then coming back so soon, so it looks like another few nights on son's sofa. It does feel like being in limbo though; not anywhere, just between places; life on hold, justvwaiting for something to happen.

Saturday 10 December 2011

There and back again

In case you thought I'd disappeared, here is the post I should have written on Thursday. Yes, we did take the van up to Stretton, we unpacked it, and we came back - still a bit of work to do on the house but it's nearly sorted now.

We transferred everything we had brought onto Bakewell with the exception of two chairs, neither of which would go through the door, let alone down the side corridor, so they came home again, along with lots of empty boxes (although we didn't get them all unpacked by any means), three mattresses, three Ikea stools and a drop leaf table which came with the boat. The two-foot wide bunk beds will be dismantled, and their six by four foot room entirely filled with a bed, the base of which has in turn been removed from what is essentially the back end of the hold, leaving an open space which will be our study/office. All will become clearer when I finally get some photos taken.

Thank you toneveryone for your good wishes... I feel a bit of a con merchant for not actually having gone yet, but it will only be a few days now I promise...

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Tomorrow's the day!

When we shall at least be moving the van, loaded with stuff, up to the boats. The idea is then to come back, drop off the van, finish off whatever needs doing, and then finally return in the car, with anything we have forgotten, to Chertsey and Bakewell. And that will be it; the great shift, the leap into the unknown, made - as to what happens then, we shall have to wait and see.

Monday 5 December 2011

So when are you going?

It's a subject of not much interest to not very many people, but a few have been kind enough to ask, sadly rather than hopefully I'm sure. And it's getting to the stage where people have asked more than once... The answer, which isn't meant to sound rude or glib, is when we're ready. As soon as we're ready, that is, as we are already a fair bit behind the schedule I dreamed of back in the summer. Taking four or so weeks out to go to Retord didn't help, although it was well worth it. After all, I can turn out a kitchen cupboard any time, but how often do I get the chance to get stuck in Morse Lock?

We are getting there. We are definitely making progress and it won't be long now. The van is hired until next Friday, but... we can extend this one day at a time. We hired from Choice, by the way. They were not the cheapest of all, but they were the cheapest of the firms that had a usable website and someone helpful on the end of the phone, and they weren't the dearest by any means.

So, apologies to the Moomins and the Ducks who were hoping to visit next weekend, but I don't think we'll be quite ready to receive guests by then... Soon, though, soon...

Saturday 3 December 2011

So much stuff!

For months now, we have been living in chaos and uproar, and I don'tvreally know how (well, perhaps 'if' would be a better question) I've stayed sane. Over the years, thanks to a serious jumble sale/charity shop/flea market habit we have accumulated so much stuff you wouldn't believe. Individually each object is lovely (though some earlier finds have been superseded by lovelier versions of themselves), but cumulatively, the effect has gradually, imperceptibly, become somewhat overwhelming. I do find myself thinking wistfully of a simpler, sparser, existence. Lucky I'm going to be going to live on a boat then, even if it does boast about as much internal space as you can have and still be on a narrow boat.

The sensation of living in an antique emporium has been heightened in recent months by my feeble attempts to start sorting stuff out without having anywhere else to put it, the upshot being large piles of stuff on the floor and in the middle of every room, while I look helplessly at and try to decide what to do with it. I am fairly ruthless in shedding stuff; I have some treasured possessions which either have sentimental historical value, or which I just love for themselves, but in the very nature of being treasures, they are few and far between. Many lovely objects have come into my home, and into my life, over the years, but I see that as one stage of their journey; it feels wrong to hoard things for the sake of it when they could be giving pleasure to someone else. Time for me to move on, and them too.

So a large pile is forming for the Searchlight shop, should they ever get their act together and come and fetch it, otherwise it's first come first served for the big national charity shops. A car full, literally (and we're not talking a small car here either) of books will be winging its way to Oxfam in Brighton tomorrow. The children are fighting over the furniture (mainly when neither of them wants it), and a hired van is sitting on the drive... Today I finally started to move some stuff into it; stuff - including furniture - that we are taking to Bakewell, and suddenly, things seem to be falling into place.

Location:So much stuff!

Friday 2 December 2011

True colours

I was remarking the other day on the colour scheme Chertsey was wearing in August 1970, and how this differed from how she had subsequently been painted. What I was forgetting was staring me in the face everytime I walked down the stairs - the false cratch, of which this is part, was still green, yellow, red and white when I bought Chertsey - the only bit of the boat still to be painted like this, and the tattiest. So much so in fact that it wasn't restorable, hence its having been dismantled, and this section, along with the old and part rotten deckboard, being preserved indoors for posterity.

If you look closely (I've left the photo large so you can click on it and zoom in) at the yellow section, you can see Chertsey's Grand Union fleet number, 130, stamped into the wood.