Tuesday 31 July 2018

We were going to paint today

But when the guys had finished the grinding and sanding, the sun was well up and fully out. The roof didn't get cool until after 6pm, and by then we had covered it with every duvet cover we have on board (held down by ballast bricks) to stop any condensation or dampness overnight. I bloody hope it works, or I will have David out there sanding and wire-brushing first thing!

We are going to head away by about 6am, get up the locks and through the tunnel, and hopefully moor up where we were with Laughing John a few nights ago - shade all day, so the roof will be cool for painting, the paint will go on smoothly and won't dry too fast and then crack.

So while we were waiting in vain for the roof to cool off, we went out for a walk, recommended by Dale. Across the canal to a not very inviting looking pathway with signs on the road gates saying 'No Public Access', but also sporting public pathway signs ... So on to the remains of the medieval village of Wolfhamcote, where there is a little church, St Peters, which has been on the site since the 13th century. The village (no longer there) features in the Domesday Book back in 1086. Hard to comprehend, isn't it, that it was there 1000 years ago.

Bits of the church date from the 13th century, and some from 14th,  and some from as late as the 18th century. It is protected and has been restored by a group called (I think) Friends of Friendless Churches.

After seeing the church we followed the maps (OS map for the walk, and Memory Map for the canal) to find the intersection of canal and path. On the way we went though another graveyard of sorts - that of the redundant farm vehicles and cars. Plus, something I never expected to see on a farm ...
A tank, complete with tracks and protected headlights ... Anyone know its provenance?

Clearly there is not a great store set by being able to access the footpath from the towpath, as it was a bit of a clamber and climb, but we made it and set off back towards Braunston. I thought about Barry and Pauline as we walked the towpath - lots of blackberries ...
And lots of this plant. Is it Himalayan Balsam? I looks pretty but it's ubiquitous and with such large and plentiful seed pods I worry that it is not a UK native and probably destroying native species.
Back to the boat, a wait for cooler temperatures that didn't seem to eventuate. So a decision was made to cover up the ground down metal for the morning. Nibbles, wine and cider were prepared for the evening repast, and the rest is history. Alarm is set for the early start...

And this was last night's sunset:

Monday 30 July 2018

No blobbing today!

Cooking in the heat has gone by the wayside recently - either I think about cooking and go 'Nah, no chance!' or I decide, without even considering cooking, that it's too hot for anything but nibbles. But after a day of blobbing on Saturday, I had a sudden rush of blood to the head and made a proper meal. After all, I am meant to be a good wife, at least part of the time...
1: Tomato and basil, no dressing; 2: lettuce, parsley, chives and egg; 3: tuna, potato, celery. 2 & 3 with a dressing made with mayo, yoghurt, honey and lime juice. Yum.
Yesterday, late in the afternoon, we arrived outside Dale and Dave's workshop here in Braunston. First thing this morning, I got up and made cheese scones and then at 8am, the guys were ready to get to work, stripping the paint off the front half of the roof. What Dale had thought could take about 3 days has almost been completed in 1 day - probably no more than half a day tomorrow and the front half of the roof will have been scraped down, rotary wire brushed and sanded ready for painting.
When we started it was raining lightly. The duct tape is from where Dale did a test patch on Thursday last week - he covered it up in case of rain ... Dave looks suitably sinister in his hoodie.
I have a multi-tool at home and I must get one for the boat - I am sure I need one! Dale is on to section 2. My job was to sweep away the paint that had been lifted. In a way, I probably added to their fatigue - if I hadn't been sweeping as they scraped, they would have had to stop to do it every 5 minutes. As it was, I took it all so they just had to keep scraping.
The bucket full of scrapings.
And then it got warm and the shirts/hoodies came off
Working, boss!
And David was on serving morning tea and making lunch, and then on dishes, complete with marigolds. See how carefully he stacks the dishes?
We all stopped for the day at about 4.15, and since then Dale has come over to sort us out with power, and he's also taken away a load of our towels to wash in the workshop.

Between them, he and Dave are stars. I think I blogged last year that Dale removed a leaking and defunct chimney stack, and welded a piece of steel in its place, plus he welded a second piece of steel in a leaking former chimney hole that the original owners had used to bring their satellite cables down into the boat. So when it came to sorting out this paint scraping/stripping exercise, we thought of them first - it pays to keep the economy moving. Apart from that, just doing the sweeping after them today has exhausted me, so I would never have coped with doing the paint stripping as well ...

If you need any metalwork done, see them - Direct Marine Components Ltd in Braunston ph 07759257964. They are between Midland Chandlers and the pub. And they are great!

I am thinking about tomorrow's morning tea now - I think it'll need to be pikelets, just for a change.

And I realised the other day, that I didn't make pikelets for the grandsons this last visit - that will have to be remedied early in their upcoming visit, or I will lose my status as Grammy extraordinaire, and that will never do!

Saturday 28 July 2018


We now have thunder, lightning and hail and lots of rain!

Lots of rain bouncing off the surface of the canal

Almost impossible to see in the photo, but the little white specks are hail ...
 David is now outside (rain has slowed, thunder is a fair way away) screwing down the roof vents (known as mushrooms). We've had them wide open to increase ventilation, but the rain has bounced in ...

Fortunately for the farmers and the fields, the rain has been intermittently heavy - probably easier for the parched ground to absorb.

It's a luxury to be blobbing

Here we are moored up outside Braunston, only about a km away but no traffic noise, no other boats moored close by; just the Saturday sound of lots of boats (mostly hirers who collected their boats yesterday or this morning) going past.

David has walked into Braunston on errands (generated by him, not me) and I am having a lie in. Well strictly speaking, I am having a lie in interspersed with making bread, making tea, toasting cheese scones for a snack, and now blogging. So blobbing isn't really accurate. Not to worry - I am still in bed and it's 11.33am.

We have cruised every day since Tuesday when we did a long day (about 10.5 hours, I think) from the junction of the Welford Arm to just before the Braunston Tunnel, the next day we went through the tunnel and down the locks to see Dale and sort out getting the roof scraped. As he is starting on that on Monday we had a few days to fill, so we headed for Rugby in two bites - a short distance outside Braunsrton (about 500m to a shady space) and then early in the morning to Rugby, watered up, turned around, and moored in the shade - sense a theme, do you? A big shopping expedition - Tescos was beautifully air-conditioned - back to the boat to unpack and then I sat out in the shade, still very hot, while David walked into town to buy a TV (Tescos) and to go to the 3 shop for a SIM for the modem thing we brought over from NZ - purchased from NZMCA and apparently very good, so the onboard IT Manager tells me.

Yesterday we came back from Rubgy to just about the same place outside of Braunston, but better and more shady. The afternoon was a sitting outside reading and blogging one for me, and an inside sorting out modems, the new TV, phones and IT for David - so we were both pretty satisfied. And then the wind came up and cooled us off, and the new TV worked happily, and we watched for a bit and went to bed and woke up to rain on the roof and wind - lovely stuff!

Today we are not moving the boat (when it's windy the boat tends to act like a giant 62 foot sail) and late tomorrow afternoon, we will move up to Braunston and moor up beside Dale's boat ready for work to begin on Monday.

Here are some random photos to add interest to an otherwise picture-less post ...
Yesterday, as we cruised from Rugby to Braunston, we passed this very familiar boat - it did seem strange not to see James and Doug on the stern suggesting drinks and nibbles on board ...

I made this rhubarb pie a few months ago to take to dinner at Bruce and Gary's place. I note there are several mistakes in my latticework where I have too many overs instead of unders ... I had taken the photo so I could put it in a blog post, but I hardly blogged at all while I was working - somehow I couldn't find the time to write personal stuff when I was writing project and programme stuff. Of course, I could have written screeds when I couldn't sleep at night as my brain wouldn't shut off. However if I couldn't sleep, I used to get up and work - I figured if my brain was thinking about what I needed to be including in the documents I was writing, I might as well get up and do it, even if it was 3am. Somehow it didn't often occur to me to get up and blog.
Here are Rodger and Pat from Cat's Whiskers - they come to NZ every summer to stay with their daughter in Karori (a Wellington suburb). They came to visit us in Waikanae, and David took this photo so we could What's App it to Mike Coates at Mercia Marina - I have a feeling it was to make him jealous that he wasn't with us. But mainly, because we are nice people, it was to say hello to him - honest!
I took this photo of the screen on the plane - it showed where we were as we flew over the Baltic Sea near the coast of Poland. Elblag (said Elblonk) is where our grandsons' mum comes from. Isn't that a great display for an airline to show? I do like Virgin Atlantic!

Friday 27 July 2018

Mid Summer Kiwi Xmas

We had mid summer kiwi xmas close to Welford Junction - a 17 minute walk for Tim from the North Kilworth bridge after a drive down from working somewhere up north, and the rest of us were already in place - we already had the grandsons, and Mick and Julia arrived on Unknown No 3.

We had made the grandsons work for their passage - dishes, lockwork, steering the boat ... But we also let them play and sleep too, just in case you think we gave them no peace!

Karol opening the gate after Olek had worked the paddles

He's a good kid - and he knows the mantra of red before white and you'll be all right ...
Playing in the field at the top of the Foxton Locks.

And see, we do let them sleep in in the morning!

I was on the phone to Jaq Biggs while Olek was steering - he is a champ and when he comes back next Friday, I plan to make him steer all of the time!

And Karol is on dishes - he is pretty good at doing them although he swears he doesn't like the job - do I look bothered? No, because I am a meanie Grammy. And on the stove is the gammon, being cooked for Xmas dinner, and the lamb leg is in the oven - 4 hours being slow cooked - yummy!
Saturday morning and the shade tarp is being constructed. That's Tim up the ladder

Flag found in the locker under the sofa

Hedgerows are great for tying to, and another flag found
The flag is pegged on but got moved to the other end - this is one of the flags that were part of the referendum - it was the one we wanted so we bought it ...

Tim made a skirt to go over the gunnels in case of dropping stuff down the gap ...

The boys made small flags to be taped to sticks that they had stuck in the ground.
Pre-lunch nibbles in the shade

Roast potatoes and lamb, coleslaw, potato salad, kumara orange and walnut salad, carrot salad and gammon.
Xmas dinner in the shade. Julia, Mick, Olek, David, Karol at the table, and me - Tim did eat too ... Note the tarp 'skirt'  Tim constructed to mitigate the falling in the gap effects between boat and armco?

I think they look well fed ...
Not sure what Karol is doing but there were races in the late afternoon ... He was given a head start each time, and managed to win every race. I think the head start needs to be much shorter! He is little but extremely speedy.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Boating at last

We are moored up just before Rugby town bridge at Brownsover - in the shade but it is still too hot ...

Mel in Waikanae, ready to go in the suitcase. Holding the best Marmite, none of this UK stuff ...

It's 12 days since we got to the boat but we didn't actually leave the marina until a week ago. Well, we did leave on Wednesday but had to go back rapidly, after a fortuitous check of the weedhatch. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning ...

The journey to the UK was lovely in Business Class - AirNZ to Shanghai Pudong (12 hours but actually only 11), a four hour stopover, and then Business Class on Virgin Atlantic to LHR - also very lovely, great food, and great staff, lots of sleep.
A yummy meal on board Virgin Atlantic partially eaten before I remembered to photograph it. Even though my memory of the flights is hazy, I know it's Virgin Atlantic because the salt and pepper shakers are in the shape of little planes ...

This time we picked up the car straightaway instead of collecting it the next morning - Saturday morning at Enterprise is always really busy with a queue often out the door, so Friday night was a better bet. Into the hotel, realise that the careful packing for ease of locating stuff means nothing after 30 hours of travel when the mind has lost memory of recent events ... And then dinner at the hotel with Barry and Pauline who had lovely news that they are coming back to NZ and that their grandkids are coming to NZ to live too. Yay!!!

The next morning we drove to Desborough up the M1 - I am sure drivers have got less patient here than they were when we first started coming over: lots of non-indicated lane changes with almost no space in front of following cars ... We arrived at Mick and Julia's place before they did - they had been down to Waka Huia finishing up tidying after Mick's marathon work on board. Still a few bits to finish, but it is looking wonderful.

He has replaced a number of the panels (and trim) in the saloon where there had been water damage from former chimney holes that hadn't been adequately sealed - we got that work done properly last year by the lovely Dale at Braunston. Mick built a corner seat and had a leather covered cushion made (now called the naughty seat ...) He's fixed the book case and its little cupboard now has a shelf (used to have the pump for the diesel heater that we removed). And he sanded and varnished the porthole surrounds, fixed the book case, lifted all of David's wiring for the electronics and put it behind the panelling instead of dangling below it ... He's painted the duck-hatch doors inside and the stern doors and they now both sport silver ferns - purchased online from Australia! How does that happen?
I had undercoated these doors last year, but didn't know what colours to paint them. But good old Mick knew, and don't the silver ferns look choice?

He's fixed the pigeon box that wouldn't shut properly and repainted it complete with a diamond pattern on one end outside and replaced the timber trim that had got water-damaged inside. 

He's fitted new taps for the bathroom vanity - they had seized up last year. And I gather they were an absolute bastard to get off; and he's re-tiled the vanity top,  painted the bathroom walls and put a new piece of panelling in where we removed the self pumpout switching (and we'd left a hole where the switch was ...). Since we returned he has put up the brass rod for the new curtains, informed me the ones I brought over are too scanty, so he has taken away my large redundant curtain of the same material (made for privacy between the saloon and the bedroom but never used) and at the end of the season, he will take our curtains (scanty variety) and add some fabric to them to make them more voluminous - did you know he sews as well? He is a marvel, that Mick! He's also made the front door curtain into two and now has some of that material with which to make a couple of tie backs.

He had sanded down one of the worktops in the galley and used some benchtop oil on it - looks great and has left me the sandpaper and the oil to do it again. He painted the stern bands and the swan's neck ... So we are looking very smart now, inside and out. I know I have missed itemising some things (one is the removal of the rotting roof box and repairing the roof under it). There will be more...
Lily pads in the marina by Waka Huia. Under the lily pads though was the ghastly blanket weed ...

Anyway, so on Wednesday we were finally ready to move off from the jetty, and I thought the boat was sluggish coming out between two moored boats. As there was lots of blanket weed in the marina, esp near the jetties, I asked David to check the weedhatch when we were finally outside the marina, and before we were going to cruise down to Foxton.

A damn good thing I did ask for that to happen, because even though he couldn't see it, he could hear water coming into the bilge. Bilge pump swiftly turned on and David went back to the marina to get Dean and Martin to come and cast their eyes over it. They declared that the stern gear was leaking, and that we needed to come back into the marina so they could lift us out. Rather than wait for Steve to return from leave the following day and then get into line behind other jobs that were no doubt in the queue, we phoned our trusty Ed Shiers. Fabulous man that he is, he travelled 2.5 hours to come down to repair the stern gear. He got to us at about 2.30, was finished (with Mick's help, as the stern gear was on extremely tightly and required much use of levers made from pipe and spanners and crescents ...) just before 5.30, and Dean lowered us back into the water. Oh bugger! The leak persisted and was not the stern gear at all, but a faulty weld around the prop shaft - it had failed when the grit blasting took place. Dean, who is an ace welder, declared the weld was useless - it was in 2 rows rather than one smooth rounded piece, and part of it had given way. So it was up out of the water again, and on to the blocks for the night ...
On the blocks with obligatory staircase. It felt very weird, I must say.
You can see how clean the hull is after being zinced and blacked with two-pot!

In the morning, I made more cheese scones (I had made some the day before when Ed was on his way - for Ed, Dean and Martin, plus Carol in the office and Mick, David and me - we donated Julia's share as extras for Ed). It is a rule that you must feed the workers!

So promptly at 9.15am, Dean and Martin came round with the welding gear and ground the weld down all round the pipe and then re-welded the whole thing. He did it in two halves so that the stern gear didn't get too hot from the intense welding heat. A good idea since Ed had re-sealed it ... Martin painted it with 2 pot epoxy, we waited a wee while for it to dry

So then it was back into the water for a test - yay! Leak was gone. Scones were delivered and we were off down to Foxton to await the arrival of the grandsons that evening.

A few photos from the last few days - blog will catch up later ...

This one's for Derek and Ted ...

I couldn't see what they were serving the children with ...
After an extremely long day's boating (left Welford Junction at 7.30am, moored up just before the Braunston Tunnel at 6pm) we caught up with Laughing John. He and David drank sloe gin and I drank chardonnay (of course)  and we ate cheese, hummus, apples and crackers. No dinner, just nibbles, alcohol and much laughter. I cooked brekkie for us all in the morning and showed John Mick's handiwork - he was very impressed.

This morning, David steering through his first bridgehole - after he'd had to take over while I used the onboard facilities ...

More later - I am sure David must be just about back from a shopping trip in Rugby, and I will have to get dinner cooked - such an effort, as I bought two Tesco curry meals today, plus naan breads.

It is so bloody hot, we will be eating out on the towpath, where we are moored up in the shade and it is still roasting! (Last year we complained about the heatwave that lasted a couple of weeks while we were down on the Avon and then we complained about it raining lots for several weeks. And now I am complaining about excessive heat again. I blame Trump, frankly.)

Tuesday 3 July 2018


Am working at the dining table, and even though it's getting darker and colder, I still have the blinds up.

I was thinking thinking thinking about what to write about rolling out a park and ride solution at a tourist spot, and as I thought thought thought, I saw through one of the dining room windows that the sky was a lovely colour.

Ever mindful of the need to take micropauses in my work (yeah, right!) I took photos. A couple of them even involved going to stand outside the back porch! Such an adventurer I am!!

Looks lighter than it was - over to the east above John and Jenny's place and over the lovely hills

To the north, over Peter and Margaret's shed and house, and over our little shed ...

If you look closely, you can see the buds on Joy and Grahame's magnolia.
OK, on with some more work!