Living Life in the Slow Lane

Living Life in the Slow Lane
Home is where you moor it

Monday, 29 August 2016

The final countdown

Hi, I hope you're enjoying the Bank Holiday.

This morning we finally bid farewell to our cruising companion.  David has been with us for over 5 months and it's been an absolute pleasure. But all good things must come to an end and as we were turning right at the junction towards Watford, he carried straight on towards Braunston.

We just mis-timed our arrival at Watford bottom lock and had a wait of an hour and a quarter before we could start our ascent.  This is our final lock flight (unless we divert and pop up to Welford that is) and I was counting them down.

7 to go


5 was the staircase bottom chamber

Can you see the red painted lock paddle gear?

These are used on all the staircase locks and there are also white painted ones. It's important to open the paddles in the correct order and the first time we did this flight back in 2001 we were taught a little rhyme by Crystal the lock keeper which I've never forgotten - Crystal was a real character and didn't suffer fools gladly so you had to get it the right way round.  "Red before white and you'll be alright.  White before red and you'll be dead"  - simples........

4 - in the second chamber

3 - third chamber

2 - top chamber

and finally, our last lock in this boat

So that's it lock-wise.  I'm going to tally up how many we've done and how many miles we've travelled and I'll let you know on our last day.

For the next few days we're just going to be pottering up and down the pound between Watford and Fozton until it's time to hand Fizzi over to her new owners.  Now that we've finished locking, Roger can also start tarting up the paintwork on the gunwales etc so please keep your fingers crossed that the fine weather continues for a bit longer.

Bye for now, see you soon

Friday, 26 August 2016

To Bristol for a survey

Hello again, nice to see you

On Wednesday we rented a car and went back to Bristol, as the out of water survey of our new boat was due on Thursday morning.  We spent a couple of hours measuring up and trying to work out where we're going to put all our possessions for the first few weeks while we personalise the boat and fit new cupboards and wardrobes in the spare bedroom.  I'm sure it's going to be chaos but I really can't wait.

At 8am Thursday they craned her out onto hard-standing ready for the survey.

We weren't going to bother with a survey as the boat is only 5 years old and at £500 we thought it was a bit expensive...................but boy were we glad we changed our minds! It turned out to be possibly the best £500 we've ever spent.

The surveyor was Ben Sutcliffe who came from South Wales and took almost 6 hours going over the boat with a fine tooth comb.  We'd already spent 3 days back in June while we were moored in Bristol Harbour going over every inch and thought we'd found all the faults, but Ben found quite a few minor ones that we'd missed, along with a couple of potentially serious ones hidden below the water.  These faults will now be rectified by the vendor before we pay our money and take possession. He also gave Roger lots of hints and tips as he went along which will be invaluable in the future.

So here she is...... I can finally present to you "Out Of The Blue" which will be our new home very very soon

She's a replica French Peniche and will mark a new stage in our life's adventures.  I CAN'T WAIT

Bye for now, have a great Bank Holiday weekend

Saturday, 20 August 2016

R I P Elaine

Bloggers, narrowboaters and our community have felt a big loss this week.

R I P Elaine

Saturday, 13 August 2016

My big countdown thwarted by a detour

Hi, happy weekend.

For the past few weeks David has been making me a button fender for the new boat.  It's finally finished and he presented it to us the other day.  I'm not sure if replica peniches are supposed to have button fenders but ours will wear it with pride!

As we're enroute to deliver Fizzi to her new owners I've been counting down the locks. There were 60 still to do

Then 50

And then this morning Roger and David announced that we're taking a detour down the Aylesbury Arm as David's never been to Aylesbury before so that's added another 32 to the total.  Our last lock will be Watford Top.............the last manual lock we will ever do as the new boat will only ever pass through either electrically operated ones or ones done for us by lock-keepers.  I'm not sure whether I'm going to miss working them or not.  Only time will tell I suppose.

Bye for now, see you soon

Monday, 8 August 2016

One for the boys

Hi, how are you? We're both really well and enjoying the hot sunny weather.

We spent 5 days in Paddington basin and are back on the move again.  The basin is a great place to stay, if you can find a mooring that is. Twice a week there is a street food market and every Thursday there is free entertainment. Last week it was Brazilian Samba dancers in celebration of the start of the Rio Olympics.  Here are a few photos for my male readers.

Unfortunately it was the coldest day we've had for a long while and between performances the poor girls were shivering.

We're currently working our way up the Grand Union, heading back "up norf" to deliver Fizzi to her new owners at the beginning of September.  If all goes well with the out of water survey and remedial works to our new boat we should be moving in 3 weeks. It's taking so long because the boat yard in Bristol was fully booked and we just have to wait our turn.  It's not easy I can tell you.......I want it NOW!!!

(I really must work out how to add a smiley face to the blog)  Bye for now, see you again soon

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Kew Gardens

Hello again, I hope you're well.

We've spent the past week down on the River Lea. It's not a river I'd rush back to as it's incredibly difficult to find moorings. All of the visitor moorings are taken up by continuous moorers who moor two and three deep and shuffle about every 7 days or so, in their attempt to beat the mooring restrictions.  It's also extremely weedy although these guys were trying hard to keep it under control.

This is what happens when the weed takes hold. It's an unused lock and the weed is at least a foot high.

When we came back up onto the Regents Canal yesterday we didn't expect to get into Paddington Basin but we timed it right and managed to bag the last two vacant spots.  Some of the moored boats were here when we had our abortive attempt to moor in the basin over a week ago.  Roger spoke to one lady on a boat who admitted that she'd overstayed by several days, as had the boat she was travelling with. She knew she'd been "clocked" by CRT last Monday so was going to move round the corner for a while before coming back for another 10 days.

Today we took the train and went to Richmond for lunch before heading back one train stop to Kew Gardens.  We've never been before and I'd really recommend it if you're looking for something to do in London. I took hundreds of photos, here are a few.  I'm still having problems with black spots in my photos but Roger's on the case and is hoping to fix it soon.

This is the Tropical House

The tallest banana tree I've ever seen. When we've seen banana plantations on holiday they've been quite short trees, presumably so the bananas are easier to pick. This one must have been 20 feet tall.

Beetal nuts, used as a narcotic

Black pepper tree

 Ginger plant, we eat the roots


Vanilla pods

Coffee beans

and my favourite - cacao pods, the seed of which make CHOCOLATE

All of the flower beds were immaculate and the grass was so neatly trimmed it looked artificial.

This was the cactus house

They had many different species of Aloe plant, although they only had one small Aloe Vera specimen which a sign told us is now almost extinct in the wild. It is heavily farmed for its medicinal properties but Kew are trying to arrange Crowd Funding for a project to reintroduce it into the wild.

For the hardened drinkers among you, here is the blue Agave plant that is used to make Tequilla

I'm glad these water lilies aren't native to the British canals and rivers!  To give you some idea of their size, the white "spot" on the pad at the bottom of the photo is a 50 pence piece.

After walking all around the gardens we finished off our visit by climbing up onto the Tree Top Walk.

It's certainly a different view of the arboretum and we also saw lots of parakeets flying about. You can hear them calling to each other but because they're green you don't see them until they take to the wing.

That's all for now, please come back soon for another installment of our visit to London.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Thames Barrier trip with a difference

Hi, welcome back

Gosh, doesn't time fly when you're having fun?  I didn't realise it was a week since my last blog.  We've done a lot in that week too.

After leaving Staines, we did the tidal bit of the Thames from Teddington to Brentford. It was flat calm and very underwhelming and nothing at all to be scared of. Going the other way from Brentford to Teddington last year seemed much more fun.  I can't wait to do the "proper" tidal section past the houses of parliament next week.

The locks up from Brentford were almost impossible for me to operate so we tied the two boats together again and I drove while Roger and David did all the work.  After spending the night at Bull's Bridge and stocking up at Tesco, we cruised into Paddington.  Unfortunately the basin moorings were chock a block so we ended up breasted up right outside the station.  It was a good mooring but SO noisy as we were directly opposite a building site which started work at 8am and had huge earth moving machines and piling machines working right through until 5.30. The dust was pretty thick too.

London was HOT!  35'C by day and 23'C by was noisy and there were thousands of people everywhere......but it was wonderful and we had a great time.

One drawback of this hot sunny weather is that it's made the duck weed grow exponentially.  It's really thick everywhere and even though they dredged over 70 tons of the stuff out of the Regents Canal yesterday you'd never notice the difference.

On Thursday Roger and David took a trip out to the Thames Barrier on a
740 HP V8 rib.  I would have liked to have gone as well but they won't take anyone who has or has had back problems, so I went walk-about instead.

The original trip they were booked on had to be cancelled as the boat had broken down, but once a replacement had become available they had a great time and got some good views of the major tourist attractions.

The Eye

The Houses of Parliament

The Shard

Tower Bridge

The O2

and The Barrier

They were still grinning when they got home.  Boys will be boys.............

We've now left Paddington and ploughed through the weeds to Camden Town.

It's one of my favourite shopping places, but I was good and resisted the urge to jump ship and dive into the Doc Martens shops.................Once we move onto the new boat I'm going to make sure I've got lots of space for more boots,   just don't tell Roger...

Bye for now, see you soon