Sunday, 25 September 2016

The next chapter of our life story has begun

Hello, welcome back. Sorry it's been a while since my last blog but we've been a bit busy moving.

We delivered Fizzical Attraction to her new owners Howard & Lynn in Yelvertoft Marina and rented a van.  Roger reckoned we'd get everything into a Transit but I insisted on a bigger van as I didn't think that would be big enough. Enterprise actually upgraded us to a high top long wheel base van which was only just big enough.  It took us almost 2 days to decant all our worldly possessions and clean out Fizzi and it's a good job we weren't stopped by the police as I'm certain it was overloaded.

Chico's never been a good traveller whenever we've rented a car but he loved the van and curled up in his basket in the sunshine and slept all the way to Bristol.

He soon made himself at home in the sun on the gunwales and stayed there while we unloaded the van.

So here she is.........."Out Of The Blue" aka "Bluey"  Photos taken before we unloaded any of our stuff.

The Master Bedroom with ensuite off to the right

The wheelhouse/lounge 

The galley - the cooker is minute compared to the one on Fizzi and the drawers to the left of it are unusable as the steps are in the way.

What looks like a large cupboard on the right is a dish washer

The second bedroom, in the bow 

There's also another main bathroom adjacent to the galley.

It's a lovely boat and felt like home as soon as we moved in BUT there's no storage at all apart from a couple of small kitchen cupboards and a small wardrobe in the main bedroom so we've got a lot of upgrading to do.

First task was to empty and check the integral water tank because water coming from the taps was dark brown and smelled dreadful. It took half a day to siphon the water out so that Roger could get inside to inspect it.

The problem was sludge in the bottom of the tank, probably due to the fact that the boat has been unused for the past 5 years.  The outlet pipe was also much too close to the bottom of the tank and was drawing up this sediment into the system. Once the tank was dry Roger gave it a good coat with Furtan rust converter and chopped a couple of inches off the pipe.  It took 3 hours to refill the tank and we calculated it at 1800 litres which is 3 times the volume of the tank we had on Fizzi.  After sterilising it with Milton, emptying and refilling with fresh water we now have good clear water throughout. All I need now is a drinking water filter on the kitchen sink but that'll have to wait as I want the small round bowl and drainer replacing with a standard bowl and a half sink unit. My kitchen has to be functional rather than decorative and the current arrangement may look nice but is totally impactical.

Next job was to reconfigure the galley to suit us better. That meant ripping out and selling the small cooker (which had never been used) along with the unusable drawer unit and replacing them with a washer/dryer and large double oven and 5 burner hob.

We've also fitted a couple of wall cupboards to increase the storage space

For the few days we were without a cooker I had to manage with this one ring electric hob and an electric kettle. It worked quite well but I'd hate to have to have an all electric boat as every time I wanted to brew up or cook anything I had to run the generator. I know lots of people have gas free boats these days, but it just doesn't seem right to me.

We've ripped out and sold the dishwasher (again unused and still with the packing inside it) and have now fitted a more functional drawer pack with pull-out baskets which will be the larder.

So there you have it. We've only been here for 10 days but have done lots of alterations, as well as cleaning.  We don't actually have any working toilets at the moment as the boat builder - who shall remain nameless- fitted yacht toilets (which are supposed to discharge overboard) to the waste tank. These don't have non-return valves inside the mechanism so every time you flush them they back-fill from the tank into the bowl......disgusting!!!  They're next on the list but haven't been a priority as the facilities here on our mooring are superb and we've been managing quite nicely.

We're having a day off today, hence I have time to write this blog.  We've just been out for Sunday lunch and Roger is sat in the sun playing his guitar. Life is good and we've definitely made the right move.

Bye for now, see you soon

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Killing time

Hello again,

We've just spent a few days at Crick but it's a communications black hole with no decent phone or TV signals and the only internet we could get was what we pinched off the restaurant we were moored opposite.  Roger needed to hire a car for a quick trip back to Bristol to liaise with the engineer doing works on our new boat but apart from that we've just been killing time.  We've now got a firm completion date though and have made all the arrangements to move out of Fizzi and into the new boat next Tuesday.

It's quite alarming how much we've come to rely on good internet access. I can live without TV but we've felt really isolated without the net, especially as Roger has needed to research equipment manuals and suppliers. So this morning we've left Crick and moved back towards Watford Locks. Internet is passable but there's still no phone or TV.

This will probably be my last blog before we deliver Fizzi to her new owners at weekend as I just don't have anything interesting to tell you about. Hopefully there'll be decent wifi in Yelvertoft Marina so I can introduce you to her new owners before we leave.

Bye for now

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