Tuesday, March 28, 2017


It's been a while since I last posted. Frankly, there's not been a lot to write about. We want to go out and moor down by bridge 28 for a few days, to get paint touching-up done. Or perhaps we'll go a bit further and try the bank just before the Welford junction. But the weather's been prohibitive. The wind has been ridiculous, and quite put us off even attempting the task. Yesterday evening was the first time in weeks that I'd seen the marina pound flat. We've had some sun, but it's not been often, and rarely short-lived. As I type, it's out again, and I just might go out shortly and scrub the gunnels where algae has grown on the slip-proof surface over the winter months. It's odd, because it's never done that before. I ought to take advantage of the opportunity. One never knows when it could disappear. NB Achernar are already out on the start of their several-month cruise. They're clearly hardier than us! But our time will come!

Though I'd really love to be out on the cut, as we have been other years at this time, I've appreciated the hours being available for me to finish writing my sequel to "Life with our feet under water". "Moving home with our feet under water" is now at the proof-reading and copy-editing stage, with the aid of my dear Grace, without whose critical eye and expertise with words I couldn't have got as far as publishing the first book.

When the new book is published, Amazon will allow readers to read 10% of it before buying, and that 10% will include this introduction, posted here as a taster. I hope you enjoy it.



I can't take photos or make videos of this for you. It's too dark, and they would only give you part of the experience anyway. But let me share it with you in word, because it really is very beautiful, and beauty should be shared. Imagine this. See it in your mind's eye, hear it with imagination’s ear…

You’re standing at the end of the pontoon, with Kantara to your left, and the water in front of you. Emma Jane lies on your right. Reach out and rest a hand on each boat. It's mid-June, 10:30 at night, and there's still a glow subdued in the western sky in front of you. Earlier, there was a striking sunset of many colours, manifold hues. Now the sky is laced with subtle greys, greens and blues with just a hint of pink reflecting off the clouds. The day has been cold and gloomy, but the air feels warmer now. There's a faint breeze. The smell of newly-mown grass drifts across the marina, the scent of nearby flag irises and hawthorn, and a faint fishiness off the water, not unpleasant.

A duck swims by with her two tiny ducklings making swishing noises in the water, and tiny guttural sounds in their throats, as if talking with each other. And suddenly you’re aware of much more sound. It's peaceful out here, but it’s far from silent. A fox is barking not far away on the other side of the canal. There are two very vocal owls; one hoots and the other screeches. Something stirs the reeds and rushes at the side of the water just a few metres to your right. A vole? A coot? Then a peeping sound confirms it’s the coot.

A gaggle of geese lands noisily on the pound, late visitors to the marina, calling and splashing, and the once mirror-like water ripples away from them. Bats speed around you, and just a few swallows, too, though dozens had spent hours during the day, swooping low over the water to catch insects. Now the bats do the same, though you can only see their reflections when they skim over that stretch of water that catches the light lingering above your horizon.

Occasionally, a fish jumps. Sometimes you see them briefly, more often you just hear the loud plop in the water, and watch faint ripples spreading outwards from where they've dropped back in, glinting in the dimly reflected sky.

Your attention is drawn to two shapes on the water over by the marina entrance. Faintly white, moving slowly, they emerge from the shadows of the canal. It's the pair of swans who hatched an egg here not long ago. Their cygnet glides in behind them.

Now look up into the sky. The evening star is clear and bright. Other stars are beginning to appear in the pale night. The moon is full, and low in the sky, throwing a shiver of white onto the water. Look at the horizon, and see stretched out below it a scene painted in bands, layers of faded colour and of black. First the fading sky. Below that the silhouetted trees, the boats, boat reflections, tree reflections, and then the sky mirrored on the water, all in perfect symmetry.

Focus on those boats, black and vague in the dark band opposite you. The shapes merge together, blended between the dense line of trees above them and their own reflection beneath. Yet some of the boats don't hide in the night. Lights shine from inside, reminders that these ones are people's homes. And when you concentrate on those boats, you can hear faint strains of music, television, the occasional laugh or shout, water being let out of sinks and basins into the marina pound. Someone's having a shower, and their pump is sending out rhythmic gushes that pour, phosphorescent, into the water beneath.

You breathe in deeply, and slowly take it all in, turning on the spot until you've seen the whole panorama. Boats are lined up side by side away into the dusklight to your left. Keep turning, and you see the grassy hill, atop which stands the wind turbine, turning slowly and almost silently. Turn again, and watch the hill fall away and disappear behind the squat office building, a simple black shape against a sky only slightly lighter. Turn once more, and you can just make out the first of the boats on the other side of the pound.

It's beautiful, isn’t it? It's magical.

Now take your right hand off Emma Jane, and turn to face Kantara. Cast your eyes down her length. Warm light glows out from the curtained saloon window. Rock her gently with your hands, feel the movement on the water.

This is our delight. This is our boat. This is our home.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Schematic of the UK canals


This very useful map can be found on dozens of websites, but I can't for the life of me discover if there is a copyright holder. If you know, please notify me.



Friday, March 17, 2017

"March brings breezes..."

"...loud and shrill"! And the daffodils are most certainly stirred (* see footnote )

I've just been looking back at this blog's posts at the same sort of time in past years.

In 2012, we'd only just returned to Kantara, and it was raining.

In 2013, we were preparing to go to Debdale to have the hull blacked. We went on 18th, and it had snowed the day before.

It snowed very hard on 23rd.

On March 19th 2014, I wrote, "We're going to do just a short trip to Market Harborough next week." But a week later I reported, "Strong, cold wind; rain; very strong, cold wind; heavy rain; sleet; thunder and lightning; more wind – strong. OH! Sunshine! But still the wind! We were expecting to start a week's cruise this week, but the weather outlook is miserable, so it might have to wait. Skies have been amazing, though!"

Monday, March 9th 2015. "Well, I'd like to be able to report that we're halfway to Llangollen, or about to turn onto the River Stort, but the weather's waaaayyyy too hostile for that. The winds just won't let up, and we've had a fair drop of rain, too."

And last year? On March 19th, we started our epic trip down through London and up the Lee and Stort Navigations. And look at that sky!
Today, I'd only go out if I were paid handsomely to do it! The wind is rocking the boat in traditional Yelvertoft Marina fashion, and it's a chill wind, too, driving some very wet rain.

Sarah and Trevor have taken AtLast out for a short trip to meet friends at Welford. I don't envy them, much as I love cruising.

So we're staying put until... I don't know when! We're trying not to make any plans. I'm putting a lot of time into my new book, and really enjoying it. I'm using Blogspot to host the photos for this one, and it's working out so much better than the Flickr gallery I used for the first book that I'm going to move those photos over to Blogspot as soon as I can. That'll mean editing the content of the book and republishing it, and I'll probably do that to coincide with the publication of "Moving home with our feet under water".

Meanwhile, "Hints and tips for life with your feet under water" has had a fantastic review in April's Towpath Talk.
It's been highly recommended by Cruising the Cut and Gongoozler TV, too. Have a taster of it for yourself here on Amazon before committing your paltry £1.99 to buying it!


The Garden Year
by Sara Coleridge (clearly not a patch on her dad)

January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.

March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
To stir the dancing daffodil.

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.

May brings flocks of pretty lambs
Skipping by their fleecy dams.

June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children’s hands with posies.

Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots, and gillyflowers.

August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.

Warm September brings the fruit;
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

Dull November brings the blast;
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.

(with apologies!)


Friday, March 10, 2017

Slideshow - Repainting the boat

I'm working hard on my new book at the moment, and still not back at the boat, so I've not got a lot to blog about. However, I put this slideshow together this afternoon, including it in the picture gallery that accompanies the book. It's a selection of photos taken when Kantara was repainted two years ago. We found the whole process really fascinating, so I hope you're at least vaguely interested!