Saturday, August 26, 2017


At last, we got to take Kantara out the other day. We went not knowing how long we'd be out for, though we'd have to be back by September 9th to pick up Christine, Mike and Dorothy, to give them a two-week holiday. And that, we've decided, will be a trip down to Oxford and back. Though we might wind at Thrupp, Oxford itself being such an unpleasant stretch of canal. So anyway, off we went into the wild blue yonder. It was warm, dry, still, very encouraging. But...

...the engine started to misfire, or at least run unevenly. And quickly, not the slower hunting that we'd experienced when our alternator failed last year. All the gauges were reading fine. I checked all that I could, and couldn't find the cause. So we sighed, winded as soon as we could, and drove back to the marina.

Where we found that the domestic water had not been properly heated by the engine, so there must be an air-lock in the system, or a faulty thermostat. A call-back for Roy, methinks.

We're still waiting to hear when he can come to us.

So Grace gets back to door-painting, and I get back to being stir-crazy. We've done so little faring this year, it's ridiculous! There are a dozen things I could be getting on with, but I just can't raise the necessary enthusiasm. Sad, huh?

But yesterday, we took advantage of the continuing decent weather, and we drove out to Calke Abbey in Leicestershire.

 This is not a stately home. This is what the National Trust delight to call an "un-stately home".
"Hidden away in a hollow within ancient park land, Calke Abbey appears to have turned its back on the modern world. The telephone first rang in 1928 at Calke and electricity wasn't introduced until 1962. The often eccentric Harpur-Crewe family preferred a solitary life which excluded mod cons."
The park around the house is huge, with herds of deer and flocks of sheep. The gardens are large, and beautiful at this time of the year.

The house itself has suffered from generations of very eccentric folk adapting the place in very strange ways to accommodate their own particular circumstances and desires. Hence it has a very random, disorganised, interior, with most of the upstairs rooms and several of the others being stuffed full of  paintings, trophy animal-heads, and dead animals and birds in glass cases. And junk. Lots of it. They collected "stuff".

Some of the rooms are in a fairly good state, but much of the pace is very run-down; cracks in walls and ceilings, wall-paper peeling off or long-gone, paintwork badly deteriorated. The NT has done a lot of work to preserve the building, largely by fixing leaky roofs, walls, windows and doors, but the sheer size of the job of complete restoration is so huge that it would be beyond their resources. They've done the wise, clever thing of making its condition its attraction. Where their other houses paint a picture of the rise of noble families, this one tells the story of a fall. And if yesterday was anything to go by, it's a very popular attraction indeed.

The one thing in the house that's in good condition is a magnificent bed, a wedding gift three hundred years old, but never having seen sunlight! It's absolutely pristine.

It's a fascinating, haunting place, and we had a great day out there.

Now back to those jobs...


Please note that another update to "Hints and tips..." has been added to the Addendum Blog.


Sunday, August 20, 2017


I told buyers of "Hints and tips..." that I would notify them on social media whenever I post updates on the Addendum blog. So this is the first notification! There are two additions to Chapter 3 - At the helm. The link to the blog is at the bottom of the table of contents.


Amazon have now confirmed that all previous buyers of "Life with our feet under water" and "Hints and tips..." have been emailed with a link that will give them access to a free upload of the new editions of the books.

In the case of "Life with our feet under water" that's primarily because the book has a new and vastly improved photo gallery, so all of the links have been changed. Also, the body of the book has undergone some revision. (And it has a much better cover than before!)

In the case of "Hints and tips..." a number of web links, particularly in Chapter 1, had broken (the pages had been taken down), and these have now been replaced with live links. Furthermore, the table of contents now has a link to the Addendum blog, where any further such changes - and new hints and tips - will be made available to readers past, present and future.



Friday, August 18, 2017

Fair-weather farers

Life on board NB Kantara is all rather... not very lively at the moment. OK, it's true that we'd be out enjoying ourselves on the cut right now if we weren't bothered by the weather. But it's also true that it's currently pouring with rain yet again, with a very strong wind, and there's a cracking thunderstorm. We've had a few decent days, sure, but generally we're not encouraged to venture out at the moment. Fair-weather farers I guess we are. I know several folk who've been out for a few weeks, and the bad weather's featured large in their experiences.

It's not as if we've got nothing to do while we're here. Roy and Lee came a few days ago to replace our central-heating pump (which alone cost £180!!), then to flush gallons of black, gunky water out of the system and top up with fresh water/antifreeze mix. They'll be back soon to do some woodwork and tiling in our shower room, too. And Grace is painting castles and roses on the cabin doors.

My role at the moment is that of "the domestic". Well, why not? I ask. Grace played that one for thirty-odd years!

Kantara is sitting in a wide, open space at the moment. Lindsey Ann vacated the berth two away from us on one side for a couple of weeks, but she's back now. The space between her and us was empty for some months after Cream Cracker left, until The Hodma'dod came along, but she was only there for a few days, and I suspect they won't be coming back. And, on our other side, Emma Jane has now been away for several weeks, and no-one seems to know where they are or when they'll return. It is rather nice to have good light and views on both sides.

Whether or not we get to cruise for a short while in the next few weeks remains to be seen, but we will be out with Dorothy, Christine and Mike for a couple of weeks in the middle of September. What we have to do now is decide on a suitable route. Four Counties Ring starting at Fradley Junction? Leicester Ring starting from here? Decisions, decisions!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It gives me great pleasure

Yesterday evening, with excitement and some trepidation, I published my third boaty book on Amazon Kindle.

I'm really pleased with it. Somehow, one copy was sold overnight, several hours before I started to promote it on social media! It'd been hard work, but I love writing, working with words and ideas - and working with the photos I've taken so many of! The photo gallery that goes with this book - there are links to it throughout the text - is hosted on Blogspot, like this blog, and it works really well.

Having discovered that, I set about righting a wrong that happened with my first book,"Life with our feet under water". I used Flickr for the photo gallery for that, only to find shortly after publication that readers were presented with adverts randomly throughout their visits. I tried two other platforms for the photos, but failed to find anything better. But then came my idea about Blogspot.

So I  moved all of the photos for that book onto the new platform, and yesterday I republished the book with the new links. Kindle should be emailing all past buyers of the 1st edition, inviting them to download the new version for free. I'm very happy about that.

Then, feeling really inspired, I cast a critical eye over "Hints and Tips".

And I found, to my horror, that a number of the web-links in that book were broken, and these links are a very important factor in the content. A number of web pages had simply been removed. I was more than a little annoyed that I hadn't seen that coming. OK, it wasn't too big a problem to put right. I simply found new pages that served the purpose, and replaced the duff links with new ones. (Those of you who've bought the book will know what I'm talking about. Those who haven't should buy the book! 😀 )

But what could I do to stop this happening again? Nothing!

And what could I do to prevent having to keep re-publishing, every time I found a broken URL? And also...

I'd added a couple of new hints/tips to this 2nd edition. What with those and the correction of the several broken links, Kindle would surely see fit to advise previous customers and let them download the new version. But what would I do when I came up with a new hint or tip (what's the difference between them?)?


I created another new "blog". This one will be used to post all future corrections of broken links, and all new content. There's a link to this "Addendum Blog" in the new edition of the book, and readers are encouraged to check it every now and then to see what's new.  And also I'll announce updates in this blog, as well as on Twitter and FB.

So, dear readers, it gives me great pleasure to introduce/reintroduce you to these three books. They're all for sale on Amazon, and can be read on PCs, tablets and phones as well as Kindle e-readers.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed producing them!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Making the most of it

In stark contrast with today...

...Friday was bright and sunny, the best weather for a few days. So we made the most of it.

Burghley House in Peterborough.