Friday, October 15, 2021

And now the good news!

Early this year, I saved my back from possible harm when I bent at the knees to pick up a 12kg box, and popped a hernia instead. In due course, I had a phone consultation with my GP, followed a week later by an in-person visit. He duly got me put on the West Herts NHS waiting list for surgery. I was aware of the huge backlog of folk needing all sorts of surgery, so I bought a hernia support belt and resigned myself to a long wait.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was called to see a surgical consultant at the local hospital on 22nd September, the day before my 70th birthday. I accepted it gratefully as a gift! He told me that he would be able to arrange for me to have the operation before Christmas. Soon after arriving back home, I got a phone call offering me an appointment at the Pre-op Assessment unit. Over the next few days, I was given a date for a Covid swab test and for surgery four days later.

The swab test was last Friday, 8th October, after which I had to isolate until I went in for the operation on the Monday. I was there at 2:30pm and out by 8:00. Job done! Now it's a matter of rest and healing and building up gradually to full mobility - it's all a bit sore at the moment! I'm told that in eight weeks' time I will be able to get on with life as it was pre-box-lift.

And that means...!

I'm feeling very blessed. We'll be seeing her once more this year, to do a few small jobs to ready her for next year, and to winterise her. Then we'll be making plans!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Strange friends aboard

Rather than twiddling my fingers waiting for my surgery to happen, and rather than grieving over the cruising we've been missing, I've been happily looking through all my photos, bringing back memories of our past years afloat. One of those memories was this...

Our friend Michelle has spent several weeks with us on Kantara over the years. On one such occasion, she brought three friends with her.

More recently, our daughter Jess asked us to look after Fluffy while she spent three months doing an internship with The Reykjavik Grapevine magazine. Fluffy had been with her since tiny childhood. How could we refuse?

He started off with a bath; he'd not had one for a very long time!

That feels better!

All strange boatfellows, but we were told they all had a good time!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Memories are made of this...

I'd normally be filling this blog with stories of our travels on dear Kantara, but my hernia's put an end to that for goodness knows how long. So I've been looking back on my ten years of boaty photos, and loving the memories. These are the last I took, in 2020 before the first lockdown; a leisurely four-day trip down to Braunston to get broken fasteners on our cratch covers replaced. We made the most of it, not knowing when next we'd be able to travel.

It seems so long ago now.

Recently, I stumbled over a collection of photo albums I'd created on Facebook over the past decade. Maybe you'd like to take a look? 

Scenes from our windows
Very often when we moor, I take photos from out of our windows to capture what we see from inside when we're eating, sitting up in bed, playing cards, washing-up... They're never going to be the best photos - the windows may be dirty or covered with raindrops, and there are sometimes reflections in the glass - but I love them anyway. I think the arty word for them might be "authentic".


(I'm sorry of you get a redirect notice when you click there. I have no idea why it happens. Just click the long link on the first line.)

Talking of Facebook... I was becoming more and more fed up with the moaners and groaners on the FB boaters' groups of which I was a member. Very shortly after I quit them, I was invited to join a new group, "Narrowboat facebook group just for you", which is, so far, free from negativity and unpleasantness. It's early days yet, with far fewer members than the groups I left, but I recommend it to all boaters, would-be-boaters and other canal users/lovers. Give it a try, and help to grow it.
If you're a keen amateur photographer, take a look at "Amateur Photography Facebook Group Just For You", created by the same guy - Guy Baldwin. Recommended!

That's all for now.

Thursday, September 02, 2021


On this day ten years ago, I was celebrating the fact that I, newly retired from teaching, wasn't at the Training Day that my ex-colleagues were having to endure. Callous, wasn't I? But I was celebrating even more that we had just taken possession of NB Kantara. The next day, when I'd got my breath back, I blogged about it.


Now we REALLY start!

We could actually have hoped for a colder day yesterday, the day Kantara was handed over to us.  We allowed two hours for a one and a quarter hour journey, and it took three hours, a large chunk of which was spent sitting in a jam on the road from hell - the M1 - in very hot weather.  So we arrived late at Crick, to meet Bob, the last owner of Kantara, a lovely man who had lived with his wife full-time in the boat until poor health had forced them to sell.  He clearly loves Kantara, and his greatest wish now for her was that someone else would love her as much, and be as happy in her as he had been.  We think that describes us well.

Bob spent a good deal of time with us, explaining all sorts of details, and making sure that we had all the information we needed to get the best out of Kantara.  After he left, having given us his contact details and assured us that we were to feel free to get in touch with him if we needed any help, we drove to Yelvertoft Marina, left the car there, and walked back to ABNB in Crick to collect Kantara and sail her back to the mooring we had booked at Yelvertoft. It was a good feeling, knowing that she was now actually ours.

Then began the process of unloading the car, and getting things into the boat, listing the things we had overlooked and would need to pick up from home the next time we return. Time flew, and we realised we had not eaten since we munched a sandwich on the M1, so we had to stop to prepare and eat a meal, drink a bottle of wine Bob had so kindly left for us (along with some port and a bottle of a fiery spirit we had never seen before), before falling into bed, exhausted.

We awoke late this morning, to a dreary and windy day, but still warm, and the day was spent shopping for food, tidying our things properly into the many cupboards in the boat, and sorting out a few technical problems, most of which were due to our ignorance, and were solved by reading the manuals. One needed Bob's help, and he was onto it like a shot.  We are so grateful to him for his promise of support on such occasions.

And here we are, 10:20 on Saturday evening, sitting in the moorers' lounge in the marina - the best place to connect to the wi-fi - a lot closer to being ready to cruise a bit. We are in no special hurry. We want to be as comfortable as possible when we start to cruise, and not be irritated by some detail we have overlooked. The biggest challenge at the moment is getting our 3G router and antenna set up properly, so that both of us can get the best possible Internet connection for our laptop computers. I tried this evening before we ate, but I think I was just too tired, and I had to give up. But there's time to do that - I don't go back to school on Monday! 

Here's Kantara in her new setting...

And today, Grace and I celebrate that day; the beginning of a new way of life for us. The next few years are chronicled in the books I wrote later - Life with our feet under water, and Moving home with our feet under water. Hints and tips for life with YOUR feet under water followed, after we had gathered a mass of lessons learned from experience, and loads of advice from more experienced boaters. Those books, all Amazon best sellers, can be found HERE or via the links in the column to the right of this page. Please go and take a look.

What have we liked best on board Kantara? Well, the cruising, obviously. And my favourite trips? In no particular order...

  • The Leicester Ring (our first cruise on Kantara)
  • Liverpool, Salthouse Dock
  • IWA Festival of Water at Pelsall on the Wyrley and Essington Canal
  • Stratford-upon-Avon
  • River Trent
  • Oxford
  •  Ashby Canal
  • Down through London, and up the Lee and Stort navigations
For various reasons, we've done less cruising over the past four years, and that's regrettable. But Kantara was a lovely home during Covid lock-downs, and we plan to be back on the move next year after I've had my surgery. Covid allowing. And be assured, we'll be celebrating then, too.

I raise a toast to Kantara on our joint ten-year anniversary. Cheers! Here's to the next ten!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Spiders by the cartload - well, quite a few of them at least

We went back to Kantara for a few days last week. Not to enjoy the fabulous weather, (because there was none), neither to go for a bit of a cruise, (because my hernia won't let me do some of the more strenuous tasks that cruising demands from time to time); nor to wash and wax the boat, (because I just couldn't be arsed - though it turned out that she was still sheening from the last job I did on her). We went because we love being on her. Simples.

Not long after we arrived, we watched John and Susan set out on Lindsay Ann, headed we know not where. Yes, we were envious, but this was nothing that couldn't be put right with a glass or three of  Shiraz. So we drank, we read and we wrote, and played the guitar and played cards and watched TV until...

Watching the box on the first evening, we were amused to see a spider abseil down from the ceiling, take a disapproving look at the screen and haul itself up again quickly. It was only then that we noticed other spiders, creatures great and small, living their spidery life all over the ceiling, the walls, the windows, the blinds and the curtains. Numerous egg sacs huddled up in the angles twixt wall and ceiling; in fact, anywhere such an angle could be found. We captured and expelled several of the bigger ones straight away, and pledged to get rid of  all the rest of them the next day.

Which we did. Armed with little spider-catching boxes, dusters and feather dusters (none of which bore a single feather) and the vacuum cleaner, we cleared the lot of them, and the miles of web they left behind. It took a while, but it was worth it!

That night, while I was sitting up in bed, reading, a spider lowered itself  in front of my eyes, laughed, and shot back smartish. The next morning it laughed no more. I threw it to the ducks.

Please don't any of you suggest that we put conkers in the windows to stop them coming in. That's one piece of advice I omitted from Hints and tips for life with YOUR feet under water, because I have no faith in it. (Do buy the book, though. It contains over 180 useful boating tips, and has been a Kindle best-seller) (Please pardon the plug) We were told about conkers in our first year on Kantara, went conker-hunting, shared our collection liberally amongst all of the windows and watched miserably as they failed to do anything other than be the anchors for the arachnid webs.

Out-doors, spiders' webs can be totally acceptable, of course.

(Photos not mine, regrettably, but courtesy of

That's where they belong. Somewhere they can be appreciated!

By the way, I've just stumbled across photo albums from past years. Such good memories! Let me share one of them with you.

"A world of skies and waterways"

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Attention, Harold Hargreaves!

 I do hope you read this post, Harold. I received your email asking for some photos, and tried to reply to you, but my email bounced back, with the error 

Please email again with a contactable address, and I'll be happy to help.

If any other readers know Harold, please give him the heads-up!


While I'm here, I'll post these photos taken yesterday on our visit to Hughenden Manor in Buckinghamshire.