Saturday, December 04, 2021

Some of you might find this boring

I started this blog with the intention that it would be simply a record of our life after retirement just for us. A log to look back on in the ensuing years. Then I started to get readers from all over the place, and it stopped being that diary, and became public. That was fine, of course. I was chuffed that so many people were interested in what we were doing.

Today, however, may be less interesting to some of you, but this post is written purely to remind us in future years of the fascinating major work being done currently in the canal just outside our marina. My last post included part one of the series of videos made by Alan Davies of My Narrowboat Venture fame. This one has parts two, three and four. There will be more.

I do hope that you find it at least mildly interesting!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

We're all trapped! (video and photos)

I don't know if the idiot boater got back into the marina before work started. You remember? The one who asked if this massive two-month work could be delayed so that he could enjoy more time on the cut? (The nasty side of me hopes he's still out there, waiting to return home.)

What I do know is that work has started, and all boats in the marina are now locked in. A fellow moorer has posted on his vlog, My Narrowboat Venture news on the start of the project, and he'll be keeping us informed throughout. It'll be rather interesting. Thanks, Alan!

As for us, boating is still a distant memory, and all we have until we get out there next year is our photos. These are from our trip down to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Bancroft Basin was magical.

We moored close to Shakespearian heroes and villains.

We investigated the River Avon. Maybe we'll cruise her one day.

At night, our neighbours were brightly illuminated.

Night-time always makes reality special.

We were there at a time when the basin wasn't very full.

We couldn't leave without seeing an RSC play - Arden of Faversham at The Swan Theatre. Brilliant!

It's a trip we thoroughly recommend.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Winterising, testing, and looking forward

We paid a visit to Kantara yesterday. What with all of the conflicting weather forecasts recently, and the distinct possibility of a plague of spiders and/or flies such as we've experienced before when we've been away from her, we thought it best to go and give her a bit of TLC. Furthermore, we'd been alerted by Neil, the marina manager that something unusual was about to happen.

Not far from the marina exit onto the canal is a culvert carrying drainage pipes under the canal and down to lower ground on the other side. The CRT are scheduled to repair this, and that requires the installation of dams on either side of the work, and the draining of the canal water between them. This will take around five weeks to complete, starting on Monday, and a large team of workers.

In the unlikely event of either of the dams failing, our marina would empty, along with the rest of the summit stretch of the canal. To prevent the marina from being affected by such a disaster, a barrier can be created across the exit using stop boards. These are lowered one onto another into slots at either side of the exit. We think the barrier won't leak! There was a team of moorers out with Neil yesterday, practising the procedure.

Neil had to do a walk around the marina recently to find out which boats were still out on the cut. There were only two. Having already sent out an email to all moorers some time ago, giving advance notice of the works, he contacted these two again to make sure they were aware that they would have to stay out if they couldn't be back before the end of Sunday. One of the boats said there would be no problem, they'd be home in time.

The other one asked if the work could be delayed for them, so they could stay out longer! 

Back on Kantara, there were no spiders, webs or spider poos, nor flies. All we had to do was run the engine up to cruising temperature, (thus checking oil pressure, the cooling system and battery condition), top up our mains electricity meter, put the greenhouse heater on the bed base, above the calorifier (water tank), and switch it and the dehumidifier on. Water pipes had been emptied the last time we were aboard. All was ready for even the coldest weather. The roof was suffering from green algae, but we weren't inclined to clean it in the inclement weather. It would only grow back again in a couple of months. I felt bad about it, though.

Since the marina pond is to be cut off from the canal for some time, there is a possibility of the water level rising and falling with the rain or evaporation. To allow for this, we lengthened our mooring lines some three feet or so, allowing her to rise and fall freely. We hope it'll be enough, though there will be several friends keeping their eyes on her for us.

And so, home we went. See you next year, dear old Kantara!

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Happy days! Here's hoping...

Now that I'm recovering well from my hernia repair, and will be able get back to my normal levels of physical activity in around a month's time, I'm planning next year's cruising. (Don't tell Grace, though. She doesn't like to plan.)

One trip we've both talked about in the past is to Llangollen via the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals, a round trip of six weeks or so, maybe diverting to the Anderton Lift and the River Weaver. (At least my planning is flexible, Grace!)

In the planning process, I referred to three tools I have found very useful over the past ten years. First of all, there's the remarkable Canal Plan website at This is always the place to start for, among other things, it will supply you with the route from any one location on the waterways to any other, via as many diversions as you wish. After you've given it a few details about your preferences - number of hours travel per day is an important one - it'll give you a very detailed daily itinerary.

The second tool is the standard map - this one produced by the IWA - that allows me to translate my inventory into geographical reality.

The third tool is this schematic. Many of you will liken it to the London Underground "map". I expect they're used in many other places as well. This simplified plan simply shows how the various canals are linked to each other. With regard to geographical accuracy, they are very inaccurate. How this helps me is to make me think, "Ah! If we go up there, we'll be able to go across to this canal and then go back via this interesting place." If you see what I mean!

This one's solely for travellers on the Kennet and Avon Canal, and highlights numerous places of interest. I think it could be turned into a board game with dice and counters! Again, this is far from being an accurate view of reality.

Something I've been doing a lot since the start of the pandemic is to look back at my photographs to remind myself of what we were doing at about the same time years ago. These are November 2012 and 2013...

Yes, I know it's fuzzy!

There was a lot of flooding in November 2013.

Happy days! Here's hoping...

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 48kg 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!