Monday, 30 June 2008

Caxton gets his thermal underwear

Caxton was spray formed last week. A set of thermal underwear to keep us toastie-warm in cold weather. The water tank at the front of the boat was also pulled out in order to get a coat of foam underneath; an area that can get damp apparently.

And here you can see that Barnowl is starting to fit the wiring loom that has been specially made up for Caxton - like a cats cradle isn't it?

The real McCoy, a working boatman

Alexander George Wright, born 3rd January 1875 and died 26th April 1951 aged 76, a Lighterman on the River Medway and my Great Grandfather.

Alexander George Wright was a freeman of the R. Medway, son of a bargeman and a grandson of a bargeman.
Is it in the blood then?
Yet, on the other side of the family I have a Cobbler (might explain me speaking 'cobblers'), a Chairmaker , Labourer, Sugar Baker and a Gun Maker. I don't believe I have any inclination or aptitude for any of this livelihoods so, no, it is probably not in the blood.

Great Grandad might appreciate me becoming a 'Number One' though...

Sunday, 29 June 2008

In the interests of fair play

Floyd here, has just spotted that his big brother, Fletcher, is getting too much exposure on this webbie thing and it needs addressing, hence... Little Man himself, posing..

Look into my eyes

Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around my eyes, look into my eyes,.....

You want to give me a biscuit, pigs ear, bone, munchie....

It's the way I walk

Yesterday was time to hitch the horses and head out for another shopping trip - this time to find Caxton's curtain material. We went back into Grantham because this is the epicentre for all things needleworkie around these parts. Into Dunhelm for the initial recce, there to spent an hour immersed in fabulous fabrics, (that might be a great name for another Grantham emporium) where I changed my mind about the fabric I had already bought at a bargain price for the dinette - at LEAST four times. Common Sense prevailed however, (somebody must have brought him with us) and I found the material for the curtains to match my earlier fabric purchase.

Onwards into the town we then visited the Fabric Warehouse, site of my successful bargain hunting earlier in the week. I had just walked in when I was greeted with, "Ah, the duck egg lady!" by the assistant that had served me on Monday.
"Follow me." says same assistant. So I waddled after her. "I've been up to Liverpool and look what I have found!", as she produced another roll of the duck egg material I had exhausted their supply of. Wonderful me thinks, as himself had been telling me that he thought I hadn't bought enough. S0 I bought another two metres, got a third metre for free and counted yesterday as another very successful expedition.

I need to check my walk in a mirror though....

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Traditional adornment, like the old school tie..

I have been looking at the way bows are decorated and wondering what Caxton will look like. The first picture is the bow on a Norton Canes boat. As with Barnowl Narrowboats, Dave Moore decorates these boats.

And here is the bow on a Braidbar Boat.

And here is the bow on River Phantom, a Barnowl boat also painted by Dave Moore.

This is the traditional style of bow decoration that Caxton is likely to be adorned with. This is also on a Reeves shell so the dimensions and shape of the bow are correct.

Friday, 27 June 2008


Caxton's livery is progressing nicely. Here the black panels on the side have been sprayed and the masking tape removed.
We are starting to get a real sense of what our boat will look like now. Though there is still a lot of work to do with borders to be added and portholes to be fitted, both of which will transform Caxton's appearance, the real lift will be when the sign painting is completed, the icing on the cake so to speak.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Another New Boat

I have just found another new build boat, NB Slow Pace , which has joined the blogging community and is being fitted out by Heartwood. A Reeves shell, like Caxton, 60' long semi-trad. The two shells were stable mates in the Reeves workshops with Caxton leaving a fortnight later. I look forward to watching Slow Pace take shape.

Nothing beats a bargain..

On Saturday I went into Peterborough to look for fabrics for Caxton's dinette and curtains - no joy at all so, on Monday, accompanied by my friend Valerie Ann, we went to Grantham on the same mission. Digressing somewhat, Grantham is the only town I know that has a plethora of fabric, sewing and needlework shops, it seems to be a dying interest elsewhere. When I was a child every parade of shops used to include the wool shop but then, unless you were comfortably off, everything was hand knitted anyway. Right, back on track. We spent some time trying to match fabrics with paint colour charts and managed to narrow down the choices before giving up and heading off for lunch. Once fed, it was back to the task in hand. We had spotted the fabric for the upholstery on a display but not in a roll anywhere so it was time to seek out the elusive assistant. We tracked down the likely operative but had to wait as she was on anti shoplifting duty, trying to protect the business from the roller-blind thieves! We asked about the price of the chosen fabric, (estimating that it was likely to be £15 -£20 per yard/metre), and joked that if she couldn't find any I would take the display, all six yards, for a knock down price. Blow me, back she comes with a grin on her face saying that there wasn't any more of this particular material but I could have the display fabric for........£10. What a result!

So if you want my services for bargain hunting trips.....queue here!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Take a Bow

Here is a shot of Caxton's bow in the Reeves workshop. Not the elegant josher bow of some boats but a rather snub, workmanlike proboscis that seems to mean business: here I come, make way....
And here, starting the of adornment of that bow with the first coats of paint on the bow flair/flash. The hull is blacked with two-pac rather than bitumen paint and Caxton will be given another coat before leaving the confines of the Barnowl workshop.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Three Munchkins

My brother David, Denise his partner, and their dog Bentley, came over from Bressingham in Norfolk on Thursday to help us shift yet another load of gear. They came in David's large panel van and when they went off yesterday it was filled up with a garden shed, tools, bikes and assorted items.
The three dogs have regularly met up since they were puppies and as we always look after each others dogs when necessary, they are all very familiar with one another and the routines of each household.

This is Fletcher, Bentley and Floyd patiently waiting to go out... NOW please!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

A Good Rub Down

Joe (right) is delighted with how Stuart Harper (the boss of Barnowl Narrowboats) has progressed Caxton. It is already looking great to us!

Below you see the initial coats of black paint have been rubbed down in preparation for yet more paint.
In fact, just as Stuart managed to get us out of the door and out from under his feet, he was set to spray this panel again.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Behold, the Master

Yesterday Joe and I travelled to Stourbridge to see the progress that had been made with Caxton and to meet Dave Moore who would be doing the signwriting on the boat.
Dave is a Master signpainter, a traditional signpainter, accredited by the Waterways Craft Guild, ( and their definition of a Master is as follows:
MASTER - This accreditation is for practitioners meeting all the criteria of a Journeyman, with considerable experience in carrying out their skill, who show a high regard and feeling for the traditions of their craft and whose work set standards by which others may be judged.
We are extremely lucky to have someone of this calibre to decorate our boat and watching him work was awesome. After a very brief discussion about what we thought we wanted, Dave scuttled off to his car and retrieved a box.
In no time at all he had chalked in the outline of what he intended to do. All by eye, all by hand - Very Clever Stuff..

This was only to clarify ideas as the red panels are still only in undercoat as yet. The signpainting will be in white, grey and black and will have lots of traditional twirls etc.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Fanciful thoughts..

A couple of miles away from my village of Rippingale, is a village called Aslackby - Lincolnshire pronunciation -azzel-bee, and on the other side of the village is a wood, Temple Wood. This wood adjoins an old WW2 Airfield that was once RAF Folkingham, operational from 1940 through to 1963 and now derelict. In this part of the world this would have been a bomber station and I often think that the people who lived in my cottage would have watched the bombers going out every evening and perhaps counted them back in the morning.

There are still extensive road-ways etc. beneath the tree canopy and in the distance, surrounded by cultivated fields, you can make out the bunkers that once housed coldwar missiles. The north-south runway still survives, though this is not accessible to the likes of me, and is used to store rusting excavators, earthmovers and the like, hundreds of them, like an elephants graveyard.

I regularly walk the boys, Fletcher and Floyd, in this wood, it is extensive, it is generally deserted and it is peaceful. On Sunday last, a beautiful sunny day, I was ambling along whilst the dogs ferreted about when I heard a distinctive engine note above me. Looking up through a gap in the trees I saw two planes from the WW2 memorial flight, a Spitfire and a Hurricane heading home, to RAF Coningsby.

I just love seeing these planes, I love the sound of their engines and their simple elegance.

I glanced around when they had passed and I fancy that I could hear men's voices, a shout, a mingling of Yankie, English and Polish accents and I could just catch the drone of Merlin engines warming up..

Now how fanciful is that?

Barnowl Showing Off

I notice that Barnowl Narrowboats, the builders of Caxton, get a mention in the latest edition of Waterways World, Crick review, (page.72) . You might like to have a more detailed look at the Barnowl Crick Show boat, Octavia.

Kim and Linda Coxon are the proud new owners of Octavia and they have taken a whole series of photographs of their lovely boat - follow this link to see more..

Pass the baton

Here, Barnowl Narrowboats are starting to baton out Caxton in preparation for the coating of insulation and lining boards. You can see the stern end of the boat here.

This is looking forward and you can just make out the stainless steel water tank under the front (well) deck. This is a 160 gallon, approximately, 725 litre, tank which should provide for our needs for several days. Notice the amount of bracing in the roof.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Just Add Colour

Here is Caxton in the first coat of red undercoat. I am not sure what the origins of the door paint pattern is but it is a narrowboat tradition to paint the rear doors in this style.

What a difference a bit of colour makes! Note the three panels that will be sign written. Talking of which, we will be going to see Caxton this coming Friday and, amongst other things, meeting with Dave Moore, the sign painter to discuss his/our ideas for Caxton's signage. We will also meet with Barrie Morse, the marine surveyor who is overseeing the build on our behalf.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

You little beauty!

Walking the dogs this morning I saw this flower, I think this is a Heath Spotted Orchid. Fletcher was so intent on helping with the photography that it was nearly a squished Heath Spotted Orchid!
I don't recall ever seeing a wild, or even mildly irritated, orchid before so I am quite chuffed with myself.

Does my bum look big in this?

Caxton gets the first coat of paint on his tunnel bands. These bands are so called because a boat following Caxton in a tunnel, a very DARK tunnel, would be able to see his 'bum' in the light of their lamp and avoid a collision.


Monday, 16 June 2008

Guaranteed Water Tight!

Joe and I decided that we would opt for waterproof panels in Caxton's shower rather than tiles. We have chosen Mermaid panels, developed by Norske (a Norwegian company) but widely available here in the UK.

Their advertising says;

All of the Mermaid panels are manufactured to the highest quality. No grouting means that they only need a wipe over with a cloth or squeegee to maintain a pristine appearance. A ten-year watertight guarantee also provides ultimate peace of mind.

Mermaid panels are completely waterproof and watertight. The core material is WBP plywood, which unlike ordinary plywood, is water-resistant. Bonded to the WBP plywood is a high pressure decorative laminate which is impervious. The tongued-and-grooved joints mean the panels to fit tightly together. When fixing the panels a colour-coordinated sealant is used. This - combined with the patented "Click-Seal" corner profile - guarantees that the Mermaid system is completely leak proof.

Mermaid panels have a high-performance laminate surface which is guaranteed to remain waterproof. The panels will not crack or delaminate during the ten-year period. The substrate of Mermaid panels is WBP plywood, which is moisture-resistant and provided that all joints and cut edges are correctly sealed when fitted, Mermaid panels are also guaranteed to be watertight.

We are also going to use the panels around the loo below gunwale height to keep things hygienic. They come in a wide range of colours and finishes to suit all tastes and colour schemes and we are going to have the Larva stone finish.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

For Sale

Wednesday evening the 'board' went up, Friday morning the advert' was in the local paper and on Saturday we had people viewing the house. This afternoon we had a second viewing!

But hey, let's get real, this might mean nothing at all. Getting shot of a house in the present climate, with the real squeeze on credit and the bogus hype from the media, is not going to be easy. The media will have it that 'we are all DOOMED'; it sells papers and fills column inches but sadly it can become self-fulfilling. This first weekend on the market is encouraging though!

Ninety-nine red balloons

Saturday evening, whilst we were busy doing nothing in particular, the house came under assault from alien invaders. We were being threatened from the skies and our attention was drawn to this impending disaster by Floyd who was valiantly trying to fend off the dastardly attempt on his home. He was aided and abetted in his ferocious barking by a rather confused Fletcher. Rushing to see what all the fuss was about, Joe and I sprinted to the garden where, low and behold...

They were obviously looking for virgins to carry off - waste of time here then...

Saturday, 14 June 2008


The reason for the flying visit to Essex - the new edition to my brother Bobs' family, eight week old Ramsey - adorable...
Am I broody? Well, maybe...

Friday, 13 June 2008

Grey Days

Here is Caxton's foredeck in its first coat of many colours, oops,.. Grey. You can see that there is no conventional hatch cover on the deck but rather doors from the well deck into the bow locker.
This is because the gas bottles/locker will be at the back of the boat.

I am off to Essex this morning to see my family and a new edition, Ramsay, an eight week old Cocker Spaniel puppy! I am chief puppy sitter tonight as my brother Bob and family will be attending a concert at the Cliffes Pavillion in Westcliffe-on-Sea. Photo's of Ramsay at the weekend.

It seems ironic that I am celebrating the arrival of what will be a much loved pet whilst John of Marmaduke is posting today about the death of much love family pet...

Thursday, 12 June 2008

All steamed up

Moving onto a boat means that I will be leaving behind the convenience of the electric kettle. Reverting to the kettles of childhood, the whistling, rattling monsters that used to sit on the old gas cooker. (Yes, there were NO electric kettles when I was a child, at least, not affordable ones for my family.)
So, I am in a bit of a quandary; do I go for this little retro number that apparently uses 25% less energy to boil water because of the wirey bit at the bottom (techno speak)

or this rather fetching one?

Getting Wired

Caxton was having his wiring loom fitted yesterday so the day started with a couple of calls from Stuart; "How do you wanted the saloon lights switched, individually or all four together?" After a few, 'what about this' and 'how difficult would that be' we resolved to switch the lights in pairs, starboard and larboard -right and left- forgive me, I'm just being silly and nautical.

Next call, to Joe this time, something about the thickness of cable, at which I wandered off to buff my nails...

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Fenland Warrior

I have just found photographs taken last August at the IWA Festival of, guess who? Yes, Sarah of NB Warrior. So Sarah, no other way of getting them to you - here they are..

And also...

Another old chestnut

We've had the classic 'portholes' or 'windows' post now it is time for the other old chestnut, loos, tank or cassette?

We decided to sell up last June, we had created a rough specification (wish list really) and found a builder by July. From here on in we researched everything including, loos. We went to the Inland Waterways Association extravaganza at St. Ives in August and spent quite a time talking to people on the Lee Sanitation stand.
Right sorted, a pump-out, with a DIY pump-out kit then.

But hang on, what about the space taken up by a large tank of .. well, you know?

Perhaps a cassette then?

Anyway, having arrived at this state of indecision, we set off to visit Lee Sanitation where they have working models of their products. They were really helpful and having seen the goods, we settled on a vacuum cassette!
What convinced us was the proper ceramic pan and the minimum amount of water used in the flush. (We already are used to using the Thetford cassette system because we have one in the caravan, so saw no problems in emptying cassettes). We really didn't want to give up space under the bed or dinette to a large tank that could be better used for storing things we wanted rather than, well, know. So we are having a Vacu Flush cassette system attached to a Sealand 4848 ceramic pan with electric flush! Decision made, phew.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Caxton is in the altogether, the altogether..

Caxton is currently being dressed in his new 'suit of clothes'. Arriving at the Barnowl workshop one week ago in a fetching shade of MOD green, he has now been rubbed down and undercoated.

And below in his first coat of gloss. You can see where Stuart has left the areas of undercoat ready for the sign written panels. Two more coats to wear yet..

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Energy Efficient White Goods

Caxton is going to be our home for the foreseeable future; there will be no land base. We therefore tried to be practical about what living in a bathtub will mean, however, I start by making NO excuses about our wanting modern day conveniences on board Caxton.

I fail to find washing up dishes therapeutic at home and I see no reason why that would miraculously change on a boat and as for himself washing up - Yer well, I don't think so...

So, given that we are not prepared to beat the washing on stones at the water side, or hang damp clothes and linen all over the boat, we have had a long search for energy efficient white goods to take the load. The criteria has been:
  • Power consumption
  • Water consumption

  • Cleaning efficiency

  • Simplicity
  • Load
Most of the searching has been done on the net but you still need to go and 'kick the tyres' so to speak so we have visited retailers to look at the goods, press buttons and open drawers etc. Following a trip into Peterborough last Monday we have finally settled on the following:

John Lewis Washing machine JLWM1407 1.02kwh/cycle - 56litres of water per wash
John Lewis Condensing tumble dryer JLTC01 2.1kwh/cycle
Neff Dishwasher S44E43 1.05kwh/cycle - 14 litres of water per wash
We have run all this past the electrical whizz kids that are setting up Caxton's systems and it meets their approval so here's hoping that we have done our research properly.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Don't press the button..

Don't press the 'publish' button until you have proof read what you have written! In the last post I have managed to make a complete arse of myself by failing to spot the typo's. So sorry about the mangling of 'penchant' and the failure to SPILL conscious correctly; sadly I don't suppose it will be the last cock-up though..

Safety Consious

Joe has just managed to buy four of these automatically inflating life jackets for the princely sum of £100 - well done that man! We used Crewsaver lifejackets when we did our RYA Helmsmans course and thought that they were easy to use and comfortable to wear.
Naturally we don't intend falling off of Caxton but then again Joe has quite a reputation in the family for his ponchant for falling in the drink. A bashed head falling off of a boat is not going to enhance your swimming abilities and we have a number of friends that do not swim very well anyway so; lifejackets.


Yesterday and today have been spent in preparation for the estate agents visit. The change in the weather yesterday provided a opportunity to get all the lawns cut and tidied and sort yet more 'treasures' for the tip! Joe has been focusing on finishing those round-tuit jobs; jobs that would have benefited ourselves living here but never seemed to get done - ah well.

We have bought some of those vacuum bags that you can store clothes and bedding in and they are very good. They were bought for Caxton; we thought that the 'summer wardrobe' could be stored under the bed safely in the winter and vice a versa. I have shoved some spare duvets and sleeping bags in them for now and has freed up a lot more room in the linen cupboard - the door closes now!

The under stair cupboard got emptied yesterday and deep in the bowels were spare curtains, shot gun cartridges and gun cleaning stuff, dogs toy box, spare dining chairs, assortment of winter coats, wellies, vacuum cleaner bags (various), Christmas lights and unused wrapping paper - Yes, it was one of those cupboards.. Anyway, now it is clean, painted and organised and there is more treasure for the tip.
So Bye for now, we are off yet again to the municipal dumping ground..

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Our Eyes Were Drawn

Our eyes were always drawn to the 'portholed' boats we saw. Portholes were aesthetically pleasing to us so when it came to commission our own boat it was a bit of a no-brainer: Caxton is portholed.

A reverse layout liveaboard, Caxton has the galley at the back followed by a dinnette and then the saloon in the middle of the boat. All this pretty open plan. In this section of Caxton there are also two houdini hatches and two side hatches, so no lack of light or air but quite a bit more security and privacy.

Greygal from Narrowboat Dogs on Tour states in her post In defence of Portholes that

It’s also arguably safer as the only thing that can climb through them is an octopus and how many cases of octo-tentacled breaking and entering have you heard about?

We have also specified solid steel doors for the front. This is our bedroom so both privacy and security clearly played a role in our thinking. As a liveaboard boat there will also be a cratch cover .