Sunday, 31 August 2008

Licence applied for

I have insured Caxton. I opted for Craftinsure as they were competitive and it was an easy on-line application, press a few buttons and print the certificate! Now that's my kind of transaction. On the other hand there is the British Waterways licence application. Archaic. Nevertheless, it is completed and it will be winging its way to Leeds tomorrow morning. Three weeks turn around time is advised - the BW process must be very primitive if it takes that long; or very inefficient. It makes me itch to put my management services hat on and re-engineer their processes!
Never mind, I will wait patiently....

So Far so Good

Here is a shot of the progress on Caxton's dinette. This dinette takes up five feet of boat length but converts to a six foot six bed.
And, here is a close up of the 'pew-end' we asked for on the dinette.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Meet Jim

We met Jim at the West Runton Animal Rescue and Shire Horse Centre Norfolk. Originally just the Shire Horse Centre, it has now been taken over over by Hillside Animal Rescue, of which more later. Anyway, back to Jim.

This here is Jim. Jim is a Clydesdale, a ton of muscle and bone and a heart of gold. Jim is just off (rather reluctantly) to show us how a heavy horse was used on the land. Early last century there were four and a half million heavy horses employed in just about every facet of daily life.

Note the ROPE reins. A farmer 'wouldn't pay a shilling when sixpence will do' so no leather reins for the likes of a farm horse. Wet rope can be hung up to dry, leather needs cleaning. Below, Jim is about to be chained to a spring tine cultivator which is used on light soils to prepare a seed bed. A boat horse would be similarly tacked out.
And there he goes at a far old clip with his driver using his voice primarily to control what Jim is doing.
I simply adore horses, always have and always will, so an afternoon spent with the likes of Jim and the other heavy horses at West Runton was just the ticket.

Friday, 29 August 2008


We have sold the house!

Yippee bloody doo da!

Oh God,

I have now got to start packing and cleaning out cupboards - bugger.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Who stole the beach?

1. Take one boat roof and apply masking tape.
2. Apply a coat of grey oil based undercoat.

3. With bucket and spade, cover wet paint with sand.
4. Apply generous amounts of sand to wet paint on gunwales.

5. Leave to dry before brushing off excess sand and applying a generous coat of grey paint.

NB. Joe, please note - this is a non -slip surface!

Coming through

Caxton's completed bow flare, care of Dave Moore, incorporating a Compass Rose AND, a fly-boat blue stripe. Apparently the blue stripe at the base of the flare indicates that the boat is carrying perishable goods and gives it precedence at locks!

Would it work though?
Maybe not.
I guess we will queue along with everybody else if we know what's good for us.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Secret of Man's Red Fire

I promised in a previous post that I would report back on this Son of Hibachi Grilletto BBQ that we have just bought. Well it does what it says on the tin - it works and it works well. It is lit in this closed position which creates a chimney/flue effect so the charcoal is soon alight. Ten minutes after lighting it it is ready for cooking; open it out and load with food. When we had eaten, leave for 30 minutes, close the beast back up and then place in carry/snuff-out bag. It is easy to transport and store, virtually self cleaning and the carry bag means it is not an awkward messy piece of kit to find a home for.

Now where is that commission cheque?

Walking the plank

Here are a couple of shots of Caxton's new oiled oak plank flooring.

You will note that Stuart has artfully placed some homely clutter, boot prints in the dust etc. just so I can get a feel for what it will look like when we are all aboard - and you think I am joking - sadly not so! Add to this two hairy dogs with a fetish for ditch water and a husband that falls in the cut on a regular basis and me thinks I am going to have to be a right little scrubber ...

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

And the Paint goes on..

Here are the first pictures of Caxton's internal paintwork. The ceiling (I am sure that there is a boaty term for that but it eludes this land lubber) is to be white/ivory to reflect light and the panels above the gunwales will be colour washed. Here the ceiling and wall panels have been blinded with several coats of primer. Here the colour has been started. The flash has lightened the colour, it is actually more a duck egg blue (Crown emulsion, Stepping stone). The fire boards have also been fitted and the fire placed in order to cut the hole for the flue.

Monday, 25 August 2008

That 'sinking' feeling

The granite worktops have now turned up at Barn Owl's workshop and await fitting and you can see where the tap will go and the drainer grooves from Stuart's artwork above.

Well every little bit of progress counts don't you know?

Sunday, 24 August 2008

T for 3 and loads of talk

At last the mobile broadband dongles have turned up! I have signed up with T-Mobile for Web & Walk at £15 pcm and himself has backed-up our grasp of the techie world with a good package from 3 at £7.50. We had calculated how much we spend on broadband and telephones in our land based life and said that provided we get deals that stay within that budget we will have done very well. For the mobile phone I have opted for a Vodaphone package that allows 3000 minutes to landlines, unlimited calls to mobiles and all the texts you like at £35 pcm. I was particularly attracted to the landline allowance as it seemed pretty generous and eminently practical as most calls will be to landlines.

We have even got 2 metre extensions to our dongles - now there IS something to boast about!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Norfolk and 'Albion'

Just back from two weeks sojourn in Norfolk and here is the first picture - a 'boating' pic.

The first week Joe and I were based at Sandringham, excellent dog walking, mixed weather and cracking company one afternoon in the form of Greygal from Dogs on Tour.
The second week we moved the caravan along the coast to West Runton ( near Cromer) and Joe, plus the dogs, departed for home whilst I drove south to Bressingham to retrieve my Mother from the clutches of baby brother David. This second week was about giving Mum a break. Last year we went to Kent and this year it was the turn of Norfolk to host the girls away tour - Okay, the OLD girls away tour.
On our last day we tootled over to Wroxham (Roy's Town for those who know the place) and watched the tupperware boats whilst we enjoyed a beer on the quay. Only a short visit as Wroxham is a bit too commercial for our liking so we headed off to Ranworth Broad. We had just had a delightful lunch in the Inn at Ranworth and wandered across to the quay when we came across Albion, a Norfolk Trading Wherry, moored at the end of the quay.

I struck up a conversation with the chap on board and we were invited aboard for a tour. Twenty tons unladen with the capacity to carry a Forty ton load. Albion was built in 1898 of two inch oak plank with a pitch pine mast and she traded until the second world war.
The boatman's cabin is pretty spacious compared to a narrowboat but the design is very much in keeping its contemporaries on the canals. It was a real treat see her and even better to be invited on board this grand old lady.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Bow Flares

This photo is of the bow flare detail on River Phantom, another Barn Owl boat, showing what Caxton will look like when completed.

And below is Caxton's bow flare, masked-up in the process of being painted.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Saloon open for inspection

Here are a series of photo's that Joe took yesterday of work in the saloon.
Above, looking towards the stern, you can see the rear of the dinette with cupboards in its base to take a freeview box, radio and DVD recorder. On the left is a bookcase and TV station which will have doors fitted later.
Above looking at the storage cupboard you can see that work has started on fixing the ash T&G under the gunwale and solid ash trims are being fitted to frame the ash faced ply panels above. These panels will be painted with emulsion introducing some colour into the boat.

Looking towards the bow on the right hand side you can see where the stove will be placed when the fireplace is created. On the left is what will become the boatmans cupboard. Again the ash T&G is being fitted vertically under the gunwale and is transforming the look of the interior.


Joe went to Stourbridge yesterday to meet with Barrie Morse the Marine Surveyor who is overseeing Caxton's build on our behalf. Work is progressing well, triggering another stage payment. The 12volt freezer was unwrapped ready to go on board where it will fit under one of the seats in the dinette and slide out for access. We changed our minds so many times about whether to have a freezer but given that Caxton is to be our home we bit the bullet and bought this.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Just as you start to relax

Oh bugger, just as you start to relax, chill out and do almost anything rather than housework someone decides that want to see the house with a view to buying it - Don't they realise there is a recession on?
I am now panicking about leaving it gleaming before we go away.
Now where are those rubber gloves?

Plaque Busters

This is the latest addition to the dog care kit here at Labrador Lodge. Doggie toothpaste and baby tooth brushes. We asked the Vet to take the opportunity when the dogs were under the anaesthetic to give their teeth a clean. So, the dogs came around with gleaming newscaster smiles and we were another eighty quid lighter. The recommendation from the Vet, along with the accompanying fact sheet, is that best way of keeping doggie teeth plaque free is to brush them. Right..
These dental chew things that you see advertised are about as much good as a chocolate teapot with this pair, 'Ah, what's that, gulp, gone,' it doesn't even touch the sides so the product's value to teeth cleaning is precisely NIL!
So to save future dental problems, take one tube of chicken flavoured non-foaming toothpaste, one soft toothbrush and one reluctant mutt and......brush dear, brush..

Sleepless in LABLAND

Having been woken by a single dog bark, tossed and turned for fifteen minutes while trying to recover that deep sleep you are sure you were in then there comes another imperious summons from the dog boudoir downstairs. You stumble out of bed, reach for a gown and head downstairs where you are met by a very indignant Fletcher. Together you repair to their sleeping quarters where you find Floyd ensconced in the centre of the bed with the object that is offending Fletcher;


As usual Floyd has smuggled his bone in during the night and proceeded to gnaw and munch until Fletcher can stand it no longer.
You reach down, remove the said bone, Fletcher climbs back into bed with what can only be construed as a smug expression and you head back to your bed hoping that sleep will not elude you.

Well it has eluded me, hence this ramble..

Bloody dogs, who's idea was it to get dogs anyway?

Monday, 4 August 2008

Stitches OUT

Fletcher and Floyd were back at the Vet's this morning to have their stitches removed following their Op last Monday. All is well and they are now lying on the back lawn working their way diligently through two enormous knuckle bones. Life is bliss.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Don't talk Rubbish

John on NB Marmaduke is busy blogging at the moment about their first lengthy trip since rescuing Marmaduke from the hands of an unscrupulous boat builder. They are beginning to feel their boating feet and enjoy themselves and good luck to them.
In the latest episode John talks rubbish, or rather about both trying to dispose of rubbish and, picking up OTHER peoples rubbish. A parallel this morning is that Joe came in from walking the boys bearing a carrier bag containing the remains of some scrote's Big Mac meal which had been cast aside on our front lawn. WHY? I could only have been thrown from a car. Why not take it home and put it in a bin?

I recall it was drummed into my brothers and me when we were children that we were NOT to drop litter, 'give it to me, put it in your pocket, where's the wrapper, put it in the bag, PICK THAT UP NOW! It's like muscle memory now, I could no more drop litter than.., well I just couldn't do it.

Seeing litter dropping makes me want to intervene, perhaps not the wisest course of action but the desire is still there. I remember standing outside my office in London in the days when I still smoked. It was lunchtime, it was very very hot and parked in a Discovery a few yards away was a man eating his lunch. As I glanced in the direction of the car, he leaned across, opened the passenger door and threw out his chip wrappings and a Coke bottle.

HEY!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I shouted as I ran towards his car (was I mad?).

He scurried back across the passenger seat like a rat up a drainpipe closing the door as he went and gunned the engine of the Discovery but, leaving the window open.

As he started to pull away I had gathered up his litter, including the Coke bottle, and threw the whole lot back through the open window liberally splashing him and the car with the remnants of his drink. He burnt rubber to the end of the street.

I was so indignant I didn't even think about the possible repercussions of doing this, I just did it and truth told, I would probably be foolhardy enough to do it again if the occasion arose.


Friday, 1 August 2008

What a difference a DOOR makes

Here on the left is a photo of the eye level cupboard in the galley and below, the same cupboard with its doors fitted.


Here is a photo Stuart of Barn Owl sent last night of the start of a Boatman's style cupboard in Caxton's saloon. This is sited one side of the doorway leading to the bathroom and is balanced on the other side by the solid fuel stove. The nod to a Boatman's cupboard will be more evident when the doors are in place hiding the bottles of mothers ruin to be secreted here.
(Just a point of clarification - it won't all be devoted to gin storage)