Monday, 29 September 2008


Here I am in Essex visiting Mum for the week and who should come to see me but Ramsey my brothers' Cocker Spaniel. I last saw Ramsey when he was only 8/9 weeks old and now the little guy is six months already so soon! Handsome little bugger isn't he?

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Boys Boaty Beds

I have been working my way through a list of things needed for our life aboard Caxton and one of those items was suitable beds for the dogs, and here they are! Black faux suede for black Labradors - it will be satin sheets next at this rate - washable and quick drying, a combination that is an absolute must with our pair of grubby tykes -
'Oh look at DITCH, yippee.....'

Try this for size

Caxton is no longer cratchless. The woodwork is still to be treated, here it is in its raw state, but the cratch is now in place.
The top board, of planed ash approximately 6"x 48", cost a whopping £65! Little wonder that build costs are rising with timber costs as high as that.

Below, the cratch cover has been quickly fitted to show me.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Water Babies

Yesterday afternoon we took the boys to Ferry Meadows on the River Nene at Peterborough.

Labradors and water a like tea and biscuits or gin and tonic, a perfect combination.

Can you imagine what it will be like living on a boat with this pair?

Friday, 26 September 2008

Boys just want to have fun!

Can we help with the packing?

That's mine! Oh, no it isn't.

Look, I'm a Boxer

That's torn it..

Flue Zee

The Ecoburn fire has now been fitted with its flue. The chimney will be stainless steel which is in keeping with the chrome mushroom vents and plank brackets on the roof and should be more durable than the mild steel black chimneys - of course that rather depends on how many times we manage to whack it with a passing bridge!

Vanity Fair!!!

Stuart had fitted the vanity unit just before my visit on Wednesday and here it is... The sink has simply been 'placed' for affect. The woodblock worktop has been stained to match the colour of the oak flooring and will be oiled later.

The photo below was taken from the cabin as you enter the cross bathroom.

We took the opportunity while I was at the workshop to go and select tiles for the splash-back and here they are below, tumbled stone mosaic with the border in the same material but with larger angular tiles.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Postman's Knock

Pete the Post delivered the latest version of Canal Planner today. I can now happily immerse myself in watery routes and real ale pubs to my heart's content. We are still intent on heading south to London and on towards The River Lee and River Stort in November and December, dodging the closures and praying that the weather is gentle with us on our debut journey.

Bed and board

I visited Barn Owl yesterday, taking with me three large boxes packed with an assortment of kit for our life aboard Caxton; from crockery and kettle to life jackets and satellite dish. We are only a few weeks away from completion so it was a chance to sort those last few things and look at the progress. In the photo above you are looking towards the stern from the saloon and in front of you is the back of the dinette with two cupboards beneath.
Here, the back of the dinette has been lowered into the occasional bed position. The desmo table support will be removed and the table-top lowered into the gap, cushions arranged and hey presto, a bed! This dinette takes up 5' of boat length ( most take 6' - 6'6") but converts to a 6'6" bed.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A 'Kevin' moment

Floyd having a 'Kevin' moment - "I'm BORED!! It's not fair, I want to go out.."

No truck with Crufts

I have just received a mailing from The Dogs Trust (formerly The Canine Defence League) to explain that they, like the RSPCA, are not going to be attending the Crufts or Discover Dogs show. This is public statement of no confidence in the Kennel Club for its ineptitude and complacency in dealing with the severe health problems caused by poor breeding practices and ludicrous breed standards. Now we need the BBC pull out of televising the event and that just might create enough pressure to bring about change!

Tote that bale..

We ordered this light weight folding sack trolley from and it arrived yesterday. Just the job for transporting gas bottles etc. and avoiding hernias. It only weighs 4.1kg but is capable of carrying 70kg with a height adjustable handle and robust wheels. The really useful thing is that it will fold down to a compact 29"x 17" x 2.5" and fit neatly into Caxton's front locker.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Thru the looking glass

Progress in the galley with the varnished doors now fitted. This is the starboard side and houses, from left to right, the dishwasher, tumble dryer, under-sink cupboard and the fridge.
Saloon cupboard that houses the TV and book shelves.

Mirrored door on one of the wardrobes. This allows you to check that wrinkles, love-handles, celli and lard are distributed appropriately when jumping out of bed starkers in the morning - perish the thought.... I for one will be looking the other way!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

A window on our world

Caxton is now fitted with inner hatch windows. We have two side hatches to let in light and fresh air and Barn Owl fit glazed inner doors so on wet days we can enjoy the view whilst dining but skip the weather...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Three weeks and counting...

We are off to see Caxton again on Wednesday next, three weeks since our last visit and probably less that three weeks before Caxton is launched! I have been writing lists of things that we need aboard Caxton and starting to pack boxes ahead of the move. We will take a number of boxes across on Wednesday and Stuart will load them when he has finished the build and Caxton is ready for Tuckey's to transport. The Stourport breach has forced a revision of the planned route for our debut journey but getting lost in Brum is all part of the learning curve she says with gritted teeth!
It has all come round so quickly and Barn Owl have been brilliant builders - always prepared to go the extra mile, very focused on the quality of their product and a thoroughly lovely bunch of people to deal with! How lucky are we?


Caxton now has a saloon door and Stuart has placed the stove so we can see the effect. This door leads from the saloon into a storage area each side of the corridor and then into the bathroom.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Confused DOT Com

The British Waterways stoppages programme for 2008-2009 has been printed off and the Nicolson's map dragged out of its dusty drawer - It's planning time!
Where are we going to go for our first sortie?
Well actually the second trip because the initial journey following Caxton's launch is pretty straightforward. We are expecting to be 'dropped' into the Severn in or near Stourport and from there it will be up the Staffs and Worcs to Great Haywood, onto the Trent & Mersey to Fradley Junction where we will turn onto the Coventry canal to Hawkesbury and then the Oxford to our base at Brinklow.

Quick oil change Joe and then it is off again, but where?

I've a fancy to head off towards London and then go up the River Lee to Bishops Stortford. A bit of fancy footwork could see us avoiding the couple of closures en route prior to Christmas. We could then show off Caxton to our family based in Essex (nothing wrong with being an Essex Girl I'll have you know) before heading back again. Or, we could go down the Oxford and Thames and see friends at Woodley near Reading or..

Then there is next Summer, Lancaster perhaps, BCN exploration? Lincoln?

Rearrange this saying; Your is Oyster World the!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Never mind

A phone call yesterday evening from the estate agents to say that our sale has foundered. They are calling another interested party today but it looks as if we will be withdrawing the cottage from the market. Never mind, it's not the end the world, and it isn't going to stop us moving onto Caxton.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Hoo Bloody Ray!

At Last! The RSPCA have taken a stand, slapped the Kennel Club, and withdrawn from Crufts. Following the BBC programme broadcast last month that highlighted the appalling genetic defects being inflicted on pedigree dogs by Kennel Club breed standards and morally corrupt breeders, the RSPCA has acted and managed to catch the attention of today's press, a leading article in The Times and a double page spread (p16-17).
The sponsors, Pedigree Petfoods being the biggest, are also now scrabbling to distance themselves from this 'prestigious' dog show.
So come on The Dogs Trust, your turn to prod the self-satisfied, incompetent buffoons that preside over the Kennel Club; call for their sacking and replacement with people that truly care about canine welfare, have the medical knowledge to influence healthy breed standards and put a halt to the kind of breeding practices that have brought about this miserable situation.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Waiting Game

Waiting for news on the house sale, waiting for news on Caxton and waiting for parcels to be delivered.

The house sale is progressing but as house sales do, maddeningly slowly. Caxton is on schedule, which for a boat build is phenomenally unusual and the parcels will arrive in there own good time.

On Caxton, I spoke to Stuart at Barn Owl this morning. He had worked all weekend varnishing Caxton's woodwork. Four coats of varnish have gone on the interior woodwork and he expects to put five coats on the door fronts. The chrome mushroom vents have been fitted, the fixings for the plank and boat hooks are in place on the roof and Caxton's stainless steel chimney is on order. The inverter turned up this morning apparently and that will stimulate another flurry of electrical activity.
I am hoping that Stuart will send some photo's tonight for me to post on the blog.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Nan bread, who wants the Nan bread?

The best curry I ever had was at Chapel Market in North London. A little 'local' eatery, formica table tops, geared to serving the local ethnic vegetarian population. A vegetarian buffet, £3 - £4. Bottle of St. Emillion, £6. You can soon start to see the attraction of this regular after-work venue but added to the value, the food was to die for!

So we like curry.
So on holiday recently we hunted down the local Indian restaurant..

A table for four please
Have you booked?
No, sorry
Eh..just take a seat please.

Whirling dervish impression coming up..
We watch an urgent conversation take place and then a middle aged couple being politely urged off of a table for four onto an adjacent table for two.
Two pair of flying hands lay a table and we are invited to take our seats.
Menu's are quickly thrust into our outstretched hands.
Do you want a drink please?
And a poppadom, yes?

And we are off to the fastest Indian in the West Show.

The starters are ordered in double quick time and duly presented, well perhaps not 'presented' exactly, more slammed down; with a smile of course.
No sooner finished than the plates are cleared, a trolley wheeled in and dishes of curry are being loaded on to the table, anywhere they will go, to a staccato list of their names, Bombay Allo! Meat Madras! slam, shuffle, Tarka Dhal, Tarka Dhal anyone? Plain rice! Nan bread! Nan bread, who wants the Nan bread...?

As we were working our way through the culinary delights of our Hunstanton curry more and more people were cramming themselves hopefully into the minute waiting area.

Have you booked?
Eh, please wait here...

Flying waiters working double quick time, flying dishes of fragrant curry, flying plates and cutlery and soon, inevitably, the crescendo of flying smashing glasses.

Watching this frenzied activity was entertainment in itself...

Our meal finished, we asked for the bill and while were awaiting that we turned our attention to our neighbours at the next table, the couple that had been gently displaced by our arrival. They were still eating and also watching the bedlam that was unfolding around them. Eat faster, we joked, less of that conversation please , eat, eat, go, go..

The only delay to our rapid transit through this meal process was the 'Carol Vorderman' working out the bills at the bar. It took ten minutes to get the bill but otherwise, just about the sharpest, fastest, funniest turn around time for a meal ever.
And as we threaded our way to the exit...

A table for four please
Have you booked?
Eh, just wait here please...

Saturday, 13 September 2008

A kettle with mettle..

This fine copper bottomed essential implement has just arrived and will be soon gracing Caxton's stove.

Somewhere for the Gin

Here is the boatman's style cupboard in the saloon with doors fitted. It has yet to be varnished and the door furniture fitted but I think the joiner/cabinet maker has done himself proud..

Friday, 12 September 2008

All Out bruvers

So there I am in the garden shed this morning; just me and fifty or so LARGE spiders and where I am not in the least troubled by spiders, they didn't seem too enamoured of my presence in their abode. I think I might have inadvertently interrupted a meeting of the local branch of the Arachnid Union because the hairy little buggers were all out and marching in no time.

Anyway, my task, if I was to accept it, was to try and bring a semblance of order to this outpost of 'civilisation' and start the sort-an-pack necessary for our impending move.

Tipped in the nearest corner to the door was an assortment of decorating tools, a large assortment of decorating tools. Further in, the lawn mower with my golf bags and trolleys on top and further in still, a full height shelf unit weighed down under a plethora of redundant paint cans.
Fighting my way through paint cans that were new when Adam was a lad, I managed to create a substantial load for a tip run, reserve for the prospective new owners of our cottage the few tins of paint that actually match the colours in the house, ring fence the few cans we might use (yeah, likely I know) and box and pack enough decorating tools to start a small, but select, decor enterprise.
Why do we do it? Why, oh why, do we keep every pot of paint that has even a microbe of paint in it?
Is it going to be like this on the boat? Will we have a multitude of 'touch-up' paints, primers, rust treatments, wet-an-dry etc. And more importantly, is there a marine division of the Arachnid Union?

It's Official

NB Caxton, like the rest of us, is now logged into the great Government bureaucratic treacle pot.
I sent the application off on Monday 1st September and this arrived in the post today.
Joe has laminated the licences so it's now time to hunt out the blue tack.

Galley Ho!

Port-side galley now tiled.

And below, the starboard side of the galley.
The white tiles are rippled hi- glaze, the blue are glass and between the glass and the wood border there is chromed strip.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Cratch Work..

The cratch has been delivered to Barn Owl's workshop. The templates for the cratch cover are being measured and made this weekend.

The gas locker for Caxton is at the stern and access to the bow locker is from the well deck rather than the conventional top hatch. We were therefore able to specify that the windows on the cratch would open outwards in much the same way that a window on a house operates.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Hearth Way

Caxton's newly installed hearth and fire back; so new infact that the grout is still damp.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Caxton's kitting out

As the time for Caxton's launch gets ever closer I have started to think about what domestic kit I will need on board. Our original plan was to move onto Caxton with kit from our home as we were anticipating selling the house and not having a land based home at all. The current economic conditions have rather trounced that plan, so we are now sort of 'down sizing' instead and that means that the idea that we would simply transfer towels, saucepans, cutlery, crockery, bedding etc. from home to boat is now a non-runner.

So, brace yourselves, I have had to go shopping. Fortunately, most of it on the Internet because despite the stereotype, I am a woman that doesn't like to shop.

Here is the first purchase, a set of dishwasher safe stainless steel cutlery.

It seems however that I might need to employ a butler with this set because, and I quote: '...should be removed from the dishwasher immediately drying cycle is complete and polished with a soft dry cloth - do not mix stainless steel and silver cutlery in the dishwasher'. The problem is, I can't for the life of me, remember where have I put the silver?

As long as they are suitable for opening paint cans and as impromptu screwdrivers that will be just fine.

Second purchase the colour co-ordinated towels and bath mats: towel-stacker's of John Lewis and M&S please note how it should really be done...

Third purchase, new saucepans. These are those Tefal Compact saucepans that are guaranteed to outlast Methuselah, stack inside each other and fit in a sock drawer. Well that might not exactly be the marketing-speak but the pan handles fold in, the lids compact and they all stack in a very confined space. And, lets face it, a narrowboat is a confined space.

And finally, here is the last purchase, the crockery. Maxwell & Williams Cherry Blossom porcelain. Square plates and bowls that are space efficient and in my view, quite striking and mugs of a sensible size.

I could feel part of the Podcast generation

I could feel part of the Podcast generation, (but which part I hear you ask?) and the answer sadly, would have to be the rear end...

We have only just received our 8gig IPod in the post and Joe is happily filling the little gadget with a large chunk of our CD collection as I type. We planned to get an IPod as a means of saving space and restricting clutter on board Caxton and to that end we have specified that the radio should have an IPod docking station. Smart or what?

Having now seen how you get music on to an IPod I now realise what a Podcast is; you see, I am getting there, it's just that by the time I do everyone else will have gone home!

Get the smelling salts!

Yesterday I went into Grantham to have my Nissan XTrail serviced. Now this is a two year old car, serviced every twelve thousand miles according to the manufacturer's guidelines/warranty and I have just achieved twenty-two thousand miles.
The brake pads were not worn, the brake discs were not pitted and the tyres were just dandy thank you. So basically an oil change, a new oil filter, new air filter, check brake fluid, screen wash, tyre pressures, adjust handbrake. Oh, and replace the diesel filter. One and half hours later...

"The car's just fine Mrs K, be ready in a minute, here's the bill.. £315"

Ever felt ripped-off?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Beam me up..

The transporter fitted to Caxton -

Oh alright...., the shower enclosure then.

And, here the Cludgie, as my Glaswegian husband would say. On the wall behind is the electric flush switch and the wee (pun) thingy that tells you that your husband needs to empty the cassette (Too heavy dear..).

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Butty Burglar

Himself is feeling just a tad tetchy; having had his lunch prepared and having decided that he would sit quietly and watch the F1 qualifying he left said lunch on a table near his chair and wandered off to check on something in his office. On arriving back at his chair/table/lunch he was just in time to see the remnants of his ham rolls disappearing down Fletcher's throat!


Well maybe just a little bit then.. Alright, quite a lot then.

I did make him another sandwich though..

Fletcher is keeping a VERY low profile right now.

Baton down the hatches

The fires were lit at the homestead yesterday, we didn't venture out unless it was to get more coal or walk the dogs and then we were dressed as Nanook of the north. A warm 'winter' casserole was prepared for dinner though we stopped short of mulling the wine! Where oh where has our Indian summer gone? Come to think of it, where did the summer go?

Today we are off to Peterborough to have a look for good quality wet weather gear and new waterproof walking boots.

Caxton's Cabin

Here you can see that the porthole frame (donut) has been fitted, the cabin side panel painted and framed with solid ash. The doors are being fitted next week and that will transform the interior.
The shot above just shows the detail trim that Barn Owl have fitted below the wall cupboards.

This shot shows the casing for the finrad in the bedroom and the support shelve for the cross-bed.

And here are the lined forward doors from the cabin onto the well deck. The steps are robust but movable so we can access the water pump below the deck and get at the lower portion of the wardrobe you can see on the right.