Friday, 31 October 2008

Gargling Drambuie

Enough of this travelling stuff, I am suffering with a sh*t cold (thanks Abby) and I have resorted to dosing myself with Drambuie ( I can't stand whiskey) which is probably useless but so much more pleasant than nightnurse etc. So feeling just a little sozzled here is the update;

Moored here at Atherley junction this morning we woke to a crisp frost. Determined to get an early start we were off at eight am having walked the dogs and dumped the rubbish. I walked the towing path with Fletcher and Floyd for the next 4 miles before we moored
for a much needed cup of tea just past Cross Green. The day had warmed and the sun was putting on a brave face. We cleaned the boat inside and out before moving off again towards Gailey Wharf. It was my turn to have a crack at the tiller for a few miles before handing back to Joe. Is it age? I don't seem to have the confidence I once had...

Here is our overnight mooring just before Gailey Wharf lock with Joe on the roof again having attached the covers on the houdini hatches. The covers do make a difference re condensation - they don't eradicate it but it is certainly reduced.

Here is the circular toll house at Gailey Wharf. What a cracking building! Today we would probably erect a portacabin!!
We walked up to the wharf and bought a couple of bags of coal from JD Boat Services. We had filled up with diesel at Compton Limekiln Narrowboats yesterday, 70.8p a litre which compared favourably with the 98p we paid at Stourport. Tomorrow we heading off to Penkridge and a lazy weekend where we hope to be able to see the last F1 grandprix of the season - come on Lewis!!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Bratch Test

We are moored just past Bratch tonight having negotiated the famous lock. Here Joe is fitting the covers for the houdini hatches before we all settle down for the night.
Yesterday we stayed put because of the weather; rain, hailstones and snow and a pub close by. Well what could one do, it would have been foolish to venture out in such awful weather with our guests so we availed ourselves of the hospitality of the Navigation Inn at Greensforge for lunch AND dinner.Here is guest,Danny 'the Gnome', enjoying the ambiance of the local pub.
Apparently the guest bed IS comfortable which is good news for all our potential guests!
This morning we awoke to a crisp sunny day and set off after a cooked breakfast towards Wombourne where our first guests left us to return home to Colchester.
Lessons to be learnt:
A) Secure new stainless steel chimney - or you will lose it in the cut
We will be calling in the Limekiln Chandlers for a replacement tomorrow - bugger!!!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Caxton passing Nb Rome, Graham Booth's trad on his own mooring at Wolverley.
Ten hours cruising yesterday - not clever, not bright! We need to get it into our heads that we do not have to push ourselves - 3 to 4 hours will do nicely thank you. We started out at 0800 yesterday morning and headed up the Staffs and Worcs toward Kinver and the first of the services. We passed a moored Compass Rose, another Barn Owl boat, there was nobody about so unable to say hello to the owner Jenny.
Compass Rose moored at Kinver.

It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and autumnal colours to embellish the cruise/trek. I walked best part of ten miles with the dogs who were comatose yesterday evening in front of the fire - I was not too far short of that state myself!

This is the weir at Stewpony lock.
We are moored just short of Hinksford, south of Wombourne, awaiting the arrival of daughter and partner, Abby and Danny today. They will be joining us for the night and best part of tomorrow providing extra lock crew and a ready to hand audience for the silly mistakes we make..
Lessons learnt yesterday;
a) When you have invested in walkie talkies - USE THEM
b)Do NOT let filthy dogs on board the boat

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

We travelled north out of Stourport yesterday and moored just short of Wolverley in peaceful countryside. As soon as we had secured the boat we repaired to The Lock Inn and did justice to a couple of pints of Bank's Original bitter before returning to the boat and cooking a meal - point of clarification, WE returned to the boat, I, cooked the meal.

Whilst Joe was on the tiller yesterday I walked most of the way with the dogs and made a point of cheerfully greeting all the fishermen I passed, only one managed to ignore me by staring into his maggot box - perhaps it is a bit like reading tea leaves, Oh, maggot, maggot will I be lucky?

Graham Booth of Nb Rome, The Narrowboat Builders Guide and Waterways World fame has just stopped for a chat and invited us to call in at his mooring tomorrow when we get underway. Today we are staying put as the weather is naff and we have no urgent need to travel.

Today will be a catch-up and clean-up day.

Lessons learnt from first day's cruising:

1) do not attempt to moor on top of a Tesco's trolley

2) do not start engine and cast off without FIRST fitting tiller!!!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

We're Off

So sorry for the lack of posts but things have been hectic and I have yet to adjust to having to unwrap the laptop every time I want to use it and the hit and miss of signal strengths.
Caxton passed the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) and the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) inspections on Thursday as expected. Joe took our car and deposited at the home mooring of Brinklow about 60 miles away from Stourport where Caxton was launched and I went walkabout with the two dogs for a three hours whilst the inspections were being conducted.
Yesterday morning we brought Caxton up the River Severn from the marina and through the Stourport basins. The River was a mill pond and all was completed in glorious sunshine. We moored just above York Street lock at Stourport where we have remained for the night. In the three days we have spent in the Stourport area we have had great company in the shape of John and Cathy from NB Marmaduke. Thanks guys - see you again in the new year!

Today we start the real deal - we are off on our own, heading through Kidderminster for an overnight stop near Wolverley we think.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Over and Out

This is the last post............... from the house. The laptop is about to be packed up along with the rest of the essentials for boaty life. The ground floor looks like a bombsite at the moment and do I care? - I will have to knock it into shape when the car is loaded in the morning and we make our exit - in the meantime I best tidy up the bottle of wine I opened last night. Over and out!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Tearing around

Above a picture of Caxton cruising under the lovely Stourport bridge on Friday and below, Charlie Chugs helping with the last of the packing; his comfort 'blankie' which is NOT going with us.Today and tomorrow we are tearing around doing the last minute things like paying the paper bill and cancelling the papers, getting hair cuts, selecting and packing clothes, one bag each, clearing out the remnants of the freezer - the dogs are in for some interesting meals in the next two days, they like salmon and lasagna and anything that can even vaguely be categorised as food, they're Labradors after all.
By tomorrow night we should be all set for our return to Stourport on Wednesday morning but for now I have had enough and a glass of vino beckons...

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Thanks Barn Owl!

Here is happy Captain Joe and Stuart our boat builder at The Angel in Stourport enjoying a celebration beer in the glorious sunshine.
We have booked this weather for the rest of the winter.. yeah right.

Inaugural cruise

Here Caxton is moored at Stourport, on the R. Severn pontoons, basking in the October sunshine. We cruised for an hour or so just to get the feel of the boat. The marine surveyor will check Caxton next Thursday and all being well, we will travel down to Stourport, through the basins and start our journey up the Staffs and Worcs canal on Friday next.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Mission Control - We have Launch!

Caxton emerges fro the Barn Owl workshop. An air cushion is pushed under the hull and filled with compressed air lifting the hull enough to get heavy duty roller-skates underneath. The transporter is then attached to skeg and tows Caxton out into daylight.
They are getting the giant straps under the hull in readiness for the crane to lift Caxton into the air.

Eighteen tons airborne!

Being lowered onto the lorry. (statement of the obvious - just in case you missed it!)

After the journey from Stourbridge via Worcester the lorry arrives at the launch site - Yes, it was very tight here.

After waiting a while to get sufficient cars moved out of this yard the lorry swings in ready to reverse Caxton towards the River Severn and the quay-side crane.

The securing straps are undone and the 'long load' signage and flashing amber lights are removed

The straps are fed through under the hull and attached to the cradle on the crane.

Up up and away. The lorry drives away and the crane starts to lift Caxton up some twelve feet.

There she goes.

Being swung out over the quayside into a gap between a dutch barge and another boat.

Only another ten feet to go..

Caxton settles into the water evenly and all breath a big sigh of relief...

Friday, 17 October 2008

Slowmo land

Chronically slow internet connection has thwarted my attempts to upload the series (or even one) of the launch photo's but we are heading home tomorrow so I will remedy that when I get there.

Today we have taken full advantage of the beautiful weather and cruised out of the marina up the Severn to Stourport where we moored up and wandered around the basins, visited Limekiln Chandlers to buy yet more BW keys and mooring pins, ask after the cost of coal - £9.50 a bag - no mate, COAL, not gold - and head for The Angel for a celebration pint. Stuart, our boat builder, was with us for the cruise, it was he that reversed 63ft of boat out of the confines of the marina and reversed it back in again after our excursion.
Oh God, have I got to learn to do that?
Tonight we have lit the stove, with coal bought from the marina at £7.50 a bag, cooked our first meal aboard Caxton and opened a bottle of vino. Tomorrow we again leave Caxton in the hands of Stuart until Wednesday next when we decamp and start our life aboard our narrowboat for real!

Photo's tomorrow, promise..

The morning after..

We are no longer virgins! Sitting in the saloon writing this after our first night aboard Caxton!! The hurricane central heating is busy producing a lovely warmth, the bed was VERY comfortable and most of the clutter is put away.

I will post photo's of the launch later today but just to let you know that all went well and Caxton didn't sink or get dropped by a crane. The day was absolutely exhausting as you might expect.
Back later with photo's...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Launch day minus ONE!!!!!

The car has been stuffed with kit to go aboard Caxton, the bank account has been denuded of funds and I have FINALLY managed to get the bl***dy rug for the saloon. Just some clothes and an overnight bag and we are set for our early start tomorrow to see Caxton launched.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Launch day minus two

Launch day minus two and here is the completed galley; tap now fitted and surfaces clear of protective card.

We are off today to Bressingham in Norfolk to deliver the two dogs to my brother David. Fletcher and Floyd will stay with 'uncle' Dave and 'cousin' Bentley until Sunday when we will release Bruv from the onerous task of looking after three energetic Labradors instead of just his one.
Not having the boys for a few days will mean that we can concentrate on getting some packing done ready for our move onto Caxton. On Thursday morning we will be up a 04.00 and out at 05.00 to get to the Barn Owl workshop to see Caxton craned onto a lorry ready for her journey to Stourport and the launch providing of course that the River Severn doesn't get red boarded!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Reading lights

Adjustable LED reading lights fitted above Caxton's bed head.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

I've got a little list

Well actually it was a pretty big list that has now been whittled down. We have been steadily working our way through things like; clean caravan, put on winter wheels, buy and fit caravan cover - Done
Have a water meter fitted so we don't have a standing charge for water that we won't be using because we are on Caxton - Done
Take out River and Canal Rescue (RCR) cover for Caxton - Done
The list of kit needed for life aboard the boat has been reduced to two items now, a rug and a small coal scuttle.
The coal scuttle we are confident that we will get from Limekiln Chandler's in Stourport but the rug is quite a different matter. Searching for a rug that is the right colour, the right dimensions and the right price has really exercised my patience and tramping from town to town has made a big dent in my 'green' credentials!
We are now looking at the amount of kit to be transferred to Caxton and wondering if we can do it in the two trips we have planned - it could be three!
Oops, another great big dent in the 'greens' - I'll start planting those offset winter pansies then...

Somewhere for a glass of Vino Collapso

We have been looking for a small table to set down a glass of vino or a mug of tea when we are slobbing in the saloon in the evening. The table had to be the perfect height for a couple of chair bound humans and also for a Labrador's tail to swipe table clear of contents; and we think we have the solution.
A small nest of tables, 12 inches deep by 19inches wide, bought in a sale at a very reasonable price. These shouldn't get in the way too much and they fit the bill perfectly.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Tango One to Rubber Duck...

I am not sure how long these toys will last but idea seems better that shouting, whistling and waving our arms frantically to communicate with each other. For £25 they seemed worth a try. They have a 2km range, in theory, run on a couple of AAA batteries and last 30 hours between charges.

Friday, 10 October 2008


Joe has been working on the folding bike we were given last week; one new spoke and two new tyres, some lubrication and a cleaned chain and here it is, just the job for cycling between locks etc.

Switches to Worry Board

The electrical gubbins cupboard with an assortment of control switches and a 'worry' board. The white thing I recognise as a central heating control i.e. the thing that I turn down and HE turns up!
I could glue it in position I suppose.
The grey square thingy is the clever 'worry' board that tells you exactly what is going on with the batteries, are they happy, sad, arguing or cooking themselves. Rumour has it that this gives you a heads-up about everything electrical but as you can tell, it hasn't got a connection to my head as yet.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Where for art thou..

Here is the illuminated mirror in the bathroom, again these are LED bulbs and according to Stuart our builder they show all the grey hair he didn't realise he had; looks like the paper bag will come in useful in the morning then!

The basin fits a treat and I am pleased with the tumblestone tiles on the splash back. The paintwork on the side wall is getting another coat so it is masked up not smudged folks...

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

LED anyone?

Caxton's LED wall lights being tried out.
All the lighting on Caxton is LED apart from the tunnel lamp and Stuart at Barn Owl is very impressed with the tiny draw that it all makes on the power supply. Well that was the whole idea to reduce the power consumption and it seems to have worked. There are four wall lights in the saloon and they have been switched in pairs so we can adjust the level of lighting as we require.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Thursday 16th October 2008

Thursday 16th October 2008 is LAUNCH day !!!!!!!
The long range weather forecast looks as if launching Caxton into the R. Severn will be able to go ahead as planned. Joe and I will be up very early that morning to ensure that we get across country and are ready and waiting when the crane arrives to lift Caxton onto the back of the lorry for the journey to the launch site.

Monday, 6 October 2008

It's Pants

I think it's pants and socks that will be residing in the cupboards bridging our bed; seen here with the doors complete and fitted.
It's countdown time, today is the start of the final week of the build with Caxton's launch sometime the following week!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Weekend House Guest

This little guy is Monty James, our weekend house guest, along with his Mum and Dad, Louise and Andrew. We had a get together over the weekend with various friends and family being billetted on 'willing' households in the Bourne area.
You know how some people have the knack of making themselves at home; well here is one of them, checking out all the cupboards in the kitchen and this one made a great den thank you very much!

And what did the Romans ever do for us?

'What did the Romans ever do for us?' Central heating; though the Roman underfloor variety might have been a tad difficult in a boat. The colour of the radiator is anthracite grey and we have had two fitted in the open plan galley/diner/saloon area of the boat. I love them...

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Soft landings

The cushions for the dinette have been made and fitted and here they are!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Luncheon Meets

I am here in Essex visiting Mother ahead of the great escape to life aboard Caxton. Yesterday we met cousins Daphne and Bill for a lovely lunch at The Ship in Gidea Park. They have donated a redundant folding bike to the kit for Caxton - thank you both!
Last night it was off out with brother Bob, sister-in-law Chris and nephew Jack, future lockboy and general factotum, for dinner at The Sorcerer Inn in Wickford. And today, yes, you've guessed it, lunch out yet again. This time at The Hawk in Battlesbridge for my Mother's best friend Kathy who was celebrating her 79th birthday! So for now I am all lunched out - this is the life.... now where is that number for Weightwatchers?