Tuesday, 31 March 2009


I have sorted building insurance for the two properties we are about to own and cancelled cover on our current home as from Thursday. Vodaphone and T-Mobile have our new correspondence address and the Council Tax dept at the Local Authority are set to refund most of the payment they will snatch from my account tomorrow. It has been a day punctuated by e-mails and phone calls as I work my way through a list of people I need to contact about our move. It is now nearly time to walk the dogs, they are giving me meaningful looks at the moment and I fear the nagging will start very soon.

What a Lovely Thought

Only two days to go now before it's moving day. We went into Sleaford yesterday morning to meet with our solicitor, answer final questions and sign contracts. Yesterday afternoon I managed to recycle a stack of kitchen gear, sold the bread maker and cut the grass. Himself made a final sweep of the garage and low and behold, yet another tip run!
Today I will mainly be doing cupboards and Joe will be taking his shotgun to a Gun Dealer. I know I shouldn't wish my life away but, ......but four to six weeks from now we should be back on Caxton full-time. What a lovely thought!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Sunny Sunday

I took myself off with Fletcher and Floyd yesterday afternoon, enough of clearing cupboards it was too good a day to waste, and headed for the Grimsthorpe Estate again. I have lived in Lincolnshire for five years now and only once visited the Castle and until a couple of weeks ago I hadn't been in the park; now I am about to leave these parts I find this veritable gem on my doorstep.
Below, this horse chestnut tree is smothered in burrs - think of all that lovely burr-chestnut to be produced when it is felled.
On our way back I heard a two-stroke motorbike in the distance. As the noise got closer I stopped, turned towards it and waited. Over the brow of a hill appeared the front wheel followed by the helmet and shoulders of the rider who seeing me in the dip looking at him, promptly stopped. I continued to wait and look, a short conversation with his pillion passenger ensued before both dismount. The rider then proceeds down the hill on foot towards me taking his helmet off as he goes.
"Eh, sorry, do yer know where Park farm is?"
I replied No.
"Is it this way?" indicating going past me.
I again replied No.
"Yer don't want me here do yer?"
I replied No, I did'nt.
"Can I go back the way I've come?"
I nod.
"Are yer going to call the Police?"
Producing my mobile from my pocket I reply, maybe.
"Sorry, I'll go back then Ok?"
I nod.
So off he goes back up the hill, mounts his bike, pillion climbs back on and off they go to disturb somewhere else....leaving me to continue walking in peace and them thinking they had just had a close encounter with the owner of a stately home - must have been the tiara...

The two dogs have a different approach to styles, Fletcher is up and over in a trice, you just have to insist that you go first or he takes you out en route, while Floyd looks for any gaps below or to the side before stumbling up the steps throwing himself over; elegant he ain't!

What's That?

It's a Wabbit!!!!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Must have..

An afternoon spent emptying kitchen drawers and cupboards - Yes exhilarating stuff - this Gel knows how to enjoy herself! Why oh why have I accumulated so much cutlery and cooking utensils for goodness sake, I'm not Delia Smith, I don't do dinner parties yet if there is a spare drawer it seems to get filled! Then there are the cupboards of 'must have- barely used-now redundant equipment' :the bread maker, the lovely chrome cappuccino maker, the deep fat fryer that has NEVER been used and the food processor with every chopping, grinding and whisking implement ever made.
I feel an urgent free-cycle session coming on...

Great Race

The first F1 of the season got off to a great start with Jenson Button securing victory for the Brawn Team and GB. Next week Malaysia!

Going Quizzical

Last night we found ourselves in the Coronation Hall at Market Deeping taking part in a Quiz to raise funds for the Market Deeping Bowls Club - one of our friends is a member. We didn't win, or even come close for that matter, but nevertheless we acquitted ourselves pretty well . Our strategy was a bit wanting however, knowing where to play the Joker would have helped; as it was, our choice didn't do us any great favours when you are out to slay the opposition.
This photo is Joe indicating that the contents of the glass are **xzz** ginger beer! Himself was on driving duty of course...

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Present from Floyd

Very few days go by without being presented with a skull or leg of a long deceased deer by Little Man (Floyd) - do you want to borrow him Bones?

On Pole

Joe and I have just sat and watched the F1 qualifying taking place in Melbourne Australia - what a result! Team Brawn on the front row, Jensen Button on pole! Now that the coverage is back on the BBC and there are no adverts to avoid we will be sitting watching the first Grand Prix of the season live tomorrow morning at 6am. Saddo's, I know..

God's Shag Pile

God's carpet for the spring, or a happy Darwenian accident, whatever you choose to believe but nonetheless beautiful to behold. I am, I freely admit, quite botanically challenged when it comes to naming wild flora but I do recognise the bluebells emerging amidst these charming white bell shaped flowers.And here we have the humble primrose in its woody nest. Very soon the cowslips will be showing in the grasslands and at the same time the bluebells will be lighting up the woodlands with their vivid colour.

Friday, 27 March 2009


The three of us, Floyd, Fletcher and Myself, watching Caxton being winded (turned) on the North Oxford canal.

Sun a Rising, early in the morning..

The Sun rising over the Fens this morning - wow!
Now this is worth being awake to see. A gilded sky.


For those of you that have several house moves under your belt you might agree that dealing with some solicitors or conveyancers can be character building experience shall we say? Despite technical advances in communication they are an sector of society that clings like limpets to conventional communication avenues, namely Postal services. Fortunately the Solicitor recommended by our Estate Agent for this particular move is a refreshing break from that norm.
This firm use text messages, phones and e-mail to keep us up dated. I have had very little chasing to do for a change but I was on the phone yesterday chasing the 'other side' to chase their solicitor for a missing transfer document, whatever that is.
We are anticipating a call today that will have us haring off to Sleaford to sign contracts in advance of an exchange this afternoon or Monday. Everything is in train for a move next Thursday and given the present economic environment we are very aware of how lucky we are to be able to tick this box on our move onto a boat plan.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Underneath the Arches

I thought I would publish this professional shot of Caxton David Oakes by just to remind myself of what I am going back to when all this house stuff is done and dusted.

Two Items of Interest

We visited our friends yesterday evening to pick up our post. There were two items of interest, one, a disc with photo's from the Canal Boat Magazine photo shoot and the second, a letter from British Waterways telling me that their records have Caxton's Boat Safety Scheme (BSS)certification expiring at the end of May 2009? What is all that about? Caxton is a new build boat and was only launched on 16th October 2008 and doesn't need a BSS until it is four years old surely? I sense a few phone calls coming on...

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I'll call you when they're gone....

By lunchtime today I needed to wear sun glasses inside the cottage it being so shiny clean after this mornings' efforts. With the buyers about to turn up for their third viewing I loaded dogs and self into the car, our mission to make ourselves scarce... "I'll call you when they are gone.." says Himself as we take our leave.
Off we trundle, wrapped for inclement weather, well inclement one minute, semi tropical the next, it's that time of year... My mobile stayed suspiciously quiet for the next two and a half hours!
We set off with the trusty GPS and Memory-map to explore the East Glen River.
The river was about 3 feet deep near this bridge, perfect for a Labrador to swim in.

I know it is not MUCH of a river but nevertheless it was teeming with small fish and crystal clear - well clear until Fletcher and Floyd went paddling.

After two and a half hours I made my way home. Did I get a call? Yes of course. As I walked in the door, my mobile rang, it was Himself. "I tried to call you, they went ages ago, where are you?"
In the kitchen dear, in the kitchen...

Mrs Mop

I am in Mrs Mop mode this morning, well later this morning anyway, because the prospective new owners of our cottage are visiting after lunch for another recce. After a flying tidy-up I will be loading dog beds and the occupants thereof into the car for an excursion - the new people do not do pets so best to get the likes of Fletcher and Floyd out of the way me thinks....

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Blue skies looking at me...

...... Nothing but blue skies do I see..... Now, who sang that song?

This was the scene when I took Fletcher and Floyd out yesterday afternoon. The footpath crosses the field diagonally, last year a crop of wheat, this year oilseed rape. This farm at Kirby- under-Wood seems to grow nothing but wheat or rape, rotating the crop between the fields each year.

The wee church at Kirby-under-Wood sitting alone just outside the village. I usually park the wheels here and set off across field and wood to walk the dogs.
I have been counting down how many more days I will walk this particular walk before the Cottage is sold and we move to Peterborough. When there we will have a property to refurbish before leaving four walls to live full-time aboard Caxton.

When we decamp to Peterborough For what we estimate to be for six weeks I will have easy access to the River Nene and Ferry Meadows Country Park so I can scope out the 2010 transit through aboard Caxton as we head for the Fens!

The Common Touch

West Harling Common, Norfolk. A short drive from brother David's home is any number of wonderful open spaces but I think my favourite must be this one. Expanses of heath as above and acres and acres of beech woodland and mixed deciduous as well as a limited amount of fir.
This used primarily by horse riders and dog walkers and is so extensive that you can wander here for a few hours without covering the same ground.

Little brother David and his big sister....

Monday, 23 March 2009

Working Party

Friday we set off for a weekend with David and Denise, my brother and sister-in-law, at their home in Bressingham Norfolk. They're in the throes of renovating an old house and garden so there is always plenty to do. Saturday we were joined by Robert, my other brother, and his family - we now had a sizable working party! After lunch we started cutting the top 6 feet off of an overgrown privet hedge that stretched down one side of a garden that runs to well over an acre. What could have been a thankless chore was actually a really enjoyable afternoon working together. Jack, the twelve year old nephew, was on tractor duty, running back an forth with the ride on mower trailer attached, taking the cuttings off to the paddock for burning later. In between his tractor driving he was also driving around the paddock on his new second hand motorbike and yes, I did take it for a spin round!
Many hands make light work as they say and there was quite a sense of achievement at the results of our efforts.
Fletcher and Floyd were in their element playing with big cousin Bentley, David's six year old Labrador and little cousin Ramsay, Robert's 10 month old Cocker Spaniel. Sunday evening both dogs were comatose in their beds by half seven and Joe and I were in a likewise condition about nine......

Caption Contest

Here we have Fletcher, Floyd and cousin Bentley sitting in my brother David's van. Bentley has got into the habit of sitting here to sunbathe, Fletcher and Floyd thought they would join him.

What do you think they are saying?
1. James says..
The dogs' plan to visit PetsAtHome with Lesley's credit card was unfortunately foiled by a lack of opposable thumbs.
2. Captain Ahab says..
The intrepid trio's bid for freedom was foiled by their inability to operate the vehicles seat restraints.
3. Jill and Graham says...
Hey Floyd, tell Joe to speed up or pull over!
4.Dogs on Tour by Greygal says...
Sorry, I thought it was the gear knob...
5. Dave says..Left to right.
Look at the legs on that poodle.
I wish he'd watch where he's going.
Are we there yet?
6.Paul says...
Ok boys on with the human masks and lets get this robbery underway.
7. Lesley says...
Ok own up, who eat the black and white cat?
8.Dogsontour by Greygal says......
Don't look now, lads, but there are five greyhounds wearing pyjamas walking past...
9.Anonymous said...
Listen lads, you know what she's like. If we dont strike a pose for the camera we wont get any peace.
10.Anonymous said...
What do you mean you need a pee? We have only gone 500 yards and have already stopped at 4 lamposts. I dont think that business with the traffic wardens trouser leg went down too well either!
11.Richard Fairhurst said...
"At the next tree, climb up" I knew we shouldn't have bought that catnav.

What GPS?

I had a question posted on the blog from Nicole asking the following:

I would like to get a gps device but don't know what is best to buy. Which do you have and is it good for planning routes to walk from the boat and also easy to use? Nicole

I know that there are any number of you out there with GPS devices, you might like to post a comment about what gizmo you chose and why it may suit Nicole's needs.

As for me Nicole, I wanted a GPS that was completely compatible with digital Ordnance Survey maps (Memory-Map). I wanted to see a map with all the details I would recognise from a paper version. I started by looking at what Memory -Map recommended and then looking on the web for the best prices. It was either going to be a PDA ( small hand held computer with GPS) or an
I-Phone with GPS. I didn't need another phone and the PDA' s tended to have larger screens so I settled on a Mitak Mio P360 as the 'weapon of choice'. Could I get one? Rocking Horse droppings were more common! The PDA formats were increasingly being replaced by I-Phones and Notebooks across the industry, neither of which hit the spot for me. I started looking on Ebay for second hand Mitaks but there were no P360's. The search continued and eventually I stumbled across Road Angel Adventurer 7000. This is a 'conventional' but small road gps device that is waterproof and recommended by Memory-Map. It comes preloaded with OS maps of the national parks and as I already had Memory -Map on my laptop I just transfer what map I need to the Adventurer and off I go walking. I am not a particularly technically competent person - the DVD defeats me - but I don't struggle to use this and it does what I wanted. An additional benefit is being able to find your way around a strange town by using the usual gps route finding software that is included - pop in the postcode and it will take you through the streets to your destination..
Best of luck in your search.

Friday, 20 March 2009

There's efficient..

There's efficient for you. At 06.08 this morning I received an e-mail from the solictor dealing with our house sale etc. At 06.11 I replied and three minutes later came the response. We meet on Tuesday morning to sign all documentation - The move is ON!!!!!!!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Sixteen:Ten And what do you get?

Yesterday the free protective leather cover had turned up for my new Road Angel Adventurer 7000 GPS device, the sun was shining, I was restless. I settled down to plot a route on Memory Map and transfer it to the GPS before setting off with the dogs to field test it. The route I had plotted was a total of sixteen kilometers equivalent to ten miles - and this is what I got...

Starting in the hamlet of Cawthorpe we walked through Bourne Woods and across farmland towards the village of Edenham. Crystal blue skies, warm sunshine, no traffic. Farmers were out in the fields fertilising and spraying their crops, and their livestock was enjoying the fine weather along with the rest of us. Our destination was the village of Swinstead and to get there we were going to be crossing Grimsthorpe Castle Park.A view of the house from across the ornamental lake that the footpath skirts.

This tree is festooned with mistletoe.

Pheasant and partridge are being raised in these coverts.
An ancient and glorious oak.
The ford across a stream.

And the Road Angel? - it worked a treat.

My letter to The Times

I recently wrote to Huw Irranca Davies, Waterways Minister at the Dept of Farming and Rural Affairs (DeFRA). One month later I received an answer from the 'correspondence dept'. The response did not address the issues I had raised so I replied to this effect and asked that the Minister might DO something. Today I received the second reply, from the ‘correspondence dept’, which is exactly the same as the first and is prefaced, 'As I said before..'.
Is the Government more technically advanced than we are lead to believe, are they now using automatons to keep the tiresome letter writing electorate at bay?

Lesley K

DEFRA - Talk to the HAND!

Defra does a Catherine Tate, 'talk to the hand' in it's latest response to me. The latest letter from their 'communications' team/person starts out, 'As I said before..' and then is exactly the same letter that was sent in the first place. My initial response was annoyance and then exasperation and now it is wavering between disappointment, frustration and concern - is Government really this bad? Am I only going to get beyond the Automaton who sent this if I am a notable, or an honourable, or a leading light in one of the lobbying organisations like the Inland Waterways Association?
I could not believe that a communications professional would pull a cheap stunt like re-sending a letter - but they have and in a way it works, they've made their point quite clearly...

Now there's a taste of open Government for you.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Imagine my Surprise

I was thinking yesterday that in about ten days time I was likely to receive another response from Defra re my mini campaign about the condition of the Loughborough towpath - about another ten days because it seems to take Defra a month to provide an answer to any correspondence. Imagine my surprise then when today I got an answer from Defra. However, when one reads the response it looks remarkably IDENTICAL to the initial letter I was sent.. Now that is Spooky!
More tomorrow when I have had a chance to peruse further...

That's a Date

We have now got a completion date for the sale of our cottage - 2nd April!!!!!! I will feel better still when a contract has been exchanged but hey, progress is progress and I am not going to knock it.

Here Here for the Hedge Fund

Joe was packing gear in the garage yesterday morning and I was washing down the walls in the kitchen while a wee man from the Yellow Pages fixed the integrated dishwasher. One tiny part, a £6.28 float switch, a good clean of water tanks with caustic soda provided by me and it is working perfectly again. Much glee all round as that has cost us less than £50 whilst the replacement dishwasher was going to hit us a lot harder!
In the afternoon my frustration at playing this waiting game for a completion date drove me out of the house with the dogs for a good long walk. I headed out on the fen walking along the top of one of the drainage dykes and came back to the cottage via a drove (road), some 7.5 miles. There are occasional glimpses of what an attractive environment the fens once were with hedgerows and majestic ash trees to dress the flatness of the farmland and red brick farm buildings to add a bit of colour.
The vast majority of the fenland now is a monotonous windswept landscape with no hedges and no trees; a landscape that has been fashioned by whatever EU subsidy was available to farmers, hedges out- bigger fields, 'that will do nicely' as they took the money while grubbing out the ancient hedge. Of late farmers are leaving the margins of the fields for wildlife and planting small copses for bird cover, another farming subsidy at work though the results are a big improvement. There must also be hedging subsidies to be had now though because there is evidence that new hedges are being planted. So hear, hear for the hedge fund, more we say more.. Give us back an attractive varied fenland environment please...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Spring Resolutions

Can you have Spring resolutions as opposed to the New Year versions? Yeah, I don't see why not, do you? So, for someone who is too idle to make New Year resolutions here are my Spring 2009 - back on Caxton - Resolutions.

In this coming year I would like to:

Read four works by Dickens and four works by the Bronte brood, and for a cultural feast, AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh! Perhaps I will even tackle Brave New World and Animal Farm again.
I will learn to paint in water colours - I could always tell people that I rather like the 'primitive' style don't you know..
Lard reduction - I will continue to lose a modicum of weight, here and there, from time to time.
I will make Joe at least ONE snake and kidlee pudding during the course of the year - yuk..
I will continue to drink the medically prescribed amount of alcohol to ensure the rudest of health regardless how often the 'experts' change the goal posts and their minds - fortitude in the face of their vagaries I say!
And, I/we will take Caxton to Liverpool and London.

Well I think that will do for one year, don't you?

Monday, 16 March 2009


Hopefully today, tomorrow, the next day, we will get a completion date for the house move; just give me a date to work to, please! We have broken the back of the packing, the clearing and the de-cluttering and now we are, well, waiting.
Our cottage is in the process of being part-exchanged for two bungalows in Peterborough. One is in excellent condition, the second is tired, very tired. We are going to refurb the second property setting ourselves 4-6 weeks to complete this task then we will hand both bungalows over to an agent to let and manage and high tail it to Caxton pronto like. Hopefully..

Sunday, 15 March 2009

What has He DONE?

Yesterday Himself disappeared into the ensuite as a boaty Captain Pugwash and re-emerged naked!
Jury's out! Votes so far:
Beard - 12 votes
No Beard - 1 vote

A Good Year 1954

Last night we were out for a meal to celebrate our friend Alan's birthday. Cheers mate, a good year 1954.

Here we all are, the gang of eight having enjoyed a fine curry in one of Bourne's eateries. There are eight here though ONE is represented by a pint of lager and a hand - shy chap!