Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Muddy and Wet

Sumo in his ruffwear harness, which enables me to pick him up like a suitcase. Best thing ever. People often say "Don't you mind the smell of a wet dog on your boat?". And I reply, "It's probably no worse than my socks". Arf!

2013 seems to be going out the same way that it came in, under two feet of flood water (festooned with used syringes, condoms and dead ducks). The river is, thankfully, on it's way down at the moment. And I hope that it'll continue to recede further. Because putting on my waders, and jumping over the side every time I want to go out is getting kindof 'old'.

Happy new year, everyone.
Stay dry!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Day

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Storm over Marlow

Ominous big black thing
Blotting out the sun. And heading our way.
Guess it's going to be another wet night.

River: Red boards. Fast flowing. Rising rapidly. Wehey!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Panic Saturday

Happy Solstice everyone.

50 shades of 'not very nice'.

ahhh, the joys of christmas. Stressed and grumpy cityfolk, pushing, shoving and squabbling over the few remaining sprouts and parsnips. What a wonderful time of year this is!

It's also seasonally cold, grey and windy. Doesn't look like I will be going anywhere until the river settles down again. Thankfully, I managed to chop up some more logs before it heaved it down with rain.

Sheena tells me that our Blue Ensigns have turned up. And our official royal warrant to fly them. Somebody jokingly called us "The Pikeys" the other day, which upset her quite a bit. It's only a bit of cloth, but I know it will get right up the noses of certain people who look down on us because of our off-grid lifestyle choice. There is even one ex-naval person here, who thinks that narrowboats are not "proper" boats. What a tool.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Mists of Avalon


confused Geese

We're back in Bourne End now. Travelling upstream through the mist was great fun, because we could be comfortable in the knowledge that we were the only crazy fools mad enough to be moving. Glad we went out, because it was unusually mild. Barely any current on the river, and not a puff of wind. I guess "the rains" have to come at some point, but no sign of them yet. Hard to believe that christmas is less than two weeks away.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


(Windlesora = Anglo-Saxon name for Windsor)

Incredibly benign weather conditions for this time of year. So we are out and about, making the most of it.

Bray Studios
Looking sadly neglected and even more delapidated every time we pass it

The joy of thermal underwear

Sheena @ Dorney Lake

Sunshine @ Dorney Lake

24 hour moorings unusually empty

Not a ripple!

Sheena @ the waterpoint

Windsor - Faster flow on this reach, presumably to power Queenie's castle

An interesting navigational challenge

Friday, 6 December 2013

Cliveden Cruise

We went downstream for a couple of days, to avoid the forecasted storm, and luxuriate in some peace and quiet. Nobody else was moving, so we had the whole river to ourselves again. I know I've often said that before, but the complete and utter joy of bimbling along at tickover, without being bumrushed or hustled along will never grow old or tiresome.

The journey was a bit on the chilly side, but not yet cold enough to deploy the thermal undies. Hardly any flow on the river at all, which is remarkable for this time of year. Yesterday afternoon, the wind huffed & puffed spectacularly. but we were tied up safely, and our beech logs burnt really well. In a satisfyingly glowing hard wood fashion. We're hoping to get a few more days cruising in next week, before Sheena has to go and do christmas.

The recent high winds have blown all the leaves from the trees. Cookham lock was completely stuffed with them. They look pretty, but they clump around your propellor, making steering sluggish and difficult. Thankfully, a quick blip of reverse shifts them.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


We are registered as a 'small ship' now. The cost of a gold licence went up again, and as we won't be able to venture onto the canals for the forseeable (due to Sheena's mum needing 24/7 care), getting a River only licence made much more sense. Especially seeing as we can afford that, our annual insurance, and a 21 day trip down the river Wey for less than the price of the C&RT's gold licence.

Unusually dry and mild weather for this time of year. The river level is still quite low, and it's hardly flowing at all. We're hoping to get ourselves down to Windsor, before Sheena has to go down to Devon again.

Sunshine. Perfect opportunity to get the anglegrinder out and fill in the rough spots.

The repairs to Bourne End railway bridge are finally nearing completion, and it's time to offload the scaffolding. Given what happened last time, we are staying *well* out of the way.

The camera fails to do the colours justice, but there are some beautiful sunsets here.

Monday, 18 November 2013


It started with 'three mobile' badgering us with unwanted calls several times a day. They were easy enough to block, as they were usually 0845 numbers. Recently there has been a new wave of 'unknown caller' type spam, which can't be blocked. No I don't want a new iPhone, insurance, or a PPI refund. Get lost!

The telephone preference service now works for mobiles. Hopefully (in 28 days) we will be plagued no more.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Doris Lessing


One of the most memorable books I have ever read. The name "Shikasta" is derived from the Persian word 'shekasteh' meaning "broken".

Doris Lessing. RIP.

Oak Nuggets


After they have been loaded onto a lorry, dumped on the ground, and loaded onto a narrowboat, all that remains is half a bag of oak dust and lots of broken briquette segments. I imagined they would burn for about an hour, in a satisfying "hard wood" style. But, no, they don't.

They do give off a decent amount of heat, but the advertised "lively flames" were nowhere in evidence. They just sort of glow for a while, and then crumble to bits.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Time to Split

A nice dry day presented a perfect opportunity to get those beech rounds split up. The extra weight high up on the roof makes us wobble around about a bit more than usual. But the well deck drainage holes are still clear of the water.

Mister didn't help much. He's hoping santa will bring him a new chair, because he's totally scuzzed up his old one. I don't know how he gets himself into these spine twisting positions, but he seems comfortable enough. Gave me big wags when I asked what he was doing.

8 days until Sheena comes back. It's been a long old month of seperation again. Hoping to take her downstream for a couple of days to unwind. River conditions are still pretty good, all things considered. Complete absence of the nasty biting wind which has made previous Novembers less than brilliant for travelling.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


Last night, I enjoyed a few hours down at the Hedsor working man's club. Where Alan stuffed me 3 frames to 0 at snooker. But I didn't mind at all, because I was there for the sheer enjoyment of knocking some expensive ceramic balls around that vast expanse of green table.

It was also "Rock 'n' Roll" night. With a live band. I heard all of the 12 bars of the blues. And the joint was definitely jumping. The oldies seemed to enjoy themselves.

Sadly, the night was marred by two things...

1. Tinned Guinness. which made me feel nauseous.

2. Outside, enjoying a quick ciggie...

Young girl: "This is Sumo... He is lovely!". Bulky woman in too-tight red dress: "No he isn't, Chloe. He's a wet smelly dog". She then smirked at me. Waiting for a reaction. I gave her my best "OH RLY?" look, and thought "That may well be, love. but even so, he *still* has infinitely more pedigree than you!". I'm glad not to have said it out loud. Because that would have given her the reaction she wanted.

He was neither wet, nor smelly. She was just attempting to crush her little girl's love of labradors. Which I thought was un-necessarily cruel. That unpleasant encounter left a far worse taste than the guiness, to be honest.

Monday, 4 November 2013

4.5 hours

It heaved it down with rain for six hours solid last night. But, when I opened the hatch this morning, I was delighted to find that it seemed to have made very little difference to the river conditions. Today's journey was cold and windy enough to need gloves, but also sunny enough to need shades....

Good day Sunshine, in November!
Straight through Henley

Hail Isis!

Stopped by Temple Island.
There was no sign of the 'Willow Brook' boat (Mr. SRB moorings), so I took a chance and pulled over to make myself some more coffee and let beastie off quickly. Thankfully, he did not pop out of the bushes and demand any money today.

Hambledon Lock. Self-Service.

Downstream of Rememenenham

Medmenenemham Abbey
Straight through Marlow
Nobody seems to stop on Marlow's Higginson park moorings anymore. I'm not surprised, given that it is £11 a night to stay there now. Shot themselves in the foot with that one. Unless their intention was to utterly clear the place of boats. In which case, they've been spectacularly successful. 

Cardboard Castle. Still being renovated.
Surprisingly, it only took 4.5 hours (and 3 espressos) to get myself from Shiplake, down to Bourne End. I think this is a new record for dogma. Didn't feel like I was rushing it, either. The engine stayed cool all the way, so maybe that fountain from the header tank shifted some crud about in a beneficial manner.

Sheena was mortified to read that I'd pinched some of Uri's winter log stash. But the spirit of Dick Turpin made me do it. Ie: Probably not the first time that a wealthy man has been relieved of some coins in Sonning. :) She said:- "You will probably burn them with great satisfaction." Which I must confess, is true. :) I should also point out, that I 'found' them laying on the towpath outside his house. Not in his private garden. A dead, rootless tree, which had fallen in the river. It had to be disposed of. Somehow. :)

"Nice bit of beech!", said the lock-keeper at Marlow. I was impressed that he knew what wood it was, just from a quick glance. And also that he was a log connoisseur. Because they really are fine bits of beech.