Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sunset over Sunbury

Alas, all good things must come to an end. This is my last day with Sue, Vic, Meg & Penny. Today, we visited the biggest car boot sale I have ever seen. Vast. Enormous. Just about anything and everything you could ever think of buying was there, and available for purchase. It took us three hours just to walk around it. Did I mention that it was very large? I think I exercised great personal restraint, in not filling the boat up with "more stuff". Vic cooked us a magnificent sunday roast. With strawberries and cream for dessert. Two sundays in a row now! I appreciate that I am one very lucky boater indeed. Thanks Vic! Thanks Sue! I've enjoyed every single moment.

Tomorrow, they're heading down to Kingston, in preparation for their journey through Teddington lock. They very kindly offered to take me and Sumo with them. But, "all there is down there... is London". And Sumo's seen enough of that. :)

I've decided to bale out on the visit to Hampton Court this time. As I want to get our starter motor looked at, before Sheena comes back. It's working, sort of. Intermittently. And anything less than 100% reliable is not good enough. Going to see how far I can get on it, rather than wimping out and calling RCR. Getting it off to examine it, won't be too problematical. But that means the alternator mounting must be slackened off, and the fanbelt removed. Not something I want to get into, on my own, out in the wilds, really.

The river?

Heaving with people, out enjoying themselves, in their boats. A few narrowboats had difficulty waiting for the lock (Sunbury), because of the rapid weirstream. And the fast outpouring from the sluices, sweeping around the other bend. When the layby is full, you just have to wait in midriver, and hope for the best. The eddies on that corner can be tricky sometimes, so I had plenty of sympathy for them. They all made it through safely though.

Hoping it will be a bit quieter tomorrow.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Overnight at the Pub

Near Sunbury Lock.

The remains of Mv "it wasn't me, it was him" at Staines. We saw this boat up at Sonning last summer. The owner was out buffing it, and seemed quite proud and happy. Completely burnt out and melted, almost to the waterline.  Cause unknown.

Swan Carnage. A very peaceful scene at Walton on Thames. 200 Sleeping swans. Or they were, until Sue & Vic steamed straight through them. I was the next boat through, and had to steer through 200 suddenly quite awake and annoyed hissing things

Walton on Thames. The bridge is nearly finished, and looks quite "nice", I suppose. Though I am never likely to use it, it's nice to cruise underneath. Waved at the busload of old ladies who were enjoying an ice-cream down by the riverbank. Got completely blanked, and looked at like I had just landed. Ahhh.... this must be Surrey. Well known for it's hospitality and cordial welcome to outsiders.

Maffi's "Molly", snoozing.

We had hoped to stop off at Lady Lindsay's lawn. Which would have been very handy for the launderette. But the 2/10ths of it where you can now moor boats, was completely stuffed. Again, not one single local resident out enjoying a riverside picnic. Beyond those 2/10ths... it was completely deserted. The big "No Mooring (beyond the ridiculous amount we've arbitrarily specified)" sign is still there. Sadly.

However, the moorings at the "Weir" pub in Sunbury were empty. And there was space for both of us, so we stopped off for a well deserved pint in the afternoon sunshine. Just as we were talking about Maffi, and his epic journey downstream, we saw large puffs of black smoke billowing over the bushes. Sue said "That must be him!". And it was. Nice to meet you Maffi. Hope to bump into you again sometime.

Meg and Penny, having a doze in the afternoon. How gorgeous is that? Don't know why they chose to do it in the ashes of an old camp fire. Maybe it's an ancient primal doggie thing, to do with being closest to the warmth? Whatever the reason, they both looked very comfortable. Sumo just snuffles around in it, in case there is any discarded food lurking within. Thankfully I was able to remove the packet of sausage rolls a fisherman had left behind, before he got off the boat. He chose to have his afternoon nap upside down in the kingseat, rather than roughing it on the bankside.

This morning something "pinged" down in the engine bay. Thought the fan belt had snapped, So I lifted the boards and discovered a "mystery bolt" (but no nut) hiding down there. Where it had come from I have no idea. The starter motor is a likely candidate, because it was refurbished recently. Temperature gauge seems OK, and the alternator is still pumping out the amps. I guess I will know more when I attempt to start it from cold again in the morning.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Short Hop

Runnymede Pleasure Gardens

We've never actually stopped here before, because it's always been stuffed with boats. Sue says you have to get here at lunchtime, or before. Very pleasant, and it's free for 24 hours.

New sniffs for mister, and some great offlead walks & river dunks. Meg and Penny seem to have accepted him into their pack, and are quite content to whiz around with each other, while Sumo plods about being a Labrador.

Wow! Look at this... What a feast! Kindly cooked by Sue, and hand delivered to the boat by Vic, because I'd fallen asleep listening to the radio again. Supremely tasty, and very much appreciated. Singlehanding doesn't seem too tiring, when I'm doing it. It's all been enjoyable and pretty much stress free, as the river is well behaved. And it hasn't heaved it down with rain on us. But this is the second day I've nodded off while listening to the radio. I'm going to blame it on the heat and humidity, rather than admit to getting old and needing a nap.. :)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Midland Chandlers

I recently ordered a 1600mm piece of black drainpipe to make a new flue. One that will satisfy a boat safety examiner. But, like a pillock, I got it sent to the wrong address.

Thankyou to Arthur (the new occupier) for ringing to let me know what had happened. And a very big thankyou to Katey at Midland Chandlers for arranging that FedEx pick it up, and redeliver it. At no additional cost to my inept self!

Much appreciated.

Downstream with No Problem(s)

Set off in the sunshine, at the crack of 9.30. Did not ram anything, or bounce off any lock walls. Not a puff of wind, and a very still river.

Grooves in the woodwork at Boulters Lock.

Clouds appeared over Maidenhead. Moored up here for 10 minutes, because I got slightly paranoid about an imaginary starboard list. Having another espresso seemed to cure that. A noticably large number of tripboats were steaming up and down the middle of the river. But, also noticable, was the fact that they were not very full.

I was greeted at Windsor by Sue & Vic, and Les & Jaq from Nb 'Valerie' (nice to meet you both). They were all having a picnic in the sunshine. I didn't ram anything mooring up, and I didn't hit my shins with the sledgehammer. Was treated to a nice cup of tea, and a tasty homemade scone/rockcake/jam combination. Thanks Sue.

Windsor castle, viewed from the Eton side. I like the way that zooming in, and the haze of the sunshine, have made the castle look like a cheap 2D matte painting that somebody has plonked behind the trees.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sunday Lunch

Enjoyed an awesome beef roast, with all the trimmings. Thanks very much, Sue & Vic. That was great.

Sheena wanted a picture of my cooking prowess..

Today's mystery fruit dessert was: Rhubarb, Strawberry and Coconut crumble! Yum! Freshly squeezed orange juice helped offset the tartness of the Rhubarb, and didn't overpower the strawberries. Result!

Where's ours?


Sadly, A bloke from across the river (in the million pound houses) tried to wheedle £30 out of Sue. "You have been here 3 nights now", he said. I wish I had recorded the whole conversation, because it was an appalling and nasty display of snobbery. The gist of it was, that they (the people in the expensive houses) didn't want "unsightly boats" moored up across the river, spoiling their view. The £10 a night charge is to "discourage" (his actual word) boaters from staying there.

He then proceeded to dig himself an even deeper hole, by claiming that last summer there had been 13 narrowboats overstaying (a bald faced lie). Then he started waffling on about how "Your boat is alright, it's nicely painted". And "We have had some nasty and dangerous boaters staying here". Rubbish! We think the "nasty and dangerous" boaters, are probably people who have told him to sod off. Which I suspect, is more than a few. Those moorings are in a disgraceful state. The only people I have ever seen stop there, are hireboats up from Penton Hook (who presumably have just experienced the long old stretch up from Windsor, and just want somewhere safe to tie up for the night).

It saddens me that somebody with such wealth, has nothing else better to do, than to spy on people from across the river. And to record how long they have been there for. Probably with binoculars, whilst gnashing his teeth. Also, if it really is official National Trust policy to look down upon "scruffy boats", and actively discourage them from mooring and spoiling millionaires views, they've gone down several notches on the respect front.

On a happier note, I have just dieseled up. Our return trip to Hampton court, including the length of the River Wey and back, only used 74 litres of fuel.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


Enjoyed a(nother) pleasant madcap evening at the Bounty. Our outside table, reminded me of a putting green at the crazy golf. Quite surreal. But, it was nice to catch up with Sue & Vic, and meet Vic's daughter Louise. I'm deeply honoured to have been invited over for sunday lunch, but am panicking, as the only "dessert suprise" that I can come up with, would be an "oat and syrup concoction" (aka flapjacks). Sheena's spied some of the treats that other boaters have brought round (we're looking at you Lesley Yarwood, with your Peach and Butterscotch upside down pudding, setting the bar oh so incredibly high). I'm feeling slightly inadequate on the bakery front.

We were reminded (and amused) that Labrador's will eat just about anything. Sumo woofed down a chunk of lemon, which had previously adorned some scampi. And was quite partial to a bit of cucumber too. But he turned his nose up at lettuce.

Friday, 21 June 2013


The number of people who've downloaded our new album "Tranklements" for free, rather than paying for it. We're not stupid enough to think that all of those clicks would have translated into a sale. But, it does go to show that piracy is still rampant out there.

Respect to our many fans around the world.
Thankyou for your honesty.
Big Up.

** When I say "many", I realise that it's not a Michael Jackson, or a One Direction "many". We are a small time techno outfit. And I have no delusions of grandeur. But the new generation of musically minded and Black Dog friendly people in Russia and Eastern europe have certainly surprised us. Respect to them.

Hermit Mode

Happy Solstice, everyone!

Sorry I haven't written much of interest, recently. Two reasons... 1) 3's internet service has been appalling for the last couple of weeks. So much so, that I've struggled to maintain a decent signal that didn't drop out after two minutes. From Laleham to Bourne End. 2) On Sheena's month away, I tend to go into "Hermit Mode". Which means reading a stack of books with my feet up, and generally leaving the outside world to get on with it's foolishness.

When they passed through, Doug and James on Nb 'Chance' asked me how I stop myself from getting cabin fever, and going insane. It's debatable whether I was sane to begin with. But, for me, peace and quiet are two of life's greatest treasures and pleasures. So I tend to revel in them, whenever they present themselves. Sumo is also a good listener. And walking him in all weathers is good for the soul. I can honestly say I've never been bored or lonely.

Anyway, today is different. Several things to write about...

I bumped into Sue & Vic, who looked like they were about to bang on the roof. They're booked in for a service at the marina on monday, and are currently moored up on Bell Rope meadow. Sue says she will refuse to pay if somebody pops out of the bushes, as all the signs have dissapeared. heh, nice one. True to his name, Sumo jumped up and launched himself at them. After taking the mickey out of me for moaning about canals, and the River Wey navigation, we agreed to meet up at the Bounty pub at 7pm. Amazingly, it will be their first visit.

Our friends Alan & Sue phoned up yesterday. They've sold their cruiser "Mv Latitude", and are excited about becoming narrowboaters. After several cold winters shivering on a GRP, they're looking forward to the warmth and cosiness of a real fire. Good luck to them, I hope they can get something nice.

Oh, and I've joined the RNSA, which will allow me to fly a Blue Ensign on Dogma. When I looked into the possibility a few months back, there seemed to be several hoops to jump through. Either I had to be an ex officer, a member of an approved sailing club, or have an official warrant. All of those options allow you to fly a defaced version of the flag. RNSA membership is open to "other ranks", and allows me to fly it undefaced. So I am well chuffed.

I have to lower it, if we pass a frigate. But the chances of that are slim.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

No Wind in the Willows

Dorney Lake to Bourne End, with no stops. Sumo had a tick bite on his eyebrow, that had puffed up disconcertingly. And another ear infection. So we needed to visit the vet again. The tick decided to bale out of it's own accord before we got there. Sumo's got some meds for the swelling, and is much more relaxed now.

Sunset at Dorney lake, last night.

Bray, this afternoon.

Slipper Launches, at Oakley Court.

Sheena took the mickey out of me, for calling the journey "lovely". She says I have to tell everyone that today was really "lovely". Which it was. There was hardly any current, so we didn't have to stress the engine. Half a dozen tripboats full of sightseers, 3 narrowboats, and a couple of cruisers. It wasn't exactly a busy day. And we all got to enjoy the occasional puff of a gentle breeze, which stopped us baking up.

It wasn't a good day for the lady who unfortunately fell in at Dorney lake (she managed to climb out OK, thankfully). But it was, for us.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Yesterday, we enjoyed a tickover cruise up past the Royal estates in the glorious sunshine. We had the river virtually to ourselves, only encountering two other boats on the whole journey. Until we got to Windsor, which was absolutely heaving.

We spent the night at Dorney. Again, all of the visitor moorings were completely stuffed. But around the corner, where many people think it is too shallow, was very fortunately free.

Panorama from the roof, at Dorney Lake.

Bazillions of Mayflies. But, hey, it's free...

Monday, 3 June 2013


Wow, June, already.

We arrived safely back on the Thames yesterday afternoon. Shepperton Junction resembled Piccadilly Circus, with boats of all sizes, shape and description out enjoying the long awaited fine weather. Our time pottering about on the Wey was very relaxing, but it's great to see some wide open water, and have some depth under the keel again. Nice to have the all the lock gates operated for us, too. The sluice paddles were very stiff on the Wey. Sheena has muscles like Popeye.

The Thames is awesome in scale, when compared to a river which is just two boats wide in some places. Stopped at Laleham last night. Sheena sneaked off for a Mr. Whippy.