Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween in Henley

Happy Halloween everybody.

Hola mister Sun! 
Setting off up the river, to help our mate Chas move his boat. There's some atrocious weather coming, and I wanted to be safely across the wide open reaches before it happens. Am currently in Henley, and will be setting off early tomorrow morning in search of a mooring that isn't underneath any trees. Saturday, I am definitely staying put, because moving would be stupid.

This is where it all went pear shaped. Near Marlow.
All going well. Psyched myself up for the journey. Nearly at the lock. When I noticed the incongruous big brown fountain of rust, water and anti-freeze that was gushing out of the header tank. Oops! The voltmeter was still showing it's normal 14 amps, so the fanbelt hadn't snapped. Wonder what it was....

Sheared Alternator Bolt.
Pfft... Fashioned a repair from an old furniture bolt, and luckily had a nut that would fit it. Started up. Engine cool. Phew.... On my way again...

Temple Lock. Self-service.

Harleyford Marina. Stuffed.


Not a puff of wind, and no rain.

Saw two boats moving downstream, for the whole journey. Apart from that, I had the river entirely to myself.

Scuffed up the bed, but snoozed most of the way.
Oiked him off for a wee at every opportunity. Of which there were quite a few, because I had to do most of the locks myself. The lock keepers were checking their weirs, preparing for the forthcoming deluge. Though the two at Marlow were super helpful, and I was in-and-out within minutes. I held the bow rope, and got to see the water rush in. Which was quite a novel experience, because I'm normally at the other end. 

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Big Storm

An hour of whooshing, and then it was gone.
Quite disappointing really.
Turned over and went back to sleep.

The periphery was much more interesting, with unpredictable gusts and cross channel ferry bobbing about of the boat.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Deferred Maintenance

Sheena's down in Devon, for her month of looking after her mum. So it's time for me to tackle the small jobs that got put off because Summer was just so brilliant that every single day was for living. Bit too wet and windy to be out there with the angle grinder just yet though.

Part of the joy of living on an older boat, with a less than showroom finish, is that you don't have to be out there with the wax polish and brasso every five minutes. I'd much rather be sat down on my arse, with a nice cup of coffee, a cheery fire and a good book, thankyou very much. 

People often tell me the canals are wonderful. And I'm sure, that in many places, they are. But, I somehow doubt there will be anything, anywhere, that will equal the splendid wide open isolation that can be found on the Thames in general, and the Cliveden estate, in particular.

I don't mind people, and I quite like to socialise sometimes. But I also love being out on my own, without anybody else in the immediate vicinity. Completely removed, and away from the reach of the intolerance and idiocy which defines and characterises our modern day world.

Late at night, in front of the glow from the stove, I often ponder on the overcrowded cities of the world. and on how many people there are on the planet. All of them crammed in on top of each other. And I figure that being completely on your own, having space and room to breathe, is one of the few remaining luxuries available to the ordinary person.

I mention this, because not a day goes by, when I don't consider myself extremely lucky. I'm not dissing the canals, because we have as yet, not experienced even one of them.

The reason for this introspection and soul bearing? Sadly, Noel Harrison has died. I went to school with his daughter Harriet. The first time I heard 'The Windmills of your Mind' (youtube) on the radio, I was just a little kid in short trousers, with my whole life in front of me. Now I am nearly an official old git, and all these years down the road, the world seems much worse off than it was 40 years ago. Pfft...

It's nice to have water flowing under the boat.

"In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes.." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Knitted hearts hung from a tree @ Spade Oak

Man Machine @ The Hedsor Working Man's Social Club
I've been told I'm eligible for membership (£11), even though I haven't been a "working man" in over twenty years. Their Guinness is cheaper than at the few remaining local pubs, and they have a full size snooker table. Wehey!

The Forgotten Staircase on the Cliveden Estate

The lane to Eton Wick

Guardian of the Forgotten Entrance

Release the Beast!
Windy Rainy Season
Missed seeing Roy & Sue (hotelboat 'Baglady') on our travels this year. But I hope they are both having a good time out in Ireland.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Clean Shoes, No Shouting.

The golden rules of the RNSA.
Which came in very handy this season.

Echoing what I have read on other narrowboater's blogs... When everybody piles out of their marinas for their annual summer jolly, there simply aren't enough moorings to go around. Throw an increased number of overstayers into the mix, and the whole system breaks down. We've lost count of the number of times we've been lied to, deliberately shafted, and overtaken by smiling people whose intentions are quite obvious. It kind of rubs away at the fun. As a rule, I don't like to post negative things on our blog. But I would be lying, if I didn't at least record it. Parts of this year have been quite stressful. Even at 3mph.

Also noticeable this year, was the effect of budgetary deficits and financial cutbacks. Fallen trees appear to be no longer removed as a matter of course, and are left cluttering up the river. which is especially awkward up above Oxford, where the channel twists and turns a lot more. Shifting sandbanks and lack of dredging at moorings was also a bit of a problem. But enough of the list of moans. On the days when the sun shone, it was absolutely gorgeous.

Leisurely Bimble. Home Park, Hampton Court

Sunset at East Molesey.

Autumn comes to the Cliveden Islands

Beans on Toast for us. Whole leg of Lamb for Sumo (Thanks Carl)

Squeaky Duck was a big hit.

Dogma, dressed for Sheena's *cough cough* birthday. Glow in the dark, LED powered balloons courtesy of Hilary. Unfortunately, they popped in the sunlight next morning.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Our 31st Wedding anniversary

Another anniversary, already?
At least we are not in London, like we were this time last year.
It's good to be moving.

Politely asked "how long are you staying?", at Hampton Court this morning. So we've left, and pootled our way back up to Molesey for supplies. A bit of light drizzle, but nothing like the Scandinavian epic winds and churned up river we faced on the way down.

Very few other boats are moving now. 99% of the summer visitors have scuttled off back to the canals, and the majority of the big plastic boats are all tucked up and canopied over for the winter. In some ways, this time of year is much nicer and much less stressful than travelling around in high season.

Loving it.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Hampton Court Gardens

We all like Hampton Court.
Sheena, sneaking in the back way..
Oooerr, missus.