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.

Sunday, 3 November 2013


It huffed and puffed yesterday. But nothing blew down. Glad to be moving again, because one boat was burning wet house coal, and the other was running their generator all hours of the day and night.

Shiplake Lock

Boater's Gold!
Happened upon some newly-cut-and-ideally-sized-for-a-morso-squirrel Beech coins. Did not take the whole cache. Because I am nice like that. Courtesy of Mr Uri Geller. :)

Awwww, Mister.

Off we go...
That's Sonning Bridge to our left. The dummy "unauthorised posting facility" has been removed now. Dick Turpin and Black Bess crossed over the river here, on their way through to Oxford. It's one of my favourite thames bridges. Also an 'interesting' navigational challenge, because the weir stream can push you off course, when you are lined up to go through it. Eek!

Chas, safely alongside.
It was a bit windy, but check out that blue sky. Had to deploy my sunglasses for the journey upstream. In november! Chas's engine behaved, and a passing dogwalker helped tug us in. Cheers mate!

On my way down through Shiplake, I finally got to see Paul Daniels at home. Sitting alone at his table, and facing away from the river. It made me ponder the downside of fame and celebrity. And on how much time they have to spend in solitary confinement, because they can't potter off down the shops, or go for a walk in the park like us 'ordinary' folk.

Heading Back
Some twat (there is no other word to describe them, really) left 3x110ah batteries in the bushes at Wargrave. Did they think that the battery fairy would come and dispose of them? I've brought them onboard, so that the marina guys can weigh them in for xmas. I know landlubbers don't give a damn about anything anymore. But when boaters don't give a rats arse either, it makes me despair.

That aside, everything is going fine. The predicted 60mph gusts for today didn't materialise. I'm in the 'unsuitable' mooring that I passed on the way up. Having an early night, because I'm hoping to mosey straight on through the 'pay zone' and get down to Temple lock tomorrow.

Nice fire. Feet up. Good day.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Bring it on...

Shiplake College
Ready for whatever nature will throw at me. The journey up from Henley went fine. There was a bit of light pizzle, but no sign of the continuous downpour that was forecasted. Very mild for this time of year, too.

Shiplake/Wargrave Reach.
No wind. No sign of current. Had to do Marsh and Shiplake locks myself. But the rest of it was all pretty easy going..

Baled out on stopping here, because the bow was tucked well under that sizeable overhanging tree limb, and the stern was scraping on concrete filled sandbags. Coming in from the other direction is better, but still too close to that tree, if there are going to be strong winds blowing.

Same old boats. Same old places.
Lucky me.
Thankfully, I managed to tuck myself in, on the end. And there are no large overhanging branches.