Wednesday, 30 April 2014


Nothing behind

Nothing in front
It is unusually quiet. I'm guessing that's because Culham lock (the next one down) is still on red boards.

Blog reading resident of Abingdon, Alistair, popped in for a chat this morning. Being the only boat on this side, I guess we weren't that hard to find. Enjoyed a nice cup of coffee on the back deck, with some lovely sunshine. Glad to finally meet up with you, Alistair. Thanks for dropping by and saying hello.


Stick your limp baguettes where the sun doesn't shine!

I burst out laughing, two years back, when my friends told me they got thinly sliced turkey on their takeaway pizza. They'd expressly ordered pork product, but ended up with something quite fowl.

Today, it seems that some people really do believe that poultry when sliced, magically transforms itself into "ham".

I find the perversion of language, and the weasel words necessary to arrive at that conclusion, doubleplusungood.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


"Live in Bush. La La La La La." ~ Iggy Pop

Hey everybody. This is where I've been hiding out since Sheena went away. Quite idyllic and lovely for the first couple of days. Then it heaved it down ridiculously. The meadows flooded. The river went up 4 inches. And the flow increased quite dramatically. I have never seen such a downpour in all my life. Thankfully I had fresh water, 7 days of food, and no great need to go anywhere. To have been moving a boat about in that, would have been quite dis-heartening, I imagine.

As per my usual routine, I spent the first few days looking down the roof, and panicing about being able to handle this massive bloody boat all on my own. Thankfully, that feeling normally wears off quite naturally, when I start moving about, and building up the confidence again.

Now I was obviously going nowhere for a few days. So I chilled out, read three books and sorted out the glowplug that should have been fitted months ago. Our engine was a real pig to start from cold. Embarrassingly so, sometimes. A choice between 5 minutes of starter motor stress. Or trailing extension leads outside for the 'heat gun down the inlet manifold' trick. (not something you want to be doing when it's raining, really). Now I can just turn the ignition key to the "glow" position. Hold it for 5 seconds... and wehey.... a running engine! I am quite chuffed with myself. Especially as nothing went "pop" or caught fire.

This morning, I needed water, and had to move. The red board 'No Navigation' warnings were approaching, and it was either move, or get stuck there. Hoped to find a 24 hour mooring at the lock, but unfortunately they were all full. So I had to go down through the lock. And it was after that, that I made an error of judgement. The weir was fully open, and the flow was 5 ("bloody hell") on the underpants factor. I had two options. 1) go down through the bridge, turn around, and come back up again. And hope I would be able to make it through the arch against the current. Or option 2) Turn around before the bridge, and hope I wouldn't get swept downstream side on.

Spur of the moment, I went for option two. Buzzzzzzzzzzzz (Computer says "No"). So I got to enjoy a nice sideways journey down the river. Thankfully, she did turn around before we got to Nag's head island, so there was no danger of getting embarrassingly wedged underneath the bridge. But... *BONNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG*... I bounced off of Narrowboat "Wotdoyaknow"'s bow as I was coming in. Rob, the owner, wasn't terribly impressed at first. Understandably. But he calmed down when he could see that my sincere apology was genuine. No damage done, thankfully.

I now have 5 days of stress free mooring. Hoping that the river doesn't go up again. Bit of a deja vu feeling, as I seem to recall exactly the same thing happening back in 2012.

Sheena wanted some Sumo pics...

Sorry we haven't updated the blog much since we left Bourne End. There has been so much "life" stuff to sort out, and so much BS for us to wade through, that I haven't felt cheerful enough to power up the laptop. The last thing I want to do is 'moan moan moan moan moan moan'... we get enough of that from other people, and fully appreciate how boring it is.

All fine here. No worries. Back soon... *Waves*

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Clifton Hampden

We've spent a couple of days chilling at the fishing holes of Wallingford, where Sumo gets the opportunity to run around the King's meadows (offlead, like an idiot). Saw our first Salter's steamers trip boat of the year. Actually, we felt it coming, long before we saw it. They tend to suck all the water out from under your keel, and you list over alarmingly. Which reminded us how busy the place can be in the summer.

We've had no trouble finding a mooring anywhere. I guess many of the 'people who don't travel very far' have had to move because of the floods. Or risk this...

Oh Dear
Spotted a couple of boats lifted out by the floodwaters on our travels upstream. In places where crane access looks unlikely too.

Upstream of Days Lock
Nice bit of sunshine, and not much of a flow to push against. But a nasty cold breeze, which felt like it had come straight from siberia, just to travel down my neck.

Church on the cliff
You can still spot bits of the 12th century original. But I am mostly moved to wonder what was there *before* they plonked a church on it. Inside, there is a medieval stained glass hunting scene. but the door was locked today.

Sgt. William Dykes - Grenadier Guards
Sergeant William Dykes fired the first shot at the battle of Waterloo, when his musket accidentally discharged. Sadly, his gravestone is badly weathered and barely legible.

Flight Lt. David Shannon DSO DFC RAAF
The final resting place for one of the Dambusters. Overgrown with weeds and daisies. It is a beautifully peaceful churchyard, though. We just heard birdsong when we were there.

Clifton Hampden bridge
Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and still looking good. Allegedly from a sketch he first scribbled on his shirt cuff.

10 minutes after we'd put the pins in, and pottered off for a wander with Sumo, somebody took photos of our boat name, and registration number. I get the feeling a "No Mooring" sign will be appearing here soon. Which would be a shame.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Beale Park

Currently moored up at Beale park for a couple of "Do Nothing" days. We all like it up here. Glad to get the hell out of Reading town, because the 'Free Spirits' on the offside bank are running their noisy generators all night. With large arc lamps, so they can cultivate their outdoor garden (wearing head torches). I suggested they might be growing "organic carrots" over there, but Sheena says to not be so stupid.

There's also heroin dealing, going on down by the Kennet mouth. It never was a "nice" place to stop overnight. Now it is worse. Hardly surprising there were no other boats there. I am generally pretty much "live and let live", and will chat to anyone. but this place and it's "I don't give a fork about anybody else except for myself" attitude really got to me. Sonning reach was depressing, too. The no mooring signs are still there, and the whole place was deserted. Like the spirit had been ripped out.

Anyway.... 4 hours upstream.... and it's utterly quiet and beautiful. We have the place totally to ourselves, which is a complete and unexpected luxury. So sod 'em.

Sumo is Ten

Cruised him down to Cliveden, where he could run around like an idiot, jump in the river, and generally have a whale of a time. Think he enjoyed himself. New chair turned out to be smaller than the last one, but he still manages to squeeze himself into it.

Saturday, 5 April 2014


Sorry, I'm a bit behind with the updates and photos. We did manage to get away, but we've been fighting the wind and current all the way upstream. I've just flopped in the chair and lit a fire at the end of the day. We're tucked up at shiplake college for the weekend, and hopefully I can upload some piccies tomorrow. It's great to be moving again, and even nicer that Sheena is here with us.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


Bloke balancing precariously. Dangling a running chainsaw on a bit of string. Let's hope he's paid well..