Friday, 25 December 2015

Happy Xmas

We've all had a fun packed doggy day.
I hope you have too.

Muddy and Wet. Yay!
Look at me
Wait for it...
Well Chuffed
The inevitable Grrrrrrrrrrr...

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Adventure Time

I suppose I should apologise. There haven't been many interesting posts this year. Sorry about that. Obviously, there has been a fair bit of lifestyle jiggling, and general coming to terms with things. It was nice to be able to spend a whole summer with Sheena. I should record that. And the fact that we didn't end up strangling each other or pushing each other overboard. (just kidding).
It's our sixth year as liveaboard boaters now. Living afloat has been great for the soul. it lends a sense of purpose to each and every single day. and it gives you the feeling that your destiny is in your own hands.'s some pictures of the chaps....
 Olly is growing up to be a fine little chap. He is very happy and licky. But also very naughty. His latest trick, is to stand up on his back legs and see what is happening on the worktops. Cheese, Yoghurt, Sandwiches... he's had the lot. No amount of telling him "off", or brushing him away seems to work. Am hoping this is the 'naughty phase', that he will eventually grow out of. His whistle recall is excellent. But only, unfortunately, after he has run off and jumped up at somebody. I try to pop him back on a lead if there is even a remote chance of this happening, and try to have a calm 'meeting' with the other person (without too much over excitement on Olly's part). Hopefully, too, this message will gradually sink in. Bryn, in contrast, is a perfect gentleman, who will happily plod along offlead.
These two have helped me tremendously. They need me. They make me laugh. And they give me cardio vascular exercise every day. Throughout almost all of the summer, great though it was, I fantasised about how nice it would be, to be able to walk them in the winter. for miles and miles, without seeing another soul. I can happily report that the reality is every bit as good as the dream. Sheena has enjoyed the meadow walks, too. She can happily leadwalk Bryn, which was impossible with Mister Sooz. Bless him..
Sumo Chan
Fond memories of "this time last year".... country walks, then snuggling ourselves up with classic FM and a good book while listening to the rain on the window panes. A lot can happen in 365 days. Still miss him very much.
 I wish all our friends and readers a very happy solstice, and the very best for the new year to come.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Back at Bourne End

Sunday Morning Snooze

We're tied up for the winter now. The works at Cookham lock have been postponed indefinitely. Something to do with them having the 'wrong sort' of control panel. Which means, river willing, we may still be able to get ourselves down to Cliveden woods over the new year.

People seemed genuinely happy to see us back. Our Labrador friend Archie (and his owner Dawn) brought us a large bag of kindling. Our friends Anthony and Patricia brought us a bag of apples from their garden. It is nice being in a small village. I sometimes think people feel sorry for us, living on a boat. I imagine they think it must be horrible in winter. When in fact, it is the best time. The stove is always glowing, and we have the time to spend on luxurious slow cooked casseroles and long dog walks. Sure, having to don waterproof clothing, and then bring it back onboard isn't a bundle of fun. But, there isn't the hustle and summer stress of a river full of boats. And in the evening, when everybody has gone home.... it is as quiet as can be.

This winter's task, is to get Olly used to people. And trains. We often like to moor in the middle of nowhere, where there aren't any people barbecuing, drunkenly arguing, or running their generators. Consequently, when he does see people, he tends to go a bit nuts and jump up. Our job is to teach him that's unacceptable. He doesn't seem to mind the noise of trains, from a distance. But we're hoping to get him on one soon. Maybe a little journey to Marlow or Cookham, where we can walk back from. The station with it's noise and abundance of people will be a good experience for him. At some point, we will have to get both of them across Reading station. So it's good to start small, I guess.

Boatwise, everything is still fine. The textured swimming pool paint on the roof is standing up well, and only needs minor touching up. Things in the engine bay are looking a little 'tired'. We had to push the engine extraordinarily hard this year, and it could do with some love, when it stops raining. It's also time to investigate what's going on inside the water tank. A job I've been putting off. Still no sign of rust in the water pump, or through the taps, but I am kindof dreading what I will discover down there when the hatch is unscrewed. Oh, and the ball valve on the bog is sticking. Which means oiking the toilet off and investigating. Not a particularly bad job. But a bit of a whiffy one, in such a cramped space.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Goodbye Autumn..

Cookham Lock Cut (last week)

Seven Months Old

Skinny Olly

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Hey everyone. Sorry for the delay in updates. We had to wait for a few days before we got any more internet bandwidth. Things have been fine with us. We've just been bumbling up and down, without any stress or worry. The river has been unusually calm and languid for this time of year. And there has been plenty of sunshine and an absence of rainfall for us to enjoy, too.

Magna Carta Monument ~ American Style

Magna Carta Monument ~ English Style

Disgraceful, really. Generous philanthropic man buys land around Runnymede. After his death, his American born widow (and two sons) donate it to 'the national trust'. So that it won't be built on, and will be kept safe for future generations. His 1929 understated monument is tucked away behind the gift shop, circled by barbed wire, so that you can't even see it properly. The Broughton family name also doesn't appear on any promotional literature for the site.

On a more positive note, some investment at Runnymede *has* been beneficial. A new zebra crossing has been installed. Which means you can now safely cross the busy road without risking your life every time you do so. It's needed that here for many years. And I'm glad to see that they've finally gotten around to doing it.

This is a contender for the worst sculpture I have ever seen. It looks like Princess Margeret. It is too large. and out of place. It also looks like it is made of Chocolate. The Royal Academy seem to have let their standards slip, somewhat. Check out those "man hands". Sigh...

Utterly Pointless
And don't get me started on this piece of crap. Yes, yes, I can see the intention of the artist..... "World events between the signing of the Magna carta and the present day". But it is plonked in the middle of the meadow, incongrously. You need a three page tryptic leaflet to understand what it is going on about. To say that I was underwhelmed and disappointed with it would be a major understatement. I would quite like to say the waste of money made me angry. but that would give some credence to this 'art installation', that it clearly doesnt warrant. It says nothing about "The Magna Carta". and precious little about the English people at all (one chair for the Suffragette movement). You are also requested not to sit on them.

Myself? I would have opted for STONE. Some form of sculpture, that evokes the past, and looks like it could stand for another 800 years. Those chairs are lost in the landscape.
Bit of Buffing

Bryn at Runnymede

Paul Hollywood's less than expertly seeded rolls

Naughty Olly
Olly's lost his puppy pass. Some woman bellowed at me to "GET YOUR 'KIN DOG UNDER CONTROL" (in a most unlady like fashion), when he ran off and jumped up at her in Cliveden woods. No use explaining that he was just a puppy to such an ogre.

Friday, 9 October 2015


We were lucky enough to be holed up at Shiplake college while the heavy rain dumped itself down. Heaved it. Solidly. for 48 hours. Result: 3 inches of water needed hoovering out of the bilge. But, apart from that, we were fine. Tucked up, toasting our toes, with the stove lit.

As I've tried to express previously, the Thames has an entirely different and much more peaceful character at this time of year. We saw three boats moving yesterday, and everything is done at a leisurely bimbling pace. Which is why we bought a narrowboat in the first place. It's unusual to be out in a t-shirt at this time of year, too. Thermal underpants remain stowed. Quite a few locks on self service now. But we don't mind... it's all a part of the journey.

The river to ourselves

Taking on water at Shiplake

Gave us a cheery wave!
We've spotted Paul Daniels at home several times before. But this time, he was standing at his front door, taking a phone call. Very nice of him to smile and give us a wave. Hope he doesn't get flooded out this year. I have time for Paul Daniels. He realises his days in the spotlight are over, and doesn't seem to be unduly hung up about it. Unlike that plonker who lives at Sonning.

Followed us all the way down Medmenham reach
There are a couple of new 'bizarre' sculptures on the large estate here. They're about 40ft tall. I guess one would call them 'modern'. Because they seem to make no sense at all. Not entirely visible from the river. Just enough to make you go "WTF?".

Are we there yet?
The chaps have been pretty well behaved. Though Olly still takes great delight at jumping up at people he hasn't seen before. Yesterday he frightened two old folks. The words "hip replacement" flashed through my mind, but thankfully, he came back with two toots on the whistle.

Currently tucked up at Marlow, while Sheena investigates the shops. We're heading down for an overnight at Bourne End marina tonight. Our 'under the crane' mooring has been let out until the end of October, so we won't be stopping there long. The weather and river conditions are still fine, and we hope to make the most of it, until the lock closures on November 2nd.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Olly's Half Birthday

The best thing in Reading

Six month old Olly

Today, Olly picked some late blooming blackberries. Played with a Styrofoam cup. and chased Bryn.

Reading Tesco Moorings

No more "Shop and Go" ??

These signs appeared on the railings today.

No mention of 24 hours free.
Or of any "grace period".


Friday, 2 October 2015

October? Already?

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ― John Lubbock ~ The Use Of Life


Sheena took these. With her super snazzy phone.

After filling up with water at Cleeve lock, we stopped off at Goring, for a visit to the excellent vets there. Thankfully, we have a front fender, because I bounced off of the waterpoint coming in too fast downstream. I redeemed myself however, by doing a seemingly impossible left hand turn, around a "le boat" hireboat. Which left it's crew of holidaying Islraeli gentlemen, gobsmacked. They were all lined up, semi-panicing and ready to fend off. I cherish their look of open mouthed astonishment as I pulled it off.

Anyway, we needed to stop in Goring, because Bryn's got itchy feet. We think it's possibly due to a long grass allergy and we wanted to get him sorted and comfortable. 2 hours later and 130 English pounds lighter, we maximum revved our way down to Beale Park (a massive 3.5 miles an hour!). Passed George and Carol on Wb Still Rockin on the way.

On the technical front, a couple of bolts on our propshaft had worked themselves loose. Took 5 minutes to tighten them with my handy spanners. The fanbelt teeth are looking a bit worn. But it's continuing to chuck 14.22v into the batteries and I'm a bit loathe to change it until it absolutely needs doing. The annoying dribble of oil from the gearbox was solved by replacing the 'O' rings on the dipstick with a harder material (the name of which I forget). Only happened at high revs, and underway, with the deckboards down it took a while to discover the reason why it was happening. Apart from that, Mr Bukh's engine is still doing us proud.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Runsford Hole

Our view last night

Just bimbling our way slowly downstream again. Making the most of the warmth and the sunshine. The only boats that seem to be moving are the big hireboats (Le Boat, and Caversham cruisers mainly). Today, it's another pootle downstream to top up with water at Cleeve lock, then on to Beale park. Did I mention that I love the peace and quiet of this time of year? So, so precious.

We both spent years of our working lives living in London. Surrounded by nonstop traffic, petrol fumes, millions of people, and the incessant shriek of emergency sirens. Now we can go for days without being bothered by one other person. And the only noise we hear at night is the occasional hooting of an owl. it is utterly fabulous.

Monday, 28 September 2015

No Trolls

Sloooowly does it....

Snug and Comfy

All of the moorings above Days lock were completely stuffed when we came through on saturday. Well, it was late afternoon, and we should probably have known better. Maybe we will be able to get on there next year...

Thanks to Brian (Nb Harnser) for pointing out that we can moor just around the corner, on the mouth of the River Thame. A really snug and comfy fit under the bridge. Sometimes, being only 53ft has it's definite advantages. Had a great night's sleep, undisturbed by any trolls. Something of a novelty too. Had our picture taken so many times. I guess it's unusual to see a boat here..

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Thames Treasures

Sheena's latest haul
 We found a dredged spoil heap. Which has been supplying Sheena with many an afternoon's amateur archeological entertainment. It's fun and fascinating to imagine how these artifacts ended up in the river. Where they deliberately thrown? Or did they fall overboard? No Saxon horde this year. But we will keep looking..

Misty morning at Abingdon Lock

I enjoy this time of year immensely. There is still no flow on the river. The going is easy. And there are plenty of moorings to go around. 99% of the ignorant 'in a hurry' folk have buggered off back to wherever it is that they came from. So, it really is quite peaceful out and about. It's also been good that Sheena has been able to enjoy a whole summer with us. Naturally, we miss Nora (Sheena's mum) and Sumo (our previous lab) very much. But we are also enjoying our new life chapter together.

4 in a bed
 Bryn has a nice folded duvet dog cushion to sleep on. Olly has his own little house. But, last night, they both decided to camp out on our bed. Notice me.. stuffed up under the gunwales. Not the best night's sleep ever.
Little Ols
Cute... while he's asleep.

You awake yet?

Sadly, there will be no lab party this year. Lesley, Joe, Floyd and Fletcher (Nb 'Yarwood') were in a hurry to get back to Thrupp for sunday. Lesley says they will be back on the river again next year. Hopefully, we will be able to bump into them then. Sorry we missed you, guys. Hope you had a nice time on the Thames.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Top Chap!

Delighted to see that great uncle Millican possessed the ability to keep a lit cigarette burning between his toes, while he sorted out his coffee and campfire with his two free hands. Priorities, sorted. The person who said that men are unable to multitask properly, are definitely misinformed. :)

Trying to track down the rest of the film footage. It's from a 30 second newsreel clip, apparently. Stored in the imperial war museum, because it was shot during the war years. They also have the budget to restore old film stock before it disintegrates forever and the images contained on it, lost.