Tuesday, 29 December 2009

2 steps forward, one step back!

That seems to be the rhythm of the narrowboat dance! After freezing and fighting damp and ice in Iver boatyard, we finally decided it was time to make a move. This was despite the fact that RCR (narrowboat equivalent of the AA) made an error and didn't process my credit card payment for breakdown cover, hence we are not covered yet - (must wait until 2 Jan) - and a persistent problem with batteries that would not charge. After 3 days of eating by candlelight and freezing, we thought, let's just bite the bullet and head off, buy some new batteries, and hope it was just down to the boat not being used for a long time and the batteries being old.

So, we winded (turned around) and headed towards the Grand Union, stopping for a pump out at the marina in Iver and to try to get a lead on the batteries. While waiting, I started to disconnect the old batteries and hey presto found a red lead that didn't seem to go anywhere. That seemed odd - and so I looked around for where it came from - the alternator - and where it might go - and thank God- found that it had fallen of the split charge box (which enables charging of both engine and boat batteries). Hooked that back up and wham! Power! Charging! Energy! Finally a success! Bouyed by that, we headed out into the ice.

The ice was incredibly thick, but we need to be up the Grand Union to avoid being blocked by stoppages, so we pressed on, stopping between Iver and where the Slough Arm of the Grand Union joins the Grand Union proper. Nerves frayed from the horrible sound the boat makes when crunching ice, we moored up, had a few too many brandies, and slept very well.

The next morning, we scrabbled up the bank next to our mooring in search of civilisation, and found it in the town of Iver - (though the boatyard we had been at early was called "Iver" it was actually nearer Langley). Refreshed, with newspaper in hand, we headed off towards the Grand Union again.

More thick ice - and more! Just when we thought of stopping again as it was so thick, and praying for warmer weather the next day, we saw a boat, and a boatyard, so pressed on. Hallelujah! The ICE FREE Grand Union.

We carried on up to Cowley, where we are now, moored, and having a day of rest.

Happy New Year to all in case I don't update this before then - and dear GOD may the canal stay ice free!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Baby it's cold outside

Well, we arrived to NB Friendship on Friday, and carried on our move. That night, our neighbour said "how long are you staying here"? We were planning on moving on the 26th - probably a few pounds heavier - but the weather seems to have other ideas. We are entirely surrounded by ice now - it started forming Friday night, and has gotten thicker each day. Yesterday it looked like it might melt a bit - this morning I left when it was still dark for my last day of work in London so didn't get a good look - but I am hoping on my return to see a noticeable change for the better.

We're on the Slough Branch of the GU canal - so not much traffic - and hence no one to follow who might act as icebreaker for us novices.

Pray for sun and warm weather - no white Christmas for me please!!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Narrowboat Friendship - our new home! (Don't look too closely at the doors - they need repainting - and we've already sorted out the rain hat for the chimney!)

Where did we get all this stuff????

Bank statements going back until 1999 - old wallpaper samples, lots of beautiful pictures, and what seems like thousands of books! All stuff which is "up for eviction" as we go into "Narrowboat -1" day.

We've been pretty good. All the furniture has been sold on eBay, we've chucked out loads of stuff we don't need, and a fair bit of stuff we like, but realise we won't be able to fit in our new home.

I think everyone should have to reduce their lives to "Narrowboat size" every few years. It really makes you think about why you have hung on to so much stuff! Sentimentality, fear of what will happen if you throw it away, and in most cases, a (sometimes mistaken) belief that "that will come in handy one day". I've been quite surprised at the stuff I have been brave enough to throw away - and the stuff that I've not been able to bear parting with.

Tomorrow is our last day in our flat - we make one more run up the M4 to Ivor after work, and then have an "everything else" run planned for Saturday - and that's it. Our first night on the boat is tomorrow.

Can I also say, it's great to see some people are following this blog! I thought I would keep it going even if no one followed as it would make a nice record of our move and time on the boat - but seeing as there are now people following the blog - and, hey, I had to sell my TV so I have a lot more time on my hands now - I will be updating this blog much more regularly.

Now .... where the hell did I put my.....?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

We've done it!

Andrew and I are now the proud owners of NB Friendship - a 52' narrowboat currently moored in Iver, Bucks. Over the past few weeks we've negotiated the minefield of borrowing a huge amount of money, buying a boat, and are now setting it up so we can live on it from 18 December.

Now that we have a boat, this blog will be updated much more regularly! Watch for updates on where we are so that, if we are in your area, you can pop round for a cup of tea or something stronger!

NB Friendship - may God bless her and all who sail in her!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Which boat for us?

Well, from a not terribly productive trip to Gloucester to a very productive trip to the midlands - Nuneaton and Hinkley to be precise. Armed with a few addresses and photos, we blasted up the M1 (after crawling through London as per the usual) to, firstly, a marina in Hinkley where we looked at many boats - settling on one as a strong possibility - the small but perfectly formed Little Witch - and a few other "maybes" - the larger but more tatty Alexandra (ex-rental) and the Anchilla - a good size, but without BSC. Then, off to Trinity Marina outside Nuneaton to view the Lone Wolf - an excellent layout, but quickly not a candidate as Andrew could not stand up inside it!

Finally, we went to Nuneaton proper to view Om Shanti - currently on hard standing and being blacked. This boat ticked lots of boxes - decent size, recent survey and safety certificate, and, though needing some cosmetic work and a calorifier installed (boatyard had already quoted this for the current owner, so we know what we are getting in for) Om Shanti is a good possibility as well.

Plowing on - and still looking.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Unproductive trip to Gloucester

Andrew and I are back from a trip to Gloucester and Hereford - Andrew had shows in Hereford yesterday- and no closer to our quest for a boat! We didn't have lots of time to look, and aside from checking out the docks at Gloucester, we really didn't spend much time looking at all.

Instead, we are planning a few days trip in October to properly hunt for boats - but on advice from a narrowboat online chat group, we are also going to start hunting pretty hard for a mooring. I'd love advice from any narrowboaters who might follow this blog in the future - but from what we gather, finding a boat is the easy bit (!) but finding a mooring is much more difficult.

We are still planning to be live-aboards, so require a residential mooring. So far, we've identified 2 near Wolverhampton that we are interested in checking out.

We are realistic, though, and know we will need to be flexible. We don't really need to moor in any particular place - just somewhere in the midlands - any ideas welcome!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Rainy Day in London Town

The rain is falling, the skies are grey - I'm thinking lots about boats today!

We're off to a puppet show this weekend and scanning narrow boat sites online to see if we can, as in previous weekends, combine a puppet show with a bit of boat hunting. We're going up to Hertfordshire - with some potential stops along the way.

Not much news to report on the narrow boat front, though - still looking, still hoping. We've decided to increase our budget to hopefully find something a bit better suited to our needs - but still, we are hunting for a bargain as neither me nor my partner have lots of money tucked away, and the purchase will require a loan.

That said, I'm watching a few other Narrow Boat Bloggers jealously as I see their pictures and updates. I wonder whether cabin fever will set in, though, as winter and bad weather approaches...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

An educational first attempt at narrowboat buying!

Option 1 - not a winner, but a good learning experience!

My husband and I (wow - that sounds regal!) were in the midlands last weekend and decided that, before heading off to his puppet show performance, we would go to Norbury Junction (http://www.norburywharfltd.co.uk/) to check out a narrowboat we had seen on their website that was for sale for the bargain (we thought) price of £7,500.

Well, we learned that, as with most things, you get what you pay for and for £7,500 you don't get a hell of a lot.

The whole process of finding, buying, and living on a narrowboat will be a huge learning curve for us both - and neither of us have any pretense that we know much about what makes a good boat and what makes the nautical equivalent of a Ford Edsel! I do, though, know a tiny little bit about engines, and before our visit to Norbury Junction, we spent some time looking into what one should ask and look for when buying a narrowboat.

The boat had been advertised as having been adapted by an "undiscovered inventor". I read that as "lots of weird gadgets and perhaps dodgy wiring!". When we got there, we found that there weren't that many weird gadgets (aside from an electric rising bed) but the circuit board looked like a piece of modern art with wires of all colours springing out - taped, glued, and even blu-tacked together. The engine, though clean looking, sat in filthy bilge water and featured the odd wire hanging directly into the water. All very bad signs that even amateurs like us could spot!

We quickly decided that this was not the boat for us, and checked out a few others that were on offer, but out of our price range. This was useful as it gave us an idea of what a good boat should look like, and also gave me a chance to see properly how an engine should be fitted.

We left the boatyard a bit wiser and with a better idea of how much money we might need to spend, a clearer idea of what we want from our boat in terms of layout, equiptment, and design, and still excited about the prospect of becoming liveaboards in the near future.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Really? A Narrowboat?

Well, perhaps, really! We've thought about it and have decided that there is no harm in going to inspect one while we are in Shropshire - so we've made an appointment and will be visiting Norbury Junction to check out a little 36' Narrowboat. I've spent the afternoon online looking up questions I should ask and the answers I should get when inspecting the boat. Hopefully I won't make a stupid mistake and ask a question which very clearly shows that I have no idea what I am talking about.

So far, aside from the obvious, I've investigated the engine type online - it's a Lister SR2 from - I think - 1975 - and tried to see what people say. Folks are generally positive about it, with a few people complaining that it overheats and others that oil gets in the sump....

Putting aside money for a good survey will obviously be important - should we decide we can actually downsize from a small (but not 36'!!) London flat into a Narrowboat. Aside from that, I think we'll just have to look, ask, and wonder when we visit the boatyard this Saturday.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Peter - who he? what do? and why?

Who he?

32 y/o Canadian transplanted to the UK 10 years ago. In those 10 years, he's been a Care Worker, Manager, and Personal Banker. Now he works part time as a Care Worker and Administrator for his husband's puppet company. He's the eldest of 7 children. His favourite dwarf is bashful.

What do?

He works with his husband. In his spare time, he likes to follow current affairs, keep in touch with family and friends both in the UK and overseas, and generally crash out in front of a TV.


He's not quite sure why. It's just what he does and who he is.
Welcome to my blog!

Why start a blog now? Well, my husband and I are on the verge of making some pretty life changing decisions - and weighing up the pros and cons of leaving our life in London to try out living in rural shropshire - or even on a canal boat!

It's a big move for both of us! It means re-establishing my husband's puppet company in a new part of the UK - and leaving behind some good friends here in London.

We know it's time to go, though. London is a great city - but it's got its problems! It takes forever to get anywhere, it costs a fortune to live, and, as someone who has been the victim of crime 3 times in the past 4 years, it can be scary too!

So, I hope to use this blog to keep a record of this coming year - which will be a memorable one!

Aside from the move, I also hope to blog about things in the media that interest me, and my own feelings about what's going on around me. More about my particular interests, beliefs, and that sort of thing soon.

In the meantime, enjoy reading this - whoever might find this blog tucked away in my little corner of cyberspace - and enjoy the last few days of British summer!