Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Little Blue Light - I love you!

Oh Dear.

I've written this post 3 times.

3 times it has not posted.

I can't type the whole thing again.

Here's the short and sweet version -

Internet Connection via mobile internet and a dongle is precarious.

Being in the middle of nowhere is beautiful, but it sucks if you have no internet connection.

Now, please, dear God, when I click "post" - POST!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Work work work!

It never rains but it pours, apparently. Like buses, employment offers seem to come in threes!

As you know, I work as an Adminstrator for my husband's puppet company Objects Dart ( While I enjoy that work, at "dry times" when we haven't got a lot of work on, things can be tight financially. Working in the Arts Sector, it's often "feast or famine" and income is not always regular.

To try to mitigate this, I applied for a job to produce the weekly newsletter of Puppeteers UK, a puppetry body which promotes puppetry and puppeteers. To my delight (and surprise) I got the job.

Back in September, I had also applied for a job working as a Temporary Care Assistant - sort of an "on call agency" job - where I could take assignments if I had time, or say "no thanks" when I was busy. I thought this would be an excellent way of also dealing with the "feast and famine finances" issue. I was offered a job, but the CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau) only came through 2 weeks ago! So, this week I have started doing some care work - which I'm enjoying, but it's not what I'm used to.

I had worked for a charity called L'Arche ( which supports people with learning disabilities. Though in my interview for my new role I said that learning disability was my speciality, I have been offered temporary work on a unit supporting people with Brain Injury. It's been challenging doing something new, but I have learned a lot in the short time I have been there.

So, it's work work work these days - which is good for the finances if not always for the sleep patterns!

I hope to post some pictures on my blog in my next post - do get in touch if there is anything in particular you'd like to see!

Monday, 10 January 2011

We ARE safe!

We ARE safe, at least according to the very nice BSS examiner who pronounced our boat "safe".

A little background on what the BSS is, and what it means to us;

Every 4 years, boats that are on the Inland Waterways system of the UK are required to undergo a Boat Safety Scheme Test. After the test, if you pass, you get a certificate. Without that certificate you cannot licence your boat, and your boat's insurance is invalid. As we live on our boat, we desperately needed to pass our BSS test as the risk of being "illegal" was too great - if we failed, we could potentially be homeless!

The man who did the test (who I won't name - but if you are interested, email me and I'll give you his name) was incredibly helpful.

When you have a test of this sort, you want the person performing it to be both strict in areas where your safety is at risk - and flexible where regulations say you must have a label on a door, say, or something similarly banal.

Thankfully, our examiner had that perfect balance between able to discern between what was an important element that protected our safety, and what was important but, provided we made it right on the day, he could pass us.

I can't tell you how relieved I am that we have our new BSS - which lasts 4 years. Not only does it mean we can relax a bit, but it also means that, maybe, perhaps, we actually bought a boat that is in decent shape! When we boat our boat, we knew nothing - less than nothing - about engines, electrical installation, propane installation, and the "nuts and boats" of our floating home. We sure aren't experts now but we do know a little bit more....

Friday, 7 January 2011

Are we safe?

I don't know - we'll know on Monday!

Monday, the day that I have been dreading ever since we bought a bought with a one year safety certificate. The day I imagined someone would come along and tell us "Are you insane? It's a wonder you haven't been killed by that boat of yours! You are hearby relocated by Government Order to a DSS flat immediately!"

Yes, Monday, at our expense, someone comes along to inspect out boat to tell us if it is safe or not. If he agrees that, after one year of living on the boat and not killing ourselves, it must be relatively safe, and that though the boat is not shiny and new, it does what it is meant to do, then we will be given a certificate and allowed on our way for another 4 years.

If he decides that the tiny little bit of rust in the gas locker (where our propane is stored) is likely to kill us both in our sleep, then we are in for a rough day.

If there is something terribly unsafe that is a real threat, of course, I want it fixed and sorted - but part of me wants to slip the guy a £50 note and say "That's for you. Now, how about a safety certificate?".

I remember someone I won't mention by name scraping the inspection sticker of the windscreen of a car that had "died" but still had a valid inspection and sticking it onto his car - would that it was so easy!

Pray, chant, channel whatever saint or diety you believe in - but think of us on Monday. We need to get through this, and we need it to be cheap!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Coffee and Mornings

Last Tuesday, without a lot to do, Drew and I decided to visit the local village of Aldbury. The Morris men who we had sung Christmas Carols with came from Aldbury, and we thought a little nose-around the village was in order.


The English have a term for villages like Aldbury - the call them "chocolate box" - because in the past, chocolate boxes were adorned with very idealised paintings and pictures of English life. Aldbury certainly is a chocolate box village - beautiful ancient buildings, a lovely village green and pond, and the church is absolutely amazing.

Inside the church is a tomb of some local "well off" folk with a Green Man lying at their foot. The church also features medieval glass and a plaque to the memory of a seaman who died in Bedford Basin, Halifax, in 1877.

We were inspecting the church when we were invited to a "coffee morning" - which is, as the name suggests, a little group of people drinking coffee (or tea) and eating cakes. Everyone makes a small donation for the coffee and the proceeds go to the church.

We met, at this coffee morning, amoung other people a veteran of World War Two who had been dropped in the ocean in Norway after his plane had been shot down and a woman who had taught in international schools all over the world. "Polite conversation" does not begin to describe how interesting a morning we had.

As we are still iced in nearby, we went again to the coffee morning, and again had a lovely time. Aldbury has become one of our favourite places to visit - and who knows, we might end up as Morris Men by year's end!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Bye Bye 2010!

So that's it. 2010's all gone. Now begins the annual struggle to remember to write the new year properly - signing checks and contracts with "2011" instead of "2010"

To celebrate the New Year, we walked the mile or so up the canal from where we are moored (well, frozen) to a pub in Marsworth - The White Lion.

The sign outside the pub promised "music and raffles" - and on our arrival around 8.30 they had run out of most of their lager supplies - which meant a night on the real ale!

Earlier in the day, I had driven to Marsworth to check to see if their water point had unfrozen - and it had! A couple was filling up their boat's water tank, and they stopped to let me fill my little 25L jug. We saw them later in the pub and had a nice chat - in fact, we had a lot of nice chats!

Having grown up in a small community, I sometimes miss meeting the same people on the street each day, knowing the names of people who I pass by, and recognising the same faces in the shops. Having spent over a month in this area (partly on purpose, partly due to the ice) both Drew and I are now "known" a bit, and people recognise us and our boat. Last night, lots of people who we recognised but had not found out their names spoke to us - we got great tips about nice places to go for a cruise, the trials of ordering a bespoke boat - and lots of other useful info.

But, most of all, we just had a wonderful evening - dancing, talking to folks, and ringing in the New Year well. It also re-affired not only how wonderful it is to live on a boat (no one we spoke to regretted their "lifestyle choice") and how, people are people no matter where you go - and chances are, if you go to a small village or community, people are that little bit nicer -

...or maybe it's just boaters!