Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Idly rambling through the interwebs this afternoon I came across a blog describing a couple's (rather testing, as it turned out) experience of selling up and moving onto a boat. A couple of sentences leapt out at me: Years and years of rubbish which we had just collected and stored. We were paying a mortgage just so we could store our crap.

Now I know I claim to have lived on a boat, but I haven't really done so properly because I have always had somewhere where I could store my crap, do my washing. But I would like to, and I think I could. I was talking to a colleague of about the same age as me last week, and we agreed that we'd both reached the stage where we were fed up with accumulating stuff and wanted instead to start getting rid of it. I fear that this is intimations of mortality, in the form of 'you can't take it with you.'

There are things that I really, really coveted, and was enormously pleased to acquire, and have loved for ten, fifteen, twenty years, and still love, but I can now face the thought of giving them up with some degree of equanimity. I find myself thinking, perhaps now they could give someone else the pleasure that they gave me when I first acquired them (law of diminishing returns comes in here).

None of this, however, applies to the boat - or at least to the concept of a boat. That I will fight tooth and nail for; the house would go first. So maybe it's a change of priorities rather than a sudden epiphany. But it is still, perhaps, the letting go of one phase of one's life in order to move on to another. Life is way too short to spend all of it doing the same thing. Part of me would love to give up the predictable and the secure and plunge headlong into a new adventure. But solid suburban lower middle class conditioning is hard to shake off, and I haven't done it yet. Sometimes I'm suprised by how adventurous I apparently seem to other people; to myself, I still feel very staid and cowardly.

Anyway, we are in the process of clearing out an ENORMOUS amount of accumulated junk in order to create some living space for Number One Son to return home in a sort of semi-detached, offspring-annexe sort of way. All the jumble sales that yielded up the treasures that I've occasionally mentioned, also yielded up vast quantities of stuff - stuff that turned out to be crap; stuff we never got round to fixing; stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time; stuff that has served its purpose. Plus the stuff that we ended up storing for other people, plus all the old stuff that I thought I was sentimentally attached to but it now turns out I wasn't... chipped blue and white china, babies' shoes, chairs, dinner services, pictures, picture frames, broken glass; a canoe; cast iron bathroom scales, bookcases, clothes, clothes, clothes; things the children made and have forgotten about but will remember the instant I put them anywhere near the dustbin; three (three!) old school desks; a gentleman's travelling wardrobe, two enormous laundry hampers; a doctor's case that smells so strongly of liniment it can't come in the house... a box full of old stirrup pumps; wooden planes, a model railway layout with rusted rails and crumbling papier mache hills, a 1930s typewriter... and that's just what I can remember. We really ought to ebay some of it, but it's too much hassle, so mostly it's going on Freecycle, or to the charity shop or tip.

And it feels good, sloughing off the past like that; getting rid of the burden that possessions can all too easily become - the burden of being responsible for them, of the mental energy required to hold onto them. Just the real treasures, the most precious, most loved, most beautiful things, remain, and at last can get the attention they deserve.

And after spending the day downsizing our accumulated possessions yesterday, we went out and bought a new car.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A picture of Lewes

A couple of years ago my sister gave me a picture book for Christmas - one of the enormous number put together from the photographs of Francis Frith who, if the blurb is to be believed, was a Victorian photographic pioneer. His collection would certainly seem to be a reliable moneyspinner in the twenty first century, and his empire has clearly outlived him, as he died in 1898. This particular edition was Canals and Waterways, and it has a voucher in the back whereby you could send off for a free print of one of the pictures in the book (presumably in the hope that you would then be unable to resist ordering many more at forty four pounds a pop. I resisted).

Anyway, even though the voucher was out of date (my sister at the time worked in a remainder shop....) I sent off for, and got, this picture (albeit rendered in artificial sepia) of a sailing barge at Lewes c. 1960. The book tells me that the boat is called Federation, but nothing about what she might have been carrying. This wharf is in Lewes itself, and today there is a lone narrowboat moored at about this spot (I would love to know how it got there), which is handy for the Snowdrop pub. The pub, incidentally, is not named after a flower, but an avalanche which killed eight people in 1836 (or 1829, 0r 1830, depending on what source you believe. I'll go for the Argus's December 27th 1836, which seems to be the most popular).

We found a nice oak frame for the picture in our jumble sale collection, and have really only been waiting (ages) for me to get around to getting a nice mount cut for it. I've now ordered one from a shop in Lewes - it's nearly a tenner, so it's as well the picture was free and the frame was 20p - and it should be ready on Friday, so hopefully we will be putting it up in Warrior this weekend.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Whither Andante?

Before I went to see Mike yesterday, I got an email from him drawing my attention to this. Thanks also to Michelle, who emailed me about it from North Carolina. Andante is for sale again - apparently already under offer. So when Mike saw her go through Newbury the other week, it looks as if she was on her way to Whilton.

What a bastard, my first thought was, changing her bloody name - then getting rid of her! The chances of a new purchaser realising her real name and changing it back are pretty slim, but I hope that might happen. There's nothing wrong with Saxon as a name, but it's not Andante's name.

I grudgingly concede that he's tidied the engine room up quite nicely. Very impressive actually. And the ad gave Mike his first opportunity to see the changes I'd made - most of which are completely unaltered, down to the china duck, and he thought they looked nice (I think).

I hope she finds someone who'll keep her this time. Keep an eye out for her everyone....

Mind you, Sebastian was always pointing out that those quavers ought to be tied.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Visiting Zulu Warrior

I've had a lovely afternoon today. I went to Winkwell to visit Mike (ex of Andante) and see his latest purchase, Zulu Warrior. See the interesting link there? It's funny, I've met Mike about twice now since he sold me Andante - last time was two years ago when he saved my life by showing me where to find the decent pubs in Reading (and there are some) but he feels like an old friend. We keep in touch by occasional email, but often not for months at a time.

Zulu Warrior has an interesting history; as I understand it (and Mike will correct me if I've got this wrong), it was one of two narrowboats owned by the Navy and made available to Navy personnel for holidays and adventure-type activities. The other one was Viking Warrior. The Warrior connection is that the Navy had (and may still have; my in house Naval consultant is not quite up to date) a stone frigate (i.e. a building) called HMS Warrior, named after the original warship HMS Warrior, after which our Warrior is also named (do keep up!). Zulu Warrior is a 1973 Harborough boat, and possibly started life as an early Anglo Welsh hire boat - Mike's still investigating that bit of her history along with a friend whose family were closely involved with the company.

So realising I had a free afternoon today, I emailed Mike and asked if he was at home to visitors, and was made most welcome. I got the train from Euston to Hemel Hempsted, crossed a park and joined the towpath at the Fishery Inn, and had a very pleasant walk in the newly emerging sun up to Winkwell, where Zulu Warrior is currently on the bank having some welding/replating to the hull. I did think the yard was a bit glitzy - they had concrete hardstanding and all, and hard hats... and a big crane with a very big spreader... Which we got to see in action as they were about to move Mike's boat about. So we retired to the Three Horseshoes for a nice al fresco pint of Black Sheep, and watched from the towpath while the boat was moved a few yards.

Then I could finally go on board. The interior of the boat has been done really nicely, and recently - amazing really, when the exterior and the hull were crying out for attention. But they're getting the attention they deserve now from Mike and I'm sure this lovely - and historically interesting - boat is in very safe hands. I look forward to hearing from Mike again once it's back in the water and going for a run. It looks like a lovely stretch of canal. Thanks Mike, for a really enjoyable afternoon, and very best of luck with your fantastic project.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Holiday excitement begins

Two things have happened to tell us that the summer is going to come and Warrior will leave the marina this year: firstly our tickets for Cropredy have arrived. There's still something very exciting about having proper paper tickets (with a nice design printed on them) in your hand. Secondly we have held the traditional temporary licence telephone conversations with navigation authorities various.

Yes, I know we were going to get a gold licence, but we didn't, and it's not worth it now whichever way you slice it. Apparently. I didn't do the sums, but then I'm not very good at sums anyway. This is how it adds up: Nene, three days; canals, about five days; Thames, about a week; canals, as long as we can get away with..... Nene again to get home. Eventually. So, what's the most cost effective way of doing that then, given that we currently don't have any licence at all?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New knees

Hang on a minute, those aren't Jim's...

I may have mentioned in passing that Jim had a bad knee (he's been telling everyone down the supermarket about it, so I'm sure he won't mind me telling the world); it was a very longstanding thing, caused in part by rather foolhardily making a habit of jumping out of aeroplanes many years ago, but it started to get a lot worse last summer, to the point that it was proving a significant hindrance to working and, more importantly, boating.

So, to cut a long story short, and certainly to skip the details, he has had it 'done', last Thursday, and (touch wood) it appears to have been very successful. In vain do I implore him to sit down with his leg up; he is already leaping about like the proverbial gazelle. This means that barring any other unforeseen events, we WILL be painting the week after next.

But there's more. Over the May Bank Holiday weekend, Bill Fen host a weekend of fun and frolics for the Peterborough IWA, with games, music, barbecues and beer, so we (including Sebastian) will definitely be up for that. And on the Sunday, Russell Newbery have their 'Open Day' (I put that in quotes, as an examination of the small print reveals that this 'day' runs from 12 noon to three p.m.) and we are going to go to that. 3D Steve will be there, and hopefully Allister, David, and above all Compo. Jim tells me he has lots of questions to ask them. I have one: why didn't you tell us our skin tank was too small?

Sadly, after the fun and frolics finish, and before the work starts, Sebastian and I shall have to return home - he to college and me to work. But we will go back the following weekend to do our bit. So we're all very impressed with Jim's new knees... (You can see where this is leading, can't you) ... Do you think I should have had him rebottomed?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We've had our chips

Funny things, chips. They've got to be right or they're wrong (just like that other English institution, the cup of tea). Chip shop chips are often something of a leap in the dark - although this is nonetheless preferable to the guaranteed, homogenised, quality-controlled-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives chain fries. Will they be soggy or dry (they shouldn't really be crisp, well, only the little bits); will they be frozen or made from real potatoes? One would hope the latter in Ramsey, at the heart of potato-producing country. That, of course, is before you even got on to the fish.

I used to live in the flat over a fish and chip shop (the Newhaven Fish Bar, it's imaginatively called). They were - and still are - pretty good. At the time the fact that all my clothes and furniture smelt of chips was a small price to pay for post-marital independence. Go in there and there is quite a long price list, detailing the cost of, say, cod, haddock, plaice, skate, huss and so on. Most of the fish is fresh, as it should be, given that this is a fishing port and the fish are landed a few hundred yards down the road.

When we were in Brighouse, once, unexpectedly (this is when the prop bolt first sheared on Andante and we didn't carry a spare), we ended up in a chip shop. The price list said:
Fish - £1.95
Special - £3.95

That was it. After waiting for the chap in front (who was bemoaning the fact that he'd been down south, in Sheffield) to be served with chips and mushy peas in a bap, Jim asked, what are those nice big portions of fish there? Oh, said the lad behind the counter, that's the Special. So we had two of them. I think it was cod. The chips were awful. We were very depressed. But all was well in the morning because we got some nice new bolts from the lovely people at Sagar Marine. And Brighouse Basin was very nice. As another aside, I mentioned this to someone at work in London a while back and they said, oh, is Brighouse a real place then?

Anyway, I sometimes have what is here called huss, and which must be the most multiply-named fish in the country. It's often also called rock salmon. (And is it possibly the same thing as hake?) And apparently, in the Fens, rock eel, because that's what I had from the Madeira Fish Bar on Great Whyte the Friday before last. I was hoping for real eel, as it happened, on the grounds that it might be local, but no luck. I am happy to report, however, that the Madeira's chips were very good, and the Moomins think so too.

Jim came back from his hunting expedition with the thought that the proprietors of the Madeira Fish Bar might be Portugese, on account of they weren't speaking English and appeared to be Benfica supporters. Oh yes, I said, and the name might be a bit of a clue...

Talking of football, which I wasn't, Lewes have today assured their promotion to the Conference, and finally, after years of frustration because their ground, the splendidly named Dripping Pan, didn't meet the required standard, can now take their place in the national league. So three cheers, and raise your pint of Harveys to the Rooks, and now let's hear no more about it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The beer cupboard

The most important cupboard on the boat, naturally. Looking as it should, fully stocked. The Co-op in Ramsey is a pretty good source; their own brand strong ale is good and the organic ale they have made for them is one of my favourites. The most surprisingly good shop for beer was the little Spar at Brewood. Many a very pleasant evening was spent running the stocks (theirs as well as ours) down last summer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wooo! New cupboard!

I know, this is all unbearably exciting, isn't it. We have a new cupboard on Warrior. Well, OK, it's an old (oak) cupboard that (surprise surprise) came from a jumble sale many years ago and until last month was in Sebastian's room housing his hi-fi. Following a minor shake-up in his accommodation arrangements, the cupboard became vacant; Jim started eyeing up the space on the boat where we had the other little cupboard; rubbed all the horrible dark stain off, varnished it, and hey presto, he now has somewhere (other than a bag on the bed) to keep his clothes.

You will note the attractive matching saucers, both of which subsequently contrived, in separate incidents, to get themselves broken, but having been superglued still serve adequately as coasters.

Also, there's a new batten on the wall for the table. The table was originally meant to go on the other wall, supported by the fitted cupboard that was already there. This was fine, until the sofa was made to go on the opposite side, and left very little space to squeeze between the corner of the sofa and the corner of the table. It made sense, and was easier, to use the table on the same side as the sofa, and we've got into the habit of doing this, with the table supported on the smaller (but taller) free standing cupboard, spaced to the right height with a suitable book wrapped in non-slip matting. Worked well, looked really good; easy to sit at and didn't get in the way. We could leave it up for days at a time in that position.

So using a nice iroko offcut finished with a spare bit of ash from, I think, the old kitchen, Jim put the batten up so that we can now have the table properly this side; it's got a hole so we can use its securing pin, and the cupboard is low enough under it to provide a useful extra surface.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Knobs and latches

Another little job - my word, I am spinning this out, aren't I. It seems to me that the means of keeping doors closed on boats are often somewhat crude, tending to involve ball catches and/or bolts, and little else. Why should this be, I wondered; why is it not possible to get rim latches like we have at home, only, ideally, smaller? These have the inestimable advantage that once shut, the door can be opened from either side, which is a great boon in a door.

Small rim latches are available; they're intended for bathrooms and have an integral bolt, which is handy (for the bathroom, at any rate). So we bought three of these from the estimable Wades in Ramsey - a splendid shop; a sort of mini-GUM - fishing tackle to ironmongery to greetings cards to electrical goods, all under one slightly winding roof. I'm going to write about Ramsey's shops another time; they're really pretty good. Not quite Atherstone, maybe, but in some ways perhaps even better.

So, we have these three latches. Now, obviously, they need knobs on either side to operate them. and a shaft that goes through the middle - and this is the slightly tricky bit, because of course these doors are thinner than your average household doors, so the shafts have to be cut down, and if they have a thread on them or indentations for a grub screw to hold the knob in place then it complicates matters somewhat.

Of course, we chose to make things harder by utilising a selection of old knobs from the old doorknob drawer. More little bits of history incorporated into Warrior. The very small ones which we used on the bathroom came from the cottage of our splendid friends Glen the philosopher and his wife Linda, whom we scarcely see since they moved to Scotland. I have met their daughter Laura, but never their son Attila... (Glen's first book was dedicated to Linda and Liam; the second, after Laura's birth, to Linda and Liam and now Laura. Liam was the dog.)

The ones attached to their mounting plates were on Andante, attached to the top of the cupboard presumably as a nod towards traditional decoration. I took them off because they were in the way, but now they find another boaty home fulfilling their proper function. The last pair are off one of the doors which we got out of a skip and which now grace the upstairs rooms of the house.

So, fitting them was, in the end, a bit of a struggle, but in the now-familiar phrase (of one who didn't actually do any of the work) well worth it. We now have doors that can be opened from either side, and which shut with a marvellously satisfying clunk, and more decorative brass to polish.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More light entertainment

Jumble sales are definitely not what they were, but over the years we have built up quite a collection of treasures which, gradually, are finding homes. Those that haven't got a home in the house are getting a second chance on the boat.

This genuine gas light came from one of the jumbles we used to attend regularly in Plumpton. It's absolutely beautiful, isn't it. The shade we must have had for well over a decade, before it found its perfect partner. The initial idea was to convert it to a 12v light, but it proved impossible to get the wireing through the valves, and there was no way we were going to try taking it apart or drilling it. So it's basically just for decoration. I did stick one of those little Dot-It LED lights inside, but it fell out and broke the other saucer (just after having mended the first one). Although it's over a cupboard, we have developed a tendency to knock it with our heads, so will have to learn to be a bit more aware.

Decorative it may be, but it does have a function, discovered fortuitously after the event. When I'm sat in the corner of the sofa of an evening, reading a book, it shields my eyes from the glare of the light over Jim's chair, which in the past was something of an irritation.

I hear from Steve that he's going to stick with his pistons and liners, as ours have been rebored at some point, and his still have scope for doing it, which is what he's going to do. Hopefully he'll come over to Ramsey next time we're there to drop them back off and have a look at and a listen to the engine. I'm quite pleased really. It was the right thing to do, offering them, if they could have been of use to Steve and if they could have been used, sort of for their own sake, but I'm glad in the end that we get to keep them.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Shine a light!

The new light in the engine room. Isn't it gorgeous? And with its 21w bulb, pretty useful too. A vast improvement considering there wasn't previously and lighting in there. Emboldened by this 12v success, Jim now plans to install the other, similar but sadly with cracked glass, light in the back cabin above the table cupboard, and a 12v socket in the table cupboard, alongside the 240v socket already in there, thus turning the cabin into a mobile office and the table cupboard into a high tech work station. Now all I need is a 12v phone charger that works - yes, I know I should have kept the bloody receipt. As it is I'm constantly going, please can I turn the inverter on, I want to charge my phone ...

Should have swept up the sawdust before I took the photo, shouldn't I.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Frantic updates

I have no excuse for not posting from Warrior other than the general torpor that engulfed me shortly after climbing aboard. I proved to myself yesterday that it's perfectly possible now, provided one ritually sacrifices a saucer. Of course, I didn't realise at the time that the photo had uploaded, as I had forgotten that I had asked Baz, as I usually do, to get the laptop to not download pictures or software updates when I'm doing the coffee spoon bit with the megabytage. Then I looked at it on my phone later and there it was. I note also that using the laptop appears to have had a somewhat deleterious effect on my spelling...

You may recall that we were planning to start painting Warrior 'at Easter'. Easter dawning as it did in somewhat Siberian fashion, this was deferred to this week, and indeed, when we turned up the weather looked set fair. We has planned to buy plastic sheeting of some kind for the paint dock before leaving home, but sort of forgot, and I said, oh what the hell, I'm sure we can get some there. Fortunate as it happened, as when we arrived it was to discover that the previously resident Bill Fen painter, who had been living in Spain for a few years, has returned for the summer, was in the process of repairing and sheeting up the frame, and had lots of work lined up for it.

Naturally, this information represented a bit of a blow to our plans, and one of us in particular (to paraphrase the wonderful Nancy Banks-Smith, who I think in turn was paraphrasing someone else, it is not difficult to distinguish between a ray of sunshine and Jim with a grievance) was struck quite miserable by the prospect, but I said, let's wait and see, who knows, things may turn out for the best (then I whistled a happy tune etc.) and lo they did, I think, insofar as John the mysteriously surname-less painter has done a good job of the paint dock, and has to go back to Spain (some municipal ordinance means he has to go and mow his lawn, apparently) at the beginning of May when the weather should be perfect.

But. Did I ever mention Jim's Bad Knee? Which started being bad last summer and has not really improved its behaviour much since. Well, it is supposedly being sorted out this week, and as such things naturally get worse before they get better (you will forgive me for eschewing the details) there is a fighting chance that it won't be better enough in time to be leaping about like a gazelle, up and down a 110 degree bank and balancing on a narrow ledge within the requisite three weeks. The paint's arrived though!

I finally did some work today and we sorted out all the accumulated Stuff in the back cabin and I gave it a bit of a clean (haven't touched the brass yet though, got to leave myself a treat to look forward to) and we got the brass runners for the coal box down. They do help! We do move the box quite a lot to look at the bilges and get at the stern gear, and this weedy modern vinyl probably isn't up to having a big wooden box full of coal dragged over it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Catching up

Oh dear, I have been very remiss. I feel like someone who hasn't done their home work. Here I am, on the boat, loads of photogenic little jobs done to report on, loads of megathingiess of Vodafone's generous (well, it as they gave it to me for free) allowance left, and ... oh bugger!

One thing I was quite pleased with was I found another saucer at home that matches a lot of the china we have on the boat. That made two, so we were usung them to put our mugs on on the new cupboard (of which more later). Now, picture the scene, if you will. I am perched on a footstool, the laptop on a little cupboard by the front steps, the phone, connected by the longest but nonetheless not very long USB cable that I possess, on the roof, and suddensly everything goes dark and the laptop tells me its battery has run out and I need to switch to mains power NOW!!!! or the world will end. So I drag the mains cable from behind the sofa cushions where it's neatly stowed, give a sharp tug to release the transformer, which promptly lands on the new found saucer and breaks it in three. Ho hum. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the laptop needs a new battery which I bet will swiftly transmute into the need for a new laptop...

Anyway, given the large amount of upload capacity which I seem to have at my disposal (I have been very careful with it so far, measuring it out in coffee spoons, but I think I can afford to splurge a bit now), and the fact that the signal seems a bit better now, (weather? the fact that they've just dismantled a local wind turbine?) I thought I would have another try at a photo. What I haven't yey mastered is the art of reducing photo quality/file size, so mine are still all ridiculously big for blogging purposes (i.e. 1 to 1.5 Mb). Still, I will have a go. If it works, it's Willow in the back garden last weekend - huh, not so white now, are you my boy? If it doesn't, then nothing lost.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Stoke Bruerne

Until a couple of months ago I had never been to Stoke Bruerne; it was a mythical place, a place of wonder; a sort of canal shangri-la... the very name, redolent with history and adventure. Then we went there for Moley's birthday, and it was actually just a nice little canal village with a couple of pubs. I suppose I expected it to be bigger and more industrial because it is home to one of the three National Waterways Museums (or is it three branches of the National Waterways Museum?).

We went to the museum on that first visit and it was very disappointing. It might not have been, had our expectations not been unrealistically raised by their publicity and above all the prefix 'national'. I have been in many far, far bigger and better local museums. The collection is small and the presentation seems mainly geared towards children. There are some nice collections; of company seals and, my favourite, painted ware. There are some models, but I can never see the attraction of them; they look rather crude and lacking in detail. The working model of a lock wasn't working. There's a nice loop of old BW film which I watched a few times, and a waterways scene with stuffed (or possibly fake) birds, which seemed rather a waste of space. A few nice photos and a couple of old pub signs. The shop is pretty dire; on the second visit they were hard pushed to provide a pen and notebook (I now have a child's notebook with a large smiling ladybird on the front, and, a small indulgence, a pen featuring a moving (cruiser stern!) narrowboat which partly disappears under a bridge if you hold it at exactly the right angle). So half a cheer for the museum.

At Easter, the Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club holds a gathering at Stoke Bruerne. I am a member (second class, on account of not actually owning a historic boat; this is actually called associate membership but I know how I'd feel about people like me if I did have a real boat...) and was wondering whether to go along, but decided against it for precisely the above reason; I would have felt so inferior. Three things happened to make me change my mind on Easter Sunday afternoon: D3 Steve was going, so we could do the piston handover; I thought Andante Mike was there, although he turned out not to be, and, most tellingly, I hadn't left the boat for four days and I thought it had stopped snowing.

Well, it hadn't stopped snowing, but this meant most of the Historic Narrow Boat Owners were in the cafe or the pub, and anyway, I wasn't there as an associate member but just as a casual passer by. There were not many boats there, but enough to make it worthwhile, and I correctly identified a Small Woolwich (Dorado, as it turned out) from its fore end, which made my day.

I won't feel that I've really been to Stoke Bruerne, of course, until I've been there by boat.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Engine room ceiling

On our last visit to Warrior, Jim turned his attention to the engine room ceiling. The walls have already been panelled with lovely old T&G reclaimed from a house in Seaford, and insulated with polystyrene. The ceiling was always going to be trickier because of the curvature, and the two levels, but having finally got to grips with it, after a lot of planning and measuring, all proceeded
quite smoothly.
For insulation this time we used that newfangled silver bubblewrap stuff, which if it's a tenth as good as it claims is jolly good. We've put it on all the bare metal hatches too. It's stuck on with Evo-Stick. Not sure what they thought in Ramsey when Jim went back for the second large tin.

The panelling is attached to battens which in turn are screwed to the steel roof framing visible in the first photo. If the roof panel ever does need to be removed again, it will therefore be possible (although not something one would necessarily want to do).

And then he made a lining for the roof vent - the edges are still to be finished. The rest of the ceiling though has been filled and sanded, and undercoated and painted.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Semper Andante

I used to have a lovely little boat called Andante, a 1986, 32' R&D. We bought her for me to live on while I was working in Huddersfield. She was bought from a very nice man called Mike, who lived on her in Newbury; he in turn was buying a bigger boat, Globetrotter. Andante was put onto a truck and taken to Huddersfield, where she sat fairly happily on the towpath for eighteen months, until I was offered a job in London.

Prior to selling Andante we had a fantastic trip bringing her down from Huddersfield to the Midlands, via the Standedge Tunnel. It was obviously sad to see her go, but by then we already had Warrior, having concluded on an earlier outing that Andante was really too small for more than one. Ironically, her new owner took her back to the K&A, where Mike has been keeping an eye out for her.
The other week, he saw her; unmistakeable despite having a. been repainted in a rather unpleasant shade of green and b. having had her name changed to Saxon. After twenty one years! I ask you. It's not as if she'd been called Foxy Lady, or something embarassing like that, after all. Actually, it's rather sad; although I only had the boat for eighteen months, and Mike, if I remember rightly for not much longer, I think the owners before that had had her almost from new, and had also lived on her.

What also suddenly struck me, as I was going through my photos (you may recall that there was an album of about 180 photos on the Webshots site; I accidentally deleted it when I actually meant to delete one of six shots of her interior. I still have all the pics, but I'm buggered if I'm uploading them again.) was, what has the new owner (an old seadog, whom I didn't meet, perhaps fortunately) done with the lovely milk churn that Jim painted with Andante's name? And the roofbox, ditto? I'd have kept the churn if I'd known he was going to do that.

Anyway, here's Andante as she was in the summer of 2006, on the Huddersfield Narrow just up from Slaithwaite.

P.S. Fiona from nb Epiphany has also seen Andante on her travels - it's nice to hear that she's getting around.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Shiny shiny

Yesterday I was lying on a beach in Swansea, getting sunburned - quite a contrast to eleven days previously, when I was looking out from Warrior at (allowing for slight exaggeration as everybody does it) three inches of snow.

The week before last I was lying in front of the stove (well, I occasionally sat up and did some work), admiring it, and the stovepipe that works so well, and the hearth, and the fender, which I polished, and I remembered that I've never posted any photos, at least not in situ, of the fender which we bought in that lovely antique shop in Brewood. Until we saw it we hadn't been quite sure how we were going to finish the hearth off to suit the stove, and this was our inspiration. The steel base of the hearth had to be cut to shape, and new sections of wooden flooring put down (our very last off cuts) to fill the gap, and a bit of skirting replaced, but it was well worth it. Well, I think so anyway. I get so much pleasure from looking at the whole set-up. It certainly beats having a TV.

And we are finally making progress towards the final finishing touch - a sheet of copper to go on the wooden panelling behind the pipe. We have identified a couple of suppliers (I had the genius inspiration on the way home last time of asking a friend who's an enameller) and will get on with ordering a piece very soon. Back in our Whilton-browsing days one boat that stuck in my mind had copper behind the stovepipe and even old and unpolished it looked great. There used to be a piece of stainless steel there on Warrior, although it wasn't anything like full height, and that just wouldn't look right now. We can use it as a pattern though, for where it's formed around the trim at the gunwale.