Monday, 10 April 2017

Summertime and the living is easy........

Hi, nice to see you.

We've had a great week. The weather has been FANTASTIC with wall to wall sunshine, so much so that I had to go and buy sunscreen!

The swans have started nesting

 photo - Paul Drinkwater

I think this black swan must be a visitor from the nearby Slimbridge Wetlands Bird Sanctuary. I never knew they had white on their wings as I've never seen one in flight before.

Chico made sure that David knew he was sitting in HIS spot on the sofa and helped him check out his emails.....

On Friday we had our ICC (International Certificate of Competency) and CEVNI tests.  Basically they're the boating equivalent of driving theory and practical tests and we need the qualifications to take Bluey to France.  It was a lot of fun and the conditions were perfect for the manouvres required by the examiner. The "man overboard" test had to be done with a life ring as none of us fancied jumping in to be rescued.

David's now left us to go back to his own boat and we're just pottering up and down enjoying life.

We're having more visitors this weekend as our grandchildren are coming for Easter and I can't wait! Grandkids PLUS Easter eggs is about as good as it gets in my view................

See you soon, Bye for now

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Getting ready for France

Hi, nice of you to drop by again.

We're still cruising up and down the G&S and still having fun.  The weather has been glorious for the past few days and the sunsets have been amazing!

There's very little light pollution down at Sharpness and the night sky has been really clear with millions of stars. I really must get the telescope out and have a look, the only problem is remembering where I've stashed it away..............

We're now well under way getting ready to move over to France. Roger has upgraded the central heating system as the one that was originally fitted wasn't a boat unit and couldn't cope when temperatures dropped below freezing. Hopefully (fingers crossed) this new one will have the boat nice and toasty next winter.

He's about to fit solar panels for electric and hot water and sort out a filtration system so that we can take water out of the rivers and canals. This blog by w.b Avalon has been extremely helpful, thanks Kevin.

Our friend David is staying for a few days while his boat is out of the water being blacked and he's helping Roger with all the fiddly technical stuff that I can't do. He's also a dab hand at splicing ropes and has made me a special mooring rope to lasso bollards in locks. It's made it really easy but I'm still playing getting lots of practice in.

Chico is ready to go as he's now had his rabies vaccination and has his own passport

We needed diesel last week so teamed up with another Dutch barge and got a bulk tanker delivery. There's a canal-side diesel depot at Fretherne but they don't give any discount for bulk purchase and this worked out a lot cheaper. We reckon we saved over £100 each on a tank full.

That's all for now, see you soon.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A Tale of a Tall Ship

Hello again, welcome back.

We were up early on Saturday morning to see the Tall Ship Kaskelot come up from Sharpness Dock en-route to Gloucester Dock.

She's a three masted Barque built in 1948, being comprehensively refitted in 2013, and has been used in many films.

She was being pulled by a small tug boat but was also steering under her own power. I would have LOVED to see her in full sail.

She's now in Neilson's Dry Dock in Gloucester undergoing some maintenance and repairs.

Her twin anchors and chain are huge, ours look like toys in comparison!

She looked big when she was afloat, but out of the water she's massive.  You can see how big she is compared to the workman at the bottom of the photo repairing her hull.

Because she's so big below the waterline, they've had to carry out some dredging works in the dock to get her in.

This is the little dredger that has been sucking up silt from the bottom of the docks for the past month or so. It's been working all day, every day and mooring in the basin has been suspended until all works are complete.

The silt is piped out into the river through this pipe

Kaskelot isn't the only Tall Ship that will be seen in Gloucester Docks this Spring.  There's a Tall Ship Festival here over the end of May Bank Holiday weekend.  That should be quite spectacular, so if you can make it I don't think you'll be disappointed. Full details are available HERE

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ahoy me hearties!

Hello, nice to see you again.

We had a bit of a surprise the other evening. I got up to make a brew and looked out of the window as I was going down into the galley and saw this coming towards us

It was totally silent and crawled past us like a ghost boat

There was a 3 man crew on board but they didn't want to chat and barely responded when we waved and said "Hello".  We recognised it as having been in Gloucester Docks since before Christmas for works, although it didn't look finished and obviously needed painting. We checked online and it was booked to go out of the lock and down the Severn estuary later that night on the high tide.

I'd have loved to see it in full sail, maybe it'll be back for the Tall Ships Festival in May

Bye for now

Friday, 10 March 2017

Spring's Sprung in Sharpness

Hi, nice to see you again.

Spring has finally arrived here on the Gloucester & Sharpness canal.  It was so warm and sunny yesterday that we ate lunch up on the "poop deck" and I dug my sandals out and painted my nails!

Now that may seem like a strange sign of Spring to you, but when you take into account the fact that I spend the winter months in thermal socks and either Doc Martens or sheepskin slippers it certainly shows how the temperature is rising! If it carries on like this I may just have to unpack the shorts and t-shirts.

We saw more traditional signs of Spring on our walk today.  There are daffodils and primroses everywhere.

Our visits into Gloucester Dock have been curtailed for a while as it's being dredged in readiness for the Tall Ships Festival in a few weeks.

 That's one of the reasons we're here in Sharpness, although the main reason is that it's just so pretty and peaceful here. There are very few boats about and hardly any dogs so Chico likes it here too as he gets lots of long walks without any agro.

Wandering down a lane towards the estuary at Purton we came across The Pub

It looks deserted but there's a sign on the gate that says it re-opens on 7th April so we'll pop back and check it out.

Just past the pub is a very muddy footpath which leads to the estuary.

The tide was out. It's stays out for a very long time too.

Roger's been carrying on upgrading the boat both mechanically and electrically and we've now got remote heating controls so that we can phone the boat from the pub to switch on the heating. He's also fitted some secondary double glazing in the bedroom and lounge which has helped cut down on the condensation. The silver "bubble wrap" insulation that I told you about a while ago has made a tremendous improvement and we no longer have any problems with damp under the beds.

I've not been totally idle and have done a bit of varnishing in between crocheting this jumper for my granddaughter.

Oh and I made myself a bag.

I hate handbags as I can never find anything in them so this was just large enough for my purse, phone and train tickets when I went to London last weekend to meet up with the ladies from my cancer support group.

Fancy meals out in London are alright, but a custard donut takes a lot of beating..........

We had a great time catching up with each other, eating and drinking and doing daft touristy things.

It's been a busy few weeks. As well as going to London I've also had a couple of trips back to Manchester for check-ups.  ALL CLEAR!!!!  yippee...........

That's all for now, but I'll leave you with our view from the boat as the sun just starts to set.

Bye for now, look after yourself and come back soon

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Time flies

Hi, welcome back

Doesn't time fly?  I can't believe it's been so long since my last blog.  It's been an eventful 3 weeks too.

First David came to stay for a few days at the beginning of January.  Both Roger and I were still struggling with the lurgy, but that didn't stop the men going karting.  David had never been before but enjoyed it so much that he's coming back again next month for another session.

After David had left us we took the boat to Sainsbury's to stock up. You can moor right outside the supermarket which makes it really easy to do a big shop.  We were just about to set off again when Roger spotted a man in the canal.  He rushed over and with the help of a passerby tried to pull the man out.  It was an elderly boater who had slipped in as he was pushing his boat away from the bank. The canal is very deep here and he couldn't touch the bottom. I'm sure you can imagine just how cold the water is at the moment and the poor man was in shock. The two men couldn't haul him out as his sodden clothes were so heavy they kept dragging him back down.  Luckily we'd recently bought a combined safety ladder/gang plank which I carried over for them to use.

We managed to get a rope underneath his armpits and it then took the three of us to haul him up the ladder onto the towpath. In the meantime another passerby had phoned the emergency services who arrived a couple of minutes after we'd got him out of the water.  Because he'd been in the water for 30 minutes he was suffering from hypothermia so the paramedics took him to hospital where they kept him in overnight.  After securing his boat and making sure the fire was damped down we moved our boat to moor beside his to make sure nothing untoward happened to it until he got back.  He'd told me that he was 75 so I was a quite concerned for his health but he arrived home at lunchtime the next day and apart from being tired due to lack of sleep in the hospital he said he was OK. I won't mention his name of that of his boat as he was very embarrassed but we've seen him since and he seems to have recovered from his fall.  He was a very lucky man.

Living on Bluey is quite different to living on the narrowboat.  Because we'd built Fizzical Attraction for us to live on it had under-floor insulation, secondary double glazing, a solid fuel fire and a cooker extractor fan to make sure that we had the minimum amount of condensation in the boat. Condensation = Damp = Mould and apart from ruining clothes mould can be seriously bad for your health.
Bluey had none of these features and we've been fighting a losing battle against damp patches, so for the past 2 weeks we've made a concerted effort to get rid of the cold spots that have caused condensation & damp and consequently mould.

The first major job was fitting a Dometic cooker hood. Being vented outside this has made a dramatic reduction in condensation in the boat caused by cooking and washing up.

We store a lot of things under the beds but as there is no under-floor insulation these are intense cold spots and were getting very damp.  We dried the area out using a de-humidifier (best thing we've ever bought) and then lined it with silver foil backed bubble wrap insulation which is sold in Wickes.

The foil insulation made a huge difference to the temperature in the bedroom and should cure the problem.

I've also put a tray of silica gel cat litter under the bed to soak up any further damp but I doubt it'll be needed.

We've also insulated inside the wardrobes and underneath cupboards and later on we'll insulate under the floor which is the ceiling to the engine room. That should help keep the living room warmer and also deaden the noise from the engine a bit.

While it's been very cold recently, it's also been bright and sunny and the solar gain through the windows has been very noticeable. Unfortunately that also means we have a lot of heat loss through them at night and secondary double gazing is high on the list of jobs to do before we head off to France.

Chico is a real sun worshiper and loves it when the rays land on his bed.

That's all for now
Take care and come back soon.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy New Year

Hello, Nice to see you again

I'm a bit late wishing you Happy New Year as we're both a bit under the weather with the dreaded lurgy.  We've had it for a week now and neither of us can remember ever having had such bad colds before.  On the plus side, we don't need to make resolutions to go on diets as neither of us has felt much like eating so haven't put on any weight over the holiday period. 

We did have a wonderful time over Christmas though.  Our daughter and her family came to stay and Christmas morning was just magical.  We'd had all the awkward questions about how Santa would find the children to leave their presents and how would he get into the boat as we don't have a chimney.  All I can say is thank heavens for B&M Bargains.  A magic key plus "Santa Please Stop Here" sign and door mat calmed all fears. 

Spiderman is all the rage at the moment and Santa managed to find a suitable playsuit for our grandson.

We had a major panic just before Christmas when the generator packed up again.  It's a good job Roger can fix most things and once again the problem was down to shoddy initial installation and loose connections.  He's got lots of work planned for as soon as he's better. The next job is insulating all the heating and water pipes under the floor and yesterday we moored near Two Mile Bridge so that we could walk to Wickes to take advantage of their sale and buy lots of the foam insulation.

That's all for now. Take care and come back soon