Sunday, 21 May 2017

A boat of two halves

Hi, Lovely to see you again.

We're now into our last 2 weeks here in UK. The boat leaves Bristol on a wagon on Monday 5th June and we get it back again in Belgium on Wednesday 7th.  We'll be homeless for 2 days!!!!   Scary or what?

In the meantime, we've been having beautiful warm, calm evenings so Roger started painting the outside of the boat.

By doing some clever maneuvering along the end pontoon in the docks he managed to paint half of the bow and one side under the gunwales with matt black.  We used a matt black on Fizzi last time we dry docked it using "proper boat paint" but it was quite expensive and still had a bit of a sheen to it. We wanted a really matt finish this time and I found the perfect paint in Wilko. At only £7.95 a litre it's really good value, is touch dry in 30 minutes and is totally matt. It doesn't smell either.



The paintwork on Bluey has always been pretty dreadful. Having never been polished by the original owner it was very faded and patchy.

You can see how much better it looks in matt, with the added advantage that any scuffs and scrapes can easily be touched up at a later date.


Last night we managed to reverse up to a pontoon adjacent to the water point at Purton so that we could wash and paint half of the stern while the water tank was filling. I even managed to clean the back windows for the first time!


It was such a beautiful morning today that we were both up at 7.00 and as soon as the dew had dried Roger started putting the shiny paint on.  NOW it's starting to really look like our boat!


Tomorrow we're going to turn round and do the other side. David's come to stay for a couple of days so I told him to bring his old clothes.  Well there's no reason I should have to get mucky when he can do it instead now is there?

Bye for now, please come back soon.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Almost ready!

Hi, lovely to see you again.

We had a fantastic Easter with the grandchildren.  Aged 3 and almost 5 they're the perfect age for making Easter bonnets and hunting for hidden clues in search of the prized eggs. To be honest, I'm not sure who enjoyed themselves the most; them or me!

Since then we've had more visitors. Friends Maggie and Martin from Macclesfield came to stay for a couple of days.


They both enjoyed driving the boat, especially Maggie who's never really had the confidence to steer their narrowboat but is now going to do it more often.


Roger has been working hard, continuing with the upgrades to the boat and we now have solar electric and solar water heating.


As soon as the sun comes out I keep rushing over to the panel to check the water temperature. It's brilliant and will pay for itself in about 18 months with the amount of diesel we'll save by not having to run the generator to power the immersion heater. Obviously we'll still get hot water from the engine whenever we move, but on the sunny days when we don't move we should be engine & generator free. Less euros spent on diesel = more euros available for wine = RESULT

We've now found a crane suitable to unload Bluey from the wagon in Nieupoort, Belgium so this weeks job will be booking all the cranes and transport. Hopefully by the next time I write the blog I'll be able to give you a date.

In the meantime, Bluey is still open for visitors. We've had so many lately I'm thinking about opening up as a B&B..................

Bye for now, take care and come back soon.

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