Monday, 20 May 2013

And another thing... on the morning of Friday 17th May, about 5.14 am, when I thought I might be gradually recovering from my falls, we are awoken by a loud, very loud sound.  In fact I think all the boats around and any riverains would have been pretty alarmed by this noise.  My first thought is that an alarm that I don't know ahout has gone off, perhaps CO, or a bilge flood, or battery flat or whatever.  So I leaped out of bed - big, really and truly very big mistake.  I can't do any such thing, not without a major rebuild/surgery or structural damage.  But I do.  We all do.  We move rapidly thru' the boat, seeking the source, but it seems to be everywhere.  I move to the wheelhouse, suspicion dawning.  We did something different last night../

We shut Bollinger in the wheelhouse to keep him from disturbing us and scratching the door.  When I got there, all the silly toggle buttons just beside him (who, me?) had been depressed, except the under-achieving, mincing little windscreen wiper.  So we'd been burning the electric for some time, but the one that he'd tripped at this unholy hour was the horn on the mast.  Very embarrassing.  You may see in the pic that I used a perfectly shaped and length piece of rope to wedge under the buttons to prevent any recurrence.
Another pic, to show that She has come home:

Anyway, we're still here, awaiting more Aussie friends just flown in today, 20th, whom we expect to visit us tomorrow.  Also because the outlook for any crossing is decidedly poor, too windy, as well as wet and cold, but mostly windy.  So we wait, enjoying the local ambience, and doing more on the tasklist!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

We're getting close now, but I have to mention a vital tool, here it is:

It's a small thing, but my own!  Well to be fair it's not really my own, that is, it was a kind gift to me from a fellow bargee who had prior experience of its potency, owner/captain of Rangali.  Like me he had bought a nice jar opener, as recommended, to unscrew the oil filter, and like me it had snapped right apart.  This tool doesn't take prisoners, it just takes it off.  Thanks again Rangali!
That was my main task before the birthday weekend, but back to more recent journeys.  Did we hit the bridge?

No we didn't and they both survived.  This is a bit too far forward, as it misses the fact that we swapped our Leonberger Burdock for youngest son Marius, with the aim of his joining us on the cross Channel trip and into France.  Well!! No chance of that.  Before this swap we met up with more fellow bargees and friends on Grizzled Skipper (btw, it's a type of butterfly) with whom we shared some customary sundowners:

There's the captain giving a friendly wave!  Oh, the reason I mentioned bridge height is that I used our 10 foot barge pole to measure how much space there is below and above the boat, then for good measure I drove it under bridges that should be just okay.  In case of doubt then Nik took the helm and I undid a pin on the mast and sat with the cruciform across my shoulders ready to raise/lower to check my calculation.  Amusing but pretty heavy!  Some were good, others not, they keep raising and lowering the water you know!  Another test:

Is it wide enough too?  Will the captain sneeze from all the roof pollen and lose control.  Oh yes, he did, but not at the wheel.  He fell downstairs didn't he, all of them, twice (just to check it was the shoes and not just the alcohol) while moored at the Shepperton Marina and with guests aboard!  It was on the bad side of not good, but arnica, more booze, analgesics and rest helped for some days, until, until... he sneezed.  Oh dear, that was bad.  Next stop the doctors, which was during a 7 (yes seven) night stay at Windsor, look:

That flower garden has moved back, making a nice foreground to her little pile, well HM wasn't there then but she's back now, so that invite could come at any time....  The weather has been good here, and Windsor is really nice, like our own Carcasonne, lots of French, many patissiers (to be checked out) and pretty fair weather.  Well it was an accident really, because crossing weather did not appear, so we thought it'd be a nice place to go now we had Marius aboard - quite right too.  Here he is helping:

The herb gardens you see are birthday presents from friends and family - really useful and elegant.
Did I mention the broken dog ramp?  No?  We'd been mighty impressed with it, and then suddenly:

What was that?  Not me guv!  We can only assume that there was a little weakness near the handle or that Burdock had an extra bounce in his step.  Anyway we're hoping the supplier will honour the guarantee - you'll soon hear if he doesn't.  Meanwhile it sort of works with care, but no longer telescopes (oh dear!).
Then on Tuesday night our eldest son Tad came (late, after giving a personal training session) which suited well as we'd just been to see a play at the Royal Theatre (oh la la!) in the cheapest seats, well I say seats, they call it a bench, well it is a bench.  But it was just fine.  Here's the last pic on this entry of the family:

They've all gone back now, so I'm up to date, well I've missed out lots of boring details, but that's good.  Tomorrow (Monday 20th) we plan to go downstream again, but a crossing is probably out of the question before Friday, mainly because we sort of know the forecast up to Thursday!!  We'll let you know.  Ooh, one more pic, our mooring at Runnymede, beside the usual Burdock field, on our way down to Shepperton, i.e. out of order, but never mind!

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Bank Holiday Monday was lovely, meaning lots of boats on the river, so we decided to delay until Tuesday going downstream in preparation of a possible crossing on 14th May or thereafter.  Francis & Mumtaz had to return on Sunday (work!) but it was nice to have the other 2 boys with us:

So we said our farewells to each of the boys later that day and Tuesday morning we began our downstream trip, passing some lovely places, including Bisham Church, where we were married (no comment):

Other lovely sights too of course, the family you always wanted but dreaded when it came?:

We lost count too.  Then there was Bisham Sailing School, who taught us 1st Aid and Helmsmanship:

We also passed where Nik's father Luke, alias Fairy, worked, Harleford Marine:

I'm a bit ahead of myself, we actually spent the night moored up at Crookham, where we found a lovely pub called the Kings Head, dog friendly, excellent food and really quite reasonable prices.  I'm not just saying that because the boss kindly gave us a bottle of champagne (we had Burdock with us, and Nik was sporting I'm 60 badge!).  Oh I forgot, going near to T&K (Reading) we managed to not hit a good friend on their training day, so here's a picture of their boat, Lucie:

Lovely isn't she!  I mean the boat.  Now I know you'll say this isn't up to date, and you're right, we've motored a lot and moored a lot since then, but I think I'll quit while I'm ahead!  Bye for now.
So we had our away days upstream (Thursday to Tuesday) just short of Oxford, then had to return to Thames & Kennet Marina to buy everything for Nik's birthday bash on 5th May!  For this we went back upstream 2 locks to Mapledurham on Friday, to be sure of a mooring at this popular location.  In fact we were the first and for most of the time the only ones moored!  The complicated problem of getting the campervan home was solved by Marius coming down to take Nik shopping at Tesco, and drop me at the Marina, then drove (it went perfectly!) home then Tad picked me up and took me back to the boat.  Perfection.  Here's the cake:
So realistic - no really, Bern made it.  The scene was quite festive overall:

We now take the great yellow gazebo with us in the boat, after all we are hoping to need shade!!
I'll publish now as the connection is so slow the pix are taking ages to load, so I have to reduce the quality (not of the photography of course!).

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

I know, you want to see us moving this floating home, not titivating it, but first here is a 'fun' picture of water leaking into our engine room, over the electrics and across towards the engine, protected by my precious sheets of oak for our new wheelhouse table (more of that another time I'm afraid!):
Now a picture of us underway on our first jaunt, being the first time the Thames allowed travel in 2013:

We were told off here because there were fishermen (a long way away) and we might disturb them, even tho' I was just giving a burst of speed for the cameraman, fellow barge owner Richard.
Then here is us moored up safely at Wallingford - we're on the right, the left bank has a fellow Marina escapee !

Idyllic eh?  Lovely Italian restaurant just up the road, and good ales even nearer - why would we ever leave UK you ask!  This was £5/night/boat, the same price we paid for our two canoes in 1976 !  This was our first overnight stop upstream, and then we pressed on to Abingdon, and here is us in a lock going there:
Will this summer never end, I hear you ask.  Then moored just by a Burdock paddock:
It was then that Bollinger (the moggie) showed, as he had at Wallingford a bit, his real desperation to dominate the several square miles around as he had at home.  It seemed that the only reason holding him back was the lack of a really good satnav that showed the way off the pontoons of the marina to dry land.  At Abingdon we lost sight of him at about 11pm (the eye glow) at the furthest corner of the field.  He returned (thu' an porthole left for the purpose) at 3.10 am!
Of course, it's not all unspoilt open fields, as we found going upstream

You just need to suspend Envy Mode and use the Gloat one - you may have a moat, but you can't float, so here you are stuck!  Something like that - I know, it needs work!  We had visitors in both locations, a lovely lot of them, and on Sunday did a trip with Nik's sister & husband up to 2 locks short of Oxford.  Then we re-moored upstream of Abingdon bridge:

Where I pictured the early morning mist and Archangel now surrounded by others:
I think in view of internet connectivity and its fragility, along with blog software and my lack of skill, I'd better publish this while I appear to be ahead!  This takes us up to 30th April, oh wait a moment, here's a shot of Burdock bathing at Ab's:

As you can see, we're not impressed, except maybe by the river smell once he's inside - shampoo to follow.