Tuesday, 31 January 2012


......... moves on apace! In fact the year is passing so quickly that the month is positively running away with itself.
Not a lot has happened here at Kate Boats since we arrived and yet I seem to have been very busy in the meantime, though there’s not a lot to show for it. In as much as I have been assured that a new one is on order, my old calorifier is still leaking, filling the bilge slowly with water and the Engine Room Deckhead is as yet unsheathed from its ordeal at Stretton Wharf.
But the quiet sojourn has enabled me to get away frequently to visit friends and family that sadly have become neglected since the last time I was here. Warwick Railway Station is only ten minutes’ walk away and already I have saved on numerous journeys, the price of my annual Senior Railcard.
Even when I have been aboard, the days have passed so rapidly and I have found myself busy doing something; on this ship jobs are always there to be performed and whenever I have found the motivation to write, some task has monotonously made itself more important. But I have to be careful to make certain my priorities are correct as lethargy can, easily in my case, be the enemy that will rapidly take over if allowed.
It is so easy just to spend all day just reading a good book or listening to the radio, though this in itself doesn’t sound too evil I know. I could be spending all my hours down the way at the ‘Railway Tavern’, which seems to be a very popular pastime around here, watching ‘LIVE FOOTBALL’ on a 42” screen between two teams I can’t even spell let alone know where they come from!
Though I enjoy the writing enormously, sometimes when the spirit is willing but the motivation weak, I think it would be so wonderful to have a secretary at hand; somebody whom I could rely on to write, with loving care and sensitivity, exactly  what I was wanting to convey without me having to even switch the computer on ..... But now I’m really being silly aren’t I?
But what I have been very positive about while waiting here for things to happen, is planning where this year’s cruise will take me.
Originally I had planned that we should travel south this year but owing to the fact that ‘Futurest’ and I had managed only a fraction of our arranged itinery last year, and also that this year could be far too busy down south because of the Olympics, I have decided to journey to the north again in order to see some of the places we should have seen last year.
Also my new friend Janis is taking a year’s sabbatical from work in order to do some travelling. During the northern winter she plans to return to New Zealand to visit her family and friends that she hasn’t seen for many years but during our summer months she plans to travel the waterways over here in her boat ‘Roots and Wings’.
We both decided that it might be pleasant to travel together ‘in tandem’ so to speak during this time. It would mean that we could be companions without living on the same boat. We would be able to divide the work of voyaging together, share the pleasures and yet still maintain our status as ‘single handers’, free to go our own way at a moment’s notice if we wanted to.
We’ve decided to give it a go anyway, so let’s see what happens. Janis’ year begins at the end of April so I said I would travel round and meet her at Newark for then.
So if we can manage to get underway from here by the end of next month I thought, in the meantime it would be a brilliant opportunity to return to my beloved South Oxford once more to revisit old friends in that direction.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

New year, new beginning

After a week into the New Year I have just about caught up with myself and after the extended holiday, am now approximately back to normality.

A quiet winter mooring

The usual boat-side routine is clicking back into position slowly, though I tend to be sleeping longer in the mornings till it gets light. I am only following the rules of nature by generally staying awake during the daylight period, tending to experience early nights and later mornings. In the summer the rule is the same but the sleeping pattern changes. I enjoy going to bed about eleven at night and awaking for good at around four in the morning. During both seasons, the magnificent sunrises make it well worth the moment.
But having arrived in Warwick a month and a half later than I originally planned, Christmas seemed to be upon us almost immediately which was a bit unnerving and from which I have only just recovered.
I think Kate Boats are a bit stretched for staff, because their hire boat business is going so well this winter season. At this time for the last two years no boats have been able to go out at all, either because we have been iced in and/or lock gates have been taken out on either side of us at the Stockton flight to the east or the Hatton Flight to the west. This time things are entirely different for the company and though I applaud the situation for them, it does mean that the two jobs that I need doing rather desperately on board are very much put aside as a second priority.
Since I have been here, at the beginning of every working week, I have reminded the girls in the office that my jobs are of a high priority too, and each time they say: “Yes of course Mr. Hutchings. We’ll see to it.” And then promptly nothing happens for the rest of that week. I actually managed to get their engineer Rob, on one of the rare occasions that he comes here, to climb aboard to have a look at my leaking calorifier and to decide what needed to be done. He even managed to read the ticket on the side of the old cylinder for the details to order a new one, but I notice one hasn’t arrived yet, so I expect the whole idea has been put to one side again.
But as we still have another month and a half before I plan to cruise again, I am not too seriously anxious about the delay at this moment. I suspect that so long as I keep the pressure on, eventually the jobs will be done. Such is the nature of things on the waterway system and it’s no good whatsoever trying to change this philosophy. In any case, I know I am one of the keenest supporters of this set of values.
But here we are at the beginning of a new year. I have no idea what will happen but know for certain that it will be full of adventure and whatever happens I shall not be disappointed. The life will never get me down. In fact I am so glad that I have the opportunity to be part of this way of life. It brings me so close to Nature and other like minded people, who possess a similar viewpoint that makes the existence quite simply idyllic.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

To the Rescue again

Well the Old Man’s been at it again! And for the last fortnight I’ve not seen hair nor hide of him.
He couldn’t care less about me.... And in my poorly state too!
Yes!  I’m....(sniff!) not well at all.
But somehow I manage to carry on you know.... Some of us have to!
Though my new engine is brilliant the engine room is an absolute mess. The deckhead is just bare steel and the tongue and groove sheathing that should have been put back before we left Stretton is just laying in an untidy pile on the deck for everybody to trip over. Most of it will need renewing anyway after the Skipper in his wisdom typically, just ripped it down without much thought or planning. There was some fibreglass insulation above the timber as well but this was playfully ripped to pieces by the neighbours’ two dogs at Stretton and strewn all over the yard so we need some more of that too.
But he was in such a tearing hurry to get back to Warwick before the winter weather broke that the job was all left unfinished.
Just before we left too, he discovered a leak in the calorifier. So ever since then we have had to turn the pumps off when they’re not being used in an effort to save the problem getting any worse, until we can have the job done here at Warwick.
So you can see I’m in a right state and he simply couldn’t care less. He skinned out at the earliest opportunity and off he went ashore to see his brother etc etc..... It was for Christmas you see.... Oh dear!
So I thought I had better extract his credentials from the mire yet again and write some long overdue blog for him before he loses what little readership he must now have left.
It’s dreadful and I wish the man had more savvy and guts. He’s always full of bright ideas but never carries any of them out. Always starts a job enthusiastically but then poof...... Very soon he’s away on yet another ghost train.
But I can’t do anything about it. I try to put good vibes into his head all the time but my telepathic powers are not that special you know.......
Well what do you EXPECT? I’m only a boat after all.....  And what more can he expect of me? ..... And it’s all after I’ve been so poorly too!
But I do my best.... Surely the whole world must see that I do my best! It’s a good job he’s got me.