Monday, 13 February 2012


Are two plain photos of a swan (posted earlier), the skipper’s only output of a blog this week? I rather think it is, as he’s just shot off up the road.
Well, I call it a disgrace if that’s all he can manage. Don’t you?
He looked all enthusiastic a couple of hours ago, just as if he was going to write for ages. He had that silly excited look on his face. You know the one he has....
But then all of a sudden after posting the pictures, he upped and disappeared ....  Knowing him, he probably decided the pub was a better bet.
He’s gone off anyway and everything’s quiet .... and lonely!
Couldn’t even be bothered to turn the computer off. So I thought I may as well make good use of it.
I do admit though that he does have a bit to celebrate down at the ‘Railway Tavern’, because today things have been happening on board .... I’ve been a bit excited too.
At nine o’clock this morning (Skipper hadn’t been up long), there was a knock on my outside bulkhead and such a nice young man was wanting to begin work putting back the tongue and groove sheathing in my engine room!
Well! I couldn’t believe it and the skipper nearly had a fit too, choking on his breakfast.
John, the name of the young man (such a nice name too don’t you think?), must have thought the Skipper was a nutter, the way he grabbed hold of him and pulled him on board and afterwards, the way he wouldn’t let go of his fleece jacket, I think in case the mirage disappeared .... Just shows what a mental state the old codger’s in doesn’t it?  Poor old boy!
Anyway after John managed to get loose and straighten his clothing again, he did a marvellous job getting my roof back in .... Almost finished the job in fact with the original timber that the Skipper had removed at Stretton.
At that time the boss had put a special number in pencil on the back of each length so he’d know, when it came to putting back, which bit went where. It was just as well he did, as they’ve been stacked in the corridor and in the way ever since. They’ve fallen over so many times as he’s kicked them (and cursed) and therefore they’ve got into a frightful muddle over the period. So this morning he and John managed quite easily to lay the jigsaw out on the quay so that John then knew where each bit had to go.
And he’s done a brilliant job, John has.
But in spite of this optimistic day there’s actually no definite date as to when the engineer is arriving to replace the calorifier. All the girls in the office will tell the Skipper is, that it is imminent. He’s laid it on the line quite forcefully that we want to move on by the end of the month, so I think things will happen quite quickly now.
I do hope so ....
I wonder when the boss is coming back .... In the early hours of the morning I expect. I hope he doesn’t make a lot of noise .... You don’t think he’ll be rowdy do you?

Engine room ceiling that the Skipper painted yesterday....

.... and with the sheathing partly replaced today

Swans a-skating (stoically doing their best anyway) or footsteps on the ice

“What have you got to look so happy about, taking my picture?”

“I’ve got to get down the other end of the canal somehow”

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A break-in

This afternoon was washday at the laundrette on the nearby Woodloes housing estate; it’s about a ten minute walk away from the ship. My onboard washing machine has broken down and I need to have it repaired. But in the meantime it is a very pleasant walk to the shops, even on a cold day and I had quite an amount to wash and dry.
Because I didn’t think I would be long I couldn’t be bothered to lock up the ship for that short amount of time and so left all my keys aboard, expecting to find the yard still open when I came back.
Imagine my dismay and horror therefore, when I returned at around twenty five to five to find the tall yard gate with sharp spikes on the top, closed and well locked up for the night.
Initially I thought I would just have to wait for somebody else who lives in the yard to return from work; there are not a large number of residents here but certainly one or two I thought I had noticed in the past returning after five o’clock. I would just have to wait, as someone would be bound to arrive in the end.
But as the time ticked by and I was getting colder by the minute, I realised that I needed to get some shelter pretty quick otherwise I could die of hypothermia before rescue arrived. I considered knocking on the door of Mitie Security, in the unit next door to ask if I could wait there, but then, because the gate was hidden from their view, I wouldn’t notice when anybody did arrive, so that was no good.
Eventually I walked to the firm on the other side and trespassing over their private property through a yard and expecting at any minute to hear sirens ringing in my ears and having a big dog tearing at the seat of my trousers, I clambered over a high wall, teetering with my balance on the top and managed to drop down the other side with my black laundry bag, all intact. With my guilty furtive look and the bag, I must have appeared as your typical run of the mill burglar and the only effect that was missing was the clank of silverware from inside the grip.
However I had made it safely into Kate Boats' Yard. Nobody had noticed my unusual and suspicious behaviour. I was okay and was glad to get back aboard undamaged and to be able warm myself up. I shall always make sure in future to take my keys with me when I go ashore under any and all circumstances.

A cold but happy day in Stratford (again)

Moored just down the River Avon on their wide beam boat ‘Jacaranda’, at Bidford are two good friends of mine, Keith and Christine. They have been living aboard their ship for about the same length of time as I have and like me too are enjoying it immensely.
We met a couple of years ago on the Kennett & Avon Canal and enjoyed a great time together. Restricted by the width of the waterways they remained in the south last year while I was ‘(mis)adventuring’ up north and they have since travelled up the Avon from Tewkesbury having bravely and successfully taken on the Severn Estuary voyage from Avonmouth to Sharpness first!
They invited me to lunch with them yesterday at the ‘Bistro’ in Stratford-upon-Avon and within sight of the myriads of Swans, Mallards and Gulls squabbling noisily and vying with each other to grab the morsels of bread being scattered by the tourists onto the cold shivering river and also within sight of the shining white stoned Sixteenth Century Clopton Bridge, which was never designed to accommodate either the amount or the weight of traffic that continuously crosses it today, I enjoyed a wonderfully tender and mouth watering ‘Boeuf brasé’ with accompanying firm and succulent vegetables, while the three of us shared between us a bottle of the house French red. It was all very delicious and having started with a Lentil and Bacon Soup, by the time we said goodbye a couple of hours later, I felt very well nourished.....I didn’t need to eat another thing for the rest of the day.
It was cold travelling home though, with the raw and biting wind stinging me from the east, as I walked to and from the respective railway stations, and waited patiently for the train at Stratford to arrive, beneath a heavily leadened and overcast sky. Luckily when the train did arrive,  it was very warm as it rattled quickly along, and eventually when I slid the hatch back aboard ship again and went below, everything felt most cosy as the ‘Squirrel’ had stayed in beautifully for me.

No snow settled on un-insulated Engine Room Roof

The frozen canal through the porthole

Snow smoke?

Wild fowl watering hole.
Note where the thin ice has been drilled through with beaks.

Friday, 3 February 2012


Yesterday I was treated to a fine experience by my brother when we attended together a matinée performance of the latest production of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon.
I think it is most difficult to make this play convincing since the plot of a-play-within-a-play isn’t always totally believable or even understandable. Often the two do not seem to be related at all, especially in lesser productions (and who really knows what was in the Bard’s mind anyway when he wrote it, even if he did write it)... It is very challenging. Also the wooing and ‘training’ of Katherina, with its male chauvinistic implications, in today’s free society does not always ring true anymore.
However in this case it all did... Everything was superb, no doubt due to the efforts of its lady director Lucy Bailey. The production was a great success in every way and all the actors were able to convincingly ham their lines enormously, to the audience’s great delight. They did their parts so cleverly that Shakespeare’s original script seemed to me as understandable as modern English. The language seemed quite natural to them. The Production was lewd and bawdy at times, as I am sure it would have been in the Sixteenth Century but not shocking and even when at one point a heavy and unattractive naked male bottom pranced with vigour around the stage, it caused more hilarious laughter than astonishment.
It was all wonderful and I was sorry when it had to end. The day was very cold but the event had warmed us both up.