Saturday, 27 September 2008


My editor has told me that I need to clarify my previous blog. When I said that I enjoyed single handed cruising, I obviously didn't mean cruising without Lisa. It is her, after all, that supplies the driver sustenance and liquid refreshment. I meant to say that it would not be a problem single handed cruising but obviously a full complement of crew would be much better.

Are you happy now? As if any of this really needed saying. My editor really is a pain in the ass.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Lining finished and more beer

We're toying with the idea of popping (as much as you can 'pop' on a narrowboat) up to Nottingham for the Beer festival on the 9th - 12th of next month. If we do we'll start off early next week and we'll probably come back this way in a couple of weeks and complete the Leicestershire Ring on the way. We did it before when we had the original Pickles (an old Dawncraft) but I could do with a bit of a trip. Unfortunately Lisa will have to work and will be commuting during the day and I will be single handed for the cruising but I rather enjoy that.

We both originally hailed from Nottingham and moved down to Leicestershire six or seven years ago when we sold our homes. Just about anywhere on the Leicester Ring is about an hour or less from Lisa's work so that shouldn't be a problem.

I realize that this will do my bridge hopping credentials no end of harm but that's just the price I'll have to pay.

I've finished the lining with only one roof 

panel to go. I'll be starting the bulkheads next week and that should see the end of the ply getting in the way on the boat and will provide more wall space to pile things up against and also give us a dedicated bathroom and bedroom. Oh the novelty of normal living (of a sorts). It's just ripping along.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Winter moorings & good ailments

There's two other liveaboards/bridge hoppers where we are currently moored around here and none of us are sporting blue tarpaulins. Rules is rules. There's a pound shop in Hinckley that sells 6x4 blue tarpaulins for, well a pound, so there's no excuse. I may end up having to issue them to qualifying passing boaters. We are possibly at the top end of that particular category of boater and don't need one.

The Handbook of Continuous Cruisers states that:

Sect 54; Sub sect 2d:

a) All Continuous cruisers shall sport at least one tarpaulin that shall be blue in colour. No other colour should be used as the primary tarpaulin.

b) Other tarpaulins of any colour(s) may be used (with the exception of lemon) up to a maximum of seven but these should only be used as the secondary tarpaulins.

c) Tarpaulins may be used for any purpose including covering the rear deck of a cruiser, covering unknown/disgusting objects on the roof, hanging by one piece of old rope from a handrail for no discernible purpose other than to indicate the presence of said Continuous Cruiser, screwed up, dumped in front well deck, and other similar purposes.

d)The older the tarpaulin (especially the primary tarpaulin) the more credibility and prestige the boater should receive from fellow Continuous Cruisers.

e) There shall be absolutely no exceptions to these rules for those who come into the above category.

Well that's quite clear isn't it? I stand corrected.

I, and several other liveaboards around these parts, have speculatively tried to get a winter mooring to save moving around during those months. It seems that you cannot ask for a particular place even if it has been used in the past for winter moorings but have to submit and they allocate the mooring. Well that's a thousand or so quid that won't be going into BW's pocket. If I'm paying for a mooring I'm sure as hell not going to let them choose where it is going to be. They couldn't get away with that kind of thing with any other group of boater. It could have paid for a couple of pointless bollards. A little short sighted if you ask me.

Who actually represents continuous cruisers? I'm sure that all the relevant groups will say that it's them but from what I've read, it seems to be no-one. If there are so many of us, maybe we should start our own pressure group.I propose a working title, Society of Continuous cruising Users Movement. Well it works for me.

I've been unwell for the past couple of days (no, I'm not looking for your sympathy) and if you are going to be unwell, this is the one that is well worth being unwell with, albeit only once, to experience the effects. I know it's no fun listening to someone else's ailments but this 'un's a good 'un.

It's called labyrinthitis (now there's a spoof complaint if ever I've heard one). It affects your inner ear and therefore your balance and has the affect of making you feel and seem drunk without the expense or inconvenience of having to buy alcohol. If it wasn't for the fact that I was laying on the bed for the first day with my head hanging into a bucket (it is a little disorientating) I'd recommend it for everyone. The first day it was like I'd drunk three bottles of wine, the second two and today was just the one. I'll probably have a hell of a hangover tomorrow.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Cults and Tooters

I am officially a cult or a sect or somesuch and have a 'follower'. My 'follower' is in fact Jo and Keith on nb Hadar. I think this is all a little spooky and not a little disturbing but Blogger, my blogging medium, has developed this thing that I can see no point of at all. I am allowed followers. These are apparently people who read my blog from Blogger but I've no idea what the point of it is. I'm also not sure what the advantages are over using Google reader and subscribing to the blogs that you want to read there. Presumably to allow the blogger to identify who their followers are. Always useful.

Lisa is very easy to please. Many women would be happy with nothing less than a new kitchen. Lisa, on the other hand, is perfectly content with some Fablon with pictures of pebbles on it to use as a worktop surface. Saves an absolute fortune.

This canside sign left me a little baffled. Narrowboats are two a penny these days. Just turn up at a broker, view the boats, choose the one you want and offer about a third of the asking price and it's yours. Why you'd want to put a sign up indication that you want one seems a little pointless.

Why do tooters think they have priority over the rest of us non-tooters? I am not a tooter, have never been a tooter, will never be a tooter nor do I even have a device enabled for tooting. Tooting is not something I find at all comforting nor have I the necessary inclination to toot. I am also unlikely to hear the tooter's toot as I am standing on top of 42bhp of throbbing moving parts that have not been completely covered.

Tooters seem to think that if they toot prior to arrival at a blind corner, bridge 'ole, etc that we non-tooters will think, 'Hang on. There's a tooter 'round the bend here. I'd best hang back and give them priority and the ability to charge through the blind bit without looking'. For two hundred years the unwritten rule has been, 'they who arrive at the blind bit first have priority'. It has never been, 'they who toot first have priority'. As a fully trained clinical psychologist I believe that tooters are insecure, unconfident people who need tooting as a way of screaming at the world, 'I'm here, I'm important, take notice of me.'

On the other hand I may be totally wrong.

A motorized kayak. I somehow doubt they toot either. Seems like a good piece of kit though.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Quiet Shackerstone and more bonkers writers

Well Shackerstone has reverted back to it's normal very quiet ways and all of the interloping boats and boaters have gone their separate ways (well not really. They all went the same way; back to the Coventry Canal). We are still here and are now moored around the corner where the historic boats were. We've used this week to clean the mud from the boat and will move on this weekend.

When we were on our way to Snarestone to wind we met Hadar on their way back down the Ashby. It was brilliant to put a name to a face and a person to a boat in meeting Jo and Keith at the non-festival. And fellow bloggers to boot. The boat's not too bad either.

I've finished one side of the above gunwale lining. Next week the other side. I'll be glad to be rid of all those 4x8 sheets as they take up so much room.

Without wishing to repeat myself, there is a superb email communication that should be brought to others attention on Narrowboatworld. Narrowboatworld is now anti-narrowboat judging by this entry. The email page has a (spoof?) mail from one Tim Atkinson, a Thames boater with a 'classic' motor boat. He rants about narrowboaters, liveaboards and generators and is obviously anti-narrowboat himself. He has even implied that he has put sugar into a generator owned by a narrowboater. I think that Tom Crossley has missed the criminal element of this but saw the anti-liveaboard angle and published it anyway. Tim even got in the word 'scum' to describe narrowboaters. This email has very similar sentiments to the spoof letter I blogged here several blogs ago.

Mr Atkinson, I doff my hat to you sir. For sure, you are a comic genius.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Tall people & miscommunication

There seems to be a preponderance of tall people in Shakerstone. These are locals and not visiting boaters. I'm used to looking down on people (especially people I live with) and think it's disconcerting to have to look at people on the same level or even higher. There must be something in the water 'round here. There's certainly something in the beer as we went up to the Raising Sun yesterday afternoon and with every intention in the world of returning in the evening to watch the live band, we were flat out in bed by eight o'clock. Gone are the days when Lisa and I could drink twelve pints and sing a merry song. Oh no! Back to bed after a couple of pints for our cocoa. The impromptu folk at the pub was good anyway with the occupants of some the ex-working boats and of nb Talisman talking the 'elm.

On Friday I had been working on the plywood boards which will eventually be the lining of Pickles no 2 and cutting one of the porthole cut-outs that I had marked up. I looked at the man hanging out of the rear door of the boat in front and he was obviously trying to tell me something by drawing his hand across his throat. I thought 'cheeky bugger telling me to keep the noise down. I'm allowed to use my electric saw during the day'. I looked again and he was doing the same thing. Well he's either telling me he's going to cut my throat or to stop using my saw. I went stomping around the boat all indignant chuntering to myself.

Later I found out that they had cancelled the festival and realised that he neither wanted to cut my throat nor to keep the noise down but that the event was no more. I spoke to him later and he confirmed this as he was neither carrying a knife nor wearing ear defenders. This miscommunication could have turned ugly if I had confronted him instead of sulking around the boat. I don't know what the moral of this story is but there must be one.

I've included some pictures here of some of the ex-working boats that attended the non-festival. As usual the boaters seemed to make the best of it and even last night in the pouring rain, the ex-working boaters were holding a BBQ on the muddy towpath under a tarpaulin.

Friday, 5 September 2008

A soggy end

It's all over here. The Shakerstone Festival has been cancelled due to the ground conditions and general weather. It has been raining all week and the place is a quagmire. In the end they couldn't get the stuff onto the site by vehicle. The only thing open is the been tent this evening with the musicians intact. They put some hey at the entrances at the start of the day and I was dubious as to their worth. There are about twenty or so ex-working boats here but other than the pub and beer tent it's all a bit of wasted effort. Well it's never really a waste if beer is involved.

This week I watched a certain ex-working boat (which will remain nameless) attempting to moor. A fellow boater took the lines and was helping pull the boat in but was shouted at by the owner of the boat to, “leave my lines alone and don't pull me in”. I thought this was a little mean spirited and harsh as he was only trying to help. This attitude just emphasises what many narrowboat owners already think about historic boat owners.

Well most owners of non-historic boats would also believe that others who own ex-working boats would know what they are doing and how to handle their boat but this is seemingly not the case. This chap had ample room to moor albeit it was a little shallow at the edges and to find a decent spot he had to move about a bit but just couldn't manage it. He manoeuvred back and forth jumping on and off his boat with his three lines, hauling on them then hopping back on his boat to try another manoeuvre. He tried every move in the book but couldn't get it into the bank. The Ashby is very shallow here at the banks as it is saucer shaped.

To cut what ended up as a long story short after forty five minutes he finally tied his lines for the last time. No-one helped him (I wonder why) but I think that many, like me, were sniggering from the safety of our own boats. I would love to have been brave enough to bring a chair up to beside his boat with a cup of tea to watch the spectacle.

To top it all my starter battery has died as I suspected it might. I'll make do with the smaller van battery I've been using until I can get a proper decent one to fit. It's a little underpowered but beggars can't be choosers.

I've just noticed that for some inexplicable reason I have fifty members of my blog audience according to my Feedburner count. Haven't you all got better things to do?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Shakerstone Festival site

On Sunday Jo from Hadar arrived to introduce herself but it was a bit of a flying visit as I had volunteered to help with the setting up of the festival site so had to get across there. Several others from the Ashby Canal Association were also present and during the rather wet day we set up the arena, the car park and various other roped off areas. From nothing, other than a few pegs in the ground, by the end of the day it was looking like a festival site as there were others including the marquee erectors working on site. Thursday and Friday are the next working days to finalize the site for the weekend.

Things are beginning to look a little muddy and as far as I know this weather is here to stay. We will see but you can't have a festival without mud in the UK. It wouldn't be the same. I've always wanted to do mud sliding like they were doing in 1968 at Woodstock although I think that highly unlikely at Shakerstone. 'elfin safety might take a dim view. With the average age of the visitors being a little older than the Woodstock crowd there my be a few broken hips as well.

There are more boats arriving every day and the historic boats are also starting to arrive. People are breasting up and we are expecting to have to by the weekend although I don't envy anyone breasting up to grumpy. Nor next to me either.

I have cut all the boards for the lining out today and will start screwing into the bearers tomorrow so no more visible spray foam and wiring. I'll miss that (not).