Saturday, 22 June 2013

29th Viewing & Monty's second boat experience

On Thursday 20th June we met our friends (Captain and Boatwif from nb Cleddau) at Droitwich Marina to travel to Tardebigge top lock over three days.  Monty had his first taste of narrow boat life when Graham and Brenda from nb Jannock gave us a day out at Foxton in September.  This time he had to take his bed for an overnight stay.

If you want to read the details of the trip please go and check out Boatwif's blog ( who will give a far better account than I ever could.  All I will say is that we did it in two days rather than three which was inspired as we had sun and dry weather going up the 30 Tardebigge locks yesterday.  Had we left it until today we would have got very wet and very cold.  Monty did well - very hesitant to start with and had to be picked up and placed on board, but by the end of the trip he was even coping with the gang plank.  He is a typical Border Collie - everything is viewed with great suspicion until he knows he can do it, then it is okay.  The lifejacket proved to be more of a hindrance than a help and was useless when he was off the boat as it swivelled round - he needs to put on a few more pounds (I wish I could say the same!), so it will be consigned to storage on Tentatrice to be used for rivers and maybe The Wash one day?

What we did on day two was stop at Pinder's for the Captain to pick up the chimney cap he had ordered and for Boatwif and I to go and take a look at Tentatrice.  They are down to the bits and bobs and a lot of cleaning.  The mattress is on board and the blue protective covering has been taken off the galley cupboards.  I also noted that I have the extra shelf in the stern cupboard that I had asked for.

Cleddau and Tentatrice almost nose to nose for the first time and hopefully not the last

I am sure the second shelf will be vital

As we were leaving we noticed the start of the outside cleaning

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

28th Viewing - we have a date!

Back again and I am glad to say that Bob was back at work and that the bug had not ruined his holiday - not 100% fit, but well enough. He was in full agreement about the blinds for the portholes.  They were given the correct measurements (18" portholes), so the blinds should have been 22". For some obscure reason they made them 19".  So it is between Bob and the curtain company.  If there is going to be a big delay he will keep the wrong size for us, so we can manage without having to wait.

This means we have a date! The afternoon of Monday 1st July.  Please keep everything crossed for us that it really does happen then.  I am away from 27 June, returning on the morning of 1 July, so you won't see me for dust down the M42 as I head for home.  We are not planning any major trips between now and September as we are having a new kitchen and built and bedroom furniture fitted at home which starts on 22 July.  We will "pootle" about a bit and get the feel of her in early July. We are booked into Droitwich Marina and will be moving on board for the time it takes to do the kitchen and bedroom.  Probably a good way to find out what we need in the way of hooks etc and where whilst we are in a position to do something about it.  Come September - we are off!

The Cratch cover is in place

Non slip surface on the bow lockers

Blinds are up on the bow doors

Mattress insert for the bottom part of the bed

Shower door is on

Curtains are up

The upholstery has arrived

Very quickly put together as the 'spare bed'.  When it is done for real the back pieces have to come off, the cushions turned round and then the insert will fit properly.  There is room to store the insert under the dinette

A close up of the dinette material - we are really pleased with it as it adds the only splash of colour

The fridge freezer is no longer taking up space in the chandlery

Cooker without packing materials

It really feels as though it is all coming together.  Still little bits and pieces to do - some door catches, varnishing, cleaning and I am sure a load of other things, but the end is in sight.

Tomorrow we are off on the cut for the first time since last September with our friends The Captain and Boatwif from nb Cleddau ( If you read their blog we are the Relief Captain and First Mate (I know my place!).  They are in Droitwich Marina tonight and our daughter is dropping Chris, Monty and I over there in the morning and we are with them to get them to the top of Tardebigge by Saturday aftenoon.  I wonder how Monty will get on?  We shall see.  They are then coming home with us to help us celebrate our Ruby Wedding Anniversary on Sunday along with our two children, their spouses, five grandchildren and a very close friend who lives in Spain - Bob has kindly said he will meet Lynn and I at the boatyard on Sunday morning so she can see our pride and joy.  Chris is going to have some time with Bob at the end of next week when I am away to go through all the technical stuff.  Am we excited - you bet we are!

Monday, 17 June 2013

27th Viewing - No tools!

We popped over today hoping to see Bob back after his holiday, but unfortunately he has come home ill.  What we did find was a tidy boat - no tools and no sheets of cardboard.  It is beginning to look like home.  The pictures are all self explanatory.  It was really wonderful to see her beginning to look clean and tidy.

Friday, 14 June 2013

25th & 26th Viewings - so near and yet not there.....yet

We visited yesterday with our friends the Captain and Boatwif from Cleddau (  They are down to the bits and bobs now, so progress looks slow, but we are getting there.

The cratch, headlight and horn are in up and working.

All doors now have catches in place

The flue is fully attached

The table leg fittings are fixed in place

The extra work surface flap's edges have been finised off.

The mircrowave is in

The cutlery drawer has it's insert

The cooker with the lid raised

The curtain rails are up

The port hole frames have been attached

We went back again today with our Brother in Law to find the engine running!  So quiet - it was a wonderful sound.

The porthole blinds are up, but....

they are too narrow!  Bob is away on holiday - this will need sorting when he is back next week as not only does it let light in round the edges it looks really bad.  Our first snag and hopefully the last.

The galley blinds are also up and ....

they fit!  The magnetic catches at the bottom work really well to hold them in place, but they will 'hang loose' over winter to try to help any damage from condensation

We are going back Monday afternoon and hope to have another update on a possible date, but I guess having to have the blinds re-done, might just delay things a bit more.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The cup that cheers

After our long and busy day yesterday we decided a short stroll in the sunshine was the order of the day today.  We headed for The Crown Inn at Withybed, Alvechurch and sat in the sun to enjoy a good sandwich and a drink.  We then headed off down the towpath aiming for bridge 59 before Shortwood Tunnel.  As we approached Alvechurch Marina a boat came under the bridge with a lady on the back waving madly to us.  It was the single hander we met yesterday on her boat nb Bleasdale.  She invited us for a cuppa which we accepted.  A very pleasant hour was spent on board - thank you Heather for your hospitality and educating us that Marvel milk is nothing like it was 30 years ago!  We hope to see you on the cut again one day.

nb Bleasdale just through the bridge

By the time Heather had been able to stop (there was a boat close on her heels) it was too shallow to moor

so Chris helped to guide her back to the armco

After a very pleasant hour with good company and a great cup of tea we headed off and Heather continued on her way.
On to bridge 59 where we turned around and headed back to the pub and then home.  A very relaxing and pleasant day.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Twenty fourth visit and a day with a difference

We headed off to meet up with Bob this morning for our latest update as he is off on holiday tomorrow.  Apparently he always has good weather when he goes on holiday, so maybe if you are planning UK based trips - he is one to watch.  We think we are nearer to a date - it is now the end of June around the 27th or 28th, however, I am away for a long weekend then, so any hand over will be done the following week as I am not going to miss that!  We have waited this long a few more days will not matter.  This is what we found today:

The painting has all been finished, so all masking paper has been removed.  The light for the bow deck has been unveiled

We are very pleased that we agreed to have the shadow done in black - we think that Graham has done a fantastic job.

The finished scroll along the sides

 The bow with the teal front

Now to the inside - not too many changes as it is only a couple of days.  The bedside cupboards both have a shelf now.

The port hole frames are ready to go up

The radio is in and working after a fashion!  Loud pop music, not Radio 4 which will be the first one tuned in when we get aboard.  It does work very well and it is keeping the team happy which is very important.

Most of the ceiling lights are in and working

Both dinette tables are made and they and the legs stow away neatly

The front of the cratch is being painted (for non boaters the cratch is a structure at the bow that a cover is attached to that allows the bow to be enclosed - it will eventually become clearer when it is in place and the cover attached)

Later in the day we discovered that she had been moved back outside and I walked back along the tow path the take the first full length shot for quite a while.  I have to say that we are very pleased with how she looks.

Now you might be wondering why we were still hanging around the tow path some hours after our visit to the boatyard.  Chris and I are VLK (volunteer lock keepers) for the Canal and River Trust at Stoke Prior which is just across the road from our boat builder.  As we left Pinder's a man arrived from Waterways World to interview Bob Southerland, Ashley Pinder and the rest of the staff as JL Pinder & Son are celebrating their Dianond Jubilee this year.

We went off to do our duty and helped a few boats, but it was very quiet today.  We have a very small "Mess Hut" where we can make a cuppa and have a sit down.  We were having our lunch around 1pm when the Waterways World man arrived to say hello.  He was Andrew Denny (Granny Buttons - the Assistant Editor.  He came in and had a cup of tea and we had a long chat as he was interested in talking to us as VLKs.  We also mentioned the less glamorous role we have as litter pickers!  It does look as though WW will come and review Tentatrice in due course, but the current article will appear in the next issue (we did not establish whether he meant July or August) and that will be about JL Pinder & Son, but some pictures of Tentatrice are likely to appear as background shots.

After tea and a long interesting chat (there were no boats, so we were not neglecting our duties) we all went outside and many photos were taken - has to be on a bad hair and no make up day doesn't it?!  I suspect most will never see the light of day, but one day he may do an article on CRT volunteers.  He also took quite a lot of shots of my feet standing in the dips that have been worn away by many years of boaters winding paddles, so if you ever see two feet by a paddle in WW they might be mine!!  We then all walked up to the second to last of the Tardebigge flight when we parted company as there was a hire boat coming down who had to get all the way to Diglis tonight (they started from Alvechurch this morning) as the boat is due back on the Severn tomorrow at 10am!  We felt they needed all the help they could get and we worked them down to lock 23 (Stoke Bottom Lock).  We saw them on their way at about 16:30, so they still had a long haul ahead of them.  For non boaters and those who do not know this canal that is a very long journey and they would be lucky to have arrived before dark, when, as hire boaters, they have to stop. They had had the presence of mind to buy a Nicholsons Canal Guide before starting their holiday, but unfortunately had not understood the need to plan and break up the journey into managable chunks.  They are far from being alone amongst first time boaters.  According to Canal Planner the journey from Alvechurch to Diglis is 18 miles and 56 locks and should take about 15 hours and they were trying to do it in a day!  I did suggest an early night and an early start tomorrow, which I think they will have to do.  They were a lovely family and I hope they make it safely.

We then had a very long chat to a boater (nb Bleasdale for anyone who might have met her) - she is a single hander and was on her way back to her boat at Tardebigge by bike. 

Our last task of the day was to walk back up to lock 26 (about half a mile) as there was a lot of weed around today and as a consequence the bywash of lock 26 had become nearly blocked leading to a very high pound above the lock and thence to water flowing over the top gate of the lock.  At one point (whilst locking ahead for the hire boat) Chris had to open the paddles at both ends of that lock to get some water moving to lower the level of the upper pound.  When we returned Chris cleared out a lot of weed from the bywash.  (If you want to see someone moving fast just watch as a snake comes up with the weed!  Dead of course, but enough to make one start).  
So back to base, pack up and come home after a very long day - we had intended leaving around 14:30 (we usually do 3 hours or so), but it was nearer 18:00 when we left.  We came home via Morrisons for a ready meal as we were both too tired to think about anything as mundane as cooking.  A long, but rather interesting day.

ps - we have some grovelling apologies to make tomorrow - with all the excitement we both forgot that a man was coming to measure up our kitchen floor at 16:15!

pps - we discovered from Andrew that he was the first ever boat blogger and that Sue from nb Retirement no Problem ( followed hot on his heels!