Friday, 30 November 2007

New curtains make Bella much more home!

The Galley is looking like a kitchen

Pete at breakfast

Marine Interior Design

Well, seeing as we are not moving because of necessary canal closures (this is the season for British Waterways to maintain them), we're concentrating on the inside. So, we've replaced all the hire boat curtains with our own, hung pictures, placed lights, organised inside cupboards (Elizabeth's particular joy :-) and otherwise sorted out the home side of this wonderful excursion. Piccies to follow.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Regular evening visitors for food :-)

We're still here!

Sorry all Blog fans. We are deeply frustrated by our internet connectivity. We have 56k every sort of OK moment via our data cards. If we put them on our booster antennae, we are variously on gprs or 3g, depending on what it can find. As it switches from one to the other, we loose connection (Grrrrr). So, uploading photographs is interesting, if not downright annoying. We are in conversation with Blue Haven Marine about installing wireless hotspot connectivity for us all and when we are thus connected, we'll search for other, more robust means to communicate on a more regular basis. Tomorrow, when Elizabeth is on fat band in London, she hopes to upload more pictures! Although connectivity has been dubious, Pete's photography skills have kept up apace and are waiting for uploading. Watch this space!!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Josie huddled on the move

Captain Pete on the move north

Bella's first snow

Colder out and warmer in

Well, we could hardly believe it, but we have snow. Snow! In November. In Oxford, we usually see it in Janurary or Feb... We have no idea if this is usual in Rugby, but here we are. We did hear on the radio yesterday that global warming will mean England gets colder (same parallel as Alaska), so maybe this is a foretaste? However, the inside of Bella is as toasty as it gets. Our solid fuel stove is shockingly effective, and since the boiler was serviced (did we not tell you we were without central heating for a number of days?) all is fantastically warm. Bella is wonderfully insulated and Elizabeth has been making new curtains as Pete fits new rods. It is cosy and cheery. Winter out, summer in. Lovely :-)

Friday, 16 November 2007

November Frost

Morning Ice

Frosty Marina

Misty Marina

Chilly recycling

Sky over Bella

Life keeps on keeping on!

Apologies to all Bella's blog fans - life has not stopped! Frustratingly, Elizabeth just has to keep working (she likes teaching project management and theology too much!). But she is very frustrated not to have had the time to make Bella home on all fronts. We still have the hire boat curtains up!! For those who know us well, this is not good :-) We're trying to find the right kind of rods, as the ones installed are the plastic runner kind which clog up with dust... We need thin, brass, tight to the wall fitting - all ideas would be welcome!

We've had our first guests since the last update! Friends Max and Jane on the night of the 10th and with them, we took our first trip since our arrival. More about this later, with a piccy of course. We said goodbye to our Jeffrey on Monday and he now lives in Australia (sniffle!). Our James visited last night and Pete took him back to Oxford, planning on picking up more coal on the route back. More later, but we wanted to let you know we're still here!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Sky over Bella

Pete in lounge

seeing life in new ways

Bella didn't move today, but lots of her life was sorted. As Elizabeth was in London at her committee of reference for her post ordination training work, Pete found out how to light the stove of coal and keep it going. And he caught some gorgeous sights!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Learning to manage life aboard

Elizabeth was still in Wales today (thankfully back home now!) while Pete did all the boat managing stuff. He learned how to change the toilet cassettes (don't ask what he calls them) and went to Braunston to get a wizzy antenna for us to access the internet far more speedily. He also got a power cable for our shore power, now well connected. He is delighted to have woken up to no condensation (something about polar air?) while Elizabeth woke to Welsh frost. Standing on the stern, he saw a Kestrel land - oh, and on the way to Hillmorton, a wonderful Kingfisher led them for a number of miles. Magic. And in between Napton locks, there were water buffalo.

During the day, Josie met a few more canines and had a little run. She travelled with Pete to Braunston and Heyford, where Pete talked with David and Nigel about Bella and ballast.

A good day of settling in.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Now normal life resumes...

We made it, and are exhausted!! Pete's now acquired a cold and Elizabeth feels every muscle rather too much! We'll get photos of Bella moored as soon as possible, but we just have to say - we are thrilled. Much better than we could imagine.

Monday we made contact with Jeremy and Dominic from the boatyard (who were duly impressed with the Coalcroft hull, Izuzu engine, ? inverter, etc). Pete and Elizabeth did a normal thing, like going to Sainsbury's. However, small trolley - careful with space!!

Real life resumed, with Pete off to Oxford Credit Union on Monday, taking Josie. Elizabeth got a train to Wales in prep for two days project management training for Merthyr Tydvil Council. Its from the dear Bessemer Hotel bar that she writes this blog!!


The Bella crew grew on Sunday with the wonderful addition of Brian and Jill Rich, complete with Windlasses and local knowledge. They ran the locks, Pete navigated and Elizabeth got the boring but critical job of Josie sitting - she hates locks. Through the locks around 11am, the Richs were on their way and Bella started the no-lock run to Hillmorton. We all discovered a very new version of Sunday drivers (!).

Finally, just before sunset, Bella skirted her way round a sharp bend into Hillmorton Marina. We made it!!! New neighbours Bob and Sue helped us pull Bella into 'place'. She's not completely moored properly, the canal being a little low at the moment. She's stern end in and bow out at the moment, but she'll adapt. And for a final treat, we were welcomed by our friends Jane and Simon.

Waiting for Napton

The run to Napton

Cropreday dawned wonderfully. Clare and Elizabeth (with Josie) took to the road again, driving Reg and Aragon to Hillmorton, Bella's mooring. Reg parked up comfortably and the three girls got Aragon to Claydon, where Bella was due next. A quick walk down the tow path and all were joined again, yet quickly to loose Mike, taking Aragon to Fenny Compton for later collection. The next stop was Fenny Compton where the Revd Mike Meachin, RN Chaplain and Captain Peter BK Gray conducted the ship's blessing service on the aft deck.

The fantastic Meachin crew then departed and Pete and Elizabeth made their way to the top of the Napton flight, ready for the morning move.

From Adderbury to Cropredy

Friday, Elizabeth had to be in London, at Olympia, speaking about Social Enterprise at the Business Start Up Exhibition. So, the entire Meachin clan (without Twix) arrived at the mooring at 9:30. Mike, Peter and Rebekah helped get Bella to Banbury while Clare drove Elizabeth to Heyford to collect Reg (car). Elizabeth drove to Oxford to catch the train to London while Clare drove to Banbury to meet the crew. After a small shopping expedition, all boaters returned to Bella to motor up to Cropredy. Elizabeth arrived back to Oxford, collected Reg and drove to Cropredy while Clare cooked dinner and Mike ran to Banbury to collect the Meachin Land Rover (are you confused yet?). All met up in a tight six person squeeze around the dining room table for a wonderful dinner, warmed by dear friends.

Morning in Adderbury

A few missed Blog Days!

Well, we started a few hours later than we wanted to, but there we are. Pete, Josie and Elizabeth made their way through wonderful weather and spent night one in Adderbury, just south of Banbury. The view when we awoke was staggeringly beautiful...

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Bella Ready to Go

Josie Sitting

A lounge beginning to take shape

Moving In

We missed a day, but here we are, moored up in our new home!

Yesterday was so exhausting we can't really believe we did it. Pete and Reg went back and forth while Elizabeth packed. It seemed endless. Jeffrey came to help move things from all floors to the front hallway, in prep for moving. Mid afternoon, Pete was heard to say, "We need a man with a Van!!" Lo and behold, Elizabeth found Ian and his van, who duly arrived, packed it full and went to Bella where Jeffrey and Pete were waiting for the offload. By the time Pete went to Rectory Rd AGAIN and collected Elizabeth and Josie, all three were on their last legs. However, unpacking called and oddly enough, they managed to cook a real meal in their new home. They fell into bed - 2am?

Up at 6:30 for Bella to be moved out of the shed for an engine service, water fill, small snags taken care of, Pete back to 43 Rec for one more visit of stuff, then we were all underway. Shockingly, Josie stayed on deck, did not fall in the canal, bounced on and off Bella to deal with locks and other than trying to crawl under the coal sacks at an odd bump, seemed to fare well.

Another home cooked meal, done by Pete while Elizabeth prepared for teaching project management next week, and here we are, moored up by Nell's Bridge, southeast of Adderbury. Wonderful.