Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A frozen morning

As ever, we love the winter mornings. Low sun rolls into the hills, slides between the trees and sheds a golden glow into our warming Bella. For a few years now, we have had fleece linings in the curtains for the winter which make Bella quite cosy. It does mean that when we open the curtains we have ice on the inside! We remember this from houses as well when it's -7 outside.

We love looking out to the frozen white hills and the reflection of the trees onto the frazzled canal. It's all good.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

10 year Bellaversary

Wow. 10 years ago, this very night, was our first night sleeping aboard Bella. Who knew? Halloween is our Bellaversary. Our first night, we had exhaustingly finished all the packing of a Victorian 4 story town house into a 69ft narrowboat. Bella was still under cover in sheds as the paint was, quite literally, drying. We slept in our new narrow double bed for the first time. Our dear Josie dog was panicking for all sorts of reasons. We were so tired we could hardly be excited, but excited we were. A quick glance at Bella's log from the time shows that it was a Wednesday night.

We have never regretted the move. It has been a very big learning curve, many things we're glad we didn't know ahead of time, and many decisions have been prophetically good without our knowing. 10 years in. Life is good.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Autumn morning & return to home-home

We moored south abouts again after we came back from Braunston on Saturday.  We had the edge of storm Brian on the journey and though we had no rain, we certainly had the wind with us. We did the locks, travelled the tunnel, then the wind carried us on a lovely cruise to Norton Junction. Tiller man P brought us around the corner amazingly smoothly.

We stopped at the maintenance point first, to turn around and to take on fuel. Brian made it difficult to turn in, but we made it. We were shocked to realise that it had been two years since we took on diesel!! The fuel cap was a job to remove, rusted well in place. We knew we hadn't travelled much in the last few years, but. Two years between fill ups??? Must rectify.

We reversed back into the cut and Brian brought us so neatly into our mooring, we were amazed. A few days in, the sky has cleared, and here is our morning view.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Mr Well enjoys new towpaths

We're clearly in Braunston for the week. Each new hatch opening brings new aromas for dear Maxwell. Here he is, late on a Friday night, sniffing in the walkers around us.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Alternative light

We have been in marina so long, we lost oversight of our alternative power sources.  The second week of cruising off shore power, we have come to realise that our domestic batteries are close to expired, dead, shuttled off their mortal coil, ceasing to live. We wondered on our last outing, but on this trip with the fridge warning light blinking each morning and the lights flickering each time the water pump is on, we now know. Call Simon the Sparky. New batteries soon come. These have lasted well beyond their specified life, so we simply say thank you, good and faithful servants. 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Out again, dear Bronny welcomes again

We've done it. As we vowed. This is the second of Pete's rest days, so we set out late morning. The day was gorgeous, unseasonably warm, beautifully bright, and seasonably colourful.

It was a bit tricky moving off the mud which had built up under the stern end when the last four years it was the bow end.  Then Bella moved up over the sand bar which had likewise been built up over the years. Interesting lean! To explain. The canal is so shallow (they all are), that every time a boat goes by, a bit more ground mud is loosed up from the bottom, swirls around, then gets pushed to the sides. This settles in set patterns and if a moored boat seldom moves, the base of the canal builds up in interesting peaks and troughs. Bella had quite a hill under the bow which, when we last moored, we backed into, boring into it with the propeller.  That's why it was quite tricky to get out! More trips will work wonders.

Anyway, we're here. For a few days. The trip was lovely.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Gorgeousness of early autumn

We continue to like our home mooring enormously. This is a glance to the north from the port hatch.

The boring bits

We have to do the boring bits. Not because we want to, but because they need done and we've still not been able to find someone to contract to do it. There is no boat wash to drive into and there is no ex boat garage now turned into hand boat wash. If anyone knows anyone who wants to wash boats, please tell us!!!! We'll pay!  In the meantime, here's P with Lance, the pressure washer.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Home-home south abouts

We arrived at our home mooring easily, travelling in the most stunning late summer kind of weather. Just amazing.  In the morning light, we could see the hill over Crick tunnel more clearly than usual. This time we could also see the end!

We moored up south-abouts this time, the way we moored when we first came to Welton Hythe, but we haven't been facing this way here for years. What a revelation just to have the sun coming in the other way. And, to E's great delight, the lounge/kitchen side hatch opens to the canal rather than to the bank. It is a delight again to open it whilst cooking and to lean out sipping a cool white whilst the dinner simmers. Ahhhhh.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Gorgeous day

What a day to set out. Gorgeous. We return home-home in a bit to do our usual Sunday catch up and prayers. Two weeks from now, we expect to keep to the plan, with a simple night away, either at Buckby top or Watford bottom.

Until then, a cruise awaits. Engine on, we say.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Off again with a shiny hull

We got to Welford on Monday, which feels like ages ago. We stayed put on Tuesday, simply enjoying being out of our own marina. By Wednesday, all the plans came together. All packing for three days went into Reg for a wait, we handed Bella over to Les, then P&E went off to work, Maxwell going with E.

In the day, Bella was moved into the dry dock, the water drained, and she sat on the floor. The worked queued for her was - pressure wash all the muck since her last blacking, change the sacrificial anodes (another tale), repair any hull rust, and service the engine.

At the end of the day, we checked into the Wharf Inn, a supremely handy B&B with real food and real ale, positioned at the very same wharf area as Les' sheds and workshop. And they allow dogs. It was such a treat of location and accommodation for the three of us!  We had a side dining room to ourselves, there were staff who treated us wonderfully and who treated Maxwell like royalty, and truly delicious real food.

This morning, after a good brekkie, we discovered by 10am that Bella was completed and floating again. P brought her out of the sheds, backed her into the mooring at the head of the Welford Arm, and we were ready to go. One more happy coincidence was that Mark, on Callisto our coal boat, was just coming up  to the head of the Arm. We took on coal and headed out.

Today was a fine warm day and the journey was lovely. Slow, because of so very many day trippers moored for lunch, but it made us appreciate the cruise and the scenery all the more. We stopped in Crick, put up the stubby TV aerial and settled in for Strictly Come Dancing. 

What a good week!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Ah. We'd quite forgotten the blessings of living on a boat

This morning, whilst taking P to get Simon for work, we drove Reg over a bridge we travelled under to get to our present mooring. We said that we'd been under this bridge just a few days ago. Days? When was it? Yesterday. Just yesterday. We had quite forgotten how travelling in Bella quite alters our sense of time and extends our sense of space.

Last night, when we finished oh-ing and ah-ing and reminding ourselves why we live on a boat, we made a plan. Today's experience over the bridge sealed it. P works weekends once every four weeks and has two rest days after. This is the plan. Every four weeks, on the Monday or Tuesday rest day, we take Bella to either Crick, Braunston, or Weedon/Gayton. All 6-7 locks and a few hours cruise away, all within P's patch, all easily drivable to E's studio, all easily drivable to the station.  We stay there until the next weekend and then travel back. Two weekends with an itty bit of cruising each month.  The plan. 

Watch this blog.  Wish us commitment. We've both been so focused on work that Bella's simply been a home. But she's a boat.  For goodness sakes. A boat. We'll get busy again.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Out. Believe it or not. It's lovely!

We need Bella's hull blacked. Otherwise know as covered with waterproof paint to protect the hull. Bella is too long to be blacked at Weltonfields, so we're now moored up at Welford, waiting to go into sheds on Wednesday.  As the rain pelts the roof now, it is fabulous to report that we had delightful sunshine and blue skies for the travelling.

It was great to float under the A5 instead of whiz on it to get to a train. Then - under both the mainline rail and then the branch line. We certainly prefer the view up to the rails than the one where we wistfully look down from carriage windows. A giggle through the woods to the lorries parked at Watford services told us we were in our favourite transport today.

The very dark photo is from inside Crick tunnel. For the first time ever, we couldn't see the light at the end! A traditional engine had come out just before we went in, and the fumes simply filled the space. The beam from our light was amazing to see, working through the haze to the tunnel roof. Just about 200 metres from the north end, we finally saw the light.

A good day! Most of the time P and M were on deck and E at the desk. Working whilst the trees glide by is amazing.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Bank Holiday DIY

We have a new entry mat! Well, and floor. Many years ago when our Bella was built, some things didn't turn out as well as they could have done. Pete has changed the water pump three times, two of them after leaks. The water decided to seep between the marine ply base floor and the oak installed at Bella's refit. Over time, this curled the top layer. So we changed that today.

With a special electric saw, the only name Bosch gives it is tool, Pete cut out a swathe of the oak. Then he installed moulding. Then Elizabeth was back to floor laying, this time, thick coir on a solid rubber base. Of course Maxwell had to check out the new mat before it could be cut 😆

Sunday, 21 May 2017

New kitchen floor

Well, we needed an off-cut for the bathroom, so we got a new galley floor. This one took no time at all compared to the bathroom. If we don't include the time it took to lift the old floor, drive to the studio, lay the old floor on the new one as a pattern, cut it out, and drive back home. Elizabeth did the cut and fit, Pete suggested the we also refloor the plinth under the cooker. Yes!

A new bathroom!

A new bathroom! We're delighted. It was needed, as the old one wasn't installed so well and the floor rotted below the shower. And into the cross beams below... Our lovely marina staff think that it was the capping off of the old pump-out tank pipes which were the problem.  One day whilst standing in the old shower and having the shower tray sink into the corner gave us a clue.
So here we are. There's a larger shower tray, a porcelain toilet (yes!!! No more plastic!!!), a new sink and taps and a new unit. There is also new wall covering with more to come on the window wall.
We also have a new kitchen floor, which took about 30 minutes to lay. This floor? Grrrrr.  One start revealed that the cushion vinyl tears. Grr. Paper pattern made, re-cut around the loo, then refit. Only 2.5 hours for the smallest room. The result is nice 