Saturday, 31 January 2009

"Noncy noddy toy"

I'm moored near a winding hole and a long boat came to turn. I could see he was doing a beautiful job and could fit ok but out of courtesy I put my head out to ask if he wanted me to pull my boat back at all. No, he was fine. It was such a smooth turning (unlike my usual 24 point turns) that I asked if he had a bow-thruster. I suppose I thought that if he didn't, he might feel complimented on his boat-handling skills. Oh no! He said with real vitriol "No, why would anyone want one of those bloody noncy, noddy toys!". I just nodded and went back inside, insulted on several levels, even though I don't have a bow-thruster myself.
A moment later, he was backing past my boat towards the water-point and sure-enough, his bow hit my stern. I've never been happier to be hit ;-)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Drat and double drat - my boat has failed its Boat Safety Standards inspection, on 9 counts! Most of the items are changes in regulations, like needing metal fuel drain plugs rather than plastic ones, a side-flick isolation valve on my gas cooker rather than the wheel-type one that's in place and needing to replace the fuel pipes with modern ones. Also, the fire blanket needs replacing and some parts of the gas pipes need clipping in place, etc. I'm also annoyed at myself for forgetting to wall mount one of the fire extinguishers I'd replaced. Hey ho.

Today I saw a kingfisher, a little grebe (or dabchick), 3 moorhens, 2 ducks, a wren, several blackbirds (hurray!) and a few long-tailed tits. I missed out on the national Garden bird-watch project this weekend, so this is my own personal inventory.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Coal comfort

My efforts to burn only wood this winter have failed - I've had to buy a bag of coal.
I've been on and off the boat a lot recently and not been able to keep up with the wood foraging and cutting. One evening, I got back to the boat about 6pm on the 5th Jan, the night when the temperature fell to -9. The taps had frozen and so had the water point but a kind boater gave me some water for my dog, my kettle and hot-water bottle (which I was given for christmas - yay!). My bit of wood finished burning by 8pm and me and the dog slept right next to the stove in a sleeping bag, all my clothes on (me - nothing suited the dog), under a pile of duvets and covers. We were fairly toasty but in the morning I saw the dog's water bowl had frozen on the floor next to us and on the wooden wall in my bedroom, condensation had turned to ice too. It was actually quite funny for some reason. Of course all the windows were iced up inside as well, like being in an igloo. Luckily, I could make hot drinks and food and dress like the Michelin man. God only knows how homeless folks fared without that comfort that night.
Anyway, I bought coal the next day and was roasting, with everything defrosted.

I'm finding it difficult being inactive back on the boat, feeling powerless. Not that being 'active' is particularly empowering at the moment either. I'm making plans, decisions, projects. I've also got some illustration work to get on with which helps me stifle my fury and despair at the injustices going on. Back to boat things: I'm looking for a mooring now. I may even have to get into bed with BW - groan.

Saturday, 3 January 2009


I feel unable to post about anything narrowboaty at all, sorry. My friend is in Jabaliya tonight, travelling in the ambulances to try and ensure their immunity from attack as the Israeli troops roll in. The presence of internationals sometimes acts as a form of protection but at night and out of sight of the cameras, anything goes. No wonder the Israeli government allowed foreigners to get out - you don't want a load of people telling it like it is to the outside world. My friend and others like her, have stayed to offer what protection they can and to give a voice to the beseiged people. As she said, if you only remember one statistic, it's that 50% of the population of Gaza are children. As well as the danger of being blown up, there's very little food left.

The International Solidarity Movement website is a good source of updates when my friend and others can't get to a laptop or electricity.