Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hot boat, hot dog.

Phew, how hot it is in London! The thermometer in the cratch was reading 38 degrees, though that's an enclosed space and it wasn't so hot in the rest of the boat. Nevertheless, it's been more comfortable to be off the boat, in the park that I'm moored alongside. I was reminded of being along a treeless stretch of the north Oxford canal a few years ago in the baking heat and of hanging wet sheets and towels at the doors to cool the air. It worked pretty well I recall, so I might try that tomorrow if it's as hot again. I had an excursion to Walthamstow market which is Europe's longest street market and bought a hat! On the way back, I came across a cyclist whose dog (attached to the bike by a great heavy chain, probably a bike lock) slumped onto a patch of grass in the shade and refused to move. The poor dog, a heavily built fellow, was panting like mad. Of course I had to interfere and tell the cyclist it was too hot to make a dog run. I feared being told to get lost (or words to that effect) but to be fair to the guy, he agreed a bit ruefully and was allowing the dog to rest all the time I could still see them though he didn't seem to have a drink for the poor animal.. I don't think people realise how quickly dogs get dehydrated in this heat, running, with extra weight and wearing fur coats!

Next week I'll be camping at the Earth First! Summer gathering so I hope the fine weather continues. Blackbird will be in the capable hands of my lovely daughter.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


 I have mice. I had thought it might be creatures living in my wood store on the roof, or hungry nocturnal visitors that just came to investigate my planters but no, it/they are in the roof space, chewing on polystyrene :-(
They seem to have come in via the mushroom vents.
I saw they'd been in one high-up cupboard that's against the ceiling. Unfortunately there was a gap in the wood and they scoffed sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and linseed - trust me to live off mouse food! But they don't appear to have got into the main living-space, thank goodness. Anyway, I've sealed up that gap and stored everything edible in mouse-proof containers but am loathe to block off their escape route before they've left the boat.
So, I'm looking at humane mouse-traps on the internet at the moment, with a view to releasing them onto Walthamstow marshes. Not that humane as I've seen a kestrel nearby, intent on its prey.
There seem to be high-tech ones....

and low-tech ones..

 And being a cheapskate, I may have a go at how to Build your own mousetrap
One difficulty will be how to place a trap as I can't really get in that space between the ceiling and boat roof, though I guess I could suspend bottle traps below the mushroom vents if I remove the grills. It's a big faff, but I'd better get on with it because they keep me awake at night!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Thankful for rain

I finally got around to clearing all the wood on top of my rainwater harvesting roof and stacking it underneath, where it should have been. I couldn't find the funnel to channel the water  into the hosepipe so I used a She-pee or whatever it's called. Well it may as well be useful, I certainly couldn't manage its proper use! ("can you tell what it is yet?")

So now I have lots and lots of rainwater and am very glad of it because access to water in pretty limited on the Lea at the moment. The nearest water-point is in the Olympics exclusion zone, the next hearest is broken, awaiting repairs for a few weeks now, the third is several locks away so we are expected to call upon the coal boat to fill us up from their own storage tank. That's a lot of boats to cater for! So far, I'm ok as I'm only using my tank water for drinking and cooking and using rainwater to wash and wash up with. It all feels a bit basic but how glad I am that I did the rain-roof. And rainwater does make your hair feel soft!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

foraging and friends

The other day, I had a wander in Osterley park and was reminded by the gorgeous honey smell under the lime trees that it was time to gather the blossom that makes such a lovely tea. I set out today to find some but it rained and I remember reading that you shouldn't forage for flowers etc when it's wet as they can rot rather than dry out. Buit I did walk over the marshes to explore Walthamstow and came to the market just as it had finished. There was plenty to forage there! I picked 3 onions and 2 potatoes off the ground, 4 peaches in a dumped tray of many, all a bit squashed but delicious and 4 plants in pots, in a bin. They'll have their day in the sun on my boat.
I like to support markets and small shops but I also hate food going to waste.

Later, I met up with three boater friends and through them, several other boaters, all welcoming and friendly. One lovely guy is also a keen forager and showed me 'the secret tap', a source of water that may well prove to be invaluable on the Lea, where BW have so far failed to provide enough working taps for boaters needs.
Defintely time to dust off the rainwater harvesting roof!
I enjoyed my years of travelling around the waterways alone with my dog and may well go back to that way of life in the future, but for now, I need and welcome the company and solidarity of a boating community.