Saturday, 4 October 2014


I had a birthday and was spoilt rotten. I had such nice presents from my dearest ones but this one made me cry at first.

It's a painting of my dear Milou, so very like him.  It's by Darren Hayman of Hefner fame.I love it.

Friday, 20 June 2014


So, after much delay, Blackbird has had his bottom blacked. It was done in the charming little dry-dock at Bates Boatyard, above the Marsworth flight near Tring and a very reasonable price it was too. The dry-dock featured in the old film 'The Bargee'.
I also had to get the hull surveyed for insurance renewal as Blackbird is about 28yrs old now. I must admit, I was a little nervous at what state the hull might be in as I haven't done the blacking for about 4 years but the surveyor said it was in good condition and the anodes still had some life left in them too! The only work he did recommend doing was to have new outlets to my 3 sinks welded as the steel was eroded under each outlet. The boatyard did the work promptly so I wouldn't have to pay for an extra day in dry-dock. I was away when the boat needed to come out the yard and they moved it for me to somewhere convenient. So yes, I'd definitely recommend Bates Boatyard for good friendly service and reasonable rates. I also like that all their prices are on their website so you can work out up-front what it's going to cost.

Monday, 2 June 2014


Ever since Sarah from nb Chertsey posted about the Sheffield University webcam, that watches over a nest of Peregrine falcons, I've been hooked. It's only been about 5 or 6 weeks since they hatched out, but it looks as though they are about to fly. In fact I've just checked back to the page and one has either taken off, fallen off or is hiding off camera! Hope it reappears!
Here's the link:

And here's a screen-grab:

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Bulbourne welcome?

I moored up at Bulbourne,  just above the Marsworth flight, nearly two weeks ago. It's a green and pleasant spot, with the short but delightful Wendover arm ahead and the bird paradise that is the Tring cutting.
The towpath is also a lane to some cottages and just as I was tying ropes, a man in a huge car pulled up, opened his window and said "how long are boats allowed to stay here?". I'd just that minute arrived so I said I wasn't certain, and he said "is it two weeks?". I thought it probably was and he nodded in a pointed manner and drove off. A couple of hours later, I saw his car come back and park at one of the cottages. Looks like he lived there and presumably passed the CRT mooring sign I now saw near his house, most days.
I really felt he'd taken one look at my boat with its wheelbarrow and bike and garden and decided I needed my card marking.
I'm leaving tomorrow but am booked into Bates's boatyard nearby in a couple of weeks time so won't be going far, which may annoy Mr Welcoming Committee somewhat!

In the same vein of paranoia, I came for a pint of cider to the Grand Junction Arms (canalside at Bulbourne) this evening with a view to having a meal here tomorrow with a visiting friend. I asked if they had anything vegan available. The nice barmaid didn't know but an in-charge-kind-of-person came out the kitchen to say they served neither vegan nor vegetarian meals. It was said in such an abrupt and unfriendly way!

There's probably no connection but neighbouring the pub are 3 pretty cottages,  all with Ukip posters in the windows. I wonder if the famous Ukip tolerance of difference has spread around the village. It's strange. These lucky people live in a beautiful place in the countryside. Houses must cost a fortune here and there are mostly two cars in every driveway.  I somehow doubt their lives are blighted by marauding foreigners, yet the capacity for hate and exclusion seems to be thriving.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

how fast?

I think this pin's unusable now, thanks to whoever thought they were still on the motorway.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

busy days
We had a really lovely day boating with Sue and Richard of nb Indigo Dream, enhanced by the presence of dear greyhounds - 7 at one point! Some lovely photos can be found at the link above (I'm writing on my phone and just can't seem to place links where I want them yet!)
Here's my own favourite photo of some of the hounds..

Sharing locks up to Berkhamsted was good fun and it was warm and sunny and ended with us sitting outside a pub by the canal, with dogs - perfect.
A few days later, I moved Blackbird up to Tring on another gorgeous day. There were very few boats on the move mid-week so I could take my time going up the locks. The only encounter with moving boats was when I came round a bend to find this:

A moored boat had come adrift. I helpfully nudged it back into place, only to have the boatowner's friends turn up and tell me the boat was facing the wrong way -oops!
I also passed and exchanged a few words with a friendly couple, enjoying the sunshine aboard their boat and then noticed the boat name - Derwent 6. In the past I've read their blog and thought 'they sound like nice people to know' so it was great to put faces to names at last.

This Sunday, we had a busy day of enjoyable things, starting with a cracking car-boot sale at Chiswick. A flat tyre on the bike meant we ended up walking most of the way there but
it was a warm dry day so it didn't matter. I bought a fine electric fretsaw -a real bargain at £22, but wasn't sure how to get it home - until Simon turned up trumps with a bike-trailer he bought for £10. We impersonated horses by pulling it back by hand :-)
Later on we went to the Little Venice cavalcade and watched some of the boat manoevering.

We had cider in the sun and bumped into friends for chats in a way that always seems to happen at Little Venice. Then it was into Paddington station to meet my son from his train, before he headed out to Lyon with his job. That was lovely too.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

compost corner

Who'd have thought that Hemel Hempstead would provide me with months of sawdust for my compost toilet! I'm always surprised by the bounty to be found along the canal, whether it's wood for heat, fruit and leaves for food, or sawdust for the loo.

My previous batch of sawdust was free (and kindly given) from a place near Hanwell that renovates old furniture and I did worry a bit about possible chemicals and varnishes when handling it. But this stuff is lovely, fresh and chemical-free.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

head west

That's what my phone, masquerading as a sat nav said each time we fired it up on our visit to Wales. We hired a car for the week and visited my brother, Simon's folks and my parents in one long staggered feast. Simon's blogged about a lovely folk session we went to and where he triumphed with a borrowed double bass. I think it was the nicest session I've been to.
Other delights included visits to favourite childhood haunts like Marloes, Solva, Fishguard and especially, Sandy Haven. I was so impressed by Neil's panorama photos (nb Herbie) that I had a go myself. Here's Sandy Haven...

Marloes beach...

My parents live near this estuary at Llangwm..

Home again now, cobwebs blown away. Blackbird was moored too loosely now that the water levels have dropped over the last week. New direction: head north!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Arthur Daily Trips

I bumped into the wonderfully friendly Josie and Sarah again, who run Arthur Daily Trips on the Grand Union. What I didn't know is that they've recently moved into one of the lock cottages at Cowley Lock and, after helping me open a very reluctant lock gate, Josie gave me a tour of their new home. It's lovely and in such a great spot. I was especially envious of the garden!
If anyone would like a leisurely trip they're open again now spring is here. A really nice way to spend a birthday or Mother's day maybe?! Anyway, I wish them lots of success because they really are delightful.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

High tide at Rickmansworth

There are long stretches of towpath under water at Rickmansworth.

And below, I took this photo from the 'aqua park' near the canal. The boat at the back is on the canal and water is gushing from the canal onto the parkland.

It's been a day of finding out just how waterproof my boots and shoes are. The answer is Not At All!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Denham very deep

Not only is the water flowing over the top of denham deep lock, the river alongside the lock cottage is spreading across the tearoom's garden there. Fingers crossed it subsides before reaching the house. I do feel for anxious water-watchers everywhere.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

my other website

For anyone interested in my extra-curricular activities, here's my new 'blog'

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Behind you!

We went to a pantomime in Isleworth last Sunday and it was hilarious. A tiny stage in a pub was the setting for 'Robin Hood' and it was sold out, with people packed standing. I soon saw why. There was almost as much interaction from the audience as among the actors on stage, with much funny heckling, insults and the actors needing loud prompts. They'd performed for children earlier in the day so there weren't any kids in the audience that evening, which is just as well! Rude! Let's just say I was frequently reminded of Jeremy Hunt. The cast were having great fun and as a result, so did we.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

winter warmers

I'm writing this on my snazzy new phone. The keypad is quite small for my fingers that suddenly seem giant fingers and I'm reminded of the episode of The Simpsons where Homer has become obese to get out of work (and has to wear a mumu). He tries to use the phone but receives a pre-recorded message saying "your fingers are too fat to dial,  please mash the keyboard now".
I was thinking about what makes my boat cosy and homely in winter, apart ftom the obvious - my stove! Apart from that, my radio is really important. Simon gave me a new little DAB radio for Christmas,  that is also an mp3 player. It's fantastic, especially as he added a solar panel charging socket on it, complete with panel of course. It also has a usb charger so I can top it up on the library computer too. And it's small enough to take to work with me ad I find it hard to get to sleep without the radio on.

I'm also addicted to my 2 hot waterbottles to warm up the bed before i get in. I blame Simon! His electric blanket in the house has made a softy of me.

Another very comforting thing on Blackbird is my paraffin lamp and candles. I know real flames are a bit risky but I do love that soft yellow lighting. My old lamp started leaking so now I've bought myself a new one and thought I'd show it off before it goes the same colour as the last one did ;-)