Festivities.


I hope everyone is having a wonderful Yuletime. We had a glorious few days with family. Our little car did not make it through the festive season though, and a two hour journey took six hours after she gave up the will to live. A nice chap from the AA delivered us safely home before disappearing like a hero into the night.

In The Dark And Under Water.

After the ice came rain. Days and days of drizzle which woke old father Thames from his slumber and swelled his belly until the riverbanks could hold him no more. Slowly, slowly the waters rose until my little garden stood ankle deep in water. I took this photo late at night and by morning father Thames had sighed and returned in peace to the confines of his bed. 

My garden lies lost and forlorn. It has done for months. I yearn to be out there planting, digging, sorting... but I am not allowed to do too much at the moment. For eleven months I have had labyrinthitis or benign positional vertigo (I am still waiting for the doctor to decide which it is) and so I become dizzy with too much movement of my head. Or too little. Or, to be honest, any movement. My poor, poor garden lies silently, waiting for my return. 

Basin Of Ice.


We woke this morning to temperatures inside the boat of single figures. Our breath formed clouds in front of us and when we dared to peek through our frost tinged windows we found our mooring ensconced in ice!

Inside The Tin Can.


It is dark outside and a north wind brings a chill as it blows the clouds away. Inside, a fire burns in our stove and keeps us toasty warm. Lewsey hunts for her red toy mouse and a cosy spot to curl up in.
Many land dwellers have asked me what life is like living in a boat. Well, it is life on a small scale where there is never enough storage and you can touch each side of the room at the same time. I love it. It is our home.

I Only Dabble!


A friend asked me to paint some blocks of wood for him so he could make a mobile for his daughter. I only dabble in art in a hobbyist kind of way and so never expect or ask for payment, but my kind friend would not accept this. It would seem that I have a bottle of vodka heading my way in return for very homemade looking art. I will pass on the vodka to Rob, who will enjoy it very much. And now I will move on to my next project and find a willing victim to receive it and I hope that they do not mind wobbly lines and smudges as on windy days, as the boat rocks and sways, anything vaguely neat and straight is impossible!

Red Roof.


There is still a lot of work to do to complete the roof but it is finally waterproof.

Tiny Feet In The Frost.


This photo was sent to me this morning from my cat loving boaty neighbour. I miss these beautiful things when I've been at work all night.

I'm Afraid I Couldn't Help Myself...

And have changed my blogging template for the second or third time this year. It is addictive. There must be patches available for this sort of thing. I'll stop fiddling now and have a cigarette instead...

Patches??

Morning Over Park.

Clear cold nights make misty damp mornings. This was my view just after sunrise. All was peaceful and I was the only one disturbing nature's wake-up routine.

On The State Of Our Lock Keepers.

On a saturday jaunt to Abingdon Lock to see John the lock keeper for a cuppa I was amused to see the sign printed in the lock keeper's hut (or office as he called it): Obviously, Mr. Jerome K Jerome was not too fond of the lock keepers he met on his travels. Mind you, as I recall, he was not too keen on Abingdon either when he passed through on his way to Oxford, preferring to give it a wide a berth as possible (excuse the boating pun) in 'Three Men In A Boat'. It is nice to see though, that the lock keepers of the Thames still have their own humour and style in their banter among themselves and with the boaters they help navigate the water. It was also a delight to have a small glimpse into the world of lock keeping. Those little offices that seem to be provided to shelter the keeper from the elements are filled with endless computer gadgetry and wizardry. And a kettle, the most important electrical item of all!
Picture from: The Jerome K Jerome Society.

Foraging...


For wood for the stove. Wet feet, stripey socks and a hat to keep out the cold!

Painting The Roof

When we recently moved to a new mooring we were able to fully appreciate the state of TGM's roof. It had weathered a bit and was in need of some love and attention.





So, we sanded her down and cleaned her up and talked about all the different designs and colours we could expereiment with.



Then we looked at the weather forecast and realised that we were unlikely to complete any major painting works this year.



But eager as we were to slap on some paint and do as much as we could before it rained/flooded/tempested/snowed we put our faith in the gods and applied a lovely white undercoat.


And then our imaginations kicked in and we no longer wanted to have a boat that was green all over (even if it was many different shades of green) and so, our imaginations led us to a tin of Hammerite just sitting there, alone, begging to be used. Black hatch, black rails and a nice black chimney collar.





After this we really got carried away and painted the roof red. I cannot find the photos I took so they will have to be posted next time.
We had to stop after this as a heavy dew prevented the paint from setting. Then it rained, and rained, and rained. The paint still has not dried.

The Season Turns.


The drift wood that adorns my garden and is used in my art has found a new use. It has been chopped and stacked ready to fuel our stove and keep out the cold and dark. The evening dew has been heavy and we are still waiting for the last coat of red we painted on the roof to dry! Mornings have had the suggestion of a chill and caused us to add another blanket to the bed. Geese have been gathering and flying away to distant lands calling farewell as they pass overhead. The starlings chatter in the hedgerows and eat the fat blackberries whilst below the rain puddles deepen. Autumn is here and I am happy.

Art Classes.


I have signed up for a painting and drawing class for beginners that starts later this month so I thought I'd have a go at drawing so I can compare my before and after skills. This is a sketch of Misha, my neighbour's boating cat.

Kingfisher


As I sat drinking my morning cup of tea I watched a kingfisher eying up his breakfast. Sorry about the poor quality of the photograph. It was taken with my phone.

A Little Bit Of R&R At The Hermitage.

We have been working hard, these last few days, to make nb TGM presentable. We didn't quite realise what a state the poor boat had come to, but TGM has a new mooring and will soon have a new colour scheme too... well, the roof at least.

So, after days of sanding, cleaning, priming and painting (pictures to follow) I took a little stroll to Rima's Hermitage to rest my weary limbs.

And, one day quite soon two beautiful prints from Rima's etsy shop will be finding their way to the Thames to adorn the saloon of our little boat:






Above: Magic (Quote by Roald Dahl)
Right: Lodka

Disturbing The Peace! Cats on narrowboats.

video
I had just sat down with a nice cup of tea and a lovely book about the Kings and Queens throughout British history when along came these hooligans. Excuse my poor camera work. I am now covered in my tea and am left wondering why I thought cats on boats was such a good idea!

Hot Water? That Would Be Grand.

My mum came to visit me and take me home for lunch on Saturday. She commented on what a lovely sun tan I had acquired considering the weather this year has not been very sunny. I jokingly told her it would wash off in the bath.

One of the nicest things about having friends and family living near by is the pity they take on you when you turn up, generally unannounced, looking dishevelled and in need of a good wash. I hate to fuel the stereotypical understanding that there is no toilet/shower/bath/hot water readily available to those of us who choose to live outside the norms of society and forgo brick built dwellings for steel boxed corridors as this is generally not the case... except for us. We have a toilet and a shower (thankyouverymuch) just no hot water (unless boiled by kettle on the stove/hob). We did once have this luxurious facility and I'm sure we will do again, one day. Our pesky little diesel water heater decided to work for the duration of the Cropredy Festival in 2006 and then died a slow and painful death. All attempts made to resussitate it have so far failed. So, when in need of a good scrub our kindly boating neighbours allow us the use of their showers (Thank you very much http://polgara98.blogspot.com/ aka Whitewater). And my parents, who live in Oxford, put the water on to heat when they see us pull up in their drive. So Saturday was a "wash day" and how glorious it was to lie and soak and splash about in a bath. I do love baths. It is amazing how much more dirt detaches itself from you in a bath than when having a general wash with a bowl of hot water boiled from the kettle...

I STILL have my tan so it turns out it was NOT dirt afterall. Though I am slighly fairer in colour post bath and hopefully smell a lot better too.


The Edible Boat.

From Designer Cakes Of Essex. Makes me feel a little hungry. And whilst I'm on a boat and food theme...

This very ugly useful piece of cardboard is only 60p from here.

And, finally, every boating alcoholic's dream:

The boat BAR from e bay a long, long time ago.



Yes, I'm bored and hungry...

Storm...


Brewing over Abingdon this afternoon.

Everyone Can Have A Narrowboat...

All you need are a few cardboard boxes and some paint.






"On the narrowboat... there's such a lot to see..."

Ah, the memories.

Spotted. Too Close For Comfort?


As cute as mink may look, and as kind as animal rights activists thought they were by releasing mink into the wild, these little critters are rather deadly. They have not just been spotted at Abingdon Lock, as The Herald indicates, but have also been seen at our moorings... and in my garden.

But what should I do?

The Saxon Maze.

My mother and I spent a lazy Sunday lunchtime lost in a maze at The Herb Farm in Sonning Common. Not just any maze though, no. An Anglo-Saxon style maze created in 1991 by Adrian Fisher. I would like to say that we cleverly negotiated our way through the tall beech hedges until we found ourselves at the centre in minutes flat. But no. I think we may have walked for miles and retraced our steps (accidentally) more than enough times to make our brains ache.

Just when my stamina was fading, my head spinning, and I was fighting the desire to scramble over the hedges we found ourselves at the middle and could rest easy. And we didn't have to retrace our steps to get out again. Hurrah!

We were forced to recover with a Devonshire cream tea. It is a hard life.

Another New Face.

Cats, it would seem, are increasingly popular at our moorings. In the photograph above Lewsey ( left) meets the newest boating resident, Misha. Lolly is not too keen on this new feline and has taken to hissing, mewing, growling and generally showing her displeaure. I let Misha onto our boat to play with Lewsey and Lolly has not forgiven me. That was three days ago and she still will not let me near her.

Garlic


And the second harvest from the Boater's Garden is garlic raised and tended by Rob's fair hands. We like growing garlic, especially Solent White (as in photo above) as they seem to survive the winter floods. We have enough garlic to last us to next summer and beyond. It is currently hanging in our bathroom. When it dries we'll plait them together and distribute among friends and family.

Sweet Peas


From the Boater's Garden. The first official harvest after the flooding last summer.

The Ghost In The Darkness.

There are certain noises that, living in a narrowboat, take some getting used to. They are eerie and sinister: The sound of ice cracking and breaking against the hull; fish and bubbles rising in still water to gurgle around the boat; ducks nibbling at the greenery around the boat's waterline; a bird pattering and hopping along the roof... leading the hubby and I to exclaim "monster!" and run to investigate. Sometimes, these noises appear to have no maker at all. They mysteriously come and go.

One such noise only seems to happen at night and is similar to the sound of a plunger being used to unblock a sink. There is also a babbling in the water and intermittent tapping on the side of the hull - not to be mistaken for ducks feeding - we are familiar with that - it is a bigger noise made by something larger than a mallard.

Geese or swans, that was the obvious answer. We'd hear the noise and the hubby would go, camera ready, to catch the clamorous perpetrator. Only, he'd return and say there was nothing there. And then the noise would start again and this time I would go and look. There is never any visable source, and the waters are still and calm betraying no evidence of waterfowl, fish, or monster.

Who is our ghost in the darkness?

Technical Difficulties.

Bloody html technology templates thingys.

I'll be sat in the corner weeping if anyone needs me.

Oops!

I accidentally managed to delete my blog template. It probably serves me right for faffing with it and not saving it beforehand. So, many, many hours later, I have a new watery theme.

I hope it works.

The height of kitty fashion.


Lewsey is recovering well after a trip to the vets to get "done". As she saw the boat on her return journey she mewed and purred. She was not so keen on her new collar and spent a few hours walking backwards before giving in and going for a nap.

Mandolin Man


The hubby plays the mandolin on a lazy sunday afternoon.

The Award Season.

Robyn gave me a little bit of a shock at the weekend by kindly presenting me with an award for my blog. I have noticed that there are quite a few awards on the arty blogging circuit and as it is my duty to pass this award on I won't be offended by those of you who have a blog full of awards already and don't fancy following the award rules for this one. The award creator might not agree though.
The award rules:
  1. Put the logo on your blog.
  2. Add a link to the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
  4. Add links to these blogs on your blogs.
  5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Right, so, without further ado, I would like to present the above award to:

  • Avus - Little Corner Of The Earth . He is just grand and so is his blog. We share a love for history and marmite.
  • HHnB - Accept All Offerings. Keeping it in the Avus family tree. HHnB is an inspiration with all her blogs. Can I give an award to each of her blogs? If so, HHnB gets three.
  • Mortimer Bones - Narrowboat Bones. She is wonderful and her blog is as wonderful as her.
  • Andrew Denny and Granny Buttons. For keeping me up to date with what is happening in the world of narrowboats. Andrew Denny's humour is the kind all narrowboaters should have. And he takes fabulous photographs too.
  • Julia and Mark on Narrowboat Poppy. 2 more cats on the inland waterways. Julia has a lovely style of writing and I'm hooked on her blog.
  • Rima - The Hermitage. This must be the most beautiful blog in the blogging world. Rima is a talanted artist and teller of tales who helps keep my love for folk art and fairy tales alive. Take a look at her amazing clocks!
  • Eretria - Midnight Tea. My mother hen. Eretria is one of the nicest people I have ever met. Her blog is gorgeous and filled with mouth-watering delights and beautiful photographs from her life.
  • Flotsam no. 2


    This rather garish cat design is from the Book Of Kells. Like the last piece I made it will find itself a new home when flood waters take it from my garden.

    Midday.

    On Monday HHnB posted a lovely photograph of what she saw when she looked up at midday and asked other bloggers to do so and leave her a comment so she can follow their trail.

    And this is what I saw:

    Storm clouds.

    A few minutes later the heavens opened and the storm broke.

    Another Snooping Council

    I'm very glad to hear the continuing hostility towards councils that spy on their rate payers. I must confess that it did not come as a surprise to hear how widespread and covert these council operations are, especially since we and our fellow moorers are part of a similar investigation.

    The Vale Of White Horse District Council are concerned that there may be people living aboard their boats in a location that does not permit residential use of moorings. We are the official security boat here and so have permission to be here in the capacity that we are. Every other boater who has a mooring here comes for some peace and quiet and for a break from the everyday stresses of life. In order to obtain a mooring at this site you must have a residential address elsewhere. But, of course, what reason does the council have to believe that this is true?

    At a public meeting of the Development Committee on 12th may 2008 the enforcement officer admitted that he had made 28 early morning and late night visits to the moorings and had taken over 214 photographs of the site. The council claims that this is perfectly acceptable as it "does not involve systematic surveillance of an individual". So, why have individuals had photographs taken of them arriving and leaving their moorings? Our boat and car appeared on photographs shown at the council meeting and one female moorer has felt intimidated by the actions of the enforcement officer towards her. Out of curiosity, how is 28 site visits not systematic, and is surveillance of individuals perfectly acceptable?

    It is also interesting that after a complaint from a boat owner the chief executive of the Vale Of White Horse District Council declared that the operation carried out by their enforcement officer was not covert but we could not be informed of the surveillance as we would change our pattern of behavior giving an inaccurate account of the activities at the moorings. So...it was covert then.
    The same boater has also asked the council to provide him with the Planning Enforcement Policy and their Regulation Of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and has yet to receive a response. It is interesting that the RIPA Policy is available from other councils such as North East Lincolnshire Council who state that

    Covert Surveillance will only be authorised where it:-

    • is lawful under the Act

    • complies with Human Rights legislation

    • is necessary

    • is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved

    • is not “intrusive” (as defined by the Act)

    and will not be carried out for longer than is necessary.



    Are we to presume that this act differs between local authorities? The investigation of our moorings is still ongoing after 3 months - How long does it take to establish where people live? I would suggest that may be they start with the telephone directory. Might I also suggest that the council also pay attention to the Office of Surveillance Commissioners for some guidance and training on how to approach the delicate matter of surveillance.

    Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a number of boaters have asked for copies of all photographs and logs recorded of themselves visiting their OWN property during this ongoing monitoring process. There has been no response to date.

    It is interesting to note that the local council describes anti-social behaviour as "any activity that impacts on other people in a negative way". I hate to be pedantic, but this systematic spying really is not the most pleasant of experiences. In fact, it is rather negative and perhaps qualifies themselves for their own ASBO.

    Flotsam


    The water deposits a lot of wood onto my garden. I've started to burn designs into it and when the floods next come the river will carry the flotsam away.

    The Boater's Garden


    The old pot-bellied stove with strawberries.

    Summer daisy.



    Solstice


    We borrowed Kalimnos the 'day boat' and took a trip along the river bank to watch the sun rise. The police helicopter took an interest in us and after the fifth fly over (complete with search spotlight) it left us in peace and quiet and camp fire light. Dawn was cloudy and rain fell. Then sleep called us to another world.

    A Lesson Still Not Learnt.

    If you don't pay attention to where you put your paws you might end up a little wet.
    But at least there is always someone to comfort you.