Monday 18 July 2011

Oxford. Claydon

We would say that life has returned to normal since the wedding, but as we’re still finding out what normal consists of we’re not sure if it has.

We’re off to France in a week. While we’re away Ann-Marie’s parents are going to stay on the boat for a week with Lauren & Ben so we’ve been trying to get all the outstanding jobs done. Dave has been super busy; the engine vent is on and working,
the new sideboard is nearly finished,
the side doors are lined inside
and filled and sanded down outside, there’s black undercoat on the whole front end,
the bilge has been cleaned out, the weed hatch has been opened up, painted and re-sealed and he’s had the side cover off the engine, made a Weetabix gasket for it
and stopped it leaking oil. Ann-Marie’s been just as busy turning one pair of big curtains from a charity shop into four pairs of boat curtains.

After lots of discussion, several sketches and a blazing row, we finally decided on a paint scheme. Something like this,
but with cream instead of white. Very FMC. We went over to Midland Chandlers at Braunston and spent £120 on paint; the sad part is that we’ll probably need about twice that much by the time we’ve finished but there’s no point getting it all at once, it’s going to be a good six months before we need any more. While we were there we just happened to bump into John and Jac who were moored there while they picked up their new cooker. They've got their new engine in, and lovely it is too - so quiet! While they were in dry dock they had the bottom blacked; it's all very exciting! they gave us and our paint a lift back to the car park. We love this canal life, there’s always time and an excuse for a cup of tea.

Something else we’ve decided is that we’re going to get a pair of folding bikes. Having the bike rack on the back of the boat is not ideal; it’s a real pain getting them on and off and they’re vulnerable stuck out there. We’ve scraped them on a couple of lock walls and Dave’s bike has a buckled wheel from an over excited hire boater hitting it. The new bikes (when we get them) are going in a new roof box (when we’ve made it) so they’ll stay safe and out of the weather. We’re going for aluminium which will mean they’re not only easier to ride but also easier to get on and off the boat. Click here and here for the sort of thing we're looking at.

Oh look, something else on the list.

Oxford. Fenny Compton to Claydon.

The weekend after the Hen Party was 2CVGB’s Registers Day. This is the one day each year that our funky, eccentric, great bunch of super-laid-back mates act like a real car club and line all the various marques up in a field and award prizes.
Of course there’s also a weekend camp surrounding the day itself, with all the compulsory drinking, laughing and general mucking about. Dave got involved with not one, but two clutch changes. In a place where an open bonnet draws a crowd, two guys stripping the front end of a car and then dumping the engine on the tarmac was quite an attraction.

Half way through the week our 14 days were up at Fenny Co mpton so we moved further along the summit, through the tunnel (which isn’t a tunnel anymore, just a very narrow cutting)

to a really quiet spot just before Claydon locks. The towpath is back on the left now so we can get to work on the side doors and put the new vent in the engine room. Inside, the cupboard in the saloon, which we’re calling a sideboard, has now got a shelf and doors and we’ve replaced the spindles in the galley with a solid wall. As we expected, this has made the galley rather dark, and although we have lots of LEDs in there we think it’s crying out for a porthole. Something else on the list.

Outside, there’s cream gloss on the bow where the name’s going, the gas locker hinges and the cratch frame have been painted red and the outside of the well-deck has been stripped and primed (luckily it hadn’t been glossed when Dave smacked a bridge ‘ole).
The well-deck floor has been painted in Hammerite, the next job in there is to take the boxes back out and paint the inside. As soon as the front end is finished we’ll start on the roof. We’ve discussed putting a non-slip additive in the paint but decided against it; we don’t tend to walk about on our roof that much and like the easy cleaning. Glare from a gloss roof on a sunny day can be a problem, but once we’ve got the boxes, panels, logs, poles and gangplank up there, as well as our ever increasing collection of flower pots there won’t be much roof left to see.

The Main Event this week is, of course Kim & Luke’s wedding. We’ve locked Legend up for the weekend and taken Poubelle up to the High Peak. On Friday we helped erect a mini marquee outside the pub using breeze-blocks and dead leisure batteries as anchors, then in the afternoon Ann-Marie and the other girls were up to their elbows in flowers on Annie’s carpet; bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids and buttonholes for everyone else.
The Wedding Day was as good as it gets; Kim looked fabulous, there wasn’t a dry eye in the church when Witlz walked her down the aisle and everyone brought fairy cakes. What’s not to like?

Saturday 9 July 2011

Grand Union and Oxford. Shuckborough to Fenny Compton

It’s been a busy week. We’d planned to leave Shuckborough on Monday morning, but by the time we’d sorted ourselves out and had another last cup of tea with John and Jac it was the middle of the afternoon. We finally set off with our friends in our wake and pootled as far as Napton, where we moored for the night just before the bottom lock.
Now, pay attention, this bit is complicated. In the morning we hitched a lift on John & Jac’s boat back to Wigram’s turn, said a fond farewell, and walked back to Shuckborough to collect the van. We drove the van to the bridge at Marston Doles then walked back across country to Napton, which took longer than we’d expected due to there not being any footpath signs, or for that matter, any signs of a footpath. After a bite to eat and a brew we pulled the pins and set off up Napton locks to Marston Doles where we re-united Legend with Poubelle.
Pretty good for one day.

We’d chosen Marston Doles as it’s only a 10 minute drive into Southam where Ann-Marie had to visit the dentist on Wednesday morning. As Southam is fairly central and relatively easy to get to, we’ve both registered there. Coincidentally it’s also where Ann-Marie lived till she was 5 years old, so after the appointment we went to see her old house and school. The house was exactly as she remembered it, even the garage door that she banged her head on after Karen pushed her down the drive in the pram.

In the afternoon we drove up to Coventry to visit Kim & Luke. We thought we’d pop in to Wickes while we were there; moulding and wood trim is a lot cheaper there than anywhere else, but the petrol we used driving round in circles trying to find the entrance meant it wasn’t. We got some timber for the new cupboard in the saloon though. Kim made us a lovely lasagne for tea and we had a very enjoyable evening.

Ken’s Ebay listing finished on Thursday with no bids. Boo. He’s been outside Frankie’s flat which is “residents only” parking, and we needed to get him out of there ASAP. So Thursday was van moving day. He’s now at Ann-Marie’s Auntie Wendy’s house (where we mended his gearbox) for a week or so before we move him somewhere else.

On Friday we moved legend down to the 14 day moorings at Fenny Compton. This has been our destination ever since Kim invited Ann-Marie to her hen night/weekend at the pub here. After tea we said goodbye to each other for the first time in a long time, then Dave got in Poubelle and drove up to the Peak District for Luke’s stag night. The girls seemed to have better organisation than the boys; there were cocktail dresses and pink T shirts.
The lads just spent the weekend in a pub. On Sunday afternoon we were back together again for a barbeque.

The Boat of Many Colours.
We’re still at Fenny Compton, it’s a bit busier than our usual choice of mooring; we’re between the permanent places and a big pub near a big road, but there’s a little shop and free wifi in the pub and it’s easy access to Banbury. This has been very useful as Ann-Marie has a nasty scald on her wrist and had to go to A&E. Dave has started building the cupboard in the saloon and while the weather is good he’s started on the outside paintwork as well. So far he’s stripped the bow and gas locker lid down to bare metal and primed it. We haven’t had to buy any paint yet, we’re still using what was in the boat, but there’s going to come a time in the not too distant future when we need to spend a considerable amount of dosh on very posh paint. We think we’re going to stick to the colours that Legend already is; black, cream & maroon, but we’ll change the pattern around a bit. Or a lot. We’re going to do it in sections; bow, well-deck, roof, gunnels, cabin sides and finally, stern. When we got it sanded down through all the various paint layers we could see the original sign-writing and the name.
We sort of quite like the style of the letters, it’s a bit King Arthur-ish, so maybe we’ll be looking for something like that when we repaint the name.

New Haw Lock to Boveney. River Wey. River Thames.

After pulling the pins at New Haw we dropped down the last four locks on the Wey... Cox's Mill Lock Town Lock The final stretch of the W...