Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Looks Like The Kitchens Nearly In

Just back from a flying visit to Long Eaton to see what progress the boys have made over the last couple of weeks, and also to meet up with Marion, our pal from way, way, back, who we hadn’t  seen for several years.

All is OK at Trent Lock. The kitchen is almost there though we still await the oven. It’s a SMEV. It’s been delivered once damaged and Pat has had assurances from the chandlery it came from that it is due to be re-delivered any day. Ummmm. We’ll see. She is convinced because the man on the end of the phone was very nice!

That apart, we are very pleased with the kitchen, sorry, galley. The Ikea units have gone in well and the large circular breakfast bar, where we do most of our eating, looks great. John had to make it from two pieces of American Oak, and you would be hard pressed to see the join. Getting to this stage, with the bathroom also partitioned, means we can now visualise the space we have in the saloon. I had been a bit concerned it was going to be a bit small, but I think now I’ve had another look it will be fine.
John gets very emotional on the completion of our breakfast bar.

The American light oak worktop. The wooden trims around the windows have been completed as well.

The Thetford Ceramic loo in situ

John is going to make me a guitar cupboard,  that is going to sit beside the Bubble multi-fuel stove. I had sent him some plans and we firmed them up as well as choosing taps for the basin in the bathroom, in between doughnuts and mice pies. We also took up four packs of ceramic tiles so Mick can start tiling in the kitchen. It’s only a couple of rows, and follows the red theme we will have running through the boat.

Then we drove over to a pub I found in the `Good Beer Guide` and met up with Marion, who had driven over from Leominster, to see us, and we spend a couple of hours, talking about the past, our kids, our aches and pains, and travel.

When we got back home the FM transmitter, I had purchased on line from the USA had arrived, so will try that out tomorrow, which is my official last day with the John Lewis Partnership after 34 years. My boss Helen, and her boss Jon, are both coming in to see me in the morning, but I need to get away after lunch as I have a huge Christmas shop to do at Waitrose across the road, before we leave for our Christmas cottage in Suffolk with my bestest pal John and his family.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Well that was work then

Well that was work then. It would be flippant to say that my 34 years at John Lewis have gone by with a flash, for that is certainly not the case. But the last ten years at Welwyn have certainly flown by and have been the happiest time in my working life.

The last two weeks have been a whirl. Everyday there has been a party or an event. I spent some time with all my leisure pals at the John Lewis country club in Cookham, in Berks, and they bought me a canal on-line mapping system as a leaving gift, which is what I wanted, so the hints I had made didn’t get ignored, and my bestest Partnership pal Colin gave me the Cat tiller pin, he had purchased for me when we met up with him and Stuart, his Partner, at Crick in May.

The previous night had been our branch Christmas Pirate Party - my last one - so the cake they presented me with, seen here, was quite apt.

The Choir I sing with in the branch, the Welwyn Chorus, brought us both a lovely carriage clock to put on the wall as well as “Captain” and “First Mate” wooly hats, and my step-brother Gary went one better with the full Captain’s hat, complete with scambled eggs. I have been very touched with the messages and the many cards and gifts Partners have given me over the last few days. Although it’s my job to give my colleagues a good time, I have been surprised at the level of  affection shown towards me.

But enough of looking back. This blog is about building a narrowboat, so let’s move on and look forward.

Kingfisher are updating their own build blog on their website on a weekly basis, so we are keenly following their progress, between our regular three-weekly visits to Trent Lock. John has been busy with fitting out the kitchen and I hope that when we visit next Wednesday, just before Christmas, it will be almost complete. The boys are also concerning themselves with the bathroom. The loo is in and John has been asking about bowls and taps.

The new ceramic cassette loo has been installed

The shower tray is in

And the galley is taking shape

One of the presents I did get was a plain metal watering can, which I hope to paint the same blue as the boat and then ask Jan to decorate for us. That will be cool.

More news next week, if I fit in a posting before leaving Welwyn Garden City for Suffolk for the Christmas break.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

A good week on the boat front. Our visit yesterday found things very much on target with the boys comfortable with their progress and lots to see and decide on.

The day before I got a text saying we had won a prize in a competition I had entered a few weeks back. This had been on a new TV programme, “UK Boating”, which is on a satellite channel, and it was to win a year’s free marine insurance, which we have won, saving us, I would think, around £350. Luverly jubbly!
Sky 231 Freesat 402

We took up the Siemens hob I had sourced from John Lewis, but it is too big to go where we want. It can be used, but not without redesigning the galley, which both of us are loathe to do, so it.s back to Spinflow, which the boys will get from Midland Chandlers.

Spinflo 9 Hob

We took a new microwave with us, the Sony car stereo, and two Wharfedale 9 Diamond speakers. It has become apparent that I was not going to get the car speakers I wanted. The roof space they are to be mounted in is too shallow. I looked around and Richer Sounds are selling off these Wharfedale speakers at less than half price. Reduced from £100 to £39. And they sound really good for the money, so I am well pleased. Wiring them up to the Sony unit might be a bit challenging, but I am sure Mick will overcome any issues in that department.
Wharfedale Diamond 9 Bookshelf speakers

A walk through the boat found the instrumentation panels in place, and I am well pleased with them. The only thing still to go on this panel is the controller for the solar panels. The water tank is in position and the bedroom, as well as the other fixtures have been laid out with masking tape. This gives us a much better idea of how the different areas of the boat will affect each other, and we are both very happy with what we have designed. It seems to be working well.

The instument panel

There is a fair bit of space in the bedroom area, as we are having a small washine machine in there. The pipework is all done to the rads and the pipework is also in place in the bathroom. At the other end of the boat, John has started to assemble the kitchen. That should all be in when we go back, just before Christmas. The boiler is in as are the ceiling lights, which are just perfect.
Galley area with the large breakfast bar taped out

The bathroom area

The bedroom area

We are going for full LED lighting, and there followed a demo from John and Mick showing Pat the differences between soft and hard lights available. I’ve also got to design a cupboard to put my guitar in, and I haven’t got a clue what that will look like as of yet.

After leaving Trent Lock we drove over to Tamworth to Elite Furnishing, who specialise in making furniture for narrowboats. We had seen a really funky chair on their website, but found out on arrival that the patterns we wanted had been deleted during the summer.

We are ordering a settee/sofa bed from them. We might be able to squeeze a chair in as well into the saloon area, but we are going to wait to see if this is possible once we are on board.

The settee/Sofa bed will have a stripes and dots scheme

After looking through what seemed like every book of fabrics in the shop, Pat finally chose the colour scheme she wanted. It’s dark red. She wanted a burnt orange look, but I don’t want people thinking the boat is part of the Easy Jet family!

It’s a good combination, and Glen from Elite is going to Trent Lock on Tuesday to measure up for it. It’s going to cost us a bit over £1000 but we think it is worth it.

This morning I purchased our TV/DVD – an Avtex 12v combination, that I got from John Lewis, so lots of luverly discount off it. The instructions say it can accept memory sticks with films in a MP4 format, but at the moment that is not my experience. Will have to read the manual through, me thinks.

So, all is well and we are very happy. Let’s hope that continues to be the case.