Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Sign language

Had my penultimate journey to Trent Lock today, laden down with a car full of bedding, crockery, and a box of Spitfire, my co-pilot on the day, Bob, donated. Thanks Bob and Penny.
This still leaves a pile of stuff in our garage, and I have now just one more go at shifting it on Friday morning. I think it will all go in, but I am a bit worried about the bikes. Although they are fold up, they might be difficult to fit it.

The Picasso loaded for today's run

All this is further complicated by the petrol problems going on at the moment. We are at least a week away from a potential tanker driver strike, but already there are queues at the pumps. I should be OK to get up to Trent Lock on Friday but we will have to see after that. Pat comes back from New Zealand just after Easter, when all this will probably be going on. We’ll have to wait and see
The sign writing is all done and it is “fab”. I am so pleased with it. It’s just what I wanted and coming from a typographical background I didn’t want to make any compromises, and Jan has really done us proud. She even managed to get a few traditional symbols on the Bow Stripes. See pix.

I am well impressed with the sign writing
Took my BW licence application down the road to Sawley Marina, as they are agents for British Waterways. In fact, they are a division of BW. They took the application, gave me a receipt, and said they would send it off for me. I thought they would issue me a licence, and a number, that Jan could paint on the side of the boat before we set off. That is still possible, but I was hoping she could do it before the weekend.
The very unusual bow stripes
So, it’s a very early start on Friday. I will travel up to Welwyn Garden, strip the garage of everything marked up to go, and hope to be at Trent Lock around 10am. The man from Elite Furnishings is coming at 11am to deliver the super-douper sofa bed we have ordered and after lunch we are going out on a mini-cruise to check all is working and work on the trim of the boat.
I will blog again after the weekend.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

No Man's Land

Well this is a new territory for me. No home, no cats, no children and no wife, but dear friends all is well. My feet both hurt and I’m not sure why that is. It’s a bit worrying as I am listing to port at the moment, so just hope that is temporary. I am resting up for a couple of days before the regime resumes.
Yesterday we moved away from our home. It went OK and we spent the last hour or so sitting on the one piece of furniture left in our living room, stoking the cats.
They looked bemused as we left and handed over the keys to Simon and Liz, our new tenants, and the hour’s journey from Welwyn Garden City to the John Lewis Odney Country Club at Maidenhead, where we spent last night and where I am tonight (Saturday) was for me, full of excitement, regret, guilt, and concern. I don’t think Pat was equally affected, but I am a softie. At least I didn’t blub.
I have just dropped Pat off at Heathrow (30 minutes away) and I expect to see her plane fly over any moment. I have asked her to ask the pilot to tip the wings as they fly over!
Just before I dropped her off we went round to James’ parent’s pub, which is only a few minutes from the club. We had coffee with them in the pub garden. It was good to see them both. They are going to NZ to see the kids and the new grandchild in a few weeks too. The temperature was way above 20c, which is unseasonably warm for this time of year.
I am booked in here tonight and then going to spend a few days with my sister in Potters Bar.
I’m loading up with boxes for a Wednesday run to Trent Lock with my pal Bob and then repeat the operation on Friday. I think over the two runs we should get everything there that is currently in our garage.
I must say Pat has been exception in the planning of this adventure. She has literally thought of everything and it has gone extremely well, so well done, you. She can now have two weeks “goo-gooing” over her first grandchild. Feet permitting, I’ll have it all “ship shape” for her return. What’s that noise? There goes the plane.......... Oh well, never mind.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Paint It Black (and blue and cream)

Hello folks. Well boxes are piled high here in Great Ganett, Welwyn Garden City, labelled up for the different phases we have identified as we move from terra firma to a life on the waterways in a week's time.
Phase one is well underway. Our double mattress went up to the boat yard today, together with the first three boxes, curtains and bedroom TV.
Phase 1B will take place next Wednesday when I will take another carful, north, along with the fold-up bikes and other essentials for our first two weeks. I am also meeting Glen, from Elite Furnishings, on Wednesday morning. He has hand made our sofa bed and is delivering it to the boat.
I then move on permanently two days later, with Dave, my old next door neighbour, Paul, a boating pal and possibly one other and we are taking The Cat's Whiskers out for a bit of a snagging cruise for a few days, before returning at Easter.
Phase 2, which is mainly clothes, will follow when Pat returns from New Zealand. All this stuff is being stored in our garage until that time.

Pat fits her bespoke curtains

On our arrival at Trent Lock today, Jan, the sign writer, who lives on a boat at the Lock, was marking out the two aft panels. Mick was masking up for the cream stripes going on the starboard side (he has finished the port side, see picture). We are both well-pleased with finished paint job. It is not an unusual colour scheme, but it is what I wanted, and on this I got my own way. I think it looks stunning. God knows how many coats of paint Mick has applied. Our mattress fits the base John has made perfectly and the curtains Pat has been lovingly creating over the last few days, fit well and follow the dark red colour theme that will be prevalent throughout the boat.
Mick getting very handy with his paint brush

The Cat's Whiskers is revealed

So we are now very nearly there and the boys have got one more week to sort out any last minute fixes and build the couple of late additions we have requested.
I don’t feel any pangs of regret leaving our house, but it will be different saying goodbye to the cats. They know something is up and are not at all happy with all the disappearing furniture, but I know they will be well looked after, and it is impractical to take them with us, at their ages.
Will blog again next week

Thursday, 8 March 2012

It’s A Gas, Gas, Gas

We have been scouring our friends’ garages and sheds over the last three weeks to find some Calor Gas bottles, that we could swap for full ones for the boat. We will be cooking with gas and it will also power our radiators. We were advised they did not have to be the regulation  13Kg.  In fact, any size Calor container would do.  Our pals came up trumps and we stopped off at Sawley Marina, just a couple of miles from Trent Lock this morning, to swap them for two 13Kg ones in glorious orange.

The countdown is now being measured in days, rather than weeks, and poor old Pat is project-managing the countdown to us leaving the house. It’s quite a task. We then have the “Twilight Zone” time, between moving out and when we set off in earnest. Pat’s off to New Zealand the day after we move out and I hope to get on the boat the week before Easter, with a couple of pals, and go out on a three-day snagging cruise. The list of things that need resolving or actioning seems endless, but she has chopped all the tasks up into weeks and we are on schedule. This is everything from redirecting post, to getting all the carpets cleaned, to making doctors and dentists appointment before we leave, to selling all the furniture not wanted, to making blinds, to making sure Sky and broadband is cancelled on time, to ordering new glasses, to applying for our Canals and River Trust (was British Waterways) licence, to making sure our boat insurance is organised, to winter moorings for next year, and so on, and so on.

Meanwhile I have been moving my vast collection of music from CD’s to a portable hard drive. That has been quite a feat in itself as well as burning DVD’s on the drive as well. I have purchased a hard guitar case, now that the guitar cabinet I designed and drew for the boys to copy, came out too small. This is the first proper hard case I have ever owned. Now I am very aware that I am becoming obsessive about things we have purchased for “The Cat’s Whiskers”, or so I was reliably informed by my pal Mark this week. Looking back on previous blogs, I can see what he means, so no more about purchases... well, I’ll try anyway.

With only 23 days to go before handover, the boat should have been looking pretty well finished, and our visit today confirmed that, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, it is, and they will be on time for the hand-over.
Pat works out where the picnic table should go

Mick has been busy with his paintbrush and, I think, put four top coats on at present, with one more to go. Then he has to do the pin stripes down the sides. I particularly liked the maroon on the dolly’s (see picture). All of the main joinery has been completed. It’s just vents, false covers, and the odd door that needs putting on now. When we last visited the flooring was half down and that has worked out really well. It was very expensive (here I go again), but looks great. And as soon as Mick has finished on the outside we can get Jan the sign writer along to finish off.

Colour scheme on bow

The bookcase, come entertainment system is in. Mick has hidden the FM transmitter in a little box, and has had it all working with the speakers I took up before Xmas. When he cranked them up, the live-aboard boaters at the Lock, thought somebody was having a rave!
The"entertainment centre" in situ

They have fitted the fridge/freezer and the diddy washing machine in the bedroom. Yes, the bedroom. We will only be running it when we are moving, so that does not cause any issues.
The washing machine has been installed

Over the regulation doughnuts we agreed that as soon as Pat comes back from New Zealand we will have a launch party and invite all those interested up to Trent Lock to celebrate with some champagne and a bite to eat in the pub at the Lock. The date is Saturday 14 April. If any of our growing band of followers would like to come up to Long Eaton to help us out, please get in touch.

One of the major Chandlers in the Narrowboat business is Midland Chandlers, and occasionally they have a “Freaky Friday”. I used to have them when I spent too long at the pub on a Friday lunchtime! This is when they knock  20% off everything in their stores. We have been waiting for this and we popped into their branch at Mercia Marina, near Derby this afternoon and put together a list. I won’t bore you with it, but I had forgotten to add an anchor, which we will need for river transit. I have also decided to buy us two self-inflating life jackets. I’m really not that bothered about going into the canal. It will only come up to my waist, but a lock that is filling is a different matter. And Pat is not a strong swimmer.