Friday, 30 July 2010

a week on

Ok a week on and where am I?

I have bought a honda Eu20i generator, good decision and good choice, nice and quiet.  Purchased from Offmains, I am very pleased.

No shore power yet and my sterling regulator is showing red for high voltage indicator, ah well, its been showing red for weeks now, will get it sorted when the shoreline power is set up as I am betting a battery charger to boot.  No need for higher power inverter wiht the genny at present.

No solution to the stern greaser issue yet either, but am running tomorrow so will try to add  some when back, grease must be soft enough then with 5 hours cruising!

The damn grease gun, never used one before and it was empty, dont open the end with the turny bit, just open the end where the grease comes out, nearly broke my bloody finger when I uncapped it, shot out like a rat up a drain pipe and hit my fingers damn hard!

Got the genny onboard and tested.  Done some little jobs today, tv for bedroom, half fitted cos i did not have a drill with me, second aerial, some cupboard locks etc

Thats another thing, nobody told me you need two tool sets etc!

We are off to burton on trent tomorrow, not too far but a trp out nonetheless, taking the Swinscoes with us, when Angus can be arsed to get out of bed and get over here of course.

Where has the summer gone? forecast is all over the place.

Checked the bilge, empty, will open the stern packing a little tomorrow to make room for my grease.

Will need to start painting soon. Mainly the side where the boat gently washes against the locks lol

Last paint job was a makeover cheapy for the sale, peeling already, but thats fine, plenty of scope then for me to mess it all up even more lol.

More tomorrow if time permits

Message from she who must be obeyed, arriving at the marina, open the gate, she want in, bye for now!

Ah well it was good while it lasted

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Off to the Clock Warehouse

So today, 23 July 2010 we are off to the boat, despite me being rather red after discovering I am now allergic to penicillin!.  Decided best to go and rest up there - good idea, I feel much better.

Saturday morning.  Of to the Clock Warehouse for lunch as a kinda test for next week when Angus, Elaine and Tomas join us.  The first lock, Stensons Lock, let us know what we were in for.  The lock is a double lock.  The paddles confused kath at first as she attempted to open the sluice!.  It does not work so lucky her.  She then moves on o the proper paddles, very slow and very difficult to open. Johanna was helping and had real struggles opening the paddles and the lock gate.  But, like a star, she managed.  Only four more locks but the journey was a long way.  The guide was accurate on timings and we arrived at Shardlow about 1.45 pm, after the easiest wind (turn around) we ever did.  I just held onto the till whilst walking the bank and walked the boat around in front of all the midgies eating lunch at the Clock.

We too had lunch and then headed back, getting into the marina at 6.45 pm.  10 and a half hours after settng off.  So its too far - we were knackered.  Probably look at heading towards Burton with them.  The stern grease nipple appears clogged with hardened grease, I needs an expert to help so am having a grease pump fitted, hopefully next week.  This should calm my nerves about grease not getting to where it needs.

Re tuned with new aerial and discovered we have freeview on the tv lol.

Boat temp was a little high, I need to look the viscosity of the oil, apparently this does good things for temparature control, seems though 15 w 40 is probably ok.  Maybe I need to find a better way to cool the engine, dunno will speak to a mechanic.

Stuck a bio sok into the bilge, apparently it works wonders on breaking down oil.

Next week we can start spending more time on the boat.  I really ned to ge tthe girls on brass cleaning.  I need to start painting before winter hits us.  I need to protect all the bits exposed from the move from Oxford and also remove a rusted area around the chimney.  It needs a proper clean and full repaint.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Cleaning the Bilge

The bilge should be a wee little area with a tad of water from the packing drips.

Nope, full of grease and oil and anti freeze.  Yuk, so that says an anti-freeze leak in the past.

I cleans it out then fills it with water and, and, hurray, the pump pumps, the water leaves.

So now I know the bilge pump is ok after much mis-treatment.

I have loadsa oil under the engine so am soaking it up and I will stick a bio sok in at the weekend.

Decided to buy a Honda EU20i generator after much thinking and advice.

This weekend we do our first boating weekend, so off to Sawley or Beeston if we can make it, probably will.

Next weekend, Angus, Elaine and TOMAS!!  will join us for the day.

I also listened to my neighbours and bought a new aerial.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Checking my boat

Getting a bit ownerish.

We are off to the boat to just check all is ok.  Until we can trust our neighbours more (and I like them , I just don't know them well enough yet) I want to show a presence and check the bilge etc.  If I remember I will also take some pictures in situe because the Marina is very nice.

More later, tea time beckons!
Ughh, went to the boat, just to let people know I am not a stranger. Decided to start cleaning the bilge of oil and grease, needed doing but it was about 1inch deep, still some to do but oil and grease is aweful as a combination.  Anyway, at least it wont re-occur, off to buy them magic oil and grease separators.

I am after an engine that has a fighting chance, not a perfect specimen.  So I will carry on remorselessly.

Will pop up at odd times during the week to do the odd jobs. Its an odd life to some.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

First Family night on Das Boat

Getting to quite like "Das Boat", but it is not the name for her.

Ok, we all went to the Boat Saturday. Why do we carry enough bags for a week when we are aboard for one night?

We opened up and started to clean and generally get used to 4 on a boat again.

Johanna seems a little bored but she revealed her night out at a party till 10pm (yup she is 13 now) had hit her hard. So I let her chill a bit. Sarah and I started to clean the brass ceiling vents, they are so dirty I reckon it will take weeks to get them back to new.

We went for a walk to exmaine the damage I caused to the entrance to the marina. Now got the approach and entry to the cut sorted. Next week we are going to venture out, wish me luck!

Whilst on our walk I came across a guy repainting his boat, much learning was had.  He showed me some gunnel paint which I am keen on.  The gunnels are the bits your feet connect with when walking along the side of the boat (generally not recommended).  Our gunnels are narrow because an inch was pinched on each side to increase interior width (mistake in my view, thats how Matt fell in last week).  I also need to buy some rust attacker from Wilkinsons - apparently hugely cheaper than from the chandlers.

All the old cutlery and much of the crockery was dispsed of, Angus had offered to give us some crockery under his desk at work, Kath just ignored my suggestion (as expected).

I gave her (Das Boat) a brief water clean and left her with more streaks than when I started. Need to do it properly next time.  I did see some stuff in the Chandlers but ignored it when I saw the price - any tips gladly recieved.

Met some of the neighbours, more good tips and intelligence gleamed.  A near neighbour is a grit blaster and all round boat person, but he only does metal stuff, no electrics or gas.

We found all sorts of rubbish hidden away and we are kind of taking control. Next week Elaine and Angus will join us for Saturday's cruise towards Sawley, if Angus can get out of his pit in time after a night boozing.

Exhaustion is still evident from the journey north, so I am trying to chill, my voice still a distant memory but it is slowly improving, will probably dimish when I deliver some words of advice to some tomorrow!

Need to recover my sander so I can do some preparation for repainting after the lock effect - quite simply a steel narrowboat when painted gets lots of scrapes in and out of locks. Plus a bit of rust cos its outside.  Mind you the bit near the morse stove pipe looks dodgy so I may need to clear it down to Swedish 2.5 (learnt that from the Surveyor).  Exactly how I measure 2.5 is unknown - aha its a sandblasting standard.  Never mind I will scrape paint back to the rust and attack it with rust killer then repaint.  Need to find that super heat resistant glue stuff for it too, thought I saw some on the boat somewhere.

The dinette bed needs replacing but we need time to design something that works as a double and two singles and is still a dining area, tough task any pictures of success much appreciated.

Had a man turn up from Aqua narrowboats to quote on some work, lets see what happens. I need to get another calor gas with a manual switch over and new regulator. I need to get a battery charger and landline as well as a stern tube greaser fitted, all brill stuff, believe me!

When buying the boat the surveyor mentioned that the packing was all but useless as the packing gland or whatever had perished.  the owner had no idea about this so I arranged for it to be done there and then as soon as we had agreed a price, only £15 to do it so not much risk.  Surprised the previous owner knew nothing about it and had happily used his grease gung to achieve safety.  The bilge pump is ok, I checked it out carefully and even tested it with power switched off.  BTW nice forum at

God only knows when we will use up the diesel! Looked for a lock for the fuel cap but none seem to exist.

Will go up during the week for a mooch for an hour or so, I need to got to Millers Marine at Bridge 3, no longer on the A6005, its now by bridge numbers!

Oh, I will now ensure my photos accompany text, technical fault on camera (well, not really) meant each photo was hitting 4 megs!.

Well, enough for today.

Friday, 16 July 2010

My first day on Das boat in the Marina


Got up at 7.40 am, wow so late again!!

I put the kettle on and checked work emails (I do this all the time)

I then started to clear out cupboards. i found all sorts of stuff. A huge bottle of Brasso, about 10 tins of paint, some old food. Some socks (ughh).

I spent ages sorting photos for the blog. Some interesting lessons here, use a camera with metadata capture then take photos of bridges and other notable places, this allows you to sort your piccies according to route location. Make sure your brother has the same time range.

I then did some brass cleaning and took out the rubbish. On the way back I met Meg, she is a live aboard. Nice person.

Met hagar the horrible next door, really very nice guy, just looks like Hagar or a thin Hagrid.

Went to register my boat at the marina office. Welcome they say. we are just sending you a letter - prices going up 2.5% Doh

I like the Marina though, its spacious and friendly. I had a wander around the whole place and decided our current location was fine.

Wow I found an old IKEA mirror and a wooden stump! loads of tape and electrical and plumbing bits. Wow found another telly too and another tiller post.

Got a price for a 240ac landline to come and some prices for an RCD box and a new gas pipe, bottle and regulator., oh, and a stern tube grease gun.

Going home now. Great. I am very tired and I need to see my family.

My voice has completely failed and I go to the Doctors.

What can i do for you she says. I open my mouth and she makes a magical diagnosis - You've lost your voice! Brain of Britain huh I thought.

Back to Das Boat tomorrow to laze and do some brass cleaning with the girls, returning Sunday.


A lock from the inside

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The Marina at last

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Why don't they do left handed canal boats says Matt!

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This is soooo easy

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The Tunnel

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Car'nt wait for the low bridge lol

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Did'nt know the RAF had Submarines?

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How Long

Nah we will be there in two days, sod the slow ones!

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Arriving at Handover from Angus to Matt

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The Braunston Turn

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Oh was it an Earthquake?

Nah, Angus farted and broke his bed!
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Banbury Town Centre Lock

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Upper Heyford

Still no pump out!
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The Boat

Name will change but to what?

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The Pictures

More to follow but here is picture no 1 - Lower Heyford
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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Day 6


Day 6 at last.

We decided to get up at sensible o'clock and awoke at 7 am (wow, are you impressed we got up so late!)

Ok so it was still early. We decided to move after someone passed us at 6 am.

The plan had been hatched to attempt to make Mercia Marina by the end of the day.

The start went fine but we were 40 minutes late at the first section of our canal map (Pearsons are the publisher). This took us to the fradley junction. Pretty easy but the wind certainly slowed us down . I could hear a strange noise from the engine area and we stopped to investigate. A cloth and some rope had collected on the prop. I found out by doing the dangerous job of checking the weed hatch, dangerous because you can sink the boat if not done properly. Back on the road and with the wind behind us we began to catch up on the lost time.

We were lucky most of the time with locks being set in our favour.

Somewhere around 2pm we decided to do lunch, travelling as we ate. Matt suddenly suggested we eat in comfort and not moving. I agreed in an instant. no sooner had we stopped and just about finished roping up, the heavens opened. Excellent decision that man. When we set off again it had all but stopped.

Life was simpler as most midgies were back at school, just the adult midiges to worry about.


I just found out that my blogs are auto saved in case of a network loss - wish I had known that on Sunday!

Nothing funny today, just lets get to the target. We did so well we nearly overshot. the entrance is very small and I messed it up, much to the joy of non marina boating types moored on the periphery. I was so hung up about getting in, common sense was last and I was attempting to get a cannon ball into a needles eye. What a mess. But still we arrived at 6pm. Flags, bunting, champagne and such like thee was none. Just two tired brothers glad to get it over.

Now don't get me wrong. I do like boating. But when you have a fixed number of days to move a strange boat from Oxford to Willington (near Derby) you become focused on the target and less on the experience. Had I taken Kath and the girls we would have taken two week easily. What I did learn was that my little tin can was bloody well behaved.

How do I fell know, totally and completely knackered. I am staying on the boat tonight rather than going home so I can make it safe and usable from Saturday on. What I mean is I need to replace some gas tubing and a regulator and also replace some battery connections. I also need to speak to the local marine engineer and get some prices on simple jobs which will make boating easier, particularly getting an electrical hook up - numero uno on the list.

I need to thank Matt and Angus, without them I would still be wandering aimlessly around the South Oxford Canal.

I have only used 7 gallons out of my 86. This means the girls can expect lots of weekends on the boat - deep joy they think not. I do need to build my snag list. Painting is important, and its a big boat. Then a better aerial and TV, then some bits to keep doors open or closed, then some fender connectors, then pricing a new stern grease gun, then a second gas bottle. Then fixing lights which don't work. Then sorting the gear lever cos its getting sticky. then cleaning the engine bay, actually this is the first then. The last owner did not clean as he went and left a litre of used oil at the bottom of the engine. So a few thens then eh!

Then.... comes the big work, re-designing the front cabin to facilitate either a dinette double or two singles - google it if you are that interested.

Piccies will follow but my mobile card does not like 3 gig pictures lol.

As i type I look over part of the marina and see lots of grass reeds and, yes narrowboats.

I have decided to keep this blog open as I educate myself about all things boats as well as to keep you updated on more trips.

What is good about boating?

Its different

People wave and say hello to perfect strangers.

You see idiots doing stupid things

You see experts doing stupid things

You see weird boats which noone could live on until a head appears atop the hatch to see what silly bugger is speeding - 6mph lol

Anyway, we hav already done some pretty big journeys once, the four counties ring, part of the stourport ring and the south oxford (part) and some other bits. Now we dont need to worry about returning the boat on time, we can go, moor up and get a train home - most canals have train lines near them - think about it a bit.

Right time to publish, watch this space for snippets of my new money pit

Paul (on his own for the first time on Das Boat)

PS Now then - I need a name for our boat:-

Driving Me Crazy

JoJo Sarah

Toon Toon

Geordie Genes

other ideas gratefully considered.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Day 5

Ok day 5 stated in Nuneaton. Quiet start at 7.15am, not alot to say at 7.15 am cept its way too early!

Matt, correctly wanted to get past the nine staircase type locks before it rained. We had a bunch of bozos in front at the locks but a few wise words resulted in em behaving and the letting us past, bunch of holiday cruiser knackers (Remember I used to be one)!

We got through the locks and then it rained, oh did it rain. Matt did an excellent job making a cheese burger on board a tin can that had the potential to become a submarine if it kept raining, however the bilge pump kicked in and we survived.

Matt likes locks, he ran round like a looney in a sweet shop, desparate to burn off energy.

I got caught short and had to have a wee whilst waiting for a lock to clear, I got caught by a mum and her teenageish daughter, probably 20 plus. However I am not sure that they realised what I was doing, all they saw was my hand down my track suit making sure all was comfortable!

Matt met some slow motion dutch people who, in his opinion, were ridiculous. They had no idea what a lock or a paddle was, dozy cloggies!

Not a lot else to say except we battles on and here we are in Hopwas, nice mooring, post pub dinner.

I am exhausted, totally. but, we reckon we will be in Willington close of play tomorrow, holiday midgies permitting.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Day 4 continued

forgot to add, we went to the engine service place and cos we went past it we had to return up one loc and into the boatyard.

Now then, how about this, we reversed into the lock!

Then refilled it and then reversed some more and drove in, no problems perfect.

Some may say that reversing is easy, believe me reversing a canal boat into a lock is bloody hard!

Ok after that it all went down hill weather wise. In brief we got soaked and are now in Nuneaton drying off.

Newbold tunnel was fun as was some impatient boaters

More tomorrow!

Day 3/4

OK more of day 3. We are at Fenny Compton. Last night we had pub food, not bad complimented by a pint of cider and a double whisky. Match is on, I am falling asleep. I make it to the end of the first period of extra time. Angus reckons if we don’t leave I will fall asleep – we leave.

Get back to the boat, behind, and then in front of the New Zealanders moored next to us, where they disappeared to I have no idea, Angus liked em cos one of them bought him a pint.
Back on the boat we turn the telly on to find the Spanish have scored, ah well never mind.
Time for bed.

So back to the next morning. Or maybe not. We met some teachers in the pub, they were escorting 12 children with anger management problems, interesting treatment, give em a football in the back of the pub garden and leave em to it while the teachers prophesise over psychology drinking pints of lager, the women too. Now that brings me to a point, the canal system seems to be somewhat of a haven for live aboard misfits (at least how some of society sees them, not me). There was an Irishman I could not fathom a word from, single women boaters getting away from the other side of life – I guess.

Ok, really lets back back (deliberate) to the morning of day three. Off we pop after our colaman frien passes us (another story for another day). Actually we met him before Banbury. I asked him how many locks he reckoned to Derby, his answer, “One and then a few”. I asked him if he had been a comedian in a former life, he smiled. We kept meeting him all the way to Fenny – nice guy, very chilled out.
So off we go, again. This time we decide to meet our target of getting to the Royal oak Pub in time for the handover from Angus to my brother Matt. Pretty area on the way but not a lot of events that are remarkable apart from Angus having issues with me feeding the ducks and the moor hens.
Down the locks to Napton, a lovely flight then onwards to Braunston – it pissed it down but my recently discovered firemans coat did the trick, Angus wore a very thin water(ish)proof coat.

Heading towards Braunston Angus appeared dressed like some weird chemistry geek, tank top, cut off trousers, socks and sandals, took a piccie and wondered why.

So Braunston, much heralded as narrowboaters world, bit unimpressed. We turned left and moved to the comfort of wine and biscuits. A few brief dialogues with Matt and Kath established to location to meet. Meet we did at about 6pm. Angus pleased he made his target. So off he pops, bye Angus and thanks! Welcome aboard Matt. Stowed gear and went to the pub. One pint food and back to the boat. Slept ok, woke at 5.15 am, got up at 5.30 and showered took engine housing off (wrong order, I know). Matt poked around, took air filter off went hmmm, urmm, needs replacing at next engine service, went off to mash the tea.
So brekkie is now being had, as I speak my new cabin boy (whoah) is making my boily egg n soldiers.

Ok we set of at 7.30 and got to GBSS Boat Services at 10.00. We past the boat yard and moored up.

I popped along and bought some canal maps, some mooring pins and some speacial metal pins.

Whilst there I asked abot boat servicing and they offered to do an engine service there and then for £90! Given I don't know the boat well, I decided to get the service done. Peace of mind.

Lost an hour but we have since made up for it.

We got to Newbold Tunnel at 11.50 and decided to wait until some boats had passed coming towards us. Matt helped by moving along the Gunnels (side of the boat), sadly slipped and got wet legs.

We then let about ten boats pass in the opposite direction, because some numpty was driving too slow. Not happy campers behind her.

Went through the tunnel and am now lunching at 1.15 pm just past bridge 35.

Monday, 12 July 2010

More from Day 2

Hello all,

Day 2

Started at 4.30 am when some suicidal sheep started their useless bleating, only punctuated by Angus's low level, but consistent snore.

He did say I snored too, but I never heard that.

Day 2 was hit with a number of challenges.

The boat would not start. Bugger. We had to call the last owner who solved the puzzle in his first words "Is the stop button pulled out?". Indignantly I reply, "Of course it is!" He said "Close it or it won't start" Lesson learned  - true newbie is I.

Oh, then the battery light started to flicker, another call. He said if it flickers its fine. If it stays red it is ill.  Not sure about that and I will investigate latr.

Then the engine thermostat light started to flicker, another call, its fine its always done that. So how do I know if it really is overheating? if it hits 100 on the indicator he replies.

Thn the oil light started to flicker, another call - no idea on that one he said (him being a mechanic).

I checked the dipstick - correction, I spent ten minuted locating it! Then I checked it, no level was showing so I gave it some much needed lubricant, better check it again today.

So Aynho (after it stopped raining) to Banbury - crap place. its Sunday they say - no pump out. So I bet God did not intend for Sunday to be a poo free day!

Onwards to Cropredy (pronounced Croperdy) No pump out but a nice place, decent pub from last visit too.

I rings (getting a bit West Country in my accent, odd me being a Geordie) Fennay Compton - yup we are open and we have pump out.  Sadly its two hours to get there and they close in an hour. Very kindly the shop manager agrees to leave the pump out token under the Walls Ice Cream waste bin. Very trusting too.

 We have to pay £13 by putting said fee through her letter box, which I agreed. Ok, so we do the pump out, where the hell do we fnd an envelope in a 57ft narrowboat? We used a tesco plastic food bag instead (good idea Angus), added a note of thanks too.   My first ever un-assisted pump out (cept for Angus's able advice and assistance)!

Back to the journey

The journey was ok until the holiday boaters appeared like green midgies, hopping everywhre rushing to the lock paddles, opening them with gusto - too much gusto causing the boat to have a fit in the lock.

The inexperienced ones are dangerous (just like we were I guess). Opening the paddles to my cry "The bloody lock gate is still open!" Happy middle aged mum (probably a compliment, although I dont know why) sat in a seat with a windlass oblivious to whats going on. When help was asked for to close the paddle until the gate was closed she promptly opened the other paddle - dozy sod.

Damn I just lost 20 mins of story tried to do this online. Sod it

Here is the short version

Angus is a trainspotter and a Bird spotter, time to get the we are not gay sign out!

The scenary to Fennay was beutiful.

We are between Southam and Banbury.

Its morning 6.55 to be precise and its raining and no, we got no wet weather gear!

Found a manky old coat under the bed, that will do for now.

Good lesson on a mobile internet card for a laptop - type in word then copy to the blog, saves losing the bloody lot like i just did!

Right, the farter Angus is up and moving around, boat is swaying and the kettle is on.

Time to test the toilet!

Piccies of the trip, not the toilet and Angus's bed collapsing to follow.


Sunday, 11 July 2010

Day 2 in County Brook

Ok start of day two in County Brook.

Pub last night – The Great Western at Aynho was ok but full of poshies, food was mutton dressed as lamb but we had eaten anyways. Rained at 5.30 am and again at 7.25 am, heres hoping for clear skies cos Kath forgot to pack waterproofs (not me of course!).

Some strange folk around us, a guy who left at 8.30 pm on his boat – odd time to leave. Two americans loving our way of life. Angus reminded all at all times we are not gay, just working the boat.

Banbury next for the eagerly awaited pump out, strange whats important at present, although the pub was a useful stop gap. Angus had his traditional 20 minutes cogitating! Very odd how a boat seller leaves me with an empty fuel tank and a full toilet tank.

Sky is clearing so its check the oil time, grease the stern tube nipple, ouch then tally ho to Banbury and beyond!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Day 1 The purchase of my first narrowboat and subsequent move from Oxford to Willington

The Boat - NB County Brook
Why Blog?

Because most blogs seem to be posted by well skilled and experienced boaters.  I benefit from neither.


We found a narrowboat we liked whilst on a holiday on the South Oxford Canal in July 2010, a private sale so lots of risk.  I make no apology for mis-spellings in my blogs, all part of the reality.  Photo content will improve now a little problem re camera settings was resolved.

Back to the boat, plenty of investigations and a full marine survey later, a deal was struck.  The marine survey is expensive, as is the lift out to facilitate the inspection - thieves I say.

So, we picked it up at 9.45 am from Enslow - you can google it! I will work out google maps later and create photo links.

She is a 57ft Narrowboat, Cruiser Stern, powered by an unpopular and warm (90f operating temp) Lister Alpha - but I love it.

We filled the beer fridge then looked for somewhere to stash the food.

Who is we?

Angus, a near neighbour and myself. Kath, my wife, drove us to Enslow and watched the money handing over ceremony, anyone who knows me understands how difficult that was.

So we moved off an went to the diesel point. £364 lighter and the boat 86 gallons heavier! If you want to loan it, remember it does cost!  Lesson learned and I will not buy so much in future!

The boat handled superbly, straight into a tree! I needed a little "getting used to" time.

So, after a few hours travelling, we are now moored off Aynho, near the railways lines, much too Angus's joy - damn trainspotter!

BBQ on the go, two beers drunk. After food off te pub for beer.

Photos to follow cos I am taking pictures with too many megs and my dongle canne take it captain.

Passed usual bozos wearing sailor caps.

Next stop Banbury for the pump out (toilet tank is full!)

Then lets see how far we can get

More later, food burning