Friday, 28 February 2014

Harbour Ways

Ages ago I reviewed a book called Watery Ways by my lovely blogging pal, Valerie Poore.  It was about how she came to be living on a barge in Rotterdam and the adventures that she had as she fell in love with the way of life of the liggers (we call ourselves liveaboards here in the UK).  Val had a dream to own and go faring in her own barge and Harbour Ways is how Val worked so hard to realise that dream.  I have been eagerly awaiting this sequel and I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, that I was not disappointed.  As soon as my copy arrived last Saturday, I sat in the armchair in front of the woodburner and that was where I stayed until I finished it.  I am absolutely amazed and completely in awe of the amount of hard work and all the skill that Val put into renovating her barge.  She took on jobs that I would not even consider doing, such as woodwork, plumbing and many other really hard traditionally 'male' jobs.  I laughed out loud in many places.  Whenever boat owners get together, eventually the conversation always turns to plumbing and toilets.  Boat plumbing is a whole new world and involves seacocks, macerators and lots of twists and turns in very awkward places.  Val describes her antics with Vereeniging's bathroom with a real tongue in cheek sense of humour, which I am sure covers up a lot of the swearing that probably took place!!! I also loved the various characters that Val introduces us to and all their quirky ways.  If you want to get a flavour of the work that goes in to living afloat and get a taste of living in Rotterdam I urge you to read this book as it comes with my top notch recommendation.  You can get a copy at or Amazon.  Thanks Val for such a good read x

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Bargains and Boarding

I had seen a rug in Ikea that I really, really liked.  The colours were perfect.  But my sensible head wouldn't let my impulsive heart buy it.  It was expensive v it was worth it - we were not ready for it v but they might sell out - waiting a while won't hurt v I want it now!  As it happens Ikea discontinued it :( Then on Sunday it appeared - on eBay - my rug - £15 Buy It Now.  I have never hit that button so quickly!!! It was two minutes from work so I picked it up Monday lunchtime.  And here it is, my rug in situ.  Isn't it lovely...

Pete has been busy putting the tongue and groove on the wall up the side of the stairs.  We were originally going to put it all over, but Pete worked out we needed over 2km of boarding and that's was a serious amount of money!  So as he is a plasterer by trade, guess what the alternative option was?  Yep, plastered walls.  Some doubters were a little dubious, but we have probably had the stormiest winter getting blown all around and it has held up beautifully, no cracks at all.  Perhaps that is testament to the craftsman that Pete is.

Every day the barge moves on further and I love it even more.  Although workwise things are still up in the air and I am living with a serious amount of stress, this boat is definitely my safe haven.  A place where I feel at peace and it is the first time that I gave ever felt truly at home.  If I was a cat I would be purring.......

Saturday, 22 February 2014


Okay, so it's not a wardrobe - but there is a huge amount of wasted space under the stairs.  One thing that is guaranteed when you live on a boat - there is never enough storage space, so you have to make use of every available inch (or centimeter for you foreigners!).  Pete is in the throws of creating a wonderful cupboard, complete with shelving to store stuff.  The vacuum cleaner will live under there, along with things like the dehydrator that we don't use every day.  The area goes under the deck and under the stairs.  The door will be under the deck, to the side of the stairs, which means the other side of the stairs needs blocking off (is this making any sense).  Rather than a blank wall, he is going to make a bookshelf out of it.  Some of my cookery books will live here.  I say some, as I actually have a few too many, but I enjoy reading them before I cook the beans on toast.  Here are some pictures of the job half done and I will post some more later of the finished article.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Lighting Our Way

It gets a bit dark round our way, light pollution is definitely something we don't have. So when Mum and Dad gave us ten solar powered lights and I immediately knew where they were going to go.  Each end of the gangplank, on the corners of the affectionately nicknamed 'patio' and up the walkway.  Twelve hours later and hey presto we have light!  No more having to make sure that we have a torch on us before we leave the boat.  Although I do now have a very pretty pink Maglight that is now a bit redundant.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Progress? (A bit of a moan!!)

I am having problems at work, down to total mismanagement and incompetency by the MoD.  I don't know if I have my job still or not, if not they want to post me elsewhere in the UK and obviously I do not want to leave home at my stage in life and settle in digs during the week.  But the most unsettling thing is the not knowing and the total lack of communication or support by the chain of command.

To that end I am feeling any type of incompetency fairly acutely.  Take today, I went to collect a prescription from the chemist that I ordered from the doctors on Tuesday.  I was told that it is not ready until later today as apparently it takes 48 hours for the doctors to put it on the computer and print it out and then 48 hours for the chemist to dispense it, four days to get a prescription!  A few years ago we had two lovely doctors.  You could drop a prescription off in the morning and pick up your medication in the afternoon.  They had morning surgery from 0900 to 1030, no appointment needed just go along and wait, you always got seen and surgery was usually over on time or by 1100.  There was evening surgeries every night by appointment, but they could usually fit you in if necessary.  There was a Saturday morning surgery for emergencies.  Unfortunately the doctors retired and sold the practice.  

Well I won't be defamatory about the new doctors but let me say, we are now in a situation where there is no Saturday morning surgery or Monday evening surgery.  It now takes two weeks to get an evening appointment.  You can still go up in the mornings.  You turn up at 0800, surgery starts at 0900 and people are quite often there until 1300 or 1400 hrs.  We now have a practice manager who sorts this out (!) Oh and whatever I go for, whether it's a pain in my foot or whatever, apparently it's down to the menopause and they want to give me anti-depressents!!!

Tollesbury has not grown significantly in size so there really is no need for the wait to see a doctor, they blame the government, I blame the surgery procedures and the government.  I now use the drop-in centre at the local hospital and if I felt something was serious I would go to A & E.  I have even resorted to a private doctor.  The powers that be wonder why people are using A & E more, well if the rest of the country's services are as bad as our doctors I could tell them why.  I would hate to go to a totally private health service like the US, but how can they possibly call this progress in the NHS.  Give me the old days anytime, when a doctor even came out to visit, rather than this diabolical situation.  Nobody should be allowed to be a Health Minister or NHS manager unless they actually have medical experience and know what they are talking about (that also applies to Education, Defence, Treasury and all other ministerial jobs).  Giving the jobs to those with experience and knowledge might actually sort out the mess that our public services are in, rather than leave it to those with fanciful ideological ideas rather than practical knowledge.  In fact let's go one further and say that no one should be allowed to stand for parliament unless they have had a least 15 years experience in the real world.  That would get rid of the career politicians who really have no notion about the everyday problems and lives of normal people.

And now breathe....I feel better having got that out!

Friday, 7 February 2014

I'm Back (Well Hopefully!)

My negotiations with BT ended badly, in that I haven't got a phone line and broadband.  That company really is a major rip off and its administration is a complete shambles.  Having told me that they wanted over £1000 to install a line and me telling them where to go, they then rung a week later asking why I had cancelled the direct debit!  No line - no pay! Now, I hold mostly socialist ideas, but this is one company that really needs to have the monopoly when it comes to installing phone lines broken, so that they become more competitive and a lot less complacent about its customers, either that or taken in to public ownership so that it really works for the public and not for its shareholders.  Rant over!  I have upgraded my iPad and have been told that 4G is heading our way soon, however the internet signal is still very intermittent so I will just have to make the best of it.

What have we been up to... Well this winter has definitely been the winter of high tides (and rain).  We had the 'surge' (the highest tide for 60 years) which was certainly interesting and, thankfully for Tollesbury, did not result in any serious damage.  But since then we have had a lot of seriously high tides and on one we lost a newly delivered load of logs, which just floated off our platform.  The platform was supposedly built above the highest spring tide level, but this year's tides put paid to that theory!  At least our home goes up and down, which makes us luckier than a lot of unfortunate people in the western counties.

Pete is currently working on getting the bathroom finished.  We had the basics, but now he is decorating and making it 'pretty' as well as functional.  He has just built a little cupboard for towels, toiletries, toilet rolls etc.  Today he is going to finish that off, put in a window, finish the painting, tile the splashback etc.

He has also been putting shelving in to his 'man cave'.  All he needs now is a comfy chair and a still and he would be a very happy and contented man!

I couldn't sign off this post without posting an up to date picture of our darling granddaughter.  She is at the stage where the world is funny and she spends most of her day smiling and giggling.  She has just started trying to talk (I love the scribble talk stage) and is making some wonderful sounds.  I keep trying with the nannan word but I bet her first word is still dada.  

Now I am off to the unfinished wheelhouse, to stand in the cold (probably having to stand on one leg with my hand rubbing my head) to try to get a signal to post this!!!!  Be back soon xxxx