An excerpt from Wind in the Willows

Nice? It's the ONLY thing, said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING - absolute nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing, he went on dreamily: messing - about - in - boats; messing----'
From 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

15 Boats to the top of Deepcut

Celebrating with a glass of whiskey
Just a quick blog to say we have managed to get 15 boats to the top
Potter's Pool at Mytchett
full to capacity this morning
(Sunday) in the freezing cold
of Deepcut (Basingstoke Canal) today with a further 8 to come tomorrow.

Congratulations to Byfleet Boat Club, Basingstoke Canal Society, the IWA and last but not least to the passionate people at the Basingstoke Canal Authority.

I'll publish some photos tomorrow but in the meantime there's one here of the first two boats to the top since 2009 - Hazell Nut and Barley Twist.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Brookwood Country Park

A number of the first group of boats have made it to Brookwood Country Park (as opposed to Brookwood Village where I live) whilst the second group of boats are all on their way up Woodham to Bridge Barn where we were last night.

The real challenge comes tomorrow when we tackle Deepcut - I am not worried about it just very pleased that we have the opportunity to travel up this flight of locks which are, arguably, one of the most beautiful flights of locks in the country.

The photo shows Finch, Stonghold and Orion's Wey queueing for Lock 7 at the start of the St Johns flight this morning.  I'll try and take more photos tomorrow but it is quite difficult when you are single handed!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Bridge Barn

A very welcome 'welcome'
from the Canal Authority
Fourteen boats have made it to Bridge Barn in Woking.  It's been cold but
Filling the canal at
Bridge Barn
we have managed to jam the canal at the pub in readiness for an enjoyable evening.

Sadly the six boats coming up the Thames may not be able to join us due to the continuing red boards on the Thames and the refusal (understandably) to let the boats out of the safe haven of Brentford on to the non-Tidal Thames which is quite dangerous at the moment.

There are 15 boats to come up to Bridge Barn tomorrow whilst the first group go on to Brookwood Country Park.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Basingstoke adventure about to start

12 boats gathered at Byfleet Boat Club ready for
the Basingstoke in the morning.
We are gathering at Byfleet Boat Club this evening prior to the first group of boats heading off up the Basingstoke tomorrow.  There's a few things left to attend to in Deepcut but we remain positive that everything will be serviceable on Saturday.  Judging by the work the Basingstoke Canal Authority have undertaken recently one cannot fault their dedication to producing a canal for us to use.

There's five boats at Brentford waiting for the nod - again we are positive that they will be on their way tomorrow in time to join us when the second group set off on Friday morning.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Why have I got so much 'stuff' ?

The 'new' house
I am getting the house ready to move - exchange date is 26-April - quite some time away you may think but I have a small matter of i) Getting ready on my own (one of the downsides of being single ii) Having to put my 'stuff' into storage iii) Cruising the Basingstoke from Woodham Junction to King John's Castle and iv) getting the boat blacked.  I just find it all a wee bit daunting.

I ran my last committee meeting as Commodore of Byfleet Boat Club on Friday night (and the club is financially secure - PHEW!) but still have the AGM to deal with which is on 21-April; I am still not sure who will take over as Commodore but that's not my responsibility but do still feel a degree of moral responsibility to chat to the right people.

Stoke Bruerne in 1914 from
Waterways of Northamptonshire
I cannot believe I have two ironing boards (that's my 'fault') but I do know why I have four sets of cutlery (three came from mother's estate and I just cannot bring myself to throw them out or sell them yet but quite why they came to me I just don't know considering they came 12,500 miles from NZ!).

I have some wonderful friends all of whom have offered to help but I need to get my head around what stays with me and what goes and I don't want anyone opening a drawer or a cupboard and saying 'what is all this!'

It'll be alright as soon as the Basingstoke cruise is done and the boat is being blacked (and it is warmer!) I'll be able to focus a bit more on the task in hand.

There are some fascinating images of my 'new' house in David Blagrove's book 'Waterways of Northamptonshire' on pages 96 and 97.  It all looked quite austere in those early days.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

It's all happening now

The 'Borrowdale' kitchen
Since I 'exchanged' last night it seems as if the flood gates have opened. Today I had a previously arranged appointment with Benchmarx (part of the Travis Perkins Group it seems) in Northampton to sort out a new kitchen.  The one I chose is called Borrowdale - image to the left.  I did consider creme but having had a creme kitchen for some time decided that a stronger colour may be a good choice.

This evening I have been in contact with BT and arranged to stop the services on my current line and start a new one some six weeks later so that's another thing done.

The issue that fills me with the deepest gloom is packing up and deciding what to throw out.  I'm not good at throwing out (nor was my Mum) so I am going to have to be ruthless (for me) and either have a 'garage' sale or throw stuff out.  Not looking forward to that.

Oh and I have to find somewhere for the boat.  I will leave it on its current mooring (River Wey) until the end of September and then move it up the Grand Union and I think I'll start by putting it in Blisworth Marina (no locks but a big tunnel!)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


I have just had confirmation that contracts have been exchanged for the sale of my house and the purchase of one of the Canalside Cottages in Stoke Bruerne.

I have loved my time in Brookwood which has enabled me to work for BA for 35 years (I just loved my job there) but the time has come to move on and I shall be living in Stoke Bruerne I expect until the  men in white coats (or the the ones with the long box) come and take me away.

I am going to miss all my friends in Brookwood and at Byfleet Boat Club (who have always made me so welcome - I shall not forget you) but I shall make new ones I hope in Stoke Bruerne - it's going to be a bit like moving from a country track to the M1 in terms of canals - the Basingstoke to the Grand Union.

There's some work to do in Stoke Bruerne which will take about six weeks so I don't anticipate moving in until early June - just in time for the summer.  I move out of Brookwood at the end of April so I'll spend a few relaxing weeks on the boat.

In the meantime there's the Basingstoke cruise to Odiham to organise and that's looking very promising so I'll sign off from here with the Basingstoke being open for business I hope.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Getting ready for moving on to CRT Waters

I have so much on my plate at the moment (moving house and organising the Basingstoke Easter cruise) that I take every opportunity to do the little things that need to be done. 

Today it was putting BW (well CRT really) numbers on the boat.  It has always been registered with BW/CRT but not licenced as it has been resident on the Wey.  I ordered vinyl computer cut numbers in the right shade of yellow (very nearly!) with a BW logo as the boat was built during BW's time - they came from Kaleco - ordered at 14:00 arrived with my mail (from Derby) at 09:00 the following day.  That's one more thing out of the way.   I didn't want to put the numbers on at all but I don't particularly like the 'tin plate' ones BW supplied and wouldn't screw them to the hull so it seemed that 'vinyl cut' ones were the best option.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Basingstoke Update

Lock 12 receiving some
We are now 46 boats in total for the Basingstoke trip, 36 to Odiham (King John's Castle), 4 for Woking (Bridge Barn hotel) and 6 for Brookwood Country Park.

It is what everyone tells they want to see - boats moving on the canal - so we'll make that happen.  The waterway is primarily a navigation and from that flows (no pun intended) the other hobbies of fishing, cycling, running and walking so we'll turn it back into a navigation at Easter.

The Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) start on fitting new lock gates at Lock 13 today - I imagine they have a huge amount of 'bits and pieces' to do which we may be able to help with but organising this trip and organising my house move is quite enough for me!

There's still room for a few more so if the Basingstoke is something you really want to do now is the time to do it in good company.  Please see this link for further information.