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.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Concentrating on the Stoke Bruerne house

I am concentrating a bit on the new house at Stoke Bruerne at the moment as I moved in last Thursday (27-June-13). I have set up a blog (see link under the words Stoke Bruerne above) which I'll try and keep up-to-date until normal life returns!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

And what happens when I am gone?

Well apart from everyone celebrating as I am moving house and tidying up the loose ends, wills and things like that, I wondered what happened to all my stuff that's on line.

Most of my stuff is with Google (I loved them initially but recently have become less than happy but things are so intertwined on Google I suspect I'll stay).  I googled what happens if my accounts are not used and found this which I have set up.  It will detect no account use after one month of inactivity and after six months will delete all my data - I would imagine that if I haven't used the account(s) in that timescale I am probably past it and may be pushing up daisies somewhere.  The last thing I want is for 'me' to stay on-line once I have shuffled off.  It may not be for some time but we never know when our time is up so in my view it is better to be prepared!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Date for house confirmed and a fleeting visit

My builder has just confirmed that next Thursday is definately the date I can move in to Stoke Bruerne - that's a huge weight of my mind and now I can really start working towards that date.  The removal firm and the storage company have been informed.

This morning Doug and James on Chance chanced by - it was good to meet both of you.  You will enjoy the Barking Creek trip and no you are not barking mad to go - it'll be great.  Hope to see you in Stoke Bruerne before too long.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Another visit to the new house

The bathroom
I chose Saturday as it appeared to be the best day of the weekend and I wanted to see what Stoke Bruerne was like during a festival.  Well it wasn't the best day of the weekend so I am not sure if the crowds were representative or not.

Progress continues and the painting is going ahead at pace.

The bathroom was probably the worst room in the house but it now looks lovely (even though not finished) but the shower tray and loo are in place and it seems as if there is going to be plenty of room.  I had to make a quick decision on the phone about whether the tiles should be horizontal or vertical.  I chose horizontal (also known as 'brick' pattern) and pleased I did as it appears to be very pleasing to the eye and meets with the approval of the tradesmen.
The dark line on the ceiling
was where the wall/door was

The kitchen looks like a bomb has gone off in it but I am sure it will tidy up very quickly.  The removal of the door and wall at the bottom of the stairs has been a huge improvement.  I would have liked the stairs to come down and finish by the front door but there was a problem with headroom.  It looks so much better than it did and seems to have so much more room.  I have been thinking about a table for the kitchen and rather liked the idea of one with a glass top - I saw one last night in the Pelican at Addlestone and now know I don't want one with a glass top - it was messy (despite the best efforts of the staff to keep in clean) and showed numerous scratches.

The wall between the bathroom and No1 bedroom has been replaced (it was just two bits of hardboard) and no further work has been undertaken to bedroom No1.

The loo will be behind the
workman's stool
Bedroom No2 is one floor up and in place of the old wardrobe a stud wall has been erected over half the width and behind that will go a handbasin and a loo - just so that whoever sleeps in there doesn't need to go downstairs in the middle of the night.

The carpet (for the bedrooms and stairs) has been ordered and will go in soon.

I enjoyed the festival but found the boats difficult to view but I don't suppose the gusty showers helped.

I have made arrangements to have my furniture moved in on Thursday 27-June.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Why does nothing in this country work as it should?

I am moving house at the moment and temporarily living on my boat.  I have to change a number of things none of which seem to work.
  • I couldn't change the address on my driving licence because ideally the DVLA would like me to use Internet Explorer - I don't use Windows at all so why are they being so prescriptive and why isn't the EU prosecuting them for promoting one operating system over another?
  • I wanted to change the address for my mobile phone contract; we don't need to know your address they said.  OK I thought I'll see if I am due an upgrade for my phone.  Please enter your account the web site said but that kind of stuff is in storage.  The web site suggested to text the word 'account' to 12345 so I did that and the system responded with please text 'account plus your postcode' to 12345 - oh so they don't need my address but they need my postcode.  After much fumbling around their awful website I managed to change my address but it left one word (the name of the village) from my old address as part of my new address.  Expensive phone call to the provider to get them to change the address because they do need it.
  • Phone call from the window company this afternoon asking where their payment was - I sent it a week ago - it's not been received but then they only did half the job they were contracted to do! I now have to rush around dealing with the bank (the cheque has not been presented).  And where's  the cheque - probably some lowlife as stolen it.  Updated at 18:45 - it turns out that the window company procedure is to do the bit they haven't done (secondary glazing) after the builders have finished but, as with everything I have experienced in this world, the issue is lack of communication.  Now I know what's happening I am happy but all it would have taken is a quick phone call or E-Mail and I would not have been concerned about it.
  • And who got it right - Network Rail with my Senior Railcard - 30 seconds on line to change my address.
  • And don't start me on the complete inadequacies of the Conservation Department of my new Local Authority - hopeless doesn't even start to describe them - my experiences of local authorities has worn very thin of late - too much pay and not enough delivery of that which the individual pays for and no idea of customer service - I suppose they get paid if they deliver or not.
  • And as for my bank - well they wanted to send the bank statements for two clubs I am a cheque signatory to to my new address but failed to change my personal address - something to do with the processes they follow but they continually tell me they are the 'Helpful' bank - not sure I agree with them.
There's lots more that's not gone according to plan most of which is due to poorly developed web sites and lack of staff who do give a damn about customer service.  They all seem to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.  This country is not alone in going to the dogs but it is up there with the leaders.  Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg please get a grip and allow Great Britain to once again use the word Great with pride and don't contract everything offshore where they might understand how to code stuff but don't understand the business.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A visit to the new house

The kitchen which is below
towpath level
I paid a visit to the new house in Stoke Bruerne today and had the lovely company of my friend Brian (Orion's Wey).

Progress is amazing with the bottom two floors tiled, the kitchen well on the way to being installed, the bathroom completely different (and so much better).

Unfortunately the suggested date of 21-June is no longer achievable due to delivery issues with some of the bits and pieces needed for the new house - I am told this is quite common practice in the current economic climate so we have agreed on 26-June as the 'handover' date.

The waterway was full of boats with Russell Newbery engines (still there from the previous weekend) and some lovely historic boats ready for the coming weekend which is the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Canal Museum.  I think I may well go up to the house again on Saturday to see what a 'full' Stoke Bruerne (boats and people) is really like.

Monday, 10 June 2013

A bit irritated and sad this morning

Happily using the Brookwood 3
(Photo Suzanne Wilson)
I read a blog this morning whilst having a nice cup of tea.  I read this blog.  To post the following comment 'On into the afternoon we passed the Basingstoke canal – not for us, apparently it’s shallow, littered with low bridges and they close it at the drop of a hat' is in my view just plain bad manners, irresponsible and wrong - they have not been up the Basingstoke - they have just passed Woodham Junction.  On behalf of all of those who have worked their socks off to restore the Basingstoke and to keep it open may I suggest to the originator of the blog concerned that they keep to the facts and don't make assumptions.  Just for the record there are a couple of low, but easily navigable to an empty working boat,  bridges in Hampshire (Farnborough Road and Reading Road South) and on the Easter cruise Finch (at 2' 11" draft) had no problems so where's the shallow issue?  Perhaps if they had either contacted the BCA or read their Nicholsons Guide they would know better.

The full blog is here.  I tried to make the comment directly but Wordpress is so difficult I gave up to vent my sadness here.

The Basingstoke is open for business as CRT Trustee John Dodwell knows as he is bringing his tug Helen down from the Midlands to enjoy the canal and that boat has a 3' draft.  All you need to do is ring the BCA on 01252 370073 to book a passage to enjoy a lovely canal.

Off to Stoke Bruerne tomorrow (Tuesday) to see the progress on the house so will hopefully report back on that either tomorrow evening or perhaps Wednesday morning.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Delightful Mooring

Leo No2 at Walsham Gates
Whilst I am waiting for the house to be finished and whilst the herringbone moorings at Addlestone are being renovated the National Trust have kindly put me on a residential mooring at Walsham Gates.  I have to say there is not much I can find wrong with it,  quiet, car just 5 mins away, good internet access and on the non-towpath side.  I think the only downside is the speed of the passing boats (not all and predominately private boats - the one who was asked to slow down at 06:15 yesterday morning got the fright of his life and stammered a reply along the lines of 'I didn't think anyone was aboard').  It doesn't matter in my view if anyone is aboard or not - it's the boat that can also be damaged - although mine moves not more than a couple of inches.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Biding my soul in patience

The new 'finger' on one of the
herringbone moorings at
Addlestone
I am waiting for the builder to finish at Stoke Bruerne but things have, inevitably, been delayed a little due to the awful Spring weather we have been 'enjoying'.

In the meantime I have spent a little time helping the National Trust where I can by making sure they have enough room available to build their new 'fingers' on the herringbone moorings at Addlestone.  What it has meant is that I have ended up squatting on other moorings and had moved three times in a week up until this morning.  This morning a boat called Dingo turned up and advised me that I was on their mooring and the Trust had advised that it was not being occupied.  Just as well I hadn't gone out for the day I suppose.  I moved on to the last remaining unoccupied mooring in the hope that I don't get kicked off that one!  I'll certainly move back on to my own mooring just as soon as I can.  I am not feeling too comfortable at the moment.

I am off to Stoke Bruerne again this Friday - it was the day I had hoped to be moving in but I hope to see a lot of progress and it is the start of the Russell Newbery weekend so it should be quite interesting.