Thursday, 28 May 2009

'Houston - we have a GO for launch'!!!.......

... and the BIG day is next Thursday 4th June!

It's happening at Pillings Lock Marina, Flesh Hovel Lane, Quorn, Loughborough, LE12 8FE. Anybody who would like to come and watch and share our 'moment' is very welcome. Craning at Beacon Boats is starting at about 7.30 to 8am, so launch could be any time from about 9.30 to 10am onwards, depending on traffic. The lorry has to come a very long way round because it can't get through some of the villages so it could take a while. So, if you don't want to miss it, get there early. Pillings Lock Marina has a lovely cafe, so that's where you'll find us, tucking into a 'full English' after our early start from Northampton, while we await Windsong's arrival. We did think about following it over, but decided that it would be too nerve-wracking, so will go and stuff our faces instead! Well, we'll have to line our stomach's in preparation for the celebrations!

Today we had probably our last trip to Beacon before the big day, and the photos are below:

Back steps - Bless him, Neil has remembered my little problem with my knees, and made four steps rather than three to make life easier for me

Overhead cupboards in the galley, with lights underneath

The fireplace - the two picture tiles are a souvenir from our Silver Wedding Anniversary trip to New England in 2000

Side hatch inner windows - now glazed

The telly attached to the cabin side, looking very lonely and waiting for it's cabinet to be built around it

Reading lights in the saloon

Reading lights in the bedroom

Rog taking a photo of himself taking a photo - in the bedroom mirror

Trying once again to get a photo of Ali - she's more camera shy than I am!

We are busy getting ready to move out of our RAF house on Saturday, so the next blog will probably be the launch - watch this space....

Saturday, 23 May 2009


Just a little quickie post to say we went to Crick today, (sorry, no photos). We were struck by how much smaller it was than in previous years - lots of space between the stands. We didn't dare go on any of the boat exhibits in case we found something that we really would have liked on Windsong - too late now!

We met up with Ali from Beacon, and her sister, Helen, and Bonnie from Purpleglass, in the beer tent at lunchtime, and partook of one or two of their finest ales!! Well, it would have been rude not to! We also met up with the owners of one of Beacon's previous boats, Golcar Lily, and had a chat with them.

We also bumped into some future owners of a Beacon Boat - they are due to be No 11. Really sorry, but I can't remember your names, but I know you read the blog, lovely to see you.

Also spotted were nb Sanity (nobody on board) and we went for a wander and found Derwent6 (again, nobody on board). We did, however, find Lesley and Joe on board Caxton, taking a rare day off from their bungalow refurbishment. It was lovely to see you both again - we will meet up on the cut sometime very soon.

And last, but by no means least, we called in to see Paul and Maria, of Heartwood Narrowboats, who we met a couple of years ago. They have just become grandparents - congratulations to you both.

Of course, we spent money! Bought a set of clock, barometer, and thermometer in chrome, some rope for spares, some trousers that the legs zip off into shorts for Rog, and a couple of medium weight fleeces, as ours are getting very disreputable, and are fit for nothing but the bin.
We were disappointed, however, that the people selling Turtle Mats didn't seem to be there as we wanted a couple of new ones. Oh well, will have to put the old ones through the washing machine and make do with them for the time being!

Our most outrageous purchase, price-wise, was our lunch -£4.00 each for a bacon bap, and a burger bap!! Well over-priced! I know that the food is usually on the expensive side, but that was ridiculous. I also know that we could have gone elsewhere, but it was nearly 3 'clock by then, and we were starving. Some of these catering firms certainly know how to rip people off.
Ok - rant over!

All in all, we had a nice day. The weather was kind to us for a change, and we enjoyed some convivial company. If we go next year we will be on the boat, and able to enjoy the evening entertainment. We look forward to that.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Getting there....

More progress to report from today's visit to Beacon - the front stable doors are now lined and our glass fitted - although not a good photo of the glass - it needs daylight to fully appreciate the lovely job that Bonnie has done.

The over-bed cupboards have been fitted, and very good they look too, with plenty of room to stow even more of our junk out of sight!

The porthole liners are in place, and Neil has made me an extra little step to get out into the front well - with my dodgy knees the one step was a little too high, and I was struggling to heave myself onto it. Nobody else likes it, so Neil has made it removable. After being on the boat for a while, I hope that I will become fitter so it can be removed if I don't need it anymore.

The bathroom vanity unit and the splash-back have been tiled, and the basin fitted.

The photo above shows the stove and hearth almost ready for tiling. We have had a little bit of a disappointment when it comes to the hearth for the Bubble diesel stove due to changes in the RCD, and also in the installation instructions. We had originally planned to have it on a raised hearth (as are most narrowboat hearths) - the edge of which would have come to where the doorway starts and been the same width all the way around. Unfortunately, the regs now say that there must be 300mm clearance between the front of the stove and any combustible material, which of course means the flooring (oak boards) and the oak trim on the edge of the hearth would also have fallen inside the 300mm. So the only way to get around this is to have the stove sitting at floor level (with fireproof boards underneath) and have the tiles extend into the doorway. We have chosen to have black slate tiles on the floor, and have chosen burgundy tiles for behind the stove. The tiles will be flush with the floorboards so there won't be anything to trip over. Beacon's last boat, Merryweather, had to have the same, but we all thought it was just because they had a much larger stove than ours, and it is multi-fuel - but this was not the case. Beacon use an external surveyor oversee the work for the RCD so it has to comply to the proper regulations. They don't believe that fitters should be allowed to self-certify the RCD as it makes a mockery of the regulations and can lead to problems further down the line, and it also means that some unscrupulous fitters can get away with anything! Still, it looks fine on Merryweather, so I'm sure it will look fine on Windsong.

The inside of the side-hatch doors have now been lined, and the inner window frames have been made and hung - just waiting to be glazed now.

The Houdinis are now all finished - above is the hatch without the insect screen pulled over, and below is with the insect screen. I'm going to see if I can make some 'bungs' for them out of old cushions to stop the condensation dripping on the floor in the winter - will let you know how successful they are (or not!!)

The photos below are of one of the side-hatches and a porthole from the outside of the boat, and of the cratch, complete with it's rolled up cover. We did unroll it to see what it looked like, but had rolled it up again before we remembered to take a photo!

Launch is now looking like the end of the first week or the beginning of the second week of June, so we've still got a few more weeks to wait. I have to admit that the waiting is getting very hard now - we just want to be on board and away. However, they are working as hard as they can at Beacon to get things finished so we will just have to be patient. A couple of months late is nothing in 'boaty' terms, (Ali is horrified as it's the first time they have been late with a boat!) but they have been a man down for most of the fit-out, so we think they've done ok.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Not Wanted On Voyage....

As I said in my last post, we spent the majority of the week in a Transit van. It started on Tuesday, loading up the van, then, with myself and Cassie squeezed into the cab passenger seat, we trundled off to my Mum's in Northampton, to drop Cassie off for the day. We then carried on to Wheeler End Common, near Marlow to take the chest freezer and various other bits and pieces to daughter Emma's. She's had her eye on my freezer ever since we first started talking about living on a boat! After a nice lunch and a bit of a relax and a play with the girls, we got back on the road, back to Mum's. We still had a load of stuff for her, but hadn't wanted to take the time to unload earlier in the day, and then leave her with furniture all over the place, so we had decided to do it later on, and stop the night. When we arrived we unloaded the van, and collapsed for the evening.
The next morning was spent re-arranging her furniture, putting up shelves for the shed, stowing stuff in the loft, and anywhere else we could find space! Poor Mum!! We arrived back home late afternoon, and then had the job of heaving two very heavy boxes containing the leather Captain's chairs from the spare bedroom, where they have been languishing for months, down the stairs and into the van. By that time I was absolutely pooped, so called it a day. Thursday morning saw us once again loading the van, this time with the stuff for the self-store unit we had rented to get the boat stuff out of the way. We had a very easy trip to Melton Mowbray - unloaded, and were back home in time for coffee. Next trip was to the dump, so we loaded up again and off we went. After that, it was time to take the van back to Enterprise, and re-claim the car, and all before lunch! What a productive morning.

We have spent most of the time since Friday getting the stuff ready to go into long-term storage. A few items of furniture, with sentimental value, and some boxes of 'stuff' that I felt would be daft to get rid off - after all, we probably won't be able to live on the boat for ever. At some point we will get too old and decrepit to manage any more, so we will have to move 'onto the bank' once again - at least we will be able to have a few familiar things around us in our dotage. Below is just one pile of stuff 'Not Wanted On Voyage'. There is another load of boxes upstairs, along with an antique bookcase that my Grandpa made, a wooden chest of drawers and the dresser from the kitchen. I hope it will all go into the container! The removal men are coming tommorrow.
Our goddaughter Karen is having the majority of the rest of our furniture, having just signed the lease on an unfurnished house to share with her friend while they both do their PhDs at Hull University. Anyone want a dishwasher or a Hostess Food trolley? They're the only items that aren't spoken for now.
Another visit to Beacon on Tuesday - another progress report then. With any luck they may have some idea of a launch date by then! We live in hope!!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Not stalking you - honest!!!.....

We went to Beacon again today, this time with son Russ, and Nat, his girlfriend, to introduce her to the boat. No new photos this time - we'd only given them 3 days to do any work because of the Bank Holiday weekend. Work, of course had been done - frames/liners for the houdinis and the side hatches, fender holders and various other bits and pieces, and the painting is now complete, but not really much to photograph this time. Still, never mind, we probably won't be able to go up next week so there will be plenty to see the week after. We will be spending most of next week in a transit van, ferrying various items of furniture, goods and chattels to various members of the family, and we have decided to put all the boat items that we have accumulated into storage at Melton Mowbray. That way we won't have to go so far to ferry them all to the boat when it is ready. We will then be able to 'see the wood for the trees' at home and decide what else needs to be done. We will take a marina mooring at Pilings for a week or two after launch so we can get sorted out before heading for Sawley for their Open Weekend.

We needed to go to Millar Marine at Shardlow for some Epifanes paint to finish painting the plank/ladder, so decided to find a pub there for lunch - we went to 'The Navigation' and had an OK, but not great, lunch, and then headed off to have a walk along the towpath. And guess who we spied on the visitor moorings - yes, you guessed it - Derwent6! Again! Honest guv - we're not stalking you! We had a chat with Del and Al for a while then headed off as Russ and Nat had to get back for a Ball tonight. Del and Al, it was great to see you both again - be sure that we will come and see you at Crick and have a good gander inside then. Have a good trip.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Looking Amazing...

The external painting is almost finished, and Windsong is looking amazing!!! Friends Ang and Tony arrived yesterday morning, and we bundled them straight into the car as we wanted to get to Beacon as early as possible because Ali, Neil and Andy had promised themselves a long weekend doing anything BUT think about our boat - they certainly deserve it - and we didn't want to make them too late getting away. Ang and Tony were blown away by it all, and we will probably never be forgiven if they aren't our first visitors after she is launched!

Front decoration - courtesy of Andy

Chrome mushroom vents are installed

As are the Houdini hatches, and the stern hatch, also the ports on the starboard side

The finished scroll mid-way along the starboard side

Sheila just completing the scroll mid-way along the port side

More work is nearing completion inside as well - Neil did much head-scratching to make my version of a boatman's cupboard just as I wanted it - with a curved glass door in the top portion to serve as a display cabinet for my small collection of jugs. I am over the moon with the result, it is exactly as I wanted it (idea stolen unashamedly from nb Caxton - thanks Lesley)

My beautiful cupboard

The upholstery for the dinette has also arrived, and looks as good as we had hoped

The granite worktops have also been installed now, and look stunning

After leaving the good folks at Beacon to get on with their weekend, we repeated last week's expedition to 'The Boathouse' at Barrow-upon-Soar for lunch, again taken in the garden, where I proceeded to get a bit sunburned. We then repeated our walk of last week as well, stopping at the lock to gongoozle as one boat left and another entered. All in all, another lovely day, and although the only person to actually do anything was Rog, who drove, we were all knackered by the time we got home again about 5. A great evening, with bacon and leek pasta, garlic bread, raspberry pavlova (that's the diet blown for this week - again! ) and much alcohol, was had by all. Ang and Tony have gone home again now, to collect some rescued battery hens to add to the cockerel they already have, so we will expect some fresh eggs next time we see them.