Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of our readers a very happy 2014!

We’ll be seeing in the new year on the boat, then hopefully attempting a New Year’s Day cruise up the college Backs, in convoy with a couple of other boats.

The last sunset of 2013!

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New Neighbour!

Today Bones came to pick up our old mattress (as her memory foam one has dementia!). She collected it and put it into the car before coming over to Willow with Boots for a cup of tea. John Pippin and later, Jackie, also popped in, and it was very nice to see them all.

Then, we went out to Wicken to pick up Lyra from Stalag Puss III. For the first time we actually saw where she had spent her holidays. A very nice, clean and spacious little cat room, she seemed very comfortable and reluctant to leave!

She meowed all the way home and was pleased to be back on Willow. So far she’s not been out much, preferring to snooze by the fire in this chilly weather, but if she does, she will get a surprise, because her old home is moored nearby! The new owners of Lucky Duck have got their Cambridge mooring, and are our newest neighbours, just two boats away. There was no one in when we knocked earlier, but we’ve been in touch by phone as I had been given their number by the broker. Hopefully we will get to meet them and see what changes they have made very soon!


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The Season’s Greetings and all Good Wishes

for… 1933
from the Severn and Canal Carrying Company


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Christmas Greetings

A card arrived in the post this morning from Willow’s previous owner, Simon. It’s a lovely montage of snowy scenes featuring Willow, from his 30 years boating. We were really touched to receive it, on this, our first Christmas as Willow’s custodians.

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Berkhampstead, Fenny Stratford, Hemel Hempstead, Ware, Rickmansworth and Little Venice

We’re off visiting family, leaving Willow in an undisclosed location (that isn’t Cambridge) for security, so won’t be blogging too much for the next week or so. We wish all our readers a wonderful Christmas and all the best for the New Year!


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When we sold the Duck, our old Honda EX650 generator went with it. It wasn’t until recently that we bought a new one to replace it (a quiet but relatively beefy 2kW Honda EU20i, capable of battery charging and running the vacuum cleaner although nothing compared to the Pippins’ mighty 6kW beast!). Once we’d eventually got it home (it came from a seller on the Shroppie, who passed it to a friend of ours, who then gave it to us when we were at the Napton do) I called our insurance company and asked them to note it on our file in order to make sure we were covered should it (god forbid) go walkabout. They advised us to photograph and mark it, so that’s why I’m putting it up here, partly!

Additionally, and in order to be covered, it is locked up at all times – either chained to the boat when running on the bank, or locked to a bulkhead inside the engine room when not in use. Eventually we want to have some seats made for the welldeck which will include a lockable box, ventilated overboard, where we can both store and run the generator.

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Christmas comes to Willow

We don’t normally bother decorating the boat, apart from our first year on the Duck when I went a little crazy with tinsel! This year, I wanted to do something more classic for our first Christmas on Willow, and so I gathered sprigs of evergreen leaves to put over the windows, and set the left overs in a festive red teapot.

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River Lea walk

Last Friday I had a few hours spare after giving a presentation at UCL and wanted a break. So I decided to go and walk along a section of the river Lea which I see from the train when I go in and out of London on the Liverpool Street line.

I got the Overground to Hackney Wick, and then walked the towpath up to Tottenham Hale, where I caught my train home to Cambridge. In some ways the river feels a bit like the Cam. It’s about the same width, it’s lined with an assortment of narrowboats, and it has rowers! I really enjoyed looking at the various interesting boats, including at least three of those strange orange ex-lifeboats (in a 4 mile stretch!) I was less pleased to see that in some places there was a lot of fairly obviously boater rubbish, and one place where a temporary workshop was going on under a bridge. I’d not have had any issue with it – under a bridge seems like a sensible place to carry out boat repair on a budget, but the sheer quantity of detritus this had created was depressing. It wasn’t all bad though. It’s a very pretty bit of river for the most part, and I enjoyed my walk very much. The Lea rowing club looked great too, and there were some lovely moorings opposite at Springfield Marina which definitely took my fancy! I also got the impression of a strong community. Although I was just a random passer by and not interacting, I saw various people popping in and out of each others’ boats and chatting in a friendly way. If we end up in London in the future, I’d like to live in this part of the city, although I’d only consider it if we could secure a permanent mooring in the area.

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Looking down the Hertford Union

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A converted dayboat

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This one reminded me of Pyewacket!

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I Frances has been across the Atlantic, apparently!

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Near Springfield Marina

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Lea Rowing Club

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On Saturday we went to the Historic Narrow Boat Club’s annual November social. For the first time we went there under our own speed, in our car. One of the reasons we *needed* to go by car was to pick up a second hand generator which a friend had collected for us, as well as our new fenders (not managed to photograph them yet!)

It was a really good day. Aside from how liberating it was not to have to rely on other people and trains for transport, it was just a very nice get together. There was a talk from Roger Wickson about his time spent on the canals in the 40s, 50s and 60s, with the working boat people. It was a passionate talk about a way of life now disappeared and a people quite apart from the rest of the world at the time. His photos and recollections of the cut “as it was and as it SHOULD be!” were quite wonderful.

Also speaking was Tony Lewery, about the reprint of a sketchbook of drawings by one of the last wooden boat builders, Ken Keay. HNBC has recently reprinted the book (for sale via the HNBC shop for £15 with free P&P for HNBC members), and it’s really lovely – committee members Sarah and Paul put it together and it’s a treat to read and look at. Ken’s drawings are amazing. He wasn’t trained as an artist, and his sketches aren’t for artistic purposes – although they are beautiful – they were made as a way of recording the tools, skills and practices of wooden boat building, now only carried on by a few people.

In the evening we made the most of not having to rush for a train by having dinner at The Folly pub, which was really good – both James and I had faggots!

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