A Year with Thea

Thea, our little fluffy possibly-Siberian rescue cat came to live with us a year ago today. At first she was incredibly nervous and didn’t leave the bedroom and bathroom end of the boat for months. But gradually she has become bolder, and has been on adventures all around the canals with us, although she still hides behind the sofa when the engine is on. Now she’ll happily go outside (when it isn’t snowing) and she and Lyra chase each other about and generally get on pretty well. They won’t snuggle up together but are happy sharing the bed or the sofa. Here’s a little selection of photos showing her increasing boldness, settling in to the life of a boat cat!

2014-02-16 10.00.24  2014-03-07 23.30.41 2014-03-15 08.58.52 2014-04-17 19.37.312014-03-02 16.43.332014-05-11 19.06.272014-05-04 20.08.01  2014-06-12 19.32.05 2014-06-25 13.42.48 2014-06-29 18.48.35 2014-07-12 12.54.52 2014-07-12 12.58.12 2014-07-21 18.16.55 2014-09-03 10.33.50 2014-09-08 17.49.59 2014-09-12 09.29.38 2014-11-09 21.32.49 2014-12-13 15.12.54 2015-02-03 09.36.47 2015-02-03 09.38.46

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Days 23-27 Alvecote

A fantastic weekend at our first ever historic boat rally on our own historic boat. We saw loads of people, friends old and new, and it was great to have all our home comforts with us-no camping this time! We arrived on Wednesday night and left on the following Tuesday, so being there for that long, we were glad to have our own space to retreat to.
Willow attracted a fair bit of attention, and there aren’t many Severners about and none which go to rallies.
Lyra was very good, exploring some of the nearby boats but not getting into any mischief. It was all too scary for Thea to go out but she did get lots of people come in to meet her specifically!
Like Braunston, Alvecote also has boat parades, with awards going to the best turn outside the Samuel Barlow pub, complete with commentary and suspenseful music! We didn’t win but we had great fun being involved, and we really hope to return next year!


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Summer Trip Day 1: Cambridge – Waterbeach

Cambridge – Waterbeach

6 miles, 1 lock

Moored above Bottisham Lock (GOBA moorings)

A slow start over the next few days, as James has to be at work for a bit longer, but last night we officially set off on our summer trip, out of town to the GOBA moorings above Bottisham Lock. We walked over to have dinner and drinks with the Pippins, and then this morning we both commuted in to Cambridge. Depending on work, we’ll either go through Denver on Thursday or Friday. Thea is still unimpressed with the idea of boating but she did emerge from under the sofa briefly whilst the engine was still running.

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Setting off! All being well we’ll not be back til early September! Fore end is looking shiny – James painted it over the weekend.

<– I’m planning to keep the Where’s Willow widget updated where possible

As I was looking up the distance on CanalPlan, this very apt quote from Rolt’s Narrow Boat appeared on the Canalplan homepage.

On an afternoon of the last week in July the great moment arrived when we slipped “Cressy’s” mooring-lines and drew slowly away from the boatyard, heading northwards. Only Herbert Tooley on the bank and the blacksmith at the smithy door watched our unostentatious departure. Beside us on the aft deck stood Mr. Tooley senior in his Sunday suit and best bowler. He had suggested “giving us a hand” as far as Cropredy, such a childlike eagerness lurking beneath his deliberately casual offer that we had not the heart to refuse the old man. As we rounded the bend in the canal that had been the tempting limit of my view for so long, I looked back over the churning wake of our screw for a last glimpse of the familiar yard before the tall hedgerow beside the tow-path hid it from sight.

From Narrow Boat L. T. C. Rolt (1944)


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Cat Update

We’ve had a few people asking about how our newest crew member is settling in, so I thought I’d write an update. Thea’s been on board for nearly three months now, and she is settling in well.

She and Lyra have one end of the boat each, with Thea’s territory being the bedroom and bathroom, and Lyra’s being the living room. We’ve seen various wars played out in miniature: first, it was like the Battle of the Somme, with the kitchen being no-man’s-land and neither venturing behind enemy lines. Then was saw the Vietnam war, with Thea being the Vietcong, occasionally popping up in Lyra’s territory and being firmly quashed (but only when she was spotted!). Now, boundaries are beginning to blur, and we have more of an Afghan Soviet/Taliban situation with Lyra making advances into the bathroom as well as Thea continuing to pop up and cause mischief in the living room while Lyra’s asleep or not taking notice. The closest the two have got to peace is when Thea sits under the armchair in the living room (her safe place, especially when the engine is on) and Lyra sits on top, unaware of the fluffy interloper below!

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The warmer weather means that Lyra is spending more time outside, allowing Thea to explore the boat while she’s out, so we’re hoping that their scents will be getting more mixed and that they will slowly get more relaxed with each other. We still have a few fights (mostly hissing and the occasional thwack from Lyra rather than out-and-out bloodshed and warfare) but I think both are for the most part happy and we are seeing gradual improvements. Thea has yet to venture outside despite encouragements, except for 30second midnight excursion when all was quiet on the Common, but she’s showing more and more interest in the world outside the window. Thea’s very playful and naughty – all cat treats have to be carefully hidden to avoid being woken up in the night by rustlings as she finds her way into a drawer left partially open with treats inside. She’s also proving to be an incredibly non-fussy eater, enjoying everything from oatcakes, to lettuce, tomato and mushrooms! At the moment they are still eating out of sight of each other and with Lyra’s bowl being beyond Thea’s normal advances into her territory, as Lyra tends to leave part of her food for later, which Thea would take advantage of if she came that far! We’re also feeding Lyra a new “Light” catfood as she had put on a fair bit of weight over the winter. We think it’s having an effect, but that may also be down to the warmer weather encouraging her to go outside and exercise more! Anyway that’s enough rambling about the cats, hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

2014-04-17 19.37.31 2014-04-18 12.12.54 2014-04-18 17.17.15 2014-04-29 20.05.08 2014-05-03 11.09.08

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Thea Update

Today Thea goes to the vet to have her second set of jabs. She’s settling in well. There’s a lot to get used to, what with a new environment, strange noises (engine, rowers, swans pecking at weed, stove pipes bubbling etc) let alone getting used to Lyra. The two have now met, and are doing as well as can be expected – they’ve not fought but Lyra has asserted her dominance with some grumpy huffs and low yowls. They keep to themselves at the moment, with Thea occupying the bathroom and bedroom and Lyra having the rest of the boat. When Thea is with us in the bedroom, she’s very sweet and affectionate. snuggling up at our feet most nights. I’ve ordered some Feliway (artificial cat pheromone diffuser) which has come recommended as a cat de-stresser but it’s not arrived yet annoyingly.

2014-02-16 10.00.24

Thea also needed her own ticker, to match Lyra’s. See the side bar.

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Introducing Thea

As soon as we bought our full length boat we began to think about getting another cat. But we needed to wait until the boat was more complete. A few months ago we started to look more seriously. But none of the cats we met were right. We were refused one lovely silver tabby from the Cats Protection because they didn’t like the idea of two cats on a boat near “all the homeless people and the Staffies”- a somewhat prejudiced view of river life! I’d almost given up when I happened on the profile of “Nala” at the Blue Cross where we got Lyra. Young (about 1 and a half) and very pretty, she was used to other cats, so I went to visit her. She is beautiful, with pale blue eyes and what looks like some tabby point Burmese in her family but she’s a moggy none the less. She was such a friendly affectionate little thing when i met her that I reserved her there and then. Having had a cat from them before they didn’t ask for a home visit, but she needed to be neutered.

During the week we swapped the cats’ bedding to introduce them to each others’ scents. Today we brought our new ship’s cat home. She’s now called Thea, after another Grand Union butty (Lyra is a Small Northwich, whereas Thea is a Middle Northwich).

The two cats have not yet met, just sniffed and hissed at each other under the bathroom door. Thea is living in the bedroom and bathroom for now, whilst Lyra has the rest of the boat. We’ll try to keep them apart for a good few more days before gradually setting up encounters. Even through the door grille Lyra asserted that she’s the boss and Thea acted submissively in response. Lyra didn’t seem too perturbed and later on came up to the door curiously. Thea had retreated under our bed by then but has now grown a little bolder and is happily sleeping curled up and purring between us.

Fingers crossed that with careful supervision they will get on eventually!




Thea dozing off on the cross bed

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