Friday, August 18, 2017

Fair-weather farers

Life on board NB Kantara is all rather... not very lively at the moment. OK, it's true that we'd be out enjoying ourselves on the cut right now if we weren't bothered by the weather. But it's also true that it's currently pouring with rain yet again, with a very strong wind, and there's a cracking thunderstorm. We've had a few decent days, sure, but generally we're not encouraged to venture out at the moment. Fair-weather farers I guess we are. I know several folk who've been out for a few weeks, and the bad weather's featured large in their experiences.

It's not as if we've got nothing to do while we're here. Roy and Lee came a few days ago to replace our central-heating pump (which alone cost £180!!), then to flush gallons of black, gunky water out of the system and top up with fresh water/antifreeze mix. They'll be back soon to do some woodwork and tiling in our shower room, too. And Grace is painting castles and roses on the cabin doors. My role is that of "the domestic". Well, why not? I ask. Grace played that one for thirty-odd years!

Kantara is sitting in a wide, open space at the moment. Lindsey Ann vacated the berth two away from us on one side for a couple of weeks, but she's back now. The space between her and us was empty for some months after Cream Cracker left, until The Hodma'dod came along, but she was only there for a few days, and I suspect they won't be coming back. And, on our other side, Emma Jane has now been away for several weeks, and no-one seems to know where they are or when they'll return. It is rather nice to have good light and views on both sides.

Whether or not we get to cruise for a short while in the next few weeks remains to be seen, but we will be out with Dorothy, Christine and Mike for a couple of weeks in the middle of September. What we have to do now is decide on a suitable route. Four Counties Ring starting at Fradley Junction? Leicester Ring starting from here? Decisions, decisions!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

It gives me great pleasure

Yesterday evening, with excitement and some trepidation, I published my third boaty book on Amazon Kindle.

I'm really pleased with it. Somehow, one copy was sold overnight, several hours before I started to promote it on social media! It'd been hard work, but I love writing, working with words and ideas - and working with the photos I've taken so many of! The photo gallery that goes with this book - there are links to it throughout the text - is hosted on Blogspot, like this blog, and it works really well.

Having discovered that, I set about righting a wrong that happened with my first book,"Life with our feet under water". I used Flickr for the photo gallery for that, only to find shortly after publication that readers were presented with adverts randomly throughout their visits. I tried two other platforms for the photos, but failed to find anything better. But then came my idea about Blogspot.

So I  moved all of the photos for that book onto the new platform, and yesterday I republished the book with the new links. Kindle should be emailing all past buyers of the 1st edition, inviting them to download the new version for free. I'm very happy about that.

Then, feeling really inspired, I cast a critical eye over "Hints and Tips".

And I found, to my horror, that a number of the web-links in that book were broken, and these links are a very important factor in the content. A number of web pages had simply been removed. I was more than a little annoyed that I hadn't seen that coming. OK, it wasn't too big a problem to put right. I simply found new pages that served the purpose, and replaced the duff links with new ones. (Those of you who've bought the book will know what I'm talking about. Those who haven't should buy the book! 😀 )

But what could I do to stop this happening again? Nothing!

And what could I do to prevent having to keep re-publishing, every time I found a broken URL? And also...

I'd added a couple of new hints/tips to this 2nd edition. What with those and the correction of the several broken links, Kindle would surely see fit to advise previous customers and let them download the new version. But what would I do when I came up with a new hint or tip (what's the difference between them?)?


I created another new "blog". This one will be used to post all future corrections of broken links, and all new content. There's a link to this "Addendum Blog" in the new edition of the book, and readers are encouraged to check it every now and then to see what's new.  And also I'll announce updates in this blog, as well as on Twitter and FB.

So, dear readers, it gives me great pleasure to introduce/reintroduce you to these three books. They're all for sale on Amazon, and can be read on PCs, tablets and phones as well as Kindle e-readers.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed producing them!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Making the most of it

In stark contrast with today...

...Friday was bright and sunny, the best weather for a few days. So we made the most of it.

Burghley House in Peterborough.


Friday, August 04, 2017

Wow, this is different!

It's been quite a while since I last blogged, but we've not been idle. Putting housey matters to rest - or at least postponed them - we came back home to Kantara last Sunday.

We got the two pipes replaced in the engine, but I still have to dry the bilges completely. There's a few other small jobs I have to do down there, but the wind has stopped me. Seriously, I wouldn't dare lift the deck board at the moment. At the very least, it would result in bangs and scrapes to the paintwork. Yesterday must have broken the record as far as wind-speed in the marina is concerned. The waves on the pound were marine in size.

It was Grace's birthday yesterday, and we were going to go out for the day. We like the look of Burghley House in Peterborough. The forecast suggests today might be less inclement, so we'll venture out today.

When visited Claydon Manor a couple of weeks ago, photos inside the house were not allowed, so I put up NT photos in my last post. The weather outside wasn't keen on pics being taken, either, but I tried. These are all I got.

The weather hasn't really invited us out onto the cut yet, either. We've had it in mind for some time now that we'd combine a bit of cruising with a bit of boat painting, but... we'll see. Grace reminded me this morning that we still have to get the central heating pump replaced, and the system flushed, and we need to do it before we need the heating. That'll be next week then!

I've been particularly busy this past month or so completing my latest book, and it's now almost ready to be published.

I'm also working on an idea I've had for "Hints and tips for life with your feet under water". Since publishing that earlier this year, I've found new hints and tips I want to add to the book, so what I'm going to do is this...

I'll add them to the current edition, along with a link to a blog on which I'll post any future addenda. Readers of the book can then follow that link from time to time, and get the updates as they arise. I'll announce them on this blog, and on Twitter and Facebook. "Hints and tips" will be published as a new edition, and those who have already bought it will be notified by Kindle, and given the opportunity to update their copy simply, and at no cost.

I'm considering doing something along the same lines with my first book, too. More on that when I've decided. At the very least, I might give it a new cover!

More details of my books can be found on Amazon. Please have a look!

OK, so the weather forecast for Peterborough remains much better than yesterday, so we're off!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Home from home?

Ever since moving onto Kantara, I've looked upon the house as being our home from home ("a place where one is as happy, relaxed, or comfortable as in one's own home" - Oxford Dictionary) although the longer we were on the boat, the more I found Kantara to be the most comfortable. But the way this year's been going, I've been feeling that I'm homeless, bouncing between the boat and the house the way we have been, without any sense of being settled.

Last Thursday was the start of our second consecutive week in St Albans, and we're here until at least Friday of this week. Looking after the garden and Naomi and Eddie's cat, Samson, while they were on holiday has been simple enough, and we were glad to do it. I love being in the garden, so watering, weeding and eating some of the produce was great.

It's my numptiness, which resulted in us having various routine appointments this week instead of last week, that has delayed our return to the boat for the additional week. What we do once we're back is undecided. I think we're beyond the idea of planning anything. What we do know is that Roy and Lee will be with us on Monday to replace the perished engine hoses that the CRT man identified... whenever that was; time at the moment is even more elusive than normal. We know that painting has to be done on the boat. We know that Christine, Mike and Dorothy will be joining us on September 9th for a couple of weeks of faring. I know I have to finish my second "Feet" book. Soon.

Apart from that, don't ask me!

It was good to get out of the house yesterday, and get a bit of a break. We visited the boat, and spent a mere ten minutes aboard while we collected a bunch of things that would make the coming week a bit more productive. We then drove to Claydon, in Bucks, a National Trust property we'd not seen before, then, after a few hours there, on to Goring in Oxforshire, to pick up Jess after an afternoon gig there. The driving in itself was really pleasant, the journeys largely very rural,

I won't go into the details of Grace's laptop computer dying on her last week, and the very-near-loss of all of her files. If I did, you'd think we were feeling sorry for ourselves! (Only a bit, honest!)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Limping back...

I didn't mention that when we broke down on Saturday, a group of women came along the towing-path and immediately showed great concern over our plight. I was just stealing myself to launch off the side of the boat, over tall stinging nettles and onto an invisible bank at the time. After my breathtaking jump and perfect landing, I looked up into the face of Jane. Jane and her husband Michael are old friends from when we lived in St Albans. Michael was our minister at the Baptist church there, but had left to go to Poland to teach in 2005, and returned four years later to take up the pastorate of Rugby Baptist Church, where we met up again in 2012. They live in Hillmorton, quite close to the place where we broke down.

Jane and her friends, having been assured that there really was nothing they could do to help, apart from telling us the nearest road bridge for the RCR man to drive to, went on their way. Later, I got a FB message from Michael offering us whatever help we might need; beds for the night, for example.

" I suspect this is not like calling out the AA?" he asked.

"RCR arrived quickly, the problem was sorted out, and we were on the move within a couple of hours." I replied. " It really is very much like calling out the AA - only wetter!!"

It had been a nice coincidence.

Talking of coincidences...

It was later that day, while we were moored and recovering, that Michelle and I had our "Hippocampus" moment. Do read about it if you haven't already! We're still amazed.

On Sunday morning, with Grace and Michelle still in a lot of pain, we carried on to Hillmorton Locks, which we ascended solo, though with a bit of help from a vollie at the bottom lock. We moored above the Admiral Nelson lock at Braunston. Another light day.

Sunday had been hot and sunny. Just the three Braunston locks had been a sweltering experience. Monday was cooler. We finished the locks in tandem with NB Mister E,

did the tunnel in style and a lot of drips, turned left at Norton Junction

and ran into a hold-up at Watford Locks.

The 45 minutes was enough time for us to have a bite to eat, after which Michelle got out to do the locking on this final flight. The rest of the journey was frustratingly slowed by a boat in front of us which was travelling so slowly that even our tick-over speed was too fast. He was well aware of us, but made no attempt to let us past for ages. Sorry, but, in the circumstances, we were a bit annoyed. Eventually, he stopped for us, and apologised as we overtook.

"I only go slow", he said.

Back at Yelvertoft, we had a very welcome dinner at The Wheatsheaf, and Michelle drove back home on Tuesday morning. We all agreed that, despite the injuries and break-down, we'd had a really good time together.