Saturday, May 01, 2021

Back On The Cut!

Well, we finally got back out on the cut and it was lovely!

Our Moorhen lodgers had left but sadly out of the eight chicks only three survived and left the nest. On reading up on it on google it's quite common for only a few of the chicks to survive. Thinking about it all the years I have been on the canal I have never seen a Moorhen with more than three or four chicks so it must be quite common that not all of them survive. It's really sad but that's nature I suppose.

I spent a week getting the boat cleaned inside and out before our trip out and it felt so nice knowing that we can now take the boat out as and when we want. It seemed like an eternity waiting for restrictions to be lifted but finally, we were off out!

Parbold is a favourite place of mine to moor overnight, it's not far but feels like we have travelled a long way. It's perfect when we only have a weekend off as we can get there and back in no time and it's so peaceful and picturesque. It was Al's first time there on the boat and I think he is a firm fan of the place now too.

We stayed in the Marina on Friday night then set out on Saturday and headed for Parbold. The weather was absolutely perfect which made our post lockdown cruise even better. We planned on maybe stopping at a pub for a bite to eat, but we enjoyed the boat so much we were quite happy to eat on the back deck in the sunshine.

I am ashamed to admit I don't really do locks. In all the years I have had the boat I have always been at the helm so have never needed to learn. Al is becoming quite good at steering the boat and his confidence is building more and more each trip out. Once he is confident enough, he will take the boat into locks so I really need to start doing the locks too!

There is a deep lock in Parbold and Al had never done one so this would be his first. The plan was to moor at the bottom of the lock then go and gongoozle to watch how it was all done. It turned out that a couple we met at one of the bridges was going through the lock, so I asked if Al could do the lock with them. I knew he would grasp the concept straight away and he didn't disappoint which was just as well as he had to lock me back down! He did it perfectly and I felt very safe considering he was a lock virgin so he is hired!!

        



                                              A silhouette of my new " Lockie"  :)

Tickety Boo started the first time after so long sitting idle she didn't let us down apart from a squealing belt. It was slipping and making a bit of a racket but after a short sharp blast of power it soon stopped and the rest of the trip was trouble-free.


                                             So nice to be out again.

It was such a lovely weekend and bliss to be out on the cut in the glorious sunshine. Typical of me after a lockdown I wanted to be in the middle of nowhere! Most people after lockdown want to party and go where there is lots going on but I was more than happy it was just Al and me in the beautiful countryside.


         Some lovely gardens on the way through Burscough.        





            
                                   Plenty of liquid refreshment, and why not?

      A lovely view from the Galley window, nice to wake up to.

My new job is brilliant, it doesn't feel like a job at all. I only do an hour or so in the morning from 8am and the same at three pm doing the school run with a lovely little boy, he is adorable and so well behaved. He goes to a fabulous school called Bluebell Park, he goes in with a smile on his face and comes out the same. I have all those hours in between the morning and afternoon run to do with what I please, it's bliss. I can spend lots of time going to the boat and being in Al's lovely house too. I feel like I have retired early!

                                              

                     Masses of Bluebells in Parbold.

Doing this job has really opened my eyes to just how many children have learning difficulties of varying degrees. Bluebell Park is an amazing school and caters for all the children's different needs. To be honest it makes me feel quite humble. I feel quite honoured to be working in such a caring worthwhile job.

So our next adventure! I thought I would try and book a passage through to Liverpool for a few days at half term in June. I didn't think for one minute we would get in but surprisingly there was plenty of slots. Another first for Alan and I am sure he will love it. You see such a different world travelling along the Canal to Liverpool and staying in the Salthouse dock is great. Nice to just meander into town shopping having nice meals and being able to have a drink without worrying about getting home as home is in the dock! I am really looking forward to it.

So now I have a Skipper and a Lockmaster onboard what more can a girl ask for! Oh and being the star he is he painted the engine bay too....don't know what I did to deserve him!

I have ordered a new vanity sink unit for the bathroom so photos to follow once fitted. The Bathroom on the boat needs sprucing up a bit to match the new decor in the rest of the boat so a few tweaks here and there and it will. Looking forward to tidying it up, new coving trim around the top of the walls, new flooring that will match the floor in the Galley and new fan and shower led lights, oh and a hand wash wall dispenser... get us!! There won't be enough room on the new sink for a hand wash so a wall-mounted one will solve that problem. I can't wait to have a porcelain sink in the bathroom, I have had a stainless steel "salad bowl" for far too long!

It's May Bank Holiday weekend so a nice three-day break. Household chores have kept me busy today as Al is working so now all chores out of the way a free day tomorrow to go boating!

It's a huge relief to feel that things are slowly getting back to a near normal. I have always loved and appreciated the boat but now more than ever after lockdown.  Having somebody special to share it with too. Life is good!

            ( For those who don't know to Gongoozle or be a Gongoozler is to watch boats and activities on the Canal especially at Locks)


Thursday, April 01, 2021

Life In Lock Down

Who would have ever thought we would have been subject to a pandemic lockdown! People have coped in different ways, but it has sadly been a struggle for most in varying degrees. I just count myself extremely lucky that I have been able to spend lockdown with Al. I have said before, I miss the boat at times but would have missed Alan more!

 Choosing to stay on land during the lockdown was in my mind the best choice. It made it difficult to visit the boat as I chose not to be classed as a liveaboard for the duration of the lockdown so wasn't able to just pop in as and when. Living in such a beautiful home with Al has been really lovely, and being together 24/7 has just been proof we get on so well. Above all it has just felt comfortable and right...can't speak for Al on that score but he has put up with me!!

 Now restrictions have been lifted it was a relief to be able to go check the boat which I did at the soonest opportunity! My neighbour on the mooring had informed me that I had an uninvited guest onboard! A Moorhen has decided to make her nest in the most awkward place on the boat! We use the stern door to go in and out, we have bow doors obviously but they are locked from the inside! This is where they have decided to build their nest!
I was a bit nervous knowing I was going to have to run the gauntlet of a very protective Mum or Dad Moorhen, apparently, they both sit on the nest. As much as I didn't want to disturb Ma and Pa, I needed to pass them just once to get into the boat after that we will use the bow doors for the duration of the pending new family!

 So on Monday, I did just that. On arriving at the boat Mr or Mrs Moorhen was sitting on the nest. I, as quietly as I could stepped onto the stern, the Moorhen immediately jumped off the nest so I quickly stepped over the nest  opened the door and got in! The Hen was fiercely protective and let me know in no uncertain terms it wasn't happy to be disturbed! It left the nest but didn't leave the stern and made a real threatening growling noise with it's beak wide open ready for the attack! I have never entered the boat so fast!! Thankfully the Hen got back on the nest and happily settled down again, I did worry that the nest and eggs would be abandoned once disturbed but all is well!

 Surprisingly the boat had fared quite well after being left for so long. I had been really worried it would smell damp, but it was fine, just a bit dusty and the woodburning stove needs some attention to the seal on the roof. As we have all summer to sort that it's not a major problem. If needed we can use cental heating if chilly. It's been a long haul but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel! I think we still have a way to go and I for one don't feel confident that we won't have a third lockdown, I am hoping upon hope we don't!

 My situation has changed quite a bit during the lockdown. Apart from the fact it has just proved we have a strong relationship that can withstand a pandemic or any other curve ball life throws at us it also made me re-evaluate my life, not my relationship, I have never been happier . 

 I decided after an episode in work it was time to think about moving on. I hadn't planned to do this quite so early I intended to stay working in retail a bit longer but an incident in work, which came as a bit of a kick in the teeth, made me realise I could either stay in a job I no longer had respect for and be miserable or do myself a favour and get the hell out. A scary prospect after working there for 16 years but out of respect for myself I bit the bullet and left. It saddens me that it was brought home to me just how unappreciated you are and how indispensable you are too! Regardless of how long you have worked for a company, you are just a number. I felt sadly let down by my immediate management which upset me greatly, I decided for once in my life to make a stand and stick up for myself! It wasn't a nice situation one I never want to repeat. It did teach me a valuable lesson...people you thought were friends and not just work colleagues are not friends at all, I have to add not all my work colleagues let me down the genuine ones didn't which was nice.

 So in a nutshell a bad situation turned into a blessing! I now have a completely different job and I absolutely love it! It makes me very happy, fewer hours and all school holidays off with pay! Finally, I feel like I am in a worthwhile job. I go in with a smile on my face and come home with a smile on my face, something that was sadly lacking in the latter months in my old job. So even in a pandemic, I am still living my best life. A really lovely, lovely partner, great family on both sides, a fantastic new job and so so much to look forward to and Summer is on the way! The pandemic has made me just appreciate all the more the things we all just took for granted.

 When things do get back to the new normal when we can do all the things we love to do I will never ever take them for granted again! I have always been grateful for my boat and my life but even more so now than ever!

 So it's off to the boat again today because I can! I have new Venetian blinds to fit to replace the old ones. I made the mistake of buying pvc ones which look great but over time the sunlight makes them so brittle resulting in them snapping when I try to clean them. I have changed to aluminium that are so much easier to clean. I was always puzzled as to where all the black spots were coming from on the blinds only to realise it's Spider poo!! Now it never entered my head that it could be that until I read about it on a boating forum. It got me to thinking, I suppose they have to do it somewhere, did I think they had their own bathrooms somewhere? I just wish they hadn't chosen my blinds the buggers! It does wash off easily but really, use your eight legs and go poo somewhere else!

 I can't wait for Al and I to take Tickety Boo out again, it's been too long, even longer to wait now until baby Moorhens have left the nest but hey ho ain't nature a wonderful thing!

 Ironically, the first thing I want to do is chug off to the middle of nowhere, moor up and enjoy the solitude. as much as we can't wait to eat out, go shopping, go to the pub theatre and have holidays again etc we are staying out of the way until the mad rush calms down! Everybody will want to do all those things it will be chaos!! We are happy to wait till the novelty wears off and you hopefully won't have to queue for everything!

The one thing we both can't wait to get back to is dancing, we miss it so much! Going from dancing a lot to hardly at all is making a huge difference to our waistlines but then most people we know have suffered with this too! The sooner we can get back the better. Soon we hope! 

 Sadly not everybody has got through this pandemic unscathed a fact we all know far too well. We like a lot of other people have lost somebody dear to the virus as many many families have. My heart goes out to people who have lost loved ones or suffered any other consequences caused.

 So let's see what the next few months have in store for us. I am off to lose myself in boaty world for a few hours and try and forget the mad world we are living in at the moment. Being on the water has always had the ability to take me away from everyday worries, it transforms you away and I will always love that about it.

 Stay safe everyone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

What a Year!

 Well, what a year it has been up to now! It's been surreal, like living in a bad movie that flopped in a spectacular way at the box office!

As a key worker my shifts have not changed through the Pandemic, I guess on that score I should count myself lucky to have a job but it has been stressful at times. I just wanted to get away from it all on a regular basis, apart from it being a scary time with the threat of catching the virus, dealing with the public was sending anxiety levels through the roof! 

I have however been very lucky, the staff and management in the shop are a great team and we have all been muddling through together. I have also been more than lucky to have the love and support of Alan through all of this, he as always has been a star. I really do think I would have cracked only for him keeping my spirits up.

We also kept busy working on the boat. once the inside was finished we decided the blacking of her bottom was well overdue! I contacted the owner of the marina and arranged to be taken out of the water, luckily it coincided with the bank holiday weekend so as I don't work weekends or Tuesdays it was 4 days to get stuck in. The marina jet washed the boat that just left the scraping grinding and the painting on of the black stuff. The anodes were not too bad bow and stern but it was suggested we had new ones midship so we agreed and had them fitted.

Alan never stopped and in no time we had 3 coats of blacking on, her engine bay scraped and primed and finally, adornment on her bow and her tunnel band fancied up! Something I had wanted doing for years. We decided on a none traditional design so we chose a diamond theme.

Tickety Boo waiting for work to begin.

Below, The boat with her 3 coats on looking far smarter! We then decided to do the pattern on the bow and the tunnel band. It,s basic but we love the simplicity of it. Alan repainted under the gunwale as it's easier to do that bit out of the water. The cabin sides we will do next spring and then finally have her name on her again!

The boat is looking loved and cared for again, Alan will never quite understand how special it is for me to find somebody interested in seeing her looking her best and enjoying seeing her take shape.

I had started to lose interest which saddened me greatly but thanks to Alan my faith and enthusiasm have been restored! I am loving seeing her looking so swell!
 


 The tunnel band smartened up. Diamonds added to the bow.


Tickety finally back in the water where she belongs!
Working on the boat kept us busy and not thinking too much about what was going on in the world! I moved in with Al while we revamped the inside of the boat which as I have said before made the job so much easier. Staying with him has been easy, lovely and feels very comfortable, kind of right. We laugh a lot and just pootle along nicely. I miss the boat but would miss Alan more so I am really grateful and happy that he puts up with me!! 

We stay on the boat as and when we can and enjoy the tranquillity of the Marina, it's a lovely place, friendly people a lovely cafe and the grounds are beautifully well kept. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff and we know help is on hand anytime we need it.

As bad as the year has been I can honestly say Al and I are getting through it. We have each other and a great strong relationship so life can throw as many hurdles as it likes, we will get over them together! We both have lovely supportive families, granted we can't see much of them but we know they are there!

We can only live in hope that next year the virus will be more controlled with a vaccine, in the meantime, we will keep on smiling and make the best of the situation, it's all we can do really.

Our dancing classes have started up again which we love. They are much needed as the weight I have put on during lockdown tilts the boat far too much!!!! Alas, the dancing may be put on hold yet again as the government have brought in more lockdown rules which may put paid to our classes. Practising on the patio, weather permitting, will be the order of the day!

As seen in my previous post the interior decor is finished and I am finding it hard to stop adding to the soft furnishings...

I spotted a smaller rug I liked which I think fits the saloon better.


I also spotted a canvas I liked so it would have been so rude not to get that too!

I love this abstract Elephant, the colours are perfect to match the decor.

The only problem was there was a matching picture! Too big to have both in the Saloon but it would fit in the bedroom! So off I trot back to B+M to pick up this one..

 
As I was in the shop a beautiful fur throw and cushion couldn't bare to be parted from the Zebra so they came too for Tickety Boo's bedroom! That's my story and I am sticking to it...



Positively indulgent I know but they all look lovely and will just make our overnight winter stay overs cosier!


I just must apologise to regular readers of my blog. Unbeknown to me there had been lots of comments left on my last few posts. I had no idea! I used to get notifications to let me know I had comments so I could authorise them for publication but the notifications didn't come through. I thought you had all got fed up with my waffling! Thank you so much to you all for your lovely comments, they mean such a lot and I now know it's not just my Mum who reads my posts! I now know through the blog settings how to see comments and answer them! Thanks again xx  













Saturday, February 08, 2020

Tickety Boo Transformation!

I have, for a long time, wanted to change the interior of the boat. I have gone through phases with her over the years. To then meet somebody who was more than willing to help with that transformation was so exciting to say the least! Alan has transformed the boat and enjoyed doing it. Tickety Boo has never looked so good. The look I was after was modern uncluttered moving away from the cottagey look and Alan achieved exactly what I wanted. I will let the photos do the talking so to speak..

The original Tickety Boo was a typical narrowboat interior all wood warm and cosy, that was 15 years ago.




I then decided I wanted to paint the walls to make the boat look airier and lighter. I absolutely loved this new look I wanted it to look like a floating cottage and had it like this for some years.



Now for the transformation. Everything is new, spotlights and light fittings changed from brass to chrome.




The walls are painted in a lovely pale grey and all the woodwork white. As you can imagine the boat was a right mess while the work was being done, it's hard to keep such a small space tidy while redecorating so I stayed at Al's while work was in progress it just made things so much easier and I was very grateful for that!








Most of the time Tickety Boo looked like this but it was small price to pay for seeing the transformation slowly taking shape!

My fifteen year old stove was looking tired and tatty so I painted the stove black and the plinth so it looked lovely against the fab new tiles Al fitted.



                                      My gorgeous new tiles but a tatty stove...before


                                and the after, freshly painted stove. I wasn't sure about painting the plinth black at Alan's suggestion but I went ahead and it looks so much better.

                                                          Next the carpet tiles.



               I wanted new wall lights but was at a loss to find any I liked so we decided to keep the originals and spray the brass silver to go with the rest of the colour scheme.
 

I decided to do away with curtains and just have off the peg Venetian blinds. Luckily they all fit without having to be cut which was one less job to do. The kitchen units went from being duck egg to white and the new grey subway tiles Alan put up look great with the white units. The next problem was the worktops. When the boat was first fitted out we had a piece grafted on to the worktop as I wanted a dogleg shape to incorporate a small breakfast bar with stools. To buy a new worktop that width would cost a fortune so we came up with the idea of painting them. As much as I loved the solid wood in beech it just wouldn't go with the new scheme. It was a bit nerve-wracking painting the tops black as once done no turning back really!
                                 
                                       Alan took the plunge with the black paint.



                                          After! We were really pleased with the result
                                           and it tied in  well with everything.


                                         
                               

I wanted accents of yellow to go with the grey white and black but Alan wasn't too sure. As luck would have it we were gifted a rug and cushions in just the colour I wanted. Alan really liked the colour once he saw it in place, so we were really happy with the colour choice.
Finally, everything started to take shape, all the hard work Alan had put in was paying off. All the little jobs that had never been finished he finished off. Those little details made such a difference!

The side hatch on the boat had always been a pain, it had never fit properly from when the boat was built it leaked really badly and it was drafty. Alan came up with the idea of a double glazed window. I wasn't at all sure on that score as it's not really the done thing but I put my trust in him and I wasn't disappointed. Not really conventional but I think it's quirky and neat!


                                             Trying the window for size! This photo makes me smile.

                                               
                                                     The window is now sprayed green
                                                     outside to match the boat and white
                                                     on the inside.

                         Next job a nice new floor in the galley! I wasn't sorry to see the old orange coloured wood effect cushion floor go!


             





So finally after all the hard work Alan had put in transforming the boat
I got the lovely job of  clearing all the diy stuff out and adding the 
finishing touches a job I was loving every minute of!






The finished result! Over the moon doesn't quite sum up how pleased we
are with it.


The finished result!

Storage boxes from good old Home Bargains, great for storing pan lids tea towels etc.

Finally the bedroom is all finished too!

                                                                    Before.

After.

                                         
                                             


Alan has done a fantastic job he has made Tickety Boo a boat we can be proud of. 
Now to look forward to taking the boat out and enjoying her!