Category Archives: Marina Life

I Feel I Have to Mention the Trains

Wednesday 17 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - I Feel I Have to Mention the Trains - out the front door image

I Feel I Have to Mention the Trains

Whilton Marina is situated in the idyllic Northamptonshire countryside. The Grand Union Canal runs beside it. Oh, and it is nestled between the M1 Motorway and a high speed train line. The trains are fast and fairly infrequent but there are times when there seem to be a glut of them.

Oh, yes. It’s just when you come to a crucial, quiet moment in a tense TV Series or when mu and I are trying to talk with one another from opposite ends of the boat. It is more noticeable at the moment due to the damned glorious weather we are experiencing – we have to have all the windows open. At night, they seem to operate them with a special ‘extra engine noise’ function operating. It can sound like they are passing along the pontoon we are moored to, at times. It’s probably just the hearing being more sensitive upon waking, as the rest of the senses are dead to the world. The greatest is the 197-long container truck train that travels at 1.5 miles per hour, through the dead of night 😉

The trains are not a problem really and they don’t put us off being here. You mostly switch out the sounds. The beauty of the railway line being atop an embankment is that the view. From Silverdale’s front door is one of green bushes. Elderflower bushes are in flower at present – a delicate cream now that will eventually bear purple fruit.

The motorway is wind dependant. If it blows toward us, we hear it. If it doesn’t, we don’t.

All in all, it is a fantastic place for us – we can’t recommend it highly enough.

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Walk at Norton Junction

Tuesday 16 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Braunston sign image

A Walk at Norton Junction

The interior painting continues – a slow job being brought to fruition by mu. I’m writing. Tenses, Elevenses, a Vege Deli Sandwich crated for Lunch. Then we went out.

We drove in search of Everdon Stubbs (an SSSI). It was Little Everdon we found, which took us through a little village, sown a dead end road what looked like the very long route up someone’s driveway. We found Everdon but no Stubb. We decided to drive back and go on to Long Buckby Wharf. In the past, we had walked to here but not beyond.

Up The Junction

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Norton Junction bridge image

Norton Junction is just a few hundred yards from the Top Lock. It’s where the canal splits to Braunston and to Leicester. On our previous travels we had narrowboated to Braunston, threading past the beautiful cottage that sits in the crux of the canal junction, on green lawn, with trees and a Shepherd’s Hut. An idyllic site. We walked on, up over the footbridge, behind the cottage and over the canal bridge. This drops down onto the canal towpath on the Braunston side. There was just the occasional boat was moored in this serene spot. It was quiet and peaceful. If you pass this way, it’s worth stopping and taking in the scenery here. We walked on, which took us two bridges further, then turned and walked back.

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - Norton Junction canal image

Braunston is four and a quarter miles from Norton Junction which would have taken a little while, therefore maybe a walk for a little earlier in the day.

rp – peace and narrowboats

Power To The People

Monday 15 June 2020

Power To The People

I was laying down a few letter in a semblance of order i.e. writing and mu was painting the interior of Silverdale (yes, still painting. It’s a long narrowboat you know). Suddenly, without warning. Powercut!

Immediate panic ensued. Was it the landline power cable? Had it become wet or had it become disconnected? Was it the Battery Management System? Had it come to its last legs and died because we were over using it? Was it the fuses? Had we blown some? We have had previous experience of nothing working.

It was none of the above. After a walk to the Marina office, it turned out that the power cut was site-wide, even extending to the carpet warehouse just beyond. Phew! The boat was still fine. No surfing the internet to find YouTube videos of how to fix something I had absolutely no idea about.

After a little while, the power came back on and all was well. Power was restored to the people – of Whilton Marina.

The Ducks are Demanding

There are lots of ducks on the marina (they don’t have their own narrowboats, they don’t need them). There are some ducklings that ‘cheep’ and scurry about on land and in the water, following their mother. Adorable to watch. There are also teenage ducks, they strut around a lot more purposefully. The adult ducks are the most demanding. They come around at regular times and ‘quack’, making their presence known and demanding food.

We drink a lot of tea. We’re using leaves for a better class of drink. However, there is a lot of byproduct waste. On a narrowboat you are always conscious about where waste is going to go. As tea is considered grey water, it can be disposed of via the canal. This is great for us. We can cut out the middle men of the sink and the Whale Gulper and pour the spent leaves straight in. The ducks are getting even more demanding though – they’re requesting Darjeeling!

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Bit of An Update

Thursday 11 – Sunday 14 June 2020

A Bit of An Update

Thursday 11

Thursday saw us go for a drive in the surrounding countryside to see a few villages. Both Crick and Yelvertoft have figured highly in the YouTube Channels we avidly watched each evening once we decided to buy a narrowboat again. Everyone has either lived there or driven past and vlogged it. Both were very nice places on the canal. We ‘oohed and aarhed ‘ and saw the canal and gave a hurrah for we were part of it now. Back in Daventry we picked up a takeaway coffee at Coffee Number 1, just before it closed – an unexpected pleasure in these times. It was all socially distanced as I was the only person in there. There were shields up at the counter and a one-way system in operation.

Friday 12

Friday was Tim: our son’s Birthday so we got video call. I also finally got to send the Makita back (you may recall it wasn’t the Multi-tool I was looking for).

Saturday 13

Saturday saw us start the day with a drive-by, sorry, drive thru coffee in Northampton courtesy of Costa (there’s no loyalty, we’ll drink coffee from anywhere). We got to sit with a view of very nicely landscaped gardens. In the distance was a tower. It reminded me decidedly of Orthanc! In the afternoon we walked to Buckby Top Lock, along the canal towpath. Half way, the little shop was closed but a narrowboat was selling crafts and we bought a Toilet Roll Holder made of brass piping. It was very hot.

Just beyond the Top Lock, you come to Norton Junction and just before there, there is a sign showing four and a quarter miles to Braunston. Add onto this, the distance we had already walked and it would be just a bit tooo far to walk to the Boathouse pub and back, once they open again – shame. there is still The New Inn at Buckby – much more doable.

Sunday 14

Sunday saw us set out with good intentions to visit Milton Keynes. We’ve been once before and wanted to spend a little time and understand it a little more (well, it was more me wanting to than mu). Round and round and up and down. Nothing was open, was it too early? Or was everything still in enforced closure. After what amounted to what seemed like four days, we cut our losses and set off back. The motorway services on the way back (there was a detour as a road was closed) proved to be no less entertaining with the Costa Drive-thru being closed, leaving a ‘make it yourself at a machine’ the only option.

Back at Whilton Locks, we had a Cheese & Onion pasty at the Whilton Marina Cafe to console ourselves – delicious as ever. It’s nice sat in the sub by the Buckby Flight Bottom Lock or Whilton Lock or Lock 13. I never know what to call it.

I published Piece 1 of The Tales of Silverdale – a Pirate Ship in Dark Waters on our Ko-fi page. Afterwards I downloaded Pirates of the CaribbeanThe Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) and watched it. We love that film.

rp – peace and narrowboats

We All Live…

Wednesday 10 June 2020

We All Live…

We all live in something eminently less elegant than a yellow submarine. When I was little, I often thought about living in a yellow submarine – the Yellow Submarine. It still has an appeal whether via a working replica or somehow transported into the magical world. There was always something ‘right’ about it. It never seemed to have the claustrophobic feel of K-19: The Widowmaker and I never felt I would be hunted like Red October.

I loved the song, it’s one of my favourite Beatles tracks. I loved the film when I eventually saw it (I must have seen clips as a child but only sat down and watched the film in its entirety a few years ago. Both mu and I are big fans of animation. George Dunning produced the film for United Artists with the story by Lee Minoff. Heinz Edelmann provides the style through his drawings – he designed the Yellow Submarine. Wikipedia provides a lot of what there is to know about the song & film and is a good jumping off point. thebeatles.com provides detail.

When it rains here in Whilton, we feel like we’re in a yellow submarine.

Massive

The idea of submarines also comes up in Brian Wood’s The Massive with one of his characters living aboard a nuclear sub – one of my favourite authors and graphic novels. Brian also wrote DMZ which is absolutely nothing to do with submarines but one of the best modern stories ever written.

It’s My Birthday

The song Yellow Submarine, originally released as a single with Eleanor Rigby in 1966 is found on the album Revolver. I found out it was released on my birthday: 26 May 1966 – I would have been 6 years old. It’s a nice tie-in and makes it that little bit more special for me. I don’t know if I heard it the year it came out but I like to think my mum had it playing on the radio.

They say you’re either a Revolver person or a Sergeant Pepper person. I’m both. Both albums are sublime and eminently listenable pieces of perfection. The albums provide some of the greatest songs ever written and recorded.

Lego

The reason I mention all this is because today, my order for the Lego Yellow Submarine (Ideas Range), which is now long since retired by Lego, arrived. I purchased it new (sealed box) from an Amazon Seller. I had to pay over the odds but it’s so well done. I wish I had purchased it when Lego first brought it out. However, it’s a birthday treat.

The box is a work of art in itself, the product being fully licensed from The Beatles/Apple Music but it’s the fact that once completed, it opens up and John, Paul, George & Ringo can fit inside. They can also stand in front in full Yellow Submarine garb – I know, I’m a big kid 🙂

I’ll post intermittent pictures of the build as and when. You’re never too old…

We all live somewhere. Where would you like to live?

rp – peace and narrowboats

All the Gear, No Idea

Tuesday 9 June 2020

All the Gear, No Idea

Late up today, a bit of a lie in. The defining wake up moment was a buzz on the phone stating that ‘My delivery would be between 08:41 and 09:41. Very precise and potentially in 15 minutes time. Then, the remembrance that an Engineer was to visit. He going to come and suck the residual water out of the bilges with a wet/dry vacuum, spurred us into motion.

Speaking of motion, there is very little on the boat. We are tied off well onto the pontoon and the marina acts like a harbour. There is the occasional sense of motion, when looking at other boats moored next to us, as they move back and forth slightly. It’s nice though.

The parcel arrived. It was a big box. It was heavy. I left opening it until later.

I opened the parcel. The excitement of a pro-level tool (I know, I’m easily pleased) was dashed as, upon opening the box, stroking the superfine Makita case, to my horror: the label said Drill! It was the wrong tool – completely. They had sent a drill and not a Multi-Tool – I have drills! It did look like a really good drill but it was not what I wanted and not what I had ordered. I now had all the issue of contacting the company who passed me off onto their Amazon Seller (a seemingly separate part of their company), contacting Amazon, waiting… It went on and still does. The upshot was, I had no Multi-tool – No Gear, No Idea.

It cast a cloud over the whole day

rp – peace and narrowboats

We’re on the Move

Monday 8 June 2020

We’re on the Move

Mu started some washing and then moved onto some more interior painting. I was planning on checking the engine bay, filling the water tank again (wanting to keep on top of things this time ), find out about diesel and purchase some diesel conditioner. The plan then was to clean the other half of the bathroom (we have a walk through bathroom: shower to port, toilet to starboard). I had cleaned the shower area yesterday. The best laid plans…

I had just connected the hose to the ‘welded on’ tap adaptor when a marina employee asked if we would be ready to move in 10 minutes. Move? As in actually start the engine? And steer and stuff? We were moving out of the work area (which was becoming busier by the hour) into a more suitably residential area of the marina. This was good news and sooner than expected. But still, move the boat? I don’t know…

Moving on Up

I abandoned the water tank fill, got into the engine bay (as I’d planned to do, just not to move the thing). It had been a year since I had done anything remotely boat-related but I did remember

  • Check the bilge and turn the stern gland greaser
  • Check the weed hatch was sealed
  • Check the engine oil
  • Check the engine water

I also had to turn off the 240 volt appliances, switch off the battery charger/conditioner and unhook the shoreline hook up (most important). The ignition sequence of this Isuzu Marine diesel engine was the same as the BMC Diesel in our previous boat. It started first turn and with the guy from the marina, I cautiously backed Silverdale out of the bay. I turned it around and moved it the whole couple of hundred yards to Pontoon 13. Silverdale eased in between ‘Purple Witch’ on one side and ‘Old Toby’ & ‘Capricorn’ on the other. Capricorn didn’t look like it had been lived in for quite some time and exuded a ‘Ghost Ship’ aura. We were loving our new mooring. The beauty of it was that the pontoon was now on the port side so we could get to the windows here now and clean them.

With the impromptu move accomplished (deftly I might add), we had to empty the toilet cassette again. Again? We only have one cassette and the marina Chandlery was only open until 14:00 (and they controlled the important Elsan key) so that was the next task.

A Walk, There and Back Again

The weather was great so we decided to go for a walk. Up the Buckby Flight from Buckby Bottom Lock (Whilton) – Lock 13 to Buckby Top Lock (Buckby) – Lock 7. This is a lovely stretch of the canal. It has a Cafe at Lock 13, a small shop in the middle selling canal art & brasses and ice cream and a pub (The New Inn) at Lock 7 (currently closed due to restrictions) – the perfect walk!

Back aboard Silverdale, the reluctant cook started making a Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. Perhaps with hindsight, this should have been pre-prepared prior to the walk. Gordon Ramsey came out looking like Snow White! I will do more cooking but at present I’m the sandwich king, tea master and coffee barista. Our new mooring gives us a much more interesting outlook. There are multiple boats and ducks that frequent an as yet unused pontoon. The nearby but ‘not too close so as to mess up your boat’ Silver Birch provides a pleasant aspect and a perch for various birds. There’s even a small Pear tree starting to bear fruit.

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Socially Distanced Full English (Vegetarian)

Sunday 7 June 2020

A Socially Distanced Full English (Vegetarian)

We awoke to Sun. Well, it was Sunday. We ordered a Simploo. As you do. As discussed previously, we have a cassette loo at present but the composting loo presents a greener option. We were also hoping to get a little more mileage out of it, as it were. We had decided upon Simploo a while back during discussions. Its has a simple design, a small size and an affordable cost – we feel it’s fairly priced. I’ll review more when it arrives.

At 10:00 Whilton Marina Cafe opened, its second day of socially distanced takeaway. We walked around to the door of the cafe which is now the counter, in the sun. An employee with full visor and gloves took our order of two Vegetarian breakfasts. While we waited, we shut the lock gates for Tim whose narrowboat was towing the Butty Bakewell.

The Socially distanced Full English (Vegetarian) breakfasts were fantastic! Served on bamboo plates in cardboard boxes to keep them warm with toast on compostable plates and tea & coffee in disposable paper cups – all recyclable. We sat at a table by the side of the Cafe, by ourselves in the sun. We chatted, at distance to Stuart who was walking Hettie (his dog) about the local Cruising Club for Whilton boaters past and present (Old Whiltonians?). It was a pleasant Sunday morning. the proprietor of the Cafe came out to check all was well with the meal – as always, it was.

We thoroughly recommend Whilton Marina Cafe and are so pleased with its attention to detail to social distancing and green credentials. The Cafe’s location by the Buckby Flight Bottom Lock makes it an ideal stop for walkers, cyclists, boaters and Marina locals alike. I can see we’ll spend quite some time there (we’ll need that Simploo) 🙂

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Euphemism By Any Other Name

Friday 5 June 2020

A Euphemism By Any Other Name

A day of cloud and rain showers interspersed with sun. If we had been at sea, they would have been squalls. It was a fitting setting for a trip to Thetford. As anyone remotely conversant with narrowboaters and narrowboat life knows toilets are a common and frequent topic of conversation. I say conversation* I suppose more akin to discussions between Celtic/Rangers supporters or Liverpool/Everton supporters. There is rivalry shall we say. And yes, there is more than one type

  • Pumpout – think of a slurry/holding tank meets Mr Dyson‘s worst nightmare
  • Cassette – no, not the music format of the ’80’s but a small box that fits into a toilet-like affair
  • Compost – conjuring up the garden idyll of everything coming up roses, except that it’s your waste

We didn’t actually travel to Thetford. We currently have a Thetford Cassette toilet. It looks brand new. It looks like a normal toilet right up until the little indicator thing on it goes from green to red. Then it becomes a pain in the somewhere a lot lower than the neck.It’s a simple affair to empty: turn the toilet around, fiddle around looking for some kind of release mechanism (I wore gloves) and lift out the cassette. Could I do this? No!

I eventually found the catch (after Mu had cranked up YouTube – be careful what you search for) but it wouldn’t budge. It turns out I had the flap open rather than closed (could have been fatal if I had forced it). Flap closed, it came out with ease. It was heavy. We drove around to the sanitation point (Elsan point). No point in struggling by foot, parading what you are doing if you don’t have to 😉

I have carried out the above procedure before in the past. It’s not for the squeamish but after cleaning commodes for a living at one point, it’s old hat. With the cassette back on the boat, I cleaned it to within an inch of its life and clipped it back in.

It’s Simploo Delightful

Mu and I have decided we are going to get a composting toilet. We think the Simploo suits our style. A composting toilet separates fluids from solids, at source. The fluids are more easily emptied, the solids dry out (shrinking down by 80% of their original volume and can be bagged and binned. If you are interested in more detail (no, not that kind of detail) this YouTube video is the one to watch.

So, next time you go to the toilet, spare a thought for us. Oh, maybe not.

On loftier news, our oven shelves and oven grill pan arrived today – no more singed arm! The sun came out later after lashings of rain and we went for a walk along the canal towpath. It was windy but gorgeous. It meant that afterwards, we could sit out and enjoy our evening meal on the stern. Still using the baking tins.

The wind stayed into the evening. The trees by the canal swayed in their uppermost branches and the water rippled past between our boat and the one moored next to use. It gave the feel that we were were on a river. the clouds glowed pink against a blue sky and the sun fell.

*The ‘discussions’ on the merits of the different types of narrowboat toilet are fiercely debated and opinions are rigorously held.

rp – peace and narrowboats

I Am Officially…

Thursday 4 June 2020

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - I Am Officially... - coffee cups image

I am Officially…

Elevenses – I am officially a Hobbit!

Twoses – doesn’t have the same ring about it but I’m going to make it a thing!

Mu spent most of the day looking for a ring (not the one ring), to connect the water filler cap key, so I don’t drop it in the canal. It’s innthe lock-up somewhere…

We insured Silverdale today. It’s a lot easier than insuring a car (cheaper), we have belongings cover included. We used Collidge & Partners as we used them before to insure our previous narrowboat: MIRRLESS. We feel better now.

I discussed yesterday’s incident with the lost nozzle with the Marina Office and they said they would get someone onto it. A little later, true to their word, Tim knocked on the roof. I explained the novice boater mistake . He went off to get a torch (a long thin one). He came back (phew!). He looked in the tube then went off to get a tool or implement or something. He came back (double phew!). I left him struggling to retrieve the nozzle from the pipe. There was little help I could provide. After some time, a hand pushed open the door, holding the offending item. It meant success! I just can’t thank Whilton Marina enough – thank you Tim.

I continued filling the water tank (without the nozzle this time). It filled much quicker with the obstruction removed. The nozzle was consigned to the spares box. Everything was back up and running and working as it should. Oh, I fixed the horn! A bit of sandpaper on the terminals, re-connect and the horn tooted! We can go in tunnels and warn oncoming boats they are about to ram us or vice versa. Does this qualify me as a Marine Engineer now?

For evening repast (we skipped fourses) we had barbecued pasty- unintentionally. The oven is an Indesit gas oven. It’s full size, fully functional and really pretty good. All except for there being no oven shelves or a grill pan. It makes using it tricky. Toast is effected by holding slices of bread in a frying pan, under the grill by hand. The frying pan we have, while not cast iron certainly feels like it in weight when you hold it at arms length for any length of time! I have no hairs left on my right arm due to singing. The aforementioned pasty had to sit in the trusty baking tin (it’s a multi-functional marvel). The trouble with this was that the tin was in direct contact with the base of the oven. This is also the source of the heat i.e. gas flame. The pasty cooked quickly but with a black base. Charcoal would be a good descriptor.

We have now ordered oven shelves and a grill pan.

Nineses – a cup of tea and a chocolate from the box in my hamper. Then off to bed to officially read Lord of the Rings (I’m inching my way through it).

rp – peace and narrowboats