So, living in a Marina is very different to living out on the cut. The marina gives you the luxury of everything on tap whereas out on the cut, you’re lucky if anything comes out of your tap! We have a home, it’s long and thin and there are compromises that have to be made but by and large, it’s pretty much like being in a house. We will, at some point move onto the canal system and travel but for now, we are loving the freedom of not moving anywhere – Marina Days.
We travel because we have the luxury of a car and went back to the West Country for a day, to collect a package that got sent to the wrong address. Friday was my non-working day, a luxury.
Saturday saw me performing socially distanced queuing to get into Waitrose (yes, they let me in). I also spoke with the Marina regarding a small bit of welding that needs to be done. The water tank breather pipe has a hole that needs fixing, so I don’t have to sit there watching the tank being filled. Currently, if I don’t, the forward well deck gets filled with water. Someone will come along and evaluate it at some point.
Pirates loom heavily at the moment, as I’m attempting to write a story – The Tales of Silverdale – A Pirate Ship In Dark Waters (you can check it out on Ko-fi), we watched Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest. It’s research.
Sunday saw me release Piece 3 of The Tales of Silverdale – A Pirate Ship In Dark Waters – you can read on our Ko-fi page. We then visited Wilton Marina Cafe for a Vegetarian Breakfast, sat out in the sun. Mu got the final quarter of the saloon masked and washed down in readiness for painting. We then walked to the local farm fruit & veg shop for provisions. I then managed to start my Lego Yellow Submarine. We finished the day watching Breaking Bad.
Monday I was back to work (remotely). I emptied the loo at the Elsan point. The hi-light of the day (no, emptying the loo wasn’t) was that the money for the Makita Multi-tool that wasn’t the Multi-tool had been refunded (see All the Gear, No Idea) – Hooray!
Tuesday was fully back into working remotely. I bought milk from the marina chandlery to support local. We went for a walk along the canal, to The Heart of the Shires, a shopping village outlet in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside. It was hot, very hot. There was a little shade with the trees but not a lot. We bought a knife for cutting tomatoes and cucumber – Victorinox (ignore the fact that it says cheese and sausage – it’s great for tomatoes and cucumber) at the Abraxas Cookshop. I was fed up with using the bread knife.
We also had an ice cream from the Darlington’s Tea Room there. It had opened for takeaway. It was very good and there was lots of it. A good antidote to the sun. We walked back (no cooler) and had a cup of tea sat out on Silverdale. It had ended up being an idyllic day.
Wednesday. It was very hot again. We’re not complaining. It was another of those Marina Days but I went shopping in Daventry which required the car. It was 31 degrees. I complained about that.
Thursday. It was very hot. I know, it’s getting a bit samey. There were ducks tho’. We had the windows open, the doors open, the parasol (which we found in the top box on the roof of the boat) up, water in the fridge and no hot meal. It worked. This was also the first week of work completed and it had gone well.
Marina Days – this is the way we roll in the Shire…
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.
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 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.
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, for 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) 🙂
It was cold outside. The wind continued to blow throughout the night and into the morning. Sun played on the inside roof of the boat creating patterns that moved. The sun was out for a short while but the wind brought in another batch of grey clouds. Our boat and the ones alongside swayed, moved and juddered in rhythm with the wind. The two-section floating workshop parted and joined, as though in some unheard country dance. The antenna atop the workshop swayed ominously and probably wasn’t doing our WiFi signal any good. The trees stoically continued to put up with it all.
Make It a Makita
We started the day deciding upon a multi-tool. We needed one to address the rust: on the prow, in the lockers, in the engine bay and a whole host of other areas we haven’t yet found. After careful consideration, we decided upon a Makita cordless unit – DTM50RM1J1 18v L-ion Kit.
As you may or may not know, I am not known for my DIY skills. If I hammer in a nail – it bends. When I put up a shelf – it falls down. Should I look at a screw – the head looses its thread. So, Mu started the preparation for painting the saloon of Silverdale. It will be all white and our things will provide the colour. I supplied tea and freshly ground coffee.
A break from the DIY (I was exhausted) saw us head over to the Café where we had chips outside – the first for a very long time. The winds and rain and sun continued. A tea break out on the stern, under the canopy saw us open it up to let the sun in, then close it down as a massive grey blanket of cloud rolled over, bringing thunder. It’s really great we have this whole other room: conservatory/greenhouse/tent/deck.
Back to the grind.
Have You Finished Yet?
Painting came along slowly. I didn’t say “have you finished yet?). Covering a sage green colour with brilliant white emulsion will do that. It takes time and coats. I washed half the solar panels so we should be able to pull in just a little more energy – a couple of rays worth. I need the brush to reach the other side of the panels but I haven’t plucked up the courage to walk down the gunwales yet (the last time I did, I fell in – see Tales From the Bilge – Episode 17)
It was probably raining again but the sun did come out and stayed out into the evening. When playing tangram, sorry making the bed, we discovered a leak! A small one. Rain water had gained ingress via the port side bedroom window and had ran along to the corner of the bed. The mattress was a little wet (not me). We were aware that some of the window seals needed attention from the survey. This was one of them. I’m hoping Sikaflex will do the job. A purchase just as soon as the Chandlery gets some in stock. I suspect there will be more DIY kinds of days to come
The Dawn Chorus is loud. It is also very early. I don’t know the exact earliness (it obviously varies depending upon the Dawn). I didn’t (couldn’t) get my phone out to check the time but it was early. Too early. Early as in ‘I’ve just gone to bed, closed my eyes and here’s the Dawn Chorus’ early.
After getting up (after being awoken by the Dawn Chorus – not that I’m bitter) we went to the Chandlery. This is going to be a regular occurrence due to it being a small food shop as well. We were greeted by good news – the Whilton Marina Cafe, which is just next door will open for takeaways this coming Saturday – yay!
Today is my first workday – post retirement but not really. Working remotely, everything is working. It is a beautiful day once again. We have the louvre windows open to extract a breeze where we can (I love the louvre windows). In the background, the droning sound turns out to be Silverstone and not a bluebottle (Silverstone race track is not too far from here). Once you realise this, it’s quite comforting in a way).
We’ve Got Mail
A Birthday card from my team arrived. It had a narrowboat on it which was nice. A large Retirement card arrived also. It had a large (too large) picture of me on it, taken at Uffington White Horse last year. A smaller image of me on the back was taken at Dartmouth and Nb Silverdale pre-overplating adorns the inside. These were pulled from my Social Media feeds. I never thought they’d be put to such clever use – thank you Simon.
After work, mu and I went for a walk around the marina. The Buckby Flight Bottom Lock is literally just off the marina basin. Nb Darth Wader was just coming down through 🙂
The evening meal was partaken out of baking tins as our plates were still in the lock-up. We could have walked over there but it was hot and the route is very dusty, due to its crushed hardcore nature. Think of it like going to Glastonbury Festival (a sunny one, not a wet one) but without the music or the Cider bar or the village. We rolled up the stern cover to let in a breeze and a view of the marina – tranquil waters. A duck sat quietly on the end of the pontoon we were moored to. It had found an idyllic spot.
Another early start to get on our way, back up to Whilton Marina to take a second look at Nb Silverdale. The last time we visited in January, we had little idea that we were searching for Silverdale but that’s just what it turned out to be. This trip was to photograph and measure our find. There would also be in the back of our minds, the fear of had we done the right thing, was this the one. It was to be our home now after all.
Storm Dennis was on its way. We had ummed & arrhed about whether the storm should scupper our plans but the Hotel was paid for and the pull of boat was greater than the push of the winds we might encounter.
We stopped at Solstice Services at Amesbury (as we always do) for coffee, tea & toast. The car ran well. We listened to Liam Galagher, Oasis and The Stone Roses, on our way to Whilton. We had now travelled this way several times and enjoyed the journey.
At the Marina
At the marina, the weather had become progressively worse. Harvey and Fred where there and a new member had joined the sales team. Nb Silverdale was in the water! It was off the hard standing where we had previously seen it.
Harvey went off to open Nb Silverdale. After first being unable to enter via the prow doors, he turned his attention to the stern. After much acrobatics, legs flailing to reach the lower bolt, he managed to open the stern doors. We were then allowed down and went aboard.
Our earlier fears were allayed – this is the one. Nb Silverdale was better than we had ever imagined. I took lots of photographs and mu took lots of measurements. We basked in our choice of new home.
Storm Dennis was now gathering force so we headed to Whilton Marina Cafe for a cup of tea and to sit and look at Silverdale. After speaking with the owner, whom we had met when purchasing Nb MIRRLESS we headed off. We drove into the wind and rain of the storm, into Banbury. We had stayed at Banbury on our previous journey down from Northampton to Bath (Tales from the Bilge – The Long Journey Hone – Part 5) and liked it. HMV called and I answered in the form of vinyl purchases: Revolver – The Beatles, Return to Ommadawn – Mike Oldfield in the sale. Banbury was wet.
We left for Weedon and the Crossroads Hotel where we were staying for the night. We were assigned Room 16. Room 16 is where we stayed while MIRRLESS was being outfitted and made ready. It was a nice touch of serendipity. We went to the bar in the late afternoon because we could and a had a three and a half hour wait for a table in the restaurant. Not all that time was spent at the bar – we went back to the room and published MEET ME AT THE JUMPGATE.
At the restaurant, we had Vegetarian Fish & Chips – halloumi & chips. We had waited a long time to re-experience this and it was as good as we had remembered.
We decided upon The Tales of Silverdale for the blog title.
Some Early Images of Silverdale
Sunday 16 February 2020
A Visit to Milton Keynes
Storm Dennis continued its downpour of rain as we left the hotel but we decided to visit Milton Keynes. I have always wanted to visit there. Something about its New Town status, being built from scratch and being aligned with the sunrise like Stonehenge appealed to me. It’s a nice drive from Weedeon. A simple straightforward run. There was however, lots of water on the roads and in the fields with the continuing rain adding to it all.
Milton Keynes is a big place! A grid layout from the ’70’s with references to Wiltshire’s monoliths. We went into the centre and wandered around the covered shopping area. For breakfast, we made a rare stop to Starbucks and enjoyed it. We then drove down to the marina and looked at the moored boats. However, the rain was pouring and being driven by Storm Dennis. We ended up in Ikea, browsing…
The drive back to Wiltshire was long and uneventful but made bearable by remixes of The Stone Roses and Ian Brown.
Videos of narrowboats cruising and a portable generator oil change ended the day. A second look had proved very fruitful…
We’ve decided that this time around, we want a generator. We think it will make a difference.