Archive for February, 2012

Wednesday 22nd February 2012

After a lovely but cold weekend at Aqueduct Marina last weekend it has been back to the daily grind this week! The world of Sales, but I have to admit my job can be quite interesting as I do travel around quite a vast area of north-east Scotland.

After watching Tim & Shane Spall in the first of four new programs about their journey around the coast of the British Isles aboard Princess Matilda we were stuck with the image of Tim’s face as he was trying to negotiate the choppy waters of Rattray Head on the leg of the journey from Banff to Peterhead.  Both of these places I know quite well as they form part of my working territory. Tim was absolutely right about the little church which seems to sit near Banff but is actually in McDuff the next village, we took the photo below a few summers ago on a long weekend around that area.

Tim was also right about Banff seeming to be stuck in a time warp, it seems that they have left the modern world behind & agreed, it is a steep walk up that hill! The Harbour is quite nice & often has fishing vessels in but not as many as in years past when it would have been thriving but due to fishing stocks, quota’s & high selling prices the fishing industry in Scotland is in the midst of troubled times at the moment & I should know I work for an Aberdeen fish merchant!

Today I was actually at Peterhead & made my usual lunch stop, sitting in the cliffs overlooking Peterhead Harbour, I looked for Princess Matilda but obviously they were nowhere to be seen today! this is what I did see though, the rather interesting looking vessel is I think used for laying cables under the North Sea, maybe something to do with the numerous wind farms that seem to be appearing offshore. Rattray Head is to the port side if you were leaving the harbour.


Driving home took me down via Aberdeen where our office is, Tim remarked in the program on Tuesday evening that Aberdeen is one of the main Scottish ports, mainly full of off shore supply vessels & such like no fishing boats now they all go into Peterhead where there is still a daily fish market.

The temperatures are unusually warm for the time of year in Scotland at the moment, the daffodils are almost out along the River Dee on the south side of Aberdeen.

So, thanks to Tim & Shane  for giving me the reason to make a blog entry on a normal working day that took a route similar to the one they took on Tuesday evening but by road.


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Aqueduct Marina

Friday 17th February 2012

Well, we made it this weekend, arrived at Aqueduct marina around 2.30pm, after stopping at Uplands Marina in Northwich to pick up a very handy piece of steel work Nick Bancroft of NB Marine Services had made for us. As you can see from the inside pics of That’s D’riculous on the Buying a narrowboat page nothing really divides the kitchen area off from the main area of the boat, that seems fine but when in use we found that any splashes from the cooker top were settling on the woodburner! Not great, so Nick had a simple stainless steel angled plate made for us to stop this & it actually masks any cooking pots as well, we like it & think it was well worth having it made to measure.

The weather was overcast when we arrived but dry so we set about storing the logs & coal away, making up the fire & plugged in the new heated blanket to air the bed. Now, that blanket was money WELL spent the bed was toastie & completely aired by 10pm & seemed to hold much of that warmth all night. That all done we put sausages in the oven & opened the wine! So glad just to be afloat again!

Saturday 18th February 2012

Awoke to the boat rocking gently in the strengthening wind & rain tapping on the roof, tea & toast & back to bed with that great new blanket switched on & a catch up with fellow #boatsthattweet. Blue skies above the low clouds, maybe it will break soon.we had an unexpected visitor as a good boatie brunch was being made.

This Aqueduct Marina’s dog in residence Jack & he belongs to marina owner Robert Parton. I got a paw shake in return for half a sausage….bless!  A few more cups of tea downed the rain has stopped & the sun was out, time to take our other dog (Caley the Spaniel) for a walk. Half way along the towpath  the sky darkened & the hailstones rained down on us! a couple of all-weather boaters on the move, by the time we got back to the marina it had passed & the sun was out again, time for a piece of delicious cake & a cappuccino in The Galley coffee shop.

“A dogs life”, this boating lark!

View of the marina from The Galley Coffee shop

So, this is my first blog entry from the boat on the new laptop which will accompany us when we move aboard. I think it is as good as previous blogs from the home computer, but need more practice to find my way around this one & get competent without a mouse!

Sunday 19th February 2012

The weather was pretty awful most of Sunday, we had heard the hail stones during the night & awoke to a very icy walkway & brrrrrr it was cold, nothing for it but to make tea & toast & return to the all-encompassing warmth of the wonderful new blanket!! This is becoming a habit! A quick catch up with #boatsthattweet & the chance for me to tell you a little story.

Charlies’ Story

Charlie is Aqueducts’ resident swan, he was made known to us when we first arrived last year by Robert’s young son who was very sad because Charlie didn’t have a friend! Apparently Charlie was always on his own, he is  very friendly it’s almost as if he gets to know his boaters & always comes to greet you when you arrive even if it is, like us, sometimes 11.30pm & in the dark….Charlie still appears to say “hello”. Now, you might say, that could be any old swan, No! we know its Charlies cos’ he has a broken beak!

We wondered if it was because of Charlies broken beak he didn’t have a mate, but I don’t suppose swans are that vain really!

During the summer of 2011 Charlie appeared to have a lady friend but she had cygnets in tow & although he tolerated her he wasn’t keen on the young ones, however she stuck around, the youngsters have gone their own way & Charlie seems to be “all loved up” We are all so pleased this “swan song” has a happy ending!

The Marina was so still after the storm on Saturday night the water was like glass. It was beautiful & unusually peaceful.

Time for the usual coffee & scones in The Gally before we start the long trek back to Scotland.

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Friday 10th February 2012

Well I am one mad cookie…..did the met office get it wrong or what, we could have driven down to our nb, snow didn’t materialise as they said, temperatures didn’t drop as much as they said….GUTTED!” May go to Falkirk Wheel instead just to see some nb’s.

I bought an electric overblanket today for That’s D’riculous well for us really for when we go down during the cold winter months, because we are not on board continually she it very, very, very cold when we turn up at about 11pm on a Friday night & without waking the whole marina there is not much we can do to warm her or the bed up apart from pop the central heating on for a while but we are always well tired from the journey so sitting around too long isn’t an option. a hot water bottle doesn’t seem to have much effect in the bed either. The box says the blanket cost 1p per night to run (Hmm….) & even without a shoreline we should be ok with our 3kw inverter.

I have been thinking today about the sad story I have been reading on Tom & Jans blog site for nbWaiouru, the supposed boat builder concerned Ben Harp should have his head hung in shame for what he has done to these people. They wanted to leave New Zealand & come to retire here and continue after numerous trips exploring our canal system permanently. There is a link to their blog on the right hand side of this page, it is well worth a read. I wish them the very best of luck in moving things forward & eventually getting the boat sorted out.

The damaged nb Waiouru

Saturday 11th February 2012 

We have decided that because we hadn’t managed to get down to Aqueduct Marina to join in the 3rd anniversary celebrations that we would go to have a look at the Falkirk Wheel, nr Stirling. As boaters now we should have already been due to the fact that until we become liveaboard we are still based in Scotland. The weather was not as good as I would have liked but it was 4c & I think most of the boaters in England are still in sub zero temperatures. Although we did find ice on the Union canal although it looks as if it is cracked & broken it was actually really thick & solid. The ice was very clear rather than opaque as the english canal photos seem to show.

There were not many narrowboats moored in the basin, mainly the hire fleet tucked away for the winter.

The locks on the Union canal above the Falkirk Wheel are so new looking compared to some we have seen down south, they look to new & unused & the mechanism for operating the lock gates was new to us, has anybody seen this type of operation on the english canals? We are assuming that you use your BW key & turn a knob & “hey presto” job done rather than all that winding of stiff cogs with a windlass.

We noticed a nice Scottish touch for mooring at the top of the Wheel, the mooring cleats had a Celtic design on them!

There are lots more photos on the PAGE headed Scotland’s’ Canals (plus the skating swans!)

Thursday 16th February 2012

I haven’t posted much since last weekend as it has just been the monotonous daily grind, this year is going to be really hard waiting to start getting ready to liveaboard our nb.  A couple of people on Twitter have said “why wait?”, “why don’t you do it now?” well the reason is pictured below,  his name is Wally & he is a 9 1/2 year old Newfoundland. He has been my close companion for all that time & has been with me through some very rough & tough times. He was the inspiration for me to get back on my feet after breaking my leg & hip at the same time! No, I wasn’t drunk! surgeon said if I had been I probably wouldn’t have broken them just badly bruised myself! Anyway, this beautiful boy is in the autumn of his life & currently has an ulcerated corn on one of his large pads which apparently will never heal & is too big to be operated on as he would loose 40% of the pad & healing may not occur properly with 385kg pushing down on it .  If it was at all viable we would make the move & take him with us but the style of our nb makes it impossible for him to get in & out of the cabin easily, plus the fact he’s not keen on narrow spaces! So as much as his loss will be one of the hardest days of my life, I feel that knowing my life will completely change is the only way I will be able to get over it.  I have already asked our vet about having his ashes so at least he come on our travels with us!!

Wally is off the see his favorite friend Jeremy this weekend at the local Kennels as we really, really need to get down to the boat & chill out, the weather has broken, the ice is melting & we have nb withdrawal.

So my next blog post will be done for the first time from That’s D’riculous. See you then. 

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Monday 6th February 2012

January is not a good month for us as we don’t manage to get to our nb much due to the travelling time & the dark evenings, so we haven’t seen her since the Christmas break  & we are missing being aboard. As I am trying to get a blog established & in the routine of writing it every day I thought what better way to do that than to share some of my daily experiences with you as well as our boating days.

As I work as a Sales Manager I am obviously mobile & travel around parts of Scotland & if I had to pick a place to be other than the English canals this would probably be it. I thought you might like to share some of my daily scenes from around Scotland as I do not frequent built up cities like Glasgow & Edinburgh but mostly outlying areas.

On my 20 minute journey to Dundee twice a week just a few minutes from home I pass the elaborate gates of Glamis Castle birthplace of the former Queen Mother.

The view below is the picture I see as I am half way into my journey, the Angus glens in the background & Tayside farmland in the foreground. The snow you can see is quite deep on the hills but is just a sprinkling on the lower ground. We have had a remarkably mild winter in Scotland this year by the standards of any previous years & especially compared to last year when I was getting home in temperatures of -18c !!

The picture below was taken January 2011 as I was digging a way out from our front door, but the whole country suffered an unusually tough time that winter not only Scotland.

The skies were clear blue & the temperature around 4c in Dundee today, a couple of fishermen had strung  lines out into the River Tay then retreated to the warmth of their cars! Wimps!

I had been listening during the day to the reports about the Queen visiting Norfolk on the day that celebrates her 60th year as Queen of Great Britian. I have to say I am not a royalist however I have nothing but respect & admiration for this lady who has guided her country on the right course for 60 years in what must have sometimes been very difficult citcumstances yet I personally don’t think she has ever got it wrong, some may put that down purely to advisers but how many influential people still get it wrong even with advisors. I think she was born to be a Queen as Charles has born not to be King but William has. Jusy my opinion of course.

However I felt that as I live so close to Glamis Castle  this day should be remembered in my blog.  I have decided to include a few snippets  by The Daily Telegraph as I thnk thier coverage was exceptional today.

Diamond Jubilee:

The King is dead – long live the Queen

Britain 60 years ago was an austere and conservative country moving out of the   shadow of war but gripped by rigid social conventions, says Harry Mount.

01/04/1944 of King George VI with his daughter Princess Elizabeth

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King George VI with his daughter Princess Elizabeth in April 1944 Photo: PA
Queen Elizabeth II (L) and her mother in law his mother Dowager Queen Mary (C).  The Queen Mother, the 101-year-old mother of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, died in her sleep on Saturday M

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The Queen lands at Heathrow airport on February 7, 1952, and is met by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill and (right) 3 generations in mourning at George VI’s funeral
Diamond Jubilee: The King is dead – long live the Queen; The proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession;<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
AFP/Getty Images

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The proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Westminister Abbey The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

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The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II inside Westminster Abbey in 1953
Coronation of  Queen Elizabeth II (1953) , Prince Philip Duke Of Edinburgh , Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret

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One of the official photographs of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, with Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (right) and Princess Margaret
February 1952, was, like February 2012, a cold one. On the morning of the 6th,   Sandringham was bleak and wintry, as George VI’s valet desperately tried to   wake him. A front-page piece in this newspaper – reprinted in our pullout   today – painted a touching picture of a frozen rural Britain that had just   lost its king. “The village doctor,” we reported, “drove along the road that   winds through the Royal estate, flanked on either side by the brown withered   ferns through which, less than 24 hours earlier, the King had himself   walked. No blinds were drawn over the windows of this favourite home of the   King. The smoke from the first fires hung limp in the still morning air.”

There was nothing the doctor could do; over on the other side of the world,   the 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth had become a queen. The balmy Kenyan   weather could hardly have been further removed from sub-zero Norfolk, but   the mood was just as sad, as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh rushed to   the airport.

“When the car, travelling at speed, passed near Nyeri,” wrote another Daily   Telegraph correspondent (they had no byline in those days), “the Queen and   the Duke, despite the sadness of their journey, smiled and waved to small   groups of people who, sighting the Queen’s standard gleaming in the evening   sun, had stopped to watch them pass.”

Back in London, members of both Houses of Parliament swore the Oath of   Allegiance to the new Queen. Proclamations of her accession were made at the   Royal Exchange, Temple Bar, Trafalgar Square and St James’s Palace – where   Queen Mary, mourning her son, gazed out of the window as the Garter King of   Arms, Sir George Bellew, made his announcement on the crenellated ramparts   of St James’s Palace.

Much of Britain closed down. The Horse and Hound Ball at Grosvenor House, Park   Lane, was postponed for seven weeks. All coursing – still legal in those   days – was put off, too. Racing was cancelled until after the funeral, and   the rugby international between England and Ireland at Twickenham postponed.   The FA Cup still went ahead, although a minute’s silence was observed at all   matches, including Brentford v Fulham, where one Jimmy Hill was declared by   the Telegraph “the best man in the field”. The players, wearing black   armbands, joined the crowd in singing Abide with Me and the National Anthem.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee message in full

Official Diamond Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II photographed in the Centre Room of Buckingham Palace, overlooking The Victoria Memorial StatueImage 1 of 4

Official Diamond Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II photographed in the Centre Room of Buckingham Palace, overlooking The Victoria Memorial Statue Photo: CAMERA PRESS/John Swannell
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh photographed in the Centre Room of Buckingham PalaceImage 1 of 4

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh photographed in the Centre Room of Buckingham Palace Photo: CAMERA PRESS/John Swannell
Here is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee message in full.
Today, as I mark 60 years as your Queen, I am writing to thank you for the   wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince   Philip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to   receive so many kind messages about the Diamond   Jubilee.

In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we   will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength   of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have   been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look   forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the United Kingdom   and the wider Commonwealth.

I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great   advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future   with clear head and warm heart as we join together in our celebrations.

I send my sincere good wishes to you all.


Tuesday 7th February 2012
Another day closer to getting down to our beloved nb, hoping to go down for Fri. Sat & return Sun evening but with the weather at apparently -15c down there we won’t be cruising anywhere this weekend. Such a shame after our lovely Christmas week & all the mild weather in January that we never took advantage of! I hope the two tubular green house heaters we purchased in the summer have switched themselves on & are at least keeping the frost off the inside! I must remember to take water as the tap at the mooring will possibly be frozen all weekend at least we can use the shower facilities in the main building at Aqueduct Marina.
The working day was pretty boring, I have been a Sales Manager for just about 20 years now & I have never seen the catering industry so deflated. This current Government has a lot to answer for, they seem to be making a nation of haves & have nots rather than an equal society. Ordinary folk just can’t afford to eat out much now & if they do make an effort they are cutting down on the food & drink consumed which is having a knock on effect in independent hotels & restaurants while the multi national chains Pizza Hut, Whitbreads, Weatherspoons etc ( other outlets are available) are offering crap food & tasteless lager at prices so cheap independent outlets can’t compete. Sorry, daily rant over,  it just makes me so mad. I have made a conscious decision to boycott Tesco, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Lloyds TSB &  Weatherspoons & I think more will follow!
I drove past a couple of hairy pals on the way to do some calls today, I love these guys they are so docile & chilled.
I was later reading how the canals of Venice have frozen over for the first time in 20yrs, they won’t be shouting for a Cornetto any time soon then!

Frozen Venice: the lagoon and canals ice over as

Europe’s big freeze continues

A small boat makes its way along a partly frozen canal in Venice
A small boat makes its way along a partly frozen canal in Venice. The city’s lagoon has frozen for the first time in more than two decades.Picture: Marco Sabadin/AFP/Getty Images
Thursday 9th February
Not much to tell you about yesterday just another day of work & cold weather, however Scotland have got off very light this year compared to England. We have had no snow to speak of & even temperatures although cold this week have been well above average but further south below Manchester there has been quite a few inches of snow, frozen canals  & very harsh sub zero temperature up to -15c. They are warning that the cold from Europe & the warmth from the north will collide on Friday & Saturday causing major snow, ice & even colder freezing temperatures!!
Due to all that I am gutted as we were due to travel to our beloved nb tomorrow for the 3yr celebrations at Aqueduct Marina.
We have decided that this would not be wise, firstly due to the potentially bad travelling conditions & also that the locks on That’s D’riculous will be frozen solid as will the taps on the marina & hoping that the greenhouse heaters we installed before we left are doing their job, we decided it might be better to just leave her closed up & condensation free until next weekend when the weather is supposed to be a bit more normal for the time of year. This means we will have missed the celebrations at the marina but we can enjoy the journey & our weekend without the added stress of adverse weather conditions.
Needless to say, if the weather men get this wrong & the road are ” travelable” over the weekend & temperatures rise I will be one mad cookie as I was so looking forward to our trip this weekend. GUTTED!
So, I must go & do some work.
I have been hearing today about the River Danube being frozen along with vast parts of Europe, it seems like the UK & Europe has been turned on its head as far as the weather is concerned, It has been 6.5c in Aberdeen today, almost tropical compared to all our fellow boaters on the canals.
By Veselin Toshkov

    • Wed Feb 8 2012

 Balkan nations suspend shipping on frozen Danube


A man walks on the deck of an icebreaker trying to free itself from the frozen Danube River in southern Romania on Wednesday. Bulgarian authorities say up to 90 percent of the river is covered with floating ice, making it extremely difficult to navigate.

Danube    A man walks on the deck of an icebreaker trying to free itself from the frozen Danube River in southern Romania on Wednesday. Bulgarian authorities say up to 90 percent of the river is covered with floating ice, making it extremely difficult to navigate.

Vadim Ghirda/The Associated Press

SOFIA, BULGARIA — At least four Balkan nations suspended shipping on the Danube River because of severe frost and the vast amount of ice blocking the heavily travelled waterway.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Serbia made the decision because up to 90 per cent of the river’s surface is covered with floating ice, authorities said Wednesday.

The conditions are making it extremely difficult to traverse Europe’s main commercial waterway, which winds 2,860 kilometres from Germany and serves as the natural border between Bulgaria and Romania.

Europe has been battling a deep freeze that started in late January and has killed hundreds of people. Snow has trapped thousands in Balkan mountain villages and prompted worries of flooding as the heavy snow melts. In Greece and Bulgaria, flooding on Monday and Tuesday left dozens of homes under water and at least eight people dead.

Serbian emergency officials have said the country’s army will use explosives disperse ice on the Danube and Ibar rivers to try to prevent flooding.

The Sava and the Danube rivers are partially frozen, with large chunks of ice floating down the two waterways. In some parts, ice on the Danube is 15 cm thick, but so far it hasn’t jeopardized the work of Serbia’s biggest Djerdap hydro-power plant, near the Romanian border, officials said.

Serbia also banned any shipping along the Sava and Tisa rivers. An official, Milos Milovanovic said “the entire Sava river is blocked with ice, even around Belgrade.

“We will make maximum effort in the next 10 days or so to break the ice,” he said.

Officials fear the ice could cause the rivers to overflow and jeopardize the work of the hydro-power plants.

In Bosnia strong winds knocked over power lines and left tens of thousands without electricity, potentially for the next several days.

Half of Mostar, Bosnia’s second largest city, is without power and snow piled some 80 cm deep is preventing work crews from dealing with the problem, government spokesperson Pero Pavlovic said.

People in Mostar fell into a “shopping hysteria”, emptying shelves and in some cases getting into fist fights over flour, he said.

The Polish Interior Ministry said Wednesday that six more people died as a result of the freezing weather. It also called on people to be careful when using coal heaters, reporting that one person died of asphyxiation. The temperatures in the country fell at times to -32 C.

In Bulgaria, the government declared Wednesday a day of mourning for eight people who died after torrential rains and melting snow caused a dam to burst, flooding an entire village. Two people are missing and rescue operations were continuing.

Dike reinforcement materials and heated tents for flood victims and rescuers are needed, EU commissioner for humanitarian aid Kristalina Georgieva said after visiting the flooded areas. She warned that the freezing weather may be followed by a harsh spring and said residents need to be prepared for possible flooding.

Poland and Italy immediately responded to Bulgaria’s request for aid to flood victims, Georgieva said, and added that the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark also have stated their readiness to help.

The U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria has requested the U.S. Agency for International Development to approve $50,000 in funds for the Bulgarian Red Cross to aid those affected by the flooding.

The Associated Press

But maybe we are not having it so bad after all, we have decided to go down to our boat next weekend when hopefully the driving conditions will be better.

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