A downside for a blogger…

…is a lack of internet connection at home! I have been busy at work (A level season- I teach and mark A levels) and at home- moving regularly, filling the water tank, filling up with diesel, making new friends, having towpath parties, festivalling, and even doing a bit of boat maintenance here and there. We had a scorching July and as the school holidays started, the rains returned as per tradition…

Summer on the canal is a wonderful thing. Boat Girl has built dens, toasted marshmallows, jammed with musician friends, found a little sister who adores her (she SO wants to be a Big Sister!), ridden her bike, planted beans and nasturtiums, grown marigolds from seed, been wild swimming, walked for miles, and generally been outside more than inside. I love that she gets the chance to enjoy the world, rather than watching an interpretation on a screen. She makes things, draws, writes, and does engineering like using string or wool to brace structures or to make zip-wires and swings for her fairy people.
(Don’t get me wrong- I think there’s a time and a place for TV and films, and computers- but we are all apt to become screen addicts and in this setting, that’s not even a possibility because they just aren’t there. For me and for her. We get screen time at other places (her dad’s, my mum’s, work) and as I’m writing this on a BRAND-NEW! laptop (VERY exciting, I can tell you!) we’ll be able to watch films as well without being on hookup- because I can shift the telly and we can use this machine with its splendid battery life and HDMI input.)

I’ve been toying with going back into the marina for the winter. Pros: electric hookup, convenience for parking, toilets, showers, water on the pontoon, having a home mooring at licence renewal time. Cons: the cost, feeling ‘trapped’. Despite the pros outnumbering the cons, they seem trivial in comparison to the cons. Anyway, yesterday I walked along to Sharpness at the southern end of the canal (we’re back at Purton) and on the off-chance I went in to see about a mooring there. They had one, at less money than Saul Junction Marina (though, of course, it’s not as swish). So I’ve taken it, and paid with my marking money for a year’s fees. I imagine I’ll use it little, but it will be useful to have the hookup during the darkest months. We won’t stay there too much anyway as it’s non-residential. It just means I’ll have a home mooring, which undoubtedly makes life easier (“They’ll hound you till you get a home mooring” as I was told yesterday- “they” being CRT).

Anyway because of my laxness at posting recently, here are just a few photos for you to enjoy- a taster of the life we live.


Dawn at Saul Junction
Early morning mist




Glitter khazi!

I have finally got a minute in daylight to take some pictures of our new composting loo. It arrived a couple of weeks ago and the lovely R disconnected the macerating loo, capped off the tank and the glorious glitter khazi is fully functional!

Oak lid, tongue and groove exterior and we went with plain white to fit nicely in the bathroom we’ve got…

Made by Colin and Maria of Kildwick Crafts, the order was completed quickly and delivered when I was expecting it. The box weighed 14kg, so I was easily able to handle it myself, and the unit is self-contained so it could go wherever, anywhere you want it to stand. We’ve gone conventional and put ours in the bathroom šŸ™‚

Now the best part. You can have almost any colours you like for the outside, and for the inside… we went sparkly…

And inside, a glittery surprise!

Isn’t that fantastic! I’ve never had a glittery loo before.

A couple of weeks in and the practical aspects are easy to cope with. There’s no smell, because of the separation- and there really is no smell. Visitors have confirmed this! We’re using sawdust for our drying material and so that’s probably the dominant smell. I’ve been emptying the bottle in the toilet block, rinsing it and giving it a wash, then replacing it. I clean the separett at the same time with Method cleaner. It lasts me and Boat Girl several days (2-3), though admittedly we’re often out in the days at work and school.

I’m delighted to never have to pump out again (more about the memorable last pumpout expedition later!) and feel that this is far easier than a cassette would be. You have to keep an eye on the bottle, make sure it’s not over-full before you use it, but the unit comes with two bottles and two lidded buckets so plenty of spares. I’ll keep you updated but so far, so very very good!

The Avon again- Evesham to Tewkesbury

C and her family once again came to my rescue, giving up their bank holiday to help me down the lower part of the Avon Navigation to Tewkesbury. With the three children helping and hindering (it varies according to how recently they’ve been fed, and how close it is to bedtime) and swapping clothes (don’t ask), we got from Evesham to Pershore on the first afternoon- a short journey by road, but a good four hours by boat. The locks were quite unmemorable, although I still don’t like the weirs!

On the following day it was me and C and Boat Girl (her disappointment at not getting a sleepover with C’s children was tempered by the realisation that we would be an all-female party on boardĀ Dreams… We took a little time getting started because of Pershore Lock, but that was probably the easiest one of the day. There were some beautiful stretches of countryside (pics to follow) but the wind picked up, and some of the lock entrances were not terribly straightforward: the warning and information signs are very small and quite close to the lock/weir partings, so there isn’t always a lot of notice of which side you’re making for, or when you need to turn. At Nafford we had a difficult time mooring up to open the gates and the bridge across, and we were disconcerted to see this boat, which came to grief in the recent high waters; its present was quite off-putting:

boat on weir

I later heard its story and was happy to hear that nobody was on board at the time, although some poor people lost their boat which is always sad.

Anyway, after that the last lock of the day was the trickiest but because of the wind rather than anything else. A boat was already in the lock as we approached, but slowing down and reversing to allow them out, we were almost blown into the plastic (GRP/fibreglass) boats moored directly above. We got turned around and had to perform the same manoeuvre again (though knowing what to do meant it was much less stressful than it was the last time) and nearly went across to the tubsĀ again….

After that it was straightforward to the marina, and we tied up on the visitors’ pontoon as it was too windy for us to risk trying to manoeuvre inside the basin (we were told!). Tewkesbury is a nice marina and very smart. We could hear ewes and lambs calling to each other as we went to sleep- always a soporific sound for me, since I was little. It was also a relief to know I was at the end of the Avon, that there was just one more river to navigate, and that we were at last in the right county.

I alsoĀ got the number of the Ā localĀ Marine Volunteer Service– who helped me down to Gloucester.