Category Archives: Terminology

The Long Journey Home – Part 6

The Long Journey Home – Part 6

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Swing Bridges and Damselflies

The Long Journey Home – Part 6 started with a late start. We were waiting for Tooley’s Boatyard to open at 10:00, where we hoped to purchase 15 W40 oil, Morris’ K99 Grease and a new Windlass. As mentioned previously, Tooley’s Boatyard is an historic place dating back to 1790. It’s dry dock and working forge are scheduled monuments [Collins Nicholson Waterways Guide 1, P160]. It’s a fascinating place and and has a museum as well as chandlery. We managed to obtain a Windlass and some grease but alas, no oil.

Decent Coffee

We went for a coffee; my first decent barista latte since setting out. I used Wifi to email, I felt I’d made it as a waterway’s warrior. Banbury pulled us in many directions and we ended up buying those final few implements we really needed before heading back to the boat. We finally cast off at 12:02. Our aim was to get to Anyho Wharf to obtain the now grail-like 15 W40 oil for the engine.

A Stretch of Canal

This stretch of the canal and indeed a whole lot more was littered with old, disused and in use swing bridges. They were all up to allow access straight through, via the canal (most just cross the canal from farmer’s field to farmer’s field). The trouble is, each one is wide enough only for a narrowboat, with 3 inches either side! It’s like threading a large, heavy needle. I have got to the point now where I can pass through without touching the sides at will – I’m like the seamstress of the waterways 🙂

The other thing this stretch of canal had in abundance was damselflies and dragonflies. Everywhere, electric blue and electric green flashes filled the canal side vegetation and occasionally they would flit across the boat. At one point, there were several in the boat. At another, they were fluttering around mu like she was Snow White in a Walt Disney cartoon.

Nell Bridge

We wound our way (yes it was still twisting and winding) and eventually stopped at a spot, just before the M40 motorway for lunch. After a break, with no overheating in sight, we continued on, eventually arriving at Nell Bridge Lock. This lock drops you straight under Nell Bridge which is quite low. If the canal had had a lot of water running through it i.e. it had been raining for example, it would have lifted the boat, making it impossible to get through (and possible decapitating passengers and boat).

It was here that we met our first Navigation Warning System sign (green/amber/red). The trouble was, we spent ages looking for the water level sign (it had said to check before using) only to find it was visible once you had emptied the lock! I passed under the bridge, which was like descending into the bowels of the earth and out. It was then that, horror of horrors; the boat overheated again!

We pulled over (I had just managed to pick up mu from the towpath just after her doing her lock thing), killed the engine, added more water to the expansion tank and let the engine cool down. It cooled down.

We set off, worried about further overheating as we were in the middle of nowhere and we needed to find somewhere to moor but were confident we could make our destination; Anyho Wharf.

Crossing the Cherwell

Just beyond where we had set off from, the river Cherwell crosses the canal, from port to starboard (left to right) causing a weir on the starboard side. This was just before Anyho Weir Lock. Luckily it hadn’t been raining so there was no real flow, only the added complication of someone coming out of the lock thinking the mouth of the river Cherwell was a winding hole (a winding hole is a place on the canal where you can turn a boat around). Seeing how this was a near impossibility and no doubt cursing the Canal and River Trust for such a poor implementation of a winding hole, the couple on the boat thought better of it and continued on.

We entered the wide lock (the first we’d encountered on this canal) and bobbed around like a plastic duck in a bathtub. The lock only dropped a short distance when emptied and so we were on our way the short distance to the outskirts of Anyho Wharf.

We found boats moored to a stretch of armcote between signs still denoting ‘Winter Moorings’ for last Winter. We pulled up to a perfect spot, with a perfect view of a tree, brown cows and rabbits, with no-one particularly near. Anyho Wharf was a half mile walk away.

An S for an E

It was at this point that I took the opportunity to paint out one ‘E’ on the starboard of Mirrless, in readiness for inserting an ‘S’. This converted Mirrlees to Mirrless. I felt that the boat had already been renamed out of the water (the correct way to rename a boat), at Whilton Marina by the team there. All I was doing was just tidying up the bodywork. In any case, we had toasted Poseidon, James Brindley and Mirrless and we had already had our share of bad luck with the overheating – I figured we were safe 😉

Off Down the Pub

One of the great things about the Nicholson guides is that they clearly show you where the pubs are. At Anyho, we decided upon the Great Western Arms in honour of the South West and Bristol. It was very smartly done out, with a lot of eating going on so we retired to the garden to sit under the old pub sign. We were once again freeloading a bit of Wifi but not enough to get ‘Tales…’ written up – we were on a non-existent budget of one pint each a night. Tonights tipple was a golden pint of Hookey from the Hook Norton Brewery (it was very mild-mannered). Mu had the Stowford Press cider.

The walk back to the narrowboat was through voluminous clouds of small white flies. You would have seen us, hooded up, flailing our arms about frantically as the sun sank and as we headed our way back to Mirrless – our home.

Here completes The Long Journey Home – Part 6.

The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1

A Tour of the Narrowboat (sort of)

“A tour of the narrowboat?”

OK, don’t get too excited. I’m going to piece together a ‘walkthrough’ from the photographs we have so far. You may have seen some of them in the past but bringing them together will put it all into context, I hope.

We’ll start at the pointy end (or the prow, as  being a boating professional now, I know all the special names) and walk through the ‘Saloon’ (two shots of red eye, Barman!), on to the ‘Galley’, past the ‘Dinette’ (Burger and Fries, hold the Mayo!), quickly past the ‘Head’ (tee hee), to the ‘Stateroom’ (it will be in a state) and out through the ‘back door’ (not an official boating term) and out onto the ‘stern’ (but we will be smiling).

So, not quite the 4K video footage, on pro camera with drone camera shot inserts you were all expecting. That will come with time but funding is a little way off yet 😉

(Remember to stop and click the photos.)

The Tour

Tour - Approaching the Narrowboat image
Approaching the Narrowboat


Careful not to stumble as you step aboard. Hey! It’s easily done, I nearly went in.


Tour - Narrowboat Interior image
Lux Interior

(Ignore the rubbish on the work surface, we’ll tidy that up later.)


Yes, The Head. Well… Oh, no. That’s not actually The Head, it’s the sink, you don’t use that…



This is what we’re all waiting for – ‘The Beast’

Tour - Heart of the Beast II image
The Heart of the Beast


I think you’ll agree, it was like we were really there!

Next Steps

Unfortunately, it’s just a waiting game at the moment. Whilton Marina have work that needs doing, scheduled in with a completion date at the end of April. At this point we will take delivery (sounds important and grown up). Technically, it will be ready; it will float, move, have the ability to provide electricity & heat and will have BSS certificate. That’s when we have to make it into a home 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little oldschool walkthrough. My eventual aim is to get to the point where I can vlog some ‘Tales’ on YouTube and maybe even get a Patreon account up and going. All good stuff.


rp – peace and narrowboats



Gas Isolation Valve

Hatch to the Gas Isolation Valve photo

Gas Isolation Valve image


Gas Isolation Valve

This is the hatch to the gas bottles and the all important Gas Isolation Valve. We will need to use this when we change over the LPG bottles, which run the hob and oven. Hopefully this is the only time we will need to isolate any gas 🙂

Before we can drive off, the gas locker has to be ‘hammer tested’ (presumably hit with a hammer) and ‘inspected for its gas tight integrity’ (presumably this doesn’t mean striking a match or lighter near it to see if any gas is leaking!). Craig Allen from Craig Allen Marine is going to ensure it’s all boat shape and Bristol fashion.

It’s a quality brass sign.

rp – peace and narrrowboats

Traditional Roses Painted Teapot

A traditional roses painted teapot

Roses Teapot image

One thing we’re going to need on a narrowboat is a good cup of tea and this looks like the ideal recepticle.

Teapot, Where?

I spotted in a thrift shop in Frome, on Catherine Hill (I didn’t dare ask the price and in any case, we’ve got a white one so I might try and get mu to paint it for us – a lot more thrifty). I was tempted thought, I’ve got a red mug that looks exactly like it!

It’s a Tradition

Traditional narrowboat painting is comprised of Roses and Castles. As to why? The origins have been lost, which is frighteneing as we’re only talking about the 19th Century. Hardly the ‘Mists of time’. The roses are painted using four colours only, if you are aiming for authenticity.

We like the idea of tradition and find It fitting to honour the people that lived and worked on the canals so, we want to take some of that tradition and meld it with the modern.


rp – peace and narrowboats

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

That Sinking Feeling – when you’ve got everything but the Kitchen sink.

After the euphoria of finding the narrowboat you want to buy, the adrenalin rush subsiding and you’re left shaking by the canal bank, the actuality gradually dawns – it needs some work.

You suddenly notice that some aspects of your narrowboat pride & joy look a little jaded. Lacklustre if you will. Somethings need to be refreshed; there’s a scratch here (well, several), it could do with a touch of polish there (well, all of it) and the Galley (the technical term for the kitchen) well… The Galley is one of those things.

The configuration of the Galley is right, we wanted it along one side, not a walk-through with units on both sides of the boat, so you have to squeeze through or wait for someone to pass, so you can then get by. It’s just that one of the units needs changing, and there’s a door we want to do up and we want a new cooker and…

The Patina of Age

It has obviously served the boat and previous occupants well and whilst I’m all for a patina of age, we’re going to do up the Galley.

Looking Back from the Galley image
The Galley

With weeks and weeks still to go before the boat will be ready, one thing we can do is get some ‘bits and pieces’ and at least feel like we’re moving in the right direction. With the Galley in mind, we’ve bought a sink and a draining rack to go with it. It’s a small sink and we’ve been trying out basic mock-ups to ensure we got the optimum size; not too big so as to waste preparation space and not too small that you can’t effectively wash up in it. How did we do this? With a paper layout of the kitchen, sorry Galley in the sitting room, to scale and set up so we can see how different layouts will work. It’s a sort of role-playing while no-one’s looking, but there are no Hit Points or Dragons.

Kitchen Sink image
Kitchen Sink


It’s all coming along nicely, we’ve even bought an EasyDo Products ecoFORCE recycled (89%) Dish Brush for cleaning the pots and pans pot and pan (there’s only so much space to store stuff and mu insists she’s a one pot cook). Ooh, and x2 brush refills and some recycled (97%) Heavy Duty Kitchen Scourer Pads from the same company. At least that pot and pan will be clean.

Drained image

We haven’t got everything but at least we’ve got a kitchen sink.


rp – peace and narrowboats

Tale of the Bilge

So what is a bilge?

If you look at Oxford Dictionaries definition it first states that a bilge is on the outside of a boat. Further definition for bilges states it is ‘the lowest internal portion of the hull‘. It finally tells us bilge means ‘Nonsense, rubbish’! How prescient!

Basically, if you open up the floor of a narrowboat, you get to see the bilges. That is, sections of the boat below the waterline.

Is There a Question?

‘So what’s in one?’ I hear you ask. Well, you might think nothing but you’d be wrong. This is where water collects. It’s OK, don’t worry! We’re not sinking. Water can get in by various legitimate means; condensation, rain, splashsing in from the canal or spillage from the galley (we’ll come to the galley in another post). There are also other, less legitimate means for water ingress; water can leak from a disconnected pipe (I’m thinking sink if you’re lucky, toilet if you’re not), the stern gland (don’t ask) and maybe even oil from the engine!

Don’t panic!

‘My good God! What type of boat are you running here?’ I hear you gasping. Don’t panic, this is all normal or so I’m reliably told by people in the know. The thing I want you to take away from  this little discussion is that water in the bilge or bilge water isn’t clean. In fact it can harbour bacteria and emanate noxious smells, hence you can see bilge quickly becoming a derogatory term.

Pump it

You have to get into the bilges or at least gain access to pump out the noxious waters (I said pump, not syphon). You can get manual and automatic bilge pumps that remove said waters. I’ll let you know which type of pump we have (if any) and what we upgrade to if we have to.

So, I’ll be periodically cleaning out my bilges (let’s face it, there won’t be a lot of people queuing up to do it for me) and by necessity, be cleaning the bilge as a narrowboat needs blacking every two years or so, the contents of which I will be sharing in these blog posts – basically, a load of old bilge water 😉

A soon as I get a picture of our bilges, I’ll post it here.


rp – peace and narrowboats