The Long Road to Mirrless – Part 5
I’m going to use Part 5 to try and catch up to date…
Friday 25 May 2018
Friday, we broke the routine that had built up over the last few days by watching Frazier in the morning! lol. Still unsure of whether the boat would be ready or not so we were once again, waiting to ring the marina.
Yes! Good news. They said to check out of the hotel and they arranged to pick us up at 12:00 (High Noon) to save walking as it had been raining. The towpath would have been wet and muddy. They would obtain an update from the workshop at 13:00.
We arrived at the marina in style i.e. not walking, not out of breath nor hot or sweating. Once again, we were offered the now customary vouchers (it’s the gift that keeps on giving…), which we gratefully took. Time passed as we sat and watched engineers, electricians, the Marine Surveyor and maybe others pass back and forth along the gunnels once again. Waiting, waiting…
Upon our return to the office (sated from our fill at the Whilton Marina Cafe) we were told “It will be ready at 18:00, you will be able to sleep on Mirrless tonight. If you come back at 17:30, we’ll load the van and take your stuff down to where she’ll be moored”. This was it, a final sit and wait.
17:20 came, mu’s patience got the better of her and she raced over to the office. We loaded the van. Our stuff had been stored in the warehouse, next to the office and comments like “Is this your first narrowboat? Thought so” ensued. We clearly fitted the bill for ‘all the gear, no idea – of where to put it’ 🙂
This Was It
This really was it but nothing could go smoothly could it? Let’s face it, where would be the fun in that?
We took our stuff onboard via the front door (it’s our home so we’re allowed to use a non-nautical term at this point) whilst people were feverishly working on the stern (nautical term). We were trudging through the wet dock stepping over oiled objects with no idea of their use, carrying bag after box after storage container whilst two of the nicest engineers you could wish to meet were offering to help, moving out of the way and moving obstacles whist still trying to get the boat ship shape and liveaboardable (made up term).
Please bear in mind that this was a Friday before a Bank Holiday and everyone was wanting to get off, onto their boats and out onto the cut for the weekend.
Time passed, they continued to work; 18:00, 18:30, 19,00… It was coming up to 20:00 when we heard an engine burst into life, its echoes reverberating around the wet dock shelter. It had to be ours. No-one was working on anything else this late. Narrowboat Mirrless ‘made way’ out of the wet dock, turned
a sharp right, sorry to port with ease and pulled into the second pontoon from the dock. They moored her up and we were finally let aboard.
Trojans. The workforce, not the batteries.
We carried out some basic cleaning and sorting and time flew. Before log it was approaching 01:00 we fell into bed, exhausted.
What follows now is a potted history of the ensuing days to bring us up to date…
Saturday 26 May 2018
Saturday, it’s my birthday and I wake up aboard our very own narrowboat – not your typical birthday. I opened two presents of Yes CD’s; Time and a Word & Union but unfortunately had nothing to play them on (such frivolities come later). What a great day – a day of anticipation.
The Banks are on Holiday
This being a Bank Holiday weekend, we were holidaying at the marina for a few days until the workforce returned on Tuesday. There was just the matter of a joiner fitting boarding over the engine so we wouldn’t have to stand astraddle of what is basically a large truck engine. Someone mentioned safety or something.
The only thing of note nearby is a Garden Centre. So I got to have a Latte. The first for some time now. Sat out in their garden overlooking the canal beyond which, you could just make out motorbike racing at Silverstone.
This was considerably better than the other thing of possible note; the carpet centre 😉
This was the night of the biggest electrical storm we have ever experienced. Thankfully it wasn’t one in the engine bay but nature flinging its weight about. Not to mention our narrowboat. The Starboard was the side moored to the pontoon, we have two bouys attached to the side, unfortunately we need three. The rear end which is where the bedroom is, banged against the pontoon most of the night. Thankfully the odd rumble of thunder drowned this out.
By the morning, we had survived our first storm. We weren’t even out of the marina yet!
Sunday 27 May 2018
Throughout the holiday weekend, the sales staff were working, people we had gotten to know quite well by know. The sales of narrowboats is booming and Whilton sell approximately 24 per month which is incredible.
A Shortcut to Mushrooms (in Batter)
We were settling into marina life now and each day Mirrless got a little cleaner and a little tidier. Each day, we walked as the surrounding area is just stunningly beautiful. We decided that we would find The White Horse Inn & Chippy at Norton. “It’s mere footsteps away”. OK, it turned out to be more than a couple of footsteps.
We were heading into what looked like a stormy sky but the weather was mild and humid. As we entered the outskirts of Norton, it started to spot with rain. For such a small village, it had an inordinately large ‘outskirt’ and before we could reach the a-forenamed hostelry, the heavens opened and we were in the storm proper. Bursting open the door of the old White Horse Inn shaking water everywhere, we stepped into a cross between a Chinese Restaurant and an old village pub. The barman laughed.
And Back Again
Great pint of Courage Director’s bitter, draft cider cheered up mu after the drowning (“I told you it was going to rain, I knew it was a lot further…”) excellent food with a massive range of Vegetarian options. Great barman. The rain stopped as soon as it had started. We rolled out of the pub later into the humid night and looked around the village, then made our trek back home. It was a much better walk back, seemed a lot quicker. I wonder why?
Monday 28 May 2018
Bank Holiday Monday, still no workforce as they were still enjoying the holiday.
Monday has traditionally been washday and continuing the tradition (holiday or no) mu decided to attempt washing our clothes ‘al fresco’. We will have to get used to a more basic lifestyle as a washing machine is a luxury we (nor the inverter) can afford. Washing machines require a pure sine wave inverter. Our Sterling inverter is currently a ‘modified’ sine wave inverter so a washing machine’s electronics will struggle with it. The washing went well, mu did a sterling (no pun intended) job.
Air drying in this great weather’s not a problem.
After more cleaning we decided to walk to find another pub – yes, there were two within walking distance. We set off, it was just beyond the next bridge. “Oh’ it must be the next one. Ah, this was a small bridge, it’s the larger one, next”. I was struggling with Google maps, mu pointed out “you’re going the wrong way!”
Yes, I admit it. Maps had zoomed me in to where we were and I’d set off in the wrong direction. We were walking away from it rather than towards it! Arghhh!
No drink tonight. We would try again tomorrow.
Tuesday 29 May 2018
We were up, the joiner arrived and started work on the engine floor as planned and one of the engineers came and finished few other bits and pieces.
I got to clean the toilet. Well, to be precise, two toilets. When you live on a narrowboat you are responsible for everything and I mean everything. You consume and you are responsible for getting that on board and thus you are responsible for removing waste. This simple little term encompasses rubbish bin rubbish, recyclables and ‘waste’. The Canal & River Trust and marinas provide what are termed Elsan Points. These are basically holes in the ground that you can empty your toilet waste into the sewage system. They are very nice holes in the ground.
Cleaner than Clean
We brought our own, small capacity toilet with us and we inherited one. It had been cleaned but it hadn’t been ‘cleaned’. After ferrying the toilets from the narrowboat, around virtually the whole marina, to the Elsan Point, emptying, cleaning then making the long walk back to the narrowboat, there is a calm that descends.
I then ‘cleaned’ until I could clean no more.
This is the glamorous side of narrowboating…
I really had earned a pint today so we set off, this time in the correct direction. We walked along the towpath of the Buckby locks to the seventh lock and there stood The new Inn. It is situated on the Buckby Top Lock and is the home of the Buckby can – the can that narrowboaters used to hold the day’s water for when they were out on the cut.
A New Inn
The food at The new Inn is great; various vegetarian options of good honest pub food and the bar had an excellent range of beers; Brackspear Oxford Gold & Shipyard American India Pale Ale on draught.
Our first experience of narrowboating will be straight onto the Buckby Lock Flight of seven locks. We had walked them, now all we had to do was narrowboat through them – simple 🙂
Would we be setting off Wednesday? We went to sleep this night with A New Hope
Wednesday 30 May 2018
We are now permanent fixtures at Whilton Marina. Everyone knows us; the cafe, the Chandlery, the office, the workshop, we talk to a great couple on narrowboat May Queen on a daily basis. The workshop are taking bets on whether or not we will bash our way out of the marina when we leave 🙂
Is today the day?
It could have been. However, there were papers to attend to and they are indeed being attended to. We’re now insured. These things take time. However, it did mean we got a further few jobs attended to by the ever amenable Nigel, along with some invaluable advice that we would have missed.
We also did get to drive the boat. We had a ‘lesson’ with two of the sales people to take the boat out onto the cut and fill up with diesel and then back. It’s an awesome experience, there’s a lot to learn, there are loads of dials and levers and stuff – we just have to get competent at using the stuff.
We will leave Whilton Marina tomorrow; Thursday 31 May 2018, make the Buckby Lock Flight and head to Braunston Tunnel – if you see us coming – i’d run 🙂
Pictures to follow so check back