Spring Fever

Well almost! And I’m sure, like me, you’ll have found this to be a very long and dreary winter with way,way,way too much rain. But it surely can’t last too much longer – can it?

I’m conscious that it’s been a while since our last post. We’ve pretty much drawn in our horns and hunkered down for the most part. So what have we been up to? Well – we’ve been frozen in a couple of times, which is not unusual. But during one of those cold snaps our Eberspacher (which provides heating for the boat) had a hissy fit. The ethos with such beasts seems to be if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! So we have run it for 3 years without attention. But one very cold day, it emitted the diesel equivalent of a fart and a cloud of white smoke and then was not keen on functioning. As it’s our only form of built-in heating it could have been a bit of a disaster, but we have both belts and braces.

We carry a 2KW fan heater on board, which heats a space very quickly. So instead of awakening to a warm boat as usual, my gallant husband volunteered to get up first and pop the fan heater on before I got up to join him. Too kind! And we are never cold in bed as we have a 10.5 Hungarian Goose Down duvet, with the potential – so far unused – to be 15 tog, if we button the spring weight 4.5 tog one onto it. We also have teddy bear fleece duvet covers (0 – toasty in seconds) which we highly recommend to all boaters. And the crowning glory is a heated throw, which we put on a couple of hours before bed, so we never have to get into a chilly bed. We remove it when we get in as it would be just too hot, but it makes such a difference. I have memories of jumping into chilly beds as a kid! Ice on the inside of the windows in the morning!

But you’ll be glad to hear that the Eberspacher was fixed within a couple of days, thanks to the local whizz Mark Grainger. We are very grateful for his services.

We’ve been down to Hampshire a couple of times since New Year to see family. It’s been a joy to see how much Chester, our grandson, has changed in between visits. We speak quite often on FaceTime but seeing his achievements in the flesh is amazing. He passed the 7 month mark while we were down recently. Currently all he wants to do is stand up and is preparing to crawl. There’ll be no stopping him! He’s also recently started to explore solid food and has already tried over 30 different tastes and textures.

Chester enjoying Spring Greens

The visits home are a welter of appointments (doc/dentist/vet/optician etc) and catching up with friends. It’s sometimes nice to come back to the boat for a rest! But we would not change a thing. Friends and family are really the only things we miss from our old, landlubber life.

We have been out out a couple of times – once to see Jimeoin – highly recommended comedian – and once to see a film at the cinema (All of Us Strangers – which we loved). We almost had a private showing, until someone zipped in at the last minute, We were struck by how deserted the cinema was and genuinely wondered how they keep going. We resolved to go more frequently, as there really is nothing like seeing a film in the cinema. It’s just not the same at home. Use them or lose them!

I’ve started doing a bit of embroidery which I’m rather enjoying. The ladies who craft here at the Marina of Dreams, have a get together most Wednesdays for a cuppa and a natter and a bit of craft. It’s very sociable – although not very warm – I could not feel my fingertips after one particular session, it was so chilly. I’ve also been going to a sewing class in nearby Hillmorton. Currently, I’m making a tunic top for me and shortly I’ll be trying my hand at making a shirt for Paul. We’ll see how that goes.

We’ve also been doing a lot of work on Electrika – the boat show we are organising on behalf of Ortomarine. As you may recall, it’s a show dedicated to Electric Boating – the first of its kind. We spend most Fridays doing the many and varied tasks associated with putting on such an event. And a fair few evenings, too, get eaten up with Electrika. You can have a look at the latest version of the website below. It now shows all the exhibitors and gives a list of the boats which will be taking part. We are thoroughly enjoying doing it but look forward to it being over! As I write we have just 66 days left!


Looking ahead, this year, we have bought a Gold Licence, which enables not only to cruise the canals and rivers in England and Wales (managed by the Canal & River Trust) but the rivers and waterways managed by the Environment Agency. The last time we had a Gold Licence was our first year, when we went on the Thames. A Gold Licence costs the princely sum of £1,446.40 whereas a C&RT only licence is around £1,250. And we get a discount for being an electric boat, which is nice.

And speaking of C&RT, they are facing massive repair bills as a result of the unusually bad weather we have been having. Travelling around the country, there are signs of flooding almost everywhere you go. On our journey back from Hampshire this week, we were diverted twice due to flooding, That’s almost unprecedented. And every day there are CRT notices of new problems caused by weather. We even have a big issue locally – a rather serious landslip in nearby Easenhall Cutting where the water sodden land, which is riddled with rabbit holes become unstable and slipped into the canal, blocking all passage. There’s an article about it here and you can see how close it is in the pic below – which shows Brinklow Marina (indicated by the red arrow) and the location of the landslide.

The Brinklow Landslide

This bit of canal – the North Oxford – is a pretty heavily used stretch for getting from North to South and CRT are estimating a minimum of 6 weeks to clear it. It’s a big task and this is just one of many unplanned drains (see what I did there?) on the CRT’s budget, which was already predicted to be overstretched. Difficult times ahead, I fear.

We are planning on heading to the Middle/Far East this summer (after Electrika) – by which I mean Peterborough (on the River Nene) and thence onto the “Middle Levels” – essentially a network of navigable drains – and finally onto the River Great Ouse, which is navigable from Bedford to King’s Lynn and allowing access to the River Cam for a visit to Cambridge. The Middle Levels were built by Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermujden in the mid-1600s, to make the area – which is mostly below sea level – suitable for agriculture. The River Nene is accessed via the short (4,5 miles) but quite heavily locked (17) Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal at Gayton Junction.

The East Anglian Waterways

It’s an area that we have never explored before and we are pretty excited at the prospect. We plan to leave Brinklow as soon as is humanly possible, post Electrika. It’s a full month later than we would like to have left but we made a commitment to Electrika so there we are.

We are off to the rather lovely-looking Coombe Abbey, just down the road in Binley, for a Champagne Afternoon Tea this week. What larks! It was a birthday present from dear friends Michael and Andrew. I’ll report back on that next time.

March contains several birthdays for us (our son George, my brother and nephew and a couple of friends). so we are off back down to Fareham for another week. And then later in the month, we are off to Scotland for 10 days, to see Paul’s Mum and stepdad. They live in Portknockie, which is a fair way North (ee pic below), so we are taking several days getting up there. We plan to stop in Harrogate, Falkirk (guess why!), Perth and then Portknockie and then on the way back we hope to drive through the Cairngorms, staying in Pitlochry and Glasgow before returning to Brinklow. We are quite excited!

I think I can just about discern Spring knocking at door and the evenings are definitely getting lighter. I’ve even noticed the resident swans practicing nest building. Hopefully next time I write Spring will be in full swing. Bring it on!

13 Replies to “Spring Fever”

  1. Lovely update and there are so many parallels with our life – new grandkids, parents in Fareham etc! The summer plans sound exciting but not sure that area is somewhere to get caught in the winter! The Elektrika conference sounds great. I’ve booked our tickets but never got any confirmation. Is that correct?

    1. Hi Richard – thanks for this. Your tickets were issued on 28th Feb. Please check your spam. If you can’t find them, write to info@electrika.uk and I’ll get them re-issued. Paul and I are both from Portchester. Are you from Hampshire?

  2. Oh I’ve missed these blogs, but such a nice treat to read them all this morning! You really should write a book!! I love them & hope to see them more frequently again going forward x

  3. Thank you Kay, what a lovely catch up.
    Good luck with Electrika, I am sure it will be fantastic and probably turn into an Annual event.
    Enjoy March with Birthdays and travelling, your visit to Scotland i am looking forward to hearing about.
    Nuala x

    1. Hi NUala
      Lovely to hear from you. Loads going on with Electrika. Just a couple of s=days now until we set off for Scotland. First stop Harrogate! X

  4. Hi. I always read your articles with interest as we are new to narrow boating. I will very much look forward to following your journey to the “far east!”
    We too are moored in Brinklow (E15 NB Time to Pootle) and hope to meet you one day -(not liveaboards at mo so not always there). We will def be around the the Electra event though on the Saturday and so will hope to meet you then. (probably at the end of the how when you can finally relax!)

    All the best
    Kerry and Colin

    1. Hi Kerry
      Oh it would be lovely to meet you. Less than 6 weeks now until Electrika – I’m expecting things to be a little crazy! And then we’ll be off into the wild blue yonder for a few months. Can’t wait! See you at Electrika. Regards Kay

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