Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!!!


As we are in the midst of some very dull and uninspiring weather right now we thought we might use a picture with a much brighter feel in order to extend our best wishes to all of you for a very Happy New Year.  Here we are at the start of our cruising back in May - so much has happened since then and we now find ourselves making plans for the next year.  We hope to do the full length of the River Thames, including the Kennet and Avon when we get to Reading, and then into, and out of, London before the Olympics get under way.  After that we hope to venture onto new territory and explore east of the Pennines.

As we’re missing the lifestyle a bit at the moment we are planning to use ‘Chance’ for a week in early January (if the weather permits!).  James has nearly finished refurbishing the wood surround for the rear deck – the new varnish is looking really good - so we’ll take that back with us when we go and there’s sure to be a few mid winter jobs to do while we’re back on the cut as well.  It’ll give us something “proper” to blog about as well!

So, once again, a very Happy New Year to you all.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Happy Christmas!

Now the season’s upon us we would just like to thank all of our followers for reading our blog this year and for all the comments we have received. We would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!

If you want a giggle click on the e-card below:


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Well Done British Waterways!

Having decided to cash in the remaining portion of this years’ licence and take out a gold one for next year we asked BW if they would process it asap.  Within a week and a half we have our new licence so we give credit where it’s due. Well done BW.

We’ve been on our travels for the last week visiting family and friends around the Oxfordshire / Wiltshire border and visited the pretty little market town of Faringdon in Oxfordshire.  It was an important town during the sheep trade in the 1600’s and it has, over the last 20 years, resurrected some of  its old charm by a lot of renovation work and removing much of the awful render from the beautiful old stone buildings.

Until the bypass was built,  all the traffic on the A420 would rattle past this lovely old market building.

The Market Place looking towards the church – the spire was knocked off by Oliver Cromwell!
From Oxfordshire we head South West for Watchet in West Somerset to see friends who have recently moved there.

The outer harbour at Watchet – used to be full of fishing boats.

The inner harbour – more going on here.

An impressive bronze statue depicting the Ancient Mariner.

We then continued onto Devon for a few days, so James could have the rest of his dental work completed.

Getting back home a few days ago we discovered the sea wall at the end of the road had taken a severe battering during the storm last Monday night.IMG_3817


Anyone know of a good builder?

Friday, 9 December 2011

Can’t leave the boat alone!

This weekend we’ve travelled up to Oxfordshire to see the family and to meet up with friends we haven’t seen this year.  While we were in the Aldermaston area we popped in to see Tom and Jan on nb Waiouru on the Kennet and Avon canal.  We hadn’t seen them since they came out with us on ‘Chance’ for the day last May and so we had a good catch up with them.  It was good to see that work is in progress on nb Waiouru now.
We’re now staying with Frances (youngest daughter) and Kel for the weekend before going down to Devon next week to get James’ dental treatment finalised.  However, before we left…….!
……….James just had to do something “boaty”.  So, having brought the woodwork home from the rear deck for refurbishment he started sanding down the old varnish.  Although it still looked very good the weather was starting to take its’ toll and another year would certainly have reduced its’ appearance.
Getting both side pieces back to bare wood before the supply of sanding pads ran out!
At least the difference can be seen!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Getting your Ecofan refurbished.

Like a  lot of boaters we have an Ecofan on “Chance”.  Ours is about 4 years old now.  We had it on our previous boat and it then took a holiday with friends for 2 years in France!  where they used it on their wood burning stove in their farm house.  Deciding they no longer needed it, it came back to us this year just in time for us to use it on ‘Chance’.IMG_3744

After a bit of use we noticed that the blades didn’t spin as fast as they used to so we searched the internet for a new motor, which costs about £15.  Then we came across a company called Calfire  who advertised a refurbishment service.  The estimate, if the motor needed to be replaced, was about £25 including a full check up and return postage.    So, glad that we kept the box, we sent if off and it was returned as good as new for £22!  The motor was replaced and they provided a test certificate as well.  Worth every penny we think when you consider the cost of a new one.  We’re delighted with the service we’ve received.

If you buy a new fan – KEEP THE BOX!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Jurassic Journey

On Wednesday last week (Oscar’s Birthday) we went to Devon for a few days to catch up with old friends and to get James some much needed dental work as he’s spent all summer on the boat with a very large filling missing from a front tooth!  


This was the sunset on Budleigh Salterton beach on Wednesday evening.


Thursday morning we took Oscar for a very familiar walk back on the beach at Budleigh as this was our previous home town.  Otter Head is in the background where the River Otter meets the sea and behind it stretches the beautifully picturesque Otter Valley.


Another beach walk for the old boy – this time on the sandy Exmouth beach which makes a change from the Budleigh pebbles.


Doug and Oscar on the sea front at Exmouth.


A windy Friday morning and another early walk back at Budleigh Salterton.


We managed to get Oscar to walk down towards Otter Head.  The red sandstone cliffs here are the westernmost part of the Jurassic Coastline which is a world heritage site.  The cliffs and the famous coloured pebbles are 280 million years old at this point.

On Saturday, with friends Ian and Yvonne, we took a trip towards Honiton and then on to Beer.      


Enjoying a drink in a nice little wine bar in Honiton before visiting the Saturday market.


The High Street in Beer looking towards the sea.


The beach at Beer looking west – more Jurassic coastline.

After the enjoyment of four days of seeing old friends on Sunday we headed back along this wonderful coast towards home.  Taking the “back road” from Budleigh Salterton to Sidmouth this is the first view to be had of Sidmouth…….. 


….. more Jurassic Coast! – this bit is only 240 million years old.

Further along we had another break and stopped at delightful Lyme Regis for an hour or so.  Leaving (worn out) Oscar in the car we took a stroll to The Cob – where many years ago they filmed part of the French Lieutenants Woman.


We were very lucky to have had glorious weather for the whole trip – can’t really believe it’s the end of November!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Our dear old friend Oscar has, amazingly, reached his 14th Birthday today! 


We thought we ought to mark this birthday with a special card – trying to get him to hold it long enough to take a photo without chopping Doug’s head off was too much!


He’s always opened his own presents!


Last Christmas he did not want open his presents so there must have been some improvement since then.  He went to the “Doggy Doctors” yesterday for a quick check up and more of what keeps him going.  We left with the same advice as before – just keep on enjoying him - he’s coping very well at the moment.

Monday, 21 November 2011

An Astronomical Adventure!

Today was a truly momentous day!  We were invited to Sir Patrick Moore’s house to meet the great man and join him for coffee and cakes.  This was organised for last week, through a mutual friend who Doug plays cards with, but due to filming schedules it couldn’t happen until today.  Sir Patrick has lived in Selsey for half a century and for a long time now The Sky at Night programme has been recorded in his study and from the observatories in his garden.


We joined him in his study for a chat and a coffee and he answered a number of  James’ questions on astronomy and discussed the remarkable achievements of the Mars Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) and Voyagers 1and 2;  Voyager 1 is now 11 billion miles from earth after being launched 34 years’ ago.  It is still sending back information and is about to leave the solar system and travel into interstellar space.  We also chatted to him about our narrow boat and canal adventures and he said that it was one thing he would like to have done himself but didn’t have the ‘chance’.

He is a really lovely man and, although very advanced in years now, he still has an incredibly active mind. One of the great scientific “movers and shakers” of our age he’s like the Voyager spacecraft – well past his design life but still going strong!

Friend and fellow astrologer John Fletcher of the Mount Tuffley Observatory in Gloucester, who was also visiting him today, kindly took us to see Sir Patrick’s famous 15 inch telescope in one of the observatories in his garden.


We went back to the house for a further chat before leaving this very busy man to get on with his schedule.  We had a fantastic experience today and he has very kindly invited us to go back.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Shore Leave

It’s been three days since we last blogged and we’ve been settling into life on dry land.  While catching up with other blog sites we’ve recently read similar articles from Jo and Keith on nb ‘Hadar’ and Maffi on nb ‘Milli M’ about picking up the litter around your mooring position at the end of the day.  We think it’s a great idea and will take up the challenge as soon as we’re back on board ‘Chance’.  It rather ties in with a similar activity here in Selsey as James joins the regular beach clean up team when he can – so it shouldn’t come as too hard a task on the towpath! 


Oscar and Doug earlier in the week walking on Selsey Bill when the weather wasn’t all that great.  The attractive building in the background is the Bill House with it’s own lookout tower.


Walking round from the Bill, and on our way back home, we came across this view looking east along the beach (where we litter pick) – couldn’t see much past the lifeboat station!

On Tuesdays we usually take Oscar for his swimming therapy session in a purpose built “doggie pool” which is only a couple of miles outside our village……


…’s generally a matter of luck these days if he finds his toy as his eyesight is so poor.  But he seems to enjoy himself!


Swimming over, and after a warm shampoo and shower, here he is in his dressing gown with his friend and swimming partner ‘Skye’.

Yesterday and today have both been lovely sunny days……..


…. today we got this view from Selsey Bill with the Isle of Wight in the distance (it looks closer in real life!).  From here we can see cargo ships and cruise liners going in and out of Southampton Docks.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

First Weekend at Home

The weather has been so warm and sunny this weekend (not unusual in this part of the world) it’s weird to think it’s November.  So we ‘ve taken the ‘chance’ to get Oscar out and about and give him some different walks to his normal beach outings.

Yesterday (Saturday) we took the car all of 2 miles to the lovely Pagham Harbour nature reserve.  Fortuitously the tide was in which makes it prettier to look at as there’s less mud!


A view across Pagham Harbour with the Village of Pagham to the left in the distance and the sea (The English Channel) out to the right.

Today we took the car in the other direction for about 20 minutes to arrive at Bosham (pronounced Bozam).  This is one of the prettiest villages on the waterfront around here and is situated within the huge expanse of Chichester Harbour.  Bosham is well known for its road and car park being flooded twice a day when the tide comes in.  Visitors are well advised not to forget they have parked their car at the waterfront!  It’s a local sport to watch and wait to see whether all the cars are retrieved in time – quite often the rewards are worth the wait!


Bosham waterfront where the swans swim freely in the road.


Doug and Oscar in the “High Street” which is very narrow and lined with old cottages and houses.  The doors in some of the buildings in Bosham are made to withstand high tides and storm surges and, as in this photo, don’t reach the ground!


Bosham is the oldest site of Christianity in Sussex with parts of the church dating back to Saxon times – in fact most of the tower is Saxon.  The Bayeux Tapestry shows Bosham Church with King Harold entering it. 


Bosham is also a popular place for dingy sailing and racing.

We completed a walk around the village (at Oscar speed) – well the bit that wasn’t under water,  and finally ended up at the pub.  The Anchor Bleu is a great old pub which is good for beer and food and there is a small terrace overlooking the water (which is good for relaxing with a beer and taking part in the local sport!)


The Anchor Bleu with the sea against its walls and half way up the road.

Bosham is a very busy place in the summer months – especially the pub – but at this time of year, with the weather as glorious as it has been today, it’s a lovely place to visit.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Back Home

Yesterday (Thurs) we got up quite early to complete the winterising jobs on ‘Chance’ and to pack the surprisingly large amount of “stuff” into the car.  We got going at about 12;30, had a pleasant journey home in good sunny weather to arrive at 3;30 in plenty of time to unpack!

Before it got too dark we gave Oscar his customary evening walk along the sea front.IMG_3635

He’s getting very old now and his walks are getting shorter but he very much enjoys getting out all the same.


A few yards further on!!


We are about 100 yards from the sea wall and, after a short walk from the house, we get this view of the lifeboat station.  This was a great view for us as the moon had risen early on this occasion but, as is so often the case when you want to capture something great – the camera doesn’t always perform.  It’s just visible above the walkway to the station, half way along – oh well.

Being at home for a while now gives us a ‘chance’ to look back on the last six months.  Since we took ownership of ‘Chance’ back in  May this year we seem to have experienced so much and met up with so many people.  Friends and family have travelled to be with us, friends from our previous voyages on our last boat ‘Spirit’ have met up with us on their boats and we’ve met and made new friends this time around.  We’ve also been very pleased to have had contact with so many of our blog followers and amazed that so many of you read our progress.  One follower enjoys it more than her daily newspaper – so kind!

We have been delighted with ‘Chance’ – the build quality, the layout, the finish and the way it performs -  MGM have done a great job for us!

A couple of statistics for those who are interested – since leaving our builders, MGM, we’ve  completed just over 900 miles and passed through 460 locks.  It’s amazing how far you can travel at 4 mph (or less).  Much of the system travelled this time, we’ve passed over on our last boat but next year we hope to experience the waterways on the east side of the country and to do the trans-Pennine routes which will be new to us.

Here are a few of the highlights of the past year:


It seems a long time since this moment.


After a great six month’s build with MGM here we are on our maiden voyage.

Crick! 005

A very busy weekend at the Crick Boat Show during the late May bank holiday.  We were all so delighted to be voted Runner Up!


Sky high on the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal, North Wales.

River Weaver 006

Loaded onto the Anderton Boat Lift (the Cathedral of the Canals)for the 80 foot drop to the River Weaver below.


We spent quite a while moored in Castlefield Basin, Manchester enjoying the sights and sounds of this terrific city.

‘Chance’ has taken us into the heart of the cities, towns, villages and countryside of England.   Every day has been a different day and occasionally we would wake up and have to think a while as to where we had moored up the night before! 

The next few months will be a change and a ‘chance’ for us to catch up with dry land things but we will continue the blog through the winter, looking forward to more adventures next year on the canals and rivers of England.