Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dear Sir

     After having assimilated every smidge and snippet of information I can find on the Web regarding narrow boats and British Waterways I decide to join Canal World Forum, using my 'Net handle Wyn2joy. " We are a friendly discussion based community, with focused discussion on any issue relating to inland waterways....Membership is open to anyone and is free and members are able to browse the forum, discuss issues, post pictures and contribute to an ever increasing links directory and all we ask is that you provide a valid e-mail address...With forums on boat building and maintenance, trip planning, living afloat and just about everything else canal as well as our very own 'virtual pub' there's something for everyone." (Canal World Forum;; accessed 12/11/10)
     Canal World Forum has 9000 members who post an average of 150 times a day on a wide array of issues from General Boating (all things to do with boats and the waterways) to Equipment--with threads on topics such as gas alarms, temperature sensors, tilley lamps, bilge pumps, inverters, porti-potties, and oil filled rads; Living Afloat which offers ideas regarding recipes, postal services, weather forecasting, what makes a live aboard a live aboard, organic markets near the cut, and cats on board for a start; a section for those new to boating; Boat Handling, Boat Building and Maintenance, Stoppages (which parts of the waterways are subject to closing for maintenance, weather, or emergency); History and Heritage, and the ever popular Virtual Pub. 
     (Aside: Americans unfamiliar with British humor often believe that old saw about Brits not having any sense of humor or having a "dry" wit akin to a meal of hard tack washed down by Schweppes Tonic Water. British humor as displayed by narrow boaters is brilliant--intelligent, sharp, quick, and many layered. Their play on words and with words is nonpareil--perhaps because it is their language--we Americans only imported it--we didn't create it.)
     One night I followed a string in the pub for two hours as locals virtually came and went from the UnStable Bar hosted by the Friday Beer Company. Playful verbiage and quick witted repartee ran amuck in a tongue in cheek manner. I swear I could smell the brew, hear the chatter, and feel the uneven floor beneath my feet. My sides ached with laughter. I've not been back for awhile--too hung over in the morning....
     As October 2009 turns toward November, the narrow boaters I am following are engaged in the following:
Mo and V aboard NB Balmaha are saying farewell to one navigable river and moving on to another one: from the River Trent to the River Soar.
 R. Soar, © NB Ballmaha
    " We nattered to a Canaltime hirer while we took on water and I laughed when he mentioned his reluctance to go down the river from Sawley because the maps didn’t show anywhere to turn the boat. The same thing happened to us in the summer when we couldn’t see where to turn a sixty footer on the Aire & Calder. Of course it all became clear when we got there, the navigation is so wide that winding points aren’t worth mentioning....The night was spent at bridge 34 which seems to be gathering popularity as a stop-over between towns. Sunny days and clear skies at night produce blue-grey mornings with mist off the fields swirling across the water...The uphill side of Old Junction Lock looked too attractive to miss so we pitched on the rings and spread out across the towpath with table and chairs making the most of the sunshine....
Old Junction Lock, R. Soar © NB Balmaha
Thinking it was warm enough for paint to dry I sanded and varnished the utility room floor. Leaving the windows open to get the air to circulate I walked off looking for a distraction and hearing the click-click of lock paddle gear I poked my nose out to see who was coming our way. It was Dave and Dil on Trundle with her fresh coat of bitumen (Trundle’s not Dil’s). Well one thing led to another, chatting made the throat dry, wine fixed that and before we knew it the afternoon was gone. Aren’t boaters lovely." (Excerpted from NB Balmaha's blog entry for Monday 12th to Sunday 18th October 2009, author Mo)
     Andrew Denny aboard NB Granny Buttons is at the confluence of the Grand Union and Oxford canals near Napton Junction:
Fields at Shuckborough © NB Granny Buttons, 2009

"Following my post about ridge and furrow a couple of days ago, I just remembered this photo of the R&F fields at Lower Shuckborough, taken from the canal.  
If only I'd set off earlier from Wigram's Turn Marina, where I'd spent the previous week.  Early/mid morning in April is the best time to capture this scene.  But you really need sheep grazing in the picture, since this helps to point out that this fossil of mediaeval ploughing methods is only preserved because of several centuries of non-stop grazing after the introduction of the Enclosures." (NB Granny Button's blog entry dated Saturday 31 October 2009, author Andrew Denny)
Clifton Locks, 1884 © Oxfordshire 
County Council photo archives
    Maffi and his NB Milly M are moored at the top of Clifton Lock above the weir on the non tidal River Thames, where he's come upon a treasure trove of trash left by some prats, despoiling the area for others. Maffi cleans up the garbage, hauling seven bags of rubbish to a "boater's dump place," leaving the area clean for others. (NB Milly M blog, dated October 30-31, 2009, author Maffi)

 © NB No Problem 2009, at Gailey Lock heading to Norbury
     In October of 2009 Sue and Vic's lovely NB No Problem is undergoing a refit of the back half at Norbury Boat yard on the Shropshire Union canal, which is hosting an Opening Day with all kinds of boat related events. Sue is thinking about taking a canal art class to learn how to paint in the style of the Roses & Castle motif. Vic is making repairs and taking care of some boat maintenance. (NB No Problem blog dated October 30, 2009, author Sue)
NB Valerie courtesy L. Biggs
     On board NB Valerie its owner, Les Biggs, is recovering from a back injury. He's been moored near the junction of the Grand Union canal and the Aylsebury Arm for 25 days while a torn muscle in his back heals. His blog post for October 31st is titled Thoughts of Freedom: "Been moored here at Marsworth for 25 days and as my back is much much better the urge to once again be free to cruise is getting stronger. Although the mooring here is 14 days max the BW guys who rescued me said they would make sure those that needed to know would be informed and for me not to worry about overstaying and just give the back time to heal. One of them has even stopped by to ask how i was and also to take away my rubbish...Quite a long time ago i added on the right of the page the NeoCounter that has so far recorded 16,879 visits from 74 countries....Come on readers if you are following the blog from outside the UK let me know. From e mails i get i do know of some but there must be lots of people who read but never comment or make contact so if you are one.....let me know..." (Blog excerpt from Boats & Cruising "Valerie", October 31, 2009, author Les Biggs)

Dear Sir
Dear Sir, 
Per your request within your blog I am following your NB experiences, as well as those of several other narrow boat bloggers. I just discovered narrow boats and canals mid October while watching Burt Wolfe's Travels & Traditions on PBS. He was on the Canal Du Midi in France...I am totally knocked sideways! How I wish I'd discovered the canals and NB's of the U.K. twenty years ago. My greatest dream at this point in life it to work out the means of buying my own NB (I already have a name for her), and retiring to the waterways of the the U.K. which is awfully hard to do for a fifty something Yank with too few points to count herself in the immigration schemes in place now. I guess I will have to write a best seller and see if they'll let me in on a retirement visa. Wish my maternal grandmother had stayed in Wales!

Sue from NB No Problem was kind enough to respond to my post asking if it is possible for a singular female of my age and vertical challenge (5'1'') to operate a narrow boat and negotiate locks on my own. Her answer gave me hope and I shall not give up. 

I was sorry to read of your back troubles.  I hope you are mending well, and will soon be out and about on the cut and adding more to your blog about your daily life. I suppose you and the other bloggers might wonder if nattering on about one's fairly run-of -the-mill daily experiences are worth the time spent blogging. I can only tell you I am thrilled to my toes every time BlogLines informs me of a new post. These missives of the un-moored are vying for chocolate and public television broadcasts of Inspector Lewis, Lark Rise to Candleford, and New Tricks, as my one weakness!
To your good health, 
Jaqueline Almdale
Pullman WA USA


  1. What i am dying to know is did he reply and what happened. Surely he didn`t sail his barge over here to show you what life on board was like. I know the English are crazy romantics but shucks surely not that crazy. Now i have to see what the guy says on his website.

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    This tale is an unfolding one. "He" will no doubt be blogging about his side of things in the days and weeks to come, however I started this story back at the beginning--a year ago. We didn't fall in love with each other until late October of 2010. Hang in there, be patient and welcome to our adventure!!
    True love floats!
    P.S. If you knew the English were crazy romantics, you knew a lot more than I did! If this particular Englishman is any indication, the English have cornered the market on romance.

  3. Keep going mom you are doing a great Job! I love you more then a million trillion gooses!

  4. Hi Spark,
    Thank you for your encouragement and love.
    P.S. Guess you know now that I lifted your email name to use for an Internet handle!

  5. I just commented to say I LOVE YOU

  6. hi Jaq,
    sorry I haven't made contact in a while.
    I'm glad to see the blog is going so well. i must admit i'm feeling a little impatient just like anon to hear your side of this love romance :) who knows it could end up as a Mills and Boon book x
    (looking forward to your next post)

  7. Hello Jo,
    Lovely to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words. I hope our story goes global--a good true love story is such a lift and the world could use it these days. If a jaded cynic like me could meet Mr. Wonderfully Right--then anything is possible.
    Welcome to our adventure!

  8. Hi Jaqueline,

    Just read Les's post, congrats! Blimey he's a dark horse lol.
    It was only cos you'd posted a comment on my blog last week I knew who you were!
    I've been released from the "hotel prison" pending good behaviour (he he) & am back onboard now, the wood burning stove is to be fitted this weekend - can't wait now... (Especially seeing as we're iced in again lol)

    Love the way you write too!

    And Best wishes to both of you :-)

    From Heth (Widebeam Takey Tezey)

  9. Hi Heth,
    I saw on your blog you've been out looking at tiles, and getting things sussed out for the stove installation on TT. I hope this latest dumping of snow and bitter cold weather won't hamper plans. I cannot wait to see a pic of you and Dave aboard TT in front of your new stove, roaring with heat. It will cheer me no end.

    "He" is many things--all of them dear to my heart. :) I'm so glad you found your way to my blog.
    Welcome to our adventure!
    Holding you in my thoughts. Please stay warm and take care!