BBQ Time – The Lotus Grill

As summer hits you will see loads of us boaters getting the BBQ’s out and enjoying some burnt meat washed down with a nice cold beer or glass of wine. Some of us use disposables whilst others use messy traditional ones, we use neither anymore.

For the past couple of years we have been using a Lotus Grill which is a much better and healthier solution. If you want the nasty charcoal all over you meat you can still do that or if you want something a little more cooked through you can do that too. How? The Lotus Grill is fan assisted and uses just a tiny amount of beech charcoal. Whack the fan up full blast and you can have that fire and fury style BBQ or turn the fan down a bit and you can actually cook your meat through properly. As with any BBQ the clean up afterwards can be a real pain as the meat welds itself to the grill. Well, we have found a solution to that too (well a partial one) by using Teflon sheets.

Take a look at the video below and all will be revealed and maybe you’ll be a convert like us aboard Hannah the Narrowboat.

A Big Change

Anyone who follows our blog will know we have neglected it for a few months but we are now back with a vengeance and this post is going to be a long one to make up for it! It’s been a busy time for us as we have been downsizing as our daughter and her boyfriend are moving back into the family home in Luton and we have been chucked out! Well, OK it’s not quite as harsh as that but our daughter is due a baby boy in August 2018 and the house that they were renting was not really appropriate for a child, too small an no private garden. It seemed to make sense that they move back into the house and we spend more of our time aboard Hannah the Narrowboat to give them space, it’s something we have wanted to do for a long time so this seemed the perfect solution.

For those that have made the same move as us they will know exactly what we went through, it’s amazing how much junk you collect over 20 odd years and sorting it was a major operation! What we have also learned is that you can actually get a lot more aboard a Narrowboat than one may think, luckily we have a lot of storage places aboard Hannah. The bed is about 4ft off the floor so we have drawers under half of it and the other half is storage. Similar with our seating, loads of space underneath so although we had to have a major cull and think carefully about what we took aboard the boat it was not quite as painful as I thought.

Of course many people thought we were absolutely mad to make this major change to our lives but you know what? We are not the mad ones! Take a look at the little video snapshot below and decide for yourselves.

So, what have been the pitfalls? To be honest there has not been anything that we have not been able to sort out one way or another. I suppose from my side of things I had to sort out a way of working comfortably aboard the boat as I can’t give up my day job as a graphic designer and I also needed to be able to continue writing my music. The solution was to get rid of the TV and buy a 4K 28” computer monitor with 2 HDMI ports for the TV tuner box and Apple TV along with a Display Port for my MacBook Pro. Not the cheapest thing to do but now I have an awesome setup where I can switch between all those devices! I also custom built some drawers with a slide out on top for my keyboard, trackpad, mouse and Wacom tablet. It works extremely well but there are some modifications I want to make to it.

Data, loads of it

The one thing I massively underestimated was the amount of data we would get through. My business phone contract on O2 has 60GB of tetherable data so I figured that should be just about enough for work stuff, the files I send and receive are massive so one of those nonsense unlimited plans would not work for me as they throttle the speed back after a few GB and most do not allow unlimited tethering anyway. Yes, there may be a few out there that have old legacy unlimited plans but they are not available now and most carry a fair usage policy anyway and you get throttled back.

60GB was not enough by a long way! That did indeed get eaten up by work stuff but that meant I could not do much else and certainly could not watch Netflix etc over mobile broadband! I decided to get a Three MiFi box that gives 20GB and free streaming of Netflix, TV Player and a couple of other little bits. I thought that may be enough but again was wrong. If I wanted to continue doing YouTube videos, blogs and other social media stuff I would need much more! Then I discovered Vodafone Passes. What a brilliant service (never thought I would say that about Vodafone). I went for the all in one pass that lets me stream all the major movie sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube and you can even upload to YouTube without eating data so that’s awesome. Then we have all the social networks included like Facebook, Twitter etc also the music streaming from Apple Music, Spotify etc and much more, it’s well worth checking out and has certainly solved my issues. I pay £45 a month (rolling monthly contract) for 50GB (£30) and the All In One Pass (£15). Yes my internet/phone bill is high but it’s not really any higher than what I was paying for Virgin at the house (I take my phone out of the equation as that’s business).

Ice baby ice

Ice, I really missed ice. We only had a fridge aboard Hannah the Narrowboat without an icebox as it had to fit under the work surface. We both thought that this would be OK as there was enough room in it for a few beers and some food. It was not long before we started to get a little fed up having to go shopping every few days and Lee decided enough was enough and we had to get a freezer. We initially thought that a tabletop freezer may clutter us up and feel a little claustrophobic alongside the toaster and microwave but once we had a little reshuffle it worked out OK and now I have ice!

Freezer aboard Narrowboat

There was one other major issue we had and that was transport. We have only had one car in our household for a number of years as I worked from home and Lee was the only one commuting to work. That was fine when living in Luton as we had shops around the corner if I needed anything and the town was just a bus ride away if I felt the need (I did’nt as it’s a sh*thole). However, being stranded on a boat with no means to get about when Lee is at work was not going to work for me. I also needed the freedom to pop back to Luton whenever I wanted to see my mum or check on the house etc so I really needed my own set of wheels. I only wanted something small but me being me did not want something without a bit of oomph so I get myself a lovely little Mini Cooper S which is basically a road legal go kart!

Mini Cooper S

Did we make the right decision?

I think it’s a resounding yes – at this point anyway! We have been so lucky with the weather and could not have chosen a better time to do it, don’t get me wrong, I also love winter all cosy with a roaring fire too but it’s not the best time to actually move all your stuff aboard a boat!

OK, so poor old Lee has to commute from Northampton to Luton which is one downfall. We also have less clothes although it does not bother me! I can’t actually think of any other negatives.

In reality I can’t say we have actually moved aboard Hannah the Narrowboat permanently as we have only planned for the foreseeable future, as with all of us I suppose, but we will certainly be spending most of the summer and autumn aboard the boat and then we will see what happens, maybe we will go out continuously cruising if that opportunity arises, although I do love our mooring at Gayton so probably would not give that up.

What’s changed

So much has changed, for one I am far less stressed working from my boat, I go out for more strolls in the countryside as it’s right outside my boat, my health seems to be improving through lack of home delivery takeaways and more fresh food. My blood sugar levels are lower probably for the same reasons as stated above too! I probably drink too much beer but that’s always been the way when the weather is nice. We are more sociable, in Luton we hardly spoke to any strangers as they look at you as if you are mad or don’t understand English (I kid you not). Up here we talk to everyone and anyone and it’s lovely. I have a suntan, a good one. I never have to mow the lawn or do the weeding again! Life is good.

Here are a few pictures and video we have shot since we have been here.

Hannah Supporting England

Stoke Bruerne

Irchester Country Park

Stoke Bruerne Locks

Woodgnomes World Ep1

In the first of a new series called ‘Woodgnomes World’ I share some of my exploits that are not quite so relevant to our lives aboard Hannah the Narrowboat, kind of like our online diary if you like. As some of you may know by now in May this year (2018) we are going to be aboard Hannah indefinitely as we are moving out of our house in Luton and our daughter and boyfriend will be moving in as they need more space as they are having a baby in August. The lady of the boat (Lee) and I will move aboard the boat for a bit and see how things go but one thing is for certain, we will not be moving back to Luton any time soon.

With all that in mind I am sure you can imagine that it’s mayhem at our house at the moment as we have 25 years of possessions to sort out as we can’t take it all aboard Hannah! Poor old Lee is the one doing most of the sorting (I think us men are more of a hindrance when it comes to sorting stuff out!) but I also face the mammoth task of sorting out what I need to have on board so that I can continue my work as a graphic designer as well as having enough recording gear to carry on making my music.

As I covered in the introduction this series of posts won’t be so focused on boating per se so without further ado here’s what we have been up to over the last couple of weeks.

Birds of Prey Experience

Last year I bought the good lady a ‘Birds of Prey Experience’ and as her next birthday was getting close and the voucher was soon to expire we thought we had better book it before she lost it. Luckily we got in on 10th Feb at the Imperial Birds of Prey Academy at Barleylands Farm in Billaricay, Essex which is an amazing place, especially if you like arts and crafts. Once we arrived I equipped Lee with a chest camera to capture some of the action as you can see in the video below.

Camera Fetish

There are three things I spend (waste) any spare money I may be fortunate enough to have and they are Apple products , camera’s and anything that makes noise! Most recently I spent my Christmas money on my first 360 camera which captures the whole world around you with a couple of spherical lenses which I thought would be fantastic for our boating videos. I did not want to spend silly money exploring this new way of filming and taking pictures so plumbed for the Nikon Keymission 360. I must admit I really did like the concept but I was not so pleased with the quality of footage as it looked a bit ‘soft’ and dull without much punch that you get with GoPro action cameras (which I love). One of the major plus points was that this little gadget stitched all the footage on the fly (joined the front and back camera footage together) so there was no fuss using the footage on my Mac.

After a week or two I started seeing footage online from the newly released GoPro Fusion and was blown away as it was clearly the best quality footage I had seen from a consumer 360 camera but it was not cheap. Me being me I thought bugger it, I am going to order one and worry about the money later (I don’t use credit cards so I dipped into the money from the sale of some of my studio gear I need to get rid of before moving aboard the boat).

Once I started using the GoPro Fusion I was impressed by the hardware but not amused by the software which is painfully slow. The GoPro does not stitch the footage on the fly as it actually has two separate cameras with 2 SD cards so it needs to be transferred to my Mac to process it. You can do it via your iPhone too but that is not a practical solution for me or anyone else!

As an example, the footage below, whilst it looks pretty mad actually took around 2 hours from camera to finished clip and the footage only lasts a minute or so! Yep, I’m going to have to use it selectively otherwise I am going to spending all my life sitting in front of a computer waiting for it to stitch the footage – and that’s before I even start editing it!

The YouTube Debacle

Google just got greedy. If you post videos to YouTube and have not been living under a rock you will have heard about the way YouTube as demonized the smaller channels like Hannah the Narrowboat because some idiots have been posting dodgy content. Basically us little fish are no longer allowed to share the advertising revenue created by our films unless we have a minimum of 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of viewing over the past 12 months. Now, don’t get me wrong here as we never made any significant money with YouTube, perhaps £100 a year or so but it was an incentive for us to grow the channel, especially as we will be aboard Hannah much more now. The incentive is now gone and I am buggered if I am going to enrich YouTube’s business with my contribution, it’s a principle thing for me.

Are we going to continue making little films and Vlogs? Hell yeh, of course we are as we have a lot of fun doing it! After a lot of research we were initially going to use Vimeo as our video platform but unfortunately you have to pay a subscription if you want to post regularly (they only allow 500mb a week for free and many of our single videos are bigger than that so we could not upload them). I then decided to look instead at viewing figures on all video platforms and it turns out the the second biggest platform for video creators is Dailymotion.com so I thought I would give it a try.

The initial set-up was quite confusing but I got past it in the end (I think their sign-up process was actually playing up that day) and once I had verified my email address etc I was able to create a channel and upload my fist video. You know what? I prefer the clean layout and no fuss interface over YouTube which always seemed cluttered to me anyway. I am not just saying that because we have moved to dailymotion, I actually truly mean it. It’s nicer, simple as that.

Now what I did not expect was an email to come through after my first upload telling me I can monetize the channel in a similar way to how we used to do it with YouTube except we did not have to have a set number of views or subscribers, we could do it straight away. Now that’s how it should be done. I will reserve judgement of how good the set-up is until I have used it for a few weeks as I can’t help wondering why it’s not bigger than YouTube as initial thoughts are that it’s a better platform – maybe there is a catch somewhere that I will find later?

Ypres – Belgium

Those that follow us on social media will know that last year we took a trip to Bayeux to visit the WW2 memorial sites and the famous landings beaches which we found both fantastic and sad at the same time (for those that missed it you can watch the video below). This year we are heading to Yres in Belgium to see the battle fields of WW1. We will be making another epic movie of our experiences and adventures so stay tuned in for that one in mid March 2018.

That’s about all for this one folks, have fun out there as we are only here once!

A Chilly February Day Along the Towpath

It’s cold out there! To be honest it seems we have been lucky so far this winter down this end of the country and whilst it may be pretty chilly we have only seen a few days of snow and been iced in twice, one of them this morning! However, as all you happy boaters out there know it’s rarely cold on a narrowboat when the coal in the stove is glowing (unless you forgot to light it!)

Frozen Water at the marina

Our friends from Narrowboat Pride of Nuffield were back in the area so after a morning gossiping my good lady Lee, Sarah (from Pride of Nuffield) and myself went out to get some provisions in the car, well mainly beer, wine and naughty treats if I am being totally honest. We did not bother getting stuff for a Sunday Roast as we decided upon a curry from Spice of Bruerne in Stoke Bruerne would be a nice change.

The following morning Hannah the Narrowboat was not as smelly as I expected, perhaps because we did not go for our usual hot curries and instead chose something of a medium heat instead – we are learning that hot curries and small spaces are not the best idea! Anyhow, as we had been naughty with our food and alcohol we thought we better get out in the fresh air and take a walk along the towpath, an extra long walk this time rather than to the second bridge and back!

We took along the weird GoPro Fusion 360 camera to play with and although I’m not totally happy with the results it does allow us to create some cool angles and panning effects. I should really have brought my other GoPro and stabiliser for the walking shots as the 360 camera is not great for that, better suited to being on a tripod. Anyway, hope you enjoy the short video which includes some panning still shots (that sounds odd as they are not still shots then are they?).

As we had an extra long walk today I am sure I earned some beer tokens (my rule is 1 mile = a pint of ale) so we decided to pop in to The Royal Oak in Blisworth at we had not been there for a long time. We also wanted to try something different that our usual haunt in Stoke Bruerne – The Navigation. It was a very pleasant evening and the locals were friendly so we will most definitely be returning as it’s walking distance from the boat so would be nice in the summer months.

When we got back to the boat Buddie Weiser Woodgnome the First (our 16 year old Jack Russell) was still tucked up in her bed next to the fire – that walk must have tired her out!

Up on the Bridge

Night at Gayton Marina

That’s all for now folks…..

 

Goodbye YouTube, Hello Vimeo

Gayton Snow

Us, the little people will no longer be able to monetize our video content on Youtube so they can shove it. We are moving over to Vimeo now which will actually cost us money (£50 a year) but that’s not the point. To monetize on YouTube we will now need a minimum of 1000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours of people watching our stuff (all before Feb 20th 2018). Now there is not a chance that that will happen!

Having a little incentive is a good thing, now don’t get me wrong we don’t earn much at all from YouTube anyway, perhaps just enough for myself and my wife to go out for dinner twice a year. However, having the incentive encourages small niche content creators like us nutters aboard Hannah the Narrowboat to grow their channel and create more content. Well I am not going to create content for them any longer – they need a kick in the balls as they have simply bowed down to the big corporates. The whole ethos of the original YouTube was to encourage us little people to create videos whilst feeling a part of the online community. It’s clear we don’t matter any longer.

So, how am I going to recoup the costs of setting up Vimeo? I don’t really care whether I do or not to be honest as I enjoy making silly videos aboard Hannah the Narrowboat but I do kind of have a plan! Maybe if you are one of those affected by YouTube’s new policy you could try the same. I have simply activated AdSense on my blog so instead of just posting a video link on Twitter or other social networks I will link to the blog post which will contain my video and more written words which should be more entertaining for the viewer!

Maybe YouTube has done me a favour and our blog will become immensely popular and earn us enough to go out for dinner 5 or 6 times a year ha ha. Actually Vimeo is simply a better platform especially as we up the game and try to make more cinematic videos in the future rather than just bunging them up on YouTube.

You can help us by following us on Twitter and retweeting our stuff, head on over to: https://twitter.com/HannahTheNB

Thanks for your continued support!!!

A Day Aboard Hannah the Narrowboat

Gayton Junction

It’s winter and most people that know us think we are utterly mad spending our time aboard Hannah The Narrowboat but to be honest they are the mad ones sitting in their brick buildings watching mundane TV like ‘Celebrities on Ice’. The only thing that would make that program entertaining is if they had fatter celebrities and thinner ice! They also have some weird idea that we are sat their shivering in the cold when it’s completely the opposite – I often get my fat belly out as it’s often too hot!

Of course being on the Narrowboat is just the start of it, we only have to step off the back and we have the world as our back garden, if we tire of the view or our neighbours we can simply untie and move along to a new spot. People seem to be under some illusion that we are all cramped up in a metal box with no space to move, whilst space is indeed limited when it comes to storage we do have all the facilities we need. Whilst they are sitting 10ft away from their ridiculously expensive 60 inch TV we are sitting 2 feet away from a 28 inch TV – the picture looks just as big to us so in essence we are all getting the same experience if you follow what I mean.

So, what do we get up to on a standard day aboard Hannah the Narrowboat? Well, most days in the colder months starts by dealing with the fire, be that adding a bit more coal or getting it going again because it’s almost out. We also usually fill up our coal scuttle and empty the ash tray. Once we have ensured that we will stay warm it’s breakfast time in the cratch where we can watch the world go by and change the view whenever we feel like.

During the week I go to work just like most other people but my workplace is just 4ft from the cratch as I am one of those lucky ones who can work anywhere I have a web connection, and yes we have wifi throughout the boat! For those wondering I am a graphic designer/image editor and musician by trade. If work is a little quiet I can step off the back and do the other thing I love which is taking pictures. Here’s one I took yesterday.

At the moment I am into weird 360° imagery as I find it fascinating and have just got myself a new GoPro Fusion which captures the whole scene around you.

Of course we also do the same things that most people do like eat lunch, and yes our galley has pretty much everything most peoples kitchens have so again, no real difference except we can open the back doors and look out over the water as we prepare our food.

After work the evenings are usually spent sitting outside (weather permitting) with a nice glass of wine watching boats go by and laughing at the mad ducks seemingly shouting at one another. In the colder months we often snuggle up in front of the TV whilst the fire is roaring or we simply hop in the car and go out for dinner and a couple of ales.

Life aboard a narrowboat is awesome and we most certainly never feel we are missing out on something that the brick box dwellers have.

Here’s a little video we put together showing a typical day aboard Hannah the Narrowboat

360° Video – will it work?

As we are totally new to this 360° photo and video lark it’s time to do a test. Of course we already know that we can get the photographs to work directly on our blog but unsure if the video will as I suspect you may actually have to view it directly in YouTube but let’s see!

The video below was taken when we took went out for a walk with Martin and Sarah from Narrowboat Pride of Nuffield along with their 3 greyhounds. If the video looks bizarre or you can’t move around the scene then it will need to be viewed in YouTube, if it all looks OK then you can use your fingers or mouse to move around the scene.

UPDATE: It works for me on the Mac but not directly on mobile, you have to actually click it to watch directly in YouTube for it to work on iOS, no idea about Android users but presume the same – this is only a low resolution version due to me saving data but in future I will upload full 4K ones from the pubs free wifi

If it looks weird and you can’t move around simply click the video and it will launch in the YouTube app – you will then be able to experience 360° video in all it’s glory!

A Brand New Year

Something I now have to simply accept is that as you age the years definitely fly by faster! Of course as time is flying by technology improves (allegedly) and every now and then something catches my eye and I think to myself ‘I need that’ much to the disdain of the lady of the boat, she simply raises an eyebrow and probably thinks to herself ‘not another bloody gadget’. The technology I am referring to is VR360 or ‘Virtual Reality’ which I think is a fantastic way of showing off the views we see as we are cruising the cut or visiting somewhere interesting. I’m not talking about the VR which forces the viewer to use special goggles (although feel free to do so!) I am talking the type of photography and video where you can swipe around to get a full immersive 360 view. The drawback for me (and probably you too) is that I end up in all the video clips and many of the photographs.

You may be reading this and wondering what the heck I am talking about so perhaps an example is required. The image below is a VR360 shot and if you touch it with your finger or mouse you can swipe around. There is one caveat for mobile devices which at first can make the page seem hard to navigate because as soon as you come to one of these 360 images and place your fingers on it you stop scrolling and the picture moves around instead. However, it really is just a small irritation and all you have to do is make sure you scroll the page with the white gaps either side of the photo. If the image shows a 360 icon then just tap that to start (depends on what you are viewing this on). If you really want to you can wiggle your mobile phone around instead of swiping! Here is a picture of myself and good lady taking the dogs for a walk with Martin and Sarah from Narrowboat ‘Pride of Nuffield’ and stopping for a chat with another quite animated boater.

Hopefully if you have made it to this text and are using a mobile device you have worked the scrolling thing out already and perhaps see what I mean about it being a more immersive experience and really well suited to showing off our adventures around the canals. As I get more to grips with the 360 camera and the editing of the photographs and videos I am sure we will capture some great stuff in 2018 – it’s going to be a fun year and we will be spending much more time aboard Hannah the Narrowboat but more news on that later. In the meantime here are a few more random shots from our dog walk along the towpath.

Have a great 2018 everyone!

A Stormy Weekend

The ladies of the boat

We rushed up from Luton back to Hannah the Narrowboat at Gayton Marina in Northamptonshire so that I could watch the Aston Villa game via SkyGo on my iPad but wished I had not bothered – watching the football I mean, not rushing back to the boat. For the first time ever I stopped watching the game half way through the second half as I deemed it a total waste of my data allowance. As you have probably guessed Villa lost and deservedly so. Of course I could take solace in the fact that I had a lovely bottle of real ale in my hand and I knew it was Chinese night aboard Hannah the Narrowboat.

Saturday evenings promise dire television offerings of Strictly, which I deem as ‘pensioners tv’ and that absolute crock of sh*t X-Factor where plastic people with no more talent than singing other peoples songs aka karaoke tell us all a sob story in the hope that somebody votes for them. TV like this is why we have alcohol – to numb the pain. Anyway enough of moaning about the TV let’s talk about something more interesting instead.

As always the Chinese from Yin Lung on St. Leonards Road in Northampton was very tasty and after washing it down with a glass of wine and watching more rubbish football on Match of the Day it was time for bed as I had a plan for Sunday and that plan was to take a trip to Summer Leys Nature Reserve which is not far from Wellingborough. This was another new discovery from subscribing to OS Maps (see last post).

Summer Leys Nature Reserve

The drive only took around 20 minutes from the boat and when we arrived the car park was pretty full so it was obviously a rather popular place. The walking route I had panned was a clockwise one around the lakes which were old gravel pits. We arrived at the first gate which I attempted to open but it seemed locked. I fired up the iPhone to look for an alternative route and as I did so another couple walked up to the gate and opened it straight away – Lee and I just looked at each other and laughed – I had missed the latch on top of the gate!

To be honest the first part of the walk was a bit boring as it was just a long gravel avenue where you could not see much of the lakes and the wildlife as it was obscured by the trees. About three quarters of the way along the path there was a spot where we could climb up a little hillock and get a good view of the land. As we walked on around the top of the lakes the views became much better and there were hides that we could enter to watch the plethora of birds on the water.

The walk was only about 2 miles long as I had opted out of the longer 5 mile walk that would take us into Doddington as my foot was still sore from dislocating it a coupe of days ago when I kicked the dog in the mouth. Wow, that makes me sound awful but it was a total accident while we were playing with a balloon – the dog did not even flinch so she must have a jaw of steel, me on the other hand certainly felt it. When I had a shower the following day I could see the top of my toe pointing the wrong way so I gritted my teeth and snapped it back in myself – now that really hurt but there was no way I was going to A&E for 5 hours!

The Sun Goes Down

After our little walk we headed back to Northampton to get a few provisions as we had very little food aboard Hannah. Once back to the boat we sat out in the sunshine for a while before having a lovely steak, cracked pepper and claret pie with new potatoes carrots and mushrooms for dinner. A nice glass of Banrock red wine was in order before settling down for an early night.

It was pretty windy overnight and the boat was getting banged around a bit and it was only going to get worse as Storm Ophilia approached. As I sat in the cratch I looked up to see a bright orange sun which seemed a little odd but I learned later that it was due to the storm whipping up sand from the Sahara and the ash from the wild fires in Portugal. We decided we needed bigger fenders for our mooring as the little narrow ones really did not do a lot to cushion the boat against the side so a trip to Midland Chandlers in Braunston was in order. As I was looking on their website Lee mentioned to me that there was another chandlery in Braunston so we thought we would give that a look too.

Grey Skies over Braunston

When we arrived the atmosphere was really quite eerie, in one direction we had really dark stormy skies and in the opposite one we had an orange glow which is something I don’t ever recall seeing. The wind was really quite strong now too but it seemed to come in waves.

Orange Skies over Braunston

We could not find what we wanted at Braunston Chandlers so ended up at Midland Chandlers where we picked up two flat fenders that look a bit like small tyres, some rope and two new LED lights for the bedroom. As we headed back I asked Lee if she fancied a little look at the boats in Braunston Marina – you may wonder why she wanted to look at boats so perhaps a little explanation is in order. Lee has become a boat spotter, she’s even got a couple of books with the boat registration numbers listed where she underlines them when she sees them. Stop laughing. So, if you see Lee with a little pad and a pencil looking suspicious by your narrowboat don’t panic, she’s just getting your number so she can underline it!

Braunston Marina

Once we were back at Gayton I sorted out the new fenders and fitted on of the LED lights as Lee cooked us some steak medallions – what a treat! I must admit I am glad we got the fenders sorted as it was now really quite windy outside and we were not getting bashed about nearly much as usual.

That’s about it for this post but there is a video below if you would like to watch it showing some of what we got up to this weekend.

Right On Our Doorstep

Above Gayton Marina

I don’t often take much notice of adverts on Facebook as many of the products advertised are either tat or overly expensive products that can be bought cheaper on Amazon or EBay. However, there was one advert that kept on popping up and that was Online Ordinance Survey Maps which had a 7 day free trial for premium membership that gives you access to OS maps covering the whole of the UK. After my 7 days were up I decided to take up the offer which was £19.99 for the year and although I don’t really like the subscription based model for software I think it has paid for itself already.

Once I had the app on my iPhone, iPad Pro and MacBook Pro I started to have a look around our home mooring in Gayton and discovered a circular walk from the marina, up towards Rothersthorpe and then back towards the Grand Union Canal and then along the towpath back to Hannah the Narrowboat. You can see the route below.

Gayton to Rothersthorpe walk

I have two incentives for walking, the first being an opportunity to take photographs/video and the other to kid myself that I can earn beer tokens by burning a few calories! Of course now that I have a drone (and an app that shows where you can fly it along with liability insurance – just putting that our there for the drone haters) I see our little walks as a chance to get some aerial footage too. You can watch a short video of our little walking adventure below.

The starting point of our route was a nice big open field close to Gayton Marina which gave me the opportunity to get the drone up into the sky and get some shots of the marina and our friends boat The Pride of ‘Nuffield’ who were moored up on the stretch close to Gayton Junction.

Above Gayton Marina

Once I had got my fill of flying we headed off north and our first stile had a notice on it warning us to beware of the bull. Luckily enough we could see all the cows and perhaps a bull or two way off in the distance so we carried on across the field to the next stile which was very rickety! This led us into a very overgrown little stretch to the next stile which was also looking very sorry for itself. From here on it looked pretty easy going, that is until we got lost! We ended up by a cow shed where beady eyes were peeping out at us and more glaringly at Buddie our Jack Russell. After a bit of head scratching we sorted ourselves out and got back on the public right of way which then took us through a small horse field where we met an old gentleman and had a bit of a chat.

It turns out that this fella did 8 years continuos cruising on the canal system with his wife on a 30ft Narrowboat, and we worry about 45! By this time we had gained the horses attention and they were soon standing with us giving us a little push with their heads so we would stroke them.

Lee at the Stile

We were now approaching Rothersthorpe where we had to walk a 200 or so yards to the church where we would rejoin the public footpath for the route back south.

Church in Rothersthorpe

We followed the path along the edge of a couple of fields until we entered some woodland before crossing a small brook and back out into an open field which took us to what we refer to as ‘Gnomes Bridge’ – we used to compete with each other on FourSquare and this was a waypoint we put in which is why it has an odd name!

There is another wide open field here where I took to the air again to get some footage of passing boats and generally have a little play as I don’t get to fly the drone very often and a still had a spare full battery to use up – that’s my excuse anyway and yes, I’m like an overly excited kid with a new toy.

Time to head back along the towpath towards Gayton Marina as we were both pretty thirsty as stupidly we forgot to bring a drink with us – and of course there was a cold ale in the fridge with my name on it!

Hannah the Narrowboat

We had worn ourselves out so we decided cooking would be far too much of an effort so we jumped in the car to The Navigation Inn at Stoke Bruerne for dinner. Whilst at the bar I turned around to the grinning face of Ray, another of out boating friends so we sat down with his better half Tray and all ate dinner and sank a couple of tasty ales, a nice surprise and a great end to the day.