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.

A pleasant surprise

Evening Sky over Gayton Marina

OK, I know it’s been a while and we even had a comment shouted from a passing boat that we had not done a blog post for ages. If I’m brutally honest we have just had so many other things going on that I kind of forgot about the blog so hopefully from here on we will try and be a bit more consistent as we do spend half our lives aboard Hannah the Narrowboat.

As we lost a couple of months due to Lee’s unforeseen illness we did not really get the usual summer break for a grand adventure so we thought it would just be nice for her to book a bit of time off work and spend the first part of October solely aboard the boat. Of course we still need to keep the pennies rolling in but I am fortunate enough to be able to work almost anywhere I can get an internet connection.

As well as just getting away from it all for a bit of relaxation we also have a rather long list of jobs that need doing aboard Hannah including replacing the hatch and the door frame as both were pretty rotten so this was not going to be all about sitting around sipping wine whilst watching the world go by unfortunately!

When we arrived at Gayton Marina we were pleasantly surprised to see five familiar faces approaching us, our friends Martin, Sarah and their 3 greyhounds Banksy, Lucy and Abby. They have been having a bit of trouble getting their washing machine to work properly with their inverter so an engineer had been out to have a look and decided it was poorly and needed a new switch which he would have to order. Martin and Co. are continuous cruisers and had come down this was a couple of weeks ago and as they had to wait for parts they decided to moor up in the marina until they get things sorted.

The Green Room

As is the norm for a Saturday night when we arrive it’s Chinese and pink wine night and tonight’s mood lighting is green – we love our colour changing lights in the lounge! We like a lazy night aboard Hannah in front of the TV after we arrive and it was not too long before we settled down for the night with our bellies full and our heads slightly woozy.

I awoke to the sound of my phones alarm as I had an early start – F1 was on the TV and for once I was glad I made the effort as it was perhaps the best race of the season so far. I do like my F1 but if I am honest the last two or three seasons have been pretty rubbish. Once we had eaten breakfast our friends wandered over and we all sat around outside drinking tea and putting the world to rights for a few hours which was nice. Lee and Sarah then went off to do a food shop whilst I got on with a few little jobs.

Lee catching up on Facebook

We all spent a nice evening aboard The Pride of Nuffield (Martin and Sarah’s boat) drinking a few beverages and having a good old chin wag, happy days. All the fresh air got to us and we were in bed by 10.30pm which is very early for me!

Rain, rain, rain

Well I am not sure where our summer has gone, it just seems to be mainly grey mixed with copious amounts of rain and the odd appearance from the sun. Hardly cruising weather! It’s also put back a fairly urgent job we need to get sorted on Hannah the Narrowboat. Our cruiser stern is looking quite sorry for itself as the boards towards the back are breaking up and need replacing, well actually the plan is to completely rebuild the cruiser stern including the wooden structure below decks as they are shall we say, a little springy! Looks like we may just do a temporary fix and then go ahead as planned after winter as it’s not going to be cheap and we have been hit a little by the lady of the boat not earning due to her operation which is taking longer than expected to recover from.


What with all the rubbish weather we have pretty much been confined to the marina, not that I mind that much as we do have a good spot with a nice green space right next to us we use as a garden. We did actually brave the wind and inclement weather this Sunday and decided we were going to have a BBQ. Although not what I would say warm, the rain did hold off and we were able to eat outside albeit wrapped up in autumn attire!


I do actually feel quite sorry for the holiday boaters when the weather is not what you would expect for August as for many this is the only time of year that a lot of families can get away and spend quality time together aboard a Narrowboat and we all know hiring a boat is not cheap by anyone’s standard. Hopefully they can take it all in their stride and enjoy it despite the rain. Of course we are used to the inclement weather now that we have owned Hannah the Narrowboat for just over 6 years and we always find something to do. I work from the boat so during the week it does not matter too much to me if it’s raining outside but I must admit that if work is quiet I can be susceptible to a bit of cabin fever. I enjoy my photography and video making and the weather does make a big difference on that score but lately I have been playing with my new iPad Pro doing more digital artwork. My job is more orientated towards Graphic Design so I rarely get to paint or sketch for my own pleasure but that has all changed now that I have discovered that Apple has really hit the back of the net for digital artists with their latest tablet offering – it truly is very similar to using natural media but with the added advantage that you can erase stuff easily, duplicate elements and not create a mess on the cratch table with real paint!


I have been following a guy on YouTube who uses his iPad Pro to create amazing pieces of art which inspired me to step out of my safety zone of creating sterile commercial graphics and do something a little more painterly instead. The picture above was created in ProCreate – perhaps the stand-out art app out there and used by many professional artists and took around 3 hours to produce. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed doing something a little different although it won’t win any art competitions! I have also started sketching out a scene featuring Narrowboat Brighton at Watford locks as seen below. Of course it’s only at it’s first stage and will take a lot more than 3 hours to finish it, if I ever get around to it as it was more an exercise of seeing if sketching is viable on an iPad.

Another advantage is that I can actually use the iPad Pro for work as I can produce illustrations fairly easily on it, much easier than using a mouse and you can mix you media on it as shown below – the frog is hand drawn and the background is a blurred out image which I think works quite well.


In think you can see I’ve been far from bored during this rainy period we are going through, that’s the great thing about our Narrowboat, we have equipped her with everything we need for it not to be a disadvantage to be floating rather than on solid ground in a brick box. I love the fact that I can work just as efficiently aboard the boat as I can in the studio, in fact it’s more inspirational aboard the boat as all you have to do is look out through the window for ideas.

I’m now having a little play to see if I can actually produce professional quality musical compositions on the iPad Pro too and early signs are quite encouraging but I do feel at the moment songs would still have to be polished and mastered on my Mac in Logic Pro. Having said that the iPad Pro is great for getting ideas down with my wireless midi keyboard.

That’s just about it for this blog post, I know it’s not been focused on the great outdoors we are lucky to live amidst as per usual but hopefully it gets across that even when it’s terrible weather outside there is still plenty you can do aboard a Narrowboat.

Life off the boat (and sometimes on)

Sanity Bypass

So just what the heck do I get up to when I’m not aboard Hannah the Narrowboat. Well, I’m not old enough or rich enough to be retired yet so I have to try and earn a few pennies to keep the blood alcohol levels topped up. My real job is as a Graphic Designer which  I can do it from almost anywhere if I have a WiFi connection to send the files off to the clients. However, I have also been a musician for many years professionally and do have a rather cool studio set-up which I can’t fit on the boat – if I could I would probably live full time rather than half time on the boat!

The canal is an inspiration place for both of my ‘arts’ and I get a lot of the initial ideas for the music to my songs from it. As technology is getting ever smaller and ever better I can actually make what I call ‘musical sketches’ on the iphone sitting in my pocket or of course I can fire up the laptop. For any of you lot out there that are into music making and songwriting then you can find my debut album on iTunes and all the other major streaming services – just search Sanity Bypass and the album is called ‘Safety Pin’. I am currently writing the second album and trying to do most the initial ideas on Hannah the Narrowboat but really do need the proper studio for serious recording. Once technology can furnish me with studio monitors that use very little power and I get my finger out and convert under the lounge seats to store my guitar and a midi controller keyboard (and the heaps of stuff that makes it all work) then I would be elated to record the whole lot aboard our boat – not sure our marina neighbours would be too happy though!

The video below is my latest creation – first proof so to speak, needs a lot of tweaking but it’s essentially all there.