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!

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.

Rewind – New Years Eve

Cosy Boat New Years Eve

Well here we are, the very last day of 2016 looking forward to another wonderful year in 2017 messing around on our narrowboat! As the ice had finally melted we thought it a good idea to have a little potter along the Grand Union Canal up to Heyford Fields to turn around, a round trip of about 2hrs. We wanted to end up back with our friends on narrowboat ‘Pride of Nuffield’ moored stern to stern to make the food and drink transfers easier for tonights festivities. Although it was a bit chilly it was a nice little cruise and no matter how many times we chug along this stretch there is always something new to see on the cut.

After our turn at Heyford Fields I needed to pop inside for a wee and to stoke the fire so the good lady took over the controls. When I returned around five minutes later I was greeted by excess exhaust smoke and a lack of power! I was in a quandary here as I did not really want to pull over just in case we could not get her started again so elected to plod along at tick-over all the way back. In fairness the smoke did subside but the power was lacking, I feared the worst and that our slightly sticky valve had stuck once and for all, or on the brighter side it did pass through my mind that it could be the exhaust manifold. We managed to get back to our mooring spot easily enough and Martin from Pride of Nuffield shouted over to us that we should check the weed hatch. Once we were tied up I put her into neutral and gave her some revs and she seemed absolutely fine with no load on so Martin could well be right. He is such a nice chap he was down our weed hatch like a Jack Russell down a rabbit hole and we did indeed have rags around the prop although it would seem not enough to have had the effect it had. Perhaps when we stopped some fell of naturally as when I put her back in gear under load she seemed fine! Let’s hope that is the end of that little drama!

After a little siesta in preparation for this evenings shenanigans the good lady started cooking the food and by 7.30pm we were aboard Pride of Nuffield enjoying a few drinks, laughs and too much food! As the clock struck midnight we toasted the new year in with some Babycham (a bizarre tradition now between us and Pride of Nuffield!) and were treated to some fireworks coming from Gayton Village.

Have a happy, peaceful and enjoyable 2017 everyone!

Rewind – Ice Breakers in The Grand Union Canal

Ice in the marina

We were pretty determined to spend New Years Eve out on the canal rather than in our marina berth as our friends aboard narrowboat ‘Pride of Nuffield’ had come down this way for the Christmas period. Temperatures overnight had plummeted and the canal was frozen and worse still was that the marina itself had also frozen too and it seemed a lot thicker than the canal was. By lunchtime it was not looking any better so we made the call to give it a go and tentatively nudge forward out of our berth to see just how bad it was. Once I had started going forward I thought ‘I’m not stopping now, lets just go for it!’. Turning was the hardest part but with a bit of forward and backing we broke enough ice to get out and onto the mainline canal.
We only traveled around 30 or so minutes north from Gayton towards Bugbrooke but we had already talked about a spot that would be good which gives plenty of sunshine for our solar panels (if it’s actually sunny), a TV signal and internet – what more do we need apart from beer and wine, and yes we have plenty of that on-board too!

Rewind – The Grand Adventure 2016

Sunny Evening on the Canal

An entertaining and often funny look at our journey chugging along the Grand Union Canal aboard Hannah the Narrowboat with our friends Martin and Sarah aboard their own boat Pride of Nuffield. We travelled from Gayton Marina in Northamptonshire through the Blisworth Tunnel, which is one of the longest in the UK and through Stock Bruerne, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes and on to Leighton Buzzard before turning around and heading back to Gayton Marina. We really do take life slowly on our canal journeys preferring to stop at any spot we feel like rather than pile in the miles! You could probably do this journey in under a week if you wanted but that’s not the way we do things. This light hearted film takes a look at where we went and what we got up to, including a spot of Pokémon hunting!

Apologies for ‘Lee, what ya doing’ – holiday joke!