Home at last!

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On Tuesday afternoon we finally made it into our mooring at Market Harborough. We had several bumps and scrapes along the way, mainly owing to the wind. Some of the paintwork just above the waterline has taken a battering.

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Ah well, it wouldn’t be a real narrowboat without some scrapes.

Here is Froth lying in her berth:

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Notice how she projects beyond the line of the other boats. At 67′, we are the longest boat in the wharf. Which means our ‘conservatory’ gets uninterrupted views all around!

Union Wharf looks pretty at night, with all the boats lit up for Christmas:

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And there are lots of friendly people here. We quickly found ourselves chatting to several couples.

But, let’s rewind… the last instalment of the blog saw us battling through some tough locks and Saddington tunnel to arrive at a night mooring in the wild Leicestershire countryside.

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The next day started relatively calmly, so we were able to make good progress.

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Rosie is getting more confident every day. She is now able to stand on the roof unaccompanied.

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You can see from the state of her paws how much she is enjoying running along a muddy towpath!

It took us about half an hour to reach Foxton Locks and the start of the Market Harborough arm of the Grand Union Canal, Leicester Branch.

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The arm has a couple of swing bridges, one by the base of Foxton Locks:

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The Harborough Arm is a beautiful section of canal. Louise really enjoyed an extended period of lock free cruising:

On arrival, we celebrated with champagne!

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Wednesday was spent doing a hundred and one jobs. Louise’s orders had built up, so it was urgent to get to work.

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Andy spent the day doing engine maintenance and other boat stuff, and assembling these two recliners (with footstools, just visible between the two chairs):

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They are fabulously comfortable, but putting them together from flat-pack was very hard work! They needed to be flat-packed chairs because normal sizes won’t pass through the cabin doors.

At the end of the day, we packed up and cleaned the boat. We prepared the various systems for winter, exchanged phone numbers with our new neighbours, and headed back to the house. We were so sad to leave.

It has been a challenging trip, and we are very glad to have had lots of past boating experience. Without that, we probably would not have made it, because the conditions were really tough at times, especially the wind and the damaged locks. But this is life as we like to experience it, connected with one another and the elements. The house is nice, but it is so … insulated.

Froth on the Daydream is now floating in her mooring, awaiting our return. Phase 1 of the life plan is complete. The next phase is to sell the house, starting after Valentine’s Day (Louise’s busiest period). Meanwhile, it’s back to a different kind of reality…

Almost done!

The boat is very very nearly completed now. In fact, it may actually be finished as this is being written! There were just a few minor bits of tidying up to be done when we left this morning. So here are some recent shots, taken by Graham Reader…

The seating and the table in the cratch “conservatory” area look really good. Note the glass panel at the front, and the nice roll-up cratch covers either side, which can be blackout or clear as we wish. The rich oak flooring is also lovely. We will be spending a lot of time out here.

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Stepping inside the saloon, on the right is the trusty Morso ‘Squirrel’ solid fuel stove. On the left is the TV system which links to the satellite dish on the roof (note the cabling has yet to be properly installed behind the telly).

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Turn around, and we get this view of the galley (the washing machine will be inside its own cupboard by the end of today). The kitchen area is spacious.

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Here’s the middle bedroom:

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And the back bedroom:

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Between them is the bathroom:

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The door between the back bedroom and the bathroom is a folding door, very well made by Martin at Louise’s suggestion:

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So, we’re all ready to board ‘Froth’ tomorrow for the official hand-over!!!

We will not take her on the maiden voyage until the wind has calmed down next week. In the meantime, one particular crew member is raring to go:

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Rosie modelling her ‘Outward Hound’ ‘Pupsaver’ life jacket.

Note the handle on the back, so that she can be fished out of the canal easily if she falls in. She loves it!

 

“Canal time”

We have a phrase – “canal time” – which we use to describe the difference between the length of time things should take and the length they actually do take. On the canals, things always move slower than you could imagine. Sometimes it’s because of distractions (pubs, most often!) and sometimes it’s to do with factors beyond one’s control. Quite often, it’s down to people moving more slowly, as if the pace of life on the canals affects everything we do.

Anyway, the fitting out of Froth is suffering from “canal time” at the moment and it’s getting a bit frustrating for us, as we wait eagerly for things to be completed. There always seems to be more to do: an additional door needs making; something doesn’t quite work correctly; a delivery is awaited; and so on. We are so close to completion, yet it seems as though there is another week, or two, of work to be done. After that, who knows, there may be more! We are hoping all will be finished by Andy’s birthday on the 21st of November, but if we are still moored at MGM at Christmas we would not be surprised.

But, on the plus side, the boat is now out of the shed and floating on the canal, which allows us these fabulous views:

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She really is a beauty and attracts many appreciative comments from passers-by and visitors to the boatyard. Here is a movie of the boat, passing from bow to stern:

And here are a couple of views down the roof from the tiller position:

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So, we watch and wait while the many extra items inside get sorted out. Canal time. More news to come when we have it!

Nearly there!

Excitement mounts! Froth is about one week away from being ready. There has been much progress in all areas of the boat over the past couple of weeks. So much of it has been in transition that it did not seem right to show photographs, but now things are really coming together.

In the bow area, the cratch covers have been fitted and the wooden ceiling added. It is such a lovely space, with views all around, but also warm and weather-proof. We can roll down the blackout covers too, for privacy. The next step in this area is to fit the banquette all round and the removable table in the middle. It seems likely that we will be spending a lot of our time out here!cratch1 cratch2 cratch3

The view into the saloon and galley is just beautiful. Wonderful woodwork throughout, and very restful colours in the tiles…

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and the blinds:

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The Morso Squirrel stove is fitted too:

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Even though we have central heating (which can be controlled by mobile phone, by the way) we felt that a solid fuel stove is the heart of any boat, so we just had to have one.

The flooring is a rich and beautiful oak, and runs throughout the boat, with the exception of the saloon which will be carpeted (the last job to be done).

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The bathroom has fabulous white tiles throughout.

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And the downlighting over the sink creates an effect that is hard to capture with a camera!

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The stern cabin combines the study, with its computer desk and pull-out extension…

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…with a bedroom, with a tall wardrobe and drawers.

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There will be many other photos of both bedrooms in due course, once the boat is out into the light and the camera can “see” better.

Finally, the seat that will go atop the ‘taffrail’ on the stern deck is being made. Such lovely wood!

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The craftsmanship at MGM is wonderful to see.

If you go down to the cut today…

It’s another beautiful morning on the cut at Thurmaston. The ducks are quacking, the sun is shining, the boats are lying lazily in the water. The view up the canal from the lock bridge is delightful…

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Let’s take a closer look at those boats.

IMG_1177Hmm. One of them has a very bright green stern, with vibrant tunnel flashing…

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IMG_1179It is! It’s Froth on the Daydream, resplendent now in her full livery!

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There’s lots of progress all over the boat today. We have bow thrusters:

Bow thrusterWe have gas:

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There are lights now throughout the cabin:

IMG_1162In the bathroom, the toilet flush works, the sink area is done, and the shower works beautifully with excellent pressure and plenty of room inside:

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Talking  of running water, the kitchen sink is also working:

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And the oven is ready for that Christmas turkey:IMG_1172

We are just waiting on the central heating, which has an air lock somewhere in the system. This will be eliminated soon.

Meanwhile, the doors are all in place, with the exception of the large ones between each room. There were 59 doors, in the end!

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It just goes on getting more and more exciting!IMG_1167

Fifty doors

There was not a great deal of change inside the boat today, and here is the reason why:

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Fifty doors! Martin has spent the entire week in the workshop making these doors, which have to fit all the cupboards and doorways on the boat. It is an enormous labour.

So, our attention was mainly focused on the outside. We have brass ‘mushrooms’ and rails for the plank and pole.

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Also, sitting on the stern deck in the autumn sunshine is a joy:

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Which is not to say that nothing at all has happened inside. Rachel has done a lot of varnishing, and we have radiator covers being fitted into place:

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We had some discussion about whether the bathroom sink is too small, and resolved to try it for a month or two and change it if necessary.

Now we are looking at handles for the fifty doors. The overhead cupboards can have knobs, but the lower cupboards need D-handles so that we don’t snag our clothes on them as we walk past. Of course, we don’t want just any old handles and knobs – they have to look good! Looks like we will be spending quite a lot of time this week researching and choosing.

About Face!

Froth has been turned around, so that the bow end is now inside the boathouse. This gives us a great opportunity to sit out on the back deck and enjoy the view of the canal and the back cabin area. It’s the first time we have really got an idea of what it will feel like when we are cruising.

The engine is very quiet and has a satisfyingly deep sound. We had been worried about this because our first encounter with it was indoors, where it sounded quite whiny and rather deafening! The central heating system is also working now. Mark explained to us the various settings on the instrument panel for drawing power from the various sources.

Inside, there are various developments. Some lighting in the saloon:

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Hob and oven in place:

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Louise cleverly had this surface/cupboard area designed around the waste bin. So many people forget that!

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And we have tunnel lights at the bow:

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The water tanks are now in place, under the seating in the well deck area:

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And finally, a view of the saloon from the bow (as always, click the photo to see a larger version):

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Froth on the Daydream

We have a name!

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The sign-writing was done by Robin Wagg of Real Sign Writing. Here he is at work:

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The photos scarcely do justice to all the subtleties. Views from the bow end:

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We like the jauntiness, the lettering, the spirals, evoking the spirit of the pianocktail. The what? We hear you ask…

‘Froth on the Daydream’ is an unusual name for a boat. People are intrigued.

It all comes from a beautiful novel entitled ‘L’ecume des jours‘, by the French writer, musician and pataphysician Boris Vian, The pianocktail is a piano that mixes drinks according to the combinations of keys played. This is just one of many delightfully inventive ideas in the book. Boris Vian is much-loved in France, but relatively little known in Britain. Indeed, we might not know about him at all were it not for the fantastic translation by our dear friend the late Stanley Chapman. The phrase ‘Froth on the Daydream’ is his invention (‘L’ecume des jours’ translates more literally as ‘spume of days’).

Stanley once sent me a copy of the book with his own hand-designed cover:

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Cover for 'Froth on the Daydream' by Stanley Chapman
Cover for ‘Froth on the Daydream’ by Stanley Chapman

He included the following inscription in the flyleaf:

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So ‘Froth on the Daydream’ is our chosen name because it is in the same spirit as Vian’s book and Stanley’s translation. It will be fun, free, and will go we know not where, for reasons which we cannot fully understand. It will be both a home and an inspiration.