Bathroom Refurb Progress

Today I visited Baxter's to check on the progress with the bathroom refurbishment. All progressing well although a couple of plumbing fittings are awaited.

Tiling in shower

The tiles look good, especially the border tiles which match the curtains.



Stony Stratford Christmas Lights 2017

Now December is here the build-up to Christmas is increasing apace. Yesterday was the switch-on of the Christmas lights in Stony Stratford. Its an event that's growing every year. In now includes a Christmas market, food stall, a fun fair, music, and the not to be forgotten annual lantern parade. Four years ago I reported on the event. Over the intervening years it's got bigger and better. This year there were hundreds of lanterns.

Lantern Parade, Stony Stratford


Waiting for the switch-on

They're on!


As before, Rose & Castle Morris, based at Stoke Bruerne, were performing.This time with a longer build-up to the switch-on, more of the event occurred during daylight and I was able to film their performance.


Rose & Castle Morris performing on Watling Street, Stony Stratford, Dec 2, 2017

I've filmed Rose & Castle before, back in 2009 at the New Year celebrations at Stoke Bruerne. I reported then that our friends Geoff and Shirley both danced and provided music for the men's side, Rose & Castle and the women's side, the Queen's Oak based in Potterspury. Geoff & Shirley are still very active with both sides. 

I see they will be back performing again at Stoke Bruerne on New Year's day. 

An Inland Voyage - Robert Louis Stevenson Part II

With Robert Louis Stevenson's later travelogues and novels becoming very popular, interest in "An Inland Voyage"  continued over the years. It was probably inevitable that fans of RLS would want to follow in his footsteps, or in the case of An Inland Voyage the wake of his canoe, so a late twentieth-century edition of An Inland Voyage was published that provided readers with itineraries that can be followed.

Cover of the 1991 illustrated edition published by Cockbird Press

The version was published in 1991 with travel notes by Andrew Sanger. It includes biographical details and four detailed itineraries that suggest hotels where the traveller may stop along the route. The edition also includes many helpful annotations and some delightful water colours by Michael Reynolds.  Material not in the early nineteenth century editions is also included. There is a chapter where Stevenson and Simpson travel south of Paris along the Loire (on foot). It was on this section of their travels that RLS first met Fanny Osbourne and her son eight-year old son Lloyd. Fanny was to become Stevenson's wife and Lloyd his long term collaborator. A preface by Lloyd Osbourne is included in the edition along with a charming note by Fanny Stevenson.

The itineraries and the illustrations are all based on the journeys through France, not Belgium. The section through Belgium is dismissed in the introduction by Sanger as being "not ideal boating country" and the Willbroek Canal as being "miserable, polluted and ugly". The four travel itineraries put forward by Sanger start in Maubeuge, with three north of Paris and one south. 

A typical itinerary map from the 1991 edition

The additional section south of Paris includes a passage where Stevenson, referred to as Arethusa after the name of his canoe, was arrested at Chattillon-sur-Loire. He was travelling alone at that time and was waiting for Cigarette (Simpson). He was accused by the local "Commissary" of being a German spy. Stevenson's incarceration lasted some time until his compatriot Simpson arrived. The authorities appear to have been impressed by Simpson's appearance. Unlike Stevenson, who was an eccentric dresser, Simpson was a "man of an unquestionable and unassailable manner" and his passport referred to him as a Baronet. The authorities were therefore impressed and soon released Stevenson. 


It is interesting to note that this modern edition is now over 25 years old. Much of the information added by Sanger is probably now not current. Nowadays such information would probably be consigned to blog-site, missing the charming illustrations. It illustrates the point that, to a certain extent, all books are "of their age".

Many copies of this modern edition are available through the usual web sites. Most are priced at less than £3 - who could resist that?

A visit to Ely

On Sunday we went with friends to Ely. It is a convenient place for a group of us to get together.

Ely Cathedral 

The weather played its part in what turned out to be a good day. Saturday was wet, Monday was wet and windy, but in between Sunday was just a perfect November day - sunny but cold. 

We had morning tea at the award-winning Peacocks Tea Room, took a stroll around the town and the cathedral grounds and then had a roast at The Cutter; it never fails to impress. Our visit was rounded off by rummaging around the Waterside Antiques Centre.  

The river wasn't particularly busy and there were spaces on the visitor moorings. We recalled out visit to Ely on Albert in 2006 when we moored up in the town for several nights. It was August then and so much busier. During our stroll along the embankment we saw a Cambridge University eight out training.

Ely Visitor Moorings

A Cambridge University crew in training from their new boathouse at Ely


Out of the Dock

Today Albert came out of the dry dock at Yardley Gobion.  As is the routine at Baxter's Monday is changeover day for boats being blacked. At 9:00 AM we duly arrived at the dock and found Albert with a new coating of epoxy blacking and the dock being prepared for flooding. It should last us a few years. The stern gland has also been renewed; I thought it a wise precaution especially after our engine mountings failed in 2016.

Ready for the water


In it comes!

We tool Albert onto the moorings alongside the dock since moor work needs to be done on Albert. The chimney collar has been fixed and now looks very serviceable and much neater than the old hard-wood version.

New chimney collar
 The bathroom has been stripped of tiles, shower and sink. Some of the wood has also been removed. The next step is rebuilding and tiling. 

There was a shower there once!

Sink gone.

Half of the contents of our bathroom are now sitting in a wheelbarrow.

Our bathroom tiles and shower

Looking forward to the construction phase.