Sunday, 17 May 2015

He's dead. Oh no he's not. He is now!

We had a lovely time at the Walsworth Festival this morning. There were lot of activities and demonstrations and  a very good turnout by local organisations, including the Townswomen's Guild, North Herts Sanctuary, RNLI, and lots more.

Green Dragon Bowmen were busy keeping the tradition of English bowmen alive, and encouraging people to try their hand at the archery bosses.

Fire and Police, who let children switch on the sirens and flashing lights on the patrol car.

The local ballet school gave a special performance of scenes from Midsummer Night's Dream,

Unfortunately, we left for a late lunch before the Hitchin School of Russian Ballet were scheduled to perform.

We could have feasted on pork, but decided that Ron had been left on his own too long (it's the first year he hasn't accompanied us).

The most impressive sight (amongst the many) was that of local children

versus a hoard of marauding Vikings,

who were brazenly camped on the Common

Mind you, the children were coached by an 'insider', who led their charge on the Viking Shield Wall,

and encouraged them to make sure that fallen Vikings stayed down.

I think he's dead. Oh, no, he's not. He is now!

I was quite surprised that there was no organisation publicising the campaign to save Walsworth Community Centre,which hosts a lot of the local organisations' meetings and activities,and which was open throughout the Festival.

Monday, 11 May 2015


I had my first training session with the volunteers at the Hitchin British Schools Museum, this morning. It was probably the best training session I have ever attended. It included a training video on Health and Safety requirements on the museum site.

There are exciting developments afoot and lots of upcoming events of interest.

Fancy a night at the museum? There's an open session on Thursday.

Or perhaps you want to let out your inner child?

Regular Saturday sessions (third Saturday of the month) include hands-on activitiesat no extra cost.

I August, the Doctor Who Exhibition will be making a return visit to the museum.

If you fancy getting more involved in the work of he museum, you could take part in the replica quilt project. The original 1830 quilt is very fragile, so a replica will be made,

You can become a sponsor by giving money for a hexagon or/and donating fabric suitable to the replica.

More behind-the-scenes involvement includes the opportunity to become a Volunteer at this Queen's Award-winning Museum.

There are vacancies on the Board of Trustees and also in the museum.

I was pleased to meet other volunteers, and one of the Curators. I have added an interest in joining the Conservation volunteers to that of the proposed route onto the Education Team, and will be meeting the curator on  my training day next week.

There is a great family feel to the groups of volunteers at the museum, all of whom bring various skills and expertise to their chosen roles.

A local woodcarver made this plaque, which hangs in the cafe.

As a historian with a great fondness for the 19th century, it is a great priviledge for me to be accepted as a volunteer, and to help continue and develop the work of this wonderful museum.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Didn't we have a loverly time

at the May Day celebrations at the British Schools Museum.

MWNN and I spent a couple of hours there this morning.

Watching local children being trained in Maypole dancing

and learning, very quickly, how the music gave cues to their dancing.

There was time for a quick cup of tea (we declined the cake), a browse in the museum's shop (where several useful items were purchased), and a quick trip round the market stalls in town,

before the Offley Morris Men arrived at the museum.

The Offley Morris Men has its own Hobby Horse. In keeping with tradition, the Hobby interacts with the audience.

Another character who encourages the audience to participate, is The Green Man.

The Offley Green Man bears the name 'Offa Rex' - a reminder that the village of Offley  has a long history, dating back to the reign of King Offa.

Also present was a much older 'Green Man', who did not take part in the dancing, but encouraged the audience to 'have a go' towards the end of the session.

The audience, young and old alike, joined in the final session of skipping-while-waving-a-hankie, with great enthusiasm.

It was a lovely community event with a real sense of everyone contributing to make it fun and profitable for the museum's roof fund.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Narrowboat in France Retrospective.

From Ain  - Burgundy, St John-de-Losne

at a boat Festival at La Roche Migennes, 2001.

when we were all decked out in Union Flags for St George's Day.

 and Pont de Vaux,   

where we moored among the nursery vinyards

to Aisne

In the Port de Plaisance St Quentin.

In between, there was the stoppage for major repairs near Amiens

  the trip through the Ardennes to Belgium.

a stay in the Arsenal, Paris

a cruise to Toul and back, in 2003, one of the the hottest summers on record.

 adventures on the Canal du Centre

and numerous visits to Reims, Epernay, and Sillery  in

the Champagne region, as we crossed France from Calais to Burgundy and back.

New Toys

Ron has learned how to get treats out of his new puzzle toy.

But he still enjoys playing with it, especially when there are special bits in there.

 Today it was chicken.

He can remove the 'cups' in less than a minute to get at treats that are 'hiding' under the solid section of the toy.

Once the cups are out, a gentle push with the nose is all that is required to turn the top.

Today, with a little help from MWNN, I finished assembling my new toy - a 24" Kromski Harp Forte loom and its stand.

I'm hoping that I can 'direct warp' while it's on the stand, as the dining table is a little too short to use as a warping base if the loom is on the front end, and the warping peg is on the back.

The loom on the stand is just about the right height and gives a couple of more feet of warp length.

I need to buy some warping sticks tomorrow, before I can begin warping a 10" width at the centre of the 24" heddle.

Monday, 13 April 2015

At last

the road works at the Black Cat roundabout are coming to an end. The journey to the boat is now just over an hour. This means that we can have a day out without worrying about travel time.

Inside the boat is beginning to look shipshape. Rising temperatures mean that we have no need to light the stove and working inside is much more pleasant with fresh air,sunlight, and no need for heavy jumpers.

A coot comes calling at Teatime.

In between jobs, we can sit out on our pontoon, drinking tea and watching the wildlife.

We have a resident pair of crested grebes on the lake. I think they're nesting in the reed bed near the entrance to the River Nene.

Ruffled feathers and injured pride

There is also a pair of swans that regularly comes a- calling at the boats, demanding to be fed, Ron doesn't approve at all and makes his opinion known. Swans are noted for their robust response to such things.

This one was no exception and treated us to a display of agression, complete with hissing and raising of wings.

Meanwhile, the ducks practiced their co-ordinated flotilla formation, pairing off as they descended on the moored boats for a spot of noisy pestering.

Who said the countryside was quiet?

The marina is definitely looking springlike. Daffodils, blackthorn, and the first of the cherry trees are in full bloom. Boat crews are out in force, spring-cleaning, painting, and DIY-ing in the glorious sunshine.

With more fine weather forecasted, MWNN and I are looking forward to spending more days at the marina,

With this view to look forward to during tea-breaks and lunch, who would blame us?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

More boat renovation

We are all set to have a new cratch cover, stern tonneau, and complete re-paint within the next few months.

Yesterday, we had an appointment to meet Tim-the-covers, at the marina. We set off early so that we could install the new cratch-board (courtesy of my nephew-in-law's skilled work) before Tim arrived.

We pulled into the Apple petrol station on the A1M at about 10.30am. There was then an altercation with a concrete pillar, resulting in the loss of the rear windscreen on MWNN's Berlingo.

The service-station manager took photos and confirmed that no damage had been done to said pillar. After clearing  much of the windscreen from  the station forecourt and interior of the car, calming Ron, and filling with diesel, we drove back home to switch cars.

Poor Ron was very shaken but settled in his crate in the back of my Berlingo for the return journey.
Tim-the-covers was waiting for us at the Marina, but said that the wind was too strong to make the templates. He measured up, quoted for both covers, discussed design and materials, and agreed to meet us next week (weather permitting) to make templates. Then we wait a few weeks for them to be made, installed, adjusted, and checked for leaks.

This morning, our neighbour (who is also our car mechanic) announced the birth of his first grandchild and also that he had ordered a new rear windscreen that he would fit as soon as we cleared the remaining glass from the mounting.

We are in for a busy few months. I hope that we will be able to have a 'shake-down' cruise to test the new covers by mid-May, ahead of the painting of the boat.