October, retrospectively

If there was a thread of any kind through the Cleddau crew’s October maybe it was breakdowns, deliveries and one short list growing ever longer..

The month hasn’t been entirely boat-free. Squeezed between various appointments and domestic crises (more, later) there was a three night meander from Crick to Welford Junction and back.

Carefully  (October 8th) Cleddau was inched out past her pontoon neighbour,  out onto the main line and past nbTrafalgar.  

In the warmth a butterfly posed on the gangplank  while parent swans glided past with their pride and joy cygnets…

The decorative tiling beneath the eaves on a canal side cottage at Yelvertoft always attract the eye…

Here was one of the black and white towpath benches  and here were apples in abundance.  How tidy was this post harvest field.

Under the A14 road bridge a boater crouched beside his boat, a painting job in progress…

Now why was this boat named INTENTIONALLY BLANK? (“Ever seen those pages in an aircraft manual?” explained the boat’s owner.

“Aah,” responded the Captain, “that makes sense now…”).

Entertainment at a would-be quiet overnight mooring was provided by an impressive piece of agricultural machinery in the offside field…

Onward next day, past tilled and ploughed fields, hedges doused in autumn shades.

Time did not allow for a turn right to Welford – even less so a left to Foxton and Leicester. 

The boat was spun round in the wide water at the Junction, then tied up beside the River Avon Aqueduct, and while the Captain wiped down the solar panels and washed the roof, Boatwif checked out the river below the canal.  How far would these Pooh sticks get? To Stratford? To Warwick? Not far it seemed, as the sticks, lobbed from the bridge above the Avon culvert, were soon caught up in the reeds that line this juvenile waterway.

There was a slow stroll back to the Junction, where there were words to be read,   a glider under tow to be seen  and bright stern colours to espy…


Old Wyle came past – later there was chance to ask about the characters depicted on their stern. “Friends of ours,” said the topless helmsman, “just friends…”

Shades of green and shadows over the towpath;  autumn berries in the hedgerows and gently pleasing landscape slopes.

In the heat of the afternoon what better to do than to spend a quiet hour seated on the towpath, mugs of tea to hand…

Onward the next day, back towards Crick, past the glamping site (strictly for adults),  ignored by a young heron (I’m not looking at you, I can’t see you, you’re not there…)  , past a donkey  and a Fergie, cwtch in its shed.

Two boats were vying for access to the Yelvertoft water point,  but onward, along past Cracks Hill, scene a month earlier of an uphill climb     – and back to the marina.

Somewhere in there is Cleddau’s pontoon; will the right one be found…?

It was another two October weeks before Cleddau was revisited; there were jobs to be done and boat care to be undertaken. Bilges pumped out. Freezer emptied. Grocery cupboard stripped. Poles, boat hooks, step ladder and gangplank removed from the roof,   roof and port cabin side wiped down and polished.

Five days later there was a return, more jobs to be done: bow section polished; bow fender adjusted. Then, thrill – a mini-cruise – as the boat was reversed away from the pontoon, slowly turned – and reversed back onto her mooring.

Brief view across the marina of some splendid tree colour.

Starboard side roof and cabin side washed and polis … but then, 90 minutes earlier than forecast, sharp showery rain interrupted play .work. How frustrating that after two long days of arm-stretching, back-breaking and elbow grease effort, the boat, though 95% polished, remains 5% unpolished…!

Retrieving the Captain’s walking boots from the bottom of the boat’s airing cupboard added yet another on the list of Recent Things That Have Gone Wrong. The right boot was soaking wet, so too was the Narrow Boat Board Game. There was a radiator leak – had finally the source of the water loss in the central heating system been identified? The need to repeatedly top up the antifreeze in the Webasto system had been a frustration and a cause for concern – could a cure be found…? (This is an ongoing issue).

Earlier in the month there had been the gas boiler issue, (1) the faithful unit condemned as dangerous and unusable. “Is it because it’s relatively old?” Boatwif had enquired of the inspecting engineer.

“Not relatively old,” the gas gentleman had said, “it’s VERY OLD,” his tone of voice emphasising the seriousness of the situation. Ok, the model hadn’t been made since 1985, and maybe the boiler had been installed in the late 70s, but there was no relenting – and the Cleddau crew were left gas-less…


In due course out came the old boiler (what a space it had occupied),    an expensive new one being fitted elsewhere.  For a day you mounted the stairs at your peril…  then all was (temporarily) well.

As the external temperature dropped so too did the new system’s ability to cope with the demands made upon it. There were plumber return visits and eventually the new white block now inside a different cupboard and (2) the thermostat controller began to talk the same language.

The boiler issue was the most protracted and expensive saga.

There’s been a saga too (3) with a dishwasher. (“Well, it’s 21 years old – you won’t get a new control board…,” said the repair man.)

Even the dentist chipped in with a similar line: He inspected a front filling that had partially given way. (4) “Wow, that was really old,” he said, examining his computer records. “Seven years is a really long time for a white filling.”

And on it went, the list of Things That Have Gone Wrong growing by the day. The steam floor cleaner (5) was beyond repair (the Captain tried hard but the internal pipes were too brittle to work on).

(6) A toilet repair was much more successful – for a £4 part, helped by a YouTube tutorial, the flush mechanism was returned to full working order.

(7) Another success (relatively cheap too) was a new wheel mechanism for an east-facing bedroom window blind.

Repairs and replacements continued with (8) a bathroom ceiling fan and (9) a new backdoor bell push.

Meanwhile the Captain made a succession of visits to the local computer shop, as (10) his PC refused to cooperate after a Windows update… Eventually a new desktop computer was bought.

Politically aware readers might recall the Mid-Beds parliamentary by-election on October 19th.  Would The Things That Have Gone Wrong list in this mid-Beds household be as long as the loooong voting slip of 13 candidates…?

It might.

Along came (11): the house security system (yes, another thing that is “old”) required two new sensors.

If the above-mentioned Cleddau airing cupboard radiator leak counts as number (12) fingers were crossed that there wouldn’t be a Number (13).

But then, good news seemed to break the sequence – a new great niece has arrived and all is well with Baby Sis, Cooker Man, the younger Bristol Niece and family.

Family – remember Cal Guy Jnr’s visit to the UK this summer?  A text to his phone to ask if there were any requests to be transported next month from the UK to California produced an immediate text reply: “A lot of chocolate”.

In recent days it’s been much more fun buying items for a newborn baby and chocolate for a teenager than contending with elderly domestic equipment…!

Miles 20¾; Locks:0

2023 totals: 375¼ miles, 276 locks, 6 swing bridges, 16 tunnels

Postscript: Something good came out of the boiler saga – the Captain managed to transform the cupboard from this! to this:









You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Pip Leckenby says:

    That’s a very good transformation. I’m hoping for one in Chippy soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.