A birthday nightmare at Calcutt Boats

A birthday nightmare at Calcutt Boats

Not really what I was expecting when I agreed to book my boat in for blacking.

During my stay:

  • Booking was recorded as just hull blacking: On the phone I asked for a blacking, service and mooring. I confirmed this by email, to which there was no reply. When I arrived, I was told there were no moorings available, despite the fact I’d organised to have the carpets cleaned which meant moving all the furniture around and some of it off the boat. It was claimed they ‘hadn’t received the email’. I had asked for the service on the phone and confirmed it all by email. They claimed they didn’t receive that.
  • Washing up was stolen from communal area: Not a big thing you might think. When the boat was on the crane and I wasn’t allowed to do any washing or release of grey water from the sides of the boat, I did a bit of washing up in the communal area. Within the space of 2 hours, I had the only 2 mugs I own stolen plus 3 sharp veg. knives and some spoons. I don’t have any more mugs. Now I will have to go out and buy some more.
Damaged wheel hub
Damaged wheel hub
  • Car vandalised in the carpark. Parked my car under the tree in the carpark overnight. The next morning I arrived to drive off the following morning, and noticed the wheel had been damaged.
    As the car was parked directly next to a piece of derelict machinery on the side that was damaged. No vehicles were able to come alongside and I have difficulty looking at the way that damage comes from the inner wheel to the outer wheel, how such damage could be caused.
  • Negligent engine service by boatyard. The boat was returned to me after the engineer had said it was ‘good-to-go’. This was after he had had problems completing the service on it. He left the engine half done after starting work at 4.30pm. Not turning up the following day like he had promised when he did a turn up, he did about 1/2 an hours work on it and said the boat was fine and ready to take away. It wasn’t. Bonnie made it 300 yards before it broke down.

What a birthday treat from Calcutt Boats! I was in some trepidation about spending my birthday up on stilts on the boat. Now I know it was a bad idea.

Letter of complaint

I had to write a letter of complaint to the owner, Roger.

Broken down after a service at Calcutt
Broken down after a service at Calcutt – Here’s a picture of where my boat had broken down at the top lock.

To be fair. Work on Bonnie was given priority over some of the other jobs that needed to be done by the boatyard.

It took roughly 1.5 days to sort it out completely.

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Tysoe windmill

Tysoe windmill

Is located on the Northern stretch of the Cotswolds. In Warwickshire.

It was a hilly ride and the wind was against me on the way out.

By the time I was coming back, the wind had died. That’s the thing about wind, unlike the hills, rewards for effort put in against it are often stolen. There is no pay-back.

Today was one of those cases. In my face, then gone, more or less, for the return journey.

Still… The sun was out. Cycling in the Cotswolds is something people pay money for.

In this case it’s right on my doorstep.

Be a shame not to take advantage on my one real day off.

Weddings and Birthdays

Weddings and Birthdays

Since I’ve just been turning around in the boat, my last 3 stops retraced back. That means on the last 3 journeys, I moved from Pig Place to Aynho, then back to Pig Place again.

CRT Warning

CRT sent me a warning email about not moving the boat far enough.

As a continuos cruiser, you have to move 21 miles or more direction wise in any year of your boats operation. This counts as the licencing period, which may run from June to June, for example…

Once you reach the June, the annual period re-sets. My licence came due whilst I was at Pig Place and when I had turned around and came back, it was in a new year.

Effectively, they’d sent me an overstay but, due to the fact my licence had renewed, it was invalid.

Got onto them. They changed it pretty rapid, which is a good thing. I was none too happy.

Not sure if the recorder, an individual who walks up and down recording the length of stay of boats from the towpath, had recorded it wrong.

That’s what I’d put it down to anyway.

I decided not to do a post about my location but about weddings and birthdays, which we seem to be having a lot of….

Kerri’s 50th

Kerri, my big sister, has had her 50th in the last few days.

We took her out to a restaurant in Cheltenham, with the family.

On a Monday, it was a fairly low key affair, and we were all finished up and in bed by 11pm.

Kerri's 50th at Muse, Cheltenham
Kerri’s 50th at Muse, Cheltenham Left to right Aurelia, Tal, Maggie, Me, Mum, Kerri, Craig and Finn.
Kerri blows out birthday cake
Kerri blows out birthday cake. Very small one while everyone watches. 😂👍
Kerri's 50th
Kerri’s 50th – Left to right Craig, Mum, Finn, Kerri, Aurelia, Maggie, Tal, Dad
Back at the Pig Place

Back at the Pig Place

‘Where the dear and the antelope play’…

Or just pigs.

We have some buffalo in the field opposite.

So it could be, ‘where the pigs and the buffalo play’.

Aynho Wharf

Had to go to Aynho Wharf. For water.

Turned around.

Came back up again. Took about 2.5 hours from where I was before.

The water takes forever to fill up at Aynho because of the low pressure.

Solar and the cost of living

Able to do all my cooking on solar now the sun’s out.

That means I only use the gas now for:

  • Washing
  • Showers
  • Washing up

Made a 13kg calor last for 4 months last time.

Gas. A gas bottle is £40 now for 13kg. When I started boating in 2016, it was £28.

Equates to around £10 per month for gas.

Electric is free.

Diesel. I bought £75 in January. Might have to get some more in July to get me up to Calcutt boats, in Napton. That’s £12.50 per month.


All in all, £22.50 currently in monthly overheads on the boat.

Narrowboat Ropes

Had a slight bit of wear and tear on my front and rear ropes.

As you can see, the rear rope is frayed and the braiding is coming undone.

I’ve tried to strap it up with some handlebar tape.

It’s really starting to become a hazard, especially in locks, where it can become entangled in things such as the rail bar, or not fly through the air properly because part of the rope become entangled on your hand as you try to throw it.

A danger.

Frayed mooring rope
Frayed mooring rope

For this reason, I had to take a trip up to the Chandlers.

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Kings Sutton in the Fields

Kings Sutton in the Fields

The next stop down is ‘Pig Place’. At least it has been in the past….

I don’t really want to move down to Pig Place right away, for one reason or another.

Instead, I’ve stopped here in between Kings Sutton and Twyford Wharf, effectively in the middle of no-where.

The way I like it.

It’s about a 10 minute walk to the car, but it’s outside of the parish of Twyford Wharf which is apparently what the CRT uses to measure whether you’re moving your boat or not.

Moving out of a parish and/or into a new one counts as a move apparently.

It’s probably 10/15 mins on the boat.

Not far.

I don’t think anyone’s counting.

Sutton in the Fields

Living off-grid narrowboat

Living off-grid narrowboat

Here’s a cost breakdown of living as a single person on a narrowboat from what I gathered over the last 12 months.

Derv: £324.69 (included a trip down to London and back 300m)

Coal/Wood: £348/£72

Gas: £127

Electric: Free

Boat licence: £960

Maintenance and fees: 2 pumps – £247

Insurance: £150

Total cost for one year All in – (Fuel/Heating/Light/Gas and Electricity/Licence/Insurance) £1,982.19

Cost of living Crisis

I’m hearing this increasingly when I turn the radio. Stories of people heating cans of beans on their gas room heaters, food banks not being able to cope and people having to choose between electricity and food.

Can’t be sure whether it’s truly indicative of the state of play out there because this is the BBC (radio 4) we’re talking about, and they like to lay it on thick with the old bullsh1t.

What I do know, fact-wise, is that the cost of fuels have gone up by roughly 50% in the last 12 months.

This is not an insignificant amount. It’s affected all fuels across the sector and electricity prices have gone up also.

My battery overfloweth

Since fitting the solar panels last winter, I’ve had basically too much electricity.

This has meant as summer approaches the level at which I use the electricity is FAR less than the amount the panels pump out.

In contrast, when I go to get gas from my local supplier in Banbury, they tell me the Calor wholesaller hasn’t been returning their calls for 9 weeks.

No-one on the industrial side of things has ANY Calor in Bunbury (13kg).

This does not bode well, and I fully expect in the full-ness of time, the supply shortage could leave me unable to do my cooking, currently on Gas, which would be a bit of a problem…..

Simple math

If you’re given lemons. Make lemonade.

Fitting an 2000w inverter to my narrowboat

I’ve had the inverter for years….. Bought it before I left the marina. In the first 6 months in fact. It looks a bit like this –

Bestek 2000w Inverter
Bestek 2000W inverter

I’ve used it to: Power the TV. Power the circular saw. Charge up computers and devices.

Basically, the heavier duty stuff that you can’t do on 12v.

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Spiceball Park – In the winter

Spiceball Park – In the winter

Winter moorer’s paradise… Spiceball park.

That’s right, it’s got pretty much everything. Parking, broadband, shops, good solar, working TV and radio. The whole shebang…

In comparison to Spiceball summer mooring, when it does indeed have all these things plus; banging and whistling all hours day and night from the factory opposite. Fine Lady bakery.

During the winter, moorers are allowed to remain on the 2 day mooring for 2 weeks!

This is away from the factory and actually bumps Spiceball Park up quite considerably in terms of livability. It’s even got a metalled pathway! You don’t need to get everything covered in mud when you get off the boat!

Here’s a picture of Spiceball Park.

2 Day moorings in Spiceball Park
2 Day moorings in Spiceball Park

The leaves, or lack of them means that solar energy is free. To a point.

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