Gunpowder, treason & plot

It’s quite rural up here, despite being just minutes away from the infamous Watford Gap services, junction 18, M6, M45 and the A5! 

Whenever we drive out, we always seem to pass signs for Ashby St Ledgers but never go to it … so today we did. We parked by the ancient church and walked across muddy fields to the staircase locks at Watford … and back.

The church is quite famous – see

As is the manor house and village – being the HQ for the Gunpowder plot!

With it’s unusual wall paintings (skeleton) and the flagellation of St Margaret (ca. 1325)

And our destination … across those very muddy fields  …

(I kegged the beer this morning – tastes great – heaps of licorice & chocolate plus about 7.6% . .  ready in a week or so …)

The Must-have Present

What does an expensive flat-screen TV want for Christmas?

Yes, a screen protector! And no, not an everyday one but one made from pure Reindeer skin – the Rudolph cover:

This stops our dog from shaking mud and water all over the LG TV and from bashing into it when getting tooooo excited in preparation for his food/treats/walk/presents from P&J …

Very stylish and the standby light even gives it a red nose!!

Christmas Trip to Leicester

Not perhaps your first choice but we went to Nottingham last year and saw their famous winter display with markets and ice rink.  Leicester is only 40 mins away and they have a fabulous covered market and there’s the Watermead park just to the north, which we visited twice on our Summer trip:

Animated displays – Toad of toad Hall, a nativity scene plus Wallace & Gromit

Then off to Wanlip – a long walk around the lakes and endless swims for Toby

The canal runs alongside the park

A tableau – King Lear is supposedly buried under the River Soar . . 

And then back via the White Horse at Birstall

Winter skies over the marina . . 

F8 Gales & Rain

Yes, more gales and rain … this would normally be weather for the equinox – around September/October but the climate seems out of kilter. Our new cowling flew off the chimney stack last week – going to send it back. Not what you’d expect for 6 weeks of use:


It’s Day 8 and time to add the dry hops to the brew.  The gravity is down from 1074 to 1030, so still a week to go. 150g of Columbus hops go into the vat – wow, the whole boat fills with the pungent aroma of those alpha acids .  . a quick sample of the brew … hmmm, doesn’t taste too sweet, yum … give it another 5 – 10 days and then into the barrel.

Can’t Beat em Join em

Found myself in Homebase – sale on, so I picked up some lights and a plastic bear. Lights are different – more madam’s boudoir than Santa’s Grotto . . 


Have you seen me Bear?


no expense even considered …


More Beer

Now that’s definitely a Christmassy theme!! And more fun to ponder than the costs of a boat.  My 2nd batch of home brew has arrived!  The highly praised Russian Imperial Stout 7.7%


It certainly looks the business and to quote their website, “

This is absolutely the best beer kit in the world (for people looking for a strong Stout) and includes almost TWICE as many ingredients by weight than the very best competing kits.” I get this from up in Chesterfield. They’re doing a sale at the moment and also post-free if your spend so much, so I bought a more normal stout as well.


Quite a full kit with 5 kg of malt, 2 bags of Columbus hops and Nottingham yeast.  They even supply brewing sugar & priming sugar too.  Should be ready to drink in January and at 7.7% … only available in half pints (yeah right).

Beer started 17th – a very rich and black wort … 1074 was the O.G. !! Yeast seems to be off already . .  there’s a lot of sugar to get through.

The cost of living on board a narrowboat . . .

It’s Christmas time and so our thoughts turn to money.  People keep saying, Oh you’re living the dream, and I suppose we are but we’re here because we wanted to stop work; stop the 0605 get up and enjoy the later phase of our lives before events prevent us from doing so! This meant we couldn’t afford to live in our house any more and so here we are.  House rented out & a longish holiday on Adagio. We’ll give it a go for a few years. So, what are the costs . .  well, the biggest one after actually buying a boat is the mooring fees of the marina – around £3,000. Then there’s the licence to float on the waterways . . £900, insurance around £200, RCR (kind of AA of the waterways) £200 after those it’s the weekly costs of heating & hot water – currently we spend about 42p/day on electricity (far less than our house!), about £1 a day on bottled gas and about £15 a week on coal – yes expensive but it does warm the whole boat. Yes, it is very messy  – dust everywhere and the smell of smoke but it does warm the heart and soul as well as the body.  A back boiler maybe a good addition later as this fire is 60 feet from our bedroom. I guess there’s a comparable outgoing cost of maintenance but then there’s similar cost to a house.  Water is included here and you need to fill her up weekly. Emptying means a short drive to the service quay and a pump out (£10) about every 2 months . . so far.  She’ll need the hull re-blacking next year (£700) and also a new safety certificate (boat MOT but accent on the safety).  Those storage batteries are on their last legs – being in their 8th year and being the AGM type, will cost around £1200 to replace. So, some lower costs than bricks and mortar but also some extra ones.  If you’re thinking of doing similar then Paul Smith has an excellent website & interactive system where you can examine the costs – . One big factor will be depreciation – whereas our house is increasing in value each year (so far) a boat will pretty much shrink in its reselling value.  We paid around £65k and new, this boat will fetch nearer £160k but after 10 years? Who knows? Less for sure.  I’ll update this as we bimble along …