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9th November 2015. We arrived early at the boat as Dave had a few jobs he wanted to do and I wanted to do some cleaning and load some items ready for next year, plus we wanted to check everything worked and the 'snagging' completed to our satisfaction.

Darren arrived at the appointed time armed with all the paperwork and certificates for the boat. He helped Dave anti-freeze the central heating system and then that was it; the boat was officially finished, at last!
Was it worth the wait...too damed right, she is everything we hoped she would be.

Darren is now working out of Glascote basin, having taken on the workshop. His first job, a fit out, gained off the back of the Iron Butterfly.

6th November 2015. All the snagging has been completed. so we arranged to meet Darren at the boat on Monday for the official handover.

4th November 2015. The gas certification was done today along with the Declaration of Conformity.

2nd November 2015. Darren rang to say he had found the leak and fixed it. the shower pump connection was dripping. He was starting on the other bits of 'snagging'.

31st October 2015. Another mild, fine day. Dave and I packed up our things to go home and moved anything left aboard out of the way of water pipes as Darren is working on the boat on Monday. Troy came to pick us up, he found the owner very abrupt when he asked "who are you" even though we had reported that he would be arriving, luckily Dave appeared and all was well.

30th October 2015. A wet start as predicted but by 11am we were on our way, although it felt damp in the air it was dry and a little windy. At Hillmorton locks we met another boat, a single handed Muslim. These three locks are single but in pairs, so once I had set ours, I set for the other boat as well, he was grateful as he reckoned it was hard work alone; so browny points for me, I hope Allah will smile on me now!

We stopped for diesel at Hillmorton Wharf where the wind made things a little awkward but Captain Dave handled the boat with expertise.

Next stop our winter mooring at Barby Marina, purely chosen on price. As we turned in Dave said "is that a Llama", I thought he was jesting, but no, on an island in the marina were three Alpacas.

We telephoned the office to announce our arrival and were quickly shown to our space where we were breasted up in a long line, bow first, ideal for the winter months.

29th October 2015. It was dry as we set off but it wasn't long before the rain came, the weather man said it would, not heavy but enough to wet you, so I retired to the dry and warm interior of the boat. It was also windy today but still mild, most years by this time we are glad to go home as it's bitter, so we feel blessed!

We pulled over twice to get diesel but both lots wanted to make the split, domestic/propulsion, 70/30 as this was not to Daves liking we kept going.

We stopped at Brownsover, Nr Rugby for the night, unfortunately we were on the towpath side as the preferred, park side, was already full; this is a 48hr mooring but most of the boats looked as though they had been there a lot longer, nothing new there then!
At 4.30pm we did a quick walk in the drizzle to the Harvester for tea, they do an 'early bird' selection of two courses for £7.99, this has to be ordered before 5pm so it was lucky we arrived before then as this menu is what we ordered from.

28th October 2015. As forecast we woke to rain, so I was surprised how many boats passed by, we on the other hand stayed put until it stopped.
I had my first shower on board, it turned out to be much more pleasant than I had anticipated. The cubical is larger than it looked, so plenty of room and a constant supply of hot water, even with the body jets going, so I am a happy bunny!

We set off about 11.10am, dry but overcast, however, we did encounter one drizzle shower but then the sun came out and made it a most pleasant day so we went further than we were going to, as its so much nicer in the sun and we may not see it again.
I had forgotten a can opener, so the baked beans to go with tonights sausages were trapped in the tin. On our way through Nuneaton, I jumped off the boat, up some steps onto a main road in search of food and a can opener. It all looked very run down and bleak and I couldn't see any shops, so turned left ans started to walk, luck was with me, not to far away I came across a Nica store, got provisions and an opener and headed back. It must have seemed a long time as Dave was anxiously awaiting my return as he thought the area looked 'dodgy'.

A fair few boats still on the move, although moorings are already getting full of winter moorers, so we were a little anxious that there wouldn't be room for us. We could have stopped at Hawksbury Junction but the noise from the M6 was off putting, louder than usual, the wind must have been in the wrong direction, so we carried on to Ansty where we have often stopped and slipped into a lovely spot, just were we like to be, result!

27th October 2015. Another mild day with a little sunshine, I didn't even need a coat as we worked up the locks. I did four, then Dave did four and then I did the last three with help on the last one from three lock helpers; why do they all huddle together at one lock?
Quite a few boats out and about today, so making the climb up the locks was much more pleasant with people to chat to and of course, locks in our favour, as most seemed to be going in the other direction to us.

We rang ahead to 'On Board Energy' to see if Kevin was available to sort out the electrics, he did this on the last boat as well. Although Darren does his best, his forte is woodwork not electrics or plumbing. Dave was insistent that the battery monitor was not wired in properly, luckily Kevin was available as there had been a cancellation, it must have been 'meant', he spent a couple of hours sorting the wiring out at the same time as making it look a lot tidier. We now have a fully functional working monitor, so we know exactly what the batteries are up to.
We filled with diesel and purchased two bags of coal and headed just round the corner form Springwood Haven, Nuneaton, to moor for the night.

As I type this diary I am sitting at the dinette. This time we purchased the cushions from 'Elite Furnishings' Tamworth, they are memory foam and so comfy to sit on, not like the foam ones we had on the last boat which were like sitting on the pavement!

26th October 2015. Darren popped in to give the water problem one last go but was unable to to crack it, but has promised to go Barby next week to sort it and the other jobs out once and for all.
We backed up and turned in the basin in a very tight space to make our exit, alot of people would not have been able to do the maneuver, and then we were off to enjoy our cruise to Barby. Again mild for the time of year, we even enjoyed a little sunshine. We haven't seen many boats about today; moored up at the bottom of the Atherstone lock flight for the night, stoked the fire and retired for the evening. The boat is much warmer now as the core is warming up, so last night I was a little too warm but thats better than being cold, so I am not complaining.

25th October 2015. Dry and mild for the time of year for our last trip to Tamworth. Troy kindly offered to run us up, so with a laden car the three of us set off . Darren texted us for a time of arrival, as he and Gail, the girlfriend, were doing some last minuet jobs and cleaning up.
On arrival Gail was leaving the boat with a selection of cleaning equipment and said it was now cleaner than her house. Once aboard we were informed by Darren there was a problem with the water and there was probably a leak. He had isolated the radiators as he thinks that is where the problem is, so that we could leave Glascote and head for our winter mooring at Barby. There was also no gas certificate, again he has arranged for this to be done at Barby while he sorts out the water issue. There are a few other minor jobs to be done but on the whole the boat is nearly finished. As Darren has taken out a lease on the workshop at Glascote, I am sure he will be as glad to see the back of us so he can crack on with his next job, as we will be to say goodbye and thank you to him!.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning (Gails standards are not mine) and housing some of the stuff that will live on the boat, but had to leave alot of stuff packed as it would be in Darrens way when he is sorting the water leak. A crate was overlooked and got left at home so we have no crockery, glasses or pots and pans, so off to the Co-Op for paper plates to tide us over. I will be making much use of the micro wave on this trip, silly me!

We had the stove going but as the boat had never been heated the core was cold and so were we. I am always hot but not this time, I had two quilts on my bed and was just right, normally I would have boiled..

We had 'memory foam' mattresses made but only 7 inches thick instead of the 10 inches of the last boat, so I was a little worried they wouldn't be as comfortable. I am able to report that they are equally as comfortable and a lot less expensive, they also leave more space for us to fit under the gunwales which also adds to the comfort, they also come with covers that keep you cool, as sleeping on foam can be very sweaty, so all in all a good choice.

I hung the curtains which look fabulous, plain but classy, thank you Cheryl, my bestest friend , for making them up for us.

Thursday. As Darren had said the boat would be ready for collection on the following Sunday, we took a load of supplies as we knew we could not fit everything into one trip. The traveling time from our home to the boat is 1 3/4 hours, so to pop back and forth is not an option. However, we were now told it wouldn't be ready until the following Tuesday. On the Wednesday I texted that we would be there on Thursday, the reply was, still not ready, next Sunday. I replied that we WOULD be picking it up on Sunday.

22nd September 2015. Darren informed us that all the flooring, carpets and tiles are being started today. The carpet company is also doing the tiling.

17th September 2015. Sunny and bright start to the day which always makes traveling more pleasant. Darren had asked us to arrive earlier than usual as he was not at work due to an appointment elsewhere and needed to be away by lunch time. Cupboard doors had appeared but not hung, but lots of the small, time consuming jobs had been completed and the fire place and fire were finished. The porthole windows and Houdini hatches had the surrounds fitted and now look very smart. Darren is having trouble with the electrics as they keep tripping, so he has to find out what has happened and put it right, but other than that the fit out should be another three weeks; 'bring it on'!

Since we arrived at the basin on 30th July, it has at last suddenly started to fill up, so now we have a neighbors, an elderly couple who live in Spain all winter and boat here all summer. Their boat was built here by Hudsons and has always been moored here until Hudsons untimely death, when all moorers were told to leave as CART needed vacant possession to re-sell the lease. I expect the new owners were more than happy to have them back, empty spaces do not earn money and they will need alot of money to bring the place back to life.

27th August 2015. The weather forecast was grim but it turned out to be a very pleasant day with lots of sunshine. Not as much headway had been made with the build as we had hoped, however, what had been achieved was to a fabulous standard as always, the main reason that we are back with Darren.

The cupboards now have shelves, there are heated towel rail rads in the loo and bathroom, the shower cubicle is fitted and the fireplace plinth has been built and is now being tiled. The regulations for the stove placement have changed since the last boat, now, there has to be fireproof boarding on the walls before it is tiled, or a gap around the stove of 150mm all round with 225mm at the front (in case hot coals fall out). Although this doesn't sound like a problem it was for us, we like to have the stove situated on the angle making it aesthetically pleasing, but this would not be possible. After much shifting about of the stove we agreed it would have to face down the boat to make it truly comply as we don't want it failing a safety test when we sell.

Darren informed us the dinette cushions were ready to be picked up, as it wasn't far we set off to Elite Furnishings. I had got it into my head that I had made a bad decision on the choice of fabric, remembering it to be a bit dark and grannyfied, however, on arrival I was pleasantly surprised at how nice they looked, I was wrong on all counts...thankfully! Apparently I was the second person that week to say the same, thats the trouble when making choices so far in the future. We have memory foam this time as we do like our comfort. So well wrapped we dropped the cushions back to the boat with strict instructions not to unwrap until the very end of the build.
Dave and Darren talked over a few more details to make sure he gets all the jobs left, 'right first time'.

13th August 2015. The weather forecast was awful, rain, rain and more rain, were we lucky or just managed to dodge it but we only saw a few spots as we hit Bedford on the return journey.

Although still slowly, the boat is becoming another "Darren Aldridge" master piece. The toilet is in, the shower is nearly finished, the tiles look good, but then I would say that. The radiators are in situ, the sink and basin fitted, along with the taps. The microwave looks much smarter being 'built in', lots of other jobs have been done but too many to list; lets just say it's shaping up nicely.

Darren asked me awhile ago if I wanted towel rails, I said no as I thought he meant just a rail, well it turns out he meant ladder radiator towel rails, so when I queried where they were, he informed me I had said I didn't want them. Well I do...so he will now fit them, apparently it is no big deal, but I felt awful!

We then got into our car and followed Darren to his mates carpet warehouse. We chose carpet and underlay and also agreed that the fitter would lay the kitchen and bathroom flooring, another job done.

30th July 2015. Sunny and warm for our two hour trip to Tamworth and Glascote Basin. The boat looked very smart at her mooring in the sunshine. Unfortunately the mooring rope had rubbed the paint on the roof, repairable but annoying.
Darren had been busy, the woodwork looks fantastic after three coats of varnish, even better than the last two boats. Most of the lights were in place, the houdini hatches had been lined and everything is shaping up for another beautiful interior.

We took the floor tiles and shower panel and ran through how we want the bathroom tiles and the placement of the water, battery management and other guages. Darren had alot of the other woodwork that will be required at home, where he had made the parts in readiness, he will make the doors over the next few weeks..

9th July 2015. Warm sunshine thank goodness. AJ Canopies came to us at 10am today to fit the cratch cover, Fraser the owner made a lovely job.
We met a couple at the water point, NB Eeyore, from Sharpness, you know, when you meet people that you really like, well I liked them. We looked over each others boats, she could see how nice ours will be when finished and hers was cosy and comfy and much better than she had lead me to believe.
She was also very good at painting roses, a pity they live so far away or I would have set her to doing bits for my shop.

We were on our way by 1.30, waving to Darrens mum and dad who live by the canal at Polsworth as we passed. We arrived at Glascote about 4ish. It was the home of Hudson Boat Builders until he died. The lease was recently up for tender. We were shocked at how run down it was, a lot of money needs investing there. This is the new home of the Iron Butterfly until she is finished.

Jody picked us and all our stuff up for the long journey home, again the M1 traffic was horrendous, with roadworks and pratts for most of the journey.

8th July 2015. What a difference a day makes; cold and windy with showers. Dave got cold and I was only just warm enough. We had washed, dressed and had breakfast and were on the way by 7.30am. Only the stop lock at Sutton Stop today, so we got a wriggle on, arriving at the next stop for the night, Grendon.
Darrens dad came to pick up a set of boat keys to give to Darren when he returns from his week in Wales.
As there were no facilities in the village, we ate rolls that I had brought with us. Again an early bed time, but I did sleep better, even though my pressure points are soar.

7th July 2015. Our daughter Jody picked us up along with all our needs for the next three day,s to take us to Calcutt to see the boat launched, however, when we arrived it had all happened and she was tied up in the marina waiting for us. As this is our third boat it didn't matter, infact it cut out the stressful bit!
Our boating friends, Stewart and Jenny arrived to see the boat and us off . We loaded the boat with our needs fairly swiftly as we wanted to get on as I want to be home on Thursday as I have to arrange a birthday bash for Dave.

Jody, Stewart and Jenny saw us through the three locks at Calcutt, then we were on our own, it felt so good to be back on the cut, the sun shone and we were happy. I have a really bad toe, so the locks were painful, so we took it in turns, even though Dave has a bad knee; a right pair of duffers arnt we!

We spent the first night at Brownsover, eating our evening meal at the Harvester before retiring early. As we have no facilities, which includes lights, when it turned dusk there was not much else to do. We took sun bed cushions as mattresses, so a little hard.

2nd July 2015. Hot sunshine. We stopped off at Tuckey's to rearrange the lorry and crane hire for the earliest date which is Tuesday 7th July. We then went to Colecraft to see how Darren was getting on. He had made good progress. The boat had been polished which made a lot of difference to its appearance, for the first time I felt proud. The taff rail was varnished, the steps made and the engine was running with a nice neat jobdone by the electrician. The boat was loaded with all the fittings and extras required to finish the job for its removal to a new birth.

The boat will be craned into the water at Calcutt Marina for the journey to Tamworth. Darren has arranged birthing at Glascote Marina, which is very close to his home, so hopefully another month should see her finished; I hope!

We went to the office for our meeting and guess what...no one turned up! We met Domonic Cole and settled our bill with Colecraft, it was nice to know he thought Garry was out of order to get involved, especially before knowing all the facts and that Dave Bishops attitude was reprehensible. As Dave Bishop would not reply to any form of communication, as far as we are concerned, the case is now closed.

We then called into AJ Canopies to make the final payment for the cratch cover, it will be fitted during the week of our journey, when we find a good spot for the fitter to gain access we will phone him to come to us.

Our next stop was our friends at Yelvertoft Marina, where we spent a pleasant afternoon before the stress of the M1 queues on route home.

28th June 2015. Oh, how things change from one week to the next. We decided that Dave Bishop the boat painter was greedy, rude and taking us for mugs, so we made the discission not to pay him for the non use of the dry dock. He went straight to Gary Cole with his account of events to stop the boat being moved until we had paid him. Dave spoke to Gary with our side of the facts but by then the transport had been cancelled.
We e-mailed Dave Bishop with the facts as we saw them, asking him to explain why we had to pay for something we had not used, there was no reply So we set up a meeting at Colecraft with Gary, Dav Be and us to work out a compromise so that the boat would be free to leave the site. This was set for 2rd July.

18th June 2015. Sunny with showers but still warm. The paintwork is now finished, it's OK but nothing special. Darren had been busy fitting the taff rail and getting the inside wood moldings in place. He has instructed an electrician as the set up we have with three alternators is quite complicated. A single alternator charges the starter battery and the twin matching 125amp alternators going through a Sterling split battery charger will charge both the domestic battery bank and bow thruster battery.

We called into Calcutt Marina to make the booking for the crane, whilst there we had ice creams, sitting by the cut to eat them. We then set off for Wilton to look at carpets, again we sat by the locks with ice creams but it was very quiet and we never saw any boat movements.
We stopped at the Heart of England for lunch on route home.

The boat is being craned into the water on the 30th June at Calcutt after a lorry back ride from Colecraft. We are then taking her to Alvecote for Darren to finish the build as this is on his door step and will save a three hour round trip for him. So we will have two or three days of ruffing it aboard before reaching Alvecote.

4th June 2015. Sunny and warm this week. The painter and sign writer were at the boat which was lucky as there were a few things we were not happy with. The red line on the side had dried dull and the non slip surface to the front deck forgotten. Once pointed out the red line was re done and the non slip surface applied.; we then had an argument over payment which had been agreed up front to include all painting and signwritting and the use of the dry dock. We didn't use the dry dock so expected that amount to be deducted, but the painter insisted that we still paid the full amount. We, Darren, Dave and I were furious, but in the end couldn't negotiate, so beware, there are some very greedy people about with no conscience.

The woodwork is nearly finished, so next week it will be rubbed down and varnished. The date for launch has been shelved, so at the moment we are two months behind schedule...when will she be ready?

We called in at Braunston Marina and placed the order for the cratch cover with A.J. Canopies. We then stopped at Weedon for lunch before returning home.

14th May 2015. Another wet day for our visit to Colecraft.We were pleased to see the granite had been delivered and fitted but they are coming back today to finish off the kitchen and bathroom. The roof beams were nearly finished, infact the woodwork has come on well, it needs to, launch is the 18th June. We didn't stay long, just long enough to go over a few things with Darren, then left him to get on.

7th May 2015. Luckily the wind had dropped from yesterday and we had an good trip, arriving at Wharf House Chandlers to choose the paint colours for the signwritting; colours chosen we sat by the lock with ice creams but only one boat on the move, helped through the lock by a volunteer lock keeper.
While we were at the chandlers I looked at the paint choices for cream, I had wanted the 'Off White' not the cream that we have ended up with, if there is a next time I shall make sure I give colour codes. So Dave, the colour code was not the same as last time!

Next stop Colecraft to see the progression of work, which had moved on, so now the window frames are in the table made, theres a top to the corner cupboard and one roof beam was in situ. We didn't see Darren, he was about but not on the boat, so we loaded up with the sink, basin, taps and hob to deliver them to the stone mason so he could make sure all dimensions given for the granite,were the right size. They had already made a start on the granite so we were able to see some of the process involved.

As we headed home we stopped at The Boat House for a late lunch, then Midland Chandlers for mirror screws, they didn't have any, in fact, Dave reckons he has a better selection of screws than they do.

30th April 2015. A sunny with heavy showers. First stop Midland Chandlers to pick up an alternator to battery charger which had been on order for weeks. We then went to Braunston Marina to talk to Dave Bishop, the boat painter but he wasn't there, so about turn and off to Colecraft.

Well what a surprise... Dave Bishop was there and our boat was starting to look fantastic with the last top coats of paint being applied. I upset Dave as the cream was too yellow for my taste but as he pointed out it was the same paint code as the last boat so what did I suggest. What could I say...I appologised and said I would have to live with it, perhaps it would be better in the daylight...heres hoping but not the end of the world!

As the painting has been ongoing for the last 8 days, Darren has been unable to work inside the boat so has made up draws, ceiling light boards etc in the workshop.
We went to load the templates for the granite work tops into the car but the one for the kitchen was to large so we had to cut the end off and mark where it so that the stone masons would know where it went.. We arrived in Leamington Spa, unloaded the templates and chose the granite for the vanity unit which is different from the kitchen this time, we need something to be different!
The Stone Mason asked that we drop off the sink, basin, hob and tops so they can make sure that the sizes are correct as after the cuts are made it's too late to alter them, I don't think they trusted Darren's templates.

From Leomington we headed for Kenilworth as there are a few fabric shops for curtain material; I am struggling to find fabric that 'hits the spot' Six shops later I am still looking!
From here we headed home which took us past the 'Heart of England', Weedon, where we stopped for a late lunch.

16th April 2015. We took the new shower tray which we had managed to swap for the one that was too big and this one fits. We also returned the side hatch doors so they get painted when Dave Bishop applies the undercoats which are being done at Colecraft.

Darren had been busy and most of the hardwood trim had been done, the cupboard door frames had also appeared. He had made the templates for the kitchen work tops but not the bathroom as he's still awaiting delivery of the basin.

We then went to our friends, Jenny and Stewart at Yelvertoft to see how they were after her falling down the stairs and his detached retina operation. They can't drive so were pleased when we said lets go out for lunch to 'The Boat House, Braunston' as we need to visit Midland Chandlers as well. In the car park was a brand new bright yellow Ferrari and who do you think was the owner of this?...sat in the garden with friends was James May (Top Gear). He went for a cruise on their hired narrow boat and as they passed Dave shouted "a bit slow for you isn't it", he received a wave and smile in reply.

9th April 2015. Bright sunshine for todays trip, the M1 was fairly clear and we soon arrived at Colecraft. We had bought a quadrant shower tray but when put into the space, was too big, we now know that the measurements are taken from a different angle to which we thought, so it will be returned for a smaller one.
The woodwork is progressing and is looking mighty good, Darren is plodding on with it as the deadline for painting looms ever closer. He wants it finished so the need for woodworking machinery will be done with, everything else can be do at Braunston after the paint job.

We stopped at Braunston for another chat with Dave Bishop re painting and artwork, as Jenny, who was going to do the doors inside, managed to fall down the stairs and sprain her painting wrist putting her out of action, very inconsiderate! Then onto Midland Chandlers to order a 'Sterling' alternator to battery charger. We then nipped next door to the 'Boat House' for lunch and to watch the boats passing, there were many as the sun had brought them out.

24th March 2015. Busy, busy...set off an hour earlier than usual, the down side being we caught the tail end rush hour, the only major hold up was on the M, a bottle neck at junction 15, caused by the shear number of vehicles, but the sun was out and we were excited, looking forward to the day ahead.

We arrived at Braunston Marina to have a chat about paint with Dave Bishop, I also managed to nip to the book swap before heading off to Wharf House Chandlers where we bought a tin each of the two main boat colours so that we can get the hatch and rear doors prepared for the inside artwork.

Midland Chandlers was our next port of call to meet Darren, who had grown a beard since we last saw him. I asked him," whats with the fungus?", he reckons his girlfriend likes it, my reply, "it makes you look 102 years old and covers up your good looks", I fell about laughing when he replied; "thats probably why she likes it"!!.
Today was the time to buy the fixtures and fittings as there was 28% off, so apart from a few bits we have the majority of the items required.

Next stop Colecraft to see how the boat is progressing and to finalise the nitty gritty for the next part of the build. Although a lot had been done it hadn't progressed as much as we had hoped, that May deadline looks unlikely. Most of the cupboard carcasing was in, the toilet cassette had been boxed in, I wanted this as there was a slight aroma from the last one and as its in the bottom of my wardrobe I didn't want 'eau de toilet' on my clothes!
We had purchased batteries for the battery bank, Dave had managed to get an excellent deal on five 240 AGM gel batteries which will give us more electricity, the down side is they weigh an absolute ton, it took two people to lift each one.

We left Colecraft heading for Leamington Spa and the 'stone maison' to choose the granite for the work tops. Our choice isn't a million miles from the last boat, we are finding our tastes haven't changed and we still like the same things, within seconds of seeing the stone slabs we had both chosen the same one, so why change for the sake of it...we like what we like.

Next port of call was Wilton Marina Chandlers for a chimney collar. After making this purchase, we had an ice cream each and wondered round the boats for sale; it made me feel very lucky that we can have one built to our own specification.

By now we were hungry so we stopped on route at the 'Heart of England', Weedon, , a two for one late lunch.

10th March 2015. Sunny, bright and mild for this weeks visit. We stopped at Midland Chandlers to buy the oven, which was in stock and swiftly loaded into the car. When we arrived at Colecraft, Darren helped us unload the oven, stainless steel sink and all its pipework into the fit out bay.

The beds and cupboards are all taking shape, the dinette is complete and things are progressing well. Dave and Darren went through the measurements and placements for the next faze of the build; for example, due to new regulations we cannot have the stove as we had it on the last boat, so this had to be addressed.

Our next task was the trek to Elite Furnishings of Tamworth, but I rang first to make sure they were open for business. The owner was most apologetic when told of our last visit, I did say a web site message would have been good, he assured me that he had asked for this but the company that sees to his site had failed to act on his request.
I was pleased to see he had a good selection of materials for both upholstery and curtains, mind you, non of it was cheep. We ordered 'memory foam 'dinette cushions' to be covered in...you will have to wait and see! and booked a build slot for curtains but none of his samples 'rocked my boat' so I shall supply my own. It was now 3.45pm so we headed home, hoping to miss the rush hour.

19th February 2015. The weather forecast was correct, it said wall to wall rain all day and that is exactly what we got, which made our journey even more hazardous than usual. however, we arrived safely.

It didn't look as if much progression had been made but as Darren pointed out, a lot had happened, small things, attention to detail, which is what gives his boats the 'wow' factor.

The windows had been framed as had many cupboards, under the gunwhales had been boxed in, the Houdini hatches fitting had started and the bow doors had been lined out.

We took the vacuum cassette and cradle so Darren could get the positioning right as on the last boat it was a little too tight. The microwave was another thing that he wanted to see as he hadn't fitted an integrated one before and needed to see how the fittings worked; it was all simple stuff and he was quite happy that fitting would not be a hard task.

Dave had cut a template for the stove we have chosen and when put on the floor fitted perfectly, it will be an Aarrow Acorn and not a Squirrel as the footprint was to large for the position we wanted it to stand, so the stove platform will fit snuggly in the corner by the step.

We had decided to go onto Elite Furnishings of Tamworth to choose dinette covers, having spoken to them by e-mail as I want memory foam cushions. They also do mattresses and curtains so I was eager to see their offerings. We had our last mattresses made with stay cool covers by a firm in Bedford, they worked well and were very comfy, so I got them to price up for this boat so I had a price to work with.
Now, remember its lashing it down with rain, the stray from other traffic is horrendous, the route is new territory for us, so quite a stressful journey.
On their web site it says, no appointment needed, open 9 to 5. So when we arrived to find it shut, I said they must be at lunch, however, I telephoned to make sure, only to hear a message that made me want to scream and Dave, its unprintable what he said...we are closed until 28th of February, so we had travelled 100 miles for absulutely nothing.
Awarning message on their web site would have been simple but effective...will we go back, thats still under review.

To console ourselves we went to MacDonalds for lunch and then headed home with the rain still lashing down; we were not happy bummies!

6th January 2015. We set off in sunshine, which, from inside the car looked very inviting, but alas, in reality it was blooming freezing. I expect it felt colder to us as we have been somewhere hot and luxurious, which is why there hasn't been an update for a while.

What a pleasant surprise; we now have a dinette, cupboards are appearing in all areas, the bed frames are in situ, the oak ceiling boards are finished but no beams as yet. The boarding out hides all the insulation and wiring so it looks much tidier than it did before we went away.

We went through measurements and positioning of some of the eye level cupboards with Darren as Dave is very fussy and expects things to be 'just so'. The cratch boards are made and await fastening into place.

Our home work is to choose bathroom and floor tiles and fabric for the dinette cushions. We also have a list if items to take next week as Darren needs the measurements to make the housings.

We called in at Midland Chandlers to look at stoves as the one we had chosen, once the footprint had been drawn on the floor, was to big.

We stopped at the Boat House, a 2 for 1, for lunch and then headed home via Braunston Marina where we spoke to Dave Bishop about boat paint colours and time scales. He has booked us a slot at the end of April.

18th December 2014. Cold and windy but mainly dry as we set off for Long Itchington. Joy oh Joy, Darren had really cracked on, the boat was fully lined out, the electrics were pocking out of their appropriate holes and he was fitting the oak ceiling, a time consuming job as its lots of narrow boards which have to be slotted together and fixed to the roof, one at a time.

The engine had been delivered and was securely stored for later fitting. We took with us the two designer radiators for the lounge. Dave wanted the same radiators as last time but I found them to be dust collectors and difficult to clean so I said no, I wanted something different. When Darren opened the box he was surprised, saying they looked modern. I don't know if this was a criticism or complement but I do like to keep 'with it', I might be old but that does not mean I want to be old fashioned as you will know from my multi coloured hair! We left with a spring in our steps, pleased with the progress.

By now we were peckish, so called into Gongoozlers Rest for a bacon and egg sandwich for me and Turkey and cranberry sauce for Dave along with tasty fried potato scallops, yum, yum!
Then on to Jenny and Stewart's for a quick 'catch up' we do enjoy their company, true friends indeed, before heading off to beat the rush hour.

11th December. We had a text from Darren telling us not to bother going today as he had not finished boarding out. Dave was annoyed as this means the schedule is falling behind: does this mean Darren is reverting to his old ways... I sent him a text outlining my thoughts.

4th December. A telephone call from Beta Marine this morning informing us the engine is ready and could they deliver on Monday; we readily agreed.

3rd December. Dave went on his own this time as I had a migraine and also because he wanted to do some work on the hull and I would have got bored. We didn't go last week as Darren was off work with a chest infection.

Lots of drilling holes; through the roof for satellite cables, (Dave remembered to take them this time), the rear baulk head for CCTV camera, that was all, as he couldn't get at the rest for fear of holding Darren up.

The 240 and 12 volt electrical wires are all in place. The ceiling boarding is now going up, we thought this would be very awkward for a man on his own...but Darrens professionalism made it look easy with the use of props.

20th November. Winter is here...it was cold, damp and a little foggy for this trip to Long Itchington. Three quarters of the way there, Dave started huffing, puffing and blaspheming until I inquired what the problem was...he had forgotten the satellite cable and that was half the reason for the trip but as it happened next week will do...luckily!

The spray foam insulation had bee cut back, in line with the battens, the 12 volt wiring was in place and the floor was completed. We went over the placing of light switches and a few additional plug sockets that had been forgotten from the last meeting.
Midland Chandlers have a trade +10% off for December, so Dave offered to get some of the larger items but Darren would rather wait as secure storage is a problem, also he was not convinced he could not do better elsewhere, even with the discount.

We were going to visit Stewart and Jenny while in the area but due to a trauma yesterday they were not available...their car is terminal, so they were busy sourcing a replacement.
So instead we called into Midland Chandlers to look at the new chimney kits as new legislation requires double skinned flues. We thought them ugly and very expensive, Darren said it was a recommendation only but we wanted to be sure so we went to see Dominic and Steve at Rugby Boats.
Although Dominic was aware of the new rule he rang a boat surveyor to ascertain the exact rules and sure enough it is advisory but not obligatory, in fact only the place where it passes through the roof needs to be double skinned anyway, not the whole thing.

We also called into Braunston Marina's 'book swap' to do just that and to get a price from AJ Canopies for a cratch and toneau cover; needless to say, we were shocked at the cost, they are good but not THAT good...we will be looking around for a more pleasing price.

14th November. We set off in torrential rain for our first visit since Darren started to fit out the interior. The boat had been moved into the fit out shed so we could look her over in the dry.
Good progress had been made, the two pack paint and blacking had been applied which helped to make her look much smarter.

The windows and Houdini hatches had been fitted, she had exterior doors and the roof plate for the satellite had been welded into place on the roof.

The interior had been battened and spray foam insulated but Darren still has to cut back the spray foam before he can panel the sides and roof. The bottom of the boat had roofing felt laid before the paving slab ballast was positioned and most of the wooden floor was down.

We went over the positioning of the 240 and 12 volt electrical plug sockets as the first fix electrics are the next stage.

As the satellite will be needed soon we went to 'Road Pro' and purchased a 'Camos' crank up system, the same model as the last boat but with the addition of an extra BNC connector so that we have satellite in the bedroom as well as the lounge.
Then on to Midland Chandlers to look at multi fuel stoves and lights.

After all this excitement we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at 'The Boat House', Braunston, where we enjoyed a very tasty meal. By now it was dark as we made our way home, the M1 was heavily congested as usual but we made it back in one piece.
More news next Thursday.

22nd October. The final visit before the hull is painted. We thought it a good idea to make sure all the steel work had been done to Dave's satisfaction, it turned out to be a good move as the plate for the satellite had been forgotten, the aft fender mountings were in the wrong place and no flag mount on the 'swan neck', other than these items all was good.

Originally Colecraft were going to supply and fit the Beta engine, but on receipt of the figures, which Dave thought 'greedy', he has decided to order it himself and leave it to Darren's contact to fit it, as he had done the other two boats, we thought it the way to go.

16th October. The cabin is now on and being welded into place. Luke Cole discussed with Dave where he wanted the water filling points, the finish of the arrow heads on the rubbing strakes and the position of the cycle rack mounts. We were told that Colecraft now do a double skin to the fore and aft areas where the bulkheads are secured so that there is no weld or warping marks to the outside, but on inspection of another boat Dave decided he didn't like the look of it, so we will not be having this done..
We were surprised to see air vents to the engine compartment, as the last two boats didn't have any, but although a good idea, we hope it will not let too much noise out as we pride ourselves on the quietness of our boats.

8th October. We visited Colecraft to see the progress of the shell build and to confirm the finer details as Dave is very particular. Dave, Darren and Gary spent 2 1/2 hours getting the drawing and measurements correct and to iron out any last minute changes, as once the holes are cut for windows, doors and Houdini hatches it will be to late to change anything.
The hull has progressed well up to the gunwhales.

28th September. Colecraft started the shell fabrication, it should take about four weeks.

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