Category Archives: Family History

Shiny Boat Central. Day 6

Paddington Basin

A cuppa in bed, then a shower and we were ready for the day. Bang on time another familiar face walked under the footbridge into the basin. My college friend Kathy coming for breakfast on her way to work.

Kathy and me through the hatch

Kathy has worked her way around the drama colleges of London through the last few years and now is head of Production Design at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, possibly the highest thought of design college in the country. Kathy was the first person I met when I moved to Croydon for college and our first day in the student house together we just didn’t stop talking. We don’t get many opportunities for a catch up nowadays, so it was great that we’d managed to find a couple of hours today.


We headed over to Kupp for breakfast, Kathy must have know where we’d be going as she matched the decor perfectly. Mick and I opted for poached eggs with bacon and hollandaise sauce, whilst Kathy had wild mushrooms spinach and a poached egg. It was all very tasty, my only criticism was that just because my gluten free bread was smaller than Mick’s sourdough slice shouldn’t mean that I got less sauce than him!

A touch more hollandaise would have been nice

We talked about friends, family, theatre and boats. During the week Kathy lives on board Dora May on the Thames, her mooring just down stream from Tower Bridge, a fantastic view from their wheel house. All too soon it was time for her to head to work. Hopefully she may come out and join us for a day when we’re on the Thames, but we’ll see, she’s a busy lady.

Some shopping was needed, so Mick headed off again into central London this time in hunt of some new clothes for himself and a stock up of tea for me from Whittards. I in the mean time did my best to finish scanning my Dad’s second diary. Not as many pages as the first one, but this one has the account of his journey by ship to India.

A sketch of India

I was determined to get the diary scanned today, the only thing distracting me was the GoBoats. Several of them had been hired out to teams all in matching fancy dress. Dalmations, Rabbits in hats, Blackbirds, Elfs. Each one set off from the next pontoon and just about all of them managed to collide with us. We may now have access both bow and stern but it does mean we are the first and most likely boat to get hit. No wonder the boats have had more and more padding added to them from when we first saw them.


A new boat arrived for the pontoon, having to hold back under the footbridge as there was no space. Who was overstaying? Yesterday a not so shiny boat had pulled in and the chap carried his bike along the gunnel and disappeared, he was an obvious choice, but being shiny isn’t a prerequisite for mooring here, anyone who books and pays can.

There followed a bit of complex boat moving. The central boat moved out, the one on the inside then pulled out and moored on the Hospital side (they were the ones), before the boat from the outside moved into the inside, the central boat moved back into position followed by the new boat onto the outside of the pontoon. Everyone was happy now.

Mick returned with a stash of my tea, showered and put a new polo shirt, far less creased than normal but with tell tale signs of it being new. I still had 20 pages left to scan, we decided to be slightly late to our next engagement so that I could finish.

Ziggy keeping an eye on us all

Across London to Homerton, here I’d spied a stockists for Charlie and Ivy oils and bread dippers. One of these I use on lamb and veg kebabs and I’m having to cobble together my own version, which isn’t quite the same, the lack of juniper lets my version down. We hunted the shelves of Eat 17, but nothing from the range was to be found.

At my brothers they have been joined by Jac’s Mum over from Australia for six weeks. Not bad doing that journey in her mid 80’s. Helen is as inquisitive as her daughter, just with a Scottish accent. We were asked endlessly about life on the boat, my favourite question being ‘What do you eat?’


A lovely evening with them as ever and Andrew cooked a wonderful paella on the barbecue, packed with fish chicken and prawns.

Lemon Tart

Helen had made a lemon tart, the crust having been made with corn flour for me, very tasty it was. A good evening to mark our last in London.

Helen, Mick, Pip, Jac, Andrew, Josh behind the camera

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 tubes, 2 buses, 1 overground, 1 best friend with a beaming smile, 5 poached eggs, 2 hours to catch up, 157 pages scanned, 0 juniper balsamic dipper, 1 huge paella, 1 slightly nutty Scottish Australian, 2 diaries handed over, 1 slow journey home, 1 fruit cake of a cat, it’s time for Tilly to have some shore leave.

Shiny Boat Central. Day 5

Paddington Basin

We caught the tube out to Kew Garden this morning. A day outdoors meant having to apply sun cream, which we did as we waited for Marion (another of Mick’s sisters) and John to arrive from the south coast. They were given a years membership to Kew Gardens at Christmas and can take a friend in for free.


I’ve only been once before with Mick’s Mum some years ago when we sought the warmth of the houses. Today instead we sought some shade whilst looking around.

The Hive
from inside

First we headed to The Hive. This is an installation designed by Wolfgang Buttress. It highlights the importance of pollination in our food chain, a third of the worlds crop yield is dependant in some way to bees. It is illuminated by almost a thousand LED lights which because it is linked to one of Kews honey bee hives vibrate in time with the bees in the hive. Digitised sounds also emanate from the structure linked to the bees. The more active the real hive, the more active the giant hive is. Sadly we couldn’t climb into the structure today as it was closed for maintenance.


We walked round to the other side to gain a different perspective on it and found a vacant picnic bench which we moved into the shade for our lunch. A very nice courgette frittata and humous crunchy salad, followed by cherries from Marion and John’s tree and a very tasty apricot and oat cake (which I must get the recipe for please). We provided a bottle of wine to help wash everything down.

Around the gardens are glass sculptures by Chihuly : Reflections on Nature. Most of the pieces we saw were red orange and yellow, fiery burning out from flower beds, chrysalid like forms, large feather dusters towering up to the sky.

Icy spikes

One nearer the main entrance was bright blue, a giant ice bauble made from spikes of glass.

We walked along paths by trees that have seen and watched many visitors. Down rhododendron paths, sadly all the flowers long gone. We dashed past sprinklers getting a refreshing spray. Bamboo walks reminding me of the secret passageway as a child between an ornate garden wall and the tall canes where you could hide from Mum and Dad.

A newish bridge across the lake was a bit of a surprise to Mick, it not having been there in his childhood when he and his sisters were brought to the gardens by his Dad, most probably to give his Mum an hour or two of peace and quiet.

Planes a constant reminder

A lovely afternoon amongst nature, art and family, ducking the shadows of planes from Heathrow.

Mick, Marion and John

They came home smelling of trees! Exciting exotic trees. How dare they go climbing trees without me showing them how! I’d been left on board on my own again, looking up at the big climbing frame that I’m not allowed into. She had requested that I carry on scanning a book, doesn’t She know that turning pages without an opposing thumb is impossible! I’d have had to use my teeth to do that and I knew that wouldn’t have gone down too well.

What do you mean not yet! I’m on the Ding Ding shelf!

This morning I’d been told that we were expecting a visitor this afternoon and that she was coming to meet me. I was going to meet the lady who sends me Christmas mice and Dreamies, my Number 1 fan! This got me quite excited and I couldn’t quite contain myself so had to dispose of a very big fur ball all over shorts that She’d left on the bed. I felt much better afterwards.


Joa Number 1 arrived around about Ding Ding time, which did mean that I wasn’t having a post food snooze. Joa smelt of cats and had a big bag which smelt quite interesting. Being shy for a while paid off as I was offered some of my favourite things, Webstix. If you haven’t tried one you really don’t know what you’ve missed! They are just so good. So much better than Dreamies. Then I let Joa give me some. Joa is very nice and had this great bag full of things just for me! Although a book had sneaked in there too which had instructions on how to make felty cat things from my fur! Well I haven’t quite finished with my fur yet! She can practice with the fur ball I left for her earlier today.

I’ll have the whole pack please

It was very nice meeting Joa Number 1. She has told me that I have to thank you for my treats and the mouse. The mouse got killed several times this evening after my Ding Ding. She says I have enough treats now to last me till next year.


Because I hadn’t even started on the scanning, She spent all evening using her thumbs and getting it done. Tom cooked them a nice M&S sad gits curry which they had in between pages.

Die mouse Die!

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 tubes, 3rd sister-out-law, 2nd free visit to Kew, 1 yummy lunch, 18 very nice cherrys, 1 recipe required, 1 clean pair of shorts in the wash, No 1 fan, 2 many treats for such a little cat, 1 sad git curry, 1st diary completed.

How to arrange your kit ready for inspection

Shiny Boat Central. Day 4

Paddington Basin

There were movements outside early this morning. The boat next to us had dropped it’s pram cover by 6:30. They were being considerate keeping the noise to a minimum, eventually pulling away at 7am. They were soon followed by two more boats, including the one in front of us. Once we were up Mick pulled us forward all of 60 ft. This end of the pontoon is longer, so we can now use front and back doors, better for visitors.

No work today, just some scanning of my Dad’s diary before we headed out. The memory card in my camera has been playing up a little recently so Mick formatted another card. But the camera didn’t like it as I tried to take photos of the female Tufted Duck with her 9 ducklings that she proudly displays around the basin. So a quick trip back to the boat to sort it and we were on our way again.

Going up

This delay was quite fortuitous, as we walked towards the end of the basin our route across to the bus stop was blocked. Blocked by the very bridge we’d intended crossing.


Several times a week the Fan bridge is opened to show it off. It does this very well. Made of five fingers, it pivots it’s digits up into the air until all the counter weighted ends lie level on the ground, this produces a fan above the water.

The buildings got in the way of a good photo

We paused to watch it reach it’s highest point. I felt sorry for the chap who had his finger on the button, knowing how much your finger joints start to ache after a while lifting or swinging a bridge. At least he didn’t have the added pressure of traffic being held up and if the bridge broke whilst up fully it would only slightly inconvenience some pedestrians.

The Number 27 bus runs up to Camden where we alighted and walked our way through several streets, the hubhub of Camden soon falling silent on the calmer side streets.


Christine (Mick’s eldest sister) and Paul have a lovely house in Kentish Town where tall hollyhocks grow around trees in the street. We had a lovely few hours catching up with them over a very nice lunch of salad, bread and cheese. The cheese was very tasty, a Caerphilly, a goat, then something blue which was tasty but the best one which was slightly creamy, sadly I can’t remember the name of it.

Cheesy treats
Sweet treats

These were followed by some Lebanese cannoli, based on Sicilian cannoli but with an almost almond brittle brandy snap outer. The insides were reminiscent to Halvah just not as crystalish. These were very tasty indeed.

The London Transport lady on the buses doesn’t know how to say Hammersmith Grove, she falls silent instead after announcing the number of the bus. Maybe that bit just hasn’t been recorded yet.

Back at the boat we gave Tilly some fusses, two more boats had arrived, leaving one available space. Soon I spotted a familiar face walking towards us, one of my best friends from school in York. Big hugs all round and then we were straight onto the wine.

School mates

Morag has recently started a new job helping to smooth existing arrangements world wide which have been and will be affected by Brexit. Her daughter today became a barrister and her son now 17 works hard at school and hopefully has stopped growing having now reached 6ft 1.

We caught up on each others news and then passed on that of other school friends. Later in the summer there is hopefully going to be a get together of our A level Geography group. I had a few leads to pass on of other members of the group. Mick did well listening to tales of Tim going for ‘Gold’, Jason’s wild card to Wimbledon and many others he’s never met.

A lovely evening which we finished off with a visit to Pizza Express.

0 locks, 60ft, 3 boats gone, 2 new boats, 13 pages scanned, 1 fanning bridge, 2 buses, 4 treat cheese, 1 sister-out-law, 1 best friend, 6 hours of catching up, 1 allusive school friend found, 1 too many glasses of wine.

Shiny Boat Central. Day 3

Paddington Basin

Another work day for me today. I put my model together and worked my way through the scenes. The colours I’ve used work well with just about every scene, I may just change the shade of pink I’ve used in the kitchen scene. Second coats could go on to everything and by the evening it was looking pretty good, it now looks like panto. Still a few days work left to do before I can hand it over.

A sneaky peek of Panto

Mick headed off to find a hardware shop. The washer on the cap for the water intake has expanded, making it hard to put it back on. So he returned with two to try and a set of new bits for a screw driver. In the set is a square headed one, which we’re hoping will mean we can now take off the back of the freezer drawer.

Mick’s personal ferry

Then he headed off to make use of his 60+ oyster again. Today he headed first to Canada Water via the tube and southwards on the overground via Clapham Junction. Then on to Greenwich. Here he considered climbing up to the top of the Dome, but at £30 he felt that was a bit steep and the view wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as that from the Harbour bridge in Sydney.

Thank you

So instead he spent £2 and caught the ferry Predator 2 across the Thames to Trinity Buoy Wharf. This only took around five minutes, but he had the boat to himself. He’d remembered about the ferry from when we came to visit my friend Kathy a couple of years ago in one of the galleries at the wharf.

Greenwich and a big boat
Greenwich and a fast boat

Next was a bus to Canary Wharf, then DLR to Island Gardens where he watched big boats go past on the Thames, before returning back to Oleanna.

A busy day all round, except for Tilly. She has taken to sleeping until around 2:30pm, then she has a period of shouting at the back door before giving up and having to visit her box in the bathroom. A quick check at what I’ve been doing all day, by sticking her head right into my model box. Luckily she approves.

Excerpt from 9th September 1943

This evening I have started to scan my Dad’s diaries from the mid 1940’s. I only have two (I suspect that’s all he wrote) which cover his life from the age of 18 in York, then onto when he joined the army and training camps. The last few entries cover his journey across the seas to India where he rebuilt bridges around Hyderabad after the end of WW2. I’m wanting to try and collate his diaries, with letters, photos and his drawings at some point. Passing them on to Andrew to read has spurred me into action.

My Dad (central) at the age of 19
140th RE (Field) OCTU 175 Class April 1944

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 tubes, 2 overground trains, 1 ferry, 1 bus, 2 DLR, 1 back room den, 3 portals, 1 floor, 1 backdrop completed, 52 pages scanned, 1 cat saving up all her shore leave to have in one big go.

Shiny Boat Central. Day 1

Paddington Basin

My favourite bear in blue flock

One boat pulled out from the pontoon at 8am this morning, the boat next to them pulled across so as to reduce the amount of footfall directly outside their window. The first GoBoat filled with Japanese tourists went past at just gone 9am, no popping of presecco corks on that boat. The world was waking up around us.

A bit more rain overnight

The yellow water tank needed sorting and thanks to Tilly the boat floor really needed a wash this morning! We had a good tidy up and then Mick headed back to Little Venice on a bike with recycling and the yellow water for disposal. The custodian of the bins was still on duty. With fewer feet about the place I gave Oleanna’s cabin floor a good wash down.

The forecast had been for lower temperatures today, but it still seemed quite warm. To make sure we didn’t get hypothermia I popped the oven on for a couple of hours to roast a couple of small chickens.


Kath and Sean arrived for Sunday lunch. We haven’t seen Sean for some time, he’s been working when we’ve arranged a meet up. Today, as the weather this last week has been so good, he had a day off. He is a sound engineer and has been working at Wimbledon, no rain meant no play today so he had a day off.

Sean Kath and Mick about to dive in

We had a lovely afternoon with them, chatting and eating. The handy M&S next door meant that we could have some ice cream with our strawberries and raspberries despite not having a working freezer at the moment.

A Pride green wall garden

After filling our bellies we had a walk up to Little Venice before returning to the boat. Kath and Sean had come by car so that they could pick up a couple of boxes of Geraghty history we’d brought back from the house. They had been fortunate as the nearest parking space to our mooring had been available and free on Sundays, so there wasn’t far to stagger with the boxes.

Mid afternoon our nearest neighbour pulled out, Motor Boat Willow. For two years they worked at Bollington Wharf on the Macclesfield but when they had a baby earlier this year they decided to head south. Tilly now has a better view out of the windows, but there is no longer Thea the cat to stare at.

Bye Bye Willow

The title of todays blog? Several boats have come down into the basin today, most of them local boats looking for their next mooring. One such boat spotted the two free spaces on the pontoon and was starting to reverse back into one of them, he then saw the sign. As he moved his boat away he said to Mick ‘Shiny Boat Central!’ Followed by how nice it was to see such boats in Paddington. Just before dark another boat arrived and pulled in to an available space,they looked shiny too!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 boats gone, 1 boat arrived, 2 chickens, 2 visitors, 2 boxes removed, 0 toe stubbings now, 4 lovely hours, 1 sunny day, 1 bored cat.

A smilier version

Missing Cat. 1st July

Cassiobury Park

I don’t know what they were on about, I’m not missing anything! Everything is here right next to my boat along with me and I’m making the most of it.

I’m not missing!

My feline charms worked wonders this morning. I persuaded them that they needed another day off from moving the outside. She said that if She had a good day today, then until She got her box back She’d have run out of things to do for Puss In Boots. The big slidey board came out and I was told my assistance wasn’t required today.

Title block

Tom got the black box that spits things out out. Instead of feeding it today he showed it things, lots of yellow paper. He didn’t look like he needed my assistance either so I was redundant from boat duties, so made the most of this outside even more.

Outside was quieter today, no music, which meant I could hear friends in the friendly cover easier. Trees needed climbing and from up high I could watch the occasional boat coming past. One was called NB Wand’ring Bark. Now is that the sort of Woofer Bark or Tree Bark I wonder, the latter would be best.

Wandering Bark and The Jam Butty

Then there was this family who came past. The children took quite a bit of interest in me, ‘Look Mum, it’s the missing cat!’ ‘Do you think so’ ‘Yes’. As I said earlier I’m not missing anything! They watched me and then started to follow me, making it hard for me to get back to Oleanna.

Horus. Hope he’s being very busy

She came out and asked about the cat they’d seen, did it have a white tip to it’s tale? Of course I did! She said sorry but that I wasn’t the missing cat. That cat has a lot more white and only one eye and looks nothing like me at all. The children were a bit disappointed but I was then able to carry on with my business undisturbed.

Tom had to go and get them some ding ding as they’d run out of fresh supplies. I offered to catch them some and even suggested they try the Shrimp and Plaice ding ding that I don’t like, but they weren’t too keen on either. Tom doesn’t like things that eat pooh. She calls them crustaceans which makes them sound rather nice and crunchy, but believe me they are not and are really rather yucky!

A boat came along, She popped her head out and suggested they tied up the outside in front of us, it is deeper there. I didn’t think it was trying to get away, but another boat holding it would be better.

0 locks, 0 miles, 9 hours, 1 afternoon kip, 36 trees, 5 friends, 23 showings, 10 sheets, 1st letter opened, 0 left for She to do, 0 other cats, 0 missing cats, only 1 cat, me!

PS She says hello to the people who thought they’d still been following us, but then everything stopped. Tom and She think people were still getting the blog from the old blog, somehow! Tom turned something off the other day which meant the old blog couldn’t be nosy anymore. We are all glad that you’ve found us again, although it looks like Ali hasn’t and She doesn’t want to get told off when She next sees her. Thank you Aileen you helped us sort it. She will write to you about Houdini’s’ transition to life on board, She thinks I’d give a very biased view that wouldn’t be helpful.

Temperatures Rising. 29th June

Cassiobury Park

Not too warm when we woke this morning, we were in shade from the park trees. However we knew it wouldn’t last.

By 11am the sun was starting to hit the bow of the boat, then crept its way along the roof and cabin side for the next three or four hours before the shade caught back up with it. Mick took the opportunity of the cooler hours to head off into Watford for a newspaper and a loaf of bread for me. The thought of baking a loaf with 30 degree temperatures just wasn’t appealing. So we enjoyed a poached egg and mushrooms on toast for a late breakfast. Sorry Ade and Aileen but I finished it too quickly!

All gone

Most cats in high temperatures tend to stretch out on a cool surface and spend hours doing very very little. Quite wise really.

Tilly however only stopped for two short breaks all day! The doors opened before 9am and were finally shut after 8pm. When I say open, you’d think we had a nice breeze through the boat, well except once Tilly is out the doors get closed to stop her from returning with friends. But with the side hatch facing the canal that could stay open, we also removed one of our windows and risked opening the off side cratch and left the front door open. None of this created a breeze but luckily our crew numbers didn’t increase.

Mick in the shade of the trees

Most of the day was spent reading. I had a script to read, very good it was too. Mick pulled out a file from one of the boxes we’d brought back from Scarborough. Information sent by a relative in Australia about his family. This confirmed what we already knew about Phillip Chignell being born in Leighton Buzzard on Lake Street, but sadly gave him no more information. He has a lot of scanning to do before he hands over the boxes to Kath, his sister, for safe keeping and her research.

New with the old

I’d wanted to do some technical drawings today, but sweaty hands and tracing paper don’t go together. So I remade my portals to new dimensions that they will be built to. Using stock scenery as a base, we’ll be building the curved sections. To make them strong enough, they can’t just be screwed onto the existing flats, especially the bits that meet the floor, so I have extended them. This also gave me chance to have a go at simplifying the painted design on them. In the process I realised I’d missed a trick, so that was well worth doing in the 28 plus heat.

HOT at 15:36

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 hot boaters, 1 very VERY busy cat, 1909 Newport, 1872 Leighton Buzzard, 2 poached eggs, 1 newspaper, 1 loaf bread, 5 moving boats, 1 noisy park, 34.7 in the pram, 28.7 inside.