Life

Balti Express and other Imaginary Boats

boat-stories

People get funny ideas when it comes to naming boats. After all, our boat is called Monstronauticus and it’s virtually the only name that my wife and I could agree on. But the phenomenon can be explained by good old British bureaucracy…

Read more →

Going in

boat-stories

Experts agree: the best way to learn something in depth is immersion. Whether you’re trying to pick up a new language or learn a new skill like boating: in at the deep end, you’ll be the wiser for it…

Read more →

What's that sound?

boat-stories

I spent the first week aboard my floating home-to-be surrounded by the sounds of nature trampled underfoot by the chugging of the diesel engine, the wail of tungsten carbide disc on steel, underscored by a whirring petrol generator. Though nature is famously noisy, that week definitely represented the triumph of the industry over environment…

Read more →

Hoisting the flag

boat-stories

Whatever happened to that Lister LR2 engine that valiantly got us from Staffordshire to Oxford on only one cylinder? That was hoisted out and replaced with a model with only marginally higher horsepower?

Read more →

Listers never break

boat-stories

After much searching, I found the boat that I wished to call home. Dawn, for it was she, was moored in Staffordshire. My father and I both booked precious time off work and, after testing the suspension and kicking the tyres, we set off for the week-long journey. Destination: Oxford.

Read more →

Eight Boat Stories

boat-stories

November, fast unfolding as I speak, marks eight years since I stepped onto a boat and called it home. Boat-buying typically starts in summer, when all is bright, exciting and verdant (if you’re lucky). Like house-buying, it can take ages. There’s an array of things to fix: Surveys, licenses, insurance and, in my case, an engine. I’m not the first to move in just as a brutal winter descends.

Read more →

Remembering Barbara Newman

Barbara Helen Newman was my grandmother. She died aged 99. I would like to write a few things down to celebrate her life, keep her stories going and tell you a bit about her. Of course her personality and presence is what really counts, but I’m not sure I have the ability to adequately distill a description of her character out of the day-to-day interactions I had with her. Her quips and word-play were quick off the tongue but just as ephemeral.

Read more →

A year squeezed between summers: 2018 retrospective

altmetrics parenting annual

They say the skies are bigger Up North. I’ve recently witnessed this natural phenomenon first-hand. It’s true. The best theory I have so far is that the sky expands, inching out and pressing down toward the horizon. Meeting abrupt and solid bedrock, it flexes and springs up, vault-like, forming a dome. As any structural engineer will tell you, this paraboloid is capable of supporting and holding back crushing weights. The arch transfers the load deep into its footing, pushing downward and outward.

Read more →

How's the baby?

parenting

People ask me ‘how’s the boat?’. There are two easy answers to that, neither of them particularly satisfactory. The long answer involves sacrificial anodes and hinges, topcoats and oil changes, weeds and invasive species…

Read more →