Monday, 9 January 2017

Calcutt (land of the bearded tit)



We had a nice quiet weekend indoors on the boat as my chest was still heavy; I ventured out for one walk round the reservoir and Karen walked Buddy on her own over the rest of the weekend.

Allowed out for 20 minutes


Whilst walking round the reservoir we met a birder who was clearly a keen photographer judging by his equipment.  I knew bearded tits are regularly seen at the reservoir but have never seen one myself.  The birder hadn’t seen one either – it’s funny but if a birder hasn’t seen one then they are sceptical about the reports.  A local birder writes a good (and seemingly well respected) blog and his pictures of bearded tits in December are clearly taken at the reservoir.  I mention the bearded tits because they are one of our rarer breeding birds and therefore nowhere near as common as the tits we see every day like great, blue, coal and long tailed tits, and it's good to know we are moored near a good site for them.

Bearded tit (more like a moustache).  © Steven Round Bird Photography 2003-2017


Sunday was a lot milder than of late and we didn’t really need a fire during the day but the plan had been to slow cook a pork shoulder on the stove so we could have pulled pork in the evening.  I have only found one brand of anthracite coal that burns really hotly in our new stove so we only buy that brand but we still have a couple of bags of the other brands we have tried.  As they don’t burn so hotly it was ideal to use some of it up for the pulled pork without getting the boat too hot.  Even so, we had the windows and doors open most of the day.

Looking out of the window this morning (Monday) confirmed that the forecast for heavy rain for a few days looks correct so I’ll stay in again and get on with some odd jobs.  As it’s January it means I’ll also have to get our income tax assessments completed.



Talking about coal reminds me that I haven’t really finished explaining about the costs involved in living on a narrowboat.  I haven’t covered the hidden costs like tax and insurance so here is a summary:
  • Annual licence.  Varies by length and we paid £861 for this year.  This allows us to travel on the 2,000+ miles of waterways controlled by the Canal & River Trust.  Some rivers, like the Thames, are controlled by other cocerns such as the Environment Agency and they charge a licence fee to use their waters.  You can get a combined fee covering CRT and EA waters and we did this once a few years ago but found the additional cost didn’t warrant the few days we spent on the Thames that year. 
  • Boat Safety Scheme certificate.  This is a bit like a car MoT.  As we have a new boat we don’t need a BSS certificate until it is four years old and then a new one is required every four years.
  • Insurance. As with a car the boat needs to be insured in order to obtain a licence. Insurance is similar to cars in that you can have third party or fully comprehensive.  It does tend to be cheaper – we pay about £260 a year.
  • Breakdown cover.  Emergency call out is offered by companies in the same way as the RAC and AA.  Some people berate these companies but we used them three times on the old boat and were pleased we had cover when we broke down and found the engineers knowledgeable and helpful.  The cost can vary depending on the type of cover but we pay about £150 a year.
  • Servicing.   Again, like a car, engine and general maintenance has to be carried out.  I do this myself so just have the costs like oil, filters, fan belts etc.
  • Maintenance.  Every two or three years the boat needs to come out of the water to have the hull cleaned down and re-blacked.  This is also a good time to replace anodes if they have worn out.  As we are continuous cruisers they tend not to wear down too quickly as we do not hook up to shore power.

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