Monday, 22 October 2018

A Dream Has Come True

So, let me introduce you to .... Coddiwomple.

Yes, you've read that right. To coddiwomple = to travel in a purposeful manner to a vague destination. We love that word, we did from the first time we heard someone use it ("....coddiwomplin' around...."). It's kind of unbelievable that no-one had yet registered it with the Environment Agency. We secured it nearly a year ago, and now she's ours.

This is where she was delivered  by her former owner and his crew; Abingdon-on-Thames, by Abingdon Bridge, opposite Annie's Boathouse Cafe. The previous owner, John, took pleasure in a last cruise with her and offered to deliver her to us (just asked for expenses), while we were on holiday in Croatia. So, when we came back, we found her like this on a beautiful Monday morning:

Our hearts were pounding, as we approached and stepped onto her for the first time with our own keys, as the owners. Very exciting indeed. I had asked Ewan to play "Millenium" (by Robbie Williams) and carry me down the steps, inside. He played Millenium, but he didn't carry me down the steps (boooh). I forgave him instantly; I am a very heavy girl. Instead, we hugged and danced inside our new home and were just totally overjoyed. Our dream had come true. We did it!

That was on the 21st of September 2018. It will go into history as one of our biggest mile stones, and we're proud as Harry.

Here are a few pics from the inside:

Yes, you're looking at an en-suite bathroom. And - guess what, ... we have another bathroom. Yes. Two showers, two toilets. That's what I call luxury.

Reality kicked in quite quickly, when we had to realise that Coddiwomple was not made to be off-grid. At all. We discovered 5 starter batteries, instead of 1 starter and 4 leisure batteries. Apart from the starter battery for the engine, the rest of them were knackered, didn't hold any power. We had to plug in somewhere. The closest, affordable and available spot we found was here:

Shillingford Bridge Hotel, near Wallingford, Oxfordshire. How lucky are we???!!!

But we couldn't go before we welcomed my oldest daughter and her husband, who came for a week's holiday from Germany. On Friday morning (28. Sept), with the help of 2 wonderful friends, Martin & Janet, we emptied and filled the boat up at Abingdon Lock (filling up took 1 hour!!!) and then set off to Shillingford. A beautiful 3-hour journey in the sunshine - that was just glorious, and again, very exciting. I felt so happy, and Coddiwomple moved so easily through the river. My daughter and her hubby shared the happiness with us, that was very special indeed.

Once we paid our dues and charged the power station, we were finally able to use our appliances. Up until then I toasted my bread like this 😂:

Fortunately she has 2 gas hobs and a wood burner, so we could cook and be warm, before we plugged in.

After my daughter +1 had left, we smelled the fumes coming out of the sewage tank very strongly - urgh - very horrible. So, not long after we had moored up, we needed to go and pump out again. That made us realise how careful we need to be with 'businesses'. Luckily, there was a space at Benson's "Le Boat" rental. They were ever so sweet and helpful. And we had our first ever cruise on our own, even though it was only half an hour 😉. I had been so nervous, but Ewan is a natural. He moved, turned and moored her so smoothly - I was well impressed. Me at the bow, giving hand signs. We're a good team.

This is the view onto the Hotel garden:

Our lovely neighbour, Tim, has since moved to the other side of the bridge, as he got a space with free electricity, lucky him. We won't get a space there this year, unless we're very lucky. Seems like we're paying about £100 per month for power. But that's okay, given the rent at this mooring is very affordable.

The vinyl signs are in the making, the stern canopy as well (might take 3 months though). Talking to the boaters community on Facebook, we found an absolute earth angel, Graham Mills, who is helping us sort out our batteries, power and solar power needs. He's already been for one morning, and he'll come back on Friday for a full audit, as we're totally dumb-arses when it comes to electricity. He's not charging any more than his expenses, as he's retired, wants to be impartial and unbiased, wants to help dummies like us and has "enough money - don't need more".  We can't believe our luck. What a great community the boaters are. Totally wonderful.

Look at Captain Ewan - he's smiling like a HoneyCakeHorse (Honigkuchenpferd - German expression for someone who's smile couldn't be broader). Last Friday, we took her back to Abingdon for another pump-out and Diesel fill-up. In the meantime we've discovered that we can fill up with water for free at the hotel (yippeeh). The weather was  f a b u l o u s. We stayed a night and went back on Saturday - another warm, sunny day. And this is what the Missus did:

Well - not all the time 😄 But it seems that I get a lot more relaxation while Ewan is doing all the hard work. Yes, I am very grateful indeed. But I seem to always prepare meals and constantly keep her clean, which is not to be underestimated, given that a lot of grass and dirt comes in with paws and shoes all the time; and the wood burner makes the space very dusty indeed.

This is what happiness looks (and feels) like to me:

We've been on Coddiwomple for almost a month now. And we both honestly haven't looked back, not one millionth of a second. This is what we wanted, with all it's discomfort, challenges, stresses, worries ... and ... wonderfulness. Life has indeed slowed down big time. We love the convenience of having the hotel here and that we can park both the private car and the work van. The Hotel staff are so accommodating, friendly and welcoming - it's fantastic. Wallingford is delightful with its Cafes and independent stores. My life couldn't be richer. So many friends and family have already paid us a visit and compliments, and many more to come. Sharing Coddiwomple with others is what makes our life even more amazing.

And the walks around here .... Have a look yourself:


And the views from the barge on sunny days/nights:

Speaks for itself, right?

Jack is a very happy boy:

We also love our new pets:

Not to forget the ducks, who also come to be fed. I've seen my first Kingfisher - Oh my God - I was so excited, I screamed. Ewan thought I had hurt myself LOL. And so many herons and other river birds.

I'm sorry I didn't post earlier. I had to settle in a little bit first, and we had to deal with so many things, like Wi-Fi, accessories, wood, lots of visitors, getting stuff to work etc etc. I went through several worries, mainly at night, having thoughts of her sinking or leaking, the water pump stopping to work, the toilets stopping to work, the heating stopping to work ..... LOL. But that has all calmed down. It was just new. And I call it growing pains. I've been expanding, and I have no intention to stop here.

I intend to post more frequently from now. Looking forward to your comments and getting to know more of the boating community. In the meantime: