Showing posts from 2016

A Boaty Barstool: What a Difference A Chair Makes

I know most barges don't have steering chairs - it's just not the barge-y thing to do (you're supposed to be made of sterner stuff). But we spent five years cruising along the Thames in one when we had our little Dutch river boat - see above - and found it very relaxing. Especially on the five hour trips from Wargrave to Goring.  So we decided to buy an adjustable barstool on ebay and managed to get the one in the photo for 0.99p plus £9.99 postage and packaging. I couldn't believe it. It's brand new! But because there's a tiny cut in the faux leather no-one else wanted it. We tested it recently and I have to admit that it has completely transformed my barging experience. When I'm standing at the helm I get restless and fidget a lot. But when I'm sitting down I can - quite literally - sit back and take it all in. What's more, it's multi-functional. Because when lowered, our boaty barstool fits under the dinette table in the wheelhouse or out of …

Incroyable! A taste of France ... in Cookham

When we packed our bags and headed to the Burgundy Canal earlier this year (read my post), we were dreaming of patisseries, boulangeries, charcuteries and all the other ‘ries’. But we found rie-n. And when we did come across a charming bistro it was usually ferme for lunch.So imagine my surprise when we found the ‘Deliciously French’ delicatessen in Cookham. It’s stocked with French wines, cheeses and pates. It sells croissants, pastries, salads and sandwiches.  And the man who served us was French. I accept there’s something undeniably romantique about France. But when it comes to boating, I’m beginning to think Britain is better.  Take Cookham for example. It's on a lovely stretch of the Thames, it has all the basics including a small supermarket, a DIY shop and a train station, and you're spoilt for choice when it comes to eateries: regular pubs and posh pubs, a tea shop, a coffee shop, a Chinese restaurant, a charming Thai restaurant with a lovely outdoor garden, two India…

The UK's last self hammering mooring stake

I've spent the last few months looking for one of these: a self hammering mooring stake.  Because when we're mooring along the bank and Mr J wants me to secure the bow rope as quickly as possible, the stake and mallet option sometimes takes too long. Plus it's hard work. So when some friends showed me their self hammering stakes, I decided to get one. But first I had to find them.  My friends couldn't remember where they'd got theirs from and our local chandleries had never heard of them. So it was over to google. After hours searching the internet and cross referencing different key words, I came across a few forums that mentioned automatic mooring stakes. The good news was that the descriptions matched what I had in mind. The bad news was that apparently they didn't exist any more. Undeterred I kept looking and discovered that Viking Marine in Goole used to stock them. So I picked up the phone and spoke to a lovely lady called Sue. There was more good news an…

Tight mooring? No problem!

A very tight mooring. But believe it or not, we got in without touching the other boats, shouting or gesticulating wildly (and ineffectively) at each other.  Oh how things have changed! When we started boating on the Thames in 2009 we thought we had it sussed because Mr J had sailed yachts in Greece, I’d done a bit of sailing in Brazil and we’d spent a week on the Canal du Midi together. And we did have it sussed to a certain extent. But we didn’t have it completely sussed, which meant that when our mooring attempts didn’t quite go to plan - in the lock lay-by, in the locks themselves, along the river and in the marina – our blood pressure went up, followed swiftly by our voices. So when we upgraded from a 3 ton plastic cruiser to a 27 ton steel barge, the first thing we did was sign up for the Bisham Abbey Sailing School’s practical boat handling course. Because if you get things wrong in a 27 ton steel barge, you can do a lot of damage. And I have to say it was the best thing we did…

Boating on the Burgundy Canal: Not Great

Although this blog is about boating on the Thames, I'm going to include a story I wrote about boating on the Burgundy Canal in my RichmondReview blog. You see... one of the reasons we bought the barge is because we're thinking of doing 'the French thing' in a few years time. So our holiday was a bit of a recce. I know that to compare is to despair, but I have to be honest and say that boating on the Burgundy Canal is pretty boring compared to boating on the Thames. And the 12 days we spent on the Canal between Tonnerre and Montbard in June were probably our worst holiday ever. The fact that it rained every day didn't help. And we had problems with our 'luxury' hire boat.  I say luxury in inverted commas because the boat smelt damp and musty, parts of it were downright dirty and brown duvet covers have never been synonymous with luxury to me (I was hoping for crisp, white cotton sheets and plump, lavender scented pillows). Back to the problems:  a …

Three Big Changes

Three life changing things have happened since my last post on A Man, A Woman and a Boat:
1. I became Mrs J (we got married in September 2013)
2. I closed (earlier this year in fact)
3. We bought a 15 mtr Piper barge which has made boating on the Thames even more wonderful

Happy Chance (the barge) is our third boat, as we upgraded from our original 7.5mtr Antaris Dutch cruiser to a slightly bigger Diamond Dutch cruiser in 2012. She came down from Stoke on Trent on the back of a truck and was launched at the Thames & Kennet Marina in May 2015. I wrote a piece about our first year on Happy Chance for the Piper Boat website. I could copy and paste it into this post, but the photo layout wouldn't work as well. So here's the link instead: becomes

I started A Man, A Woman and a Boat ( in September 2009 when we bought our first boat and kept it up (sort of) for a few years. Then life got busy ... I put it on hold ... and completely forgot my log in details. I've tried everything but to no avail. So after a frustrating week of emails to Microsoft, debates on forums, etc, I've decided to accept the fact that I can't access it any longer. I considered adding my boating stories to my other blog - The Richmond Review - but it didn't feel right. Because that's more about life in general and what I'm doing now that I've closed my business ( So I've copied and pasted all the boating posts and photos from my original blog into this one and will continue from where I left off.  Enjoy!