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Horses, Boats, Writers, Travel, and Stories from the Heart

This is a short story on travels, boats and horses from a fellow writer and friend, Alison Alderton.

It’s very special.

To find out why you’ll have to read to the end…  Here’s Alison’s pretty barge ‘Lily’

Dutch barge Lily moored at Mustadfors

Dutch barge Lily moored at Mustadfors

What do horse shoe nails and boating have in common? by Alison Alderton

“Not a lot” I hear you reply. Well at first glance perhaps not but recently I drifted into the small town of Mustadfors on Sweden’s Dalsland Canal and made a discovery as well as a link to a friend.

The horse shoe symbol on the side of the lift bridge

The horse shoe symbol on the side of the lift bridge

On the lift-bridge by the town’s lock is a horse shoe symbol, it reflects the town’s long association with the production of horse shoe nails. In conversation with the Lock Keeper, he told how the company, which no longer works out of the town, once specialised in light weight nails. These were made from aluminium and used in the race horse industry. With a little research of my own I later discovered these are also used with shoes specially designed for trotting horses.

The entrance to the former horse shoe nail manufacturers

The entrance to the former horse shoe nail manufacturers

Mustadfors lift bridge

Mustadfors lift bridge

Mustadfors lock on the Dalslands Canal

Mustadfors lock on the Dalslands Canal

Horse-trotting has a long history in Sweden; people have competed with their horses since the 19th century and at the nearby Amal’s racetrack there are regular events from April through to September each year.

Home, 5 horses nearby and our tents

Home, 5 horses nearby and our tents

Friends
A boating friend, Jackie Parry recently published a book about her amazing adventures with five ex-trotting horses which she and her husband, Noel rescued from an unknown fate. “A Standard Journey” is an exciting read; about how they sold up and set off with their horses to hack Australia’s Bi-centennial National Trail and brings my visit to the pretty little canal-side town of Mustadfors full circle.

I am thankful for this most unusual discovery which triggered thoughts of a dear friend.

jackie p

And why is this so special?

Well, Alison’s publisher is keen for her to finish her book on her life with a rather special companion. Yes, there’s Roger, her lovely husband, but there’s also Buster the Beagle.

Boating with Buster – The life & times of a barge beagle will be a story you’ll want to read. Follow Alison here and/or here and try to be patient, it is a work in progress.

What I can promise you, knowing the ethos behind the story, is that it will be a book that will stay with you forever – I can hardly wait!

Here are more photos to whet your appetite.

And here’s our Dutch Barge (for sale) you can have a good look around here….

Rouge Corsair is for sale!

Rouge Corsair is for sale!


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Big News

A few weeks ago I mentioned, on a blog here, that I had a big announcement.

I’ve let the cat out of the bag in messages on Facebook, here and there… but now the “ad” is done, it’s official.

What Ad?
The ad for our Dutch barge, she’s for sale (Rouge Corsair).

Rouge Corsair - 1920s Dutch Barge

Rouge Corsair – 1920s Dutch Barge

Why?
We are heading back to Australia.

Why?
For many reasons, but as we were contemplating a change, the guy that has three of our horses offered them back. With a big skip and a little tear, we agreed (well, I agreed and then told Noel what I had done!).

So, we’ll be reunited with Charlie, Ned, and Dom.

Sweet Dommie

Sweet Dommie

Ned and Charlie

Ned and Charlie

Why?
Well, they’re our family, and if you’ve read A Standard Journey, 5 horses, 2 people, and 1 tent, you’ll understand the bond we created while living together and relying on each other in the bush together.

Congratulations!
Lately, I’ve received some lovely emails from professional horse trainers who use a holistic approach – they congratulated us on what we achieved. So, when we get back we’ll build on that work.

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Tent!
So now we’ve finished the complete renovation on our barge and have a nice home, we’ll be heading back to a field and a tent… yes, really…

But! I’m one happy girl!


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Barge Renovations Update

We’re still buried in the bowels of our little ship – renovating away, only popping up for air when we need feeding.

Below are galley progress-pictures from a month or so back (where has the time gone?). Some people liked the painted cupboards, but we changed them for several reasons:

1) The photos looked so much better than the real thing.

2) My eyes couldn’t stand all the hectic patterns and clashing of colours, stripes and frills (frilly net-curtains, red curtains, striped curtains, and the stencilled flowers on the sky-hatch windows) – something had to give!

3) I like fresh, simple decor that creates the feeling of space.

4) We didn’t like them!

Getting ready to sand

Getting ready to sand

Some of the paint was very thick (dobbed on!), I was glad we had the electric sander!

Some of the paint was very thick (dobbed on!), I was glad we had the electric sander!

I couldn't wait to lighten this lot up!

I couldn’t wait to lighten this lot up!

First coat - there were five coats in total!

First coat – there were five coats in total!

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Sitting on the stove top!

 

Much better!

Much better! (Ignore the timber door on the right, we currently have a vagrant door just sitting there in the way!)

That's better on the eyes!

That’s better on the eyes!

This one?

This one?

Or, this one?

Or, this one?

Currently, we are finishing off the front cabin and that is the end of the renovations for now.
Photos appearing soon-ish!

What are your renovation success stories?


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There’s no such thing as bad press! (And win a freebie!)

Last week someone wrote derogatory comments about us on a forum.

What happened?
A few months back, two complete strangers told us we were not qualified to offer our new boat training service. They’d garnered this lofty view from our personal website and holiday snaps! Politely we explained our professional qualifications and experience on email, even though we didn’t have to.

It seems that wasn’t enough. So last week they voiced their concerns publicly. Others didn’t like our strong ‘come-back’. I wonder how many times they’d let someone do this to them before retaliating – twice was enough for us!

The blind
What these people didn’t see was the reams of private supportive messages that clogged our email. People who wouldn’t write publicly as they didn’t want to be ‘next’ on the target list (some had, disturbingly, already been there).

In droves, people said that this is exactly why they didn’t partake in this site any more.

The result?
Well, they say, there is no such thing as bad press and now having been on the end of it – I can attest to that!

  • People with fantastic websites are now linking our websites to theirs – providing us with tonnes of free advertising
  • Enquiries are up
  • Book sales have spiked
  • With over 300 hits on both our websites in just a few hours, Google algorithms love this – it’s a great boost!

Apology
We asked for an apology. A few people on the forum have apologised privately. The instigator has not, but that’s okay. Not because of the extra business, sales and wonderful new connections and friends we’ve made – it’s okay because they’ve shown their true colours.

In summary
I wouldn’t want to wish this experience on anyone. Initially we felt alone and bullied. But the enormous private (and some public) support was a soothing balm and a real eye-opener.

It makes you think
During our years of teaching commercial maritime and working internationally on all kinds of boats (yes, barges on canals too – sigh). We’ve learned a lot:

  • A broad experience is imperative – it’s about having the ability to adapt to every situation
  • Claiming that one-niche experience is a complete experience, is a dangerous mistake
  • We don’t know everything, only a fool would admit that!
  • You never stop learning, once you think you know it all you are a danger
  • We all have knowledge to impart

Win an Ebook
Our website was criticised too – here it is www.bargetraining.com tell us what you think – CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is always welcome. A free ebook (choice out of three) goes to the most crazy, funny amusing or helpful comment.

Website WIP – but here’s more info:
We’ll list a few more details on our website soon – it is a Work In Progress – but in the meantime here are a few more high-lights of our experience:

As well as the European Canals (on our boats, on commercial boats, on other people’s boat  – recreationally and commercially) we have also traversed the following inland waterways/canals and rivers (and hundred’s of associated locks):
New York State Canal System
The Canadian Heritage Canals
Lake Okeechobee Waterway
Trent Severn Watery
Rideau Canal
Erie Canal
Potomac
St Lawrence Canal
Sanitary Canal
St Lawrence Seaway
The Mississippi River
The Ohio River
The Illinois River
TenTombigee
Cumberland River
Tennessee River
Lake Okeechobee Waterway
Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway
Hudson River
The Great Lakes
Missouri River
The Nile
Rivers in PNG, Borneo, Australia, Ecuador, Panama, Asia, Morocco… and on it goes…

Here’s some pics – these are mostly holiday and travel snaps, most of our professional pictures are stored away at home in Australia.

If you want more information about us just drop us a line, telephone us, call around for a chat – the kettle’s always on.

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vmr adjusted1


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Dutch Barge Renovations Update

Rouge Corsair Winter Renovations

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After a ‘sticky’ start, the renovations are starting to show promise. Here’s what caused the delays:

DSC_0486The new holding tank – made from one of water tanks. Sourcing the right welder was a rather frustrating project. Having to cut the big tank up INSIDE the boat, made the boat filthy. It was too big to get out, so Noel cut it into four pieces, two were the holding tank (including lid), the other two pieces were superfluous. The plumbing parts were purchased on-line and all in French. Other bits-and-pieces from the Brico-marche, eight kilometres away, hauling all purchases by bike.

DSC_0497Noel drilling a hole for the vent.

DSC_0493There’s a hole in my hull!

DSC_0502A neat job – we now know what’s behind all the walls – good insulation and good wiring (now!) – we replaced all the old wiring.

DSC_0505Another hole, this time in the deck, for the new water tanks. These will be situated under the bed.

DSC_0507We’ve been lucky with the weather, Noel chooses the outside-projects in time with the better days.

DSC_0512rAnd cake… we like cake!


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Top Tips for Surviving Boat Renovations

“What’s the very best, top-tip you have for doing boat renovations,” I said to my hard working husband, who is grappling with two loos right now, as I type.

Without hesitation or thought he dished up these wise-words of wisdom:

“Buy a house!”

We are in a mess, cabin full of welding fumes!

We are in a mess, cabin full of welding fumes!

 

And, here’s more…

  • When taking the toilet apart, do not consume a large mug off coffee prior to the deed!
  • Seek good value gear – the renovations will cost you three-times what you originally calculated. You’d better try to make some savings somewhere.
  • Don’t become annoyed when the welding equipment sits on top of the loo all day!
His and hers!

His and hers!

  • Really try not to get irritated when the welding equipment then sits in the shower!
  • Don’t walk in bare feet after the grinder has been used.
  • Spread the dust sheet carefully, that one bit of paint you drop will do it’s best to find the tiny gap! Wear shoes when painting – you’ll find out why!
  • Drink vast quantities of wine or meditate (or both) – after the day’s work is done please!
New holding tank - done!

New holding tank – done!

  • Turn up the Radio.
  • Have a day off – at some point (someone gave me this tip, not sure what it means though!)

… and as with all boat work, double the time you think the work will take, triple that figure, and you’ll be about halfway to a good estimate on the time it will take to do the work! (More great boat/cruising tips here, from boat maintenance to make-up!)

Make time for fun - Noel's birthday!

Make time for fun – Noel’s birthday!

More humorous (house) renovation observations, here.

What are your best (funny) tips? Continue reading

Renovations update – a picture story…

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This wall is about to come out.

This wall is about to come out.This water tank comes out.This water tank comes out.

Continue reading