Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Blog - Feb 24th 2007

Well today was our baby’s due date.

Still might happen yet, I guess. But so far it feels like waiting, waiting and more waiting. And it still might go on for days or even weeks!

Sean has been lucky enough to take a couple of weeks off work, and we have been getting our birthing spot together – with the hope of having the baby at home on the boat, should all go well.
So far the inside of the boat looks a little like an S and M dungeon. We have fold out mattresses for the floor, hammocks and ropes for Julia to swing off the ceiling, a birthing ball to rock on and God knows what else. There must be a pair of handcuffs stashed away somewhere here?! We are a little worried it might shock the midwife. So we have stocked up on chocolate hob nobs to placate her.

All in aid of natural pain relief we hope! (That’s including the hob nobs.)

Outside Sean has managed to sculpt our mooring into a kind of semi-suburban set up of which Alan Titchmarsh would be proud. We have a firepit in case we want to go outside in the cold, woodchip shavings all along the path to save everybody’s wellies from being permanently caked in mud. We even have some kind of water feature by to the boat, where the stream run-off comes through this tunnel next to us and empties into the canal. Sean insists the sound of running water is soothing. Julia likens it more to Chinese water torture and is enduring it the best she can.

We are lucky we guess to have been granted this mooring at all, however. After some harassment, British Waterways did grant us permission to moor next to what is locally known amongst boaters as the “birthing bridge.” It basically has easy road access in case of an emergency and is quite secluded – so those S and M facilities can be more comfortably employed.

Its nice to be somewhere were you know countless women have given birth before you – all part of the living tradition of boating!

Although we have had mostly good wishes from being settled here a while, we have still had the odd idiot espouse their bigoted views about our lifestyle. Just the other day we were faced off by some Daily Mail reading local, who obviously didn’t approve that we had been here a while! Rumours have flown along the cut also, reported to us from Dusty the Coal Man, that we shouldn’t be moored here. Such lack of goodwill towards a pregnant couple who basically just need somewhere to stop for a few weeks is quite unbelieveable. Unfortunately, in a fit of hormonal rage it was the Daily Mail reading local who eventually copped it from Julia’s foul mouth. “A bald-headed twat” is, we are afraid, what she called him. Before calling to him for a fight. Yes, that’s at nine month’s pregnant.

It was all over before she realised what she’d done, profanities galore falling out of her mouth before bursting into a heap of hormonal tears. Luckily for her the local was about 70, and she was standing next to Sean who was banging in a pin with a rather heavy looking lump hammer, so at least it was unlikely that she was going to end up getting battered.

Perhaps we should lay down some more woodchips? It may help us fit in a little more?

Other than that, Sean has managed to get us a My Space profile – which can be viewed at www.myspace.com/thedoolallysmusic

Its all very exciting – and Sean does a little gleeful jig every time we gain a new friend! In fact, we are even friends with Seth Lakeman now. Although we were a little surprised when we went to his Aylesbury gig the other night that he didn’t seem to recognise us at all. But then that’s the price of fame, we guess. Eventually you must just lose touch with those close to you.

Nevertheless, it has to be said that Seth’s gig was wonderful. It was just so heart-warming to see someone with talent get successful for a change. His solo fiddle songs were particularly jaw-dropping. But all of them really – a truly fantastic night. Try and catch him live at some point.

Do go to the My Space page and join our growing list of friends however. We promise you you will make Sean so happy.

Other than that life on our little boat is lovely as ever. Sean is hosting a traditional and acoustic session at the Perch Inn in Binsey on the last Sunday of every month. Its turning into a great happening – very warm and amenable with all sorts of musicians turning up to play besides the log fire. Babies and children are welcome also, and the place is largely non-smoking, which makes it more comfortable. It starts at three o’clock – and we may see you there on the 25th if Julia has not gone into labour yet.

Congratulations must also be sent out to a wonderfully talented local musician, Colin Fletcher, for his recent contribution to a folk award winning CD with Tim Van Eyken. (Both narrowboating folkies also by the way!) It seems that Reading may be the armpit of the South East, but it does produce talent: first Ricky Gervais, now Colin Fletcher. Both Tim and Colin are also linked to our My Space site if you wish to hear them.

The Floating Tionol sessions are fast approaching – and we would love to see some of you there in May. A really special concert is planned as part of the five day event – details also on the website and My Space. With Leo Rickard – piper extraordinaire from Dublin headlining (http://www.leopipinghot.com/), locally talented Dr. Andy Letcher on border pipes, and even a family band from Oklahoma – Kealkill – doing there thing on May 14th at the Jericho Tavern at 8pm. It will be a really blinding night. (By the way, all vegeburgers with melted dolcelatte are now off the menu at the Tavern. Shame on them.)

So for now, we must log off. This may be the last blog for a while as we anticipate soon being up to our eyeballs in nappies and well meaning relatives. Send us your good vibes please! As if this baby doesn’t come soon, we may be in for a “stretch and sweep” with the midwife. An altogether scary prospect which had Julia running for the door in the surgery screaming that she was not a frigging chimney. (Dearie me the girl can’t stop swearing.)

Over and out.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blog - Dec 29th 2006

Well, Christmas has been and gone already and we hope yours was great and would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year ahead.

Our Christmas, to be honest, was a bit shit! Sean did his back in lifting Elsan toilets down the towpath, then got flu on Christmas Day – leaving the 7 month pregnant Julia with all the huffing and puffing of cooking the Christmas meal. Not an easy feat when you’ve got too fat to tie your own shoelaces! (Although we did cheat slightly and bought pre-cooked vegetables from M&S for prosperity.)

This also meant that the DooLallys had to cancel their Jericho Boatyard gig at the last minute, as Sean was in too much pain to get out of bed most of the time, which was a huge disappointment to us. By all accounts however, the evening was a great success, and the boaters managed to pack in enough drinking time to make up for the whole year, from what we were told and from the hungover state of people’s faces that we saw the following morning!

The good news for us, however, is that the Fourth Annual Floating Tionol for next year is now fully booked. Amazing to think that the event almost didn’t happen the first time round, and yet now we are oversubscribed. Credit for making the event such a success must go to pipemaker Brian Howard. (Who also made Sean’s beloved set of pipes – and quite a wonderful set they are too.) He was the tutor for the first three events and really publicized it well, using his gift of the gab to enrol students from across Europe and the US. Thanks Brian.

Next years event will have the superb piper, Leo Rickard, as the tutor. Sean met Leo at a piper’s gathering in Ireland last February, and he is a true gentleman as well as one of Ireland’s leading Uilleann pipers. It will be a great opportunity for students and audience alike to witness his playing. The Tionol will cruise from Oxford to Pangbourne and back, taking in five consecutive pub music sessions each evening. These are free to all visiting Irish traditional musicians and audience alike. We shall also have Alan Burton along, to lead the reedmaking classes, he is also a consummate and exciting piper and will be with us the first day. (You can see some of the photos from previous Tionols on the DooLallys website.)

In November Sean also attended the South Western Pipers Club Tionol in Tintagel, Cornwall. This was a highly enjoyable event, with Mick O’Brien from Dublin as the tutor and concert highlight. Mick is a strict taskmaster though: if corporal punishment were not illegal, Sean thought Mick might carry a cane in his pipes case for pipers who play a roll or triplet without enough √©lan!

It was also great to get down to Cornwall again and have a bit of time by the sea. Funny to think, as we live on a boat, but we do sometimes feel a bit land-locked here in Oxford. Toilet reading for us is often a stray yachting magazine where we dream of donning sails and heading out into the wild oceans for a while.

Somehow, we have managed to come back to the toilet situation! Not quite sure how that happened, but seeing as we are here – a small winge about narrowboat living: Cassette toilets.

Don’t know if anyone else had the same experience as us, but the 100 degree heat of this summer past and our Elsan toilet were just not that compatible it would seem. We are constantly trying to think of alternatives (an eco-toilet thingy? A holding tank? Regular visits to Starbucks?)

Still, this summer when a friend of ours from a previous Tionol was cruising by on the Thames, we had the opportunity to go and see his eco-toilet for ourselves. The thing was: it was massive. I mean seriously, it was like some kind of weird time machine, taking up nearly all of the precious bathroom space. Perhaps more suitable for the Star Ship Enterprise.

Also, because of the inevitable build up of methane inside, you need to get a chimney through the roof which helps the gas escape. Another downer which meant that you are constantly treated with the whiff of your own sewage as you cruise down the cut.

More suited to the wood cabins of remote Canada perhaps?

Then on the other hand we have heard so much about holding tanks and how they can build up inside and stink, or overflow, or block up. And then on top of this you often have to pay loads of money just to empty them – plus you have to move the boat to get to the place where you can empty them in the first place.

It seems we are left with no choice but to return again and again to our Elsan toilet. Or, as we said, trek up to Starbucks.

Still, in the end, perhaps the Starbucks solution ends up being the most expensive one of all. As we find it near impossible to leave the building without having spent at least a tenner.

Can someone please tell us how that happens? I mean, we only went in for a coffee and a quick dump!!!!!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Blog 1

Well, Autumn is fast leaving us behind and the canal is turning from its gorgeous tawny browns and golds to the bleak skeletal trees and the crescent moon shining between their silhouettes on wintry nights. Winter can be a hard time to live on a canal boat. Its not that its cold and damp as most people imagine – more that you are naturally spending more time indoors and it is a small space. After a while you begin to feel like you’re in a coffin and can’t wait to emerge, bleary-eyed again in the Spring! But this is all made up for by what you get from being so close to nature: blown around gently by the wind and hearing the rain fall against your roof. Even sweeping up the leaves that fall on you and turn to slime has its joys! (Or at least for Julia – who is far more likely to be seen with a broom in her hand than Sean!)

But let’s talk about the music. The DooLallys had their first proper Oxford gig last month at the Port Mahon in St. Clements. They shared the spot with the talented soulful and melancholic songs of Laima Bite and the gorgeous melodic groove of Stornaway. (Melodic Groove? Is that a genre? It must be. I mean there’s probably at least one person out there who thought it was.)

We had an absolute blast – and so did the audience I am pleased to say! We gave them a few tunes, a few songs and, as ever, the Uillean Pipes tend to touch people and inspire people with their gentle passion. Hopefully at some point soon we will be able to post up a short video of the performance for those of you who are interested! (Courtesy of the ever-talented Mya Padget of Padget Media who filmed us for the night and made us feel ever so slightly famous!) Thanks must also go to Stuart who played the bodhran wonderfully and sang along in harmony. All power to him.

Its true, most people think where they live is the centre of the Universe – and we have to say that sometimes living in Oxford it feels like you are really at the most fantastic musical epicentre. It is truly possible to go from venue to venue without ever hearing a Kylie Minogue song. What blessed relief.

And on that note, we must tell you that we now have another gig on December 22nd for the Jericho Boatyard Campaign Christmas bash. This event will take place at the Jericho Tavern (the lovely pub that gives you free Wi-Fi and makes a mean vegeburger. Or should I say mushroom and tarragon burger with melted dolcellate no less.) Anyway, we’d love to see you there. Come and see some of Oxford’s multi-faceted musical talent, and learn more about our efforts to save/find a new site for the much needed Oxford Boatyard facilities. I am sure it will be a great and drunken night.