Braunston Marina – final stop

It was an emotional journey not least also because the sun came out and it was glorious cruising weather. The cruise was easy, no more locks and a prime canal section. We ended our boater life on a top note.

That was it on 2 July 2017 ‘living on the cut’ ended for us.

It was a lovely, often demanding time. We had happy moments, sad ones too. Challenges abound, how will we look back on those in a few years time?

Because now, a new chapter is ahead of us. A new country, culture and climate. And definitely more living space.

But one thing we know, there will be times we will miss Quintessence, she was a hidden queen.

There was a comforting thought, at least she’s in good hands with Braunston Marina.

And we wish the new owner best of luck.

Adnan dismantled the three projects ‘boattr’, ‘mazizone’, and ‘7067 – It’s not a Test’:


Last cruise with Quintessence to Braunston


This is a trip of 2 miles, 4¾ furlongs from Flecknoe Bridge No 102 to Braunston Marina Western Entrance.

This will take 47 minutes.

From Flecknoe Bridge No 102 travel northeast on the Grand Union Canal (Oxford Canal Section) for 2 miles, 1½ furlongs to Braunston Turn, then travel east on the Grand Union Canal (Grand Junction Canal – Main Line – Braunston to Norton) for 3¼ furlongs to Braunston Marina Western Entrance.


Grand Union Canal (Oxford Canal Section)
From Flecknoe Bridge No 102 (Flecknoe Village half a mile southeast) to:
Chambers Bridge No 100 7¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Wolfhamcote Bridge No 97 6¼ furlongs, 0 locks
Braunston Turn

Junction of the Grand Union, Oxford and Grand Junction Canals – Bridges No 93 & No 94. Also known as Braunston Junction
4 furlongs, 0 locks
Grand Union Canal (Grand Junction Canal – Main Line – Braunston to Norton)
From Braunston Turn (Junction of the Grand Union, Oxford and Grand Junction Canals – Bridges No 93 & No 94. Also known as Braunston Junction) to:
Gongoozler’s Rest Café Boat 3 furlongs, 0 locks
Braunston Marina Western Entrance

Entrance for Marina Services and Brokerage
¼ furlongs, 0 locks


Total distance is 2 miles, 4¾ furlongs and 0 locks.

This is made up of 2 miles, 4¾ furlongs of broad canals.

This will take 47 minutes.


Flecknoe notes

On the way to Flecknoe, a dead bush invaded by spiders.

Just after Calcutt Locks, which where the last locks we worked (for the rest of our lives?) we reached Napton Junction where we had to turn into Oxford Canal in direction of Braunston. We wanted to make a pit stop and once again the cat escaped into the bushes. So, we had to wait.

Which also meant time to catch up on emails…

But once the escapist was back we continued towards Flecknoe, our destination for the day, where Adnan was so exhausted he immediately fell asleep once we found our mooring spot.

It was still raining, it’s British summer after all, but rain drops look good on a perfectly painted boat.

Even the antennae looks good, the solar panels got a good wash…

And Behemoth, aka Sava, in her element.

We will have two days to pack most of our stuff and to stack up the card board boxes will be quite a challenge in that small space.


Grenfell Tower fire in London

Waking up this morning, having breakfast and reading the news paper, a mixture of disbelief and shock overcame us.

Grenfell Tower in London was burning.

We haven’t heard of this tower block before but seeing the photos, reading reports and watching the BBC it became clear, a disaster has unfolded last night which will tarnish social housing in Britain for a long time.

Dozens of people burned alive in the 21st century, in a city like London, in the wealthiest borough of that city. Emblematic of what is so wrong with the housing situation in this country. Maybe not just the housing situation, but with the all pervading British class system, which still prevails.

RIP dear people whom we have never known, who died so so tragically.


MAZI Monday

The MAZI toolkit/mazizone is running stable on Quintessence. We have been using WordPress successfully as our boat log and research journal. We now intend to look into the NextCloud sharing app and GuestBook app for our home ‘Kingswood’ basin.

All the guides can either be found on GitHub or at the page of our partner University of Thessaly (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering).

The app is now available! Please download and install for Android phones and tablets.

During the recent dash to prototype the Anchorholds app for Creeknet, we have been chopping up html and processing images to retrofit our fork of Open University project Salsa.

This requires rewriting of the templates to build the first 16 sets of pages with matching images etc. One can’t say it’s been easy collaborative process, even with great services at hand from Sandstorm, so thanks to all concerned for their tireless support and patience.

Overall we were getting on fine with Sandstorm until some gremlins in the Davros share, made the files read only! With time lapping at our heels we made a switch to Google Drive to complete the task but got into a synchronisation battle with one another. In the end we have resolved to build a staging server from where future versions of the app html will be tested. This could all have been handled better, so lessons learned!

We will also be looking into combining the boattr project and the mazizone over the sensors and data collection services.


Manage the sensors attached on the Raspberry of the MAZI toolkit.


For the interaction with the sensors attached on the MAZI toolkit you can use the MAZI backend script Check more info here.


Examples of usage:

  • Take measurements from sensehat each 2 seconds for the next 10 seconds
sudo bash -n sensehat -d 10 -i 2
  • Display the status of the sensehat module
sudo bash -n sensehat -a
  • Take measurements from sensehat each 2 seconds for the next 10 seconds and store them in the database
sudo bash -n sensehat -d 10 -i 2 -s


Install requirements

sudo apt-get install python-pip
sudo pip install speedtest-cli


For checking statistics of this MAZI node you can use the MAZI backend script Check more info here.

Examples of usage:

  • Display the CPU core temperature
sudo sh -t
  • Display the CPU core temperature and store it in the database
sudo sh -t -s
  • Display the RAM usage, the % of available space and the currently connected users of this MAZI Zone
sudo sh -r -s -u

Mazi partners from Greece, Switzerland and Germany met with local artists, campaigners and residents from along Creekside.

Many people living on the boats moored at the Theatre Arm of the creek in Lewisham and Brookmarsh Estate in Greenwich face disruption as developer proposals challenge mooring arrangements and stir up anxiety for future security. Veteran mariners aired their concerns and expressed insight into the legal options and tactical steps they have taken to protect themselves.

Rising shore-side land values are driving a scramble for last scraps. Rents continue to speed beyond reach for all but the few.


Big change ahead & weekend trips here & there

The weather was picture perfect and we decided to go cruising again. After months of staying put, it was time to move Quintessence. We wanted to make the most of it since there was a change appearing on the horizon.

Adnan applied for a lecturing post abroad. And was offered an academic position.

The country? Malta. Malta? We both have never been there, we knew the geographical location and that was about it. So we decided to fly out mid June to have at least an idea about this tiny island nation on the fringes of southern Europe. Natascha had to see with her own eyes what this place was like and didn’t want to rely on Adnan’s usually rather overly excited telling (Coventry mooring comes to mind).

Natascha still had Switzerland as the next destination in mind and wasn’t exactly thrilled about this news. Once more, long discussion, we had to find a solution. Best then to go out to the country side and combine those with long walks. And tree watching. If Malta becomes a reality, surely there will be not so many trees?!

View ahead.

Turning around, el capitano.

Change on the horizon. Good bye UK?

Evening bliss, our bedroom window.

Divine nature, divine light

Eternal Shiva.

The canal water was full of algae and with the boater season starting, the turbines are acting as some kind of mixer, the water turned bright green, luvly.

Then on one of the journeys back to Kingswood the engine almost stopped working. Pffft, pffft, pffft – puff, puff. Hardly any speed we just about managed to get back. Really now? What could be wrong?

We called Ian from Knowle Wharf and when he came around the engine was running smooth, not a single sign of Pffft, pffft, pffft – puff, puff. But then next time we went out again, towards Knowle Wharf the problem started all over again.

Ian came and hopped on the boat and his conclusion was: Alternator needs replacing, now. How much is that going to cost? Roughly £300 it was in the end. And there it is:


Journey to Rowington


This is a trip of 1 mile, 6½ furlongs from Kingswood Junction to Foxbrook Aqueduct No 6 travelling southeast on the Grand Union Canal (Warwick and Birmingham Canal: widened section – Main Line).

This will take 33 minutes.


Grand Union Canal (Warwick and Birmingham Canal: widened section – Main Line)
From Kingswood Junction (Junction of Grand Union and Stratford upon Avon Canals) to:
Foxbrook Aqueduct No 6

Seems to be a popular mooring with lovely views.
1 mile, 6½ furlongs, 0 locks


Total distance is 1 mile, 6½ furlongs and 0 locks.

This is made up of 1 mile, 6½ furlongs of broad canals.

This will take 33 minutes.


Already May, change is in the air

It’s been an eventful time, May is here already and change is in the air. That’s usually the case when spring arrives but there is more to it. We are back from our Japan trip and things on Natascha’s side are as much up side down as this tree.

Japan was amazing, but had it’s problems. Natascha didn’t return perfectly rested and healthy. It’s related to her work, she ended the working in London abruptly upon returning from the trip.

Yes, Japan, the land of the raising sun, Mount Fuji and…

… Trump crackers.

Even the colour scheme of the packaging and the cracker itself is fitting. Different shades of orange. We wondered whether they relate to Trump? We didn’t like them, not our taste at all, same like the other name bearer.

Everything is in flux all the time. There were changes in Kingswood Basin too, when we came back Simon, our neighbor, moved on the other side of the pontoon. All of a sudden we had lots of light inside the boat, that was a great improvement.

Light falls on messy shelf unit.

A tender moment. White feather on blackened steel – pictorial poetry on a barge.

We only hope, she wasn’t the reason the feathers were on the boat… that feisty little one, sometimes.


MAZI Monday

We visited the Hoy Steps again today to view the condition of the street level area inside the gates and assess the clean up task. After 20 years of restricted access, an accumulation of old wheels, wooden pallets and tangle of Buddleia block the steps. There is also a large amount of scaffolding framing the space which can be used again in any reconstruction plan. High tide at midday prevented us seeing more than half a dozen of the twenty steps that lead down to the muddy shoreline at low tide. A ferry once transported people across the creek to Greenwich at this point. The ‘hoy!’ call out to summon a boat was first heard here hundreds of years ago.

After a well deserved coffee at Hoy Kitchen and visit to the steps we were picked up by Camden for a fantastic river trip aboard a motorised lifeboat, which first took us out onto the Thames before returning us to the nest of houseboats at 4 Creekside.

At the furthest reaches of the tidal creek, Friends of Brookmill Park held their quarterly meeting to map out activities for the rest of spring and early summer. Their re planting program in the formal garden adjacent to Stephen Lawrence centre is proceeding well with fresh lavender beds and new roses. Mariner and beekeeper Julian Kingston will talk about local shipbuilding at a fundraiser event in Brookmill pub on June 7th, space is limited to 30 seats so get your ticket soon!

That’s just a few weeks before the Creeknet Symposium on 20th and 21st June. DIY networks of Deptford Creek host partners from the MAZI project in Germany, Switzerland and Greece to attend this ‘cross pollination event’, all are welcome.


Winter… and early signs of Spring

Winter was luckily not a cold one, mind you now that we have a fixed mooring and access to electricity we bought a swanky Dyson, which we use to heat the back side of the boat. That makes a huge difference.

Maybe this was the last Dyson product we bought? Not just because of the price. Mr Dyson is a Brexit supporter. And speaks to the hearts of the Brexiteers. We really, honestly wonder, how many of the Brexit supports can afford a Dyson product?

Back to nature. It was wet of course but we weren’t hindered by the weather to go out for walks, our wellies made it possible to walk the wet land. As always, nature as a means of therapy.

Tree hugging was still going strong. But how can you resist this?

As February approached it became clear that it was time for Natascha to pack her stuff and leave the UK. Time was up after almost 15 years.

Work turned out to be a heart ache and Natascha handed in her notice. The idea is to spend the summer and autumn with Adnan in the UK and then towards the End of 2017 to move back to Switzerland. It wasn’t an easy time and such decisions are never made lightly but for her something had to change. Switzerland has its perks too, and is not part of the EU, but for now the most sensible option seemed to go back home.

The whole Brexit madness only contributed to her decision, why staying in a post Brexit Britain, a country having severed its ties to the rest of Europe? And a UK which could quite possibly align with Trump’s nightmarish ‘make America great again’ vision? It was time to make a Brexit exit. Really dark days during the dark winter time.

This photo is quite fitting of the feel at that moment, a tree without leaves, unprotected and exposed in the dark, hoping for brighter days to come soon.

Of course the spring sun came back out, the moss is reaching up to catch the rays. March is here.

We have a trip planned to Japan in April and we were ready to go, three weeks away from all the complexities of the day-to-day existence. And explore a new culture, to visit friends in Tokyo and then some time on our own with a Japan Railway pass in tow. Kyoto, Koya-San and a visit to an onsen, then Osaka was on our agenda.