Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The list has disappeared

Friday 8th November to Thursday 21st November 2013

She was busy – I could see it – the sweat on her brow -  thinking and more thinking – what else could she add to the growing list of jobs that I needed to get done and out of the way before I had to leave.

In the end it wasn’t that long really and none of the jobs were particularly difficult – well they usually aren’t all that difficult – it only gets hard when you actually start trying to achieve the desired result.

But they are all finally done – except for one last item – and that is what I am doing now – updating the blog.

There is nothing nearly as satisfying as having a list and being able to draw a line through each item as it gets done – that ain’t gonna appear again, you say to yourself, and then cross your fingers that you have done it correctly.

There were even a number of things that I added myself – whilst I am in the mood for some creative/non-destructive adventure, why not get a few more things achieved and also a bit of transferring of skills and knowledge.

Diane now knows how to bleed the radiators; she knows how to check the batteries; the Xmas cards are done (for Australia).

There will be no more discussions about which is the best type of toilet – we have one of each – after deciding to drag out the cassette toilet which has been in storage beneath the dinette seat for over 2 years. Not so much a his/hers but more a hers/hers – since she will be the one using and emptying it – she has decided that it is definitely easier to lug a cassette to the Elsan point than to take the boat for a pumpout and then try to get it back on the mooring – on her own.

We had to learn together about how to use it; how to get it apart and then I left it to her to learn how to empty it.

The small hole in the cratch cover where a bridge jumped out in front of the boat (albeit whilst the lady of the boat was in charge) has now been fixed.

The wiring and switch for the fan above the diesel heater has been properly installed – I am most pleased with the outcome of this – almost looks professionally done.

Probably the least pleasant job was to clean out the drain pipe from the kitchen sink – normally in a landbased house, there would be some kind of caustic drain cleaner that would rip the skin off your arms at 10 paces, that you would shove down there and then flush it out after the designated time – usually after the smoke and fumes clear.

You can’t do that on a boat – so it was a relatively simple matter to take the pipes out; separate them and clean out the individual sections and put them back together.

Note to self – do it more frequently than every 2 years.

Whilst there was a bit of a smell (read as nasty), the job was quite simple and pleasing to know that was not much really in there at all. I have to say that it was decidedly better smelling after the job than before.

We have in this same period been wining and dining and drinking quite frequently with a number of friends – seemingly early Xmas festivities and best wishes for my trip; numerous offers for Diane and Xmas.

Lynn and Phil; Phil and Mandy; Dot and Gordon and especially Elaine and Paul – we thank you for your wonderful company during this last 2 weeks and I wish you a great Xmas and New Year.

I shall miss the snow, the ice, the cold, the rain and everything associated with winter in England – I shall of course not appreciate the heat, the flies, the humidity, the sweat of an Australian summer – but as we say in France – c’est la vie.

I may get around to penning a few short notes of what I am up to back home and post them but don’t rely on that too often; there will be many things that will take up my time back home – things that need to be sorted out; so for now it is au revoir and as Douglas MacArthur said “I shall return”.

And now the list is completed !!

No travel.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

It was here one minute and then it was gone

Saturday 2nd November to Thursday 7th November 2013

Yet again another week seems to have completely vanished before our eyes and what exactly have we been doing to see it disappear.

Well really not that much.

Friday afternoon and it was down to The Swan for a quiet drink or three - we decided to meet about 3:30 to avoid the crowd which seems to descend on the pub about 5. It was a nice quiet drink - not so sure that the guy on the next table knew what to make of us - he was on his phone - yes actually using it as a phone - but at the same time getting requests from us to take some pictures of the group using our phones - I suppose he had a bit of a laugh at us later on.
the Friday Crew - Diane, Paul, Gordon, Joan, Ray, Elaine, Jim and Dot
If you look closely you will see that
Diane's Mum is never far away -
that's her behind

There had been a planned get together on Saturday late afternoon – it had been planned to converge on Ewn Ha Cul but a last minute change of venue meant that we were all on Caxton (well almost all – no Dot and Gordon – Dot had taken ill with a bad leg and needed to rest up – Gordon was there to make sure that she did – we missed you both).

After that it was off to see the bonfire and fireworks display – Elaine and Paul, Joan and Jim, Sue and Andy (Festine Lente) and ourselves.

from left - Jim, Joan, Sue, Andy, Elaine, Paul and Diane

We thought that the ₤5 per person charge was a bit steep, but in hindsight it was not so bad after all.

The fireworks display was very good and for all of the pyromaniacs in the crowd, the bonfire burnt fiercely and flames were leaping 20 metres into the air. I think that it is well beyond time that we convert the heathens to metric – after all there are only 4 countries in the world that still use miles – UK, USA, Burma and Liberia.

It took Australia 2 years to fully implement the changes in the mid-70’s – we have seen Britain convulse over this change for 20 years and they are just marginally closer than the early 1990’s.

Sunday was a pleasant day which hinted at a chance of rain and a chance of a bit of a breeze.

We were having some problems with the batteries holding charge so we thought it wise to make a dash for the marina and hook up to shore-power.

The batteries will get checked out in time.

We made it back and despite a bit of breeze we managed to reverse into our spot, tie up, hook up, put the hood up just minutes before the rains came down – we were snug and warm inside.

Monday was a trip to Stoke to pick up the new glasses – we managed to get a late start and therefore a late finish, so that accounted for that. Diane did well with the amount of walking that we did – she was suffering from a bad back and was in a bit of pain, but she got through.

Tuesday was a less than brilliant day – weather-wise – and we had a day of dog-sitting – Bombo and Sam were coming – so that Elaine and Paul could take their time doing what they needed to do without having to worry about the dogs – and they were very well behaved (the dogs that is – I am sure that Paul wouldn’t have been so good – he just a little bit mischievous).

Diane was confined to bed for the day with her back – she didn’t have her bell to beckon the first footman, cook, bottle washer and dog walker – but somehow she was able to get my attention when needed.

Wednesday and the patient was still in a bit of pain, but able to at least get up out of bed for a bit – she is gradually getting better but ever so slowly – and typically for medical people, she is less than the ideal patient – thinking that she is better than she really is.

Finally Thursday was here and we managed to get a few things checked off the list of things to do before I head off – Diane continued on restricted duties and finally managed to remember that there was tennis of the TV – that kept her firmly fastened to the chair.

And that was the week that came and went.

1 mile , 2 locks

Totals: 2211 miles, 1653 Locks, 74 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges

Friday, 1 November 2013

Katz’n’ice, early drinking and lots of friends

Tuesday 29th October to Friday 1st November 2013

The highlight for Tuesday would be the theatre-outing for a production of Cats, but we had planned on a dinner out before the show and La Bella Napoli was the chosen destination – their pre-Theatre dinner was very good indeed and with plenty in the restaurant you would almost be forgiven for thinking it was a Saturday night – not Tuesday.

The show was very well staged and presented; the cast very good and the performance was therefore of a high standard.

The walk back to the boat was fortunately downhill but the air was very cold – colder than we had felt for quite a while.

In the morning, the air from the night before was even colder and for the first time in quite a while there was some ice on the roof of the boat – a sign that we are not that far away from winter.

At least the day was clear and we had the task of cruising down to Barlaston ahead of us; and so we were off relatively early and without the need for a water tank top up we were moored up before lunch and just short of a little bit of rain (good timing again).

Diane wanted another trip up to Wedgwood – for another look around, which we did together. Returning after a visit to the cafĂ© we sort of settled down for the rest of the day and didn’t do too much at all – I should have also said that it was a day off for me – I had worked too many hours for the fortnight so the easy way was to do nothing – which I did.

As with many things whilst we are out on short cruises like this, there is a reason for moving and a schedule of sorts to be met – sometimes I know about it and sometimes I don’t – this time I did – we were back into Stone to prepare for the Fireworks on the weekend.

We have been having a little trouble with the engine actually starting – we are almost convinced that it is switch related and not battery – a few mornings have seen the engine just fail to turn over but after checking the circuitry behind the panel it seems to spring into life when next tried. Another job for Clive Penny when we get back to the marina.

Coming into Stone we texted Lynn and Phil to let them know we would be up to see them; just after that we had a call from Dot and Gordon – they would be in Stone in the afternoon and then we passed Joan and Jim (Two Jays) and let them know that we would walk back up to see them, just as soon as we found a mooring spot closer to The Star and didn’t need to restart the engine again.

The afternoon was a longer than expected enjoyment. First we caught up with Joan and Jim aboard their boat – tea and a lovely slice of freshly cooked cake – Jim, you can hire her out anytime!

Whilst there, Lynn walked past with Freedie, and she did get a bit of a shock with me peering through the window of a different boat – let her know that we were on our way to see her and Phil.

After saying goodbye to J and J we walked on a bit further to see L and P to see how they both were – some more tea and treats; sorted out dates for lunch and then Phil drove us back into town – so nice he is to do that and so very much appreciated.

Diane noticed that we had a couple of messages from Dot – they were just down from the Star Lock – so off we went. In the darkness that had already descended, now that summer time was long gone we found Ewn Ha Cul and the two inhabitants whom we had not seen for so long.

Time in some ways stands still for boaters – especially when you see one another after a long break – was it really that long since we last met.

Over a cuppa we talked of what we had done and what we are planning to do.

Dot brought the results of her labour – two beautiful bedside lamps that we had commissioned and whilst we had seen photos of them previously, they do look quite magnificent (pictures coming soon)

But it wasn’t long before we needed to get back for Banjo – 7 hours is bit longer than the original plan of no more than 4 and he would be in need of a tree or two and his dinner.

So we walked back by torchlight to the boat – the gang is starting to re-assemble!

It was even early by the GLW’s standards but there she was at 7:45am searching the wine rack for a fresh bottle of white wine; just barely out of bed and the bottle was duly passed across for yours truly to open it for her.

Well alright, I will own up she was just using it for cooking – getting an early start on a slow cooked stew that she had decided for today’s fayre (Friday).

Diane, Dot and Gordon along with Banjo walked down to the marina to accompany Elaine and Paul (Caxton) back up to Stone for some general get-togethering (i.e. visiting the pub).

9 Miles, 7 Locks

Totals: 2210 Miles, 1651 Locks, 74 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges