Friday 28 June 2013

No. We haven't fallen into the bottom of the dry dock - still troglodyte living

The thing is, we have been meaning to re-paint the roof for a couple of years but have never got round to it due to all the crap having 3 top boxes, 1 kayak, 3 solar panels and 1 self seeking (Germany only) satellite disc on the top. That's a lot of stuff to deposit across a towpath; even if willing to look like the Beverly Hillbillies there are security issues with the solars.

Just as we were due to come out of the dry dock, the adjacent wet dock/paint dock became available so we went back into the caves and got on with it

 We have worked our socks off - sanding, masking, priming, undercoating, glossing
 why, oh why, do we live on a 66ft boat?
 then there's all the top boxes
the 'A' frame, the bow flares (we have to put the boat name on both sides - legal requirement for France) and the paint on the slide hatch keeps blistering and Daisy has red paws and Baxter has blue whiskas.

Little mouse with clogs on is still living in our roof space, despite the paint fumes, and still happily feeding on the (supposedly poisoned) lego blocks.

We are very, very tired but it will all be worth it and, because we are bow in, we have the WiFi back albeit sluggish. Oh, and the shore power is working again.

PS. After the beer festival finished they reduced the beer to £2, then £1 per pint and we were working all the time so we never had a single pint - at those prices it's enough to make a grown woman weep, boo hoo, sob

Saturday 22 June 2013

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Said a little mouse with clogs on.
More clumping noises were heard last night as the chocolate flavoured Lego bricks were dragged around the ceiling. This mouse is clearly made of very strong stuff; there could of course be more than one but, if so, it's a same sex community or we would be over run by now. No smell developing yet either.

We are now in the shed for blacking so have very limited communications. We had thought we would be able to use the pubs Wifi but it isn't working. G had run the batteries right down (as instructed with traction batteries) before fully charging them on the shore line - except when he plugged the power line in it failed. Nothing left in the batteries so no lights, no water..... Life as a troglodyte is such fun.

The beer festival is good though!

Thursday 20 June 2013

A little mouse with clogs on.The obituary 28/09/12 - 19/06/13

Since the back end of September last year we have had an uninvited guest aboard MR, courtesy of Daisy. She sneaked past us both with a mouse that was still alive and then promptly let go of it. We tried to re-capture and release it with humane traps to no avail.

 Strangely, it didn't break into any of our food supplies but lived it's life in our 'attic' between the roof lining and the boat roof - presumably it gained it's fluids from the condensation around the mushroom vents but goodness knows what it was eating, there's only insulation up there.

In fear for our electrics, we put out baited (in-humane) traps. It then continued to live very happily off of the bait we put in the traps (it had a preference for chocolate) without ever setting one off - even though G honed them to a fine trigger which went off if we so much as breathed when we went passed.

Not only was it now enjoying new food types, it was also eating our bin bags, kitchen and loo roll (which scarily sounds like nesting - please God don't let Daisy bring home another live one of the opposite sex), it was also keeping us awake at night, tap-dancing in clogs above our heads in the bedroom which led to Daisy stalking round and round the bed trampling my, trying to sleep, body underfoot.

Sadly, this could not go on as we didn't want to be arrested at customs for smuggling undeclared animals without passports. With much sadness, we purchased blocks of poison; compassionately choosing the chocolate ones in order that it might enjoy a last supper. These blocks are like big lego bricks: block to mouse ratio 2:1, and we unscrewed the vents in the saloon and bedroom ceilings, (removing the traps and their food source) and put a block by each, replacing the vent mesh covers.

Later that evening we were sat quietly in the saloon (no we hadn't had a row) without radio or TV on when the, now familiar, sound of a little mouse with clogs on started up. This was followed by gnawing sounds and then kerlump, kerlump, kerlump sounds followed as the block was dragged along the ceiling back towards the galley.

At 2.00am we were woken by the same sound effects in the bedroom ceiling ... and again at 3.30am and 6.00am. By this time Daisy was demented. I casually asked G if it said on the packet how long the poison took to work and whether it was going to die a long, slow, horrible death (I had fears that we might start hearing ever fainter squeaks for help), but he didn't know.


Yesterday and all last night there was not a sound from the ceilings.

RIP my intrepid little stow-away

PS The sun has come out and there's a rather unpleasant smell permeating our boat

Wednesday 19 June 2013

A crisis in the veg supplies- North Kilworth

Saturday we (the dogs and I) set off up hill and down dale in search of fresh produce - our last supplies had come from Crick and I was down to 1 potato, 3 mould spotted carrots and half a cabbage for the Sunday Roast.

We ended up in the pretty village of North Kilworth

after running the gauntlet of this little lot and their mums

and found a garage that sold sweets, bread and milk but not so much as a tin of peas - oh well, that's what the emergency store cupboard is for. I'm happy to hoard things into this cupboard but am very reluctant to take things out. Perhaps I'm afraid that there'll be a more serious emergency just around the corner; G reckons we could live out of this cupboard for a year without feeling much pain, but he exaggerates and I think it would only last 3 months.
The lovely old rectory - this would have made a good 'living' in Jane Austen's time
and Nether Hall
A fatality occurred whilst I was in the village - an Adder?
back down the hill the other side of the canal - Muttley spots a rabbit

Baxter and I wait for him to come back
G had a phone call from his daughter to say she'd pick us up to meet for Sunday lunch and he could fetch the car from her place to come back and babysit on Monday. 

phew! that was close

Sunday 16 June 2013

Organising the stuff for dry dock

Do you know the name of the colour of the paint on your boat - assuming it wasn't you that commissioned it of course? G thought it matched up to 'Midnight Blue' and I thought it matched to 'Oxford Blue'. Searched through the boat history paperwork and found a quote to re-paint in 'existing colour'. Hmm. Not terribly helpful. Decided to ring the previous owners (Ken and Fiona) who commissioned the original boat and they didn't know either!

Ordered the Oxford then.

Whilst in the dry dock we need to cut a hole in the bottom of MR to pump the macerated contents of the black tank out in France - I don't like it but that's how it works out there. I certainly won't be swimming in the rivers and shall try my damnedest not to fall off of the kayak either!

We're also welding two 'T' studs on top of the gunwales inside the well deck area and two dollies on the surround of the semi-trad at the rear for tying off ropes in big locks - there have been many occasions when they would have been useful in this Country too.

We left Crick for South Kilworth ish on Thursday (we've moved 4 days on the trot this week) and moored in a rather pretty spot for the weekend. We had, fortuitously, just moored up when the heavens opened ... that was lucky

These are our views for a few nights

The weather forecast for Friday was strong winds and heavy rain, but it turned out not too bad at all. G even walked across to South Kilworth with me for a pint at the dog friendly White Hart - just like when we were here two years ago, the same solitary gentleman served behind the bar, cooked the food, and waited at tables; he probably washed up as well.
 then we popped round to the amazing butchers where he cut and freezer packed the wafer thin bacon I like so much
 returning to MR via Stanford Reservoir
to do some much needed repairs to the neck of Muttley's 'wack-wack'

Friday 14 June 2013

Rants, sewage and puddings (that'll get the ratings up!)

The day started with noises of whining and distress - some poor enthusiastic Collie, somewhat unwisely, stuck it's nose through the cat flap on Daisy's well deck. You only do it once. Hopefully it was more bewildered than seriously hurt.
So we trundled off from  Norton Junction past Welton Hythe Marina thinking we might moor up just a bit further on and  dine at the Mango Lounge by Watford Gap services and bridge 6 - it looks run down, overgrown and is, presumably, closed. So we continued on to the Watford flight. I love working this flight of single, well balanced and well maintained locks.
We arrived at the bottom just after the last of the 'up' boats went through and they were starting the 'down' queue (a bit like the stop/go boards at road works) and we would be 2nd going up after about an hour and a  half when the down boats were clear. We decided to go for a simple main meal whilst we were waiting (freeing up the rest of the day - we normally eat in the evening) and were then free to start 'turning' the bottom two locks as the first boats started to arrive towards the bottom of the flight (and us).
If you've never done the flight it's a bit difficult to explain but, coming down, there is a single lock then a staircase of 4, then 2 singles. So, although the staircase locks pretty much look after themselves, the 3 separate locks need to be turned after each boat. So we turned and turned these to help each of the 'down' boats clear through as quickly as possible. We had loads of help doing this of course ...... did we hell. What is happening on our waterways. Yes, rant, rant, rant.
The waiting up going queue are all sat on their boats watching ..... grrrr!!!!
Our turn to start up the flight and, of course, a delay after finishing the staircase to enter the last lock because it had to be reset from the boat in front. What were the crews now waiting to come down doing? Yep, sitting on their boats on their arses just like the ones at the bottom had been. So whilst G pulled over to the service point I stood and re-set the lock for each of the boats coming up behind us.

Both lock keepers came to find me to say thank you for my help but, really, it shouldn't have been 'thank worthy' it should have just been done .... grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...  We've only lived on the waterways for 5 and a bit years but, already, the decline in courtesy and manners is horrible (vive le France - they may be just as ill-mannered but I won't understand a word so I won't bloody care!)
So, pulled over at the services (here comes your pipework bit John) we are now in a position to 'electronically' self pump out. G has run a feed from the poo tank to a Whale Gulper pump then to a divertor valve, which then takes the waste either out the original top pump out point, or through a sea cock in the engine hole (a la Francais). Simples...
 Operation of this system involves turning on a switch in the bedroom; 2 switches away from my bedside  light switch. The hole in the bottom will not be drilled until we are in dry dock for blacking next week .....

Are you keeping up here? I wonder what will happen if I hit the wrong switch by mistake when turning off my reading light in the wee small hours ???!!!!!!!!!!!!!??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

continued on through the tunnel to Crick for the night and it rained and it rained and it rained
found some left over batter in the fridge from last Sunday lunch so had collapsed Yorkshires drop scones with strawberries, sweetened cream and chocolate sauce .... yum

Thursday 13 June 2013

A bad start to the day and the Buckby flight

Tuesday dawned dull and windy - no change there then. Ensconcing myself in the bathroom, as most of us do first thing, Daisy followed me in and chucked up her entire stomach contents at my feet - most of it, sadly, still recognisable as a very large mouse!!!!!!!!!! Yuk
We stopped at the excellent Whilton Chandlers where we ordered dollies (not the sort you chuck out of a pram), T-studs, catches and paint which they will personally drive up to Les at Welford Marina when the order arrives. That's service.
Whilst in the chandlers, a great deal of banter went on about choice of locking partners for the ascent on the Buckby flight - I just knew I was going to get a single hander. But no! When we came out we found a party of 6 adults (all looking reasonably healthy and 4 of them quite young) looking at the bottom lock and scratching their heads in comic book fashion. It transpired that they'd picked up a hire boat the night before and this was the first lock they'd seen - apart from a model in the office. It also transpired that they had waited nearly 2 hours for their 'turn' up the flight. They'd moored the boat way back and joined (or so they thought) the queue on foot.
No flies on me; I said we'd take them up and explain how it all worked if  they would provide some muscle.

It didn't work as well as you might hope! We strapped the hire to MR which, in theory, left me and 6 others to crew. Hmmmm. Mum and Dad didn't get off the boat and I couldn't separate the other 4. I think they were in lurvve! Finally, I persuaded them to work 2 either side whilst I went up and reset but they were sooo slow...lovely, but slow. The pair behind us with only two crew were catching up and helping us - but they were very good natured about it.

This incident slowed us all up: mother duck and chicks swam into the lock ahead of us; not much you can do with the boats strapped, so we decided to bring the whole lot up slowly but then they, somehow, scurried out of the back of the boats and we opened the gates again to free them!
By lock 6 out of 7 I managed to persuade one of the crew to leave his lady and come up with me to set the top lock up at The New Inn. Coming up to the lock another boat pulled off a mooring in front of our pair which meant re-setting the lock for them and then re-setting it again for us so I 'phoned down to G to warn him to hold off as there would be quite a delay. He commiserated, but I said not to worry as I was enjoying a nice pint of Pedigree whilst working the lock - he said something extremely rude!

I did take pity on him and hand him down a pint of Hobgobblin when he eventually reached me; only after he'd grovelled a bit though.

Hopefully our budding boaters would reach the Watford flight a bit more competent or else the queue of waiting boats would reach Norton Junction and beyond. It is difficult though, they are on holiday and you can't give them orders - I already felt that my 'suggestions' were getting a little forceful in my frustration.
Now John on NB Ellen seems more than a little intrigued by MR's new sewage pipe work. Sad, but you know how all boaters love to talk poo; well just a little more patience John and I shall explain all on the next blog (if I don't forget)

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Bugbrooke to Weedon Bec

Monday, yet again, dawned chilly. We really didn't pick a good time to clip these dogs out; they seemed to be having a duvet day! We decided to move on to Weedon Bec as I was desperately in need of vegetables and there is a good greengrocer there
 We moored on the other side this time, at the back of the church
 far more convenient for the village and it's shops

 I love these wonky windows
 a quick panic when I discovered the veg shop closed, but I was re-directed to the new site round the corner. The 'couldn't be bovvered' girl behind the counter said it was different people but, as she didn't know  her radishes from her courgettes, who knows. It was disappointing - the expected high prices but not very fresh looking. Between there and the One Stop I managed to get enough
 On returning to the boat, G had the boat in bits again
 installing this pipe which is part of our new sewage arrangements to do with going to France
 as it was to do with sewage and Daisy was happily in charge (as always), I dumped the shopping and headed off with the dogs
 towards Church Stowe
 unfortunately it was too late in the day to continue on to the Old Dairy Farm that Sue had recommended

 so that will have to wait until on the way back from blacking
 Sadly, the mooring area on the tow path side at Weedon Bec is turning into a tip - this was the poo bin and the rubbish skip area was appalling, but I ran out of camera battery at this point - I noticed that the skips were emptied later, but not the disgusting mess all around resulting from the overflow
As this was only a shopping stop, we planned to move on in the morning and I fell asleep praying/dreaming for a hire boat full of  strapping athletic males to lock up the Buckby flight with us. My back seems to be OK again, but this flight would be the test - the Buckby flight is a pig.