Tuesday 24 April 2012

Canal routes and root canals

I don't know why we're complaining. April is meant to be like this, and most parts of England need the rain. But it must be one of the wettest droughts we've had for a long time. Not to mention the hardest hail stones. So we do the next best thing to cruising – we plan. Out come the Nicholson's guides, and the route-planning websites are invoked to see how long it will take us to get to Chester in May.

Then I get tooth-ache – on our 39th anniversary of all days. Lower left back molar. Evening meal was a hesitant, jittery affair – food would insist on being chewed in that part of the mouth, and the flavour was no compensation for the nerves. We were actually going out for our celebratory meal two days later on a local Groupon deal (not that I'm miserly or anything). So, deciding the tooth was not going to subside on its own, I rang dentist Mike first thing on Monday morning and he, amazingly, was able to see me 40 minutes later. A large dose of amoxycylin, backed up by the usual tablets, meant we were able to enjoy the evening in style.

Unfortunately, Mike said the tooth was past saving. The infection in the root would re-occur, and he thought there was little point in trying to crown it (a subtle reference to my advanced age, I think). So out it will come. It's a wisdom tooth, no doubt more disposable that a top incisor. "If your eye offends you, pluck it out," says the Good Book, and I suppose the same principle must apply to teeth. But I'm not sure this was exactly what Jesus had in mind!

So it's back to planning canal routes, while I await judgment day on May 2nd. Just as well I've got lots to take my mind off the prospect.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Sunshine and Showers, Lockers and Covers

Carol Kirkwood et al had said that Tuesday morning would be the one dry part of the week, so I hauled myself out of our oh-so-comfy bed at an unreasonable hour, ready to attack (at last) the construction of some locker covers for the cratch. Unfortunately the sky decided to play footsie  with us and, what with the chill, working outside was a most unattractive proposition.

Amazingly, just before lunch the sun decided to put his hat on and I was able to tackle in earnest the necessary measuring, sawing and screwing. Narrowboats are bit like country cottage ceilings and walls – hardly a straight line to be found. So when I look at one or two edges that are not quite as intended I console myself that it blends in with the overall style. I discovered along the way that handsawing can be just as effective as an electric jigsaw for some jobs, and that stainless steel screws are not as strong as their more usual cousins when being driven in.

I am now, in equal parts, elated and exhausted, having got all three covers done, when at one point I thought I would manage only one. So we shall celebrate with a phenomenal steak and then go out to the Spittal Brook in Stafford for an evening of folk music. It's a beautiful, sunny evening to match the mood and make me forget the pain in the lower back. Bet it rains tomorrow. Perhaps I'll get a lie-in.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Easter and the Egg

We've celebrated Easter at sunrise on a New Forest hiltop, with joyful Brazilians in a poor suburb of Rio, with breakfast on the beach, with thousands in a huge marquee at a Christian jamboree, with new songs and old songs. Today it was with a happy group of Christians in Stafford. Different context, same story. Victory over death. Vindication of truth. The power of God in action to bring life when all is lost.

The speaker had brought along an Easter egg, bought in the local Co-op. No surprise there. Except that this one was called "The Real Easter Egg". A fairtrade egg, supporting charity and development projects, according to their website. As much to the point, it has the Easter story on the back of the box in storybook format. First thing of its kind I've seen. Nice to see supermarkets willing to stock it.

We didn't get any chocolate. But it was good to celebrate the old story with new friends.

Saturday 7 April 2012

Digital switchover

Erin Mae came with a very nice TV, built in to one side of the lounge area.  Unfortunately, with the digital switchover, it became completely incapable of receiving anything. We looked at getting a little digibox to feed it, but there was no way of doing this tidily. Anyway, the boxes we tried lost all their programme information when turned off.

We decided against joining the band who don't have a TV at all, and thought the most cost effective solution was to bring up our TV from home, and get a slightly larger one for there, more suitable for ageing eyes at a distance.

So yesterday the games began. Extracting the old TV from its surround proved a nightmare. My hands are scarred from reaching down behind to find and loosen fixings. Fitting the replacement proved even worse, with the machine screws refusing to locate. And of course all the sockets were in different places, some of them most inconveniently so. By the time of our evening meal I had something of a temporary fix, but it's going to need some more woodwork and the mains lead from home before it is as it should be.

Decisions usually have consequences, it seems, considerably beyond what was expected. Like the Boat Race today, with the (protesting, I presume) swimmer successful beyond his imaginings in causing annoyance and frustration. I somehow can't envisage his cause, whatever it is, being regarded in a more favourable light by those who watched the incident.

Thursday 5 April 2012

At last

Here we are, snug on the Erin Mae at last, after a relatively easy journey north. It's been a long time. A stunningly crimson setting sun promises a good day tomorrow, and now the sky is crystal clear, with planets and a very full moon blazing brightly. All seems well on board, and the central heating is keeping out the chill and getting rid of any residual winter dampness.

So tomorrow the fun starts. Not just yet the fun of cruising, I'm afraid, but of airing, cleaning, polishing, engine-servicing, locker-cover-making, varnishing. Sleeping. Planning, relaxing, enjoying.

A lot of the fun will be in seeing again some of the folk we've met before, but especially, when we finally get onto the cut, all those we're going to meet along the way.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Suppressing the weeds

Half-year cruisers like us (correction: like we intend to be) have either the best of both worlds or the worst. Year-round liveaboards take their life with them. Occasional cruisers get home regularly to keep an eye on things. We have this fabulous prospect of exploring all sorts of wonderful places during late spring, summer and autumn. Unfortunately that's just the time when the garden explodes with life, not all of it welcome, but all of it needing to be husbanded (fancy word for dead-heading the roses, mowing the lawn and cutting back the 6 foot length of bramble that came from nowhere last night).

My best-beloved has to shift her exercise-ground from the gym as we prepare to head off, so she's been getting in practice by getting at the weeds. Clearing them is one thing, keeping them away is another, so she's put down some of that sheeting, suitably cut where the roses or other friends come through, and covered it all with chipped bark. Looks great. Today she might just put some heavyweight plastic where the ground elder has invaded.

We really haven't yet worked out how to cope with all the other stuff once we're travelling. But we're certainly not going to sit here worrying about it and going nowhere in consequence. We'll think of something. There's plenty of time in the future to do nothing.

Monday 2 April 2012

Planning for July

We're getting our minds around having Elissa (8) and Sam (7) over from Norway in July, for a week on Erin Mae. We've ordered some booster seats for the car journey from the airport, and our friend Jon will lend us a couple of life-jackets. Perhaps we should get a couple more for ourselves, in case the kids get boisterous!

The boating itself is bound to provide lots of fun and exercise. But we're also trying to plan a route that will take in a range of additional energy-sapping opportunities, preferably of the sort where the children can burn calories by themselves, while we quietly take on a few in some shady corner near by.

Other boating bloggers report great times with kids on board. So far we've done the grandparenting thing in fairly small doses. I've a feeling we won't know what's hit us when the time comes!

Sunday 1 April 2012

Making Plans

"When are you off on your boat?" Seems like everyone's saying it, as though they can't wait to get rid of us. "Nice boating weather!" (true). "Bet you can't wait to get away!" (also true). "Thought you'd retired" (sort of true).

And then, just when it all seems to be coming together, Carol Kirkwood informs us (smile as bright as ever) that we're in for snow storms and freezing nights, as Mediterranean March moves off into the sunset. So, do we provide Erin Mae with the comforting warmth of our presence, or do we delay just a little longer in the balmy south? Will it be Tuesday? It was meant to be Friday until my best beloved had a youth club meeting she really needed to be at, and then Saturday until it transpired she'd arranged for lunch on Monday with a friend she hadn't seen in ages! But Tuesday's looking wet and cold and Wednesday not much better. Perhaps Thursday…

Meanwhile, we still haven't really quite worked out what we're doing with the garden while we're cruising. And the IT work has been going really well but isn't finished.

Sometimes you just have to get on and do it! Work it out as you go along. Like the locker covers and that paint job I know are waiting for my attention, but which I'm not quite sure how to do. Sounds a bit like my life!