This time last year…

….Frannie was still pregnant and we went boat shopping.  It was a lovely sunny day (in my rose-tinted memory), and we came out to Sawley to browse the narrowboats they had for sale.  We climbed on and off half a dozen vessels, which is no mean feat when you’re a week overdue (or indeed when not pregnant but quite unfit), and tried to work out what is important to look for in a houseboat.  (I am still not sure.  Though I would probably be a lot more diligent when looking for holes.)

The first boat we saw was approximately £20 000 more than my budget (at the time I had no idea if my budget was in any way realistic so decided to see a range of boats.  Also I’m nosy.) It had a cream corner sofa (and who doesn’t like a corner sofa) and a built in television in the wall.  The second boat had two bedrooms – handy for people staying over – but not much in the way of communal hanging-out space.  The third boat had a really great mosaic on the bathroom floor, and a fancy corner shower.  The fourth boat had a surprisingly large kitchen area (I’ve lived in flats, albeit in London, which had less kitchen space) and a nice dining room table, which conveniently changed into a bed.  George Clarke would have approved.  The fifth boat may have had potential, but I struggled to see past the dirt and the cobwebs.  The last boat I can’t even remember.

By this point Fran and her two-year-old were ready for a drink in the cafe, so we treated ourselves at the marina cafe to rose lemonade and a flapjack (both highly recommended).  When we asked Hetty which her favourite one was, she said yes to all of them.  That girl has vision – why settle for one boat when you can have a fleet?  My favourite was more obvious.  The fourth boat, with its abundance of communal space (relatively speaking) and its very attractive bathroom was the clear winner of the day.  A more impulsive person would have made an offer that day.  But being a pragmatic sort, I waited at least a week.

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29th September 2014 was a big day.  It was the first time I saw Double Fracture, and it was the last day Fran was pregnant.  (I think clambering on and off narrowboats was key to getting labour started.  I think there is a PhD in that theory.)

Happy birthday for tomorrow Mabel!

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Birthday‘ by the Beatles.

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The trouble with white goods

Life without a fridge came with certain challenges (the milk went off in a couple of days), but there were also advantages. For instance, I never came home to find the fridge had frozen two beer bottles, causing one of them to explode and cover the multiple jars of tomato chilli jam in frozen beer.

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Cold as ice‘ by Foreigner.

48 hours of low-level, domestic drama (snappy title, no?)

Never come back off holiday.  That is what I have learnt in the last two days.  Either that, or never go away on holiday so long that you lose the ability to function properly.  (Ten days will do it.) Sit back and marvel at my recent incompetence.

Ten beautiful days in Thailand went far too quickly.  A blur of beaches, massages, amazing villas (well only one amazing villa), and the wedding of Mr and Mrs Carrington Porter III.  But I was looking forward to coming home to my beautiful boat – there’s no sleep as good as the one you get in your own bed.

However, to get to that bed, I had to fight my way through approximately 1200 new spider’s webs.  It was like a small scale Shelob’s lair.  (It wasn’t, but why not grant me some artistic license every now and then?)  It doesn’t matter how much I evict the little beasts, they come scuttling back in.

And then there was the fridge.  I had decided to save the planet and switch off the electricity whilst I was away.  There was only wine, beer and tomato sauce in the fridge and I thought it would all survive a couple of lukewarm weeks.  I was wrong – I opened the fridge to be greeted by a wall of mould.  That is absolutely the last time I turn off the fridge to save on my £16 quarterly bill – it’s just not worth the morning of disinfecting that follows.

Cobwebs cleared and fridge de-moulded, I set about the very important task of replenishing my tomato chilli jam stores.  I had borrowed a particularly big pan to make an industrial quantity, and it was bubbling away nicely, when the gas ran out.  “No problem,” I though.  “I’ll just switch to the other canister.”  So I clambered about on the front of my boat in the dark to discover that both canisters in the gas locker were empty; that my clever gas distribution system automatically switched from one canister to another once the first was empty, leaving me with no idea of when to replenish the store.  Which left me unable to finish making the jam, or boil a kettle to do the washing up.  And also quite unsure as to how to change the canisters when I was able to buy replacements.  I went to bed annoyed.

When I woke up, I was still not in the best of spirits, and left in a hurry for work.  It was after I had shut my front door that I realised instead of picking up the keys for my boat, I had picked up the keys for my parent’s house.  Thus locking in my set of keys and the spare set of keys I usually kept at the parent’s house.  Brilliant.  Luckily, one of my neighbours was also leaving at 6am, so was able to unlock the gate to the bank to let me out.

It was suggested that I solve the problem by taking a crowbar to the front door.  With my current vein of luck (and ineptitude) I decided this was a risky plan.  I decided to pay for a professional.  Arranging for a locksmith to come let me back in the next morning was easy.  Working out how I was going to get onto South Bank to let him in was less easy.  One of my neighbours had told me about a button you could press to open the gate when you didn’t have a key, and I thought I could probably reach this from the other side of the gate.  I could, and only paused for a few seconds when I saw the button said ‘emergency gate release’.   I pressed the button, and the gate opened.  And an alarm went off.  It didn’t stop when I tried to shut the gate, or when I pressed the button again.   And the gate also wouldn’t lock.  The emergency out-of-hours marina contact (calling them may have been playing fast and loose with the concept of ‘emergency’, but there was an alarm and a blue flashing light) said she would get it sorted, and I stood there waiting for a phone call for further instructions.  In the meantime, five of my neighbours passed me by, all of whom could have let me in without all the drama.  One day I will learn to be patient.

An hour later, the locksmith arrived, and one of my neighbours locked the gate with the old-fashioned padlock the gate used to be secured with before the marina introduced the new-fangled electronic system.  I scurried away from the gate and resolved to pretend I had no idea why the alarm was shrieking like that.

The locksmith gained entry into the boat within about 10 minutes.  He couldn’t pick the lock, so came up with a less technical solution that, if I had really given the problem some thought, I could have worked out myself.  You live and learn, and sometimes pay £100 for the privilege of that knowledge.

So all that’s left now is the new gas canisters.  But maybe that’s a job for tomorrow.  Learning too much in one day can’t be good for you.

This blog post was brought to you by ‘When the night feels my song’ by Bedouin Soundclash.  This one’s great.  Listen to it.