Sunday, 31 January 2010

Final Days Aboard

Well I'm not sure how this happened all so quickly but here it is.

On Tuesday am I woke about 4 am and was upset about living aboard again. The claustrophobia that shows itself in crabbyness to Alex; the general grubiness of my indoor surroundings, where no ammount of cleaning seems to erradicate; the stress that had caused my heart to become sick with ectopic heart beats. And so on.

I woke simply having had enough. I'd almost got to this point so many times, but in the summer was unable to move as someone was in our brick house, and later when they moved out, we couldn't afford it.

So here is what happened: We'd put our house up for sale, we accepted the low offer on the condition that the repo house I'd seen would accept ours. I phoned up and it was sold! As it was with a finance company, they said I could out bid. So I did. And everyone kept putting blocks in our way, saying we'd need to close in 28 days and get an mortgage AIP (agreement in principle in 24 hours) along with our buyer. We convinced them that owing to the fact I'd got someone who worked fast we could do it. Then we were told by our agent that it wouldn't be possible for our vendor to do that. But I told them that if I could they could! And we all did!

The offer was rejected as we'd no evidence on paper. Back to the paper. It was then accepted on Friday. But we have to close in 28 days. This is the final hurdle.

Yesterday we moved out of the boat. A single tear. And I was a like a bat out of hell!

The final treat on the river bank was the view of a light covering of snow that turned lavender in the bright sunlight.

So here I am in a house. It seems strange. It seems just like I never left and didn't have all the nearly two years of experiences.

Earlier in the week there were 170 geese on the field and in the water opposite the boat. I counted them as they were all in a line eating the farmers crops. 150 Canadian geese and 20 grey lags. Yesterday as I woke the farmer had come and let off a loud fire work to chase them off. Some chance!

In the house I immediately began to do the washing. I feel obsesseed with removing this feeling of general grubiness, which neither Alex and I had ever talked about. Yes you get muddy and messy out and about anywhere. But both the location next to a field and also the fact that it is hard to wash clothing (hose pipe into the washer to save heating the water by the generator) means you make clothing last longer (fewer washes). It's not a choice to be grubbier than usual, it just happens as a matter of course. Since I got back here the washer has run non stop late into the night and early morning too.

Getting into bed the room seemed... well too square. I couldn't see far enough!

Also the house was colder than the boat. Well there's a turn up for the books!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Considering that I've been all alone on our narrow boat all week, in the depth of winter, well... the worst winter in thirty years here, then I think I've done OK.
I woke up with a spring in my step and walked out of the boat in my night dress and dressing gown to switch on the generator. No need for modesty as no one is around!
Only I hadn't noticed the ice and my blue sheepskin cozy slippers were not up to the grip and I managed to slip and fall, mid rising kick step, as I was dancing back down the gang plank. It's all the musical 'One's fault as no matter how many time I go down the think I just want to do high kicks (well now at 47 they are low kicks but I trained as a dancer from 3years to 18 years so what do you expect! And now I make a living at it) .... So I fell. Right down the gang plank and landed on my lower back at the bottom. Could have broken my back but didn't.

Next job was for Uncle Chris (Alex's Uncle) to come and change over the empty gas bottle. We have two spare and one on the go. The empty one had icicles hanging off the side of it. So that job done I then had to collect the drinking water from the stand pipe. We don't use the tank for this as we've never inspected it for cleanliness. In addition until lately the water ran a disgusting rust colour when it got the the end of tank. No it runs clear. The water just stops mid shower or whatever.

The final job of the day after the cleaning was the collection of petrol for the generator (to make electricity to run the fridge or TV or any other appliance. The lady at the kiosk is a real Hitler and always shouts impolitely over the loud speaker when people line up at the wrong side of the pump. She wouldn't let me fill up three emergency bottle. Just two. 'Regulations!'. So I went back to the boat and filled the generator only to return to the petrol station for a second time. This time she smiled. Bitch!

I went to view a run down house in need of big refurbishment. It's only about two miles away from the boat and would be great. We just need to sell our own house in order to buy it.

Monday, 11 January 2010


I woke this morning to see a moorhen floating down the river stood upright on a piece of ice. Beautiful.
Everything is beginning to thaw and we'ver got winter visitors: about 40 teal ducks.

Alex has gone to Japan for the week. I'm all alone on the boat with the challenge of keeping warm and sane. Almost too much for me!

This morning I filled the geni and managed to get petrol all over my cardigan and filled up the drinking water. All these are Alex's usual jobs. It was bloody cold on the hands.

Friday, 8 January 2010

frozen gas again

Last night around minus 2 the gas that heats our boat started to freeze. It uses up about half the bottle and then as more gas is used it just freezes when it gets this cold. But then that turned out not to be the problem.
It was 5pm so I called Alex who came home at 6pm. Eventually at 7.30pm we decided to try a new bottle. And hey presto when he took off the old bottle it seems that it's been contaminated with something. The bottle weights really heavy, like there is concrete in the bottoem. We are still trying to work things out. But thankfully with the weather being really harsh (about minus 5 outside) and snow and the groung (the worst winter for 21 years they are saying) I was pretty glad that we were smart enough to figure there may be a problem with the gas.
We also dug out the electric heater. This would be normal to use in a house in such emergencies, but on a boat it's not a good idea. It is extremely heavy use on the generator and uses masses of petrol and is very noisy, even with our misleadingly described 'silent' Honda generator (only 90 decibels!!!!) .
We went over to Alex's mums - a 40 minute drive and sorted out an extra duvet and the luxury of an electic blanket.
The whole life on a boat is surrounded (in winter) by issues regarding keeping warm, keeping well lit in winter and water.
Tomorrow we are facing again the issue of a frozen water pipe and filling up the tank from the stand pipe.
At least the out door fridge is working! (A plastic bag on the roof!)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

freezing gas

I woke up to a notherly blowing wind today. This is important to us and helpful to know as the weather vane on the church handily shows us.
The only time it faces in this direction is if we're in for really hot or in this case really cold.
Yesterday after a freezing dog walk, I stayed in doors, until... well... now, 24 hours later. It's not often I opt to stay indoors as I find it claustrophobic and lonely. But that seemed a better option yesterday as the country is in the grip of an icy blast.
Last night the gas bottles began to freeze, which meant that the pressure dropped and would only output that bare minimum. The thing to do then is swop the bottle. But then you're left with half empty bottles.
Alex is going to Japan next week. He can leave me with 2 bottles. Enough for about 4 days at the current temperatures. So what do I do? I guess I'll go over to our empty house and stay there a bit.....

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

We arrived back from my parents in Devon safely and thankfully this time the boat had not been done over.
Two years ago some one broke in and stole everything. Even the knives and forks, the rugs, the tin food, the teddy bear (ahhhh... that was the worst!). A grands worth of stuff in total. So this year I placed low energy lighting in the window and we left the heating on too, and put decorations around, just to make it obvious that there was someone around.
It is pretty bad weather. There is snow and ice. This meant that yesterday the stand pipe had frozen again, as had the hose pipe, so we couldn't pipe water into the boat. Last year Alex brought it all in barrels. What a faff!
Anyway today at least I can have a shower and start the mountain of washing that has built up this week and beyond.
Today I've also had to tackle the bathroom with a mommoth clean once again, as we have an infestation of small flies. Yesterday I killed around 300 or more. The just seem to hatch out and fly towards the windows. They seem a bit like fruit flies and appeared last summer. I thought they had come from the toilet, the effulent goes right down into a tank below and we put in treatment fluids. It is then emptied once every ten days to two weeks. But I don't think so now. They begin to fly from 11am til around dark. And they are the bane of my life!
Yesterday when I went out for a walk on my usual route around the field with Brin the dog, we saw the red kite. It has a roost quite near the boat and I think I've found the nest .... a bucket sized object quite high up. I need a second opinion on this. They have an amazing cry like a shepherd whistling his dogs in an over enthusiastic manner. The sound travels for miles and you will often hear them long before they are visible even as a small dot in the sky.

Sunday, 27 December 2009


For Christmas it has been good to get away from the boat into nice bright warm parents home. I've had a bath every day, as we've only got a shower on the boat and although I no longer miss a bath, I find it great for relaxing. At the house I had one everyday. It was great for unwinding.
And with an out of sorts sister also visiting it's good to relax in one again.
She broke up with her fella of 13 years after meeting a married bloke ... in New Zeland. They met online and she went to visit him and got on well! (This I know thanks to the post coital photos on face book... yuck!) He is now getting a divorce and she is emigrating. Although now, a year on, they seem less into each other. And she is going to move to a different city.
I thought this would be the last Christmas with here before she went, but it may not be owing to the long emigration process.
In the past, I've been the one left out with everyone having loved ones around, but since I got married at the ripe age of 42 for the first time, (it's our 5th anniversay in January) she's been really pissed off in general.
This Christmas she seems to have plunged more depths. In a recent discussion, she described imigrants as 'povies' (poverties!!). She seems overly concerned with putting on a hard monied bitch front. Flash car, lost weight, and going for what she wants in a big way with no consideration for others at all.
In addition, her whole physical image has changed from someone who dresses nicely to someone who shows her tits at every possibility, and then also posts those photos on face book.
She is not capable of being generally friendly to every one in her vicinity. Even since a little girl (I'm 12 years older) she would have one friend and purposely exclude others by cutting them out. So at the moment she's very lonely and seems intent on being brittle and passing comments trying to get a rise whenever possible.
I am responding by the following tack:
1. Be as nice as possible
2. Be light and happy
3. Loving my husband.
4. Only responding to her when she is being pleasant and ignoring her attempts at put downs.
This seems to really get on her goat. And she is clinging to mum and wispering in corners.
I think the bottom of the issue is that she is jealous of my happy and settled relationship.