Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Biding our time busily

'Winter's behaving like an angry relative who keeps storming out of the room and then rushes back in shouting "And another thing!"' quotes Val Poore in her blog. I love it. It sums up the situation perfectly. So we, like Val, continue to be off our boat, doing very landlubbery things.

We returned from Kantara as The Beast was withdrawing its assault. The marina water was thawed, the pontoon taps were working well. All was back to normal, though that didn't stop us from winterizing again, just in case. We left earlier than anticipated, Thursday 8th March. Jess had an early hospital appointment on the Friday, having spent a long afternoon and evening on Tuesday and most of  Wednesday being observed, prodded and poked and tested in the hope of finding the cause of bad abdominal pains. Steve had been her chauffeur, and missed work for the privilege, so it was time for us to lend a hand, and we took her back on the Friday for the completed test results, the outcome of which was a referral to a specialist. In seven weeks' time.

It's been useful to be back in St Albans. We both went to the doctor's for annual MoT checks, I thought I'd broken a filling, and had two dentist appointments, and we went to the beautiful Odyssey cinema to see "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri". Did I tell you we'd seen "The Shape of Water" there a few weeks ago, and "Paddington 2" back in January? Brilliant films, all of them!

Last weekend, we attended a retreat in Crowhurst, Sussex, with a crowd from our church.

After an eye-check, an NHS blood-letting (they couldn't get enough out of me the last time, nor could a GP nurse) the two-day launch of The Company of Players' fabulous album, and then Easter, we're off to a slightly breezy Skegness for Spring Harvest. Except it won't be very springy.

It's very likely that we'll go straight back to Kantara from Skeggy. That'll be in the second week of April. We've never before left it as late as that. 

And what will the weather bring? Will the Beasts have retired? Will we be able to cruise?

"Oh! And another thing!"

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Upgraded to IC5!

Having left the Alde gas stove on low all night, we were plenty warm in bed, but disturbed from time to time by the thudding, grinding noise of the hull moving against the ice that envelopes us.

The wind was gale-force, battering the boat with mighty gusts. I ventured out first thing this morning, and conditions were arctic. The snow is very fine, but it's actually hard to know if it's falling or being swept off the drifts by the wind. Or both!

I was out in it because I wanted to empty a toilet cassette, but I found that the Elsan disposal unit is unusable. Frozen. I wanted also wanted to fill our 10-litre drinking-water container, to reduce our use of the boat's water tank, but none of the running water in the marina is actually running. Also frozen. And it's not just the water that's frozen. After I'd changed the cassette, I found that the replacement one, stored in a hold on the well-deck, wouldn't open for use because the mechanism was... frozen stiff! Fortunately, that didn't take too long to thaw once it was inside the cabin.

So, our situation is now a firm IC5. We watched it enter IC4 yesterday afternoon.

We're happy to sit tight and weather this out (what a strange expression!) We won't starve, we won't get cold, we won't get bored. There are folk around the country who are in far worse straits then this, and my heart goes out to them. And it'll all be over soon. Won't it?

PS Grace and I have just come in from helping friends to get water into their tank. The marina manager has contrived to get access to an outlet under a manhole cover, and the idea was to attach hoses to this and thus run it to the boats that need it. It failed miserably. The water froze instantly in the hoses!

PPS I seriously thought I'd got frost-bite in my (foolishly) ungloved hands. I haven't.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We're at IC3!

On Monday morning, Grace declared herself well enough to go back to look after Kantara through "The Beast from the East" that is our current weather. So back we came.

Truth be told, St Albans was looking more likely than Yelvertoft to get the snowy, chilly blast they've been forecasting for days, but it was flipping cold back on the boat, I can tell you! The max/min thermometer sitting on top of the calorifier told us that the lowest temperature it had sat through since we left in the first week of December was just minus .1° Celsius, and the highest had been 14°. All was dry, all was well. And after a couple of hours of running the stove, we were warm and snug, too, and Grace was feeling much better after her lurking lurgy.

We woke the next morning to snow lying on the frozen marina pound, and ducks doing their obligatory skidding-around-trying-not-to-look-stupid routine. They were denied that opportunity by mid-day. The ice had gone, the snow had thawed. Social media were full of tales from boaters for whom the conditions had only got worse. And desperate times call for desperate measures!
But we're snug in the boat. The water taps on the pontoons are frozen, so there's no tank-filling for those who need it, but we did that pretty much as soon as we arrived yesterday, so we're okay for several days. We don't have a lot of food; that is, we don't have the ingredients for many conventional meals, but we have plenty to eat if we dispense with convention, and we're happy to do that. "Experimental" has been the label on many of the meals we've eaten on Kantara over the years! 

We're only here for a couple of weeks. March has a lot in store that I'll blog when the time comes. After that... well, let's see if any other Beasts raise their icy heads.

We're currently at IC3 on the Canal Ice Scale.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Where there's a will there's a wait

I was very pleased when I came up with that pun in the writing of "Life with our feet under water". There, Will is a mechanic whose services we employ on a number of occasions. He's good at his job, but never arrives on time. Not even on the right day, at times. So, "Where there's a Will, there's a wait".

Now however, our will is that we should be back on Kantara. But various things have conspired to make us wait, not least Grace's unwellness (she doesn't like to say she's ill), some infection that's given her cold-like symptoms (so perhaps it's a cold!), the worst of which has been face-ache (no unkind jokes there, please). This and a tickly cough have disturbed her sleep, and it's been going on for over a week now.

And then there's been the matter of the Wills (the Last of, and a Testament) that we've been reviewing, and that's incurred delays as well. Funny that - "Where there's a Will..."

However, with Siberian weather apparently on the way (depending which weather forecast you read/watch/hear), we plan now to return to the boat on Sunday. We'll be back here at the house next month for a number of reasons, some of which I'll write about when we get there. But until then, we'll be preparing Kantara for the rest of the year ahead; there's a lot of fairly small jobs to do.
And then there's the job of completing what might turn out to be my first completed novel. I've had two previous attempts at writing fiction in past years, but they've both been shelved. This one, however, is different and I'm really enjoying writing it, and it's progressing well. Whether or not it will be saleable is another matter, but my enjoyment of writing it is my motivator. It has a working title, and even a front cover! Designing that's been fun, too, though, should it ever grace Amazon's shelves, it may well have a different one - maybe a different title, too.

I'll have to wait and see!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Free posters for teachers

Most of you will know that I used to be a teacher, and taught Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for most of my career, heading departments and faculties in four secondary schools. In my last post, I created a set of posters that could be used in the classrooms of any subject where ICT was used. They're instructional and inspirational, and were popular amongst my colleagues.

Needless to say, I have no need for them now, and I'd be happy to give them away to anyone who might have a use for them. Of course, I don't know how many of you are teachers, or how many of you have teacher friends. I'm just hoping! All of the posters can be downloaded from DropBox here, but the whole collection is displayed below.  I hope they're of use!