Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Snap decision time!

So yesterday, at last, the plumber - the third we'd tried to get to do our list of jobs - turned up to assess the plumbing situation. Chris the Plumber was the man we'd wanted for the job in the first place, but he failed to answer any communications. After two others had turned out to be totally unreliable, I finally made contact with him. And he'll do the work, and he'll do it soon!

We reckoned there was a small chance he'd say, "How about tomorrow?", but when he didn't we tidied up the layer of decorating materials and associated detritus, packed bags and boxes and headed back to Kantara. We're here for just five days, and in that time we'll wash and wax the boat ready for whatever the winter might throw at her, and varnish the Roses & Castles. The reconditioned fuel injectors were refitted yesterday, so we'll be sure to have at least a short trip before we winterise her and leave her again.

It's been a glorious day, warm and sunny, and was perfect for a drive out this afternoon along beautiful country lanes to visit Tony Lester, an auctioneer in the village of Marton. I've had a large collection of postage stamps under my bed ever since my dad died in 1995, mostly his but also the smaller collection I created when I was a kid. With philately being far less popular these days, I knew this lot weren't very valuable, but this auctioneer gave me a fair price, and it's good to know that someone will enjoy then in due course. It would have been awful to throw them away!

On Monday, we'll be heading south to Taunton to spend a week with Grace's sister, Christine, and her husband Mike. On Sunday 20th, the four of us will be going to nearby Kingskerswell Parish Church to see Said the Maiden share the stage with Kadia, a male folk trio acknowledged by many as the male version of StM. The Maidens are supporting Kadia on a short national tour, and this promises to be a really good gig at lovely venue.


The Company of Players at Kingskerswell last year
After that... Well, the decorating's still not completed, and Chris has his jobs to do.

Then Christmas!

Yelvertoft Marina this evening

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

It's certainly worth it!

We've been away from Kantara for about two months now - it feels like a lot longer! We're not hurrying through our list of decorating and repair jobs. If we enjoyed the work more, we'd probably put in more hours each day, but we're resigned to be here now until next year. We will return to the boat some time soon, to winterize her. Colin tells me the injectors will be refitted on Monday, so then we'll be able to take Kantara across to the service platform to fill the fuel tank for the winter (to avoid the sides of the tank above fuel level attracting condensation of water, which would contaminate the diesel and possibly lead to diesel bug - although we religiously add bug-preventive fluid every time we add diesel. Belt and braces is better than falling trousers!).

And what have we achieved, and is it worth the time away from Kantara?

Well, the hall, stairs and landing have had the whole job - paper, paint and carpet - and we're very pleased with the result. Work's also been done in the living room and dining room, and we've started on the utility room. It's tiny, so it shouldn't take long. Then there's those jobs... you know how it is. You paint a wall, then realise that the ceiling really needs to be done, too. So you do the ceiling and decide that the light fitting ought to be replaced. And so on. We have a few of those. But yes, it's been worth it. Every hour spent is worth it.

Back in January, I used the county council website to report that the hawthorn tree on the grass verge outside the house was leaning rather threateningly. A few months later, I tried again. I've now phoned three times and sent an email.

The tree is still there.

It's going to fall, and it's going to cause damage. I just hope it doesn't fall on someone!

Lunchtime now... then more decorating!

Monday, September 17, 2018

A grand day out!

Scott’s Grotto is... well, a grotto, and this one was built by the 18th century poet John Scott in the town of Ware, neighbouring Hertford. It’s open every Saturday and bank holiday from April to September, for just two and a half hours. It has an interesting history which has led to it now being situated between two modern houses in a residential street. Passing through a gateway in a tall, wooden fence, you go down steps to the grotto entrance.

It’s not a huge grotto, and it only takes about fifteen minutes to walk around it slowly with lots of stops to admire the seashell-studded walls in the chambers. You then go around it again because you can. A torch is essential!

It’s fascinating and beautiful.

There’s a summerhouse nearby where Scott chose to write his poetry, though he also worked inside the grotto on occasion – an odd, dark choice, I would have thought!

Grace and I went there on Saturday with Nome and Jess. It’s only a half-hour drive from St Albans. Before we went, however, we paid a visit to Aylett Nurseries’ Dahlia Celebration. I’ve not really been a dahlia aficionado before, but their garden changed my mind entirely. The rows of so many different varieties were quite stunning.

It was indeed a grand day out!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A smiley event

Regular readers will know about the FoodSmiles community garden project Naomi started back in April 2014. On the day it was launched, the half-acre plot - donated by the farmer owner - had been untouched for years, and was very daunting,

but the new members of this collective worked long and hard to turn it around, with the help of a number of generous donors, particularly St Albans' Aylett's Nursery.

Last Sunday, four years on, they held a Harvest Festival celebration of the past year's success. a good number of the large team that work the plot attended, along with local mayors and members of the public.

It was a lovely event. They'd had festivals like it in previous years, but we'd always been on Kantara at the time. This was our chance to celebrate with them. Said the Maiden provided music in three sets, there was lot of food - much of it home-grown - and local ale. Nome had put together a treasure-hunt around the site, in the style of the professionally-produced ones she and Ed and Grace and I have done before.

I was amazed by the great progress they'd made since the last time I saw the garden. The poly-tunnels are full of tomatoes and other less hardy crops, and the out-door beds are a delight. The workers receive a regular basket of the produce, the size of the share being related to how many hours work per week they sign up for, and the baskets have been plentiful and varied. FoodSmiles were at the Mayor’s Pride Awards at the end of March, and came away runners-up in the Environmental Champions category - a great achievement.

On the boating front, even if we were able to be back on Kantara now, we'd not be able to go anywhere. Some weeks ago, we got mechanic Colin onto the matter of our leaky fuel injectors. He and others had tried in vain to stop the leaks, so now it was time to have them reconditioned. Colin removed them and took them to a company that are set up to do the job. Their expected charge was £40 per injector - there are four of them. He came back to me a week later with the news that they'd actually cost four times that, and that it might well be that new injectors would be cheaper, or only a little more expensive. I contacted a Barrus dealer and asked them for a quote. £230 each plus VAT! The job's back in Colin's hands now, and we're going for the refurb!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, painting's all done on the hall, stairs and landing, wallpapering will be completed today, the carpet man's coming to see us soon, and the plumber's been briefed. The utility room's only small, so it won't take us long (though we've said that before...!)

The header of this blog says something about "living the dream". We're back to dreaming it now!