Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Back soon now

Jess passed her driving test today. I'm sure she didn't really need the times I went out with her driving over the past ten days, but it was good fun, and I'm very glad that I was able to be there for her. We were due to return to Kantara tomorrow, but we still have a few odd jobs to do, so it'll probably be Thursday now.

On Saturday, there's the marina Bank Holiday barbecue. The following Tuesday, Simon is coming to rewire our battery charging circuitry. We're away over the next weekend, seeing Grace's sisters and celebrating a niece's 40th birthday. When we return, we'll be looking to get out on the cut and do some travelling!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A week in summary

Very strong winds. Rain. Rain and wind. More wind. A bit sunny. Windy again. A bit more rain. Wind. Much of the time the wind has been around 25mph, as measured by Michael, who has a weather station on Clancy J.

Making the most of our free cinema tickets, courtesy of Tesco Club Card points, we saw two films in three days. "Oblivion", a fascinating sci-fi mystery, with multiple Tom Cruises and one Morgan Freeman...

A veteran assigned to extract Earth's remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.

...and "Olympus has fallen", an action-packed suspense thriller with one very beaten-up Gerard Butler, and Morgan Freeman again.
Disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning works with national security to rescue the President from his kidnappers.

We came back to St Albans yesterday, for a stay of ten days in which I will be giving Jess as much driving practice as possible before her test on the last day of the month. Ironically, the weather as we left Yelvertoft was sunny and still - as it is today! - and the forecast is for the better weather to continue for the rest of this week,

only to return to what it was next week when we return to the boat.

Still, there are things to be done here at the house, as always, so we won't get bored! And it's always good to spend time with the kids.

Said The Maiden took part in a charity gig last night, although the venue had serious problems with the sound system, and the girls found it hard to be heard against the noise of the bar adjacent to the stage. But there were lots there, and I'm sure a good deal of money was raised for a good cause.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Well, THAT didn't last long!

The weather continues to be quite unsuited to cruising, the main problem being the biting wind which has whipped up the marina pound into quite a storm on occasions. It's quite entertaining, watching people's attempts to moor at the service platform!

It's not all been bad, however. On Saturday, we walked to The Moorings at Crick for lunch, and the weather was pleasant, albeit still rather gusty on the highest point of the route.

As we started for home, however, it started to drizzle, and the wind got up again,and the drizzle turned into a downpour pretty much as soon as we stepped onto the boat. And this kept up for the rest of the day. The wind was ferocious, and continued that way throughout Sunday. There were moments when walking into the wind was actually difficult. The ducks were a hoot!

So, we're not encouraged to go out on the cut at the moment. Trevor and Sarah on At Last have set off for Oxford. I hope they don't regret it. And Nick and Margaret on Jasmine are planning to go out for a week from next weekend. We're in no hurry!

Simon came to sort out the problem with our battery charging circuit, so all's well with that now, except... He pointed out that whoever wired the domestic battery bank had used cable of inadequate gauge to be entirely safe, so he's coming back at the beginning of March to put that right.

We're going back to the house this weekend, to give Jess lots of driving practice before her test on the last day of the month. We'll be there until the day after that. Maybe, when we return... who knows? A cruise? Several cruises? Winter??

I had to laugh at a jar of Fair Trade whole cloves from Sainsbury's. Do you see anything wrong?

Oh, and I've broken the new exercise cycle! I've recently stopped doing my 15km hard cycle five days a week, and started doing High Intensity Interval Training three days a week, with more moderate cycling on the other two days. One day, the cycle started to make a nasty grating sound, so I contacted the makers in complaint and carried on using it. Until it ground to an abrupt and total halt, making a very terminal-sounding crunch, and shedding metal shavings onto the floor! I'm clearly far too energetic for it!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Better weather - let's make the most of it!

Yesterday was positively mild! I went for a walk in the afternoon, with T-shirt under a shirt, no jacket. The sky was blue, the marina was a hive of activity, and one could almost feel Spring in the air!


We even had the heating off for several hours.

Today, the weather was not quite so good - there was some cloud, and it was somewhat colder - but we took the opportunity to get out and enjoy a visit to Upton House and Gardens, a National Trust property not far from Banbury which we last visited 7 years ago. The gardens weren't much to see because growth had been hindered by the prolonged winter, but the house was interesting, and the stroll around the grounds was very pleasant.

Fingers crossed for more weather like this - AND BETTER!

Friday, April 05, 2013

What's happening?

Well, there's not a lot to report since the last post. On Easter Day, we went back to St Albans to spend the day with the kids, and with our niece Kathryn, her son Jake, and boyfriend Alistair. Naomi cooked a wonderful meal for us all, and we enjoyed a really good day together. We've not seen Kathryn for some years, so there was much catching up to be done. Steve was recently back from a snowboarding holiday with friends in the French Alps, and he had a lot to relate. Then there was Jess with Said the Maiden news, and Naomi with her foodie and growing interests. Lots of chat and laughter!

Back on Kantara, the weather's been the biggest issue, as it has around the entire nation. We've had snow, bright sun and blue skies, but always a strong, biting cold wind, with frost most nights and frozen marina pound in the mornings. We're discovering how expensive it can be to keep warm in these conditions. We've used far more gas than ever before in the same amount of time. Likewise, diesel for the bubble stove, and electricity. We're using the bubble stove during the day, and the gas boiler set low overnight. A small electric fan heater raises the temperature in the bedroom quickly when needed.

We've been able to do a few jobs around the boat, but most of the remaining jobs on our list require better weather that we have at the moment. We went to Braunston today, to visit AJ Canopies, a company which specialises in making and repairing canopies of various kinds. Our cratch cover needs some minor repair, and we want to have fasteners fitted along the bottom edges so that it can be clipped to the hull, making it sturdier in strong winds and under the weight of snow. The office was unexpectedly closed, so we'll have to go back next week.

Over the past year or so, we've passed on a number of occasions a narrowboat cafe, The Gongoozler's Rest, which is permanently moored just outside Braunston Marina. Today, we went in for lunch, and were pleasantly surprised. Seating a maximum of just 14 people, it offers a good menu of breakfast and lunch food, and we were impressed with the size and quality of the toasted sandwiches we had. It's been busy each toime we've passed, and even at this time of year, and in this weather, there were ten of us eating there this afternoon. I'm sure we'll be back sometime.

Last week, we went to Rugby Cineworld to see "Trance", a strange but entertaining film with a twist or two - an afternoon well spent.
An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

We also bought a new mattress for our bed. After a year of use, we finally decided that the one which came with the boat is really too hard.

It has to be said, we're getting restless. Having done the couple of days cruising to and from Debdale, we have a taste for more cruising, but the weather really needs to be more clement before it'll be enjoyable. Roll on real Spring!