And it truly is winter. The marina pond is frozen over. We've had rain, snow, biting cold winds, and today's bright blue skies... with a biting cold wind.
So it's cold, very cold. But we are comfortable on board, and my Cold Comfort plea seems lame. Now that the Alde gas boiler's been fixed we're running that on a low setting overnight. During the day, we use the Bubble stove. It gets hot in here! The dehumidifier that we left running over the eight weeks we've been away works a treat. It kept the boat dry and totally free of any mould, condensation or any of the other nasties that the weather conditions threw at her. We've switched that on at night since we've been back, too, and it's kept runny windows to a minimum. And it didn't work out as expensive to run over the two months as I'd feared it might.
"Good morning!" said Carol bright-and-breezily yesterday. "Nice to see you again! Are you back... like back back? You don't come back back until the crap weather's over!" "I'm a new man," I said. "No more of than namby pamby stuff for me."
We simply couldn't get all of our stuff in the car on Wednesday when we returned, so it was back to St Albans yesterday to finish the job of moving back. My guitar was one of the things I'd left. Rather annoyingly as it happened, because Wednesday night is music night, and both Neil and Michael (and Stuart "Jimsonweed"; strangely, since he's told me he's not the slightest bit musical) asked if I'd be there. They've been meeting weekly over the weeks, and jamming together, which is great, and Bob's been along, too, now equipped with an electronic drum kit. I can't wait to see that. Bassist Nick's only just back from Australia, so he's missed Wednesdays, too. Next Wednesday, we rock!
Meanwhile, we're now in the comfortable state of having put away all of our stuff (and it's always amazed me just how much stuff we manage to pack into this 59' by 6'10" tube which is Kantara), and we have a short to-do list, to tidy up the job. Then it's life as normal. Grace sewing, making jewellery, painting; me blogging, writing a book, hopefully writing music.
And what does the year ahead have for us? Well, insofar as we can control things, we anticipate going out on one long cruise - perhaps four months or so - taking in Llangollen, Liverpool, Nottingham, London, Hertford, Bishops Stortford and... who knows? Our niece Kathryn (who was with us on our first ever canal holiday together; she was only weeks old then) is marrying Alistair in March, so we're off down to Devon for that weekend. We're having the hull blacked again boat at the end of that month, and the whole boat repainted a week after that. That'll take three weeks to complete, so we'll go back to St Albans for the duration.
Then we cruise!
PS The weather got warmer later in the day. Around midday I turned off the Bubble stove for three hours or so. The birds came out in force, apart from the water birds - strange, that - and so did the moorers. The atmosphere across the marina is one of Spring, sociability and bustling industry.
"Life stands before me like an eternal spring with new and brilliant clothes." (Carl Friedrich Gauss)