Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Duck gets a louder quack, and I finally start work on the wood pile

Yesterday we sensibly stayed in bed until the rain had stopped hammering down, then hi-tailed it to Cambridge for a very necessary pump-out. I popped to Tesco first to get some diesel (annoyingly, they only let you have 10 litres at a time. Unless you are in a van.......) and check out the reduced counter. This yielded some bargain tasty snacks for our lunch.

Jackie took Pippin out of the mooring and as far as Baits Bight lock. We shared the lock with Papageno, a well-handled cruiser, and then threaded our way through the rowing eights to Jesus Green. Here, we were incommoded by a rather erratically handled visiting narrowboat that tried to wind far too early in getting to the pump-out and ended up a bit all over the place.

Despite the crew of Cambridge's resident disco-boat looking on, no advice was bellowed in plummy tones across the water, which must be a first.

In fairness to the narrowboat, it was jolly windy. Pippin took a lot of getting used to in those conditions and if he was a newby, he did well to get round without hitting us or anyone else. (Jackie was at Collision Stations, with the flying fender in hand....!)

Anyway, we moored up, Jackie went to M&S and John Lewis, and I went to Mackays.

If you don't know Cambridge, then let me tell you that Mackays is one of the Truly Great Ironmongers in the UK.

(Not as good as Castle's in Christchurch, Dorset, who still carry parts for traction engines, town gas retorts, and Magic Lantern spares, but pretty damn good all the same.)

I bought a bottle of boiled linseed oil for half the price I was used to in London. (Our 'free' garden furniture needs another dose)and returned Pippin-ward via Mike's boat Innocenti. Here, I met up with Jackie and we all had a cup of tea on Mike's splendid new home-built sofas. In the words of the late, great Ian Dury, "There ain't half bin a lot of clever bastards".....

We then elected to motor back home rather than stay on the 48's, as the weather forecast was rubbish for the following morning. Golden sunlight and what seemed like Cambridge's entire fleet of rowing eights accompanied us. We managed to keep them happy by letting them past when safe. Some even acknowledged our efforts with a 'thankyou'...... though I think the 'first' crews who are allowed to play on the bendy bits downstream of Bait's Bight lock shouldn't do so without someone on the bank to spot the hoofing-great wide-beams in the offing for them. (It can get a little worrisome, chaps!)

Anyway, we got back home having signally failed to drown, mince-up or frighten to death any of Cambridge's finest, and made a lovely job of manouvering into the mooring.

Of course, no-one was there to see it. ( And had there been, no doubt I would have made the most almighty Horlicks of it....)

Today, the rain fell in the morning again. Pippin's crew could not be persuaded to stir from below deck until midday. Jackie did paperwork while I read "Practical Classics" and snoozed on the sofa.

I gave Jackie a lift to the station at 3.30 so she could catch the train to London there to meet up with girlfriends and have an early supper and chat.

I went via Tesco (more diesel and the jobs section of the local paper) to Emmaus, the world's best charity shop. I love the place. It's a barn full of furniture, knick-knacks, books, CDs, vinyl, junk, old tools, and sundry 'really useful stuff'.

John Heaven!

I rarely leave without a purchase. Today was no different. Some proper folding money was spent on an original boat Klaxon. (Only after I purchased it, did the guys behind the counter admit they would have paid me to take it away, so sick were they of being deafened by the "Ooooo-GAH!!!!" of people trying it out......)

I knew Jackie would not be best pleased, but had a cunning plan.

After spending the rest of the afternoon/evening cleaning up the 22" boat prop for re-sale, I had just settled down to look at a ridiculously cheap 14 cylinder 800bhp Alvis aero-engine on ebay when The Lucky Ducks hailed me......

A cup of tea ensued, during which they apologised for the presence of a poo tank cassette that had appeared without warning in my wood-pile........

(I ask you! The youth of today, eh? It was dumped there, if you'll pardon the expression, pronto-quick-time to hide it from the people from the cat rescue centre who came round today to check that James and Amy are both sane (?) and The Duck is a safe home for Lyra, their cat-to-be. As boat and crew passed with honours, they were forgiven. This time....)

Anyway, I showed James the Mighty Bellowing Klaxon. He came over all weak at the knees, Amy rolled her eyes in that long suffering way they teach girls at Partner School, a deal was struck and The Lucky Duck now has the loudest Klaxon-Quack on the Cam!


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