Monday, 31 August 2009

"Stig of the Dump"

Those who are over forty may remember a childrens book called "Stig of the Dump". It featured a lone surviving Neanderthal called Stig, who lived in what we now call the local re-cycling centre.

(This was long before The Buffoon Clarkson misappropriated the name for the man who drives cars very fast for him)

So, to finally clear up the identity of the real Stig (of the dump).

I am he.

Yes, more Useful Stuff has been snatched from the jaws of the garbage compactor to be restored and used aboard Pippin: to whit, one large box.

Now, regular readers of my musings will know that such a purchase carries a real risk of attracting "that look" from Jackie....the one that can peel varnish at twenty feet. Not so this time!! For once, her acquisition curve was even steeper than mine.

Jackie decided the time had come to replace the old Tesco crate full of spare concrete ballast blocks that we had been using as a box to stand on when steering Pippin through busy stretches of the Cam. (Doing so improves the view forrard no end: important when rowers are out!)

Jackie bought a nice looking box from and antique shop near Aldeburgh last week while visitng our chum Melaney. She bargained the chap down to £25, which I thought was very reasonable.

Small problem though: it's got a complete and rather spiffy Russian made Tal-M telescope in it.


Having got help from a couple of the mooring's Physics Specialists, Jackie lined it up on the moon. It worked really well! She's now decided to keep the telescope for a bit, and then perhaps pop it on ebay.

Anyway, the purpose-made telescope box is clearly a bit too good to leave lying around on the cruiser deck, so it was my turn to find one.

A trip to the tip to drop of our re-cycling was followed by the usual nose around the items that the lads are selling for beer money. I saw just the thing:

It was very dusty and dirty and had some well made but very odd and not original leather hinges. The asking price was £3.00 which I duly divied up pronto. Not a bad buy considering it is solid teak...

I cleaned off all the grime with white vinegar and popped into Mackays to buy a grille vent to cover the holes and some nice brass hinges.

All it needs now is a good few coats of varnish, and we will have a steering step worthy of the name!!

Neanderthal Survivor, 1 - Homo Sapiens, 0.

Friday, 28 August 2009

A pause......

We've been silent for over a week as our lap-top has been at the menders.

It shouldn't have taken that long, but they emailed us a quote which we had to agree to before they would start the work.

Can you spot the flaw in this approach?

Anyway, it's all sorted and The Ship's Computer is back with us and working.

A great deal has been happening in the meantime:

I have started a new job. The training is excellent, the management structure is good, and we new recruits already feel valued.

An enormous contrast to the hideous stop-gap job I left a couple of months ago!

This already feels like a career.

Otherwise, followers of Lucky Duck will know from their blog that Pippin has been helping with the paint prep and painting, and they have been helping us too.

I have also bought a very large piece of ex-Army camouflage netting to beef up the Stealth Wood-pile's defences. This came from The Army Surplus Shop in Cambridge.

A trip to Emmaus relieved me of £12 in the process of acquiring a lot of mahogany for the cruiser deck project (more of which another time....) and a tool for holding things to the bench while working on them. (Come on, I can't say "I've just spent £2.00 on a new vice" without attracting comment, and very possibly, the wrong sort of internet surfer, now can I?)

Anyway, more newsand pictures when time allows.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

All hands to painting stations!!

Yes, the weather this week has so far been reasonably good (i.e. not lashing down in torrents not seen since the old bloke with the beard was out shopping for cubits of gopher wood).

Thus the crew have been busy beautifying a Pippin not exactly shabby, but certainly on the continuum.

This of course was Jackie's idea. All the best ones are, after all.....

So the wooden liners to our side hatches and stern doors have been removed. Jackie has duly blasted them with my hot air gun and given them a severe tickling with the sander. They've come up really well.

Meanwhile, over at the woodpile, James and I unloaded a bargain bag of oak offcuts from a sawmill near our chums' house in Ware. As all the bits have beautiful straight edges, piling up in the woodpile was a doddle, if a bit like a game of Giant Jenga played backwards by Dadaists...

We also tidied up the rough log pile and shored up the tin roof over it with the judicious application of a couple of longish beams recovered from the Cam and a few well placed nails. It's actually very solid! The Advanced Stealth Technology which hides the woodpile from prying eyes seems to be holding up pretty well, though a re-think will be due in the autumn when a lot of it will die back.

After lunch, Jackie continued her ministrations to the hatch liners. James and I sailed upstream to the local 48s where we moored right at the far end, fired up the monster genny, then spent a few hours removing rust with our angle grinders. Amy turned up later and managed to finish some work on our computer. How she did it with the inside of Pippin sounding like a none-too-quiet corner of The Govan Shipyard is beyond me, but she is a game young thing and didn't raise a single complaint.

After James and I had splashed some primer about, we chugged back to the mooring. It was very kind of him to help (and very understanding of Amy to let him!) Thanks Both!! The favour will be returned when the time comes to re-do Lucky Duck!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

What a lovely weekend!

Saturday, (yesterday), Pippin and crew headed for Cambridge for a pump-out.

What a contrast to our last trip to Ely!

Hardly any traffic on the river itself (even Bait's Bight lock was with us) and then the luxury of pumping out, then mooring-up on The Fort St. George pub's mooring without the Ghastly Gathering of Tupperware and their attendant crews of morbidly-obese male/ hatchet-faced acid-eyed females to spoil things.

Cambridge at this time of year is a joy to visit: the rowers are mostly on holiday, (we love you all, really!!) the plastics who hog moorings (we love you not at all..) don't generally venture this far from Ely (it being more than four feet from their home marina may have something to do with this....) and the Cam is at it's tranquil best.

Truly a lovely river!

Jackie took the helm on the way back, which allowed me to sleep off the jolly nice pint of beer I'd had at The Fort..... When I woke up we were about to do Bait's Bight Lock. Jackie did a greaser of an entrance, earning applause from a lone gongoozler. I operated the lock controls, and we were soon through without drama.

Exiting the lock, we saw one of the boats that moors there permanently there had grown a lawn! Fab!

Lots of harvesting action was also taking place in the fields either side of the river, with shotguns in attendance to take care of the local rabbit population.

When we got back home, we had a beer or two on the grass by the boats and were joined by The Lucky Ducks and John III from nb Montiezoomer. This turned into a jolly nice shared supper on board Pippin where we provided pea and mint soup and James and Amy supplied the pizzas. By 10.40 I was fading fast, so The Ducks took their leave and The Pippins snoozed until 8.00 the following morning....

I awoke with the thought that I hadn't seen my lovely bro-in-law, David, for ages. A quick nudge to Jackie meant texts were exchanged and he was to arrive at the local station at around 1.00 p.m. Mad cooking ensued, but we ended up having proper-job roast chicken, roast potatoes etc etc etc and a cheeky bottle of prosecco followed by some white wine. During lunch, (our oven is on the slow side and you can't muck about with poultry...) David decided on a swim.

This is not recommended in the Cam: we have a resident disco-boat that plies its trade in these waters which has never, ever, been seen to use the pump-out at Jesus Lock. (Either their sewage tanks have Star Trek Technology containment fields, or they are pumping untreated sewage into the river.....allegedly..... perish the thought...).

Anyway, the idea of swimming in last night's disco by-products does nothing for me.

David, however, is made of sterner stuff.

It must be said that he is also a year-round swimmer at Hampstead Ponds in London.

This may well account for his having the constitution and immune system of an Ox and a Rhinocerous respectively.......

No way are you going to catch me doing it, though!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Back on board

Our chums returned home from hols at 11.00am yesterday to find me still beavering away frantically on the decorating work.

Oops! Wasn't expecting them until 10.00pm!!

By 8.00pm last night, two of the three gables had had one top coat and all the remedial carpentry was finished on the third, which has also had two primer and one undercoat. We had also done a bit of extra work, stripping, filling, priming and undercoating a downstairs exterior door and frame and a fourth gable on the single storey outbuilding we refer to as "John and Jackie's retirement home"....

I've got to pop back later in the week (weather permitting) to finish the job. should be one-two days work.

All in all, it's looks The Cat's Miaow.

Speaking of cats, no members of the Barraclough family seemed at all interested in our generous offer to take their kitten, Mungo, home to live with us on Pippin. Jackie is missing him and so am I. Hmmm, methinks a chat with the Lucky Ducks about rescue cats , re-homing etc may be in the offing.

Incidentally, James Duck very kindly pumped out Pippins engine room after a deluge last week, (our automatic pump is u/s presently) having texted us to say he'd loosened our mooring lines as the Cam was rising fast. Top one James, and many thanks again!

On the subject of boat names, I've been meaning to tell James and Amy that when my Dad was in the Navy during The Korean War, his ship, HMS Alacrity, was attached to a flotilla led by HMS Black Swan. This vessel was known affectionately throughout the service as "The Mucky Duck".......

By the same token, should James and Amy's boat now be known as "The Swan of Great Good Fortune"?