Monday, 12 July 2010

July Update to Ship's Log........

Time sure flies when you're having fun, doesn't it?

We've been having lots of fun aboard Pippin, hence no blog posts and tempus fugit.

My Mum and Dad visited us over the weekend of 3/4th July. They drove up from Bournemouth on Saturday, Andy Murray's exit from Wimbledon having seriously reduced Mum's interest in that afternoon's Men's Final.....

This was a good job really, as we had both been working flat out all week, and Pippin needed a thorough tidying. Jackie tackled the inside while I was detailed off to clean all windows inside and out (soapy water, squeegy, then vinegar and paper) and remove certain crates full of my accrued junk which could be safely deposited in the shed.

By the time they arrived in the afternoon, a newly roomy and sun-lit Pippin shone from stem to stern. It gives us a lot of satisfaction to show the boat off like this: Mum And Dad wouldn't have minded a bit if we'd looked more 'lived in', but we would! Hmmmm....a touch of the Adult-Onset Houseprouders methinks.......

Anyway, after a cup of tea and a gossip, I took them to have a nose round Emmaus in the hour or so before it closed at 5.00. Mum found some china she really liked, so that was a good result. (Jackie, meanwhile, went shopping for the big family lunch on Sunday.)

Mum and Dad then repaired to their hotel, The Crown and Punchbowl at Horningsea, for a wash and brush-up before entertaining us royally to a lovely supper in the restaurant there.

(It is widely acknowledged that the Crown and Punchbowl is proper-job..... They've stayed there before and always had a lovely time.)

Sunday saw much cooking and baking aboard ship. Jackie was up early making a Lemon and Ginger cake for tea, while I prepped the leg of lamb for roasting with garlic, rosemary and capers. (Stab lamb with sharp kitchen knife, push sliced garlic, fresh rosemary and capers down the side of the blade using the handle of a teaspoon: herbs then infuse the meat throughout while cooking.)

Jackie's Mum and brother David arrived for lunch by train, and a jolly nice time was had by all.

We then took Pippin out for a pleasure cruise down to Baits Bight lock where we turned for home. David jumped ship at Clayhithe to walk up to Waterbeach station for the train to London. We took Mum there by car after tea.

All in all, a thoroughly delightful day, with fantastic weather.

I had a day off on Monday, so Mum, Dad and I spent a very pleasant morning and afternoon at Anglesey Abbey. The house and watermill were closed but the gardens were open. They were sublime! If you are ever in the area, it's well worth a visit, if a bit dear if you aren't members of The National Trust.

We were both back to flat-out working from Tuesday onwards, so said cheerio to Mum and Dad on Monday evening as they were off to stay with friends in Fulbourn where a reunion of old school chums had been arranged. They arrived safely back in Bournemouth a couple of day's later.

This weekend just gone has been equally fun-filled and busy.

On Saturday, a call from my chum Roger meant I was back in The Last Alvis, heading to Stretham to have it valeted. The last time we went out in it, the brakes locked on through a combination of dodgy servo and failing master cylinder seals. That one we fixed temporarily at the roadside, and the car was duly properly sorted later.

So a quick blast up the A10, a wash and brush up, and quick blast back in order that I might familiarise myself with the car so I could drive it to The Alvis owner Club Meeting at Ickworth the following day.

No such luck.

On the way back, the now gleaming TF lost all power and coasted gently to the side of the road. The A10 is a rotten and dangerous bit of road to get stuck on the side of, let me tell you! We were in a proper pickle, having no tools, and between us, not enough muscle power to push a very heavy motor car half-on half-off the grass verge to the comparative safety of a lay by 30 yards ahead.

By a stroke of the most amazing good fortune, another Alvis owner happened by in his TA21 drophead and stopped to help. The three of us managed to push the TF out of harms way. The rest of the rescue is a bit hazy as I was actually getting quite dehydrated having elected to stay with the car while Roger, Jackie, Malcolm and others came and went with spares tools, advice and tow-ropes. It was baking hot and by the end of it I was feeling rather unwell.

Anyway, eventually, it was decided that we couldn't fix the knackered AC mechanical fuel pump by the side of the road, or safely tow the TF back to Roger's as it's an automatic. The breakdown truck was called and when Roger returned in his car, Jackie and I went to the supermarket to buy provisions for the following day's picnic.

I drank quite a lot of water on the way......

I have so far neglected to mention that while the Alvis TF is a very special one, the owner is even more so. Blind from birth, he has not only graduated in law from Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge, run a successful property renovation business and become a world authority on player pianos, running a company devoted to their renovation and repair to this day, he has also amassed a collection of fine Alvis cars.

My trip in the TF with Roger was to get me settled in to driving it so I could take the gentleman to Ickworth in his car.

Well, the fuel pump issue meant that wasn't going to happen, so we arranged to take him in our Suzuki, (Oh, the shame) so he could at least attend the event.

We had reckoned without Roger, though.

He got up at silly o'clock on Sunday, fitted the recalcitrant pump with new valves and diaphragm and got it running in time for me to pick up the owner and drive him to Ickworth!

Jackie followed in the Suzuki as a precaution.........

We all had a lovely time, shared our picnic with Roger and Pam and a couple of other hungry looking members (we'd bought far too much as usual, but under-catering is just not The Pippin Way.....), and saw some truly lovely cars. The only thing we forgot was the camera.


When we got home, we had a quick drink of water, packed uneaten picnic items away in the fridge, then drove to Potton to look at a possible replacement for the Suzuki.

It was a blue BMW 2002 2 door automatic. It was in very good restored condition, the boot was big enough to carry a Whippletree-load of seasoned oak off-cuts, and I thought it was well worth the asking price.

Jackie liked it, but didn't love it, though. So no iconic small German saloons came home with us. A shame, but never mind eh, there's always other cars.

This morning is the first day of a bit of annual leave for me.

Probably because of all the above, I didn't stir from my pit until 11:50.............

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