Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Steam and sail on The River Cam

It will, by now be more than apparent to regular readers of this blog that I am allergic to fibre-glass........

So, here are some photos taken recently of real boats on The Cam:

Above and below, a selection of some of the beautiful steamers that visited The Cambridge Museum of Technology over last weekend.

These beauties were an absolute delight to the eye. Their owners were as splendid a bunch of true enthusiasts as you could wish to meet. It was a priviledge to see them all. May I wish them a Happy Return!

While the joyous visit of these rare and precious craft was a one-off event, we are lucky to be moored close to the local sailing club. Thus, we see the graceful lines of the yachts below quite regularly in the summer. I don't tire of it though!


Playing catch-up....

Another post in as many hours!

Truth to tell, I've been really busy of late.

Some lovely friends of Jackie's have asked us to look after their house and new kitten while they holiday in France.

Not too onerous a task, you might well say, especially when the house is old, gorgeous and absolutely massive (it truly takes me longer to walk from the fridge in the kitchen to the t.v. room than it does to walk from one end of Pippin to the other AND back....!)and the kitten, Mungo, is a delight.

No, I have also been working on the house, namely three (of the eight or so) gable-ends. These are badly in need of a re-paint. This has involved burning off old paint with a hot-air gun, rubbing down with a sander and by hand, filling, rubbing down again and then painting with two coats each of primer, undercoat and topcoat.

As the house is three stories high, this has meant working to the maximum safe distance on ladders: no joke when you are weilding a scraper in one hand and a hot-air gun in the other. It does wonders for the tummy muscles, though, as you have to lean in from the waist down to compensate for leaning out from the waist up. I have also developed the toes of a gibbon as a result.....

Today, however, it is raining. I don't normally mind working in the rain, but have called a halt for the following reasons:

1) I'm knackered.

2) Ladders get slippery when wet.

3) Standing on an aluminium ladder in the rain while holding a power tool plugged into the National Grid is a bit of a mug's game, really.

At least it has given me a chance to catch up on the blog!

The answer to all our woes

The previous wb Pippin post was a bit of a rant, really.

I'm not repenting of it in the least. (I mean, if some boaters feel they must behave rudely, selfishly and just plain nastily, then all I ask is that those doing so dress with a modicum of decorum.....)

However, it isn't only me who's been sounding off of late. The normally temperate and coolly judged bloggings of Mortimer Bones (you may have seen her elegantly written column in Canal Boat magazine) have recently got rather cross in tone, laying down, point by point, ways in which boaters' behaviour towards one another is deteriorating.

Andrew Denny on Granny Buttons also blogged recently about the ignorance and arrogance of those who see fit to litter the river and canal banks with badly hand-painted signage which carry completely unnecessary exhortations to reduce speed.

So, my darling Jackie, it isn't just me......!!

Further to a comment I left on Granny's blog re: a brace of six-pounder cannon being a sure solution to all Inland Waterways behavioural issues, the photo below was taken a couple of days after of a fellow wide-beam going through Bottisham Lock.

They've either seen this blog and implemented my idea, or I am DEFINITELY not alone......!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Trip to Ely

Off to Ely this morning with high hopes of a trip round the antique shop followed by tea and cakes at the lovely tea rooms near the river.

Thwarted by a large quantity of plastic! You know, the boat-shaped plastic inhabited by overweight to clinically obese men of late-middle-age: the ones who insist on releasing their porcine bellies on an unsuspecting and totally innocent public by not wearing their shirts; the same ones whose flabby, White & Stilton-Blue varicosed legs are similarly displayed by a very ill-advised insistence on the wearing of shorts.

Gentlemen, much as The Mighty Pippin respects your in-alienable right to sit on public moorings all day, sneering through the bottom of your gin and tonic glasses at steel boats trying to find somewhere, anywhere, to moor up for an hour having pumped out, can we say, loudly, please, please, please, COVER IT UP AND PUT IT AWAY!!!!!

If only for the sake of the children........

Sunday, 19 July 2009

'And the rain it raineth everyday........'

Thus Feste's song from Twelfth Night was never truer: It has been hissing down for the last fortnight, so no progress on the painting.

Things have been worse upstream in Cambridge itself, with SSA's, flood-poles, and all sorts of unpleasant rain-related malarkey.

I have not been idle, however.....

I spent much of the early part of last week doing some serious gardening at my friends Erica and Jeremy's cottage near Diss: much heavy groundwork, sieving of stones and moving of topsoil. The garden of the cottage I interior-decorated for them will be lovely as a result.

Now, where did I put the Dr Sloane's Liniment?........

Also, I tried to give platelets at the Donor Centre.....

This was rather shaming.

Here I am, 6'0" in my stockinged feet and built like a pre-war out-house.

Well, I first developed a bad bruise,(dodgy valves in my veins, not the NHS' fault at all!), then, when un-hooked from the machine, promptly went into a total flat spin requiring fans, cold compresses and lots of attention to bring me round.

Meanwhile, a pretty twenty-something girl, whose body-mass index suggested she might perhaps need to get herself outside a couple of my Mum's Sunday dinners, breezed through the whole process without turning so much as a hair, never mind green.....

The nurses very kindly said that perhaps platelet donation was not for I've arranged to give whole blood again as soon as I can.

But don't, please let me put you off. Platelets are desperately needed: they are transfused into patients who are immuno-compromised through chemo or radiotherapy, or whose bone marrow has shut down through illnesses like leukemia etc.

If you are a whole blood donor, please give it a try.

If you can give whole blood and and aren't, please don't be afraid, pop in to your local donor centre and have a go. I am The Worlds' Second Biggest Wuss when it comes to needles, and even I can do it ( the identity of The Worlds' Biggest Wuss is a closely guarded secret....), so please, do have a try. Those ads about it saving someone's life are not a joke.

Anyone getting the impression that I don't like failing????

Please help.



Friday, 10 July 2009

Cleaning tips for house-husbands....

It's a beautiful day! Quick grab the 120 grit wet-and-dry paper and get out on the back deck!!

Ah. Small problem. We've got guests this weekend and I have been charged with sorting out the mess in the guest cabin. Actually, as it's 100% my mess: tools, more tools, the entire stock of Associated Useful Stuff (GB)Ltd, etc etc etc, that's fair enough.

So no paint today. Chiz!

Yesterday, I was doing a bit of general Pippin cleaning. As I'm a bloke, this means dismantling things, cleaning them, and re-assembling them. It takes forever, doesn't make a huge impression on the level of cleanth and morale can dip alarmingly in the process.

However, having sorted through the re-cycling for items with addresses, personal details etc on them, I fired up the woodburner for a quick incineration session. When it had cooled enough, I took the glass plates out of the front and cleaned off a winter's worth of baked-on muck with Brasso. This munches through the dirt really well. I then cleaned the oven thoroughly and did the oven window the same way.

Our tea-towels had got very grotty: we only use Ecover detergent as all our grey waste goes straight in the Cam, so bleach is a complete no-no. I got around this by soaking the towels in a bowl of bleachy water for a couple of hours. I then wrung them out into the same bowl and disposed of the bleach safely by pouring it into the holding tank (via a funnel) through the 'rinse out' hole. The towels were then thoroughly rinsed in the bowl, the rinse water disposed of the same way and the towels washed on a hot cycle in the machine. It worked really well!

So that was fun.

I also mopped three buckets of water out of the bilge in the engine-room. (The torrential rain that co-incided with my dismantling the deck drains to paint the deck had caused this.) Having roused out all the gear stowed under the cruiser deck, I left the tread plates off to let the remaining moisture and condensation dry off.

I then did a bit of dusting.....

This led to an hour's worth of Dining Table Restoration, as it wasn't responding to a quick wipe-over with Mr Sheen.... I removed the old wax and dirt (a lot of it was paint-dust from taking the cruiser deck back to bright metal) with meths, then restored the shine with lots of Briwax and elbow grease.

The wooden floor in the main saloon, companion way and our cabin was then given a thorough sweep, hoover and mop-over with 'touch wood' by Method. Lovely stuff! mops on and off, removes all the accreted crud and leaves a nice almondy smell.

The tiles in the galley were hoovered and scrubbed too.

I then went shopping and, on my return, was getting the washing in, when one of our neighbours wandered by.

"A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done" she said.

Now, she may have been employing 'the post-feminist ironic' by commenting thus, but what exactly, of any of the above, was "woman's work", for Heaven's sake?

I was scandalized!

I mean, if you want to get something done properly, you've got to get a man in.

Isn't that right, lads?!!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

For 'topcoat', read 'raincoat'.....

It's pouring down and the deluge has completely overwhelmed the tent's ability to protect the cruiser deck.

It doesn't help that Pippin's superstructure is designed to drain-off aft onto the cruiser deck.

Needless to say, I'd just finished the first top-coat when the heavens opened.

Never mind. When water and paint have dried, I'll rub it all smooth and do it again.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Singing (and painting) in the rain.....

The recent spell of hot dry weather has come to a thundery end up here.

Pity it did so half way through the fifth coat of primer on the aft deck, though...

Fortunately, I have plenty of large plastic sheets to hand and hastily improvised a tent with some gaffer tape and a few bricks. The new tiller extension is acting as a very efficient ridge-pole, so with a bit of luck, it will last until the final top-coat is dry.

I went into Ely and back on Friday to pump-out: a pleasant trip, and had it not been showery, I would have been tempted to stay over-night. But an afternoon in the wet followed by a possibly noisy night (the summer carousings of weekend binge-drinkers are too tiresome for me these days) and the threat of nocturnal interference with the boat by drunks persuaded me to return that afternoon.

We ventured down to our local riverside pub yesterday evening. Despite the lovely weather, it was strangely quiet. This was explained when I rang Mum to find I was interrupting the climactic games of the Wimbledon men's final! Ooops! Sorry Mum!

Anyway, we enjoyed a couple of pints then made our exit. This is always a bit of a performance, as it involves turning on our own length to point in the right direction for home. I've had quite a bit of practice at this particular manouvre, however, (odd that......) and it all went off smoothly, no doubt much to the disappointment of other patrons who where hoping to see us either ram the boats moored in storage on the opposite bank or reverse scrapily into the concrete at the pub's mooring. But Pippin is such a sweet handling boat for her size, and I'm almost inclined to think she enjoys the opportunity to show off. The prop-walk combined with the wind and river current meant she floated round beautifully. Bow-thrusters? Pah! Fie upon them! They are the Devil's Outboard! (Right up until the point when you really need them I suppose, though up until now we've managed with only the stern-thruster just fine........)

The Ducks have paid for their Klaxon, which will be fitted when James and I have donned our Marine Engineering costumes (ex-actors like me have to be dressed appropriately, love) and fashioned a suitable bracket.

Meanwhile, I am off to Emmaus to squander the folding money on more toys, sorry, I mean Useful Stuff.....


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Grinding of Angles (Oh,and Teeth.....)

Today we woke up on the visitor moorings at Clayhithe, having been asked to pop down there last night by the Kestrels to join in on a barbecue. Great fun! And nice to meet Tanya from nb Bacchus and Elisabeth from nb Sirius. We all ended up in The Bridge pub, which was very jolly. Both the Jameses have seen and covet the restored ECKO radio. Sadly, even the tempting price I offered it at, (a tenner), couldn't overcome the collective power of 'that look' from both Emma and Amy. Ebay it is then.....

This morning, I entered the debate on Kestrel's blog re: the latest Camboaters campaign (or is that CAM-paign.... I sincerely hope not.....).See Kestrel's blog for details. Whatever happens, it ain't goin' to end well, thats for sure.....

From noon, out came the angle grinder, (I've bought a new one to replace the one that died a noble death in the Lucky Duck's engine room), as I was mostly grinding steel back to bright metal on Pippin's shabby cruiser deck. I've done half the deck and painted it with Fosroc Galvafroid. This stuff is phenominally expensive, but does the job. More importantly, it carries on doing the job for years after cheaper alternatives have flaked off.

The plan is to slowly work around all the areas of corrosion on Pippin,make good, then rub down all the sound paintwork thoroughly before giving the whole thing several good top-coats. (The previous owner, Richard, left aboard about 15 gallons of International Pippin Blue for this very purpose, bless him!....)

I'd just finished painting the first coat of primer on the half of the deck I'd prepped, when I noticed a nasty looking weep from the main feed hose from the engine block to the skin tank. So tomorrow looks like being new hose, jubilee clips and coolant day.

Hence the grinding of teeth!