Sunday, 28 February 2010

Booze Ban Jan, No Fun Feb, and now, ????March.....

So it goes.

'The Diet' continues. The upside is that at least I can now, with the aid of ropes, mirrors and a bit of cantilevering, actually squeeze into a pair of 34" waist trousers (the only weight loss measuring scale we have on board.)

Elation then? Well, no.

I think I will have to persevere until I can actually wear the things. Without a permanent wince, that is.

Also, the tummy-roll bulges over the over-tightened waist line.

This is almost as unprepossessing a sight as that of the first Lorry-Tyred Michelin Men of Spring. Clad only in shorts, this infernal nuisance migrates from its winter habitat (the Golf Club's 19th hole) to its summer one, the waters of the Cam and Great Ouse, blocking every available mooring in Ely with plastic cruisers in the process.

I really should talk to The Cam Conservancy about organising a cull.....

Heaven, however, forfend that I should EVER , even ever so slightly, look like one of these ungainly creatures.

So, bring it on then:

"Miserable March"........

Saturday, 27 February 2010

"Smiling Footprints'" blog

If you haven't had a look at Andy and Rhian's blog about their voyage across the Pacific in 'Zephyrus', do so now.

It is just so beautifully written.........

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A Day Off

Yep, today was billed as a "day off".....

Needless to say that now it's over, I'm absolutely knackered!

The day began very well with a lie-in until about 10.00. However, it was around this time that Jackie started telling me the list of jobs that needed to be done. This is normally my cue to get up and get on with it, so I did.

I wandered up to the lock to see what potential salvage was bobbing about in front of the weir sluices. A lot of wood, a punt pole and a small fender had floated down from Cambridge, so I borrowed back a grappling hook I made from Andreas and Lou, fetched the barrow and my other salvaged punt pole and set off.

After about half an hour of patient 'fishing' with the hook, I had got a couple of good branches, the fender, the punt pole and a very nice plank. (This may have come loose off the superstructure of poor old 'Jester', the near derelict wooden fishing boat that is moored upstream at Clayhithe.)

Jackie then turned up, having been for a run. Together we succeeded in getting some more goodly logs. One was so big it was a bit of a problem. Fortunately, a passing cyclist stopped to find out what the heck we were doing, and Jackie offered him a go on the grappling hook. With she and me on the punt poles and cyclist on the grappling hook, we managed to manouvre the large trunk out of the weir's undertow and to the bank. Getting it out of the water wasn't nearly so hard. We were soon barrowing our trophies back to the wood-pile where they are now under cover and (very slowly) drying out. I reckon they will be dry enough to cut up and split sometime in August....

It's been such a long, hard winter that we have used almost all the wood in The Stealth Woodpile. Jackie had got some more from the wood place near Barkway, and my next job was to split these lovely seasoned oak off-cuts down to woodburner size.

That accomplished, a quick round of cheese on toast was called for.

I then stripped the pump on the Fuel cube and made a new gasket for it before reassembling it and pumping out about 15 litres of the remaining diesel. Jackie then cleaned it up a bit and took some photos. We're going to put it on ebay at the weekend.

By this time, it was too late to take the recycling to the tip......

I did manage a quick foray to Emmaus, however. Sarah, who blogs so well about life, the universe and owning a Big Woolwich (see 'Chertsey' on our blog list), was bemoaning the demise of the jumble sale in a recent post. It's true, you see them less and less, and really good stuff tends these days to end up on ebay. Emmaus, however, remains an Aladdin's Cave of good stuff. Well worth a visit! I was in a hurry, so passed on a nice trolley-jack with chassis stands, a mahogany commode (what a great casing that would have made for our borrowed Thetford Cassette loo.....!)and a couple of likely looking toolboxes. I breezed through the China and Glass Section, past Kitchen Stuff, and ended up glancing round the books. A mint copy of "Post Captain", second in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, came home with me for 75p. The really good thing is that it's the same edition as our copy of the first in the saga, "Master and Commander", (£1 from Emmaus). I have read them all, but lost the whole collection when we down-sized for the move aboard 'Pippin'. Hopefully, Jackie will read them and become as hooked as I did. They will be then given the honoured status of 'keepers', rather than 'read and give back-ers', which is what we do with 90% of the books we get from Emmaus......

Our friends Lou and Andreas from nb Rowanberry are back on the mooring after a fantastic trip to India. It was great to see them again as it's been a bit quiet of late.

To round off this post, here's some more entirely gratuitous 'cute cat' shots:-

Monday, 15 February 2010

Hail and Farewell........

So it's 'cheerio' to James and Amy, The Lucky Ducks, who have sailed off to pastures new and their mooring on Midsummer Common in Cambridge.

Good Luck Both!

Sunday, 14 February 2010


After the last rather downbeat post, probably caused by a combination of the weather and the continued diet ("Booze Ban Jan." has given way to "No Fun Feb."...),it is good to report some fun and exciting things.

Well, actually, that's a matter of opinion, but they were fun and exciting to US, okay?

Today, (Valentine's Day) we move the huge and little used fuel cube from the foredeck:-

Romantic old softy at heart really, aren't I?

We have been using four 20 litre jerry cans to fill either the engine tank or directly into the generator's tank, transferring the fuel using a rather nifty syphon pump from Mackays in Cambridge. The fuel cube itself hadn't been used in anger since last spring. This begged the rather obvious question of what was it still doing taking up nearly 50% of the available fore-deck space?

Thanks to our landlord and his trusty digger, it all came off without a hitch. Nice one!

The view forrard is now a huge vista only interrupted down one side by the hulking great generator. I have plans to replace this with a more compact diesel job that will live in the engine room. These plans are on hold, however, until we get the loo fixed.....

Yes, whenever two or three boaters are gathered together, the talk shall turn to either electrics or toilets. Or both.

It is the law.

Pippin's loo is okay, but the solenoid in the flush system is on the fritz. Basically, this means the loo is flushing with too much water for far too long. This, in turn, means we are filling up the 320 litre waste tank with water and precious little else. And that means more trips to the Little Boats Pump-Out Room than even Private Godfrey from Dad's Army would have thought conscionable.....

This, in it's own turn, is a bloomin' nuisance.

Much time, diesel, and nervous energy has been expended hacking our way through the forest of overhanging branches, flotillas of suicidal rowing crews and overly proprietorial Camboaters in order to get to the Cambridge pump.

More diesel, but none of the rest (Thank God) is required to Pay a Visit to the unequivocably superior E.A. administered pump in Ely.

The trouble with that trip is that it's wrist-slittingly bleak in winter and infested with the fibre-glass version of Japanese Knotweed whenever the sun comes out.

The answer, then, would appear to be a Vacu-Flush 5000 loo. This will set us back a grand and a half or so, but will increase our pump-out intervals to around once a month. Twelve trips a year I can cope with, but the novelty has worn off sufficiently for me to think that twenty-four is a bit excessive.

Money and time much better spent on trips to our riverside local!

Damn, I've just remembered: It's still "No Fun Feb"!!

I think I may be allowed a beer (singular) when I can do up an old (but otherwise pristine, through being largely unworn.....) pair of 34" waist trousers.

Watch this space.


Friday, 12 February 2010

Long time, no blog......

To be perfectly honest, not a very great deal has been happening of excitement, hence the absence of posts....

We've added a couple of blog links: one to Rhian and Andy's Smiling Footprints blog, which will regale you with tales of their adventuring on the High Seas in their yacht 'Zephyrus'. This makes our stories of chugging up and down the Cam pale to insipidity......... (They are currently off the Chilean coast heading in the general direction of New Zealand. I think.....)

You may also have noticed Ann-Marie Powell's Gardening blog. A bit less high-adrenalin this one, but we Pippin's have very varied interests. Also, Ann-Marie is a mate of ours who Jackie met when she was working on the TV programme 'Garden Doctors'.

Other than that, all has been plodding along pleasantly enough. A couple of trips to Ely have been stress free: Ely is now the pump-out destination of choice as there are less rowers to complicate things, mooring space is plentiful (although this will change when better weather brings out the plastic boats like a nasty rash), the E.A. pump-out is much more powerful and has a window in the hose line. This exerts its own grim fascination. It is also useful as it makes it much easier to determine when when the tank is actually empty.

A couple of river related articles have appeared in the local press too. Today's Cambridge Evening News carried one about the proposed felling/trimming of about 800 willow trees between Chesterton and Bait's Bite lock. This sounds a lot, but the trees along the river bank, while pretty, have been an increasing problem to rowers and boaters for some long time: where branches overhang the river, they restrict the width of usable water to a considerable degree, causing dangerous bottlenecks. We lost our nearly-new chimney thanks to one when being overtaken by a City eight several months ago.

So good news then? Well, no, not really.

There will doubtless be an enormous public outcry at the demolition of such ancient and precious arboreal gifts from those to whom any challenge to the status quo is taken as a serious and personal insult. They will join hands with the local Bufton-Tuftons who miss no oppurtunity to stick it to us "Dirty Pikey River Gypsies", viz the other bit of river related media coverage: the First Anti-boater Rants of Spring appearing on The Cambridge Evening News' message board.....

("The Rants of Spring" eh? Hmmmm.... perhaps a variation on a theme by Stravinsky.....? Then again, perhaps not; just the repetitious da capo of The Retired Right)

If I could be bothered with the wailings of crypto-fascists, I'd have taken a look, but frankly, I can't.

They will win, of course.

The trees will be 'saved'.

Rowers and boaters alike will have to put up with the existing (and gradually worsening) congestion problem. Getting in and out of Cambridge by boat will become ever the less pleasant.

They will probably win in the much longer term , too....those who wish to see the Cam free of all non-manually propelled craft, that is.

The country is readying itself for a regime change. And that, my friends, means the end of civilisation as we know it...... oops, got carried away there.......a bit.....ahem......and that, my friends, means the rowing lobby's best mates at the reins of power.

Draw your own conclusions from that.

Call me Cassandra if you want, but we're all doomed.

Plus ca change.....