Wednesday, 9 January 2013

At last, some good news....

I say that because the default setting for news since New Year has varied between 'bad', 'surprisingly bad', and 'deeply unsettling'.

But I will not trouble you with any of that.

No, today is a 'good news' day.

The Suzuki Vitara, our wonderful old hack which has served us so faithfully and well, expired in a cloud of steam before Christmas. Ominously, this happened in the car park of a metal recycling yard where I had taken The Gentleman's scrap batteries. (Yes I got some money for them, yes, I gave it all to him, and no, I wasn't thanked.....).

I limped the poor old thing back to our mooring where it has sat for some weeks while we pondered what to do with it.

Other events have been focussing our minds very sharply lately, so today, I took it down to our mechanic, Amato, in Chesterton. I was thinking it was the head gasket again, so this wasn't really a repair job, more an automotive version of Poussin's 'Extreme Unction'.

I really thought the poor old Hairdresser's Car had teased its last wease.

But no!

It's back!

The car that refuses to die continues to refuse!

It turned out to be a blown hose somewhere deep in the innards. Cost to fix? £70.00.

Happy days!

I might even treat the old heap to a full valet inside and out. It had got very damp inside and the interior has aquired that mildewy smell of the old car mortuary. This will never do.

Anyway, in other news (also good.....), fellow blogger and boater Graham Budd has very kindly lent us his very spiffy Husqvarna chainsaw.

Thanks again, Graham, you're a star!

I took it to Pecks in Ely to have the chain sharpened and now we are ready to go. I've been off the last couple of days, so it's been wholesale butchery in the woodpile. I have split every log lengthways with the mallet and 'wood grenade' method in preparation for a weekend of chainsaw massacreing.

We knows how to have a bundle of fun on Pippin, we do..........


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year's Day.

I am on a week of annual leave, following my exertions over the festive season.

Jackie is off too, which is a rare and treasured coincidence.

Christmas passed by in a blur of superb food, drink and company at our friends Ant and Tina's place. It was fabulous, so thanks again, you lovely people!

I have been off since Saturday, and am now getting to the point where I am starting to relax.

Yesterday, we attacked wood pile two, splitting and sawing like mad.

The chainsaw is broken and likely to remain so. It is a cheap Chinese knock-off of the much better Husqvarna make, and it came free with the twenty odd tons of sycamore cord wood we bought two years ago. I think it's just had it, and there is little point in throwing good money after bad getting it fixed.

This, however, leaves us with the problem of how to cut up the remaining ten or so tons of very thick tree trunks.

Incidentally, I am not expecting the mother and father of all cold snaps! It is simply that the permission our landlord extended to us to have the wood on his land, (albeit well hidden under Nato Camouflage Pattern tarpaulins with additional leafy cammo netting ), is likely to be withdrawn in April when the mooring fees are due and the next set of Mooring Guidance Notes (rules......) are issued.

It's highly likely that, after that, any firewood will have to be kept in the little shed we rent, so buying another chainsaw, now we will no longer be buying-in wood 'whole-sale', isn't an economical option.

However, I want to have it all under control by then so I am not running around like a headless chicken like I was at Easter last year.

So I spent yesterday sawing the slimmer logs with my bow saw, then splitting them with the splitting maul and the fluted spikes known as 'Wood grenades'.

Hard but satisfying work: I reckon I must have done about a third of a ton.

Towards evening, I changed tactics.

Using the wood grenade on the five foot+, long 18"+ thick trunks had the very pleasing result of splitting them down their entire length. It is sycamore wood, and very straight-grained stuff. (This probably wouldn't work on knottier wood, or complex grained wood like cherry.) Splitting them into four has made sections thin enough to tackle with the bow saw.

Anyway, before dusk, Jackie and I mananged to split another half a ton!


Today's job is to saw it up, split a bit more, and move some more cord wood from No: 3 pile to No: 2.

But it hasn't all been blood sweat and splinters.......
After a wash and brush-up, we went into Cambridge yesterday and saw 'The Life of Pi'. We chose to see it in 3-D, and it was absolutely wonderful.

All the 3-D films I have seen to date have been rather dull platforms for the technology. Once the novelty wore off, there was precious little story to engage the viewer.

Not so here.

It is quite simply brilliant.

Not only visually ravishing, but a beautiful and uplifting story superbly told.

Go and see it!

Oh, and Happy New Year!