Floyd, Fish and Frogs

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There’s not much happening at the moment, so just a brief update on life in St-Jean de Losne. The guy that was supposed to be coming along to train and test Vee for the ICC, (International Competence Course) has had to cancel due to ill health. This isn’t a great problem, in fact now that we know that we are definitely spending the winter here there is no great rush at all, it can be done next year. Yes technically we need it if we are in charge of the boat, but ya know, the chances of being boarded by the river Police is slim and, if you don’t have a licence there is no fine or anything, they just say to get one?¿! This may be a blessing in disguise, as we may have the money for both of us to do the course early next year.

I had one of those mornings on Saturday. We were given two bikes the other week, which was very kind. They need a bit of TLC, they’ve been sitting out in the elements for the last year and have become a little rusty and stiff in the joints. I decided to start with the tyres which are all flat, we have a cycle pump on board but it is the wrong size, so I walked the three klick round trip to get one from the supermarche. Within a few pumps the new one failed, the tube wasn’t crimped into the valve correctly, so I took it back, another three klicks and got them to replace it. I got one wheel inflated but the next wouldn’t take any air at all, with a puncture that big I was sure I would hear the air escaping, it was Vanessa that pointed out that the second pump had broken in the same way as the first. I wasn’t expecting that, so off I walk to the supermarche, again but this time to get my money back, fool me once and all that. Any way I had heard that cycling was good for getting you fit, but I thought you are supposed to ride them?¿! Anyhoo, they are sitting next to the boat at the moment looking sadder than when they arrived.

That’s it really, not much is going on but here’s a few bits and bobs that you may find interesting.

The streetlights in the other side of the basin shine on the water and cast beautiful reflections on the walls of our boat at night.

Despite Vee’s course being postponed, we are moving up the canal a bit this weekend, we will be on the cut for a week or so (sans shore power and convenient water), before settling into our mooring for the winter. We won’t be able to use the lights for too long as they take way too much power (I haven’t got the lower power LED bulbs yet), we’ll have to remember to turn the fridge off at night and generally be really aware of our power and water use.

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Last Saturday was the final concert of the summer festival, the Pink Floyd tribute band, French Floyd were brilliant. They played the usual big hits but also played some of the more lesser known songs, On the Turning Away, Pigs on the Wing, Mother and The Division Bell which (I don’t think) Pink Floyd themselves ever played live. They totally nailed Have a Cigar! (It was during this show that we decided Comfortably Numb would be an awesome name for a boat?¿!).

French Floyd’s support act was a guy called A Coux Stick, (good name). He was really good fun, he played really well but doesn’t really understand the (English language) songs he sings. Put it this way, he had us in hysterics with his lyrics to Wonderwall, ♪ the baked beans marching down the street, ♪ ♪ don’t know what it’s got to do with you ♫

I’m currently spending about five hours a day learning French via Duolingo and Michel Thomas. There are some “Franglish” sessions during the winter, I don’t actually know what these are yet but I have signed up for them. I am determined to be speaking French to a high standard by the end of winter, (gotta do something when we’re snowed in). Always we have learned enough to get by of the local language and then figured that would do, not this time.

Enforced semi-vegetarianism (the price of meat here is ridiculous), is easier to get used to than I thought. Mushrooms are the new meat. We have tinned tuna and I use pieces of chorizzo to richen sauces, so we’re not totally meat free.

We have the occasional firefly in the grass outside of the boat. the cats are weirded out by the ducks but find the frogs fascinating, Lara finally managed to catch one last night and brought it to bed for us to see, how lovely. We feed the fish and the ducks. The other day I saw a metre long fish swim by quite deep, the hackles rose on my neck this thing was so huge, it turns out they have a name (which I have forgotten) but grow to two metres long. Now my mind-stereo plays the Jaws theme when we feed the fish, disconcerting.

A bientôt

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What a Wonderful Job

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So yesterday was the big shakedown on the boat, time to see if everything is shipshape and Bristol fashion, and time for us to see if this life we’ve chosen is… nah you know what, let’s leave that there as it’s kind’ve moot now, and was never really a problem anyway, we adapt. I must say that while I take the rise out of H2O, yesterday they really came through for us, Gerard, the main boat dude was at Adventurer exactly when he said he would be and doing what he said he would. Tall Philipe (big boss) was supposed to be here too but didn’t turn up, the only downside of the day. Gerard’s job is to use his knowledge of boats to show people around their new boats. As we are in touch with the previous owner and have learned a lot through email, (thank you for everything P), and living on the boat for two months now has taught us a fair amount, a lot of this was old hat. But a lot of stuff was new and eye-opening, in the back of my mind I know that one day I’ll have to do an oil change but wondered where and how I was going to get a pan under the engine to drain the old oil, it’s not like I can jack it up, it turns out there’s a tap with a pump on top of the engine, how brilliant, any way blah blah, loads of new stuff learned and once we decided that Philipe was not coming, we cast off, yay!

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Vanessa took the controls first, once we were out of our tiny mooring, Gerard said to take us to the lock, I was at the back of the boat making sure the cats weren’t swimming after us in shock that we would leave them behind, so Vee was on her own. I think Gerard was suitably impressed, crumbs I think Vee was impressed as, slow and easy we cruised the 200 or so metres to the lock as smooth as silk. Yeah yeah, in actual fact we zig-zagged down because Vee wasn’t used to the steering, but being out on your own boat after so long, it was beautiful. I made the first (minor) mistake, it just made sense to me to tie the boat up at the front when we got to the lock, but you moor from the back where the propulsion is, if you hold the front, the back will swing out, hold the back and the front will come in on its own. Lesson learned (by then that was probably lesson #157). Gerard did say to never tie the boat securely when in locks, but having watched Timothy and Prunella’s Great Canal Journeys, we know what happens when you do this and have drummed this lesson into ourselves, it is so much better to learn from other people’s mistakes. And then, after a brief moment of uncertainty wondering how I was going to get my loop of rope over the mushroom before realising I could just pull it to release ourselves (duh) we were through the lock and on the Saône, just like that, easy peasy.

Gerard reflecting on his amazing job.

Gerard reflecting on his amazing job.

Gerard was constantly listening to the sound of the engine and after a while said that we have a super (su-PEHR) engine, he said that it is old (1977) and basic, and having done a little over 1000 hours, it is barely run in. So long as we maintain it we will have no problem, I think it was at this point that he relaxed a bit, rolled a cigarette and said how he loves his job, we both agreed, he really does have a  most excellent job!

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Vanessa did brilliantly, it didn’t long for her to get used to the steering, (the wheel being at the front but turning from the rear), and then it was my turn. I didn’t have a problem with steering, mine was with having to stoop so that I could see where I was going, the boat was built for little people, I soon sussed out that I could steer with my left hand and stand in the front doors to see, that’s better. The only time Gerard questioned where I was going was when I spotted three swans in front, I chose to go around them causing us to stray a tad from the centre of the river, no harm done. (Swans hate me, they nearly always attack me and I didn’t want to see if the French swans had this urge to hiss and snap too). As we approached the lock to go home the gates were closed and we had to circle for a bit before entering, this is where I was sure I was going to screw up, Adventurer is a little under four metres wide, the lock is five metres (I believe), it should fit easily but you know, it does get hairy when the boat seems to have a life of its own, she is very light on her feet and tends to dance away quite quickly. It is so easy to over compensate because whatever corrections you make take a while to show, but not a worry, no paint left behind and we slid into the lock like, well, use your imagination. Gerard took over the reins to get us into our mooring, it is a very tight gap and there are three boats deep on our approach so it is almost a left turn and then a right turn. Home, right where we left it, kind’ve. This was wonderful, after the doom and gloom of the boats around us we were starting to sweat a little, I knew the engine was sound as P&B maintained the boat well and B was an engineer, but you do start to wonder when those around have problems, but it’s all good, we have an excellent boat.

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Left a bit, no right a bit.

Okay so where were the cats? They stayed on the bank, it is hot out here at the moment and Lara has taken to sleeping 14 hours (without a break, can you imagine) in a nearby woodpile, (she leaves around 7am, foregoing breakfast to get her spot). Heidi has found herself a shady bit there too and Felix comes and goes as he pleases. We said that we’d leave it up to them, if once the engine was started they were a board then fine, we have to leave the engine running for at least five minutes before moving away, so there was plenty of time for them to decide if they want to stay on board or not. Of course we forgot about stranger danger, as soon as Gerard stepped a board, they were all off. We did bring the car down to the mooring, which is a familiar scent, left the door open with some food and water, and Vee put a litter tray in there too(?¿!). They didn’t show their faces for a while after getting back, not a problem, I doubt if Lara even knew we’d gone, but, there was the feeling of, I don’t know, something. Then, this morning they were all hanging around as if they were making sure that we don’t do a runner again, too intelligent for their own good. It will take time for them to get used to what this thing – that is their new home – does, but they, like us, adapt.

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