Ups n Downs


Oh happy daze! When I first started to learn the guitar, the first song I could play was The House of the Rising Sun, I’m pretty sure that’s a standard. Then I started with some other stuff but I really wanted to play Bowie’s Space Oddity, but it was tricky, the first bit is so easy once you get the strum right, but then, after lift off the chords get more than a little difficult for a beginner, and so it was out of my reach for ages (actually about 30 years). I am pleased to say that I finally learned it all the way through this week, I think Vee is happy too, after all these years Major Tom has finally got off the ground. A gripe I’ve always had with the guitar is that some people make it looks so natural, so easy, and I really have to work hard at it, I now realise that these people have put in many hours to make themselves look natural. I wish I’d known that 30 years ago.

It absolutely hammered down the other day, streams of water were coming down the sides of the boat, and of course I haven’t put the tarpaulin over the boat yet, that’ll wait until the last possible moment. We have a few leaks, but all things considered they’re not enough to worry about, a couple of dribbles in the salon and (unfortunately) one over the bed (but it’s on Vee’s side 🙂 ). Whilst it was raining a car raced past us on the towpath, bloody idiot as the towpath doesn’t go anywhere. He stopped and started reversing back once he realised, but between the rain, the dark and the close proximity of the canal he could barely see where he was going. There is a chain in front of the area before JP’s gate, I think it’s there to stop the fishermen from using his drive as a car park. The driver got out and took the chain down so that he could turn around, not a big deal but the bugger didn’t get out after turning and put it back, I guess I’m being a miserable old fart but, I think that’s just rude, I have no idea what he was doing down the towpath anyway, crappy GPS I suppose, who else would drive down a towpath?¿! Any hoo, the point of my telling you this is to say that this was the first day that we did not step off of the Adventurer (five months aboard today can you believe), “big deal”, well you gotta remember that we are very much outside people, but no so much when it’s raining cats and dogs, you can keep that.


As I write this I am listening to the new Kate Bush live album, Before The Dawn. I so wanted to go to these shows in London and would have gladly swapped the house in Spain for two tickets, (remember, I sold the house for a little over a thousand €uros). The album is brilliant, only one listening so far but considering the recording has not been adulterated in any way, she really is brilliant! The Ninth Wave segment, as expected is simply awesome.

I am thankful, we’re looking after JP and Ilse’s house and in return we get electric and WiFi, they said it was for free but I am putting some money aside each month, just in case, these rads do burn power. It’s a shame that we don’t have easy access to water though, they had to winterise their house meaning they shut the water off, gutted as we have to cart the water in from a few hundred metres away, no biggie but it does take ten trips to fill the tank to full with our little (borrowed) jerrycan.

Every one has gone now, the Aussies and Kiwis left a while ago, and then this week was the mass exodus of the Brits, either going back to the UK (ha ha… why exchange one cold place for another?) or to warmer climes, (lucky bastards!). It is going to be a bit weird here for a while, we are (for some reason) going to the next River Rats meeting next weekend, I think we said yes as there’ll only be three people, quick meeting.


Courtesy of Nicki Bloom

Uncle Ken passed away this week, I haven’t seen him for over thirty years but I still feel the loss. He used to give me a lift to school with his kids for a brief time when I was twelve, I wasn’t in the best of spaces at the time but seeing him most everyday went a long way to making things a bit better. He got me into violin music, I used to really like the Four Seasons tape that he played in the car, that Range Rover he drove, I was small for my age and that car seemed massive. He gave me the tape, maybe he finally got sick of my asking him to play it, I had it until it wore out years and years later. If you were to ask for one word to describe Ken, that word would have to be gentle. Miss you Ken, rest well.


Wind, Wine n Stupid Questions


That was one of those weeks when you think nothing has happened, and then on reflection you realise loads has?¿! JP and Ilse arrived from Spain last Sunday morning all tanned and healthy. It was bitterly cold when they arrived, foggy, drizzly and generally dismal and they had that look about them, the one where they kept glancing around, feeling the ambient temperature, seeing the pregnant clouds and their faces had that “wtf have I done” expression, we know this look because we’ve been wearing it ourselves for the last few months. We barely saw them, whatever business they had to deal with must have been fast tracked and they were gone very early Thursday morning. They made good time getting here, but I’m pretty sure that they broke records getting back to sunny Spain, it’ll have to be some huge emergency to get them back here again before next May  🙂

We wasn’t sure what was going to be said about Blackie deciding to spend the winter on board the Adventurer being as she was chased out of her digs in the shed, but JP and Ilse understood instantly and have sealed the small opening into the shed off so that while the neighbours two cats can’t get in, neither can Blackie. Although between sleeping in the cold shed or the Adventurer, I’m pretty sure I know where Blackie would choose.


I wrote and presented the quiz for the River Rats (the local river community), on Thursday, for some absurd reason I decided to play the guitar for the music round, erm, I’m not a lead guitarist and sometimes forget this, out of seven questions I played the lead for six of them. Yep, despite the countless hours rehearsing I fluffed it on the night and now know for sure that I am a rhythm guitarist. I should be fined and given time for murder (especially for annihilating the Big O’s Pretty Woman). It wasn’t a bad night, made better by a chance trip to the supermarket and finding that it was Beaujolais day , so we finished the night off with a bottle of that.


I have always suspected that the French send the crap over to the UK and keep the good stuff for themselves (and really, why wouldn’t they?¿!). Having now tasted the wine bought in France, I’m pretty sure I’m right, I know it’s the McDs of the snobby wine world but …. YUM!!! A younger Spike once wanted to do the Beaujolais run in his Mini, I was thinking it was some sort of Cannonball Run type thang and what an adventure it would be, now an older Spike is quite happy to sample a few bottles and be content that he only has to walk to the nearest supermarche to get it 🙂

It’s seriously blustery here at the moment, we are getting gusts of 80 klicks which is nothing as a landlubber, but I gotta say being hit by one of these gusts in a fibreglass boat is a little terrifying. I don’t understand how for the now, but occasionally the water level in the canal goes right up to nigh on over-flowing, which loosens our mooring lines a tad, with the wind and waves, (seriously we have white horses on the canal today), we are rocking and rolling. No worries though, a bottle of 3 Monts at the moment and a bottle of Beaujolais later and we’ll probably be joining in.


We have carpet, Vanessa passed by the Hotel Barge company (OrEx) the other day and asked if any of the stuff they are taking off the boats is going free, (as you do, those who don’t ask, don’t get), so they gave us a rug and some carpet that will go a treat down the corridor. There is a draft down there, the source of which I cannot find, totally stumped but we’re hoping that once I get this carpet down it will disappear. They also gave us a dustbuster remember I only bought one last week, so Vee took the one I bought back, trouble is after charging the freebie for 24 hours and only getting a little power from it we now understand why they were throwing it out. But, being as we will now have a carpeted boat we got the full size vacuum cleaner out from under the bed. (If you’re thinking why didn’t we get it out in the first place and not bother with the Dustbuster, well, because it’s a storage thang, lifting the bed up and getting stuff out from under there is a two person job, there is no where for the hoover to go that’s neat, oh blah blah, ya know, it’s complicated! The dustbuster was for dust, but now we have carpet we need the big guns before the cat fur takes over our world.

Things I have learned this week, apparently a child has to hear a word 70 odd times before that word soaks in and becomes part of said child’s vocabulary. I’m thinking that a French word has to be heard 1000+ times before Spike absorbs it and can use it. Cats are sponges, Blackie fell into the canal the other day, not all the way but enough to soak her rear half, we tried to coax her in to sit in front of the heater but she wasn’t coming anywhere near us (I think that’s a feline pride thang). Thirty minutes later she came on board of her own accord and she was dry as a bone, how?¿!

Sample from the other night’s quiz:

Movie Round – All of the answers contain a fruit:

  1. Which villain did Orson Welles play in The Third Man?
  2. What character did Tim Roth play in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs?
  3. Who played Captain Von Trapp in the classic The Sound of Music?
  4. What phantom plagued Old London Town in The Two Ronnies?
  5. Complete the classic Groucho Marx gag “Time flies like an arrow….”?
  6. What is the subtitle of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie?
  7. Which 1999 movie that we don’t talk about sees Brad Pitt play Tyler Durden and Edward Norton as the narrator?

Effing and Blinding – all the answers start with an F or B.

  1. What was the call sign of the eight man SAS patrol including Andy McNab and Chris Ryan deployed into Iraq in 1991?
  2. What for profit company do you associate with Mark Zuckerburg?
  3. What has been described as not writing but graffiti with punctuation?
  4. Which Italian aromatic spirit is the world’s leading digestif?
  5. Which ship would you associate with William Bligh?
  6. In what sequence is the next number the sum of the two previous?
  7. What is the name of the Strait that separate the US from Russia?

Numbers Round – All the answers added together make 240

  1. How many dashes in a Morse code SOS?
  2. How many funnels (working or not) were on the R.M.S. Titanic?
  3. How many Indians in the Agatha Christie classic?
  4. To the nearest kilometre, how many klicks are there in an Olympic marathon?
  5. What club connects Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain?
  6. What is the highest double digit prime number?
  7. How many Heinz varieties are there?

Send answers on a postcard or a sealed envelope to Spike, Adventurer, Somewhere in France.