Over and Done With.

Wow, so that was Christmas. Normally I get really grouchy around this period as it just seems to go on and on from the end of September, and by the time you get to that actual week, I’m bored with the whole affair. Maybe I wasn’t really paying attention to my surroundings, but this year it crept up on me and was over in a flash, super. There has been a whole raft of other things going on though, for a start, WE LIVE ON A BOAT. After six months me and Vee still say this to each other, sometimes with a questioning intonation in our voices, almost as if we’re saying, Wow, how did we get here? This boat is the best thing that has happened in many a year, actually before this year is out I’m going to say something here, so that I can put it behind me and (hopefully) never think about it again. In the previous four or five years before April (when we knew for sure that we were moving to France and live on a boat), I was really depressed. Oh Boo hoo Spike, pull yourself out of it, and that’s where a lot of the problem was, I couldn’t. I tried, when I walked therain01 Camino de Santiago in ’12 I did for a while, but within a few months of coming home I was back in the same state. A lot of this came from a sense of inadequacy, from a loss of direction and from no one wanting to buy my house for seven years (that I finally sold recently). Whatever, the point of writing this down is to affirm that it is all over. This blog was re-tasked as a kind of therapy, it wasn’t prescribed, I just figured it would be a good idea. I’m more than surprised that so many people have subscribed to reading this (thank you thank you). I’m even more shocked that I’m still writing it after six months. I do want to thank Vanessa, for putting up with me for those years, I love you heart and soul. Also. big thanks to L & T, that bag of weed you gave me probably saved my life, I will write about that one day now that it’s kinda funny.

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Anyway, that’s enough of that, what’s happening here in the coldest reaches of eastern France. Christmas is over, yay! We had a lovely day, the weather was quite clement so we went for a walk around the basin in the morning, and then it was beer time while I cooked the dinner, (roasted lamb, potatoes, parsnips and carrots, yep, I shoved it all in the oven except the chorizo and garlic pan-fried Brussels sprouts). We ate, drank (way too much) and were (very) merry. We had so much lamb left over I made a divine Rogan Josh for the next couple of days. We’ll be back to the lentil curries before we know it.

We went to a friends house – I say house but it’s actually a sprawling farm-house owned by the most generous couple – on the 26th to have dinner with sixteen other ‘boaty’ people, (huge table, huge room, huge spread). I posted way back in September that I was unsure of the etiquette for the French Aperitif thang, do I take a bottle or not, I never found out but I was brought up that if I am invited to someone’s home then it’s polite to take something, so I always take a bottle or two. We arrived at the farmhouse with two bottles of wine and two (litre) bottles of beer, and appeared to be the only people who brought anything. I don’t actually know if that says anything about us (can’t go anywhere without booze), or the other guests who were by the way, all older than us. I’m not complaining, but I do wonder as the other guests were all well to do, retired having had successful businesses and seemed very comfortable people. Do you become this sort of people by becoming tight as a ducks arse? So, we walked home quite sober that night, probably a good thing.

The New Year looks busy, considering there’s no work until mid-March I’m wondering how I’m going to keep up, what with French, guitar, writing and I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t picked up a Tarot deck in far too long, there’s going to be plenty to do before this winter is finished.

Brightest Blessings for the New Year.

If you ever get the chance to read Carrie's "Wishful Drinking", hilarious and inspiring.

If you ever get the chance to read Carrie’s “Wishful Drinking” please do, it’s hilarious and inspiring.

Water, Condensation & Tin Foil

I don’t normally go into the whole anniversary for this that and the other thing, life is too short, (I do remember Vanessa and my anniversary though, life would be short if I forget that), but today we have been living on board the Adventurer for six months, holy crap where did that time go?

The water problem is still ongoing, the tank is empty and there’ll be little chance to fill it up this side of spring, hey ho. We are using the canal water to flush the loo and for washing-up, and buying water for cooking and drinking, you know all this right? I’ve said all this before. A few people have said that this must be difficult, living this way, but you know it adds to the adventure, that is until the canal freezes over and we have to smash it to get some water. What doesn’t really add to this new way of life is condensation, man, we’d been warned about it, and have dealt with it but when Vanessa noticed that the mattress had some mould growing on it, things started to get a bit worrisome. I bought a dehumidifier that is now running 24/7, and we have to remember to lift the mattress away from the walls every morning, not a big deal. As I say this all adds to the adventure but I am starting to wonder, what will be next?

A couple of weeks ago Vee was searching the web trying to find another way for us to retain as much heat as we can, while the boat is insulated as best we can, and we have tarpaulin over it to act as a buffer, it could be a little warmer. You know those silver foil “blankets” they use to keep people from getting hypothermia? It turns out that if you place them over windows they stop 90% of heat from escaping, so she brought 12 of them. When they arrived Vee managed to only use one of them to do all the windows that we wanted covered, so we have lots of spares. I’m not sure about the 90%, but if they trap *some* heat we’re laughing. The big issue that we are facing with this boat is that she is not made for all year round living. I’m pretty sure a few people would have given up by now and gone back on land, I dunno, maybe we’re too pig-headed ☺

(Or we haven’t got any where else to go).

There’s been a few strange events with the cats lately. Heidi is an old grouch and moans (by growling) certainly whenever Felix is in her space and on occassion Lara too, but the other week she was on her own moaning and whinging at something that wasn’t there, but worse she was eye-balling whatever it was around the room. Sometimes she’ll growl if she thinks something is near to her that shouldn’t be, and she sleeps in with us every night, if one of us moves and we disturb her, we get the full brunt of her fury, but this following something around the room was strange. Blackie has taken to walking around the boat every afternoon, three times around clockwise and then three times around counter-clockwise, there is no explaining what goes on in a cats mind. But the weirdest event is Felix learning some manners, normally he bashes in where strays fear to tread, but the other week he wanted Heidi’s daytime basket but she was still in it, so he waited until she got up before taking her space and settling down for the night?

One of the highlights of my week is to go over to the H2O clubhouse and do the weekly washing (oh my life is afire). No seriously, I load the washing machine and then I have three hours or so (hey it’s winter, I have to use the tumble dryer too), to read or write with no distractions whatsoever, what? did you think it was because I like doing the washing? This is mostly the plan, but occasionally it doesn’t work that way. Yesterday, despite getting there early I was second in the queue, but the washing machine had finished, do I empty the drum and put my wash on, or do I leave it. Because I was brung up right, and I was in no rush, I waited. Bad move. The owner came along after a while and said that she has another wash to put on and then I would have the machine to myself. Now H2O have deliberately painted over the settings on the washer so that only the half hour wash is visible and therefore used, this is so as many people can use the washer as possible, and cut the waiting time down, you want a longer wash, you go and pay full price at the launderette. But some people cheat (they must google the machine settings or something), like this woman yesterday who put her wash on and then said it’ll be an hour and a half, wtf? So I had been sitting there for two hours before I finally got my load in the machine, not a problem, I am a calm human being that doesn’t get stressed (anymore)! So now my wash was finished I wanted to use the tumbler, the woman had gone Christmas shopping and politely (through gritted teeth) I said that I would take her washing out, WHEN IT WAS DRY, and put it into her basket and then I would get on with mine, she agreed and there was no problem. After a few minutes, I presume her husband came in, unloaded the machine and took their clothes away, ree-sult, except it wasn’t. I had only just loaded the tumbler when the woman came back and said that her clothes weren’t dry, could she use the machine, NO, you’ll have to wait now. The next hour was a test in patience for me as she kept asking to check if my clothes were dry, I had two pairs of jeans in there, this was gonna be a long haul. The worst thing about this little scenario (that was actually a whole heap more complicated in reality), I was the only one that dropped some money into the box to use the machines. You read all this and I guess you’re expecting a punchline, sorry.

I’ve just retired my first Kindle Fire after five wonderful years of service, I didn’t realise anything was wrong with it until I noticed it wouldn’t charge fully anymore, and I happened to go on Vanessa’s and wondered at how super quick it was at getting something done. Now I have an Kindle HD8 that is super, I got a bluetooth keyboard with it too that, for the money is brilliant, weirdly I got this from the UK as it was 18€uros including postage and packing, the same keyboard in France was 60 with another 20 €uros p&p?¿!

Have you seen Rogue One yet, oh my goodness what a movie!

This is our Christmas, leg of lamb, chili chocolate and some cheese, oh and some booze, I had to shift some ballast around in the boat to accommodate it 😀

Some people online post smiley faces that they see in everyday objects, I tend to see swear words in everyday things, not quite sure what that says about me? If you have an aversion to harsh language then you may not want to check these photos out 😱

The owner must really hate this boat

The owner must really hate this boat