Gas, Ice and A Bad Feeling (about this).

Stupidly, the other week (after something had gone wrong, I think the ongoing water situation), I wondered what was going to be next. On Friday (20/Jan) afternoon the gas that we use to cook with, that is stored in a lazarette at the back of the boat, froze. I did know this would happen, but with all the other stuff that we are learning being newbies on board a boat, it got pushed to the back of my mind. We have butane, to have problem free cooking throughout a cold winter one needs propane which has a much lower freezing temperature. Of course, it’s not a simple case of getting a propane cylinder and connecting it up. The regulator needs changing along with the cylinder connector. Also the purchase of two new propane cylinders, while it may be possible to swap our cylinders for new ones, my thinking is that in France, there would have to be some financial reward for such a complicated process. We are going to look into it, but for the now we are bringing one of the bottles in to the warm for the night, and then swap it over (with a nice cosy blanket to keep it warm), the next day. Cure rather than prevention, but it’ll do until I can get some more information.

They went that way.

Every day this last week we’ve woken up to the boat completely surrounded by ice, so that loud cracking noise is starting to get commonplace, at least it’s not so terrifying any more. Vanessa goes out every morning to break the ice away from the hull and then get it away from the boat so that it doesn’t freeze the next night with jagged edges. By the time the thaw arrives we could be hidden behind a fair size wall of ice between us and the tow-path. There’s some photos scattered around this post. I was very surprised to see a boat out on the frozen canal on Friday morning, it was only thin ice that it was breaking but nonetheless… It’s quite weird seeing a boat cruising with no wake behind it, just a load of air bubbles racing outward under the ice. I can only think that the owners of the boat must have thought Bugger this, time to go before we get frozen in, and headed for warmer climes, wherever they go it’s gonna be a helluva of a trek. We were talking to Christian the other day, he is suffering -6 temperatures in Toulouse, he went there so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the cold. Christian will be popping over in February, he says it is to pick up his car that is parked nearby in St-Jean, but we know it’s really because he misses us so much and wants an evening of beer, laughs and smokes.

We’re building our own wall.

I had a mind to write a little something regarding my thoughts on what (tf) is happening over the pond in the States at the moment. I did post on Facebook last April Fools that being all fools day, America can/should stop now, it’s really not that funny anymore. Look I have no idea about politics, I don’t vote so really I have no say. Someone said last year on this blog that I had been out of the UK for so long that I had no idea what was really happening, this is true. So what right do I have to say anything about American politics, absolutely nothing, but this has gone beyond politics and into the realm of reality TV and then beyond that when on Friday the 20th it passed into a serious threat, of course this is all my opinion. I was a bit troubled because all I see within my circle of friends and the pages that I follow on Facebook is the out and out shock at how far this has gone, and with so little contradicting what I read that I cannot see how it was inaugurated on Friday. How can this happen with so much opposition, so I started actively seeking the pro stuff, the people out there that actually voted for this mutt (Robert de Niro’s words, not mine).

I went to his page and, well really there’s no point in saying anything, if you’ve been following this then you’ll know how much brainwashing has been going on. One point that I did see and agreed with was that the politicians have had their chance, now it’s time to see what a businessman can do, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, not the man, six bankruptcies prove the cluelessness involved here. Then there’s the dick that he has appointed to head the Environmental Protection Agency, you know what, enough already, I could go on all day and I have no right, consider this horse flogged. I am not a political person, but it seems the rest of the world isn’t either, not if this buffoon is near the White House let alone inside of it.  

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Straw Blaster Frugality.

The other day we managed to squeeze five bales of straw under the tarpaulin over the Adventurer, hopefully creating an insulated barrier between us and the cold. We also rearranged the tarpaulin a little so that is is below the deck on both sides, before we had it a few centimetres above the deck on the canal-side allowing more light through, but alas also allowing the near constant drip drip of ice thawing onto the deck. So we really are in the dark now, but it’s peaceful. At the moment we think it works a treat, the boat does seem warmer but the real test is coming, we  have found out that the temperature will drop to -11° sometime this week. We’ve told that this layer of straw plus the layer of snow that’ll compact the straw down a little should stop any heat we have from escaping, I guess we’ll know if the snow melts quickly. I don’t know what the roof of the boat will look like in a few months when it’s time to take the tarp and straw away, I have a feeling the straw may have started to rot, or possibly even fermenting, (a handsome bouquet, born from a slight pressure with a crisp wintery after taste)??

I said this on Facebook the other week, but I want to write it here and add to it, bear with. The other week, when the boat was frozen in on all sides I happened to get up to answer a call of nature in the wee hours (?). As I stepped out of the bedroom into the corridor, there was this really loud crashing sound, a sort of chhng chhng chhng noise, it  really sounded like a blaster from Star Wars, the sound you get should you hit a high tension steel cable with a hammer, (which by the way is what the sound of Star Wars blasters actually is, geek fact of the day). Whatever, it frit the crap out of me until I realised it was the sound of the ice around the boat breaking as I shifted the weight of the boat. Very unnerving. Earlier this week we noticed that a large ice patch had broken off and the wind was slowly pushing it toward us. I didn’t think anything of it, but I was aware of this thing creeping inexorably toward us. When it got very near I said to Vee, Captain? she said What? I said, Captain, she said What d’ya want? I said Iceberg! Vee looked off the starboard bow (out of the window), huffed, gave me a withering look and reminded me that we are never watching that movie again. It barely nudged us, but it did make a bit of a racket as it scraped its way past. We are used to noise in this boat, everything seems to make some sort of creaking sound, the ducks pecking the weed from beneath the water line is an interesting noise, but the sound of ice floating by and scraping at the boat is akin to someone scraping their nails down a chalkboard.

Heidi

The cats have had a change around, whereas Heidi had our room, she either slept in her basket or in the bed with us, and Lara, Felix and Blackie shared the radiator in the saloon. Then last week, Heidi decided she wanted a change, so she took over the top bunk in the spare room. This has a domino effect on the rest of them, Felix and Lara have taken over our room and so Blackie now has the Saloon to herself, all day and all night long. We now rarely see Heidi, we have to visit her, even taking her her wet food  so that she can munch her breakfast in bed. Felix and Lara may grace us with their presence, if they feel like it, or when I’m late with their supper. And then the cat that isn’t ours and we’re trying to keep that little bit of distance between our family and her, well, she’s with us most of the day, hmm, I can smell a conspiracy.

This week we had a little experiment, we tried to live on just 50€uros for the week, this is just food and drink mind, not heating, laundry and stuff like that. We succeeded too, although there was a lot of luck helping us along. The local supermarket gave me an extra ten in my change on Saturday, I kinda feel bad about that as I know they gave any cashier who was short a right dressing down,  that was in the ’80s, so it’s probably a firing squad offence now. I have to remember it is the shop that gave me the money, and they are always trying to con us anyway, so I don’t feel bad! The other week we saw a bottle of wine on sale, 30% off, I happened to notice that the bottle went through the checkout at normal price, I brought this to the cashier’s attention, long story short we had the management checking the discount and it occurred to me to wonder how many people had thought wow, what a great offer and then unbeknown to them, their bottle of wine goes through at full price? So, technically we didn’t get through for 50, but we did, sort of? I would like to say at this point that while we are not tight, we do try to live as frugally as possible.

Random boat, soon to be a hotel barge, we think?

I mentioned last week about random acts of kindness and then forgot to tell you about the act that prompted the whole writing about it thang. Vanessa lost her phone, it slipped out of her pocket whilst out cycling, but only along the tow path and to the shop, so we felt pretty confident that we’d find it, but we couldn’t. I rang the number and it was answered, but before I could say bonjour the call was disconnected, which didn’t fill us with much hope. It is only a cheap crappy “festival” phone, crumbs it doesn’t even take photos. So we figured that that was that. A couple of days later while in the supermarket, the lady on the reception counter came over and said that Vee’s phone had been handed in. The person didn’t give leave an address or anything so we couldn’t give them a drink for being so honest. Vanessa was even more surprised when she found her “emergency fiver” still in the pocket of the phone case.