Oh my goodness, so much time away from writing here and with so much that has happened, I barely know where to start?¿! First, I should say that work is not just the bane of the drinking class, it affects guitarists and bloggers too.
Our Jolly Fat French Friend was here for a while the other week, he came by to pick up his car (six months left here over the winter and it started first time). We knew Christian was only here for a while but we didn’t expect him to have lunch and then trundle off, but we managed to catch up over lunch in the local hotel (thank you so much for popping that cherry Christian). We found out that had the original plan of us going over to the south-west side of France happened, we still would have been cold and fighting the ever-present condensation, we would not have been able to moor on the cut, it’s pretty much marinas only over there. Also we’d very likely have had some damage, VNF (French river authority) are having to cut down a lot of the poplars(?) that line the Canal du Midi because of disease, unfortunately they are not being too careful about collecting all the debris and the canal is littered with propeller killing driftwood at the moment. Christian had damage to his prop that still has to be sorted out, and, there are no boat repair yards over there, except for the hire companies, he pretty well drove the last nail into the coffin of our desire to cruise that side of France, with so much to do and see on this side of France it is no great hardship for us, our desire was really only to go over there to be a little warmer.
Talking of warmer, it appears that the winter is over now, last weekend we removed the cover from the cockpit and sat in the sunshine for most of Saturday and Sunday, what a joy to be outside again after so long hidden away inside. A boat even cruised by us, it couldn’t go anywhere as the locks aren’t open yet, so a few moments later it passed by us again, but it is a start of the cruising season (kind’ve). I don’t know if it was the five bales of straw under the cover over the boat, or the exaggerated talk of the impending ice age that annually visits this area, or that it was just a mild winter (apparently not this last, some of the locals say this was a fairly hard winter), but we didn’t really suffer from the cold at all (except for the time I forgot my gloves), if this is the winter (prepare for those “famous last words”), then we have no problem at all being here in future winters, (so long as we have power for the rads). YAY!!
Work has been good for the last few weeks, (I completed my first five day week in over six years, yeah yeah but I think that that is an achievement). I’ve been floor laying, and knocking down the internal walls in a gite, this last job looks like it may turn into a renovation and (hopefully) will go on for some time, and insulating a boat (in March?¿!). So as you can see, there hasn’t been a lot of time for writing here, (the guitar is still taking precedence). I did manage to totally bugger laying some floor in the first job’s bathroom, the lino was so thin I actually managed to put my finger through it?¿! It was like laying wet newspaper, the most awful cheap shittiest stuff! I pointed out all the faults with my work (and their crappy lino) and all was good, it turns out that that the man of the house checked the quality of the lino and decided to go on holiday rather than attempt the job himself.
Some people from the VNF came by the boat in February asking questions about how long we’ve been here, they said that if we want to stay in one place we must pay rent, during the winter we didn’t think that we’d have much trouble with staying in the same place, (like the UK you need to move on every now and then). They asked for our address, so I pointed at the boat, they gave me a quizzical look, as if to say “you live on THAT” and took my email address instead. They sent an email saying much the same, asking for rent, quoting 60€ a month, which isn’t too bad but not really our thing. We were talking to some people who decided that, yes, they would pay the rent for their place, but three years later they are still waiting to pay some money, bureaucracy gets tied in knots when people actually volunteer to pay. I emailed JP about this and he said to ignore it, the chances of them coming by before May when we move off is pretty high, and if they should come by, say that we have moved and are now back. This did kick us up the arse to purchase our vignette (canal and river tax) for the year though, especially as there is a discount for paying in March, 391€ for the year for our 12 x 4 metre boat, fair price as that allows us to go anywhere on the waterways of France (and so technically it is our rent for our house too, as I said; fair price).
I don’t miss much from the UK now, a long time ago I missed the beer, a pint of Marston’s Pedigree or Shepherd Neame Spitfire from a well maintained cellar used to be high on the list, but that has now faded. Marmite, always missed that but Vee brought a huge jar back last year and surprisingly is still in existence, five months later. Now that we have moved on again, there isn’t much from Spain except the cinema, oh how I miss that, especially with Logan at the movies at the moment, what’s a geek supposed to do. We checked to see if we could go, with a thirty €uro train trip to Dijon plus the ticket it becomes a bit pricey, hey ho. All good things involve sacrifice (bah).
I said that so much has happened at the start of this post, as usual as I start to write I can’t remember a thing to say.
- Now that winter is over the cover will be coming off the boat at the end of this month (March). That’ll be a fun day, we have no idea what the straw is doing under the cover, but I have a request from Germaine that if the straw is rotting she would like some for her rose beds. I am so looking forward to being able to open the sunroof and airing this boat out, lentils are wonderful food but…….
- Blackie (aka Squeak, aka The Foreign Exchange Student) will be in for a surprise soon, when her folks come back she will be returned with strict instructions to keep her in for at least a few nights or, come bedtime she will probably jump onto a boat that isn’t there. As soon as we have filled the water tank and any other bottles we have, we’ll be heading up the canal a bit to get away from the streetlight and just chill for a bit.
- People are starting to drift back to St-Jean from their winter spots. I will miss Frank and Neil who both passed away over the winter, may they rest in peace.
- Now the sun is out Heidi has semi-vacated the spare room and is sleeping in the open cockpit, we did wonder who she was, it seems so long since we’ve seen her outside her room.
- Being as it is nearly halfway through the month I’ll leave the reboot report for this month and catch-up in April, I’m sure that you’re all upset about that?¿!
- Just a note here as there has been a couple of notes of skepticism lately. Can I remind readers of this blog that we live our lives quite different to most of you, we don’t have a mortgage, we don’t rent anywhere, we have no credit cards, we don’t have expensive children (cats only, and as soon as Blackie is returned their food bill will probably halve*). We have no car expenses to worry about anymore (good riddance to those). We live quite frugally, (but not sparingly) for about 60€ a week. So a week’s work wage does last us a long time. The only notable payouts we have are the VNF and the boat insurance, and whatever we can tuck away for boat maintenance. Just saying.
I posted this film clip on Facebook, I’m posting here just in case anyone hasn’t seen it, and I did say that I wanted to abuse your ears as well as Vanessa’s. It’s not (imo) brilliant, but after only playing fingerstyle for less than two months I’m reasonably happy.
* That cat eats like a shark in a food frenzy, she stuffs her face until she’s full and then throws up so that she can carry on eating again, nice