Ketchup (part II).

​So continuing the previous month of happenings in our part of the world.

Random (narrow) boat

When I came up here from Spain eighteen or so months ago to view some boats, one I looked at was a tjalk (pron. cha-look, depending on who you talk to, other days it is chalk), called Ella. When I stepped on board there was a real feeling of “coming home”, she is really nothing special but I could see the potential and felt that this is the one. (Bear in mind that at the time we were still looking for steel boats), other than being introduced to Ella, the trip was a bit of a waste as the offer we made on Ella was refused point blank and good thing too as the offer would have left us with next to nothing, and there are the additional hidden charges that are always incurred. Any hoo, in February I was nonchalantly walking around the basin when I saw her again, weirdly, she was being craned out of the water by another company BUT, someone from H2O was there to oversee, I didn’t think anything of it, just took some photos as we deleted all the others I’d taken and excitedly messaged Vee (at the time in the UK) that that boat is here. Then after a while she disappeared again (Ella, not Vanessa). (All this does have a point, I think???). And then, again last week she appeared “on the hard” at H2O, where it seems she’s going to be for a while. It seems that the owner (who turned down our offer), has got into a bit of financial bother with H2O, it’s a long story and I cannot make head or tale of truth from rumour, in a nutshell, Ella started sinking, she was pulled out in February for a check up, (it sounds like the sea-cock was left open), H2O over saw her being pulled out to make sure that she wasn’t put on the back of a flat bed and carted off, (it really is a big sum owed). H2O added to the already insomnia inducing bill with an additional one that tipped the owner into despair and has decided to walk away as after paying the (criminal) bill and various additions, he’d be lucky to get anything from the sale. Ella, is actually (kind’ve) in our reach at this very moment (so long as it involves a quick sale of Adventurer), and this has caused many debates and chats and ums and ahs between Vee and I, but the logistics of it all are mind-boggling and really, we decided we can’t be arsed, one reason is that we have a philosophy that revolves around if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, ie, be happy with what you have. Adventurer is lovely and perfect for us at the moment, and let’s remember that we haven’t even been out on a proper cruise with her yet. Also, and please excuse a little woo woo new age hippy shit: the feeling I had stepping on board? if not now, then later.I


When I was working on the Johanna in the dry dock, Andy asked if we had any nightingales singing up where we’re moored as there are several around the basin singing to their hearts content. At the time there weren’t, and I was gutted as I haven’t heard one since living at Bepe’s in Spain, more than seven years ago, but then a couple of weeks later one decided to take up residence seemingly within a few metres of the boat, for the first few nights it was a pleasure to listen to, and then once the novelty had worn off it got a tad annoying, until I was just wishing it would bugger off as s/he was keeping me awake at night. There was one occasion working on the windows when the house was empty so I cranked up the volume on the stereo, there was a nightingale in the garden, singing away but when ZZ Top started playing (I think it was Sharp Dressed Man), this nightingale went into overdrive and (I’m sure), joined in with the music!

Huge hotel barge.

The water tank has been empty for six months now, (the house we’re looking after has it’s own water closed off for the winter, so we can’t fill up from there). It’s not a problem, whenever one of us walks or works in the basin we take a couple of empty water bottles and fill up. It is amazing though how life habits still take over, even after this amount of time we still go to turn a tap on when cleaning our teeth or whatever. The other effect is that the Adventurer has been listing an itsy-bitsy amount because of the missing weight on one side. That took some getting used to also, I assured Vee it was nothing to do with the beer (cue sardonic smile), but wonder what’ll happen once the water tank is full again? We’ll soon find out as we believe JP and Ilse are back on the second of May.

Random boats II

The Adventurer came with five plant troughs included, I am pretty certain that they were used for pretty flowers and other non-edibles, with the price of groceries here in France (oh ffs, here he goes again), we have four cherry tomato plants and two chilli plants ready to put in them now, plus some more seedlings to add once they are big enough. While we’re here, can I just say, ninety cents for a single white asparagus stalk! This is the last time I say anything about the French prices (I think), we are acclimatising to the prices now, but still. Ninety. Cents. For. One. Stalk. Of. Asparagus!

Crumbs, I think that’s it, I’ve caught up, just a couple of bits n bobs.

My three favourite colours together, red, black and yellow, they go so well together and these are the colours of the Johanna. I am so enjoying painting her.

Spotify is the best music app, ever.

I haven’t mentioned Drumpf. He’s a dick! I started to get bored and more than a little ticked off at his antics that I read on Facebook and said to Vanessa that I am thinking of unsubscribing from all the pages that give me information. Vee pulled me up and explained something that never occurred to me, if everyone gets fed up and decides to do the same, he has won, no one cares anymore and he’ll get away with everything he wants. I know I am no activist, but by sharing, angry face(ing?) and other stuff it helps to stop this madman getting away with murder (hmm?). I am truly shocked that this twunt hasn’t been kicked out of office yet, he met with the chinese president the other week and ended up with thirty five trademarks FOR HIS OWN COMPANY and his daughter got seventeen,  talk about conflict of interest. There is so much more but that should be enough to out him, who is he serving?? ETA, Since writing this there has been the corporate tax cut, hmmm.

Sickly Tarot

We have been watching the development of the Sickly Tarot for five years now and we were late to the party, it has taken nearly ten years to draw by hand, (only computers in post production). The other week we watched the final pen stroke and are ecstatic for Fred Sickly, what a brilliant achievement, I don’t know how many hours of work but easily over twenty thousand hours of work. We’ve just ordered our first copy and cannot wait to do a reading with it.

Cat tree

I am officially the captains mate, Vanessa passed her exams earlier in April, I am so happy for Vanessa, she was panicking about the exam and actually getting in a bit of a tizzy thinking it was going to be as hard as the (new) road driving tests.


Ketchup (part I).

Ouch, a whole month has gone by without a single word written here, too long and with so much happened and so little time to write today I am just going to summarise the events and come back to the important parts at a later date (yeah Spike, I can really see that happening).

Work has really taken off,  I thought I was going to be lucky to get three days a week, which would have been fine but I have more than I can deal with and thought I would have to refuse some but managed by doing some work at the weekends, not happy about that but make hay while the sun shines and all that. With Vanessa gone for over three weeks I was getting a bit behind on some commitments to looking after JP and llse’s house. I managed to clear a weekday afternoon to sit, chill and re-aquaint myself with the guitar, but I had an email from Ilse asking if there was a problem with the lawnmower as the lawns looked a little overgrown (they have wifi cameras, more on this later), so that was my afternoon blitzed while I chased a lawnmower over the property. Wait, I may sound a little ungrateful there, we get the mooring and wifi and electricity all in exchange for looking after their cat, house and garden, perfect exchange, but while Vee was away I was increasingly selfish with my free time, once the working day was over I was knackered and still had other things to do, eat, clean and other stuff that every one else seems to do just fine, but after so long being the house husband in Spain I was struggling to keep up with my chores, let alone look after someone else’s house too.

Felix’ sunny snooze spot

The cameras,  I may have mentioned here that JP is a bit of a gadget nut. There are three cameras keeping surveillance on the property which is fine but one is pointed directly at the boat, and another is pointed straight at Fabreze’s house (which used to be part of JP’s property until late last year). I’d forgotten about them during the winter as we lived inside the boat, which was under cover, but now that the sun is shining we are relaxing in the cockpit, and after the email asking about the lawns I realised that we are, to some extent, under surveillance,  it doesn’t make me feel comfortable. I was discussing this with Fabreze during one of our “it’s the weekend!” beers the other Friday night, and he says he felt the same, but he went further and rang JP and said that being as the property is now his he feels this is an invasion of privacy, apparently his camera is now off and ours too. I wasn’t so sure about ours as the Adventurer being on camera is incidental to the view of the front garden, but then two friends came by on JP’s request to see how everything is with the house and garden. The friends (can’t remember their names), were moored here for five years and did mention, it’s a great spot, but you do get called upon frequently for this that and the other in return.

Fabreze et Alix

I’m starting to get my head around the hows of giving the Adventurer’s coach a much needed paint job, (I’m doing lots of painting on other people’s boats and have picked up loads of knowledge, and rehearsing on other people’s boats is so much better). I was planning to start soon but I am fully booked until June now, so it looks like it is going to have to wait a while, and with the speculated bill for the job at around 500 Euros, I need the work, (need I say again how much paint is in France?). Plus it looks like we’re going to have to pull our boat out of the water in June for an insurance survey, bye bye two grand, at least when she’s out of the water I can do some work that I didn’t know about last year, (anti foul the propeller and the sides to half a metre under the water line).


I spent three horrible days cleaning up some brand new cast iron window decoration. The cast was about three mil out of alignment, these things were pigs, they should never have left the factory and certainly should never have been accepted on delivery. Horrid, soul-destroying work, but the job came in a bundle of work that will go on for about a year, take the rough with the smooth Spike. Unfortunately the next job… Wait, let me fill in some gaps that’ll make me look stupid but will give you the full story. I have two fears, heights (I’m not very good at being able to see how high I am when I can see directly below me, I’m okay on a mountain top, love it, (I managed the three close by biggies where we lived in Andalucia), but put me on a light weight steel bridge (a la Caminito del Rey) and I freeze up a little (who’re you kidding, A LOT). And tight spaces where I can’t move freely, if my arms and legs are hindered I fall apart a little, (ha ha, yeah yeah). So, you finished laughing yet? This last week and for the next few I’m painting the third storey loft windows on a house, I have to hang out of the window to get to the tops of the outer frame both sides (duh), with eight windows and from start to finish about five coats, (please don’t let it be six), that’s about eighty times too many. Then, on the other job I had to climb into a stern storage locker on a barge to clean and paint the unseen areas that are susceptible to rust.

Caminito del Rey, March 2016

As I write this the first ducklings of the year have just paddled by.

The area of the basin where the hotel barges are kept for the winter became an absolute hive of activity in the second week of March, we’re talking pandemonium, and then over the course of four days one by one they all disappeared off to their first rendezvous of the season. The basin looks positively empty now.

Did you know that the age of a boat is determined from when the first piece of metal/wood is attached to the keel,  when I’m needed or have time I am working on a twelve year old, 26 metre barge that hasn’t been anywhere yet as it is unfinished. It is a one man job (with occasional help).

Fabreze’s cats are still terrorising ours. I asked him very nicely the other day if he would kindly get their balls chopped off to stop this malarkey, but he is of the all things natural school of feline thought.  Even when I pressed the advantages of whipping their ‘nads off to him, he was adamant that no vet is getting near his cats. (“You use bricks to castrate them, doesn’t it hurt?” says the cat owner to the vet, “only when you catch your thumb between them”). Anyway, one of them had the balls to come aboard our boat the other night, I am sorry to say that I terrorised that cat and I don’t think he’ll be coming onboard any time in the forseeable future. I do feel bad, but I only used a pillow and harsh language.

Okay so this may seem all new age hippy shit to some readers, but Vanessa and I ask the Universe for things that we need. It works, mostly. I haven’t got the time to go into the ins and outs of how this works here today, but believe me, it works, I don’t think we’d be aboard the Adventurer if it didn’t, (yeah yeah, it doesn’t just work for free stuff, it works for the perfect thing that you need at the time). So, after ten months aboard and really getting a bit miffed at our “tearoom” style curtains, I asked the Universe for a sewing machine as we need some curtains for our boat. I was cleaning a boat for Frank’s widow Jill the other weekend so it’s all shiny for potential buyers, when Jill asked if I have need for a sewing machine, yes please says I, that would be very useful. Then, a couple of days later, Vanessa was wombling the “we don’t need this anymore, maybe you could use it” section of the H2O bins and found enough curtains to cover all but three windows of our boat, they are damn near made to measure, and for an extra bonus, they’re pleated so they tie away snuggly. Now we don’t really have a use for the sewing machine, it just go to show kids, the ‘verse is literal, ask for one or the other, don’t hedge your bets or you’ll get both.

Lara only likes a little sunshine.

That’s it, I’ll have to continue this catch up hopefully next week (or maybe during the week if these reports of incoming rain are true).