One of these days…

Felix the braver than me!

Felix the brave isn’t in a very good space at the moment, poor little thing had a poor paw, we took him to the vets to get that sorted but after three days of not eating (something he normally excels at), we took him back to the vets and after a blood test found that his kidneys were failing. So the poor boy has been locked in a cage with a drip hanging from his front leg for the last four days. We go to visit him twice a day, Vanessa mostly, anything to do with an animal in distress and I turn into a blubbering wreck, but with the vets being closed on Sunday we wondered how/if we would be able to visit him. Luckily he has been allowed to come home for 24 hours, (without the drip), which will be good. We’ve been told that he has an uphill struggle to overcome this, especially with the amount of poison his kidneys dumped into his system, but he is a strong cat with a lust for finding new and improved ways for getting the most out of his life, (a nice way of saying getting into trouble). We’re sure that he’ll be fine, all things considered.

Well that’s not something you see everyday!

There has been some moving of goalposts from the VNF (the French canal and river authority). We now have to pay rent to live on the water, this in itself isn’t a big deal, actually it is but it’s been a few weeks since we found out this new ruling and we have had time to assimilate the information. The new ruling is that if you want to live on a stretch of water you have to pay rent, (price is decided on the size of the boat, we guesstimate about 750 for us). If you are continuously cruising then you get away with it, but we’re not so we can’t. The thing that ticks me off a little is that we paid our vignette for the year which at the time allowed us complete usage of the waterways, (or so we were led to believe), then we find out the new info which would have stopped us from buying the full vignette and instead we’d have just bought a month one for when we (finally) get to do some cruising. So this year, unless we can get the price of the vignette discounted off of the rent, we’re paying twice, hey ho. There are ways and means around this in the summer but not so in the winter with the locks being closed and being iced in. Fingers crossed with the discount I guess.

Ella, she will be ours?¿!

JP and Ilse are back from their extended holiday in Spain. So much to say about this that I’m probably going to get lost in my words here, bear with me. After the initial hi hi and all is good, they asked what we are going to do with the stuff that we have stored in their huge shed (winter carpets, spare insulation etc), this caught us by surprise as it felt like a -thanks for looking after our place for the last eight months, now you can go away- type thing. It didn’t help that during a catchup aperitif, I made a faux pas. I laughed. At the time of this sudden outburst two thoughts ran through my mind, this is very, very rude and also that this is quite uncharacteristic, (honest). In the few weeks before JP and Ilse returned I was in danger of having to refuse some work as there are only so many hours in the day and I am desperately trying to keep the weekends free as, well, life is too short to work all the time. I managed to not turn any work down but for the next few weeks, at least until mid June I am fully booked, in amongst all this work I am desperately trying to find some time to actually do some work on our boat. So when JP said that he has work for me painting HIS boat, I laughed, honest it was involuntary and felt so wrong but I couldn’t help myself. I explained that I am fully booked at the time, and then the next day apologised and said that I didn’t mean to appear rude, I was just laughing at the irony. Well this little episode didn’t put us in the good books and I thought that I’d blown our cushty little mooring. We did really want to go upstream when they returned to spend some time on the cut, but with Vee going back to the UK soon, I don’t like the idea of leaving the boat for over eight hours a day in the middle of nowhere while I’m working, so now we  want to stay here, at least for a bit longer. Slight confusion and more than a little paranoia on my part, what did we do, how could we have done more? There were  few other things that made us feel a little uncomfortable, (Felix struggling to get over the gate with his poor paw, so that he can go to his morning spot for a snooze, only to have the dog let out at just the moment he clears the gate, a “well, you’ll be going soon” when we were finding out about the new VNF ruling, you’re using too much electricity, even though nothing was plugged in at the time). In hindsight, my laugh saved us from a whole heap of aggro, the work was passed onto our neighbour, Fabreze and consequently we are learning lots of new ways of swearing in French. Long story short, what was going to be a quick paint job is going to take a long time, and I can’t help but feel that my outburst saved us from this as, normally I can’t say no, I dunno, cue the woo woo moment, I’m inclined to believe that some higher power hit me in the funny bone right there and then with the intent to save me from a world of pain??? Whatever, I was passed over for the work and bloody glad I am too, Fabreze is going nuts, there was some sort of deal between them which involves a sit-on lawnmower, but I think that Fabreze may be thinking the whole deal isn’t worth it considering the time and effort involved in the paint job. But back to the first few days of their arrival, things were tense and then, all of a sudden their entire attitude towards us changed for the better, more than that, we were great friends again like we were at the end of last summer?? I have no idea, as I said, paranoia on our part that we didn’t do all that was expected? Whatever, all is good now and no mention of the storage space, or moving on. I have mowed the lawns and done some other stuff in the garden, which was part of our agreement for our space here.

So, now that JP and Ilse are back, we topped off our water tank, and so the boat is all balanced again, and as expected the first few days we were all over the place trying to get our balance back, it is amazing what a few months with a few degrees of list will do to your balance.

Our Sickly Tarot arrived, su-bloody-perb! I will write about this in a later post.

In January someone booked me for the first week in May to help out with insulation and replace the walls and ceiling on their boat. I told my regulars that I wouldn’t be working that week and all was tickety-boo. The work needed to be done while moored on a quay so that we had room to maneuver, and because the job was booked so far in advance I kinda assumed that this was all booked up too, well you know what they say about assume making an ass of u and me. Bearing in mind that Monday was the first of May (supposedly the first day of the job), the boat couldn’t get to the mooring until the Friday (because the basin is full on at the moment in prep for the summer season, because he hadn’t booked a place!!!) and I wasted a complete week waiting for this …. person to get his act together, by then of course his time was up and I had to get back to my regulars, the guys that I’m going to be working with for the next year and so can’t really piss about. Some people!

I am going to get back to talking about the boat soon, these are our adventures in France though, work and genereality(?). You will be pleased to read that in this post I am NOT going to complain about the price of food in France, rather, I am applauding something. The price of beef is at an incredible low, and so beef is the new mushrooms, indeed it is so cheap that mushrooms can be included too. Proper chili-con-carne with lumps, great lumps of meat instead of minced. Vee isn’t a great meat eater, especially red meat but after so long chili made with lashings of red wine (hey, when in Rome) is a welcome addition to the menu.

Did you ever hear something, some word or phrase, but hear it wrong and then wonder how you could get it so wrong/and or not hear it right no matter how much people say that you have it wrong??? Hmm, let me explain. There is a Pink Floyd track called One Of These Days, there is one line of lyric and for years I thought that line was “One of these days I’m going to dance with the devil”, even when pointed out to me, (and there has been many discussions about this, sometimes heated, hi Paul 🙂 ). The real lyric is “One of these days I am going to cut you into little pieces”, I listen to this track a lot, it’s brilliant but rarely do I hear the real lyric, it’s one of those lines that (to me) can be heard one way or another, but rarely what they’re actually saying. So what? Well Fabreze has a dog that we both thought was called Nathaniel, when we got to know Fabreze we realised that the dog is actually called D’artagnan, but whenever he calls the dog, we hear Nathaniel??  No matter, move along, there’s nothing to see hear???

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.