It’s really quite astounding how fast time flies when you are having fun! It’s been around three months since my last post, that is almost how long we were cruising for and yet, I feel as if we have just got back, hey ho. I was supposed to write a sort of summery summary, but that’s kind’ve gone by the by now, just know that we had an awesome time and both of us are so looking forward to doing another cruise next year, oh yes.
So what’s been happening? Loads, so much I have no idea where to start and know that I’m not going to get most of it down, and most of it’s whinges from a grumpy git, or boring. For instance, we went to a car boot sale not long after arriving back in sunny St-Jean de Lonely, I always think of car boots as a way of offloading your old shit on to someone else, the new owner thinks it is going to be handy but it gathers dust on a shelf until they decide to offload it at another boot sale, and the circle goes on. Not so in France, they take this stuff way too seriously. Vee saw a t-shirt with a dream catcher print on it, it was lovely but really was just one step away from becoming a duster/rag, the lady wanted a fiver for it, seriously? Vanessa tried to knock her down to three (I personally wouldn’t’ve paid a single Euro for it, but that’s just me), but the seller said “non” so we moved on.
You may remember that we moored up a klick outside of St-Jean, and that is where we stayed for quite a while being reluctant to cruise that last bit and officially put an end to our summer jolly. I think we were up there for another six weeks, it was hell of a trek for me as within a week as within five days of our return I was working again, cool, though a bit of a rude awakening after nearly four months of doing very little. We did have a little panic about where to moor for the winter, we didn’t really want to go back to where we were for the previous two winters, a) because we try to “mix it up a little” (ie not step backwards, yes that takes some explaining being as we came back to St-Jean, whatever), and b) oh my goodness, we were away for three and a half months and “our place” turned into a zoo. Three dogs (two of them Jack Russels) had moved in, not including Fabreze’s menagerie of now four dogs, along with the resident cats (that ahem, had a busy summer), our three would never have stepped off the boat, not good for them or us. Also, JP and Ilse managed to sell their house and we weren’t sure whether the new owners would be amenable to us plonking our boat right outside their new house. Unfortunately, while Adventurer is pretty well self sufficient during the summer (solar power), during the winter we need to plug in to electricity, because radiators, important, (I still can’t believe after all these years we are experiencing cold winters, what was going through our minds), we could go into the marina, but it’s not something we really want, (yes, we are picky). For some strange reason we were seriously thinking of getting out and cruising down and spending the winter in Roanne, I have no idea why now, maybe just for the thrill of cruising again, who knows. Any hoo, in the spirit of those-that-don’t-ask-don’t-get, we got a berth outside of the local Hotel Barge company, we are dwarfed by the six barges we are moored next to, and the view outside the salon is blue, but not sky blue, but we are safe and cosy for the winter with electric and water.
The other day I was thinking about social conditioning, oh crikey this sounds heavy, ha ha no panic. I’m only working two days a week at the moment through choice, it’s too cold to be going out and messing about in the out doors, the rest of the week I practice guitar, not for a couple of hours but for five or six hours a day, and loving it, I’m getting quite good too, (I am my worst critic but sometimes I really do rock). But the conditioned part of me keeps piping up and saying this is not good, you should be out working, and probably I should but ya know, the two days I do work pays for us to live (and drink) with a little put aside, no worries, so be still that annoying voice.
I’ve started teaching guitar too, it was a bit of a rocky and weird start, but hopefully this weekend all should start settling down. Confused? Yeah, so was I. The couple that bought JP and Ilse’s house have a small child, (I would write his name but I don’t know it and it’s now one of those situations where I should know it, but was never introduced and find it quite difficult after three lessons to say, “oy, what’s your name?”). They heard that I play guitar and asked if I could give him lessons, I asked if he had a guitar and they said yes, I asked what sort of music he likes and they said he listens to Black Sabbath and AC/DC, oh, says I, that’s quite heavy for an acoustic guitar but yes I would be willing to teach him a few bits and bobs and we’ll see how we go. They needed to re-string his guitar before we could start, I waited, people are busy, after two weeks I said that I would string the guitar for them, super they say, we’ll bring the guitar to your boat later. Oh man, I was not expecting a top of the range Taylor or Fender guitar, but I wasn’t expecting a toy, this is going to be a problem. You know how people laugh when they’re told a particularly funny joke, when they showed me the “guitar”, I laughed. The thing is they actually hadn’t told a joke and looked at me like I was a bit strange in the head. I looked online and read some pretty damning reviews, it’s a toy was the common complaint, (it is actually marketed as your child’s first steps in the music world), it won’t stay in tune was the other one, this is a problem. I said to the parents that this is a toy, he’ll never learn on this and that if he is serious about learning, they would have to buy him a guitar, but for the first lesson I said that he could play “Baby”, the Taylor guitar I bought two years ago. All good, (except poor Baby didn’t really know what hit her). People are busy, they didn’t buy a guitar that week and asked if he could play with my guitar again. I’m just going off on a tangent here, as is my wont. I have squandered many years of valuable guitar playing time because I always thought that it was something that came naturally to people, there was a guy in a village that I used to live in that is a brilliant guitarist, it always seemed so natural to him, what I didn’t realise is that he had spent years becoming that good, this may all seem like common sense, but, well I can be a bit thick at times. I never saw the behind the scenes and never realised how much time you have to put in to become that person who rocks with a guitar, I do now, oh yes. If I had spent the hours I play now back in 1986 when I first bought a guitar, oh man, best not go there! Any hoo, they wanted their boy to terrorise Baby again, of course says I because that’s me, but I said that as there’d been no practice time I would have to go over what I’d taught him the previous week. People are busy and the next week there was still no guitar, hence no practice and could you bring your other guitar to the lesson with you. Non, says I, this is wasting your money and boring your son to keep going over the previous week, I didn’t say it is a waste of my time or that I didn’t really want Baby to endure another hour of sweaty palms and a heavy handed strumming action, (not to mention Baby costing 350 Euros, selfish?? Yes, too right I am, you forget that Baby was all I got from a sold house in Spain). So that was a kick in the arse for them and I just found out this morning that a guitar has been bought and lessons resume this weekend, joy.
Irony is that these lessons are paying for some online lessons for me. I’ve never had the discipline to play the blues, I have now the time and the inclination, and the ZZtop beard is coming along nicely.
It’s getting colder, you can feel the cold coming through the hull of the boat, one day I will take up the floor in the salon and put some insulation down there, but in the meantime we have a carpet, we did have a rug but that’s never coming indoors again, is it Squeaky. These hotel barges are quite luxurious, and a week long holiday on one of these boats is astronomical, so everything onboard has to be just so. Some coffee got spilled on a huge woollen rug, I have no idea why, (and I’m not complaining), but getting it cleaned is not on the agenda, it gets replaced and luckily we saved said carpet from the bins (the philosophy of those-that-don’t-ask-don’t-get is a real thing). I butchered said rug into segments small enough for Adventurer, (it was a huge rug), so with the stored carpet and the new woollen rug, that’s really pulled the room together nicely we’re toasty.
Alright, so that’s it for now, there’s some more to be written but that’s enough for the day, I’ll get to the rest a bit later.
Thanks for reading.