Did you miss me?

​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.

The little boat on the right, that’s us.

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.

The view from the salon.

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.

Hmmm the toy next to Gemma

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.

The last bits of a great cruising summer.

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.

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18276 Daze or Taylor Made II

​I’m fucking FIFTY, how in blue blazes did that happen? Wasn’t something supposed to happen to me so that I would become an adult, something happen to my hearing so that I couldn’t abide loud music any more, something surely was supposed to happen to my taste that I wouldn’t want to listen to rock music anymore (and therefore the need to have it loud), it surely seemed that this would happen because at a younger age all adults deemed MY music too loud, so therefore this would happen to me?¿! Why do I still think like a twenty-something, (though my body sometimes rebels when I think that I can do something that my bones and joints aren’t too keen on any more). I remember when I was so much younger, a simple math quiz at school wherein we had to work out how old we would be at the turn of the new millennium, (being as we were all the same age in the class it was a pretty pointless test), I was going to be thirty one, an incredibly (at the time) distant age that didn’t even seem to be part of reality when you’re about six or seven years old. Then suddenly, whoosh, and where did that time time go??? Hey ho. We had a lovely day, had a half bottle of Absolute vodka for breakfast, yeah yeah, don’t get excited, it was only a small 350 ml bottle, the first taste of decent vodka – there was a bottle of cheap crap over Christmas, but I barely got a look in, looks accusingly at Vanessa and Jacqui – since leaving Spain, with some sanguine OJ, bliss. We had a walk around the village before settling into the bar for a couple of hours, then home for a curry.

 

I have a new guitar, and she is an absolute stunner. There is this wood called koa that not only looks beautiful (a bit like a tiger’s eye crystal) but sounds stunning when you build a guitar out of it. The Baby Taylor I bought the other year is a great guitar, perfect for what I needed at the time, (to relearn how to play, properly this time, as Vee says, “tunes all the way through, not just bits and riffs”). So I am the proud owner of a Taylor GS  Mini-e Koa. I’m not dwelling but I have bought several cars cheaper than this thing and I had to sit down and breathe deep for a bit after pressing the purchase button. I have to say that for the first time, ever, I now appreciate that I can actually play, more, I sound like a freakin’ professional playing this beauty! So the vid is a bit rough and ready, and I tried to record it so many times my voice started going, but here’s the guitar in action….

 

 


So Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been out for a month now, and horrifyingly, we still haven’t seen it. Seeing the Original Version is a big thing in Spain as, those people that speak English want to see the movie in its original form instead of the dubbed version (if you’ve ever seen the dubbed Spanish version of The Matrix, you’ll understand, Morpheus’ character was just so, so wrong, and apparently the guy that dubs Bruce Willis sounds like Pee Wee Herman). But it’s not a thing in France, at least not in this area, there was ONE performance, but it was an hours drive away and on New Year’s Eve, impossible to get there by public transport, grrrr). So we’ll have to wait until the DVD release. However, the great thing is that because we are no longer online, there is no chance of getting spoilers spilling onto my timeline on Facebook, I can actually say that I still know nothing about this film and in this day and age, with the journey from the cinema to home viewing being as little as three months, it won’t be long before we can see it at home. I did think to buy the book of the film, but guess what, that’s not out until March?¿!

Vanessa is the most unstressed person I know, nothing phases her, almost. The other day she came back to the boat absolutely gagging for a strong beer to calm her down. The VNF and the internet being the cause. The VNF is the Voies Navigables de France, the group that takes care of the canals and rivers of France, that’s it, they’re not a bank so while they do handle some sensitive information, it’s not sensitive sensitive information. So when the simple act of changing an address turns into a series of hoops that you have to jump through, including providing various important proofs of identity, Vee started to loose all will to live. It’s partly our fault as we have no fixed abode, because we live on a boat, and my way of thinking is that the VNF deals with people that live on boats and yet they are not set up for people like us, “what do you mean you ‘ave no address, how eez zis possible?” It turns out we have to wait three months and show some utility bills (?¿!) before we can change our address (from one place we don’t live to another place we don’t live just so that it’s easier to get our mail that they refuse to email to us).

We went out on New Year’s Eve, my sister Jacqui was here and while we knew that St-Jean de Losne would be a ghost town on a night when you would think that every where would be open and full of revellers, we thought we’d pop out, just to see if some thing had happened and SJdL would surprise us and we could have a beer or five. Erm, NON! The whole village was a ghost town, no surprises, not a bar open. As Vanessa says, SJdL never, ever fails to disappoint. Having grown up in and around London, a couple of New Years at Trafalgar square and all other years at pubs or clubs, this place just, oh I dunno. If it wasn’t for the work here, I think we’d have gone long ago, so looking forward to the summer and some cruising and visiting some other places, with better bars, and maybe a cinema (finger crossed).

The cats are all good albeit in virtual hibernation. Heidi has a cardboard box that she sleeps her nights in, and sometimes the day, it depends, if she decides to grace us with her presence we can take the box away, if she lays in then that’s pretty much it for the day. Lara and Squeaky share the bed during the day, or if we happen to leave the spare room door open, Squeaky relocates to the top bunk. During the night they tend to squeeze into any gaps they can in the bed with us, Lara normally hanging on for dear life between me and the edge of the bed.

Okay that’s it, I’m running out of things to say, it’s winter and there’s not a lot happening, here’s a few things that don’t warrant a whole paragraph

  • I’ve just finished reading Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michel Wolff, I feel slightly sullied that I read it, there were no surprises, Trump really is a total cockwomble who has no place in politics let alone being the President of the U.S. He is agnorant (ignorant AND arrogant) of face palming proportions and his administration has the intelligence and maturity of a primary school class.
  • That heater we bought wasn’t quite the excellent purchase that we thought it was, it looks great but is actually a cantankerous piece of crap. The mechanism that controls the height of the wick was poorly/cheaply designed, you either cannot light it, or have to dismantle it to put it out with a fire blanket. We would send it back but, we bought it on someone else’s bank card and they have since left France, so we’d never see the refund.
  • Winter; it sucks, not so much the cold, I can stand that, it’s the rain that annoys me, especially living on a small boat where there is little drying room. The first winter here was dry, just cold, but it seems we’re making up for it this year.
  • A very large barge went into the dry dock in December, and over the course of two weeks, proceeded to disappear as it was dismantled.

  • Weirdness abounds buying the new guitar, Amazon France had one but it was more expensive than Amazon Britain, I couldn’t buy it from Britain because they wouldn’t send it to France. When the guitar arrived having been ordered from France, it had been sent from Britain?¿!
  • I had an email from Spotify saying that (in around seven months) I’ve listened to 39,000 minutes of music, about 27 days!