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!
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Chords, Cords, ‘Cords?¿!

One of the things about living on a boat is that things wear down and stop working, the same as in a house but there are more things on a boat, or so it seems to me. The pump for the toilet died last month from a chronic case of leakage, no biggie as we don’t use it, we prefer to use large water bottles filled with canal water to flush the loo to save water (the toilet flushes from the domestic tank, such a waste especially as we only have a 250 litre). But, unfortunately the stop valve is before the splitter to both pumps, domestic and toilet, so we had to replace it. There was no need to get the full spec, as a) we don’t use it, and b) having a pump that throws eight litres of water per minute down the bog seems a bit excessive, so we got the lesser 3.6 litres pump for a heap cheaper, am I boring you yet? Any hoo, at the same time as this the domestic batteries decided that they would call it a day too, this was an emergency situation as the fridge wasn’t getting the power it needed to keep the beer cold! The water pump was put on the back burner as getting new batteries was a high priority, no cold beer after a days work and I suddenly I lost the will to live. The batteries we wanted, about 180 a/h (they last heaps longer when away from power). A guy I work for has submarine batteries on board his boat, they have 920 a/h but unfortunately weigh so much that unless I could find a place to put them in the centre of Adventurer, we would be forever listing. The thing is the battery compartment is small, and with no chance to make it bigger, the bigger batteries were, well bigger, so we had to make do with the same, again, no biggie (ha ha). All good, though trying to source and purchase these and the water pump online when our internet connection is tenuous at best tested Vanessa’s patience. We only replaced the domestic batteries for the now,  the (engine) starter battery is as old as the domestics (six years, not bad), but at 130 Euros per battery, we’ll leave that for future Vanessa and Spike to sort out.

While all this was happening, my beautiful (but obnoxious) red bicycle was stolen. It was my fault as I didn’t lock it up, (I was going out again, but when it started raining ((in August?¿!)) I decided not to). I’m a little shocked at this happening in such a sleepy village, but hey ho. That bike was obnoxious because the headset was wonky and I had to tighten nuts every ten or so klicks or the handlebars would want to go a different way to where the front wheel was pointed, the thing is it was due to be tightened, I can only hope that karma karmatised the thief. I now have a new bike, and I mean new, well, less than a year or rarely used. Thank you Jimmy, you are a star and I’ll put those tiles up as soon as you are in the water again 😉 It is weird having a bike that stops when you apply the brakes (that took some getting used to, I actually started to think about getting one of those crash hat things), and gears, twenty one glorious gears though I only use the mid seven, the top seven gears are too much like hard work and the lower seven, mate, if you have to peddle that fast it’s better to walk!

We were invited to the 30th anniversary bash of the company that sold us the Adventurer. Now yes, in the past I have slagged this company off because I feel that they robbed us of a few thousand euros and were generally very annoying to deal with, but that is in the past and I have probably earned most of that money back doing little jobs here and there. I was quite surprised that we were invited, until Vee said that EVERYONE who has bought a boat from them was invited! That “feeling special” bubble popped.

  • The expectation was, maybe a hog roast served on paper plates, a free bar (hopefully) serving beer and cheap plonk, if there were spirits you’d have to put your hand in your pocket, and a DJ playing all the latest sounds to people that last listened to the charts when they had their tape recorder ready to record from the radio during the top 40 on Sunday nights.
  • The reality was, free everything, (though there were no spirits, which was definitely a good idea seeing how most everyone turns into a sponge at the mention of free bar). Champagne to start and then wine and beer, flowing faster than the Saône at spring thaw. There were tents erected in the carpark, with tables, chairs, table cloths and place settings. It was a full on sit down meal, okay you had to walk a few metres to get it yourself but hey, what a spread, cold meats and pâté en croûte for starters, thick slabs of ham (I mean thick slabs, the guy next to me had a lump that would’ve fed me and Vee for a week ((maybe)), served with au gratin potatoes and cheese sauce (I was expecting cheese and ham, but in sandwiches). Then a dessert, strawberries, mint and cream, yeah yeah I know, I was trying to keep afloat in the spring thaw by then, but I do remember the cheese and …, well I do remember the cheese, French cheese, heaven! There was also a brass band, I really don’t like brass bands, they’re always so rigid and formal, but this lot were fun, truly funny, but unlike other comedic groups, when they got to the playing they were tight, very impressed with them and the whole night.

Okay so this is probably the last time I ever mention Ella, I thought that she would be for sale for a long time, enough time for us to get some funds together to make an offer, but she was snapped up. Even then I thought that the new owner would do some work on her, not realise how much money and time this lark is unless you can do a lot of the work yourself, get disillusioned, bored and then bugger off. Well, this is the transport of the new owner, if you have that sort of imagination and skill, then I look forward to see what he is going to do with Ella. I have to admit to myself that she is out of our reach now, but there’s plenty more boats on the water.

I haven’t posted a new video up on YouTube lately, I bet you are all upset about that (ha ha). I’ve been struggling to get my voice back to where it was when I was busking, actually that’s not true, I can sing along to the “radio” quite well (yes, I can!), but singing AND playing is far too much multi-tasking for this particular male of the species. I did try a singing lesson app on the Kindle, the thing is we live in a very public place with people coming and going up the towpath (a shortcut to two supermarkets) and it’s not like we’re behind walls of bricks and cement, everything is heard (one of the cringeworthy aspects of living on a fibre glass boat), and practicing scales into a tablet is just something I don’t feel comfortable doing. Anyway, I bought a book for 99¢ on the Kindle, I figured at this price I might get one, maybe two tips but what the hell. I had already figured out that I have to get the guitar part so down pat that I don’t have to think about it, just leave it up to the subconscious to sort that out so that I can pay attention to getting my voice right. The book says all that and I started to think that 99¢ would have been better going toward a mouthful of beer. But then it got good, the writer said that blah blah blah, I’m not going to bore you too much, the short is that one should record just the guitar part, and then sing to the recording! (as I write it seems like common sense, but I never thought about doing thus, doh!) What a tip, and freeing, instead of practicing scales I just sing into the Kindle, hmm, but it worked. I sent a recording to Vee (she’s in the UK at the moment with her Folks, hi Alan, hi Marion x x), Vee said that she thought I could sing before, but now my voice is getting much better. So hopefully there’ll be another vid going up soon, wait, did I just hear someone say “oh joy”?¿! 😱

Random boat

The cats are all good, the weather is starting to turn here and I suspect it won’t be long before a heater comes out and we’ll start the cuddle season, (for us and them, nothing better than holding a warm cat when you come in from the cold). Blackie, soon to be Squeaky (because the name fits her better, and well, because….! At this point I would like to say that their French dog is called Grenouille; Frog, and the cat is called Blackie, no, no, move along, there’s no racism here lol), is still not our cat, but I think it is safe to say she will be, she will be surplus to requirements when her owners move in a couple of months. We do need her to get chipped (if she’s not already) and a passport (we’ll not be in France forever, believe me), before she comes to live with us full time (falls off the chair laughing), which I think is only fair.

Okay, bullet list time

  • Carcassonne really is the best game ever, I can get as deep as chess but heaps more fun to play.
  • Spotify is just the most amazing app ever, and thank you thank you J, J and H for including me on your family premium, I have not listened to so much and so varied music in, no, I don’t think I actually have! And the big bonus is that I don’t have to be online to listen anymore, YAY!
  • Do you remember last year we threw five bales of straw under the tarpaulin to build some insulation between us and the cold French air? Well not so much now but earlier in the year when talking to people about boats, they would learn that we stayed all winter and where we are, they’d say “oh! You’re the couple that had the thatched boat”. We were quite famous for this, but it did start to get a bit tedious, how did everyone know, whatever, but I can’t help but wonder what was going through these peoples mind, did they actually picture a thatched boat in their mind’s eye???

Well that’s it, I can’t think of anything else to say, but you can guarantee that as soon as I press post, a whole raft of stuff to write about will pop into my head. Thanks for reading and best wishes x