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Beer and Blogging

We have no internet on the boat anymore. JP and Ilse have moved away now and, while we thought they would be leaving the internet working for their cameras, they didn’t. Not now having the internet at our fingertips is both a blessing and a nightmare, but as usual we adapt. To get online now we walk/cycle over to the clubhouse and log on over there. This means that internet time has been cut down by huge amounts, no faffing about on Facebook anymore, (I thought that I would be suffering huge withdrawal symptoms from not have a daily dose of Facebook, but no, and really I don’t miss it much at all, I don’t really care what you all have for dinner or what you watched on the tube last night, or how many days it is to effing Christmas).


Winter has set in here, we woke up to a thick frost this morning (Sunday 26th). We now have a thick goose down 13.5tog quilt on the bed, last year we had a summer quilt (4 tog) with two similar single quilts and a blanket squeezed into the quilt cover with it, nice but the single quilts had a mind of their own and decided to move about in the cover, and of course they both preferred Vanessa’s side of the bed leaving me to freeze my arse off. The only thing wrong with a 13.5 tog quilt is that it really is a weight and whereas before I was up and out of bed once the alarm goes off, now there are two or three snoozes on the alarm before I want to crawl out of the comforting embrace of our heavy night nest. We also have new heater that, whilst not the most economical, certainly raises the temperature quickly and with the added bonus that we can cook on it, including toast! YAY!

Lara and the new quilt

 

I though that work was going to start tapering off for the winter, eventually drying up around December and I would be able to hibernate again and play guitar 24/7 for two or three months. Erm, no! It looks like I have a few weeks off during the silly season and my birthday, but that’s about it. So a tentative plan has started to take shape from the people that don’t make plans as they rarely ever happen as planned. Next May, and by  then we will have been living on Adventurer for nigh on two years, we are going on a three month cruise. Ooh excitement and a little trepidation, we bought the boat for just this scenario, but things went  little haywire with the unexpected expense of the whole boating experience and the cost of living in France (yes I am still going on about that), and so we’ve been static for over a year in the same place and only three hours added to the engine running time in what is now eighteen months aboard. Oops, I got ahead of myself there, I thought work was going to stop in winter, a time when you cannot go anywhere because the locks are closed, but being as it isn’t, we can afford to take three months off and do some wandering around  a 700km circuit around the rivers and canals of this beautiful country.*

Talking of which, the couple that winter moor their boat next to us were by yesterday to check on their boat, and said that once the snow comes down on the Jura mountains (halfway betwixt here and the Swiss border), it is truly beautiful and asked if we would like to join them next time they go, oh yes please! Photos to follow 🙂

Adventurer has now been “thatched” for the winter, with a slight difference this year, last year we covered the whole boat which meant the gang-plank was unusable, instead we set up a palette with some steps which involved a long step onto the boat, it was okay but when icy involved a little more thought. Our Heidi cat is getting on in years now and is not so good on her pins so much and so not so great at jumping onto the boat, her need for the gang-plank is greater so, of course we accomodate the cat rather than our need to keep warm, instead we’ll wrap a bale of straw into some tarpaulin and find a way of securing it over the sun roof and so insulating the saloon, I just haven’t got there yet but this morning’s frost was a wake up call.

Vanessa’s culinary skills are getting better, I just have to learn to not take it for granted that not every one knows, for instance, Vee was roasting some potatoes and I said that they may need turning now, Vee kneels in front of the oven and I wonder what is taking so long, I ask if she’s having problems and the answer was “no no” she’d turned the spuds over WHILE THEY WERE STILL IN THE OVEN?¿! Lemme explain, I watch people, I see how they do it which teaches me how to, I learned how to be a bar tender, to a certain extent a chef, waiter, boat painter , mini lab operator, floor and wall tiler, labourer etc. ad nauseum all by simply watching, and because of this I get surprised when everyday things aren’t easy to people. An example is that me and a mate drank, a lot and we used to hit the top shelf (optics), so when I started working behind the bar and asked him to pour us a couple of drinks from the top shelf, I was shocked and stunned when he couldn’t suss out how to work the optic. Out of the thousands of drinks poured for us, did you never spot the trick with holding the glass with a slightly curled finger that operates the optic?¿! Out of the hundreds of times I have roasted potatoes, did you never see that one takes the potatoes OUT of the oven to turn them over?¿! I must say though, the additional blast from the oven being open so long was welcome.

Academy of Beer, count me in!

So as I said earlier, (this was on Sunday, it’s now Thursday, I really am the slowest typist), JP and Ilse hae now left and moved on to their new house near Carcassonne (before they then move on to their apartment in Spain for the winter, oh how the other half live). The house here is for sale, but really between you and me it’s not, not really really for sale as there are just too many obstacles in the way for a potential buyer. Let me explain, the house was handed down to JP from his father and we believe to his father from his grandfather, there is a lot of history here and JP has a hard time turning his back to that, so with that in mind heere are the “obstacles” There is a house in the area that has twice as much land, three bedrooms instead of the two here and a swimming pool, all for substantially less than the price of JP’s, I should just mention here that there will be no negotiating the price, that is set in stone and will not be budged?¿! Also, we hear that the French want to buy a home, not a house, this house has been stripped of furniture, pictures everything, there is no personality, just blank walls and echoey rooms. And, and this is the funniest, have you ever shown a house whilst youo have washing on the line, plants dead or dying in their planters, and you would never greet potential buyers with your arms crossed in the classic “I don’t want you here” body language stance. It’s all very confusing, they want to sell this house, but deep down they don’t?¿! Am I talking out of place, gossiping? Yeah probably, but some things are just too curious not to pass on.

I went over to Tours to meet up with Mum and Paul recently, we had a great time, (you saw the photos from Château Chenonceau in the last post?). Going to Tours was a real eye-opener on how much of a backwater village St-Jean do Losne really is. The first is that I went to the cinema, I really do miss going to the cinema, (I saw Blade Runner 2049 which, considering is a sequel, was simply brilliant). But the point of saying this is that even with money for trains, going to the cinema here is impossible for those without cars, the last train is something like 7pm. We adapt, yes, although we are still trying to find a way to get to see the new Star Wars movie in a few weeks time, but the good thing is that because we’re not online any more, I won’t have to tread delicately to avoid all the spoilers that’ll be online within a few days of the premier. Okay okay, that’s a first world problem, ah poor Spikey, no cinema, boo bloody hoo. Well the next small village problem stops the world. Do you know when you walk into a bar, any bar in Tours there are at least eight different beers to choose from, in the local bar in St-Jean there is two, crap and not so crap but we’ll-charge-you-as-if-it’s-a-premium-beer-anyway! Maybe it’s just as well though, a trip to a bar here is an expensive business, especially if you would want to try all eight beers, hmm. That’s it, our world is so small now that these are all the downsides of living in a small village 🙂

 

I finished Stephen King’s Dark Tower series of books for easily the umpteenth time recently, it took me eight weeks to get through the eight books, I though being that I have read them so many times I would take longer, but I was just as addicted this “viewing” as the first. I don’t mind admitting that I was a blubbery mess for the middle section of the last book, just too sad! I’m now on The Expanse books by James S.A. Corey, great stuff.

Vanessa is unbeatable at Carcassonne, how annoying. Well, that was until we added a new expansion on Tuesday (Traders and Builders), now I think I am back on form (I think?¿! Those are famous last words). I am confused about the times of these games, the box says forty minutes per game, on each expansion the time stays the same, forty minutes, so why does it now take us TWO HOURS to play a game.

I had a fright at one of my jobs the other week, I was asked to paint the anchor chains, with two chains at one hundred metres each I saw my soul destroyed and a month of sundays of complete boredom, but luckily it was only a few links every ten metres to show how far in/out the chain was so the barge-master knows how far in/out the chain is at any one time, phew!

That’s all Folks, ttfn.

*I’m not saying any more for the now, any more suggests a fully fledged plan and ya know, that’s not our style baby.

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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???