23 December 2010

The blogging ghost of Christmas past

Ooh, look what I found covered in dust…my blog…horribly forsaken because real life (don't you mean laziness? - Ed) got in the way! Well, I shall be a real cheapskate (consistent as ever) and send all my friends (3 in total) the gift of a Greygal post in lieu of a decent present.

So, I hear you ask, what have you been doing with yourself? Did your summer trips on the tideway aboard the Indigo Dream go astray and are you now clinging to the wreckage somewhere out by Dogger Bank? Did you foolishly attach your dogs to a sled and let them pull you at speed into the path of a speeding milk float? Have you given it all up, packed your belongings into a shoebox and fired up the motorhome and pointed it to the Promised Land (a large Tesco or similar)? Sadly, no, none of those. Work has been largely responsible for keeping me quiet although we have had one or two diversions.

Our good friends Sue and Richard offered us sanctuary when we needed a narrowboating fix, our own good ship being stuck on the waterless L&L. I’ve lost track of all the good stuff we did with them, but have very happy memories of being stuck in a lock on the Bow Back Rivers for several days and boring everyone stupid with our plane spotting iPhone app. And of course there was the magical trip down to Brentford and back, including the moment when one’s life flashed before one’s eyes as you realized the Thames Clipper bearing down on you was not going to stop or turn. Good job Indie’s captain had a cool head – thanks Richard!

At the end of the summer, we accidentally acquired another greyhound. Now we were only meant to be fostering him but that lasted all of three days. The thought of his little face disappearing in the back of someone’s car totally undid me so we rang up Kerry Greyhounds and said we would adopt Sidney. I reckon that this was their cunning plan all along. So now we are six, and up on Marton Pool earlier this year, we had the wonderful sight of all six dogs careering along the towpath (don’t worry, there was no one else around!), including Monty, who somehow learnt the art of coming back (though not before running off to inspect someone’s BBQ a mile away).

We thought Sidney, being only five, might liven up the pensioners but it has transpired that he is the laziest organism on this planet – he can hardly keep his eyes open most of the time. But he is a big lovely boy, big being the operative word – when he stands next to Miffy, Miffy turns into a whippet.

Now if it had only stopped with an extra greyhound…the thing is, somehow or other, and we’re not quite sure how, we found ourselves the owners of a second boat. Think of President or Vulcan, chop out the middle 30 feet, and you have Henry H – looks like he shrunk in the wash, to be honest. In a wide lock, think toy boat in the bath… Long story short – saw it on the web, screamed at me ‘you must have me’ and I dutifully complied. Well, my savings were doing flap all in the bank and as we’d always intended to have a butty built in a few years time to house A’s workshop, we thought well, it’s a butty with an engine, and getting it now means we can have more fun. That’s why every Saturday in Sep/Oct/Nov we hauled ourselves out of bed at some ungodly hour, leaving the dogs in the tender care of my mum, and went to retrieve Henry for the next stage of his onward journey to Stenson (where he’ll be fiddled with a bit – well, a lot actually, as the shell and engine are great but the interior is, mmm, well, let’s just say it’s an acquired taste. So acquired in fact that we couldn’t resist ripping half of it out…).

So if you see someone waving at you madly on a Saturday, but see no giveaway dogs, then it’s me. If you see someone careering into a lock wall, then that'll be me too (it takes time to get used to a speedwheel and a boat that's built like a brick privy - in the nicest possible sense). I daresay our Midlands narrowboat (oh yes, we're still maintaining our southern narrowboat aka Indigo Dream - they don't get rid of us that easily) will take up a lot of next year’s spare time but we’re also looking forward to going up to our northern narrowboat. Hopefully we'll be returning to Sowerby Bridge via the Rochdale on a boat that will no doubt seem enormous by comparison. Seriously, we’re setting world records for the tiny-ness of Henry’s bathroom. A has to lose weight just to fit…we're thinking of pioneering a new bathroom cum galley combo...

One thing that has not been diverting us is our motorhome, sadly. In the summer, on a rainy day, we discovered that it was raining inside as well. And there I was blaming Miffy for our wet bedclothes…It transpires that our roof (bloody GRP, doesn’t happen with steel!) had developed stress cracks. Answer? Cue sucking in of teeth by dealer and then ‘ you’ll need a new roof – that’ll be 6 grand please’. Cue me fainting. Then cue me recovering and telling them to think again. Think very carefully in fact about what you say next, given that the van is only three years old and cost a pretty penny in the first place, and that I can get au fait with the Sale of Goods act in about three minutes…’Ah, put like that, we’ll do it FOC. Not till May sadly, but think how many lattes I can buy with the money I save?

I don’t even have as much time as I used to to dip into the old blogs. I still follow Indigo Dream obviously although Sue and I are invariably on the email exchanging dog ailment stories, and good chums Joe and Lesley (Caxton) and Jill and Graham (Contended Souls) are always on the radar. I have a weekly dip into Sanity Again with Bruce and Sheila and marvel at the intelligence of Sally in writing such good blog posts. If I could get my lot to do that, I’d only have to write one post in seven.

A is busy with his sideline, fixing up old vintage synthesizers. I’m helping him by seeking out broken old tat on Ebay that he says he can mend. This is the potential ‘business afloat’ idea that could see us sailing off into the sunset with two boats, six dogs and a soldering iron. However, one look at the dining room table – covered in electronic bits and tools and fascias and screws – and I’m thinking that we might go for his n hers boats in future. Where the Xmas dinner is going to go, I have no idea. Ooh, isn’t this stuffing crunchy…ahh, no, that’s a bit of lead solder and a tiny transisitor…yum.

On the dog front, aside from Sidney’s arrival, Arthur has been under the vet for most of the year. He’s hanging on in there, despite our local vet having a Shipman-esque way about her…’ooh, he’s very thin, there’s something nasty going on, I don’t think he’s got too long, you should prepare yourself…’ as she waves a big needle around. The only thing I need to prepare myself for is Arthur hurtling into the kitchen when he hears his dinner being made! Yes, he may be very thin (either meds related or there is something horrible going on), and he may have a very stiff gait (rare condition called myositis) and he may have mouth cancer (too may cigarettes) and he may have Cushings disease…and high blood pressure…and a thyroid problem, but he is still here and enjoying life, especially if it’s chicken-flavoured. Or luncheon meat… I daren’t think of him leaving us yet.

At least he has the good grace to wait until his dinner is served in his bowl….as we have discovered to our cost, Sidney, being so big, is not averse to putting his paws up onto the kitchen counter and nomming everything in sight. ‘Ooh, lovely liver in a pan..’ nom-nom…’ooh, half a baguette’ nom-nom..’ooh, a pack of butter’ nom-nom…’ooh a packet of biscuits’ nom-nom. And he steals Arthur’s donuts…the poor old boy is a very slow chewer and so Sid mugs him. We’ve taken to letting Arthur eat outside unmolested….trouble is, we keep forgetting he’s out there…we find him 30 minutes later with an icicle on his nose.

Anyway, another year done with, almost. 2011 promises much – expense mainly.

Merry Christmas!