I emailed a friend back in NZ yesterday evening and here is what I wrote to him: ‘I should be preparing dinner here, but I am had it. Did a big grocery shop this morning before taking the rental car back. Spent £250 - we do have 4 people coming on Wednesday to stay (2 for 2 nights and 2 for 4) so lots of booze, bedding, meat, and various supplies for longer term. The shopping took over an hour and the trolley was chocka and therefore very hard to push/pull or slide sideways! By the time I'd filled the trolley, emptied it on to the conveyor belt, packed it in the trolley again, emptied the trolley into the car boot, emptied the car boot into the boat, I was had it. But then we set off to cruise up to moor up opposite Lyme View Marina to get a new smaller alternator fitted by Ed Shiers, the mobile engineer. Since we arrived, while Ed did his magic, I've re-organised all the food cupboards, the fridge and the freezer, stored most of the groceries (David had put the booze away and unpacked the bedding), and I’ve made a chilli con carne for one of the guest dinners. I am starting on the chardonnay soon! I think a few cheese and crackers and I'll be sorted for an evening meal.’
After emailing Gregor, I modified my dinner ideas and had fresh pineapple alongside a gu pudding – people, if you haven’t tried them, do! They are yummy. And the bonus is that if you eat lots of them you build up a set of little glass ramekins that can be used in the oven. Now what could be better? Yummy puddings and ramekins! Just so you don’t think he went hungry, I will tell you that David used up the last of the frozen thai green chicken curry that was too hot for me.
This morning we moved off to Higher Poynton to get a pumpout. Had planned on getting it done across from where we moored last night, but when we pulled up there there was no hose for cleaning it out and the diesel pump had a notice saying cash or cheque only. We do have a cheque book, but the lack of cleaning hose put us off. Obviously they use canal water to clean it out. I guess that is reasonably common, but it seems weird to us.
We were delighted as we moved on – the engine sounds wonderful now: there is no shuddering or vibrations, and in neutral and tickover the engine just purrs instead of rattling. I can go along in tickover which is now as slow as it should be instead of fast and noisy. So in our book, Ed Shiers is a genius. He is helpful, responsive, willingly works after hours, tells you what he is doing and why. And what he does works – that’s the main thing, of course! He is Four Counties Marine Services – if you need him, look him up on his website. The testimonials are great to see and we agree with them wholeheartedly. He travels quite widely – all he needs is for you to moor close to a road so he can park nearby.
We’ve had the pumpout – not without hassles as the onboard pump seemed to have something stuck in its valve (it is in line, so even with a commercial pump out, everything goes past it). Andy from the Trading Post, at Higher Poynton, helped sort it out and wouldn’t take any additional fees for his time. A good kind trader, and we are delighted to find him.
While that was being sorted, we met a family (Jackie, Simon, Matthew and Theo) who are having a 3 day trip on nb The Wandering Duck, which is a narrowboat backpackers (as opposed to a hotel boat). It is run by a couple who spent a year running a backpackers’ hostel in NZ and have replicated it on a smaller scale on a narrowboat. Excellent idea!
I moved the boat back for the water (it is so easy to move it at low speed now, that I could do it by myself without David there to take ropes etc) and while David went in for a shower, I met a lovely lady called Linda who is dead keen to come to NZ for a holiday but her husband did lots of travelling for work and now doesn’t want to travel. I suggested she come over with a friend and leave him at home – without filling the freezer for him. She said he’d just go to the pub – no worries, I said, that’s what you’ll be doing too! I think a seed has been sown so I won’t be surprised to hear from her re coming to stay at Cherswud, whether we are B&Bing or not. Here’s hoping!
After the water fill up, we moved backwards through the bridge (another easy move, thanks, Ed!) to the visitor moorings and have tied up for the day. I know, it’s a b*gger, isn’t it, finishing up by lunchtime? When I have posted this we will go out for a walk. We have seen several groups of walkers (ramblers they are called in the UK) come past us here so there must be good public paths available to explore. I can’t see any hills (am keeping my eyes firmly downwards) so we won’t need to repeat the White Nancy- and Mow Cop-type treks!
Am feeling very pleased at the moment – getting the alternator replaced and the resultant change in engine performance, and then resolving the pump out hassle has a sense of victory about it. We are, fingers/toes/eyes crossed and touching wood, gradually sorting out hassles and understanding the boat better. It feels good. I do hope putting that feeling in writing isn't tempting fate ...