Saturday, 20 June 2015

Maidenhead and beyond

We moored up for yesterday at Maidenhead, having arrived the previous afternoon after about 7 hours travelling. We were trying to get a good distance covered as we have not been moving very far very fast, and the distance still to go before we get to Oxford seems daunting. I have checked ACCanalPlan and it is a fair way away, but we are making progress. Any crow who flew following the river would do almost 4 times as much flying as the shortest distance between two points would indicate.

We were going to head onwards yesterday but there was no convenient railway station to meet Pauline from – the trips would have involved one or two changes. So we decided to stay put. And what a good decision! The list of jobs that Barry tackled yesterday was prodigious. Of course the list wasn’t written down, it was just being manufactured as the day went on. I gave him simple fix-it jobs, eg stop the bathroom basin outlet from leaking (fixed in 2 minutes), put a screw back in the under-sink cupboard catch (fixed in 1 minute, including finding the screw on the bottom of the cupboard).

David, on the other hand provided him with real boy stuff jobs that they worked on together. Something to do with installing an aerial that is meant to boost the cell phone reception, and that was then combined with re-routing and concealing the TV aerial cable that was dangling down the wall above the TV. MY battery operated drill was used but I am happy because it was Barry that did it. That is one toy that David is not allowed near! And stop saying ‘Poor David!’ He was fine and happy not to be using it.

Late the previous afternoon after we’d had a wine or two (ONE for me, FOUR – yes FOUR – for David) on the bank, and when the engine had cooled but was still rather warm, Barry supervised me changing the engine oil. Unlike Tom from nb Waiouru, I don’t have a onesie, but I do, in the fine tradition of my dad, have clothes I can get as messy as I want. That was a requirement, as I did make a bit of a pig’s breakfast of the oil change. Well, of the pumping old oil out. Thank you, Jerry and Cheryl, who we met at Whittington last year and who told us about puppy training pads! The ones already under the engine got a bit more mucky and, as I cannot reach right down in that space being vertically challenged, I scooped them up afterwards with the tile gap cleaning tool that we use for clearing crap off the propshaft – thank you, Peter Earley, for that recommendation for the boater's toolkit!
These photos are to prove to our son Tim that I can do engine stuff ...

Information for Tom (nb Waiouru) and Tony (nb Holderness) - being a short-arse is helpful at times - see how easily I can fit in beside the engine?
Plenty of room for me down here - I was checking the container David has beneath the greaser gland

Fresh puppy nappies going in under the engine
And the next one

Dirty fingernails - they were worse than this photo shows, I am sure!
I'm disappointed - they don't look anywhere near dirty enough!

Yesterday Barry checked the engine oil level to make sure that there was enough in there once it had settled overnight and the oil filter had taken some in. He also checked the seal of the oil filter as I forgot to wipe a smear of oil around it as Ed had told me to do and as Barry wasn’t fast enough to remind me about before I fitted it. Not his fault – I was on the home straight and things were going quite quickly.

That night we had a nice meal at the Thai Orchid. It’s very nice and about 650 yards from the moorings. I did clean myself up after being down in the engine hole, so apart from my mucky fingernails, I was presentable in public, fear not.

It was good to have a day off travelling – I spent some time reading between getting up late to make brunch and making lunch which we ate outside on the bank. I was reading Jane Smiley’s Early Warning: The Last Hundred Years Trilogy – it’s the second book. Compulsive reading – I do love my kindle – as soon as I finished the first one (Some Luck), I logged on to the Kindle Store and bought the second. (I think it was about 2am when I was wakeful …) I am 92% through this second one and I will be buying the third one shortly … OH NO!!! I have just looked it up and it isn't yet published!! Dammit!

This lovely tree is just inside the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. It reminds me of the tree is DR Seuss's story about Lolla Lee Lou.
We have had a social time lately. I posted about the visitors we had last Sunday in Teddington; and on Tuesday when we were moored outside Hampton Court Palace, Pauline came back after work and David’s niece Sarah and her husband  Alex came to visit from nearby Surbiton. So there were six of us for dinner. Pauline got back to the flat after midnight having caught the last tube. And the next day she had to work late, poor woman! We all felt very sorry for her, honest we did!
Sarah, Alex, David and me. It was already dark by the time they left so it must have been late. Sarah posted this on Facebook after midnight!!

Pauline came back yesterday evening for the weekend, and on Sunday she and Barry will head back home. Barry has helped us as we have got used to the river and its locks. The latter should be easier than the canal locks, but we find them trickier as we are required to hold ropes when in them. Getting ropes around the bollards isn’t so easy given that David cannot stand upright in the cratch given the shape of the cratch cover (ie not the usual triangular, but more like a rhombus with the sides parallel to the boat sides, so there’s nowhere to stand without leaning forward). So we have developed a technique whereby I drop off David (armed with a short light boat hook) before the lock, and he takes a loop of the stern rope from my hand when I am in place, loops it over the bollard and then goes forward and scoops a loop of the front rope from the boat roof behind the cratch. Easy peasy, after the first 4 times! The critical thing, which I am finding very hard, is getting the boat settled quietly along the side of the lock within arm's reach of ropes. I'll have it sorted by the time we are ready to move off the Thames no doubt ...

It has been a bit of a trial getting to be comfortable with the river; but we think we are now ready to be let loose on our own … I think the tantrums and outbursts and stress are almost done with. Well I think that is what I think.

Today we are moving on - Barry is steering while I finish this. Between us, Pauline and I have made bread and I am about to sort out a late lunch. The weather is meant to get worse - 100% chance of rain at 3pm and thunder at 4pm.

We stopped at a marina for diesel and to buy toilet blue, and I saw nb Dogma, knocked on the boat side and Ken appeared with the lovely dogs Bryn and Ollie. It was lovely to meet him after reading their blog for so long.

We are now well north of Marlow and finally we are seeing lots of narrowboats, widebeams and dutch barges moored up and tied to trees. But we will keep going for another hour or so until the weather packs up or we all come down with low blood sugar - whichever occurs first!


Les Biggs said...

Very satisfying doing the engine service yourself. Enjoy the river my friends.

Tom and Jan said...

You can do our next oil change!

Ken and Sheena said...

Hi Marilyn. Lovely to meet you today. Thanks for stopping by to say hello and meet the boys. Hope the sun comes out for the rest of your journey upstream.

Jenny said...

Hi Marilyn. Is that what "getting down and dirty" means?

Robin and Jenny

Marilyn McDonald said...

Tom, I'd be happy to exchange doing an oil change for some painting!
The river is lovely, Les, no doubt about that. Most of the houses that bound it show that there certainly is money about, although not spread anything like equally or equitably ...
Ken, it was great to meet you and the boys after reading about them and Sumo for so long. Sorry that I got you out of bed, mate ... It was an easy trip to Reading today, by the way, and we got the locks pretty much right today! Yay and at last!
Robin and Jenny, I was certainly down as far as I could go in the boat, and even though it's not obvious in the photos, I was pretty grubby. So down and dirty is apt! A very satisfying feeling to realise I can do something new, and I wouldn't be my father's daughter if I didn't enjoy getting covered in muck every now and again!
Cheers, M

Ken and Sheena said...

Heh, everybody knocks at the wrong end, so wasn't sure if I dreamed it or not