|Port and sherry, plus lime and lemonade at Foxton Locks Inn on Sunday evening.
It was bittersweet heading from Foxton back to Debdale on Monday morning. We were ready to let go but even so, doing so was tough. I can't remember where it was a few weeks ago that we saw and stopped to hug and chat with Alison and Mick on 3 No Trumps, as they too were on their way to put their boat on brokerage. Mick's comment at the time was that it was important to give up the boat while still loving it. And he was right, we think. As some actor/comedian said ' leave them wanting more.'
Before we headed away from Foxton, I made cheese scones for the Debdale team - it was going to be my last opportunity to do so.
We puttered along slowly feeling sad and nostalgic, and I think for the first time, I registered how lovely the countryside is here.
|I think this was the penultimate bridge before Debdale - hate to moan, but see those bloody reeds spreading out across the cut?
|Chilly, but still wearing shorts. It's a lovely stretch of canal, this.
|Lovely countryside and sky
|The ubiquitous reeds but also the lovely fields and trees.
|Serenity - me, I mean ...
|See, we could still smile
|It did require a kiss - how I managed to selfie that and steer, I am not sure. No other boats in sight though and I was in tickover, so that all helped ...
|The building in the distance visible directly above the boat, is Debdale's very large workshop. Not very far to go now.
|Approaching Debdale Wharf, slowing down to moor behind the boat just through the bridge.
I had phoned Rachel to ask where they wanted us to moor up and she said for us just to tie up at their service area. She reckoned it would be easier for us given we were going to have lots of stuff to unload from the boat, i.e. everything! Things were going to the charity shops or into our bags for coming home, and there was heaps of foodstuff to offload as well. The decision to sell this season had been made when the pantry lockers were still quite full...
Soon after we arrived, I headed off in an Uber to Aylestone to collect the rental car. I can't remember what it was but it was a very big SUV - excellent for the task of getting all of the bags to Gatwick!
We had Julia and Maggie coming for dinner that night, so in the spirit of using up at least 3 cans from the crate, veg from the cupboard, and some of the spices, I made a curry with lentils, onions, sweet potato and potato, canned tomatoes and coconut milk. I also used up a bag of frozen berries and some of the flour, butter and sugar, some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaked almonds and flaked coconut, and cinnamon in a berry crumble - and I used a can of custard! God, I'm good. The only thing I had bought was a bunch of coriander - fresh coriander is yum!
Even so, when I started bagging up food for Julia and Maggie to take away either for themselves or friends or a foodbank, Julia gave me heaps about not having run supplies down... I did explain to her that most of the canned stuff would have survived till next boating season, as would all the spices and chutneys if we had not decided to sell. I don't think she was convinced though. I had to give away my very vigorous sourdough starter - even though I had brought it from NZ because while you can take almost anything into the UK, you can take almost no food into NZ - we are much stricter about biosecurity. Note to self: follow up and ask if the friend they were giving it to actually wanted it or if it has been washed down the sink ...
We had made lists of what needed to be done to leave the boat in clean and tidy condition, so the next morning, we got on with the tasks.
As the wind rose, I realised that given we were moored very close to where the guys pressure wash boats before they get taken to the workshop or on to the hard or get blacked, and given the wind was blowing the spray of algae towards us, Waka Huia was becoming very dirty, particularly on the port side and also on the roof - my precious new paint!!!
So we rang and asked Jim where we could move the boat to. Back to where we had been before we headed away in May, he said. So, off we went. David gave me instructions (!?) that I was to be aggressive. A strange request from he who is usually counselling being tentative, I thought ...
The strong wind assisted me getting in through the marina entrance but I still went like the clappers around the side of the marina - if I'd got caught by the wind it could have been disastrous. So I was going flat out in a big sweeping lefthand curve before straightening up and aiming for an opening of about 8 feet between a moored boat and the jetty we were to tie up to. I swear, if I'd been being watched, I would have messed it up, but the weather was crap, it was raining and blowing a gale and no one was out. A slight bump on the moored boat as I slowed down. 😬 And we were in! And fortunately the moored boat was unoccupied ... 😏
And then it was on with the tasks so we could leave in a reasonable timeframe. We had allocated the tasks with a reasonably even numerical spread at David's insistence... There were about 15 tasks on the list, and I did about 12 of them, in spite of the allocation, because ACP is absolutely incapable of rushing, and the engine bay and gas locker needed to be very very very tidy. Obviously...
It was very very very difficult for me to keep my cool as I raced around doing wardrobe emptying, bagging up remaining food to give to the Debdale team, cupboard cleaning, fridge/freezer/washing machine cleaning, bleaching the butler's sink, finishing off packing suitcases, wiping surfaces, gathering up charity shop items for Julia to come and take away, sweeping the floor yet again... I knew that losing it before he had finished the engine bay and gas locker would only delay things because only one of us cleans and tidies while conducting an argument. (I have to keep moving while furious - it helps dissipate my desire to vent my frustration by screaming ...)
But once he had finished, I finally exploded in what was clearly very righteous indignation. Then calmed myself down by going out and hosing the roof and cleaning the sides. I got thoroughly wet, ranted to myself the whole time, refused to stop hosing to talk to ACP after the initial explosion (note, he was sensible enough not to follow me outside - he hates cold water on him and I would definitely have hosed him down).
I felt much better at the end of it. Cold water will do that for me, as will frenetic activity; and if the frenetic activity involves hauling on and swearing at an unwieldy hose, swooshing bloody autumn leaves and twigs and seed heads off the roof, getting the roof and sides clean while, for at least one side, tromping along a wet gunwale in wet boots, all the better!
Please note that I was the one who apologised for losing my temper so spectacularly (obviously righteously though ...) so we could move on and leave the boat for the last time in a serene but sad state of mind rather than with unnecessary angst... And also please note that since then ACP has litigated that some tasks are longer/bigger than others. I agree. However, an engine bay with about 3 square metres of surface area and about 5 things (OK, maybe 10) to be arranged on said surface area, and a gas locker with less than 1 square metre should not require 3-4 hours of effort and do not in any way equate to 30 square metres of cabin space with multi layers to be attended to - cupboards, wardrobes, appliances, suitcases ...
|Ready to go
|Me too - I'd changed out of my wet boat washing/painting clothes, thrown them away and I'm prepared for the weather... And I'm not looking murderous either!
|See, he had a happy smiley face in the lovely dinette
|A goodbye pat
|Looking clean and shiny as we leave for the last time.
We had intended to leave by about noon, but eventually left at about 3pm, having hugged the Debdale team and thanked them for all their help and kindness over the years. And after promising Rachel I'd send her the cheese scone recipe ...
We knew that noon was unrealistic for us (well, if you don't understand why, re-read the section above) so we had planned not to drive too far that day and had booked to stay the night at the Three Swans Hotel in Market Harborough. We had an early dinner with Richard and Emma - I had worked with Richard in the Home Office back in 2005. It was lovely to catch up with them, and then it was across the courtyard and back to our room for an early night.
And in the morning, we re-organised the suitcases so everything fitted and we could discard the shopping bags that some stuff had travelled to MH in. We had brekkie, and then I went to Wesses Bakery to buy yummy stuff for lunch, and then it was off down the M1 and on to the M25 to Leatherhead - mostly in pouring rain and not pleasant driving. The rain was not the issue really - it was the spray from trucks and cars that significantly reduced visibility. And I am always wary in rainy conditions because motorists don't seem to slow down or maintain long enough following distances to take account of the weather.
Leatherhead is where my lovely Aunty Molly lives and we hadn't warned her we were coming - she's 95, and a half, she declares. She always reminds me of a little kid when she says 'And a half.' Makes me smile every time.
|Molly has macular degeneration and is almost blind apart from some peripheral vision. But she still cooks and cleans for herself. She is amazing. Her brain is still sharp, she is funny and kind.
|We love her.
Then it was back to Gatwick to check in and unload the cases (6 of them: 3 large and 3 small) at the hotel. David undertook to do this by himself in the rain. As I am a kind woman I insisted he wore my coat. For some reason, he doesn't believe in having his own coat at hand in the car, it's much more useful to have it in a suitcase in the boot...
Once we had carted the cases along what seemed like at least a kilometre of hotel corridor, we braved the weather and returned the car to Enterprise in the rain and then walked back to the hotel, also in the rain, taking our lives in our hands (well, David's because I was the one making sure we were not walking into oncoming traffic as we crossed 3 and 4 lane roads ...) Once we had crossed twice, we were on paths all the way and it was quite pleasant being outside - I know I'm weird in that I have always liked walking in the rain. And this would be pretty much my last opportunity for English rain for a fairly substantial period!
We had arranged for Lesley to come and join us for dinner but even though I like walking in the rain, motorway driving in it in the dark is a different story. So I suggested she take a raincheck. We will catch up on WhatsApp instead once the lag of the jet has released me from its grip!We had eaten dinner by 6pm and we were pooped - well, of course we were. Frenetic/unrushed cleaning, motorway driving/passenging in the rain and saying goodbye to Molly for probably the last time had all taken their toll - and there was the accumulated tiredness from weeks of painting and polishing and cleaning and clearing. Those business class seats were beckoning ...