Archive | December, 2014

Out with the Old and In with the New..

29 Dec

By that I mean water pump. Naturally.

I’m hoping this is the last in a long line of things that have become dysfunctional of late in Boatbirdland. In this case though, I’ve been aware the day was coming; just a matter of when really. I excuse my meanness sense of not subscribing to today’s throwaway culture by saying “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” but John’s been nagging me for ages to do something about it. Apparently, I’m a bit stubborn..?

My old Shurflo water pump…003

Has been getting less and less effective over the last months. When the pump fails to produce enough pressure, the gas water heater fails to ignite, resulting in the shower performing a vicious hot cycle/cold cycle routine and only occasionally settling on a constant temperature under which I could bear to stand.

I’ve manfully put up with it (why was that?) until the week before the world as we know it comes to a grinding halt when it became either freezing or boiling, no middle ground. So much so that I stopped showering altogether.

That’s fine except for hair washing – Boatbird’s is very long these days – and, after more than a week of bad hair…images

I was going crazy. With hair in permanent pigtails, I probably looked ever so slightly dotty/a tad eccentric too. The next stage was habitual hat wearing…a-bad-hair-day

But, at least with the weather turning so cold, I think I may have got away with it.

Also, the flow from all taps was now no more than a dribble with the pump taking longer and longer to bother to cut in and surely only a matter of time before it totally gave  up the ghost. I coerced John into stripping the pump so I could clean all its innards (massive limescale and sludge deposits) but despite my misguided optimism high hopes that this would fix it, it damn well didn’t.

No seasonal miracles happening here then.

I was seriously considering the scissor option before I came to my senses and fired up the computer to see who had a suitable new pump in stock. Jones Boatyard in St. Ives came up trumps with a Jabsco that operates between 20 and 40 psi, shifting eleven litres a minute, suitable for long pipe runs and multi outlets. Sounds good to me. It was even on offer at £73.00 and, more importantly, in stock.

I really rate Jones and have not yet managed to find a chandler in this neck of the woods that comes close. It’s just a whack along the M11 – about an hour’s drive from here – though, so worth the trip.

By now it’s the C-word-Eve and they’ll be closing at 4pm (I discovered when I rang them) so John is despatched post-haste to sunny Cambridgeshire.

Once back here it was bish-bosh-bash…002

New pump installed. And again…001

Showing the accumulator, which this pump doesn’t need but will probably work better for it being there.

And all worked wonderfully well once more. I had a fabulous shower, water temperature not deviating a single degree for a single second. Perfect.

So now I wait to see what’s next…

Actually, I just found out and you’ll never believe it. Two more fails – one mechanical and the other directly caused by a very blonde moment on my part. One might be costly and the other making me loads of extra unnecessary/messy work. Both very vexing.

Find out what’s gone wrong now in the next thrilling instalment of Boatbird, coming to a computer near you very soon.

Oh, and all the best for next year. Here’s hoping 2015 brings joy to you all. And an end to all this crazy shit for me!

Seasons Greetings

25 Dec

At the flames I sit and stare

By the fire in a comfy chair

Just Hobo, me and cheese on toast

 I can’t be arsed to cook a roast

There’s endless coffee by the pot

Then maybe something by the tot

Later there’ll be tea and cake

It’s all for me, no give and take

I’ll read my book, put up my feet

Soaking up that lovely heat

And marvel at the gorgeous glow

As through my windows sunbeams flow

I’m doing festive my own way

It cheers my soul and makes my daytumblr_myhdp30Bvi1qh4vv7o1_500

Different strokes for different folks.

I hope your Christmas is everything you hoped for and here’s to next year; bring it on.

All the very best for the season to you all.

Boatbird xx

Frustrating Times and Fun on the Farm

17 Dec

It’s looking like the arm ailment might be a long job. Certainly not an overnight fix anyway. Bugger.

I’ve seen a physio, am doing the exercises recommended to stretch the tendons, resting the arm as much as possible and applying a little massage now and then. With an over-use/RSI type injury, that I apparently have, that’s the way it is. And Google agrees, so it must be true.

The left hand/arm is being employed as often as possible/when I remember and I’m managing to keep working/on top of things (sort of) albeit in a cack-handed kind of fashion. Very frustrating. There’s much I need and want to be doing but it is all taking so much longer than normal, if I attempt it at all. I will have to be patient. Hmmm.

On the up-side, the grill has started to behave again just as mysteriously as it stopped so I am all cheesed up instead of cheesed off and negotiations re the damage to my car seem to be going well. I’ll say no more on that just now – don’t want to jinx it.

Lucky for me, John is here working on the farm so can help with the heavy and awkward stuff. I’m getting better at accepting help these days but I’d much prefer to be able to just get on with it, in my own time/under my own steam/my way.

Enough of my woes, I’m sure you are much more interested in what’s going on down on the funny farm, so let me introduce you to some of the animals that John is getting to know and feeding pictures of to me.

The Highlands are bred for showing and win many, many prizes; show after show, year on year. The farm office is full of rosettes.

They are treated as pets (and with much respect) and all have a name. As have all the other animals, which we are gradually learning.

Here’s Callum…


A much sought after and multi prize-winning bull, a very handsome, naughty and ferocious beast. Check out that evil eye!

Here again with Fredrica who was named after Dianne’s father as born the year he died…IMG_20141203_130955

And farm owner, Marlene, with one of Stansted’s finest on finals in the background.

Back home is Ben…IMG_20141202_112142

IMG_20141202_112138With mother and daughter team, Dianne and Chloe -17 yrs old and a super kid – great girls both.

And here is Carina…IMG_20141203_112558

Careening around. John must have nerves of steel to stand in front of her with nothing but a camera. I’d have been long gone!  And not even a hint of camera shake.

And two young bulls, Denzil and Dylan, lending a head…IMG_20141202_134643

While Marlene decrees it will fit in there…IMG_20141202_134632

And of course it does. Nothing wrong with Marlene’s judgement.

Back off Carina, I’m driving says Zola…IMG_20141203_112629

Know your place – my horns are bigger than yours.

It’s pretty wet and muddy around here just now…IMG_20141203_132753

But the dinkey donkeys don’t seem to mind.

They come and visit sometimes…003But only because they want to eat my garden…001

They don’t fool me.

But if there’s just one picture that captures Fun on the Farm, for me this is it…IMG_20141203_130917

But it’s all smiles on this farm…IMG_20141203_123453

Even when ankle deep in pig shit. Not sure of this baby Highland’s name.

Ten heifers have been grazing at the Thorley Wash nature reserve over the summer and these now have to be transported back here. They fetched the first two yesterday – quite an operation – and I’ll be covering the highlights here soon.

I’ll have to do a separate post on the dogs. There’s so many of them – again, all named – that even Marlene has lost count. They have been known to growl a bit and nip an ankle of the unwary here and there, and can certainly make a racket at feeding time but, on the whole, we get along fine.

John has the right idea and walks around with a pocketful of dog treats. No flies (or teeth marks) on him.

But here’s Marlene’s constant companion, Dolly…IMG_20141212_163122

Cue for a song surely: Well hello Dolly, looking swell Dolly – enough already.

I may have mentioned the mud, which almost scuppered this chappie…011

As he manoeuvred…009

And soon became stuck…001

Men and old machines to the rescue then…008

And with chains, not so gentle persuasion, a little know-how and much expert (?) supervision…006

Eventually delivered its cargo to the slipway where this feller took over…012

What a big un!

The 70ft widebeam was successfully lifted in…014

And soon after chugged its way downstream, passing Hobo on the way to wherever it was going.

STOP PRESS: I have just picked up a cheque re the accident damage so am now a few hundred quid better off/a bit less into the overdraft than when I started this post. That has to be good.

And the car won’t be going to hospital for bumper amputation, prosthetic attachment and posh paintwork. Instead will live on to fight another day, looking more and more the fearsome farm vehicle she has morphed into, and sporting her battle scars with pride and personality.

We are both in the wars it seems but will get through these tough times together.Woman Driving A

My Friend Jo…

6 Dec

Big birthday today!

For my friend Jo

Sixty – bejabbers!

Not that you’d know60th-birthday-cake-2

With a spring in her step

My friend Jo

Is agile and fit

With a healthy glowhealthy glow

Time for a knees up

My friend Jo

Go out and make merry

Where will you go?knees up

Have a great time

My friend Jo

Dance till you’re dizzy

Cares to wind throwdancing

So here’s to your happiness

My friend Jo

It’s not every day

That Big Six Oh..!Cheers

Much love A xx

Out of Alignment

2 Dec

Ever had those times when things just don’t quite go right? It’s like everything is just off centre, slightly skewed or out of true – like your stars aren’t lining up properly. Maybe my fairy godmother has gone AWOL for a while or karma is catching up with me, but Boatbird has just had one of those weeks.

It started last Monday evening as I was driving home. I was almost there, sitting in traffic along the main street, when a car attempted to turn right behind me into a side street. I say attempted…

Misjudged would be a bit of an understatement but suffice to say that his car now needs two new doors and mine needs a rear bumper. To be fair, it looks like it should ping out…003 004

Or maybe not. On presenting the Battlescar (formerly known as the Battlestar – as in Galactica) at the bodyshop, I am informed that this just isn’t going to happen. And what’s more, if this goes through insurance, it will almost certainly be written off. Well she is knocking on a bit now: approaching 150k miles…002

I’d rather it wasn’t though. We all know that a Toyota can live forever and it is a very nice car: boring steady and reliable, doesn’t owe me anything (and isn’t worth anything), has so far sailed through its MOT each year and doesn’t even cost a lot to run for a 2.5 litre automatic (if you forget the road tax, which is Bloody Expensive). It will still whoosh along with the best of them, isn’t so bad looking…100_3163

Has an enormous boot which swallows all that stuff I can’t fit/don’t want in the boat and so, for all these reasons, I’d decided to run her into the ground.

My Toyota attacker is currently considering his options – doesn’t really want to involve the insurance company – and I am relatively hopeful that he will stump up. Fingers crossed then.

Actually, best not as this is too painful. The next thing to go awry was my right forearm. Out of the blue on Thursday, it started to become extremely painful and, being right-handed, is making even the simplest of tasks at best excruciating or at worst, plain impossible. I’m doing what I can with the left (like typing this) but everything happens in slow motion when employing your non-precision hand and some things are damned difficult. Ever tried brushing your teeth with your un-clever hand? Not easy.

Paracetamol or rub in gels won’t touch it, the doc has no idea what it is (could be tendinitis but not been doing anything unusually stressful for my arm) but prescribed stronger painkillers and said to call 111 if it swelled, the painful area increased or became inflamed/unbearable. I can’t take ibuprofen so currently on the cocodamol and hoping it goes away soon; one has to be relatively fit and functional to live on a boat and all that this lifestyle entails.

The firebrick at the back of my little stove has crumbled (I’ll forgive it as it came with the boat eight years ago and wasn’t new then) and I have sourced a new one…002

Not expensive at £11 odd but how to fit it is another story – especially with a gammy arm – but now the riddler plate has disintegrated too! So another trip to the stove shop in Takeley on the cards but for now the old squirrel is looking good…001

That’s a relief as it’s turned considerably colder out there.

On top of that, the grill on my oven has ceased to work so my staple of cheese on toast is off the menu – you could say I am well cheesed off.

But it takes more than all this to keep a boatbird down (she says hoping there’s not a whole lot more of this to come) so I’m still smiling and not really whinging and whining – more meaning to present a balanced view.

It does fascinate me though how events seem to store themselves up and dump on you all at once. Spooky.

Oh, and a funny thing to end with. TJ brought me 400 cigarettes back from Belgium (approaching half price at around £5 for 20) where he’d been working the other week. By chance, I was reading the small print on the packet (or not as I’m far from fluent in foreign) and discovered that each pack holds only 19 (19 is still 19 in Belgian)….002

So actually they are £5-ish for 19 not 20 and I’ve been short-changed by one whole pack of 20, making 380 not 400.

How sneaky is that…?