September 2013

1
Today has been box shifting day and computer rediscovery day. Floor space is reappearing in what will be our main bedroom. We shall be a step nearer a fully working bathroom tomorrow, and with luck the plumbers will reappear to sort out the shower pump’s supply etc.

All getting a bit mundane now, isn’t it? But then, tomorrow is Mundane – but neither of us has to go to work unlike most of you. Yay! Not that I’m gloating, you understand.

2
More shelf alterations, more books appearing on them and consequently still more carpet appearing elsewhere. We are contributing magnificently to Seaford’s cardboard recycling effort and expect a medal each at the end of it.
Joe Templeman, fresh back from holiday, continues to make the bathroom more beautiful day by day. Hatchers plumbers have scheduled themselves for Thursday to finish off the shower pump connections, so a working shower will be a great relief, particularly to people we meet.
I have rediscovered my own plumbing skills. They’re still crap, but I’ve rediscovered them nevertheless. We do, though, have a towel rail which gets hot and doesn’t leak. Yet.

3
Bathroom now complete apart from the shower pump / plumbing and flooring. Thanks so much to Joe Templeman who has produced a comfortable, clean and pleasing bathroom from a tired old one. Turnstiles for inspecting visitors not open yet as the rest of the place is still full of boxes.
Having been bullied into it by Linda Perkins, I went bellringing at St Leonards, Seaford tonight and was relieved that not all of my limited skill has departed. A pleasant, laid back crowd and a pint afterwards – can’t be bad.

5
Googled around Seaford, found another plumber having been let down by a local firm. Chap arrived at 5.00 and the job was done by 7.30 pm. We are getting more organised – more details tomorrow if you can stand it. I shall now have a shower, so if you hear seagulls flying madly away from Seaford’s waste water treatment works you’ll know why.

6
Shower last night was lovely and very welcome. Some say the gulls were quiet today because the weather changed, but I know they’ve all gone to Newhaven to get out of the way. I’m sure I saw one green one fall off a roof…
More shelves built! Yes, really. The postcard collection has to go somewhere. Tomorrow we might even have a proper bed – and even curtains at the bedroom window. Yay…
Cancelled the original plumber’s postponed slot for Wednesday and told them another firm had come out that night. “Oh good,” said the woman. Whatever happened to ‘I’m really sorry we let you down this time and couldn’t reschedule it for you’?

7
We seem to have grown another usable room and have decided to call it a bed-room. To justify its change of name from ‘Oh-god-what-a-lot-of boxes’, we’ve decided it should have a bed in it. Also, we shall sleep in it. Tonight.
The down side is that the smallest room – not the bathroom: that would be silly – is now so laden with boxes that it’s threatening to sink into the nearest disused coal working* and so become a basement. That would solve a number of problems, not least of which are a) less stuff to find homes for, and b) a reduction in council tax.
* As far as I know that’d be in Kent.
PS – the seagulls are back, mourning their fallen comrade.
PPS – the new fangled bed-room also has cur-tains. The Uxbridge English Dictionary describes a cur-tain as a metal case surrounding a dog, though I may have got the spelling wrong. (Answers on a postage stamp to…)

10
Today we bought a toilet roll holder.
Surprising how difficult that was, but we managed it. Oh, also we went to watch Tornado (A1 Pacific steam engine) visit the Bluebell Railway. Very much a first for Sussex, not just for the Bluebell. Built to plans from the 1940’s (?) she was built from scratch over many years because none of her class was preserved, and she’s a spectacular machine.
In our absence the hallways and stairs were carpeted and the bathroom vinyled: it now feels like Home and we are very pleased. That doesn’t mean that items have magically leapt from boxes onto shelves or into cupboards – or even that new storage has constructed itself in L-space (see Mr Pratchett’s writings for an explanation), but day by day it’s more liveable-in.
Tomorrow we have a young lady visiting. But since Judy will be here she will only be helping to redesign the kitchen and coming up with a figure we can’t afford, hers and the new kitchen’s alike.
We also got rid of a load more cardboard at the tip – sorry, recycling centre, just so they didn’t think we were ignoring them.
The seagulls seem to have forgiven me and are back to usual raucous selves.
A new mattress arrives tomorrow or Wednesday, so if there’s no post one day you’ll know we’re slept far too soundly.

11
A vacuum-packed matress will shortly be having an erection on the floor for the next 24 hours. Apparently it needs that length of time to gain full size.
No further comments please.

13
The curtains work! The fire works! Yes, we actually burnt a log on it, despite the temperature not being all that low. But as the weather is so windy and raining Datsun cogs, it felt good.
Bathroom curtains and bedroom net curtains now up. Far too long, but Ikea only know 3m drop. Waiting for a Judy with scissors and hemming tape as we speak. That’ll be tomorrow, then, as it’s nearly owl-hoot. Not that we could hear one over this wind, even if it could be bothered to argue with the seagulls.
I’m really glad not to be doing the security round at Hurst College tonight!
We are in a state where every day feels like Saturday, so are mistaking the days of the week. It’s called retirement. Apparently tomorrow is a real Saturday: tell me if I’m wrong.

14
What’s on my mind? How little we’ve done today, really. The major event was Leon Hogsden coming over to help shift the heavy-ish sofa bed from the garage to the Library – thanks again Leon! It is now equipped with sleeping bags and cushions, along with tannoy speakers either side to wake guests in the morning. Tomorrow’s Sunday, so it’ll be Black Sabbath. Monday is courtesy of The Mamas & the Papas, then The Beatles, and I can’t think further than that. Suggestions on a postcard.
I got filthy in the attic again and still can’t find where the feed to the light up there runs from: it patently doesn’t. Started cutting wood for shelves in the understairs cupboard now Harry’s gone back to Hogwarts but can’t assemble them as there’s a spell on the walls and next door neighbours are back and its a joint wall. Tomorrow, maybe. Mischief managed.

15
I stand here on the prow of the good ship HMS West Street as she battles her way into the teeth of the southern gale. Rain lashes its way round me, blowing the beard asunder and trickling gently down my back.
I reflect on the day’s voyage, the discovery of new continents (the understairs cupboard) and the planting of the Union Flag there (shelving built). I recollect our hard-working chef’s (my) amazing concoction for dinner this evening, and how complimentary (“it’s ok”) were the comments from the other passengers (Judy).
And now forgive me, gentle readers, as the ship’s bell will shortly proclaim eight bells of the first watch and I must submit my post of lookout to the fresh crew. The evening’s pleasantries…
“‘ere Rich, wotcha doin’ then? Sending dirty emails agin?”
So departs my deathless prose for another day.

16
Finally rigged up amp and speakers in the library/office/concert hall. Now all I have to do is find the power supply to the external disc drive with the music on it. First track I played (thank you Spotify)? Richard Thompson, Sunset Song, first heard as a solo at Cropredy. Next? Libera… anything and everything. Instant peace.
The house? Who cares. Oh, ok then: more postcards put on shelves, cupboard shelves finished, more or less. Fire cleared out after use. Plans for kitchen finalised, more or less. And still there’s more to do. Hence Libera.
CT scan tomorrow… can’t wait. No fizzy drinks, therefore no Harveys or anything like it. Grrrr… Hence Libera.

17
CT scan competed and I now have my first and last ever tattoo: 3 dots around my pelvis so they know where to line me up to blast Radio 1 at me (well it’s radiotherapy, isn’t it?) over the 7.5 weeks from October the something. That’ll give the prostate something to consider…
Being devils for punishement we revisited ikea this afternoon/evening. Bought an inexpensive new wardrobe as ours is a) old and b) falling to bits.
You can get 2.1m panels into a small Seat Leon. Just.
On the last visit we had bought a dustbin (not as exciting as a toilet roll holder, but hey) which had its lid inside. Wrong size lid, we discovered next dustbin day. “Can we change this please?” we asked in all innocence. “You have to buy a complete dustbin, then bring it back here and we’ll refund it, taking the old lid and the new dustbin from you.”
WHAT?
Customer Service policy? Customer WHAT policy?
More grrrrr. Sleep well. (even if you are at work. I’m not!)

19
We admit to oversleeping this morning, to be woken by the gentle sounds of a Joe Templeman at the door anxious to get to grips with our damp problem. The house’s, that is, not mine: I’m already having treatment for that. Ahem.
The removal of a number of bricks resulted in the house heeling over…. no, not really. It does appear that much of a Mediterranean beach seems to have migrated to the inside of an English cavity wall. So far about 3 bags full have been removed.
Joe’s theory – and it holds water (that’s actually a wry joke) – is that material bridging the two skins of the cavity conducts damp through (hence the wry joke), so giving us wet patches all round the exposed south west corner where the wind does a lot of prevailing. Removing it should cure the problem, but give us the additional ones of having to decorate the now-dry areas and having to find somewhere else for mushrooms to grow.
Lit the fire: it stayed alight and still glows as I speak.

22-29 – on the Canals
Sorry, no pics due to a very slow connection. We met Huddersfield Narrow Canal today. Now, the Huddersfield Broad is… well, quite narrow, even if the locks are wide; just short at 58ft. Our boat is 58ft, so we have to fit in diagonally and play dodge with the cill when going down and the double gates when going up. Interesting…
The Huddersfield Narrow is rather like steering down an ornamental water feature in a private garden. When it say narrow, it means it. Even when the channel is theoretically wide it grows weeds or felled trees or craftily hidden rocks. A faint, uncertain “Yay”, to quote granson Jack Hogsden.
However, lots of it is very attractive, specially the fact that you’re in a valley of Yorkshire Pennine proportions. Currently at Linthwaite. No, I don’t have a postcode: look it up.

Continuing from yesterday’s plaint about the width, I have another. emerged from Lock 16 this morning to a channel that seemed more mud then liquid. We wound our way up quite a distance before sticking the bows on a mud patch on the right of the channel and the stern on God know what on the left. Judy flushed water down from the next lock, fortunately nearby, and we moved again all the way to the lock, then stuck on the cill trying to get in.
Canal and River Trust time. The guy arrived just as the water was nearly at the proper level, but he went further up and released more water down tous so we wouldn’t have the same problem later.
We did, of course, but solved it ourselves.
Nearly reached the tunnel (Standedge: 3.5 miles long) but had to turn because of time. We walked up to it to marvel: 2 fairly normal people looking at a wet hole in the hillside. But a hole that was dug by hand 200 ish years ago and which took 50 lives in the making.

Woke up to find ourselves on the mud again, but did the engine checks and put in a little oil. Climbing from the engine compartment my foot slipped and as I descended gracefully back into the depths of Solong (‘gracefully’, as used here, is a lie. Not even a euphemism; a downright lie) I thought not: “I’m going to die” but “this is what Will Templeman must have felt like, but oilier.”
The words ‘oh heck’ and ‘botheration’ rang out and Judy enquired as to my well-being. I forget my answer, but it probably wasn’t polite.
Having extricated myself I counted the damage. Self: bruises to thigh, grazes to shin and significant trauma to my general karma. Solong: a snapped battery isolation switch.
Now for those not in the know, that means no domestic power. That means no water pump and that means no tea.
Amazingly Solong extracted herself from the mud’s dubious attractions and we did an emergency limp (is that technically possible? Answers on a postcard to… ) to Aspley Marine, Huddersfield, having warned them a casualty was approaching, steering a boat. We reached them at 1310, gave them the job and ordered some food in consolation in the nearby pub.
The repair was done quicker than the food. Thanks guys.
So we carried on, negotiating low pounds, open paddles and 4 stops to remove rubbish and weeds from the prop. Darkness fell fast as we journeyed, also fast, up the Hebble and we are moored on lock moorings (sorry everyone) licking our wounds. Please note that last phrase should not be taken literally.

Tomorrow is another day.

30 – Back home
After a slow start we finally got our ar… got mobile and cleared a space in the small bedroom. Now that is an achievement on Judy Wright’s part as it’s the equivalent of playing chinese chequers with lead weights.
I was in the loft keeping out of the way and trying to make some sense of the excess cabling for telephone (it used to be worked by steam) and for the shower (which probably used to produce the steam, come to think of it. We have alternative means now). I persuaded Herself that some of the stuff we take on the narrowboat really didn’t need to be accessed in the meantime so it’s now in a safe place in the loft. That means we’ll have forgotten where it is by our next holiday. (And yes, Becky Martin, Leon Hogsden and Jack Hogsden, I know you cleared it out for us, but you know how small the house is. It all has to go somewhere. I’m told).
Finally moved the chest of drawers up to small bedroom from the living room, 2 cupboards to the garage and 3 different cupboards from the garage. As a result we now have a living room that maybe desperately untidy but looks comfortable.
Hurrah. Yay, even.