Just in case you think boating is unremittingly joyful . . .
1. Kensal Green visitor moorings in the early hours of a February morning. A howling gale and torrential rain outside. Suddenly an alarm sounds. Shriek shriek. It’s my solar panel anti theft alarm. 110 decibels. I leap out of bed and crack my shin on the step. Clad only in nightwear I leap out into the pouring rain to see – no-one. Somehow the rain had set off the alarm. To reset it you need a key. The alarm hurts my ears and I don’t suppose the neighbouring boats were happy bunnies. I’m soaking wet and shivering. The alarm shrieks on for five more minutes until at last I find the key.
2. Crouched in the engine bay. After a long struggle I get a spanner onto the last of the four glow plugs I am replacing. Such is the tangle of paraphernalia surrounding the plug that I can only move the spanner 5 degrees at a time. I can just reach the tip of the spanner with my finger tips. My neck aches from craning to try and see the plug (night on impossible), my legs are trembling from trying to hold an unbalanced position in a cramped space, and my fingers are getting cramps. Eventually the plug comes out, and the new one goes in. Then I realise I can’t get a finger on the tip of the plug to reattach the little nut that holds the cable. I try long nose pliers, but the nut keeps dropping off, taking ages to find each time. Bluetack on a stick doesn’t work. I can’t even poke a digital camera in there to take a picture to give me some idea where to aim. An hour later I manage it. One little nut, one hour. Now I can’t remember how I did it, but I won’t be doing it again for a long time!
3. Sitting in the pub at Curdworth. I feel a stabbing pain in my lower abdomen. Not for the first time, they have been getting more severe and more frequent for some days. A hernia? Grumbling appendix? Next day we have to do 27 locks up into Brum. What if I’m taken seriously ill en route? We decide I’d better go to A&E and we order a taxi to Sutton Coldfield. In then end I was fine, but not before spending half the night in hospital.
If anyone has a worse experience this year, this is an open invitation to share it!