Thursday, May 30, 2024

Herbie Apprentice Selection

Rishi Sunak reckons we ought to have more apprenticeships and for once I agree with him. In fact we already agreed with him before he said it.  Of course Rishi is unlikely to have the opportunity to put his idea into practice after July 4 so we'll have to go ahead on our own.

So for our Herbie crew apprenticeship we have identified a short list of four young candidates.  Each has been given a temporary code name (or in one case, three alternative ones). Let me introduce you to them.

First is Nose (on account of his -or her white nose)

Next we have Smokey aka Grey

Then we have Collar on account of his/ her white collar (I hesitate to use the term Dog Collar for what I hope are obvious reasons)

and last but not least Chalky, Snowy or Snowdrop on account of being all black

Like all good interview candidates they are fighting for attention and showing some competitive spirit.

You can also see that we are doing our bit to help the poor and disadvantaged in that all four are currently living in a cardboard box in our Peter's flat in Cambridge. And like so many youngsters these days they are still living with their mother.

The selection process will take a few weeks, during which we will assess their physical health, their intelligence and personality and of course willingness to learn.  After all once trained and qualified the lucky winner will officially become Ships Cat - a responsible position.

Now observant readers will recall that we were supposed to have been cruising last weekend.  Well a tiny weeny thing stopped us.  Microscopic in fact. I'm not sure what it was but a good guess might be ecoli or something similar. Kath and I were laid low with,  - well I'll spare you the gory details.  Suffice it to say that we weren't up to running around locks and standing out for hours in the rain.  Having now recovered we hope to snatch a few days aboard in the coming days, before returning to Cambridge for a further check up on the apprentice candidates.

I hear the Crick show was somewhat muddy by the end.  We actually won two free tickets in an Aquavista moorers draw, but not being able to attend, we passed them back to be reallocated to some other lucky couple.  I hope they didn't get too wet.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Ship's cat in the offing??

 Next weekend, (not the coming one) if all goes to plan we'll actually take Herbie out on the canal.  In all the 18 years we've had the boat this is the longest time we've not cruised (except perhaps during the first Covid year).  This time our main excuse has been rain, floods and mud although I suspect inertia has something to do with it.  The other day with fingers crossed I thought I'd better check that the engine still starts.  Based on previous experience of starting up after months of standing unused, I remembered to manually work the fuel lift pump a couple of dozen times before turning the key, and the old BMC burst into life at the first attempt.

Next week we'll have Rosie and Ronnie, our Claire's dogs, as crew.

Being now well approaching middle age they're as good as gold and no trouble.  However, we might be getting a ship's mascot  of our own before too long.  It's a long story, but our son Peter adopted Grace's cat Belle as companion to his other cat Charlie and unexpectedly it turns out Belle was pregnant, so when he came home last Thursday night, instead of having two cats he found he now had six!!

Right there on the carpet! Belle hadn't even been nesting although she had been ravenously hungry for some days.  Kath had got very fond of Belle and Charlie so she's thinking of having one of the kittens.  Apparently everyone wants the grey one.  Peter has read that ideally cats should go in pairs.  Oh dear!  Mother and kittens are doing well and the youngsters have already almost doubled in weight.

Meanwhile we've just spent a few days around waterways where most of the boats are plastic.

Yes it's the good old Norfolk broads and a weekend with old friends.  Kath and I didn't join the others sailing this time but chose instead to seek the wildlife.  Hickling Broad Nature Reserve is I think the best inland reserve we've visited.  We saw common cranes, marsh harriers, and a purple heron as well as lots of more normal waterfowl and we heard, but sadly didn't see, numerous bitternes booming.  Just before we arrived people saw a white tailed eagle there.  Brilliant place and highly recommended. 

Back at the Cropredy, we've been getting used once again to the lovely sunsets we get there.

and at last I got round to fitting the new button fender although I've now bought some new chain to better secure it next week. I need to reach those side eyelets to give in some lateral stability.

Tune in next week for more kitten updates and hopefully some actual boating.

Saturday, May 04, 2024

Interior boat decor a la Kath

Kath is a clever old stick.  Time was when she would complain that she couldn't draw or paint or indeed have any artistic talent. Well over the years she's proved herself wrong and the evidence can be seen aboard Herbie.

Take these storage boxes for example - I use them to store small hand tools, screws and wotnot.  Kath covers old fairy washing powder boxes and the like with a collage of bits of paper she has painted on then seals the surface with a hard wearing acrylic wax.

In the galley we have tea towels printed with her canal based artwork

and of course her patchwork curtains in the saloon and lately a matching backing for my chair.

But the most recent idea is a decorative panel to cover up a water stain below the side hatch.  The hatch no longer leaks since we made a canvas cover on its outside, cunningly attached by magnets for easy removal, but previous leaks had done this to the woodwork 

So when I saw Kath painting a long wildflower watercolour panel I suggested we use it to cover up the stain.  Eventually I'll get round to putting a new bit of wood panel in but in the meantime here's our arty solution.

Here's a closer look at the painting itself, or some of it.

We're aboard Herbie for the weekend, doing odd jobs.  One I'm not looking forward to is fitting our new stern button fender, which will require me bending or lying down struggling with rusty old  shackles to get the old button off whilst hoping my glasses don't fall off into the water.  At least the sun is shining today, a rare occurrence lately.