Last bank holiday weekend we had our first Visitors to Stay. Four year old Lady J and my dear R (her mummy) gamely braved the dodgy gangplank – repeatedly – to stay in the priest hole (otherwise known as ‘J’s Room’) for three nights. We had a surprise visit from the Owl’s aunt and uncle who we didn’t know were over from Australia and happily were able to join us all for our first on-deck barbecue supper on Sunday night. Another good friend also came down from Glasgow and slept on a mattress in the saloon. It was my perfect idea of a magical night; balmy and glowing with excellent company and good conversation. I even remembered to take a picture:
This time our guests hailed from the not-so-wilds of Sussex, but were no less helpful for that in identifying a few things we really do need to sort out (once we’ve finally sorted the distinctly un-infernal heating, that is):
A) Get the captain’s cabin sorted as a guest bedroom. Even if we do it in stages and sort the en suite out later, it’d be nice to have a proper bed to offer, rather than insist guests go through our cabin to reach theirs. It was fine for R&J as they’re small and pretty much family, but it won’t work for many others. (The Owl is already plotting the bathroom and kitchen refurb – in our dreams! – so we’d better get a shufti on)
B) We do really need to deck and fence the deck in front of the wheelhouse so it’s not at an awkward angle for guests to sit/ stand on, and so there’s at least some sort of barrier to prevent curious 4year olds from tumbling into the oggin (and their mummies from having to keep an eagle eye on their every move).
On the plus side, the bank holiday weekend showed us quite how glorious sunny mornings on deck with visitors can be.
D) We need some sort of shade scenario for sunny afternoons on deck – the blaze is relentless and there’s nowhere to hide. Except, in my auntie C’s case yesterday afternoon, under an enormous umbrella which was vastly overqualified in terms of coverage but isn’t exactly ideal when juggling wine glasses and fabulousness.
E) Our barbecue setup is a dire embarrassment. Even by British standards which, given J is Australian, is a situation in need of urgent attention if he’s ever to look his brothers in the eye again.
In other news, we’re currently grappling with the challenge of finding a boiler person willing to service our ACV boiler/ ELCO burner so we can get our central heating up and running. The new nip in the morning air has recently brought an extra urgency to the situation and my pa is now also on the case. This is a major bonus as he actually knows what he’s talking about.
We’re trying to get new double-glazing units made up to replace the disaster zone which is the skylight above the galley. No idea currently how to install them, but I’m sure we’ll work it out somehow (or it’ll be a mighty cold and soggy winter).
I still haven’t found a dark enough blue to address the Orange Monstrosity in the corner. WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT?! We’re hoping to replace all the 12v halogen lights with LEDs, but the LEDs we’ve found so far are a ghastly bright white which won’t do at all, and so the hunt continues.
I need to come up with a bed-head solution to make our bed scenario feel slightly less like sleeping in a box. Later today I’m going to paint my blackboard wall and the bathroom shelf. I really want to get the mast up but I can’t find a rod of steel wide enough to secure it at the base (2.5cm – B&Q goes up to 1000x10mm). An annoyingly small but critical impediment.
I have learned that I love the sound of rain on the boat, but when I can’t sleep and said rain hasn’t stopped once in over 36 hours it starts to get claustrophobic, even for me.
The upshot of all this faffing about is that, excepting recent lunch/ supper parties, after however many weeks I am finally developing signs of cabin fever.
Happily, this week we went to see West Side Story at Saddler’s Wells (which was very excellent – I cried five times) and next week we’ve got Edward II at the National to get out a bit and recalibrate ourselves with the world.
I love this boat and this life; we spent the rest of yesterday afternoon reading the papers on blankets and cushions up on deck as the sun came down and the swans sailed by. I’ve just seen a kingfisher. This is the life for me. The challenge is remembering occasionally to get off…