Monday, 10 September 2018

Day Five of River Cruiser Life

I feel so tired. I haven't slept enough or properly for 4 nights now in a row. It's taking its toll. The bed is hard, and I don't have space to move around, and my back and neck are killing me. Concentration is still okay, yet, my eyes feel like wanting to close. I might just have to take a nap, like Jack, but can't yet. It must be fab to be a dog, especially mine.

Today we're moored at the Abingdon Outdoor Swimming Pool, which I wanted to do for ages (well, since we've had Nirvana II). It's very windy, and the boat is rocking. I like that.

Last night was peaceful, again, and we were on our own, apart from pheasants, songbirds, crows, herons and other wildlife creatures. It was heavenly.

The inverter has given up its ghost again. I think it started going pear-shaped when our neighbour, Carl (a boater originally from Chicago) explained how to deal with electricity (batteries) on Nirvana II. I didn't understand much, but he spoke about 'Both' (which it was set to), '1' and '2'. He told me we needed to start the engine on '1' or 'Both' and give the engine a quick 1 or 2 roars in order to activate the .... Oh what was that word again?? Anyway, he did that and showed me the 'Amp' reader, and I kind of saw what he was talking about. He then set the battery thing to '2', which seems to feed the appliances (leisure). '1' is the starter battery. I hope he was right. But since he went, the inverter showed a red light, and he's gone now, so I need to wait for hubby to sort it. The new fuse might already be gone again. A lot to learn.

The engine is running all day, while I'm on the boat, so that the fridge is running. In the night, from 8 pm latest, we need to turn the engine off, and the fridge needs to be turned off as well. So far, we've been managing. But I'd rather not have the sound of the engine all the time and enjoy some silence.

Ewan is at work today, and from tomorrow he'll be on his well deserved 2-week annual leave. On Thursday we're off to Croatia for 10 days - We are so looking forward to that. And afterwards .... Hopefully the wide-beam barge will be delivered to us on 24th September, so that we can fill it with the contents of the storage. On 27th my eldest daughter Lisa will come with her husband to visit for a week. They are so excited; how sweet.

I'll better get ready to pick hubby up from work, as I've got the car, and he'll leave the work van at work.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

A New Life Begins

This post will be in diary style:

7th September, 8am

After a very busy day yesterday, cleaning up the house and getting all remaining things out, we moved into Nirvana II (Birchwood, 25 feet long) around 18.30. My youngest daughter came round,  and we had a Chinese takeaway, a drink, and we played Rummy. Was lovely. The night was quiet at Wilsham Road mooring in Abingdon,  but it was pretty chilly during the night. I kept thinking that I needed to organise a woolly hat,  but I was warm under the duvet and with my Ewan next to me and my Jack cuddled up to my feet. I was awake often but didn't worry about it.  It feels amazing to have started our floating life,  and I'm so, so proud of what we have achieved in under a year. Today, we get what's left from paying back the remaining mortgage and buying the big barge (yes, we bought one). We'll feel very financially rich, for once 😉. Actually, we've been feeling abundant for a while,  just having each other and our wonderful children, parents, siblings, friends ..... and the love in our hearts. This morning the sun rose around 6, and it was a beautiful sight. It's now shining into my face, while I'm taking my time to wake up and get going. It's still a bit cool in the floating caravan,  but I'll soon get up. Have my first physio appointment at 10.30, finally, after 11 months waiting. I am so much better, though, only achy at times, especially my shoulders. The IMS (intramuscular stimulation, or deep needling) worked a treat. Ewan is already working away,  the good man.

8th September, 9am

This early morning was so tranquil, I couldn't sleep from around sunrise, even though it was quite dark due to a very cloudy sky. I just enjoyed the peace and watched the raindrops running down the windows and listened to the dribbly noise.  Bliss.
Then,  a louder noise outside the 'front door',  water was coming in.  We had left the roof open 🤔
Wasn't bad, but sounded like a little waterfall.
Heived Jack outside,  he had his wees,  he took his time, marking all sorts of plants. I got him back in, and with his muddy paws he tippled through the boat straight back to bed,  leaving a different kind of marks 😉 No problem. What's going on with me - I'm chilled??
I've never felt so carefree and light in my life. 
Loving every second,  even the little challenges.
Yesterday we fixed the inverter (converts 12 V energy to 240 V.) with our good friend Martin's help.  He's just the man for these kinds of things. Martin and Janet invited us for dinner, the good people, also a hot tub and a shower, that was soooooo lovely of them. Ewan excitedly found out that Martin owns several rivet guns (what the heck is THAT??) - He can now (when?) fix Nirvana's hand rail 😆.
We're still sitting in bed,  had our first cuppa and are catching up with our social network,  as well as the news of the world, while listening to music.
Later, after breakfast,  we'll go to Annie's Cafe for a coffee. Haven't planned any further, yet. 
Lovin it so far,  even though it's raining right now. Wellies out,  Darling-Ewan!

9th September, 9.30am

I'm writing this blog post - this is what I was looking forward to for nearly a year - writing posts about our life on the Thames. Ewan is chatting to two nice women who were walking past. Everyone on the river and on the path are so friendly, often chatty, but certainly so far always helpful. It's amazing.
So, yesterday morning was a bit of a stressful time, as we had to realise that the engine didn't start. At all. Just a rattling noise - horrible! Next thing we find out is that Jack has eaten the raw bacon from the open pack I had left in his reach while cracking an egg into the pan. And, if that wasn't enough disaster (but all good [and bad] things seem to always be three, and we should know this by now), I dropped the engine hatch lid on Ewan's head, while he was trying to find the fault. I'm sure all of the area round Abingdon Bridge heard his primal scream. Embarrassing! That was Ewan's day ruined (don't worry, he was okay, really), and I was not able to cheer him up. God, he can be such a grumbling bear LOL. I kept my calm all the way (this is new!), and we sorted a membership with the RCR (River & Canal Rescue) - cost us a bloody £250 for the emergency call out and the yearly fee. Bastards!! This was another reason for Ewan to feel peed off. I left him alone for most of the morning and afternoon and went about errands and visited my Bestie, Linda, which was a very good idea. Ewan was able to cool down, I was able to find my toiletry bag, hidden in a suitcase in storage (yey!), got my washing done at Linda's and bought a lovely pink rug for Nirvana II (love it).
When I returned home (haha - home is now somewhere else every day, it seems), Ewan was bored, doodling away on a sheet of paper and slowly cheering up. The engine was running, charging up the totally emptied batteries, so, he hadn't been able to leave the boat until I was back. Turns out the mini fridge is draining the batteries big time, and we can only use it while the engine is on. The rescue man was impressed with the motor, which is slightly too big for this kind of vessel. It's also in a good condition, and the batteries should be fine. All sorted.

After all the moving stress and that day, Ewan decided he wanted to get away from the crowds and sail into peaceful territories, so we moved Nirvana II and ourselves to a beautiful field between Abingdon Lock and Sandford Lock, near the racing track. Thank God there was, and is, no racing going on. We had hoped to be by ourselves and enjoy the tranquillity, but soon after a narrowboat arrived and moored right behind us. That was a strange experience, and the first of this kind we had. My first reaction was disappointment, but I told myself, be sociable and allow others to enjoy this place. And soon I felt totally okay with it, and Ewan was chatting away with 4 very friendly people. They kept to themselves, as did we, and we never felt disturbed at all.

Our lovely dinner consisted of quinoa (cooked in veggie stock) and finely chopped German style salad (that means there was oil, vinegar and spices in it). Hmmmmm - that was soooo yummy. Must do it again.

We then had a glass of wine and played Draughts until we could hardly sit.

This morning I woke up with the sun rising - as the last 2 mornings - and enjoyed the silence. It really is so silent here - beautiful. I couldn't see anything through the windows, as we had (for the first time) covered most of them up with black bin liners (Heavens, that was a job, putting them  up). I was disappointed I couldn't see the field and the sky. I tried to sleep some more, but my bladder didn't let me, and the thirst was too bad. Eventually I got up and just sat by the window that I could see through and watched the river, the trees and the fish jumping.

Now we're off to Sandford Lock to meet our friend Paddy. Everytime we get visitors, I'm excited, as sharing this life with others is just making it all more beautiful.

I'll keep you posted more frequently, I'm sure.




Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The move is on

Last Friday we finally exchanged contracts, and this coming Friday we complete. We are happy, excited, exhausted and so looking forward to everything to come. Right now we're still in a bit of moving chaos, although we've pretty much emptied the house of all furniture and most appliances, and we've put most of what goes onto the River Barge, into storage.

Our belongings in a box
We're moving into our smaller boat Nirvana II tomorrow, and we'll live in there until we go on holiday, so, just over a week.

Nirvana II

In the meantime we've put an offer in for our future floating home and paid a deposit to secure it. Full payment will be made on completion date.

The current owner of our new home has offered to take her up to Abingdon - for free!!!! Isn't that amazing? This is a journey of easily 6 days. The heating needs repairing first, but then he'll sail off. Maybe he'll make it in time before we go on holiday. If not, we'll be able to move in directly after coming home. Amazing!

So, everything is falling nicely into place for us, which - I think - is a good sign. We'll reveal our River Barge when she's ours, so, hang in there, folks.

Dear Heavens, please give us another week of this fantastic weather, so we won't have to freeze on Nirvana II (there's no heating, and currently no 240V electricity either), and we don't have to step out into the rain.

I'll update you All further once we've moved onto the Thames.

Lots of love to you All xxx

PS:
Some impressions from recent cruises on Nirvana II (we looooove it!)






Monday, 30 July 2018

In Limbo

Hello fellow boating enthusiasts and followers of this humble li'l blog.

The sale of our house is still seemingly going through (our buyer has started filling our shed and garden with stuff), yet, it's the not knowing that is causing some stress, in me anyway. Our buyer is looking at exchanging contracts on 8th August. But we haven't heard a peep from our lawyer or our estate agent. It's really quite a challenge for me not being involved in the selling of our house at all. They leave you all out of it, and no one knows where things are. So, so, so strange. We do get the same type remark every time we speak about our house sale, which is, "yeah, house sales are very stressful". Why does it have to be like that? And why does it have to be all behind doors and us being kept out of the loop??? I don't get it. But here we are, waiting more or less patiently until someone lets us know about dates. Well, we're not only waiting. We are also being very active, not losing sight of having joy and happiness in our lives. More about that later ...

2 shelves are gone from our dining room cum workshop space, plus a bureau. All things are now packed.
The office desk has come down into the lounge. It will go last with some other furniture we give to charity.
The lounge has become storage for the stuff that goes onto the big barge, eventually.
Family collecting furniture. Niece and nephew are moving into their own first homes and were grateful for the wardrobes and other furniture.
Wardrobe gone in one corner of the bedroom.
Another wardrobe gone from another corner of the bedroom.
The ex-office is now a storage room for boxes and suitcases.
A mess in kitchen & lounge while moving stuff around.
Yet another lot of clothes and bedding to go to charity.
Looks a bit wild, doesn't it. But does no longer look like this anymore in every corner ;) We've tidied up, as we're still living here and want to feel comfortable. Our living space is looking like this now and giving us an idea of how it could be on a barge:


And the lounge is now the storage for the stuff we still need to access from time to time, as well as some things that go to friends:


The bedroom is now really spacey, and we brought the hanging rail in:


...and on my side (the corner bedside table is empty). All clothes I need right now in this weather are in those 6 containers plus on the clothes rail:


The ex-office is now holding all winter clothes, mattresses, bedding, washing, ...


...the vacuum cleaner and some small things:


The guest room, which we rent out via AirBnB, has only got empty furniture and some bedding. This will be emptied in no time, and all things in there go to charity:


Do you think we're ready? I think so. Upstairs is pretty much packed, downstairs it's the kitchen, the utility room and under the stairs. All of this could be done in one day.

So, here comes the news, which is not news to our closer social networks, as we've posted pics on FB. We've borrowed some money and bought a Birchwood 25 River Cruiser - apparently a much loved old timer on the English waters. And here she is:











A beauty, we think. We decided that it would be best to have a small boat before we buy the big barge, as we'll be cash buyers, and we won't have to fret about where to go when we complete and haven't got the barge to go to. It will be a huge adventure, as there are several challenges: I can't fully stand upright in there, I don't think I'll use the shower, the fridge is super tiny, and when it's stormy like now, we'll have to learn how to handle a floating home like this. Last night I had this horrible vision of us being on the river, enjoying ourselves and suddenly the engine stopping to work. What the heck are we supposed to do if this happens?? Okay - there's an anchor. Phew! Then call some emergency number and get rescued, I guess.

We bought this boat on 20th July, my birthday. We decided to take her out with some friends straight away. This was our first ever journey on her, and the winds picked up and the rain came down just as we moored back in Abingdon. It took Ewan 4 attempts. Not bad for a beginner. I was well chuffed. But I was also wrecked and reality kicked in for me. This is what we'll have to deal with when it comes to 'weather'. After a night of stomach ache and fear, we took her out again the next day with some of our children. It was sunny, it was fun, I was much more confident that we would tackle this. Ewan has been a beacon of steadiness and self confidence. Amazing.

On that day we also met George and Carol from "Still rockin'" again. What a joy. They had been the first, kind all-time boaters to introduce their beauty to us and tell us everything they thought we might need to know on this journey. Such wonderful people. We found ourselves again in their living space, catching up on all the news. It already starts to feel like becoming part of a new community, that is warm, welcoming, kind and helpful. We're so grateful.

Some impressions of that Saturday:

My friend's daughter made this b'day cake for me: A boat in my favourite colours, and even Jack is on it. So very special :)

We jumped into the Thames and played Frisbee with a plastic plate.

So handy, that little step outside on the back, but also a nice jump from the roof possible.

Ewan's oldest found us a muscle.

Ewan's youngest and her oldest bro. Unfortunately Ewan's middle son couldn't make it. Neither could my oldest daughter and her husband, as they live in Germany.

A peaceful journey back to the mooring.
It was such a fabulous, beautiful day, which we ended with pizzas, marshmellows and drinks in our garden. My youngest daughter and her partner had catered for all of us for the whole day. I was truly chuffed about everyone's efforts to keep me put (as my neck was still quite bad that day).

This post must come to an end, I think. I could waffle on forever at the moment - haha. 

Please wish us well for a smooth transition from house to boat and then to barge within the next four weeks. Thank you.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Movement

We've accepted another offer 😃. Unfortunately, we had to go down with the price again, but that made it possible for a formerly interested person to finally make an offer. This time it's looking good, and we see this going through fine, hopefully within the next 6 to 8 weeks, which takes us to mid/end August.

Only the garden is difficult to leave behind

Every day, I've been walking along the river Thames in Abingdon with my little furry friend Jack, and every day I've been longing to live on a barge. It has been a roller coaster of feelings for me and us, and I'm glad we're both sharing this dream. I feel so blessed to be with my incredible man 😊.

Our Orange Blossom - Love it
What an incredible summer this has been so far, hasn't it. I love English summers, they are bearable. Where I come from, in Germany, the recent weeks must have been torture in terms of heat and mugginess.

We're looking at 25 - 27 ft long cabin cruisers at the moment, hoping to find one that is suitable for a tall person like me. I'm 6ft2, which makes it very difficult to find a boat I can stand upright in. If there's any advice out there, we'll welcome it.

I'm finding the in-between time of leaving the house and buying a wide-beam barge a difficult challenge to tackle. Where are we going to live? We thought we might be able to live on a cabin cruiser (which will eventually become our river taxi from boat to land and vice-versa). But I can't really see myself being happy with that. As I said, I'm tall. Ewan is a strong built man. We need space, and at our age, we also need some level of comfort, even if it's only for a few weeks. Maybe I get used to that thought and can adapt. Otherwise, we'll have to find short-term accommodation.

Lots to think about; and also lots of packing up into boxes as well. I can't quite find the drive to do that, yet, as packing boxes is not my favourite thing to do, and I'm a procrastinator. I'm sure Ewan will cheer me on 😉.

So, it looks likely now that we're moving to a barge this summer. Keep your fingers crossed for us, please. We feel we need a bit of luck.

We love sitting by the river and watch the sunset
In the meantime, I'll take care of my physical health, as I've been suffering from a bulged disk in my neck since October 2017. After lots of treatments, I feel there's now an improvement, and I trust I'll be in full working order again some time soon. I've been feeling very let down by the NHS. After all these months I've still not even had as much as physiotherapy - grrrrrr. I've been paying for all my treatments. But hey - I've also learned a great deal from my dis-ease, to be honest. So, it's all good.

Off to seize the day now. Surely I'll find myself by the river again today, as it's like a magnet to me.

Soon, folks, this blog will become a reflection of our experiences on the river and therefore more interesting, we hope. Wishing you all well and thanks for staying with us so far.