Showing posts with label Worries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Worries. Show all posts

Saturday, 9 March 2019

We've Gone Off Grid

This post was meant to go out a while ago, when the headline was "We're Getting There". I had to change it to what it is now, because we got there (work wise): The kitchen is done, the canopy is on, the batteries are fixed and the wiring finished. The heating is working, and the solar panels are drawing in most of the energy we need. 😅

It wasn't a very nice time. It was Winter, and we had lots of work done and therefore little privacy and lots of DDS (dust, dirt and stress). Our start into boat life certainly didn't go as well as we had imagined it. Ewan has chest pains (no, it's not the heart) and suffers exhaustion and is therefore written off sick for 2 weeks; and my neck has played up again, nearly as bad as it was 1.5 years ago, when it all started to go downhill with my spine; and my lower back is constantly in pain. Yes, it's another moany post, I'm afraid. And it goes on, I'm afraid, because now we're back in Abingdon, off grid, moored near Abingdon Bridge, and, despite the place being amazing, the weather is really not so good to us, rocking us about like nothing else. I'm constantly in a state of 'emergency', which can't be healthy. Ewan is much more relaxed, feels safe, and he's really enjoying some time off. He needed that so much.

I think, if we now were physically fit, we would actually start enjoying ourselves. When the sun is out, it's glorious here, and when the stars are out, the sky looks just magical. It just has to get a bit warmer, still.

So, really, we haven't quite got there. I'm sure we will, though. Once the winds ease and the sun comes out more, we'll feel so much better. I hope we're not delusional. The few things that still need to be organised, are
- getting the name onto the boat,
- getting the bow thruster repaired,
- getting the hull inspected.

Here are some impressions of the work site and new kitchen:

I know, it's natural that chaos comes before order, but it was annoying anyway.
The gas pipe and regulator had to be replaced, so, for about 4 weeks we could only use a camping cooker.
New fridge, new freezer, new gas hob, new LPG gas oven, new microwave and new fronts.
Oh joy!
But then....
...it looked pretty much as we had imagined it.
The worktops have been covered with a special sparkling laminate.
And - just so you remember, this is what it looked like before:

Some people would have preferred this style. But we love it in Ash wood with red worktops.
I just didn't like the cold, black and white, male look to the space. Now it's looking and feeling warm. The new red rugs help, too. We also decided to get rid of the big 3-seater sofa, as I just couldn't get comfortable on that. We replaced it with a two-seater sofa bed, which we are very happy about. Sitting is much more comfy now. 

So much more us.
Now we're moored in this very beautiful spot in Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. On the photos below you can see the end of the garden of the Nag's Head pub. Normally we're only allowed there for 3 days, but we intend to stay until we're being moved on, because of the very windy weather. We're pretty much in the heart of Abingdon right now, which is very convenient and still so lovely. I'm so glad that Ewan's brother Duncan was available and happy to help us move the boat from Shillingford. I was still a bit nervous from the last experience. But now I'm feeling much more confident again.

Two confident males and a scared dog.
Moored opposite Abbey Gardens.


It's such a beautiful spot.
We'll enjoy another week of Ewan being off now, and the whole coming weekend we'll be celebrating Ewan's 60th birthday by having an Open Boat. We're both looking forward to that. Although, where the heck shall we store all the food and drink?? And where will they all sit? What if it rains? Saturday will be party night. We have no clue at all how we're going to make this work. But I do want to stop worrying all the time. Therefore, I shall be prepared as best as I can and leave everything else to fate.

Love to you All 💖

Monday, 28 January 2019

Work Site

Hello everyone,

It's been a while again. Sitting down and just writing seems a luxury at the moment. My (our) life has been so stressful recently that I feel we need another holiday.

Don't know where to start, so I will just start with the heating. It's still not working. We've had an engineer out twice and an electrician too. They came to the conclusion that it's the original wiring, and that we need to have it re-wired. Apparently Viking boats are made in Poland, with Polish standards, not English. God knows what that means. Anyway, a new loom has been ordered, and the engineer will come back this Thursday to start the job. Fingers crossed, we'll finally have a warm boat this coming weekend. It is getting to me that we have to have electric heaters plugged in, which draw a lot of electricity, which has been costing us £10 a day. The wood burner is going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we're still not warm in places. The floor is ice cold, and the 2 bathrooms are not exactly warm either. This particular job will have cost us an unexpected ca £1500, we think.

We had ordered 5 smart lithium batteries and the necessary kit to wire them in. Early January the electrician came with 4 only, as the 5th had tested faulty. During 4 very long days of putting the wiring in while it was very cold out there was also a test to my poor nerves. I'm not really complaining, as the kind soul didn't charge us a penny for the work, only for the batteries, the gadgets, the wiring and the accommodation. That came to over £10,000 (! - Yes, it's true. But these batteries are supposed to be good for about 20 years). So, we're very grateful indeed that this wonderful chap never charged for his workmanship. Still, it was stressful for both of us, as Ewan had to shadow him all the time in order to help when necessary, and I had to put up with the space looking as if a bomb had exploded. We're still waiting for the 5th battery; and some more wiring needs doing, which - he thinks - will take another 2 days work. This will hopefully be finished by mid/end February.


The boys sorting the batteries and me keeping the bellies filled


Six solar panels have been installed, tilting ones, and there seemed to be no problem at all. Took the young man a full day's work into the night, but it's working. We can't use solar energy yet, as we're still plugged in at the Hotel due to the electric heaters drawing so much. But it will be so fantastic to know we're using solar power for most of our electricity in future.




The canopy has been measured up, finally, 2 weeks ago, and apparently it's being fitted tomorrow (29th January). We're very excited about that, as the forecast is snow, and it will add to the boat's warmth and to our comfort.

This is just the frame for measuring the canvas which will cover it.

It'll look soooo lovely and will give us more room, especially for our dirty shoes.

Kinver seem to be doing a splendid job. It took them ages, though.

Poor lad, he had some difficulty in doing this job, as it was quite windy that day.


Last, but not least, we've had a kitchen fitter round since 21st January, and there's now light at the end of that particular tunnel, too. As you might have seen, the kitchen was black and white. We're changing it to ash wood with sparkling-red worktops. We've taken the electric oven out and replace the half-gas-half-induction hob to a full gas hob, so we don't use electricity when cooking/baking; we've replaced the dishwasher with a free-standing freezer, and we've replaced the built-in fridge with a free-standing one, as it gives us more fridge space. We hope it's finished by the end of this week. It already looks just like I had envisaged it, and - again - I can't wait for it to be done. The new LPG gas cooker and hob need plumbing in professionally. We've been let down this morning, but it will be done this week. In the meantime, we're using our new microwave for heating up food. I'll post the piccies when the kitchen is finished.

My health is not so good. My body is aching all the time, and I find it hard to get up and out of bed in the mornings. I feel stressed by everything, especially the cold, and I wonder if that is contributing to my achy bones. Ewan is not feeling much better either, unfortunately, and I'm beginning to worry about him. We do have good times on Coddiwomple, especially when we've got friends over. But we also have a good go at each other for nothing at times. The stress of the past 4 months is taking its toll. I know we'll get through it. But in the meantime we're just surviving, it seems.

Just a reminder, what our boat name actually means. We're looking forward to travelling purposefully.

My business is picking up. I'm a Life Coach and Family Systems Therapist, and for the first time since I've gone full-time self-employed, over 3 years ago, I'm feeling it coming on. That is a huge shift, and it feels fabulous. Having to deal with work, though, as well as everything else, adds of course to the load we're dealing with at the moment.

I can hear your "aaaaw"s LOL. Yes, it's not been easy.

My new flyer - A bit of shameless self promotion.

I do hope I've done a good enough job, so people understand what I'm offering, professionally.

Ewan is constantly making sure that we've got enough wood and water, he's also been amazing at shifting stuff around, so we have been able to use the boat as a living space. He is and remains my rock and my hero.

Our boating community, The Shillies, as we call ourselves, is just so lovely. One of them, Tim, is a homeopath, and we're helping each other with our issues. I'm totally into homeopathy, as it does help me and has always helped my young children, when they still believed in what mummy believed in.

Finally, I'm posting a few lovely pictures I've been taking during walks. Not only when the sun is out, nature is such a source of inspiration and strength.

Our amazing view in the sunlight onto Shillingford Bridge

Light and shade along the Thames Path between Shillingford and Benson

Jack's view

Reminds me that reflection is good practice, and mindful walks help

A beautiful berry dress, a welcome colourful spot in the wintry scene

A stranded narrowboat. Nature is conquering it back. Wondering what the story is behind this scene.

Beautiful reflection in the sunlight

I love willow trees; they're like fun curtains ;)

Life and Death next to each other, as it should be. Both beautiful and natural.

Grass is so resilient

Who doesn't love the look of snow drops

Is that a sign of Spring coming soon?

A bed of snow drops in a garden in Warborough - Stunning!


A very windy day on 27/01/19. Lucky it flew no further than the owner's garden.

Thanks a lot for reading and please always feel free to comment below. Oh, and remember to click "follow" on the right (if you're reading this on your phone, I have no idea if you can, actually).

Till soon,
Silvia

PS:
This is a Facebook group that I host: http://www.facebook.com/groups/OxonRiverAndCanalLife

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A Not So Happy Post

It's Winter. And I'm feeling all those familiar lows that come with short, dark, rainy and cold days. I don't think I suffer from SAD, but I certainly feel a huge lift when the sun is out. But there's much more to the lows than the weather, which - of course - confronts us with heating issues. By the way - as I'm writing on my laptop, whenever I'm pondering, I look up and I see the river flowing past my round window and the river bank on the opposite side. It's always such a lovely view, whatever the weather. It has probably become one of my favourite places to be on the boat. Anyway - where was I? Ah, the lows. Yes, recently I've been up and down a lot, probably more down in the valleys of emotions. This new life of ours - yes - I wanted it. And I still do. Now comes the 'but'. But I also feel constantly challenged by so many little things. The biggest challenge is when Ewan says: "Let's take the boat out." My body goes into complete shock before I feel the fear creeping up in me. What if we bump into a bridge, another boat or the river bank? What if Ewan panics - I have no clue how to maneuver this monstrosity, nor would I be at his end fast enough to help avoid a collision. Usually, as soon as we set off I start feeling more at ease, knowing that my man is feeling confident and happy with moving and mooring her. We have walkie-talkies, so we can communicate, as he's at the stern end and I'm at the bow end. That helps enormously. Yesterday we moved Coddiwomple just from Shillingford to Benson, a journey, which takes just under half an hour one way. We needed to pump out. Ewan was amazing, but there was one moment when I thought we were heading straight into a boat by the river bank; we were going sideways instead following the stream. We would have crushed it, if Ewan hadn't last minute re-gained control over our 37 ton vessel. As always, he managed it well. When we were back home, I was completely exhausted from the stresses of stressing. I am trying to stay calm and focused, and I think I kind of am, but man do I worry. There are moments while moving, when I just feel totally amazing and happy, and I am then looking forward to summer, when we'll be moving about much more. But in windy, rainy weather conditions, I feel our boat is becoming more like a weapon when we move. I am so incredibly proud of Ewan and his confidence. Without him being my rock (as ever) I would have already run away screaming (not sure where, but honestly I would have). I just also want to mention that our dog Jack is always completely freaked out when the engine starts, until it turns off again. He shivers the whole way, bless him.

The constant awareness of limited water, power, limited sewerage tank space, gas supply and wood/coal - I'd never been confronted with that before. Water was always available, so was heating, electricity and sewerage. I never thought about it much. Now I do. I pee into a bucket, I poo at the hotel, and I ask our guests not to flush and use a bin for used paper; I shower rarely (don't worry, I do wash properly), I use washing up water twice or top up with hot water from a kettle; I have to get drinking water from the hotel every 5 to 6 days; I have to think about when and which way to heat, so that I'll be warm going to bed and getting up .... It goes on and on.

Recently I went to a women's meeting, and one of them had lived on a narrow boat for 6 years, so we got chatting. She warned me that Shillingford Bridge Hotel's garden floods from time to time, and that we then would need poles between river bank and boat, so that the boat wouldn't drift into the garden, and that we needed a dinghy to get from boat to land. That set me off into fight and flight mode, and I couldn't sleep that night. Just imagining myself floating meters away from the land and having to get into an unstable inflatable boat with my dog, just when he needs to do his business..... Oh God Almighty!

Yes. I'm finding this hard. I admit it. Now you can have the last laugh.

But I'm not defeated. I'll soldier on with my knight in shining armour. Because Spring and Summer will make it all worth it. I see that going into this venture at the end of September wasn't the best move, as dealing with Winter as newbies really is hard. We still have no canopy, and Kinver are so bloody slow, I think they might actually have forgotten about us or can't be bothered. We still have no working batteries and have to be plugged in all the time, which costs us about £100 per month. And no solar panels either, yet. All ordered. All happening in January, we hope.

So, now is the time for some good news and another 'but':

But, we have an amazing community here at Shillingford Bridge. It really is so lovely to know these special people and feeling the support and friendship. We are not alone. The hotel staff are also very welcoming and nice.

This place is absolutely beautiful; our views stunning. The swan (we call her/him Lesley) comes on a fairly regular basis, and we feed him/her duck food. We enjoy the wildlife, the sounds/noises, and seeing it. Often at night we hear an owl - magic. It's quiet; no noisy, horrible neighbours. The walks round here are gorgeous. Ewan and I are going strong. I have time to heal my body and do the occasional coaching with clients. We have no mortgage no more, no money worries. I enjoy the slow life. I love it when friends and family are with us on Coddiwomple. We have wonderful times together and so much laughter. The Wi-Fi works, slow, but working. By the way - we have a Mi-Fi box from TP Link with a Sim card from Three.com - "All you can eat", which means unlimited data for £25 monthly. The best deal on the market here. The TV is working. Glad we kept it LOL. Winter nights can be quite long.

So here goes. I'll get through my struggles, I'm sure. It's probably mainly my physical issues that bring me down. So much pain all the time.

Lots of love to you all,
Silvia



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.