On a visit to Milton Keynes we know we cannot escape parental decorating duties at Ally and Ben's house. Today was the day we were asked if we would help with painting. Had I known I was going to be painting - and what was going to happen to me - I would have brought from home some old trainers and old clothes.
But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Last night we were tied up under a tree which had recently shed a branch, the branch which I spent a few happy hours cutting up. In the night, as the wind got up, I began to regret our position. The saucepans dangling from their hooks knocked against the side of the boat; and the solar panels rattled on the roof in the stronger gusts. Towards morning it started to rain: neither of us got much sleep! When we got up I was relieved to discover that nothing major had come down from the tree, and the solar panels were still on the roof.
As we were wondering how easy or hard it would be to move the boat in the strong wind a boat, Wagtail, came past. So it could be done. Good. The wind was mostly towards us, with enough from the side to make getting away in the normal way impossible. I was rather pleased with how well my strategy to overcome this worked: I pushed the bow out and then, before the wind had blown it back again, pushed the stern out. Hopping on board I put it into astern and reversed until the back end was about 3/4 the way towards the offside. The wind, meanwhile, had caught the bow and was pinning it to the nearside bank. Then I powered forward with the tiller positioned such that the back end headed for the nearside. This was enough to encourage the front end away from the bank - and we were under way.
In a few minutes we were at the entrance to Thrupp Wharf Marina, and the wind was blowing just as strongly. Approaching the marina from the north requires a 315 degree turn. My usual practice for winding or making a tight turn is to make the boat come to an almost complete stopn in the middle of the canal when the centre of the boat is level with the nearest "corner", then power the back end round such that the front swings to where it should go. The wind in this case meant that I had to keep the power on, which made judging the exact moment to make the turn difficult. We got in OK, though, and onto our pontoon.
After a quick coffee we jumped in the car and drove the four miles to the house. I was on painting duty, as I have mentioned. With a roller I put what I very much hope are the final coats on the kitchen ceiling and the front bedroom walls. I also applied a mist coat to the bathroom ceiling, a job made interesting by the lack of floorboards in most of the room! What I didn't bargain for was magnolia fingertips and paint all over my trouser legs. And on my shoes - I don't suppose emulsion will come off leather too readily. Hmm.
Apologies again for the lack of photos. Ben says he will have a look at the old laptop to see if he can breathe life back into it.
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