We picked up the keys to SONFLOWER from Tooley's on Monday. Unfortunately, other non-boating contacts let us down a bit by being four hours late to the Best Mate's extreme annoyance so we did not get away for a 'shake down' cruise until Tuesday morning.
It was a lovely day. Cold bit clear and with a good amount of blue sky in the morning. We were heading north. That was the way we were pointing so why turn when we didn't need to. The cruise to Cropredy was very gentle and we stopped near Slat Mill lock for a fried breakfast. It was good to be back on the boat after such a long time. The birds were flocking in the hedges and all was fine and dandy except that the water temperature never budged the gauge!
We had missed the Red Lion's Monday half price offers so we lunched on the boat and then I got about preparing a pheasant stew on the stove. Unfortunately, when I bought the pheasant I di d not know that the Best mate didn't like it! I bought her a quarter of chicken. By the time stew eating time came, the bottle of red wine that it was cooked in did not compensate for the fact that the pheasant was pleasantly tender but the chicken, in the Best Mate's opinion, was cooked to devastation- almost to a purée! Not a happy meal!
We turned on the gas heater for our hot water supplies.
Then there was the pump put debate. We were getting fuller and fuller. Fenny Compton was the nearest facility in this direction. That was too far to realistically achieve and get back to Banbury for an appointment on Thursday. So we stayed in Cropredy.
On Tuesday morning I went to knock up Auriga's crew and begged to borrow a pump out kit. We have never used this hand pumping arrangement. Then it rained. We left it until after 10.30 before we made a start to the facility point and got the equipment set up. I sheltered under my late father's yellow oilskin cycling cape. After an initial good start that blew the discharge tube out of the disposal point, despite a heavy angle iron bar and a tyred wheel on top of it, with a resultant blue spillage to clear up, we then hit a problem that the pump appeared to pump and suck alternately with no resultant discharge. Priming and re-priming didn't seem to help. A phone call to our friend resulted in no solution as the fault I was describing had not happened to him. The Best Mate came out and helped. She pumped like mad and soon effluent was flowing like swallow falls. A woman's touch was obviously what was needed. The rain stopped and I took off my glasses to remove the cape, pulled the cape over my head and caught the glasses spilling them to the deck. I emerged from the cape to see a varifocal lens disappearing into the canal!
Our friend appeared and agreed that we were now doing fine. We washed out the equipment, had a cup of coffee and then returned the equipment to his boat.
We were then on our way back again. The engine still stayed cool.
The birds were now flocking together and seeking warmth. I thought that maybe the fieldfares were congregating to make their way back to Scandinavia because Spring was coming. I was wrong! Snow was in the air!
Today we cruised nowhere until the snow had stopped! I reported the few faults found to Tooley's who will fix them shortly while we are on our mooring. Which is where we are now.
We are back at Home Mooring but still waiting for the hot shower!
Canoe polo, or Spot the Ball
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