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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Just a Normal Week in the Life of Your Average Boater

"I used to dream of being normal. For me, if Kirk Douglas walked into the house, that was normal." ~Jamie Lee Curtis, actor and daughter of actors' Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis

     This past week was a perfect example of a series of normal days for live-aboard boaters who continuously cruise. We spent five days at our previous mooring, just before Bridge 43 across from Evergreen Riding Stables. The village of Gayton is perched on a hill overlooking the stables and the canal. To read about it and see lovely photos of the village, go to my post of July 2014 titled Scrumping in Gayton. This is where we sanded, primed, sanded, patched and sanded the boat the last couple of weeks.
 
Anchor Cottage is circled in this picture. We used the post code for this address for our Tesco order and moored up where the red bar is on this picture. We cruised onward--to the left in this picture toward Stowe Hill and Weedon.
  We collected a Tesco grocery delivery last Tuesday at bridge 43 using Anchor Cottage as a post code. It all came off without a hitch as usual. Then we upped sticks and cruised 4.5 miles and moored up for four days across from some large back gardens at Stowe Hill. The village of Weedon Bec was about a mile ahead of us. With a wide slice of grassy towpath at our disposal, we hunkered down to await the delivery of four packages to Weedon Post office via Post Restante. 

     For Americans, Post Restante is a distant cousin to U.S. Mail General Delivery; the main difference being that over here one has to contact the post office ahead of time and ask if they offer this service. For boaters on the move, the ability to arrange for mail and parcels to be delivered to a nearby post office via Post Restante is brilliant--when it works. The last time we made use of this service, was three years ago before the British government sold the Royal Mail to the highest bidder. Now that it is privatized, service is patchy with dozens of individual companies competing with one another to deliver the mail. 
     Les had called ahead two weeks ago and spoken with a woman at Weedon Post Office. She said they did accept Post Restante and Les explained we were boaters passing through and we would collect several parcels. Then we each went online and placed our orders for delivery. Les had an order for stoma bags, and added a new solar controller from Bimble as our old one had packed up. I had two orders from Amazon: one for supplements and another for Stevia. 

     While we waited at Stowe Hill for the first of our parcels set for delivery on June 25th, Les worked on the conundrum of what caused our solar controller to kick the bucket. A few weeks back a fuse on the large solar panel had melted. Les replaced it but ever since then we have had issues with the monitor and it finally packed up for good. So Les spent his time sussing out this electrickery-mystery while I worked on revising one of my online university courses and grading summer course work. In between we washed laundry and hung it outside to dry in the heat of the day--and I do mean heat!
     I had no idea it was so humid in this country. While air temperatures reached between 68 and 71 degrees Fahrenheit, there were days when the humidity was 86-90% and every movement caused a sticky sheen of perspiration to form all over one's body. Family back in the Pacific North West (PNW) of the United States will have no pity for me; just now they are living through unusually high temperatures of 102F degrees! This is about 30 degrees higher than the seasonal average for this time of the year in Oregon and Washington.
     Here on NB Valerie, we took comfort in opening the bow doors, the stern hatch cover, and all the windows, pulling the curtains shut on the sunny side of the boat. I also made a half dozen quarts of Lemonade (American style) sweetened with Stevia so we could enjoy it without compromising our health. 
     We walked into Weedon on Wednesday, taking a short cut on a public footpath through nearby fields of beans growing tall and bushy in the hot summer sun. The woman behind the post office counter gave us our first two packages. One was the parcel from Coloplast with Les' stoma bags and the other was the Woebenzyme N supplements. Across the street from the Weedon village Post Office is the One Stop store. We popped in for some eggs and walked back to the boat along the towpath. So far, so good!
   The next day we walked back in to Weedon Post Office together. Our plan was simple: I would take the parcel back to the boat and Les would catch the bus and head into Daventry to an industrial estate (business mall) to pick up short haired Hamilton rollers for painting the boat.
     A man was staffing the P.O. counter. He was taciturn and sullen, never once looking us in the eye or cracking a smile. He couldn't even be bothered to say hello. Les explained we were there to collect two Post Restante parcels. The bloke came back with one parcel. Les asked again if there was another parcel for us, delivered from UK Mail. The clerk replied, "We don't accept parcels from UK Mail." Les asked if the UK Mail courier had been in this morning, and the Post Office clerk said: "We don't accept parcels from carriers--only from Royal Mail and Parcel Force." He refused to tell us if the courier had attempted to deliver our parcel just saying " no one has been". Well damn!! We should have been told of this when we called two weeks ago to ask if Weedon P.O. offered Post Restante service.
     Les and I sat down on the bench outside the post office to reconnoiter. The parcel we came to fetch was the solar monitor. We needed it ASAP as we were not receiving any power to our batteries from the large solar panel and this couldn't be remedied until the new unit was installed. Bimble had been great about getting it dispatched to us the same day we placed our order via UK Mail--a private courier in competition with Royal Mail. Les decided to go into Daventry while I walked back empty handed to our boat. 
     While I was online checking to see which courier service was delivering the Stevia, Les was on the bus texting me to check and see which courier was delivering the Stevia! Great minds run in the same direction. A call to the company indicated my parcel was being delivered by Royal Mail. Whew!
     Suddenly my phone rang. It was Les and he was so overcome with emotion I thought he was crying. In a voice shaking with emotion Dear Sir relayed the following story: 
      I was sitting on the bus thinking about that package, trying to figure out how to get to the UK Mail
      Depot in Milton Keynes (back behind us eighteen miles/two buses and a train ride away) so I missed
      my bus stop. I got off at the next stop--at the opposite end of the trading estate and while I was
      standing there with the phone, trying to see on a map if I could access ScrewFix from this end, I  
      looked up and saw the UK Mail van approaching. I flagged the bloke down and asked him if he tried to
      deliver a parcel to Weedon Post Office. He said, "Yeah. I've had trouble delivering to that post
     office before." Les explained the situation, showed the courier some ID and picked up our package!

     After Les rang off I was so angry about what he had gone through to take delivery of our parcel, I decided to contact the Royal Mail and lodge a formal complaint. I went online to Royal Mail's web site and found the complaint line. A woman named Charlotte picked up the phone and I explained the nature of my complaint. She was sorry about what had occurred, adamant about the fact that Royal Mail Post Offices must accept all parcels from any couriers when they are marked Post Restante, and she was indignant on our behalf for what we had experienced via Mr. sullen-and-moody at Weedon Post Office. Charlotte took my number and said she would get back to me.
     Twenty minutes later she rang me back to say she had spoken with the clerk at the post office and he told her he didn't know he had to accept anything from couriers other than their own. She set him straight and apologized again for our distress. 
     Saturday morning Les and I walked back in to Weedon one last time. Les went to the One Stop to buy me a Saturday paper and I went in to the Post Office. The same bloke was waiting behind the counter. He still didn't look at me. I asked if he had a Post Restante package for Mr. and Mrs. Biggs. He brought it out, wrote the parcel number down on a form (he didn't scan it), and he handed it to me without asking for any ID. This I believe, is why the parcel still appears as "undelivered" on both the Amazon and Post Office web sites.
     Les had spoken with a local woman boater who said she too has had trouble with Weedon Post Office as well. The up-shot of this story is that it pays to file a formal complaint for bad service. It is also a reminder to Americans not to let the U.S. Government sell off the Postal Service. And finally it also serves my fellow citizens with an example of the poor state of customer service over here and why Brits feel a sense of exhilaration whenever they battle for the simplest rights and services--which they do regularly.
     Americans by contrast take good customer service for granted. It is drummed into us as employees that providing good customer service is part of our job--whether we mop the floors and clean the toilets, open the door, answer a phone or staff a service counter; providing customers with a smile and a pleasant greeting is an expected part of the job as is going above and beyond to help a client in need. We just take it for granted. Seamless customer service is expected and when it is not forthcoming we are outraged by the lack of it. We also have no idea how this business ethic makes our day run smoothly at a fundamental level. It is an invisible force that greases the wheels of modern living. Imagine how quickly you would want to pull all your hair out of your head if you had to gear up for a possible fight to get answers to your questions and decent customer service if you knew you might have to battle for it each time.
     With all four packages in our possession we were ready to move on. A boat had moored up in front of us as we were preparing to leave. The owners had set out a small table and two chairs on the towpath in the shade. Two glasses of white wine were waiting, and as we shoved off a lovely couple came out of the bow with plates of food. 
     "I hope we didn't chase you off," he said with a bit of a question mark in the inflection of his voice. 
     "Oh no," we replied, "we were waiting on some mail to be delivered to Weedon Post Office. We've just now collected it and it's time to move again. Enjoy your lunch--that is a lovely spot you've got there in the shade," and smiling and waiving,  we were off!
     We didn't go far--just about 150 yards around the bend to Stowe Hill Wharf where diesel is selling for sixty eight pence per liter. We topped up our gas tank, picked up a bottle of propane, and we were on the move about the same distance, to the nearest water point which was empty!
     We pulled in, and Les washed down the boat while I put a load of laundry on to wash and fixed lunch. We sat out on the bow eating smoked Salmon sandwiches and drinking lemonade in the afternoon sun. Since no one else joined us on the water point, we stayed and washed a second load, I did dishes and filled the tea kettle. Finally, with our water tank filled, we set off once again for yet another short hop. 
     We cruised into Weedon, pulled over near the stairs down to the street level, and I stood by with the mid-line rope while Les took our rubbish down to the tip. We shared a bit of banter with several boaters gathering on the towpath around a Barbecue and then we were off again, moving about an eighth of a mile onward to another set of stairs from the canal down to the street near the junction of the A5 and the A45.  Les took a plastic can to collect petrol for our generator from the nearby BP station. We were also told by local boaters that Tesco had recently opened an express store on the corner of the junction. Together Dear Sir and I walked out to the store for twelve lemons and some black olives, then turned around and walked back to the BP station for our petrol. All in all this took us about twenty minutes.
     Back up the steps, our purchases stowed on board, we set off one last time. As Les steered, I sat with him and we discussed our next mooring place. A genuine heat wave is forecast to begin early next week  and I would prefer to be up the Buckby Flight of seven locks before then, moored up somewhere with a wide bit of grassy towpath and some afternoon shade.
 This morning we woke to rain and overcast skies. Les walked up to the Whilton Chandlers to purchase a midi fuse for the solar panel and a new refrigerator light bulb. We can finally see inside the fridge again
after two months of darkness. Dinner is thawing on the counter: roast crown of chicken with butter and Rosemary, which I will serve with mashed potatoes, gravy, and glazed carrots.  We will be eating nothing but salads during the heatwave next week so today is good weather for enjoying a roast dinner. 
     I received a very nice email from a blog reader named Keith Simpson who follows our blog while waiting for the circumstances of his life to resolve in a manner that allows him to buy a narrow boat and begin living the "simple life." His email inspired this post today. Lest you think boating has no stressful moments Keith, I assure you it does, however they are few and far between--and usually generated by "the world at large" and not by life on the cut. Thank you for writing to us and good luck mate. We hope to see you and your wife cruising by on your own boat soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Painting a Narrowboat

The nice weather has finally arrived and so the re-paint of Nb Valerie has begun.
The front deck has the V-Deck style of matting (pic right). it`s been down for nine years and as you can see the top surface to the left of the picture is in good condition. The right hand side shows the side that presses against the deck as we step on and move around. Real tough stuff that certainly can take some punishment. Not sure if these are still manufactured as a


Google search fails to find the V-Deck name. Perhaps they were expensive and cheaper products took the sales.
The main problem is they dig into the deck paint and cause rust. Although perhaps after nine years and the fact the deck paint might not have been suitable in the first place may have contributed.
I used an angle grinder fitted with a flapping disc to remove the paint and loose rust.



Next it had a coat of rust converter.
The first coat of paint was International floor paint that dried within two hours but needed, so the blurb says, five days to fully harden.
Time is something we have plenty of so letting it harden was not a problem.
A quick light sand gave it a key to receive two top coats of a smooth metal finish paint similar to Hammerite. I left it two days before putting the matting back down. Time will tell if the paint is tough enough.

The front deck broke the monotonous job of sanding the boat. we now have two sides sanded with rust spots filled and sanded twice but still needing minor attention. The bow and stern have yet to be tackled but as I said time is something we have plenty of and Jaq and I have no intention of doing this day after day.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Four Years of Bliss

Jaq takes a break from work.
Having spent the last week or so sanding and repairing the paintwork on the boat, today is another rest day. When I say "another" let`s be clear about our painting project; it`s not work (that pre-retirement hobby) so no eight hours a day--five days a week. Our nomadic lifestyle dictates when we decide to work. Jaq however still teaches English writing part time on line for Washington State University so has a schedule to keep but still matches my time sanding and painting.

Yesterday was a rest day and we decided to cruise the boat a few miles in the sun then turn the boat and fill up with water, disposing the rubbish and having the other side of the boat against the towpath. Today Jaq is working and I was going to start sanding the port side.

Typical English summer and today it`s raining. It`s blogging weather so while the smell of home made chicken noodle soup simmers in the boat I looked through my pictures and this blog post was born.

Actually other than looking through my pictures the time of year has also helped form this post. Jaq flew in to the UK May 22nd 2011 for a three week holiday before we married on June 18th. The day before she arrived I gave up smoking so we have two four year anniversaries to celebrate.
So what do you buy your partner of four years? See the list of traditional and the modern equivalent HERE. It says fruit and flowers are traditional but we went modern. His and hers electric sanders-mouse size- as we live on a boat with little room for large appliances. Flowers and fruit will not get the boat sanded for painting.


 Looking back, here is a picture of the very first lock a jet lagged Jaq operated. It`s Iron Bridge lock in Cassiobury Park.
We had just set off the morning after she arrived and I had done the previous lock.



For Jaq`s third day of cruising she steered as we cruised. I had the confidence in her to step off at Red Lion lock Apsley and took this as she entered the next lock.

The last four years have past so fast and Jaq and I will just keep on enjoying life for many years to come.

 Jaq says,"It isn't every woman who is willing to spend her fourth wedding anniversary sanding a boat; her twenty-fourth, maybe! We are working on this project together and Les makes it all good fun. I feel a great sense of satisfaction after a day of hard graft working on our floating home. I had to wait 57 years, marry an Englishman and emigrate to Britain to get my own power tools!"

Lastly as I have freedom of the press.
Just thought I would add a picture of, in my opinion, the best loaf of bread Jaq has made to date.

Also the best Drunken Fruit Salad I have ever tasted.








Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stoke Breurne and Blisworth

Amongst the more interesting boats that passed recently were these two.
 No idea of where they were going but it certainly made a change from the usual traffic. Perhaps with the French flags they had crossed the channel entered the Thames and then onto the Grand Union.




 Up through the Stoke Breurne flight of locks and a vintage motor bike club had gathered outside the canal museum.

 BSA and Rudge Whitworth were two others makes present.

 Settled in at Blisworth for a few days and patched up some bad bits on the roof.
 Following this prep it has had a base coat of paint. It will be having a new anti slip surface before the top coat is added. The boat painting has started properly now with one complete side having been sanded. More in another blog post.









The Royal Oak pub at Blisworth
is there to assist you in your
 healthy eating lifestyle.






This pipe carries Kerosene across the Northampton arm at Gayton. The patch you can see is where some bright spark, although perhaps it was lucky the spark was absent, tried to tap into the supply. Not sure of the use they had for the fuel, perhaps they thought it was something different, but it caused a canal stoppage and the evacuation of the nearby marina. LINK  The air was full of the smell even a week later.

Another day draws to an end and as happens often across the canal system we can sit out on the bow and watch the Bats feeding on the flying insects.

Friday, June 12, 2015

After a Lengthy Interruption...We Return to Our Regularly Unscheduled Life

"The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination." ~Carl Rogers, American Psychologist and founder of the Humanistic (or client-centered) approach to Psychology
   
   At last we are moving once more with a pace determined by our needs and desires rather than the tyranny of the NHS. We are back to casting off after four or five days moored up somewhere--most likely on our own--out in the countryside. It's been an idyllic week or so, with weather warm enough throughout the night to leave the wood stove cold. Come along with us as we move to our favorite pace of life: the slow cruise of a narrow boat on an British canal, on a drowsy late spring day. 
**To all of our readers, Les has issued a general health warning. "When Jaq starts blogging she gets carried away. There are so many pictures on this post, it might be classified as a film; based on this I have categorized it as a U certificate (suitable for viewing by all ages)" or G for General audiences as we say in the States!
We fetched up on a lovely slice of English countryside for five days of bliss. Les put out our new bistro set and settled in with the HUDL tablet and paper for an afternoon read while I washed a load of bed linens and fixed dinner.
Al Fresco dining at its best! Smoked Salmon rolls and crudités with homemade Ranch dip.
Cheers mate!
Venus winks at us as the sun goes down on a perfect day!
    Sometimes one comes across a nugget of good information for boaters simply by being in the right place at the right time. We were in need of topping up our monthly Tesco grocery shopping which is usually ordered online and delivered to the boat. We decided to walk into the nearby village of Yardley Gobion and catch a bus to Milton Keynes instead to visit the outdoor market.
    As we approached the village bus stop a clutch of locals were waiting with personal trolleys and grocery bags in hand. Les chatted several folks up and we discovered that Tesco offers free bus services across the country! We were amazed to watch a large gold bus pull up within two minutes. Since it was free, and headed for the large Mirway Tesco near the roundabout on the outskirts of Northampton we decided to go there instead of Milton Keynes.
Country Lion offers free service to Tesco from Yardley Gobion every Thursday at 11:09 a.m.
   What service! This bus was clean with high, soft seats and air conditioning. It took us to the Mirway Tesco which we had traveled to last year by regular bus from Blisworth for an expensive cost to me of £4.90 return for a ride which took only seven minutes each way.  Today we had two hours and twenty minutes to shop before the bus returned for us. Trolleys and grocery bags were stored in the suitcase storage area under the bus and off we went! Brilliant! 
   A chat with the bus driver informed us that Tesco has been providing this service for over twenty years but doesn't advertise it--one has to live in a village or know the locals to get the low down on this fabulous free service. To find out if there is a free Tesco bus anywhere near where you are moored just do an Internet search for free Tesco bus.
   After putting our groceries away we decided it was time to move on...
Looking back through the bridge near Yardley Gobion where we were moored.
This charming shed and sign appear just after passing through Bridge 61 near Kingfisher Marina.
A hybrid dutch Tjalk and narrow boat...
A lovely verdant late spring day which reminds me of a child's water color picture with blobs of white clouds and green rounds of trees in the distance.
Short stemmed wheat waves green in the lazy breeze....
...and sheep speckled meadows.
Shadow and light create a timeless painting of an English spring day.
The short 15th century tower of Grafton Regis church appears at the end of a field. We've gone back in time to an era when Henry VII might be nearby on a visit...
...and country footpaths wander up from the towpath to whatever wonders exist beyond the canal bridge.
The water road spools out before and behind as NB Valerie cruises in the beauty of the day...
...and my favorite boater and Best Beloved relaxes back into the roll of captain!
We pass two wide beams. Used to be, the wide boats stayed on the lower Grand Union (GU) near Uxbridge. As London creeps northward with its housing issues, wide beams are also moving ever northwards.
The shadow dappled cut barely ripples as we pass...
...and a  lone fisherman bent over his rod, enjoys the solitude of flowers and bees on a beautiful afternoon. 


Framed landscape moments like this always draw my eye; they are a liminal entrance to anther place and time. Who knows, it could be 1050, 1168, 1270, 1340, of 1580 once one steps through the shadowed fence into the sparkling sunlit world beyond!
Ewes lie in the cool shade with their lambs...
...while we cruise onward enjoying the lush beauty assaulting our senses.
The next bridge waits around the bend...

...and we finally reach the service point at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne Flight. After filling with H2O and dumping our rubbish, we moored up for forty eight hours to await a delivery of diesel from Jules Fuels which is based in Stoke Bruerne. Jules' and Richard's boats are moored up awaiting a delivery of diesel from their supplier. 
Jules Fuels' working boats at rest; moored up at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne lock flight. NBV is moored on the left just around the curve.
   In the meantime we decided to walk up the flight and poke about in the village of Stoke Bruerne. A Canal & River Trust (CRT) sponsored Family Fun event is scheduled to take place the next weekend with working boats accorded special mooring rights at the top of the lock. Les and I prefer to skip large crowd events. He's already attended most of these shindigs along the waterways throughout the years and says he could take it or leave it; I don't care for noise, dogs, or the general melee of crowds. 
Les was shocked to see the formerly free Canal Museum car park now charges.
   Given that all moorings have now been changed to 48 hours except the 7 day moorings in the large pound of the flight where a decent phone and Internet signal are not to be found, there is very little of interest to tempt us to stay; meanwhile we decide to leave the towpath and walk through the village. This was a great idea as Les spotted a man on a ladder thatching a roof!
Good eyes Les! See the bloke in the yellow shirt on a ladder to the left of the roof with the solar panels?
Wandering through the maze of narrow English lanes we finally found the house with the thatching.
A master thatcher at work on a beautiful roof.
The master thatcher cuts through layers of bundled dried wheat straw with a knife, making an even ridge line.
     The bloke was kind enough to stop and chat with us for a few minutes. Roofs are thatched with three different materials: combed wheat reed, Longstraw, and water reed.  Combed wheat and longstraw last about 25 years and cost upwards of £14.00 per square foot; water reed is the best materials lasting 70-100 years and costing £11.00 a square foot. Thatch offers brilliant insulation and is a natural material and environmentally sound. Not only that but it is certainly beautiful. 
   We were told many master thatchers will work animal figures into the ridge lines as a signature at the behest of the home owner. It is said that in bygone days those animals were a secret signal amongst roofers. It let another thatcher know if the owner was good for payment or not! It was also thought that a straw animal on the roof kept witches away! This witch thinks they are adorable but I certainly won't be climbing any roofs or hopping on my broomstick any time soon to see them up close.
As we walked away, I wondered what the round bump was coming out of the side of this house?
It's a bread oven built into the  back of the large kitchen fireplace! Oooh!!! I want one!







    Back aboard NB Valerie, another morning dawns pleasant and bright. We set the alarm for 7:30 so we would be sure to catch Jules and Richard as they began their run down to Hemel Hempstead. I always bake something if I know when we will meet up with Jules' Fuels. They both do a hard day's work from early morning to about 6 p.m., summer and winter. We so appreciate the opportunity to support boaters who live and work on the cut and whose prices are much better than most marinas can offer. So this morning I handed up a half loaf of freshly baked cinnamon bread for their tea. As soon as we were finished filling up, it was time to be off up the lock flight. 
   We shared the locks with a very nice bloke who works for Whilton Marina. He was moving a boat named Sand Dancer, which he picked up in Gifford Park. We have seen it cruising back and forth throughout Milton Keynes for the last year. I wonder why its owner sold it?
   Half way up the flight a lovely group of volunteers showed up to lock us through. They were traveling with Mikron Theatre whose boat Tyseley was coming done the lock in front of us. What a treat! We saw them perform last summer at Bulbourne.
Mikron Theatre's boat Tysley heading into the lock we just came out of; I love their red framed sliding glass door on the bow.
   Soon enough we reached the last lock on the flight. I pulled over and waited in front of the pub at the bottom of the lock. A boat came out heading down and its crew soon walked past with grim countenances saying, "You've got an audience of school children up there along with CRT volunteer lock keepers all watching your every move. If you make a mistake the volunteers will soon take you to task about it, pointing out everything you've done wrong." Of course it doesn't help that the approach to the lock is swathed in netting and signs due to ongoing repairs of the canal bridge just before the lock.
   The lock gates opened, Sand Dancer went in first and I followed. Sure enough school kids, and mums with toddlers in strollers were gathered all around the top. There were two volunteer lock keepers and one--a very portly, bossy man--had taken control of the lock, the gates, and the school children. We just ignored him and let him get on with it. As the top gates swung open he walked over and ordered me to tell my partner to get on and he and the school children would close the gates. I replied, "We are going out last as we are stopping here for water." He ignored my statement and repeated his demand again. Les came over and heard the volunteer telling me what to do. He said, "Thanks mate but we are stopping here for water," and walked off. Oh, well since a man told him what was what, said volunteer agreed it was perfectly sensible then!
   After filling with H2O we cruised on through Blisworth tunnel and kept going until we found another quiet spot in the country to fetch up for a few days of sanding, filling and more sanding of the roof and the starboard side of the boat in preparation for painting.
The top lock of the Stoke Bruerne Flight is swathed in scaffolding and netting as the bridge is in repair.

The week just before a canal festival event is strange timing for such a repair. Good luck getting off your boat to do the lock!
   At last--another good day of cruising under our belts, moored up in a lovely spot for a few days work on the boat, and relaxing evenings with a good meal, a fun game, and my favorite companion.
Les snaps my picture as we work on a game of Bananagram outside in the lovely warmth of the evening sun.