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Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Little Light Housekeeping...

"Keep calm and maintain the cleanliness." ~Anonymous

   As we continue to cover the same few miles of waterways while waiting for the next doctor's appointment, I decided it was time to get crackin' on spring cleaning. After all it hadn't been done since March of 2012. We skipped 2013 to head for the Lee and Stort navigation and onward to the Thames, thinking we could do a good spring cleaning in 2014, but Les was recovering from his first two surgeries and so we let is slide yet another year.
   The layer of wood and coal smoke--and soot--on everything was three years in the making. NB Valerie just felt grimy and dirty to me and I wanted our lovely floating home to sparkle. Besides, I love cleaning, and now we have ample time to get it done. Les finally caved in and bought a small wet/dry vacuum. After nine years, NB Valerie was getting a thorough cleaning. Les hemmed and hawed about the need to disassemble the interior of the boat in order to clean. Spring cleaning isn't his favored pastime, nonetheless he is an able and generous partner and a good worker!
   Our supplies consisted of four bottles of sugar soap, two spray bottles, a 10 pack of scrubby sponges (sponge on one side and scrubby on the other), a large bucket, and a large packet of personal dry wipes like one gets in hospital.
Les cleans an H on on the ceiling.
   We started at the back of the cabin, stripping it bare and putting the mattress, all the bedding, and anything not nailed or glued down, forward into the saloon. With the first swipe of a sugar soap laden sponge across the ceiling Les remarked, "Crikey Jaq--look at that! It's filthy!!" I smiled and replied, "Yes dear," as I thought 'tell me something I don't know.' Not only was every square inch of the boat and everything--every curtain, blind, picture, book, DVD cover, pretty collectible nic-nac--covered in grime, but nine years of no vacuuming and only sweeping meant dust bunnies the size of dinner plates hid back underneath the galley cupboards, along with multiple generations of spider webs, the odd dried pea and bits of dehydrated food rubbish from thousands of meals. All that dust and grime absorbed cooking grease and smells, making the boat smell musty.
Look at the shine on the galley ceiling--and the filth on the forward section yet to be cleaned!
Me on hands and knees cleaning the dinette and the bookshelves.
    It took us three and half days to complete the entire boat from stern to bow. Les did the ceilings and the upper walls and I did the lower walls, book cases, drawers, cupboards, and floors. Les took our roller blinds down, soaked them in the bathtub with half a tub of Oxy powder, scrubbed them clean and hung them to dry. We washed all the curtains, and all books were stacked on the table, wiped clean with a cloth and replaced on the shelves after said shelves were vacuumed and wiped down with sugar soap.
   And this is why we will never paint the interior of our boat cream. There is a FaceBook page called Canal Boat Interior Design with hundreds of lovely, creative and amazing pictures of things people have done to the interior of their narrow boats. Painting an old boat a lovely fresh cream throughout the inside is quite popular. All I can think of is how quickly it will become dingy and stained when winter sets in and the solid fuel stove is going 24/7.
The end is in sight! The last few feet of ceiling left to be cleaned.
   Spring cleaning done, NB Valerie feels light and airy inside once more. The lovely golden wood grain gleams in the light and it feels like a brand new boat inside. Of course it is taking us both longer than three and half days to recover from all the stretching, reaching, scrubbing, bending, and kneeling. Time to focus on the outside now...
   A month ago in the Saturday newspaper a Robert Dyas catalog fell from the folds. Inside I spotted a lovely resin Bistro table and chair set which made my heart quicken. We didn't have anything to sit at and enjoy a meal out on the towpath so we usually sat in the bow. I wanted a nice sized table and two chairs that folded up compactly out of sight on the roof, made of something that would not rot. This Tropea bistro set was just the ticket and it came in white and a lovely bright spring green, for £69.99. Of course I had my heart set on green and Robert Dyas was sold out.
   An in-depth search on the 'Net found a half dozen online shops offering the same unit for anywhere from £70 to £149.00!! Finally I found it in green at Primrose Online: Everything Garden for the bargain price of £59.00. I placed the order mid-afternoon and it arrived the next morning! Now that is service!! A huge thank you to Robert and his sister Maria for allowing us to have it sent to an address nearby and for delivery of it to our boat.
   Les insisted I call Primrose before I ordered it, and make sure they had the set available in green He sat watching me as I attempted to carry on a conversation. The bloke on the phone said I could put in my order right then. I tried but honestly after three minutes of repeating myself six times, and asking him to repeat himself six times, I just said, "Thank you for your help but I am going to go online and put this order in." After nearly four years living in Britain I am still the one with the accent and I still cannot understand most phone conversations with the plethora of dialects one gets across this country.
   Thanks with deep appreciation also go out to Ken and Sue Deveson for all the support, care and love they have lavished on me and Les throughout the past few months. We've visited their lovely home several times. Each visit was a joy; delicious meals, endless cups of tea, fascinating conversation, and an introduction to a great new game helped to break up the monotony of traveling back and forth on the same patch of canal in between NHS appointments made, canceled and rescheduled. For delivery of parcels and husband, my deepest thanks to you both for a lovely friendship.
   While moored up at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes, we were blessed to see a wedding party having professional photos taken near the canal. It was a blustery spring day. The Bride and Groom were surrounded by family and friends, all talking and laughing as the they jostled one another for a bit of space during the picture taking.
"Everybody wave now!" Somewhere in there is a bride and a groom.
   Little boys all dressed up in three piece suits tried hard to look serious--for about two minutes. Little girls in jewel bright dresses spun and twirled like living confections until the boys could stand it no more and had to jump in and participate. The newlyweds spotted me standing in the bow of the boat snapping pictures so after the official photos were finished, they turned towards me with a smile and gave me a thumbs up! It was the loveliest wedding party I've seen for some time. 
The newlyweds on a colorful bridge in the park.
   We are nearly at the end of this cycle of waiting. After Les' June 1st appointment with the Royal Free Hospital we are off to cruise in earnest. He has decided to catch a train back to London for all remaining appointments and surgeries. Happy spring everyone!!
This is a living sculpture at Campbell Park titled Dancing Willows.


Carol said...

Hi Jaq, you sound very bright and breezy after all that hard work spring cleaning, it has obviously lightened yours and Les’ spirits too! Lovely pictures today, happy spring to you two too, xxx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Before you put those cleaning cloths away, we will be with you so you can start on Waka Huia! nb Valerie does look all sparkly - well done, both of you. Mxox

Unknown said...

A clean interior means less work in the future. And those "plastic" folding chairs might be fine for you normal sized folk; way too small and flimsy for me. I avoid folding plastic and wooden furniture; even most interior furniture and chairs as well for that matter.

Lisa said...

What a great job you have done on the boat well done the pair of you.
Good Luck for 1st June, we'll all be there beside you so to speak.
NB What a Lark

Carolyn.Carapace said...

Hi Jaq and Les
Thanks for the cleaning tips! The boat looks amazing. Can't beleive the difference in the colours on the wood! One of the reasons we have a deisal stove and not log/coal, although when the sun shines you can see the cobwebs. Glad to hear you'll be travelling forward soon.
Love to you both
Carolyn. NB: Carapace
PS. Have now received my composter loo. Just waiting for the install. Will keep you posted how we get on!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol,
Isn't spring grand? We miss you guys! XX

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

I am always up for cleaning. But first there msut be wine!XX

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Bryce as a man of 6 feet and then some I can see that my new furniture would look likes something from a fairy garden for the likes of you. XX

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Lisa! We are sure enjoying your posts and pics. XX

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Carolyn, Woohoo! We cannot wait to see pics of your Airhead installed. XX

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

The wine is already waiting, darling ... We are north of Norton Jct and coming down to Bugbrooke today. May search out Sunday lunch at one of the pubs. Mxox

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs