Four carloads of boat stuff, three barge poles beside me, two trips to the rubbish dump ... and one little Cleddau cruise on the
A sudden shout midway through Friday evening from the Captain; he was seated, as is his wont, in a comfy chair in front of the computer in the study, watching the world – and watching the world go by. "It's finished, the boat, it's finished, look," he exclaimed, gesticulating at the computer screen. On it was a message, fresh from the fingers of Expert Engineer: in essence, central heating installed, floor laid, boat hoovered: Cleddau was ready to leave!
Now would the Captain and Boatwif let a simple thing like a regular Saturday morning appointment, a nearly three hour drive north and an imminent train trip across Europe stand in their way? Of course not. The list compiled last October of the whereabouts of all the Boat Stuff was eagerly sought. Loft and garage were raided; bulky shapes were pulled out from beneath the spare beds. Then late on Sunday afternoon, we headed north, car piled high with galley equipment, sundry items associated with the sparklingly clean composting loo, curtains and cushions - but not yet the bedding.
Before arrival at the boat on Monday morning two duties befell us. First, delivery of the Cheshire One to school. Non-stop chatter all the way, but once on the playground the earnest business of skipping practice had to be addressed: forwards both feet, forwards alternating feet, on the run, backwards, varying speed, then, piece de resistance, both feet skipping fast, with head turned to the right to deliver a string of school-related information to the previously uninformed grandparents. Duty two involved a Post Office queue, initially outside the building (it was, after all, before the witching hour of 9am) and then another inside. But being matey Macclesfield the queuing was enlivened at one point by a "Come on Edna, 'urry up, we 'aven't got all day."
Duties done we drove out to the boatyard to be greeted by Expert Engineer frantically fitting the last satin finish switches. The car, piled high, was unloaded. Chaos reigned inside – and outside it rained too. A brew was called for, but all the mugs and teapots were as yet unretrieved from the Techno Son-in-Law's garage. Then, from the dark recesses of the wardrobe was pulled first a kettle – and then a set of plastic Tupperware mugs and a plastic thermal teapot (vintage late 1970's, survivors of those campervan days). Refreshed, the Captain departed for the Macc garage. Two car loads on Monday, a further one on Tuesday. New spaces had to be identified, all crockery, glass and cooking items washed free of their newsprint wrappings. Hard work it was but for a purpose! And joy! The windlasses slot neatly into the cabin steps; rarely used bunting, the display chimney, the towpath director chairs, the ashbin and more infrequently used essentials all slot out of sight under the front deck. Return trips to the garage were punctuated by trips to the dump: all those carefully gathered cardboard boxes and acres of newspaper wrapping were now unloved and unneeded.
Guilty I know I am at always asking folk for their "best bit". Yet the Captain and I are unanimous, both delighted at .... the colourings of the bathroom floor! But the modern central heating, the sleek gas hob and the panelled cabin lining score highly too. Downsides? The very grubby and cluttered rear cabin of the boat. Not touched as part of the renovations it has accumulated, however, a fair amount of dust and a remarkable quantity of unidentifiable bits and pieces – to be sorted on the next trip up north.
So, at 1.40pm on Tuesday, we squeezed our way round in front of Kerridge Dry Dock and headed north, a two hour Spring cruise back to our mooring, a mere five and a half months (and a couple of ice ages) since last we'd passed this way.
As for the four bags of gravel – after our last Boat Works (significant increase in battery capacity and power) the boat was wildly out of trim. Solution? Re-balance it by adding more ballast - so bags and bags of gravel were purchased from a Newbury DIY store. The gravel now is redundant, well-placed paving slabs and superior design mean Cleddau is at last in trim and floating level. Pity Expert Engineer and Team don't accept gravel as payment!
Thank you Wayne, Tim and all at Bourne Boat Builders. (www.bourneboatbuilders.co.uk )