I visited the boat on the 26th of February with a load of clothes and kitchen stuff. The home wardrobes still seem almost as full as ever, but the boat does seem to be absorbing all the stuff.
I got Lime Kiln Chandlers to mail me a length of chrome curtain pole and fittings, (not easy to get) which I fitted to the underside of the cratch board. so that small amounts of laundry can be hung to dry. I also painted the heavy metal base for the clothes whirlygig airer and the end of the new lightweight gangplank/ladder, how sad is that? but it had to be midnight blue not green.
I also fitted the smart chrome steps to the side of the boat, these enable you to climb easily onto the roof when necessary. I had realised that when screwing or bolting anything to the steel superstructure, you have to first drill a hole and then tap a thread into the steel. Memories of metalwork at school slowly eased back into the brain and I was able to neatly complete the job. The only misfortune was dropping my centre punch overboard, but my trusty sea magnet recovered it.
The real excitement is that we have been skiing. I haven't been on skis for 8 years and Jacquie for 6. We stayed with chums, Phil & Lynn at their mountain retreat, in the South of France, which is just an hours drive from Valberg, a most attractive ski resort. The weather was warm & sunny, which meant the snow was a little slushy, but that suited my limited ability fine. The next day was also sunny but much colder and the snow had an icy top, which was challenging for all and although Phil, Lynn and Jacquie skiied until late afternoon, I was happy to sit it out with coffee and beer.
After a day resting the legs, Phil and I set of to visit the medieval fortified town of Entrevaux, which is in the Alpes-De-Haute-Provence area. After wandering around the walled town, we were about to pay the 3 Euro fee to visit the Citadel, when we were advised that there was a back way up to this stronghold and we could get in for free, It seemed a little unwise to have a back way into a castle, but being cheapscates, we thought we try it. A tad scary, certainly not for the faint hearted, but our scramble was rewarded with a fabulous view and an entrance via a draw bridge, which was in fact the escape route from the citadel if in fact it had ever been overrun.
The underground passages and laddered shafts providing access to the defensive slits was a real boys own adventure, you wouldn't be allowed anywhere near something like this in England.
Health and Safety would see to that, Vivre the difference. The cells for German officers from the 1st World War were still there to see, that must have been a cold bleak place to have spent the rest of the war. A huge amount of restoration had been carried out to make this lofty citadel accessible, but not so much to take away the feeling of having just discovered this ruin.
In between skiing and pretending to be Indiana Jones, we had to feed Nou Nou the donkey and had a close encounter with a pot bellied pig, both pets of local residents. All part of living in a small rural environment, lovely.
Now that we have returned to Blighty we have to do the final packing and storage, with just 3 weeks before setting off.