It might not be the most scenic view from the stern end, but it was certainly convenient. When Laurence brough Chertsey back from Grendon, rather than manoeuvre the new blacking backwards along the concrete slipway, he backed her onto a pontoon instead. I could get used to this.
So, after seven years, Chertsey has finally been blacked again (mind you, I reckon it was four times that long before the last time). This time we didn't do it ourselves, but had it done in the dry dock at Grendon - and I'm very pleased with the result.
As a compromise between the Comastic we used last time (and on every previous boat) and the most basic product, we decided to try SML Ballistic Black which was gaining popularity among the boaters at Alvecote. Laurence said it was the first time they'd put it on an old boat, and he was so impressed he then used it on his josher, Lynx. It goes on thickly and takes quite a long time to cure, but looks very good. They certainly did a nice neat job.
The same goes for the tunnel bands - I think they look so much better and more 'right' now.
Finally, I asked Laurence if they could repack the stern gland - this never got done properly when I first had Chertsey. Again this seems to be a very good job - and what impressed me most of all was that you wouldn't have known anyone had been in the cabin - when I came back it was exactly as I had left it, despite the fact that everything would have had to be moved off the floor. That shows a kind of respect for the customer and for the boat which really stands out.
As Ricky apparently has no sense of climatalogical self-preservation, and no intrinsic insulation, being his owner (factotum?) carries tremendous responsibilities around preventing him getting too cold (Has he got his jumper? Does he need a blanket? Is that the right coat?) or too hot, which is an even more frightening prospect.
Because he does not have the sense to seek out the shade, and in any case would not countenance it if it meant letting one of us out of his sight (must be why they call them sight hounds), and because he is black, and has neither fur nor fat, weather like last weekend's is a bit of a challenge.
But we rise to it. First there was the wet tea towel, with which he could be draped. But it didn't always stay in place, and sometimes left large areas exposed. Whilst wetting his tea towel on Saturday, I decided to look in the rag bag for something more suitable, and found a rather fetching old scarf of mine. Being thin cotton, it's lighter to wear, drapes over more of him, and stays in place better.
Compromise my dignity? Absolutely not!
However, the weekend required more than just constant evaporative cooling, so I unleashed my secret weapon - a £10 Wilko's children's beach shelter, designed to protect todays delicate little flowers from the evils of UV. After a bit of a struggle we worked out how to assemble it, and found a way, just, of fitting it onto the back end deck. I wasn't sure it would work, but it was a a great success.
Yes, I am very cool
With his bed inside it wasn't hard to persuade Ricky to go in, and it was noticeably cooler inside - the canvas has some kind of reflective quality. You might think that a fixed unidirectional sunshade might give only sporadic protection on the North Oxford - well, I did - but when the sun was at its highest and hottest the overhang at the top kept most of the interior in shade, and even when it was lower and seemed to be shining straight inside, there was still some shade. It also had the unforeseen advantage of shielding most of the sheep en route from his gaze, thus saving him a lot of barking energy.
We didn't leave Alvecote until gone ten so although we've overshot Hawkesbury by a bit, it's not very much. I persuaded Jim that it would be better on the boat in the promised heat of tomorrow afternoon than in the car. The weather has certainly been fabulous today. As we don't have the luxury of time to spare after we arrive in Braunston, we've been polishing as we went along today. Jim tackled the chimney - always the worst job - and did the two pontoonside portholes before we left. The remaining porthole I did in six separate mini-sessions, as we went up Atherstone.
In a very small way. I'm writing this whilst waiting for my dinner at the Barlow. Tomorrow morning we'll set off in the newly blacked and very smart looking Chertsey for Braunston. It won't be the dawn to dusk run I've dreamt of this time as I've got to hang around until nine to pay for the blacking. I know Jim wants to break the back of the journey tomorrow so we might not stop at the Greyhound :-(