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Limehouse at last

One of many frustrations, a computer keyboard on which the letters ‘i’ and a ‘l’ have ceased to function, has held up the blog entry but now fixed, I tap away whilst the pizza is cooking.

Life is looking up at last, a bizarre thing to be writing when the rain is lashing down on the cabin roof and I sit gently steaming here. This is the first real test of Cirrus’ new coachroof windows and I jump up every so often to check for leaks. There are none, and woe betide Gillingham Marina if there were, of course, but one sort of expects that with this amount of rain it may not all stay on the outside.

From inside Cirrus there is a sort of blue cast coming through the new windows, this being nicely contrasted by the pool of light descending from the main hatch. The effect is quite exotic but from the outside the tinted windows are impenetrable, very dark and shiny in a black sort of way.

This brings a whole new aspect to our lives as we are, in point of fact, now living in the most perfect of bird hides. We can see out but the wildlife cannot see in.

To illustrate this I am adding a rather poor picture of a heron standing on our pontoon just two metres away from us. The blue cast comes from our windows through which the picture was taken (cameras can’t lie) but human eyes adjust to this making this a wonderfully intimate experience.
I am steaming because I have been out and about in the rain, re-positioning our belongings which seem to be scattered about the capital. We have rented storage which is loaded with the contents of our flat, from which we departed a couple of weeks ago, and selected items now need to be carried here to enhance our lives, teabags and other leftover food being a high priority. We ran out of teabags on board Cirrus during the passage into London and although I explained to Rich how there were more in storage he was unimpressed.

These last weeks have been quite stressful but we really do feel we are home at last now even though here is much to be done on board to get life comfortable and we know this will take time. Immediately after getting into Limehouse the morning temperature rose sharply. Being in the centre of a big city is always warmer than outside but it really has been quite balmy. Still the rain falls so I’ll not be going out just yet. I have rescued some clean clothes from our store and may tackle the washing facilities here later – tokens are needed for this. Lots of things need planning and organising but the pizza is ready for eating.

Sunday, 26 October, 2008
We are both enjoying life here, settling in well, and Kate has just about got over the lingering jetlag from her trip to Australia. Off she went to the ‘facilities’ earlier and came back moaning that she’d put a washing machine token into the meter but nothing had happened. I had to go off and investigate and after some thought, decided to peer into the rubbish bin that is strategically placed just under the meter. it wasn’t long before I located not one, but two tokens, tucked in amongst the dryer fluff. So we now have all our washing done and have turned in a small profit on the day as well.

Last Wednesday evening we came home from work and went straight out across the lock to the Cruising Association for their weekly lecture. Some chap who’d sailed across the Atlantic was showing his slides and giving a talk about them. The place provides us with food at a reasonable price, somewhere warm to hang out (albeit with the temptation of drinking too much) and interesting company as well as entertainment and it is so close that when we go there and someone asks us where our boat is kept we just go to the window and point.

Most weekday mornings here are quiet, if that is the word to use when the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) trains start to rumble across the viaduct opposite us from around 6am and planes start rising from City Airport a little later. I have been trying to cycle to work two or three times a week but this means watching the weather forecast carefully as I won’t set off if rain is predicted. Dicing with the buses and taxis is bad enough in good weather but when rain and poor visibility is added to the mix it is, well less than fun, to say the least. When the sun is shining it is always behind me and I am coming to terms with the fact that every man and his dog always seems to be trying to cross the road in front of me, wandering across at will, although most people are quite alert as they know that taxi and bus drivers give no quarter. Generally they and I keep a good lookout. Most alarming is when a whole posse sets off across the road en masse from both sides, everyone just timing their movement to pass behind the back wheel of the bike, but in doing so causing much alarm and discomfort to the rider, me.

Normally here in the marina the boat lies still, movement free, as it is rare that the wind has much an effect on the water here,so enclosed are we with tall buildings. Tonight is about as bad as it will get and just occasionally, if I am standing up, I sense a slight movement. I have made contact with a local boat owner called Pedro who is sorting me out with some gas fittings I need to install. Being on an inland waterway run by the British Waterways Authority we must comply with Boat Safety Scheme whose inspector visited us last week and picked up a few minor things – an aged gas hose, an unsupported pipe – which I am having to deal with. Labeling seems to be a big issue with these people – the diesel tank must say ‘Diesel’ and the gas shut off must have a green sign to tell people where it is so I am having a big debate over the most efficient and neat way of complying with these provisions. I really don’t need big green stickers all over the boat so I am looking for something a bit smarter that will please the man and not stick out like a sore thumb. Of course, I know only to put diesel in the tank but, as he says, someone else might buy the boat and immediately fill up with petrol then start the engine so the whole lot disappears in a big bang, taking with it half the marina and knocking out the windows of every flat in the area. And all for want of a small sign. What an imagination these people must have.

We have been doing some more sorting out this weekend, getting our old boat cushions into the furniture store and picking up some important stuff we need on board. We are both looking forward to just lying in bed in the morning, waiting for 9am when the sun tops the flats opposite and peers in our windows, taking full advantage of the extra hour of daylight saving.

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