Saturday, 29 August 2009

Waterfowl Sty (The clean version)

The anticipation of finally retrieving my house from the clutches of the tenant from hell is reaching it's height.
This joyous occasion, when it eventually happens, also means I will not have to stay in any more hotels when I have work in Norfolk.
I am not saying Norfolk hotels are worse than anywhere else, in fact, if anything, I think there are a better breed of bed bugs there.
Now, don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the chance to shower or bath as I do not have these facilities on my boat. I expect my friends and family appreciate my hygienic efforts too when getting up close and personal, although I do think all this washing is a bit overrated.
One particularly bad experience recently was at an hotel in Walsall. Now please understand, I use the term hotel very loosely. When I arrived I was shown to a room right at the top of the building which absolutely stank of stale cigarette smoke.
I thought I could bear it, but after looking at the not very clean bed and the chipped mugs for the tea in my room, I decided to ask for a move.
I walked downstairs to the bar, and while I tried to make myself heard above the SKY Sports channel, I looked around and realised I was the only female there. This was a lorry drivers paradise.
Of course, the Manager said, with a slimy grin, I will show you to our Princess Suite. Three burly men fought to carry my case and I entered the palace.
Now I am still wondering how this room got it's name and which Princess might have stayed there. Maybe one who liked to mingle among the common people who appreciate the delights of broken and mouldy melamine furniture, smoke stained walls and leaky showers.
Maybe it was the Princess from the fairy tale who could feel the pea under 20 mattresses. There was certainly something under mine, but I didn't have the nerve to look and find out what it was. Still, musn't grumble - it was a four poster.
On a more positive note, the best hotel I ever stayed in was not a hotel at all, although I think it should be a 5 star rated one.
In a beautiful, peaceful village in Devon, Retreats For You is the ultimate in comfort, hospitality and relaxation.
You might still find a vacancy if you are quick. There should be one in every town.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Fame at Last!

It is my great pleasure to inform you that Mellors is soon to become a published author.
He has had an article accepted by the magazine - Cat World.
I was wondering what all the secrecy was about and why, every time I entered my boat he quickly jumped down from my desk. Also I could not understand how my laptop could be still warm, having not used it for several hours previously.
I think his writing career began when he got a little confused with mice and mouse. chasing the cursor around my screen with his eyes as if it were a live creature.
Now the cat is well and truly out of the bag, or should I say the office?
I haven't actually seen the finished article yet so am a little concerned in case he has told any untruths about me and the devoted care I give him. He may still be bearing a grudge about me feeding the ducks with his food (see previous blog) - I hope not.
I believe his story is to be published in the November issue, so time will tell.
In any case I hope we don't have to wait too long because if Mellors continues to start fights with dogs as is his favourite pastime, he may well only enjoy posthumous recognition.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Getting All My Ducks In A Row

You know when you start something and then feel obliged to carry on, even if you don't want to?
A bit like when you have some free time one day and you offer to take your elderly neighbour to the supermarket.
Before you know it, she is there, peeping through your curtains at 9am on the dot every Tuesday, saying, "Well as long as it's no trouble..."
Well that's a bit like what is happening on Argy at the moment.
You see I have found this lovely quiet spot on the Grand Union and when I first arrived here it was a real delight to feed the baby ducks. Often the ducks lose many of their young to the evil heron or well, I don't really know what else happens to them, but there are sometimes 6 - 8 in a family to start with and this can dwindle to nil.
It is so sad to see the Mum desperately trying to protect her babies and arriving with one less each day.
So I feel duty bound to feed them and make sure they don't die from starvation at least.
However things seem to have got a little out of hand. Argy seems to have become a renowned 'soup kitchen' for the entire duck population of England. I think there may even be a few asylum seekers in there too, as my research has shown that ducks don't like garlic bread so that may be why they have come 'over here.' A reversal of the usual migration theory.
Anyway it all started innocently enough with me giving them bits of bread that had gone dry, as a loaf can last me a week. No problem of course. Then I started buying duck food but that was a little expensive. Now they will settle for nothing less than Waitrose Farmhouse Multigrain, rejecting anything less for the 13, yes 13! huge carp to feast on, but that is another tale.
Occasionally, if I run out of bread, I put my hands over Mellor's eyes for a minute and throw in a bit of dried cat food, which they will tolerate at a push. If I am later than 6am in getting up in the morning, they peck and tap on the side of the boat until I give in.
it is not just a question of open the hatches and throw either. There is equality to consider. I have received strange looks from passers by when I have been shouting and trying to get the ducks to wait their turn and stop fighting each other. Manners they definitely do not have. It is every duck for himself as they swoop from a great height skimming the surface of the canal, quacking loudly and fighting off the little coot who has a nest in the reeds opposite. He or she is getting quite smart now though and when given the chance will grab some bread and take it back to the nest, head bobbing side to side all the way to check for muggers.
So I am now trying to get Argy listed in the Canals Good Food Guide (for ducks of course).
In the meantime, all this work does have it's payoffs. I am lulling them in to a false sense of security, making friends with them and seeking the perfect recipe for orange sauce ready for Christmas. Only kidding :)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A Rankin good day!

People often ask how I keep dry on the boat? It does seem an odd question to me, but then, to be fair it is probably one I may have asked before getting the bug for boating. It seems to me these days it is only when I leave the boat I get wet.
Take today for example. Lovely day planned, you can just hear the Rugbian doom and gloom already can't you?
I had a full days work in Hammersmith so thought I would jump on the tube afterwards, travel to Brick Lane, one of my favourite places and see the Rankin exhibition. What could be easier.
With all this optimism, how come my life gets so complicated?
So I get off at Aldgate East, a five minute walk away from the Truman Brewery where the exhibition is held. The heavens opened and within, I kid you not, 2 minutes I was completely soaked through.
Not deterred, I squelched round the amazing show leaving a trail of water behind me, like an incontinent snail. The reception staff were helpful to a point, directing me to the toilets where there were a couple of paper towels, although they couldn't quite cope with the quantity of water that had soaked through every item of clothing I was wearing, including about a pint that had collected in my bra.
I also now know there is actually no such thing as waterproof mascara, apart from the time you actually want to remove it and can't seem to.
Anyway, I didn't stay as long as I would have like due to the feeling that pneumonia was setting in and I still had a half hour journey on the tube back to my car and a hour and a half drive back to the boat to face, in my new wet look clothes.
I even got a seat to myself with lots of space around it. Unheard of on the tube at that time of night.
By the time I got to the car, I knew I could not face the drive in the wet clothes, and guess what? The toilets were closed so I could not change into the spares I had in the car.
A less determined person would have given in gracefully to hypothermia at this point. Not this intrepid traveller! I was absolutely certain I could get away with changing in the lift if I kept my finger on the door close button.
With hindsight, had I known there were a group of stag night revellers making an early start, I may have thought of a different plan, still I did manage to change my skirt. The top was done quickly and discretely in the car while the car park attendant's attention was momentarily taken from the security camera by a driver asking if the toilets were open. (I refer to the answer I gave earlier.)
Still could be worse. The great Rankin himself could have been there to snap the, yet again soggy Tillie.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Beware of the Cat

I am seriously thinking of getting a sign for my boat saying 'BEWARE - DOGS ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK'
Of course dogs can't read, but I live in hope that at least some of their owners can. Unfortunately one dog with one not so careful owner recently caught Mellors on a bad day.
Not a difficult thing to do as I think Mellors has always had more bad days than good, as far as his temper goes that is.
On this particular day he must have been been especially grumpy or maybe his hormones were giving him some trouble. (Do cats have hormones?)
Whatever the reason, it is his life work, a work in progress, to protect my boat from all creatures great and small.
A tiny and very friendly puppy whose owner had obviously cut loose from her lead, decided to have a look in the well deck, I presume out of puppy curiosity.
Mellors, curled snoring on his cushion, had already started sharpening and flexing his claws. I leapt from my chair as I recognised the low growl that Mellors was emitting as not being a sign of greeting.
Before I could say "Get down Shep", there was a loud yelping noise (from the puppy I presume) and a very concerned dog owner had suddenly appeared from nowhere it seemed,(a little late if you ask me) and was demanding an explanation as to why I could not keep my cat under control.
I attempted a glare at Mellors, although I think it came out as more of a smile. The owner stormed off dog in tow, now on a lead that had miraculously and belatedly been produced from a pocket.
As the puppy shook his head in the distance, there was a splattering of blood flying through the air.
Mellors gave a satisfied purr, went back to sleep and calm was restored.