Cat, gin and falling in
The past couple of weeks have been busy preparing for trading from Pea Green. Though with my sloe gin ending up at the bottom of the marina and the cat making a run for it, life at Pea Green hasn’t been without mishap!
Trading licence is here
A few weeks ago, I received my CRT roving trader licence for Pea Green. This means I can now sell my crafty arts directly from the boat. Since then I have been frantically preparing for selling. I’m making an ‘A’ frame board to advertise on. With the roses and daisies done I just need to sign write it.
Preparing to sell
I have also been trying to figure out shelving to hang from the rails on the outside of the boat. The roving trader rules don’t allow the use of multiple tables. All displays should be attached to the boat. Basically you aren’t allowed to block the towpath with tables and hijack passers-by into buying. This would be the boating equivalent of a ‘chugger’ or charity mugger. I’ll leave you to work out the word for a boat mugger…. Anyway, I’m making my shelves from old pallets. I chopped them up with my jig-saw and will use fender hooks and rope to hang them. I tried them out today and they seem to work quite well – but I forgot to take a photo – whoops.
I am also making bunting for the boat, using recycled clothes and scraps of fabric. I must admit this seems an never ending and tedious job! Cutting out, stitching, ironing. I am beginning to wonder what I have taken on, and it had better look OK. The fabric is an eclectic mix of colours and prints, and not the uniform Catherine Kidston look some might cherish, but as the boat is 9.75m long bunting requires a lot of fabric and I am not prepared to spend money on flags.
In the midst of all this I have been making regular trips to Pea Green with Monte the cat. I would like Monte to travel with me on the boat but as a nervy middle aged rescue cat he doesn’t adapt easily to new situations. There are many narrowboat cats out there, including the inimitable Etty here at Welford, so it isn’t unusual, but the difficulty is encouraging an easily freaked cat, who is set in his ways to adapt to boat and water. The boat has been a bit of test for him. So far, we haven’t left the marina, nor have I started the engine… His crew training could take quite some time.
Mighty Monte Cat
Monte has spent most of his boat days sleeping in his hidey hole, and emerging at night to take over the sofa. Luckily there has only been one night where he had a ‘mental-cat-episode’. ‘Mental-cat-episodes’ consist of the said cat, who has invariably slept for the previous 23 hours, turning into a deranged, charging, bouncing fur-bullet. During a mental-cat-episode it is essential for the cat to bounce at 100mph off every surface, whether horizontal or vertical. Monte took this to another level, as he tried to scale the windows. His extreme mental-cat-episode lasted all night, and he only curled up next to me as the dawn broke. He then proceeded to sleep the rest of the day, as I walked around like a sleep deprived zombie.
Monte makes a run for it
Monte’s other ‘moment’ was last Saturday night when he made a run for it. I do have the boat doors open throughout the day as I want him to be able to wander. However, his day time antics consist of sleeping and sleeping a bit more, so he has shown no interest in the wide world out there. Last Saturday evening , when the weather was still cold, I did my usual trick of using too much SuperTherm in the woodburner and turned the boat into a sauna. I had little option but to open the back doors and fit the cat barrier (aka garden trellis). Monte nudged the trellis out of the way and before I knew it he had jumped off the boat and was trotting down the wooden pier. A bit frantic, and wearing my pyjamas, I pulled on my wellies and a fleece, grabbed a torch and legged it after him. He was happily jogging his way towards the exit gate, though was a bit unnerved by the chicken-wire covered wooden pier.
Monte is not a cat to follow instructions, but for some reason as I called his name and shined the torch on the pier he turned around and trotted back. The next challenge was getting him back onto the boat. As he meowed at me he ran past Pea Green, towards my boaty neighbours. I don’t think he could work out which boat was his, and I knew if I tried to grab him we would both end up in the water. I jumped back onto Pea Green and continued to call, and he finally leapt from the pier onto the stern deck and made a mad dash inside. Phew… panic over, gin open.
Talking of gin, the other traumatic incident happened as I brought food, gin and cat toys to the boat ready for a stay in the expected weekend sunshine. The trauma occurred due to my double laziness. Pea Green is moored at the furthest point from the marina car park, it is a spot I cherish as I have no boats in front of mine and it is well away from any noise. The only pain is my over-riding laziness – I want to make as few trips to my car to pick up stuff as possible. As a result I load up my old folding luggage trolley with as much as possible, wear a backpack and carry shopping bags all in an attempt to save the two minute trip of returning to the car to collect more stuff.
Marina assault course
Having loaded up myself and the trolley with stuff I manoeuvred down the dirt footpath from the carpark down to the marina gate. I always think the gate is the most precarious moment as I have to find the right key, usually with only one hand free trying not to drop anything, keys included, into the water.
First challenge completed I was through the gate and trundling down the wooden pier, guiding the overladen trolley. Once at my boat, rather than doing the sensible thing of unloading everything I left the trolley precariously stacked teetering on the pier, as I boarded the boat. As I fiddled with the boat lock I watched in horrified slow motion as the trolley toppled over and the contents of the bag on top slid into the water. Ahahaahaha!!!!
Where are my bananas?
My initial – rather random- thought was ‘quick save the bananas’. Yes, I know quite ridiculous… I couldn’t actually see the bananas nor anything else, all that was visible was a lone bottle of olive oil bobbing on the water. Having grabbed the olive oil I turned around to see grapefruit and the bananas floating on the other side of the pier, along with a jar of flour. I lay prostrate on the pier undertaking an extreme version of hook-a-duck to retrieve the food. It was only after the bananas were saved- panic over- that I began to think through what else was in the bag. It was then I remembered the litre bottle of sloe gin that had been perched in the bag.
Gin goes in
A bottle of regular gin would have been bad enough, but this was my first attempt at homemade sloe gin. I had picked the sloes last October at Bridge 36, made the sloe gin and then sat and waited for 3 months before decanting. It had turned out well and I have been rationing my consumption and being selective with whom I share it! Now, I contemplated that a third of my entire 2017 sloe gin cellar was sitting at the bottom of the marina and the next sloes wouldn’t be ready for months.
Operation gin rescue
I clambered onto the boat, bananas in hand, jeans covered in mud, feeling miserable. I then trudged miserably back down the pier to the carpark. Head hanging low I passed a marina friend and bemoaned the misery of what had just occurred. She empathised with my situation, and suggested I use her fishing net to try and retrieve the bottle. ‘No point’, I whined, ‘the water will have got in, and anyway I don’t have time.’ ‘You’ve got nothing to lose,’ said she. Somehow persuaded I took the net and with five minutes before I had to leave I ran back to the boat with the large fishing net. At my boat I frantically swept the net backwards and forwards dredging up mud, rotting leaves and more mud. I gave it one last go and couldn’t believe it when I saw the bottle in the net. I then did a little happy dance with my bottle of sloe-gin. This was repeated over the weekend when I made sure the gin hadn’t leaked and was drinkable.
Note to self : buy a fishing net & be less lazy…..