Friday, 23 August 2013

The boat ...

... has what is euphemistically called a "holding tank". It is positioned beneath one of the two cushion-covered seats in the main cabin that, along with the table between them, converts into a double bed.

The tank is full. Hence a slight "aroma" in the cabin, which is kept at bay with liberal use of air fresheners. When we bought the boat the tank must have been full, although we didn't realise it at the time - no doubt because the previous owners also used air fresheners. It's probably been full for a long time.

If we were on the Broads back in the UK (where our elderly cruiser comes from) there would be no problem.  We would draw up to any marina, link up to the grey water pumping station, the tank would be emptied and the ambience around the boat would be much sweeter. Ah, but we're on the Lot, in France.

There are pumping stations on the Lot.  In fact we are moored right next to one on our marina.  But it doesn't work.  Has never worked. We are told none of the pumping stations on the Lot work (despite having cost a lot of money to install). Tod thought he ought to check this out when he was over on the far side of Villeneuve at a ship's chandlers, merely a stone's throw from the next marina.  He found four guys playing cards in a shed and asked about their pumping station. No, it didn't work, had never worked  He asked whether any other pumping station worked.  This required a lengthy telephone conversation.  No, none of the pumping stations on the Lot worked.  Honour satisfied (the strange Englishman having been given the necessary information) they returned to their cards.

It is unlikely that the pumping stations will ever work.  This after all is a country where men prefer to pee at the side of the road and where French boats just have a hole in the side to let everything out.  So who needs a pumping station that works except a few eccentric British people on British boats who keep everything in a tank in the salon?

So, we need a pump - but what pump?  And will it be one the marina pays for and keeps, or one we have for ourselves? The marina solution looks doubtful, so what do we need? We are sent a link to a wonderful video demonstration of a Leesan manual self pump out kit.  It looks remarkably easy and simple, but Tod baulks at the idea of paying £317 (plus VAT?) for something that (hopefully) we will rarely need.

A helpful email is sent to us saying: "It would probably be much cheaper to make your own pump out kit".

Unfortunately the sender is addressing two people who are capable of making no more that a light salad for a supper with friends.

Monday, 12 August 2013

How Frustrating!

There's a stubborn lump of grey wispy cloud that's barely moving right in the north east corner of the night sky. Right where we're supposed to be able to see the Perseids meteor shower. And tonight's supposed to be the best night for seeing them - anywhere between 60 and 100 an hour (depending on which enthusiastic newspaper article you read).

This is an especially good year - no moon to wash them out.

I've been sitting in the dark on the terrace by the "one day to be front door" and I've been lucky enough to see one - a red ball with a long tail - but mainly I think the pricks of light and the dim streaks are my eyes playing tricks.

I have seen the bats, briefly silhouetted against the grey cloud as they weave and dive for night flying insects.

I might try again in an hour if I have the stamina. Tod's yawning his way to bed. He's seen at least a couple and is content. I wonder if I should wake him later, if the stubborn cloud finally goes and the sky clears? Sixty meteors an hour - that would be something worth seeing.


The Perseids

Nasa article

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Rain Gods have Answered my Prayers

The water tank down by the cottage is filling.  The water butt at the house is over-flowing.  The mornings are misty and cool. The swimming pool (unswum) is covered in tiny leaves from the overhanging silk tree and brown petals from the pink rose hedge. The dogs come back from their walk with sodden fur. Tough for visitors who would have hoped for better weather, but wonderful for gardeners.

Through the weeks of heat we had left all the windows of the boat open, so yesterday we went to mop up and to go for a leisurely cruise. The day was perfect, a gentle cooling breeze and a blue sky full of white clouds. Except for the odd kayak we had the tranquil river to ourselves in all its watery green splendour, with just the occasional small village or grand house peeping coyly at us through the trees..

Christina's photos