You may remember that we had a month afloat last spring between selling one house and buying another - and here we are back afloat, but this time for approx two weeks.
Much to everyone's amusement no sooner had we downsized than we started planning a kitchen extension which will double the floor area of the original house. What everyone seems to misunderstand is our interpretation of downsizing. We want to keep the space we had, but have it downstairs - a subtle but distinct difference.
The builders have been storming ahead and true to their word they kept the old kitchen operational for nearly a month by building the new roof right over it, which let us process 35kg of Seville oranges into the ever popular Sloe Whisky Seville and Gin Fizz Marmalades, plus a limited edition of Singletons Whisky Marmalade in support of MacMillan.
However, this stay of execution on the kitchen was always temporary because the old boiler (never knowingly serviced) vented into what is now the new kitchen. This was tolerable whilst the windows and doors were off but last week they were fitted, the boiler removed and all the old kitchen knocked down.
We can tolerate no kitchen but no way can we tolerate no heating or hot water.
Time to decamp to the boat which is only 2.5 miles away. Fortunately the new galley is complete bar a few bits and bobs. The cushions have yet to be delivered but the old ones will just about fit and who needs curtains anyway. Land based friends are horrified at the thought of is living afloat in the winter but all you boaters will appreciate that with a 5kw solid fuel stove the challenge is keeping cool.
There have been a few hiccups, like the insidious clogging of the stove pipe which impeded the exit of smoke, to the point I think we had a bit of a build up of Carbon Monoxide. We both had headaches for a couple of days and my mind went back to a recent Waterways World article on the subject. The flue brush was extracted from the back of the butty and jiggled up and down the pipe which triggered a small avalanche of crusty carbon scaling and an immediate improvement to the draft through the stove. Good old WW is all I can say. One thing puzzles me - the old Valor Arden never ever suffered from a clogged pipe but this one has had issues after 18 months. I think the pipe is made of thicker steel and therefore has a narrower internal bore, but I am sure that there is more to this issue. Any ideas?
The house build is progressing fast with the screed being laid on the floor this Wednesday and the new boiler installed on Thursday. This leads to first fix, plastering and second fix and the kitchen fitter booked for the 16th March.
On a slightly less encouraging note Helen is not too well at present and a stay in hospital beckons. Sadly this will scupper our early season travelling plans and the Jam Butty will not be out and about before July. Hopefully her recovery will be far enough advanced to let us pick up the planned itinerary for the Grand Union events in the summer.