15 July, 2012

Fast Train through France

Part of the preparation of putting Malua in the water was to install a number of new items purchased over the past few months.  Because of the lack of security at the marina offices I decided after committing to go and see my sick cousin in Worcester that I could have a few items sent to their address.  The number of items increased so it was obvious that I would again need my large suitcase, empty to start with.
Bright idea!  Take the cruising guides we had used while in the Med to the UK and post them surface mail to home.  After going through the bookshelf the suitcase was full.  Little did I realise the weight of these books.  I was back into the regime of heavy cases but this time I was travelling by train so no limit except for me to carry up and down the many stairs associated with undergrounds/tubes and trains.
The route was Port St Louis via the TGV to Paris, Eurostar to London then local train to Worcester.  The only train to make the connection left Arles at 6:53 am in the morning.  No bus from the marina so the marina organised a lift at 5:30am  to Arles.
I slept through the first alarm but as usual on important days like these, I set a second which woke me 10 minutes later.  I rushed to make the car.
I arrived early at Arles station and caught the local train to Nimes then the fast TGV train to Paris.  After some negotiations through the station I found the International train line and settled down to wait for the track number to be displayed.  The earlier train was delayed and 20 minutes before my train was to leave I asked for the track number but was told to wait.  I thought that was not right and set about finding the boarding area.  Well it was full of people from the early train and the one after mine.  I struggled through the congestion and finally got through passport control and x-ray security to rush towards the open doors and the platform when a man stepped in my way and said..... "Sorry this train is closed and leaving".  I pointed out that the doors where in fact open to the platform and I was in time.  "Sorry I will book you on the next train".
Now, I knew that I had timed my connection with the train to Worcester with one hour 10 minutes in hand so a delay of 30 minutes I could still make the connection.
We arrived at Kings Cross and I had to get the tube to Paddington.  But first a ticket.  Fine I had the money but not the correct change.  Now the British are a proper race of people and would not take your money without giving you the chance to object so enter you money in the machine BUT if you put too much in, the British don't like that.  At my first attempt the money is refunded.  OK start again, get to the same screen... You have paid too much do you accept that no change will be given... press Yes or No.  What a choice with only minutes to get to the tube.
OK get to Paddington.  Now get the ticket I had prebook using my British credit card which had expired.  Please enter card and the 8 numbers and letter of your booking.  "Sorry you did not book this ticket with this card."  Clock ticks on and the train is waiting.... Insert next card....  "Thank you for purchasing a ticket on British Rail." and out comes three tickets.  Find the carriage and seat number.
Run for platform 3 and the train to Worcester.  The guard is standing with his flag as I pass him and 3 1st class carriages and attempt to find my carriage C. The guard blows his whistle and I jump aboard. Stow my bag somewhere and walk two carriages down to find my seat.  I did not need to go to the gym today I have lost more than enough perspiration rushing to Paddington but I had made the connection and I was on my way to Worcester, arriving 16 hours after setting off.  A two hour flight would have done it but I would not have again carried my 30Kg of cruising guides.

05 July, 2012

BIG Bird to Paris

I arrived at Sydney airport with a large bag and a heavy hand- luggage. Just how heavy my large bag was, became evident when I put it on the scale. 35Kg Now that is seriously over weight 5 kg. I know that Dubai would not handle bags over 32Kg so money could not buy my way through. The handbag was 12 Kg for a limit of 6Kg. I chose a quiet corner and proceeded to go through what was in the bag. I had previously decided what would have to go from the bag. The two cruising guides went into my flour bag - especially packed for the purpose, as reading matter. The zink anode for the propeller went into my hand luggage as did some antenna wire and GPS receiver and other things.
I then set about transferring the weight from my hand-luggage to my special coat with large pockets. The drives and external drives went into the pockets, the phones and radio went onto my belt. The computers Del laptop and ASUS eePC in my hand. I then fronted the on-line check-in desk - no waiting line and presented my pass. Within seconds I was done and through check-in. Return to quiet corner and put all the heavy stuff on my person into the hand luggage.
At the security I took out all the computers etc out and placed them in the boxes. As I walked through the scanner my bag set off the red light on the X-ray scanner. "Please come with me sir" "What are these metal items?" Well I am a master of a vessel and that is a copper pipe expander and that is a zink anode - its not iron. "Sir I will have to ask my supervisor" "Sorry sir you cant take that pipe expander but this zink I will have to ask the top supervisor."
After some quick smart words, the fellow said I could take it...... have a safe crossing of the Atlantic.
I then boarded the largest commercial airliner in the world. The airbus A3800-800. First and business class board through separate entrances on the top level. Being in the front I could see the captains cabin. The seats are wide, with good leg room. I think the food is more than OK. My flight was Sydney to Dubai a 17.5 hour not stop flight. I slept most of the way.
Arriving in Dubai there was a three hour delay then again aboard the plain with between 853 only economy and 540 people if they have first and business. Think of the number of bags to transfer on and off at the Dubai if all of their 35 A380 landed and took off at the same time.
Before I knew it the 6 hours had flown and I was in Paris France. No return ticket and only two heavy bags to get through the underground.

02 July, 2012

Keeping my eye in

While waiting to start the sailing season I decided to keep my hand and
eye in train in my wood working skills. Not that I have to do any
renovations on Malua this season but after fitting Malua out from a bare
shell I have all the tools and more than enough wood to do the whole
project again. Rest assured I would not start that willingly so I found
another project to keep the tools and my eye sharp.

Build some outdoor wood chairs. Do we have any..yes but steel not wood.
OK what wood will I use. The lovely rich red myrtle I used in the boat
is carefully stacked next to the workshop ready for some deserving
project so that would not do and I would not purchase wood. I had to
find some extra wood. Just that week a house in the next street was
starting to be demolished as they do these days tear down the old and up
with the new. This house was built about the same time as ours in 1963
and used the same Australian timber for the roof and floor beams. Strong
hard wood well seasoned.

I spoke to the foreman and asked if I could take some of the beams
before the dump truck arrived. Come tomorrow to another site and I will
have them ready for you was his reply. I arrived and he loaded four 5
meter long floor beams into the back of the VW combi all for a carton of
VB beer. The best deal I have done for a long time.

I have the wood now the design. Unlike the last set of chairs I made I
did not go to the local museum and measure up a chair in the display
area. I sat down with tape, paper and a good eraser and designed the
chair. With the wood I had, I estimated I could make six chair to go
round the table I made from the roof beams of our neighbours house.
Another recycle project.

Now the hard work, cutting the rough timber into the correct length
pieces and preparing the timber for final trimming and finishing. Let me
tell you a five meter by 400 by 20cm solid hard wood beam is not the
easiest piece of timber to cut. My table saw required a new sharp blade
after just half the job. The band saw blade broke after 10 back legs and
the dust bag from the planner needed emptying twice during the project.
It seemed to go on and on. Of course the cold winter weather of Canberra
did not help – I was working outside because of the dust. With
temperature below freezing at night so I was only game to go outside
after 11:00 each morning and then wearing gloves. It started to get dark
soon after 4:00 so that is not a long day on any project.
After three weeks of cutting, planing and sanding all the pieces were
ready to be assembled. This next stage required that I only do the
gluing when the temperature was above 10 degrees C so that limited the
time for gluing and clamping. The project stretched on and on.

After weeks, the six chairs where assembled and ready for the first coat
of varnish. More limitations due to the drying temperature of the
varnish. Well, after many weeks the final coat was applied and the
chairs are now ready to be used around the timber table. I will have to
wait for next summer for the temperature to rise and I can then enjoy a
cold glass of wine sitting on the wood chairs knowing that my
woodworking skills are still sharp.