Monday, 30 January 2012

A Weekend Near the Sea

Well, we are certainly making the most of having the use of Megan’s car whilst we are over-wintering in the marina!

Last weekend we went to see our friends Jane and Ron who live near Southampton.  John went to school with Ron and his twin brother, Gerald, so they have been friends for a very long time!!  Jane and Ron’s son, Stephen, is a whizz with computers and, bless his heart, he took ours away with the aim of resolving the problem of the blue screen!  So far, so good – we have now joined his mum, dad and fiancĂ©, Becky, in belonging to the official fan club.                       THANK YOU SO MUCH, Steve.

On the Saturday we went for a lovely (lovely!) walk along the sea wall at Pennington Marshes and All my pictures 548 (800x600)saw lots of wintering birds which for me, being a bit of a twitcher, was a real treat.  We could see the Isle of Wight  ferries coming both in and out of Lymington.

Sorry to bore those of you who are not interested in birds but there were:- redshanks (including a rarer spotted redshank), greenshanks, godwits, little egrets, turnstones, little grebes, widgeon, pochard and teal ….. for starters.

What a lovely little town Lymington is.  The street market was in full swing and there are stillAll my pictures 554 (640x480) lots of individual shops managing to survive.

Back at home there were more birds to watch!  Ron and Jane only have a small garden but they have masses of different feeders which were constantly occupied by a wide variety of little birds.  A nuthatch did eventually join all the goldfinches, greenfinches, sparrows and tits and grace us with his presence!

I was told by a serious-looking twitcher that this is a spotted redshank and that they are quite special.


Not only was I able to bird-watch, I also had a bit of a knitting lesson from Jane coz she’s really good at it.            Megan has challenged me to knit her a tunic!!!   and again - !!!!  

 cole weekend 012 (600x800)On Saturday evening we were joined by Gerald, Dawn and Stephen. We had such a good time.

On Sunday we went out for lunch to a pub in the heart of the New Forest. What a treat to find a pub which positively welcomes dogs!

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Gerald. me, John, Jane and Dawn with Maggie and Maisie.  Ron, of course, was taking the photo but he looks just like his brother!

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cole weekend 015 (1024x768) Ron with Jane.

We are now back on the boat and back to ‘normal’. 

Megan is, right now, on a plane heading to Alicante.

Ben is snowboarding in France and ………………

My poor brother is down on his luck.  Things have caught up with him and his health has taken a turn for the worst.  He’s been told that he has a rough ride ahead.  I was rather hoping that 2012 would be less upsetting and emotionally stressful than the last two years.  There’s always something isn’t there?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Tale of Two ……………… Marinas

Crick – small and simple.

Mercia – vast and complex.

Yesterday we went to visit Ian, Alison and Katy ‘Potato’ Dog at Mercia marina where they are currently moored on n/b ‘Nobby’.  In terms of marinas Crick and Mercia are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  Mercia is huge and overflowing with facilities:-

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  • mooring for about 750 boats
  • brokerage
  • a branch of Midland Chandlers on site
  • two different hire boat companies use the marina as their base
  • small shop selling all the essentials
  • tea room/cafe
  • three luxurious toilet/shower/laundry blocks
  • security gates
  • coal delivered to your boat!  (You DO have to pay for it though!!)
  • Pump out and diesel
  • Allocated fields in which to walk dogs
  • and …………… a weekly (?) farmers’ market held in the car park

Nearby Willington Village also has a number of useful facilities – Post Office, small supermarket, pub, hairdressers etc.  AND – it’s only a 15 minute drive to the beautiful Dove Dale within the Peak District National Park.  Derby, Burton-on-Trent and Lichfield are all just a short drive away for major shops, restaurants and banks etc.  A very well situated site then and, apparently all this for the same mooring fee as at Crick.

There are some holiday lodges for sale on site – altogether there will be 17 I think and planning permission has been granted for a hotel and 7 other shops.  The marina has gained a David Bellamy Environmental Award.  This is not like any other marina I have seen – it’s more like a Boating Village – or will be when it’s all finished.  All down to personal choice and requirements I guess.  Ian and Alison love it there.

Back at ‘little ‘ol Crick’ – walking around the fields and lanes it feels more like March than January :-

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I forced him to have a haircut so that the new ‘titfa-tat’ had a chance of fitting!

A ‘Plug’ asWillington   038 (800x600) in A Mention …….ian birks

Ian (Birks) has collated a collection of articles written by himself covering a wide variety of topics pertinent to boating on our inland waterways.  The collection is called “Shuffling Along A Ditch” and is available from Amazon to download onto a Kindle.  Bargain!

Katy, the 3rd Crew Member of n/b ‘Nobby’

Sunday, 22 January 2012

How old is ‘old’?

Back on Iona last Spring the young lady on the ticket desk of the Abbey gave me an age concession ……… and I hadn’t even asked!!  No wonder I’m now even more despondent about my advancing years!  (I’ve been in crisis about it for at least the last 18!)    The years seem to have crept up on me and mine whilst we have been pre-occupied focussing on other things!  I know that many people accept growing older with grace and dignity but, sorry, not me!  The only positive thing about it as far as I’m concerned is that our closest friends are either:-          already older, as old or nearly as old!!

Yesterday, however, I had a salutary lesson. 

As we were walking past Crick Wharf along the tow path we were enthusiastically greeting by a four year old long-haired, sandy-coloured little terrier called …… Sandy!  We got talking to Sandy’s owner (like you do) and, after establishing that we too are boaters, topics of conversation included the advantages of bow-thrusters when they are working properly and the disadvantages of chain saws when they are not!

THEN …………… we found out that this single-handed boatman is 84 years young!!  Looking at him, I thought he was in the same decade as John!  Now it might be, I hear some say, that John is wearing particularly badly ………………. but I don’t think that is really the case.  This elderly gentleman is fit and very proud of his full head of hair.  Sadly, his wife died a year ago and, rather than sit at home feeling lonely and sorry for himself, he decided to sell up, sell his old boat, get a new one built with everything on it that he always wanted and set off as a liveaboard.  TRULY AMAZING!  Only 84 years young – fit, positive, determined and courageous.  An inspiration to us all. 

I still hate the thought of the number of candles to be crammed onto my next birthday cake but ……………….. I will at least now attempt to blow them out with more humility than usual.

Other News

  •  Megan is no longer with us.  She is spending the rest of this week with her friend, Lynn, in Reading and flies out to Alicante next Monday. 
  • We are still having intermittent blue screens on the computer.  We have had a new drive fitted but …………… it’s still happening!  We now strongly suspect dodgy dongle extension leads.  (Try saying that when not sober!!)  Clearly, finding the solution to this frustrating technical fault will have to be a process of elimination.  If we find that it is a dodgy dongle extension lead John says he will definitely dangle the said dodgy dongle in the drink before dumping it to it’s detriment!!

Drink?  Who said drink?  What time is it?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Domesticity rules OK?

This week my tiny little galley has been a hive of activity and lots of homemade goodies have graced the cake tins.  Every now and then I have this mad impulse to bake cakes but this week I have also ventured into the baking of  pizza and ……………………..

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Back in the summer my friend Chris on n/b ‘DuMorvan’ assured me,

 “Of course you can bake bread without a bread-making machine – I do it all the time.   What you have to do is ………….”

“O.M.G.”, said Megan, “It’s sure to be like a brick!”

“O.M.G.”, said John, “the ducks will sink!”

Well, despite scepticism from the other crew members I thought I would give it a go and see what happened.  They took the rise out of me but they couldn’t take the rise out of my bread because this was the (somewhat surprising to us all) result.  It must have been all that pummelling!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh, they of little faith!  It actually tasted good too!

I’ve also been plodding on with the crocheting of new cabin lace for the windows and have completed two sets.  It always takes a while to get used to something new but I’m pleased with how they are turning out. I can’t quite decide to keep the dingly-dangdomesticity 009 (800x600)ly-sparkly-bits or not:-

Widomesticity 008 (800x600)thout dingle-dangles.                                                                              

(Yes, the next job for this Mature Domestic Goddess Student must be to clean the windows!!)     

With dingle-dangles – every one or every other one or interspersed with something completely different?  Can’t decide as yet.


Megan has spent the weekend with her best friend from Uni days – Natalie – who, having met the love of her life when she went out to Malta last year to see Meg, now lives near Buckingham.  We are going to collect Megan later tonight and she will spend the rest of the week with us here in Crick.

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Sun-set over the marina.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Wanderer Returns ………… albeit temporarily

Last Sunday Megan’s best pal, Lynn and George her dog, acted as chauffeurs to bring Megan to us at Crick.  Lynn and George stayed until Monday afternoon; Megan is staying until Friday.  During a walk on Monday it didn’t take long for George to find the water – all but his head went in and under!  He definitely got more than he was expecting when he wandered down the bank!  Fortunately it didn’t take too long for him to dry off – the poodle part of his fur maybe.

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We ended up in ‘The Red Lion’ for lunch ………….!  Even on a Monday it was busy, busy.

We have now seen all the photos of Meg’s travels and Argentina and Brazil are certainly very beautiful countries.  The mountains and most of the beaches are just fabulous.  What an amazing experience she has had with only a couple of incidents that I was definitely better off not knowing about at the time!

Before she left Lynn told us about a huge Shopping Centre called Fosse Park just off Junction 21 of the M1 so, today, that’s where we have been ……. for hours and hours!  It was well worth going because Meg got lots of bargains and nearly everything she wanted.   Me? I went along in a supportive role!  Now?  Shopped out – I definitely don’t need to see another trendy clothes shop for a long, long time!  ‘We’, needless to say, does not include John!  I guess he has had a very peaceful day …….

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

“Lovely, Lovely” (sorry but it’s an in-house joke!)

First of all – HAPPY NEW YEAR to all those we know and, all those we have yet to know!

For the New Year celebrations we went to stay with our lovely, lovely friends Mick and Lynn.  It’s not only our Quenew year 004 (600x800)en who can celebrate a Jubilee in 2012 – it’s the Clayton/Allebone Ruby-Juby – 40 years of dedicated friendship and, at some point during the year, we fully intend to celebrate this momentous occasion in style!    

On our arrival on Friday we beheld a vast assortment of lovely, lovely Christmas decorations adorning both insidnew year 003 (600x800)e and out. 

I think being the proud grandparents of two lovely, lovely little boys might just have gone to their heads a wee bit because the back garden was akin to Santa’s grotto!

Lovely, lovely coloured lights adorned every fence, hedge, bush, tree and flower pot – it looked truly amazing!

new year 001 (600x800)On New Year’s Eve we met up for lunch with Andy, Rhia and young Harry at a lovely, lovely pub local to them.  It was really good to see them all.  What a lovely, lovely little boy!

Back in Harlow in the evening we watched a lovely, lovely DVD (one I’ve been wanting to see since it’s release), played ‘Who’s in the Bag?’ and a selection of games on Wii, or is it Wii games?  – all new to us anyway.

With the emptying of each fresh bottle, laughter increased but memory-skills and thinking skills got regrettably slower and slower – strange that!!!

On New Year’s Day Lynn cooked a huge, lovely, lovely roast dinner for eight.  Their other son, Chris, his partner Lisa and their lovely, lovely  little boy, Leo came over ……………… and a couple of their friends too.  I was also allowed to indulge myself and watch the very last Harry Potter film – yes, I’m another addict!  What a brilliant film.

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On Monday, in bright sunshine, we went for a lovely, lovely walk around the Fisher’s Green area of the Lee Valley Country Park.  It was really nice to re-visit a part of the Lee Navigation that we cruised 18 months ago on our way to to Andy and Rhia’s wedding.  What a lot has happened in those 18 months!

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LOTS of people were out enjoying the crisp but bright weather.

SO, in summary, the ‘Shouting’ was fab-u-lous. Thank you very much Mr & Mrs Clayton for a lovely, lovely few days.

We are now back on our boat and Megan …………….. is in Reading, ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!