Thursday, 31 July 2014

Guess Where?

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BIG CLUE:- Long, leafy cuttings which look beautiful especially when the sun is shining.

back down the shroppie 029 (600x800)BIG CLUE:- Very tall bridges.

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BIG CLUE:- Views of The Wrekin.

AND, at last ……………… BIG CLUE:- The Anchor Inn which was open!

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All the guides say that this drinking establishment is in a time warp – an original Public House where the bars are in the sitting rooms.  Every time we’ve passed we’ve stopped but Olive, the Landlady, has had the pub closed.  NOT THIS TIME!  And, yes, it is old fashioned and unspoilt.  The tiny bar is at the end of what I suppose is/was the hallway, the toilets are still outside and the garden is immaculate.

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We’ve had a lovely couple of days based at Brewood where our friends Mick and Lynn joined us but are now back on the Staffs and Worcester heading towards Penkridge where we are to be joined by our next visitors.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Blacking a BIG Bottom ……!

When we have to get Ellen’s bottom blacked it’s a significant event.  We’ve never done it ourselves but talking to those who have ……. it’s hard, messy work!

Well!  Consider the DIY blacking of a Dutch Barge – that’s the task son, Ben, has undertaken this week.  It’s actually a ship so …………… he has taken it to a shipyard ……………… at Chatham on the Medway.  A big boat needs a big dry dock!

Going through London – sights we have experienced ourselves on “Ellen” …………….

(* Little bits of factual info for those who like to know …….)

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*The London Eye stands 137 metres above the city.  On a fine day you can apparently see as far as Heathrow Airport and Windsor Castle.




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*HMS Belfast was in active service as a Royal Navy Cruiser.  She was commissioned on 5th August 1939 just before the outbreak of WW2 and finally decommissioned on 24th August 1963.  She was launched on St Patrick’s Day 1938.  She is now part of The National Historic Fleet and operated by The Imperial War Museum.  Each year she receives 1/4 million visitors.

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*Tower Bridge was built by Sir John Barry & Sir Horace Jones between 1886 and 1894. 

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*The Cutty Sark was built on the Clyde in 1869.  She was one of the last tea clippers and one of the fastest sailing ships of her time.  She too is on The National Historic Ships Register and is now kept permanently at Greenwich.

She is one of only three remaining other clipper ships built in C19th.  Of the others one is in Australia and the other in Chile.  In 2007 she was badly damaged by fire but she is now fully restored and once again open to the public.

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*The O2 Arena.  We still haven’t been there!!!!!!!!





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*The Thames Barrier.  520 metres wide and built as part of the effort to protect London from flooding due to rising water levels and tidal surges.  This design was chosen from amongst 41 different proposals.




*The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.  It was opened by the Queen on 30/10/1991 and its construction cost £120 million.  It’s 137 metres high and, despite the toll, an average of 130,000 vehicles use it on a daily basis.

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Arriving at the dry dock at Chatham.






I  wish we had been able to accompany him either there or back but it was just not to be.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Adapting Lifestyle

For what seemed like my entire career I was told that I had to embrace and cope with change!  Considering the profession I was in, coping with the changes to our lives now should be a doddle!Back to Dorset 012 (480x640)

We have been on a mission to get back to Dorset to check on the house and garden and then get back to “Ellen” to continue cruising.  We know of several other boaters who do this every year and they make it look so easy!  At he end of June our good friends, Jane and Ron, came to spend a few days cruising with us.  We put the boat into Swanley Marina and were driven all the way back!  Well, that was easy!


We were met by a jungle!  Originally we thought that all we wanted was a small courtyard garden but it didn’t quite work out that way.

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We have spent the best part of the last three weeks gardening!  It’s now back under control and  ………………………. we’ve left it to it’s own devises yet again!  Gluttons for punishment or what!Back to Dorset 040 (640x480)

We did manage a couple of trips to the coast and Megan came to stay for a few days too.  It was really good to see her.  She is looking so well.


I can now officially announce that the thing we thought was never going to happen for us …… is!  In November we are going to become grandparents!  We are going to have a grandson …. how brilliant is that!

Lola loved swimming in the sea and wasn’t fazed one bit by the waves.

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Getting back to Swanley was much more of a mission!  We let the train ‘take the strain’ (and the bank account!) but, all told, it took us best part of eight hours!  The journey itself was very straightforward – to Salisbury, change to Newport (yes, in Wales!) and then via lots of other places to Nantwich.  We could have gone via London but we thought the scenic route would be much kinder for Lola.  She was superb – most of the time other passengers (and there were lots – train travel IS popular) didn’t even know she was there.   Nantwich to the marina via taxi and we were finally back on board by 5.30 pm.  Despite my best efforts to safeguard my flowers, most of them had perished.  Such a shame because they were looking glorious before we left.  After all these years John is going to get his wish – no pots on the roof!

Anyway, we are now heading back down the Shroppie and it feels like we’ve never been away!