Sunday, 30 December 2012

Veni, Vidi, Nom Nom Nom

Monday 24th December to Thursday 27th December 2012

Monday came and so did the arrival date for our daughter Sam; so I set off for Heathrow to pick her up – we thought it best rather than her have to battle through the train system in her semi-comatose jet-lagged state, and we couldn’t be sure of the state of the rail network from London to Stone.

In the meantime Bec and Diane were off to Birmingham to see if they could do anything about Bec’s waterlogged iPhone – so I dropped them off at Stafford station for their trip and continued on down the M6.
Bec and Diane - about to head off to Stafford

On a day when it would be reasonable to assume that there would be shed-load of cars and other traffic on the roads it was remarkably clear and an entirely free run all of the way to Heathrow – got to Terminal 3 (the advised arrival point) a good hour before the flight was due to arrive.

Into the arrival hall and confirm the plane was still on-time or at least not too late – no flight on the board – mmmm, had to resort to asking about it – “Oh Qatar Airlines are now at Terminal 4” – it might be numerically next in line but it wasn’t exactly just next door.

Even with the detour to the correct terminal I was early only to find a 30 minute delay in landing.

Eventually we were away not too long after the arrival and Sam was still wide awake and was so for almost all of the trip back.

We were able to catch up with everyone at the Monday gathering – most had been there since early afternoon and the collection of empties confirmed that there had been great enjoyment.

Bec’s phone needed more drying out – the store suggestion was to use silica gel packets in a sealed bag – we always throw them out – next best option – sealed bag with calcium chloride the dehumifying crystals that we all have in a boat, sealed bag, small container for the phone to keep it off the crystals – the overnight results were good – pictures could be recovered; after a few more days all the essential information had been extracted.

Xmas day arrived and  I remember being awoken by the very lovely wife of mine with her saying “Time to get up – Santa’s been, Santa’s been” – she is still a big kid - considering that she put the presents out, it was a memorable discovery on her part.

One of just two days in the year that I like to not get up early, I reluctantly acquiesced.

We had a very enjoyable day with the three girls all acting like children – although some didn’t need to act too much.
Just two of the kids on board this week

Did I say very big kids?

Must say a big big thank you to Jean (and Andy) on nb Josephine who were so wonderful in cooking our lunch the day before in their oven whilst ours was not working – the whole day was made much much better because of that.
Banjo - in Xmas mode

he just loves being dressed up - as you can see


It didn’t stop us eating too much as is the norm for this time of the year.

Wednesday and we were off to Birmingham to see Debbie, James, Katherine and Rachel and another lunch – it was very good to see them all – especially as it had been a year since we had last got together.

We got to practise our Aston Villa jokes in light of the Chelsea 8-0 drubbing.

Did you know that the Aston Villa shop has an 87.5% discount? – but still lost 1-0.

Thursday was Panto-day – Diane had missed out last year; Sam was enthusiastic; Bec had never been before; and I was the driver  - but happy to be going.

Braving the post-xmas crowds – we had not thought that through too well – we found parking (well actually I found it as they had jumped out whilst I was queuing) at The Potteries and agreed a meeting place and then off to the Regent (no you’re not!!).
Diane, Bec and Sam - Panto-time


It had all of the usual stuff and plenty to enjoy in the whole show – there did seem to be an oversupply of adults compared to children – and it was the adults enjoying even more than the kids.

We have had four wonderful days this week and really had a great time and great xmas – we are so very glad that both the girls made it, even though the sleeping arrangements were a bit cramped.

We had eaten well and eaten too much; but Sam and Bec could easily say – I came, I saw, I ate

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Weekend cruising

Friday 21st December to Sunday 23rd December 2012

5 Miles, 10 Locks for this period

Totals: 1441 Miles, 1170 Locks, 46 Tunnels, 24 Lift Bridges, 96 Swing Bridges

It wasn’t Planes, Trains and Automobiles these few days – more like walk, cruise and drive – the arrival of my eldest daughter Rebecca was a much anticipated event and we were there (just a little late due to traffic) to pick her up from Stafford station.

I am very glad that she packs light – well at least I would have been pleased if that was the case – I am sure that there will be a few airport workers off with crook backs after lifting this case.

It was nice to drive around for a change – we have the car for over two weeks as we have a bit of travelling to get through – certainly a busy week coming up.

The last time that Bec was with us was October last year (2011) and it was a particularly windy and unpleasant time and so we didn’t get to do any cruising, so this time we couldn’t and wouldn’t put it off again – that was despite the forecast for more rain – and so it came to pass that in a heavy drizzle we set off from the mooring for the short cruise up to Stone – a few locks to be done – Bec handle the first one without any problems and then showed that she has some talent with her handling of the boat up to Star Lock – only relinquishing control when we approached some moored boats.
That's Bec on the right

We moored above Star Lock and as I returned from the marina with the car, Diane was chatting away with Maffi (nb The Milly M) – he was in the process of moving up through the lock to “drier” moorings – I think that they are all pretty well soaked wherever there is grass next to the boat.

In the midst of this there was a shout from Barry on Winton’s Folly on the town side (24 hour moorings) – I had to reassure him that we were not spying on he and Carol after they had left the marina yesterday for a couple of days out – they had not longed moved onto the mooring before we had come along.

It was interesting to note that on these same 24 hour mooring we saw that nb Sir Thomas Brocklebank was still in the same place that we had seen them over the last few weeks – mmm not bad for 24 hour limit – and all of this despite the fact that just above the next lock there is an allocated mooring for the boat – so in reality taking up two mooring places – why wouldn’t C&RT be moving them along. The word is that they are looking to get a licence to operate their business from this spot – thus removing it from the use of other boaters.

Diane and I had been so impressed with the Dog and Doublet last weekend that we had to return for an afternoon tea repeat – still very good, only this time we couldn’t finish – so the napkins were well used taking care of the chocolate cake and scones that we couldn’t quite demolish.
A dose of soaking light rain was just the trick

It did dry out later - Bec showed the skills that many novices
would like


During the first part of the cruise Bec’s iPhone was in the pocket of her wet-weather gear and it seems to have picked a bit of moisture. So we tried some “home-made remedy/recipe to see if it helps – half a cup of rice and an iPhone.
Are you sure about that recipe - some of the
ingredients are just not mixing in

Both Bec and Diane are Strictly fans so for me it was a rather quiet evening – they were in the lounge watching the TV and this left me to get some work done and walk the dog – the weather at 9pm was so nice – over 10C and a stroll along the town High street showed the restaurants were all full; the pubs were full and everyone was having a good time.
Getting ready for "Strictly"

Sunday was a perfect day for this time of the year – in fact it really was a bit warm – very unusual for this time of the year.

Firstly we were off to rise up through the remaining three locks and wind – we then moored up on the off-side in front of the new estate – no weren’t really being that naughty – Lynn and Phil from nb Valentine had phoned and we were popping in for a cuppa and a catch up chat – it is always so very good to see them both and they were both well (for all intents and purposes).

Then we were off again to go back down the locks and to the marina – Bec was again doing a fine job of steering; Diane was the observer and I was on lock duty again.

After the Star Lock I left them to bring the boat back down whilst I headed back to the marina with the car.

It seems that the canal resembled summer traffic for a short while as there were a number of boats on the move – one of these was going way too fast for being anywhere near moored boats and as Ferndale passed this boat the bow was very strongly pulled in behind the passing boat meaning that the stern swung widely and hit nb Mallard – Diane apologised profusely to the owner who was justifiably upset about being hit – so if you happen to be reading this we are sorry about the accident, but most of this blame does lie with the other boat and its speed.

Have a chat with Hayden on nb Tinker as he knows the boat was travelling too fast.

When she arrived at Aston Lock where I had been waiting in readiness, Diane was still very upset about the whole thing for as it was mostly out of her full control.

Yelling at anyone after these incidents does not help the situation – at least wait until you hear the facts before going off the deep end and if you don’t yell you might hear the sincerity of the apology.

Anyway through the lock and back into the marina; a little bit of wind and another reversal into the mooring spot without incident.

Within about 15 minutes we were all moored up; replugged into the electricity and everything else completed – we almost have it down to a fine art.


Bec was very concerned about her iPhone as it picked up a bit of water on Saturday when in her pocket whilst it was raining – it simply isn’t working at all and we will need to get to an Apple outlet to see what can be done.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain

Wednesday 19th December to Thursday 20th December 2012

It’s easy to see that we are nearing the shortest day of the year – the sun has barely risen by 8:30 am (even Diane is up before it now) and the afternoon is rapidly darkening at 4:15 pm.

But the “bright” spot about all of this is that when we reach the weekend we will know that we are heading back into summer – I know that the good weather is still a fair way away; and we have January and February to get through – there will be snow in there somewhere, but it’s worth looking at the positive of reaching this time of the year – oh yes, there is also a fat red fellow due to pay a visit and each your mince pies and drink your beer and you will have reindeer crap to clean up in the morning – but let’s be looking forward.

These two days have really produced nothing at all except for rain – most of it being in the darker hours and it is nice to hear the rain on the roof as you drop off to sleep at 5pm and equally enjoyable in the morning when you get a dig in the ribs to stop snoring.

Whilst the rain has nearly been incessant, and in deference to the other parts of the country which are experiencing such terrible flooding, it has however allowed some time and opportunity to get a few of the small jobs that we had been planning (read that as what Diane has been planning for me to do) – but they did get done – the pantry now doesn’t open fully when the boat leans to one side and we have a some hanging rails from the dinette area to the end of the back cabin.

These are the same as the ones that Mick has put up in nb Parisien Star and we thank him for the idea and the help as well with these.
 
Slowly but surely one thing after another gets completed and we can gently and quietly cross things off the list of things that are maintained by the management.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Escape

Sunday 16th December to Tuesday 18th December 2012

5 Miles for this period

Totals: 1436 Miles, 1160 Locks, 46 Tunnels, 24 Lift Bridges, 96 Swing Bridges

A car, a car – never pass up an opportunity to get a lift in the car when you need to go somewhere. And it came to pass that on Sunday that Mick and Elly were heading to Stafford to do a bit of shopping whilst they had the car and we tagged along – we were after all wanting to go to the same places as them.

A few bits and pieces at B&Q after we had dropped into ASDA where Diane only wanted 1 or 2 things – we came out with 4 full bags.

Then the girls wanted to donate money to Dunelm Mills – Mick and I went over the road to Homebase.

Diane had been consulting the weather reports for the last few days and saw a window of cruising opportunity – days without rain, without wind and without the likelihood of overnight ice.

All we had to decide was how long would we go out for – with the need for a trip to Stafford now not required we decided to go out on Sunday and back on Tuesday.

We had been wanting to visit the Dog and Doublet at Sandon for quite a while now and this was the chance; so Diane made the booking and we cruised down to just above Sandon Lock and moored up.
Early morning is always the best time - this is at Sandon Lock

Dinner was quite superb and by the end we had over indulged (but not too much) – walking back was a wee bit tricky with a lack of footpath and a slightly busy road, but we got back safely to the boat.
Dog and Doublet

Monday was a reasonable day – not too cold and a little sunny but mainly cloudy. I got on with work as usual and Diane was busy catching up on programs that she had recorded and with some of her craft work.

We had both seen the afternoon tea menu when we were at dinner the previous evening and we decided that we would need to try that as well – we didn’t need dinner that night – it was all lovely and delicious.
afternoon tea - I'm ready to go again

Tuesday came and time to cruise back to the marina – only trouble was that was that as we were reversing back to the winding hole the engine suddenly went dead – dead in the sense that it stopped when in gear – something serious around the prop – eeek the freezing water beckoned.
always time for a chat - Diane with a passing working boat

we are pretty happy with the way that the boat now looks

We had managed to pick up and wrap around the prop a collapsible chair (BMW insignia and markings and all) – one of those chairs that would only be there from a very limited number of sources.

Down the hatch, carving knife in hand; care to cut only the chair and not a finger as I couldn’t see exactly what I was lunging into.

After about 10-15 minutes it was cleared; quick count to see if it still all came to 10.

Diane took the controls as I went down to the bathroom to wash up – it was more a thawing out process than necessarily the cleaning – but both were accomplished.
Even with her eyes closed

Then outside to see the end of a perfect winding process – she really does have all of the skills and now the confidence to just do it – cannot be any prouder of her.

This was to be a dry day with no wind – an excellent chance to fill with diesel and to do a pumpout, which all happened without incident – also decided to fill 4 x 5 litre fuel cans (just in case) and then a lap of the marina to come back into moor up.

Witnesses were present to see the reversing back into the space – between pontoon and neighbouring boat without touching either – the lack of wind was a big help.

The afternoon was spent part with work and part on the phone trying to sort out getting the oven repaired before xmas – it can be done by one company but not until after New Year – they needed a marine-qualified gas fitter (because of the regulations) – so be it – the xmas menu will be modified to suit what we have to cook with.

Unfortunately this is out of our control so we will live with it and get on with other things.

On Tuesday night the wind started to come up and it was decidedly colder – just as the weather report said and just as that weather watcher of mine told me.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

All's Well with the World

Saturday 15th December 2012

The term mild in meteorological terms means “closer to the average” – in summer in Australia this means cooler; in England in winter, this means warmer.

From overnight temperatures down to -5C we woke today to 0C – it almost seemed warm, such was the difference.

No complaints with either of these – we do enjoy the cold but variation is always nice – as was the sunrise this morning – simply wonderful.
Sunrise - the best time of the day

Today we had a lot planned to do – almost all involving the final pack away of everything left in our storage room (I mean bath tub).

Firstly, a walk into Stone for some shopping; chandlery visit; hardware investigation; newspaper; and of course coffee.

We walked back along the towpath with an expectation that, after the thawing out from mid-week and the day of heavy soaking rain, there would be a river of mud (or should that be a canal of mud).

How pleasant to be able to walk from Stone back to Aston Bridge with little mud at all. It was very much apparent that there has been a great deal of work done in resurfacing the path with a fine gravel.

Well done to whoever is responsible – Stone Council or Canals & River Trust – a job which is much appreciated.

Back to the boat and we were into a plethora of jobs – Diane putting stuff away in cupboards and I finally got around to flying the flag literally – an Australian flag that we have had since our return last year is now proudly flying from the tiller.

All of the wood left over from the inside work has now been cleared – hard decisions made about not keeping things that we might need one day – simply no storage room and no sentimentality for these things.

Finding storage space on a boat is always interesting and we decided to look under one of the dinette seats – the one with the grey tank – we had never thought about how much space was in there – now we know – and we found a few surprises – spare cushion covers matching the curtains; sheets; crotched blankets – all in good condition (just needed washing); but the most interesting find was a Xmas tree made up of a metal stand and a length of coloured lights that when put up gives us a tree – what a find.
our new Xmas tree - a great find

Everything is virtually now away, no doubt there will be some changes to where things finally end up, but we have a bath back – well except for the wall lining and the silver backed insulation to be used.

We also found some white tiles – plastic faced polystyrene backed tiles which appear to be suitable for the kitchen splashback – another win.
more Xmas decorations - now on the back of the boat

At the end of all of this it is completely accurate to say we are both knackered and glad to sit down for a while.

No luck with the oven – it still will not stay alight – will worry about that tomorrow – we have a lead on what we will do with this.

The pantry sits a bit better with a bit more adjustment – the case of wine is still in place but again we have a plan of attack for this.

All is well with the world and we really do not have any insurmountable problems – just things to look forward to – so in typical Australian parlance – she’s beaut mate.

Holes being drilled but did not strike oil !

Thursday 13th December to Friday 14th December 2012

The pantry mechanism finally arrived – it had been originally planned to be delivered sometime Wednesday morning but didn’t make it here until after 5pm that same day – our thanks to Andy who kept a look out for it whilst I was off collecting Diane from the station after her trip to Watford.

There seemed to just be enough room inside the back area under the pram hood to store the box overnight, but in the morning after getting some work done it was about time to do something with it. I had put the drill battery pack on charge so that it would be ready.

We had an early visit from Clive Penny to take away a faulty alternator which seemed to be causing a warning sound to occur when the engine was being run – it related to incorrect battery charging from the alternator – an hour or so later on he was back and a new unit installed – check it all with the engine on – all OK – he was off and the wallet was a bit lighter, but considering all of the work that he had done – lights, power outlets and alternator – we were pleased with the result.

Firstly to check off all of the components – it was a flatpack, put together parcel – apart from checking on every screw, nut and bolt everything was there.

Good, now to start work on it – consult figure 1 and place component A into component B and bolt together with M8 40mm – you get the picture – just like putting the swing together on xmas morning.

It was all going well until I thought that I had not enough of one of the bolts – damn it – later on I found out that I had used the wrong one.

Holes drilled for the slide-out mechanism to be screwed on place; check that off the list; all looking good – mechanism in place with the frame – adjusted the height so that it was sliding in and out as it should.

Time to connect the two doors together – the smell of electrical burning is not one that you want to have – especially on a boat – fortunately (or unfortunately) it was just the drill – but it did mean that all further work on the pantry had to be suspended (due to bad light and a faulty drill).
Mechanism installed and sliding well - no door yet

Never-the-less I was justifiably pleased with the work to date and the management seemed suitably impressed.

After getting through some paying work we decided to have another session on the pantry. Fortunately we were able to borrow a drill from Andy – the size of it somehow suggested that I would have been at home drilling the Chunnel – attacking a pantry was going to be child’s play.

Measure twice and cut once (in this case drill once) – if only I had measured twice – doors were joined; backing plates in place according to the measurements in the instructions, but wait I had forgotten that this is a boat and not a house-bound kitchen – we were placing the door lower than normal and so my measurements were out by 75mm.

It wasn’t just the careful drilling to make sure that the hole didn’t go through to the front of the door that was the problem it was the 24 screws that had to be taken out and screwed back in again (by hand) that was almost the breaking point – and coupled with that the two plates joining the doors together had to be moved because of the different height.
he almost looks like he knows what he is doing

The back of the doors looks suitable for a game of travel Chinese checkers with so many holes not being used.
happy enough !!

A little bit more time in trying to adjust the door so that it fitted into the allocated opening – almost OK – so we called it a day.

Starting to pack all of the tools away I moved down to the back of the boat – Diane noticed it immediately and when I returned she explained.

Because the pantry has a sideways movement in relation to the boat, when I moved to the back and walked down one side, the pantry opened by itself – taking the case of wine out helped a great deal – it became the door stop.

Oh well, another problem to solve.

In amongst all of this, Diane was trying to cook lunch – well she would have been able to except the oven refuse to light – OK with the start up – hold the knob in and ignite, but the flame disappeared at the same time as the knob was released – to give her credit she persisted with it for almost an hour – no luck.

We did have lunch - she used the hob.

The rain had been with us all day and it was to the fortune of a boat that had been stuck on the visitor moorings for a couple of days – the ice prevented them from escaping (I mean moving). Rain meant that the ice would melt to some extent and break more easily as well.

After some false starts throughout the morning they gave it a huge effort and managed to break through – able to leave the marina, through the entrance, and all the while in reverse. There was no effect on other boats, so no problems anywhere.

Friday, late afternoon, finished for the week, deserving of a drink – we were going to head into Stone to catch up with Dot and Gordon who said they were going to be in The Swan about 5pm – with the rain and such, we only made it as far as The Three Crowns where we enjoyed the beer and the open fires – our hearts were willing but the “spirits” were being beckoned.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Peace, quiet and a sinking!!


Sunday 9th December to Wednesday 12th December 2012

 

We had two glorious days on Sunday and Monday even though the air was still very cold, but the sun was out and when it caught you without the wind it did feel quite warm – but it was a case of just a little and nowhere enough.

A glorious Sunday - perfect for ballooning
 

We did spend Sunday in and out of the boat – getting rid of some more of the left over wood from the kitchen and Diane doing some more reorganisation of things and giving it all a good vacuum.

 

I did also bake some brownies from a family recipe – this was for the Monday coffee get together. They didn’t taste too bad at all.

 

Monday was a relatively peaceful day – and I say that in the nicest way – at 9:20 Diane and Elly were off to the bus-stop on their way into Birmingham for the German Xmas markets and to have a bit of a look around – so in the way that there was less general noise and chatter, it was more peaceful (probably no way I will extricate myself from what I have said versus want I really meant – a whack around the ears coming !!)
Elly and the German markets in Birmingham - their 21st year
this year


Birmingham town hall - and a clear blue sky

The junction in Birmingham - just up from Gas Street Basin


The NIA is just on the right hand side (out of shot) and the
New Main Line is ahead

 

As usual there was a convergence on the cedar huts around 3pm with a couple of newcomers – Dot and Gordon (boat name to come) – and an abundance of food to go with it all.

As has been the case we had a real good laugh at a variety of things – Mick was please to have his Eberspacher heater back – it really has been a bit of a saga, but fortunately he and Elly will be a bit warmer from now on.

 

Elly and Diane made an appearance about 4:30 after texting to us that they were on their way, so upon their entrance there was a great chatter that descending upon us all and with the darkness a few got out their torches for some light – Diane needing to wind hers up to give some charge for the light – it was purely coincidental she told me, that whenever she was winding the torch she couldn’t manage to talk as well – mmm should I buy her a few of these at xmas time – the ones that need constant winding – maybe a bit quieter (that whack is coming closer!!)
Elaine and Carol

Dot, Joan and Mick

Elly, Barry and Jim

Gill, Ray and Gordon

Maybe it will be a good diversion to remind her that Elly’s remark to her was (and I quote) “Diane, you are not normal” .

 

Tuesday was dull and overcast on the weather front and not any brighter elsewhere as Diane was off to Watford for her annual check-up – so another 2 days of just me and the dog. Andy and Jean were kind enough to offer her a lift into Stone – in their brand new car – just delivered that morning – the back seat and floor will need some cleaning now.

The ice/frost is building up on the towpath as is the ice on the canal
 

I settled in to get some work done and barely noticed the day go before it was getting dark – I had taken the dog out for a walk during the day – and it was on the evening walk that the monotony of the day was broken.

Coming back toward the outdoor eating area, I could hear some cracking of ice – I initially thought it was the swans breaking through the ice for whatever reason, but as I got nearer to the trip boat it was getting louder and then I noticed that one of the day boats was on its side and half submerged – it seemed to be going down – I could hear the music to “My Heart Will Go On” in the background.

Into the bistro to report it – everyone was then outside seeing the happening and phones out trying to contact people to let them know.

I left them with it but about 20 minutes later there were people on the jetty stabilising the boat and I noticed this morning that the boat had been refloated and was tied up completely intact.


it is just possible to make out the canopy of the day boat

and here the registration plate is just visible

the cold daylight and she is upright and drier inside than last night

a little bit of weed just visible and some of the ice from last night

There was some tell-tale weed in places and some ice – all inside the boat, but all seemed OK.

 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Diane "breaks" a leg

Tuesday 4th December 2012 to Saturday 8th December 2012

Quite a week it has been this week.

The kitchen was now ready for the worktops to be installed and the doors to the cupboards put on – exciting isn’t it when the end of a project is nearing.
The last stage - fitting the doors - Mike is still smiling about it all

Mike continued his high level of attention to detail and we have been most grateful for the care that has taken place.

We are now well pleased with the outcome – it has exceeded the expectations that we initially had – it is just not possible to fully visualise the total end result.
These 2 pictures show the before
 
... funtional but a bit dark and some wasted space
 

Now much brighter and better storage and work surfaces

The kitchen is now much brighter; more open; easier access to the lounge; more work surface; more storage; more space in the lounge – how did we do without it.
plenty of storage and a larger work surface

A bit smaller on this side but very usable for us

Of course we will need to live with it for a while whilst we decide on many many small details – exactly where is the best place for certain items that we use often and how to most efficiently use the new and vast storage space.
Before: looking from the lounge through to the
kitchen - where is the kitchen

Now: much bigger opening and easier to see right through



There is still some tiling to be done – floor and splashback – these will be done in the next few weeks (hopefully), but for now we are going to enjoy it.



Especially happy with the wine rack
using the space at the back of the pantry

The last few days have been additionally cold to that previously – with Wednesday night getting down to -3C and the ice in the marina more extensive than earlier; fortunately the heater is going well.

There was a bit of an unusual event occur on Thursday – a small 2-person helicopter approached the marina and landed just near to the main building.
Just popping in for breakfast

Who was this on board? The guy had just dropped in for breakfast – not a bad way to hop out for a quick bite to eat.

The sunrise this morning was absolutely fantastic – bright red (not a great sign for th day ahead) and it remained this colour for quite some time. It was a cold morning but with no breeze it was only cold and not chilling to the bone – a fresh crunch under foot as I took Banjo for a walk.


Sunrise - the best part of the day for views like this
 
A little later but still quite something to look at
 

Still not enough ice on the canal as a boat was moving along – I guess they had to before it froze over completely – the boat eventually coming into the marina and taking the last mooring on our pontoon.

We froze later in the day as the breeze did finally come up; but we are cosy and warm tonight.

Diane decided to do her best impersonation of a turkey being dressed for xmas lunch; but neither Mike nor I were there to see it all happen and we only knew about anything when we could hear some groaning from the back of the bedroom.

Upon investigation I found Diane there telling me that she had broken her leg. “Where?” I asked.

“Outside on the pontoon when I slipped on the ice” came the reply.

“But you have got back on the boat and down the back stairs” I said

“But it’s broken”

Upon further investigation she had badly scraped her leg and there was a small amount of blood and I am sure that it would have been quite painful – so only one solution – to her bed and off with the trousers.

About an hour later and I was able to dress the “wound” and “repair” the “break”.

By this time Clive Penny had arrived to do the lights and he was not giving any sympathy – in fact the reverse – it took the form of a “tongue-in-cheek” sympathy.

Later in the day she was up and about and getting on with everything as usual.

Nurses as well as doctors do not make good patients.

It didn’t very long for Diane (broken leg and all) to sort out where everything that was in the old kitchen, should go in this lovely new one.

It took a little bit longer for me to work out where things had actually gone.

There are still some bits and pieces to be sorted through – the mechanism for the pull-out pantry is due here next Wednesday, and until that is operational we can’t fully complete it all – but suffice to say we are very happy with the result.

I thought long and hard about it (well about 2 minutes to be precise) – Saturday afternoon seemed like a good time for the “boys” to get out and have a couple at the local. To start off there were three of us – Barry (nb Winton’s Folly) and Mick (nb Parisien Star) and myself but there is an expectation of more to join us.

And a very pleasant couple of hours we had indeed – I haven’t heard of any complaints from the management on the other two boats – I did say to Carol (Barry better half) that the women were welcome and would be tolerated (I’ll get into trouble for that one).