Sunday, 3 February 2013

The week that was

Sunday 27th January to Sunday 3rd February 2013

So much can happen in a week and we have not been disappointed with this past week.

After the downside of not being able to get any power turned on in the cedar huts for our Australia Day get together, the party went ahead anyway; people got into the spirit of Australia, perhaps non more so than Barry from nb Winton’s Folly producing a cork-dangling hat and very much into the vegemite sandwiches. The lamingtons and sausage-in-bread went down well and even the odd can of Fosters’ appeared and was consumed. Plenty of Australian red and white wines; background music of Australian bands and singers – really great day.

from left - Gordon, Barry (Aussie Barry), Mick (in a happy mood),
and Carol

Gordon just before he seemed to be likely to break out with a song

we have spoken to Dot about the things that she puts into her mouth

Everybody had there opinions about all things Aussie, but we could leave it with Mick to show his true patriotism by being upstanding in somewhat less than full support of some.
Tuesday and Wednesday were rather mild days after Monday but we have managed to start wallpapering the front lounge – some time ago Diane had the brilliant idea that we should buy some insulated wall-lining and apply it to the walls and then paint it to brighten up an otherwise darkish boat – a fair idea – and so this week we have started with it – by week’s end – well Thursday actually we had finished the front room and it does give a much whiter, brighter feel and helps to reflect the light. So far we are quite happy with the result.

In addition to this on Wednesday there was a general gathering at The Swan for a farewell drink for Mick who is on his way back to Australia for about 6 weeks.

Gordon is not asleep - just seemingly not listening to Dot;
Richard (r) interested in the camera

Mick, Carol and Barry enjoying the night

Elaine (nb Caxton aka nb Manly Ferry)

there is that woman again - been following me
for 30 years now

We moved on from there to The Swan; it finally ended about 11pm with Paul, Gordon and I arriving back to the marina – all others had left some time before then – fortunately no recriminations from our better halves – pass me another bandage for my head.

I have written previously about this - about a week before xmas our oven decided to stop working and we started down the track of getting it fixed but found a better option – buy the oven surplus to Tom and Jan’s needs on nb Waiouru – it being the same size as our existing one, but brand new. We had been in contact and during our messages and phone calls it transpired that they had purchased a self-pumpout kit that George and Carol on nb Rock’n’Roll no longer needed, but unfortunately the distance between them had precluded the said kit changing boats. As Rock’n’Roll were just a few miles away, and we were going down to the London area anyway we offered to pick up the kit and transport it down to Tom and Jan when we were coming to see them for the oven pickup.

So we made the journey to Barbridge to see George and Carol and had a good old chat with them – I had met with George when we were both at Tattenhall marina in late 2010.

George and Carol (nb Rock'n'Roll) and Diane - also Molly the dog

We had a good look over the boat but were most interested in their recently acquired composting toilet – something that we have become interested in – well not actually their particular one but the style in general.

Having discussed the manner in which it operates; how they are learning more about it all of the time and how they are finding the differences we came away with an increased determination to pursue this more vigorously.

We had a lovely time with them as well.

Friday was eye-testing day for Diane and we needed to get down to Watford – it was a total of just half an hour in all – the first time we have seen such efficiency. The downside of course was that Diane had blurred vision for about 4-5 hours – it was the only side-effect of the consultation; no change in anything else – seems that she still had enough sight to advise of where I went wrong with the driving; enough sight to panic at the sight of anything bigger than a Robin Reliant in front of us; and certainly enough to tell me where I should go.

We caught up with her aunt – Pam; as well as Lisa and Jonathon and then dinner with Mags and Paddy, David, Phil and Jessica.

Friday night we stayed at Kings Langley in a Premier Inn – we quite like these – and this one we were lucky enough to get for just ₤19 for the night; a pub right next door where we enjoyed a quiet drink before flopping into bed exhausted from a long tiring day which had started about 6am.

Saturday was allocated to getting down to Aldermarston Wharf to deliver the pumpout kit and pick up the oven. No major problems with the drive down except that along the way as Diane was texting to our son Mitchell back in Australia, the directional instructions became a bit less concise and much more general with the outcome that we did make a wrong turn – or as Diane would tell me, I didn’t listen to what she said (and of course to what she meant to say but didn’t say).

In the end there were no broken bones or blood loss and so we came out with a nil-all draw; made it to see Tom and Jan.

Time seemed to disappear very very quickly as we talked about so many things that boaters always have in common – the obligatory discussion about toilets, batteries, other boaters, non-movers and boat layouts.
with Jan and Tom aboard nb Waiouru

Have to say that we were very impressed with their boat; it’s inclusions and how very open it is; Diane made a couple of little suggestions to Tom about what could be done and I could almost hear him saying “yes dear” just to get her to change the subject.

Tom explained how most of the gizmos worked in the boat and how problems had been solved along the way – it certainly gave food for thought about what can be done to improve life aboard.

Thanks to you both for a wonderful time and look forward to catching up with you when you move northwards later.

We drove to our next rest stop at Stanwick – we booked this as a result of Lloyd’s bank giving us 2 nights away for opening accounts with them (1 night for 2 for each of us).

Not pretentious but very comfortable – again we were feeling a bit tired so a night in was called for – catching on this blog and with the paper.

Sunday greeted us with some cloudy skies and we decided to take a leisurely drive back, picking up Banjo along the way.

It didn’t take long to find detours along the way – Diane thought a short trip into Market Harboro would be nice – she hadn’t been there before. An antique and collectibles market got our attention; a short walk through the centre of town got us thinking – “Now where is the canal?” – a man with a dog answered Diane’s query with very specific directions, so we naturally had to see – we found the basin and quite a number of boats – but it was a short walk along the arm from the basin and we came across nb Tilley with Tracey and Pat aboard – we hadn’t seen them since Watford about 18 months ago and prior to that it was the Llangollen.

We had a nice little chat for about half an hour and discussed what we were doing this year; how they were going and about to do. Pat was doing quite well with his singing and doing a lot of shows in the area, even as far as Leicester so it was pleasing that all was well.

After that we were off again but were sidetracked when we saw the sign to Foxton Locks – couldn’t go past that by, so another detour, but mighty glad we certainly did.

The top of Foxton Locks

Looking out over the landscape from the observation deck

The inclined plane as it currently exists

Looking down the locks - 2 sets of staircase locks with sidepounds
for water conservation - a remarkable feat in themselves

A complete look at the two sets of staircase locks and the remains of the inclined plane.

The views from the top are also magnificent; certainly glad that the water levels on this line are now excellent – we stand a chance of getting to do this part of the system sometime soon.

Finally we were back in the car and back on track. Being where we were and where we needed to go to get back to Stone, we had decided to pop in and take a look at Mercia Marina as well as Midland Chandlers (who were there as well).

You just never know when the information will come in handy – certainly had a good look around the facilities and got first hand information about the marina and management.

If nothing else was constructive I did get Diane aboard a Dutch barge as well as a wide-beam – she seemed less than enthusiastic about the barge but did like the space on the wide-beam. We may need to win the lottery to change one boat for another.

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