Sunday, 27 December 2015

Just slow moving and a bit winter cruising...

Tuesday 15th December to Thursday 24th December

We had spent enough time moored here in Croxley and thought it appropriate to move northwards for a bit – but not too far – just up to Cassiobury Park – Phil joined us for the first part of it before needing to return home – something about going to work.

Anyway we moored up just for Lock 76 where we had adequate TV reception and it was quiet and well away from other boats – we fancied a bit of peace and quiet.

The weather has continued to be very unseasonable – almost like an English summer – there being rain and the occasional glimpse of sun.

Our intention was to continue north heading towards Hemel with the objective to spend a few days there before winding and coming back south again.

Stoppages are starting to limit where we can head to – if we were really going to head a lot further north it would not help our plans for later in the month and for January.

So the slow and stopping a few days here and there approach is how we have been progressing.

Stopping at Kings Langley was a first for us, as usually it has been getting from Hemel through to Watford that was the priority, but for once we did stop and explored up the hill where there is a lovely range of shop – we found the country market and parted with some hard-earned; then a little further on was a nice little charity shop where we found some real bargains – a couple of Spode Blue Italianate pieces for a fiver (total) and a lovely set of old scales for a tenner.

Moorings at Hemel were fairly full in the popular places but we managed to find a spot between locks 65 and 66 – a short pound subject to random leakage overnight as we found out a couple of times but with no worries.
A lengthy journey up the hill to the cinemas was rewarded with Maccas (just for the ice-cream) and seeing the new Star Wars movie – enjoyed both very much.

The beauty of going uphill first is that the trip back is downhill – much easier on the body.

We both like Hemel and uncharacteristically, we found that over the days that we were around the area, there were not the huge crowds that would be expected at this time of the year – that is except for the supermarkets, where you would think that the apocalypse was approaching.
People were loading trolleys with anything that didn’t move – Diane was smart enough to make sure that she held tightly to my hand as we picked out the few items that we actually needed.

The highlight of our stay was the trip to the pub to watch Watford beat Liverpool 3-0 – a very nice pub, and whilst they didn’t serve food, they had no objections to you bringing in anything from the adjoinging takeaways.
One downside was some crazy character who wanted to chat whilst we were watching the match. Eventually we had to ask him to move somewhere else – he thought that I was telling him to f--- -ff, but I was quite polite and only thinking it, not saying it!

Eventually we winded and headed back south again and made it as far as Abbots Langley to more up for a few days – weather considerations played an important part in how much we would cruise; TV considerations made up the other part of the process – what with Doctor Who and Strictly airing on Xmas Day, the reception was important.

Lastly, and I know that this is after the fact, my very favourite Mother-In-Law (Millie aka Dot) celebrated her birthday on the 23rd – not getting it out of me how many years around the sun she has been – else she would be over here on her broomstick and after turning me into a newt or other such creature, she would be using my organs straight into her cauldron.
I do love her dearly and we were able to wish her a happy birthday over the phone (on viber) – she loves all of that stuff.

....and finally from our crazy kids who got together in LA - some of this years Santa photos - the ring-in is Joey Turner - practically a family member anyway

That little white sign in the background between Sam and M itch is
the HOLLYWOOD sign

12 Miles, 23 Locks
YTD: 887 Miles (1427 km) , 561 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 16 Swing Bridges

Total: 3781 Miles (6085 km) , 2682 Locks, 112 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 167 Swing Bridges

Friday, 25 December 2015

As you get older….

Friday 11th December to Monday 14th December 2015

This weekend had long been set aside for a great chance to catch up with everyone in Stone; a chance to have a Xmas drink ( or maybe 15 Xmas drinks) as well as lunch with so many people that we have spent the last few winter’s with and whose company we have enjoyed and always will continue to enjoy.

There must be special thanks to the organisational skills which Sue is so well endowed well qualified – once a thought is suggested it literally comes together in a matter of hours.

Diane arranged the accommodation and I arranged the car hire; Phil looked after the boat for us – much appreciated.

We headed off at 7am on Friday morning (having picked the car the previous day) and headed northwards – all of the traffic heading the other way – in towards London.

We would usually take the M6 Toll road but instead veered past that and as expected there was little to no traffic – the roadworks that have plagued the M1 and M6 for so long appear to almost be at an end.

Stafford came into view and we popped into a cafĂ© for a coffee before we met Andy and Sue and also their daughter Nikita (whom we hadn’t met before) for lunch at a favourite Chinese restaurant.

Afterwards we checked into the hotel and by then it was time for early doors at The Royal Exchange in Stone – it was lovely to see Michelle and Laurence behind the bar again – and nice to be remembered.
Just like old times again 

Jim and the very angelic Joan

Richard and Sharon

Andy telling Dot dirty jokes - again

wouldn't trust this bunch together

Obviously something very important being discussed here - for the life of
me I have no idea what it was

Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths - would it?
What is most surprising is that none have a drink in front of them!!

We didn’t stay too late, but later than we would have in the past, but it was such a great afternoon/night.
Diane made sure that she grabbed a chips and gravy on the way back – part of the reminiscing of past exploits.

Saturday was the big day; Sue had organised lunch for everybody and we only had to turn up – payment had been made; meals already ordered; so simply find a seat and a drink.
Table 1 - all the girls apart from two invaders - Malcolm and Gordon - must
have been told where they had to sit

All guys but Sharon snuck in there at the back - obviously the naughty boys table

....and then there were these two whacky ones - Diane and Bev

It was not a matter of being about the food, but that was very good of course, it was always primarily about the company and despite not seeing most of them for most of the year, it was, as it always should be, just like we saw them only the day before.

It did resemble a bit like an Australian BBQ – almost all of the women were on one table and the blokes on the other.

We had a couple of new ones to the whole group and so please to meet Malcolm and Marguerite from nb Old Codger – didn’t get a chance to chat a lot but glad to meet you both.

All too soon it was over and we were saying our goodbyes – it really is a great group of friends to have and to be a such a part of.

Naturally, we knew it would not / could not just with the lunch and six of us headed back to The Royal Exchange for a drink or two.

We reminded ourselves that we were without an integral couple to our group as Paul and Elaine are away in Spain at the moment – and in likelihood will be enjoying the sun for quite a bit longer – they are never ever far from our hearts.
We wanted Paul and Elaine to be part of it all - so a picture
on the iPad was the best that we could set up quickly

Hardy souls - continuing the tradition at the Titanic

It wasn’t too long a stay on out part at the pub – it gets harder to keep up as you get older (maybe I should work on phrasing that differently), so we headed back.

It is a group that is hard to keep away from each other and when someone mentioned breakfast for the Sunday morning, we managed to attract 10 starters for that.

Breakfast the next morning - we must be getting old - not a hangover amongst the
lot of us

Andy took advantage of Diane's kind sharing nature -
luckily for him she didn't have a fork in her hand - else
it would have been in back of his hand

One thing is for certain there is a deep affection for each other that distance does not decrease and we always look forward to next we get together, but for now it was time for us, at least, to head back south and back to our boat whilst others were snug inside theirs.

The trip back was the usual M6 traffic - not moving -
and we had the rain as well

Something else I have to say, is that we noticed the difference in temperature between London and Stone – from overnight temperatures of 10-11C down to 2-3C and similarly during the day.

On Monday the car was returned, the boat was all OK – well done Phil – everything was fine – but we did spend a bit longer in bed not wanting to wake up.

As I mentioned above, it does get a bit harder to keep up as you get older (nah, I couldn't see the value in changing it).

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Where have you been?

Monday 30th November to Thursday 10th December 2015

I have received a complaint about the blog in this last couple of days – apparently I haven’t been writing them frequently enough and my beloved father-in-law has duly noted it and passed the comment along – via the enforcer – his daughter – oops that should read as my wife.

So I have decided to sit down and start the process of bringing it all up to date – but to tell you the truth we have merely marked time in the progress along the canal heading northwards.
We were out with Xmas hats on - not caring what those elves
got up to with the baby reindeer. The weather has been so warm
that the ice rink (background) was starting to melt.

As Mitch would say - "Those crazy kids are at it again"

Monday comes and there is that Slug and Lettuce
half price deal - the one that Diane can never

We did stay in Uxbridge for a few more days before moving on the Friday morning and got as far as Lynster’s Lake – a quiet mooring and very enjoyable, the only problem being that the television reception was less than adequate and as everyone knows that simply wouldn’t do for her indoors and her “Strictly”, so there was no option but for a bit of boat movement to happen.
December arrives and the decorations are up
Luckily I knew of a spot just a few miles up which would have good reception and be quite open – so off we trundled cruised and voila it came to pass that there was excellent TV and SHE was pleased.
A measure in the sand or rather a soggy towpath -
one by which Diane measures where we are

This little fellow found a ledge inside the lock

We stayed for the night and the following day we had made plans to cruise on a bit further – this time it would be with Nikki, Phil, Mia and Jess – they wandered down from where they live, close to the canal and were right on time.

It was a lovely day to cruise, which really made it so much better.
The Sheehan gang - enjoying a sunny cruise - you can tell
by how they are rugged up
We have been extremely lucky during this time; the weather has been unseasonably mild with temperatures up to the mid-teens and overnight it has been barely below double figures – so much so that the Reflecs has hardly been required for more than a few hours each day; the boat is so well insulated that it remains at 12-13C overnight and we get away with a summer doona and still a bit warm for us.

I guess it will just be a matter of time before we all start to feel the very cold weather and some of that white stuff will appear.

One of the main problems with such warm weather is that with the rain that we have had the towpaths are a bit muddy and sodden so that it becomes a bit difficult walking through it all.

Anyway we had a lovely cruise and were able to find a good mooring at Croxley Green, where we have moored up.

8 Miles, 10 Lock
YTD: 875 Miles (1408 km) , 538 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 16 Swing Bridges

Total: 3769 Miles (6066 km) , 2659 Locks, 112 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 167 Swing Bridges