Saturday, 28 December 2013

How was it for you?

Ours was peaceful and quiet which is just the way we like it on QISMA. I hope you enjoyed yours. We finally stopped running hither and thither last Sunday. Good to get a week off  from travelling before we head to Dorset for New Year.

We did make some unusual friends over the holidays. The semi resident swans seem to have taken to us. I don't know why as we don't encourage them but now they even ignore LJ if we come across them on the tow path.

What did you think of the TV over Christmas? My memory might not be what it once was but I thought it the worst ever. With just a couple of exceptions. Thankfully we had Band of Brothers to fall back on ... So to speak.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Mixed bag

Back briefly from Torquay. In time for the Christmas drinks on Thursday, organised by Peter and Stephanie from Maggie May. They did a cracking job, even with the weather, the rain held off for just long enough.

Friday it was down to Midhurst. I was staying with LJ's Auntie Lil aka known as Marion. Alistair was off to West Sussex on Saturday on Gramps duty. Marion and I had our evening arranged, mac, cheese and bacon, pink cava and the final of Strictly. Two dogs, one cat, hardly seen when LJ is around. Couple of walks, dodging the rain. Booked for more of same next year.

Today, Marion's Mum arrived for Christmas. Two plus one out and one in at The Park! Lovely to see Daisy. She had some tablet training from our Captain. He should develop a sideline!

Now back on QISMA just one shopping trip and four dog walks from Christmas.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

By the seaside

The view from our current location. The last of the pre-Christmas family visits - well,the last if you don't count Alistair being on Gramps babysitting duties in West Sussex on Saturday.

After 14 hours of rain, it eased just before we left Newbury to drive down. A welcome relief. Traffic,was light and we made really,good time until we hit school traffic as we came into Torquay.  Here just as it got dark and this was the welcome.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Can we catch up with ourselves?

Life is certainly different at the moment. We were with Alistair's daughter Zoe, her husband Paul and their daughter Lexie for a long weekend.

We stay at a hotel - mainly because it stops us from being on top of each other and to keep LJ and their Bobby apart. They just do not take to each other. We've found a fantastic bargain not too far away where we can stay with LJ. The public areas are quite posh .. But we don't trouble them very much!

Great walking from the hotel, including my favourite extra large sheep. It's OK, I do know they are Llamas!

On Saturday we had the delight of Lexie, aged 18 months, for 24 hours. I hope she never changes character because she was a delight and slept through the night. I think they black out strength curtains helped. 

On Sunday I went up to London to catch Curtis Stigers with his band at Ronnie Scott's. Absolute magic. Only outing with the band this year in UK and they were HOT. 

It was good to get back on board and to start to think about dressing QISMA for Christmas. I think she's looking pretty neat.

Now we've got a few days to settle ourself down. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Always sad ....

Lovely walks in the woods just yards from Marion's house. So many you could never get bored by the same route.

These photographs are taken at the memorial tree planted in honour of Cpl David Connor Royal Marines who was killed in Afghanistan. His family and friends have planted a tree and the other  photo is the view.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Special delivery

We weren't planning on putting the decorations up until next week but ..........

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A brief visit .... to QISMA

Three nights in Dorset where LJ gets,some fantastic walks

We were out nice and early this morning so had the miles and miles of woods almost to ourselves. The early start was courtesy of the newspaper being delivered before 0700. Too much for LJ who was overcome with excitement!!! 

Now he's back on patrol on familiar territory 

Friday, 29 November 2013

The NBC way ...also used in Venice

Rush hour at Newbury Boat Company at 0805 on Thursday morning!  Luckily we were up and about. Unheard of!!! 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Did I do this?

I cam through Reading station on a Sunday a couple of weeks ago. There was a replacement bus service to Neabury. 5 minutes walk away down an area that is being regenerated and the route there not signed. I was told by a railway employee that at they has been asking for signs for 18 months. Some of you will recall the bus broke down on the M4 so in the hour we had to stand and wait for a replacement placement bus, I amused myself by emailing First Great Western Customer Services.  I haven't had a reply but when I went rough Reading  last Friday on the way to Heathrow - 4 days after my email I saw

Just a sample of the dozen,or so signs!! 

Monday, 25 November 2013

As weekends go - not bad, not bad at all ....

Back from my weekend in Germany. Foolishly, I had left it too late to check out the Christmas Market situation and so flew back the day they opened. Actually, it could be for the best. Financially speaking.

It was great to see Jo and Bob. Friends since 1997 when we met in the Falklands. I watched their romance blossom and one, never to be forgotten evening in London, Bob bought me dinner at the Criterion and I listened to him talk about Jo. I will never forget it because of the room, the food and the wine. Bob will never forget it because we'd schlepped for miles round Bloomsbury first and he was wearing new shoes!

So I have some fantastic German food to work off and a couple of bottles of very good dry German Riesling to enjoy.

It's 20 years since I last lived in Germany. I was in Berlin last year. Huge changes there but not so much in what we used to call 'The Zone'. Those who know will be saying how much that phrase dates me!

The highlight of the weekend was mine and Jo's outing to see Curtis Stigers on Saturday evening. Bob has only just moved out to Dusseldorf and I hadn't realised when the tickets were arranged that he would be there. And because it was the only show in the north of Germany it sold out in a nano second, He generously chauffeured us.

The show was in The Orangerie in the grounds of a Schloss.  Lovely setting. As many of you will

know, or have worked out by now, I am huge Stigers fan and have seen him in shedloads of venues but this just seemed a but special. Jo has seen him in New York - which is still pretty near the top of my To Do List.

He was on great form. His co-performer, James Schofield, is a very gifted acoustic guitarist. He seems very quiet but he has the most expressive face when he's playing. Mr S was his usually, funny, soulful self. He always does a 'meet and greet' at the end of his shows. I don't usually stay.  But I was lucky enough to meet him in a coffee shop last year and since the start of the year we've been in the Tweet conversations a fair number of times. So, we went to say hello. He is just so nice. AND HE KNEW WHO I WAS!!!  He was really welcoming. We got kissed on the cheek . He asked me about QISMA. You know when you can't quite believe something - that!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Frugal Pensioner

Because I didn't take the roaming package that Orange aka known as EE offered me for my trip I can't send photos from my phone to my iPad so a report from the German weekend is on hold until tomorrow. Not that I've got any amazing photos but ....

Friday, 22 November 2013

Deutschland here I come

Sitting in Terminal 1 at Heathrow. Transport so smooth that I'm here far too early but better than the alternative. Bought father in laws Christmas present in duty free. Resisted buying perfume. Had some fantastic soothing eye gel dabbed on in the beauty sanctuary. Treated myself to a lovely and amazingly reasonable breakfast in Estcafe. Now taking advantage of 45 min free wifi. Stress free travel so far! At t'other end I expect to meet German efficiency but it will have competition. In years gone by, I used to Euro commute. Flying into Dusseldorf every Friday afternoon and back to London on Monday morning. Another life and 22 years ago. I expect to see some changes!!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Not for consumption. ....

Lots of fungi around at the moment but I'm sure none of it is edible!  I wonder if we could train LJ to hunt for truffle? I can hear people falling on the floor laughing at the thought of  us actually training LJ!  The fact that he is a lovely boy is definitely nature over nurture!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Why didn't I know that?

Younger sister and I went to a Patty Griffin 'gig' at Sheffield City Hall last night. In the Ballroom with lovely Yorkshire Roses everywhere - just for you Andy! Excellent show and I learnt that younger sister had seen The Marvellous Mr Curtis Stigers there in the early 1990s. (His long haired pop days).  Not that there was anything wrong with his long haired pop days but he is sooooooo fab now.  I confess, as a huge fan, I was a bit surprised not to have known that.  We had a huge laugh later when Curtis replied to a Tweet  asking why I didn't know - claiming they'd had a bit of a fling and I probably didn't know about that either! I think he was joking. I might ask him about it if I get the chance at his show in Germany next Saturday!!!

The journey back was completely uneventful until ..... Until Alistair, who had offered to pick me up at Reading to give the Terminator a run and save me from waiting for the replacement bus, didn't arrive. He hasn't quite mastered the requirement to read the answer to a text when he asks you a question! So, replacement bus it was. We approached the turn off for Newbury when clouds of smoke  started pouring out of the engine and we stopped on the hard shoulder and de-bused!

The Highway Patrol led us to safety! 

Where we admired this view for the next hour until the replacement bus arrived

Nice, but I do prefer this one! Good to get a walk in with the little one later. Just glad to be back in time for that. 

Ey up our lass

Back from a lovely 3 nights in Yorkshire. Perfik weather. Time with Dad. Night out with younger sister. Bit of mooching. Looking at how Rotherham is faring. Good news and bad news there.  Took some photos for future NZ boaters who are heading this way next year.  They have a historical link to All Saints Church.

The town has lost most of it's shops to the centres at Meadowhall and Parkgate. The area round the church has recently had a lot of work done and hopefully the much needed regeneration will continue. 

Saturday indoor market is actually the only area that is still thriving 

Meadowhall as I left from the station there this morning