Thursday, 31 October 2013

Reports of a dead swan in the marina ...

Are grossly exaggerated - LJ just left his Swanny out overnight!

But it fooled a visitor to the marina! LOL!

The real thing ....... No comment!

Monday, 28 October 2013

The calm before the storm

We had Family here at the weekend. Alistair's daughter Zoe, her husband, Paul and the magic Lexie - all of 18 months. Here she is with Gramps, enjoying a viewing of Peppa Pig. Apparently all he rage with they toddler set and we heard a lot of Peppa over the weekend - almost as much as Dadda, but not quite!

Went to the Red House for early meal on Saturday evening. They were as impressed as we always are. Good.

With the media forecasting 'the worst storm in the history of the UK' it HAD to be our first day in charge at the marina! Derek and Emma away at pre-holiday family 'do'. Of course, they had done masses of work before they departed and we were fortunate that there has been no damage. Alistair was out during the night just to make sure all was well.

In the afternoon, we helped the last two boats expected in before the winter into their moorings. Both with regular berths here though one is a new arrival on their first non-hire boat and were grateful that Alistair got onboard to steer them in.

We are quite sheltered here and it will be interesting to check out the damage when I walk LJ. A tree came down on the towpath last week. It was cleared away yesterday but from what Alistair says I think it was larger than the trees that came down overnight.

The damage this morning and not as bad as last week so we have been lucky.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Ham Manor way .....

So, Emma says to me, I'm going,to move a boat with Oneil to make room for a boat coming in over the weekend. I know you'll all be thinking get on boat switch on engine, move boat, turn engine off. You'd think ....... But not here. A much gentler pace ...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Forth Road Bridge ....

 QISMA in her winter mooring and we have offered to take over clearing up the leaves in our area. It's bit of a Forth Road Bridge situation but, in the afternoon sunshine, it wasn't a hardship. We do know that we only need one strong gust of wind to be back where we started from.

Still, it's nice to be able to help Emma and Derek. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Under Instruction

The weather being filthy this morning Emma and I started my training on the admin tasks we're to take on when we look after the marina from end October to mid November.  Nothing too daunting. Alistair will get instruction on the technical challenge from Derek next week. Enjoy India guys and don't worry about us!! And we promise to rise MUCH earlier!

Following on from that, with an unexpected burst of energy it was a hands and knees job on the floor - swept, washed and oiled.  Inspiration to tackle more from the 'to do' list came from @nbepiphanytoo  though my result satisfying in entirely different way.

This afternoon was really lovely.  LJ and I went out and missed the main event. The catching of extreme fish. Sad I wasn't around to record the event. Seems the maggots - which are NOT allowed on QISMA did the trick. The replacement rod (I stood on the last one) was bought in Godmanchester in July and thus is the first catch since! 

Had some great Tweeterati  chats these past few days. Thanks to all.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

And we declare Lock 86 the last lock of 2013!

We decided to make the most of fine weather today to go fill up QISMA. This involves moving up through Lock 86 to the third of Newbury's marinas and then coming back.It's about half a mile in real terms but at least an hour round trip. Our timing was perfik as OLIVIA was just ready to go in so we had good company. Coming down it was waiting for us and it's really all one way traffic on the K&A now. 

So, our last lock of 2013. We had hoped to go out again this week but the forecast is pants so we're going to mooch and be lazy after all the running around the country last week/weekend. Tomorrow we're going to start learning our care taking duties. Emma and Derek head to India towards the end of the month and we will be - I dread to say in charge but responsible for the marina anyway - gulp!

Monday, 14 October 2013

A bit of history at Woodhall Spa

We learnt on Saturday that  the only question relating to the wedding reception wasn't
'Where shall we have the reception?' But 'when can the Petworth fit us in?' As Jay's parents, her sister and several others from their extended family have all celebrated their weddings there. A family tradition.

The Petworth is a hotel with an interesting history, Built for the daughter of the Maple furniture company it served as a military convalescent home during the First World War But,  the Petwood’s most notable appearance in wartime history is as the Officers Mess for the 617 Squadron. Requisitioned by the RAF in 1942, originally Officers of 97 and 619 Squadrons were based at the Petwood. When it was decided that the 617 ‘Dambusters Squadron’ should be made into a special duties squadron which would work in isolation and secrecy, Woodhall airfield was selected as the operational base. So 619 Squadron was moved out of the Petwood and 617 Squadron was moved in. The Squadron Bar reflects the period and has a wealth of memorabilia. It is still a popular venue for RAF reunions.

The grounds are extensive. Sadly, the weather didn't allow for much wandering but we were really fortunate to come across a memorial fountain, dedicated to Diana, Princess of Wales, with the following inscription:

Time is too slow for those who wait
Too swift for those who fear
Too long for those that grieve
Too short for those who rejoice
But for those who love
Time is eternal

Friday, 11 October 2013

Landlubbers reporting in

So, we're off on the much trailed trip to Jay and Michael's wedding. It's had so many mentions I could get a job with the BBC - ooo did I mention working? I DON'T think so!

We started at Midhurst on Wednesday. Two days with Marion, Max and Oscar. LJ remaining in residence until Sunday.

It didn't take him long to get comfortable. Marion aka known as Lil, is knitting him a cushion for Christmas.

 Max and LJ get on unbelievably well. We never thought we'd have seen this - they weren't keen to make room for the grown ups.

 Max does have his own bolt hole

I managed to go to Tyruched at the weekend to collect the car and be ready to depart for Lil's when I discovered that the wedding hat, which I was totally convinced was in Midhurst was actually in Wales. I had been so convinced I hadn't even looked for the box at the weekend. Thanks to the J's the hat arrived at the hotel before me so I owe them a few gin's. I have now owned up to the Captain!

 And here we are, the view from our room. More photos of this lovely hotel will follow.

We had a quick drink and strolled into Woodhall Spa. We were here two years ago on
 QISMA and loved it. We had forgotten about the amazing Baker/Deli. Treats taken back to our room! 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

You wouldn't want this round your prop!

When you're in the marina

 it's always on your mind that there is very little to blog about and I don't want,to be boring - or even more boring - but it's hard to give up the routine of the blog.

Fortunately today, the Thames Valley Police, were able to provide some entertainment

He had only been out of the water for about 2 minutes when a boat came round the corner - that would have been a bit hairy - to say the least.  I had lovely 20 minute chat with very nice police person (male) whilst watching the training session.

A quick shower after LJ and I got back and this was the view when the sun came back out

Lovely reflection of the sky.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

WHAT a weekend - just magic

Off to Hay on Friday to collect the car. The train times from Reading for the change at Newport are very tight. This time it was much better, we were so late I didn't have to watch the Abergavenny train depart and my waiting time at Newport was cut from 45 to 35 minutes!

Much excitement at the thought of seeing Yvonne, our ex-Army friend on Saturday. We'd arranged to meet her in Ludlow, nicely half way between Telford and Hay. Just can't believe it was 35 years. We met in an amazingly old fashioned tea shop that always makes me think of the Victoria Wood sketch. I expect to see Julie Walters stagger out of the kitchen with bowls of soup. 6 hours later  - not all,spent in cafe - we went our separate ways, determined to get together again but soon! Photo is of Yvonne and Jane

AND, as if that wasn't marvellous enough, on the way back today I called in to see more lost Army friends, Sheila and David Bancroft. Not quiet so long since we were last in touch but far too long all the same. Magic. And the years just slip away. Sheila and Dave tracked me down after my outing,on Graham Norton's tune with a tale last December. Am sooooo pleased they did.

This is the view I wake up to when I do the run to Tyruched to collect/deliver our car.  Affectionately known to John and Jane as The Terminator. With the sun out today it was even more special.


Thursday, 3 October 2013

A sting in this tale .......

Up early, for us, and on the move by 0900. There were a few boats on the move. Wonder if they were Ll trying to beat the bad weather? We had a two hour cruise to Newbury Boat Company where QISMA will be whilst we go off to our friends wedding. We're off to Lincolnshire, via, for me, Hay, to collect the car, Ludlow and Newport, South Wales, - more of that as it happens and Midhurst,mw here LJ is lodging with my friend Marion while we head off to the festivities. I hear that Max (dog) has been really naught all week. I'm hopinG LJ  provides a good example. I wonder if Oscar (cat) knows that the big black hairy one is arriving? Well slightly less hairy as he has hair cut booked for Monday.

On the way down we passed what I think are a few boats settling down for the winter underneath the A34 road bridge. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that, to me, these piles of junk along the length of the bridge, including an old bathtub, just aren't acceptable.

We hope to get out again after the wedding and before we take up our care-taking duties whilst Emma and Derek are on their hols.  If not, then this will be the last shot of QISMA for 2013. How sad is that? Bald risk would have an answer and Jimmy Buffet a remedy for sadness. Wonder how he is on wasp stings? Little blighter got me in the thigh on the way into Newbury this afternoon. I hadn't even had the chance to annoy him!

 And the view we have this winter.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Fancy bumping into you

We're still moored at what is the only cleared out in the country spot as you get beyond Newbury and on to Great Bedwyn.  Yes, there are 'proper' moorings at Kintbury and Hungerford but if you want to balance those with  some really quiet time it is difficult - even more so than last year. So no surprise to find late yesterday afternoon we had company. Space for two here. A bit surprised that they hit us but it happens but the real surprise was we knew them! In fact they hid Alistair's Christmas present for me last year. They have a lovely riverside mooring at Newbury Boat Company and spend time between the boat, Portsmouth and Australia! It was definitely NOT a surprise to learn they'd come down to go to the Red House!  They were going to move and leave it to us but I said not to, we did that last week, not knowing just how different things were from last year on this stretch and had to fight the vegetation to get in.

So we are two and behind us and in front further than you can see it's

CRT Waterway Manager for the K&A says he's never had a complaint about overgrown vegetation. Funny that, as I emailed last year about 12ft high overgrowth on official mooring at summit and in March about dangerous overhanging branches on fast stretch to County Lock. Of course, I didn't actually use the word complaint...........