Thursday, 19 April 2018

Two days and then winter again.....?

I have to tell you here and now I hate the weather men.  I shall be writing a stern letter of complaint too.   I have been PROMISED a fantastic week of hot sunshine, we've had two days and the little blighters have massively back tracked and now we have thunder and god knows what else to look forward to.

So in light of this shocking news, we went cruising..... half an hour northwards to the turny place and half an hour back again to our same spot.  We've only seen a handful of boats passing for the two days we've been here.  A lovely place to hide.

A snatched photo of my phone of what I think is Blackthorn coming into bloom along this section.  Hopefully Kath from NB Herbie, who is my official wild plant consultant is still reading this and can help out again this year......?  
Are you there Kath? 

Flowers before leaves appear, sorry but a bit out of focus.

We polished the other side of WaL and without much ado got out the good books, sun chairs and sun hats.  I was determined not to miss our "Two fine days and a thunderstorm".

This morning as I was idling I saw this what I think is an Anaconda, it came from the reeds, tried to get past WaL and I scampered after it with camera.

There it goes, oh god the gunnels want painting.

It returned to the reeds and disappeared, I love wildlife but not sure I include snakes, rats and bats in this.

Hawthorne I think, flowers after its leaves appear.

Supper was Moroccan lamb burgers with salad and a glass of a very cheeky French Savingnon Blanc in the sun.  

David says this could be the last lovely day until July.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Oh the sun.... Oh the passion (fruit).

Today started well.  David was absent, I wasn't frozen and the sun was shining when I ventured to take a bung out...

The sky and cut were blue.

Well David returned and supplied tea, then tentatively asked what I wanted to do today.  He was surprised and pleased when I said lets polish the boat!

Don't you just love how all the lambs are looking at the camera?  David is a Lamb Whisperer!

So we started, he washes, I rinse, he puts on and I buff.  
Yesterday at the marina the gunnels were green with algae from being in the shade all winter I think, it certainly looked worse than it was, after washing the side David brushed it with canal water as a first attempt.  On a slightly hilarious note, a man walked by with three large dogs, one cocked his leg and peed right in the bucket!!!!  The man was embarrassed, apologetic and washed out the bucket himself.  If he hadn't of been so nice I doubt I would have laughed.

Pleased with ourselves on completing one side, it seemed a good time to visit our favourite restaurant in Leicestershire,   HERE  it was just 2.2 miles from the boat.  I've told you all about it before and I'm going to keep on telling you till all of you have been there.  
Fabulous choice, I wanted about eight things but settled on;

Gnocchi followed by this salad of smoked trout, new potatoes and pancetta, dessert was chocolate and almond cake with mascarpone and passion fruit.  Oh golly moses it was good and we sat out in the Italian sun too.

Books and coffee was served here later;

The first of many I hope

David is right now listening to the weather forecast for the next few days.  I've voted to stay put whilst the sun lasts... (No one tell our Boat Sharers we're on the boat and not moving).

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

So then, Reader, we are here!

So we are actually boating, well when I say that its only partially true....  

We set off after morning coffee and the usual faffing associated with the beginning of the season, that is endless up to the car trips loading it with all the things that you brought you didn't need like seven pillows, then muttering about all the useful things we left behind, like the key to the padlock and the sausages.

So after morning coffee and paying the leckkie bill David started the engine and varroom....  

He has to reverse down the lines of boats on both sides, somewhat annoyingly the owners were mostly aboard..... looking.... but trying not to look as if they are looking, as we slowly inch past.  
I always feel its a bit of an ordeal for the very first thing to do at the seasons start when you are trying to remember which way the tiller goes. 
I am on the pointy end with a fender going to each side "Just incase".  But today, even with a stiff breeze it was incident free.  He's very clever.

Last night when we arrived it wasn't so incident free.  The water pump is located under the front step and over the winter its snugged up with a cosy blanket on it.  I took the blanket off it and replaced the step.  Hours later as I sit down for a well earned cup of tea after making the boat only half way ship shape, I was dismayed to see water coming through the join in the wood from the said step, there was over a centimetre of water sloshing about.
A cry went up which may or may not have included an  expletive, all hands with sponges and buckets reported for duty and then considerable time was spent on knees with the torch looking for the source..... Its almost impossible to see in a wet box where water is coming from so in the end we went to bed.  I was nervous incase WaL sank, but it didn't stop me sleeping and this morning the box had dried out.   

Moral of the story, if there's a water leak ignore it and it'll go away.

The bailing continued for sometime till we got bored.

 So where was I?  Oh yes after coffee off we went.  We turned northwards for a change out of the Marina.  About twenty minutes later, David declared himself hungry and moored up.  But there is method in our madness as tomorrow summer arrives in Leicestershire and I want to sit in it as I've not done that since Antigua which I now six long cold months ago.
Summer has arrived today at home and my eldest has sent me a photo of herself on her sun bed of which I was a tad envious.

Mini island for swan nesting in the marina.

Hard to tell but we are turning left this time instead of right as per usual.

Towpath mud is drying up finally.

Leicester Arm of the Grand Union is one of the very best canals even in winter (But its summer tomorrow)
 Now I have brought with me the book Idle Women by Susan Woolfit to re-read, in it I seem to remember she talks of a house looking down on the canal on the Leicester Arm.  I wonder if it is this one.  When I've read it I'll tell you, unless Reader you already know?

Top left.

Its all go here.

No dinner yet but lunch was vile butternut squash soup which I won't be buying again from Waitrose, but David liked it so he might.


Friday, 13 October 2017

Beach week.

It was a sunny day when we jumped into the car and went to the airport.  The plane touched down and just look and see who found us.  

Yes Reader its the Boat Sharers, this pair follow us from place to place.  We thought we'd given them the slip but here they are.  The plane landed, dumped the bags at the house and scooted down the beach. 

White sand, turquoise seas, flat waves and a sweet bar that sells really really good Pina coladas.  
Thank you "Julielynne" for your warning about their addictive quality.  Yes I think you are quite right.

So a fun packed week has gone very quickly with our chums mostly concerned with mornings of dawn swims for some, not me, then sort of chores with doggie feeding and brushing, pool hoovering, deck sweeping then the afternoons filled with beaches, swimming and rum punches.

David Lewis thought it was chilly in the water.

A different day, we were right in the south of the island near Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay, took a hurricane pounding but the bar owner said it was one of the top five beaches in the world.  I would not dispute that claim.

Another day this time down at Nelsons Dockyard.  The only Georgian boat yard in the word.  Restored a few decades ago now sailing boat central  

So very very hot here this day, but a breeze flows through these stone buildings cooling somewhat.

This is hard to photograph but its the two sides of the entrance to English Harbour where Nelsons Dockyard is located.  They built two forts one one each side for protection.  It must have worked as there weren't any attacks.

Part of the fortifications have been lost to the sea here. 

View the soldiers would have had.

Guardhouse built on the premonitory in the C18th, its been restored but....  

The shutters have long gone.

Did I say it was hot here?  Boat Sharers picking out their next holiday accommodation.

Another day and I spotted this through the undergrowth from the road near the house.  I don't believe its a recent casualty,  had the mast stripped, but its been abandoned here on a lovely beach.

Three fabulous Pina Coladas and one beer Julielynne!!

Turquoise seas turn silver.

Well, that's all for just now.  We'll check in again soon.  Only another ten days left for us now......

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Sun, sea and forts.

So we had another dose of history, just a small one, drinks were associated with this visit.  To the Fort of St James which is situated at the harbour entrance to St Johns, the capital.

We had another motive, its lovely and breezy here on the headland and a tad cooler too.

The island has many forts but most are in ruins.  This fort is according to the guide, the best preserved.


It's overgrown and ruined but you can see the remains of the barracks which housed 75 men.  The cannons were never used in anger.

This house which is part of the Fort complex was restored in the 1980's, today its a fish restaurant and bar own by a beautiful young Canadian lady who's father had it before her.  We plan to return later in the holiday.

The view of the harbour into St James, hidden from the passing ships.

Not completely sure what initials these are but King George 3rd on the throne in 1805.


Facing out to sea

Maybe it was the Commanders House/

Very generous cannon emplacements.

I think this was the barracks......

A few other visitors, by that I mean one lady.  I can understand that Antiguans wouldn't be remotely interested in that part of their history for obvious reasons.  There is a restored sugar plantation at Betty's Hope here somewhere.  Even I don't know if I want to visit it, we'll see.

After this sweltering visit, we went swimming at the fab beach here the other side of the fort and after that we went to our host's favourite restaurant where we met the owner...

My first ever Pina Colada the other is an Old Fashioned Rum Punch.

Owner who's name I forgot to ask, but had spent three years living in our hometown!!

Partial view of the beach we swam on from the Fort

Very happy bunnies.

Oh my just look at those colours.  no jiggery pokery used on this photo either.

Rest assured Reader, that we do know how lucky we are to be here and yes we are making the most of every minute.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A quiet visit to town.

Who knows anything about Antigua?  Well not me for one.  So we went a snooping, in the car.  Did I say this job comes with a car?

So we headed to St Johns which is the capital.  Capital town I would say.  80,000 people live here on the Island, of which 32,000 live in St Johns.  About 300,000 live in our home town in the UK, by way of a comparison.  

So one thing I like about the grid system employed on St Johns roads is that the tiny centre has a one way system, it simple and fool proof.  We all go one way and on the next street we all go the other way.  This applies to the cross ways roads too.  David hates it as you are always stopping.  
I like it.  

Another thing I have learnt is that Antigua is poor. 
Very poor.  
Our hosts call it a Third World Country, they should know as they have lived here thirty odd years.  So its curious that the Caribbean in general is an expensive destination.  In the high season super yachts (Yogurt Pots)  and large sailing craft flock here, presumably owned by wealthy Americans.  None here currently as its the Off Season.   That is when a lots of restaurants and Resorts close for maintenance and repairs.  Lots of tidying up going on in the places that the storm winds hit badly.   But there are plenty open for us.  The peak season is December, January and February, when its a tad cooler and not humid.  Its been a bit humid today and 29 degrees, at night it drops to 28 degrees.

So then back to St Johns;

That's rainwater running there underneath the pavement. 

This is the old part of town, stone walls.

This could be a trip boat, harbour very quiet today.  No cruise ships in.

Cruise ships pull in here.

Another preserved building.  In better condition than most of the houses the people live in

Sorry about the cables and wires, the whole island is lined with them.

Today this former Court House is the Museum, Of course we went in.  Only took about 30 mins, Half of the history is  too ghastly to read all about Slavery.

How it looked in the day
 Now I like a good church, lots to learn in churches.  This is the Cathedral of St John.  No its not been battered by a hurricane, but it is under going its first ever restoration since being build in 1848 I think the man who came up to us and saw us peering at it.  He explained all about the diocese and the works.  He happened to be on the Restoration Committee and had the keys to the padlocked door and showed us the work so far.  I think he said six years worth...

Did look a bit like a bomb had gone off but no.  The exterior stone will be restored after the wooden framed interior is completed.

Hold two thousand, the flexible wooden frame allows for movement when earthquakes hit (Seems to work), yes they get earthquakes here too!!!! 

An interesting visit, if you are a history nerd.  If you are not, sorry, but there's lots of shopping to be had down in the Quay areas for the cruisers when they flock in droves.
But I haven't come here to shop.