Saturday 25 November 2023

Autumn Days, well just a few of them.

 Well Reader it's been a while and we have been having no end of non boating fun, until last week that is.

The boat was due to be serviced so we had decided to chance our hand with the weather and with good luck take the boat out at the same time.

Well Reader, not only did we have one of the best journey's up from home, leaving the rain on the south coast.    Not raining in Staffordshire, but not sunny.

The heating quickly went on.  

When we took delivery of our pride and joy in the summer of 2012 the heating control panel had been set by the installer so that the heating at the press of button goes on for one round of a single hour.  This remains the setting till this day as the owners cannot fathom the instruction booklet.  But on this day we put it on several times.  Added to which the reflex stove went on too.  I was cross with myself for not cleaning the glass window before lighting the thing so the pleasing flame was invisible, the controls adjusted while looking at the flame it was a bit of heating roulette, one tweak  to low and the thing goes out then you have to leave it until stone cold to light it again if not, the meths can give you a fright of a minor explosion (Yes I did that, just the once).

We went walking to my favourite bridge in the afternoon after unpacking, of course to Essex Bridge.  

This is the river Trent at Shrugborough Hall, it meanders around but joins together here at Essex Bridge, pretty high after all the monsoons we've had but not actually flooded today but it had been previously.

The loveliest of C15th bridges that I know. I stood in ankle deep mud to bring you this Reader.

Shrugborough Hall, I am very happy to report that it this part has been painted, about a year ago or possibly early this year we walked around here and the facade was in a very sorry state, mind you the steps look to have been missed.

Not much in the way of autumn colour this year, we wondered if the recent gales had burnt the leaves as generally they were brown as opposed to oranges or golds. 



and baby although I thought he looked like an Ewok for any Star Wars fans.

So warm and snug we were that night although the bed can be a tad chilly, I wear big pink and fluffy bed socks for sure, thank you Amanda and I go all high tech with a hot water bottle too.  Funny how husbands get all cuddly when the wife has the care and control of a hot water bottle....

The next day dawned sunny, beautifully sunny, not a cloud in the sky sunny.  The engineer came, played about at the back of the boat, I don't know if there were any problems, I didn't ask but after he'd departed we started the engine and crept out of the marina. 

 For these weekend jaunts, we do mostly go north from the marina at Great Haywood.  This is primarily because there are such great pubs, in fact last night we drove to Sandon and had a lovely supper.  We drove there because I refused to walk from the canal the short distance on the busy road without pavements, in the dark with the cars driving at a little over 80mph. 
There was no point in bringing food with us for these few days as we were going onward afterwards for more fun. 

So on the boat we went towards Weston, two locks and a good snoop at the workings for HS2.  

I couldn't be more thrilled about the northern section being cancelled, obviously I'm speaking from a personal point of view, I have always thought they should have started from the north and worked southwards thus helping the northern cities but we are where we are and now we won't be changing marinas as HS2 was going to clip the corner of the marina.  

We already have the train line running past the marina,  the noise does not worry us one bit only the dust coming all over the boats while they build.  
I have not met a builder yet who does not create dust...

It was cold, we only were going to do a couple of hours to get to Weston, (if you aren't aware that is where the next eatery is,  The Saracens Head) We didn't see much life going along, only a dog walker or two.  It was rather lovely to do just the two locks in the sunshine, I felt it was April instead of November and that we had the whole summer ahead of us.

It's not clear but I'm pretty sure David and WaL are down there in the trees.  A couple of years ago the tree on the right of the photo was full of golden leaves but not this years, just brown burnt leaves.

A sunny view over towards the HS2 workings, not a soul in sight.

You can tell how calm the day was and how little boat movement there was by the reflection.

Sunset before Weston   (hash tag No Filters)

We moored up as twilight was descending, we took the last space and due to the slight curve in the armco I did what I loathe about Boaters in the summer months, but we left a 
Git-Gap, 20 minutes later would you adam and eve it?  
A boat came past looking to moor up it was dark by now, he had his head lamp on as they crept  past and I felt terrible, but the next morning we saw them moored up just a couple of hundred yards along the way so no great damage.

We had an excellent supper at the pub but got back to WaL pretty early and lying in bed I listened to an owl or two.

The next day was a protracted discussion about the weather over the next few days and where we should turn.  We could easily go on up to Stone and turn (wind) there, that would take most of the day and part of the following day in bad weather.  For my part I told David that if it got cold I'd be inside so the decision was his, the alternative was to turn at Sandon.  We were governed by bad weather rain and high winds coming in, again, plus the fact that we were leaving WaL to go to Buxton on the Monday so didn't have time in hand to ride the weather out.
Easy decision in the end, we did turn at Sandon and went back to Great Haywood.  We actually did go back into the marina to fuel up not in the rain due the following day.
So a short trip but a gorgeous one.  

Winding at Sandon, how lovely is that?

I was on stand-by to pull the stern if required, 70 ft's are best helped to wind by a tug on a rope.  My god she's looking pink instead of red David!



The best bit of colour.

Sandon Lock heading back. (I've just realised that this was heading south again not north)

Somewhere or other.  

The last morning we packed up the small bags, emptied the water tank, remembered to turn off the gas and left for Buxton.

Friday 24 November 2023

Hurry up David, it's another holiday

 So we got back from Italy and I quickly began the washing turn around and back in the suitcases for the next one.  In between times was an interlude of family fun with the arrival of Verity and Mitch back from NZ on a holiday, they were a bit busy seeing friends, a few rellies and going to two weddings which were not even in the UK!  But that's the young for you, they think nothing of flying a thousand miles for a cup of tea.

The sun came out in September so we all enjoyed a day on the beach, a great opportunity to get a family portrait;

This was about as good as it got even using promises and threats, threats of tickling I mean.  Verity and Mitch are out of shot cajoling and encouraging smiles.

All of a sudden the Kiwi's were being dropped back at the dreaded Heathrow and we had a rendezvous at Gatwick as we had been invited to join middle daughter Kirsty and Bob for a week in Turkey to lendahand with the two grandchildren.
We couldn't wait.

The worst thing again was the 6am flight meaning being up, dressed and out of the hotel at 03:45, I call that cruelty to holidaymakers.

It was a scramble getting two little ones, David was in full body pain, (He has since been diagnosed with Polymyalgia 24 hours on the medication and he's a new man but that was since), six suitcases and five hand luggage bags, once we had all the luggage and all done a loo stop we were the last ones out of the airport and onto to the coach, but that was a benefit the other end as our bags were the first off.

So a week of sunshine, sunbeds, massages, David had four in a week to see if that helped him, tennis lessons, Pickle Ball (whoever heard of that?  Something about it being the fastest growing sport, a cross between tennis and table tennis!)  David played and really enjoyed it but was dead the next day and good food with Turkish wine!!!!  I mean who knew? 
But by golly it was good.

People say this Poppet looks like me, but I don't see it.

All in all a marvellous week of good fun, giggling and pure joy of the two Poppets. 
Then we went on an outing to Ephesus, Eh? I said when my son-in-law Mitchell suggested us going, as he and Verity had been some years ago, Oh it's just about the best preserved ancient city in Europe.... Yes we are going says I. 

Well the first thing to say is that the place is vast, it was a city after all.  I thought it would just be the three of us there, maybe a couple of other Brits but no.  Evidently it's well on the cruise ship route.  This day the Guide said there weren't that many ships in only about four, but some days there can be as many as ten!!!!

The site is still only partially excavated, but contrary to the National|Trust policy, here they have put fallen pillars and blocks back towards their former positions, you still need a bit of imagination. 

Nike: I'm sure you all knew Nike was a Goddess
This is what the city Library looked

and just looked what has been achieved after centuries, invasions and earthquakes.

The carvings were amazing

This is the three of us, to the right of us is the famous Gate of Augustus Ephesus.

This I believe was a pillared boulevard of shops

Amphitheatre, impossible to photograph and show the scale.

It is a real stunning place in the very real sense of the word, there's lots to say about this place and you can read about it 

This handmade silk rug caught my eye, but despite the hard sell, David refused to buy it for me, David insists the man said £26,000 but I thought I heard £16,000.  I only wish the colours had come out better, peacock blues and ruby, garnet cherry reds.

Well that's the end of our summer trips.  Normal service will be resumed later, or nearly normal.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

An art trip to Italy

This September there was a trip planned.  I was really keen but,  
so how do we all think David would cope with a load of arty types, on an escorted coach trip to Italy with a group of totally unknown people all yacking on about arty stuff?

Well Reader I wasn't convinced either, I was quite willing to go alone but as you may be aware Italy is probably his favourite European country and he wouldn't hear of being left behind.
I told him there'd be churches, I told him there'd be old paintings, I told him there'd walking....

The worst part was an 8am flight to Milan, from Heathrow of all places, which meant a 6am pickup eight miles away.  Our darling neighbour, thankfully another early riser took us there and as I looked about for the group leader all I could see were women, retired women, I began to get nervous for him.

I had said that if it became intolerable, he could loiter at the hotel, which I was expecting to be on Lakes Iseo, in the event the itinerary had been changed (Unknown to me, we had joined the trip last minute taking the two last places).  

Well although it really wasn't far away from the UK, it took nearly all the day to arrive at the hotel after a two hour transfer from Milan airport.  
But things were looking better...

Masked up on the plane, reason was that two weeks after this jaunt we were off again on hollibobs with some grandchildren and didn't want to catch Covid and jeopardise that trip. 

Yes rather a large smile on his face when he saw the view from our balcony, sigh.

Oh for an Aperol Spritz in the sun on the terrace in the Italian sun.

So that was the first evening, while some quickly stripped off and swam in the hot spa pool in the evening sun, David and I headed for the bar.  One by one these retired ladies joined us and yep you've guess it, they were all very jolly, very interesting and lots of fun over the week.  One especially, seemed to appreciate David's sense of humour and they rather teamed up for the week.  Jean, she was 87, they were always chuckling together.

The good thing was that there were about eight men on the trip some having arrived directly to the airport.

It was a fabulous week with a varied menu of art, Roman ruins, amazing buildings, a vineyard visit plus tastings oh and yes the hot pool spa where we had a massage each one day.  

Scroll on down if you can't bear holiday snaps...

A boat trip on Lake Iseo

Temp outside.

Some of that art he had to contend with...

One of those churches, incredibly beautiful but let's not bring up the subject again of the wealth of the Catholic Church and the poverty of the people...


The Boxer, look at that face.

Winged Victory

Two jaw droppingly impressive bronzes.  The Boxer and Winged Victory I think she was called.  The pain on his face was palpable.  I think it said between two and five thousand years old.  Winged Victory much much more recent, only two thousand years old.  I always wonder what the Brits were up to two thousand years ago. Both found here in Brescia in the 1800's.

Here  click to read a bit more.

The best mosaics I have ever seen all here in Brescia in the temple.

Milan now.  
I'd never been, a big fat WOW!  Very crowded, our guide said follow me then promptly disappeared into the crowds.  The buildings are very lovely and I have to say Reader the only one who went shopping was David and you should have seen the assistants fawning over him, yes they were men too. 

I'd be tempted to have a weekend pad in here, right opposite The Duomo.

Rather nice shopping arcade, some interesting fashion choices to be seen around here.

The Duomo, you had to pay and queue for three days to get in so we went to lunch instead.

Wedding dress?  Actually it was Milan Fashion Week, she was on a photo shoot.

The less said about this the better....

This was hilarious, the make-up lady ran here and there with her powder puff, the girls lost attention, the director shouted ACTION, a member of the public dodged into shot in the very real sense of Photo Bombing then the girls were all to cock and had to repeat it about three times.  I'd like to say nice dresses but...

So Italy you never fail to impress David, he loved the views, the company, the food and the weather, oh and Jean.
Next year there's another trip to Venice, I wonder what he'll say.