Wednesday 31 December 2014


INew Year's Eve started in arctic temperatures, but pretty all the same. Lynne is dismantling the minimalist Xmas decorations around me ( not that I was decorated, but you know what I mean ). Normality returns for another year, whatever that is.
As if to emphasise this feeling Arsenal are up to fourth in the league, their traditional position.
After a trip to the village I chose to sugar soap the second half of the kitchen ready for painting ( I completed the first half before Christmas ). This time I was accompanied by the Cat Stevens greatest hits album which passed the afternoon wonderfully, although as usual I was unable to work through "Lady D'Arbanville" and " How can I tell Her" without having a tear in my eye, whatever mood I'm in at the time. These two songs ( and " Hard Headed woman" ) were written at the time he and Patti D'Arbanville were having an "affair", prior to her moving-on to Mick Jagger. Chalk and cheese ?  Before anyone jumps to the conclusion I'm depressed the answer is B######s. I cannot remember happier times,as it happens, to coin a Jimmy Saville phrase.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

And then there were two, plus cat

A sunny, mild day for returning Margaret, Bob and dogs home to Ashridge, which was achieved without problem. Lunch was achieved at the Brownlow cafe after a considerable queue, after which Lynne and I returned home, again without problem. Needless to say, we were knackered, somewhat comforted by a large number of whiskey and diet cokes. 
Another early night was on the cards, no argument.

Monday 29 December 2014

Red Lion lunch

A non-exciting day, other than lunch at the Red Lion in Rothlea once again. The day is sunny and cold, but most of the snow has gone. Margaret, Bob and dogs are returning to their home tomorrow.
Healthwise I'm feeling pretty good, but sleep for Britain when allowed. Roll on cruising ! 
The lunch was wonderful and extremely filling . Everyone slept for the afternoon.

Chester return by road

Our eldest northern grandchild's birthday so we set off in icy conditions for her "party" on our own, as the majority of family opted out due to the weather and other "issues". Despite our reservations we were unusually welcomed, fed and watered. A good time was had by all. We had the option of an overnight hotel stay or returning home. As the weather had not worsened we returned home through freezing fog in Stoke. Strangely more snow remained in The Stoke area than anywhere else but other than that the journey was OK.  

Saturday 27 December 2014


Leaving the restaurant last night we were hit by a very slushy snowstorm of particularl ferocity, leaving a 2 inch layer over everything this morning, resembling one of those cute old fashioned Christmas cards.
I have yet to test the temperature but it is bound to be cold, despite the sunshine.  
In fact it was not too cold as I spent the morning clearing snow from our garden. There are signs of new leaves on the clematis plants and the daffodils are growing at a fair rate. Signs of spring? Tomorrow Lynne and I have another grandchildren visit to Chester planned. It was supposed to be a family gathering but it seems unlikely to happen, which is sad, but given the snowy and icy conditions it is understandable. Indeed, I would prefer not to risk the journey myself but I'm not prepared to let Lynne go alone.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all blog readers.
We had a leisurely start to Christmas Day, a small breakfast and an equally small lunch, preparing us for a blow-out evening Christmas dinner. Note, not much excercise.
My Christmas present turned out to be a pair of wonderful Sennheiser earphones which I made full use of. It really improves my listening pleasure.
Other presents for the boat  include an extremely bright LED torch and an everlasting candle without candle wax or a flame, clever eh?
The dinner, as expected, was huge and delicious, so once again we flubbed in front of the TV for the evening before an early night dragged us away.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Bin nightmare

For some reason I  awoke around 0200 hrs worrying I had put the wrong bin out on the wrong day, partly due to me getting confused over Xmas day. It turned out I may have been right but we have yet to discover any revised collection plan, having received no previous notification, which is unusual.
Panic over, the bins were emptied before lunch. At least it gives us a week to confirm next week's collection arrangements.
Sunny and unseasonably warm today providing you kept out of a very chilly wind. Lynne dropped us and both corgi's at the main gate of Bradgate park, picking us up at the Cropton Road exit after a brisk downhill walk of about an hour.  The drive and walk routine proved very successful but tiring, particularly for Bob who flaked-out for the remainder of the day. After a tasty roast pork dinner I felt like joining him ( in a heterosexual sort of way ).

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Excitement levels rising

Two days to go before yet another Xmas passes us by and the excitement mounts, or at least what passes as excitement at our age.
Lynne offered us a mystery car trip which we and the dogs immediately accepted. To cut a long story short we eventually arrived at "our" Marina where we walked round the larger lake in fairly warm sunshine, providing you were well insulated against a cold wind. After an award winning hot chocolate in the cafe I grabbed my electric razor and bow saw from the boat and we returned home as the wind got colder and colder. The boat had been winterised so that concern was minimised. The same concern related to our pork joint for tea, which we had forgotten to take out of the freezer. Tea plan B was quickly formulated.

Monday 22 December 2014

Nowhere to go

For the first time this millennium we have nowhere to go, other than get some foodstuff. Thumb-twiddling time.
Talking of twiddling , Arsenal managed to yet again snatch a draw from the jaws of a win against 10 man Liverpool, leaving it to the 98th minute to concede a soft equaliser. Frustrating or what? 
Weather overcast and cold wind. I will convince myself to go for a walk this afternoon as I'm feeling increasingly good in spite of gradually reducing the happy pills. It seems strange the damn things major side effect is increasing depression. I suppose it is the big drug companies way of increasing sales in a saturated market, or am I being cynical?
No hip problems today, despite a long walk in gale force winds and washing the car in worsening conditions plus darkness.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Meeting ourselves coming back

On the way back from London we collected Margaret, Bob and dogs for the trip to Leicestershire. The car was packed to the gunnels, whatever they are? 
We slobbed-out for the afternoon watching Tom Hanks in "The Terminal", a great film even on second viewing.
The weather outside gradually got colder and colder, but we were cosy indoors and relied on our local chippy for tea. Minimum fuss or hassle.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Family Xmas meal

Overslept for second day running, but what the hell.  We're off for our family Christmas dinner. Look for later report, assuming a slow acting food poisoning bug is encountered, otherwise watch the news.
The meal was excellent, if over-long at 4 hours for two courses, although the company was fun.
A good time was had by all.
The weather remained sunny but became increasingly colder as the day progressed . Back at the flat and fully stuffed we all flaked out on the sofa for the evening.
Like nomads we're on the move again in the morning, homeward bound.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Christmas travels start

Lynne and I are off to London today, firstly staying with Chloe for another hair job ( not me ) and a family Christmas dinner at the Shy Horse meticulously organised by Chloe once again. If you ever want an event on the top of Mount Everest or on the Galápagos Islands and can't be bothered with all the logistics and hassle , Chloe is your girl.
She was also an early "filter" for my blog, ensuring nothing was printed likely to cause an international incident. Lynne has recently taken over this role but considerably toughened the rules,  fishing for a job with Russia, Korea or China, I suspect.
The journey South in brilliant sunshine was OKAY, apart from the low sun shining directly at us. Petrol is at the lowest price I can remember.(112p a litre)
I suspect we will see Arab Sheiks selling The Big Issue sometime soon.
I had the option of going to watch league bowling after tea of sausage and mash or slumming-it in front of the TV. Given my current hip condition I chose the latter. Meantime Lynne was at the hairdressers.


Back to dry land

Our last night on the boat prior to returning home for our Christmas arrangements. Once again the boat was cosy, resulting in us sleeping-in longer than planned. Weather dry and breezy. 
My acid indigestion seems to be returning but I have opted to ignore it as the side-effects of the control drug are horrendous if used long-term. I am perfectly able to live with the problem, so in my recently imposed "you decide" situation I have made a decision to do just that.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Warm and frosty

I awoke  to a cosy, warm boat after a good and lengthy sleep.  At least we have Christmas and family to improve the personal climate a little. Today is our last day aboard for a while but the workshop will winterise her (Tardis Two) once we return to land .It has been a relaxing time, albeit short and non-mobile, but overall it has done me a power of good and, in the meantime, we have mastered the multi-fuel Stove once again. Mentally I'm feeling pretty good but physically I still have the right hip problem. However, at this stage I am quite prepared to tackle only one problem at a time.
Weatherwise today is bright and very breezy.
As we were short of a few basic essentials I volunteered to go shopping in the marina, only to find I was up earlier than the shop owner. Undaunted I set forth to explore Barton Under Needwood, beyond the lakes, several cricket and rugby pitches, a swimming pool and a large  fishing pond with fountain to discover a large village/small town with several pubs and shops. Quite picturesque overall. My right hip restricted my discovery adventure and speed, but I made it back for lunch only to be informed we had run out of water, not surprising after several days and showers aboard.

Monday 15 December 2014


Although the outside temperatures were warmer than we have become accustomed to, inside the boat was noticeably cooler, resulting in me seeking warmer clothing during the night. As we are only aboard for a few days we have avoided unpacking our bags, hence finding anything is a far bigger challenge than would normally be the case, particularly in partial light. I was reluctant to switch on the main lights to avoid waking Lynne so found only my wooly hat and gloves, plus an additional tee shirt and socks before returning to bed. With a little imagination you can possibly picture the scene which must have resembled a North Pole expedition camp. Bear in mind my body's inability to withstand relatively low temperatures since my treatment. The multi-fuel stove was still alight but far less efficient than previous nights, for reasons we are currently investigating. The central heating boiler is set to go off at 2200hrs and restart at 0600hrs. ( to prevent the boat interior reaching sauna conditions during the night !!!!! ).
Adjustments will be made tonight, subject to the results of our investigations/conclusions

We've Sussed out the Squirrel stove functions and will adjust the boiler timings so it shuts down much later at night and kicks-in earlier in the morning. By midday you could roast an ox in here. It is sunny with showers outside but reasonably warm, in a late Decemberish sort of way.
Lynne returned to bed this morning in an attempt to catch up on missed sleep so I replaced the broken door catch, ( the doors still stick when closed, but we're hoping they will self correct once they dry out, but getting in or out in the meantime should be fun. Apparently shaving bits off both doors is best avoided as this leaves a large gap once the summer weather returns, but in the short-term we have exit and entry problems, a no-win situation.
The marina office now have copies of our insurance and canal licences for their files, as requested.


The After a peaceful night on the boat I thought I would start the day with some festive photo's illustrating the difference in perceived wealth ( or lack of it ) between generations these days.
The first tree is our's at home. A "recycled" 6ft tree. The second, albeit in a much bigger room, is in our eldest son's home. A new 12ft tree ( with an extension unused due to ceiling height restrictions ). Interestly we both claim to be financially " on the bread line".   No further comment other than Happy Christmas.
The boat was toasty-warm this morning, despite freezing outside temperatures. The multi-fuel stove was still churning out warmth, much to Phoebe's delight. 
I'm due a hospital appointment in Leicester today, which should prove interesting. It is with my 
Counsellor who, last time, I ended up counselling. He is being made redundant and suffering depression, poor chap.
In the event, he is still working and like me,much better. More apologies for the lack of counsellors and counselling, a bit late if I had already jumped in front of a train. My counselling nurse is confirmed as left, another one bites the dust. However, we made some progress today and it has been agreed I can continue gradually reducing the happy pills to nil which is great news for me. It is good the medical  profession is keeping pace with me at long last.
The boat was warm on our return as was the weather.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Clear sky and Fuzzy head.

Yippee, we've made it to the boat, complete with cat. The intention is to stay here until at least Thursday.
In discussion with someone who knows far more about boats than we do a decision has been made to winterise the boat at the first opportunity to avoid costly frost damage to the water pump and calorifier. The downside is doing so severely limits our winter boating trips, but hey-ho , an early summer start should compensate. 
The boat break got off to a poor start when we found it impossible to open the doors to the cabin. The cold and wet had expanded the doors and virtually welded them together. Applying a bit of force and WD40 got us aboard, but at the expense of a broken security bolt. Hopefully heating the boat will shrink the doors so they fit again. Time will tell.
I am keen to get off the "happy pills" at the first opportunity, but conversely Lynne is keen to keep me on them for as long as possible. I do not propose to explain why at this point, and certainly not on the Internet.
We are heating the boat via kindling and coal, successfully so far.
However, it feels great to be back afloat, even for a short time. 

Friday 12 December 2014

Baby sitting

Don't ask me how but we have managed to get "volunteered" for Christmas shopping baby-sitting in Chester, involving an early start in very frosty conditions. On the way up to Chester we accidentally passed near Tarporley, a village or town where Nick, Lisa and girls are moving early in the new year. From the outskirts It looks quite impressive and far more countrified than their present location. Nick and Lisa escaped to shop in Manchester leaving us to entertain the girls    ( or was it the other way round ? ) On their return we left for home and some sustenance,escorted by Nick in his car to show us his new house, far, far, far, smaller than their present one. Where the hell are they going to fit all the kids toys ? The town/village centre is a quaint mixture of old and new houses and at least half a hour nearer to us.
A KFC tea and quiet night in. We know how to live, us old uns.

More confused . com

Chloe and Lynne are attempting to finalise Christmas plans. A Christmas meal has been booked at the Shy Horse in Chessington but getting everyone there is proving problematical. I've kept well out of it as the longer the situation goes on the more stress seems to be generated, which is something I wish to avoid, thank you. I am getting more and more confused by the ever changing logistics which would give Eddie Stobart a severe headache. Having chunks blasted out of your brain does little to help ease confusion, believe me, but it is best to keep issues like that to yourself if you want to avoid the funny farm or increased anti-depressants.
Plans have (I think) been finalised to visit the boat later next week, which may involve staying aboard for a few days. Oops, I've said it now, which is guaranteed to scupper it ( the plan, not the boat ).

Thursday 11 December 2014

Retinal screening

With diabetics these days the NHS checks our eyes every 6 months to monitor any deterioration as gradual blindness is one problem common to diabetics. My latest test was this morning, result in 2 weeks. I wear glasses to read but otherwise my retina's have remained fairly stable since the tests began around 10 years ago, although the good old NHS managed to lose the earlier comparison photo's when we moved to Leicestershire. So much for electronic records staying with you for life.
Today is sunny again but with a breeze cold enough to quickly remove your ears. Our plans are fluid for the want of a better description. In other words we don't have any ( that is not actually true. Lynne has hers and I have mine but whether the two will merge at some point remains to be seen.) She/he who has the car keys and a driving licence is king.
In the event we put up the Xmas tree and decorations and I went for a boredom-relieving walk in a truly eye-watering freezing wind, ordering replacement Xmas decoration bulbs in the process. The guy who runs Anstey hardware store can order absolutely anything for delivery the next day if it isn't already in stock.  He has yet to let me down, touch wood.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Search for meters and home

Still at Tom's and everyone gone to work, when the gas and electric meter reader turned up . We searched all the obvious places without luck, but a phone call to Tom solved the mystery. Both meters were nowhere near our search areas but at least the reader got some extra time in the warm ( it is very cold outside ) and Tom should receive a bill close to reality. Talking of cold, I took pity on a very cold "Big Issue" seller in Chessington who had asked if I wanted to buy a copy several times during the past few days. Each time I declined but I must be getting soft and old as I finally relented. The frozen, but  persistent immigrant pays £1 for the magazine and sells it for £3. ( Christmas edition only ). But it is crap and a gesture of goodwill I will not repeat in future. I was going to say at least it keeps him off the streets, but of course it doesn't.
Our plans have finally crystallised and we are now returning home this morning to warm-up the house and boat. 
For me the last few days have been very restful and stress free, basically spending valuable time withTom/Hayley and Chloe or listening to my new Usuf/Cat Stevens album,partially mixed with some of his older Greatest Hits on a continuous loop.  What more could I want?
We returned home in brilliant sunshine without drama.

Monday 8 December 2014

Sun and warmth plus Christmas shopping.

The title says it all really, but I suppose I'm expected to write something more?
Back-up plan 3 is now for Lynne to work tomorrow and we toodle off home in the evening, with a trip to the boat scheduled for Thursday, but none of the aforementioned is set in stone so don't hold your breath, I'm not,but back to today. The plan is to complete my Xmas shopping with a gift for someone special in my life who, for once, will not be alongside me today, giving me the opportunity for a rare surprise and better gift-wrapping ( Chloe )than I could ever achieve. It's a man thing apparently.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Ditto ( only colder ).

It looks like Christmas should look, white, but with frost, not snow. Lynne is working a short day and I plan to travel by bus to meet her there, by way of entertainment and something to do. Chloe is taking me for lunch and shopping tomorrow, which should be enjoyable and worthwhile, given that I will at least have something to spend following Lynne's moral victory earlier this week. I fortunately spent most of my working and early retirement years having money in my pocket so being destitute for so long was far from easy, hopefully soon to be history.
Believe it or not, the frost quickly turned to light rain. This can only happen in the UK but I am unsure if we can still call it that, having recently lost Scotland.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Not so mild frost ( cold )

A very cold morning raising the issue of boat winterisation again, we will address it when we return home mid-week. We also plan to live aboard for a few days soon to warm the boat up and I plan to stay onboard  if Lynne works in London between January and April, once I convince her I can survive on my own afloat (in the marina, of course ). Quiet day planned, but I've said that before.                  Chloe has promised ( threatened ) to take me Christmas shopping Monday, which was in doubt until Lynne re-secured work for this weekend. Finances were real knife-edge stuff prior to that. No work = no presents, simples.
A quiet day materialised, but it didn't get any warmer.
Arsenal treated their match with Stoke as one of two halves, losing the first 3...0 and winning the second 2......0.         You do the maths.

Friday 5 December 2014

QE2 confusion

"We are in sunny London having travelled 200 miles down the M1 last night in atrocious conditions. Fog and road spray. Lynne managed to turn left at the M1/M25 junction, instead of right, as I was "dozing".  
Thus I was a little confused when I became Compus-Mentice again just as we were crossing the Queen Elizabeth bridge over the river Thames. The penny eventually dropped once I was made aware of Lynne's earlier directional fo-par and we arrived at our intended destination without further confusion. A pleasant evening was had by all until we departed to battle against the seemingly endless roadworks. It appears the whole ( I was tempted to type hole ) of the M25 is being resurfaced.
Lynne, who hates driving, must have been knackered, hence the East/West confusion,I guess.
For those of you unfamiliar ( ? ) with theM25 it is essentially a ring-motorway around London which generally resembles the World's biggest car park. It gets extra lanes added every year to increase parking capacity and is the World's biggest advert for traffic cones.
We are now in the tranquility of Tom and Hayley's Chessington flat, where we expected to be for several days while Lynne worked at the wedding shop, covering for one of the staff on holiday. Our plans were thrown into confusion around 10.30pm last night when Lynne received a text from the shop cancelling the arrangements for today and beyond. Lynne ignored the text and went to work anyway. I wish I could have been a partially deaf fly on the wedding shop wall when she arrived.
Lynne won the "discussion", needless to say, so it looks like back to plan A.

Thursday 4 December 2014

"Mild" frost

Virgin on the cold, springs to mind. Winter drawers on, but I'll stop there.
We're off to London today. This evening we will attend our traditional World Wildlife Fund Bromley Supporters Group Xmas get-together in Chislehurst, Kent. At the height of the "Save the Whale and the Tiger" campaigns in the 1960's I was very actively involved in fundraising activities for WWF UK Bromley Supporters Group, the most successful in GB,raising several thousand pounds for conservation work across the world. Inevitably the committee members retired,died or moved away and the group folded, but a reducing group of ex-members meet at Xmas to talk about the "good old days". We will stay with Tom and Hayley, giving Lynne the opportunity of working at the wedding shop again, then home or boat for Christmas.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

2015 forecast

Scientist's predict a very warm 2015, which is encouraging for boating but is allegibly part of the "global warming" scenario. Man made ? I have yet to be convinced but accept that until we stop deforestation in Brazil, Africa and Asia we have little defence against the accusation. Intelligent species ? I don't think so.
However, it is cold today which leaves us with a dilemma. Do we winterise the boat and restrict our "nice weekends" movements, or any movements till spring, otherwise risking expensive water pump replacement ?  My preference is to put an anti-frost heater on board and/or live-aboard occasionally, perhaps whilst Lynne works in London ? I'm quite happy to give it a go, but I'm not sure Lynne trusts me not to fall in or survive at all on my own, given recent history, which I accept. Ho-hum. Decisions, decisions.
Arsenal v Southampton was supposed to be on Sky tonight, but could we find it? Could we hell. It was on one of those "pay extra" channels. We pay for Sky sports already so that is a major saving we can make in the New Year without losing anything useful.
I followed the match via the Arseblog live blog and Arsenal scored in the last two minutes, winning 1 - 0 ( sound familiar?). The end of another good day.

Tuesday or Sunday ?

A good nights sleep, but I got up convinced today is Sunday, Lynne and my IPad quickly  confirmed it is Tuesday. Close, but that's retirement for you.  Does it matter?  Only for appointments I suppose.
A sunny day with a freezing wind, an ideal test for my new jacket.

Monday 1 December 2014


Today is allocated to administration, mainly concerning an issue that arose when Lynne fell foul of the car parking system ( or lack of it )  at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Burton at the start of last summer's adventure, resulting in having to deal with "Big Brother" technology , loads of computer generated paperwork. and ,ultimately, the small claims court. Lynne has opted for the mediation service which involves a real human and a telephone conversation (remember those?). To add to the issues our printer has "given up the ghost ", so we need to borrow a friend's. He kindly printed what we needed to allow us to fit our response within the tight timescale.
With computer ink cartridges outstripping the price of a new printer our decision to replace rather than repair was easy to make, so we returned from Leicester John Lewis with a recommended Hewlett Pakard model, which took Lynne a long time to set up and wirelessly connect to our two computers.   
I am very proud of her. From a technological amateur to her present computer expertise within a very short timespan is truly remarkable. Watch your back, Terry. !!!!
I've enjoyed a good day via a positive attitude. Reflecting our current, but very short-lived, period of solvency I have invested in a new "boating coat" and trainers from the January sales, which strangely started before Christmas this year.