Thursday, 29 October 2009

They Multiplied Forth Overnight

Yes I’ve acquired even more flowers in pots today. Some extra ones were kindly donated and it’s beginning to look a bit like Cue Gardens round here…
Very pretty though…
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We said a fond farewell to our friends from next door today, they will be missed round here that’s for sure. After they’d gathered all their belongings this was the end result. Remember that old TV show "The Beverley Hillbillies?”
So we all sat on the roof, put the brolly up and had a cup o’ tea before saying Tatty Bye, no really we did…
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Anyway, carrying on from yesterday’s list of annoyances, I’m pleased to report that last night it was as peaceful as it should be in rural England:
  • Dave fixed the shower before he went to work so it’s not dribbling anymore.
  • The fox has stopped screeching like a banshee (whatever one of those is).
  • A car alarm that kept going off in the distance lost the will to live.
And I almost got away with a full nights sleep, (while Dave was at work, hence me not we). All was calm till about 3am when I was woken up by “doodle do do,” that’s the stupid sound my mobile phone makes when its battery needs recharging.
Obviously this isn’t a problem during the day, the noise isn’t overly annoying so it’s just a case of finding the charger. But in the middle of the night it’s a right royal pain in the bum, because I hear it before I wake up.
I don’t know how it happens, but somehow it becomes integrated into whatever dream is going on at the time, it’s usually a good one too. Like for example I could be hanging about in a hammock at a secret luxury resort (for famous people) in the Caribbean, sipping Sangria and listening to the waves crashing on the beach.
I hear the phone crying out for attention and ignore it, after all if you’re there on holiday you don’t want your mobile strapped to your side do you? But gradually, as the sound gets louder, with less time between each “doodle do do.” The idyllic Caribbean scene fades away only to be replaced by a sense of urgency.
So last night I reluctantly crawled out of bed, stubbed my toe on the drawers and plugged the dam charger in. Which is a tad annoying especially when I was just about to dive into those crashing waves to cool down, (it was 95 degrees C a few minutes earlier).
Ah well, you can’t have your cake and eat it can you? Well I can’t anyway…

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Payback Time

Well it serves me right for saying TT was “capable of creating problems” yesterday. She’s behaved herself for quite some time now, till this morning when I was in the bathroom washing my hands.
As soon as I switched the tap off, the shower started dripping, you know the kind of drip that in the depths of the night would sound like a shotgun going off when each droplet hits the deck. It went on for quite a while, so I tried it again later on and sure enough the same thing happened. (Couldn’t make this up could I?)
It’s called REVENGE.
And that’s the thing with this boat, when something does go wrong it’s got to be “different.” I mean if you switch the sink tap off and it drips, well that makes sense, it needs a new washer.
But switch the sink tap OFF and the shower STARTS dripping, well all I can say is we’re used to it now. What with that and the howling fox, it’d be like trying to sleep under a bridge on the M6 at the moment, hence temporary repairs may be necessary.
I say temporary because after Christmas that dam shower will be ripped out and replaced by a new one, seriously it's going to happen.
However, our next “project” is to replace all the single radiators with double ones. Intriguing progress reports will be coming to a blog near you soon, we want the new ones all ready for firing up before Christmas, (Ho Ho Ho), best get started this week then.
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The people on the boat next door to us are moving on to pastures new this week, and they gave me a few of their plants today which was really nice of them.
So I’ve put them down the jetty…
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And at the back…
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Bloomin’ lovely…

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Boat Names

Something we quickly became aware of when we bought our boat was that an Englishman’s canal boat is like his castle, ladies too of course. I tried out "Englishwoman’s canal boat and her castle" but it didn’t sound right (even though it should). Each boat has a soul that we owners nurture and take care of like it’s our finest possession, which it usually is.
When our pride and joy of a boat rebels and conspires against us we may cuss and swear, but we don’t mean it really do we? Well perhaps for a day or two, or even a week or two, or even a month or two, depending on the severity of the problem it presents of course.
I’ve also noticed that boat names usually represent something akin to the owner or the boat, or both, or neither. Some boats ooze charm, character and personality, some owners do too, well I had to say that didn’t I?
Take for example the name of this boat…
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Which in real life translates as “Take it Easy – but I’ll make that real difficult for you.”
I’ve often said TT should stand for “Toil and Trouble.”
As for the attributes mentioned above, well two out of three isn’t bad…
  • Charm: Bags of it, everybody loves TT...
  • Character: Yep it’s there, without being traditional she’s got a contemporary layout, and a warm welcome atmosphere surrounds you when you walk on board...
  • Personality: Overall a very happy boat with a special talent for presenting a "creative" mixture of problems, (nothing's straightforward). Even boat improvement projects get hijacked...
This sort of reminds me of my average school report, which, when summed up described "A happy child with a mischievous and cheeky nature." I'll leave you to guess which two words seemed to provoke a right good telling off. I could never understand why the smiley part didn't cancel out the others :-)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Topping And Bottoming

When one of my friends cleans her house she calls it “Topping and Bottoming” the place. It always made me giggle when she said it because her house is always spotless anyway. As was ours till we bought the boat and put it up for sale. After throwing out around 80 black bags, (a separate procedure I called "House Cleansing”) it really did look like a show-home for a while there. Well, to be fair to myself it always did, even with tons of rubbish hidden away in cupboards.
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I remember one of my mum’s friends from many years ago, let’s call her Ethel.

Over the years Ethel had become obsessed with cleaning to the point whereby her only conversation consisted of housework. It was sad, but this is how much it had taken over her life. Real conversation had fizzled out completely to be replaced by the likes of:

How many loads of washing she’d done in the past couple of days. Coloureds, non-coloureds, bedding, and washing temperatures were all thrown in as a bonus.

Then there’d be the dramatic update regarding which rooms she’d hoovered that day and in which order. The gory details of the last time she had to empty the hoover bag were included. I think this was akin to boasting about how many miles to the gallon you can get out of your car.

If you tried changing the subject to (for example) the weather, there would be a long tirade about how good a day it was for drying things. Wind speed, (blow dry action) angle of the sun, (which fabrics dry first through to last). And where the shadows would be for longest because washing stays damp, blah blah.

As for the ironing, well there’d be enough spoken rhetoric to make a movie out of it, although I suspect it’s viewing figures wouldn’t be very high. She even used to proudly announce that she ironed her husbands underpants and socks, one had to silently beg the burning question “For the fun of it?” or “Can you just not help yourself?” Then at some point there’d be an argument between Ethel and herself about just how many of his shirts she’d ironed, was it 2 or 3?

Once the exact number had been correctly verified. A “shirt history” would follow. It consisted of the details of which shirt was worn where, why, even when, and there could even be a verbal dispute about that too. By this time you’d be secretly praying to yourself Hurry up and get on with it before I die.

As an encore each cleaning “aid” bought from the local market was given marks out of 10 for effectiveness. You knew which items were value for money when you got directions to the market stall they came from. But really they were all just crap.

Even offering a cup of tea brought on a list of how many had been gulped that day and where she was at the time. Believe me, it was a relief if she’d left her washing pegged out, because she had to leave early.

So if you’re still awake I think I’ve discovered a new “read yourself to sleep” cure for insomniacs. Instead of counting sheep, read this 10 times & you’ll be unconscious for a week. Hell it nearly put me to sleep just writing it.

When I started this post it was all supposed to be about “Boat cleaning” as opposed to “House Cleaning.”

You see I’d still like to be able to call it “Topping & Bottoming” but discounting the presence of an upstairs here. I can only call it by the unfortunate name of “bottoming” alone. When I announce without enthusiasm that “I’m going to bottom the boat today dear,” [so make sure your bottom isn't in the way] somehow it just doesn’t have the same sound to it.

Oh no! I suddenly feel the need to list what I’ve cleaned today, products used (and where to buy them). How long it took me to hoover and guess what? New improved Fairy Power Spray even made the cooker gleam! Perhaps post a few photos? (Stop it…)

But there’s no need to worry is there? I’m not becoming obsessed and I know this because? If the boat looks clean which it does most of the time, then any tarting up gets left till necessity dictates. Today was one of those rare days…

Sunday, 18 October 2009

A Test Drive Without A Car

Oh, check this out, Steve wanted to turn his boat round today and asked Dave if he'd like to do the honours, (so he could check out how effective using a bow thruster is). This was also Dave’s first time driving another widebeam, so here it all is in full Technicolor, he did real well too:
Arms all over the place at first…
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Got it now…
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Coming away from the jetty…
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Turning…
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Too late to change your mind now…
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Coming about…
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Backing in, bow thruster to port a bit…
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Thumbs up, this is easy…
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Well they both arrived back safely from their little excursion doing a 180. {Boys and their toys} I was quite proud of Dave, he made it look easy, well that’s the whole idea! Guess it’s because he’s so used to wrestling without one aboard TT? Ha Ha…

Saturday, 17 October 2009

An Extraordinary Day For A Pump Out

As you, my faithful reader will know, whatever day we “HAVE TO GO” is always a howler. Waves 6 foot high, 60mph gales and driving rain either whip up from nowhere just before we set sail for an extraction. Or they’re already there beforehand and we can’t wait a day longer…
Well this afternoon we were quite shocked to find that all was calm for us, (this is unheard of). I think we must’ve got the wrong day or something. For a while there it felt like we were out of synch with the universe and cheating fate.
So this is what we were blessed with for what’s got to be a truly unique occasion. Had to take these photos as living proof, history in the making:
No these aren't upside down, it’s the reflection from the island on the water taken from the front of the boat…
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Other folks here were all equally happy because of course our pump out day “weather misfortunes” affect us all. Here’s a few of the lovely comments we got:
  • “Hang on a minute, as soon as I see TT moving I usually have to run in and fetch me jacket…”
  • “You can’t go today, the weather’s not bad enough…”
  • And then there’s the old chestnut “Use your bow thruster Dave…”
This last comment came from Steve who’s quite proud of himself at the moment because he’s recently resurrected his bow thruster from the dead. Hence our lack of bow thruster seems to be a great source of amusement to all and sundry. Thanks Steve, it’s all water off a ducks back (excuse pun). [Tha’ll be laughin on t’other side of thee face lad when 1st March arrives, and TT gets dragged in yonder boatyard for the small matter of having one fitted]
The four of us went out for a meal at night to the local yokels pub down the way a pace or two, had a great laugh as per norm. Jolly Rodgers we all are…

Friday, 16 October 2009

Autumn

We went for a walk down the towpath this afternoon because it’s been another lovely sunny day, even so I got myself all “togged up" because it looked a bit nippy. But it turned out to be quite warm, so I walked round in what felt like a boiler suit and took a few photos.
Trees changing colour and meeting in the middle over the canal…
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Zooming in on some berries that haven’t dropped off yet…
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View across the way from the towpath…
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A late bloomer just behind the boat…
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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Is British Waterways Locked Out?

I heard recently that British Waterways were going to do some work on the locks from here on the Rufford Branch to the Leeds Liverpool canal. I don’t know if that meant “all” or just “some” we laughed at the time because none of us believe this to be true. As an example, this is the state of lock seven on the Rufford canal, and has been for a long, long time. 

Back gates, haven’t been left open deliberately, they just won’t meet in the middle… 

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Front gates, looking in need of repair with water flowing through them…

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Both sets of gates, spot the faults… 

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Even worse, the front one is still leaking despite the amount of water coming down the run off…
 
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The walkway bridge from one side to the other is slowly rotting away… 

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The new “handrail” on the RHS side is just bare wood that hasn’t even been treated… 

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And there’s six more like this before we can get onto the Leeds Liverpool canal. Some have worse problems, several people who’ve come here (seasoned boaters), have mentioned that they are some of the most awkward / difficult locks they’ve ever come across.

Believe it or not the Rufford Branch is the main artery to the Ribble Link, the upkeep should at least be up to the standard of a main road. (Which isn’t wonderful these days but it doesn’t even come close to that).

I’ve checked for stoppages on Waterscape and contrary to what we’ve heard there are no plans for any improvements round here. Last year there was a stoppage listed for Lathom locks 1 and 2, and work was actually carried out.

Unfortunately we’ve been through them since then and nothing seems to be any different, they may have replaced the lock gates. We’re not sure, but they still didn’t repair the sluice paddle, (yes it’s a paddle that lifts up vertically). That hasn’t been working for two years now! In all that time it’s been chained down to the ground, hence one of the two biggest locks of the seven takes ages to fill. 

Leaks in lock gates are everywhere leading up to the Leeds Liverpool canal and in contrast to the photo above, there’s a lock whereby one gate won’t open fully, we can only just get our boat through it.

There is a winding hole somewhere, so you could actually do two or three locks, moor up somewhere, and turn without having to do all seven locks. (I’ve started so I’ll finish). But unfortunately the winding hole is very overgrown and it’s doubtful that any boat, say over 50ft (being generous) could turn there without being grounded. We certainly couldn’t, no one else we know would even risk it either, even out of sheer curiosity!

We've seen people go backwards through lock 7 so they can moor up for a party and come back in without having to negotiate 14 locks there and back first! Once you're through lock 7 from this end, that's it, you've to do all 7, turn on the Leeds Liverpool canal and do all 7 back, there’s no choice.

There was much concern earlier this year from British Waterways of serious problems on the Leeds Liverpool canal with it being very low on water due to lack of maintenance and leaks.

So: HELLO MISTER BRITISH WATERWAYS, THERE’S HUNDREDS OF GALLONS OF THE LEEDS LIVERPOOL BEING SYPHONED OFF HERE EVERY DAY, so why not do something about it? Oh, and in case it hasn't registered yet, that means repairing the dreadful and dangerous state of the locks on the Rufford arm to help prevent such leakage from the main canal!

Enough said...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Church Bell That Lost It´s Dong

The gorgeous village church is just behind our mooring and I love it, but its bell hasn’t been well this year. It all started in early spring when it disappeared – I mean stopped ringing.
When it got back "online" again it seemed confused and it’s chimes weren’t in time, for example one night at 11pm it rang just 7. So it was taken "offline" again for a while, then reinstated a couple of weeks ago. It seems to have coordinated chimes with times at the moment, but its quarter hourly DONG has gone amiss.
It’s difficult to see the church through all the foliage in summer…
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Ah, there it is in winter…
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I wonder if there’s bats in the belfry causing havoc in there. Then again is it a real bell, or similar to a ringtone thingy with speakers and a faulty operating system? The mind boggles.
DONG...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Different Kinds Of Boats

After recovering slowly with a dose of painkillers BEFORE breakfast, we gathered our belongings together and checked out of the hotel. But we needed to blow off the cobwebs before setting off doing a supersonic 20mph on the motorway’s. Funny (not) how they put the signs up saying 40mph and you’re sat still isn’t it?
So we went for another walk along Paignton sea front, it was still quite warm too. These are the photos I took yesterday and I’ve just realised lovely as it is, everything’s quite teensy considering the size of the bay. Although on the other end of the scale there were some huge tankers lining up in a queue out at sea waiting to go into a port somewhere, (but not this one), so do they have traffic jams and traffic cones out at sea too?
A fishing boat coming into port carrying a “cargo” of CRABS, YUK…
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The harbour…
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A yacht with a fitted sheet attached…
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A regatta with 3 boats…?
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Nice views…
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The pier…
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Well, back to real life, we went to visit the newly weds before leaving and said our goodbyes. I won’t bore you with a traffic update of the journey home, just imagine Fridays blog post and add a six car pile up into the mix, fortunately no one was hurt, but the cars were…
Diane rang to say she’d have some chips ready for us when we got back which was very nice because we were starving. Oh and I was on the radio while we were still on the M6! Well my little story was…
The guy on Real Radio was talking about “rip-offs” and asked for other people to text in theirs. His own was the cost of taking his family to the cinema to watch a 3D movie. So I texted about the fact that we were charged £4.86 for a tea and a coffee at the services, (regular not LARGE). I wonder if they put the prices up even more when there’s traffic jam’s? Anyway when he did the TOP 10, mine was second and his own was first, ha ha, fame again…

Saturday, 10 October 2009

A Wedding In A Mansion House

The wedding only started at 3pm so we decided to go for an early morning swim in the "heated" pool, “84 degrees C” it said, but it was more like 24. (Wondered why there was nobody else in it). After 10 minutes of creeping in on tippy toes and slowly going deeper (agony), we got to the silly stage which is never far away, but there you go.
So in an attempt to actually have a swim before hypothermia set in I said “You go under first” and Dave replied “After You.” This intriguing bat and ball conversation continued till we just gave up and started splashing each other till we were wet through. Then we had a race and I won, does this sound like two little kids? Oh and forget the Jacuzzi – there wasn’t one.
We still had loads of time so we went for a walk down the road & along the sea front, what a fantastic day for a wedding in October, 21 degrees (F) in the shade with NO WIND! Took some great photos of Paignton, its harbour and different boats, will post some tomorrow.
And here’s the Oldway Mansion in Paignton where the wedding was being held. It belonged to the “Singer” family (as in the sewing machine), they left the place to the council for use by the public, we took these photos of “the hallway” just before the ceremony started.
Awesome…!
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The grounds outside…
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In the wedding suite, the happy couple saying their vows…
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We’re married…!
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Dave, and 2 sons, with the groom himself in the middle…
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Uh oh, Dave, the bride, the groom, and yours truly, looking like I've got a hairpiece attached to my forehead…
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Top table, the best man gives his traditional speech which was both moving and amusing…
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After the wedding ceremony we parked the car back at our hotel and walked round to where the reception was being held because it was only 200 yards away! It also meant we could both have a drink which was nice, and the party continued into the night. What a great time we all had, it was lovely to see so many members of Dave’s family together. It’s a rare thing because we’re scattered all over the country and beyond. And it's a shame Liam couldn't be there, he wanted to come over with his girlfriend Maddy, but he's too busy training in Germany.
PS: We heard later on that Oldway Mansion is being sold off by the council to a developer with the intention of turning it into a casino --- criminal eh? I hope the locals can do something to prevent that happening to such a spectacular place…
 
 

Friday, 9 October 2009

Motorway Mayhem

The nightmare journey down to Paignton for our son´s wedding...

Road-works, Road-works everywhere. We ran round like silly buggers this morning packing our “shared suitcase.” Which meant there were Tesco bags for other stuff of mine that wouldn’t fit in anyway. See, I told him to get the bigger one out, but to be fair we didn’t think there’d be so much tackle. Besides Tesco bags look so professional when you’re checking into a 4 star hotel. (Which turned out to be 3 stars). I’m sure it said “4 star” online.

The drive down was stress personified, as we were setting off the Sat Nav had “238 miles to go” on screen (comforting). Yet in hindsight I’m sure 200 of them were road works. The M6 wasn’t too bad, 3 lots there, but not any crazy stuff --- and as usual, not a workman in sight.

The M5 was a totally different, we reckoned they must’ve had every traffic cone in the country on there, so we ended up stopping off at services more than usual. (Whilst getting more and more hyped up on caffeine), rather than sitting on the motorway not going anywhere.

We went to one service station, and outside Dave said “It’s so quiet, you wouldn’t believe there’s a motorway over there would you?” Answer: “That’s probably because it’s just a massive car park at the moment dear.” We were however gobsmacked to see workmen there, I mean actually working, what an unusual sight.

TIP: If you've got cruise control in your car, and there's warnings about "average speed checks being monitored" set it just below the limit. Take your foot off the accelerator and you can't put a foot wrong as it were. Ours has never been used so much in one journey!

We arrived at the hotel about 7pm, it didn't quite meet our expectations, but never mind we had to laugh about it...

We got there much later than predicted, checked in, found the room through a series of tiny corridors, and we'd been given the wrong key… So back to reception. Right royal mix up with the rooms? Never mind. We dropped everything on the floor (in the room that matched the key), and walked round to a nearby pub for a meal. Later on the groom himself, Dave’s other son and the best man arrived, so we had a good old knees up.

We arrived back at the hotel after midnight and went to the bar. A singer with a luminous fake orange tan was doing a Shirley Bassey impersonation that didn’t quite work. I mean you could tell the poor woman wanted to sound like SB, she was trying – very trying.

As for attempting to get the ageing crowds boogying on down (babe), well forget it, besides most of them were asleep. After tittering at the bar for a while we went and sat outside, but we could still hear "Shirley." I think we were the youngest people in the hotel and we got some very strange looks, reverse ageism perhaps?

The only other “young” person there was the coach driver who bussed the old dears out here there and everywhere on a coach.

The room was very nice although it had an extra bed and a spare fire door that we never asked for. Oh and also had the added bonus of an INCREDIBLE NOISE from an extractor flu on the outside wall right next to our bed. Dave mentioned it at reception, we were told it comes from the kitchen and gets switched off after all meals have been served in the evening. Well that’s not so bad then, but what she omitted to tell us was that it comes on again at 6am for breakfast…

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Killer Bluebottles

Aren’t they all supposed to have stopped buzzing by now, as in snuffed it? Not round here they haven’t, believe it or not the current tally of bluebottles zapped on this boat since Sunday is 6.

But these are no ordinary bluebottles, they behave more like manic mosquitoes. Over the years I’ve found that the average bluebottle prefers to stay well away from humans. After having a good nosy round its new (a)board and lodgings it settles down for a while, usually on a clean plate or cup on the draining board.

But not these little buggers, they’re on the attack from the second they fly through the door uninvited.

The other night I was just crawling, getting into bed when I suddenly remembered one of these critters had escaped the zapper earlier. So I carried out a thorough search of the boat, you know, along the same principle as search and rescue only this was “search and splat.”

But I couldn’t find the darn thing anywhere, so hoped it had gone down a plughole, or the toilet. WRONG, from previous experience I knew that sleep depravation would be inevitable if it was still around.

These killer bluebottles also take great pleasure in dive bombing human heads when they’re asleep, and sure enough not 2 minutes after snuggling up under the duvet I heard the all too familiar zzzz sound. INCOMING due North by North West, (one eye opens). Then the inevitable BOINK on the side of the face, (both eyes open), the chase is on.

There then ensued a game of “catch me if you can.” With me, bat in hand, running round the boat, performing what must’ve looked like a cross between air tennis and an acrobatics display. It took me half an hour to bring the darn thing down. Even then it was only stunned, and danced in upside down circles on the bathroom floor, till I grabbed some loo roll that is. During all that time the air was BLUE (pun intended). And it was 1am. And I was wide awake again...

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It was on the local news a few weeks ago that a farmer (about 5 miles from here) had stacked up a mountain of manure without treating it, whatever that entails. Hence the poo mountain turned into a maggot mountain and millions of flies invaded a nearby town. It was so bad that one pub had to close for a week, while it was exterminated fumigated. And it was rumoured that the guilty farmer had to pay a huge fine.

So it’s made us wonder if what we have now is a second generation of mutant bluebottles with extra strength, on a mission to attack us all. I mean surely any normal ones that are still floating about should be slow and knackered at this time of year.

Looking on the bright side I’m glad we haven’t got killer wasps as well…

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Long Service Award Ceremony

Retirement round the corner?

I’m writing this in retrospect,  as in it’s all about yesterday. I mean Friday, which in fact only finished this morning at 3.30am. So to get things in perspective it’s not retrospective at all. Good, I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up then.

What did I forget? The blasted CAMERA! I charged it up on Thursday, specially for the big night out on Friday and left it in full view. Certain in the knowledge that I’d notice it the following day. But in my haste to pack all those dresses and other necessities the camera went unnoticed, and that’s before any alcohol had been consumed.

So we set ourselves a very pleasant “itinerary” for the BIG day which changed a bit, but for the better.

At about mid-day: We set off, and after being stuck in heavy traffic for over an hour went to Barton Grange garden centre for a nosy round and a cup o’ tea. Then we wandered across the car park (in the rain), to the entrance of the new Barton Grange marina on the Lancaster Canal.

So we played the role of gongoozlers for a change, as for the verdict on the marina itself. It can be summed up as desolate, isolated, bare with a distinct lack of facilities. No wonder there were only 9 boats on it then. Oh dear.

At about 2pm: After our little excursion we went back to the garden centre, had a nosy round and stayed for some lunch.

At about 3pm: We went to check in at the (very posh) Barton Grange Hotel, just 2 miles further down the road near Garstang. When we got to reception it came as a surprise to discover that we hadn’t actually got a room inside the hotel itself?

We were in what’s appealingly called “The Cottage” situated across the other end of the car park, which had all of 6 rooms. We thought we’d have a cottage to ourselves but alas not.

So we immediately assumed this was where they stashed all the rabble, you know, “out of sight, out of mind” and all that. What with about a half mile walk across the car park to get to the main hotel it wasn’t ideal. But it was ever so thoughtful of them to provide us with golfing brollies in the little hallway. Personally I was hoping for a golfing CART to come and collect us. But then again this was all a big freebee so one can’t complain too much can one?

At about 3.30pm: We got ourselves settled in and went for a wander. The plan was to find the hotel pool, go for a swim, then head for the Jacuzzi, (I kid ye not). But we left our swimming stuff in the room because we were just sussing the place out right? It took us ages to find the pool (yes we were following the signs and not wandering around aimlessly) so then what? Should we go back, grab our stuff and dive in, or get ready for the big night?

At about 4pm: As we were heading back to “The Cottage” we bumped into Charlie, a good friend of Dave’s, he was also there for the BAE Systems Long Service Awards Dinner. (Ahem, full title). Turns out he and his wife were also stashed away in “The Cottage” with us degenerates. Well that was it, decision made, we went and sat in the bar with both of them for a drinky poos, so we could all get to know each other. Forget the pool, have a drink and chill out!

At about 5.30pm: We went to get ready, by this time I’d made up my mind about which dress, but no camera = no photo, except:

At about 7.30pm: When the 4 of us arrived (on time) in the foyer, there was a professional photographer taking photos of every couple together. The one she took of us 2 was stunning, even though the trek across the car park to get there had played mayhem with me hairdo, no (h)airbrushing required. So I’ll post that photo when we get it, (if) we get it – knowing our luck it’ll get misplaced.

Once in the reception area we were greeted with Champagne so we could all do a bit of highly important social networking. Like me & Charlie’s wife weighing up who was going to be first to trip up over their dress on the dance floor. There were a few candidates.

At about 8pm: We had to check out which table we were sat at before going in --- turned out ours was Number 1. So I called it the “Top Table” and wasn’t far wrong because we only had the Host Himself, one of the company’s top lawyers with us, & he was seated right next door to ME, why me? Out of over 100 people it had to be yours truly here. Anyway the meal was lovely, and afterwards the Host Himself (my neighbour to the right) read out the names of every long service member. Each one of them had to stand up when they heard their name and got a separate round of applause, it made me feel so PROUD of my man.

Each “lady” (yes, including me) got a fancy little box with chocolates inside to take home, and each long service member got a book called "Triplane to Typhoon." (A complete history of planes built by BAE from the start to the present day), very interesting. Dave went and got his signed by the top bod too.

At about 9.30pm: The disco started, we all had to start off with the YMCA thing with the arms, plus a few other songs that made you feel like you were playing Twister. Then we sat down, had our last round of FREE drinks (so we ordered 2 each, he he) then the Host Himself went home --- to file some papers? I felt a bit sorry for him really, missing out on all the fun stuff when the party was just about to start. Or maybe it was because he was sat next to me? Couldn’t be, I was politeness and sophistication itself. Whilst whispering to Dave get me out of here!

Well I danced my feet off & really enjoyed it, oh did we have some fun or what? Great night…

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Moving swiftly on to TODAY…

At about 1am: It all wound up, but 6 of us were still sat there having a laugh till…

At about 2am: We were politely asked to move into the hotel bar downstairs – so we did, and they had to open it up just for us so the conversation & laughter continued…

At about 3am: We were all well and truly pie-eyed, decided we’d better get some sleep seeing as breakfast was 8am – 10am which gave us 6 hours tops…

At about 3.10am: We got back to our room and decided a coffee might be a good idea…

At about 3.12am: Dave opened the fancy cabinet that concealed the kettle, cups and all the usual stuff. He thought it was a drawer that pulled out on runners (with a stopper). But it was just a big tray. We only had one small lamp on at the time, and in the half light the whole lot crashed to the floor, both cups smashed around him,, he just stood there and said “Oh.”

At about 3.13am: I was HOWLING LAUGHING, I mean holding my stomach and rolling round the bed kind of laughing, it was like a scene out of Fawlty Towers. And “Basil” there made it worse by turning to me and saying “Shush,” then turning back round picking up the wreckage while tittering to himself. I mean I could see his shoulders going up and down – and that just makes me WORSE.

Then he suggested we make a brew and drink it out of the tea-pot because it was the only thing still intact. Oh my can you beat this or what? You can’t take us anywhere. During all the time he spent picking up the bits, NEITHER of us even thought to switch a proper light on and he cut his finger, so we had to find a plaster too. No wonder they put us away from the main hotel, I mean there’s always 6 isn’t there?

At about 3.30am: After slowly gaining some modicum of self control I went into the bathroom and immediately lost it again when the top of the tap, where it says HOT fell off. I noticed it was on the "brink of falling in the sink" hours earlier when we were getting ready. So I’m sure it would’ve fallen off for anyone else too, well, almost sure. By this time I was thinking perhaps the bed would collapse while we were sleeping soundly.

At about 3.40am: Crawled into bed and COULDN’T SLEEP, so we tossed & turned till…

Precisely 8.30am: The “wake up call” [Oh no, not already].

At about 9.45am: We both sat in the Breakfast room like a couple of zombies trying to eat something, I mean we knew we should, but YUK.

At about 10.50am: Checked out.

At about 10.51am: Dave admitted to accidentally breaking 2 cups and was told it didn’t matter at all, (phew).

At about 11am: Arrived back to the boat, and both fell asleep till about an hour ago when we each woke up with a banging headache.

So in retrospect, hindsight maybe it was a good job we forgot the camera. After all a photo posted in all innocence on the blog, with an overly tipsy BAE manager teetering about in the background might not go down very well the next day, along with anything else for that matter…

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Fishing On His Birthday

This is one of Dave's birthday cards,, it wins the prize for best “state of the art” fishing tackle, pre Carbon Fibre…
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But I reckon it’s more hi tech than hi spec…
The dashingly handsome idiot sporting the highly impractical yellow suit is using his fishing rod as a conduit to the satellite dish behind him. So he can watch Strictly Come Dancing on a giant flat screen TV across the other side of the river whilst pretending to fish.
Or, he’s an undercover spy attempting to blend into the flora and fauna without much success. The “fishing rod tower” is using the satellite dish, to transmit false information to a Carp Crap App. Rival fishermen use it on their Thick Phones under the false presumption that it’s a useful aid. It tells them where there aren’t any fish at all, and it’s lying. 
Or, he’s posing for an advert in Vogue magazine, (Circa 1949).
Or, he’s about to pole vault across the river.
Or, he’s attempting to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for using the tallest walking stick ever known to man.
Or, his pole is also a lightening conductor for when the weather looks a bit threatening, and it does too.
Or, he’s planting a flagpole to remind him of where he caught his first crap carp.   
Either way, Farmer Giles on the left there is totally unaware of any peculiarities…
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Well it only comes but once a year and all that, but the birthday itself wasn’t quite within the realms of a spectacular event.
  • We had to go shopping.
  • It’s poured down and blown a gale all day.
  • Dave’s had to go into work, although he’s only doing half a night, because of the “Long Service Award” knees up tomorrow night.
But humdrum as it was today, all our weekends are booked up for the next few weeks. We’ve already done the birthday meal. Then last weekend we went out on a “birthday boat trip” with friends.
Should’ve done a separate post:
“How to make your birthday last a full month…”