Saturday, 27 November 2010

Party, Party, Party

Hence the MASSIVE hangover today, (Tut Tut indeed). I booked a meal at our local yokel pub the other day. For friends and family as a tribute to Liam, before he heads back to his home in Germany.
 
What a fantastic night we all had, 12 of us for the meal and then another 4 peeps arrived later on for a drink. Oh, and remember those embarrassing photos I mentioned? Well they got passed round the table to everyone, what a laugh…
 
That’s Ju on the left, my best mate from, well forever really. Craig in the middle (Julie’s son), and Liam on the right. Now the thing is Craig and Liam are also best mates & have been since they were babes in arms.
 
So Ju and me passed our friendship down through the generations…
 
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Us two, say no more…
 
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Dave the poseur, my shy retiring hubby…
 
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Family…
 
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Me mother who didn’t want to be upstaged by Dave with the flower power thing…
 
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No comment…!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Surreal Surprise

We were only expecting Liam to arrive around teatime last night, but he caught an earlier ferry and also caught us unawares, so we were “surprised by stealth” at about 4pm…!
 
Emotions were high, he’s recently come back from a tour in the worst place in the world. We hugged and hugged with a “group hug” too, it was like some kind of dream. So we sat down, caught up (my there was a lot to catch up on). Then we opened the champers, got through two bottles, had some tea, and went out to the pub quiz.
 
There were seven of us altogether and still no Einstein inspired moments but who cares. I don’t know how Liam wasn’t falling asleep after driving all that way in one day. Blimey I’d have been knackered, even as a passenger.  
 
He brought this photo for us of his baby Ryan, aw how cute!. We haven’t seen him for real yet because Liam’s is based, and lives, in Germany…
  
Ryan 12 
 
And here they are together, Soldier and Son…
 
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Yesterday was a day we’ll never ever forget, our son survived the hell of war…
 

Monday, 22 November 2010

Count Down

We’ve been counting down the days recently because our son the soldier (and recent new dad) is coming HERE tomorrow.
 
He’s driving from Germany on his own to stay with us at the boat for a week so he can see family and friends in good ol’ Blighty. His crossing to Dover is at 12 noon. But he’s still got another 400 miles or so after that, so we’ve no idea what time he’ll land at the boat. But it doesn’t matter, {HUGS GALORE} can’t wait to see him.
 
So we’ve spent today running round (like you do) and getting stocked up on all his favourite British grub. No doubt my mum’s got one of her chicken pies waiting in the wings too, (excuse pun). Oh and we got some champagne in too. Glug…
 
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Now for a countdown of a different kind: We got our first Christmas card today, it’s from Tony the Mop, a bit previous, but then he has a habit of never being on time…
Dave asked him if he thought it was December already? Had he lost the plot? Was he wanting to get it over with in advance?
 
But apparently not,, he reckons he’s still in the same time zone as the rest of us. Just wanted to show us how overly-organised he is.
 
Well thank you Mop it worked, I haven’t even bought any yet. I’ll never learn – all the good ones have usually flown off the shelves by the time I get round to that particular chore…
 
So here it is, the earliest Christmas card ever, aw…
 
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It says inside that he “made it while he was still at school,” (no comment), been saving it all these years. Well it’s the thought that counts.
 
Just out of interest has anyone else ever had a Christmas card in November…?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Subtle Tones

Step outside…
 
Mid-day today, the sun framed beautifully between the leafless trees…
 
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Reflections on the water – still tree bound…
 
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If clouds had wings…

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Or waves…
 
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Well what do you think of that then Cecil…?

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Hmm…
 
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Later on, as the sun went down, it created a sandwich of colour…

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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A BW botch up not 200 yards away

The complete guide: How to partly refurbish a lock and make a right cock up of it, thereby setting the benchmark standard for future repairs:
  • Find a lock in disrepair – there’s lots of them everywhere.
  • Take a template from both gates – then make sure they turn up late.
  • Use said template to create – two new gates that still don’t fit.
  • Because, exact replicas – gaps and all, just won’t do it…
Thus proving BW cut corners – literally, and that the low level of intelligence used on this project is as thick as two wooden gates. Just think we might even start to feel lucky if they don’t bother attempting any repairs at all… 
 
So this is the old lock 7 near the marina, before new back gates were put in. Note how the back one’s wouldn’t stay closed, and the front set leaked badly…
 
Marina Views 2009 (105)
 
Then work began, here’s one of the shiny new gates being hoisted in…
 
New Gates Lock 7 (6)
 
Six weeks later, job done. I took these photos straight afterwards in January this year.
I didn’t realise they were evidence of bad workmanship at the time…
 
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Looking good but it’s deceiving, new back gates – yes they appear to meet up…
 
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Old front gates which in BW’s infinite wisdom weren’t replaced…
 
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The photo above shows how the sheer pressure of water (still) leaking up from below the surface has pushed thick ice forming around from both sets of gates, new and old. [I can’t be assed walking round there in this wind to take a photo of just how bad it is without the snow] Besides these are much prettier to look at…
 
So, yet another fine example of “crap craftsmanship” on the waterways. There’s just no excuse for it, they might as well just have repainted the old gates for all the water wastage that’s still happening here. Perhaps they did…
 
Then there were the sandbags, after the job was done 15 of them were left piled up on the towpath, even though this was reported, nobody came to remove them.
 
A couple of weeks later they “found” their way into lock 5. A friend of ours discovered what had happened when he couldn’t open one of the gates, so he pulled them all out using one of his poles. Many of them burst on the way up, but it couldn’t be helped.
 
Which begs the question just HOW could they have missed 15 sandbags all piled up and just left them there…?
 
Oh,, as for the rotting bridge at lock 7 – it’s still rotting, and dangerous…
 
Marina Views 2009 (108) 
 
Which leaves 2 important questions:
  1. Are any other lock gates that “might ever” get replaced going to be done to this standard?
  2. What was the cost of such incompetence, and what will it be in the future?
As spectacular an example of mismanagement and poor workmanship this may be, there’s only about a thousand left on the system to repair. But there’ll be room for improvement by the time they have enough organisation and funding, probably towards the end of this century sometime...
 
PS: Have you noticed how often the word danger with ref to reports about our crumbling canal system keeps bobbing up to the surface these days…?

Friday, 12 November 2010

Ladies and gentlemen may I proudly introduce you to

Our new grandson Ryan – one day old…
 
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A week old, aye it’s a hard life…
 
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Three weeks old, eyes open…
 
Video call snapshot 10
 
The last two photos of proud new mum and son were taken on Skype, hence quality isn’t brilliant but the content certainly is.
 
The likeness between Ryan and his dad is uncanny, so I’ve scanned this photo from 26 years ago, here’s Liam at five days old cuddled in my arms…
 
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SPOT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM IF YOU CAN…!
 
Only the retro furniture and my matching (retro) hairdo reveal any difference, and who’d have thought it? This cute little bundle is now a soldier in the British Army, now a dad…
 
PS: There’s no need to be embarrassed Liam – look at the state of me…

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Remembrance Day tribute to all our soldiers

Marina Views 2010 (103)
 
THE FINAL INSPECTION PART 1

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
'Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you ?
Have you always turned the other cheek ?
To My Church have you been true?'
The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
'No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand.
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
'Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well..
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell.'
 
THE FINAL INSPECTION PART 2
 
I'm very saddened by America today,  
when they take credit for what others say.
I wrote a poem because of problems in my past, 
how was I to know that it was going to last.
It has been read by all and loved the same, 
but indeed at the end there is no name.
The name is simple for those who know,
it's not Kilmer, Longfellow, Service, or Poe.
It's a soldier who has fought for his country so true,
He's proud of the ole Red, White and Blue.
You now know the poem the one and the same, 
   The Final Inspection is the name.
   I wrote it because of the trials so true, 
  and of my buddies who died for country and you.
  So take this poem, take it as you trod, 
  because in Heaven I'll see my God.
  He will look at me and say don't be sad 
  others read your poem and you made them glad.
                      
Now step forward my son and look your best, 
   and come inside with all the rest. 
Author:  Sgt Joshua Helterbran
 
Marina Views 2010 (108)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Digging about in shiny photos

Well I fully intended doing a Wii workout today but didn’t (slap hand) because I couldn’t resist the “scan” button on my new printer-come-coffee maker instead.
 
So I delved into the storage box under the bed and set about sorting through some 3000+ shiny photos covering about 30 years… It’s something I’ve been meaning to do since we got the boat, it’s taken me all day to arrange some kind of filing system from before the digital era. ”Takes thee back” as they say round these here parts. Plus I found loads of photos I never knew we had.
 
Not to worry there’s no way I’m going to start scanning them all onto my laptop – blimey that’d be a full time job for the next 10 years at least…
So I thought I’d make it easy and just scan in a few photos on the odd occasion when deemed necessary, starting with:
BEN…
Our faithful Labrador, I can remember being introduced to what looked like a bundle of fluff when I was in my late teens. Then when we got married, and the patter of tiny (human) feet came along he spent as much time at our house as he did at my mum and dads.
 
He died aged 13 and lived a full and happy life, even if he did have to put up with kids as babes using him as “something to hang on to when learning to walk.” He certainly took some stick and loved every minute.
 
Tell you what, he didn’t half have a great sense of humour…
 
Ben5
 
Ben6
 
Totally bemused, he loved watching the kids play Scalextric, you could see him slowly going dizzy as he focused on one car. And he wouldn’t set a paw near the track, no way…
Ben7

Just a cool dude who loved to pose for the cam…
 
Ben3
 
Ben4

Later on in the day he’d always try and sneak upstairs when no-one was looking to fall asleep on Liam’s bed. He rarely succeeded because when it came to subterfuge he wasn’t very good at it.
 
Check out that guilty look because he made it there, adorned with fluffy creatures from a passing little imp, (our daughter) who thought it was most amusing. Thereby giving licence for him to break the rules again in future…
Ben1

And here’s the other little imp, the one who was supposed to sleep there, how’s that for well and truly knackered…?

  Liam8
 
Oh dear if either of “the kids” (still are to us) see these photos I’m well and truly toasted…

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Clouds create cause for concern?

When I took these photos this morning, I never noticed the weather forecast might’ve included the potential for imminent disaster. [That’s probably got something to do with still being in zombie mode from last night’s party at the pub] 
 
But after careful examination of the skies of Rufford some time later, it appears there may be more to this than first meets the eye, (excuse pun).
 
Let me present the mushroom cloud, ok so there’s a hole in it, put it down to the time of year…
    
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And here we have the bottom two thirds of the British Isles, ok so Ireland’s missing, put that down to the time of year too…?
 
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Nope, I haven’t got a clue what this is about, or why I took it either…
 
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This guy who’d been buzzing about all morning cleared off quick smart because…
 
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He’d noticed this lot creeping up behind him…
 
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Now the question(s) I’m left asking myself are as follows:
  • Does the mushroom cloud, and what resembles a damaged satellite image of the UK mean that Armageddon is imminent?
  • Or is the mushroom not a mushroom, but merely the beginnings of a whirlwind?
Either way we’re buggered – 4 miles an hour up the canal just won’t cut it…