Saturday, 27 December 2014

Taking a break

I've decided to have a seasonal break from the blog. It was a very good Christmas and we're safe and sound back on the boat.

We've been clearing snow and running the pooch today and are looking forward to a few days of frosty weather. (Don't worry, Kevin, not even the forecasters expected that much snow!)

If something spectacular occurs, I'll blog about it, but otherwise I'll be back in the New Year.

Have a good time, one and all, and see you then.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Camera update

The first response of the seller to my request for a refund was to offer me £80. He got a firm reply from me, as may be imagined. He's now sent me the details for returning the camera.

Since we're now staying with Graeme and Cathy in Boothby Graffoe, it will have to wait until after Christmas.

Monday, 22 December 2014

It's good, it's good, oh no it isn't

First off many thanks to everyone who's sent us season's greetings by various means. I hope and believe that we've replied to you all individually, but just in case, thanks again!

The day started well with my new camera arriving early. What's more, it was undamaged, though the packing was a little haphazard. Mind you, the manual was all in Japanese, but I soon found the English language version online and downloaded it.

Similarly, the power adaptor was a two pin type but, as Sheila's camera is also a Panasonic Lumix and a quick check of the rating plates of the two adaptors showed that they had the same outputs, I soon had the new one on charge.

It had been shipped with the battery stone cold flat, so it was over three hours before I could start playing with the new toy.

To discover that the on-screen menus were all in Japanese...

No matter, working with the downloaded manual let me navigate through the setup menu to the language selection option.

Which wasn't there...

Some more Googling brought up the very unwelcome news that cameras sold into the Japanese domestic market only have Japanese on-screen menus and there is nothing that can be done about it. There had been absolutely nothing about this in the seller's info on Amazon. With a simple camera, I might have managed, but the whole point of this one is that it has GPS and WiFi capability, as well as a wide range of shooting options, so not being able to understand the on-screen prompts for the settings makes it unusable.

I've requested a refund and I'm sure that Amazon will make sure that I get one, but I bet it doesn't include the import duty I've paid, nor yet the postage to send it back to Japan.

Moral: don't buy stuff online from overseas unless it's foolproof stuff like USB connectors.

Ironically, looking away from Amazon, I've found the identical camera from another retailer in the UK, all menus and manuals in English and cheaper if you take into account the import costs. It's too close to Christmas to start ordering it now, so my unChristmas present will have to wait until the New Year after all.

Heigh ho, that's how it goes, I guess, we live and learn.

Have a great holiday season, one and all, and I'll be back when I come round.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Quiet day after a busy one

It was a good Fuddle; we didn't drink too much, not really, (so we didn't get fuddled at the Fuddle) but enjoyed excellent company throughout and there were loads and loads of different kinds of grub.

Today being Sunday, we felt entitled to a lazy start, checking emails and surfing the web from in bed whilst drinking our tea. Finally staggering up, we ambled round to the shops to get bits and pieces and a loaf of bread for lunch.

Elanor and Sally turned up just afterwards, not long after I'd sorted the solid fuel delivery. We took Sally to the field and threw the frisbee for her whilst Sheila video'ed proceedings on her new Flip. It's an amazing beast, smaller than her still camera (a Lumix) but producing very good video if the subject is close enough.

Further away the focus gets pretty iffy. We'll work out how to transfer the result onto this iPad or my Mini and then I can put a sample up as a demo.

Since then, we've been loafing indoors; Sheila experimenting with the video segments and me offering odd bits of advice and looking in the App Store for a better music player than the very basic one that comes with iOS these days. There doesn't seem to be much that has anything like the functionality of iTunes proper but I'm presently trying out the free version of Bongiovi DPS. If I like it, I may well pay the small amount of cash required to get rid of the adverts.

Tomorrow is our last full day in the marina before going to Boothby for Christmas; I'll blog one last time then may not do much until we get back.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Scrub bashing and a party tonight

Today's main event was a scrub bashing session in the copse near the butterfly drift in the marina. It's an interesting place as it has a sort of stream through it; well, in fact it's more of a drain leading to a small sump, but it still looks pretty for all that, now that we've cleared it out.

Much of the work involved uprooting brambles, wearing stout gloves and wielding forks and spades. A bit of crown lifting, dead wood clearing and thinning also took place.

After a bit under two hours it was looking much better for it; it should show up well next Spring. There's another copse on the other side of the drift, but we left that for the afternoon session.

I got us a couple of pasties from the Farm Shop as a reward for all the effort; we'll have a sandwich apiece in a bit to keep us going during the early stages of the Fuddle. It'll save me spending too much time looking longingly at the grub.

The marinaded chicken thighs roasted up OK, I hope. My 8" square baking tray was just right as it held eight of them neatly side by side so that they didn't collapse and sprawl about. It's the problem with thighs as opposed to drumsticks that they don't make such neat parcels.

Apart from that, we've been taking it easy, reading and doing the Saturday puzzles, conserving our energies for the evening's frolics...


Friday, 19 December 2014

Up early to our benefit

We knew that we would need to pump out before Christmas and so have been watching the weather forecast for a few days. It's been quite or very windy for much of the time and this morning looked like a brief window of slightly quieter weather. So we leapt up as soon as the heating came on (I'd been awake for quite a bit having a little worry) and got breakfast in short order.

We'd prepared for cruising and were on our way before quarter to nine. There was still a bit of wind, but the fierce gusts had died away, thank goodness. There being no one watching, we managed a clean entry to the side service wharf and got busy with the pump out. At nine I called the office and Josh came over to work the diesel pump.

The effect of the falling oil price was apparent; the rate for domestic fuel has dropped to 79ppl from 84.

Still no one was about, so our return to the pontoon went smoothly too, despite a cunning bit of cross wind. We'd not yet had a coffee, so once Sanity Again was buttoned up and connected up we remedied that omission. That done, we ambled round to the front, feeling very pleased with ourselves. Popping into Still Waters got us some milk and I ordered some more coal as things are distinctly colder once more; we don't want to run out over Christmas.

Then it was into the office to pay for the diesel and to buy a new pump out token and back to the boat for some well deserved rest before lunch.

I had an email from the Japanese supplier of my new camera to say that it had arrived in England. Checking the tracking on the ParcelForce website showed that it was being held "pending payment of charges". I hadn't realised that the quoted price didn't include import charges, silly me.

When we collected the post, sure enough, there was a demand for just over £42 in VAT and a handling charge.

{Insert preferred expletive here :( }

If you burrow down in the supplier's info, it does say that extra charges will be applied and it's common to all the Japanese sellers as far as I can see, but it still changes the cost calculation quite a bit.

You are supposed to be able to pay online, but guess what, the WorldPay driven site wouldn't take my card, so I had to ring up (a geographic number, at least) and do it using an automated system over the phone. If you want Saturday delivery, that's another twelve quid, please, so it's coming on Monday.

A quiet night tonight, methinks; it's turned really windy again and cold with it. Tomorrow, scrub bashing in the morning and the Christmas Fuddle in the evening. I'm marinading some of the chicken thighs in a Madras paste and yogurt mixture. I'll spare you the description of what it looked like – I'm just glad I had the foresight to put disposable gloves on to squidge the meat around in it.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Post quiz recovery

I think the quiz went all right, though scores were generally a bit low. Certainly we had a great time thanks to Jo and Wynne's organisation. When we do the February effort with Peter and Katy, we plan to make it the Really Easy Quiz.

Well, that's the plan...

We got to bed late and had a very slow start this morning after a broken night. As the forecast was for wind and rain, we had no particular plans anyway. After breakfasting and pottering, we ambled over to the shops for bread and more porridge oats. Back at the boat we had a late coffee and more sedentary occupation before lunch.

Afterwards, I dozed off for a bit before Elanor rang to discuss buying me some chicken thigh fillets at the Moy Park factory shop. I'd asked her to look out for some such as I've promised to supply some drumsticks to the Christmas Fuddle party on Saturday night.

OK, I know it's the wrong bit of the leg, but if I roll them up after marinating them, fix them with cocktail sticks and roast them, they should be an adequate substitute.

Finally, we managed to stagger round the marina in the wind, stopping to chat with sundry folk on the way. They are finally putting the wood cladding on the Great Wall of Mercia at the main entrance; it's going to look OK once finished, I reckon.

Since then, it's been back to huddling down in the boat. Elanor and Sal are coming round later so I'll get another walk as well as taking delivery of the chicken.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Plenty of exercise

I seem to have got a lot of exercise in the last 24 hours. First off, Elanor and I walked Sal round the marina last evening, Elanor having survived her day back at work, though she's still feeling pretty miserable with her cold.

Then this morning, after pottering in the boat for a bit, we went up to the lodge for a check round and to wait for the gas man. As I think I've said before (and if not, I should have), one of the great things about renting out a lodge at Mercia is that the same team that the maintains all the public areas in such a clean condition also does the turn round cleans for the lodges.

It's very rare indeed that we find any problems, and most of the time Kath is already onto them. Only last month she steam cleaned the oven because she wasn't satisfied that ordinary cleaning was getting it done to her standard.

So we fiddled about trying to find stuff to do and mostly failing, then I went back to the boat, fetched the iPads and we settled down to do some reading. When the guy hadn't arrived by lunchtime, we gave up, popped into the office to let them know and went and had a couple of excellent baked potatoes in the Farm Shop café.

Thus refuelled, we walked down to the village. I had a calendar to post to my sister in the States and Sheila needed to do something with one of the savings accounts. We split up then, Sheila heading for home and I to go to the pharmacy for the final instalment of my prescription.

Unfortunately, the pharmacy shuts for lunch and it was only twenty to two. Since the Co-op cash machine is still not working, I went back to the Post Office to draw some dosh for tonight. Ambling back to the pharmacy meant that I only had to wait five minutes before it opened.

The prescription was ready and, what's more, my third set of eye drops has finally made it onto the repeat, hurrah.

Back at the boat, we realised that neither of us had bought more milk. After a bit of a rest, I headed out again, collecting the now ready Gas Safe certificate from the office and buying milk at the Still Waters shop.

It's been quiet since; we've been resting in preparation for tonight's quiz session. Tomorrow should be a day off – we're hoping that Friday's weather will be reasonably calm, as we want to get a pump out before we're plunged into Christmas week.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Another good day

It's been yet another good day here in Mercia. We had a lazy start followed by a walk round the marina. Peter and Jan got held up on the way down here, but made it just after half twelve. It meant it was most of one o'clock before we got to the Cherry Tree Farm Inn and we only just found a parking space and a table inside.

After that, things went swimmingly; good beer, an excellent carvery and huge desserts. We had a lot of family goss to catch up on, naturally, and so it was quite late before we headed back to the marina.

After a good old mooch round the Boardwalk we retired to the boat for a cup of tea and some huge ginger biscuits from the Farm Shop.

Elanor has texted to say that she made it into work today and is coming round in a bit with Sally for another walk.

And that's about it – I shall now slump in the corner for a bit, I think...


Monday, 15 December 2014

Busy day

We've been pretty busy, and I'm just waiting for Elanor and Sal to turn up, so this is going to be brief.

Ocado order arrived OK - more avocados, yum

Post arrived, so plenty of inkjet cartridges again, plus my retinopathy screen all clear, plus Sheila's appointment for gait analysis in January, plus her video camera.

So we've finished off the calendars and Sheila's had a play with her un-Christmas present. Videos may appear on here in due course, you have been warned.

In addition, the week's wash has been done and we've had some exercise.

All in all, pretty good, huh?

Tomorrow, pub lunch yet again, with Peter and Jan this time. Gosh, it's tough this boating life.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Another pleasant Sunday

For us, that is, and, I hope and believe, for Jo and Wynne with whom we lunched at the John Thompson again. Elanor, poor soul, is still suffering badly from her cold and is bringing the black hearted sinner dog round here for me to walk round the marina.

On the lead all the way, this time.

We'd not been idle before going out – with the lodge presently vacant, it was a good opportunity to defrost our fridge whilst we could store the frozen stuff in the lodge freezer. Accordingly, we moved the boxes up there and stowed the rest of the fridge contents in a laundry box in the engine room, which is pretty chilly these days.

Leaving a bowl of warm water in the fridge and the doors open, we ambled round to the Still Waters shop, where we bought kindling, dog treats and milk, a pretty odd combination even for us, but all needed.

On our return, it was apparent that things were progressing well in the fridge. I was able to drag the lumps of ice out of the frozen food compartment and get on with cleaning the inside. Sheila washed the shelves and soon the beast was chilling down again.

We had time for some reading before getting into going-to-the-pub clothes and meeting up with Jo and Wynne. We had another very good meal, both as regards the food and the talk and put the final touches to the quiz for Wednesday night.

Finally back at the boat, we've retrieved the frozen stuff and had a quiet time, now just ended with the arrival of the young women.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Getting on with stuff

It's been one of those days that turned out a bit busier than expected. It started smoothly enough with porridge for breakfast (winter is not just coming, Mr Stark, it's here). I wrote a letter to the GP, asking to have my third set of eyedrops added to the regular repeat and then walked down into the village to drop it off at the surgery together with a repeat prescription request that will see me through the holiday period.

On the way I popped into the Post Office to buy some nice white C4 envelopes to put the calendars in and a cheap black biro, having remembered on my way down there another item that needed ticking on the prescription request. As I passed the new Co-op, I checked that it had a cash machine as the wallet needed a bit of topping up.

On the way back, someone was using the said machine, so I nipped into the store and got various bits and pieces like a lettuce and some sandwich filler to keep Sheila going until the Ocado delivery on Monday. Out again to the cash machine, which now said "Sorry, this machine is not working".

So back to the PO to draw cash.

Finally back at the boat, we had a quiet time until lunch, towards the end of which Jo and Wynne turned up to suggest another trip to the John Thompson tomorrow, again for quiz plotting purposes.

Not long after that, Jules from the office rang to say that the guy doing the PAT testing was doing it now as he was in the marina to do the same for Rowan Lodge and our tenants had left early. Whilst we were up there giving a hand, Elanor called to say she'd arrived with Sally, was at the boat and where were we?

I rendezvoused with her and took Sally to the field for frisbee chasing whilst Elanor went back to join Sheila in the lodge; her cold meant that she really didn't want to be out. Unfortunately, Sally did not approve of this scheme and kept looking round for her Mum while we were in the field. She was worried enough that, after leaving a little heap for me to pick up, she set off to find Elanor, completely ignoring any commands I gave her.

In fact, when I shouted, she turned on the turbo and vanished over the horizon. Dogs, of course, are not allowed off the lead in the marina except in the fields, so I was pretty bothered. I gave Elanor a ring and she immediately went out to intercept. Sally went first to the car and then headed for the boat. As soon as Elanor called, albeit croakily, she zoomed up to her.

There was nothing for it, Elanor had to come to the field with me. Once there, we worked madam until she was reduced to trotting back with the frisbee and finally took to hiding it; when she's weary, she still can't resist chasing it, so tries to stop us getting hold of it again.

Elanor has now gone back home to bed and we are looking forward to a quiet evening.


Friday, 12 December 2014

By ourselves

It's been a relaxed sort of day, getting stuff done but without tearing about. The weather, very wet overnight, has calmed down a lot but remains very cold with a nor'-westerly wind.

Elanor, having wisely cried off coming over to walk Sally last evening, found herself full of a streaming head cold today and had to retreat from work at midday. She plans to come over tomorrow so that we can give Sal a good work out with the frisbee in the dog running field.

I'd made one of my many mistakes in the last post; John and Nev were at Braidbar yesterday, stayed over last night and had further session there this morning. By the time they'd finished, it was snowing heavily so they decided to head straight home and not dilly-dally on the way.

We're sorry to miss them, of course, but quite understand the desire to get a tedious journey over as quickly as possible.

So we've been thrust back on our own devices. Some meat shopping got done this morning, together with other bits and bobs, and we had a walk round the marina this afternoon, ending in the Still Waters shop (top up supply of beer) and the office for a new electric card (another top up, I guess).

Sheila's brought the accounts up to date, I've signed another possible owner up to the Owners' Group and otherwise we've been loafing with the paper and Sheila's latest mental exercise, a jigsaw game on her iPad.

Tonight, pork and caramelised onion sausages with bubble and squeak using sprouts from the Farm Shop, comfort food for a cold evening – not that it's cold inside the boat, of course, but pretty bitter out there even if we haven't seen any snow.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A quieter day

The weather continues wintry, with a biting cold wind and occasional rain showers. It's forecast to turn seriously wet by six, so Elanor may cry off and come tomorrow instead; Sally seriously objects to being walked in the rain, being as it gets down her ears.

The calendar printing came to a premature end yesterday, as the new colour cartridge ran out before we'd got all six copies done. I've got another set of cartridges on order; fortunately we'd done the copies we needed first, although the cover has had to be redesigned in a black and white theme. It's a photo of a heron standing on a stern fender with a fish in its beak, so it looks fine in greyscale.

Well, a lot better than a purple overcast, which is what the colour was coming out as. There are purple herons, but not in this country.

We had a good night's kip and a leisurely start, though not as delayed as some mornings recently. A trip to the shop let us restock with milk, spread and firelighters and I took the opportunity to order some more solid fuel; we're fairly getting through it in this weather.

Back at the boat we had a pottering about session, though I did stir myself to get the stove sorted, emptying the ash and refilling the scuttle. We also refilled the water tank, just in nice time before lunch.

The fuel arrived whilst all this was going on; since Grahame and Chrissie took over the shop, deliveries have been more frequent as Grahame is there all the time. John had his own business to run so could only deliver at weekends.

This afternoon saw us taking separate walks round the marina; I did two brisk circuits whilst Sheila put in one slower one. Apart from that, it's been a lazy time in the boat, keeping the stove stoked against the cold, reading and doing puzzles.

Looks like it will be a similar day tomorrow, though we may see John and Nev on their way north to Braidbar to discuss their new boat.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Bustling about

I'm busy printing calendars whilst writing this, thus demonstrating that I can multitask after a fashion. It's been a brisk sort of day in a strong cold wind that certainly didn't encourage hanging about, though it's not the horrendous storm that the red tops have been scaremongering about.

Scotland's had it very stormy, mind you, but it is the middle of December...

Down to the village in the morning, to post some crochet doilies whilst Sheila took a walk round the marina and dumped the recycling.

This afternoon has been working on the calendar, mostly. Both ink cartridges decided to run out as soon as we started the serious print; this printer, an HP all-in-one beast, seems very greedy on ink, even if you pay the extra for the fully filled cartridges.

Not a lot more to say, really, it's been one of those days for concentrating on just a couple of jobs.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Busy day on board

Although quite dry for most of the day, it's been cold and latterly very windy, encouraging us to stay on board for most of the time. Sheila finished the washing and took the first loads up to the facilities block to tumble, whilst I made a start on identifying photos for this year's family calendar. Well, ok, it's next year's calendar, really, but you know what I mean.

We've not been as productive with the cameras this year, though Sheila had some cracking wildlife shots to contribute. Still, we should be able to produce a decent spread over the next couple of days.

Whilst at the computer, I moved the next Ocado delivery back a bit and booked one for the week between Christmas and New Year, when we're back from spending the festive day at Boothby Graffoe. I also finally had an inspiration for Sheila's Christmas present and ordered it.

Sheila had perforce to go out this afternoon, as she had a hair appointment, so I carried on with the good work, collecting the tumbling load she'd left going and putting the last wash load through. I also swept the floor and cleaned the toilet in a burst of housekeeping mania.

Elanor and Sal will be coming round later for a windblown walk. We're looking forward to another quiet day tomorrow, though with a sociable evening; we'll be presenting the quiz with Jo and Wynne.

Edit: Ooops, the quiz is next week. Sorry Jo for the fright...


Monday, 8 December 2014

In and out of Derby

Today has been taken up with our extra trip into Derby, where we had an excellent Thai lunch, did a smidgen of shopping and booked eye tests for the middle of next month. Then we walked up to the London Road Community Hospital where I had my retinopathy screening.

This got done in good time for us to amble back into town and catch the 15.00 V3 back to the marina.

Not a dramatic sort of day, but successful in its way despite the cold, raw weather conditions. Some parts of the country were scheduled to have snow, but I've not seen any reports of it yet.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Family weekend part II

Following on from our jolly jaunt to Ashbourne yesterday, we took a trip to the stables at which Elanor rides this morning. We'd never been there and it was good to be able to see things she's often told us about.

Holme Farm Equestrian Centre is a well set up operation, not flashy but solid and practical. We were particularly impressed to see Helena, the daughter of the family, giving a lesson to a four year old lad who suffers from mild cerebral palsy. It was clear that he was enjoying it immensely; his mother told us that they've been advised that riding is even better than swimming for helping him overcome his movement disability.

Elanor had half an hour of mixed flat and jumping work; she's an experienced horsewoman and rides as often as she can afford it. Sheila took a lot of photos, quite a few of which actually had most of the horse and rider in focus in them; it was even harder than usual getting the rapidly moving figures in shot when she was working with gloves on. She'd tried doing without but all too soon couldn't feel her fingers in the bitter winter wind.

I was going to take my large camera, but it proved to have given up the ghost when I loaded fresh batteries into it, displaying a sinister red banner saying "Focus error".

Heigh ho, Sheila was wondering what to give me for Christmas...

This evening, our first bubble and squeak of the season, accompanying some more of yesterday's chicken, eaten cold this time. The marinade proved to be piri piri, very tasty but quite tangy.

We're hoping that the forecast for tomorrow proves to be pessimistic with its threats of sleet showers as we're going into Derby once more, this time for me to have my retinopathy screening.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Another good day

I've just found time to pop up a post...

What a nice place Ashbourne is. Elanor ran us over there on a cold and frosty day and we spent a couple of hours ambling round and shopping. Some of this was Christmas related and some about yet more grub.

We were particularly impressed with the health food and herbs and spices shop. I got some of the latter and we bought some stocking filler presents for the family. A visit to Waitrose let us top up the food cupboards before we drove round to the Park Moy chicken processing plant that shares an industrial estate with where Elanor is working at the moment.

They have a factory shop selling near-death-date chicken bits; I got a good pack of thighs in marinade for four quid.

This was followed by a raid on Homebase to get some things Elanor needed for her house. On the way back to the marina, we called in at Elanor's to collect the pooch, who was quite ecstatic to see her AGPs again. Naturally, we gave her a good run in the field with the aid of a frisbee before coming back to the boat to collapse.

We've all been working on the Canal Boat Christmas Quiz, the one called Martin's Crackers at Christmas – or something.

We've nearly cracked it, just one frustrating picture to identify...

Tomorrow, we're off with Elanor again to see her have a riding lesson, another excuse to lunch off Farm Shop pasties, hee, hee.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Spending a quiet day

It's been one of those gently pleasant days; stuff has been achieved but we haven't been seriously exerting ourselves beyond walking to the village this morning and my taking a brisk walk round the marina this afternoon.

This morning's expedition was necessitated by my desire to send my sister a tea towel. This we had bought at Shackerstone at the end of the Ashby in the summer and never got round to posting. I wanted to send her a Christmas card anyway, so bundled it up with the tea towel and took it to the Post Office. Later on, when we've done them, we'll also send her one of the family calendars.

We took the opportunity to visit the newly opened Co-op which has been built on the site of the old surgery. They were handing out free loaves of bread and robust carrier bags. We didn't particularly want the bread, which was thick white Spontex type stuff, but it got a welcome reception in the marina office later where they are very found of toast, especially on a chilly day like this.

Having bought some bits and bobs we walked back home.

After lunch, we girded our visuo-spatial loins and did the 3D jigsaw Elanor had given Sheila for her birthday. (Ooops, what birthday?)

This had the most amazingly unhelpful instructions you've ever seen, but we got stuck in and just did it. It's a red crystal apple with a flashing light inside:

You can tell where Elanor got her sense of humour from.

Whilst I was getting my heart-rate-elevating exercise, Sheila popped up to the lodge and retrieved the steam iron. It's a Russell Hobbs model which has just been recalled. We knew nothing about it, but the tenants saw a piece on the TV last night and told the office.

We're going to Ashbourne tomorrow with Elanor, so we'll get a replacement then and claim a refund on this one.

In fact, it's going to be quite a busy weekend, so I'll do my best to keep you all up to date, but don't be surprised if the blog is a bit more erratic than usual – hard to believe that's possible, I know.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Getting back to normal

OK, what passes for normal for us... There are about 64 million people living in the UK, and I estimate 30,000 of them live on boats, so at least statistically, we are abnormal.

And in some other ways as well, you may well say, but I'm not the only one round here that talks to dogs, so there.

First and most importantly, Sheila wishes me to thank all those who sent their good wishes for yesterday's non-event. She enjoyed it very much, as indeed so did I, and we didn't lose much sleep last night as a result of our various over-indulgences.

OK, maybe the last thing glass of port was a mistake, but we liked it, so there, even if I did have one helluva time getting the very dry cork out. The wine was brilliant, thank you Graeme and Cathy.

Today, we had a quiet start, then Sheila took the pressure washing kit over to Jo's pontoon and the two of them gave it a wash. Meanwhile, I went to the shop to order more solid fuel and to buy kindling.

When I got back, I went to inspect progress. Jo was having a great time, with Sheila working as her oppo, moving the washer and looking after the hoses and cable. I put in some hard work supervising, as a result of which no accidents occurred.


Jo kindly gave us some homemade mince pies as a thank you; they are delicious too, even if not so alcoholic as the port.

This afternoon, we had a walk round the marina, dumped some recycling, checked that Martin and Anna's boat One Day was in fine fettle and still had plenty of credit on the electric meter (yes to both).

We popped into the office to buy some marina Christmas cards and to pick up some post, which consisted of a marina Christmas card from the staff, a really nice touch. I'd already collected another piece of post from the shop, a call for my retinopathy screen which had gone to the old, PO address.

Back at the boat, I rang the number given and made an appointment for next Monday at the London Road hospital in Derby. Once I've had that done we can have our annual eye tests.

Elanor and Sally are coming round later, so that will be a very pleasant end to a very pleasant day.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Good day, poor internet

We've had an excellent day with a very productive trip to Derby. Got lots done and had an excellent meal in Wagamama. Sheila particularly recommends the banana katsu and I the roasted sesame mocha ice cream. Think halva flavoured ice cream and you've got it.

Unfortunately, the 3 connection has just gone amazingly slow, so I'm going to leave it at that for today. I'm feeling pretty weary anyway...

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Generally successful

It's been a successful day, overall. Sheila's caught up with the laundry and done the monthly banking stuff, whilst I dealt with some Owners' Group tasks.

After lunch, Elanor arrived with Sally and we all drove to Alrewas to see the dentist. Arriving in very good time meant that we were able to take Sal for a walk along the towpath to the river lock. There's only one boat on the Rebel's Field moorings at the moment, so traffic is obviously pretty low.

On the way back to the car, Sally distinguished herself. She was heeling alongside me with Elanor and Sheila following some distance behind. A chap passed with a collie on a lead; Sal walked past with no bother, but then started looking over her shoulder to make sure that it didn't bother her Mummy. So intent was she on this that she walked into a wooden post outside the William IV pub...


We all got a clean bill of health from the dentist and were duly descaled and polished.

Back at the marina again, Elanor and I took Sal to the field for some frisbee chasing. Sally's getting very good at bringing the frisbee back to exchange it for a treat; we'll make a retriever of her yet. Not.

Finally, Elanor ran me down to the pharmacy to collect the famous single dose packs of Ganfort. This took a bit longer than expected as they couldn't find the meds. After much hunting about through not just the N basket but also the M, B, A, L... ones, the dispenser found the prescription lying on the working bench unfilled. I mean they've only had it since last Thursday and the drugs were due to arrive on Friday.

Willington Pharmacy is not quite on top of the job at the moment, it seems to me. Heigh ho, at least I've got another two months supply.

Tomorrow, we plan to head into Derby to celebrate a day Sheila says I'm not allowed to mention...


Monday, 1 December 2014

Much better

Well that's a weekend I was quite looking forward to but which I'd rather not live through again, thanks. Never mind, I was a bit shaky first thing this morning but have steadily improved as the day wore on. My thanks to all those who sent their best wishes and to Sheila and Elanor, of course, who supported me so well and shouldered the burden of working at the lodges stall.

From what I hear, the weekend was a big success all round. It was especially frustrating that yesterday was so sunny and pleasant as viewed through Sanity Again's portholes..

Today we've been doing Monday type stuff, laundry and so on. I wasn't up to a walk right round the marina this morning, but did totter as far as the Boardwalk. Tom Hayes turned up just after lunch and changed our pigtails. He pointed out the corrosion caused to the fittings by using dilute washing up liquid to test for leaks, so I've been and bought some proper test spray from Midland Chandlers.

When Tom reconnected the cylinders, guess what, the original problem one wouldn't seal...

Turns out the cylinder valve was leaking, so Tom put a condemned tag on it and after he'd gone we trollied it round to the shop where Chrissie swapped it. The new one has connected up just fine. Tom was excellent, by the way, I'd recommend him to anyone looking for gas work in this part of the world.

Today being the first of the month, we've bought some more Kindle books, a Ngaio Marsh for me, completing our set, and Sheila has started buying the Ellis Peters Cadfaels.

Tonight, I'm going to have my first proper hot meal for three days.