Saturday, 28 January 2017

Busy days

 It's hard to believe we've not cruised anywhere in 3 months!
We've not been bored though, we've kept busy with all sorts of things.
The bird feeders are still giving us lots of interest, the squirrel still visits to hang by his tail on the nut feeders, there's usually at least one goose too.  This day we've had a male and female Mallard come to pick up the seeds that the cheeky chaffinch throws about and a few seconds before I took the photo the moorhen that stays most of the day moved out of shot.  The woodpecker and male pheasant are still regular visitors most mornings.
 Temperatures this week have been well below freezing but some jobs just have to be done anyway!
 Both rear and front canopies have been removed
 ... for scrubbing before we take them to Kinver Canopies for some alteration to be done to make using them more efficient.  The sun was actually warm as George worked.
 On Tuesday we had another day out with George's sister Diane and husband Paul ... I wonder if you can guess from these two pictures where we went?

 Just in case you can't, here are a few more which may help

Diane and George

On Wednesday after doing some bits of jobs in the morning we caught the bus to Reading where some retail therapy took place before we walked to Enterprise Cars to collect a vehicle for a couple of days.

A very early start on Thursday morning.  Our first port of call was Kinver Canopies about 1.5 hours away where we left the covers to have some extra zips put into them hoping that they would be ready by the end of the day.
This place I'm sure is much easier to recognise ...
 ... if not I'm sure this one will do the job!
It was the first time we'd been in here as they don't welcome dogs. We had steaks for lunch before calling next door to Midland Chandlers for a new water pump, ours had given up the ghost a week or so ago.  George always keeps a spare which was fitted so now we needed another spare.

Back on the road once more our next stop was EcoToilets, no longer at Hillmorton Wharf but online only.  It was a bit difficult to find as we weren't aware they had moved!  We left with a couple of large bags of cocoa shell.

Back then to Kinver where the canopies were finished, rolled up and ready for us to collect in nice strong bags making them easy to carry.  Kinver Canopies had sprayed them inside and out with a product that they hope to retail which removes that horrible algae  which collects on the canvas, it should keep the algae at bay for a good while.  Although there was no algae on ours because George had scrubbed them clean we'll keep an eye on them to see if and when the algae starts to build up again.

Back home to Still Rockin' by about 5pm shattered!

Yesterday morning it was back on the road to Halfords at Maidenhead where a 5ltr container of ironised water was less than the price of 2.5ltr from Midland Swindlers!

Back home for lunch and then George returned the car to Enterprise and did a bit more shopping for tools he needs to complete the list of jobs still outstanding!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The sitter

For the past few Wednesdays George has made himself available to sit for a portrait sculpting class at the Phoenix Studio - a wonderful space especially with warm winter sunshine pouring through those huge windows and skylights.  I'll let the pictures tell the story of his last sitting and the sculptures the artists created.

From someone (me) who not at all artistic in this way I was much impressed with the results after a total of approximately 15 hours of sculpting.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Rest in Peace Les.

It was a great sadness to receive that phone call yesterday morning and my heart sank when I saw that it was Jaq and knew it would not be good news.  Although expected it was still a shock.  Her best beloved, Dear Sir had died.

We first met Les in September 22nd 2009 at the water point in Bulbourne and chatted as you do with a new found boater.
(Les's photo)
I remember that we talked about all the usual stuff on a first meeting ... how long we'd been boating, whether or not we were CC'rs, how long was RnR and did we think that winding (turning) at the water point would be difficult and we explained that we had bow thrusters and we exchanged blog details.

We saw Les a few times on our travels but as I don't often take 'people' photos it was in April 2011 before I took a one of this lovely smiling man ...

We'd caught up with Les on nb Valerie when he had his young grandson Jack travelling with him.  
We cruised along with them ...
(from Les's blog)
and enjoyed a great impromptu bbq when we reached our mooring at Tring Reservoir 
(photo from Les's blog)

I remember that RnR gradually tipped as the pound reduced in depth and Jack, although very young, earnestly advised George that he should move over to the other side of the canal where nb Valerie was moored as the tilt on RnR was becoming serious.  

Our cruising pathways diverged over the next few years but we  kept in touch via the Les's blog nb Valerie and Jaq's wonderful blog So this is love ... which told the story of long distance love between two beautiful people on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
That love prevailed and they got wed in June 2011 ...
(from nb Valerie's blog)
... and they were so happy and so in love.  
Jaq came to England and joined Les on the canals to enjoy their life together.

I can't remember where we were when we first met Jaq but I think is was not long before Christmas and Les was helping Jaq to make her own version of Bailey's Irish Cream and of course we had to sample some and it was soon all gone and Jaq started another batch as we left.

We would bump into the occasionally over the intervening years for a quick catch-up in passing or an evening of laughter and enjoying their company but unfortunately I can't find any pictures of those times.

It was in June 2013 when Mr C came to call on Les but he and Jaq always stayed strong and hopeful through all the adversities life and cancer threw at them.

We called in to see Les and Jaq in September 2016 ...

Marilyn and David were visiting too and Les looked well, smiling, laughing and enjoying life as he always did.

We saw them both again just before Christmas and this was the last time although we were hoping and praying that it was not.  Early in January he was admitted to the hospice to regulate his pain medication and hoped to be home again in a few days, but it was not to be, Mr C had galloped ahead and the end came so much quicker than expected for them both.

Les is now pain free and is at peace, he died with his boat keys in his hand and his best beloved wife at his side.  Our thoughts, prayers, strength and condolences now go to Jaq and her future as a single handed boater and their families both here in the UK and in the USA.  

We will always remember Les for his humour, his knowledge of all things canals and London and will miss him as will all those who knew him.

Monday, 23 January 2017

A frosty walk

We've experienced temperatures of -9 these past few nights but the days have been wonderfully clear with blue skies and no wind.

Our 'short' walk yesterday took us a bit further than planned ... we continued to the left as we reached the Flower Pot Hotel instead of the doing the circular walk back to the marina ...
... and ended up on the The Culden Faw Estate which incorporates Hambleden Village/Estate, Culham Estate and the Deer Park at Fawley.
Fantastic rolling countryside
Approaching Culham Court which has a rather distinguished and interesting background
Danesfield House Hotel in the far distance on the other side of the Thames
Oh how the other half live!
Culham Court has had some distinguished, interesting and notorious owners ... check out these links ...the Swiss Banker - really interesting reading, a billionaire who was not a good employer  and who demolished a house to build a chapel
I've often taken a picture from the river as we've cruised but never seen the river from this angle before
It's a chilly day!
You may just be able to see the white deer in the estates Deer Park.
It was here that we decided it was time to turn back, we'll check the map to see how far it is to walk another day all the way to Culham Lock along the Thames Path from the marina.
An hour after setting off we can see the Mill and marina in the distance.  A good walk.

PS: Just looked up the Flower Pot Hotel on Trip Advisor as we've often seen lots of walkers and families going in on a Sunday but most of the reviews are not good at all. We've often thought of paying a visit ourselves but have decided not to bother after reading them.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

In the Tower

Sunday in London was another mizzly-wet day as we walked the 20 minutes over Tower Bridge to the Tower of London
Click on any of the pictures to enlarge

First stop was The Crown Jewels, for us the best part of the site.  No photography allowed here so click on the link to see the most fabulous jewels and settings ever. Some were not currently on show as two maces were in use in Parliament and the House of Lords (Parliament cannot sit without the mace being present).   The crown jewels are 'the real thing' and are kept safe in the tower in a vault which has doors at least 12" thick.

First stop was the Fusiliers Museum

Wonderful sculpture made from weapons and armour

St Thomas's Tower built by Edward I between 1275-1279
Still raining!
The Tower's innermost wall with more modern buildings beyond!
Private residences built in the outer wall with Tower Bridge behind
Inspecting the guards at the White Tower
The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula is a special and unique place of worship with an extraordinary history. It is the parish church of HM Tower of London and is apparently the most visited heritage site in the country.  The sculpture in front of the chapel is the Execution Monument.

There was so much more to see than I've described above, we didn't take any of the tours as it was so wet outside.  I'd like to go back in better weather (but not in the busy summer months) and join some of the tours especially the Crypt tour in the Chapel Royal.

Before we left we took another look at The Crown Jewels and they were still just as amazing!

To end our City weekend away on Sunday evening we took the underground to Leicester Square to an Angus Steakhouse where we thoroughly enjoyed an excellent meal.  

                           Home on Monday morning - always a good place to be.