Friday, 16 June 2017

Half way through June.....

I wear glasses. Varifocals since you ask. 
Many years ago I arrived one Friday evening at my then boat, Molly Rose and having blown away the cares of the day I stood on deck looking into the canal and watching the mesmeric movement of the water lapping against the hull. Then I saw two terrapins gently, almost playfully, nudging on the waterline; an unusual sight. However one of the local cottages had a pond and I knew he kept terrapins and it wasn't unheard of for such creatures to be in the cut anyway.
I thought it warranted a photo so went inside to get my camera. On looking through the viewfinder I discovered that my terrapins were, in fact, discarded triangular teabags ( I don't think they exist nowadays).
Molly Rose and the top of Annie's head
I've worn glasses ever since.

Talking of Molly Rose, friends Roy and Annie passed her on their way back from Birmingham and took a
 picture. Nice to know she's still about.

On the opposite 
bank here at Cow Roast, tied to a piece of Armco banking, is a small piece of blue rope. Fixed there many years ago by a passing boater to moor onto, it fools me every year at least once. with or without glasses. When the weather permits I like to have the side hatch open so that mid-muesli I can watch the swans, coots,passing boats,whatever. Yesterday morning, between rain showers, I was disposing of a cherry pip with a well aimed phhhht through the hatch and thought "Ah! A Kingfisher!" Of course it was the bit of string-again fluttering in the breeze.

 So the camera remained on its hook, out of reach and switched off.
Then a Kingfisher flew by, pausing only to glance through the hatch as if to say "Silly old sod. Fell for the blue string trick again".

I'm very happy at the moment because the cherries are at their finest and apart from the fact that they are good for me in reducing gout they also make the boring muesli more palatable. This morning's cherry count however ended badly from a romantic point of view.
========================== The hatch is closed at the moment as it is raining. Sunshine and showers are the order of the day and reflect how I feel about the election result. Pleased that Murdoch and his heinous newspaper thugs failed to stop the Labour progress but like everyone else unhappy that we now are in a weaker position for any negotiations including the odious Brexit.

I like a gamble, adds a touch of excitement to life, but Theresa and advisers really caught a cold on this one. Mind you the bookies got it wrong as well. As did Cameron last year on 23rd June.
One thing is certain. Nigel Farage won't be able to keep his snout out of the trough now Nuttall has gone. That's depressing.

Where do we go from here?
Well it's as long as a piece of string really. Blue string of course.
Thank God for Kingfishers.

 I've decided that the Times at £1.60 is no longer to be my daily read. I used to justify buying this Murdoch organ on the grounds of the crossword, which nowadays  rarely gets tackled and the weekly column by the late , great , much lamented Alan Coren.
I will miss the Matthew Parris column on a Wednesday but Monday to Friday I am switching to the "I" a much cheaper and better read with a good crossword. I cannot however forego the Times on a Saturday with its Prize Crossword which usually lasts me till Tuesday anyway.
Time for some instant garden. I wasn't going to bother with the mooring garden this year or so I kept telling Pam. She didn't believe me knowing I can't walk round the plant nursery without succumbing. This morning whilst the rain abated I went for it. Here's Phase 1

The knee which has troubled me since before the wedding (see blog before last) has been improving very slowly-two forward one back -so to speak. I am meant to walk every day and resolve to do so but a fortnight's interruption because of Mr Knee is very demotivating.

But first my water tank needs filling. I keep putting it off but I know I'm low as the prow of Independence is about 4 inches further out of the water than is normal. I can water the garden first. I would have assumed that the showers this morning would have been sufficient but Pam, who knows everything, tells me that baskets etc need lots of water so a good dowsing must been given.

Needless to say half an hour afterwards it will chuck it down.
====================================== Natalie has a meaningful birthday. (They are all "meaningful" but this one is divisible by 5,10 and many other numbers.I know it is considered bad form to spill a girl's age but the perennially young Nat easily passes for under 30 both in looks and vivacity. She had a bbq on the beach at Newquay and though the weather could have been kinder a good time was had by all.
A Very Happy Birthday Natalie and best wishes for the year(s) to come.

In celebration I cooked some scones! Or rather slightly overcooked them but not bad for a first attempt. The boat smells sweeter for the baking smell; which is an improvement on the normal cross between wet carpet and curry....only joking. Sadly for Natalie I suspect they will be gone by the time she next visits Hertfordshire but that's life-when they're scone they're scone..
 Talking of cooking I'm not famed for being a natural quiche eater but Pam's Salmon and English asparagus quiche pictured here was amazingly good and dispatched with equanimity. Sorry Nat you missed that one as well.


The weather is now set fair for a few days so Knee or not the shed must be tackled....

A/ cos it's a tip
B/ cos I need the gazebo from somewhere in there
C/ cos I  want all my old photos out-currently stored in crates....somewhere
D/ cos I need to create some storage room for stuff that's cluttering up the boat/car/my life.
E/ cos God alone knows what's living in there. Perhaps it's time for a little glis glis relocation.

About three feet into the shed jungle I find the first crate of photos. Fatal. I am looking for one in particular, which I don't find...yet, but, of course I find many others that bring back memories, good and bad, sad and weird.
Here's a weird one. **I came second overall but first in the Belisha Beacon class.
(named after Lord Hore-Belisha-such a shame they weren't called Hore Beacons. Can't think why not)

**7 Balls PH (Harrow Weald) New Year's Fancy Dress. No idea what year.

There will be more photos next time. Can you contain your enthusiasm?

Owl (on the right) leaves Cow Roast (and the love and care of Jim and Sue) later this month moving to new moorings in Windsor. Victoria is passing through on her way to Braunston for a rally of historic boats . 

Here's another old photo. Long time Cowroastians will recognise "Scout". This was the day she left heading for the yard at Winkwell to have the superstructure removed. The plan then was that she was headed for the Thames as a sort of shed cum dump for some moorings down there but someone last week reckoned she was still at Winkwell. Again I'm not sure of the year....perhaps 1998?.....

Those of you that follow my career as a minor minor celebrity will need to get the scrap book and glue out for the second time this year following so soon on my appearance in the Berko Gazette as a Mediaeval fruit machine. This time I can be seen trailing behind Pam on a Hertfordshire Health Walk; a scheme sanctioned by the GP practices in the town to encourage people to join in on a regular short stroll with a chance for a cuppa and a chat. The scheme (which Pam has joined and is training as a Leader) is aimed at the unfit and or elderly and lonely so I don't know what I was doing there. Anyway it's a jolly good idea -why not try it.

Can I get an hat trick of Gazette appearances?  We'll have to see if my garden wins the Best Kept Mooring display being run by CRT.....oh that reminds me-I was going to water the garden and fill the tank wasn't I............

Talking of joining things here's a cartoon

and for the dog lovers....

Busy weekend planned. Off to that there Lunnen Town with all their city ways for a birthday/anniversary party on board The Old London Vessel shippin out from Lambeth Pier on Saturday night.
We're staying in town on Saturday night and off to Ronnie Scott's for Sunday Lunch. It promises to be the warmest couple of days since records etc. and no doubt will present photo opportunities especially of historic vessels. I intend to enter the National Historic Ships UK's Photo Competition again this year so who knows....I might get my picture in the Berko Gazette again.
Seems to be growing....

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

This, That and t'other

Under a week to the election.
In an earlier life I would have been as busy as buggery working as I did in the Electoral Registration Section at Harrow for the first two years of my working life, Two of the happiest I must say but my thoughts are with the good souls who are running the election with so much to be got right by the day.

The bullshitters are saying the Corbyn is gaining on May but I suspect that's just the clever boys on the right making sure their voters don't get complacent.

I'm a Corbyn man this time round though he's not one I would normally go for but like so many I'm fed up with some of the dodgy game-players who can see no further than the next election. Things need stirring up a bit particularly in terms of the next generations and he's always been a stirrer, idealistic I know but look where the pragmatists have got us.

If Corbyn had a chance who knows. Unfortunately not only is he fighting the right wing press who have been so organised in their vilification of the man you'd think somebody was paying them! Or perhaps a gong for their trouble. He is also struggling against the previous milksop Socialists who were in power before and wasted such a great opportunity to change things rather than get us further involved with the Middle East.
Oh for a fresh approach and stir things up. I am depressed that I have reached the age of 70 and all the basic things that were wrong when I started voting are still wrong, the same buggers hold the purse strings and  we still have a class system that should have collapsed by now.

 I'll be dead and gone before anybody sorts out the NHS (and the economy/education/housing problems)but the insidious manner in which that great legacy from our parents is being ballsed up by the profiteers should have us out in the streets and them with their heads on  poles. Except of course all the Poles are going home.

Allegedly I'll be wasting my vote in Berkhamsted by voting Labour. You could put a donkey up with a blue rosette and he'd get elected -even if he had been guilty of a slight mis- remembering of his carrot allowance a while back.

He was obviously a perfect candidate for a Treasury job which is exactly where they put him.

Anyway at least I'll be voting. Who knows one day everybody who thinks they wont bother because the vote will be wasted will bother and they will all make a difference. Surprises happen. It's nearly a year since the referendum. Maybe time for another shock.....don't trouble the bookie though

In the meantime the press  continue to bash Corbyn for having the effrontery to think differently. You might not like all he says but for God's sake haven't we had enough of the old guard. Let's give the world a shake.

Sat here in my (very untidy) front well looking at my (very untidy) mooring I'm pondering that whilst I've been moored here over 20 years it's the last two that have seen the most change. I suppose that is due in part to old tempus fugit in that June and David (June Rose) and Bill and Sue ( Kings Ransom)   have both given up their moorings because time has taken its toll. Others( Peter and Christine, Jim and Sue) have changed boats to suit changing requirements. So Wessex has gone and  Swallow has arrived and Owl has been sold and Hampton is currently undergoing extensive (and expensive) works before returning to Cow Roast.  And, of course, the Griffin with Mac and Carrie moving oooop north will cut a lonely sight for long periods of time. My mind wanders to my own situation. My use of Independence as a pleasure boat rather than a domicile is waning and with the passing of the years, assuming I have any left, it will become harder to maintain and afford both boat and mooring. I'm in need of a big injection of oooomph to either crack on or sell up. But for now I'll finish my tea and watch the ducks.

Life on board has definitely changed from Winter to Summer mode with kindling, logs and coal no longer taking precedence over everything else which means more space and less mess. The cut is very busy with half term and a rapid turnover of boats on the towpath moorings.The weather has been good for the half term break but is a bit blowy and wet today....maybe I'll keep a few logs handy just in case. Today was a roll over and back to kip day. Not only did we have an early birthday celebration for Natalie (Lamb PH/Chilli/Champagne/wine/Gin Rummy/More bubbles) but the rain and wind are demotivating to say the least.

Here's a picture of the Cow Roast Inn I haven't seen before. I love the little triangular refuge in the middle of what is now a busy A4251 and was an even busier A41 before the bypass was built.

" Mr. G. Buckle's team to play the return of a match contested at the Cow Roast. A very interesting game of two rounds was played in delightful weather, and resulted in another victory for the home team. The game was watched by a number of spectators. After the game, players and spectators adjourned to the Hotel, and, reinforced by a few friends, discussed a bountiful repast prepared by Mr. and Mrs. Buckle." (Bucks Herald, Aug 1902).
The Cow Roast PH with white fences in foreground (from Wharf Lane)..."

What a lovely world it must have been, reinforced by a few friends, to discuss "a bountiful repast"

The syphilitic ratbags have hit London again with the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks. We are staying  at The London Bridge Hotel in a couple of weeks to attend a Thames party for friend Catherine's birthday and anniversary followed by Ronnie Scott's for lunch on the Sunday. Fingers crossed it all goes well.

I see from the headlines that part of Theresa Might's response to the outrage was that we need to "tackle Saudi Arabia over terror funding". Such cant and hypocrisy are breathtaking.
Successive governments have been aware of the evil of that regime for decades and have continued to crawl up their palace steps without criticising but with plenty of arms sales; arms that have killed our own soldiers. Bit  late Theresa.

Over the weekend I pottered around behind Pam doing odd bits of gardening including assisting in removing a rather large weed that was choking a rose. Apparently it was a teasel and I grabbed hold of it to yank it out. Bad move. The damn thing was covered in sharp spikes and didn't budge an inch. We had to attack it with spade and fork and trowel and foul language before it gave up the ghost.

I wasn't going to bother too much with gardening on my mooring this year; lack of ooomph again. However it seem to be evolving bit by bit and would look very nice if I got off my arse onto my rheumatic knees and tidied things up a bit. I've even planted some runner beans, courgettes and a few leeks+ tomatoes and peppers for our annual competition later this year. Maybe tomorrow, the rain will stay away long enough for bit horticulture, before I take Mike Paine out for the weekly, weakly SAGA/GAGA meeting at the George and Dragon.
For now I think another cuppa will suffice.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Special Wedding Supplement


Let's start with the Wedding!

The boys and girls worked so hard to get the Chilham Village Hall ready on the Friday.

The tables were all named after Faversham pubs!
It had to be a Pashley Darling!
The bike was used to signpost the entrance to the hall. I was deputed to bring it from Faversham but had so much stuff in my car I couldn't get the tailgate fully closed so secured it with my belt; an arrangement that worked well till I arrived at the hall and had to greet the assembled with my car keys in one hand whilst the other was attempting to hold my trousers up. A grand entrance.

 The Champagne is on ice

Saturday started with thunderstorms and I had to use the brolly whilst loading the car with champagne.
I reflected that it would be most unsatisfactory to be struck by lightning whilst carrying full bottles of Champagne. I uttered a silent prayer mid garden "Please God Let me at least be struck holding an empty one"

To Church with the lovely Pamela, Mother of the Bride. Pam was doing a reading, "Daffodils" by Wordsworth but seemed very in always.

The Bride is on her way....

A very groomed Groom

The Service was lovely,  conducted expertly in faith and sincerity by The Rev Tracey Bateson with readings by Andrea May and Pam. Both excellent as were Florence and Neve the Bridesmaids

Trying to get Pam and her offspring in one shot was like herding cats but it's quite an achievement to get them in the same county. We nearly got Natalie in this one-she is just off to the left.

The Reception which included an excellent hog roast was very relaxed with plenty to eat and drink, good music and no casualties

Brian and Gill, Philips' parents enjoy the sunshine with the Lady of the Manor

Pray silence for the father of the bride

Pam is still delighted by the wonderful bunting made by friend, Annie Robson

All and sundry pronounced the day a great success; the weather could not have been kinder, the assembled throng more jolly or well turned out and the principal players all performed wonderfully.
It was grand to see so many kids enjoying themselves to the full and adding greatly to the day. They are, after all the future and what is a marriage about if it is not a tangible acknowledgement of hope in our future.
Well done everybody. Cracking Day.




We had booked a cottage on the outskirts of Chilham, Kent where the Reception was to be held. Arriving on the Monday we were blown away by the loveliness of the accommodation, the gardens and the surrounding area.
You're never more than a hop from a hop in Kent

Our humble abode

Chilham has two pubs, the White Horse and the Woolpack (which has accommodation-much of it taken by wedding guests)
I had an excellent steak in the White Horse on our first night which was great value at just under 12 quid. The second day, Tuesday,  was spent buying Champagne and sunning ourselves in the garden. Somebody has to do it. In fact Tesco in Faversham did not have sufficient Bubbly for our needs so we were told to return the following day . In the evening we met Caz, Philip and Florence at the White Horse for a drink followed by a very fine barbecue back at the ranch.

Wednesday and it's hair to be cut and toenails to be painted. I can't remember who had which but we met up afterwards and went in search of Champagne. Faversham Tesco had sold out again (What recession?!) but the very helpful Michelle established that the Whitstable branch had what we required and would save it for us so  awhitstabling we went. 
 Success! We have the Champagne and the wine will be bought on the morrow from La Belle France......but first we have the rehearsal for Saturday at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Ospringe

Thursday and we're off to the continent.
Some of you will know I have history with birds.  
I have yet to meet anyone who has encountered bird strike whilst driving as often as I .
One memorable occasion whilst en route to France we were  on the M25, near South Mimms, heading for the ferry at Dover and a pigeon came through the windscreen which was very unpleasant for Pam  and generally making a right mess of the car. Birdstrike has happened to me 4  other times; not to the same extent as above which required being AAed to Canterbury for a windscreen, catching the last ferry to Calais and driving though France in the wee small hours arriving at our destination in Brittany about 4 a.m.
But most people have not had even one experience.

My reason for mentioning this distasteful matter is that on this trip they tried a new tactic.
Who did?
The sodding birds. That's who.
 I don't even know what kind it was. I know something.It wasn't a Big- arsed seagull with enough guano to whitewash the Albert Hall or a pigeon that can drop a cluster usually on a new suit, ten minutes before your job interview is to start.
Whatever it was flying over Calais last Thursday its timing was perfect.
Have you ever had duck and langoustines on the same plate. No? Nor me. But after torturing over the menu of the Brasserie De La Mer I settled on a salad. The French do a good salad and as my gouty knees were playing up I decided (or was it Pam?) that moules were not a good idea two days before the wedding.
So I chose a salad comprising as I say langoustines (6 of them) slices of duck breast, smoked salmon and the usual components of salad with a couple of unusual and tasty additions; capers and sypha  physsalis. Very tasty.
I was fortunately two thirds of the way through my meal accompanied by a small glass of Muscadet when Winged Commander R Suppards, Group Leader of the Calais Avian Squadron decided he needed to jettison his load and re-enact the bouncing bomb technique practised across France by this ace group -cue the Dumb Bastards March-da da da da di di da da-ok Ginger we're going in.

Loading up
Splat on my hat
     Crunch on my lunch
           Crap on my lap!

Pam was elsewhere at the time beating up a waiter and found it all very amusing. It's meant to be lucky apparently. Well I didn't feel very lucky as I picked my way through what was left. Needless to say I avoided the capers.
I don't know what a Great Bustard looks like but that's definitely similar to what I called that bugger.

Bird strike apart it was a good lunch, sat in the sunshine with Pam, looking lovely as she ploughed her way through her all day English breakfast and pint of Newcastle Brown ale.

We had gone to France, just for the day, primarily to buy wine for the wedding of Caz and Philip on the following Saturday.
The price of wine is still very competitive in Calais and the clincher is that both Majestic and Calais Wines will, if you buy £250 quids worth, pay your ferry fare (equivalent to £69)
Another bonus is that Majestic in Canterbury (or anywhere) will loan the champagne flutes for nothing as long as you show them the receipt from Calais. We hadn't actually bought any champagne from Majestic as Tesco had an offer on and gave 25% off for 6 bottles or more, but we did buy plenty of wine.

The crossing to Calais and back was idyllic and our timings were perfect. A great advantage of staying in Kent is you don't have to factor in the M25 so we only had to leave our cottage an hour before sailing and we arrived back in time to nip up to Deal to collect a sound system and to Canterbury Majestic for the glasses. My old estate car was well laden by the time we returned home. Job done. We were very glad of Tom Tom.

especially when signposts are covered with hops

Friday was set-up day at the lovely Village Hall and after all the hard work to get the hall ready we all met up at the Woolpack for dinner and retired in good order ready for the wedding on the morrow (see above)

The morning after the wedding , along with many others we set to finish clearing up. I was a bit of a lightweight (?) in that my left knee which had been giving me grief all week was so painful every bloomin move hurt. I was more than happy to have the drive back to Canterbury and Deal with glasses and sound system and take the weight off my legs but I was aware I had not done my bit on the heavy jobs like shifting tables and a seemingly endless amount of chairs.

After the hall we still had to tidy up at the cottage and finally set off for Herts about 4 30. On board I poured a large Chivas Regal and didn't move again. A great week, a great weekend, a great wedding. I just wish I'd had the Moules now.