Friday, June 23, 2017

Hot stuff

We came back to Kantara on a sweltering hot day. And there was the normal Yelvertoft wind, but now an abnormally hot one.
We were expecting, hoping for a thunderstorm to break the oppressive heat, but it didn't come, though it did threaten for a couple of days. Grace and I hadn't been sleeping as well as we would have liked, and a few weeks ago we started to play a recording of rain and thunder throughout the night. It worked a treat, our sleep improved. Then, a couple of days ago, the storm broke. It wasn't much. There was rain, there was thunder and lightning, but it was at around 7.00 am, and the lightning was nothing in the daylight sky. But it was rain and thunder...

When we woke up again, we launched into a list of  "things we have to do before we cruise". Most of these have been completed, and we start out next Wednesday.

We leave Kantara again later today, to stay overnight with Christine and Mike in Torquay, and then to go to Dorothy's birthday party on Saturday. We'll go back to C and M's again that night, then return to the boat on Sunday.

The weather's colder now.  A mere 22 degrees. The summer-weight quilt was put aside on Tuesday night, and we slept under a sheet. We felt chilly last night. But we'd rather the weather as it is now than what it was at the start of the week.

It's just right for faring!



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A fond farewell

Back in Kantara now, enjoying the weather, Grace and I are feeling a little less hectic. Madeline's funeral was a good occasion as far as that is possible. A large group of family and friends gathered at the crematorium under a sky as blue as today's but not as hot. The service was moving, of course, and tears were shed, but it was a fitting farewell to the "little sister". A beautiful poem was read that I want to have included in my funeral service, come the day.


The parting music came as something of a surprise to all but the immediate family.


Various of us had to explain to others afterwards how Madeline, as a child,  had been a great fan of Gerry Anderson's "Thunderbirds" on TV, in no little part because her dad had been the sound engineer. It was a great way to see her off, and we left the crematorium with smiles on our faces.

Another good side of the sad occasion was the meeting up of family, and with friends of Madeline's we'd not seen for decades. Among them was Caroline, who came with Grace's family and me on my first canal boat holiday, just a few months before Grace and I married. Madeline's standing in the doorway, Caroline's wearing the blue hat. Yes, that's Grace and me on the roof!


The day finished with family and closest friends eating together at Dorothy's house (Dorothy holding baby Kathryn in the photo). This Saturday, we'll be there again, celebrating her 70th birthday. It would have been Madeline's 58th, too. She'll be missed.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Feeling a bit like yo-yos...

Our return to the house was prompted by the need to find a new (used) car, coinciding with the scheduled loss of electricity for two days at the marina. In just a few days, we looked at innumerable cars on websites, test drove cars at two dealerships, and finally bought a bright, shiny Ford B-Max (henceforth to be called the Beemer) on Friday. Our old Honda Jazz is to be serviced and MOT'd next week, and given to a very worthy cause.

When we came back to St Albans on Tuesday, we were expecting to be here for just a couple of days. However, this grew beyond the sustainability of the few clothes and bits and pieces we'd thrown into a bag when we left the boat, so, still unsure of how long we'd be here, we returned to Yelvertoft on Saturday (the car's lovely!) and brought back more clothes - plus the perishable edibles that hadn't yet perished in the fridge. Madeline's funeral has a purple dress-code, and we used some of our time in the Rugby area to shop for purple attire for Grace. We failed.

It was convenient for Jess that we were heading north up the M1, because she needed to get to Bedford to meet up with the other two Maidens and drive off to a gig with them. Fortuitously, we were able to pick her up from  Bedford on our way back at the end of the day, too - a useful addition to our drive.

Said the Maiden headlined a music festival in nearby Redbourn on Sunday, and we joined a very good-sized audience and enjoyed a good, sunny afternoon there.



The Maidens are flying to Worms, Germany, tomorrow, to play at their Jazz & Joy festival over the weekend. They don't do Jazz - they're the Joy bit!
The shape of the next few weeks is now becoming clearer. Madeline's funeral will be on Friday, in Somerset. We'll drive down tomorrow and stay with Grace's eldest sister overnight. We'll be going back to Kantara from there, but returning to Dorothy's for her 70th birthday celebrations the following week. Returning to the boat after that, we'll be preparing for some cruising. Firstly, a week with Michelle on the Trent & Mersey and River Trent, then, after a week back at the house yet again, we'll have some cruising time to ourselves, route/destinations as yet undecided.

Watch this space.

Monday, June 05, 2017

A bit of a drive

The past week’s been strangely empty. We’re waiting to hear when Madeline’s funeral is to be, but Brian’s had several problems with the offices involved with deaths, not least that the issue of the death certificate itself has been delayed because of an administrative error. He’s hoping that the funeral can be held on Madeline’s birthday, and has insisted that Dorothy’s 70th birthday celebration should go ahead as planned two days later. Madeline would have been sharing the party with her. So it looks as if we’ll be spending a few days in Devon at the end of the month.
Just a couple of days after that, we’ll be heading off to Fradley Junction, where we’ll meet Michelle and take her for a week’s trip up the River Trent. Our “Strange Cruise” up and down the GU Leicester Line summit for the purpose of getting the Roses and Castles painted has had to be postponed until later in the year.
On Sunday, we had a very welcome day out. Jess and Steve had spent the whole of last week in Suffolk with Hannah and Cathy, recording Said the Maiden’s next album. Yesterday was going-home day, but Jess wasn’t going home. She had to get to a friend’s wedding in Oxfordshire by midday, but it really wouldn’t have been practical for Steve or Hannah to drive here there. Mum and Dad to the rescue! We set out at 6:30 to drive the 100 miles to the tiny village of Elmswell. We met Jess at 8:15 and drove another 130 miles to Minster Lovell, arriving there half an hour before the service started. Bourton-on-the-Water is just a 15-mile, beautiful cross-country drive from there, and that’s where we went to spend the afternoon.
It was Sunday, and it was very warm and sunny, and the lovely village was packed with visitors. It was lunchtime, and we’d not eaten since 6:00, so we walked straight to a favourite restaurant of ours as soon as we’d parked the car, and counted ourselves very fortunate to find a vacant table.
The village green was packed, and dozens of children and dogs played in the river as Grace and I wandered the main street. A visit to the Cotswold Perfumery was a must, and we were drawn into an amazing gem shop, too, where Grace bought two pair of delightful, very unusual earrings. The children within us took us to the model railway, too, and I chuckled at the simple pleasure we got from pressing buttons to control trains, change signals and revolve turntables. It took us back a few years!
I have to confess to being knackered when we got back to Kantara after another 53-mile, return drive, but it was a very good day. Now we wait in eager anticipation of hearing the new CD as Steve produces and engineers it over the coming weeks. It’ll be launched at the Water Rats, a rather prestigious venue in Kings Cross, on November 1st at the start of the Maidens’ nationwide tour. If any of these venues are within your reach, you’ll not regret going to see them.
Meanwhile, I’m doddering around the boat like a bent old man. A zimmer frame, unruly white beard and toothless grin would perfect the likeness. On Friday, I installed a new stern bilge pump, and this required a good deal of doubling-over and twisting of my body into small spaces. I’m assuming it was then that my back took exception to the way I was treating it, and now it’s wreaking its vengeance upon me. It’s doing a very good job of it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Plans on hold

We're back on Kantara, domestic bits and pieces sorted out back at the house. But I've not posted for a while. We've been badly shaken by the sudden and unexpected death of Grace's younger sister, Madeline, who would have celebrated her 58th birthday next month. Life seems to be on hold for the time being.





Sunday, May 21, 2017

A musical feast!

So, when I checked Google Maps to see how long it would take use to drive to Guildford, it said 57 minutes. OK, thought I, it's mainly down the M25, and you know what the M25 can be like, so we'll give it two hours. Just in case.

And the case was that the M25 was the road to hell, and the A3 was just as bad because the M25 exit onto the M3 was closed.

The annual Trinity Folk Festival at St Mary's Church in Guildford started at 1:00 pm. We left the house at 10:30 am. Jess was with Grace and me. Said the Maiden were to perform on the main stage at 3:30, but she needed to be there well in advance of that. We finally arrived outside the venue at 1:30, dropped Jess off and carried on to the nearest car park.
It was full, and cars were leaving that had driven around, looking in vain for a space. We had no choice but to drive around, too, and we did this for no less than half an hour. Space found and claimed, we hurried back to the church just as the first band finished their set - Kim Lowings and the Greenwood, whom we had been very keen to see. Already somewhat peeved by the traffic and the car park, we were a tad annoyed to have missed them, but consoled by the fact that there were still five top groups to perform. So we relaxed, ate a quick sandwich, swallowed a speedy drink, and settled down to enjoy the rest of the festival.
And it was truly a superb line-up. The Maidens were the only group we'd heard live before (many times), and they were outstanding yet again. But so were the others, too, and the whole programme was thoroughly enjoyable. Watch and listen to them yourself, and see what you think.












The journey back after a very full, very fabulous eight hours, took us 45 minutes.