Valentine’s Day

Thirty nine years ago, we got engaged. Italian restaurant, Southampton. So today, we chugged on, to bridge 37 – only an hour and a half but chance to have a pub lunch.

A very foggy start – with an evil looking, post-apocalyptic sun
It soon brightened up into a gloriously sunny day & deserted
We moored just past bridge 37 and sauntered up to South Kilworth
Past the Stanford reservoir
A long road but beer & food at the end
We were very lucky, they are normally closed lunchtimes, in winter, but a walking party had booked in, so yes, we could eat . . 2 x lasagnes and beer! Happy Anniversary!
It were a long road back but downhill.
We decided to chug onwards to the Welford junction (to swing the boat) and then go back past bridge 37 and on to bridge 33 for the night.
It was a good day for photography, so clear & bright – you could see the Death Star quite clearly
Viv gets to drive for a bit
She looks really professional! Calm & relaxed (ish),
Scenic bridge 40
Steve, hmm, the right caption would be “Plonker”
Viv took this – chaotic swirls?
“Better out than in” would be this caption – my perfect bridge for reflections. Is this really February? Sun hat on and coat off!!
Don’t often get his photo – Steve putting up the aerials and his weather station – always asking, where the hell is North?? See the website weather.vivatek.co.uk
Beautiful mooring spot by bridge 33. Spot the very tired doggie?
I did try and wait for them to pose in their “heart” position, well, it is Valentine’s Day.
It is a very scenic spot
And here’s my Valentine – feeding those swans . .

Out on the boat

We always said we’d go out if the weather was agreeable and lo, it came to pass! After days of icy cold and high winds – the Met Office relented and said, “Oh, alright, if you must, here’s some sunshine!”. With the forecast of low winds, full sun and rising temperatures, we gaily slipped our moorings and crept out of the marina for the first time this year. Heading for bridge 27 and maybe beyond for a few days . . .

It really was blindingly bright and very quiet
We met a few boats who had the same idea but otherwise serene
The boat seemed fine – the recent service made the engine sound just grand
I did point out the wildlife to Toby but he wasn’t interested
All wrapped up but the thermals & longjohns weren’t really necessary – the boat reached 26 degrees inside.
Approaching bridge 26 and Gail’s favourite mooring spot – no one here!
I could be wrong but they seem to have cutting a lot of the branches – but more on the offside, still it’s better than nothing.
The favourite mooring spot – quite idyllic and they’ve upgraded the 4G signal (EE) – I managed to get 50 (yes, really) Mbps!!
I think we’ll stay put for a bit.

Winter Escape – more . .

So where are we? Trefin – house is Hafan – the big one, centre right photo
And zoomed out – gives you some idea of proximity of the sea
A few cottages going for sale – this one opposite Hafan, up the valley
Quite nice – annex too – all for £585,000
How the other live, eh? Blinis for tea.
Lots of snowdrops on a walk from the woollen mill, down to the two beaches; Aberbach & Abermawr
Lots and lots of snowdrops (near Melin Tregwynt)
Footpath to Aberbach beach
Two cottages on this path – this the last one . .
Didn’t think it was for sale but lovely position
acres of bloomin gorse
Aberbach beach – Toby swim – tricky getting us across here
Short walk round to the other beach – Abermawr
Wonderful beach, submerged, petrified forest plus failed terminal for Brunel’s transatlantic rail terminal
Meanwhile, the woollen mill – Melin Tregwynt has given its cafe a wonderful makeover and is open everyday! Time for some cawl.
The former cafe was very dated and small – this one is much more chic
with lots of local scenes
and the shop . . . all homespun . . woollen blankets £260!

Winter Escape – Day 2

The gales of Sunday now seem a distant memory. We plan a trip to St Davids and then a walk from its small port, Porth Clais around the coastal path to Porth Lysgi. A gloriously sunny day. Cold but warmish in the sun.

Porth Clais


Panorama
A call from Stephen Davies!
A beautiful morning and not a soul about
Another panorama – the sea looks almost calm today
The small bay of Porth Lysgi – scene of many a dog (and Steve) swims in the past
Toby gets his swim

A small compilation of videos from today’s walk

Winter Escape

Whilst not quite as exotic as the trip to Mojacar, as we did last year, we do need a break from the confines of the boat, the marina and the winter! We’ve had a few days of sub zero temperatures plus some snow . . .

A sprinkling of snow then a freeze

Toby loves it!

Yes, the marina did freeze over but only for one night.

So, we booked a week away in Hafan – a coastal cottage in Trefin, Pembrokeshire – our 8th visit. It is such a good property – big rooms, cafe opposite and pub across the road plus a short walk to the coastal path and the sea. It did take most of the day to get there, as we are no longer in North Somerset. So a 0906 start saw as driving down the M1, M6, M42, M5, M50, M4 . . . three stops and then arriving Trefin at 1602. Some rain but worse was to come – with the Met office forecasting gales of 60+ mph overnight and 50+ winds the next day.

This is the small bay just yards down the road, site of the old mill.

And here’s a compilation of short videos to give you some idea of the strength of the wind . .

It did knock the breath out of you and even caused Toby to wobble sideways

Never seen it this bad before.

Feeling slightly fortified as the Mill Cafe does wonderful food – especially the Welsh breakfast (like an English but with 2 added items – cockles in butter plus a laver bread & oat pattie! Yum). Viv had bacon and a pancake stack with maple syrup!!

The circular walk back to the house . . .

Viv – ensconced

 

Better Out than In?

We may be sliding towards the end of October and the “fun” of living on a boat in winter but the sun is still out and even though our friend couldn’t make this weekend, we planned to go out & lo, it came to pass.

The Open Road ! Very quiet this time of the year.

Steve’s lacquered bear is keen to be out!

Ah, these guys are back. Doing their bit for mooring nicely – not doubled up or moored near a bridge, oh, they are doing both! As usual.

Viv drives – wearing her new knitted poppy – thanks to Jude Calver on nb Black Bart, see RoxyChicKnits to get yours!

I call this the lightning tree – as it dregs up that awful song!! Architectural though, isn’t it?

These guys are cute and were hiding at the bottom of the field. Might be me but I couldn’t help but think of what food to get for Christmas . . . .

It is almost Hallowe’en –  Or is that a spooky reflection causing Steve to look ghostly?

Another Victor Meldrew moment for Steve (and others it seems) as they do insist on mooring tooooo close to the winding hole (over on the right). Long boats have to turn early but that would mean smashing your stern into this ickle boat . . . steel v. fibre glass?

Meanwhile, whilst the temperatures head south (1 degree tomorrow), we have the stove glowing nicely . . .

And Viv makes her sherry trifle – using two jellies (strawberry & then lime) to create a kind of Tequila Sunrise effect! All part of our calorie controlled diet, honest. We can share . . . if you come out this way? But be quick . . .

Our favourite spot! Betwixt bridges 27 & 28.

Summer Lingers but a friend returns

I know a song: “There’s Something wrong with the Weather!” – this warmth continues with temperatures exceeding 17 degrees here. A walk up the Hemplow Hills & the marina Kingfisher seems to have returned!

Toby seems to have a new lease of life – very bouncy & active!

Can the same be said about Viv? Well, we are trying – with longer walks.

A brief flash of blue – and a small bird sits opposite our kitchen window. Yes, the local kingfisher has returned.

Didn’t hang around for long but nice to see him back. Oh, he’s moved to Mr Crabtree . . .

And a very short video . . . they do bob you know!

Early Autumn

After the trip to Whitstable, we were then off again, this time to Viv’s folks in Barry, Wales. Just for a few days. Staying in the local Travelodge – which wasn’t bad at all.

Then back on the boat – Viv paints the design on the cratch table – which needed redoing.

The weather remains amazingly warm & sunny, so off to the Jubilee Park in Crick to walk Toby

Lots and lots of berries about

 

Autumn colours

Can you spot the Boggle?

He does love a ball game

The mornings are getting colder and the leaves are dropping

Still amazed at the abundance of berries – here’s a bush with just sloes

These are spindleberries – they were used in the hand spinning of wool.

And after the walk – the pub! And another Church End brew on today:

Starting to get brilliant sunsets but also misty, foggy mornings

The Old Boiler

 

Well October has come around so quickly. It was only July when we visited Mum and made the bold decision to go for a new boiler (old one was 38 yrs old!!) plus a new big radiator for the big lounge. The “stuff” was to be delivered on the Monday morning, with the men arriving around 12 to begin to take the old out & put the new one in . . . sort of went to plan. The radiator didn’t turn up. Not until Wednesday in fact! Still Mum was glad to have us around and to leave Steve to chat with Paul the installer, all about the new smart pumps, modulating boilers, 3-port valves and the posh Internet ready thermostat – yes, Steve can access it and control it from his computer!  Time for more shopping and the odd pub visit . . .

View from  . . . the bedroom and yes, you can see the sea.

Back to the Tankerton Arms for a beer or two . .

Nice selection – inc a dark beer – Sleep Delays?

Yes, a lot more pipes and bits on show!! A smart condensing boiler but so many pipes, pumps and controllers!!

We wanted to find a country pub, that did good food, gave us a nice ride out and let dogs in . . . We found the Duck Inn, Pett Bottom! Only 12 miles away but middle of nowhere! Wonderful food – a real gastro-pub. See the Duck Inn

Good real ale, a big gin menu and the food was really excellent.

I’ve been expecting you . . . .

Quite hidden away but quite a gem . . the hot October weather was a bonus! In fact, too hot to cause the new central heating to come on!!

 

Remedial Painting & Home

 

A bit of a wet day, Monday. So we stayed put until it cleared after lunch and then set off. Bit unusual for us. An afternoon cruise. It was still a bit drizzly but we chugged on into Braunston, took on water and optimistically waited for another boat to turn up, to partner us through the 6 big locks. But alas, none came. It was a lovely quiet day, so very unusual for Braunston – this national hub of the waterways. So, we did the locks ourselves, nice and slow. A few boats came down and so all the locks were set in our favour. Met a hire boat with a Toby lookalike who was also a name-a-like – Toby! Yes, Toby3 as we had to call him. We ventured into the tunnel – again all on our own, which was nice. On past the Norton junction and up to Welton Hythe to stop for the night.

A misty, murky Braunston

Nice new armco at the Norton Junction

Up through the Watford locks – luckily the first boat and so up we went and on to the marina at Yelvertoft – quick pump out, well it has been 6 weeks! And on to bridge 27 for some remedial painting.

It is a lovely spot – it ticks all the boxes – the right orientation for the solar energy, good phone signal, 4G signal & TV reception plus a pocket wood for the dog and just quiet.

Steve dons his coveralls to do the bitumen painting – what a gay figure in his green crocs, red vest and bandana hat!

Time for some Tai Chi?

This boat, Dane, was sort of afloat when we arrived but it was leaking badly and slowly sank. A shame the owners have left it this way.

We were joined by Gail & Jess on Sleepy Otter, chance to do some catching up over a cuppa. Simon steamed along too – so more cuppas required! Cosy.

Hmm, that mouse from some years ago, ate lots of our stuff, including Steve’s coveralls – hence the odd air conditioning he now has!

Gail gave us some high temperature silicone sealant for the chimney – did the job. Cheers!

Nice, shiny and re-blacked boat – all the “lock rash” covered over.

Recoated blacking

Steve volunteers to go into the gas locker and paint it with more bitumen

Gloomy but worth doing

Here’s the before picture . . .

And here’s the after picture.

We introduced Gail to Paellero – a Spanish spice mix for making paella and she adapted it for her veggie dish. Looks good & tasted good too.

Saturday and back “home”. Breezy but we got in, backwards with no hassle. Time to plug things in, put ropes away, change gas bottles and go down the Wheatsheaf for lunch.