Saturday, April 20, 2013

A busy week and a nice visit

April is turning out to be a month of conferences and courses. Wednesday saw me at Moorgate, I didn't particularly want to go into the city due to 'that' funeral, but Moorgate was quiet and strangely, the course quite interesting. Thursday I had a course on 'managing attendance'.

When my daughter worked at TFL any sick was always followed up by a 'return to work interview' I really didn't see the point of this because if you are sick, you are sick. Even if you think the person is swinging the lead, what can you do, apart from accuse them of outright lying? But I did find it useful. Luckily for me, I do have excellent staff who really don't go sick much, but should it ever happen, I am happy about asking in a constructive way, rather than all guns blazing!!. We had to stop during the course as a bloody great shower of hailstones came down, smashing against the windows making it impossible to hear the trainer!! Personally  think it would have been more appropriate for the morning of the day before as we had a few loud claps of thunder as well, except some mighty fine service personnel would have got wet.

Then, I went on a lovely visit yesterday to Paddington Basin to catch up with Les and Jaq. It must be coming up for a year since we last met and the afternoon was spent getting a lesson on single handed boating, laughing at Les's mishaps as a single handed boater and generally putting the world to rights and yes, there was cake involved. I really enjoy catching up with them, when you see them together it always puts the world to right for me!! Thank you Les and Jaq, it is always fab catching up with you both and  I hope you enjoy your trip up the Lea.

This morning, however, I have to make a trip to the optician. My glasses fell onto the floor overnight and I got out of bed this morning and stepped right on them, snapping them in two. I do have a spare pair, but I did need my eyes tested anyway so I will have to get to the optician. He is great but always let him manages to talk me into expensive frames.

It looks likely to be a pleasant day today, so it's in with the washing and off for a shower.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Some Snow Cruise Photo's

Cruising by

Sue, the intrepid explorer

Looking out of the window to discover it's snowed

Branston Water Park

Going through the lock

Friday, April 05, 2013

A week off

I have taken this week off, I had the kids for 3 days to take them out, with Mum being ill at the moment, they are stuck in doors a lot of the time. It also gave me the opportunity to get the house in order, as Dad does little now when I am away. It all needed a good vacuum and polish and yes, today, finally I have managed to get washing out on the line.

There is something really good about being able to dry the washing outside, I hate the onset of winter because clothes are just not the same dried indoors. Simple pleasures are always the best ones.

I stocked up the food cupboard earlier and all I have to do this weekend is relax and get my mind set ready to go back to work on Monday. I am grateful I have a job but I have come to actually hate it. I never was one for being lazy, but a lot of the time I find myself thinking of excuses as to why I cannot go in!! (I always DO go in though)

I have a lot of work to catch up with when I get back as there is no one to cover my job at the moment. No doubt I will go back to a whole load of support jobs but it will at least make my day go quicker.

Right, I am off to finish the washing seeing as it is drying in record time. I must then get my potato seeds planted in the bags. Have a good weekend all

Thursday, April 04, 2013


I so love music, I have quite a varied taste which doesn't extend to really heavy metal or country, but a hotchpotch all the same.

Today I have been listening to some old David Bowie and Life On Mars. Immediately 2 friends spring to mind, sadly both dead. The first was

Terry was a handsome little chap, really cute looking at the tender age of 15. We used to meet him in Greengate cafe during school lunch breaks or truanting time!! He went to a different school to us but was always smiling and had a real mischievious streak. The minute Life on Mars came on the cafe radio, he came alive and began miming with gusto, he also played air drums to I love you, love me, love'. He was into banger racing and absolutely adored David Bowie. Once he left school we didn't see him except for him driving a moped down Prince Regents lane where he happily tooted and waved. Eventually he married and had 3 kids, built up his own business and moved out to Essex. About 8 or 9 years ago I came across him on Friends Reunited. His business had gone to the wall due to a business partner running off with the money. He'd lost a lot, a house in Florida, almost his house in Essex. But his family had stuck by him. We swapped numbers and spoke occassionally. He was still a smiler and mischievious. After not speaking to him for 18 months I sent him a text: Oye Terry! Are you dead?' a few days later he called. 'No' he said 'but I have been diagnosed with cancer. They have no idea where it has origniated from but it is a secondary. I am having Chemo and feel great' That was the last conversation I had with him. I got a call from his wife 18 months later telling me he had died. She said, positive and smiling till the day before he died, when the reality sunk in and he went off peacefully. Terry was 53

I had known Peter from his childhood, he was 8 years younger than me, but hung around with a friends brother. He was much the same as Terry. Always smiling and michievious. After I divorced and moved into my own flat with Christine I started working. Money was tight and my confidence was low. Peter kept me sane by popping in on a regular basis and updating me with all the local goings on. One night he went through my record collection and came across a Bowie album 'Please play Life on Mars' he begged and so I did and there he sat mining away. Deja Vue. One night, as a joke, he went into the local shop and having known the previous shop keeper who knew how micheivious he was, picked up a box of mushrooms saying yum yum and walked out of the shop with them as a joke. He never got back inside the shop. the 3 brothers who ran the shop chased him outside and started beating him with crowbars, one finally held him in a headlock that snapped his hyoid bone. He died out on the street, in front of 50 witnesses who had come out to see what the disturbance was. It took police 40 minutes to get there and by that time Peter was already dead. He was taken to hospital and put on life support. Later the hospital admitted a junior doctor had taken the decision, had a more experienced doctor seen him she would have declared him dead on arrival. Peter was 22.

So when I play 'Life on Mars'  it always makes me smile. I am not a religious  person, but I like to think that when I play it they pop down to visit me and are happily mining away together. I have great memories of 2 nice people no longer here but hopefully bopping away somewhere.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

I did it

This is the proof. Today I took the grand children on the Emirates Airline. It was a little breezy but I utterly crapped myself quite enjoyed it. The sun was shining, it wasn't very warm but it made a great photo. It goes up 290ft. Going backwards isn't as enjoyable as going forwards. Surprisingly the queues were small. As we were queueing to come back a plane flew over it coming in to land at City airport. Glad I wasn't on it then!!

Before boarding


O2 Arena

Some of the swish flats eastenders can't afford.

Trent and Mersey in the snow

Well, we went cruising as planned on Saturday the 23rd of March for my birthday cruise. The M1 was almost deserted because of an amber warning for snow, certainly not the weather we had at the same time last year. We arrived at Mercia Marina a little earlier than anticipated and Justin from Aqua Narrowboats allowed us to take the boat early as we were the only idiots customers taking a boat out.

We had our tuition, wrapped up with thick sweaters and waterproofs and set off on our way. The strong easterly was behind us as we decided to cruise to Branston for the night. I have never cruised in the snow before and must admit, the thought of icy locks scared me a little but we got through them and moored for the night with a take away pizza. We woke the next morning to see we had had snow overnight, covering the tow path and the boat with about 3inches of snow. It looked utterly beautiful and didn't put me off one bit. The boat was toasty warm, we had facilities in the villiage so decided that instead of aiming for Stone, we would spend the day there. A really lovely couple in a boat in front (which was called Norma Jean) came and chatted to us and even went and got a paper for us. Sadly I never got their names. Sue and I had a walk around Branston villiage and the waterpark and then came back to cook a nice roast dinner.

On Monday we took the executive decisions to go as far as Alrewas only as I was worried that the river section might close once we were past it. Once again we set off and with good waterproof clothing and some snazzy knitted hats were quite warm on the back of the boat. This year I decided to let Susan do a lot of  the steering while I helped out my friend Christine with the locks.

In the wooded section just past Barton Marina we came upon another hire boat crewed by 3 men, as we approached they suddenly veered over the canal and motioned for us to get back, I put the boat in reverse and then slowly approached them on tick over as they pointed for us to go on the inside of the them close to the tow path. As we drew level one of them lifted the deck board up and lots and lots of black smoke started coming up from the engine, this was the reason they had veered across the canal, they had suddenly lost all engine power. Thinking they were on fire, we offered them help and then grounded ourselves on the bank!! Luckily it wasn't on fire and eventually we reversed off and went around them while they called the hire base. I made a mental note to not hire from Shakespeare, hiring from Aqua has spoilt us!! :-)

Finally we got to the dreaded river section, and although it was running fast the board had indicated that it was open as normal, a couple had locked us through the previous lock and had warned us that the wind coming across the flat landscape made it near on impossible to land at the lock landing so they had left the gates open, as we approaced Alrewas lock, the gates were still open so we were able to go straight in. I used the ladders to get up and lock us through, it's the first time I have used the ladders but as I plan to buy my own boat and cruise solo, it's something I may have to do more often. After going through Alrewas to the turning point, we found a mooring spot along from the water point and moored there.

I often read from other boaters blogs about how good the chinese is, so that night we had a chinese and I must say, it was the best I have ever had. Yummy

Some friends we made in Alrewas

On Tuesday we went to the National Memorial Arboretum. Derbyshire council no longer run a daily bus service, a decision I think, that is very sad and utterly stupid. The long (safest) walk is mostly on grass verges beside a busy dual carriageway with traffic whizzing past at 70 mph, crossing over 2 roundabouts and then into the arboretum. Totally unsuitable for people with children or disabilities, the alternative (Which we did on the way back) is even worse, by crossing the A38 without the aid of a bridge, underpass or even lights. That was a terrifying experience.

Very Poignant words

It was a bitterly cold day, so we only stayed for a few hours, the ground was waterlogged too. I am glad I have seen it, it is a reminder of how lucky I am, no matter what goes wrong in my life. The shop is fantastic and I managed to get a bottle of Pussers Rum for my Dad, which is the only thing my Dad liked about the navy after being transferred to the Fleet Air arm after being demobbbed from the RAF. I really hope that at some point the bus service is restored, I would imagine without it a lot of people won't visit.                         

We stayed at Alrewas until Wednesday then crusied back to Branston for the night. Thursday saw us getting a bus to Burton and doing what girls like doing best, shopping!! I really liked Burton, it was great for shopping and at the Market I bought another snazzy hat!    

Despite the snow, I have loved it. I even took the boat back into the marina through the ice on Saturday  morning. I have always has a fear of tight turns but as I got some practice at the waterpoint in Horninglow basin decided to go for it. It was the first ice we had encountered all week but I managed, much to the relief of Lyndon, to bring Aqua Bwywd into the fuel berth. (Secretly, I think he wanted me to be the icebreaker!!)

Yes I have now boated in all weathers and I love it as much now as I did when I first hired a narrow boat.