Tuesday, 29 July 2008

A Sad Farewell

Today we all got up at 5am to say our goodbye's, it was very sad. Dave took Liam and Maddy to Manchester airport to catch their flight back to Germany.

It's a shame they only had such a short stay due to their work commitments. And also that two out of five days were spent travelling! But we made the most of the other three, packed with things to do as a family it was really nice.

As a mum the "maternal instinct" has set in and I've felt very "flat" since they left which isn't like me at all, but it can't be helped I guess. Looking on the positive side, they're both happy with their lives and that's all that counts really isn't it?

I'm glad Dave took today off work, I needed some hugs!

When he got back from the airport, he said there was something wrong with the power steering on the car. A couple of times in the past few days he'd felt it go "heavy" for a few moments.
Later on we went out to do some shopping and by the time we got back, it had gone completely...

So he carefully drove it to the dealership and stayed while they did some tests. It turned out to be a faulty sensor of some sort, they ordered a new one and kept the car overnight. It's still under warranty, so no charge. Thank goodness it didn't happen last week when we were in Devon, or even on the way TO the airport today, PHEW...!

Monday, 28 July 2008

A Fantastic Last Day Before They Go Home

We left the marina at lunch time, yet another glorious day (though it's all set to change tomorrow). Dave's taken today and tomorrow off work. So we came back to the house from the boat, we had a full agenda for the rest of Liam and Maddy's stay here!

In the afternoon we took them shopping to Deepdale retail park in Preston. Maddy and I browsed the clothes shops while Liam and Dave went in the sports shops. Liam bought some new football stuff because he's playing for the Army Corps when the season starts, so he wanted all the best gear...

After tea we took them both for a walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal. We parked the car at the end of a disused "offshoot" of the canal. It's really strange to see a canal just come to a full stop, but it’s very pretty there.
Apparently many years ago it was intended to be a connecting canal which would carry on to Preston, but after starting the job it was later abandoned because of the cost.

It's now populated by fishermen and ducks only! Still, it's a beautiful walk which joins the Leeds Liverpool canal further up. Eventually you come to a bridge with a walkway up to a country road and a pub called "The Malt House." It has a lovely decked area at the back looking straight onto the canal. The whole area is very beautiful and rural, it's where Dave and I used to walk and dream about our future, before we ever set eyes on TT.

Again it was another beautiful evening, we stayed at the pub and sat outside for quite some time having a good laugh about all sorts. Then we slowly walked back and fed the ducks, I took half a loaf of bread in my handbag,, they gobbled it all...!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

A Day Trip Out Aboard TT

With the weather on our side for yet another day we set off early and took Liam and Maddy to TT this morning. Then we took them for a sail down the Rufford Branch, to just before Tarleton where there's a convenient winding hole to turn round in.
We had a great time, Liam was a natural at steering the boat, he even drove us round a curve on the canal close to the River Douglas. It was very successful for a first attempt. [Took me a while practicing on the straight bits before trying that.] Quote: “It’s nothing like driving a car is it dad?”
At the winding hole we met a couple who told us they were in the process of having a wide beam built, so he was very interested in watching TT doing an about turn!
Liam and Maddy at the front of the boat, it's so quiet out there, you can't even hear the engine running...

Son and Father...

Captain for a day...
Reserve Captain and Captain's mate...!

Father and son again...
When we got back to the marina and moored up, we all sat at the back of the boat and relaxed, then we had a meal. At about 8.30pm Dave took Liam & Maddy back to the house so they could have some time alone. Meanwhile we stayed at the boat overnight.
We were amazed by how much they had enjoyed their trip out. Liam said today that he thought it would be boring, and admitted that he couldn't have been more wrong! He really appreciated the canal boating community spirit, and could see the appeal.
Originally had doubts when we announced we were making the slow transition from house to boat. It’s so nice that someone in their mid-twenties can now understand it, and Maddy too. What a great day we all had...

Saturday, 26 July 2008

A Close Family Only Day

The sun is still shining on the righteous (!) So we all sat outside again today, later on we had invited my mum dad over for a BBQ. It's a shame there couldn't be more of us really, but there's so many friends and family on holiday at the moment it's not possible. Those who’re away were all sorry (in advance) that they wouldn't be able to see both Liam Maddy. So to send their love instead.
As it turned out we all agreed that perhaps it was best that there was only the 6 of us, it was Maddy's first introduction to any of our family, and she might've been a bit overwhelmed if all the gang was here at once! She speaks really good English, whilst Liam's German is not "zer goot" (?) He's done a basic course and finds that right now he can understand more than he can speak!
Liam and Maddy...

After we'd polished off the BBQ's offerings and eaten our way through a cheesecake, Maddy asked to see some photos of Liam when he was little. So I brought my HUGE storage basket of “shiny” photos, there must be 3000+ in there. (No exaggeration), it would take hours to go through them ALL. They're from the days before digital, and they mean so much. It was absolutely hilarious too...!  
Ahem, I left all Liam's drawings from primary school at the boat. I bet he doesn't even know they've been saved forever. I'll have to embarrass him with them another time.
We sat talking till quite late, it was really special, seven months apart is a long time…

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Grand Reunion At Last!

Being as one job creates another (for me anyway) I was still catching up with even more mundane tasks today. Liam and his girlfriend Maddy were supposed to be arriving from Germany at the house for either 11.30pm or 2.00am. Yes I’ve got those times right. It all depended on which train they arrived in time for at the airport.

Liam rang to say they'd managed to catch the earlier one. Meanwhile I'd just finished ironing at 10.00pm and they walked in half an hour later, what a surprise, they were an hour early! And PHEW, I managed to make it look like I'd gone to no trouble at all...!

After lots of hugs, we all sat down had a big conversation that lasted into the early hours.

Maddy is a really lovely person, she's from Germany, and brought presents for everyone with her. It's so great to be able to talk face to face away from emails and Facebook! We had lots of news to catch up on…!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Christening Day For Laiyla Mae

Another gorgeous day...
Breakfast at the hotel is 8am - 8.45am, so we got up early (even though we we could've done with a lie in). Basil and his wife are really nice people, they gave us a very warm welcome. If we ever make the journey again, this is where we'd stay.I think because the hotel itself reminded me so much of Fawlty Towers from the outside – it has such character inside. I got this scene from the series going through my head which went something like:Basil: (In the dining room) "And what would you like for breakfast today madam?" Reply: "Just cereal please".
Basil: (In the kitchen) "Those miserable twits at table eight, only having cereal. I mean what's wrong with my Full English Breakfast Special, not good enough for them is it? Just who do they think they are?"

Sybil: (Whilst filing nails) "Behave yourself Basil and leave those people alone."
Basil: (Says thru gritted teeth) "Of course dear, anything for my little nest of vipers..." Then he walks back out wearing the sickly grin again and says, "Here's some complimentary toast madam, enjoy.”
Classic comedy wasn't it?!Anyway, to get back to the Christening, we went and parked up in Brixham. Then walked up a steep hill towards the Church, the angle of which must've been 90 degrees (well, nearly). So by the time we got to the church my posh shoes were KILLING me, as was the case for all the ladies wearing heels. All we could hear going being said was "I wish I hadn't worn these shoes."Laiyla Mae, was very good, no crying, no upset, just a cheeky grin and fascination with what was going on (bless). Then we took a load of photos like you do. But it was so dark in the church, some turned out rubbish which is a bit naff.
However, after doing some major surgery on them using my laptop there was an improvement, but they've lost some quality in the process. So I've tried to post those which don't show everyone with purple faces.
Proud parents with Laiyla Mae pondering on whether she was being taken for a swim...!
Dave with his two sons Danny and Neil...
Four generations together...

After the church service some of us went for a walk round Brixham town centre browsing round the shops. Then we went back to Danny and Fran's house for a lovely buffet. We spent the afternoon outside in the back garden because it was so warm. Both the company we were in and the weather!
Grandad Dave with a little angel...
Neil and Tereza's son Jake up to no good...!

Later on Dave and I wanted to see the harbour. Something to do with being drawn to boats and water I think!
The Cutty Sark...

Views taken whilst walking round the harbour...

We stopped off for a meal in a restaurant which overlooked the harbour, and we saw the lifeboat come in while we were there. When we came outside there was a service of remembrance to the brave lifeboat crews everywhere.
We stayed and listened, it was quite moving really, some people were in tears...
Another walk round the other side of the harbour, and a beautiful sunset...

Later on we went back to the hotel, parked the car and walked down to the "local pub" for a drink and a laugh with the some of the “Christening crowd.”
A message for Danny, Fran, and the girls, thanks for a lovely day from both of us…!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The Sat Nav Knows Best

We're going to a Christening tomorrow in Devon. So we set off today, and are staying in a hotel for two nights because it's so far away, almost 300 miles! We had to get an early start because we knew traffic would be bad. First Saturday of the school summer holidays is motorway madness.And sure enough, congestion made it slow going, but hey we were moving, till we got to the M5. The Sat Nav warned us an hour in advance, "STANDING TRAFFIC AHEAD, RECALCULATE ALTERNATE ROUTE?" (Small discussion ensued). "Well, nah, it'll have cleared by the time we get there" so CANCEL was entered.
Half an hour later we heard "STANDING TRAFFIC AHEAD, ESTIMATED TIME HALF AN HOUR. RECALCULATE ALTERNATE ROUTE?” (Another small discussion) "Nah it'll be clear when we get there" so CANCEL was entered again, I think it gave up after that.
Precisely a half our later, as informed, we were sat still. There'd been an eight car pile up ahead, and people were out of their cars on the motorway they'd been sat there so long. OOPS WE SHOULD'VE LISTENED...
Dave came off at the next exit, then went back on, so we gained a few feet which wasn't very productive, but there you go.

Eventually we were moving again, and landed at the hotel about 6pm totally knackered! We chose this hotel just because it looked a lot like Fa
wlty Towers. And as we discovered the next day it even had Basil running it, right down to every mannerism except the moody stuff, hmm, interesting.

We booked in, dropped off our cases, then went round to Danny and Fran's (the proud parents). Baby Laiyla Mae is beautiful. She's a little miracle too, born premature due to complications she weighed 3lbs and was on life support. But she battled through bless her, and now she's at the "smiley / giggly stage". Ah...
Dave with Laiyla Mae...

We stayed for a while at the house, sat outside because it was so warm, then drove back to the hotel. We took Neil, (Dave´s other son) Tereza, and Jake (their son) with us because they were staying at the same hotel.
Then the guys went out for a drink while me and Tereza had a girlie "catch up" while Jake went to sleep. We haven't seen each other for ages, so we had lots to witter about…!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Surprise Visit From Blogspot Bloggers!

We were doing a bit of tidying up today when we heard a knock on the side of the boat, this is nothing new. We all go round tapping on each other's boats quite regularly, (maybe doorbells wouldn't go amiss!)

So I looked out and saw two strangers on the pier, apparently they'd asked Chris where we were, so she'd opened the security gate for them. Turned out to be Jon and Jan from nb shadow. It was so nice to meet the real people who's story I follow – just as they follow mine! They're also the first boating bloggers" we've met in real life!

Whilst up this way for a break (by car, not boat) they decided to look up the real "Takey Tezey" so of course they got the full guided tour, (Disney tours as we call it). Seriously though, it's nice to know there's other folks out there, besides family friends who find my wittering's worth reading about...

Jon and Jan wanted to take a photo of us which was a very nice gesture, but I looked a bit like a chimney sweep at the time. I don't mind mooching about the marina in such a state, but there's a ban on photos at such times! So after a giggle or two about that, I took this lovely photo of them both together at the bow of the boat with a view of the island behind them...

Sorry it's taken a while for me to post this, we’ve been really busy recently. Places to go, people to see, in other words enjoyable chaos. But I said I would put this photo up in cyberspace, so there it is...
Well I'm always true to my word, if it’s taken a teensy bit longer than originally intended...

Friday, 11 July 2008

A Carrot At The End Of The Week

This has been Dave's second week off work, time to relax after the Boat Festival! So we've stayed on the boat for a full 2 weeks now & it's been great, even with grotty weather these past few days. But I guess we shouldn't complain because it was sunny & warm for the Boat Festival - when it was predicted to be crap.
So I tried out my washer drier for the first time here at the boat, I usually take all the washing back to the house each week. Yet seeing as we've been at the boat for almost 2 weeks, it’s about time it was put to good use! Performance rating = 5 stars.

We also got out & about a bit (in the rain) & did a few odd jobs, today was the first day Dave could sit out to do any fishing since we got back. Meanwhile I caught up with some emails because it wasn't exactly warm enough to sit out front with him!

Also, we've arranged to have the boiler problem sorted. At long last we’ve found a highly recommended guy, who’s heard our story. He’s already been round to do an initial assessment, & is coming back next Friday (18th) to install a new 5.5K Webasto boiler. Can't wait, we've been messed about for too long now...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Ripped Off Good Style

Today we met up with the rogue cowboy, he threatened to take us to court if we didn’t pay up. He also called me a “stupid bitch” for questioning the fact that:
  • The boiler packed up months ago.
  • He came to diagnose and repair, which would give us enough time till we could afford a new one. No parts needed just a de-coke = £550 (!)
  • It lasted 48 hours.
  • He recently stole it without our permission, and charged us an extra £200 for doing so.
We couldn't be bothered with the hassle, there was nowhere to turn, so we paid up just to get rid. It took him six weeks to return our old boiler which we later sold for £50. Well every little helps!

Edit: A few months later he was kicked off the marina for ripping off too many people. Some of us have had to learn the hard way, but what goes around comes around…

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Our Boiler Has Been Stolen

What I didn’t mention on here was that before we went to the Preston Riversway Festival:

Dave got a text saying “Your boiler is now in my possession" from the cowboy who’s been telling us he’ll put it right since last time it went wrong – months ago.

We haven’t paid his bill of £550 for 48 hours use, because it’s  outrageous. He didn’t believe that’s all it lasted after he fiddled with it, but never came to the boat to check! So he’s stolen it and taken it to bits. Said he’s going to charge us for that too! What? We never asked him to do that.

We’re determined to sort this horrible situation this week and get someone we can trust to put a new boiler in. The right size that WORKS!

Don’t speak to me today, we’re at the end of our tether with this guy and have heard story after story of his exploitations with other folks. Too many to mention, and he’s not finished with us yet because of the small matter of the bill (for nothing) to settle.

We went to the festival and put this out of our minds, so we could enjoy our time there. But now it’s back to reality. What with the inverter problem, we have a crippled boat, and can still only come here because it’s warm…

Monday, 7 July 2008

The Journey Home

I'm pleased to report that the trip home was nice and smooth, just Dave and me this time, no chaperone.
The water was a bit choppier, so we stayed close to the other boats even though we felt a lot more confident. I steered us towards the estuary and beyond 5 mile perch, almost up the River Douglas. Wey Hey! Then Dave took over. 
Tell you what though, we'll both have arm muscles like Popeye, because the resistance on the tiller was huge amongst those waves!
Setting off from the mooring at Preston Dock...

Heading into the lock...
A flotilla of boats coming out together, thought we'd stay out of "the race" if you could call it that...
Staying close...
Captain ME...
Not very clear, lots of swans together on the River Douglas...
A better photo of 5 mile perch...
When we got back to St Mary’s marina, it was a case of get the canopy tops back on, meet  and greet folks, then EAT!
So Dave went out to get a takeaway. After a day out on the high seas it was like a luxury meal…!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Fun And Games

Well there's still a bunch of stuff going on here today, Viking warrior canoes flying past (what a racket). The cox person was banging a drum for every stroke. So as you can imagine with three of these canoes going round the marina all day, by about 4pm we were hoping their darn drums would either wear out or fall in the water...!
This was about the 40th time they'd gone past us...
I shouted “SMILE!” him on the right reminded me of Les Dawson…
Some poor folks had to go home today due to work commitments, (we're in no rush because Dave's got these 2 weeks off). Most of them stayed, and each gap that was created was filled by boats from the other side. Those who´d arrived late and missed out on moorings with electric hook up, so by the end of the day it looked like no-one had gone!
Ju and Fran arrived to collect the all important handbag (it got forgotten yesterday because Ju was plastered when they left). So they stayed for an hour, I thought the Sunday would be fairly quiet. But everything was still going strong including the fire brigade water rescue team!
Chris in the boat next door to us (on the other side) invited us to a disco / karaoke night with free buffet he'd organised at the Waterfront pub tonight. We had plans to go for an hour, so Dave and Alan took both cars back to St Mary’s. Then brought just ours back so Alan could bring Dave back on Monday to collect it, (yes it's complicated but it works).
Meanwhile, I got watching the Nadal V Federer Wimbledon final. The atmosphere in the docks took on an air of the footy cup final. Towards the end even those folks sat out on the pier had an eye on things. Above the racket I was making I could hear folks shouting and chanting for each point Nadal won!
Dave got back before the match had finished and watched the last set, the way Nadal came back to win was awesome! Federer's a nice guy, but it was great to see someone else hold the trophy up.
Well, after all that excitement, plus an early start tomorrow, neither of us was bothered going to the pub. We just sat, chilled  out and reflected on what a lovely time we'd had. When we arrived here 9 days ago. We both wondered what the heck we were going to do for a week (before the festival started) in Preston. But we managed to fill every minute of it, quiet "chill out" time was relaxing rather than boring.
I guess a large part of it’s because Preston marina isn’t near the middle of Preston. We could be anywhere, so it's easy to make plans to visit places without being stuck in traffic.
It was a great weekend too, with lots of really friendly people, most boats were from the Lancaster canal, a real nice bunch. Oh, and a round of applause to the organisers who did a great job.
As a bonus we did really well with the weather, I mean the forecast for the north west was horrible for some days. Yet we had a lot of sunshine and warmth, there was only one cold and rainy day. Each day there was a distinct line of cloud in the distance and we were on the right side of it, never thought we'd get this lucky all week though. Hmm, nice…

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Saturday Fun Day

We had some friends coming round today, we didn't know what time they were going to arrive & we'd woken up late, so we ended up doing the last minute "run-around" thing.
Our best mates Ju & Fran arrived at about 1pm, so we had some lunch, showed them round & went to browse round the craft stalls (which had only appeared this morning). Then we watched the jet ski displays, there were several throughout the course of the afternoon!
Too close for comfort…!
Later we saw a bit of "water rescue training mission" by the fire brigade, there was also a busy fairground, so we avoided that one! And the brass band that was on in the marquee at night, it was a pass on that one too!
The copper: Dave and Fran went off to look at the lock at one point. So me and Ju were sat outside nattering, when we noticed two policemen walking down the pier talking to folks. One even got a tour round a narrowboat.
So when they got near us I invited them on board to look round a wide beam, don't think it was part of the job description! Only one of them came to have a look (whilst the other declined the offer and stood guard at the back). He commented on how nice it was, and what warm friendly people we all are. (Ah).
Then Dave and Fran arrived back just as I was showing him round the bedroom... Say no more........ I can honestly say I've never been stood in a bedroom with a policeman before,  and I never heard the last of it all night! (Think my other half was quite taken aback there for a second or two!!)
Turned out PC Plod was quite difficult to get shut of because he came out on the back with us, and started prattling on about the state of the country today and how it was all Jeremy Kyle's fault. When he'd gone we all commented on what a barrel of laughs he'd be at a party.
By now it was tea-time, so the drinks started flowing and we had a buffet. I'd setup a great 1980's rock playlist on my laptop yesterday, so I plugged it into my fancy speakers and party mode clicked in!
About 6pm a mate of Dave's from work arrived with his wife, so we all sat at the back of the boat with a few drinks, they were very impressed with the space / layout / apartment feel of the boat. As everyone who sees it for the first time seems to be! So once we'd done the grand tour it was party time good style.During the afternoon several boats had gone out around the marina, just taking family and friends with them. Alan and Chris took theirs round a couple of times…
But Dave wouldn't do it because he was too bothered about cocking up when coming (backing into) the mooring again, well it was a bit windy.
We were asked if we'd join in the "lights parade" of boats all lit up going round the marina when it was dark, Dave said to put us down as a "maybe," which turned out to be a "maybe not.” Even Alan said he wouldn't leave the mooring for a quick whizz around at night.
But it didn't matter, we ladies sat at the front of the boat (while the guys sat on the roof) and watched the lit up boats going past. Some of them were quite stunning, and by that time we were glad we hadn't gone round, because of all the messing about they had to do afterwards!
The fireworks were next, quite a spectacular display too.
This is the "terrible twosome" Ju and me, best mates for almost all our lives. I got a couple of photos of Julie on her own, when she saw them she said (exact words) "Heather if you put those on your BLOG I'll have to kill you".
So here's a crappy one of both of us to square things up, um, it was cold by then, hence the winter warmers...
The partying continued till about 1am, fortunately Ju and Fran's son came to pick them up, we had to practically carry Julie to the gate. I asked Fran if she'd brought a handbag with her, answer "Oh I don´t know, if she has it'll be in this big bag" (the one with all the cans for recycling). Only a man could miss the significance of us women having a handbag with us at all times.
So I said "OK" gave them both a hug and off everybody went. Then we got back to the boat I found Julie's handbag and brolly on one of the chairs...
Got a txt later: "Can come bck tomor 4 hanbag?"