Thursday, 31 October 2013

Marina life.

Marina life is very relaxed, but I do get jealous of those still on the canals still moving, at the moment the bow and stern fenders are on the roof until I get the weather to finish off the paint jobs I started before our USA trip.

We will do things a little different next year and stay cruising much longer, we are still learning. The darker evenings are here now, but in less than two months the days will slowly start to stretch out and then we won't have too long to wait before we are cruising again in 2014.

 The Bistro, farm shop and management block viewed from FL (sorry I'm such a crap photographer)

Managed to get the first topcoat on the stern which doesn't look too bad, I rushed while keeping an eye on the worsening sky's. It will need a rub down and flatten before applying a second coat.

We returned the food processor to Curry's and bought a new hose from Homebase to replace our current holey hose which resembles Russel Square Fountain when we use it to fill the water tank, which wasn't a problem on the towpath but in the confines of the marina might upset the neighbours.

In the evening I lit the solid fuel stove, later I had to open the side hatch and windows to get rid of some of the heat!

My phone has been playing up for a while and I decided to do a factory reset, but unfortunately the phone wouldn't sync to the PC so I have had to manually type all my contacts into the phone, just hope I haven't missed any digits out.


Blue skies but cool. We took the car to have a look around Rugeley an old market town but today looks a bit run down, it does have a 'shopping centre' which has automatic doors at the entrance and if you walk very very slowly they will open before you walk into them. Once inside there are no Debenhams Boots of M&S, the space is divided into small square cells which offer the sort of goods you may find at the end of a jumble sale. After a walk around St Agustines  Church grounds we moved on to Litchfield birthplace to Dr. Johnson of literary fame, a smart university city with smart shops pubs and designer coffee cafes spread out among the alley's, antique shops museums and art galleries. We came home with a cosy for our tea pot!

We had a trip out to Stoke on Trent and visited the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery,  they had a WW2 Spitfire on display as well as the expected ceramics pots plates and decorative items and natural history exhibits. The art was from LS Lowrey and a couple of other artists I have not heard of. Sue picked up a food processor from Debenhams and some earrings from Samuels. In the afternoon we made our way to Ashcoombe where the Camra web site had informed us there was to be a beer festival from Wednesday the 30th October with 280 beers to sample/choose from, they got it wrong we were a day early, these Camra guys ought to leave the ale alone while updating their site. I emailed their chairman to let them know how disappointed we were.
The Office for Natonal Statistics 'well being' report reads that the good people of Stoke are among the unhappiest people in the whole of the UK, I don't know why this is, but part of the reason could be the proliferation of speed cameras in this Shire. On the road  to Stoke there is a camera at least every half mile and on one stretch there were 5 or 6 within a half mile , Maurice Gatsonides family must be laughing all the way to the bank. I haven't seen any evidence that the dough these cash cows are coughing up are being used by the council for refurbishing the tarmac.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Quiet day in Stone

We slept through any weather that we did get in Staffordshire,  the south east got a battering from storm Jude's barrelling it's way through the Channel. Here the day has been quite sunny at times with the odd short shower.

Today we have been into Stafford to have a look around, get a few bits for the boat and do some Christmas shopping . It's getting to that time of year when I need to keep occupied or I will be cajoled into  shopping more and more. Sue bought a food processor in Curry's but after getting it home we found an essential part missing so its going back tomorrow.

I bought some Ronseal to paint the solar panel box's, a double socket and some cable to fit a 240v socket in the electrical cabinet at the stern this will be used in conjunction with a battery charger to keep the engine starter battery topped up while we are on shore power. The converter has a charger but this only services the domestic bank as do the solar panels.

The weather forecast for tomorrow looks fair so I may finally get a topcoat on to the stern.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Morrisons v Tesco

We both had a 12 hour catch up sleep before  watching the F1 qualifying and then going to Morrisons to restock the cupboards. At Tesco's you can get three bottles of different 'designer' Ales for a fiver the same at Morrisons is 50p cheaper, so the more you buy the more you save.

Sue has been making good use of the on board washing machine as well as the marinas laundry facilities to get all the holiday gear  and  towels washed and dried.

 I asked the marina manager  Alex if I could move the mooring points on our pontoon to better suit FL's length of 58 ft. ( the mooring rings are positioned for a 70 footer). He was OK with letting me do the work so  in between the showers I moved the stern ring a few feet closer to the bow ring. Now FL doesn't yaw so much in the wind.

Watched the England rugby union team give a good account of themselves against favourites Australia in a world cup qualifying round . They lost 28-10 after being 10-0 up

I listened to Fulhams appalling display against Southampton on Talksport Radio, they lost 2-0 without having a shot on target.

Sue cooked us a tasty beef stew with an added  ingredient (Chipotle paste) which gave it a very pleasing slight kick.

I have been trying to decide whether to purchase a dehumidifier for the boat and if we do would a small one do a good job or should we get the standard 10L one. There are ones on the market that only switch on when there is need and ones that have a frost safety feature, both helpful if you are away from the boat for extended periods. We don't have a big problem with damp but in the mornings the inside of the windows and the anodised frames are sometimes wet.  I will give this a bit more research before committing to buy.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Back onboard

Arrived in LGW early at 0640hrs which is 50 Min's earlier than schedule, great I thought we'd be back to FL early but  the handling company didn't unload our bags for two hours ! Just what you need after an eight hour flight. A bit different from our arrival in Chicago where we were through immigration, collected our bags, through customs within 15mins.

I didn't get any sleep on the flight but we managed to get into business class so at least we were comfortable and were looked after well. We collected our car from our friends house and were on our way by 10'ish. We stopped for a Starbucks en route, we were held up by crawling traffic on M42 and M6, finally arriving back on the boat around 1330 hrs in warm sunshine but it has just started raining as I tap these keys. We have been up for over 36 hours now so will hopefully catch up on the Z's over the weekend.

Below are pictures taken on our last early morning beach walk.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Beach bums

Well our time as layabout beach bums is over we have a flight to catch in 10 hours time. We get into LGW at 0730 hrs. Depending on whether I get any sleep on the plane will decide if we get our heads down at our friends home or drive straight up to Stone.

Funny thing is packing for home is usually a sad time but this year I am not the least bit disappointed as we don't have to head back for work reasons, we did consider staying  on another week  but we are both excited to get back to FL. I still have a few painting jobs to get done before winter sets in.

Yesterday after a day on the beach we eat at Crabby Bills where I had the  Mahi and Shrimp Combo.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Island House

Here in Florida we stay at the Island House Hotel an establishment we have been visiting for 30 years. When we first came here in the 80's we could see the sea from our room . Now the Double Tree  on the beach blots the view, this isn't a problem for us because  we pay 62 dollars a night for a huge room across the street from the Double Tree where they are paying 240 dollars a night for a small room overlooking the beach. We only use our room to sleep in and use all the Double Tree facilities the bar the restaurant and the out door Tikki Bar including the beach beds and parasols. Over the years we have come to know the bar staff particularly well who treat us as friends.  We frequently get some sort of freebie either a cocktail,beer or cookie. Tomorrow is our last night and I will try and get a photo of Jude and Susan two of the stalwalks at the Double Tree

If you take the time to look at Island House web site web site don't be fooled :-

The Tennis court is unplayable because of the weeds growing up through the tarmac, kitchens and  bathrooms haven't been upgraded in 30 + years. The  'two steps 'access to the beach are across a dual carriageway; but the swimming pool is the best along Redington Shore. The Island house also has a store room where we  leave beach effects like cool box chairs fishing rods etc.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Dog Friendly

We had breakfast at the most dog friendly establishment ever.  The Sweet Sage Cafe, The dogs even get their own menu to choose from.the menu has some amusing anecdotes, my favourites are:-

One reason a dog is such a lovable creature is it's tail wags and not it's tongue.

The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog.

The cafe also has local artist stuff for sale and Sue picked up a small sign for FL.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Back on the water

Not on the canal yet but aboard the Starlite Majesty for a dinner and dance cruise around the gulf beaches and inter coastal waters of Cearwater

We started of we Champers for the ladies, Miller Lite for the men

Then  appetisers of Beef Wellington before  more drinks and a leisurely walk around the upper deck for some sight seeing and watch the sunset before the main course.

Steel pirate ship.

Sue went for the veggie option while I had catch of the day (Tilapia)

Friday, 18 October 2013


 Mr Heron



Egrets under the fishing pier.

Hula party at the Double Tree


Glyn and Christine


Wanted to hire one of these, we have a VW instead

Thursday, 17 October 2013


The TV Baynews9 weather man said there is a cold front coming down from the north and by next Thursday the temperature will only be 76 degrees.! Good job we are leaving for home that day until then we have to tolerate the mid to high 80's.

Although we are enjoying our holiday here, we are both looking forward to being back on board FL next week.

Gulf of Mexico

Happy Birthday to Nikita  XX

Monday, 14 October 2013

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl.

Hug for birthday girl, do you like the FL cap.

Brave or what, a couple of years at this very spot I trod on a Sting Ray and it promptly stabbed it's stinger through the top of my foot, the pain was excruciating.

Our Neighbours snoring.

In the evening we dined at the Salt Rock Grill which is one of the Gulfs premier restaurants.

Impressive wine cellar

Champagne ladies.

After the Salt Rock we had a night cap or three in the Double Tree

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Friday, 11 October 2013

Win-Dixie and The Pub

Seems I'm addicted to blogging.

We were up early an out walking along the ocean watching dolphins breaking the water, formation flying and diving by pelicans, Snowy Egrets and Herons fishing at the waters edge. Must remember to take the camera tomorrow,

I have had a new perscription for eye wear for over a year now so this morning I took it to Visionworks and got a two for one deal,so I'm having one clear varifocal pair and a pair of varifocal sun glasses made. The latest thing here is HD lenses so that's what I'm having but unlike  the shops regular lenses that are made on site these have to be sent to Texas to be manufactured and won't be ready till the  21st a few days before we leave for home.I just hope they are right first time.
It will be nice seeing FL and the canals in High Definition.

After the opticians we went to Winn Dixie to pick up some sandwich fillers, water and beer. Then spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach.

Last nights restaurant was the Conch Republic , this evenings restaurant  was The Pub at Indian Rocks. I had a clam chowder starter and the  catch of the day which was swordfish, although the food was up to scratch our surly server Rob was not and this was reflected in the tip we left.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Tow Horses

Said our farewells to Charlie and the twins this morning, Yvonne has just dropped us of at O'Hare airport for our flight to Tampa where we will meet up with our friends at the car rental hall and then drive to Redington.

I probably won't blog to much over the next two weeks as I don't want to bore you with tale's of relaxing on a beach or by the pool all day.

One story I forgot to mention was during a dinner party the conversation came round to how the original canal boats were horse drawn. "Oh " exclaimed Chrissie (one of our hosts American friends) "The canal's couldn't of been very deep or the horses would drown". The concept of the tow path had to be explained to her.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Miller Brewery

Today we took a tour of the Miller Brewery in Milwaukee which is free to enter and ends with the sampling of three different beers...perfect.

The beer ready for dispatch.

Our guide speed talking about the brewing process

Cave where Fred Miller kept his beer cool.

After the tour we had a look around the Historic Third Ward district of Milwaukee. Lunch was had at the Public Market before a stroll along Lake Michigan shore.

File:Milwaukee Wisconsin 7949.jpg
Public Market

Lake Michigan

This evening we enjoyed our last meal in Wisconsin with family guest's Charles Senior, Alex and Leigh-Ann. Charlie cooked us ribs and they were the best  I have ever tasted. We have thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Wisconsin so a big thank you to Yvonne, Charlie, Skye and Clare for being such great hosts....we will miss you all

If we could get away with it Poppy would be coming with us.