Friday, 28 February 2014

Early doors

Friday was a sunny warm day tomorrow is the official end of winter and so the start of spring . Back at the marina  friends are starting to move for their 2014 cruising and we wish them all the very best and hope to bump into them along the canals.

Today while Sue spent a few hours in the hairdressers chair I spent the time valeting Nikitas car.... them dogs do make a mess.

We had a viber photo from the early doors crew at the Titanic pub. Seems the gathering is dwindling  only Dot and Gordon in the photo.

While Sue went for a meal with her ex colleagues I went for early doors with Angus and Tracey.

Angus and Tracey

Firstly at a bar in Douglas and then at the Woodbourne Hotel

For Tracey a picture from the brewery trip

Thursday, 27 February 2014


 Thursday was sunny and a barmy 10 degrees. The dogs had two runs at the plantation, one early and another late afternoon  they are now both cream crackered.

Douglas bay in the background.

Attentive when the treats come out.

The IOM's highest point, Snaefell in the background.

Tree tunnel.

In between walking the dogs we went into town to do some shopping. It's strange when you retire, you soon become one of those dawdling old farts that get in everyones way.... you know the ones, they hover in front of you like an annoying wasp while you rush about to get things done in your lunch hour.....I'm really enjoying it.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Kingfisher by Dot.

Dot made us this amazing Kingfisher for our front door window, our Dot  also makes the best  Cornish pasties ever.

Was up early to take the dogs for a run up at the Corhenny Plantation. Just as we got out of the car the heavens opened and we all got soaked, together with the wind my hands soon became frozen. What was meant to be a long run ended 30 minutes later after they had both finished their ablutions. I will take them for a long run later

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Thursday left Somerset at 11am and had a clear drive up to Stone the only slight congestion was where the M5 meets the M6 which slowed us down to 50 mph.

In the evening we had a nice meal out with Ray and Diane at the Hollybush.

Friday  after doing the boaty chores we went to the Exchange for a social gathering, afterwards we had a bevvy or two in the Three Crowns while watching the Wales beat France in the rugby. I had an in depth  discussion with Gordon about  the virtues of having the correct pressures in a vehicles tyres over that last pint !

Saturday I woke feeling a bit woolly, I'm just not used to these frequent social activities. The sun was up and the sky was clear as I loaded the car for our journey home to IOM. The ferry from Birkenhead was mostly calm until an hour out from berthing in Douglas when the boat started rolling in the increasing swells. The England v Ireland match kept our minds of the tempest outside.

Sunday - Sue and Nikita went for lunch at the Mount Murray, I was going too but a DIY job changing the cistern in the bathroom loo which didn't quite go to plan put paid to that. No matter ...I got it  done with only two trips to B&Q  the second trip to exchange a faulty flush they sold me on the first trip, Nikita cooked me a nice chicken stir fry for missing out on the carvery. In the afternoon we all took the two hounds for a long run, Syar is enthusiastic about chasing after balls, the younger Rocky is either lazy or intelligent, he doesn't waste his energies chasing, he will let Sylar charge of after the ball and take it off him when he returns with it. Not so much a retrievery a thievery.

Monday ... said goodbye to Nikita at the airport for her trip to Marrakesh. The rest of the day has been taken up with spring cleaning the house surprising how messy a house becomes when leaving it for a few months in your offspring's care.

Tuesday .. took the dogs to the vet for a planned check up then loaded the car with bags of rubbish for the dump. Popped into the garage to speak to Steve about the old Jaguar, it's been in their nearly a year for an intermittent battery draining problem. The problem may be one of the six on board modules which are meggar expensive so the plan is to wait for a donor vehicle to come up to try out various bits.

If no luck the car will probably become a donor vehicle itself. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Skid marks

A 3 hour trip mostly on the M5 found us in soggy Somerset to visit Sue's mum Betty.

Wednesday we had a shopping trip into Dorchester and then lunch at The Greyhound Inn in the chocolate box village of Sydling St Nicholas where homes are built of flint stone under thatched roofs

Sydling St Nicholas... web photo.

The pub is described on google as a Boutique Pub Hotel, it has very friendly staff and the food was excellent although a little bit poncey.... big plates small portions stacked in the middle. The complete opposite of the meal we had at the Hollybush last week.

Pork belly with a lean to crackling, I thought they had dolloped semolina on my plate but it turned out to be pureed parsnip

Nice piece of cod with 'skid mark' of peas

We will be back on FL tomorrow to remove all the stuff we put on her and haven't used and take it back to IOM along with the car on Saturday.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Change of Venue.


A glorious spring like sunny day perhaps we will get away with the snow and ice of last year..fingers crossed. Sue went of to Tesco at Rugeley while I got on with de-rusting  the floors of the two lockers in the cratch. Once wire brushed with the angle grinder and cleaned, I sprayed a coat of 'Exit Rust' on to the bare areas. They will get a  a coat of primer tomorrow.


Raining again. A coat of primer went on the floors now they look perfick.

Our Monday afternoon boaters tea has had to move. The cedar huts that we made use of while the Bistro has a day off have been padlocked and have been put out of bounds by the mean spirited management. No problem venue was switched to the Titanic pub, the landlady allowed us to bring our own food....luvvly jubbly.

We had pasties,flatbreads, quiche. meatballs, picnic eggs, sausage rolls,veg and dips.

and we had pressies, we received this tea ball personalised with the three legs of Man... thanks Elaine and Paul.

While the ladies travelled home by car the menfolk had to endure the rain on a sodden walk back to the marina. We got as far as the Three Crowns and their warming open fire. Once dry on the outside we  hailed a cab  for the few minute journey back to our boats.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Boating is a social life.

What an awful wet and windy day today The boat has been bobbing about like a cork for most of the day. To cheer ourselves up on this miserable day we went out for dinner with Dot, Diane, Ray and Gordon to the Hollybush. We had a  good evening with good service  good food and great company. We also met a couple of the  pub  steak stakeholders who were ensuring we had enjoyed our evening.

I opted for the Ham Hock which came on a huge platter, I took a large slab of the ham home in a tin foil parcel and we both had a meal out of it the following day.

Weather wise the opposite of yesterday, dry and sunny. Sue didn't sleep well so she went back to bed at 10am and didn't stir until 4.30pm. Meanwhile to leave her in peace I trolled around B&Q, Maplins, Argos and Wickes trying to decide if we really need a back up to the satellite dish in windy conditions, undecided I returned to the boat at noon. Sue was still in the land of nod so at 2pm I went with Gordon and Ray on a mini pub crawl of three Stone pubs I hadn't been in before. 

First port of call was the Crown and Anchor, outwardly a good looking pub with a newly refurbished thatched roof, inside has been ruined, if it did have character before this sanitised look it is now devoid of any charm. With only one ale among the six or seven pumped lagers this is obviously a boozer for the Stone youth..

Red Lion is in the centre of the pedestrian shopping part of Stone, from the outside the pub looks tiny crammed in between two shops but when you enter the pub opens up behind the handbag shop to the left into quite a large space with a pool table taking centre stage toward the back of the property. Unidentifiable music was playing in the background competing with the 3:30 commentary from Lingfield on the TV. The interior is a little tatty in places and is probably the type of pub that could get quite raucous later in the day.

The Swan. I liked this pub, a roaring fire and a good atmosphere, a huge selection of ales and a good landlady. She asked us if we were  CAMRA members as we ordered our ales (you get a 5% discount if you are a member) or maybe she thought these three greying, bearded gentlemen in front of her were from CAMRA conducting a survey! While she pulled the pump she quickly admonished a customer who was getting a little loud while conversing with his friends at a table, he sheepishly piped down immediately... a no nonsense pub. 

We discussed all aspects of sport including  rugby, cricket, premiership/American/Aussie rules football, horse racing and then some reason obscure sports like bog snorkeling, cow pat, wellie and dwarf throwing. We even made up our own sports.  'Elsan cassette throwing ' or even worse as Gordon mentioned 'Elsan cassette catching'.
We also told stories of our journeys through tunnels. The Braunston tunnel terrified me, I now learn I have another tunnel to do this season where you have to strip all protrusions off your boat including your cratch cover and nav lights to scrape through with millimetres to spare... my knees knock at the thought. 
All in all a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon my thanks to Ray and Gordon.


Back to wet and windy. Satellite dish is off the roof and safely in the cratch, radio 2 is on and global warming is being blamed again for the sodden mess Britain is in at the moment, there is debate about the lack of dredging the EA has been able to do due to treasury funding cutbacks. Who knows the real reason, possibly a number of contributory factors. 

If the number of natural paths to drain away water cannot cope now or in the future perhaps we need a modern day James Brindley to create more canals to move the water away from farm land and residential areas. I for one would enjoy a trip around the Somerset Levels Fenns.

The afternoon was spent with Roly, Paul, Ray, Diane, Dot, Elaine and Gordon in the Royal Exchange for more fun and laughter and after  a swift one in the Three Crowns while seated around a glowing fire.

Note to nephew Jason if you ever encounter a pair of mad Aussies waving energetically while holding doggy poo bags don't encourage them by sounding the trains horn.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Nelson Mandela Tribute

My brother sent me these images today, I thought I'd share them.

50 bars of steel represent his time in prison.

When viewed from a distance.

Amazing art.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The best Curry Hut in Staffordshire.

Some large plant turned up at the marina to start fracking knocking in metal pilings for a Bistro extension. The JCB is holding the back of the lorry down as well as driving the hammer attachment on the left of picture.

At the Monday afternoon boat gathering we enjoyed a Curry feast washed down with Cobra and other assorted beers, wine and Moet champers. With puddings, cakes and treats for afters.

Replete crews.

Gill, birthday girl Joan, Jim, Ray and Diane.

We will really miss all the friends we have made while at the marina when we leave next month. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Smoked kids

Sunday started with plenty of sunshine, while Sue went to Morrison's for supplies I reconnected the cable to the satellite dish which came adrift in yesterdays blustery wind. I dropped the satellite finder in the canal but managed to aim the dish at the right segment of sky to get a good signal without it.

Watched France beat Italy in the six nations. I was tempted to go to the pub to watch the football after learning Fulham were 1-0 up at half time against Manu, but decided to watch tonight's highlights instead.

Seems to be some consternation about the impending law banning  the smoking of children in cars, I and my siblings were smoked like kippers in our dads Ford Consul when we were kids, health education about the effects of smoking wasn't around then.

They should ban smoking in cars period, because it's dangerous, drivers with  fag clamped in hand on the steering wheel or between lips with eyes half shut from the stinging smoke is dangerous, let alone the paraphernalia used to get the stick alight and disposal of the debris, all while negotiating motorways, the school run and trips to Tesco.

Drivers in the UK have been fined for eating apples, sandwiches, Kit Kat's and sipping water from a bottle while on the move, one chap was even stopped for laughing at the wheel so why should smokers get away with it whether they have children in the car or not.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Titanic Brewery Tour

Strangest brewery tour I've been on and I've been on a few. When you arrive you are shown into the store room with a makeshift bar where you stay for a couple of hours drinking as much of the product as you can want. Then follows a ten minute stumble tour of the facilities ending back in the store room for more ale. After this you move on to a local pub for more free ale and a BBQ . Sue and I didn't go to the pub as we wanted to be home in time for the England v Scotland rugby match.

Sue and Roly looking forward to when their teams meet.

The picture that proves Dot can organise a piss up in a brewery.

Vats of Steerage Ale

A pint of First Class for Roly, the chap serving is not employed by the brewery but volunteers to help out on tour days, his payment much ale as he can drink..... I'd call that a plum job.

The First Class ale was an excellent tipple, shame we haven't seen it in the Royal Exchange yet.

Friday, 7 February 2014


Lovely sunny day today, after yesterdays DIY shame it was time to rectify my standing in the world of wielding tools without a professional in attendance, I changed some tired concealed door hinges for some flush hinges on the electrical cabinet. Well they would of been flush if I could of just tighten those damned brass screws without them rounding, leaving my tool kit of 16 screw bits and 8 screwdrivers useless. They will have to do until I can get some better screws.

Met up with the hard core crews in the Exchange, great hoots of laughter over stories about glace cherries, shorts, bananas and WOW had to be there.

Tomorrow we are off to a Titanic brewery at Burslem, Stoke on Trent for a tour of their facilities.


The landlady of the Exchange has invited us all to her 60's themed birthday bash with free grub in the evening..... not sure we will make that though but we will be glued to a TV somewhere to watch the rugby by 5pm.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Holly Bush

Thought I'd sort that annoying drip from the kitchen tap today. To cut a long story short I managed to turn the drip into a torrent, so it was off to Wickes for a new faucet.


New, they didn't have it in chrome but we quite like the black.

We decided to have our tea in the The Holly Bush to take advantage of buy one meal and get the second free. So Sue paid for her Gamon meal and I got my Steak and Steerage pie for nought .. result. What a comfortable pub it is, we will be going back here again for sure. The pub is in the village of Seighford and is owned by 70 shareholders from the village who have leased it to the Titanic Brewery. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Linoleum and carpet day.

What an atrocious day, dark skies and rain for most of the day, we were up early 06:30 to prepare for the new flooring to be fitted. We got the saloon carpet up and the lino from the galley and shower room and dismantled and moved the loo into the shower. The sealant from around the old lino had to be scraped from the skirting which was a painstaking task for Sue, the whole area was then thoroughly cleaned.

Glen the fitter turned up promptly at 09:30.

The saloon carpet was laid in no time. The complexity and confinement of the lino floor area meant that a template in paper of the area had to be taken, Sue volunteered to go to the shop in Stafford to collect the paper while Glen cracked on, once the template had been made Glen returned to the shop to have it cut exactly to size, he also took the old bedroom carpet to use as a template. Sue took herself off to the shops in Trentham and then a coffee in the bistro while the work continued.

By 16:00 hours the Lino and the carpets were laid, it then took Sue and I a couple of hours to put the loo and the bed back together plus refitting various cupboard doors.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Landrover Gear selector switch

Monday we had a good gathering of boaters at the Monday afternoon booze and tea party. We had lots of delightful home baked goodies my favourite was the hand made pasties made by Cornish duo Dot and Gordon, possibly the very best  pasty I have ever eaten. We were all pleasantly surprised by Superwoman Elaine's attendance along with reformed for the day hubby Paul, this was noted by a spontaneous round of applause by all when they arrived. Happy birthdays were sung for anyone with a birthday in February among laughter and merriment.  There maybe a Curry monday afternoon soon, I will look forward to that one.

The Disco's automatic gearbox has been playing up lately and looking at different forums on the web it looked likely that the culprit was the gear selector switch which when worn puts the gearbox into get you home mode by locking it in 3rd gear. This we get out of by switching the ignition on and off which resets everything and all is OK until the next time, next time was becoming more and more frequent so it was time to get it sorted. I took the car to a specialist firm in Norton Canes who quickly diagnosed the faulty switch, I knew the switch was going to be expensive from the forums  £300+ VAT. I got them to service the gearbox while they were at it  total including switch £657 double ouch.

Why is the switch so expensive? well in this case it is not just a simple device for  making and breaking the connection in an electric circuit but is quite a major part of the mechanical working of the gear selector.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

RBS Six Nations Rugby

Thursday we headed off to Cannock, not sure why, we haven't been there before and we had run out of ideas to entertain ourselves. It was a bitterly cold day and the odd snowflake fell from a solid grey sky.
Cannock has nothing of note other than shops to offer so we didn't spend to much time there.

On the way back to the boat we stopped off at the Holy Bush in Salt for a glass of Endeavour and coffee.

Friday saw heavy rain but we did manage to get to the Exchange to meet up with Dot and Gordon in the afternoon which stretch into the evening.

Saturday we had a quick walk around Stone farmers market, then it was back to the boat for the start of the Six Nations.  England managed to lose after rallying in the second half to overhaul a 16-3 deficit ) when French substitute centre  Fickou flew past the English defence to score under the posts with 3 minutes left on the clock (not so Thicko). Sue wasn't very happy with the defensive performance , the shouting at the TV could be heard in the Bistro.
Another French score.

Sunday. What a glorious sunny day with a little strength to its warmth. Sue has been getting the washing done in the marinas laundry, we didn't want to spoil the peace and quiet running the engine to use the on board machine. I have been bees waxing the bathroom walls doors and ceilings twice, used a whole pot of the stuff, I'm just about out of any more elbow grease so it's time to put my feet up in preparation for the Paddy's v Jock's. My half Irishness side will be routing for Ireland