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.

No comments: