Sunday, 22 December 2013

Boats, Beers, Buses and Yuletime Cheer

I am assured, by those in the know, that forgetting the odd thing as you get older is not unusual. So I was rather taken back when, after forgetting a simple task that Pat had asked me to complete the other day, she cried “If it’s not beer, boats or ukuleles, you just switch off”. I thought at the time that was a bit rich, but having just read through the rest of this blog, it does appear she has it spot on.
It’s been a little over two weeks since I last blogged. My birthday was round about then and we were joined by our boating pals Ian and Irene and Jan, who we hadn’t seen for over a year, and had a Christmas lunch in one of the local pubs in the village. The picture is courtesy of Irene. Thanks for all the cards folks.

My birthday lunch with Ian and Irene and Jan in The Dragon, Willington
Christmas preparations dominate everything at this time of the year and we have not forgotten the boat. She now looks very smart with the new blue Tonneau cover we had fitted last Sunday by Stafforshire Canopies. It fits very snugly over her rear end and will offer the back of the boat some protection from the elements and also a level of security when we are away from the boat for any time.

Tim from Stafforshire Canopies fits the new Tonneau cover on to The Cat's Whiskers
We seem to spend a great deal of time either travelling or waiting for buses, or one in particular. For Adolph Hitler may have had his V1 and V2 rockets, but in this part of South Derbyshire, it’s the bright yellow V3 that rockets us between the towns of Burton-On-Trent six miles one way and the city of Derby a similar distance the other. We are not quite on first-name term with the drivers yet, but they know where to drop us off and it’s a terrific service we get, considering our rural location.
The V3 thunders over the canal at Willington Bridge
I have tended to favour Burton as the destination of choice, probably due to sheer number of decent pubs, especially the Burton Bridge Inn, which I mentioned in my blog before last. I have started Aqua Aerobics on Wednesday lunchtimes at the Leisure Centre: me and 20 ladies! and there is just enough time, after a quick shower, to grab a pint and a locally-made pork pie, before catching the bus back.
My regular "after exercise" lunch at Burton Bridge Brewery
I think that neither of us were that impressed with the town when we first arrived and the area that the canal goes through is not typical of the area where the Trent runs in the south of the town. Burton seems to have everything we need, including an Aldi (loving their supreme mince pies) and on Fridays there is a free bus that stops outside the marina and goes to Tesco in Burton. I have my bus pass, which irks Pat, but that trip is free for her.
As much as I like Burton, I am beginning to be drawn more to Derby city centre, helped by members of the Derby Ukulele Club, who I have re-joined, and have made me very welcome. They meet in an excellent pub for real ale in the city centre, and I was introduced to two others fine drinking emporiums, which were equally good.
Yesterday (Saturday) we appeared in The Market Hall, in the city centre, for an hour of ukulele-lead Christmas songs, which seemed to go very well. They are a nice bunch, and unusually for a ukulele club, they have a very wide age-range with some good singers and players.
The Derby Ukulele Club perform in the Market Hall, Derby City Centre.
Pat bought me the red music stand as a birthday present.
There is a lot of activity in the marina at the moment. A long-awaited project to develop a finger of land jutting into the lake has started and the trucks and diggers are making excellent progress in developing this into a bar/restaurant and shops that will open next August. I am glad we are on the other side of the marina, especially when they were pile-driving last week, but most of the boaters immediately in front, do not seem that bothered about it. Most are pretty laid-back, which seems a feature of the place.

Taken from outside the Marina shop, the new "Boardwalk" development, in the distance, begins to take shape.
Our fire is now on 24 hours a day, and we are burning both wood and coal. We can get this from the marina shop, and they sell several varieties, which we are experimenting with. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Pat is Chief Fire Officer. We have experienced a lot of wind, in common with the rest of the country, but not too many frosts as yet.
On Saturday night the marina threw a “Huddle”. This is an East Midlands term for a get-together where everybody brings along some food. It was fairly well attended and we got to know a new couple, who arrived here at Mercia, the same time as us, Brian and Charlie. This afternoon there is a carol concert outside the marina office, so more mince pies, sausage rolls and mulled wine, I guess.
Our turkey has been ordered from Betty’s Farm in the village. Pat is walking up there tomorrow morning and I will be boarding the V3 to do the remainder of our Christmas food shopping in Burton. We have had to be quite prudent, as our fridge and freezer are quite small, and hope it’s nice and cold over the next few days so we can put some stuff under our new cover, where it’s nice and dry. It will be a bit strange, just Pat and me, especially compared to some of the crazy Christmases we have had of late, but I am sure it will be very pleasant.
Hope you all have a peaceful and joyous Christmas
Toodaloo chums.

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