|The ladies enjoy a leisurely Sunday afternoon drink at the Boardwalk, complete with new hats purchased that afternoon|
I walked down our pontoon on Sunday morning. It was a bright, sunny start to the day: the ducks were quacking, the fish were rising and above me swallows were swooping across the water, searching for their breakfast. We are moored about half way down our pontoon and we pass about 20 moored boats before we step back on dry land. As I slowly meandered past, coming out of three of these boats was the unmistakable sound of `The Archers` on Radio 4. “My my,” I mumbled under my breath. “We really are back in middle England”. And we really are. Our marina can’t be far from the centre of England, which is near Leicester, I think, and it felt good to be back in familiar territory and catch up with all the news from our pontoon pals. It’s a bit strange as well, though. For this is the first time we have been here during `high summer`, so the place looks quite different from November and March, when we are normally in residence. And it’s only a fleeting visit this time.
|Not one of mine, but a great picture of our new Boardwalk at the Marina|
We hurried back to the marina a bit quicker than we really had to as A: the weather conditions were favourable, and B: there were a few days of wind and rain following these favourable conditions. After several long days we tootled back into Mercia last Saturday week, and slid back on to our usual mooring. Most of our pals, however, have now moved beyond the little island that lies in the centre of the pontoon. We are considering a move down there on our return from New Zealand next spring - if we pass the `vetting process`.
|Lining up the boat to enter the marina from the Trent & Mersey Canal|
It’s also nice to be back on shoreline power again. I thought our batteries might play up this year and we would be forced to replace them. It’s reckoned that the life of a bank of batteries is three to four years. Ours do get a good bashing, and I am conscious they are not particularly expensive ones. However, that may be the reason they are still charging well. Because we are constantly using them and keeping them topped up.
I must say that I am delighted with the Moonraker Digital aerial I bought in Milton Keynes at Maplins a few weeks back. It really works well in the marina (we got 162 channels when we re-tuned), but the phone signal is a nightmare. The 3 network is really good across the country, but bloody useless here in Willington. So it will have to be a change to Vodaphone next year. Pat’s already on that network. Sorry if you have tried to ring my mobile and its gone straight to voicemail, but that’s what seems to happen when the phone is on the boat. At least we are now getting a good 4G signal from our little Mi-Fi dongle, since I put a dedicated aerial on the roof. That was a good investment, especially when we want to Skype New Zealand.
Getting back last weekend also meant that I could go along to Derby Ukulele Club’s fortnightly meeting last Wednesday evening. I do enjoy going there – the repertoire is quite varied, the pub brews its own beer and they always make me very welcome.
|Full house at last week's Derby Ukulele Club|
|An excellent pint of Salopian Hop Twister at our village local|
For the first couple of days after arriving it was a merry-go-round of signing bits of paper and then signing a few more to secure the lodge we are having built at the marina. The concrete base is now down and the tails of the services are in. Pat thinks it looks very small, but it’s an illusion. All the lodges have woodland names and we have decided to call ours Hazel Lodge. (Somebody joked we should consider Yew Tree**, but I don’t fancy midnight raids from the boys in blue!).
|Pat inspects the patch of wet concrete where our lodge will sit|
I think we are now more or less committed to having an overall rustic theme. There will also be some tartan influence. On Tuesday we visited `PineLog`, the place where these lodges are made. It’s not that far away from us – in Bakewell, to the north of us, deep in the Dales. We wanted to finalise where things were going, the finishes, taps, appliances etc. Pat’s been very busy with pencil and graph paper, and she knew exactly what she wanted and where everything is going, even down to getting her steel bath. We travelled there in the Marina’s newest acquisition. Mercia has signed up to `Co-Share`, a car-sharing organisation, and a small Toyota is now permanently on site for moorers who just need to use a car for an hour or two to hire. We signed up on-line over the weekend and were one of the first hirers, if not the first. The car was probably made just five miles from the marina, as we can see Toyota’s UK factory to the north of us.
|Pat works on the latest plan of the lodge|
|The marina's new `share` car for moorers. I think we might have been the first to use it|
Tomorrow, Wednesday, we pick up a big estate car from Enterprise, load it up with tons of stuff and on Thursday morning say goodbye to The Cat’s Whiskers for a while and head back down the M1 to Welwyn Garden and our house in Great Ganett. It will be a bit strange returning to live there after all this time. It’s getting on for three and half years since we left. Then it’s very much full steam ahead. Pat has got a schedule, and expects daily targets to be reached! We need to pull the garden round and re-decorate the rooms that need it before the end of the month, when it will go up for sale. This has become a bit more urgent since our family in New Zealand found the perfect house for us all and want to buy it with our help. They would like to be in by Christmas so we can’t hang about as they need our cash. We will be taking the ground floor and they will take the other two floors. Looks a great place in a super location, not far from where they live now. It might all fall through so we are keeping our fingers crossed.
Back in the spring when we moved back into the marina we got involved in creating a `Willow Spiral` in one of the meadows between the marina and the canal. I mentioned it on the blog at that time and put some pictures up of us digging and creating this feature. All those who contributed were encouraged to write a poem or some verse to leave behind, and a new interpretive board has recently been erected beside the willow and our verse is featured, along with all our pals. We had no idea about this until we stumbled across it at the weekend.
|Planting the Willow Spiral back in the spring|
|The new interpretive board|
|What it says.|
So here we go again. More goodbyes, but we will be back before the year’s end and I am convinced that next year we will be spending a lot more time here in the marina then out on the canal next, especially once the lodge comes on line. Time will tell. Toodaloo
For those of you who occasionally read this blog overseas
*The Archers is a radio serial that has been going on the BBC since 1952
**Operation Yewtree is an ongoing investigation into Child Abuse in the UK, set up after the Jimmy Saville revelations.