Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Winter's Tale

Well, tis the season to be jolly, and all that stuff. It’s Christmas Eve morning here in Derbyshire, and as Pat is off to treat the local birds to a Christmas scoff at the feeders at the end of our pontoon, I though it time I extended my digits and brought our blog up to date.
Living with surrounding woodland we get lots of chaffinches, long tailed tits, nuthatches, and water fowl, of course

After three months down in Hertfordshire, I think we both thought we might struggle a bit on the boat when we returned to it in October. We’ve done winters on board before but as the days draw in, and the weather becomes unpredictable, your options in a long, thin, boat become somewhat limited. Well, that’s what we thought, but things have panned out very differently. For we are having a great time. The social scene here is now in full swing and Louise, our neighbour, who fronts the committee, and lives on a boat opposite, has co-opted me to be involved.
Great to meet up with some of  our boating pals for a Christmas lunch in Nottingham
Unfortunately I have lots of ideas, many of them gleaned when I did this sort of thing for a living, but our lifestyle means we do not have the time to see them through, which is frustrating for Louise and for me, but I fitted in a quick trip to Marston’s Brewery last month with a few of the moorers who like a drink and we both try to support as many of the social events as possible. Clubs now exist for photography, crafts, books and music on a regular basis and we have a traditional skittles night following in early January at a cracking old pub in Burton-Upon-Trent which I am really looking forward to. We’ve made a number of new friendships since we arrived back, several from down `Sawf`, and it’s been great to see all our old pontoon pals again. We are both now convinced we took the right decision to come back to the marina and make it our home, whether it be on “The Cat’s Whiskers” or in our new waterside lodge. But more of that later.
The Cathedral Quarter of Derby looked very festive as I made my way to
the Ukulele Club last week.
Our Canadian pal Vaughn, who has been here on and off throughout the year, finally returned home a few weeks back and we had a bit of a reunion before he left. It was 1975 all over again, just for one evening. Loads of old pals came along and we had a great night. Then, when we were half way up the M1, we heard the awful news that one of my oldest and dearest pals Roy had passed away. Vaughn, Dave and I were going to see him the weekend before, but his wife Geraldine had told us he was too poorly to see any visitors and we all feared the worst. Pat and I did get to see him a few times during the summer and I am so glad now that we made that effort to travel down into North London whenever we went back to Hertfordshire to do so. Roy had been valiantly battling prostate cancer for nearly 10 years. We had known him over 40 years and we really were `joined at the hip` during the 1970s. He was a big part of both of our lives and we both miss him dearly.
Our boating group, the BIG CHINS pledges allegiance to our mascot on our 2012 outing. Roy is third from left.
Happy days
We now have a firm date for when our own lodge will be delivered. It’s 13th January. As we fly off on the 22nd and it takes them around a week to finish off inside and connect all the services, we have around a week to get the place furnished and ready to hand over to the marina for letting before we depart for New Zealand. Well, that’s the plan, anyway.
We went up to Bakewell on Tuesday where it’s nearing completion. Most of the inside has been completed. All looks well and Pat particularly likes the kitchen area. It looks a bit smaller than we were expecting, but it was all cluttered up with wood, trestles and workmen.
Our new lodge. The wood burner is going in the corner that they have started tiling
Pat discusses if the roller blinds she has bought in John Lewis will fit in one of the bathroom

I’m back playing with the Derby Uke Club on alternate Wednesdays and play in a smaller group in one of the village pubs (we have three!) on Monday nights. Then, once a month, on a Tuesday evening, the Marina’s own music group meets. There are some good players there which makes keeping up with them challenging and very enjoyable. We had our first live outing last Saturday at a Marina `do` and went down well.
The Mercia Music Group `rock around the Christmas tree`

Kev joins us later today and will be staying a few days over Christmas. We have football at Derby County on Boxing Day (Come on Fulham) and are going with our pontoon pals Ian and Sarah from `Popsey Bell` a few boats up. We are looking forward to the experience. I can’t see Fulham winning, but as long as it’s entertaining I won’t mind. We are hiring out one of the lodges for the duration, so should be a good Christmas.
Toodaloo folks and we hope you all have a happy and healthy Christmas

Roger & Pat