Our annual Christmas curry family day with all the children – I have to wear a twenty-year-old orange tee shirt as part of the tradition
Like last year, we hired a house in Hartley Wintney in Hampshire over the festive period. It’s a lovely, large and homely house so all our children could come and go as they pleased. There haven’t been any blog entries over the time we were away as I didn’t want to advertise that the boat was being left unattended for a long period of time – especially as we were moored right on the edge of bandit country.
It’s been a busy time for Karen, Buddy and me – in fact, we only had one evening on our own in the whole time we were away but at least Buddy got lots of attention 😉 We had five of the children with us on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day we doubled in size and had 15 for another full roast!
On the day before New Year’s Eve we had all the children round for our annual family Christmas curry day – this year we cooked six different curries from scratch and only just had enough left over for a small biryani the following day. This meant we gauged the quantities well and didn’t have to eat biryani made from the left overs for the following week.
|A quiet lunch on Christmas Day – only five of the children but I had to wear a Swiss cowgirl style hat|
A bit busier on Boxing Day
During the curry evening Secret Santa paid a visit – this year it was Matthew’s turn to be Santa as he lives in Norway (closer to the North Pole 😊). My present was a pair of socks with pictures of sandals to make me look like an old man.
My Secret Santa socks
I got my own back on the family by wearing my socks outside my trousers on one of our many walks
I cannot let a mention of Matthew go by without mentioning his boat. Matt is a GP in an island practice half way up Norway with about 1,500 patients spread over 6,500 islands although, fortunately, only ten are populated but it does mean they have a boat ambulance!
Matt’s boat ambulance
A few more pictures from our stay at Hartley Wintney:
The happy parents
Some of the girls have formed a knitting circle!
Buddy opening his present from Sophie
Sophie had brought over a friendship bracelet kit to remind the children of our early holidays together when they used to make friendship bracelets on the long journeys. My attempt wasn’t up to much even though it was the simplest of patterns.
The first decent chevrons were made by Sophie but at least it reminded me of a visit to The Ukraine
We left Hampshire on the day after New Year’s Day with the intention of driving straight up to Yorkshire to visit my parents for a few days. In the end we decided to delay things and have a night back on the boat on the way up. We were glad we did as it meant we could get the car unloaded from two weeks away and have a relaxing evening (once the stove warmed up the boat) before trekking up north again.
Both my mum and dad were on good form and Dad seemed slightly more active than we have seen for a while. Although he has no mobility, if he drops anything he can lean over and pick them up from the floor. We spent a lot of time playing cribbage and doing mind puzzles, thus keeping ours as well as Dad’s brain active. We had a bit of good news whilst we were up there; a room has become vacant in the nursing home just up the road from my parent’s house and we have it reserved for Dad as soon as it is redecorated.
The stepping stones in my parent’s village of Gargrave, or where they would be if there hadn’t been so much rain
We stayed in a cottage in Haworth (the village of Bronte fame) but didn’t really get a chance to look around. Poor old Buddy was getting really confused with the long car journeys and staying in different houses including a night back at home on the boat.
|That's apple juice, not whisky, for my dad|
We got home on Friday and planned to cruise down to Lapworth over the weekend. We woke to an iced over canal on Saturday morning, but it wasn’t thick enough to stop us; however, the engine wouldn’t start. It wasn’t even ticking over and I tried everything I was capable of – using jump leads from the domestic bank and checking all the terminals for corrosion and tightness etc. In the end I had to call out RCR, the RAC/AA equivalent of the waterways, and wait a couple of hours for an engineer to arrive.
Bill, the engineer, arrived earlier than expected which was good and I turned the ignition key so he could see the symptoms – rapid clicking of solenoid but no attempt of engine turning. To our surprise the engine fired up and all was well. It’s a bit annoying really as I would rather we had found a problem and fixed it – now we just don’t know and maybe it could happen again. Aileen reckons that boats are like pets and go into a sulk when left for a couple of weeks 😊
Anyway, Karen prepared a lasagne in the slow cooker and then we set off for Lapworth.
(Finally) leaving Shirley - through the road lift bridge
Once Karen had seen me through the lift bridge she drove the car to the Blue Bell cider house at Warings Green, then she and Buddy walked back along the towpath to meet me. When I picked them up, they had only walked a couple of miles so when we got to the pub, she and Buddy drove to Lapworth and then walked back to meet us again so that Buddy had a longer walk.
At the second lift bridge of the day – Karen raising a toast with her mug of tea
It was great to be on the move again, but it did feel cold standing on the back of the boat. That’s the trouble when you get out of the habit of cruising.
This sort of stretch would be even darker in the summer under a canopy of leaves
Bridge typical of the North Stratford canal – those on the South Stratford are nearly all cast iron split bridges
During the cruise I had a call from my mum – my dad had had a stroke and had been transferred from the NHS nursing home into hospital. She has been to see him and, although he obviously finds it difficult to talk, he has been communicating with her. We are now awaiting the result of a brain scan to understand the cause of the stroke and what effect it has had.
Karen putting the finishing touches to the slow cooked lasagne with the flame thrower 😊
Our first new mooring for three weeks – at the top of the Lapworth flight on Saturday evening
Today we covered 6 ½ miles and the forecast for Sunday is cold but sunny so we’re looking forward to doing 20 of the locks on the Lapworth flight.