Monday, 1 November 2021

Three Weekends

We are still here!  Whilst we miss Tentatrice and life afloat, we are both certain that we made the right decision to sell her and move on to other things.  

My knees are better than they were, so we are managing to get out and about a bit.  Some recent highlights are as follows:

Weekend 1

Two friends came to stay for the weekend along with Monty's best pal, Labrador Kiera.  On the Saturday we went across to visit Pakwood House, a NT property in Lapworth.  It is a fine Tudor house that has been owned by the NT since 1941.  We had been before, but it was a first visit for our friends.

The weather was dry with even a bit of late September sun. The first thing to do was to take the two dogs for a walk through the woodland.  There are not many things better than being able to kick your way through fallen leaves!

Kiera was too busy in the undergrowth to pose for a photo.

We came across this sign

Well who resist such a challenge - not us!

A post walk coffee and very large slice of cake was next on the agenda.  Both were really good and the cake so large, that no lunch was required!

After that Chris and I found a bench in the sun and stayed there with the dogs (it was too warm to leave them in the car) whilst our friends went and had a quick look round the house and formal gardens.  The grounds are famous for the avenue of Yews.

Sadly some of them are very sick

What a shame that common sense does not prevail and they have to ask folk not to climb on the sick trees.

The only time we have been in the house was one very wet New Year many years ago when it was full of the most amazing paper Christmas decorations - we must go back again one day.  It was a great day out and we enjoyed the rest of the weekend just chatting, walking the dogs and eating well with the odd libation here and there!

Weekend 2

This time we went to visit friends who moved back from Spain to Melton Mowbray (or just Melton if you are local!) a few months ago.  They have been very busy doing a lot to the house, but they were now ready for visitors.  Our visit was well timed - it was the weekend of the Melton Mowbray food festival.  The weather was wet and pretty miserable.  All the stands were under cover, but open to the chilly elements, so we did not linger long.  Long enough to see a demonstration on how a MM pork pie is made which was fascinating and to buy a few things including, of course, a pork pie!  

Quite close to their house there is a country park which Monty loved.  I am sure I took some photos, but they have disappeared - we will just have to go back to take some more!  
When they bought the house it came complete with a pond including the occupants - coy carp!  Monty was fascinated.

Once again a lot of chatting and good eating (and yes the odd libation or two) was enjoyed by all of us.

Weekend 3

This just involved me - I left Chris and Monty at home whilst I swanned off with our daughter for our first ever mother/daughter weekend away.  We only went to Malvern, so not much travelling, but we had a ball.  Our first stop on the Friday was at Malvern Spa.  To me that name conjured up a rather grand stately home made from beautiful stone at the end of a long tree lined drive.  I was completely wrong - it is a very rectangular ugly building on an industrial estate!  Inside, however, it was wonderful and we enjoyed a day or being pampered and just relaxing.  We left mid afternoon to head to the centre of Malvern to an Airbnb apartment. It was far from grand, but it was clean and had everything we needed including a space to park the car for no extra charge.  

These two views were taken from the entrance to the car park

That evening we had a 7 minute walk (at my pace which is still a little slow) to L'Amuse Bouche at the Cotford House Hotel where we had booked a table for dinner.  It was pricey, but we both agreed it was worth every penny and I aim to go back again with Chris one day.  The food was pretty much Michelin standard.  

Saturday we spent just wandering around Malvern - somewhere neither of us had been before.  Our first stop was The Priory. It certainly dominates the town

 I got this information from Wikipedia:

Great Malvern Priory in Malvern, WorcestershireEngland, was a Benedictine monastery (c. 1075 – 1540) and is now an Anglican parish church. In 1949 it was designated a Grade I listed building. It is a dominant building in the Great Malvern Conservation area. It has the largest display of 15th-century stained glass in England as well as carved miserichords from the 15th and 16th century and the largest collection of medieval floor and wall tiles. In 1860 major restoration work was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott. It is also the venue for concerts and civic services.

I should have looked at that before we went as we missed the miserichords.  Mind you there was a service going on so we were not able to get everywhere, but it was definitely worth a visit.  The stained glass windows are magnificent - the photos do not really do them justice.

Outside there was an arts and craft market where we spent quite a while admiring their wares.  We did both leave with our credit cards intact!

After that we headed up the hill to the shops passing an area with the last of the natural gas lamps that used to light up Malvern on the way up.  

Close to the above was more information - now this is something I don't fancy and I am surprised it lasted as long as it did!  I will stick to the modern spa with a comforting massage, a pampering facial, a float around inside and out in warm water with the occasional visit to the steam room!

We had a main meal for our lunch and then spent some time wandering around the many shops.  The amount there is available to buy was extraordinary, but once again we resisted temptation (it wasn't hard - I am sure some people must buy the 'stuff', but it was not for us) - our only purchase was made by Sarah - 3 candles and a pack of Christmas paper napkins.

Then back to the apartment via what must be one of the most scenic Waitrose's in the country where we got a French stick and some cheese to have for our supper before we headed out to 

the theatre which was about 100 yards from the apartment.

To see 
It was wonderful to be in a theatre again for a live performance and it was an interesting version of this play in that it was performed by just three actors (2 male, 1 female).  They did cover the entire story with a lot of costume changes and a great deal of dashing around the stage.  Props were minimal and were well used, but I am not sure I would advise anyone to go out of their way to see it.  At times it descended to a farcical level, which this play most definitely is not.  

As you will have seen from the photos taken on the Saturday, the weather was grey and murky, so no good scenic shots.    This must be fabulous on a clear day.

Typically when it was time to leave on Sunday the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining!  We both had a fantastic time and have decided we need to take ourselves off again next year, so watch this space!  It is a town well worth a visit if you have not been before and I would definitely recommend the Airbnb.  It was not posh, but it did the trick and was so much nicer than being stuck in a hotel room. 

Saturday, 4 September 2021

That Special Event

 Saturday 28th August 2021

At the end of my last post, I mentioned a special event that was on the horizon.  The day dawned bright, well dry and not too chilly at least. We needed a dry and relatively warm afternoon.

What was afoot?  It was my 70th birthday.  I had not had any intentions of marking the occasion due to the uncertainties of life with covid around.  When things looked as though some sort of normality was on the cards our daughter in law (Jo) suggested that I might like to share some sort of celebration with our eldest granddaughter (Molly) who would be 18 on 2nd September.  Her due date had been the 20th August, but she kept us waiting.  At one time I thought she might even be a birthday present for me, but no she waited that little bit longer and shares a birthday with our boating friend Sue (Boatwif) from nb Cleddau.

Once the idea had been planted, I put my thinking cap on.  It was decided to have tea, cake and bubbly in the garden in the afternoon followed by a meal out in the evening.

The day started with a family Zoom call - three households from England, one from New Zealand, one on the Isle of Wight and one in mid Wales (note their enviable blue sky!)

The weather played ball for the afternoon and we even got a bit of sunshine every now and then.  I was assured by Jo and Sarah (our daughter) that cake would be provided and they did us proud.  Sarah made an amazing sponge cake and a selection of small cakes as well.

and Jo provided doughnuts and macarons.

Molly and I cut the cake together

The obligatory group photo!

We spent a wonderful couple of hours together before we all headed off to prepare for the evening.  There were 8 of us staying here, 7 in a local Premier Inn and 4 in their home not far from here.  The fleet (5) of taxis arrived on time at the respective places and conveyed us all (suitably booted and suited!) to our chosen venue called The Orangery which is part of an establishment called The Old Rectory.

The Main Entrance

The Lavendar Room as we saw it when we first visited a couple of months ago - it was to be ours for the evening.

Sarah and family had gone ahead with suitable decorations.  The only stipulations from the venue were no confetti on the table and no blu tak on the wallpaper on the far wall.  

The eagle eyed will spot Sue and Ken (Boatwif and The Captain) were among the guests.

The food was first class and the service exemplary.  With that number of people we had had to pre-order.  The first course arrived and as if by magic and every person had the correct dish delivered.  When the same happened with the main, we felt compelled to ask 'how'?  There was no shouting of ' who is having the ****', there was no visible list in front of us, so how did they know?  If you look closely at the table you will see little cards in front of each person.  I had provided these with the name of the person and what they were eating (we all ordered 2 months ago and my brain is like a sieve, so I guessed others might have forgotten as well!).  The head waitress said that as we all sat down she had made a note of our names and where we were sitting.  She then went off and wrote out a plan that they all worked to. It was most impressive!  

All in all it was an immensely successful day.  What more could I ask for than a day with our closest family members and friends.  'Perfick' as a certain fictional gentleman from Kent might have uttered.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

At last it has all gone!

The last of the 'stuff' from the boat that we, family and friends did not want was packed up and taken to our local hospice shop on Tuesday.  What a relief to get our conservatory back!  It has gone to a good cause and I hope they make a bit of money from it all.

The only things we have left are two canal plaques - one for the Oxford Canal and the other from Chirk Aqueduct.  Are there any collectors out there who might be interested.  We don't want money for them - but just would like them to go to a good home.  If you are interested just leave a comment with contact details (I won't publish the comment, so they will remain safe).  NB The Chirk plaque has been spoken for.

I am still struggling with both knees, but we are still here and plodding (literally) on.  We find enough to do to keep ourselves busy and we have a special event coming up this weekend... more of that will follow in due course.  

Monday, 2 August 2021


 Monday 2nd August 2021

We certainly cannot complain about the speed of our sale.  She went on the market with New & Used Boats on Wednesday 21st July.  On Saturday 24th we got an offer which we accepted.  So here we are just 10 days later and everything is done and dusted, the money is in the bank and we met the new owners in the marina this morning to hand over Tentatrice.  

David and Deborah have been out on a boat at least once a year since they got married 35 years ago and they have owned their current 42 foot boat for 12 years.  The time has come for them where they want a bigger boat and will go off further afield.  I know we probably shouldn't care what happens to Tentatrice now she is no longer ours, but we do and we are so glad to know that she has gone to a couple who will love her and look after her in the same way we did.  

David and Deborah's mooring is in Kinver.  They sailed to Hanbury Wharf in their old boat arriving yesterday.  This morning they walked across to Droitwich Spa Marina and were there when we arrived.  We have a granddaughter with us at present and once we had 'handed over' (ie gone through the general workings of the boat etc and answered their questions) David and Deborah were kind enough to allow Evelyn, Monty and I to travel to the top of Hanbury locks on Tentatrice.

Just a few photos of our final trip and David, Deborah and Tess's (Cockerpoo aged one) first trip on Tentatrice.

Tracey (our next door but one neighbour) was there to wave us off.  We will miss seeing her, Jo and boat dog Shackleton, but we will, I am sure, keep in touch.  

Into Hanbury bottom lock

Monty and I got off as the boat got to the top of the lock - Monty was not at all bothered about other people and a 'strange' dog being on 'his' boat!

Tess is not quite tall enough to peer right over the top

There was a boat waiting to come down, so Evelyn had a 'lock mate'.

Last locking duties for Monty

Deborah and Evelyn waiting for the side pound to empty

The top lock plus volunteer lock keeper and Chris arriving with milk for the new Tentatrice crew

Another boat coming down so Deborah joined David on the back deck for the top lock.

Monty reunited with his master and the other VLK

Only three locks today and he still had a lie down on the job,

Evelyn putting her back into the last paddle to be wound up

Tess has found  a good look out point

They are off

Through Hanbury Junction 

And away

We walked to Hanbury Wharf to help them moor up against their old boat Rumah Kita (our home in Malay)

They will certainly have more room now!

We waved farewell as they were already transferring their belongings on to their new boat.  They are aiming to be down on the Severn tonight, so a long day ahead.  It is, at least, dry and warm and I hope it stays that way for them.  Rumah Kita is staying for New & Used to sell for them.  I cannot fault the brokerage - they made the whole process very easy and I would recommend their services is anyone is in need of a broker.  

We wish David and Deborah many happy years and a lot of great adventures on Tentatrice.  If you see the boat, do wave and say hello.  The name may change, possibly to 'Rumah Kita II' - that is a decision they will make in the fullness of time.  The colours and scroll work make her fairly easy to spot, whatever her name is.  We know Tentatrice is in good hands.  

Our final stats are:

3942 miles

3664 locks

240 swing bridges

135 tunnels

I may well pop in every now and then when something special occurs and I will certainly keep reading the blogs that I follow.  The next big event for us is the end of this month....

Until then I will say Au Revoir and if anyone is down this way please give us a shout - we are always ready for a cuppa/ pub lunch etc.