Archive | July, 2015

Lazy Days

27 Jul

Not just my favourite thing in the whole wide world but Lazy Days is also the name of a boat.

A very special boat in fact. A Dunkirk Little Ship.

You may have heard about them on the news recently and, indeed, know their history but if not you can see/read about them here.

That saves me a whole lot of work will fill you in a whole lot better than I can. And because Boatbird would much rather rather be telling you about her time spent aboard Lazy Days recently at the Thames Traditional Boat Show at Henley on Thames.

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So how come I get to be so privileged?

Well, it’s like this:

John’s brother-in-law bought and restored Lazy Days and keeps her on the Thames to use as an apartment during the week while he works in the city, so he, John’s sister, niece, nephew, cousin  and various other bods would be at the rally to show her off.

But the star of the show, who lives in South Africa but currently on a visit to John’s sister (who lives somewhere oop north in the UK) was John’s dad, Terry. Who just happened to have a birthday that very weekend…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

…his 89th!!

Terry went along on the recent trip to Dunkirk with Lazy Days – there really is no stopping him! He has a sailing boat, Fling, back home, which he regularly still crews along with his mates. I think it must be the Pilates he does twice a week that keeps him so fit.

I’ve stayed at John’s dad’s several times at his home in Port Elizabeth so was good to see him again, but I’d not met any of the other relatives so this was an ordeal I couldn’t escape also a pleasure.

So many good reasons to be there.

Not that I need a good reason to be on the Thames; it’s a lovely river where we had a lot of fun cruising with Hobo some years back…DSCN1437Approaching Tower Bridge

23100_1600Always a joy to be there and the best way, in my view, to see the city.

But this isn’t about  the Hobo’s adventures. It’s about Lazy Days.

We left Hobo early on the Sunday morning, hit the M25, then the lanes – lovely ride. Easy venue to find, parking at Fawley Meadows no problem – the mark of some good organisation.

Now we had to find our little ship so strolled along the bank, taking in all sorts of craft along the way, and just when there was nowhere left to go – up pops John’s cousin Robert. Not wishing to confuse you but he was actually on a plastic boat/gin palace very smart cruiser being skippered by John’s nephew Tom, who was on a pleasure cruise with a bunch of mates and had stopped by.

Typically, we’d chosen a left turn when it should have been a right so were as far away as we could be from our intended destination, Lazy Days, which was moored at the other end of the allotted stretch of river.

Never mind. We had a lovely meander through the boat jumble stalls, a good look at the classic cars…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

…TJ likes a good engine.

This one had a split personality…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

Is is a boat? Is it a car?

These looked like fun…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

Zoom in, just right of the lead rider, to see a little girl getting a flying lesson.

And I could swear this rider is none other than Peter Kirby…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

What say you Josephine?

And then there was this…

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Remember Bluebird? Donald Campbell? Sure you do.

She looked so small. She’d been on the water the day before but a miserable bloody crane driver wouldn’t lift her in on the day we were there. Shame.

Still, John (screen left) had a nice chat with the boys in charge of her. He loves to talk engines.

After another good leg stretch we found Lazy Days, boarded, did the intros/re-unions and got the guided. Superb.

Best news of the day though, we were in time to join them as they did the parade thing – down and up the river, taking in a loop of Temple Island…017

Another boat ride for Boatbird – that’s two in a week – excellent!

John loved it too…012

Not least because of the aerial activity…020

Some low-level aerobatics.

As well as several sightings of the Red Kite…018

…which reminded us of flying in to White Waltham airfield when Hobes was on the Thames before. There’s a lot of them around here.

Some interesting craft about…014

Love these amphicars…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

Though getting back up the slipway looked a little tricky, but with a good head of steam…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

And a lot of luck nerve and good judgement…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

He made it…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

Would love to take some unsuspecting person for a ride in one then plunge into the river! I know someone who was taken on just such a ride, as it happens, who said it was darned scary! These were not, by the way, his actual words.

But back to the parade….

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And as we came back to the main event, TJ spotted us and got busy…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

…as we pass Liz’s barge.

We had our very own Naval representative…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

Then we spot TJ…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

Well some of us (notably the female variety) did. Wave everybody.

The guy on the microphone gave our history to the crowd. Back in the day, there was mutiny aboard apparently!

But we were a good crew, seen here re-deploying the fenders…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

…that we were instructed to disappear as we set off. Spoils the photos it seems. I agree – look back at the previous two shots and you’ll see what I mean.

John’s son, TJ, had driven here too – fresh from working in Wales. Unfortunately he just missed the boat – literally – but was at least ashore to take the shots that we couldn’t/didn’t. I’ve credited them to him by way of a caption (though BB did the cropping) because they are so good. Well done that man!

Once re-birthed and after the tea party, we got busy putting Lazy Days to bed…

taken by TJ

taken by TJ

Well the boys did.

A fabulous day and a big thanks to our hosts – and of course, Lazy Days.

And here we all are…

taken by an innocent bystander

taken by an innocent bystander

L to R: John, BB, TJ, Birthday Boy, Alice, Jill and Kevin.

Smiley faces all round. Aaahh.

Was lovely to meet you all/see you again – including the ones not pictured, who were by now heading down river to Windsor.

Friends Re-united

22 Jul

I hated school.

County High School Wellingborough for girls to be precise…2013_05_13_14_50_21

Dickensian, demanding of academic excellence and where the majority of the teachers were bonkers. Really, they were.

I never felt I fitted the bill, always a little out of kilter and so left as soon as I was allowed to – age 15 – to enter the real world, get a job and start living. Little did I know…

But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that, some 49 years down the line, I would still be in touch with my old school chums. Mainly due to the wonders of cyber space plus super-human effort on the part of  the more persistent and communicative amongst us.

From time to time we get together – in the flesh as it were – to compare ailments and discuss medication congratulate each other on maintained beauty/youthfulness and catch up with each other’s lives.

Sometimes it’s just the annual school lunch but once in a while we get a little creative and find a more inspiring venue and this year (not for the first time) it was Southwold. We like it there and one of our member has a caravan by the harbour so that’s very convenient.

And so it was that, on July 15th, a few of us that could escape for a day or two assembled at the lovely sleepy Suffolk coastal village of Southwold – much-loved by us all.

Just a handful of us this time…022

Kay, Jude (all the way from Yonkers in New York don’t you know) Jackie and Jose, with Archie bringing up the right hand side.

A nice number though not quite up to the heady heights of 1996…scan0249

…when it was 30 years since we started at that school. Next year will be 50 years since, so perhaps we should mark that milestone accordingly. Any ideas..?

Once all assembled, hugging over, chatted out and coffee’d up we set out for Walberswick. We hopped through the gap in the hedge from the caravan site and walked along the harbour, where you can check out the boats (if you’re a boatbird) and buy the best fresh fish in the world. Probably.

Over the bridge…001

…with numerous photo stops.

Even one of the boats…002

Just for me.

A tramp across here…008

Taking in this…007

And this…010

Fascinated by the insect with the red spotty wings…009

Anyone know what it is?

Onward through the heath…012

…another photo call.

Looking good girls.

Splendid tree…013

And arrival at the delightful village of Walberswick…015

…where we did lunch at The Bell. And very good it was too – fish all round like you do when at the coast..

We were amused by the numbering system though…017

The waiting staff actually shouted the whole number across the garden… as in “three thousand and forty one…” It made us giggle but you probably had to be there to appreciate this one.

Anyway, why not just say 41?

Then the beach, where one woman and her dog performed for us…020

And boy, can Archie run…021

He likes to chase the gulls – not one he’s ever going to win but very entertaining.

Archie and his human like to pose…023

Just as well really when in such demand…024

I’m not being camera-shy by the way, just that I’ll be in all the shots taken by the others that I haven’t yet seen. Maybe they’ll send them on..?

We head back for the long walk along the estuary and to the bridge. There’s no other way round.

Apart from the ferry…029

…which seemed like a bloody good idea for those with bursting bladders or sore feet or a boatbird – always being up for a boat ride. That’s a plan then.

One lovely, very strong young lady…025

…who took this on from her father, I understand, operating this service from 10 til 5 every day.

Walking ahead, Jose and Kay hadn’t heard our plans or seen us sneak off and were obviously struck by guilt…028

…when they finally noticed we weren’t tagging along and stopped to see where we’d got to, no doubt wondering if we’d got lost/expired along the way.

More giggles.

Back at the caravan for tea, cake and finally fond farewells.

It was a lovely, lovely day. Good to be by the sea and great to see “my gherills” again (spoken in the style of Miss Jean Brodie).

And, as said in my school reports… must do better.

As in don’t leave it so long next time – let’s do it again soon. The more the merrier.

Saturday’s Child

7 Jul

Boatbird’s been a bit boring of late. No adventures. Nothing to rant about.

Not even a boat trip – and that’s unforgivable, the weather having been so glorious. Still, watch this space, I can feel a move coming on.

I blame being born on a Saturday. You know the old rhyme…

Monday’s child is fair of face (not me then)

Tuesday’s child is full of grace (sadly not me either)

Wednesday’s child is full of woe (gladly not me)

Thursday’s child has far to go (er..nope)

Friday’s child is loving and giving (well…)

Saturday’s child works hard for a living (yep, that’ll be me then)

But the child who is born on the Sabbath day

Is bonny and blithe and good and gay (thankful for small mercies then..)

It’s true, I was born on a Saturday and, whilst I don’t work that hard these days, I do still have to work. Back in the day though, I lived and breathed work – couldn’t get enough of it. Glad I got over that.

I’m from a generation that was brought up on the promise of retirement and a state pension at age 60, a bus pass and winter fuel money. Sod’s law came into play though: the rules were changed and goalposts moved. As it stands now (and I’ve no faith that it won’t alter again) I shall have to wait another six or seven years.

Hey ho.

Lucky for me, I am still in touch with a lot of my old buddies from school, who also fall foul of retirement rules, so some consolation in all being able to bitch about it together.

We’re planning a bit of a get-together in Southwold very soon, which I’m really looking forward to and hope to record our antics here, so look out for pics of all us old dears. To be fair, and I may be a little biased, I do think we’ve all fared pretty well – have to see what you think.

We have done some of this though…001

And this…002

And harvested some of these from the roof garden…006

You know, they taste like real strawberries. Funny that. I suppose it’s the lack of a billion air miles and hours of chilling as they travelled.

I’ve really enjoyed the sunshine, the heat and being able to unbatten Hobo’s hatches, open the boat right up to catch a through breeze. Can’t beat it.

But otherwise I’m back to scratching my head and devising get rich quick schemes once again. I don’t even want to be rich – just have enough to keep me accustomed to the manner in which I wish to live.

As in not having to go out to work. Which allows more spontaneity, more fun, more adventures, gives me more time to do more of what I want to do.

Write/paint/draw/play music/read and generally mess about on the river.

And, more to the point, not having to drag my sorry arse out of bed in the morning until I’m good and ready. I like to take my time getting into the day, nice and easy.

And I’d like to pay a lot more attention to Hobo. OK, she’ll never be one of these shiny, highly polished, tidy, really smart boats – she’s lived in 24/7 and not a weekend/holiday boat that gets lavished with attention just after she’s taken out of the cotton wool for her annual airing.

That said, Hobo is a great boat and I love her dearly, but she would benefit from some time spent on her.

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Time. What no-one ever seems to have enough of.

Could be worse…

I could be living in Greece or – heaven forbid – be living in a house.