Monday, December 24, 2012

The Boy is Back !!

Well, I picked up the boy (aka Paul) from Stone Station at 12.30 pm today - he had gotten into Heathrow at about 7 am - his flight from Aus was delayed on arrival at Heathrow and then he missed his connecting flight to Manchester, which delayed him a little !

We got back to the Marina, dumped his bags, grabbed our quiches and headed out for our 'Christmas boater's lunch' at the Marina.  It was a big turn out today - as you can see ...

We took over the big marina outdoor hut for a few hours !  Poor Paul.  he started to flag about 3.30 pm so we left the remaining stragglers (now in semi-dark!) and headed back for the boat to unpack his cases !  When we had kind of finished that he had to 'sit down for a minute' - this is what I found when I turned around ... even the dogs had caught his jet lag !
Bombo must have really missed his 'leader of the pack' because all the 'boaters' commented that he was the best behaved they had ever seen him today, ie, not 'Mr Grumpy' !

It has been really hard, in so many ways, while Paul has been away - just dealing with the general boaty chores on a day to day basis, managing surprises like ice and floods - and just being on my own in a strange town etc. but I have met some really beautiful people while I have been here - to whom I am really grateful for all their help, support and friendship they have shown me.

I am so happy to have 'the boy' back - tonight I will get a good night's sleep - and tomorrow we will head down to Kent for a family Christmas at my Sister's place and then onward to Milton Keynes to see Paul's family.  Really excited :)

Happy Christmas to all :)

Elaine and Paul xxx

PS:  Went to visit Maffi - who is moored in Stone yesterday - we had a lovely chat;  I am becoming a 'litter collector' on the New Year !  Watch this space for number of bags collected!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Time Is Up

 My seven weeks in Sydney is just about over, its been fun catching up with old friends and having a few too many drinks!

I Don't think I would do it again,  El would break my legs! Then again never say never.

Cant wait to get back to Stone railway station and meet El and the boys, the doggies probably think I popped up the shop for 5 mins, they have no idea of time.

Good news is that I got an upgrade to business class with Qantas, it makes a 24 hour flight more like a mini holiday, plus you can get plenty of sleep on the lay flat beds!

So off we go tomorrow QF1 A380 airbus to London....

Farewell Australia (again) Its been fun

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Holidays Safety Message

With the Holidays upon us I would like to share a personal experience with my friends about drinking and driving.

As you may know some of us have been known to have brushes with the authorities from time to time on the way home after a "social session" out with friends.
Well, two days ago I was out for an evening with friends and had a few beers and so on – you know how it goes. Feeling jolly I still had the sense to know that I may be slightly over the limit.
That's when I did something that I've never done before - I took a cab home.
Sure enough on the way home there was a police road block, but since it was a cab they waved it past. I arrived home safely without incident.
This was a real surprise as I had never driven a cab before, I don't know where I got it and now that it's in my garage I don't know what to do with it.
Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year,


To Our Reader

See you out on the cut in 2013

Paul, Elaine, Bombo, Sam. William, Geoffrey and Jaffa   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Motorbikes, Sheds and a Bloody Hot Day!

I went on a motorbike jaunt today with a workmate, who is into vintage Jap bikes.  They were having  a run out west of Sydney including a visit to a chap's shed to look at all the old shit collectables he has picked up over the years.

Aussies love their sheds, and they are infinitely bigger than the pommie shed! I think the poms are more into allotments!

There were some very nice bikes on the run.  By the way I was on a BMW but as we were on the same side in the war I was classed as an honorary member for the day! 

So some of the bikes ...

Very tasty CB750

Honda 500-4

The entrance to the was a bit like the tardis inside, in fact he still uses part of the shed for his fencing business.

Nice bush dunny!

Various saws and tools...

And more ...

Various different taps ...

Vintage blow torches, dies and other stuff! 

Various spanners ...

Back to the bikes, this little Honda was an amazing machine.

50cc Double over head cam 4 stroke, revs out to 15000rpm!

Steering damper, oil cooler and front and rear discs!
Fantastically engineered 

When we left the northern beaches at 8.00 the temp was already in the low 30s.

Max and myself left the boys playing in the shed and decided to go for a quick 200km ride!  By now the temp was 41.5C  and we had our leathers on!  It was a tad warm :)

We went to Wisemans Ferry and had a swift half.
Then onto the ferry itself to cross the Hawkesbury River.   

We were now in deliverance country so we cracked on at a fair pace out running the local pig hunters in their utes....remember the film... "squeal like a pig boy"! 

We stopped at the local shop in Spencer for another swift half before taking off before the good ol' boys caught us up. 

I gave the Beemer a bit of stick on a good bit of road but started to run out of road (and balls) at 180ks!  For a big old lump it handles very well.

Once we got back to the Northern Beaches it was a much more pleasent 35 degrees!
So that was that - a very very nice ride, some fantastic bikes and loads of old crap in a shed...only joking, he had some really good stuff!

So what has this got to do with narrowboats?  Sweet FA but I will be back there on the 23rd December, exchanging 41.5C for  -1.5C   

Friday, December 14, 2012

Smashing Day Out!

A friend invited me to the Powerhouse Museum as her company was one of the major sponsors of Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention  

As a big fan of Wallace and Gromit. how could I refuse.

First we had to drive into the city on a Thursday afternoon in the rush hour plus Christmas shoppers etc. A normal 20min drive took us one and half hours!

Over the coathanger

We made it just in time for the opening speeches.

Basically it was an exhibition about Australian inventions,  but also featured lots of sets off the Wallace and Gromit films.

Our Heroes 

The displays were the actual sets from The Wrong Trousers....

Matter of Loaf and Death

A Grand Day Out

A Close Shave

Curse of the Were Rabbit

The entrance to the exhibition was through the entrance of 62 West Wallaby Street   

Shaun the sheep, star of A Close Shave

It was a cracking good exhibition, with plenty of good wine and food, but surprisingly  no Wensleydale! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Moral dilemma

This is the content of an email Paul received - which you may have seen before - but it has an 'aussie take' on it at the end !!!

You are driving down the road in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

  1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.

  2. An old friend who once saved your life.

  3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about and haven't seen for years.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car? Think before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application.  You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first.  Or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS.....................

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered: 'I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital.  I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.'

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.

Never forget to 'Think Outside of the Box.'


 The correct answer is to run the old lady over and put her out of her misery because Gillard's* medicare** won't now pay for her hospital visit anyway, have sex with the perfect partner on the  bonnet of the car, then drive off with the old friend for a few beers!

Don't you just love happy endings!

* ie, Julia Gillard - Aussie Prime Minister 
** Medicare - Aussie Health System 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Swans a'skatin !

This morning the frost was spectacular - looking like snow on the bridge of the marina ... 

White marina ...

Swans walking on water - and what a bizarre noise they make when they do !

Had a walk with the dogs in Stone - couple of the locks looking a bit frosted up!

Water is like a frosty mirror ... 

Even ice INSIDE the boat this morning !
That must be why I had 4 animals INSIDE the bed with me this morning :)

Yesterday we had a boaters' afternoon tea again at the marina - it is such a great opportunity to meet other folks and have a laugh !  Afterwards Elly from Parisien Star handed me a 'gift' which was a beautiful veggie lasagne that she and Mick had made for me - I have to say it was the best lasagne I have ever tasted in my life ... so I tracked down the recipe from Elly and Mick's blog ...

Yum Yum - thank you, Elly and Mick !
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Nearly There

12 days to go and I will have served my sentence down under!

Its all a bit surreal, I find myself looking at the blogs and dreaming of being over there just like it was during our planning stage, that dreaming went on for years!

This time I know exactly what I am up for and can't wait!

Once again the boat has behaved itself impeccably for Elaine whilst I have been away (touch wood) I actually don't think it is luck, I put it down to a very well built boat that has been maintained properly over the 4 years of her life.

Not sure when we will be back in Oz, but I am guessing it will be quite a few years.

As I said previously, can't wait to get HOME!!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Triumph X75 Hurricane

Nothing to do with narrowboats, but who cares, I am pretty sure a lot of narrowboat folk are also into bikes. Well today a mate of mine brought his Triumph X75 Hurricane in for a show and tell! 
What a machine, totally original one of 1015 built in 1972-73 and 250 miles on the clock!

He has spent a fair bit of time getting it running right as it has been stored for the last 38 years! 

It looked and sounded awesome

Valued at $35,000 !!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chainsaw Advice

Having been a city slicker living in the sunshine and by the beach for the last 30 odd years there really hasn't been a need to have and use a chainsaw.

Now we are living more of a Grizzly Adams lifestyle I thought it about time we had better start decimating the English countryside and burning wood.

Any advice on what chainsaw to buy plus any other gear needed to split wood  etc would be most appreciated

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jaffa has only 8 to go

... lives that is !  He definitely used up one of them this morning - here is the story ...

This morning I was feeling really cold in bed so reached for my phone to see what time it was - it was 5.30am so I decided I could put the heating on for a bit!  (I always think it is too noisy to put it on too early - it's probably not but there you are !)

Just as an aside before the Jaffa story - when I picked up my phone (which had been plugged in and charging during the night) it came back into signal and it started beeping like billy-o with loads of messages !  Oops - Paul had been worrying about me because he couldn't get in touch with me - so I was severely reprimanded very early in the morning :(

Anyway - I got up and put on the heating on but on the way back to bed I noticed the the fire was 'still a going concern' ie, still had hot coals in it ... so I decided to go an get some more coal from the cratch to load the fire up again - which I did!  The next thing, I heard an almighty wailing from OUTSIDE the boat - a horrible, strangled, gargled sort of cat wailing!  So I rushed out - unzipping the cratch covers to get out - still hearing the wailing but couldn't see where it was coming from, so rushed back in to get the torch.  By the time I got out again, the wailing had stopped and I started to have a horrible feeling ... then, all of a sudden, Jaffa appeared at the side of me on the pontoon - ABSOLUTELY SOAKED !  Last night was very, very icy and there was even ice in the water this morning.  I rushed him back in the boat and dried him off - he was icy cold so had obviously taken a dip!

The mysteries of the whole ordeal are...
a) how did he get out there ?
b) why did he go out there (he never goes out there !) ?
c) how did he fall in ??? slipped on the ice
d) how did he get out again ?!

I think his Guardian Angels were watching over him, for sure !  I got him warmed up again eventually (next to me in the bed) - it took him about an hour to stop shivering totally and he has stayed in the bed with his warmish hot water bottle all day - poor little boy!  Here are some pics of him sleeping in the bed...

...mind you, I had to disturb him this afternoon so that I could change the sheets - he didn't like that at all !

After all that ordeal I took the dogs out and popped down to Aldi to take advantage of their ski gear day - managing to get Paul and I some snow boots - yay!

Yesterday was the Stone Farmers' Markets, so  I popped down with the dogs - I bought them two bones which they are loving ...
Bombo guarding his new posession !
Sammy looking like a rabid rat !

I also bought myself some140 denier fleecy-lined, opaque, thermal tights - wow, who would have thought you could buy such things!!  They will do the job, for sure !

While I was in the car park in Stone I saw a lovely robin but by the time I got my camera out he had gone but I sat and watched all the birds in the holly anyway - they were loving it - and I saw this little fella gobbling down holly berries for ages !  He's got one in his beak in this pic ...

I took this pic on the way back in yesterday - my little phone camera didn't really do the scene justice but it was still lovely to see the swans frolicking on the hill ...

Just thought I would add this pic in because it is so cute - this is how I found Sam this morning - upside down (as usual) but sucking his back paw!

Also I have been taking more pics of the moon - just wonderful ...
 Tonight I am keeping the cratch door firmly closed!!!