Sunday, March 30, 2014

Oh Bollocks!!

I just posted the pics and was about to start typing todays bit of tat whilst enjoying a glass of red, when I had a senior moment and knocked the said glass of red all over my laptop!  I am seriously pissed off, I think I have killed her.  She made some horrible noises then nothing and she has just come back from major surgery care of Elaine's brother Trevor. 

I fear this time there is no coming back.  What a way to go ... drowned in red wine!

So now I am using Elaine's laptop with the glass of red at the other end of the van!  The trouble is her laptop is a piece of crap and not user friendly.

Back to today, I took the dogs for a walk around the Crystal Palace park this morning and took a pic of a poster.  It looks like they want to rebuild the palace, now that would be really cool.

We left the dogs in the van and caught the No 3 bus from outside the Caravan park entrance.  The bus went direct to Oxford Circus.  We had to leave the doggies behind as they weren't allowed into an exhibition we were going to in Olympia.  They don't mind, they sleep all day and it is cool in the van.

We sat at the front on the top deck and got some pics of the usual sights ...

It was a lovely day and reached the heady heights of 20 degrees!

The exhibition we attended was 'A Place in The Sun'.  We went to one before at the NEC so we were covering old ground, but still came away with some good info.

The highlight of the day was meeting up with the gorgeous Jasmine Harman, who is one of the presenters of the show ...

We met her later and had a one-on-one chat with her. We told her our story as in ... leaving Sydney, living on a boat for two years and now having a motorhome to look for a place in the sun. Her response ... "Shut-up" !!!  She thought we were mad to leave Sydney but did give us some ideas on places in Spain.  She also said that we should go on the show ... she reckoned we were exactly what they wanted on the show and wanted us to do a screen test there and then.  We were flattered but we are not ready for that yet!

We came back to the boat via the No3 bus, grabbed the dogs and walked to a local pub.  We got  to the pub about 18.30 where a 'Yummy Mummy' mother's day party was finishing up with the adults pissed and little Amelia, Harry, Daisy and Sebastian trashing the place.  I would have birched the bloody lot of them ... Angry of Mayfair xx 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Off Down To The Palace

Crystal Palace that is.

We had an uneventful drive down the M6 and M1, then drove straight through the centre of London, which was fun.  At least driving the motorhome they know we are tourists and let us in when we are in the wrong lane!

Loved this colour coordinated old girl walking down Edgeware Road (when she turned round she had purple rimmed glasses on too!) ...

Past the horses head sculpture at Marble Arch ... 

Give way to the big red bus! 

The sun was out, so the roller had the roof down ... 

Over Vauxhall Bridge, James Bond HQ on the left ... 

Ahh The Thames, will we go down it again in a narrowboat one day?  

Finally moored up in the Crystal Palace Caravan Club!  We should have no problem with TV reception as we are in the shadow of the Crystal Palace transmitting tower ... 

Nice spot with the park behind us ... 

We went for a walk down to the park when we heard and spotted these...... 

Parrots in London!!

There is not much left of the Palace as it burnt down in 1936,  Here is Bombo doing his Sphinx impersonation, much to the amusement of some Japanese tourists passing by!

We went for a walk around Crystal Palace.  As we are up high we could see the Shard through the heat was 20 degrees today! 

Here is a boat connection.... we saw this on the wall of a very nice house along the road a bit, in Dulwich Hill.  Evidently this chap invented the screw  propeller - see, I do try to get a narrowboat connection in somewhere!

This is his des res ... 

We found a very nice, dog friendly pub where we met a nice Aussie chap who has been here eight years and, like us, just loves the UK especially London, it is just so special.

Talking of special, it is two years today that we landed in this fine country!

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Caxton and Yarwood crew meet up at last!

We had heard on the 'Towpath tom tom' that NB Yarwood was in town and moored up in our manor (Aston Marina).

I took the boys for a walk to hunt them down ... Lesley was giving Yarwood a quick polish before the forecast dodgy weather front came through.

We had a quick chat and arranged to meet up on their boat at 18.00 then head off to The Three Crowns for dinner.

A quick recap ... Lesley and Joe were the original owners of Caxton and it was through reading their blog that we ended up buying Caxton.  The same has happened now with George and Susan reading our blog and buying Caxton from us ... blogging rules OK!

Back to Yarwood ... she is a cracker of a boat, totally different to Caxton, check her out here

Here are Lesley and Joe having intimate moment on their lovely boat ...

We had a great catch up down the pub, and will do it all again next week ...

We were up at a reasonable hour this morning as we wanted to make a bit of a dent on getting the boat ready for the handover.

We went to Stoke to buy some packing boxes and bubble wrap, it was then back to the boat to make a start.  After having a cuppa we decided to start at the bow and work our way towards the stern.  We went quite well ... the bow locker is clear, the cargo hold is now empty apart from paint, an anchor and warp and a couple of mud weights.  Elaine has cleared out two cupboards and under the bed.  I now have my watch back that disappeared about two years ago!  

It was a good start.  We felt that as we were ahead of schedule, and of course it was a Friday. we should head off to The Royal Exchange for early doors.

The usual suspects had diminished to four, however we were joined later by narrowboat royalty; it was the first time we had met them and we all had a good old natter. 

Our Aston Marina 'hardcore' guests wish to remain anonymous at this time.  No worries Prunella and Timothy - sorted!

Tomorrow we are heading off for a weekend in London - we are taking the motorhome to Crystal Palace caravan park and on Sunday we will go to a Place in the Sun show at Olympia. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Settlement Day.

We stayed at the motorhome dealership a bit longer than planned!   I mentioned that we had been having problems with the heater and now it had packed up completely.  As I hadn't booked it in they said we may have to wait a while until a man was free.  I went out to the van to wait and within a few minutes a chap came out, walking around the van checking for any damage before they did any work on it - plus to ask if we had food in the fridge etc so they could keep the fridge working whilst working on the van. All very professional.

He took the keys away and we sat in the luxurious waiting room talking to other motorhome owners about their past and upcoming trips etc.

About an hour later the sparky came out for a chat and said he had replaced and checked all the obvious points but it was going to take another couple of hours before he could track down the problem....the $ signs began to flash in front of my eyes.

At 15.00 we got the call that all was well and we would be warm again!  They asked if I could come to reception to sort out the bill - apparently it was a dodgy connection behind the PSU unit but he had to pull half the van apart to cover it.  The cost?  Zero ... all covered under warranty ... result!

So now I can watch crap TV up the front of the van on my new monitor and see behind when reversing, which is good ... the bonus being that we will be snuggly and warm whilst doing it!

We travelled home passing the very scenic Ratcliffe On Soar coal fired power station.

I quite like industrial landscapes and she is quite an impressive mother!

Fun with Picasa ...

Steam, tipper trucks and diggers....what more could a boy want? 

One for the greenies, check out the mountains of coal, she burns 5.5 million tonnes of coal a year!!

Once back at the boat it was time to catch up on emails.  We now own a residence in Sydney again, the settlement was yesterday and we made it by the skin of our teeth to get the money sorted.  Thank God for Skype, as we made a lot of calls to Oz to try and hurry along the banks.  We just need to get someone in to rent it now.

Elaine started on the list of things to do as the new owners take over the boat on 17th April.  After that we will officially become 'travellers', so no more antiperspirant or nice clothes ... come to think of it we haven't got any nice clothes, so we should fit in OK.  Does anyone need new Tarmac on their drive?

Many thanks for all the nice messages and emails re selling of the good ship.

Right better start packing!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Caxton is Sold!!

But firstly back to Sunday. 

We had a phone call in the morning from the Aston Marina crew, who we left in Northumberland on Friday.  Turns out they were in Windermere!!! Yay ... we have stalkers :)

We arranged to meet them down by the cruise boats.  As we walked down two very low flying aircraft flew up the lake - I believe they were Hercules.

It had a different snout to the normal Hercules, I bet it is a buzz flying through the mountains!

Down at the jetty there were some beautiful owls, owling around.

We met up with our buddies and went to the local church pub.
It is always good to catch up with these guys.

Later in the arvo we headed off back to the good ship with the boys assuming their positions ... 

I think the motorhome is a bit more comfy for them than the roof of the boat ... 

On the way back down the M6 we passed a couple of Airstream caravans.  They are made from aluminium and very expensive ... 

On the way back to the boat we received a text from a couple who had read the blog and were interested to having a look at the boat, with a view to buying her.  We were running late so we arranged to meet up at the boat on Monday arvo.  So, to cut a long story short, they loved the boat and she is SOLD!!! 

She will be going to a lovely new home and I am sure the new owners will enjoy her as much as we have, she is a top class boat.

We would have to say that it was a bitter-sweet moment.  We have had absolutely the best time, better than we could have ever imagined.  We did have plans to keep her longer but Elaine still won't be 100% for a while yet plus we have the motorhome now.   We are desperate to head south for some sun, so the boat would have probably sat in a marina for the most of summer, and we just couldn't see the point or justify the expense of paying marina fees etc. 

It was always a two year narrowboating-plan and we are pretty much there now.  One thing for sure though is that we do not want to return to Oz yet, so are now really looking forward to our European adventure in the motorhome.

The one thing we will miss so much are the fantastic friends we have made, especially over winter in the marina.  We are absolutely sure though that we will stay in touch for many many years to come.

Talking of these wonderful friends, this morning we farewelled Andy and Sue from NB Festina Lente, who are heading out of the marina and turning right!  They are our kind of cruising plans!  Happy cruising guys xx

We then headed off to Newark to Brownhills to pick up a TV/Reversing camera Monitor for the motorhome.  Ours has been playing up since we bought the van, the problem being that it is an obsolete model with really strange wiring connections.  Elaine's brother, Trevor, has been scouring the internet looking for one and rang the other day to say that there was one on Ebay!  Lo and behold it was at Brownhills and it was a brand new unit that was found buried in their store room!

We plugged it in and voila, it all works again!

Brownhills is the UKs biggest motorhome dealer.  It is a huge dealership and as we bought the motorhome from them we are 'Brownhills Club Members' which entitles us to stay overnight on the premises, hooked up to electric and water with the use of their swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna.  There is also a restaurant in the grounds, so we are staying here overnight.  Oh ... and its all free!

There is also a pub across the road, so we went to do some 'research' ... it was so nice we stayed for dinner!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

World Class Scenery

We left our Aston Marina buddies on Friday afternoon and headed off back towards the marina ... but via the Lake District where we were going to stop over for a couple of nights.

We farewelled the very pretty local farmhouse pheasant ...

We consulted our Brit Stop book and found a motorhome friendly pub at Cockermouth.

As soon as we parked up the Landlord came out and welcomed us, the pub didn't open till 18.30 so we relaxed in our motorhome 'till then ...

It was a pretty nondescript looking pub on the outside ...
Our view from the 'side hatch' !!

... but very different on the inside, the whole place was adorned with teapots!

The idea of the Brit Stop book is that you park in the pub car park or farm shop etc. and hopefully (for them) you spend some of your hard-earned, although, as it says in the book, you are under no obligation to spend a cent.  Obviously we are not like that and you don't have to twist our arms to have a drink. This landlord, however, was very pushy and assumed we were having dinner there and got a bit shirty when we told him that we were only having a couple of pints.  There was nothing we really fancied off his menu and the prices were in my opinion a bit exy for basic pub grub.

Never mind we slept well with a clear conscience, having consumed a couple of pints.

I took the dogs for a Saturday morning walk and introduced them to some locals ...

We headed towards Keswick along some narrow lanes, we even had a few snow showers ...

There was a cross country race going on so we had to be a bit careful ...

The problem was the narrow roads got so narrow that we were too wide so had to chuck a u-ey!  It's times like this that I am so glad we are not towing a caravan.

After all that excitement we decided to stop in a layby for lunch.  I took the boys for a walk and took some pics ...

We then headed towards Windermere where we parked up in a proper site as we needed power, plus wanted to empty the cassettes and fill up with water.

We went for a walk around the lake and were blown away by the world class scenery.  This is one of the reasons we wanted to buy a motorhome, to be able to sightsee these fantastic sights away from the canals ...

Now onto one of my favourite subjects ... the dog-friendly Brit businesses!  This sign was outside a Cafe, where dogs were allowed inside ... love it.

Then down to lake cruise boats.....dogs travel free.....double love it.  I hate to bang on about it but I will ... there is no way this would be allowed back in Oz!  Dogs travelling free on the boats ... they wouldn't be allowed on the bloody boats.  If we do go back to Oz we will be on a mission to try and find out the reasons for the anti-dog behaviour and get it changed!

On our way back to the motorhome we spotted a few narrowboats (with masts) ... but look at the snow-capped mountains in the background ... you don't see that often !

Tomorrow we will head back to the marina.