Friday, 26 July 2013

Stand Down - Panic Over

Okay, so they tried to move Carpe Diem (the yacht) on Wednesday by pulling her over to the opposite quay wall.  But she got so far, decided that was enough, dug her keel in and steadfastly refused to go any further!!!  Unfortunately by the time they had decided the move was not going to work, the tide had started to fall and the boat ended up stuck in mid channel.  Let's just say, when I got home after a hard day and couldn't get on the boat I wasn't best pleased!  So there we were at two thirty in the morning moving the boat back to its original position alongside the barge.  Pete and I finally got to bed at 4.30.  I had to go to work the next day and boy was I shattered!  It doesn't seem that long ago that I could go clubbing until 4.30 and still do a full day's work.  The upshot is that we now cannot move for another four weeks, until the next lot of spring tides.  Now we are going all out to be able to move on to the barge and put Carpe Diem back on her mooring, where the cost is £50 per year as opposed to £150 per month.  Here are a couple of shots of high tide earlier today.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


The yard has asked us to move the barge on to its permanent mooring and put Carpe Diem against the other quayside, so that at some time in the future (!) they can repair the wall (don't ask, I am not happy).  This is so inconvenient, we will not be alongside the barge anymore, so Pete can forget cups of tea and bacon sandwiches they will be cold before I get them to him! Seriously, we live between the two boats and now we will be back to having everything on the yacht, I thought we were moving forwards not backwards. It also makes it more difficult as everything for the barge will have to be carried along a towpath.  Bearing this in mind, we quickly bought a wood burner and washing machine to load on the barge before we move.  Here are a couple of pictures of the wood burner being craned on.

Oh, and here is a picture of my new toy.  It is super efficient with fuel, costs £20 a year tax, no congestion charge if I go in to London and cheaper to buy new than many second hand cars.  What with the compost toilet, wood burner, solar panels to come just call me the Eco-queen!!!!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The King's Head

The King's Head is situated on the edge of the village square and is traditionally the seafarers pub.  In the past Tollesbury had six pubs but they have gradually disappeared, with The Hope being knocked down a couple of years ago :(  but the King's Head is a lovely village pub with good beer and friendly landlords.  I tend to use the sailing club these days but occasionally I venture up to the village and enjoy a bevy with my boys as it is more their local now.  Last year Sam Rigby was asked to restore the pub sign.  While it was down he put up a spoof sign showing Bradley Wiggins sitting on a throne which created quite a lot of interest in the local media, we even had the BBC covering the story!  When it was time for good old Henry Vlll to take back his rightful place, the Bradley sign was sold at auction which was staged in the car park of the King's Head.  It raised £350 for the Essex air ambulance (£3500 was raised in total that day).  Here are the two signs, which do you prefer?  Perhaps Bradley should have stayed or perhaps we should have Andy Murray up there now!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Crabs and Rats

At night we quite often hear the patter of little feet running up and down the decks and we knew those feet belonged to rats.  Last night the noise changed to a gnawing sound and so Pete opened the hatch and shouted.  He jumped as a rat whizzed passed his ears from underneath the coach roof and scarpered ashore.  Now we don't mind them using boat as a bridge but we do object to them taking up residence!  So out came the Hoover to get rid of their nest.  What we didn't expect to find were crab shells by the hundred.  The rats hadn't been using the space as a bedroom, more of a dining area!  Lets hope, having cleared their dining table, that they don't feel grateful enough to come back and start again!  The photo shows just how close to the hatchway, and hence our heads, they were........

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Churches and Family History

Many years ago, pre university and teaching days, I used to collect money for an insurance company. One day I was filling in for a colleague and I was sent out to Tollesbury. After having driven for what felt like miles, I drove in to Tollesbury. The sun was shining and I couldn't find the house I was looking for. Driving round I found the waterfront, the square and other Tollesbury sights and fell in love! We had already sold our house and were living in rented accommodation, so I found a house and promptly put in an offer. I really felt like I had come home. That was 23 years ago and although I would like to travel more, Tollesbury will always be the place I return to.

Strangely, a few years ago, Mum was doing some family history and was looking at a London Census form from, I think, 1865. There was an entry about two of my great, great, great Aunts who were both married to Tollesbury fishermen. How spooky is that! They are both buried in the local churchyard. I like to think that they drew me to Tollesbury and I can honestly call myself a local having previous generations cemetery!

Here are the two churches, Saint Mary's and the Congregational Church. The two churches work together, for example on Remembrance Day the service is held in the Congregational Church and then everyone goes over to Saint Mary's to the War Memorial to lay the poppies. Saint Mary's is the more traditional church, parts of it are from the 11th century and it was completed in the 15th century. It is beautiful inside with its stained glass windows, wooden pews and flowers. The Congregational Church is also used as a community centre and we hold our club Laying Up Supper there each November.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


I posted another post about Tollesbury this morning, but Blogger seems determined that it is going to sit under my last post Plough and Sail. Can't seem to change it, but if you would like to read it, just go to Plough and Sail and click on previous post. Blinkin technology!!!!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Plough and Sail

Here are the two sides of the Tollesbury sign, displayed as you entered the village. Tollesbury is known as the village of plough and sail because that was where traditionally village people earned their living. So, one side of the village sign depicts farming and the other sailing. In the past, Tollesbury men skippered and crewed many of the yachts that entered the America's Cup Race. They were also involved with building them. We still have two boat builders in the village. The sailors also skippered and crewed King George's yacht Britannia. When the skippers returned to the village with money they built terraces of houses. One for the skipper and his wife and the others for his children. You can tell how any children they had by the length of the terrace! In 1937 the J Class yacht Endeavour lost its mast crossing the Atlantic and was considered lost at sea. Three weeks later it limped in to Plymouth and word got back that all the men were safe. Apparently it was the biggest party and hangover that Tollesbury can remember!!!

In the sailing club there are lots of pictures of these sailors and the yachts that are very precious to Tollesbury's heritage. I remember when I was Commodore of the club there was a particularly high tide that threatened to breach the sea wall. I called up several members at 5 o'clock in the morning to get them down to the club to save the pictures!!! Luckily the tide behaved itself.

A quaint custom in the village is that one of the local farmers rents 'clock acre' off the church for agricultural purposes. The rent then pays the villager who takes charge of winding the church clock every day. The salary is enormous about £60 a year I think!

Local Shops

In Tollesbury we are very lucky in that we actually have a good selection of shops. Especially in these days where villages are losing all their amenities. Perhaps it is because they are used by the locals because you can get most of what you want in the village. We have a Post Office/newsagents, general store, bakery (with the oldest bread oven in England), butchers, fruit and veg van, petrol station/garage, fish and chip van, tearoom, cafe, restaurant, a takeaway that delivers(more about that another time) chandlers and that's not to mention the various drinking places and the art shop. If you are a local and known, you don't actually need money to shop as most places will give you an account. This was such a help when I was a single mother and flat broke, at least I knew the kids would be fed until my next university grant.

I love the fruit and veg van, it doesn't matter what I buy, the bag full always comes to £6.24, I'm sure he makes it up as he goes along. We have a rapport as my Grandad was a greengrocer. When I was little, grandad and I used to get up at 3 am and go to Stratford Market to get the stock for the shop, it was such an adventure. If Derry (the fruit and veg man) has veg that is passed it's best, he knows that I am quite happy to cook it up and freeze it or preserve it or pickle it. Therefore he quite often puts this in my bag 'just to save him taking it home'! In return I give him things that he cannot buy at Stratford Market, such as Jerusalem Artichokes.

I hope that we keep our existing shops as several other shops such as the hardware store, the fish and knickers shop, another newsagents, the delicatessen, the electrical shop, the clothes shop and a convenience store have all closed down in the last twenty years and it would be a shame if anymore went.

Oh and looking at the pictures, Fred doesn't own Fred's stores anymore. The owner before the present one changed the name and there was a national (well local) outcry, so the new owner changed it back. The rioting in the streets stopped and harmony has been restored!!!

Tea By The Sea

Just one minute walk from the barge, we have the most amazing tea room. It is called The Loft and is run by a few local girls. It is in one of the sail lofts and has a retro feel about it, is just like you imagine a tea room should be. There is a selection of teas and coffees along with some really yummy homemade cakes. They also serve sandwiches, paninis and homemade soup (and they cater for vegans, gluten free and other special diets, they even serve soy milk on request!) None of the crockery matches and the tables are formica. The girls also promote their own and other local crafts, several of which are on sale in the tearoom. During the week you will find an eclectic mix of customers; young mums meeting for lunch, local workers and other visitors to Tollesbury. I am beginning to sound like an advert! But as you can see by the pictures it is always worth checking the time of High Tide (which the Loft helpfully chalks up outside everyday).

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Tollesbury's Magic

I have given you glimpses into Tollesbury before. It's a bit of a secret place, one road in, one road out. The feel of it harks back to the 50s when life was so much more simple. Children play in the streets, at the salt pool and mud dipping on the marshes. Generally they behave themselves because the adults know who they are, so they can guarantee any misbehaviour WILL be reported back. They probably also have a lot more freedom here than many kids and seem to spend a lot of their time outside engaged in healthy activities. The mobile phone signal in Tollesbury is useless (especially in the pub which can be useful!), we don't have gas (woodburners are the way to go) and you can forget über fast broadband (fibre optics, what on earth is that!). Village events are always well supported and people go out of their way to support local businesses (anyway its a bit of an effort to bring in those expensive 'foreign' workers from Maldon or Colchester!). Tollesbury time is on a different timeline to everywhere else (except perhaps Spain's) and people know that, a so much more relaxed way to be.
But all these advantages to our way of life does prove attractive to those outsiders who manage to find us. Many of them discover us by accident when they sail in to the marina. Having taken the nerve wracking decision to navigate the fleet and creek (perilous to the uninitiated) they end up in our posh marina, complete with swimming pool, restaurant and tennis courts. It actually is a great place to bring your boat if you have kids, but shhh don't tell anyone that! They end up staying and making Tollesbury their home port, coming down each weekend and not even bothering to leave the marina. Then they discover the Sailing Club, that the locals use and that they can moor their boat up cheaper in the Saltings. From then on they are caught up in Tollesbury's spell, there is no escape and they have to sell their homes and move here permanently. Caught, hook, line and sinker (excuse the pun). Princess Anne once asked me 'why Tollesbury?' And when she left she said 'Now I know why Tollesbury'. Over the next few posts I will give you some more glimpses of Tollesbury, today's view is of the marina. But please once you have read this post, delete it quickly, we don't want the world to find us!!!!

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Look at these windows that we found in the reclaim yard.  Almost the perfect size for the barge (small ones for the bottom, larger ones for the wheelhouse). They are brand new and need double glazing but they have saved us a fortune.  Pete said he couldn't even buy the wood for the price that we paid.  I love the reclaim yard, it is so full of goodies that I have to be restrained from buying up all sorts of weird but beautiful things!  But there was some bad news in that Andy from the yard was hit by a scaffold pole that fell from a lorry.  He is out of intensive care now and is being looked after by the head injury ward, but we wish him a very speedy recovery as he is such a nice chap and one of this world's real characters.  Funny what life can throw at you.