Thursday, 4 December 2014


I am so angry about what this Conservative/Liberal government has done to our National Health Service.  They have cut funding so far that there is now not enough clinical staff to give even a very basic service.  
My Daughter in Law is eight months pregnant and is unfortunately in hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy.  The treatment she is getting is absolutely appalling and it is purely down to staff shortages.  She should be getting pain killers every 4 hours, she is lucky if she gets them every six hours, which means she is often left in severe pain.  The necessary antibiotics are given when the staff gave time, not when prescribed.  Nobody has even queried the fact that she has not eaten for days, in fact despite the fact that she is very dry and has a sore throat from constant coughing, she is being given toast or sandwiches.  So now we are taking her in food that she can eat.
She has been left naked on the bed for hours, until her mother arrived to cover her up, so distressing for anyone.  They send two young men to give her a bed bath. WTF is that all about?  No woman would like the indignity and humiliation of that.  She did send them away and waited for her mother to give her a wash.
If she needs help and pushes the buzzer, it goes unanswered as the staff just do not have the time. I do not blame the staff, they are doing their very best under difficult circumstances and many eventually collapse under the stress and go sick themselves.  If you don't have family or friends support, you are just left to get on with it as the staff don't have time for the 'extras' like feeding, washing etc.  And the lovely sympathy and understanding that you need when you are sick has just gone, there isn't time for a patient to be treated as an individual. 
Our health service has deteriorated so far that we come behind third world countries in several areas of healthcare. Yet it used to be the pride of Great Britain and the envy of the world.  I can only assume that this government wants it to get so bad that they can say that they have no alternative but to privatise it. Then heaven help anyone who is poor if they get sick, it doesn't even bear thinking about.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Laying Up

I posted a while back about the high ropes that Fellowship Afloat had built to entertain the kids when they couldn't sail.  Well, this weekend is Laying Up weekend and the high ropes took on a completely different use.  Laying Up is basically putting the boats and the yard to bed for the winter.  Volunteers come from all over and do lots of different jobs.  The boats are washed and parked in their winter berths, sail lofts are washed down, paths weeded, gangplanks pressure washed and so on and on.  All the sails are washed and are ready for drying and this is where the high ropes came in to their own......

Someone obviously had a stroke of genius.  The absolutely glorious, summery weather we are having certainly helped in getting those sails dry.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Poppies at the Tower

We got up early this morning and drove up to London to see the poppies at the Tower of London.  They were certainly worth the visit.  The poppies are absolutely beautiful.  It is quite a stark reminder of the huge amount of people who lost their lives in World War One and is very moving to see.  I was not the only one who was moved to tears.  Such a simple idea but an amazing memorial.

Alfie came too and wore his poppy red collar and lead as a tribute to the fallen.

For my blogger pals that don't know, the poppies are ceramic and each one represents an individual from the UK and Coomonwealth who lost their live in WWI.  The poppies are on sale for £25 each with all the money going to veterans charity.  Once the poppies are removed later in the year, the buyer will get his/her poppy sent to them along with a commemorative certificate.  

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Our Barge Garden

This post is inspired by a post from Val over at Watery Ways and her canal side garden.  I thought I would show you the natural garden around the barge.  We have to be very careful about what we 'plant' and leave around, so that we do not upset the natural habitat as we are in an area overseen by Essex Nature (who incidentally really don't like boats and do all they can to get rid of us, even though we are probably more marine/environmentally aware than many landlubbers!).  So, politics aside, I keep flowers, herbs etc on the decking or decks.  But I am going to introduce a few things to our 'garden'.  I have just planted a crab apple tree in the hope that one day I can make crab apple jelly.  I would also like to introduce a quince tree.  We have wild blackberries, rose hips, haws, samphire, sea beet, purslane and various other edibles around us already, along with thistles, nettles and dandelions.  Our wild flowers are very pretty when they are all out in bloom and I will add a few more traditional wildflower seeds next year for a truly spectacular display.  By the way, yes you can see a buddleia, not really a native but lovely in full bloom and great for the butterflies.  And the beauty of this of course, is that we don't have to mow it!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Happy Birthday Scarlett

One year ago tomorrow this little girl came in to our lives.  She has been such a delight and has given us so much joy.  I don't think I have ever met a child who laughs so much and dances and sings all the time.  Here she is with her first car, with mummy and daddy and finally giving her proud Nanny the best cuddles ever. Happy Birthday Scarlett, we all love you so much xxx

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Baby Bumps

Some more wedding photos to show whilst we are waiting for the official photos of the day.  Here are two of my sons with their ladies and bumps!  The girls are looking so beautiful, definitely blossoming in pregnancy.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Just For Connie....

More photos to follow (when I have sorted out some good ones) but this is just to show my lovely blogging pal Connie my hat as promised.

Oh and a cheeky one of my beautiful niece and granddaughter who were both bridesmaids.

Friday, 5 September 2014


Okay, I felt so bad that I couldn't wait until Sunday and besides I will want to show off some wedding pictures then (and yes Connie I will include the hat!), so here goes.....

Ib - my new job is going great thank you, no stress and lots of freedom. Oh and it is actually illegal to harvest the samphire to sell, but good idea!

Margy - we will be installing a ship's wheel with hydraulic steering gear.  The boat made its own 'hole' within a couple of days and always goes back down flat.  It was initially one of our concerns but all has worked out well.

Mel - there are plenty of grey mullet swimming around.  The recipe Pete was given is; clean and gut the mullet, lay on silver foil with thyme, rosemary and a house brick, wrap and bake for half hour.  Open silver foil, throw away fish and suck house brick, it has a better taste than the fish!  Don't know really how true this is but Pete has never bothered trying!

Margy, Connie and Jo - the samphire has a very salty taste, but perhaps Chickpea could give me a recipe that might make me change my mind?

DC - shame I cannot call myself flat bottomed!

Val - we have a spare bed now if you want to experience the mudflats for real xxx


I have just noticed that on my last couple of posts, my replies to your lovely comments seem to have disappeared.  You must think I am so rude, especially since some of you have asked specific questions.  I cannot apologise enough, I don't know what has happened to my comments.  My son is getting married tomorrow so I am a little tied up until Sunday.  But please come back then and I will answer all your questions.  Sorry again :-( I love you all really xxxx

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Poo Bin

Due to the really rubbish summers that we have in the UK, we found that the buckets of poo on deck were not decomposing quite as quickly as we wanted.  Visitors were beginning to ask what the line of double stacked buckets along the side decks contained and their faces were a picture when told!!!  So we needed a different tack.  Research showed that a hot compost bin would decompose the matter very much quicker and that these were used in the Scandinavian countries which are even cooler than here but where compost toilets really have taken off.  We let our neighbour Sue buy one first, just to see if they worked!! And it did, so here is our new Poo Bin.  The heat is created by the decomposition process and the bin is insulated to keep the heat in.  We have to be careful to get a good mix in to help with the decomposition.  We put in vegetable peelings, shredded paper/cardboard, food remains, bread, toilet paper, floor sweepings etc and of course the contents of our compost toilet.  The temperature has to be kept above 30 degrees; there is a thermometer on top of the bin, alongside the airflow outlet.  It means that the toilet can be emptied on a regular (weekly) basis rather than wait until the bucket is full and can be emptied when visitors are expected, an empty loo is a bit more palatable to some squeamish guests!  Other bonuses are that we have cut our carbon waste a bit more and that we can compost the loo paper rather than burn it AND we don't have to spend £9.00 per bucket every time we needed a new one (we didn't, we improvised!).  Now we only need one bucket - anyone want to buy a used bucket with lid - only used in the compost toilet once!!!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

High Tide, Low Tide

Today there was a fairly high spring tide and I thought you might like to see how much water comes in. Here is a picture of my neighbour's barge, taken from our aft deck.  This is not a really, really high tide, as the water is often much higher.

And here is a picture at low tide.

The mudflats at Tollesbury are quite well known.  A few years ago the sea wall was broken and the land flooded as an experiment to create natural flood plains.  It has worked quite well, but is still constantly monitored by DEFRA to see if this method of flood defence can be rolled out elsewhere.  They had thought that a lot of the natural habitat and subsequently the seabirds would return once the land was flooded, however the ragworms had other ideas and they have thrived in the marshes.  So if you need bait as a fisherman, Tollesbury is the place to be.  That said, we do have a good amount of different birds around that entertain us for hours.  We also have samphire all around us, which people pay an absolute fortune for.  Can't see why though, personally I think it's horrible!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Windows and Weather

Poor Pete, he is trying to finish the windows for the wheelhouse as the glass is arriving during the week.  He has made the actual frames and is now sanding them down and filling.  Unfortunately the weather isn't playing the game and he is having to sand them down indoors.  Lovely, sawdust everywhere!  I have closed the door to below decks, but every time it is opened there is a whoosh of sawdust, it gets in EVERYWHERE!!!  But, I am not really complaining as I cannot wait to be able to use the wheelhouse.  It will house a couple of large bunks for seating/sleeping and my big table for entertaining.  There will be a large chart table (over the water tank) and eventually the ship's wheel which will control the hydraulic steering.  It has windows all round so will have the most amazing panoramic view of the marshes, Mersea Island, sea wall, other boats and barges.  I am sure that we will use this area more than any other.  So carry on Pete, I don't mind a bit of dust and I will keep the cups of tea coming x

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Wedding Preparations

Phil and Lucie (Scarlett's mum and dad) are getting married in four weeks, so we are busy at the moment with all the preparations.  Hen party last Saturday , which was fun but made me feel seriously old!  On Monday we went to France on a booze cruise to get all the wine for the wedding.  We started at Carrefour and did a bit of wine tasting in the car park  (thankfully my Dad remembered a corkscrew and glasses)

And then we went to a wine merchants just outside Calais that my dad has been frequenting for years (that is who I get my bad habits from!), where we actually bought most of the wine from.  We had a lovely meal in a fish restaurant down by the harbour in Calais. And no, I didn't eat mussels, I had a beautiful salad :)

I must show you this picture of Lucie doing a bit of wine tasting (she is going to kill me!). Classy bird, that's why she fits in to our family so well!

All in all, a smashing day out.  All I've got to do now is try and find a hat that I like and I'm ready for the big day.

Monday, 21 July 2014

And More Exciting News... youngest son and his girlfriend have just announced that they too are expecting a child in January, just three weeks later than my other son's wife.   Whoopee, grandchildren really are like buses, you wait for ages and then they all come along at once!  I can see that Christmas 2015 is going to be very expensive, I wonder if they will accept babysitting vouchers in lieu of a present.  This is going to be like having twin grandchildren.  Actually it is rather lovely.  My sons are all very close and best friends, so it will be great that their children are similar ages and can all play together and grow up together.  You can't beat family at the end of the day.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Scarlett and Exciting News

I haven't shown you a picture of Scarlett for a while, so here she is, quite a stunner.  I don't think I have ever met such a happy child.  She laughs, sings and dances from the moment she wakes up.  She is crawling, pulling herself up and is constantly chatting is that wonderful scribble talk that young children do.  Best of all is when she sees me her face beams with a great big smile and she lifts her arms up for kisses and cuddles, life doesn't get better than that...

Oh but wait it does ... my second son Stuart and his lovely wife Kerry have announced that their first child is due in January.  I am just as excited about this new arrival and can't wait to meet my second grandchild.  There may be disadvantages to getting older, but the arrival of grandchildren is one heck of a benefit!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Engine and Stuff

My blogger pals, Val and Mel, expressed an interest in our engine.  So here it is in all its glory.  It is a reconditioned Slanzi engine, 42hp, air cooled,  Italian made and was installed by the film company that hired the barge, along with the rudder and helm.  Apparently it only had clocked up 100 hours, but we cannot confirm that.  All we know is that everytime Pete goes to start it up, it always jumps in to action immediately. When Pete sailed the barge down from Ipswich to Tollesbury the engine performed beautifully, though Billy spent the whole trip in the engine room to ensure it ran smoothly (mind you it was the warmest place on the barge in early November, so he wasn't daft volunteering for that job).  I am hoping that Mel can add some more technical details now he has seen it. The engine room is actually quite large and the engine looks a little lost in the middle, but there is plenty of room for Pete to store more of his stuff.

I dropped in that little bit about the film company and I ought to explain.  Before we bought it and mucked around with the barge, it was hired by a film company to use in a film called 'Young Adam' starring Ewan Mcgregor and Tilda Swinton.  The film was a 'film noir' based around life on a working barge.  It was a very dark and intense film but there are some good shots of Ewan's bottom!  Of course we had to buy the DVD because it starred our barge, but I can't say it is the best film I have ever seen.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Help Please

Okay I wanted duck egg blue gel coat and I got a baby blue instead, which apparently couldn't be taken back (don't ask I won't bore you with the domestic issue!). My dilemma now is what colour to put with it.  I'm thinking a really deep, rich red, but I don't want it to end up looking like we're Westham fans.  Any ideas or suggestions?

Today we got a gift from mum and dad, a lovely table and chair set.  Doesn't it look lovely on what we affectionately call the patio.

Friday, 27 June 2014

New Beginnings

I left work last Friday and it was a bittersweet day.  I have made lots of friends over the years and so many people came by my office to say goodbye, so there were a few tears.  I have spent so long having to be fairly conservative in appearance because of the nature of the job, so I decided to go out with a final act of defiance - I dyed my hair bright pink.  It certainly made quite a few people do a double take (especially the Colonel) When I said I was going to do it, my sons were horrified - so I have kept it pink just to wind them up and I quite like it.  Unfortunately you cannot really see the colour in the picture below.

I was treated to a lovely meal out by lots of my colleagues and just a few drinks (!) and I received some smashing gifts.  I was truly touched by it all.  I will miss the gang, but I feel amazing - so relaxed, no stress and most of all - FREE!!!!  I looked after Scarlett all day Monday and on Tuesday I went up to London to meet a lifelong friend, Ginena.  She lives in Cape Town and we have not actually seen each other for 25 years since I went out there.  But from the moment we got together the years disappeared and we talked and laughed like the old days.  We had such fun, it was like being young girls again.

I have worked on the allotment, entertained friends, cooked for Pete every night, cleaned the barge within an inch of its life and caught up with the washing - it's hard work this not working lark - but I love it!  I am probably off now until after the school holidays and then I am looking at my options.  Really I would like to cut down to part time work but there are a couple of really interesting opportunities in the pipeline, so who knows.  All I know is that I have no job, no money and I am the happiest I have been in years and really excited about what the future holds.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Sunlight and Stars

My lovely blogger pal, Val, from Waterways is going to think that I am posting this just to make her a tiny bit jealous, but honestly Val I'm not!  This is our new hatch and the difference that having it in to the light and air is wonderful.  We can actually see that the sun is shining and even when we are down below, we can still feel part of the summer.  The other bonus is that we can also see the stars.  We do not have any light pollution around here, and the night sky is so beautiful.  Pete is talking about getting a telescope to do a bit of star gazing.  On the technical side for Mel, it has a wind up opener, but the whole dome can be lifted off to enable us to use the full hatch.  It is also triple glazed, so should keep us snug in the winter and the glass does something clever with keeping in/letting out heat.  For me, it means I can sit in the snug without feeling confined because of the artificial lights and I now am waiting for it to rain, to watch the raindrops bounce off the window.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Friends in High Places!!

I told them at work that I intended to take my grievances higher, bet they didn't think I would take it this far!!!

We actually had a fab day out in London. We had tickets for the Major General's Review, which is basically the dress rehearsal for the Trooping of the Colour and then on to Downing Street to have our photos taken.  No matter what I think of the military at this moment in time, no one can quite do pomp and circumstance like the British!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

A New Chapter

The last few months have been very hard and extremely stressful due to work.  At one point I didn't know whether I had a job or not, then it turned out I did, sort of.  I have been running the Education Centre for the last year (actually longer, but we won't go in to that one here) but now they are about to advertise for an official manager.  It used to be a military post but is now going to be a civilian post, but in typical military/civil service fashion, there has been absolutely no thought or planning as to how this is going to work.

They asked me to apply but it meant at least a £4k per year pay cut (maybe £10k!), it mucked up my pension so instead of retiring at 60 I would get my pension at 65, I would lose some of my leave and other T & Cs were considerably worse.  The new job is actually at the same grade as I am now, but I have been told that the new person will be superior to me, although I will be expected to train them up and pass on my 9 years of corporate knowledge.  All this and I should be happy to play second in command.  WHAT the F.....!!!!  What sort of organisation works this way?  Why would anyone expect me to take on the role under those circumstances and when I don't they effectively demote me.

I have spent the last year being back stabbed by various military personnel who hold very definite ideas about civvies being equivalent to something they have trodden in.  Where does this military arrogance come from?   A lot of the officers/Sgt Majors I have met wouldn't stand a chance in real life.  Their man management skills seriously leave a lot to be desired and if they ran a private company it would very quickly go out of business. I have gone from absolutely loving my job, to dreading going in every day, purely down to very bad management.

But there comes a time when enough is enough.  I have given a month's notice and the relief is unbelievable.  When I first made the decision I felt relieved but then the last six month's of sleepless nights hit me and I slept for England.  I cannot believe how well I feel.  I also cannot believe how unwell I have felt for a seriously long time and how it was all obviously down to stress.  Now they will have to advertise for a Manager and another one of me. There is a certain satisfaction that I am leaving them in a bit of a sticky predicament, but hey, they really didn't care one hoot about me.   I will be sorry to leave the young soldiers/sailors and airmen who I have been responsible for and I have made some very good friends among both the civilian staff and military staff, but it is time for a new chapter in my life and as soon as things are confirmed I will bring you up to date.

Up The Gunners!!!!

Oh, the tension, the choice language, the disappointment and then finally the relief and the ecstasy!!!!
Well done Arsenal, come on you Gunners!

Monday, 12 May 2014

At Last - problem Solved (And a Lovely Gift)

Look at these two pictures, these two little boxes have solved a problem that has plagued me for months now - my internet and mobile phone signal.  They are all part of a 3G booster signal and has made such a difference to the strength of my signal.  I have gone from nothing to a great connection.
And as a bonus I also get a mobile phone signal.  Not having a signal below decks has been a real problem.  I worried that Mum and Dad or the kids could not get hold of me in the case of an emergency.  However, it does have its downside - now I cannot pretend that I didn't get calls when I deliberately wanted to ignore them (ie work!)

I won a lovely book from Jo at The Good Life.  Jo grows vegetables and has the most beautiful garden.  She puts in a lot of work and puts me to shame, but this book has given me the push to dedicate a bed to flowers.  I love having vases of flowers around, especially when they smell sweet.  But they are too expensive to buy willy nilly, so I have to wait for the odd occasion that Pete buys me some.  Jo also documents her monthly visits to various gardens that are open to the public.  Some of my friends over the pond might like to pay her a visit to see some lovely examples of English gardens.  Jo can be found here.

Another Light Relief Post

I have blatantly nicked the idea for this post from by blogging pal Val who also lives on a barge in Rotterdam.  You can read her very humourous post about the necessity of light and the ways she has overcome the restrictions of living on a historic barge here.
We are lucky that we can put windows pretty much where we like, but you actually have to put the windows in to get the light!  When we first moved to our home berth we only had windows down one side of the bedroom.  Our poor neighbour, Sue,  complained that it was lovely to have a neighbour at last, but once darkness came she could not even see a glimmer of light from our boat, so still felt totally alone!  Even with his stubbornness, Pete could not hold out on two nagging women, so he put the windows in the other side of the bedroom.  They are not yet finished but they do let in an amazing amount of light.  Only problem is that now with the lighter nights and mornings I am going to have to think of something to block out the light whilst we sleep.  I am thinking shutters rather than curtains, what do you think?

We were very lucky with window frames, in that we got them from the local salvage yard.  They were brand new and exactly the right size.  We added double glazed glass to the frames and hey presto, lovely windows at a quarter of the price we had been quoted.  We also have enough frames for the wheelhouse, although they need a little bit of playing around with to make them fit. He has now also put most of the windows in the galley except one which is going to be an opener.  Still in the meantime, it makes a handy shelf!

When Pete first put the roof on the barge, he built in a large hatch that was big enough to get most things down.  It was through this that the washing machine, fridge/freezer etc was craned in.  Eventually it is going to have a beautiful domed window that opens out to the skies.  But that is going to cost a fair bit, so in the meantime it is covered by a wooden hatch, which restricts the light in the snug area.  I don't like always having to have a light on, so he is putting a piece of Perspex in for the time being.  It will be a lot nicer to have some natural light.

The last photo is supposedly to show you the darkness in the snug, but really it is to show off my latest eBay purchase - a lovely sofa bed.  So now the snug is our lounge, dining room and spare bedroom (and sometimes laundry drying room). Amazing what you can get in a small area.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

There Are Some Jobs....

Now I believe in equal opportunities and that I am probably capable of doing most things that a man can do.  However, there are some jobs that I am quite happy to leave to Pete.  We have a compost toilet, which has been fabulous.  It works by separating the liquids from the solids and has an electric fan to take away any obnoxious smells.  The wee just mixes with the other grey water from the sinks, washing machine etc and gets flushed out.  The poo is stored in a bucket until it is full.  Then the bucket has a lid slipped on and it is left on deck until it composts down.  We have a very posh compost loo that has a screen that slides back when you sit down (men have to sit down too as their aim can be a bit dodgy!).  This means that you don't actually get an eyeful of the contents of the bucket every time you use the loo.  Oh, it has just occurred to me I should have given out a warning first, I really, really hope you are not eating your dinner as you read this post.  If you are stop now whilst I continue.

Well the loo worked fine until yesterday when the screen stopped sliding back and stayed open,yuck!  I decided that it was definitely a Pete job to investigate the reason why, mainly as he has a much stronger stomach than me.  After a bit of procrastination Pete went off to investigate.  It turns out a stud has broken off that means the lid won't catch closed.  Simple really, we have ordered the bit needed.  But I think that I will bow to Pete's superior knowledge about these matters and leave him to fix it!!!  Until then I have to master the art of lifting the lid with my eyes closed and backing up slowly......

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Somewhere To Eat

At the moment the wheelhouse is being used as a workshop.  Eventually it will become our living area, with a seating and eating area.  It will also be a working wheelhouse with wheel, chart table and all the other thingy-me-bobs that you need for sailing.  Until that time, as you know we are living exclusively below decks.
We have been eating off trays on our laps, but on Sunday we invited mum and dad over for lunch for Mother's Day and Rob and Emily joined us.  So we needed somewhere proper to eat.  I sent Pete up to the house to collect 'the table'.  Now we do actually have a wonderful huge farmhouse type table that can sit everyone in Tollesbury (okay not quite), but that is too big for the snug.  'The table' is a beautiful oak table that is perfect as it is a fold down table, but opened out comfortably sits six.  But what makes it really special is that it was my grandmother's table and where my Dad ate all his meals as a boy.  It is still in wonderful condition and I love the fact that it is still being used.  It is one piece of furniture that I will never get rid of.  Here it is folded down, covered up and sitting quite comfortably in the corner of the snug :).  Now Pete and I can have some cosy dinners sitting at a table. Emmmm where did I put the candles.......

Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Lovely Day

What a glorious sunny day and doesn't it lift your spirits.  I got in to a spring cleaning mode, so had a good clear up.  With all the work going on, we live with a constant layer of dust everywhere.  But just for a few hours today everything is clean and tidy and the doors are thrown open letting in the lovely fresh air.

Now I'm done (housework doesn't take too long here, thankfully), I am sitting on the aft deck watching the watery world around me.  The tide is in, the birds are playing, boats are returning from their weekend away and I have a lovely cup of tea and a piece of homemade fruit cake.  Doesn't get much better than that.  Hope you have all enjoyed your weekend x

Friday, 7 March 2014

High Ropes

Look what Fellowship Afloat have built just the other side of the sea wall next to the barge.  Pete thinks they have built it just for us, but there is absolutely no chance of getting me up there! Fellowship Afloat is a charity that teaches children from deprived areas to sail and the high ropes are an extra bit of entertainment for the kids when the tide is out.  I can't wait to see them playing on it as I love the sound of children laughing, but I think there may be a few screams.  I am also not sure it will do my blood pressure much good watching them from a concerned motherly point of view!  Roll on the summer....