Saturday, 20 May 2017

Strange Weather

First of all we had no proper rain for weeks and I was getting very worried about my baby plants at the allotment.  Then we had a month's worth of rain in two days.  Last night I took Alfie for his evening constitutional and this was the sky ahead of me.



When I turned round to head home, this was the Colour of the sky the other way.



Unfortunately the dark skies followed me home and we had even more rain.  You just can't win!

Kessingland

Last weekend we went away with friends to Kessingland.  The site was chosen by them as it was a site that they really like and had been to several times.  As it was an overnighter we decided to sleep in the van, which Pete has converted to a micro camper.  We also have a small tent that goes up in seconds and which we can put all our bits in.  We can back the van up to the door of the tent so it becomes almost one unit.  Well, that was the plan.





Our friends had said there was a good pub next to the site that served good food.  Great we thought.  Anyhow we arranged to meet them in the pub, which turned out to be like a sports bar with pool tables, live music etc.  Not a quaint little pub that the UK is renowned for.  Things went from there.  We pulled into the camp site (which was huge) and before we said a word, a little jobsworth came out and said 'I hope you are not sleeping in the van, it's illegal as it has no windows and curtains'.  Who knew it was 'illegal', maybe against site or council rules but certainly not against the law of the land!  He took a look at Alfie and said 'the dog has to be kept on a lead', fair enough but it was the way he said it.  Another couple were due to join us but the lady had only come out of the hospital that morning after having had a reaction to chemotherapy.  But the jobsworth explained that as she was now out of hospital we couldn't get the deposit back (we should have lied!)  The children in a nearby camper were not allowed to play ball and apparently our BBQ was not the regulatory height off the ground.   So many rules for old rebels like us! The final nail in the coffin was the two great big wind turbines each side of the camp, whirring away.



If it had been just Pete and I, we would have told him where to put his deposit and left, but our friends were so keen and we didn't want to upset them, so we laughed it off.  We did have a lovely BBQ that evening and played Rummikup, which was a game new to us but we loved it so much I have bought a travel version for us to play.  We put the van side-on to the tent and crept into the van under cover of darkness.  It was like being in a nest and I had the best night's sleep.  We couldn't have slept in the tent as the sound from the turbines was like camping on the runway at Heathrow airport.
We went to a boot sale the next morning and picked up a couple of bargains and then made our escape as soon as we could without being rude.  We will not be returning to Kessingland and next time we will pick the site!

Next weekend we are off to Hampshire and staying in the grounds of a seamen's mission.  I keep telling Pete that we can book his place while we are there.  Will keep you up to date.

Oh and here is a gratuitous picture of a Pete trying to talk Alfie into going for a walk in the rain.  Alfie was so comfortable that in the end Pete gave up!


Friday, 12 May 2017

Update

We have had a busy couple of weeks, lots of paid work for me and unpaid work for Pete (well he is a pensioner now!).  The mast on Carpe Diem has finally gone up today after two years.  It is quite scary to watch but also looks magnificent.  It seems such a shame to sell her, but we have new adventures to go on.



Every morning about 0600, Pete feeds two ducks by throwing suet pellets and mealworms over the side.  The other day he was not feeling too good so got up really late.  The ducks had obviously got fed up with waiting and were on deck, tapping at the back door.  Cheeky little mites!  Before you ask Pete is fine now.  As you can see, we have beautifully wide decks.  This is one of the features that attracted us to the barge in the first place.  They look at bit scruffy now, but we are planning on going over to Bradwell so that the barge can be lifted out, hull and decks shotblasted and painted.  When will depend on selling Carpe Diem as it will not be a cheap job.  We will have her surveyed again at the same time.



One of my new jobs is in Dovercourt, right down on the seafront.  I don't know how I am going to concentrate when my working view is like this.



Saturday, 22 April 2017

This & That


We are back from our holiday and back to work.  I have taken on a few more teaching sessions for the next six weeks until the GCSEs.  I am saving the extra money to buy a polytunnel for the allotment so that I can extend the growing season.  Apart from an abundance of rhubarb, I have had a very special harvest.  Five years ago I planted some asparagus crowns and nothing came of them.  Last year I threw a load of chive seeds into what I thought was a redundant bed.  Well, asparagus obviously like chives because this year it has begun poking its head through the soil.  Here are my first ever two asparagus spears and more will be ready later in the week.  Unfortunately, I adore asparagus but a few years ago I developed quite a violent reaction whenever I ate it, so now I am growing it just for Pete.



Easter weekend was busy preparing for teaching the following week, but we did get Easter Monday out.  All my boys, their wives and my grandchildren joined us at The East Anglian Railway Museum for a Thomas the Tank Engine Event.  It was a fabulous day and the kids loved it.  They rode on the different trains, played in the playground, walked round the very child friendly exhibits and watched Dusty and Rusty performing their daft antics.  Young Bobby was particularly taken with the model railway layouts and kept going back to watch them going round and round.  My Mum and Dad joined us for our picnic.  All in all, a fabulous day out, precious memories.





And finally a picture of my boys - Lads On Tour at Thomas the Tank Engine (how times change as they grow up!).  I am so proud of these boys and my heart swells every time I look at this picture xxx




Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dunwich & Leiston

First thing today we went to the village of Dunwich.  A very pretty little village with a population of about 100 people.  It is hard to believe but this place in Medieval times was actually a city and the capital of East Anglia.  It had a thriving fishing industry with 40-50 boats, a shipbuilding industry that supplied Richard I with 20 ships when he went to war, merchants from all over the world settled there and it had 12 churches, a fortress and a leper's hospital.  Slowly over the years, the sea claimed the land at a rate of 80 metres per century and now it is a quintessentially English village.  Such a shame.  There is a lovely little museum that tells the whole sorry tale.  Not the best picture, but the gateway to the only existing church in Dunwich.


Then we went onto Leiston Abbey which is just down the road from where we are staying.  We wouldn't have found this except for the Ordnance Survey Map, so glad we bought it.  The Abbey dates back to 1136 and must have been enormous.   Good old Henry VIII sent it into ruins and eventually a farmhouse was built alongside.  The Abbey ruins are now being preserved and you can see the magnificence of it all.  The buildings are managed by a music school and as we were walking around the very peaceful site, we could hear some beautiful music being played through an open window.





Tomorrow my son is coming to join us with his wife and my granddaughter, so we are off to Aldeburgh for some seaside fun.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Snape Maltings

After spending half a day driving around deepest Suffolk looking for a 30mm spanner, two jubilee clips and two lengths of hose, we ended up not having a lot of time for adventures.  However, we did pay a visit to Snape Maltings.  All I knew was that there was a concert hall and a lot of old buildings here.  The buildings were beautiful and have been very sympathetically restored.  They were originally barley maltings and the malt was shipped to breweries all across Europe.  The cargo ships and barges came up the Alde to collect the malt.  Today it is the main venue for the Aldeburgh Festival, which is an annual celebration of classical music.  There was also a wonderful barge moored up, which of course caught our attention.
There are also some lovely craft shops, food shops and boutiques within the complex.  Mind you, it was so expensive, very much for all the foreign tourists.  I don't care if the peanuts were grown in gold pots, I am not paying £9.50 for a jar of peanut butter!  Prices are a bit steep round here.
I popped into a bakery in Woodbridge for some bread.  The chap in front of me asked for a sliced sandwich loaf, which was actually what I wanted.  When the young lady handed it to him and asked for £2.70 my jaw hit the floor and I left.  We have a really good bakers in Tollesbury (with the oldest bread oven in England) and the exact same loaf is £1.30.  Both bakers could be considered artisan bakers but one is in a fashionable area and one isn't, I really don't know how they can justify the difference.  I ended up buying some bread in Waitrose, which was very good and nowhere near as expensive.
After a busy day we are shattered and Alfie has already taken himself off to bed.  I shall not be long behind him, but Pete is listening to the Arsenal game on the radio before he turns in.  I hope to goodness they win, I want him in a good mood tomorrow x










Spring Break

The weather has been so lovely that we decided to take ourselves off and try out our new tent.  So we headed for Suffolk, which is not too far from home but far enough away to be on holiday.  We acutually read the instructions before we attempted to put the tent up and I have to say, we were pretty impressed with how quickly it went up.


We have really made ourselves at home now.  The new camp kitchen pictured with fruit bowl and kettle, the two essentials of life.  Bunting put up, which Pete objected to and he also drew the line at my fairy lights! New sleeping bags laid out, these are heaven with their brushed cotton liners but I suspect they may be a bit warm in the summer.  Pete forgot the spanner for the gas so the new cooker try out is going to have to wait until we find somewhere that sells the right sized spanner, but we do have the Safari Chef to cook on which is a great multi purpose bit of kit.  This is camping in style, certainly not roughing it.



Today I bought an ordinance survey map of the area so later we are off on our adventures, finding all the little hidden gems.  Will report back soon.

Oh, and I have my holiday reading.  I have read this before and it is a brilliant book, worth reading again.










Thursday, 6 April 2017

More Allotment Stuff

The weather has been so beautiful and I am on Easter Holidays.  We are planning to try out our new tent next week, so I thought I had better spend some time at the allotment whilst I had the time.  So I planted up a new strawberry bed.  There are early, mid and late fruiting varieties, so hopefully we will have strawberries late into the autumn.  The broad beans and peas are also in.  There are another lot of broad beans in the allocated squash bed, I LOVE broad beans. That is garlic you can see in the background.  I found those little wellies in a skip and it seemed such a shame that they had just been discarded, so now I grow flowers in them, they seem happy.

I do a sort of planting plan each year, which always go to pot for various reasons, like a bed being ready for planting  before the one that was planned for that veg type.  But this year I am trying really hard to stick to it.  I am also going to try some more experimenting with polyculture to try to confuse those damn cabbage white butterflies and other bugs that get to eat my veg before me!  Polyculture is where you grow lots of different things in one bed, it is supposed to cut down on the weeding and keep the bugs away.  Well, that's the theory, I'll let you know if it works.  I have spent quite a lot of time over the winter reading about permaculture and polyculture, so now is the time to start putting some of it into practice.

I have planted a patio apple tree and a patio plum tree in large pots on the path to the barge.  I figured if they were close to hand, I could keep them watered.  Apparently they produce a lot of fruit for such little trees, we'll see.....






Saturday, 25 March 2017

Feeling Grateful

Until Wednesday, this week was fairly mundane.  I worked some extra hours (saving for a new polytunnel), I concentrated on healthy eating (you will gather from the pictures below that I love mushrooms!), I did a bit of babysitting (always a pleasure) and we went out for a fabulous dinner with friends to a local Gurkha restaurant.
Then on Wednesday some jumped-up criminal decided to murder several innocent people in London. People going about their everyday lives, who were just looking forward to getting home to their families.  This act of murder was personally very close to home to me, too close.  As soon as I saw what was happening at Westminster, I picked up the phone to check all was okay, thankfully I got an answer.  I feel sick to my stomach that another poor mother/wife didn't get the same answer.  The police, NHS staff and other emergency staff/civilians that rushed towards the danger to help, deserve our utmost respect, they are the heroes of the day.  The names of the victims should be remembered and broadcast, not the murderer, he was a nothing, not worthy of being remembered for anything.
I am upset and angry, but my life carries on.  I am so very thankful that my mundane world was not turned upside down like the families of the victims. I feel very blessed right now.














Saturday, 18 March 2017

Spring has Sprung (and gone again!)

We had a few days of beautiful spring weather this week and what a difference it makes to how one feels.  Sunshine and some warmth in the air, suddenly makes you forget about the gloom of winter and the promise of summer seems just around the corner.  I decided that my poor neglected allotment needed a spring clean in preparation for the growing season ahead.
Unfortunately a few weeks ago I suffered from an attack of Sciatica.  I have never had it before and was in agony.  Luckily my wonderful physiotherapist friend immediately came to the rescue with her magic hands and took the pain right away.  However, she also gave me a stern talking to about not doing any heavy lifting etc for quite a few weeks and especially whilst the treatment was still ongoing.  Pete, my hero, has been doing all the vacuuming etc (do you think I can spin this out for a few months?!) and also offered to do the heavy work at the allotment.
So after a few hours of him working and me 'directing', most of the raised beds are mulched and have a fresh cover of compost, although more compost is needed yet.  The early potatoes are in, parsnips and beetroot sown and new raspberry canes planted.   Instead of flowers for Mother's Day, my boys are going to do a bit more digging and spreading woodchip over the paths between the beds, they are such good lads.
Last year I missed the main sowing and planting season as Mum was in hospital for 10 weeks and I was visiting every day, so I am looking forward to a more productive season this year.  You cannot beat freshly harvested fruit and veg, the taste is so different.
Only two more weeks until the Easter break and I cannot wait.  One of the downfalls of being a teacher is that you spend half your time wishing your life away til the next holiday :)




Sunday, 12 March 2017

Getting Ready For Spring

I spend half my time moaning at Pete for not clearing up his tools in the wheelhouse, making it look more of a workshop than a pleasant living space.  Now I have turned it into a greenhouse!  My allotment greenhouse took a bit of a battering in storms over the winter and I lost several panels.  I am going to replace it with a small polytunnel, but until then I needed somewhere light and warm for my precious baby seedlings.  So the wheelhouse was the obvious place.

The only thing growing in the allotment at the moment is the garlic, which Scarlett helped me plant last year.  Scarlett came with me to the garden centre last year to buy the garlic.  I wanted white garlic at £1.99 for three bulbs, she wanted pink garlic at £1.99 for one bulb, so guess what I am growing?  Yep, pretty pink garlic!  We also harvested the new potatoes at the same time, which according to Scarlett, was like a treasure hunt.  Later when we were eating them, she declared that they were the best potatoes she had ever had in her life (all three years of it!).

Anyway, I digress.  Pete and I spent a couple of hours at the allotment, mulching and adding new compost to the raised beds, getting them ready for planting.  This gave me the incentive to start sowing once we got back to the barge.  I have soooo many seeds that I really must not buy any more this year, just use what I already have.  However, any allotmenteer will tell you what an empty pledge that is - there are so many lovely looking new varieties to try each year, that it is nigh on impossible not to buy the odd packet, just to try you understand.

So this is the chart table right now and I haven't even started on the window sills!




Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Teaching Day Out

For those that don't know, I teach children, that are for many reasons are not in school, on a one to one basis.  Usually these lessons take place in the library or the child's home.  I love this work as I have a certain amount of freedom and poetic licence with the core curriculum as I am also commissioned to teach life skills to many of these children.

Yesterday was a glorious spring day, much too nice to spend indoors so I decided that to take my young person to the East Anglian Railway Museum in Wakes Colne, Essex.  I have never been here before, but what a fabulous place.  We saw all sorts of different engines, carriages and wagons back to the invention of the railways.  There is a huge restoration shed, with all sorts of trains in various states of repair, there are ticket offices, freight sorting offices and so on.  It is very child friendly with lots and lots of hands on things to do and touch.  You can clamber in and over most of the engines and carriages.  The only thing was that I ended I feeling quite old that the trains of my youth are now deemed Museum pieces!   I also learned more about the old line that ran to Tollesbury.  It was called The Crab and Winkle Line as it used to carry the fresh crabs and oysters straight from the fishing boats to market.  Sadly it was demolished in 1951.

Over the Easter period Thomas the Tank Engine comes to visit and there are lots of activities, including a train ride.  I am thinking of taking the grandchildren, as they will absolutely love it, Bobby in particular is a huge Thomas fan.






Monday, 6 March 2017

Clean Clothes Finally!

After Pete's fall last summer, it took a long time for him to get back to doing any sort of work and when he did do some work, it was on Carpe Diem, getting it ready for selling.

But one job that desperately needed to be done was the wardrobe doors.  The wood burning stove seems to produces soooo much dust, along with Tollesbury being the dustiest place on Earth (second to the Sahara perhaps).  Consequently all our clothes in the wardrobe were always covered in dust.  Clothes that were worn on a regular basis were okay, but anything else needed washing again before it could be worn.  We decided on sliding doors as they take up less room.  So Pete got to work and did his usual magic, transforming an area.  It was quite funny before the stops were installed, as every time the tide came in or out the doors would open themselves, first time it happened was in the middle of the night.  It made us jump as they are heavy doors that made quite a racket.  The doors are fabulous, yet to be painted, but they do have nice crystal handles!  I also took the opportunity to clear out clothes that really weren't worn or waiting for the day I could get back in to them, so the charity shop did well too.  Sorry the pictures are not so good, it is very hard to show the doors off to their best.  There are three doors on each side and the wardrobes are deep because they go underneath the decks.  The second picture is of my 'accessory' wardrobe, how posh does that sound!  But I definitely have too many shoes, bags, scarves etc I need to have a good clear out there xxx






Sunday, 5 March 2017

Hello

I decided to take a short break from blogging, however I admit it has been longer than I intended.  I felt that the blog was just sort of drifting without any real direction.  Other blogs that I follow often have 'themes' or some great ideas and amazing photography.  My blog was a mish mash of shots of life here and I suppose when you are living the life, it doesn't seem that interesting.
Pete and I also seemed to just be drifting along; working, eating and sleeping.  For years our life had been about sailing, getting out as often as we could, going to new places and exploring.  We thoroughly enjoyed that time in our lives and have some great memories to look back on.   But for the past few years all our time has been taken up with the barge.  Carpe Diem (our yacht) suffered when we lived on it full time and then took a battering during a storm when it was put back on its mooring. It is now out of the water being renovated and will shortly be put up for sale.  We had to make a decision about whether to buy another (smaller) yacht or not.  We decided on the not, but still felt that we needed to do something to add some spice to life.  A campervan was our first choice, but to be honest, at the moment is a little out of our price range for something decent.  Another option was a caravan, but Pete didn't fancy towing it and again, if we wanted to take it abroad it would prove more expensive.
As you know, the last couple of years we have had some short breaks camping and have loved every minute of it.  Our tent was bought second hand for £40 and has served us well, but there were just a few niggles with it.  So we decided that for the next few years we would concentrate on camping.  As we are getting a little older (!) we thought that we should make it as comfortable & easy as possible.  So we have bought an amazing blow up tent that goes up in 10 minutes apparently, some super duper extra large, brushed cotton lined sleeping bags and a couple of beautifully padded chairs.  The new tent has a sewn in ground sheet, carpet, a porch for cooking and sitting under  and is big enough for at least a couple of grandchildren.  I cannot tell you how excited I am that we are going to be off exploring and looking forward to our adventures.  We plan on going away at Easter, though I think we may practise putting the tent up first so we don't look complete idiots!

I don't want you to think I am miserable because I am definitely not, life is actually good.  The grandchildren are all great and growing up way too fast.  I am very lucky to be able to spend a lot of time with all of them and have a great relationship with them.  We have another granddaughter due in June and my Mum and Dad celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary in July.  Pete reached the grand old age of 65 and now gets his state pension, unfortunately being 'considerably' younger than him and changes to the state pension age, I have to wait another 10 years before I get mine.  But I do get my teachers pension in two years and eight months, not that I am counting, and I have dropped down to part time work.  The government might think we should work until we drop, but blow that, we want to enjoy our retirement and enjoy it now!

So I have decided that my blog is just going to stay being a simple diary of a simple, but fulfilling, life along with all its ups and downs.  Nothing fancy but then that's me all over.  I am looking forward to catching up with all my blogging pals who I have neglected so badly in recent months, I have actually missed you all.  Take care and speak soon.  Oh, and here is a totally gratuitous picture of my wonderful grandchildren having a ball at Bobby's 2nd Birthday party xxx