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!


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


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.