Website links

Topics

☀ Allotment
☀ Boating
☀ Catslide
☀ Computing
☀ Cooking on Cribbit
☀ Family and friends
☀ Mouldy Oldies
☀ Natural Philosophy
☀ New
☀ Recipe list
☀ Walking

Interactive

☀ Adham Fisher
☀ Alex's Mutterings
☀ Alex's website
☀ Alex on facebook
☀ Peter's website
☀ Jim on Ruskin
☀ cribBlog
☀ Gnomes
☀ Jason Lee-Dear
☀ Little Old Man Weekly
☀ theBloG

System

☀ About this website
☀ Contact me
☀ Site history
☀ Site statistics
☀ Visitors
☀ Updated this year
☀ Toggle handheld

Links-i-like


News & views

 BBC  Mother Jones  Boing Boing  SF Weekly  Londonist  Gothamist

Science

 Vixra LHC  LHC news  Grinding  Last word on nothing  Bad Astronomy  New Scientist

Personal sites

 10 Century  Strange History  Oxford bloggers  Wise words  Mind Hacks  Warren Ellis  Roger Marchant  Ant and Kate bike trip  Gaping Silence  On the wander  Living in London

Fun

 Sam Pepys  English Russia  Questionable content  Softer world  Money not art  Acephalus  Canals  Bats  Laughing Squid  Wobegone  Bizarre history.

Computing

 Unicode Map  w3schools  Notepad++  FamFamFam  chrispederick  A list apart  Filezilla

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

-*- Website Homepage

Cribbit
cribBlog 2016 volume
cribBlog 2015 volume

cribBlog 2016
cribBlog 2015
cribBlog 2014
cribBlog 2013
cribBlog 2012
cribBlog 2011
Greenford
cribBlog 2009
Cribbit's first log book
Wolf
Wolf 2014
Wolf 2013
Wolf 2012

Boat Notes

Sj visits
Account of 2012
Account of 2011
Account of 2010
Account of 2009
Account of 2008
Account of 2007

Ship's log 2010

We had two visits from Sj in summer 2010, but that she didn't actually get here for the first one.

She was supposed to come in April but the un-pronouncable Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland closed European airspace with its dust, So her first account is of not getting here and her second is of when she finally did in July.

Finally she gets here 2010

714592.jpg  From Sj's LIVEJOURMAL @ 2011-07-07 01:04:00

Oh hark, I leave for Europe tomorrow, it must be time I posted about last year's adventures.

England Summer 2010

Thursday 15 July 2010

Pickup from Heathrow airport by canal boat! Who knew such a thing was even possible - certainly SJ expected the volcano to interfere again. Did she want to go to Brentford (the canal equivalent of Toronto's airport and only a small step above Reykjavik)? Choose the other direction.

From the ships's log

Cj writes:
Moved from the Yeading Armco up to Bridge 195c, it soon became apparent that there was no direct way up onto the road from this, and as it was the main road to Heathrow, this could be a problem! Moored just beyond 195 named Stockley Bridge and easy access from there to a depot and connecting road to the main road. No sign of a bus stop however, though CJ knew that the first stop out of Heathrow was named Stockley Bridge.

Cast around a bit and decided that there might be better access to the canal from the other side and walked into Stockley Business Park. Bus stops there and one named Iron Bridge Road which just happened to be the name of the road on the other side of the canal and the name of bridge 194. Caught the bus here and it was a short trip to the airport.

Once at the airport, pleased to see that the winds that had slowed down Cribbit were helping the planes from Germany and SJ's was listed with an ETA of 1322 instead of 1336. Not so pleased as a little later it was re-listed at 1348! So hung around and the time passed and passed. At 1515 decided that they had lost SJ and went and asked for details at the information point.

"Is she British?" was the first question, then "does she have baggage?" Though it sounded more like "trouble with baggage" which of course she did (and does) despite her talismanic packing of underwear in her carry-on.

Finally SJ did appear and of course they had lost her luggage, but managed to find it just as she started to fill out the lost baggage claim form (This could be another useful talismanic act!)

CJ with plenty of time to worry while waiting for her, thinking he should have brought the gas bottle trolley for her baggage and wishing he had moored closer to Iron Bridge (194). None of this turned out to be necessary in any event.

SJ had written down Cribbit's mooring as her British address for immigration and for once the official actually noticed it. "Who do you know who lives on a narrow boat?" he asked, followed soon after by, "is he a hippy?" Apparently the boaters by his local Tesco have been giving the rest of the canal a bad name. "Welcome home," he said and she wandered off to find her luggage.

Man at the lost luggage office unsurprised when told that she'd arrived from Frankfurt, and compared her name to a great list, perhaps this explained why they felt a storm yesterday should forgive us for excess baggage today. Funny how the prospect of lost luggage makes one realize just how fond they are of the rattiest pieces of clothing.

Quick trip to Cribbit and we were off, how odd to arrive well rested. Moored by the store and slipped any number of british treats (sausage rolls, chocolate buttons, orange tango and jaffa cakes) in CJ's carriage when he wasn't looking. Then onwards, up the cut.

Stopped for water at Cowley Peachley, won't be doing that again, both because it is the hardest water you can have (worse than London water!) and because SJ had inadvertently unlocked the bathroom door on someone.

100_4334.jpg

Continuing on quite impressed with the nettles being grown in someone's dingy.

CJ had bought a copy of Viz at the airport, a nostalgic buy for the days when the grubby pair would laugh at the antics of their favorite characters especially Mrs Brady, Little Old Lady. This one had an advert for Wasp World, which seemed like a good visit for SJ with her love of wasps.

Moored just above Cowley lock, this is better than below if you are planning on going through the lock anyway.

100_4292.jpg

Dinner at the Malt Shovel.

Friday 16 July 2010

Slough to Rickmansworth

In the morning was aware of much talking, gathering, sitting down, putting of engines, etc., on the Land and Water barge. In the end ten men milling about doing nothing.

100_4295.jpg

Just about to move on when the diesel barge came by.

Decided on 80:20 mix (transport duty free:transport duty paid)as hadn't really been anywhere (since last October).

So no need to stop at Uxbridge Marine, but did need to go into town for ATM and free wifi for SJ. Found a spot in the center of town and CJ replenished cash supplies and SJ emailed. CJ got talking to the guy next to him on the bench and was regaled with his life history (which was interesting) told he had "sugar" and that he liked to cook and eat (a lot of) spinach off his allotment, this was causing him to go green in color. Compared arms, and decided his were greener (and blacker!).

Then back to the boat by the Xerox building and nasty chain pub. SJ insistent that we have lunch "on the move" so off we go.

cjlock.jpg

100_4298.jpg

Cut full of stationary boats,

sjlock

00286962.jpg

Cowley Lock

00287ace.jpg

Cowley Lock

00285kx5.jpg

mostly dry but windy day.

0028bap8.jpg

Continued up through Denham Deep, Widewater, and Black Jack's Locks.

At Widewater, SJ very pleased to discover the top gate open and a windlass hanging on the sluice, duly appropriated! Then its owner appeared, having opened the lock and then dived into her engine room. SJ helped her work through the lock as penance.

Three locks later and nowhere "nice" to tie up so we carried on through Batchworth lock and winded before the next (Lot Mead Lock 80). Lots of moored boats so caravaning tonight. Ended up just below a pink boat called "hello kitty," at least that's one of the things it says in the windows, the other is "Love animals? Don't eat them". It's going to be hard on them later when the smell from our lamb chops on the BBQ reaches their feline nostrils.

CJ quite pleased to have gotten back to Rickmansworth and has just texted Terry to say, "At Rickmansworth. Only one Ricki Girl... so far!"

Cowley Peachly, 11 miles, 11 locks away.

Man on the boat across the way selectively feeding the ducks. Quite a lot for the white one and just enough to distract the others. Quite certain it was being fattened up.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Great patter of little feet on the roof in the early morning, was it the puma or the pecking of half a dozen ducks? Either way SJ quite relieved she hadn't headed CJ's suggestion that she sleep under the open roof.

Shower, then a walk along the tow path to visit the Batchworth Canal Center and the "Little Union Canal". Model railways sorely overrated when one could have a model canal. SJ all for starting construction on one in the garden immediately. Model appeared to have sprung a leak however so we will will have to content ourselves with real locks on a real canal.

Mid-July and SJ still in need of a 2010 calendar. Not sure what was more telling, that she expected to be able to buy a half out of date calendar at a canal center, or that she actually did. Only 50p, so one for CJ as well.

Back to the boat and under way, retracing our footsteps from the day before. A stop at Tesco but otherwise a fairly uneventful trip. Moored for lunch and determined that the real reason SJ prefers dining underway is so the wasps can't find her. CJ killed two with his fork!

Moored just above Uxbridge to wait for the boy and into town to visit the Three Tons Free Wifi Pub. Alas the name a bit of a misnomer so loitered instead in the City Center. This time CJ watching the dismantling of a children's carousel.

Back to the boat and a stir-fry for dinner, TW showing up as soon as we were done so a second round for him. Two bottles of wine so SJ a bit under the table (literally) and quite enjoying cuddling with her chair for warmth.

0028pek1.jpg

SJ a bit under the table (literally) and quite enjoying cuddling with her chair for warmth.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Rain this morning instead of ducks or pumas. Clearly opening the hatch would have been a mistake.

Early morning argument about the name of the pub we moored up to last night - turns out it was the Swan and Bottle, the brewery is the Chef and Brewery. TW sent out in "not much" to check and SJ broke camera (or was it TW).

CJ filled the bog in the night and SJ denied its use. Quick trip back south to empty the bog. One lock down and rushed into it as boat in front waiting for us. CJ of course missed no opportunity to flirt with the woman on the boat, albeit whilst holding the toilet SJ desperately wanted to use.

00282yfk.jpg

SJ desperately wanted to use it.

Stopped at West Drayton to buy cherries, walked about aimlessly looking for wifi hotspots and had lunch. Waited for Jason awhile but he cancelled. SJ asleep with hangover (a lovely afternoon nap) and didn't surface until the first lock (towards Brentford)

0028ctqb.jpg

0028d0xk.jpg

0028e749.jpg

0028f5zw.jpg

0028gth8.jpg

0028hf4x.jpg

0028khzc.jpg

0028rb1s.jpg

CJ and TW drinking the while.

Young lady interested in watching the locks (properly chaperoned of course) invited to join TW on board. CJ informed her that TW "wouldn't bite" but TW not convinced he wouldn't!

Stopped at the Fox Inn at the bottom of the Hanwell Flight - CJ and TW allowed to stay for a second pint as SJ found free wifi - of course CJ and TW taking the piss out of SJ whilst she was in internet land.

The day before CJ had inquired as to what had become of Alan, so a message to a likely looking candidate on facebook, was he the Alan we'd met on the canal?

Back to Cribbit for lasagna and allotment weevil salad.

Monday 19 July 2010


Video of operating a lock

Passed by the "Tiger Princess" as we were about to get underway. "Oy Toimed it moyself," exclaimed the princess who was too old even for CJ.

tigerprincess

"Oy Toimed it moyself"

0028s53h.htm

0028w5ew.htm

0028xkyk.htm

0028y3xg.htm

0028z07e.jpg

00290hy2.jpg

00292sq9.jpg

002b97t5.jpg

Reversed our course from the day before and headed back up the Hanwell Flight. Second lock more reminiscent of a waterfall than anything one would usually find on the canal.



Amused by the sign prohibiting ponderous carriages on one of the bridges over the canal. Even more so by the sight of an elderly gentleman in just such a ponderous carriage parked right beside it.

00291442.jpg

a ponderous carriage

Sometimes hard to remember that we are in the heart of London, but a reminder in the form of local officials removing hypodermic needles from the canal and logging their position on a GPS.

Lunch underway then SJ given the task of helming for awhile, and what a zig-zagging wake she left behind.

002943fh.jpg

SJ given the task of helming for awhile

00293w7x.jpg

The official photograph was taken

Arrived at Willowtree midafternoon and packed up. CJ pausing to converse with the man whose home is directly in front of his mooring. Apparently he'd brought him some bounty from the allotment, no doubt as a bribe to ignore the sound of the angle grinder.

Headed north, dropped TW off at the train station in Thame, (he'd just missed a train) and CJ and SJ back to Catslide. Parrot a tad uncertain about our arrival.

Off to check on the allotment. Courgettes had been left unsupervised for far too long and a few of them had turned into marrows. All a bit concerned as to how we would be able to get rid of them and a list of unsuspecting recipients compiled.

Shelled peas and broad beans in the garden and the leftover lasagne for dinner.

Early to bed!

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Headed into Thame to visit the market first thing. Some hope that the WI baked goods stall might have a blackcurrant pie, alas the only likely candidate had been adulterated by the addition of apples, but best we were going to get so bought it.

Two lbs of cherries, some bread, three mackerel, a sausage roll and three cornish pastys. Then a trip to the food co-op for a proper grocery shop. Home to eat the cornish pasties for lunch, the parrot quite appreciative of the scraps.

002bga9b.jpg

Herc duly admired then to work!

Big party planned for the weekend and what kind of party would it be without a proper meal cooked on the spit! Frame dragged out of storage and gradually reassembled with the help of the toolbox and the oil can. A bit of fiddling to get the bell to work properly and a new drive belt needed for the actual spit-bit, but well pleased with ourselves by the time we were done.

00296d2b.jpg

what kind of party would it be without a proper meal cooked on the spit!

00297khr.jpg

gradually reassembled with the help of the toolbox and the oil can

Off to the allotment next, CJ to deal with the garlic and SJ (with one of CJ's lovely little plastic boxes) to attempt to pick enough black currants for a real pie. CJ quite convinced she wouldn't manage it but he'd quite underestimated her dedication to the task. Of course she hadn't counted on the little old man's patented security system that seemed to involve planting random nettles in the middle of the black currant bushes. Occasional expletives from her direction and running commentary about gardeners who need to learn how to weed.

00298hh2.jpg

SJ attempts to pick enough black currants for a real pie

SJ turned her attention to the garlic when the black currant box was full and quite pleased to see she and CJ were in agreement as to the approximate amount of garlic needed to get through a year.

002993b0.jpg

she and CJ were in agreement

0029a5bd.jpg

the approximate amount of garlic needed to get through a year

A few of the artichokes starting to look ready and both keen to try SJ's experimental garlic artichoke recipe so harvested three and headed back to Catslide. Not a long drive, but car distinctly garlic flavored by the time we arrived.

The artichokes proved to be prickly little buggers and CJ full of some explicatives of his own before following SJ's example and first cutting off the prickles. Artichokes also proving difficult to break into and so CJ cut them in half and stuffed them that way. Far from simply being left unchaperoned with the garlic, SJ was actually encouraged so three artichoke and three heads of garlic! A little bit of extra room in the pan so added a pepper and a tomato as well.

0029b7d8.jpg

SJ's experimental garlic artichoke recipe

Put the three mackerel on the grill and blanched the broad beans, stripping them down to their tasty interior which we then coated liberally with butter and basil.

0029c85h.jpg

Far too much apple in the pie, indeed only enough blackcurrants to give it a faint purple tinge. We will have to do better!

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Garlic overload from the night before had led to a somewhat restless night for everyone. Worse than the Wychett and far more aromatic.

RA off to meet a friend for lunch and CJ and SJ off to spend the day at Bletchley Park (Britain's wartime code breaking center).

Bit of a circuitous route to get there thanks to Aylesbury's city planner whose badly designed round-about infested ring road leaves CJ cursing his name and recommending a public flogging and subsequent death by firing squad each and every time he drives through town.

Admission fees had increased dramatically since CJ's last visit to the park and as attendance also appeared to have increased, the museum was a bit more put together.

During WWII, Bletchley Park was the site of Britain's code breaking operations where a team of nearly 10,000 people worked day and night to crack the Nazi's enigma code. It was also the birthplace of colossus, the world's first semi-programmable computer and the place where Alan Turing did a lot of his early computer science development.

We were understandably enthralled, even going so far as to take a tour of the facility. While the tour, which began at the ugly catalogue ordered manor house (with random bits inspired by summer holidays around the world) proved to be quite informative, it did miss out on CJ's favorite bit from his last visit when his tour guide had stood on a concrete slab and declared, "this was the site of block F, sadly no longer with us".

0029eyk4.jpg

"this was the site of block F, sadly no longer with us"

0029dqf5.jpg

It was also the birthplace of colossus

Quite excited when, on our way back to the main exhibition hall, another tour guide climbed onto that same concrete block and SJ quite certain he was going to say it but apparently someone had interviewed in the years and while the guide seemed genuinely distraught as he pointed out the former site of Block F, he didn't quite say it.

National Museum of computing closed on Wednesday, but we got a good look at colossus, though at a loss to understand the need for all the intermediary processes. Surely the teletype machines should have been able to understand the auditory signals coming in from Germany? But instead the audio streams were written out with an oscillating pen, read by hand and then transferred to teletape which was then fed into colossus.

"Lunch," in the cafeteria in hut 4, though it consisted of cake as none of the actual food looked particularly appetizing.

The exhibit on Ian Fleming and the wartime spies quite interesting and quite impressed with the exhibit on pigeons. Apparently the birds had performed all sorts of wartime heroics. Quite impressed and SJ convinced that TW should take up pigeon racing as his new hobby. Collected all the pertinent fliers to help him get started.

Some temptation to send a decoding kit to Ross but not quite a good enough selection and indeed the gift shop turned out to be rubbish. Not a single decoder ring to be found and indeed the best thing they has was a framed slate tile off the roof of the mansion. Not even we were enthused enough to buy one.

All told quite impressed with the museum and even more impressed that 10,000 people had come and gone daily for five years with nobody aware that there was something going on there. Indeed, it was well into the 1970's before the wartime use of the park was publically known. Apparently those 10,000 people had also managed to keep the entire thing a secret for more than 30 years. (At the end of the war, Churchhill had ordered the facility shutdown and the equipment destroyed - while there is some speculation that the CIA acquired some of the equipment and records, it would be five more years before the creation of the next computer and many more before we learned that it was not in fact the world's first.)

Nearly 5pm before we were done and some initial confusion leaving the park as CJ is apparently terrible with directions. Headed off in entirely the wrong direction (several times) until SJ set him right (several times).

Given a free car air freshener when we stopped for petrol, was the garlic smell still really so prevalent that they felt we needed it?

Back to catslide to collect RA then back to Long Crendon for a curry. RA quite pleased to see that they'd painted the fence in town, apparently she'd been seriously considering gathering a party of people to do just that.

Indian meal quite tasty and restaurant itself quite posh so SJ a little confused by the blue anti-drug lights in the bathrooms.

Quite a bit of discussion about the museum, code breaking and the war over dinner so some rooting around in storage bins when we got home to locate poppa's memoir of his adolescence and his experience during the war.

Quite an interesting read so SJ curling up with it quite happily for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday 22 July 2010

"Where is the next chapter?" Asked SJ as she appeared for breakfast.

Shopping and errands the plan for the day. So into Aylesbury. First stop Wickes in hopes of acquiring some suitable rope to run the spit but as their selection proved inadequate for our needs, nothing for it but to visit B&Q later in the day. Did acquire some lawn stakes that we plan to use to build a tripod (to support the griddle) over the fire pit.

Surrounded by giant stores that SJ had never heard of. SJ keen to know what a few of them actually contained. Most notably "Argos," a catalogue store sounded intriguing so wandered in to check it out. As the only way to properly understand and appreciate such a store is to buy something, CJ seized the opportunity to buy a new parasol for the garden (the old one having been co-opted for use with the spit).

Buying such an item involved locating it in the giant catalog (Why can't I just do this from the comfort of my own home?) filling out the requisite numbers on the form, paying for it (and snatching up a remaindered copy of the 2010 BEANO annual) and then waiting patiently while our order was found, packaged and brought forward for delivery.

Headed in the direction of the main square next in hopes there might be a market. No luck but we entertained ourselves by poking our noses into one or two charity shops. No rabbits at the butcher, fortunately SJ decided she could pass on the traditional pie for once, though she did up the ante by trading it for a ploughman's lunch (to be located later). While the rabbit proved scarce, CJ bought plenty of other meat including a large piece of pork to join the garlic stuffed chicken on the spit.

Headed to "Iceland" (a frozen food store) next, and SJ quite reluctant to go in given her last Icelandic experience on her last British holiday. A photo clearly required however much to the confusion of passers by.

0029fc1c.jpg

SJ quite reluctant to go in

Iceland not entirely keeping with their theme with regards to frozen food and quite a number of unfrozen/unrefrigerated items, including a selection of sweets. As said selection included the best prices SJ had yet seen on Bournville chocolate (1.50/ bar vs 1.55 at Sainsburys, 1.79 at the co-op and 2.10 at the postoffice/newsagents), she bought out the store!

Alas this was a time consuming process as the cashier had to scan each bar and in retrospect it seems she didn't get it right as only 46.50 for 35 bars. She had also never seen a non chip-and-pin credit card and so had to call the manager to scan the card.

Staggered back to the car with 7000 grams of chocolate and then to Lidl's in hopes of acquiring more. This time in search of ritter sport bars but none in the offing.

Quick stop at B&Q for rope and paint then home to unload the food and then into Thame for the promised ploughmans. Hopeful that they might have one at "The Spread Eagle" whose advertising slogan "a true mix of tradition and style," makes SJ snicker. But nothing so low brow on the menu.

00295hf7.jpg

a true mix of tradition and style

Quite concerned that we weren't going to find one at all as despite a record number of pubs on one street, they were either done with lunch for the day, or didn't offer the item.

Eventually found a place that served it, a quite good one though SJ saddened by the copious lack of Branston Pickle.

Popped into a few shops while we were in Thame, most notably the butcher (who had rabbit - acquired two), the Oxfam bookshop (for a spare copy of Swallows and Amazons), the kitchen shop (for a garlic peeler and a meat thermometer) and finally a visit to Waitrose (to acquire a bottle of Fleurie wine). This cashier had no trouble with a swipe card.

As we'd also acquired another (3rd) parasol for the garden while we were out, postponed unpacking the car until RA had left for the evening. "She won't notice if she doesn't see the boxes," said CJ, but SJ unconvinced.

Set up the two new parasols, one for the BBQ and one for the picnic table, spliced the rope to proper length to run the spit and jus generally prepared for the party.

SJ pleased to find that the chocolate would in fact fit in her carryon and while difficult to carry due to the weight, dead pleased with her packing skills.

Potato salad and the last of the apple/blackcurrant pie for dinner then the evening spent scanning Poppa's memoirs (into plain text!) and writing the log.

Friday 23 July 2010

Into Thame for one last visit to the food co-op, an almost daily occurrence it seems and even SJ running out of items to sneak into CJ's cart. A few more miscellaneous errands in town, apparently CJ isn't kidding each time he makes a joke about the co-op funeral service.

0029g0qc.jpg

0029hfkz.jpg

SJ amused by a variety of signs.

Back to the house by way of the allotment (to harvest onions, potatoes and courgettes) then the day spent in frantic party preparation, mostly in the form of us cooking.

Not just one, but two (2)!!! blackcurrant pies created, one with an airplane and the other a volcano. The two little bunnies were given a hot soak with some assorted vegetables from the garden and an appropriate Eyjafjallabunny volcano constructed, this one spews tasty bunny bits instead of lava.

0029kryq.jpg

blackcurrant pies created

0029rb39.jpg

one with an airplane and the other a volcano

0029px1g.jpg

little bunnies were given a hot soak with some assorted vegetables

0029qt14.jpg

Eyjafjallabunny volcano

Chicken thighs were marinated, potato salad was made, a chicken was stuffed with garlic and a large piece of pork was suitably prepared by CJ.

Meanwhile, SJ turned one of the large marrow sized courgettes into zucchini bread through the use of a recipe provided by an lj friend. Of course as measuring cups are unheard of in this country and we hadn't any applesauce, some modifications were made, such as the use of coffee mugs to serve as a cup and the transformation of some not-quite-ripe apples on the tree in the garden into applesauce. Currants and sultans in leu of raisins. No loaf pans so baked in the round ceramic dished that greek yogurt comes in. Quite tasty though admittedly unlike any zucchini bread that SJ had ever tasted. On the plus side, as zucchini bread apparently unheard of here (as is stuffing the overflow of zucchinis into unlocked cars) nobody likely to realize what they'd been tricked into eating.

TW and Pete arrived with just enough time to put up their tents before dark, then a rabbit pie dinner for all. Pete on his best behavior, as he has yet to live down his last (and only) meeting with SJ - the spaghetti incident!

Saturday 24 July 2010

Volcano Party!

Morning spent on final party set-up details. CJ fiddling with the spit. TW setting up the DJ equipment and building a volcano. RA doing some final tidying and SJ in the kitchen doing final food preparation.

002bab5d.jpg

building a volcano

Late morning the rest of the guests began to arrive and one by one SJ was introduced to her new step-siblings.

002bbg62.jpg

0029s610.jpg

0029tzx8.jpg

0029wx6q.jpg

002bc7pb.jpg

Lunch in the form of BBQed and spitted chicken with lots of assorted potato and pasta salad bits. Garlic from the spitted chicken had been slowly dropping out all day as the chicken roasted so in the end a nice spit-roasted chicken and a pile of garlic. TW given the important task of catching each piece as it fell.

Honda and MIke arrived by train in the early afternoon so SJ and Andrew (one of her new step-brothers) sent to fetch them. Of course nothing so convenient as them arriving at the same time so collected Honda, then into Thame to collect some final missing food items, then back to the train to fetch Mike (who is apparently a 3rd cousin that SJ had never met).

Croquet in the garden as the pork turned slowly on the spit. Smith family grudge match first followed by a general free for all. SJ so hopeless that she soon abandoned the game in favor of simply knocking other people's balls into the fish pond (They float! Who knew?) And TW and Pete soon followed suit.

002bdr5d.jpg

Croquet in the garden as the pork turned slowly on the spit

SJ even more convinced that TW should become a pigeon fancier and raise racing pigeons, this because TW had apparently spent the week attempting to nurse Gupta4 (a stray pigeon) back to health, it seemed appropriate, so snuck a cardboard pigeon into his tent (albeit not particularly subtly) and got Pete and Honda onboard with the idea.

Some lazing around and a good deal of drinking. The only real responsibility that someone wind the spit every 15 minutes when the bell rang. CJ inordinately pleased with his contraption and the rest of us without the heart to tell him that there might be more efficient ways to cook the meat.

Five hours later roast pork proved to be quite good. Cooking done, the spit was pushed aside in favor of a large fire in the barrel. TW set to take the trailer with him on his departure, so necessary to burn the brush inside of it.

Dessert in the form of a meringue volcano, and lava treats (all the way from iceland).

TW demonstrated his volcano, far more impressive under cover of darkness and eventually the glow sticks came out (and as connector bits had been included, proceeded to entertain SJ for the next three hours). Borean balls made with three glow sticks and tW proceeded to juggle them.

0029xzqc.jpg

0029yaps.jpg

0029zx8e.jpg

002a0fgs.jpg

002a16ys.jpg

002a2gy3.jpg

A few at a time, people headed to bed until only SJ, TW, Pete, Honda and Mike were left chatting idly by the fire.

Sunday 25 July 2010

An outdoor breakfast, beans and bacon on the fire pit although a few people had an unauthorized breakfast of black currant pie - good thing they did it before SJ got up!

A leisurely morning around the smoking remains of the fire. Pete showing SJ up with a very nice drawing of the Catslide garden - better than the one she'd done (and CJ had edited) the day before.

Ben, Becky and Maya left first with Andrew and Matthew not far behind.

A companionable silence and both SJ and TW secretly resolved to take an afternoon nap as Ann, Jim and Jane (who SJ hadn't seen in 12 years) arrived.

BBQ heated up and the leftovers spread out for a final lunchtime feast followed by tea, coffee and cake (much to the horror of Pete who hates sweets).

002beak8.jpg

002a38z3.jpg

The Shirley family had apparently been to a very posh wedding the night before and thus unable to attend the volcano party. They were full of stories about the wedding and Jane was quite keen to show us a fabulous video of the groom tripping. Said video duly appreciated and SJ delighted Ann by unmuting her camera so that in addition to watching the pratfall, we could also appreciate the sound of Jane's uproarious laughter.

TW demonstrated his volcano, much to the entertainment of the audience.

002beak8.jpg

Mike and Jane in need of a train to London, so TW and SJ to run them to the station, explaining that the two of them were actually cousins as they did so.

After all the discussion on previous visits, SJ quite keen to "Adopt a roadside fatality sign" so one duly photographed so that we could keep tabs on the changes on a yearly basis.

002a476q.jpg

"Adopt a roadside fatality sign"

Tents being taken down and the garden tidied when we returned.

TW to swap cars with CJ and borrow the trailer for the week so packed up the car (snuck in a few courgettes) and before we knew it it was time to say goodbye.

TW had finally found his pigeon and was wearing it proudly so perhaps he has finally overcome his fear of the birds - think how good it would be for him and CJ to be able to send small items back and forth by pigeon post. (Perhaps if one or the other of them needed a particular sized screw or washer which the other had).

Headed to the allotment to show it to Ann and Jim and then they too were gone. Harvested some vegetables and CJ's garden security system proved itself as effective as ever, this time drawing blood from SJ.

002a5a02.jpg

this time drawing blood from SJ

Home and the evening spent puttering around, cleaning up from the party. Nobody in the mood for dinner but the last of the blackcurrant pie and coffee/walnut cake consumed.

Monday 26 July 2010

,

A leisurely morning then the last of the leftovers for lunch. "If it's not eaten, it's going in the bin (or the parrot)" warned CJ.

Packed up. Left the parrot at the kennels (and cattery cannery) and off to Hastings. SJ squished into the backseat of TW's two door car with three giant pillows and a duvet so nothing for it but to make a nest and take a nap. Trip to Hastings surprisingly short.

Greeted by Alex and Peter upon our arrival and after a cup of tea and an introduction to Alex's newest seagull friend. Passed along the items from SJ's mother then a walk along the prom to properly appreciate the seaside.

002afpb1.jpg

an introduction to Alex's newest seagull friend

002a65ce.jpg

Passed along the items from SJ's mother

Alas SJ far more interested in appreciating the grotesque 1930's cruise ship like building and very disappointed to learn that neither Alex nor Pete knew anyone who lived there and as such couldn't arrange a tour.

002a82p9.jpg

002a9pdb.jpg

002aa4kw.jpg

=

002abtr1.jpg

Lamb and curry for dinner and Peter regaling us with first his tales of the Ritz and then an old song about a man he'd met years ago in Mexico and then a new one about one of the characters from the local pub.

002agb7x.jpg

a new one about one of the characters from the local pub

Peter off to said pub immediately following dinner as he apparently had a role in a film being shot there that evening. Apparently it was a small speaking role in the foreground of the shot while the two main characters were have sex (unnoticed) in the background. Just what kind of film were they making? An art film apparently!

The rest of us quite content to spend the evening chatting at home and Alex eager to show the us the 1pound mystery object that had provided hours of entertainment at Christmas.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Peter stumbled home somewhere around 4am, apparently the film shoot had gone well. A leisurely breakfast then off to Rye. First stop the old town where we popped into a variety of stores. Shopping? with CJ? Quite amused by the opening hours of one of the stores we visited. "Open early, neither early, nor late".

As we walked down the hill, the stores became primary antique stores and CJ quite pleased to find himself a small cauldron type pot to sit in the fire pit next time he makes beans. SJ equally pleased to find if not THE Stork Margarine cookbook that her mother is so fond of, at least A Stork Margarine cookbook.

Headed off towards the water next to visit a most extraordinary attraction, a restaurant with rampant apostrophitis. Alas the place must have had a change in management (or at least an English language class) since CJ's last visit as other than the name, not an apostrophe to be found. We did notice however that they'd apparently made the change by making all their sandwich toppings singular, no longer able to order a "prawn's sandwich" you could now only order a sandwich with a single prawn.

Most disappointing! Headed over to have lunch in the pub instead. Crab sandwiches for CJ, RA and Alex ("tastes like tunafish," said SJ who had ordered a ploughmans and this time got one with branston pickle.

002ah375.jpg

Pub fairly non-descript other than the "poop deck

Forced to linger for awhile however by the delivery of beer as we were parked in by the truck. Wandered along the water, CJ eyeing a likely wreck as his next boat project before eventually contenting himself with the appropriation of an odd bit of debris, just the present for his artistic sister.

002ak69y.jpg

just the present for his artistic sister

Back to Hastings to collect Peter, who had spent the morning sleeping off his acting role then into Bex-on-Sea to visit first the charity shops, then the De La War Pavilion.

Charity shops proved good fun despite the relative lack of treasures and the De La War Pavilion turned out to be a famous building, circa 1935 designed by the German architect Mendelson. It was very reminiscent of Bauhaus era architecture and as such SJ quite keen to explore it.

Not nearly so excited by the art exhibition currently going on inside however. The work in question resembled an exploded charity shop, somewhat confusing. The random statues on the roof also a bit odd but the pavilion itself quite fabulous.

002aq5k3.jpg

the De La War Pavilion

002ap36b.jpg

The random statues on the roof also a bit odd

A break for tea and coffee and then a stroll along the prom before it was time to head back to the house.

002arkyg.jpg

002asxbz.jpg

002atq1d.jpg

002aw9xt.jpg

002ax11z.jpg

Puttered around for a little while, located some odds and ends that Alex had acquired over the years such as a scrap from Nanna's wedding dress, a few of the souvenirs that Poppa had mentioned in his wartime memoir and an early example of SJ's computer graphic skills.

002acf2t.jpg

scrap from Nanna's wedding dress

002ad3ed.jpg

Poppa's wartime souvenirs

002ae993.jpg

example of SJ's computer graphic skills aged 8

Heading out to the usual place for fish and chips for dinner. A take out order left unwrapped so we could apply salt and vinegar quite liberally. Did just that and headed to the beach.

Last years' mountain of rocks strangely missing so made ourselves comfortable without the backrest. Quickly surrounded by seagulls and SJ secretly convinced we'd never make it out alive. CJ on the other hand content to hurl stones at birds who wandered too near and Alex quite certain that the two birds who had wandered closest were in fact her daily visitors. Were they following us?

A tasty meal followed, SJ, who had somehow been given two pieces of fish overjoyed at her good fortune and scoffed the lot. Fish, chips, and mushy peas, what more could a girl ask for?

002ayp55.jpg

002azf61.jpg

002b0khp.jpg

002b1ecy.jpg

Drop the scraps and run for your life

Off to a wine bar next as Alex was meeting up with a group for a friend's "hen party". The rest of us left to fend for ourselves for an hour or two. Wandered down the street, quite delighted to find a less severe but no less rampant case of apostrophitis, so that desire at least solved.

002b2kzg.jpg

rampant case of apostrophitis

Ended up with a glass of wine at the wine bar while we waited for Alex, despite calling itself a pub, CJ of the opinion that it was not a place any self respecting man would frequent.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Toast and melon for breakfast, SJ very confused to learn that the water dispenser in Alex's fridge needed to be filled manually.

002b34x8.jpg

002b4xf3.jpg

002b54hr.jpg

CJ with an appointment to go visit one of Alex's neighbors to look at old clocks so SJ and RA off to walk to the local shopping area in hopes of finding some postcards. Visited a few of the charity shops we passed on our walk and just beginning to despair of ever finding postcards when we discovered a newsagent. Not only did he have postcards, he had some of the De La War Pavilion. Excellent.

Joined by CJ, Alex and Peter soon after and as we had a bit of time to kill before meeting up with one of CJ's friends (and former employees) continued our tour of the charity shops, SJ quite pleased to find a trashy novel for the plane and two pint glasses to top up her collection. Forced to borrow 13p from Alex to complete the purchase however.

CJ not impressed with the charity shops until he discovered a rather unique cheese grater (for 25p) and as it came with grated cheese still in it, CJ quite unable to resist that treasure.

Stopped into a framing store that had a number of Alex's pieces on display and bought a pigeon postcard for TW ("with love, your feathery friends").

New stop Sussex Coast College to meet up with CJ's friend who was the director of the skill based programs.

The college was housed in a brand new building and we were treated to a tour of the facilities and then what turned out to be a pretty terrible lunch.

Back to Alex's. Packed up the car and then just time for CJ to go take a look at Alex's friend's clocks and RS to have a cup of tea and then we said our goodbyes and hit the road. SJ once again buried under a pile of pillows in the backseat, though this time she opted for reading her terrible novel rather than sleeping.

Ran into traffic on the M24 (CJ claims it was the M25 and RA claims it was the M23) so stopped dead for quite awhile. So long in fact that we eventually got out of the car and walked around.

002b6qk1.jpg

Ran into traffic on the M24

002b7gg6.jpg

stopped dead for quite awhile

002b8a3p.jpg

got out of the car and walked around

Finally too much for SJ, who had started asking for a rest area prior to the traffic jam, so she and RA off to take a short walk in hopes of finding a likely spot. Funny how the trees and bushes which look so fluffy and nice when you're whizzing by at 70mph, turn out to be an impenetrable wall of brambles when viewed close up. Absolutely no way into it. Fortunately there was a concrete barrier separating the bushes from the road just before an underpass, more than just a bit awkward as everyone was staring at us but both quite desperate by now so nothing else for it but to take turns blocking the one direction from which people could actually see while the other person squatted behind the barrier. So embarrassing.

Back to the car where we continued to wait until one by one the cars behind us reversed back until they could take the exit we'd only just passed. Jumped on the bandwagon and made good our escape. An hour and a half to go around what would have taken 20 minutes on the motorway.

Stopped for a late dinner at a tapas place in Oxford. Twelve little dishes shared between three of us. Very tasty.

Quite late by the time we arrived home. RS and CJ to bed and SJ to pack, a process made difficult by the fact that Lufthansa only allowed one free checked bag with a maximum weight of 23kg. As SJ had half that in chocolate alone, some creative packing called for. In the end, far more than enough physical room in the main suitcase but far too low a weight limit.

When SJ was a kid, CJ used to prop his toe under the edge of the scale as they weighed the baggage but the modern system no longer allows for this useful trick so nothing for it but to pack the heavy stuff as hand baggage.

Indeed, thanks to SJ's crazy packing skills, the remaining goods would even have fit in her backpack, but alas, too heavy to lift never mind place in the overhead bin so the final 15 chocolate bars shoved in her purse in the hopes that an additional "personal item," would be allowed. )Then some quick rearranging to make sure the personal item and its contents could be packed into the backpack should such a thing prove necessary.

Thursday 29 July 2010

SJ awoken 2.5 hrs later at 4am. Into the car and off to Heathrow. Terminal 1 instead of our usual terminal 3 and quite a trek to the Lufthansa check in desk. Quite a bit of laughter as we stood in line to check SJ's baggage, this as we were attempting to make it appear as though SJ's backbreaking carryons were in fact quite light.

After some confusion as SJ had two unconnected flights rather than a single reservation, baggage checked through to Boston, goodbyes said and SJ through security without issue.

Frankfurt flight fairly unremarkable, SJ had been dreading her visit to Frankfurt airport for weeks with good reason as it turned out to be more of a labyrinth than Heathrow and she was forced to trek several miles weighed down as she was with bricks of chocolate.

Paused for awhile once she made it to C terminal as they hadn't yet specified which gate she needed. So made herself comfortable on a bench and watched the people. This proved quite entertaining as she had positioned herself right by the pick up point for the complimentary shuttle, an extra large golf cart that could be used to shuttle five passengers from one point to another and rather than being reserved for the elderly or disabled, the driver was offering free rides to whoever wanted one. As people quite unused to such treatment at an airport, watching people either excitedly accept the offer or confusedly decline, proved to be quality entertainment and SJ and the other two people on the bench found themselves laughing helplessly.

SJ promised the driver that she would accept a shuttle ride just as soon as they specified her gate and clambered aboard happily. Quite nice to have one less mile to schlep her things.

Deposited at a security checkpoint and beforeshe knew it, was at her gate. Used the last of her Euros to buy a sandwich and as she sat there eating was shocked to learn that they were looking for 38 volunteers willing to be bumped from the flight. In return, the volunteers would be given a hotel room for the night, transportation to and from said hotel and 600 euros cash.

!!!

As SJ already been away for 5.5 weeks, what was one more day. The weight of her carry ons and lack of enthusiasm for trekking back through Frankfurt airport the only downsides but a no brainer really. 600 Euros would more than cover all of her expenses for the last 5.5 weeks.

Got gleefully in line with the intention of giving up her seat but alas they'd just bumped the last person by the time she made it to the front.

Meanwhile random student aged individuals were happily celebrating the sudden windfall.

Boarded the plane but a good hour late leaving, this because some of the seats were still overbooked. (SJ made another offer to leave the plane) but the empty seats were there, just incorrectly identified.

Fairly unexciting flight home. Watched a movie and chatted with one of her seat mates. (SJ was in a middle seat in the middle section). But as her lead brick filled backpack didn't fall out on anyone's head, a win all around.

Immigration officer wanted to know if she'd abandoned her students in Germany, alas no and then she was through and waiting for her luggage. Joined by her seatmate soon after (whose luggage came almost instantly) but she waited with SJ as SJ had promised to help her find the right bus. So they waited and waited and waited. Eventually forced to conclude that this time they really had lost SJ's luggage.

Baggage services on the other side of security so navigated customs ("They lost my luggage so I only have half of that stuff"). Met up with Ross who was waiting patiently in the arrivals hall and then went and made a claim.

Inordinately pleased to learn that the woman at the counter knew all about SJ's luggage and it would arrive at Logan on tomorrow's flight. Indeed, SJ didn't even have to identify herself, as soon as she mentioned that she'd originated in Heathrow,the agent picked up a claim form already waiting on the desk. Gave them the delivery address and headed out to the curb to catch a bus the rest of the way home.

SJ was picked up at the bus station my her mother and by that time capable of little more than incomprehensible muttering. 7pm bedtime.