Tuesday, 25 April 2017

St George!

Hey Nonny Nonny! Whatever that means.

So what did we learn from our celebration of St George's Feast?
Well, for one, I learnt that if you don't wash the saucepan with the remains of the mushy peas until the Tuesday after, you need an arc welder to shift the residue or throw the saucepan away.
Another thing I learnt was that, mushy peas apart, ordering fish and chips from outside rather than self catering makes life much easier. 
I'd ordered 31 portions from the excellent Jamie's in Tring and spot on 3 pm they arrived. Very good they were too with no washing up afterwards. Everybody expressed positive comments about the whole thing so whoever organises next year's do would do well to repeat the formula. I hope it will be me but you never know.

As usual we seemed to be the only people around celebrating the feast, wearing our red roses kindly supplied by the Akash Restaurant in Berko. Apart from the fact that I quite enjoy the whole exercise I now no longer think the day will come when the English celebrate their day to the same extent that the Scots, Welsh and Irish do. This saddens me; I am not fiercely patriotic or jingoistic-I think therein lies nationalism and no good; but I do believe the English have an immense amount about which to feel proud and privileged. Surely just for one day a year rather than moaning about the NHS, the weather, the foreigners, the football team and the politicians we could have a day off, don a red rose, throw a party and thank whatever deity you support and if you don't have one remember your parents or granny or whoever contributed for the wonderful things we enjoy in such a beautiful country.
So there. Next year why not wear a rose and count your blessings......and wash the mushy peas saucepan on the same day.
We had the usual auction with a few refinements which raised over 200 quid, a raffle over £100, A Mediaeval Fruit Machine (you had to be there) which raised £28 and a lot of laughs and we made a profit on the entrance fee. This meant that the 30 people who attended on a lovely sunny day ( I know it got a bit chilly but remember you're English) raised a total of £500 for the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted. A very generous effort.

As I write this post I realise how lucky we were with the weather last Saturday-I just saw a snowflake pass the porthole!

Bloomin weather, I dunno and as for the all these  foreigners working in the NHS; I blame the politicians.......

A few photos- my thanks to Carrie and Jim for contributing pictures.

The Mediaeval Fruit Machine in action

All smiles

He went thataway

The auction items await inspection

Tactics are discussed

Pam in her red and white

You tell'em Roy

Good effort Jim

Sue and Bridget carouse

Budgie eyes the fruit bowl

Here comes the fish and chips

What took you so long?!

Haven't you sold that lot yet?!

Angie has a meaninful birthday on Monday and Annie organised a cake. Happy Birthday Angie

The three fruits discuss odds

and we're off

With Joseph on handle and bell and  Roy, Annie and I on fruit

Everyone a winner!

On a totally different tack I encountered this little chap yesterday when collecting Roy and Annie from Grafton Regis .

 It just shows the grass is always greener.

Have a good week.

It's been a busy few weeks with the usual mix of good and bad. I'll try and concentrate on the former and only touch on the latter.

The above picture is of the area beside Cow Roast Lock with "Sid's bench" which we renovated in memory of Sid Pearce a fellow moorer. It's a lovely spot to sit and ponder the Spring flowers. 
Spring brings Mothers' Day, Easter and St George's plus we have a wedding in May so there's plenty going on. The moorings are coming back to life after the Winter with flora and fauna all at it like knives reproducing as life's cycle continues.

Other happenings include a wonderful birthday curry with friend Barathi, a glorious walk round Ashridge, a fire at the local, a bit of thieving and the passing of dear friend Vic Clayton. Life's cycle unfortunately isn't all flowers and ducklings.
I've also spent a very pleasant couple of days in Devon and got my bald head red.
Oh and St George's Celebration which is the subject of the next blog to be published very shortly.

Let's start with Mothers' Day and Caz, Ollie and Joseph joined Pam (and I was there too) at the Akash for lunch.

Natalie was there in spirit but joyfully is working in a ski chalet in Italy so couldn't make it in person. Having gone on a snowboarding holiday she was offered  job out there and stayed-good luck Nat.

Next excitement was a fire at the Cow Roast Inn which was a great shame for the new incumbents as they were making a difference and the food was certainly improving. The fire was on a Saturday night and  started outside the pub but the smoke went through the kitchen which meant they had to stop food for a week and a bit whilst they got it sorted which they did and all credit to them. All credit to the Fire Brigade as well who arrived very quickly and stopped the fire catching the main building. All back to normal now so all they have to do is stop the foul language a the bar and get rid of the appalling juke box and it'll be perfect.

Other excitement in the Parish was the theft of all the Calor Gas cylinders from Cow Roast Marina. The thieves bypassed all the fencing and came through the adjacent field through the hedge then breaking into the gas store. So if you're offered any cheap gas you know where it came from.

Oh yes,  it all goes on in sleepy Cow Roast.

To the New Forest for the funeral of old friend Vic Clayton. The cremation was at Salisbury and the "do"afterwards was in Fordingbridge so I decided to stay overnight in the Augustus John pub in Fordingbridge. If you'd known Vic then you'd have liked him and I wasn' t surprised by the turnout comprising many new friends made since he and Pauline moved to Hampshire. I was surprised to be asked to do a eulogy and got myself in a two and eight about it; possibly because I don't do much public speaking these days but mainly because I know from previous experience that I
can't get to the end of such things without blubbing. Anyway if you want to know what was said you can read it here. I didn't crack till the last paragraph.


The Augustus John fitted the bill nicely; a welcoming atmosphere, good beer and a tad quirky. Fortuitously it was Quiz Night plus they served one of the best seafood linguine I've had outside Italy

The day after the funeral I had a ride round some of my old haunts in the New Forest. It's still a magical place with lots of livestock roaming free.


Down to Faversham at half term to spend some time with Florence. Unfortunately neither of us was in peak condition and took it in turns to look after one another spending one of the nights in the b and b dining on KitKats
However we did have a fine day at Wingham Wildlife Farm so here's a few pictures.

It's ok it's not real

There were otters

and flamingos

and lemurs

and red pandas

Plus we had lunch in the excellent Sun Inn

and the girls got silly


Pam's friend and former work colleague Barathi had a major birthday and we were invited to a splendid gathering in Pirton, Beds where sublime curry was served and everybody, especially the youngsters had a great time in the adjacent playing fields. It was good to catch up with Esther, (who also w0rked with Pam and Barathi) husband Mark and son, Archie.

Pam, Barathi and Esther

A lovely walk round Ashridge house and one of the finest Rhododendrons I've ever seen

Add caption

Meanwhile back at the mooring can you guess what Roy is doing?
He's putting a fire out in his compost heap which miraculously spontaneously combusted..........after he'd put some ashes on it the previous night. We don't need any more conflagrations at Cow Roast!

Off to Exeter to stay a couple of days with friend, Peter. His wife Kay is in Sicily (apparently it's the Sicily Season) sorting out the basket weaving protection racket (the Raffia Maffia) and as Peter has trouble sleeping when he's alone I turned up with some magic sleeping potion which did the trick.

Lots of photos of Exeter and Exmouth so if you're not interested switch off now.

First to Topsham to catch a ferry .....that wasn't running

Where I photographed a couple of old wrecks........

Then to Starcross where the ferry to Exmouth was running and a beautiful trip it was too.

This is a waterborne restaurant that featured on Mr Roux's "Hidden Restaurants" series.

Exmouth's new waterfront development-very smart

Looking back to Starcross*...if you look very hard to the right of the picture is the Anchor Inn where Peter and I dined the previous evening

** I wonder if that's where "starcrossed lovers" in Romeo and Juliet came from?

The ferry captain drew our attention to this seal basking on a sandbank. It was still there, unmoved, on our return so   either this seal had been fated or it had been out clubbing

The new marina at Exmouth-a few bob methinks.

Here comes the ferry for our return

The following day to Exeter where the River Exe and the Exeter Canal run side by side

Bike and Canoe hire-unfortunately we were short of time.

Anybody want any bunting?

5 old(ish) men in a boat

The Old Customs House.
When I'm in charge parking wont be allowed in front of lovely buildings....mind you I don't know what the "old customs" were or how they differ from the new ones.

The canal basin

Looks a nice place to learn how to boil an egg

A grand couple of days with Peter, good company, good food,great weather.

Until next time, mon amis, which will be soonish.

Next blog -St George's Special-follows shortly