Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Season of mists


and mellow fruitfulness.

I spent a couple of days on the boat, hand disinfected  and then steam cleaned the floor. Between cleanings and clearing, I took Ron for a few walks along the Stanwick Lakes Trail, to Woodford.

Fully ripe blackberries

The hedgerows were groaning with  berries.

Viburnum opulus berries

Unfortunately, not all of them are edible.

I've been disappointed this year, at the lack of English plums for sale in supermaarkets. I bought a couple of punnets of Victoria plums and a couple of greengages (Rein Claud), but that's about it.

The local hedgerow mirabelle tree has disappeared. There is a dearth of plums this year.

MWNN drove up to the boat yesterday afternoon to help with some surgery on the gas fridge which problem. We drove home this morning to avoid the 31 degrees (in the shade) heat forecast for today. The season of mists and mellow fruitfullness doesn't usually include a heat wave.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Hot now, summer

in the city  town.

It's  lovely and sunny here in rural England, but I'm now housebound because it's too darn hot.

The town, nevertheless, is looking very pretty

and summery.

Last week, we went into town and had lunch at Lusssmans the new restaurant in Sun Street.

The meal was a little pricey but well worth it for MWNN's freshly-made Sussex pork rillette starter and fishcake main course. My beefburger was beautifully cooked, tender and fragrently seasoned.

There was a Kids' Day in the Market Square, with the town train,

a carousel,

and a couple of Dennises

Hitchin TV, once again, caught the town in all its beauty, in the sunshine


In other good news - I have new summer walking shoes, that can be worn without socks..

Sketchers Go Walk 2

Amazon was great. The first pair I ordered were size 3 and wre tight across the instep. A free return (via Amazon Locker) and the second pair, size 4, arrived 24 hours after arranging the return.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Part two

The couple of days we spent at the boat were lovely. Lots of fresh air, plenty of exercise, and peace.

I'd soon clocked over 10,000 steps by walking Ron along the Stanwick Lakes path, past the trout fishing lake.

Then we checked the new facilities in progress at the marina -  the new toilet/shower block,

and the new porta-potti sluice.

Ron led the way  into the woods at the opposite side of the lake, tracking electricity cables' trench

that headed towards the river and the lock at Woodford.

At the point where the undergrowth grew thick, I lost sight of the cables, and turned back.

As I followed the cables back through the woods, I heard the unmistakeable sound of a mosquito buzzing near my left ear. I batted it away with my right hand. My hand felt irritated, as if I'd been stung by nettles.

By the next morning, my hand looked like this, and we were heading for the nearest pharmacy.

The pharmacist took one look at it and sent me to the local GP surgery across the road. The GP refused to see me, despite my recent bacterial infection. I was told to go to A&E, but phoned our own GP instead. I was given an immediate appointment (allowing for time to travel home).

By then, the hand had got worse, and the infection was spreading towards the elbow, The GP prescribed penicillin, and recommended holding it upright (something I'd instinctively been doing anyway).

48 hours later, the hand was beginning to look normal, and we had jungle formula spray (the lotion burns my skin) for our next visit to the boat. Moral of the story - even if you're well covered with long sleeves, and socks over your trouser bottoms, the buggers will find a way to feast on you if you don't apply some deet to exposed skin.

A bonus of the trip, was that Ron is beginning to settle on the boat. Until now, if we both stepped off and left him below decks, he would whine and whine, building up to a howl if he thought we had left him alone. Now, with lots of walks, and games aboard, not to mention his own 'cabin' and bed, he's relaxed enough to accept being left aboard. We'll extend the time that we're ashore, and then walk some distancce away to see how long he remains quiet. It's a long process, but one that has worked many times.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

A couple of days

relaxing on the boat.

Part 1

The environment is glorious.

The weather was warm, cloudy at times and breezy.

Ron got to do lots of terrier-type exploring, more often than at home.

He was a bit miffed at not being allowed to go for a swim in his private pool,

He would definitely not have been welcomed by the Swan family.

I found lots more flora and fauna that I haven't often seen before.

They're relatively common, but I've never seen a Ringlet butterfly in the wild before

I had quite a bit of trouble photographing it at first,

I'd also never seen a Teasel in flower before. They're very pretty.

Poor man's orchid is becoming quite a problem along canal and river banks.

Woody Nightshadem although not as dangerous as Deadly Nightshade, is poisonous,

as is Ragwort.

It causes liver damage to grazing animals. Despite this, the cattle kept beside the lake,  are in a field full of the stuff.

Another deceptively attractive plant is Bryony. All parts of this plant are highly toxic. A lethal dose for a child, is just 15 berries.

A gentler plant, one that my father used to recommend for sprains and bruiises, is White Comfrey. It can also be used in an infusion, as an expectorant

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Visit to Elveden

We took MWNN's eyes to see the specialist in Norwich. On the way there, and on the way back, we visited the Elveden Estate at the Courtyard.  Click through pics for larger images.

On the way out, we had lunch at the Courtyard. Afterwards, MWNN had a rest in the car and I took Ron on the mile-long Eleveden Trail.

It was blisteringly hot, but, once into the woods, the forest air-conditioning kicked in.

Elveden is a large estate (Centre Parks is situated in Elveden Forest) Tank trials for WWI were carried out on the estate.

The soil is sandy. There are two reservoirs that are used to irrigate the farmland in dry months. Potatoes and onions are the main root crops that thrive in these conditons.

Snails seem to like it, too.

The woodland is mixed. Christmas trees and instant hedges are grown commercially on the estate. There are some beautiful London Plane trees on the trail.

The estate is also home to some rare wildflowers, some of which are to be found nowhere else in the world.

More common wildflowers were in evidence on the trail - like this Dark Mullain,

digitalis purpurea.

and wild raspberries

We made our way to the hotel where we were staying the night, and then on to the Spire Hospital where the specialist runs his clinics. He was running late, so I stayed outside in the grounds with Ron, for about 20 mins.

After a resonable, late, breakfast in the hotel courtyard the following day, we headed home, stopping at Elveden again to pick up some of their home produced pork and beef.

On our way home, MWNN joined Ron and me on the trail. We took our lightweight folding chairs so that we could stop, if necessary, for a rest.

Ron and I waited at the beginning of the trail, as MWNN needed to put on socks to walk in his sandals.

We didn't need to stop for a rest, and at the end of the trail, I went back to the car for the backpack with the elevenses' tea flasks. MWNN set up the chairs and we had a lovely cuppa in the air-conditioned forest. Rain threatened to stop play, but the forest canopy kept us dry until the shower stopped.

I tried to buy some Beckland Orchard posh pops sugar free, cloudy lemonade, that I had with lunch the previous day, but it was out of stock. However, I discovered that the producer is just 35 mins away from home. The hunt is on for more sugar-free products.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Gentle bedtime reading?

First Direct
has a sense of humour. Good thing I have. Just finished reading the email setting out the changes to terms and conditions of my account.

It might not be a page-turner but consider this some (very important) gentle bedtime reading 

Important it might be, gentle, it certainly ain.t.

Greeting and handshakes over, we get the nub of the email - 

Oh the Terms, they are a changing
This isn't just any old Terms update. We know they can be heavy going so we've worked really hard on our new ones. We've reduced the number of words and made sure the ones that are there are in as plain English as humanly possible, so it's easy to find and understand the information you need, when you need it.

Lots of pages and millions of words  later (I'd hate to see the pre-reduced words version)
We're also working on an all-singing, all-dancing online version* which will be live on our website on or around the same date.

*They can't really sing or dance but you knew that already. 

Lots more pages and words later - If you're not reading this with a hot beverage, you're doing it wrong. 
Hot beverages have no bearing on my ability to wade through this ocean of words.

Outline of the 21 categories covered by the changes. 
We hope you're making notes. There'll be a quiz at the end*.
*There won't.                                    
No quiz? Would a summary of the terms that have acually been changed be too much to ask?

Lots more pages and far too many words later, and we're not half-way through yet - 
When you've finished reading these Terms you should file them away in a safe place. Don't make them into a paper airplane. We understand it's tempting..

Finally, at the end of the email, and *there is no test.

I think I've followed all that, but I/m not sure that it was worth all the effort for Thank you and goodnight.

Friday, 24 June 2016

New Floors - Day 3

Almost done, just the final door and furniture trims left to do,

The entrance hall was finished today. It looks really good, and I'm so glad I chose the lighter-coloured stair carpet.

Charlie managed the threshold between sitting room and hallway extremely well.

Now we just need to replace that terrible door frame colour. MWNN, some years ago "What colour do you want on the door-frames?" Me "Any colour but pink".

The threshold between hall and shower room will be covered by a metal bar, inside the shower room.

The parquet is such a good match for the oak hall-table.

We're very pleased with our beautiful new entrance hall floor.

Ron is not so pleased. He hates the new floors - ball-games are banned,