Sunday 29 July 2012

Chester as we have never seen it before

We have lived in Chester for 12 years this year.  We like to think we know the place quite well but what we really love about our city is after all this time we can still wander around and see something we have not seen before.

I've been busy today replacing the fence panels at the bottom of the garden and after lunch Chris announced she really fancied going for a walk.  As the weather was nice I thought why not.

Now most visitors to Chester love the city but there is an area well known to the locals but, it seems, not to most of the tourists.  We have not walked this area completely and so we did today.  Now if you walk the city walls at one point you come to the groves,  A lovely area down by the river Dee

The Groves seen from the suspension bridge
If you leave the walls and cross the river via the iron suspension bridge and turn left, follow the path out of town, a different face of Chester presents itself.  Known as the Meadows there is a large area of beautiful countryside that is open to all to enjoy.  Chris and I have never walked this stretch of the river outside the city and I have to say we saw the river as we have never seen it before

Chester boats loaded with hen party groups leave for a night of fun.

St Johns church nestles amongst the houses on the river bank

Our clubhouse with canoe racks and lovely little gazebo to the right

Believe it or not there is a river behind these trees

The view Chris and I have of the dinghy park when we are sailing
 The meadows stretch for about 2 miles along the river heading out of town and is a great area for wildlife and getting away from it all.

The command centre or OOD box (OOD = Officer Of the the Day) All dinghy
racing is controlled from here.

Could not resist photographing this.  Such a rural view considering we are only
 a half mile out of town
One thing I love about the meadows is the peace.  No traffic, no crowds, just bird song and tranquillity.

One could imaging the view the owners of those houses have.
 Despite the dark clouds the sun still managed to shine through

On the way back we stopped to photograph the boathouse.
 Love the beach huts
Heading back in town we returned to the Groves and spotted that the Boathouse pub now sports some natty beach huts for the customers to sit out in and enjoy the evening.

Well after all that walking my bed beckons so.... TTFN for now

Wednesday 25 July 2012

De Ja Vue

I usually finish work at 4pm and it takes me 10 minutes to get home via country lanes.  I leave the refinery and turn onto the A5117 that runs in a straight course to the M53 motorway and then Turn off through Stoak and Wervin villages avoiding all traffic.  But not last night.  Apparently a chemical tanker carrying Aluminium Sulphate had overturned on the M56 near Preston Brook spreading its load across the motorway.  As a result the M56 was closed in both directions and every man and his dog heading home via Chester.  Traffic was being diverted off the motorway onto the A5117 and chaos reigned supreme.  It took me 90 minutes to get home as I sat parked on the A5117 for over an hour not moving.  The picture was no better in Chester and its the first time since we moved here in 2000 that we saw the traffic all over the entire City at a standstill

I have to say you folks on the boats are so lucky to avoid all this!

When Chris and I was at Crick this year we were fortunate to bump into Paul, Elaine, Brombo and Sam from Caxton aka The Manly Ferry .  We both had appointments to go aboard boat so barely had time for a decent chat.

We have been reading their blog since they bought Caxton.  I got in touch as they were heading our way to Chester and so we had arranged to meet up outside Telford's Warehouse where they were moored last night.  Due to the traffic it took a while to get there instead of minutes but I got there in the end at 8.45pm and the traffic was still bad.

I have to say as I came round the corner by Telford's I got a feeling of De Ja Vue as Caxton was moored not far from where she was this time a year ago (see my previous post here).  She still looks as great.

Paul and Elaine invited me on board and made me every welcome.   Brombo though, felt compelled to let me know that this was his boat and I was sitting in his chair by barking.  After a bit of fuss and tickling behind the ear Brombo allowed me to stay :-)  Brombo and Sam are lovely dogs and you can not help wanting to take them home with you, they are such great little chappies.

We chatted for a while about their plans and I spoke of our progress  with AmyJo and then thought we would sample Telford's Warehouse for the pub of the day, or night in this case.  I've not been in there up to now and I agree with Paul's assessment.  The staff were a bit off handed and crashed around the bar making a frightful noise at times, however, the beer was good and the place is so interesting being converted from a warehouse (hence the name of course) its still worth a visit.

We were enjoying ourselves and chatting away so much it was 11pm before we knew it. As it was getting late we said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch but not before a quick photo shoot for the blogs.

Paul and Elaine with their Nephew Liam.
As I mentioned in my last post Chris is still in Essex and there is some good news about her mum. She has had a CT scan and that shows no sign of dementia so that is a big relief.  They are keeping her in for now as she is starting to perk up a little bit and Chris is coming home tomorrow.  I think she is much happier now knowing mum is being looked after and Alan, her brother, can have a well earned break at the same time

Well that's all I have for now... The sun is just starting to get hidden by the gathering clouds but its still quite pleasant sitting out in the garden so I guess I'm just going to have to lay back and inspect the inside of my eyelids for a while....TTFN

Monday 23 July 2012

The Young old man

I spotted this on Facebook today and I admit it brought a lump to my throat.  

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
 Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?
 A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
 Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
 Who dribbles his food .. . ... . . and makes no reply.
 When you say in a loud voice . .'I do wish you'd try!'
 Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
 And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
 Who, resisting or not . . . ... lets you do as you will,
 With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
 Is that what you're thinking?. .Is that what you see?
 Then open your eyes, nurse .you're not looking at me.
 I'll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
 As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
 I'm a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
 Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
 A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
 Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.
 A groom soon at Twenty . . . heart gives a leap.
 Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
 At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
 A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
 Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
 At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
 But my woman is beside me . . to see I don't mourn.
 At Fifty, once more, .. ...Babies play 'round my knee,
 Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
 Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
 I look at the future ... . . . . I shudder with dread.
 For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
 And I think of the years . . . And the love that I've known.
 I'm now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
 It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
 The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
 There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
 But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
 And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
 I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
 And I'm loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
 I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
 And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
 So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
 Not a cranky old man .
 Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

Saturday 21 July 2012

Didn't she do well

Hi All,
I am just back from our helmsman's course at Willow Wren in Rugby and have finally got time to give you all an update. I apologise if its a bit long winded.  

I say I'm back and not we are back as on the way home from Fernwoods on Thursday we got a call to say Chris's mum, Mary, had had two falls in as many days and had been found  on the bathroom floor by her home help.  She had been there all night poor thing unable to get up.  Unfortunately she is exibiting signs of dementia and so is going to have an assessment to see what is to be done about it.When we finished the course chris headed South to her mums and I came home as I am at work on Monday.

So where to begin? 

 Our visit with Fernwoods went really well and now we have the hull plan finalised subject to Fernwoods CADing it up and our approval.  We worked through each room of the boat from Stem to stern and our layout seems to be OK.  As Julia put it we are squeezing a 70foot boat into 65feet so we need to wait to see if the measurements all add up.  Now if the CAD plans show we need another foot or two I have asked Fernwoods to cost up the extra length.  If its not too much AmyJo may grow 3 feet to 68feet.  But that depends on how much extra it will cost.  We do not have an endless budget and so we have to keep a firm reign on costs at this stage.  That said we are allowing one extravagance and that is the Josher bow.  Ferwoods have 4 boats in their workshops at the moment one of which has a Josher bow and one with a normal bow.  Well for me there is no contest, the Josher bow looks so much more refined and prettier so AmyJo will have one.  It will add to our budget but I don't think we'll be happy if we go with a normal bow somehow so Josher it is.

I promised some layout plans previously and here they are, we actually have two.  The difference being the front saloon but I am not going to reveal which one we'll have for now as that will depend on how the layout pans out on Fernwoods CAD system (if it all fits in).

The pictures are not very good at this scale but if you click on them they should enlarge.  As you can see there is nothing innovative about the design.  Its an amalgam of layouts we like that we have seen in other boats.

The really good news is that AmyJo's base plate will be laid in the next few weeks and we hope to be there when that happens so watch this space.  After waiting for so long this news is a god send to us.  The excitement is mounting and we will not rest until we see that plate go down and the first weld made.

As I mentioned before Chris and I have been on our Helmsman's course today.  We both thoroughly enjoyed it and we both learned a lot.  At least we never hit anything and our instructor still has some hair.

Our training boat Peggy on her mooring
 Our boat, Peggy, is on an arm of the North Oxford Canal near Newbold.  This arm was the original course of the canal when it was first built but the canal was altered to cut out a 2 mile loop and the arm is all that is left of the original route.  Peggy has a part in history as it is the very last shell to be made by Dave Thomas at Braunston before he retired in 2011 after a very long time in the business.  rose narrowboats did all the mechanics, fitting out and painting.

Heading out of the arm with not much room for error

We headed out of the very narrow arm with Paul who joined us on the course on the helm.

Chris approaches her first lock

All three of us had to take turns doing various manoeuvre's such as mooring up bow first the stern first.  Then we each had to steer into a lock and go up it.

What a face, you could almost feel that concentration
 Chris did an excellent job and never once dumped into anything

Going down
 Next we had to wind the boat, each having a go at convenient points along the cut.

Chris pleased with herself as she leaves the lock
 Having travelled up three locks and winded we then had to do it over again going down.   At each lock we took it in turns to moor up and get under way without pushing the boat out by hand into the channel but using the tiller and throttle alone.  Its amazing how quick the bow comes out with a good burst of reverse once the stern is out in mid channel.

As we all did so well we were then given the opportunity to steer the boat going astern and found you can actually steer the boat in reverse though its not easy.

Chris then helmed the boat back into the arm and finally winded the boat and reversed onto Peggy's mooring.  You can just see the winding hole on the left ahead of Peggy.  Chris's task was made all the more difficult as there was a hire boat moored opposite the turning point. But she did a great job and was so pleased to reverse onto the mooring all by herself without any prompting from Steve.  Considering Chris has only ever helmed a boat on an open, straight, stretch of the Leeds Liverpool canal so manoeuvring in such a tight spot must have been nerve wracking for her but she cruised past the moored boats, winded and then reversed onto the mooring like an expert.

Didn't she do well!

Paul, the other person on our team

Steve Vaughan our instructor for the day

We had a fantastic day and we both took a lot away from it.  At least I found manoeuvring the boat much easier by the days end and I have to say I'm so proud of Chris.  She was so nervous at first bless her but by the end of the day she was helming Peggy like she had been there all her life.  After the course round up we both left and parted our ways with Chris off to her mums.  If you ever read this Steve, thank you so much for a great day.

Latest news is Mum is OK and is looking much more chipper today.  Its still early doors yet but we live in hope.

Well I'm now really tired so I'm going to finish my scotch and head for the sack.

Until next time TTFN....

Friday 20 July 2012

Some wonderful news

Just a quick post for now as I'm at work today then Chris and I are of on our helmsman course for the weekend. I simply had to put pen to paper, or the computer in this case.

We had our meeting with Fernwoods yesterday and are delighted to hear AmyJo's baseplate will be laid in the next few weeks!  After what seemed an eternity it is finally going to happen.   I will give more details in another post but for now must dash.  

Until next time....TTFN

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Planning Meeting No.2

Hi folks,
We have had a really nice day here in Chester with the sun showing itself for most of the day, however, ominous black clouds came and went all day with a few bringing the odd shower.  At least its warmer now than of late.  Forecast for the weekend looks promising, at least we hope so for Saturday.

We're off to Fernwoods tomorrow for another planning meeting.  I think the intention this round will be to finalise the hull plan so Jim at Alexander boats can get started on the hull.  I'm hoping we'll get a date for when the base plate will be laid soon and hope to find out more tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Meanwhile Amy's bedroom is now fully decorated and I have my study back to normal.

Amy's new wardrobes waiting delivery of the doors

Her TV and Sky box all set up although temporarily until the new unit arrives
Chris and I think the floral pattern is a tad OTT but Amy likes it and that's all that matters as it is her room after all.

On Saturday Chris and I are off to Rugby as we are both booked on Willow Wren's RYA Inland Waterways helmsman course.  Although I've helmed all sorts of boats in my time and we have had several canal holidays we both feel it best to attend such a course.  Whilst I have helmed a few hire boats on holiday we can both can always benefit from proper tuition and Chris, who rarely helms, will benefit the most.  I'm hoping Chris will come away from the course more confident to have a go when AmyJo is on the cut.  At least she'll be able to handle the boat if I am incapacitated in some way.  I can't expect her to work the locks all the time now can I? :-)

Oh well that's all for now.  I hope to have some more news after tomorrow's meeting with Fernwoods so, until next time....TTFN

Friday 13 July 2012

Lord Mayor of Chester and Admiral of the Dee

Hi folks,
We have not had much to post about of late and hence why nothing from us.  We have been busy though completely redecorating Amy's Bedroom and installing new wardrobes.  Have to say the room looks warm and cosy now.

I did have a bit of a surprise on Monday as I received a letter from the local council inviting me to attend the Lord Mayor of Chester's annual inspection of the river Dee here at Chester.

The position of Lord Mayor of Chester is unique in England as of the 21 Mayors in England, the Chester Mayor is the only one also bestowed the title of an Admiral.  Apparently this was one way for the King of England to increase income to the royal coffers as any duty and taxes of the river users would have to go to the Admiral and hence on the the royal Purse.  In its day the river Dee was second to the Thames as a busy port in its own right.

As Admiral of the Dee the Lord Mayor is duty bound to inspect the river from Chester for a 12 mile stretch.  To do this the Mayor enlists the use of one of the local pleasure boats, the aptly named "Lady Diana" for the stretch from Chester to Farndon

The Lady Diana with our sailing club in the background

Together with Natural England, Environmental Agency representatives and representatives of clubs (hence my invite) using the river the Mayor is shown the diversity of the river and activities on the water.  

The Lord Mayor (centre) and the inspection party

During the cruise we can all share our concerns and issues about how the river affects the groups and these are noted.  There is a problem growing because the river all the way up to Llangollen has now been placed as an SSI (Site of Special interest) and as such is subject to rigorous protection as it is one of the few rivers on the west coast that is a spawning river for salmon, has rare species of Dragonfly and so on.  As a result Natural England want to keep humans at arms length from the river and allow it to evolve naturally to encourage the wild life.  Very commendable you say but they insist on this to a point where it is starting to effect access to the river by the public and groups like our sailing club.  

You see they are insisting  on dense planting of trees along the river banks all along the river especially by the meadows at Chester to form breeding grounds for the fish and habitats for wildlife.  Some of these trees are now 40 feet high and are starting to destroy the banks with their roots and then fall into the river, floating down stream being a hazard to all using it landing at the salmon leap, a tourist attraction in Chester.  

These trees also block out any wind making sailing difficult and also block the view of the river as people walk along the paths.  Now the river is 31 miles long and all we want is a 1000yard stretch kept clear so we can continue to sail in future.  Surely that will not have a massive impact on the wild life.  Neither the public nor the sailing club want all these trees so we are hard pressed to get Natural England to see sense and allow a program of pruning and Coppicing to make things better.  OK moan over and back on subject.

In the photo above you will notice the Mayor is holding a cushion with a silver object on it and this is that item.

It is a solid silver model of an oar presented to the Admiral of the Dee in 16 something or other.  It is the official badge of the Admiral of the Dee and has to accompany him/her every time they are on the water.  The cushion is supposed to keep it afloat if it falls into the water though this has yet to be tested and for good reason.  The Crest on the left is the crest of Chester.  The three items in the between the lions being acorns.  Chester was renowned for its Oak trees which these represent but the trees were cut down to help build the King's fleet of ships to fight the Spanish. I wish they would cut the current ones down and build another fleet :-) The badge on the right is that of the sea scouts who traditionally escorted the oar when on the water.  Most Mayors sport a chain of office and/or a mace or sword but the Mayor of Chester is the only one to hold this type of regalia so it is of great national importance apparently.  If you are ever in Chester call into the civic centre and there you can get to see the oar and hear more of this interesting history.

  Its pouring here and has done all day.  Our normally placid river  now has a 4 knot flow on it making sailing difficult and it looks positively miserable outside at the moment.  Has to be the wettest drought on record.  

Any hoo thats all for now.  Hope everyone is well and not getting too wet.  Til next time.....

Sunday 1 July 2012

Avoid Premium rate Numbers

I just read Tom and Jan's (Waiouru) post about having to pay on 3 mobile for an 0845 number in the UK.  This reminded me of a very useful website that avoids the need to use 0845 numbers in many cases.

As you know 08 numbers are premium rate numbers and can easily run up an expensive phone bill as you wait listening to some dirge while you are in a queue.

Well may I recommend you give a try before you ring.  

Simply click on "

Search to find an alternative number"

Type in the full 08 number and click OK.  In most cases you will then get a list of local numbers for that company.  You can then ring the local number at a local rate instead of the premium rate number.

They don't have every number yet but they do have a lot of banks, building societies and larger retailers numbers and so on.  No I have no affiliation to the website but I do think it's a jolly useful site all the same