We are still happily moored in Great Haywood enjoying the frosts, snow, rain, sunshine, icy canal and muddy towpath!!!!! We have enjoyed several shared meals with Jim and Chris on Sylph as well as shopping trips to Lichfield and Burton upon Trent.
Our main activity during this time has been a side trip – to the London Boat Show and then on to Maldon for a weekend with Bob’s cousins – Julie and Phil.
Jim dropped us off on Thursday 15th January for the train trip from Rugeley to London Euston station. We had an unexpected bonus while waiting for the train as we got a rundown on the local power plant (that we passed a couple of weeks ago) and the types of trains that run through this station from a local trainspotter! The trip was uneventful (thankfully) and we then caught the Underground to Edgware to pick up yet another supply of medications and to spend the night with friends, Chris and Sue. Chris had excelled delivering a beautiful meal all gluten free and delicious!!!
On Friday we caught the Underground back to London and then the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) to the ExCel Exhibition Centre for the London Boat Show. This trip was not without incident, however, as Bron learnt a painful lesson when boarding the train – make sure the backpack is off and you are seated before the train starts to move. Fortunately a handrail acted as a stopping mechanism and its imprint is still felt and visible on the side of her head, shoulder and back!!!!!
On arrival at ExCel we met up with Julie and Phil and their friends, and after a quick coffee headed into the Boat Show. Whilst there were some amazing boats on display, the majority were well out of our price and size range and all totally unsuitable for canals. We did however order a new state of the art mattress (can’t wait for the delivery of that!!) and bought a few other odds and ends at excellent prices!!!
The trip to Maldon was delightfully broken by a visit to Phil’s grandson’s pub in Chelmsford where we had a lovely dinner. Didn’t get to meet him unfortunately as he was very busy in the kitchen and we also missed his baby son who was out with his mother. Maybe another time!!!!
Saturday morning we had a slowish start before heading off to do some shopping, taking a look around Maldon and visiting Joy and John (Julie’s parents) in Purleigh. It is great to get to know Bob’s relatives since he has had little contact with many of them since migrating to Australia 40 years ago!!
On Sunday after a quick haircut (Bob looks much better now!) we were of to Heybridge to check out the canal and locks and around the local area down through Southminster to Burnham-on-Crouch to check out a favourite summer location for Brits and their yachts! Very cold at this time of the year but I am certain it is beautiful in summer.On the way home we had to stop off for a “swift ‘alf” at a local pub serving locally made ales. A fitting end to the day’s touring!!!!
While Phil and Bob created a delicious roast dinner, Julie and Bron raided the loft and collected cushions and a tablecloth, as well as a suitcase to carry them in, to add a touch of red to Celtic Maid’s interior!!!! Check out the photos in the gallery!!!!
After seeing Julie off to her first day in her new job (which she will absolutely blitz I am sure!!) Phil dropped us off at the bus station at Chelmsford and we began our journey homeward – coach, underground, train, Jim’s Volvo! When we arrived – a little later than planned due to Gina going AWOL just before Jim left to collect us from the station – we were thrilled to se our battery percentage still on 100% despite leaving the fridge on and our automatic bilge pump taking care of any rainfall in the engine bay!!!!! The solar panels are earning their keep because we were away for 5 days!!
The remainder of the week was spent on mundane activities – shopping, washing, drying, filling with water, getting diesel, etc etc with highlights of sharing more meals, beverages and convivial times with Jim and Chris.Today, being Chris’s birthday, will have us off to the Clifford Arms pub to celebrate before they leave tomorrow for their much anticipated holiday in the sun and we start a couple of weeks dog sitting Gina. We are sure she will be excellent company for Bunion and very well behaved for us. Have to say we are both a bit excited.