Tuesday, 28 September 2010

'Comedy', by the BBC

Erika and Dan had a spare free ticket to go and see 'Live at the Apollo at Hammersmith along with them and Gilly. Managed to get to the front of the queue pretty quickly as I arrived early which made everything much easier.

Some good comedy with Stephen K Amos, Sean Lock and others, though by the end (having arrived at 5 and leaving at around 11) I was pretty tired and hungry and ready for bed!

Good to see them all too!

Poor Charlie could not join us as he was still finishing his dissertation, which is now on the brink of being finished ... just one more day!!

3,500 people were packed into the Hammersmith Apollo, a good audience for a fun night of comedy. I wonder how much they edit out, as there were a few technical hitches and risque comments by both the comedians and the audience.

Managed to get home pretty speedily, good thing too as it is a school day tomorrow ...

Monday, 27 September 2010

An Unexpected Guest

Feeling much better.

Left work a bit early to make up for my very long day on Friday. Had a wander round Notting Hill and Oxford Street, but to no avail. And had a call from Barry Drew when I got home who was on his way to the Academy to watch Placebo (long story). He popped in for a cup of tea and a chat, quite a pleasant diversion for a normal Monday evening.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Feeling A Bit Peaky

Something has clearly disagreed with me, as my tummy is complaining and I feel a bit sick, and have been doing since I woke up. So, I have been having a relaxing day in bed trying to figure out what is up, felling at various points quite sick and then much better. Can't really blame the chef of last night's feast, as it was me, and besides Fishy is fine.

So now I have at least showered and started sorting out my wardrobe, going through to ditch and store summer things, replacing with brown woollen skirts as I tend to in the season of dark evenings and mellow fruitlessness.

Just popped out to take a load to the charity shop and pick up some chicken for dinner from M&S, and caught both shops before they shut. A brief feeling of success, before once again feeling sicky. Am going to see if the soothing tones of Michael Palin's 'Around the World in 80 Days' can fix me.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

A Civilised Evening In

Met Alex for a swim in the afternoon, which I followed by some pootling around Brixton to Traid and Sainsbury's. He and Kirsten came round for dinner in the evening, mushroom risotto with fabulous chocolatey petit fours made by Kirsten herself, followed by a couple of games of Ingenious. All very respectable!

Sleeping Rocks!

Just woken up to chocolate chip brioche and a big glass of milk after 12 hours sleep. With a relaxed weekend ahead, feeling just wonderful. This is the stuff of dreams ... wait, did I really wake up?

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Longest Day

Up at 3:30am for an all day meeting in Amsterdam. Was a very good day, but pleased to be home now and in my 'jamas.

I don't think of my job involving much travelling. But last year was my epic work travel year, with Vermont, Rwanda and Cote D'Ivoire. And this year seems to be the year of random meetings in European cities, which I manage in 1 day (usually by getting up brain splinteringly early): Bonn, Zurich, Geneva and Amsterdam.

Felt pretty wiped out on the train and tube back to Brixton, but couldn't resist an invitation from Mr Fish to meet him Upstairs in the Ritzy for some lovely folk music, a quick drink, and some incredible sword dancers. Brilliant!

And now a relaxing weekend awaits, as I mildly police Fish's efforts towards his dissertation (just in case he gets too tempted by Catan or Carcasonne). I have even pre-emptively bought some chocolate chip brioche for breakfast ... Jurassic Park!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Big Tuesday Film - 'They Live!'

An entertaining day at work, finished off by coming home to Charlie watching a bizarre and quirky film about a guy who discovers the aliens have taken over ... as he can see them when he wears special sunglasses.

I kid you not. Has to be seen to be believed.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

90 Years Young

Charlie, Lynn, Lena and I

To Grantham for Aunty Lena's 90th birthday, and it was lovely to see her, especially with such a big smile on her face. And great to see some family I have not seen in a while, Aunty Lynn and also Pat and Dennis, their daughters Carol and Kay and their respective families. Such cute and well behaved kids!

Worn out on the way home, so nice hot bath and early to bed, ready to take on next week ...

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sweet Spalding Song

Spent the morning wandering round Spalding with Dad, pootling round the side streets and commenting on the changes, both good and bad. Stopped for a cup of tea in the South Holland Centre, where Fish and I got married almost exactly 3 years ago. The town does change, strange to see how some of the more traditional shops (e.g. the independent jeweller, Drydens) are closing down, while others (Paceys, the baker) are thriving.

Rested in the afternoon, and indulged in another delicious dinner in the evening, oven baked trout and delicious homemade chips, finishing off with Mum's legendary lemon meringue pie ... yum! Try and spot the Pope in the news before bed.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Lincs Bound

Caught the train up to south Lincolnshire to see Mum and Dad, and to celebrate Aunty Lena's 90th birthday on Sun. Mum kindly picked us up from the station, and had a lovely evening chatting and eating dinner.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pizza Perfect

After a drink with colleagues after work, met with Charlie, Erika, Dan and Theresa in Pizza Express to catch up on all the news after the happy couple's return from honeymoon. They had an amazing time, and showed off some photo highlights from their wedding too. Lovely to see them all!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Fry Up

Went to see Stephen Fry last night in the Ritzy in Brixton, as his live show in Royal Festival Hall was being projected to around 60 cinemas around the country. He has so much fun with words, has so many heartwarming stories throughout his childhood and career, and above all is admirably humble about his life and abilities, a trait I greatly admire in the right doses.

Not too long and compelling throughout, if there are any tickets left, I would definitely recommend going to see it, as I believe he is doing another 2 shows tonight and tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sorting Out

A well needed lie in, and a restful day of catching up and tidying. Writing up the blog from the trip and watching a fabulous compilation of the best Jools Holland performances on IPlayer.

Tidied up the kitchen, lounge, spare room, sorted out my handbag ... ok, endless dull jobs!

Tired out by the afternoon, so had a little nap, and now spending a restful evening in front of the TV whilst Charlie adds the finishing touches to the first 10,000 words of his novel, which is also his dissertation due in a couple of weeks.

Work tomorrow ... must sharpen my email axe!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Back to being a Landlubber

Morning crew kindly get us back to Autherley Junction before 9am, when we are obliged to return the boat. Only a couple of small bits lost, the boat pub guide (fortunately just photocopied A4 sheets) and Andrew's book (has he eaten it?)

We are checked out ok by little Dave, who had given us our boat lesson a week ago, and we jump in taxis to Wolverhampton station. After some negotiation, we managed to get on the 10:45 train home, rather than needing to wait for the 2:45pm train. So we are all relieved to have more time to relax and enjoy the Saturday, which I spent doing washing, a bit of shopping, having a long luxurious bath and watching the filom 'Troy'. Which Charlie and I agree is an insult to all poor souls involved both in the production and the watching of it.

Watch the Last Night of the Proms, wincing slightly through 'Rule Britannia', and then tired enough to go straight to bed.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Stop for a well needed water break, as we ran out last night. We fortunately get to the taps before they are cut off, as a leak is being fixed.

Some ceremony around the opening of the last lock. We also go over the A5 on an aquaduct built by Thomas Telford.

Arrive in Brewood (pronounced 'Brood') at lunch, as we are meeting one of the old Warwick Uni crew, James, for lunch at the pub. A good homemade lasagne later, we then play a round of the hat game. Lots of fun ensues, including Pam Cookie (netball player), Noam Chomsky and Smokey 'BBQ' Robinson.

Wander round Brewood, popping into the Co-op and looking at Speedwell Castle in the middle of the town. Looking like a very posh house and now apparently flats, it was paid for from the winnings from the horse of the same name.

Back to the boat to do some sorting out, and in my case to have a little sleep. We decide to eat up the remaining food we have on the boat, especially as none of us are hungry enough for a full pub meal. So we dive into toast with melty cheese, with cake, whilst listening to a water holiday themed playlist on Charlie's laptop.

Matthew's parents, Elaine and Tom, then join us on the boat, before we all head out together to The Swan pub. Matthew kindly booked their skittle alley for the evening and, along with Robin, Marion, Annie and Paddy, we have an epic game of skittles with 14 of us.

Dave and Paddy come through as the winners, Dave's form being suspiciously improved when he is on a team with Paddy, rather than my good self.

Get some funny Salvator footage of him playing skittles before we leave for our last night on the boat.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Gnosal Gnights

The bulk of the distance now out of the way, the days of being on the move for 10 hours behind us, the pace could be slowed down.

More duck feeding, and the joyous task of emptying the toilets which Charlie and Alex manage with much stoicism.

Stop off at the Junction Inn pub after a little sleep and some Michael Palin (whose 1980'2 diaries I am reading at the mo), boys very pleased at the Junction Inn ale on tap. It is a sunny spot, and nice to have a bit of a break.

Dave creates a very tasty crumble from apples, and various berries (blackberries, elderberries) which have been foraged from the towpath. An excellent alternative to afternoon cake, to have with our tea.

Moor up for the night in Gnosal, where we are also losing Mink as she has to work on Friday. Play darts in the Royal Oak, but they are not serving food, so we all sneak out to the chippie.

Then a few games of werewolf, with my stealthy communication tactics questioned. Of course it was not cheating!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

SECRET Bunker ... it's a SECRET! Shhh ... it's HERE!

Matthew has now succumbed to Erika's cold, and is suffering. But all are cheered up by the SECRET Nuclear Bunker we visit at Hack Green, we know it is secret from all the direction signs stating this fact.

Quite a good museum, stark illustrations of how destructive nuclear arms have been and a frighteningly vivid BBC documentary 'The War Game', about what would happen if nuclear bombs were dropped on the UK. Apparently banned when first made in case it would incite mass hysteria. I am not surprised, I felt quite sick and hysterical having watched it, though its cutting visuals and brutal aftermath seemed to be a necessarily realistic view of a post-bombing world.

Had a cream tea to recover, before jumping back on the boat.

Ran into Robin, Marion, Annie and Paddy who met us at the end of a series of locks, lovely to see them. Moored up at a peaceful spot in the middle of nowhere, and I made cheesy pasta bake for the crew. Seemed to go down pretty well, and we followed up with a few more rounds of Alex's dastardly quiz, including a brain meltingly frustrating memory quiz. Also inflicted a round on R, M, A and P, who of course managed to score higher than we did!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Day of Rest

A lazy day of resting and reading for me, feeling a bit exhausted. The sun is coming out more though, which brightens up the whole boat. Remember how much fun it is to feed ducks :)

Overnight in Barbridge, and we start Alex's quiz in the Barbridge Arms. 5 very hard rounds, including London Underground stations beginning with B and football team suffixes (e.g. Rovers, Rangers, United etc.). The medal system of scoring leads to lots of excitement, as does the good food and hot chocolate.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Margaret's Cake

Through the urban graffiti and built up noises of Stoke. Met up with Margaret and Malcolm, Alex's parents, who very kindly brought us cake: Fruit and Ginger, yum!

Through the Harecastle Tunnel, which took us 3/4 hour to get through. Drippy, dark and cold, lots of werewolf noises and spooky wooky laughter.

Overnight in Hassall Green at the Romping Donkey. A better pub, which slowly filled with guitar players who each took turns playing songs oth known and unknown, with the other joining in. All at a very high standard, I especially enjoyed 'Leaving on a Jet Plane'.

A trying game of 1000 blank white cards finishes us all off for the day.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Singing on the Boat

The next day, people generally have not slept well getting used to the boat and the arrangements it brings with it. Erika T realises that having one of the permenant double beds also involves being between the 2 toilets, with all the animation that brings with it.

The early shift begins to establish itself, with Alex, Jason and Matthew (who are all co-incidentallt at the back of the boat). I establish myself as porridge monitor, dressed in 'jamas and warm scarf to keep off the morning chill. It is beautiful in the morning though, with crisp, clean air and sunbeams shining through, which hide under clouds for the remainder of the day.

Dave decides to do a 360 degree loop at Tixall Wide, just because he can :) See various cows, but my favourite is a fluffy horned beast who crosses a bridge just as I am looking outside of the boat. Feel like a hallucination, but apparently not!

Locks are becoming more regular, and Mink and I do some good singing at the front of the boat to amuse ourselves and the lock team.

Overnight in Barlaston, arrive at the Plume of Feathers only to find that they are not doing food anymore. So we all pootle over to Londis to pick up what we can, which for me is a perfectly passable microwave prawn curry, consumed whilst getting into the mood by watching Pirates of the Carribbean.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

All Aboard!

All of us, minus Jason who is joining us from Newcastle, gather at Euston. Arrive in plenty of time, but what with people running off for breakfast and newspapers, still end up rushing for the train to Wolverhampton. Jason joins us at Birmingham New Street, we we are now 9:

Emma, Charlie, Andrew, Erika T, Mink, Dave, Alex, Jason and Matthew G.

Grat lunch at the Great Western, a lovely local pub (the first of many) hidden behind Wolverhampton station. A couple of us go to Co-op for some basic groceries, then we get a taxi to Autherley Junction to meet up with the good ship Victoria, who is to be our home for a week.

We have a 30 minute guided tour of how to work the various switches, keys, knobs etc. that make her go, as well as a speedy lesson in locks.

Then we realise that we have to go about 5 hours and it is almost 3:30. All jump aboard, and despite a little altercation with the bank at the first junction, we get going.

Trees, bends, bridges, other boats and fishermen all cause a bit of consternation and some wiggly driving to begin with, but all become quickly managable.

Arrive at our night spot in Penkridge just after dark, not ideal but not dreadful. More gorcery shopping while we have dinner in the Cross Keys. Food not amazing, but not bad. Introduced to most pubs not taking cards ... we're not in Kansas any more, Toto!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Relieved to finish work at 4 today, but still a few jobs to do and feeling pretty tired.

Mainly tidying, sorting the house out etc.

Then ... a life on the open waves!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

3 years of marriage, and still so much love!

Overwhelmed by so many sweet cards and texts we received today for our third wedding anniversary, really very kind of people to remember. And mildly ironic, as we did not get cards or presents (or texts) for each other :)

I think Charlie feels it is a very British custom, celebrating other people's wedding anniversaries. I think people are very kind to think of us, oh and perhaps it is an easy date to remember, being on the first of the month.

Kirsten now seems to have moved to Brixton, almost a shame we are so busy in the next week or so as would be good to invite her round for dinner/tea (Kirsten - consider this an invite for w/c 13th or 20th!). She kindly dropped rouond some expansion pieces for Hive, a game we really love. So now, as well as bees, ants, spiders, grasshoppers and beetles we also now have mosquitos!!

Went to see Four Play at the Hen & Chickens theatre in Islington. Four short funny plays, about life, sex, geocaching and surveillance. The second play was exceptional and the others were very good, and we were in the front row of a small theatre, so it was like they were performing just for us!

We out for teppanyaki at Sai Nin afterwards, a very amusing chef and absolutely delicious food. Lots of fire and noisy chopping! I can see us going there again, and of course a gentle echo of our honeymoon in Japan. Would be great fun for a group visit ... maybe my birthday next year??