Autumn Almanac

Our first couple of weeks back at The Marina of Dreams

Remember that ****ing oven? Well, one of the first things I did was arrange for the engineer to come to fit the part that had arrived too late to fit in the summer.

You may recall the initial engineer had diagnosed and fitted a new temperature dial, which didn’t fix the problem. He then suggested we needed a new Mother Board and Temperature controller, which we bought and paid for – not cheap!! When he came to fit it, the new board was faulty and a replacement would take a few weeks to source. We got a notification to say that it had arrived in stock just before we left for Summer Pt 2. This time, though, although the parts had been logged as having arrived on their system, they could not be located – they had just disappeared. Just our luck! The part had to be re-ordered (3rd attempt!) and would not arrive until after we had left for the summer. We agreed with the company that they would hold the part until we returned after the summer.

Back to the present – they had sent a different engineer this time, which initially I thought was disappointing, but actually turned out to be a refreshing change.The new engineer, a very nice chap, arrived but without the parts! Once again, they could not be found. It beggars belief! So off went Engineer No. 2, with a flea in his ear, to order a replacement set of parts. A few days later, I had notification that the parts had arrived and I telephoned to arrange an appointment to fit them. By this point, I had very little faith in the company and accordingly, the day before the engineer was due to arrive, I rang to ask them to check that the part was definitely in stock. They confirmed that it was. All looked well for the next day.

The engineer arrived just before 8am and fitted the new board and sensor. He popped the oven on to check all was well and left the boat. Just as Paul was returning down the pontoon from seeing him off, the oven did its usual thing of flicking back to 160 degrees. The new parts had not cured the issue. Arrrgggghhh! Luckily Paul managed to catch him and he came back. His new diagnosis was the element at the back of the oven (there are three elements). So – once again we were to wait.

We popped down to Fareham to see our grandson Chester (and his parents!) for the weekend and ended up staying the week. As luck would have it, my brother Bruce was also down to see a gig at the Ashcroft that weeknd so he popped in to see us all. We had lunch at the pub with Uncle D on the Sunday and even managed to squeeze in a visit to see Sue and Paul and Lulu and Gracie (their newish mini-Dachsy).

Paul had to nip back to the boat to get some work stuff, driving there on Monday evening and then working all day on the boat, before driving back to Fareham on Tuesday evening. It was lovely to spend some quality time with our little chap, who is all smiles these days, and his very tired Mummy and Daddy.

We were bound for the Metropolis on Friday, to stay with Bruce, who lives in Beckenham. As I mentioned before, we have tickets for Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Iolanthe” at the Coliseum, home to English National Opera and Bruce and Lenny were taking care of the dogs for us. We had dinner with all the London fam on Friday – a lovely evening catching up with everyone. On Saturday pm we journeyed into town and met Anne and Gray Robertson for an early supper before the theatre, which was another lovely catch-up session.

The show was absolutely wonderful. I think I remembered every word – when you are young you soak up such stuff like a sponge. I remember knowing not only my own songs but everyone else’s too – and many of the other harmony parts to boot! The show was colourful, hilarious and had some lovely modern touches – including a Peer who very closely resembled Boris! I had a blast and Paul thoroughly enjoyed his first G&S. The boys had been very good for Bruce and Lenny and had even been treated to some doggy ice creams! We had a lovely time and were sad to leave on Sunday.

It was a pleasant drive back, skirting round the City and up the M1 in sunshine. We arrived home in daylight and unpacked the car before flaking out in front of the telly with a very lazy ready meal. It had been a full on 10 days!

We had a few days grace to prepare for our imminent guests and I also got notification that our oven element was in stock ,so I rang to make an appointment. Our guests were arriving on Thursday evening – our final guests of the year – as far as we know – so we had a nice couple of days of cruising to look forward to. They (Anne and Gray) arrived in good time on Thursday and we had a delicious takeaway from the Brinklow House Chinese before spending the evening chatting and putting the world to rights.

We set off in high spirits on Friday morning, in reasonable weather and bound for Braunston. Paul had some work matters to attend to and so Gray took the helm, a role which he relishes. It felt good to be back out on the water, even though it was not really very long since we had arrived at Brinklow. But we have a pretty busy end to the year, and will spend quite a bit of time down in Hampshire.

The weather was pretty kind to us all day and there were volunteers on at the 3 paired Hillmorton Locks, so we whizzed through. We finally tied up at about 5 pm, when it was starting to get a bit chilly, out in the countryside, not far from Rye HIll Prison. A search on Google revealed that it was a Category B prison which, since 2014, has housed exclusively sex-offenders. Reassuring! We spent the evening playing the strangely addictive “The Crew” card game, which is set in Space, until our eyelids were drooping.

We survived the night untroubled by escaped prisoners and set off towards Braunston, where we dumped the loo and had a quick visit to Midland Chandlers, where the loo Blue was on special offer (BOGOHP!). We then winded and commenced the return journey. There were a couple of very short but sharp showers where a brolley was brought into play but again, the weather was largely kind and the countryside looked lovely in the sunshine. It was starting to get a bit chilly as we made our way down the Hillmorton Locks so I popped the heating on so that the cabin would be warm when we tied up.

We tied up on the VMs below the locks and settled down for another evening in Space, interspersed with updates from the Rugby World Cup. The intention had been to start playing a new game that we had been given, but we were just too absorbed with The Crew to tear ourselves away! it rained for most of the evening but stopped just before we went to bed.

The clocks “fell back” and so we garnered an extra hour in bed. But we awoke to a super sunny morning and bacon butties. Once nourished, we set off in the lovely sunshine and it was warm enough to be on deck with just indoor clothes on, initially. Hot chocolate with all the trimmings (squeezy cream, mini marshmallows and a dusting of chocolate) were demanded and duly produced, and were found to be just what the doctor had ordered. The sun went in and the wind became keen, so we added layers and all too soon arrived back at the Marina.

Our guests left after lunch and we showered and had a short snooze. The darker evening was already quite noticeable and the boys were walked in the twilight before an evening of relaxation and catching up on the telly. And the engineer is due to arrive tomorrow (Monday) to finally resolve our oven woes. Or will he? I’ll leave you in suspense until next time.

In the next blog I’ll be talking about the Mummers play that I am directing at the Marina of Dreams – starring Mark Willmott aka the World’s Greatest Harbourmaster, no less (and Paul) – and a rather large birthday celebration!

2 Replies to “Autumn Almanac”

    1. Mate! Just spotted this! Yeah great ta. This grandchild lark is a bit flippin amazing isn’t it? Not that long now until we are off on our travels again. Love to you and Suw. X

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