Thrills in the Night

No! Not what you are thinking! It’s geese! It’s that time of year when a young goose’s thoughts turn to procreation! In fact all the water fowl are “at it”!, morning, noon and night! The ducks really suffer at this time of year, poor girls. It’s not uncommon to see a single duck being set on by 3 or 4 drakes. It must drive them absolutely quackers! It’s not unheard of for a duck to drown during such an onslaught. And it’s noisy – particularly the geese. But it’s nature and part of the reason that we love our life aboard. And we’ll have the joy of ducklings and goslings in a couple of months. The video below, taken by one of the moorers here at the Marina of Dreams (thank you!) gives some idea of the racket they make at night!

We’ve been up to lots of things since I last wrote at the tail end of February. Having finished my last embroidery, I have now started on a new piece, which I absolutely love. I know I’m probably not very good. but I enjoy it, and that’s what is important., right? Both kits are by Canadian company Hook, LIne and Tinker and I bought them in the UK from Clothkits, in Chichester, where I used to go to sewing workshops. And still on the sewing front, I’ve also made myself a tunic top in a lovely indigo batik fabric using the Hilda Tunic pattern from Sewgirl in Worthing. and am just about to start on a shirt for Paul which will be – interesting!

We went to nearby Coombe Abbey for a Champagne Afternoon Tea, a rather lovely birthday present. It was a delightful experience. They did a a savoury tea and a sweet tea and we decided to order one of both. The savoury tea had lots of interesting bits including a piece of pork pie (actually the best I’ve ever tasted) a mini quiche, a fish goujon, some pulled pork and a light and fluffy cheese scone. These were accompanied by some delicious piccalilli and The sweet tea was pretty much as you’d expect, with finger sandwiches, macarons cakes and scones. Both were delightful and we were both stuffed to the gills when we finished! I’d definitely return! Oddly, you had to pay for parking, which is a first for me as regards hotel parking.

That same weekend, we met my cousins for Sunday lunch at the aptly named The View, near Wootton Wawen, which we’ve visited before. They live in Worcester, so it’s pretty much equidistant for us all. It was my Cousin Alison and her husband Peter and her son Jonathan and his husband Christian. It was a beautiful, spring day and the drive there was lovely. And we had a nice table overlooking the canal (the South Stratford). We had a delicious lurch and a jolly good old catch up. The conversation never lags and we always have a great laugh.

The swans have been busy making a nest and I think you’ll agree that this possibly the prettiest nest ever! It’s a shame about the daffs, but worth it for the unique nest

I popped into Brinklow to go the post office one day and saw a notice advertising Willow Weaving workshops, by Willow by Christina. As it happened, there was one just coming up, so I quickly booked myself on to it. And I’m jolly glad I did. I had a lovely afternoon, just 3 other ladies there on this occasion and we all made 2 hearts in the three hour workshop. We also learnt a great deal about willow (Salix) – of which there are many varieties – actually more than 400. Probably the most commonly recognised one is the Weeping Willow (Salix Babylonica) The variety we were working with in the workshop was a variety called Black Maul. (Salix Triandra). Christina sources most of her willow from the growers on the Somerset Levels.

It’s safe to say that I learnt a great deal from making my first heart, which I felt ended up looking more like a whale (turned sideways) but my second heart was much better. Such a great afternoon and a lot of new stuff in my head!

A few days after, I had another attempt – so that I could properly cement my new found skills in my bonce. And then it was time to pack to go down to Fareham for a week. It was a good trip down and we arrived in time to see our darling boy before he went off to bed. He’s pretty speedy at crawling now, pulling himself up to stand and his introduction to solid food seems to be going amazingly well. He’s tried over 50 different foodstuffs and always seems very excited by his food. Long may it last!

It was George’s birthday while were were down (the main reason why we went down, in fact) and we had a nice Chinese to celebrate, I can’t quite believe he is 36! How the years fly by.

The week at home was the usual round of meeting up with old friends, spending quality time with the family and the odd medical appointment! And it went in a flash. We waited until George had got home from work, (about 6pm) so that we could say goodbye and were home and making the bed by 20:15. Thursday is definitely a good evening to travel.

Back at the boat, it was time to think about packing for our trip to Scotland, tidying the car and the boat. And also bathing the mutts. We are very lucky to have a dedicated dog washing point here at the Marina of Dreams. It makes bathing them a breeze and they seem to really enjoy it – even Bill who is none too keen on going out in the rain! Another bonus is the dog bedding washing machine. Most Marinas forbid the washing of dog beds in their machines. And rightly so, but it does make it difficult for the many dog-owning boaters. So it was an inspired idea to install one in the laundry room. Well done to whoever thought of it! So we washed all their bedding as well. Both the boys and their bedding were a bit grim after such a wet and muddy winter but now everything is sweetly smelling.

We had a surprise meet up with Dave and Roma Jesse, who were attending an event at their Marina – another Aquavista property Ventnor Waterside and Marina, on the Grand Union, not far from Napton Junction. We had a lovely Sunday Roast and catch up at the King’s Head in Napton. Then it was back to the boat for a pause before setting off to go to Tamworth, to see my cousin’s partner play a gig. He is the guitarist and song-writer for Smith and Johnson. The event was at Bolehall Manor, a delightfully Victorian Gothic house. It’s now a club but was formerly owned by one William Macgregor – apparently Tamworth’s greatest benefactor.

They were supporting Sally Barker, who some of you may recall, appeared in The Voice and was championed by Sir Tom Jones. She did very well, coming joint second. She has been gigging for many years and is currently touring with her Joni, Sandy and Me act, where she sings songs by Joni Mitchell, Sandy Denny and herself. Just up my street! She has an amazing voice and is very engaging. Both she and the boys gave us a great evening’s entertainment and we were glad we made the effort to go.

Our next instalment will recount our adventures in Scotland and the North, which will definitely have a canal flavour. I ended my last blog by hoping Spring would be fully with us. I think there may have been an “Install Error” as we are having only tantalisingly brief glimpses of nicer, warmer weather. Maybe by the time we return from the frozen wastes of the North it will be feeling better? Here’s hoping.

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