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Sunday 28 December 2014

Christmas with Family

My Christmas was spent with family this year. My brother Pete and his wife Raelene came all the way from Australia and joined me, my step mother and two other brothers, James and Doug, together with their wives and kids. It involved me driving around 500 miles in all.. not all of it at speed..Xmas drivingHere I am parked on the M40 for no obvious reason.

We were also joined, to my utter delight, by Doug’s new puppy, a working Cocker called Oreo…Oreo and Eileen

And here are most of the family enjoying Christmas. We were only missing my sisters Romy and Penelope and their families.family xmas 2014

New Year will be a much quieter affair. I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve parties so I will hide and come out on New Year’s Day to share it with Stan and some of his friends. Happy 2015 to you all!

Sunday 21 December 2014

Happy Xmas to all my readers!

arty woodpecker

This is one of my many winter visitors, a lesser spotted woodpecker, working out how to reach the fat pack. He comes most days and is a pleasure to watch. A different sort of Xmas card to you!

Since last writing,things have progressed. I decided to go with my heart rather than my head and did not leap straight back into full time employment. Instead I advertised myself a little and kept my eyes and ears open. As a result I have one regular lady I now clean, garden and occasionally dog walk for. On 2nd January I start work at Kings Bromley Marina, cleaning their loos and showers. It is only for 90 minutes a day but it is 5 days a week, all through the year. I can go whenever suits me, which means I can fit it round other jobs. It also entitles me to various really useful discounts on diesel, coal, gas and pump outs which helps. Both cleaning jobs have a better pay rate than I received at the wedding venue I worked for and it also feels like I am self employed and hiring my time out to various people, rather than just working for one. There is also a chance of more hours at the marina once the hire boat season starts.

I need to find one or two other little jobs to entirely keep my head above water, but at present things feel pretty darned good! Even Bonny is a working dog again as she is welcome at the marina. I have also started writing the book that has been in my head for 6 years or so, but that is going rather slowly and I haven’t finished the first chapter yet, but I hope to persevere. It all feels like I am going with the flow and the flow is good.

Christmas will be a mixed blessing this year. On the positive side I am going to visit family which this year includes my brother Peter and his wife from Australia. I am driving down to my step mum’s in Lymington on Christmas Eve, where I shall meet up with Pete and Raelene. Then we will all descend on my youngest brother, Doug on Christmas Day. On Boxing Day I shall drive in convoy with the rest, up to another brother, James, in Sevenoaks, Kent. The next day I shall drive round the dreaded M25 to get home; one of the negatives! The other down side is that I have to leave Bonny behind. We are rarely apart these days so it is a bit of a wrench but she will be very happy at Stan’s. He isn’t too happy that I am going either, but understands about family.

I hope you who read this have a wonderful Christmas and that 2015 is the year that all your dreams come true!

Sunday 9 November 2014

All Change

I returned to work a few days after the end of a wonderful cruise to a huge shock. On my first day back my boss announced, in front of other members of staff that he didn’t want me to do any of the ordering or stock taking any more and that I should hand over my file to a newer staff member immediately and then go clean the marquee. My job involves various tasks but the most satisfying was ensuring that the wedding venue didn’t run out of wine, or any of the hundreds of other items it needed to function.
I asked if I had done something wrong but he said I had done a good job at the ordering but ‘had no time to explain his decision now’. For quite some months I had been insisting on being given holiday pay, as I was legally entitled to. He had been resisting and this finally came to a head whilst on my cruise, with increasingly tense texts flying between us. Finally four months after first raising the subject, he finally accepted he had to pay what was owed. Then I came back to this and couldn’t help wondering if there was a link. He further announced that I was to accept a pay cut in real terms as he was going to start taking money off for meal breaks. Even though we never get meal breaks lasting more than 20 minutes, he said he would be taking an hours pay off each full day worked.
The final straw came at the beginning of November when, for the second month in a row, I wasn’t paid the correct amount. A very fractious meeting followed which resulted in some swearing and shouting from him and a loss of temper from me, at which point I walked out. I returned later that day for a more sensible discussion but it became clear that that neither he nor his wife were willing to address any of my concerns and expected me to do a less fulfilling job for less pay. They offered no guarantee of hours of work and wouldn’t even fix a regular pay day. So I resigned.
Now I am free again with endless possibilities in front of me. It feels exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. My sensible, security loving self has been trawling the internet for jobs; looking at supermarkets and seasonal work. My freedom loving, creative self has been dreaming dreams. I have, for some time, had the idea of writing a book about my journey from the land based, career driven, safe life I once lived, to the single handing, boat dwelling, sometimes perilous life I now enjoy. I started the first chapter some months ago but the idea of it being rejected and unread was too much for my ego. I even have a title.. “Single Steps”, taken from a quote from the Tao Te Ching “A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.”
Now, I wonder if I should put me ego to one side and do it. I have enough savings to last certainly for the next year and I am thinking of supplementing those by offering myself as a cleaner / gardener / dog walker etc. I am not entirely decided yet, but I know that my spirit quails when I consider returning to a slave job. mind you it gets pretty shaky when I think of starving too!!

watery sunset

Friday 24 October 2014

Home Safe

We got back to our mooring just before the ex hurricane struck! I was glad to be back in one piece, but at the same time, sorry that it was over.

After Chillington we stopped at Tixall Wide again, here is a picture of the

gatehouse there…68 Tixall Gatehouse

Then we stopped again at Wolseley Bridge. It was a beautiful spot in the trees, right by the river (Trent), and popular, as soon after I tied up, a chap in camouflage gear, a bike and a dog came and sat on a log near the boat and didn’t leave for 6 hours! I decided that, instead of being anxious about him, I would introduce myself instead. I ended up giving him a whisky and listening to his views on astral orbs and the dangers of TV aerials. It takes all sorts!

70 mooring Wolseley This was the mooring site and just to the right of this tree was his log and the Trent

74 bon in Trent

The next day, the wind really started to blow and I hauled on my tiller all the way to Kings Bromley. I really had to fill up with diesel and empty my poo tank and the only way of doing that is to turn 360 and reverse onto the marina dock. Doing that manoeuvre in a gale is frankly terrifying, but I was proud that I managed it. The diesel man said he gave me 9 out of 10. he said he couldn’t give me 10 as I was a woman!!!

So we are back and in a few days, back to work. But I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to cruise again, on my own and to have managed it all safely.

Sunday 12 October 2014

More cruising joy

We are moored at Chillington Wharf for the weekend, right by Chillington woods. The wharf isn’t one any longer, just a winding hole and a handful of moored boats. We are moored in glorious isolation just beyond the wharf.

49 perfect for us at Chillington

The woods are ancient and stunning and Bonny is practicing self control as I have let her run wild after the squirrels and then called her back. She is graduating with honours!

51 ancient trees

50 perfect for Bon at Chillington!

She even came when I called this morning when we found her greatest terror looming out of the mist – a horse and rider. In the past she would have run away and hid and it would have taken me hours to get her back. Now she is finally seeing me as her safe place and she practically leapt into my arms with every hair standing upright with fear!

Here is my little Autumn Cairn

43 My beautiful girl

Monday’s weather is looking grim so I am planning to stay till Tuesday and then make the trek off the Shroppie and up the Staffs and Worcester to Gailey. I suspect we might get wet but it is all worth it.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Loving this cruise!

Yes Autumn has arrived and yes I have got wet and the boat has been blown about a bit and yes it’s a bit chilly, but I love this cruise!!

We are currently moored in the most beautiful spot near Knighton Woods, on the way to Market Drayton. There are fantastic walks in every direction and so far I have had the mooring to myself. We arrived yesterday afternoon and as we did, the sun came out (after a very wet and windy morning). This is what it looked like…

27 peace at last

In front of us

26 best bridge pic

Behind us (the best bridge pic I think I’ve taken)

21 view one side mooring

And beside us. Not bad eh? The forecast isn’t great for the next couple of days so we are staying put and will explore the area. This morning we were walking in the woods at around 7.45am in the rain, when I came across a man sitting in a truck. The headlines immediately flashed through my head… “Decomposed bodies of woman and dog found in Knighton Woods”. “She should never have been out walking alone”, a spokesman said.

We walked on up the track and after a few minutes heard the truck approaching from behind. My heart picked up pace but all was well. It was only the local gamekeeper tending to his pheasants. He helpfully pointed out the right footpath to take and went on his way. Phew!

Back on the boat, and brewed a cuppa. I listened and the loudest noise I could hear was the wing flaps of a passing magpie. No road noise, no voices, perfect peace. Bliss.

Saturday 4 October 2014

At last!!!

I have been trying to get my blog dashboard to recognise me on my tablet for ages but it kept reverting to a google email address and then said I didn't have any blogs. It was driving me crazy!
Today I tried uninstalling both google plus and google email and have finally managed to sign in with the right details. What a relief!