Friday, 25 May 2012

What’s happened to your face?...

We met up with Pip and John for a cuppa after their journey up to Hinkley. By now we had put the shopping away and had an idea of what we were planning for tomorrow’s pre-anniversary buffet cruise. It has been 20 years this year for us since we tied the knot in the quiet Berkshire village. It doesn’t seem possible that time could go by so quickly, and who would have thought that 20 years later we would be celebrating on LJ on the Ashby canal.

We agreed to meet up at the on-site pub for a bite to eat later so it was all hands to preparing and baking with a last few minutes for a quick shower. The marina, hotel and pub were all part of the same complex so very convenient to pop back to ours for coffee after dinner. As we are getting towards the end of the month, and with all required diligence, we were making everything ourselves to try and keep the budget on track, and hopefully the quiche, pate and sausage and onion plait spicy cheese fritters would be all the better for it.

The next day we would be off on our day trip as soon as Jess had arrived. She would be taking the cheapest route from Winchester to us by train. This would involve a few changes as the most direct route (to Coventry) was nearly £80. For a quarter of that price and FIVE trains in total – including a tube transfer in London Jess was able to arrive at Hinkley station (about a mile away) shortly after 12.30 to be picked up by Deb and Pip. Whilst Jess was zigzagging across the country we were all sat on the front deck having elevenses of pots of tea and freshly griddled Welsh cakes.

As soon as Jess was aboard we would be off. I went to the pontoon security gates to let the traveler in, to be greeted by Jess with the exclamation “WHAT’S HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE?” admittedly it has been a few days since I have had a shave, well two months on Friday actually, but I didn’t think it was that bad! I think I will have to change my profile photo as I haven’t visited a barber since January either.

The champagne was on ice and all food ready on the breakfast bar in LJ but with the sky now cloudless we would definitely be picnicking outside today. Luckily the wind was light as the exit from the Marina was going to be a particularly tight ‘U’ turn. I managed to wind LJ through the narrow entrance but a thoughtless angler had set up his carbon fibre poles directly opposite the entrance. The perfect line would involve wiping out his expensive set up so I nudged into the bank at the front to act as a pivot. Deb hopped to the bank to fend us off unfortunately trampling the delicate stinging nettled to oblivion in her sandaled feet, Urtica dioica is a hardy species however so I am sure it will recover .

Another partial roof shot - you'll see a few!

Open stretch to a ...

...typical Ashby bridge

A field so yellow it needed sun glasses ( not the field!)

Nosing into the wind we moored shortly before a suitable winding hole so we could turn for our return journey. From the marina the scenery had quickly reverted to open countryside and we had passed the nine cygnets that loitered between the marina and pub, passed nesting moor hens and noisy coot’s, alongside yellow fields of oil-seed rape and under boughs of blossoming hawthorn before going through an open wood cutting with a bedraggled looking duck chasing after her eleven ducklings.  We had only pottered for about an hour or so and at our usual slow pace had managed a whole 2.5 miles before stopping for a late afternoon buffet.

Chorizzo flan, sausage and onion plait, beignett au fromage, fish pate and toast, egg/cheese/pork rillette sarnies, waldorf/potato/coleslaw salads diplomat pudding for afters ..oh and champagne - yum

The sun was particularly warm now and by the time we had finished eating our digestive stroll was only a few hundred yards. The breeze was on our tail returning through the marina and in hindsight it may have been more appropriate to reverse in rather than attempt the return ‘U’ turn across the wind. With insufficient speed and a rather large turning circle needed (it must be well over 100 feet) we drifted off course.  A couple of bursts on the cheating button (bow thruster) saw us back on target for the last right-angled turn into a perfect reverse up to the stubby floating pontoon. Kettle on, we sat and chatted until the sun had set in a red haze and started losing its heat. A very pleasant way to spend our pre-anni afternoon.

A different story for our actual anniversary day though. Deb had been itching to get our mini washing machine working hard as we had both water and power on the pontoon. I managed to get her to give the poor machine a rest after the fifth load and we went over to the pub for whatever we could get for least money that was going to be refreshing. The marina’s birth offered no shade and by mid-afternoon we were at about 26 deg C outside and close to 30 inside. A round of soda and lime as suggested by Jess set us back about £1.60 and hit the spot. Pip and John had been inside the restaurant finishing an early supper out of the heat and when Pip had come out to say hi John had ordered us an even more refreshing bottle of ice cold pinot that went down a treat before we went back to LJ for washing loads six and seven (by now even the clean stuff had been washed!). Bored with the washing-athon Jess and I set about the far more interesting task of making beer.

Alchemists at work

Is it ready yet?
My brew safely stored at the right temperature in the office should be ready for bottling and secondary fermentation within the week, and testing shortly after. 

After trying to nag Deb into making some cookies Jess gave up and made them herself ready for Pip and John coming back in the evening for coffee, cookies and a couple of drinks. Luckily the temperature by sunset had returned to a more manageable 20 deg C or so. Space was a bit tight for drinkies in the bow as a lot is taken up by the wood store so after playing sardines for a while Jess resorted to sitting on the roof.

Cookies and profiteroles

A place for everything...

 Again, a warm, but very pleasant day.

Tomorrow (Thursday), Phil the solar man arrives!

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