Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

Well it’s another year nearly over and, weather wise,  one that’s “going out like a lion” here.  We’re being battered quite hard by the south westerly gales right now.


Yesterday’s photo:  the sea wall at the end of the road, which was damaged in last winter’s gales, has still not been properly repaired in time for the storms we’re now experiencing.  The main structural defences are being torn apart and there’s a huge gap in the wall allowing the sea to wash away the land.  We might need to put our wellies on soon!


Another photo from yesterday:  not the biggest seas that Selsey has seen but it’s amazing that shingle 8 feet deep can disappear overnight.


Latest pics today: this part of Selsey gets the full force of the westerly gales.  James got very wet taking this shot!


A view across to the Lifeboat Station today.  Oh, it’s much safer on the canals!

Well, that’s the dramatics over with and it just remains for us to wish you all a very Happy New Year.  We’re looking forward to more canal adventures next year, sadly without Oscar.  Before then, however, we’ve got a few things planned - this time next week we should be on our way to Iceland and hopefully there will be some interesting pictures.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas Day

We’ve been a bit busy and should have blogged earlier, as Christmas Day seems a long time ago now.  Despite our change of plan, and having to “knock the boating idea on the head”, we still met up with Gerald and Janet (nb ‘Toulouse’) for lunch at The Halfway Inn on the A4 near Newbury, Berkshire.  At 12:30 we embarked upon nearly 4 hours of eating, drinking and wonderful company.

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James, Gerald, Janet and Doug at the start of our seven courses!


Had to take a close up of James’ vegetarian main course.


Just about to start our third (and main) course.


The owners, and their wonderfully attentive staff, had hung over 800 baubles from the ceilings as part of the fantastic atmosphere in the restaurant.


A former pub, The Halfway Inn is now superbly presented with scented candles and a pianist to add to the relaxed atmosphere.  We had lunch there with Janet and Gerald a few weeks back and decided then that it was the perfect place for Christmas.

Afterwards we went back to Janet and Gerald’s home for a lovely end to a great day.  We stayed overnight (thanks so much J and G) and, after a quick visit to Froud’s Bridge to check on ‘Chance’ we went back to Selsey to await the arrival of Frances and Kel, and their dog “Hixie”, for a family celebration on Boxing Day.   It was great to have “Hixie” with us for Christmas but she seemed to be a bit confused that Oscar wasn’t there.

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Hixie doing her Rudolph impression!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

A change of Christmas plans!

We planned to use the boat over the Christmas period - travelling to Kintbury, having Christmas Day Lunch with Janet and Gerald (nb Toulouse) at a restaurant and then back to Froud’s Bridge Marina, making a week of it.   Due to the amount of rain already swelling the River Kennet, and more forecast, plus a sudden lock closure at Widmead Lock (no 89) which would prevent us from reaching Kintbury, we have decided to abandon our plans and stay land based for Christmas.
We are still looking forward to having lunch with Janet and Gerald as planned and will just check on “Chance” while we are in the area.  Our daughters will travel down to see us in Selsey on Boxing Day.
Now for the important bit - we would like to wish all our friends and blog readers, and your families and loved ones, a happy Christmas and a very good New Year!
And lastly, we have discovered that you can still view the “Jib Jab” card we sent last year and thought, in memory of Oscar, we would publish it again.  It seemed to go down so well with everyone last year and made us laugh so much to see it again.
Click on the picture above to have a laugh with us!  
Best Wishes
Doug and James

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Busy week

This last week we’ve had two lots of visitors to stay for a few days.


Our very good friend Birgit flew in from Germany to stay with us for five days.  We had a lovely time with her but her visit coincided with Oscars’ passing and, as Birgit knew Oscar well, we all had a slightly difficult time.  Nevertheless we went out and about together, visiting Portsmouth and Brighton and also going to check on ‘Chance’ - popping up to Swindon to have a cup of tea with eldest daughter Vicki at the same time.  Here’s Birgit and Doug during a walk eastward from Selsey.  Some of the dwellings along this part of the beach are  based on old railway carriages.


Birgit and James at Selsey Bill, looking towards the Isle of Wight.

Birgit left us on Tuesday and on Thursday Chris and Les from nb ‘Eleventh Heaven’ came to stay for a couple of days.  The weather during their stay was not the usual Selsey sunshine that we’re used to, but this didn’t dampen our enjoyment and we all had a brilliant few days.


Chris, Les and Doug at our local club enjoying a drink on a wet Friday afternoon.


Friday evening we went out for a great meal at our local Chinese restaurant in the village: James, Doug and Les.


On Saturday the weather was much better and we enjoyed a trip to Brighton (a first for Les).  Chris is a keen, and very good photographer, hence the weighty appendages around his person! 


At the end of a great day we managed to outwit a dreadful downpour by treating ourselves to a Fish and Chip supper in Harry Ramsden’s on the seafront.


Chris and Les left us today to return to their lovely boat.  We had a great few days with them and we will be catching up with them again very soon.  Just had to show this shot of two happy faces outside the Royal Pavilion, Brighton!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Another great loss.

Today we received the sad news of  the death of Sir Patrick Moore at his home here in Selsey.  


We were greatly privileged to know Patrick in the last few years of his life.  He was a witty, brilliant man who treated everyone who knew him as an equal – whether you were an astronaut, an author or a plumber.  He once told us that Einstein, who he knew and played music with, was “a very good violinist”!  We very much enjoyed his company of an evening in his study, over a drink (or four), and we enjoyed his wit and wisdom over the occasional Chinese or Indian take away. 


We were delighted that he accepted, with great enthusiasm, our invitation to join us for James’ birthday and our Civil Ceremony celebrations in August this year.  He stayed much longer than we thought his health would allow, chatting to so many of our friends and family.  He told us he thoroughly enjoyed himself when he invited us round to his house a few days later.

We’ve known for a while that he has been unwell and he has been unable to give Doug the game of chess that he was looking forward to when we returned from the boat in November.  This National Treasure will be irreplaceable.

Oscar:  We would also like to say a big thank you to everyone for the enormous number of messages we’ve received over Oscar, it has been a great comfort to us today. It was an especially great privilege to us to have been his friend for so long also.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Farewell Oscar………xx…

23/11/1997 – 08/12/2012
Mr & Mrs Hughes (1211)
Sadly today the day we had been expecting finally happened…we lost our dear and faithful friend Oscar.
He had a good day yesterday and a good nights sleep but when he woke this morning he couldn’t stand up and he quickly went into some sort of seizure.
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We were able to rush him to the vet in Bognor Regis, just twenty minutes away, where we spent our last few moments with him.
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Christmas 2010 – Oscar in his usual pose…
Oscar has been a part of “our gang” for 15 years and we shall miss him terribly.  We must say a big thank you to all of you for the messages of comfort we have already received. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Our Blog Books have arrived!

Last year we had the blog made into a book, which we were extremely pleased with.  It’s been very worthwhile as we use it as a diary of our adventures.  This year’s blog has extended to two volumes!


Its great fun to be able to go back through the year and remember what we’ve been up to, the lovely people we’ve met and the wonderful things we’ve seen.


We’ve included a picture of Oscar to grace the cover on one volume as this will probably have been the last year he’ll enjoy the boat (but we’ve said that before many times!)  So, as we said about the publication last year, we are really pleased with the result and blog to print are really worth a look if you fancy the idea, as lately they have had 20% off.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas lights and a day out.

Gosh – it’s been ten days since the last blog!  Time certainly flies when you’re enjoying yourself.  We’ve done a bit of entertaining of family and friends in the last week – James’ cousin from Plympton and her family paid us a visit last week and kindly took us for a very nice lunch at the Golf Club.  It was really good to see them.

Last Saturday evening we had the annual “turning on of the Christmas lights” in Selsey.  The night was cold but the large crowds enjoyed all the fun and supported the fund raising stalls very well.  We helped some friends on their stall where they were raising money to buy a mobility hoist for a local lad.


It was cold enough for snow but we had to make our own!


The scene at the top of the High Street after the lights were turned on.

Yesterday (Sunday) we took a trip across to the Isle of Wight for the day.  We caught the 8 o’clock car ferry from Portsmouth to arrive on the island in time for breakfast.


Leaving the ferry terminal we passed Spice Island just as the sun was coming up………….


…………. and looking ‘aft’ we got a sun kissed view of the Spinnaker Tower with a huge and rather swish motor yacht moored at it’s base.


There were very few passengers on the ferry at such an early hour and we had the “dog deck” to ourselves which was very relaxing.

We docked at Fishbourne at about 8:45 and a fifteen minute journey got us to Ryde, where it was still too early for anywhere to be open for breakfast, so we motored on round the east side of the island to Sandown where we took Oscar for a walk on the beach.


Although very old and doddery now, Oscar still loves to get sand between his toes when he can.

We had a pleasant “behind the times” breakfast at a pleasant “behind the times” cafe in Sandown and after that we went on to visit  Shanklin and Ventnor.  We couldn’t help noticing the large number of ‘For Sale’ boards wherever we looked -  the economic downturn in the last few years has not been good for the tourist business and there are probably a lot of holiday homes on the market now.  It’s such a pity as the island still has a lot to offer.  We made our way westward along the south coast only to find the road closed – probably for some major strengthening work as this south side is very prone to subsidence and erosion by the sea. 


We stopped here at one of our favourite places to have a coffee and enjoy the views west towards Tennyson Down and the white cliffs.  Sadly half the car park is now in the sea! and this was the farthest we could go along this part of the coast due to the road closure.

We had a great day on the IOW (as always) but as we were all getting a bit tired we decided to catch an earlier ferry back to the mainland.


Approaching Portsmouth we saw the hovercraft leaving Southsea – always a treat to see, this regular service to the Isle of Wight has been going for over fifty years.  In the background, on the headland, is Southsea Castle where Henry VIII watched the sinking of his prized warship “Mary Rose”  in the Solent in 1545.  Thirty years ago, in October 1982, the remains were raised from the seabed and are now on display in the Royal Dockyard, Portsmouth. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Happy Birthday Oscar!

Well, we never thought we’d be in this position this time last year but he’s still here - today we’re celebrating Oscar’s 15th birthday!  As he can’t see to read any more we didn’t give him a card.



Opening presents was also a bit of a problem!


We went for a celebratory birthday walk at the “East Beach” end of Selsey.  This is Doug and Oscar next to the ‘blue plaque’ denoting the position where, during the war, the Mulberry Harbours were assembled and then towed to the Normandy Beaches for the D Day landings.


Also from the beach we can look across the bay to Bognor Regis five miles away.  The spikey building is part of Butlin’s holiday camp. (thank goodness for zoom lenses)


There are some interesting beach residences at “East Beach” – some of the original ones now nestle in the shadow of the newer ones.


Oscar and Doug walking back along the sea wall to the car.  Yesterday, and much of last night, was very stormy but today we had brilliant sunshine with temperatures of 12 to 14 degrees and the sea was as calm as mill pond. The sea wall is the thing that Doug is walking on (not the little white painted one on his right!).  It’s about 8 feet thick and 8 feet high and at the moment there’s a large amount of shingle build up which rather hides the size of it.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

It’s been a bit of a Segway day today.

We’ve had some fairly high winds in Selsey this week and it’s always good to get down onto the beach to catch the atmosphere……
………like this!!  The marker is at the end of one of the groynes which is well submerged by twelve foot waves.  The other marker out at sea warns of the treacherous Mixon Rocks – the scene of many a rescue by the lifeboat.
Today we had some excitement when we travelled up to Marwell near Winchester for a Segway session.  We’d booked it through a Groupon deal and have been looking forward to it for a while.
This is the line up of Segway machines waiting for their riders!
James starting to get the hang of it after a bit of tuition. Notice the look of extreme concentration on his face!
We had to wear all the safety “gear” of course – this is Doug managing a very nicely controlled decent down a very big hill!
A ‘long shot’ of Doug – no, he hasn’t gone off piste!
The machines are really quite easy to ride.  Getting used to them is very quick, especially if you have some experience of skiing.  Pushing the handle gently left or right gives very precise steering and they can turn on a sixpence.  Putting pressure on your toes or heals makes you go forward and backwards.  They are self balancing using an inbuilt gyroscope so all you need to do is stand on them and relax – easy!
This is James at speed (or maybe it’s ON speed!).  We had a great day out and would seriously recommend a session before you go to the grave – a bit like a trip to Las Vegas, it’s got to be done!
Changing the subject somewhat – we’d like to thank who ever it was that told us that Waterways World has used an internal picture of ‘Chance’ in the latest edition (December) so we bought a copy today.  They are suggesting that radiator covers are very nice but they reduce efficiency.  That’s technically true but then so does painting them white.  We like our radiator covers but we’re so glad to be of assistance!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Just can’t keep away!

Today, after packing a few bits and pieces into the car yesterday, we made an early start to get up to ‘Chance’.  We’d arranged to meet Mark from MGM (our boat builders), and electrician Stuart, at the marina to solve the problem of our “sick” bow thruster battery.  They arrived before us, having travelled from Burton on Trent, but Doug was soon plying them with bacon and eggs, toast and hot tea!


This is ‘Chance’ in it’s winter state.  The wooden Taff Rail has been taken off as James is going to renovate and re-varnish it back at home ready for next years’ cruising.  Actually, it might be done before Christmas as we’re planning to use ‘Chance’ over the yuletide season.  The windbreak has also been taken away for cleaning so the ‘back end’ looks a little bare at the moment.  


The front well deck has been cleared of all our ‘clobber’ – fold-up bike and chairs etc.  Returning to the bow thruster battery problem – the solution was soon found – there was a fault with a relay which was causing normal charging to stop (rather than start) when the engine was running.


This is ‘Chance’ with our other “bedfellows” on the pontoon – nb ‘Cressida’ is a very well kept boat with a fairly recent repaint and the lovely old Springer narrow boat behind us is being completed refitted by its’ owners.

After the repairs had been done, and we got a few more jobs out of the way, we were visited by friends Janet and Gerald (nb ‘Toulouse’ – our showboat neighbours at Crick last year) who knew we were at the marina and who popped in from their home nearby to have a cup of tea and freshly baked sponge cake which Doug had somehow conjured up.  We also had an impromptu visit by Sue and John from nb ‘Islay’, who we met at the Crick Show this year, who just happen to be based in the marina and were checking on their boat today.  So it was business as usual – welcome visitors and something to eat and drink!

As the sun went down on a very warm and pleasant day we packed up and headed back south – arriving home after just an hour and ten minutes on the road.