Tuesday, 28 January 2014

“Pudding” on your Top Hat!

When we’re at home (the operative word being ‘when’) Doug, and our neighbour Michele, go to dancing classes together.  They’ve both danced quite a bit in the past so it’s more like a bit of brushing up for them.


On Friday evening their instructor organised a ball in Chichester for all her classes and, appropriately kitted out, we went along to enjoy the evening.  Nigel and James attended purely for moral support and to do the washing up at the end!


In between the arduous duty of consuming wine and nibbles, and nattering like a couple of old fish wives, James and Nigel managed to take a few pics of the proceedings………..


…………it reminded them very much of a recent popular television series……….


……… but this time it was Strictly Fun!

After a very pleasant Bucks Fizz interlude with buffet and a lovely pudding it was back to the floor for the dancers and the kitchen sink for the ‘loafers’.


At the end of the evening presentations were made for the best performances - everybody got one, even the washer uppers!  We had a great evening and, in all seriousness, Nigel and James were extremely impressed and proud of their partners.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

“Hearty” Progress

For the last week and a bit we’ve enjoyed (as always) what our terrific capital has to offer, but on Wednesday we chose to return to West Sussex.


While we’ve been in Paddington Basin we’ve witnessed the start of the latest, and probably last, phase in the development of Merchants Square – the demolition of a small office building which will open up the inner pool of the basin.


Walking down Oxford Street on Tuesday we couldn’t resist this shot of one of Selfridge’s window displays – a cello being used to create a galleon. The black background of the display and cleanliness of the window has produced an unintentional effect!


Our journey along the Paddington Arm and back to the marina was warm and sunny and a positive delight.  For once James managed to get a photo of the only view you get from the canal of Wembley Stadium.


Cruising serenely over the hustle and bustle of London traffic can give a rather smug feeling. 


Heavenly winter cruising along the Paddington Arm.

Getting back to the marina and, after packing up ‘Chance’ and loading the car, our smug feeling quickly evaporated when we hit the rush hour traffic on the M25!  Anyway, West Sussex was safely reached on Wednesday evening and we’ll now hopefully spend the next week catching up with friends and family.


Today, Sunday, it’s howling a gale in Selsey here on the tip of the Manhood peninsular, producing heavy seas to batter our, already fragile, sea defences.


This isn’t for the faint hearted!

BREAKING NEWS: on Friday James saw a heart surgeon from the Hammersmith and City Hospital who has agreed to perform an ablation procedure in a few month’s time. Hopefully this should correct the increasing problem of his Atrial Fibrillation (not that that’s ever stopped him from burning the candle at both ends!)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Busy doing nothing ……….

………trying to find lots of things not to do!  The last few days have seen us doing more mooching about the capital before we go back to Sussex this week.  The city and it’s surrounding suburbs hold a great deal to see and enjoy just walking around.  


Just off the main “drags”, if you walk down a few alleys, there are some wonderful quiet little mews to enjoy.


A roundabout near Lancaster gate has a charm of it’s own –with the church of St James, Paddington centre stage.


A walk on the Kensington side of Hyde Park can turn up the odd gem of engineering – a Gull Wing SLS 6.3 AMG Mercedes. (sorry, it’s James again!)


A late evening walk along the South Bank holds a glorious display of history in lights.


County Hall and the Millennium Wheel in their fancy blue hue.  It’s been so mild over the last week it’s almost been shirt sleeve weather – at 10:30 on Sunday the crowds of people were still enjoying themselves. 


Hungerford Footbridge.


Blackfriars Bridge with St Pauls Cathedral behind.


We stopped for late dinner at Doggets on Blackfriars Bridge and overlooking Brackfriars Station with St Pauls peaking through the curtains, far left.


Today, Monday, we took a nice long walk from Paddington to St John’s Wood (past Lords Cricket Ground) and on to Hampstead.


There still a  few of these lovely Cabbies Boxes (we think) around.  This one is now a cafe.


On the way to Hampstead, Swiss Cottage offered Ye Olde Swiss Cottage (not the 1870 original!) for a well earned watering hole and a spot of lunch.  After Hampstead it was the ‘tube’ back to Paddington and the end of a another great day doing little but seeing much.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The simple things in life.

We’ve been nursing a couple of heavy colds over the last few days, so strenuous activity has been somewhat curtailed - although we have briefly contributed to the capital’s leisure economy!  We’ve done a few walks and tried to keep our fitness levels up a bit – here are some shots of the many simple things around London that can lift our senses if we did but notice them.


The glorious tiled ticket booths in Edgware Road tube station.


The extraordinary historical detail that surrounds us around every corner.  


Spring has sprung in Hyde Park.


The fat and friendly park inhabitants.


A Henry Moore sculpture and, in the far distance, Kensington Palace.


Serpentine Bridge.


The winter tendrils of garrya elliptica.


Horse play.


The Palace of Westminster - distant across the Serpentine.


Our first Snowdrop sighting this year.


The lovely dell at the end of the Serpentine.


The McLaren showroom in Knightsbridge – displaying James’ next birthday present (in his dreams!).


…… and lastly – nestling in the middle of Kensington High Street – and architectural treat.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A Tideway treat!

On Monday, taking up the kind invitation by Sue and Richard on nb ‘Indigo Dream’, we took the tube to Canning Town to join them on board for a day of tideway cruising.


With bacon butty in hand, and amid glorious sunshine Richard “set sail” at 9:15 along with Andrew and Frances on nb ‘Doris Katia’ and one other boat (sorry forget the name) and headed up to join a convoy ……..


……….. of various interesting and assorted craft ………


………  who were leaving the recent boat show at “Excel”.


With a huge “Sunseeker” floating palace leading the way (in the far distance), the road bridge was swung open for the larger vessels ………..


……… and, when we little boats came up the rear, it was closed again while we were passing through – giving us the feeling that we were about to be decapitated!


Once on the other side of the bridge we were in the huge expanse of King George V Dock next to the City Airport.  It’s an awesome feeling to be so close to the planes taking off ……..


……… and, as we cut across the bottom of the runway, the thrust from the aircraft engines was enough to blow our little narrow boats sideways across the water!


We were soon in the King George V lock – so vast it was difficult to see the top gates!


After exiting the lock we were soon out on the Thames and being carried up river on the tide.  Here are two pieces of mischief (Sue and Doug) if ever there were any! with the Thames Barrier in the background.


Opposite the O2 Arena we turned right into Bow Creek ……..


……… and the short run up to Three Mills Lock.  Using Bow Locks is the preferred option for the lock keepers so this picture, with Three Mills in operation, is a fairly rare occurrence.


The route from Three Mills to the Limehouse Cut is made pretty interesting by three equally very low bridges – it felt rather like crawling under a snake’s belly!


With Limehouse Cut traversed we entered Limehouse Basin and the end of an amazing day.  We have to say an enormous thank you to Sue and Richard for their consistently wonderful hospitality, every time we’re with them, and the chance to experience something new and very exciting. 

Saturday, 11 January 2014

From one Mary to another.

On Friday morning we were up at 3 o’ clock to witness the vast QM2 arriving and docking in Southampton.  We got some awesome photos along the way.


Portsmouth – with the Spinnaker Tower dwarfing everything else around it.


Doug in the middle of the huge top deck of QM2 at 4 o’ clock in the morning.  It doubles as a helicopter landing pad.


We just had to have another iconic pic. before we disembarked  this lovely ship.


Down at the front of the ship are eight spare propeller blades, mounted and displayed like a beautiful work of art.


As we sailed up the Solent, QM2 had all her deck and flood lights switched on.  She must look amazing from the shore.


Arriving at Ocean Terminal at precisely 6:30 it didn’t seem possible that we were going to fit into this little space!


As the day dawned we took this shot of the Queen Elizabeth, which followed right behind us into port.


Doug with “Ollie’s Bench”.


A daylight pic. of this giant ship safely docked and towering above everything around her.


The refuelling barge came alongside almost as soon as we’d tied up.


One of the world’s true engineering giants!  This was our last look at her before the short journey back home.

Today, after a 24 hour ‘turn round’ at home we took the train this morning up to Packet Boat marina (where we’d left the car) in the hope that we might be able to spend this next week in London.


From the train you get a good view of  the superbly beautiful town of Arundel with the country’s second largest privately owned castle taking a prominent position next to the River Arun.


On both sides of the track the flood waters from the River Arun had spread as far as we could see.


Without the car we were travelling light (sort of).  After trundling our bits across London and, having a peak in Paddington basin on the way, we found three mooring spaces available!  So we decided to travel in from Packet Boat today, rather than tomorrow, and hope that a space might remain for us – and two spaces were still available when we arrived (!) in the dark at 6:30. Feeling very tired after the last few days,  we intend to spend a night in for a change – nestled safely in the shadow of St Mary’s Hospital.  We wonder!