Friday, 28 November 2014

Southampton Stop-over

We had a great couple of days in Southampton this week.  On Wednesday, after an eye test for Doug, we did a bit of shopping and, bizarrely, as we exited from one shop who should be passing but friend Jonathan, who we so recently stayed with on the Isle of Wight.  As he had an hour to spare this chance meeting could not be wasted – so we walked down with him  ………


……… through the lovely old part of the city …..


……..past some of the wonderful Tudor buildings …….


…… to the equally ancient Duke of Wellington pub.


It’s as old and as characterful inside as it is outside ……


…… and the “stout” wasn’t bad either!  We had a great catch-up with Jonathan ………


…….. before we continued our walk with him out through the city walls for him to board the ‘Red Jet’ catamaran back home.


Fortuitously (and the other reason why we walked down to the waterfront) was to glimpse the beautiful and spectacular “Queen Mary 2” which was docked at the Ocean Terminal for the day.


She was due to leave at 5:30 so we waited, listening to the on board safety announcements and lifeboat drill, after which the passengers began crowding onto the Promenade Deck (tiny as they appear!) ready for the leaving ………


…. which didn’t happen on time!  Anyway, she looked a real picture as the dusk fell and all her lights came on.  We were getting cold waiting around and decided not to prolong the agony of watching her leave without us on board and so left before she did.  Oh! - to be on her again.

We got a hotel for the night as we were scheduled on Thursday to meet up briefly with Tom, a cruise buddy of ours and an entertainments officer on the P & O “Arcadia” ……..


…….. which, as scheduled, was docked the next morning where “QM"2” was the evening before.  It was great to see her again as she’s been our seagoing home twice this year – and it was great to meet up with Tom again even though it was very briefly.


James wanted to be in on the action on this occasion – and to show off his new jacket!  Seeing all these wonderful ships had us wishing all the lucky people a safe and enjoyable cruise – tinged, of course, with a little envy.  But who knows what next week might bring!!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Party Weekend.

Friends Steve and Ivan came to stay for the weekend and, in this bizarrely small world we all live in, they also know Zoe and Nancy who live close by – so it was a no-brainer that we all meet up and have a wonderful time together.


Here we all are: Doug, Steve, Ivan, Zoe and Nancy inspecting the recent repairs to the sea wall against the backdrop of our lovely beach at low tide and the sea as calm as a millpond.  The lovely dog is “May” and belongs to friend Paul who James (behind the camera) hasn’t seen yet and who is about to creep up behind him and dig him in the ribs! 


After a walk along the sea wall and a visit to the ‘Lifeboat’ for a swift ‘aarf’ we all went back home for a deliciously warm and cosy evening of Champagne and nibbles and lots of laughter followed by a Chinese takeaway and wine and more fun and laughter.  This was the “Munchkins” sofa (those who were somewhat vertically challenged) – Ivan, Doug and Nancy.


This sofa was the reserve of those who were not so vertically challenged!  James, Zoe and Steve.


The “munchkins” having fun ……..


……… before the internet took over for a bit.


“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!”


More than enough is never too much is it Nancy?  Which one was the best in the end – sloe gin, loganberry gin or the honey rum?!


Positively sated after the best evening possible – Ivan, Steve, Zoe, and Doug with James and Nancy on the floor (which was the safest place for the two of them in the end!)  Thanks so much everyone for such a special weekend – we’ll have to repeat it!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Island Visit

A job which needs to be done each winter, is to strip and re varnish “Chance’s”  Taff rail.  James usually chooses  Nitromors (at about £8 a tin) to attack the varnish.   It does the job but it’s still a bit of devil to get all the varnish off.


This year he tried Wilko’s own brand (at £3 a tin!) and it’s excellent – all the varnish comes off first time and no heavy scraping  ….


….. it’s worth a try.

On Wednesday morning we took the car ferry across to the Isle of Wight for a couple of days.


Portsmouth looked good in the morning sunshine as we left the mainland.


We stayed with friend Jonathan and his lovely big dog “Sasha”.


Although she’s getting on a bit, Sasha enjoyed a bit of stick retrieval on the beach with Doug.


The island basks in sunshine most of the time – and Yarmouth still looks spick and span.


Cotland is the closest bit of the island to the mainland (at Hurst Castle).  Once upon a time it was exiting to see big cruise liners using this channel on their approach to Southampton – instead they now go round the east of the island.


The very pretty thatched church of St Agnes at Freshwater was built in 1908 ………


…….. and at Freshwater Bay itself there are spectacular views eastwards along the south coast of the island.


The island’s south coast is being severely eroded, with big chucks of  land going into the sea.  This used to be a car park and viewpoint and the council have recently sowed grass where the tarmac used to be.


Down on the beach there is still evidence of the car park (white lines and all!)


The majestic bulk of Tennyson Down looks wonderful in the sunshine.


Another reminder of the land erosion with part of the coast road now closed completely …….


…… but further along the coast “Hi De Hi” is still alive!  This lovely old holiday camp is well kept and very attractive.

We returned from the island this evening (on a delayed ferry!)having had a really great couple of days with Jonathan and “Sasha” and a big ‘thank you’ goes to both of them.

Friday, 14 November 2014


Yesterday James got wired up with a 24 hour heart monitor (just as a check now that he’s off the medication) and was wandering around Chichester for a while looking like a Duracell powered zombie.  After a surprisingly good night’s sleep (with all his wires and things) he went back to St Richard’s hospital today for it’s removal.  After that, and as we were already half way, we carried on to Bognor Regis for a bit of Christmas shopping then popped down to the beach to enjoy the fantastically warm and sunny weather.


“I see no ships!”


This was Doug’s view - looking west across the bay towards home.  The “Manhood Peninsular”, as it’s historically known, looked brilliantly clear in reality but not a jot of it can seen on this photo.  Bognor’s famous pier, just left of centre, is where the crazy Bird Flight attempts have taken place in the past.


Looking east the coast was just as clear! 


Bognor still manages to sport some lovely old “pieces” and even the new additions to the seafront  have been very thoughtfully designed with turrets and lead-finished domes on the buildings(bottom right).


We had a wonderful surprise while we were shopping.  Our dearest  friends Ann and John had also decided to take a spontaneous trip to the town and, as the four of us are always up for a bit of a ‘gathering’, we decided to have lunch together in the pub on the seafront.  We had a good meal with brilliant company and the sun continued to shine down as if it was a summer’s day. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

“We Will Remember Them”

After getting a few jobs done around the house on Friday and spending a wonderful evening in the company of friends Kim and Kevin in the local Indian restaurant (such a good time we forgot the pics!) we thought some of Saturday should be spent on some exercise.


The sun was out but  the wind was at gale force from the south. The beaches were getting a good pounding from the high seas and our fitness intentions had to be curtailed somewhat.


The new repairs to the sea wall were being tested very well ……


…… and seemed to be standing up very well.  The shinny railings and brand new cast concrete were frequently awash with breaking waves.  The gulls didn’t have a lot of work to do – they just held out their wings and stayed where they were.


Some of the fishing boats at anchor off shore were disappearing from view occasionally.


Sunday saw the village residents turn out in force for Remembrance Day.  Many of the land and sea forces were well represented - including, of course, our wonderful Life Boat volunteers as well as the sea cadets and scouting groups.


It’s gratifying to know that this scene was occurring in thousands of places all over the country and the TV broadcast from the Cenotaph in London being watched by millions – and rightly so. 


On Sunday afternoon we resumed our exercise intentions and had a good walk around the sea walls and up the High Street, where we popped into The Seal for a ‘quick half’.  We hadn’t been there long before lots of friends and acquaintances, who we’d not seen for a some months, came through the door.  The lovely weather we’d had so far soon changed to a continuous downpour so there was nothing to be done but stay in the pub for shelter.  We had terrific afternoon with (Doug), Nancy, Ali, Andrea and Zoe before they all went back for their very late Sunday lunches.  (is that a glass of wine levitating in the bottom r h corner?!)

Friday, 7 November 2014

A Special End

The planned ‘special end’ to this particular London visit took place on Wednesday evening at Whitewall Galleries just off Bond Street.


After buying a painting by Fabian Perez in Manchester earlier this year, we were invited to the gallery in London on Wednesday evening for the start of the artist’s UK tour.


……. and here we are with Fabian Perez himself – a really nice and very modest man.


The discussion was something to do with painting black on black!




Fabian Perez talking to two young collectors, Doug with Helen (owner of Whitewall Galleries) and, gallery manager Anna.


Fabian kindly dedicated the painting to us.


Then, of course, we needed a photo with Helen – all as mad as hatters, making a public display of ourselves!


After a wonderful evening it was good to get a bit of fresh air before getting the bus back to the boat.  Selfridges is looking terrific as usual with it’s Christmas lights.

Thursday we  journeyed the 4 hours to Packet Boat marina at West Drayton, where we’ll leave “Chance” for the winter, pumped out the toilet tank and moored up (in the dark!), loaded up the car with all and sundry and drove home where we unloaded and put everything in it’s place by 8 o’clock.

The last week in London has been a ball and it’s been more than a pleasure to meet up with so many friends while we were there.  We’d love to have stayed longer but there are pressing things ahead!