Attics and Canals

What a busy time. After Guernsey we went to help Mum empty her attic. My family have farmed under Glastonbury Tor for 4 generations, and over 100 years. Over that time you can imagine that the attic contained a vast array of stuff. Some of it not examined for many years. We spent a few days passing everything down through the hatch and fortunately the weather was brilliant so we could take it straight outside to sort and dust before deciding whether it was to be taken to the charity shop, the dump, burnt or kept. Our work resulted in the local Hospice charity shop benefiting hugely with amongst other things some lovely, if not dated, crockery and piles of books. All those ‘useful’ half full pots of paint, the particularly useful box of broken glass, old carpets and other sundry, very old and unsafe, electrical items found the way to the tip and we had several large bonfires with boxes of items long since despatched. We did find some lovely things like my Grandmothers cheese making certificates, postcard collections, some precious photos and my mums childhood lead farm complete with a whole set of animals. The attic is now empty and hoovered.

Last Friday we then set off for Crick Boat Show and narrow boat festival.

ImageOne of our long held plans for retirement was to find ourselves a canal boat to travel all the navigable connected waterways, but the search continued some two years after we started looking. This year we were off to the show for all three days in our camper van to see what we could find. We had a splendid time setting up in the sun before the rain started and it did get a bit muddy. Good job we’d included the wellies. We looked at loads of gorgeous boats, at a range of different prices, enjoyed being entertained by Toyah Willcox, Sean Cannon and Murphy’s Marbles, Big O and Wilburys Tribute Show and were challenged by a very full and comprehensive beer list! Those readers concerned about our health will be reassured to know that they ran low on supplies before we got to try them all!!

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On Sunday, we went to view ‘Speedy Whippet’, a narrowboat built by Aqua Narrowboats. We loved the fit and feel and asked if they happened to have any second hand ones. Alex, the owners son, explained about ‘Eunoia’. Five years old, reverse lay out, cross bed, same sort of style and quality as the ‘Speedy Whippet’, for sale as the owners were having a new one built, bigger to accommodate more grandchildren. We spoke to Justin the owner of Aqua Narrowboats who confirmed everything Alex had said and then pointed out that the owners of ‘Eunoia’ were just over there – pointing to the land. We had a hasty introduction to Mel and Pete and found out that we lived a mere 13 miles apart. Mel gave us a good briefing on ‘Eunoia’ and described her, their travels and Aqua Narrowboats with much love, before we arranged to go and view her the next day. What a set of circumstances that all fitted together to make us feel that this was meant to be. 

Monday arrived eventually and we got off the camping field without needing to be towed (not sure that those later on in the day will have been so lucky) and made our way to Mercia Marina where we were greeted by Mel. ‘Eunoia’ was just as wonderful as we anticipated and we had great pleasure in agreeing to purchase her. Since then we’ve been welcomed by Mel and Pete as friends, shared dinner together, they’ve gifted us our first pot of Brasso (for all those portholes) and can’t wait to start enjoying the next part of our retirement.

Image‘Eunoia’, which means ‘beautiful thinking’, is the shortest English word to contain all five vowels.

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Guernsey

We did decide it was time to go away, and after a couple of nights camping at Crystal Palace in our camper in order to catch some London cultural entertainment which involved Noel Coward, The Commitments and a bit of Burlesque (this was a bit amateur, but non the less entertaining, probably for that reason), we prepared ourselves for a trip to Guernsey. I managed to book some bargain flights, with the bonus of leaving at 0710Hrs and therefore having the whole day when we arrived, and leaving at 2010Hrs 6 days later, thereby having the whole day at the end. Great planning. What didn’t go according to plan was the 3 hour visit to casualty the night before the outgoing flight for a torn calf muscle sustained playing badminton. However, lets not digress too far.

Off we went and arrived to find our friend Gareth waiting for us. Gareth is a retired police officer, who 30 years ago, trained me and taught me the ropes of what we’re supposed to do and how we’re supposed to do it. He started off with Hampshire and then transferred back to Guernsey after about 8 years. We worked out that we hadn’t seen each other for about 22 years – but we didn’t really notice the missing years. Guernsey was beautiful, although the roads were narrow and driving on the pavement seems to be a necessity if you want to keep your wing mirrors. It was interesting to see how many drivers admitted defeat before they moved off, and had their mirrors folded in permanently. You’d need to check the nearside tyres when you inspected any potential new car. We went off to their beautiful home in Vazon. This is west Guernsey and a five minute walk to the sea. We were welcomed by Gareth and Sharon with home cured bacon and eggs from their own chickens which was an excellent start to our break.

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Another meal and more wine. We don’t really look old enough to have not met up for 22 years do we?

 

There followed a lovely couple of days touring the Island, doing a bit of walking interspersed with lots of eating and a fair quantity of drinking too. Friday was Liberation day in Guernsey and was the focus of great celebrations in St Peter Port. We watched a lovely parade that included all the local groups including Scouts and Boys Brigade and also visiting soldiers including the Gurkhas and Chelsea Pensioners who were given a rapturous welcome.  We were welcomed by the Governors wife as the Governor inspected the troops and enjoyed listening to both a brass band and a band of pipes and drums. During the day we listened to The D Day Darlings (who also perform under the name of the Bombshell Belles) and The Glen Miller sounds of the Elastic Band – and we can heartily recommend the band who performed two programmes of good old foot tapping war time music. A very talented local group that we all enjoyed. 

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We watched a range of Morris Dancers hitting sticks and jangling bells with gusto including the Belles & Broomsticks and two other groups the names of which I didn’t catch. I was particularly impressed by the multi coloured Sousaphone being played.

We loafed on Loafers wall and ate heartily at a lovely sea front restaurant. The day was finished off with fireworks set off from Castle Pier. A fantastic day and should be even bigger next year as we celebrate 70 years since liberation.

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The weekend saw more walks, some of which were in squally rain and very high wind, church in a very lovely baptist church, visits to most if not all of the Island’s Charity shops (many bargains were purchased including a complete wedding outfit, including shoes, for later in the summer) a ferocious game of Monopoly that I still can’t believe I didn’t win, and lots of laughter. Our last morning was spent walking to Lihou Island which is the most westerly point of the Channel Islands and is linked at low tide by a causeway. We got the timing right and had a beautiful walk before getting ready to come home. 

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In summary, Guernsey was beautiful. Our friends were fantastic and fortunately we’ve left enough places to visit to warrant another trip back. We’ve relaxed together, laughed lots and definitely eaten enough to feed a small army!!

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