Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On the turn!

Posts might be a bit fewer and further between from here on as we have decided to turn and take a slow return back!

I am also having no luck whatsoever getting any internet connections down here so have given up trying to post pictures. I think a blog without pictures is a tad pointless and dull so may not bother posting until I get a better connection!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Caen Hill Experience!

An amazing experience! The Caen Hill flight certainly is an impressive bit of engineering. Set off this morning at about 8.00am to get to the flight. After stopping to purchase a new Aluminium windlass having left mine by the side of a swing bridge, (!) We finally arrived at the flight at 12.30. Fortunately for the weary traveller, the iconic image of the flight stretching off into the distance is not seen as you approach it on the downward passage. There is, however, the need for a sharp intake of breath as you lock through the first of the 'proper' flight locks and the countryside rolls out before you. We even had the help of a young family who, in return for a boat ride down a few locks, helped with gates etc for a few more!

Just as we were approaching the last few locks, rumbles were heard and flashes seen! Sure enough, the heavens opened and we emerged from the last lock almost drowned - I just about managed to get this shot from inside the back cabin!
It was actually a welcome cloud burst that temporarilly cooled us off!
Currently moored at Sells Green and getting ready for a well deserved pub meal this evening!

One of the joys of this trip has been passing so many boats whose names are familiar from 'tinternet. Having already mentioned some it is worth mentioning a few more this evening. The other day we passed NB Epiphany and exchanged pictures and a quick passing greeting with John and Fiona.

Today we passed NB Ramyshome just below the flight. Again, a passing greeting was exchanged with Maureen from the side hatch as we ticked past and I managed to get this very 'cut off' grab shot!

The frequency of locks seems to have subsided now into a more respectable cruise interspersed with more occasional locks. Tomorrow we should be in Bath, Wednesday Bristol and the turnaround for the trip back home - unless we decide to brave the Bristol Channel!!
(Note to the reader who left an anonymous comment - shame you didn't leave an email address as I would have appreciated the chance to offer a more full explanation than a public forum allows. Please do email me privately if you wish and I will explain - in my experience in education, I often find there are 2 sides to every story and sometimes more detail than is apparent at first ;-)

Dodgy internet again!

An interesting day yesterday cruising through Crofton towards Devizes. This post comes via my PDA from the roof of Khayamanzi as we cruise through the very pleasant long lock free pound before the flight. Met a BW official at Crofton who needed a lesson in public relations! The lock gate said leave a padle open so we did, granted we made a last minute decision to throw the rubbish out the side hatch as we saw a refuse skip but said BW man came running down waving his windlass at us shouting "you've left a paddle open" Having just sweated buckets up poorly maintained locks and found numerous with only 1 paddle working we were not in the mood for sarcasm and an exchange of words was given and received as we attempted, without success, to gain an explanation as to what we had done wrong, (although we now think we have worked it out,)

Granted, if you overlook the hard locks, manual and heavy swingbridges, poor maintenance, frequent slow widebeams and occasional jobs-worth BW officials, there is some lovely countryside, (if you can find anywhere to moor and enjoy it in between the hundreds of 'continuous moorers'!)

An interesting experience to do but certainly not one to return to!

It was indicative of BW's attitude to the K&A that we passed a BW working boat recognised from the Midlands - obviously pensioned off to the K&A in the wake of their new modular craft now in use.

Hopefully this evening I plan a more positive post with pictures of our Caen Hill experience!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A long day!

A long day today! I am now of the firm opinion that the K&A is a 'been there, done it' type of canal - sorry if that offends any K&A groupies! It is immensly hard work with nothing more than 15 minutes cruising at any one time before a big heavy old double lock with fierce gate paddles or an even heavier manual swing bridge! Personaly I like a bit more cruising in between the obstacles!
A short stop at Reading Marine for diesel and water as well as a formal thank you to Andy Edwards for the work he did 4 years ago on Khayamanzi and then off for more locks and swing bridges.

Passed through Newbury negotiating all the boats in there for the boat festival tomorrow and then on to yet more locks and swing bridges!
Finally moored at about 8.30pm at Kintbury. An extremely dodgy internet signal this evening so the pictures too ages to upload- my crew member working hard!

....and this evenings mooring.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Making up for it!

OK, thanks to my new Bluetooth dongle and a short phone call to Orange to get the jolly thing configured, I now have a good internet connection and this evening have even managed to secure several bars of 3G! I have made up for the lack of postings recently with a number of pictures! Firstly, last nights mooring on the Thames - a very pleasant spot just before Beale Park.
Back off the Thames and back to the familiarity of muddy ditches! The very exciting turn into the Kennet and Avon!
...and then on to the interesting channel through the Oracle shopping centre.
Having been advised via email from a friend that there was trouble at County Lock, this morning I phoned to check. No problem I was told, assisted passage between 10.00am and 4.00pm. Arriving at Blakes Lock and I was handed a large white laminated sheet telling me to phone a given number before proceeding upstream. I phoned the number and it was not a valid phone number! I phoned BW who connected me to the South West office. The South West office kept ringing and ringing and no-one answered. I phoned BW customer serices again who apologised and put me onto the Gloucester Office who cover the K & A. This number also kept ringing and ringing and no-one answered. I phoned BW again who put me onto another customer service agent who told me to ignore the letter and head for the lock! I did so and found this....
3 boats downstream had been waiting an hour but I arrived at the right time and only had about a 30min. wait. Passing through the lock and I came across Rivendell, (is this the right one Don!?)
Mats and Sanne were on the boat and it was a very quick 'grab shot' as I passed under the bridge and we shouted our hellos. Mats and Sanne run the first, (as I'm aware anyway,) bi-lingual waterway blog - English and Swedish. I also have regular contact with Don who is also one of the owners as well as the enviable double lifestyle of a cartographer on Bute as well as a boater!
K&A locks are nothing if but interesting! Every single one has its own characteristic such as these intriguing turf sided locks.
This evenings mooring - a pleasant little spot immediately below the waiting area for a swing bridge. Tomorrow - on through Aldermaston, (a quick visit to my names sake Andy Edwards to say thanks for the work he did on Khayamanzi 4 years ago after the fire,) and then out into hopefully more rural and pleasant countryside.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Deja vous!

A roller coaster sort of day today! Set off from Osney Lock at around 9.00 this morning. I have realised why it was so difficult getting consistent advice as regards locking single handed on the Thames - there is no consistent practice! Every lock keeper has their own way. Some allow me to hold it on a center line, others hold the bow line for me whilst the majorit sit back and do nothing whilst I simple go through the motions of 'draping' the bow line round a bollard and then holding it on the stern line from the helm. The bow thrusters have been useful in nudging the boat back to the wall when I find it drifting worryingly closer to a plastic palace.
Then I passed 'the place'!! Here it is....
A very unassuming field but I can assure you that in August 2004 - this field was most interesting! It was right here that the first whisps of smoke started appearing from the engine deck boads and Khayamanzi was unceremoniously dumped into the bank of that very field whilst the EA and fire brigade staf cam planing up the water to tow me over to Goring sailing club.
The rest, as they say, is history and I very much hope it will stay that way!!
Other interesting points today? Well I passed the proposed site of the junction with the Thames for the Wilts & Berks Canal.
Perhaps one day I'll be back down to cruise this canal - who knows?
I leave you with a general picture of my view for much of the day...
Right now, I'm breasted up on the free 24hr moorings just below Goring lock waiting for my father to arrive. The plan is then to move on to somewhere a little more pleasant for a barbecue!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I am typing this with one hand! The other is holding my phone in a dead still position to keep the wire and connection. Hopefully I will back up and running soon. My father is bringing up a bluetooth dongle so I can hopefully connect without the need for the cable and I am working on a plan to get the handset replaced under my insurance and delivered to someones house near Goring.

I am now on the Thames. Moored outside the Watermans Arms with my new licence proudly on display and my first solo lock tomorrow. An eventful few days! A helpful farmer snapped my boathook trying to get it out from a lift bridge where it was perfectly happily propping the bridge up for me!

Today, I met Maffi and Bones. A very pleasant evening spent chewing the fat with them both and I even donated a few mealworms for Bones' pet situation, (see her last months Canals and Riverboat magazine column for this one!)
Hopefully - connection and hardware willing - more tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

No further posts this holiday!

Having just spent the entire last 2 hours attempting to upload todays entry, the final straw for me now is that the connection socket on the Bottom of my handset has bust! The result being that my phone is U/S as regards charging or data connection. It is insured but Orange will only send me a replacement to a fixed address and will need to collect this hanet at the same time! Fat lot of good. This will therefore be my last entry, (done using the last battery on my handset,) for the foreseeable future.

Bye, bye and I hope to have an enjoyable trip to report in 4 weeks time.


Set off this morning and although the sky was cloudy and the wind chilly, I had a spring in my step! Zipped along nicely - the Cherwell was on its best behaviour and even all the Lift bridges were open; the only ones that weren't had a helpful farmer or another boater on hand to assist. An unsuspecting passer by in Banbury this morning was quickly signed up as an honorary Khayamanzi crew member and a hasty training session in the finer art of lift bridge operation saw an easy passage through the town centre. Aynho wier lock was interesting but caused no problem and as Classic FM was just getting into its stride I hit the back end of 10 boats waiting at Somerton Deep Lock!!

Apparently the lock gate had got stuck closed.... and then it got stuck open and BW hd to be called to free the unfortunates that were stuck with it. 3 and a half hours later and I was through and progressing again. By this time, I'd had enough and the weather had increased in temperature to the point of rivalling our school kiln and I pulled in at Lower Heyford.

A shower and change later, not to mention the abstraction and consumption of a nice cold beer from the fridge and I was ready to tackle my new barbecue...

Fantastic it was - and lived up to almost every claim on the tin. A very pleasant evening was had and, with the exception of absolutely no TV signal of any kind, only 2 dodgy bars of GPRS, (hence the few and small pictures this evening,) and the passing of the occasional goods train, almost perfect!

Theoretically I could be on the Thames tomorrow evening all-beit only just. The outskirts of Isis and Oxford are not exactly pleasant so I have to decide, do I push on to get on the Thames, moor up early before Oxford or put up with a miserable nights mooring wherever I end up?? Decisions decisions - oh the stress!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Disaster in the PC department!

The more regular of my readers will have noticed that I missed the 'Day 002' entry yesterday. It wasn't down to the lack of a signal or even bad timing on my part, rather a major laptop disaster!! My laptop was about 5 years old and with the increasing amount of digital media, (images, video and MP3's,) that I was using, having to perform a rebuild was becoming a regular hobby. Yesterday it happened again only this time it was more terminal! A re-installation of XP didn't fix it, neither did a format and clean re-installation - this only threw up many worrying error messages. An eventual partial successfull rebuild left me with no USB drivers, no wireless connectivity, no software and consequently no internet to fix the problems! It was time to bite the bullet. Today I arrived in Banbury town center at around 4.00pm - just enough time for a short bus ride to the retail park and a visit to various computer outlets! I returned home with this:
A Toshiba Equium A300! Nice machine and a good price but with the downside of running Vista! The look and feel is great but I'm even having trouble installing a compatible version of Flash to view my main site. Now begins the task of finding compatible versions of Kaspersky, Brother printer drivers, Tiscali broadband to mention but a few!
Cruising down today, I realised just how pretty the South Oxford is:
Apart, that is, from the tell tale signs of BW selling off all it's lockside properties!
A tight squeeze through Cropredy where I passed the Mikron theatre company on tour towards Fenny Compton for an evening performance.
And then on towards my evenings mooring here.
Tomorrow, through Banbury towards Aynho and nearer the Thames all the time; with the added encouragement of an extremely hot weather forecast!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 001

The first day of mobile entries!
Set off this morning at 11.40 and arrived at The Puddlebanks, Braunston at 17.00. Steve and Julia on NB Even Balance are just a couple of boats ahead. The journey was uneventful except being run aground by a Kateboats hire boat. A very slow journey from Hillmorton to Braunston behind grandad and the entire journey battling extremely gusty winds and occasional heavy showers. When the sun was out it was lovely though. Passed several boats I know, most from the marina.
This evening - barbecue or grill depending on the weather and then tomorrow on through Napton Locks and further south.
One mooring looks much like another at the moment but here is this evenings spot!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The end is here!

No - don't worry, I'm not about to start pacing up and down outside Parliament Square with a sandwhich board fastened to my chest!

The final day of term has finally been and went and a great time was had by all. This evening, another load of washing, hoover the boat, organise my increasing wine collection, (most are categorised under 'D' for drinking!) shower, change and settle down for an evening of the Proms followed by Frost accompanied by a bottle of Meantime London Porter!

Miserable weather this evening and not much better forecast for tomorrow but with the anticipation of the next 6 weeks and 4 weeks cruising it doesn't seem too bad. The barbecue tomorrow evening may end up a tad damp but Sunday is set to be an improvement.

Tomorrow morning - a lay in followed by taking on water, pump-out the loo tank, get rid of rubbish, a few quick tidying up jobs and then off towards Braunston and the puddlebanks for the night.

The next entry will be a mobile one - signal willing and evidence that the holiday has started!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Well,for the first time in over 2 weeks solid, (including weekends,) I have time for 'me' this evening! No meetings, no people to see, no schoolwork, no marina jobs, no boat jobs, no leaks to sort out - just me and the TV. Oh, and the latest edition of Waterways World I bought almost a week ago and haven't yet even opened! It feels lovely to just sit here in the quiet; I haven't even switched the telly on yet as I am reluctant to allow the outside world to intrude on my tranquillity!

Considering it's the end of term, my class at school have been lovely and so well behaved. From time to time, you get a year group that you really do miss and this year they have been a joy to teach. Today we had sports day, tomorrow we take all 105 of year 6 on an all day hike, Friday is mayhem, tears and shirt signing,(and that's just the staff!) before we all part company.

Tomorrow evening is a meal out for the retirement of the current year 6 leader, Friday evening is washing and cleaning night and then Saturday is pump-out, water and leave day. A meet-up with Julia and Steve from NB Even Balance is already booked at Braunston for a Saturday evening barbecue, (and I dare say a bottle of French wine or two might be consumed,) before I head further south. really looking forward to meeting Steve and Julia again as since we have moved to different marinas, we haven't met so often so it will be good to catch up again.

All on track currently for the Thames and K&A - no rain and floods pleeeeeeease!

Monday, July 14, 2008


A really rather pleasant cruise down to Rose yesterday and I even managed to get moored up and a decent satellite signal in time for Midsomer Murders!

True to their word, first thing this morning I was pulled out, (and I can now confirm it is the smoothest and gentlest 'pull-out' I have ever seen - I was standing on the back of the boat the whole time and hardly even felt myself going up!) and the engineer set to work. It was very easy to see the hole as water was piddling out from it long after the drips had stopped. You can see in the picture below a large lump of 'slag' from the original welding that has simply rusted through.

It's up behind that lump that the hole is to be found lurking!

3 excellent layers of weld later and the job was done and the new blacking was drying. They even took the time to weld a collar round the tiller bearing as an experiment to see if it would stop, or at least stem the flow of water that has always leaked over onto the deck and squirted onto my leg! Obviously when throttling heavily a little spurt still came over but other than that there was nothing for the entire journey back so that looks like it could be a problem solved - we'll wait and see long term on this one but it was very much an experiment and looks positive so far. By mid-day, I was back home and on my way back into work. Hats off to the Rose team for an excellent job, completed quickly with friendly, fun and helpful staff and at a superb price - thanks to them, my summer holiday is now back on track!!

I also took the opportunity to photograph my PropProtector just for interest.

This evening, I was back at work for an evening 'French night' with cheese and wine and presentations from our recent French trip with the children. A great event and the last evening event this academic year. Now it's just the count-down until Friday when I break up and hopefully leave for my hols. on Saturday.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Leaks and phones!

The leak seems to be slowly sealing itself with dirt! Good news in that the pump is no longer working overtime but bad news in that it's lulling me into a false sense of security! I'm not being fooled and still plan to take Khayamanzi down to Rose this evening after my roast pork dinner! Hopefully my next blog entry will be more positive and even more hopefully it will be tomorrow evening! Here's another picture of a leak - this time on NB Clarence; a brand new build!!
To add to the tale of woes my landline telephone packed in today! The power supply simply stopped supplying power! A visit to Argos managed to secure a refund and I purchased a new phone which is now duely up and running!
I also managed to get the wheels balanced and the tracking re-aligned on the truck this morning - something I have been wanting to get done for a very long time and not got round to it. Apart from a certain leak, I am now ready for the summer trip. Please, no more jokes about corks, blue-tac or Araldite!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Yes, I really am!

During the week, I was woken up with my bilge pump running flat out. I switched it off 'till the morning but in the morning I discovered that my engine room was flooded with about 6-8 inches of water across the bilge under the engine. I phoned in to school and began the task of pumping it all out and drying out. No sooner had I pumped it out than the pump was running again and it was full of water again. Alarm bells started ringing but as we have recently had a lot of rain, I assumed that water was getting in via a blocked drainage hole somewhere and so left Keith in the marina to keep an eye on it before going into school. Well, that was about Wednesday. In the past few days I have had to pump out around a bucketfull every hour and the pump has run almost continously over some nights. Today, I began the task of investigating. The freshwater system was fine as the pump wasn't running, the engine coolant level was fine, all the drainage holes are fine..... I then decided to dry out the entire bilge including the recessed pump sump and the counter above it

Within a few minutesof drying it all, water had appeared in the sump but none had run over the counter as you can see in the picture above. Major alarm bells were now ringing and whilst staring wonderingly at the slowly rising water level, I noticed the water was moving in one corner - I have a leak! As you look at the picture below, the left hand corner of the square sump must have a pin spot leak in a weld and water is rising from there.

Confirmation from several other boaters in the marina before a panic phone call to Rose Narrowboats. So far, they have been fantastic and Anthony has pulled all the stops out to try and get me seen to as soon as possible. They currently have a boat on the slipway with paint drying that is due to go back in Monday - the plan is for me to take Khayamanzi down tomorrow afternoon/evening and they will weld me up Monday morning in between 'booked' boats. I don't know, but expect they won't need to pull me right out; I would think it could be done with just the back end pulled up a bit and out. It's that kind of 'panic' service that stands boat yards apart. I was half expecting to have major hassle over this but if all goes to plan and it can be sorted Monday and back in - I will be seriously impressed.

I have now joined the elite and small number of people who I have met who have had similar problems in boats that are still relatively new - a pin spot hole in a hull just under 5 years old?? I don't think so - I'll leave you to guess the quality of the original work!!

In rushing through the boat with an oil soaked old towel, I managed to rub it along one of my best work shirts that was hanging up having just been washed and ironed. Try as I might, I haven't been able to get it out so that shirt has just been consigned to the dustbin.

Fed up, I decided to sit down for 5 minutes before getting dinner. I sat in my recliner, pulled the lever the put the foot rest up and the cable snapped - I've just spent over an hour bodging a repair.

My objective in life right now is simply to repair things at a rate that is at least equal to but ideally faster than the rate at which they keep breaking - I guess that sums up the objective in boating!!

In between all that, I did manage to get Simba groomed, pop into town to buy dozens of birthday and thank you gifts/cards that needed then to be written, wrapped and in some cases posted, clean the boat, get some more giant mealworms for the lizards, (they have developed a taste for these which is good as they don't escape in the boat so much!) and feed/dead head the flowers.

Right now it's 7.00 and I think it's time to start getting dinner - as long as nothing else breaks!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Plates and poo!

OK, first - the plates! My private number plates and all associated paperwork arrived today so I have now switched the insurance and fitted the plates.

Now, the poo! Simba woke me up in the night pacing up and down the boat clearly wishing to go out. I let him out and he demonstrated an urgency to relieve himself. The morning proved that he had a dodgy tummy. Before leaving for work I covered the floor with newspaper just in case. When I got home the newspaper was all clear but a little pile had been deposited neatly between the paper sheets on the rug! I'm sure he did it on purpose!

Probably no time for any more postings until the weekend upon which I shall report on wether I have survived or not.....

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Not today - that's for certain. More like April than July. Yet again, my roof boxes have been snapped and flattened by the wind, yet again they have been beaten down by hammering rain. I did manage to stock up on crickets today for the lizards during the summer.I also managed to check and top up the batteries on board Khayamanzi, tidy the front cratch and put the anchor in position on the roof for the Thames. I also ordered one of these:

For some time, I've wanted to get a decent BBQ for the boat but not sure which one to go for. Gas is definately out - I'm a purist in that department and see little difference between cooking on my grill with the side hatch open and cooking on the bank with a gas grill!? For me, a BBQ is an event. Something to be made special and the 'man make fire' feeling inside should be part of it. I just don't get that feeling turning a dial and pressing an electronic ignition. This grill has had some great reviews, (not least in the latest Canal and Riverboat magazine,) and looks pretty clever using a chimney effect to draw air up and through making the whole thing ready for cooking on about 10 mins. It also comes with a fire retardent bag which you simply zip it into when finished and the lack of air extinguishes it whilst keepingirt cool enough to put away. this also carbonises any dirt on the grill which simply brushes away before use next time so making it, in effect, self cleaning - pretty nifty. Watch this space to see how good IWA are at delivering and if it really lives up tot he hype when in use at some point hopefully during the summer months!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Blockages and leaks!

Simba had his second booster shots this morning and the bonus was that there was nothing to pay as I had already paid after the first ones. I then decided to go into school and spend a few hours sorting out my classroom prior to open evenings this week and to begin packing things into boxes ready for meto move classrooms. As of September, I will be taking on the additional role of Year 6 leader - something I have done for years previously in other schools but never in addition to Deputy Head, Curriculum and assessment coordinator, Eco-School co-ordinator.........

Talking of school; another total fiasco from the government this week. Our Key Stage 2, (Year 6) Sats test results, (the formal national tests imposed to freak out our kids as much as possible as well as stress the staff and agitate the parents of all children at age 6, 11 and 14,) were due out this week; the 8th July to be precise. Tight but not impossible as their end of year reports are due out at the end of the week on Friday. Leaving school last Friday and a circular was passed onto my desk to say that due to clerical cockups, (or words to that effect,) they would now not be available until 15th July. We will now have to do twice the work to send out all the reports once and then the results separately later, and does anyone care about the poor kids who took the tests and are eagerly waiting to find out what they got? You can read about it here. Although the system was newand extremely complicated this year, (due to be contracted out to a US company - need I say more!) It worked quite well for us. Apart from not getting enough sacks to put the scripts in, trying to work out the 12 page booklet which included 9 pictured instructions of how to seal and send the completed papers off, getting a UPS collection of completed scripts before the test date had even lapsed and having to send them all to a central distribution centre where they would be split up and sent on to the markers who would then return them to the warehouse who would split them up again and send them back to the schools, (in the past we simply had pre-printed address labels to send them direct to the markers who returned them back to us!) but apart from all this- it went well... until now! I now have to break the news to the kids next week notto mention field millions of phone callsfrom parents asking why they haven't had their results on the date we said they would!

Anyway, back to more mundane. Did manage to wash the carpet today and stock up on petrol for the generator just in case. Returned home and went out for a good long canoe.

For some time, my bathroom sink has been blocked and recently it has stubbonly refused to be cleared. This afternoon, I poked a wire down the plug in an attempt at clearing it and promptly pushed the pipe off the end. Result - an entire sink full of water and sludge emptied into my bathroom cupboard, across the floor and into the hallway carpet. I siezed the opportunity and thoroughly cleaned out the offending pipe before re-assembling it, checking it for leaks and I now have a fast flowing sink!

Plans tomorrow include stocking up on crickets and mealworms for the lizards, checking the battery levels and fixing the anchor in place. That will then just leave the last minute stuff like deep cleaning the boat and polishing etc. to next weekend before leaving the following weekend.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Licence and boosters.

Prompted perhaps by the very late arrival of my brothers tax disc, (see here,) my discs arrived today. I phoned them a couple of weeks ago and informed them of my change of insurer and followed on with a posted copy to them. During that conversation, I also requested that they send the disc early so that I had it before leaving for the summer. Today it arrived. My current discs don't expire until the end of July but I now proudly display trendy green '09 discs! Full respect and congratulations to BW for being super helpful and very organised on this one.

A stressful couple of days back at work this week culminating in a late evening tonight setting up the lighting for our school 'Night at the Musicals' extravaganza we are putting on next week at the local secondary school. Next week, I have an evening event after school every single night involving open evenings, performances and the Y6 leavers disco. The week after that is only slightly better but at least that will then be the last week before heading off towards the K&A for the summer. I'm still pining to be back in France; the weather, the people, the food, the wine, the clean-ness and even the kids in a warped kind of way!

The weather this weekend is forecast to be lousy. Norman has offered to lend me a big tarpaulin to cover my flowers if it does get bad in an attempt to protect them from being wrecked before the summer. Simba has his final booster shots first thing tomorrow morning - there goes another 40 quid! Next weekend he is booked in to the local grooming parlour to be spruced up for the summer but in the meantime, weather permitting, this weekend I have to check the boat batteries, clean/wash the carpets, deep clean the boat and go into school to do a pile of marking that I stupidly left behind!

A phone call this morning informed me that my private number plate has been posted off together with all the paperwork and should arrive in school on Monday so there's another job added to the list to switch that over.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Back home!

Arrived back at around 2.30am this morning! A fantastic week with boiling hot temperatures and the children were outstandingly behaved. In fact, it got rather embarrasing with compliments everywhere we went. The youngsters were an absolute joy to be with and helped make a truely memorable trip. A very choppy crossing on the way over saw many peoplesick and one lad managing to be sick 7 times before we finally arrived at Caen!
The 6 hour crossing was a great experience though, especially leaving Portsmouth.

Other highlights included a visit to a cider factory and, in a very different way, the Normany landing sites and cemetery.

We also enjoyed many evenings down on the beach!

Day off today to recover and I spent most of it getting things sorted and washed etc. Back to school tomorrow and attempt to get the kids' feet back on the ground! Right now, I really want to go to bed but I'm waiting for a stupid DVD of the pictures to finalise so that I can put it on a CD and take it in tomorrow.

12 more school days to go before leaving for the summer and my thoughts are now being turned to preparing Khayamanzi amongst the hectic chaos of end of term at school.

On another track, NB Clarence is looking more and more 'boat like' every day with the wiring in place and much of the basic lining.

Her owners, Derek and Sheila hopeto take collection in September and I look forward to seeing Clarence in Brinklow then.