Wednesday 31 July 2019

Another Kiwi and a return to Bletchley Park

On Monday morning, as we were preparing the boat to head away, a woman stopped to speak with David who was doing the outside sorting. Wendi is a Kiwi who has lived here since 1979 - this lovely lady was out walking her dogs and saw the boat name.

We had a long chat and have invited her to come onboard and have a meal with us when we come back up this way in a couple of weeks.
Wendi and I and her two dogs and one she was walking for a friend.
During the stop for water at one of the canal network's slower/slowest taps, I helped a woman who was struggling along with a new plastic-wrapped cot mattress, a frisky dog on a lead and a trolley - she is expecting her first grandchild in a week and is quite anxious. She lives on a widebeam that was moored on the towpath side, so I took the mattress off her and walked with her over the bridge.

Once the tank was full (David did say he was prepared to give it another five minutes and then declare it full enough but 3 minutes later he was turning it off as it was overflowing - see how effective threats can be to waterflow? Quite Basil Fawlty, I think.) we came on to Fenny Stratford and got the last mooring in the 14 day section. Keith, the man on the boat behind said it had only just become vacant, so the slow running tap was a bonus then!

It was beautifully sunny and warm on Monday so we got two loads of laundry done and dried - none of it detritus from the grandson's visit though - all clothing of ours ... So once the rain and bad weather in the forecast for the next few days has done its thing, I will get sheets and towels washed ready for our next guests in a couple of weeks' time.

While I did washing (leaving the engine going with the key out) I went to find Pollard's hardware in Fenny Stratford, and talked to Marjorie and Norman in Newmarket (walking along the street - two things at once, mind), David headed by walk back to Bletchley Park to complete his tour more thoroughly.

I was on a mission to find effective clothes-pegs that don't slide along the line, and I thought Pollard's, one of those shops that sells everything and has most of it set up on the pavement, was my most likely source. However Pollard's windows were all papered over and the business appears to have closed down. That is a shame - but I would guess they cannot compete with the Homebases, Wilkes and B&Qs that have proliferated. And there is mostly only on street parking here, whereas the big chain stores have acres of parking lots.

So, no clothespegs - the only convenience store didn't sell them. Not to worry, I have enough good ones to cope till the next supermarket trip.

It was a fasting day yesterday (our first for AGES - it's hard to fast when kids need feeding at frequent intervals) and I forgot as I walked back along the towpath past ripe blackberries ... But dinner was very healthy - chicken breast marinated in coriander and one tiny but extremely hot chilli (both off the roof), lemon juice, soy sauce, chilli sauce and ginger; carrot and beetroot salad; green salad off the roof augmented by other salad veges from the fridge.

Tuesday was scheduled to be rainy and windy, so we deemed it a no moving day. That meant I could have a day in bed reading. However I did get up at intervals to:
  • write this blog
  • make cups of tea
  • remove them from my person after filtering them through my kidneys
  • sweep the floor

And Tuesday (as I wrote this) was NOT a fasting day, so I cooked Gu chocolate pots for lunch! Well, why not?
See, I did. And with fruit and yoghurt it was even healthy!

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Bletchley Park visit and goodbyes

And off they go in the rain!

On Saturday, after multiple hugs we said goodbye to Liz and Barry, and we moved the boat over to the Visitor Mooring - the git gaps were empty and the git who'd moored between them had moved off...

We had sensibly planned the trip to Bletchley Park for the Saturday to take advantage of not boating on a rainy day.

We went there by mini-cab - mistake:
  • the company had no idea where Campbell Park was and we had to walk around trying to find a building to direct them to as they didn't recognise the roundabout names or intersections ...
  • the driver who eventually arrived did not know where Bletchley Park was - but didn't say so. He found the suburb of Bletchley but the Park was not in his frame of reference and he hadn't entered it into his GPS properly
  • And he didn't have David's card details from David's cab ride the night before, so Olek and I were out of the cab in the rain waiting for the situation to be explained in full by a certain person to the driver and to the office in two phone calls - well, maybe one phone call but a certain person and the driver took turns doing the talking.

However, the visit to Bletchley Park was a success. We set off independently as David and I view exhibits and displays in a vastly different manner (I read pretty much everything and am slow at moving on), and I wanted Olek to see things at his own pace and consider aspects that were informative and interesting to him.
Why skills in maths are important - they increase both the facilities mentioned herein through understanding of concepts and through practice
One of the good things is that the ticket lasts for a year, so I think David and I will return next year to see even more.

Now we are back, blobbing (Olek), blogging (me) and I am about to construct a cheese tart - David has grated the cheese and chopped the onion.

After the yummy cheese tart had mostly been consumed (some has been saved for lunch for one person), Olek noticed that the magpies on the grass were alternately being pursued by and pursuing a rat!! He then went out to investigate and see if he could see the rat off. Knowing that if you can see one rat, there are a couple of thousand nearby, I was a bit disconcerted and made a note to ensure the boat external doors were fully latched overnight ... Having ants come on board is one thing, but rats? AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

A game of 5 Crowns before bed - I won, and David lost by about 100 points.
Olek asked that I record him as a dweeb - anything to oblige my grandson!
In the rainy morning on Sunday, Olek and I went for a walk through Campbell Park and around and about - MK certainly has amazing park spaces and walkways. He showed me the huge open grassy place across from the boat that he'd seen on Friday, and thought "BALL!!" , came back to search from top to bottom, bow to stern but there isn't one on the boat anymore, dammit!

Olek has gone back to Manchester now. We are sad he is gone, but know we will see him again soon - if his father is a dutiful son, he will make sure of it!

Doting grandparents had to go down on to the platform to see him off. Long suffering grandson allowed that - such a gem! Next year, I bet he won't though ...
A bit of shopping outside the HUGE MK malls which seem to stretch over several blocks and totally confuse me - Argos for a new shaver for David and a soccer ball for the next time the boys come to stay. Then a walk back to the station - we thought it was easier than finding an appropriate bus stop - we had a LONG wait for a bus and then back to the boat: Google said we could have walked it faster than the wait and the journey combined.

The boat seemed quieter and less joyful without the grandson, so we consoled ourselves with dessert (David), G&T (David), and chardonnay (me). And an early night was called for. I cheered myself with the novel I am re-reading 'The Straight Man' by Richard Russo. He is a great writer.

Monday 29 July 2019

New friends and an older grandson comes to stay

As soon as Tim departed on Sunday with the boys, we entered the Radford lock. And with the lock less than half full, a man came up to help - we hadn't seen them approaching around the corner and through the bridge. As it would waste more water to fill and then empty it, we emptied it from half full and shared the lock.

David had said to me that how far we went was entirely up to me, so when Liz said that she and Barry were planning to get through the Stockton flight, I said we would share. That meant it would be 20 locks that day - I saw David's gritted teeth and bitten tongue but decided that, as he'd said I could choose, I was fine to take him at his word ...

So some very successful boating and locking with Liz and Barry on nb Dollytub. But it was a very tired David at the end of that day.

It was so good boating with Liz and Barry that it continued until Friday night!

We all moored up outside Ventnor Farm Marina and I am sure that the marina has asked CRT to let the towpath get chronically overgrown there - I remember mooring up there with Olek some years ago and it was beautifully mown. But not now! However we were not daunted: pins went in behind the concrete piling, the chairs and table came out, nibbles and G&Ts were produced and we all relaxed in the sunshine.
Liz on selfie duty with Barry, David and me - we had snipped away some of the overgrowth, and took up the towpath - when cyclists came past we moved and did a guard of honour for them - I think they were impressed, in the main!

Liz and Barry brought their rabbit on holiday with them - one afternoon, Liz had to freeze a teatowel to put over him to keep him cool.
On Monday we went up through Calcutt together, and said goodbye after watering up at the top of the locks. 
The first goodbye ...

David and I moored up near Bridge 103
And had a healthy dinner - marinated salmon, beetroot and carrot salad, and rooftop allotment salad

and Barry and Liz moved on into Braunston. David and I had planned to move along slowly but decided we might as well get through Braunston Locks and the tunnel; so we got up early and met them the following morning, having left at 7am, and then we headed for the lock flight by 8.30. Yikes - the restrictions are still in place and the locks weren't opening until 9am. So just a small pause for a cup of tea and breather. If I remember rightly, I think I started making bread.
Liz approaching one of the locks slightly ahead of me.
And into the lock

Up the locks efficiently, through the tunnel - following Liz who goes through much slower than me ... We had a quick chat after the tunnel and decided we might as well head on down the Buckby flight, as it was too hot to sit in the sunshine and moving at least meant we had air cooling us. I sensibly implemented the wet shirt solution to prevent an overheated Marilyn. Liz followed suit and she and I coped pretty well with that scorcher of a day.

Mid afternoon, we moored up near where David and I had moored a couple of months ago - away from the M1, with the railway audible and the A5 a dull roar in the middle distance. We had shade, but we also had DUST DUST DUST and NOISE NOISE NOISE from a harvester machine in the field next to us. During nibbles and drinks, the olives got a fine haze of straw on them, however it didn't seem to alter the flavour significantly!
The mooring at Brockhall
Olga arrived about 8pm that evening with Olek whom she had collected with Kryzs from Rugby station. So when Olga and Kryzs headed back to London, our crew was increased by one - a very useful addition too: excellent on locks and a champion steerer. So of course he would be put to work. And having slept through the most exciting thunderstorm that night, he was in fine shape to get moving early-ish the following morning!

Wednesday's boating involved a brief stop for some grocery shopping at Weedon, and was lock-free from Brockhall to through the Blisworth Tunnel. So Olek honed his steering skills and gave me a break. He wasn't keen to steer through the tunnel, but next time ... Liz had asked how I got through tunnels without hitting the sides - "go faster" I said. I gather from people who know that it's the bow wave hitting the sides of the tunnel and coming back to the boat sides that helps keep the boat steadily on course. So she did go faster and said it was a much more successful technique although required lots of concentration. My thinking is that it requires as much concentration to go slowly and you have to concentrate for longer ...

We moored in the shade of the cutting before Stoke Bruerne and got the table and chairs out again, with wine, G&T and nibbles before David, Olek and I went off to the Indian restaurant for a very small meal - no big food required after cheese, crackers, olives etc.

The fabulous older grandson

On the way back, I stopped in to see Kathryn Dodington, an NZer and keen canal enthusiast, volunteer lock-keeper. She was to be sorting out the widebeams transiting through the tunnel in the morning, so I asked her to call in for cheese scones on the way back from that. As she told me she was a dab hand at cheese scones, I decided it ought to be another NZ thing, so pikelets it was.

We had thought we would head off down the locks very early to beat the heat, but Barry had discovered that the locks were closed until 10am - aaarrrggghhh!!! However we moved down by about 9am and Kathryn came by to eat pikelets and tell us that they were opening the locks early to make sure we didn't need to be sitting in the sun baking.
And haul away, boy!

We have photos of Olek working locks on his early holidays with us - he is much stronger, taller and faster now!
So on the pair of us went, third in the queue, then second in the queue after the wide beam pulled over below the first lock. At the third lock we had to wait till another set of boats came up, and at that point, Liz and I breasted the boats up and did the rest of the locks that way - much faster and more efficient. I think Barry and David were secretly proud of us ...
Breasted up - only way to tell is that the middle rope is across both boats.

Love this boy - this was his tip of the hat to Julia who I sent the photo to.

Olek was a champion - he assisted David and Barry, but also stayed back (without being asked) and assisted a second widebeam who had caught us up at the third lock. He is a very good and obliging teenager! He has Barry and Liz's seal of approval, as well as ours, that is for sure!

It was so hot that day that we had agreed we would look for a shady spot to moor up in asap. I was already on my third cold watering of my shirt by the time we finished the locks and it wasn't even 11am.

We found a spot by Bozenham Mill Lane with trees both sides and pulled over, blobbed about on the towpath, decided it was far too hot for a BBQ, constructed a shade sail for when the sun shone straight down the canal, and apart from David and Barry having a lager, no alcohol was consumed - I think Liz and I were just too hot to drink anything that acts as a diuretic or dulls the senses!! That night was extremely hot and I found settled sleep was hard to come by.

One bargepole, two boathooks, one rotary clothesline, multiple stretchies, long lengths of woven fat string, one large tarp and the combined ingenuity of 2 adult men, 1 teenager and 1 woman - at least two of the four channeling the son of one/father of another.

Now doesn't that look like a cooler place to sit?
Barry and David are pleased

This photo is included to remind me how we affixed the tarp to the boathook with twisting the former and securing it with a stretchie
Of course there had to be a game developed - Olek had been throwing crabapples across the cut, but that was too imprecise and difficult to see where they landed for any meaningful scoring system. So the recycling bucket was brought into play. I think it would be safe to say Olek was by far the best and most accurate thrower of the three guys.

David cannot see terribly well, but still he is quite accurate at times. The game could not be stopped until Barry got a couple in ...
Sun setting through the trees
Dollytub in the evening sun
The view ahead - peaceful and looking deceptively cool ...

On Friday in overcast and rainy conditions (YAY!!!) we headed for Campbell Park, having thrown David off at Cosgrove to head for Milton Keynes station by cab so he could head to Birmingham for two eye appointments (successful - all good news).
David jumped off the boat by Bridge 65, and we were between Bridges 68 and 69 when he texted to say his train had just zipped past Cosgrove ... Admittedly, we did have a lock to do, but even so - he'd got a cab to the station, boarded the train and we'd moved about 0.4 of a mile ...

Then we stopped at Wolverton to do a giant shop at Tescos - fabulous Olek has no qualms about towing granny trolleys to and from and around the supermarket - such self confidence is wonderful to see! Of course, no one apart from us knows him here, so he is safe from any ridicule delivered by any insensitive so-called friends.

We had hoped to be able to moor on the visitor moorings, to make David's return simpler. But no - one boater had left what Lisa Carr of nb What a lark calls git gaps (fabulous term and so expressive and concise) - one at either end of their boat with not enough space for any boat to fit in. And another boater had left one git gap. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

However plenty of mooring was available on the towpath side and Olek investigated and found David could cross a footbridge from the park.

The three git gaps, if combined would have been enough for nb Dollytub and nb Waka Huia to fit in comfortably. But as Olek said we didn't have goose poo and its smell to contend wit, so swings and roundabouts, I guess.

Homemade meat pie for dinner accompanied by crudites and fresh bread. And because Olek and I had been shopping and found Gu puddings (lots), one of which was a zillionaire's shortbread (a large cheesecake-sized one, significantly bigger than the small ones known as millionaire's shortbread), we had to have dessert - well, obviously!
Mmmm!! Yummy!

Saturday 27 July 2019

Lifejackets in the rain and dog in a lock

The boys arrived on Monday 18th (Karol from Manchester, with his dad), and 19th (Kryzs [cousin] from London with his mum Olga). Tim and Dana brought Karol and the bikes down
on Monday evening near Hockley Heath - it had going to be just Tim, but Dana needed to see the dog - even for just an hour ... Lovely mooring there - away from the road, wide towpath for sitting out, and plenty of shade for all of us. Kai was happy having been given the lamb bone that still probably had enough meat for a lamb rogan josh for David ... And we made her sit in the shade to protect her bald head. It is getting better and growing more hair - I am covering it in sunscreen during the day and anthisan at night. She has stopped resisting, for some reason!

So on Tuesday while we awaited Kryzs's arrival, David and Karol worked the top 13 of the Lapworth locks - a tired boy at the end of it, but well-skilled. At first we moored up in the shade as we were all so hot from the brilliant sunshine; but then the noise close to the road got to us and the clouds came over, so we moved further along - back to where we had had the shade-sail the week before.

The next morning, with Kryzs on lock lessons, we did the last 6 of the locks. Karol was so skilled that he could go on ahead and set the next one while David and Kryzs cleaned up. Excellent teamwork! We moored up late that afternoon at the top of the Hatton Flight, and told the boys they had 21 to do come Friday, but that we were giving them the day off on Thursday.

Restaurant rules being beautifully adhered to at the pub at the top of the Hatton Flight
That day was designated tourist treat day - we took them to Warwick Castle. Not that we saw any of the interior of the castle, mind you: there was too much to see and do outside!
  • The maze. Doh! We forgot to arrange a meeting place so I had to text Olga to get Kryzs's phone number ... I shouldn't have worried - we could hear them all the way through, strangely enough. 
  • Maps in hand, they took off with us following - their turn of speed is much greater than ours, and it seemed like every schoolkid in Warwick was there, so once we'd re-established contact again, the 'stay in sight' rule was implemented. I did wish I had my mum's whistle that she used to use at the bach to call us home for meals ...
  • They were keen to watch the birds of prey display - as was I. And it was just as amazing as the time I saw it a few years ago with Olek and Lesley. 
I am not sure which bird this was but extremely impressive as it swooped over the crowd and up to the top of the tower and back to the landing area.
Two fascinated boys - one with his finger up his nose, perhaps ...

I think this may be the peregrine falcon - fastest creature on earth.

And in flight
  • Picnic lunch while waiting and not a bit of junk food in sight - there was plenty for sale, but strangely the kids didn't ask. They are both great vege eaters, so lunch of carrot sticks, tomatoes, mangetouts with crackers and cheese plus only one sandwich each  (we had run short of bread ...)
  • They did each want a sword and shield and were sensible of the costs of the varieties of each and chose wisely. Sword-fights on the greensward ensued and we could have left them at that for hours, I reckon ...

Before sword-fights came archery. Karol did pretty well - all his arrows went in the target.

Kryzs got most of his within the bull's eye.

Kryzs's tally

Not sure who  is winning, but they found it fun ...

  • Then it was time for the tour of the Dungeon attraction. I had done that with Olek and Lesley so knew what to expect. It was pretty cool and a number of the adults in the tour seemed more scared than Karol and Kryzs.
What a happy group!

Why are these people scared?
David isn't really into executions, but I think it is possible that I am!
  • By the end of that, the grandparents were tired so we walked into Warwick for an early dinner at ASK Italian. Good food at a good price, and a lovely tropical mojito - with mango and rosemary - different from what I was expecting, but very good all the same.

Restaurant rules adhered to again - good kids!!

I an unsure if the towpath would have been used for sword fights, but it seemed to work well for that and for the creative play they indulged in for at least an hour.
  • Cab back to the boat, and if I could have gone to bed then, I would have done. Because I knew what was head of us the next day, didn't it?
We set off early on Friday (6.30am to get water, then 7am at the first lock) hoping to beat the forecasted rain, and it was the quietest I've ever seen that flight or the moorings above it. The boys managed the first 7 locks but tired at that point. The hydraulic paddles are very hard to do, and they had to put two windlasses on one spindle to be able to move them - much as Ann and I had to do on the Knowle flight.
David and Kryzs working together

However they were great at opening and closing the gates, and they very effectively used Mick and Julia's trick with the thin rope looped around the rail of the bottom offside gate to hold it closed as I exited. Their technique seems more efficient than David's. They attach the pulling end to the onside gate's pulling handle, so when they come to pull it shut the angle of the rope works with the angle of the offside gate. David however attaches it to hydraulic lock mechanism. That angle doesn't appear to allow such good control. But who am I to know, given I am down in the boat ...
Lifejackets on, windlasses and the string heading for the next lock.

And there is a the string attached to the railing on one gate and the pulling handle on the other.

The rain came earlier than forecasted so everyone was getting wet - I put on my bright yellow rain pants which worked a treat!

As the boys got more confident, David went ahead on the bike to set the locks. And that was when disaster struck - I had just sailed into the lock, we'd closed the gate behind me, and I'd got back on the boat. The locksides and the boat deck were wet (remember, it was raining), and here was a little bit of a gap between them. And when I wasn't looking, the dog stepped from the boat to the lockside, got no purchase on the wet concrete and slipped into the lock. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Good things:
  • the boat was in neutral, and 
  • it was close to the lockside
  • the paddles had not been opened and water was not leaving the lock
  • the dog was wearing her lifejacket
  • the boys responded instantly when I yelled for them to come and help.
I managed to grab her by the scruff of the neck and the boys were able to grab the handle of the lifejacket. Then I could get a grip on the handle and haul her back on to the boat. She was scared and shivering, so I put her on to the lock side so she could have a good drying out shake, and Karol hugged her. Did she want to get back on the boat? No. Did I want her back on board and ready to keep shaking to dry herself off? No. Did I want to put her down in the boat? (David's suggestion) No - not and have her climb on to the beds for comfort while soaking wet... So it was stay with David and the boys for an hour or so.

And a couple of locks further on, still in the rain, I heard a shriek of laughter from Karol. I turned to look, and there he was with his lifejacket having self-inflated. No, he wasn't in the water. But I gather that the rain must have seeped through, or his hugging a wet scared dog had dampened the lifejacket to the extent that it determined (as a sentient being would) that its wearer was in need of flotation.

There was an element of hysteria in the laughter of both boys and their work pace slowed down considerably. It was clear they were tiring, and no wonder. Those locks are hard work even for adults (unless you are Julia, of course). Discretion was the better part of valour, and safety tends to get lost when tiredness creeps in, so we put them onboard. It was the only time on this trip that they were allowed to play on their devices between breakfast and dinner ...
Boys and dog in the warm and dry.

So David was on his own locking, using the bike and the gate rope. We did consider mooring up in one of longer lock pounds when it was tipping it down, but David was keen to keep moving - he said the Cape of Good Hope pub was a motivator ...

After 5 hours we had finished the locks and moored up - extremely slow pace considering we did them once with Mick and Julia in 2.5 hours. But once they were done, and we were moored up above the Cape Locks, we were pleased that we had arrived before the next onslaught of rain which really pelted down!

After a blob (me and him), a shower (both of us, separately) and prepping dinner for the boys (me), setting up a children's Netflix account on ours (him), David and I went out for dinner to the Cape of Good Hope pub. We did not stay out late for some reason... We did have to make our way carefully around the almost continuous towpath-length puddle between the boat and the lock, so a good thing I didn't wear my gold holey shoes. I did think gumboots would have been a better option!

And overnight I got up for a pee and then went to the galley to check the time on my phone, I heard a bang and wondered what had caused it. Didn't care enough to follow up though. This morning, I went for another pee - and what did I see hanging on the back of the bathroom door? David's lifejacket - which had also self-inflated - his just took longer ...
No wonder the door wouldn't open fully!
The following day we headed down to Radford Semele. I went by boat and David, the dog and the boys stopped off at a park just below the Cape locks with the bikes, intending to bike on to meet up with me where I moored. Only two things wrong with that plan: the dog does not follow behind the bikes and it was a very long way to Radford Semele - it's all the way into and through Leamington Spa and out the other side ... As the dog wouldn't follow and could not safely be pulled on her lead in case she abruptly stopped and tipped the lead-holder into the canal, David had to walk back leading dog and pushing bike ... He sent the boys on ahead, but sensibly when they got some distance ahead, still without finding me, they headed back to him and they all came on together.

Strangely, even though they had had an extremely energetic day, they were hyper that evening, and had to be separated to sleep. We originally put Karol and his bed up on the stern deck within the pram cover, but decided that was a bit severe. So we relocated him to the galley floor, bed and all. Kryzs was asleep within 10 minutes of Karol's banishment, so we know who was doing the agitating, now don't we?
He was no less comfortable here than on the floor in the saloon and the dog is under the duvet too...
Pikelets for the last breakfast and then Tim arrived to collect them. I think they enjoyed themselves - we enjoyed having them, and I am aware that my stamina leaves more than a little to be desired ... I was the first in bed EVERY night!

Monday 22 July 2019

Midsummer kiwi xmas

After David's successful appointment (that we had thought would be the last) with Imran and Pete, we had arranged to meet Mick and Julia at our lovely Edgbaston mooring. We had thought it may not happen because Mick had a poorly shoulder and had a day off steering. However they arrived on Saturday afternoon, not long after David arrived back from his post-operative retinal scan check in Lozells.

A big catch up was required as we hadn't seen Team Granger since they had chivvied us from Gayton to Hockley Heath back in mid June.

And Kai had to investigate their boat where she happily took up space on the couch... She remembered them from our surprise lunch for David on the day we arrived back in Debdale. So I am sure she would happily undertake temporarily boat-dog duties on Unknown No 3.
Yes, I can get down those steps - I think this is my cabin, right, Mick?

Yes, this piece of fine Persian carpet was put here specifically for me.

Midsummer kiwi xmas dinner which we ate outside in the warm late afternoon was pretty good, if I do say so myself:
  • roast lamb with garlic, yummy meat juices gravy
  • roast potatoes
  • salads:
    • kumara and orange with almonds and bacon
    • potato with egg and mint mayo
    • beetroot and carrot with cheese, sultanas and balsamic
    • green salad from the rooftop allotment
    • olives, tomato and basil
  • chocolate brownie with berries and yoghurt
Only four of us so plenty to go round. But there were very few leftovers.

No one imbibed too much, although I did try ... We ended the evening with much laughter over a game of 5 Crowns - David won, dammit!

In the morning, OCD Mick came over to fix the case of the out of plumb photo frames he had installed a while ago. They bugged him in their capacity for moving. So now they are screwed in place with fittings top and bottom - carefully measured to ensure plumbness, of course. But he will not use a level!

Coffee, multiple hugs and then they were off for points west - Stourbridge, Stourport, Stourmont, Stourponting or some such.
And they are off! Look how lovely this is, less than a mile from the centre of Birmingham.

We winded and did the stretch back to Hockley Heath in one hit. It was lovely the first couple of times. I am bored with it now ...