Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Fish 'n Chips

There's nothing nicer on a warm and balmy evening to take a gentle cruise down the river pausing for a while to buy fish and chips from a nearby fish and chip shop then to moor in the sunshine to eat them. Which is exactly what my young friend and I did last Friday evening.

On the following day with a promise of really hot weather (28 degrees) after morning lightning and thunderstorms we crossed the river to pick up friends Brian and Jane from their mooring. (It's great having friends who live on the river). However, in view of the stormy forecast, I had consulted Mr Google the night before to check on what to do in an open boat on the middle of a river when thunder and lightning strikes to avoid being killed! From the instructions to remove all flagpoles and pennants, to avoid touching metal steering wheels, and to quickly get to the shore and lie in the bottom of the boat, it seemed we'd be undertaking a hazardous journey. But luckily we missed the storm and were on our way by 10.30. I kept the bow cover up to shield Jane from the wind. Having booked lunch at the French Horn in Sonning for 1pm I was hoping to arrive around that time as there is only two locks to navigate. In fact we arrived at five minutes to one.

The French Horn is my favourite restaurant and as we approached the hotel's private little mooring at the end of the garden we were met by a smiling and very nice man who helped us tie up. Even though the day was warm (not 28 degrees as my companions kept reminding me) we made our way to the lounge where two ducks were roasting on a spit over a roaring fire. Drinks and the hotel's very special cheese straws welcomed us. In the restarant with lovely views of the well-manicured lawn sweeping down to the river i had the best fish meal I've ever had (and thorougly recommend it). For the record if was a Dover Sole Caprice - fillets of fresh Dover Sole pan fried with banana and laced with a mango and curry dressing. This the view across the lawn.

And here's the boat.

We had a little nose around under a very low bridge to see if we could see George Clooney's house but it was too well shielded by trees. So we just ambled back in the ever increasing sunshine to Henley, stopping at Wargrave to have a word with the boatyard.

What a good day.

Myf and I went to the Regal last Tuesday to see 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

Very, very exciting with incredible CGI effects. But I must admit I couldn't follow the story and I was never quite sure who were the baddies and goodies and which planet they came from. Didn't matter as myf explained eveything over dinner later at the Catherine Wheel restaurant.

Over the past couple of weeks I've painted rwo miniature portraits in readiness to exhibit them at The Royal Society of Miniature Painters forthcoming exhibition in London. This one is of Fon Windsor Clive - a friend who lives in Bangkok.

And the other - Fergus Heuston Holmes.

The bowling season has started and although both my knee and hip are painful with osteoarthritis I am enjoying myself at the bowling club.

I played today and with the help of my new ball picker-upper did well. Not so last week when I lost my game.
Last weekend we spent time on myf's garden. Her jungle area has been augmented by canna lilies, dahlias and a lovely tree fern. Great to watch the fronds unfurl. I'm always impressed by her hosta corner. The slugs haven't found it yet - for the fourth year. It's pristine.

on Sunday Val and. i went to a barbecue at Louisa, my neice's house in Marlow. Scrumptuous.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Cruising down the River on a Saturday Afternoon

On Saturday my cousin Paul and Em joined us for an afternoon on my boat. My young friend made a lovely picnic. We found a nice mooring place at Shiplake. Here I am with Paul and Em on Marsh Mundy by the riverbank.

And I don't know what I'm saying to Em here!

After our lunch we travelled upstream to the Loddon. As the boat has a draft of two feet we were able to navigate the fairly shallow water. This long abandoned old houseboat met its demise many years ago I think.

We still managed to hit the bottom of the river when we turned round but no damage was done as we were on fairly soft silt. The other week I mentioned that I would need to make a little mast for my Phyllis Court burgee at the front of the boat. As my effort would have been very amateurish I asked my friend Alan White if he would make one for me. And as you can see he made a really professional job of it

Last weekend myf and I visited Christine in Norfolk. I especially wanted to visit The Urban Jungle again. It's a place where they sell every kind of plant - both small and very large. Also you'll see some rare tropical plants. A nice little restaurant is tucked away in a jungly hideaway with a dozen small eating places.

Big Koi carp too.

And lots of colour.

We took a trip to Wells-next-the-sea, had an ice cream as we walked along by the harbour looking out to the sandbanks.

West Acre garden centre nestles in a little haven of peace.

And finally to yet another little garden centre. This one at Mileham - a village near Stanfield where Christine lives. I bought ten lovely begonias and a couple of trays of dark blue lobelias which I'll plant on my balconies at the weekend. My young friend bought a canna lily and a couple of white foxgloves for her white garden.

Last Thursday I just about finished my larger than life oil portrait of Norman Topsom - a few bits of touching up to do before I varnish it.

Still having a problem with Talk Talk. You'd think they'd be able to change my broadband service to my normal phone line but after three weeks of interminable phone calls it's still not done.

I spent all today typing out my annual income tax return.

Off to my second game of bowls tomorrow. Because my legs are still being difficult I bought a bowl 'picker-upper' the other day. Great. What a wonderful help.