May Catch Up

I agreed to go home on the Saturday, rather than the Tuesday originally planned, because Julia came over to Ireland and was staying with us.  Jayne and I went for a walk in Parke on the Saturday morning and then had a light lunch in the "Walkers" part of the cafe in which you can take dogs -  I thought it would be just a damp cold barn, but it turned out to be warm and dry and prettily laid out in the same way as the main cafe.  The food there is excellent - it is all organic and locally sourced and it is run by a lady who has a cookery school in Ashburton.  I had a wonderful tuna baguette - and then had a large piece of victoria sponge just to keep me going on the drive home.  It was just the way I like it with jam - no butter cream. Jayne walked home and I set off for London.  I had a good drive home - I listened to my book for most of the way and then listened to a Neil Diamond album and a Carol King album to keep me awake for the last hour.  These were albums Malc had shared with me, along with two Christy Moore and two Leonard Cohen albums which Jayne and I had listened to in Devon.

Julia and Mike were out ringing and didn't come in until 7.30 so I had time to walk the dog, mow the lawn, sort out some finance admin and construct a new bathroom tower (for shampoos and stuff) when I got back.  I am very pleased with the lawn mower which I brought back from Devon – it cuts very well and is so much easier to use than my old one.  I probably took longer trying to get it out of the shed than actually cutting the grass.

The three of us rang some handbells in the evening.  Julia left on the Sunday, after ringing at Chiswick.  I was church sitting in the afternoon so had a nice quiet time to myself - although there were quite a few visitors and they kept asking me questions about the church (I didn't have a clue!).  Then in the evening Mike and I went to the cinema to use up the last of my vouchers I got free with my Lloyds current account.  We saw Far from the Madding Crowd which was very good. We certainly enjoyed it better than Second Marigold Hotel which we had been to see a few weeks earlier – which was on a par with Quartet and seemed more suited to the TV. We have to sit in the disabled area – which is a balcony with two VIP seats and a space.  It is very tedious having to wait for the manager to take us up there, but it is really great to have our own space once we are there.
On the bank holiday Monday we went to Burnham Beeches and I walked Suki while Mike did a few circuits on his handbike.  I found a new bit with a permissive path which was nice.  We had a cheese & onion pasty and cup of tea at the cafe before coming home.  The weather was good in the morning although deteriorated later. 

I finally bit the bullet and set my Vista laptop back to the factory settings.  I am quite pleased with the result as it does seem a lot faster and there are no annoying error messages now.  So far it has not been afflicted with the blue screen of death either.

The next weekend it was Intrepid.   I survived the first week of Intrepid - mainly by keeping foremost in my mind that it was only for 6 nights and I could go home on Saturday!  It was so much easier packing the car and managing on board with less luggage – I just took one rucksack with all I needed as it was only for 6 nights. We only had one day of really miserable rain, and a couple of sunny days, so the weather was generally kind.  Luckily this year we had Claire and Bjorn on board who were absolutely brilliant around boats and also walked for miles setting locks.  I did a huge amount of walking too - the locks are spaced irritatingly between half a mile and a mile apart so I ended up walking most of the trip!  It was good though and kept Suki fairly knackered throughout which meant she slept better at night.

We changed crew at Slough and I travelled back to Uxbridge with them and Mike, Andy and I tried to ring the Lightfoot 6 on handbells without much success. I left them at Uxbridge and walked to the station (luckily finding some local people who could show me the way at the end when it got a bit complicated).  I thought I was lucky as there was a 607 at the bus stop – but it stayed there for the 30 minutes it took for another 607 to turn up and take on passengers.  Suki was very good and patient waiting for so long at the bus stop.  It was lovely to be home and have a shower and sleep in my bed. 

The next day I went out to Denham to meet up with the boat and pick up my stuff.  They were due at the church at 10 and I had intended to walk suki up the canal tow path for a bit but the boat was going through Denham deep lock when I got there, so we just walked back to the church with them. 

I had a call that night to say Mike had hit his head very badly as they were getting him off the boat - they picked the front of the chair up but there was no one holding the back!  Lots of blood and they wanted to call an ambulance but he didn't want to spend hours in A&E.  I had already drunk too much wine to drive so I just told them he was an adult who could make his own decisions and just to watch for signs of concussion.  Apparently he was fine a couple of hours later.

I had intended to spend the second week driving out each day to a point on the canal and then walking back to meet the boat and then boat or walk back to the car.  However, on the day we set off for Intrepid I heard that my uncle Keith had had his foot amputated - I don't know what caused it to go gangrenous.  Anyway we also heard that his house was in a terrible state,  so my sister and I said we would help him clean his house.  We went over on the Monday after I got back - he came out of hospital in the afternoon.  It was really bad - like one of those Life of Grime programmes - and way beyond anything we could tackle but Carolyn did the kitchen and I did the living room where someone had put his spare bed and we just about managed to clean them before he arrived home.  Then I ran some errands for him and we left about 7.30.   Since then I have been going over once a week when I can to do errands and help him with whatever needs doing.  When it looks as if he will once again be able to get upstairs I will see about getting a cleaning company in to clean it up.  He is unable to get out of the house as there are two steps and he is in a wheelchair.  Possibly when he gets a prosthetic he will be more mobile.

Roger next door died while I was away on Intrepid. Rita was very worried about where she was going to live as she could not afford the rent on the house.  I went in to see what I could help her with, and started making enquiries with Shelter, but then the man across the road offered his services so I have left him to it.  I pop in from time to time and see if she wants anything from Tesco.
I was going to walk out from Marsworth on the Tuesday to meet the boat - but they left the previous night's mooring early to beat the rain and were already at Marsworth as I was thinking about leaving home, so I decided not to bother and to try and recover a bit.  Wednesday was the day they were doing the Aylesbury Arm – so in the morning I loaded Suki into the car and drove to Tring reservoirs.  We walked the 6 miles to Aylesbury and arrived just in time to hear them start ringing – so it was quite a long wait on the boat before they came back.  I found Intrepid ok in the basin and sat at the front eating my packed lunch.  We succeeded in ringing the Lightfoot 6 on handbells on the way back so as well as a lovely walk I earned brownie points with Mike for coming.
On the Thursday the mileage was too long for me to join up with them, so I stayed at home practising handbells for an attempt at 4xspliced at Harrow in the evening with Chris, Robert and James.  It was an unmitigated failure – I was hopeless and felt really bad about it.

On the Saturday I went out to meet up with Intrepid again.  I drove to Stoke Bruerne and was lucky to find there was a big field to park in for £2 for the day, then walked up the tow path. The boat was behind schedule and Andy had to use my bike to go ahead and warn tower they were going to be late.  Suki and I boated back with them and then drove home.

Mike came home independently the next day.  I am really pleased that he has been able to do Intrepid on his own this year and hope we can do the same next year – although it is likely to be too far away for me to go on day trips to join them.

For more photos click HERE

Mike was ringing a peal on the bank holiday Monday.  I went walking with Maryanne (Hampden Row) – it was delightful and even though we had done it before I hardly remembered any of it.  We finished with a really nice lunch in the pub garden as the weather was so good.

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