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  • clivenmel

Jan 14th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Well we have had a busy few days!  We stayed at Gareth�s overnight on Friday and then on Saturday, when Vicki arrived, we set off on the journey up to Yorkshire to visit Clive�s mum in St James� Hospital, Leeds.  When we got there we were amazed to see her sitting up in bed looking like a new woman!  Her operation seems to have been a complete success and the challenge now is going to be convincing her to rest, let herself fully recover and not start training for the London marathon!!  The whole family is absolutely delighted that mum can hopefully now look forward to a pain-free 2009.  After saying goodbye to her we all went back to Clive�s sister Carol�s for tea, because her husband Ivan had made one of his excellent curries � yum!   On Sunday morning Clive and I took advantage of the fact that we had a car and went off to do a bit of shopping, then we all went up to visit my brother Nick and his wife Sheila and we were absolutely delighted when my niece Natalie/Ruth and her husband Craig brought their gorgeous new baby boy, Barnaby Gabriel, round for a visit and I managed to get some photographs.  After saying goodbye to them all we set off back to Milton Keynes and Lady Arwen.   When we arrived back at the boat, once again it was like a fridge on board, however she soon warmed up.  We said our farewells to Vicki and Gareth and once again it was just the two of us.   On Monday morning we peered out of the windows and could see that although there was still ice on the canal it was nowhere near as thick as it had been so we took the bull by the horns and cast off.  It took several attempts to get Lady Arwen to leave the bank, the ice was still thwarting sideways movement, however I gave us a good push off at the bows with my trusty mop and apart from bruising my knee in the process (don�t ask!) she finally headed for the middle of the canal.  We cruised the half mile or so up to Willowbridge Marina (where we had moored up over the festive period) and filled up with water and had a pump out, then we just crossed over the canal to the opposite bank and moored up.   Our good friends Shirley and Barry arrived after lunch and helped us to carry all our bags, guitar, flute, laundry etc etc back to their car, we stuffed everything in, including ourselves and set off for their home in Cranfield.  It was great to see them again � the last time we had seen each other was when we were moored up in Huddersfield � Shirley is from Huddersfield too!  We had a great time � starting off with alcohol and nibbles then onto dinner in the form of Raclette!  Shirley and Barry first introduced us to the art of Racletting several years ago � needless to say I went out and bought one very soon after that and we have enjoyed this very social way of dining many times since.  The basic principle is you have lots of vegetables, cheese, meat and fish which you cook for yourself on the Raclette which sits in the middle of the table.  You each have a miniature �frying pan� which you fill with the chopped veg then sprinkle cheese on top � this goes under the �grill�.  Then you put meat and fish on the top of the Raclette.  Whilst this is all cooking you imbibe lots of wine and chat with your fellow diners.  Once it�s cooked you put it all on your plate and put another lot on to cook.  It�s brilliant and as I said a very sociable way to dine.   After dinner we had a bit of a �jam� with Barry and Clive on guitars and me on flute, with a few songs thrown in as well.  It was a lovely evening that actually extended into the small wee hours!   After breakfast on Tuesday we sat and watched the movie Mama Mia with Shirley � we had heard a lot about it but hadn�t actually seen it � it was great, we really enjoyed it.  Shirley had also very kindly offered the use of her washer and tumble dryer so I took the opportunity to give our bedding a wash.  Then we stuffed all our belongings back in their car and set off back to the boat by way of The Peartree Inn in Milton Keynes for a fantastic carvery � it is amazing value at �3.50 a head � unbelievable value and absolutely delicious.  Once replete we headed for the boat and Barry and Shirley came on board for coffee and I set Barry to work downloading some fantastic music onto my iTunes.  Believe it or not Clive and I had absolutely no Beatles or Stones music in our collection � we have now!  Thank you Barry.   Then once more it was just the two of us!    We are now just playing a waiting game � the stoppage at Tinkers Bridge opens at dawn on Saturday and then we can head off again.   We plan to retrace our steps back to Whilton but we need to do this before the Buckby Flight closes on 2nd February, by which time the Braunston Flight will have reopened enabling us to get through to the Braunston Junction and this time, instead of going North we are going to head South to Oxford� uncharted territory!

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