Monday 31 May 2010


I am saying very little about this first picture; only that Dad was sweeping the chimney and I'd heard that it was good luck to get soot on yourself. In my case all it seemed to result in was another dive into the shower and a shampoo.
The other two pics are of us pretending to be barge dogs, on the shiny new decking of the SB Cambria. It has been reported that while the H was strolling around completely chilled at this new environment, I was slinking around nervously with ears lowered and tail down, body low to the woodwork. Outrageous.
Hope you're all keeping well. I've not been very good lately at posting, but hang in there. I'm still here and will put paw to keyboard every now and again.
Look after yourselves

Saturday 22 May 2010

Medway Match

3 interesting pics for you today. First up the Paulownia tree (Foxglove tree) in our garden which is having a superb year this year for flowers. Got as a 12 inch twig from Pud-Lady about 15 years ago to get the new garden off to a new start, it is now a good 15-20 feet high and about 15 feet across. It is currently starting to shed flowers, which land all over the greenhouse below.
2nd, in the pond, Mum has recently brushed aside the solid layer of duckweed, to expose the clear water below, and you can now easily see our thriving population of newts. Common Newts, we think. Very plentiful, anyway.
And today, Dad trots off after a sustained burst of allotment digging in the cool of the morning, to catch up with the Medway Sailing Barge match which starts at Gillingham pier, goes down the Medway and out into the Thames estuary, and then back up to where it started from. It's not an easy one to see from the shore as most of the Medway is fenced off for docks and wharves, but if you drive to Sheerness and wander along the beach westward from the seafront carparks, you come to Garrison Point where you can get some good views. This shot is of SB Edme (right) overtaking SB Reminder (pale grey hull) on the run back to the River mouth after rounding the buoy out in the estuary.
Meanwhile, it seems the Silverwoods have definitely taken the one yorkie home as a pet. He is named Coco. Catch up with you soon Coco. Enjoy yourself.

Friday 21 May 2010


2 pics today which definitely need explanation. While Mum and Dad were over in Ireland, Haggis and I almost might have ended up with a little baby brother. Just down the road from the Silverwoods, lives a lady who breeds Yorkies and who is, in fact, the breeder of Steak Lady's "Rosie" dog. While they were there this lady happened to have a litter at 8 weeks old, with 2 unsold boys.
There was some inconclusive talk of Mum and Dad having one of them, and the Silverwoods having the other, to replace the aging "Chance" who is looking more and more ricketty every time they see him (He's believed to be about 17 now, but no-one knows for sure as he was discovered originally in a dustbin in Maidstone as a young dog, hence the name).
However, the plan, which involved the Siilverwoods bringing him over when they all meet at the narrowboat would have meant a very young pup having to stay alive through a week of chaotic narrow boating en-famille, not to mention the prospect of it pee-ing all over the hire boat. They had almost given up on the idea when, at the big family gathering for which "we" were over, Steak Lady arrived, heard about the pups, met and fell in love with one, despatched Steak-man to a cash point for the folding stuff and bought the little mite there and then. Job's a good 'un!
Mrs S may still have the other one.
Meanwhile, Mum and Dad sneak off last night yet again leaving us to the tender mercies of Angel B and Jim, off to the Wembley Arena to watch Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. They come back bubbling with enthusiasm about how good it was. The pic is a very poor mobile phone shot in which the tiny distant stage means little but you may be able to make out SW (left) and Eric (right) on the big screens either side of the stage.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Nipping round the ash cloud

Getting home from Ireland, Mum and Dad do a rather nifty line in skirting round the volcanic ash cloud. The latest out pourings of the volcano no-one can spell or pronounce (except Sandi Toksvig) are driven south on Friday's winds and close the airspace above Gatwick and Dublin from 7pm on the Sunday till "at least 9am" on Monday, which then slips to "at least midday". Mum and Dad's flight home is scheduled for 12:40, so it's looking a bit grim - a bit close to the wire.

The Silverwoods and Mum and Dad are all starting to consider how "bad" it would be to miss a day's work, or even considering a plan-B which involved ferries and trains (and hours and expense) to get home if planes were out of action for days. Dad is also a bit concerned for us poor abandoned doggies.

On the Monday morning, though, the forecasts and news are still confidently predicting the skies re-opening at midday, so Mum and Dad set out from Co. Laois to Dublin to hand back the hire car and head for the airport. Their hearts sink as they enter the terminal building to see a sea of heads - a massed melee of frustrated delayed passengers. It looks like it will take days to clear that lot, not just hours.

But, the system is that if the skies re-open at midday, and you have a flight scheduled after that, you get to fly on time and the backlog filters into vacant seats as and when. So Mum and Dad are ushered out of the melee, out of one door and in another further down the terminal building, and straight to a queue for check in that's only 6 families deep. There is a small delay due to late inbound aircraft, but basically they are in the air by 14:00, on the ground at Gatwick by 14:55 and back indoors and being welcomed enthusiastically by us dogs by 15:00.


Tuesday 18 May 2010

Cabbages are not always good for you

In an outrageous double-cross, Mum and Dad slip away out of the front door, bags packed, headed for a long weekend in Ireland, leaving us in the tender charge of the Angel B and Uncle Jim. They are off to help out at a family "do" at the Silverwoods, with eldest girl Em-J taking her RC Confirmation (which they all do, aged 12). This event is a big rite of passage although not quite as bizarre as the First Holy Communion which has all the school girls aged about 7 in the town, on the same day, dressed in bride's dresses (and all the boys in little groom-suits) and all the parents done up to the nines, trying to out-do the other families with the money spent on clothes, limo's to the church, restaurant dining etc.

In this one, at least, the girls, now 12, mostly wear nice smart new dresses (some still go mad on blancmange dresses in bright pink or cerise, in the "debs" stylee), hair done specially, maybe new shoes etc, and there are also far fewer of the girls, with maybe only three schools getting "done" at once (The one Mum and Dad go to had 30 girls and 50 boys). The families adjourn back to their houses for a bit of a party, with all the frineds, rels and neighbours dropping in.

That's where Mum and Dad came in. Mum was "the catering" so spent 3 days solid buying ingredients and then cooking party food. When she went off shopping with Mrs Silverwood, Dad was babysitter for toddlers M (4) and R (2). Some nice bio-hazard nappies from R, he reports. When Mum was cooking, Dad says he was serial washer-up and spent 3 days at the sink. We suspect this may be a slight exaggeration.

Toddler M is funny at present, as he has that not-quite-correct and expanding vocabulary. It turns out his sweet-tooth and tooth-enamel quality are not a good combination, and the dentist was aghast at his latest visit, at the state of his teeth. Full of cavities, apparently, so he is now on a strict low-sweetie intake regime with special meds to cure abscesses, multiple tooth brushing and mouth-washing etc, to give his baby teeth a chance to see out their natural before being replaced, we hope, by some nice strong pearly-white adult gnashers.

M, though, having not met the word "cavities" mis-heard it as Cabbages and is now convinced he has cabbages in his mouth which need brushing and which hurt more if he eats or drinks sweet stuff. Needless to say, amused grown up like to wind him up in his innocence, by not correcting him. There are, therefore, frequent conversations around "No, you can't have orange juice - it's bad for your cabbages" or "Have milk, instead, it's better for your cabbages"

More on this soon

Sunday 9 May 2010

Sheerness Docks

Ever unpredictable, this blog tries to keep the reader on their toes. This is presumably also the intention of the makers of Pringles. Mum likes a Pringle, and the flavour of coice is usually the green tub, sour cream and onion. She barely noticed but as she picked this one up in the local co-op it is actually a St Patrick's Day promotional pot. 2 months out of date maybe, but still in date-code, so we're guess they are trying to clear some stock.
We never see these on St Patrick's Day, and I suspect that as this town is not known for its Irish community (all be it there are some very significant Irish folk living here!) they are probably not shipped here in great numbers. Nice though.
I give you, too, a nice pic of Greta moored alongside Raybel. We think they may be waitingon the Medway barge sailing match which is coming up soon. Normally by now Greta would be resident in Whitstable and doing her chartering. She is also, we know, engaged in the 70th Anniversary celebrations of the Dunkirk evacuation. Skipper/owner Steve Norris takes the barge over with some WW2 Dunkirk veterans as passengers.
Finally, there is a picture for Mr S. This is a genuine sailing barge windlass, as used until 1970 for winding the big powerful winches on the SB Cambria's decks to haul up the masts, raise and lower sails, raise and lower leeboards, and drop and weigh anchor. Just to get you all nostalgic, Mr S.

Thursday 6 May 2010

Llew's place

For our walk today we are loaded into Clara Bow and taken to Llew's place to get the car's exhaust pipe fixed. It's rusted through at the front end and the old girl is farting like a Night shift warehouseman (says Dad, and he should know). This means a fine opportunity to check out the out buildings and disused greenhouses around the workshop where plenty of rat and mouse smells (not to mention chooks) are to be found.

At one stage Dad has to shut me up a couple of times because I am convinced there is something down a gap between two sheets of wood, and if I shout at it from one end, then run round to the other end it will dash out into my teeth. Unfortunately, all I attract is the "company alsatian" who comes and pays rather too close attention to my rear. I am happy to come that time when Dad calls me back to the car to check I've not wandered off too far.

We haven't mentionned Diamond lately. You'll be pleased to know she is home and pretty much declared "stable" by the medics, although she still has to attend either King's in London, or Kent and Canterbury for blood tests. The marrow transplant has basically worked, and she is now looking forward to a life of relative calm and leisure. Officially signed off from work now she does not have that to worry about, and is starting to talk to Mum again about shopping, clothes, pedicures and other stuff what ladies worry about when they are being Laydeeeez. Good luck Diamond and welcome back to the happier side of life.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Bitts and Pieces

Various up to date barge shots to catch you up - you are actually more ahead than the readers of Dad's barge-blog at this point. You are honoured. The big metal fan thing is called a "leeboard" - it's like a keel that the barge crew could swing down the leeward (down wind) side of the barge to prevent a side-wind sliding the barge bodily sideways. You couldn't have a permanent keel as these boats needed to get up shallow creeks and inlets. It is, in case you are interested, 21 feet long and 8 foot six across.
The other two pics show the big bits of wood which go through the front deck and support the big front winch (windlass) which was used to raise and lower the masts and rigging to go under the Thames bridges. These bits of wood are called (unimaginatively) "bitts". The outer two are called the windlass bitts and the central one, which holds the central non-return ratchet mechanism ("pawls") is called the pawl-bitt. So now you know.
At last the dry April with its chilly breezes, has given way to a bit of useful rain and the garden and the allotment are breathing a sigh of relief. The timing's not great, the rain happening just when it's bank holiday and Mum was intending to get amongst the goosegrass and general weediness of the orchard garden, but she doesn't mind. It's warm. She dons wax coat and wellies, and arming herself with her new big purple horse-feeding flexible bucket, goes and gets amongst it.
Dad, sadly, is on call this weekend, so spends a good deal of Saturday at work, and then chilling with the papers, which is no good to us, but we are tired from helping Mum. That's when we're not distracted by cats and squirrels, of course. What do you do when it's teeming with rain, and you can see a squirrel mucking about in the Paulownia tree at the bottom of the garden? Stand on the threshold with your nose sticking out of the door, whimpering, that's what.
Have a great Bank Holiday